May 10, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Finale Review: “Revenge”


Like many visitors to the Hamptons, REVENGE stayed too long at the party, and what had once been an amusingly twisted soap eventually became repetitious and silly.  The series would have been better served as an American Horror Story/True Detective type anthology that told its story and rebooted the next season.  As it was, by its 4th and final season, Revenge had moved its characters around like chess pieces so many times that one could easily lose track of whether figures like Margaux (Karine Vanasse, who should get ABC Sunday night hardship pay after surviving Pan Am and the latter years of this one) or Louise (Elena Satine) were having a sympathetic, evil or just plain crazy week.  Although the show’s protagonists Amanda Clarke/Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) and Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe), as the central white and black hats, were stalwart and well-played to the end, it was hard to care much as Revenge reached its climax.  A rule of thumb:  once the same character has returned from apparent death twice–as Victoria did by the end of the run–it’s time to go home.

Despite reports that the final episode, written by Producer Joe Fazzio and directed by John Terlesky, had been shot before the network’s decision to cancel had been made, this hour wrapped up all loose ends, such that it’s not clear where it would have gone if it had somehow been renewed.  The outcome was happy for just about all of the good guys:  Victoria, having faked her death a few episodes ago and framed Emily for the crime, was finally killed for good, and Emily didn’t even have to pull the trigger, as her father David Clarke (James Tupper), Victoria’s ex-lover who was himself framed by her for treason and murder–which kicked off the plot in the first place–showed up out of nowhere to do the deed.  And conveniently enough, he was already dying of cancer (managing to look even better with the disease than Deacon on Nashville does), so his prison sentence was shortened by compassionate leave, and he died peacefully on the fakest Hamptons-in-winter set imaginable.  Margaux and Louise both reformed for their parts in helping Victoria.  Emily, for her part, got her childhood sweetheart Jack (Nick Wechsler) and reconciled with half-sister Charlotte (Christa B. Allen), and the ending had Emily and Jack sailing off together on their boat.  (The only tasty twist, in which Emily found out that Victoria’s heart had been transplanted into her chest to save her life after Victoria shot her, turned out unfortunately to be a nightmare.)  Even Nolan (Gabriel Mann), adrift without some revenge in his life, was given the parting gift of a new case by Emily.

It was all very neat, but it didn’t have a tremendous amount of impact.  The script, as was the case throughout the series, was marred by idiocy, as characters magically knew where to find each other, and David, to name a key moment, was stupid enough to drop his gun right next to Victoria after shooting her, allowing her to squeeze out a bullet at Emily before being finally truly really dead.  Between the inept plotting and characters who weren’t nearly complex enough to justify 4 seasons worth of episodes, Revenge became a dish that was very cold indeed, and its ratings reflected that.  The largely appealing cast will go on to other things (VanCamp is already set for the next Captain America, continuing her role from the last one), perhaps more sustainable ones.  Justice has been done, both to the Clarke family and to ABC’s Sunday line-up.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."