Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Revenge: “Two Graves”

Most of these people are dead.

At the beginning of season four, the biggest question looming over Revenge was “now what?” Emily had gotten her revenge at the end of season three, with all of the Graysons either dead or disgraced, so where does the show go from there? The season premiere hinted at a season focused on David Clarke returning to the Hamptons and Victoria getting retribution against Emily for ruining her life, but it was a messy, unfocused affair. The season that followed never really found a way to make those two plots weighty enough to hold the show in place, and the result was a season full of a lot of extraneous characters and things that didn’t feel all that important. When ABC made the announcement that this season would be its last, my only hope was that the writers were able to at least give the show a proper send off, and thankfully the series finale didn’t disappoint.

Not that it was perfect. The last few episodes of season four have been all about Victoria exacting her final revenge against Emily by faking her own death and setting Emily up for the crime. Unlike some of Victoria’s schemes in the past, this time she seemed to have all of her ducks in a row, trapping Emily in a way we haven’t seen her be trapped before—until this finale, when Emily had to get out of everything quickly in order to wrap up the show. This made for an absolutely stuffed episode, plot-wise, with no real room to breathe, think, or worry if anything made much sense. The biggest casualty of this forced time compression was Victoria Grayson (both literally and figuratively) as she planned the perfect escape for herself and then decides to basically sabotage it because the plot requires Emily to have the final word. Victoria went so far as to have her own mother blown up and passed off as her own corpse, so it’s difficult to easily accept she’d put her entire plan in danger just to tell flaky Louise that she’s alive, no matter how much she suddenly sees Louise as a surrogate child (one who actually cares for her, unlike Charlotte and Patrick). It’s too convenient, and Victoria pays the ultimate price for that decision with her death.

Convenience is the sacrifice the finale has to make here, though, in order to make the emotional aspects of the story work. Victoria may make a dumb and fatal error in trusting Louise, but because of that shortcut the finale has time to visit all of Emily’s core relationships one last time before saying goodbye. From the beginning, one of the reasons the more fantastical elements of Revenge landed was because the show did a great job of giving Emily’s story the necessary emotional weight to secure the audience’s investment. Emily’s relationship with her father is the backbone of the show—the reason the show exists—so giving them ample time here to say a proper goodbye feels like the right thing to do. This is especially true because throughout the season Emily and David’s story together was kind of a strange beast, sacrificed again and again in order to make plot details work when it probably would have been best served to just remain completely separate from any plot shenanigans and on an emotional level only. Here, David gets to sacrifice himself for Emily just like she sacrificed for him. Here, Emily gets to say a proper and sad goodbye when David dies of the cancer he was diagnosed with earlier in the season, something she didn’t get to do when she thought he died in prison. It’s a fitting end to their “infinity times infinity” story.

Emily also gets to come full circle in her relationship with Jack, which lends the finale its most obviously shoehorned (yet still satisfying) moments. Jack and Emily started as an endgame-type couple, then seemed to be pushed aside for Emily and Aiden, and then came back to the forefront in this final season. If Emily was going to get a happy ending it was going to be with Jack, and the show giving them one—via a wedding and a tiny little puppy they better name Sammy—then this was as good of a way to do it as any, even if being that happy is just a little bit too pat for the types of stories Revenge is known for.

The most important relationship on the show, though, was always Emily and Nolan, and they get just enough moments together here to make it work. Emily and Nolan were always best when they were working a revenge scheme together, and that’s reinforced here as Nolan gets great moments helping Emily defeat Victoria and Margaux once and for all. But the most important scene for them is right before Emily’s wedding, when we get to see them as the family they’ve become over the past four seasons, and we see Emily give Nolan the ultimate gift: to continue to get help people get revenge. If there’s one thing Nolan has repeatedly realized over the course of the series, it’s that his life didn’t really have a purpose until he started helping her in her revenge plots. When Emily leaves the Hamptons with Jack for good, she gives Nolan a start in becoming his own revenge guru, helping others who were wronged just like Emily was. It’s the perfect ending for Nolan, and the perfect premise for a spin-off we’ll never get.

Perhaps there would have been a bit more time to give Emily and Nolan one more scene, or give some of the plot beats room to breathe and not feel like a race to the end, if the show didn’t have to also deal with wrapping up the eternally boring sagas of Louise and Margaux. If there was one giant mistake the show made this season, it was overestimating just how much investment the audience had in these two characters—especially as the episodes creeped toward the end. Margaux was especially egregious to watch, as she attempted time and again to get some semblance of revenge going against Emily even though there was no possible way she ever had the tools (both emotionally and intellectually) to beat her. It became an eye-rolling bore, and at least in this finale Margaux acknowledged she wasn’t the type of person who could pull these things off and turned herself in. If only she’d done it sooner. As for Louise, she started as a mess, became a fun presence when paired up with Nolan, and then became a mess again as soon as that relationship dissolved. The biggest grievance is that most of the time spent with these two characters felt like time that could have been better served elsewhere.


Despite rushing the plot and focusing a bit too much on non-core characters, the finale still managed to send the show out with a good dose of the patented Revenge crazy. David shooting Victoria to save Emily from committing murder was crazy. Victoria then shooting Emily while she lay there dying was even crazier. Craziest of all? That Victoria’s heart was then transplanted into Emily’s body to save her life—and Emily has no idea that’s where her heart came from. Therefore Revenge ends just as it should: With Emily getting her revenge against Victoria, and Victoria then getting her own little revenge, day-by-day, by living on inside Emily forever. Emily says that she didn’t need to use Confucius’ second grave—that she was saved by her father—but it was ultimately Victoria who made that happen. And ending the show on that delicious note feels just right.

Stray observations:

  • I still call Emily VanCamp’s character Emily, even though she’s now officially Amanda, hence my using that name for her above. Throughout the series I’ve always written about her as Emily to save confusion to my own brain so I can’t really turn it off.
  • Nolan wearing his mugshot shirt to pick Emily up from her prison break was perfect. Nolan, I will miss you most of all.
  • The camera panning over all of the Grayson graves was pretty darn spectacular. Incidental or not, Emily sure did have a body count.
  • Courtney Love as a renowned assassin named White Gold. We needed more of that kind of wacky nonsense this season, Revenge.
  • When do you think the show went completely wrong? Despite all of the horrible moments in season two, I think killing Conrad in season three was the biggest mistake. That guy brought a drama to the show it couldn’t quite replicate once he was gone.
  • “You’re in danger, girl!”