On Sunday night, after four seasons of soapy goodness, I said goodbye to ABC’s Revenge and my dear old friend Amanda Clarke (or rather Emilanda, thanks to her double identity as Emily Thorne).
From the first season, it was clear that for all its characters, Revenge was about Emilanda, played by Emily VanCamp, and her biggest adversary Victoria Grayson, played by Madeleine Stowe, the untouchable Hampton queen who ruled the social scene with a tasteful iron fist.
When the show started in 2011, I was already watching another battle of two strong women over on Sons of Anarchy with Gemma and Tara, so I thought: why not add a rich girl fight to the biker brawl?
I was keen to find out what happened to Emilanda that made her so angry she headed straight from juvenile hall to the Hamptons to attack anyone who’d hurt her. As Emilanda’s full story was revealed, I learned that her father David Clarke was framed for a 9/11-esque disaster that killed hundreds of people and put him behind bars, where he died in custody. With that as ammunition, Emily furiously destroyed and then crossed out faces on an old photo depicting all of the culprits in her dad’s undoing. The aforementioned Victoria Grayson was the worst. She and Emilanda’s father had had an affair before the disaster and she was the one who gave him up to the Feds, putting him in jail and Emilanda in jail-like group homes. The only way to rectify this injustice? REVENGE.
The visceral hate and mutual respect between Victoria and Emilanda is what kept this show going because like all good soaps, you need a villain to deliver perfectly crafted jabs. Victoria never left me wanting. Her verbal assaults toward her husband Conrad Grayson were her best work and usually left me giggling well into the next scene.
“Thanks for the memento.” L O L. Also, who scratch/slaps people? Victoria, soap goddess-nemesis for the ages, that’s who.
Victoria was a woman who never met a body con dress that she didn’t like nor a lip purse she didn’t dole out to show her pain. Even as she used them as pawns in her schemes, she loved her children Daniel, Charlotte and Patrick, and that’s what kept her human. Hell, she even got a love scene with Halle Berry’s husband Olivier Martinez, who once played her long lost boo, Pascal LeMarchal. Victoria was living The Life ... until she faked her own death in a house fire (so dramatic) and then attended her own funeral! Where she sat in the back in disguise! Come on, that’s good soap!
An enemy as powerful as Victoria requires a strong counterpunch, and lucky for her, Emily had great supporting characters on her side. Enter Nolan Ross, the Mark Zuckerberg-esque billionaire with no friends and one mission, to help Emilanda clear the name of her father and his friend, David Clarke.
With Ross as Emilanda’s partner in crime, there was much computer hacking and questionable clothing and hair systems. There was no code he couldn’t break and no space his secret dolphin camera couldn’t invade. Nolan’s sexuality was similarly unbridled; he was bisexual and no one had a head-scratching conversation with him about it so he could “explain;” he just loved men and women equally. Good job, ABC.
I’d be in remiss if I didn’t give a shout to Daniel Grayson, the dumbest, cutest guy on Revenge. Emilanda’s plans ran circles around him—she wooed him, got him to propose to her and married him, all in a long play rouse to pretend that he shot her so he’d go to jail and ruin the Grayson name. But in the end, he loved Emilanda and even though they hated each other for a time, he died saving her from a gun shot doled out by some baddie in another one of her schemes. Victoria was not OK with this and blamed Emilanda for his death, though this time, she really didn’t do it.
Then there was Victoria’s daughter Charlotte, her illegitimate child with Emilanda’s father. Torn between good and evil, Charlotte just sort of stayed middle of the road until she couldn’t anymore and began drowning herself in pills and nearly committed suicide. Eventually, she escaped her mother’s evil clutches for a rehab center far, far away.
Ultimately, Emilanda was the juggernaut of the Revenge. With a new disguise every week in the early seasons, she criss-crossed through the Hamptons, leaving destruction in her wake without anyone becoming the wiser. Well, except for Victoria and eventually Jack, her childhood boo. Emilanda will go down in television history as one of the angriest, ass-kicking-est, funnest night time soap characters.
A fan’s goodbye to Revenge wouldn’t be complete without a shout out to my favorite moment of this ridiculous series: the big reveal to end all big reveals. At the conclusion of season three, Emilanda’s supposedly-dead dad David Clarke revealed himself to be alive and stabbing when he intercepted Conrad Grayson and knifed him to death. I literally yelled at the TV when he appeared because, with his death erased, why has Emilanda been carrying out all of this revenge?! Who cares!
So Revenge, I will miss you and your wildly implausible story lines and Hampton lore. It was a great ride.
PS: RIP to Aidan, Declan, Lydia, Ashley, Conrad, Margaux LeMarchal, the real Emily Thorne, Louise and Courtney Love as White Gold the hit lady.
Image via ABC.
Contact the author at Hillary@jezebel.com.