FTTV Reviews...Revenge 1.22 "Reckoning"

After eight months on the air, television's hit new drama ends just as addictively as it began. Revenge has been one hell of a rollercoaster ride that has easily gained a great amount of fans, and has built up to a finale that is truly unpredictable. After leading up to a major reveal nearly midway through the season, the drama still kept on strong, and has finally shown the amount of muscle it was willing to flex in the past few weeks. But, does the muscle go limp in the final hour of the year, or does it start to get the adrenaline pumping along with it and provide a satisfying ending for the season?

The long season is finally over, and yet it feels like a second finale after the monumental 15th episode. But while that easily settled the murder mystery that we built up to for months, these past three have really built up a more legal side to everything. Here, the evidence finally came into play, as did Emily's full revenge towards those who murdered her father. From the first second the hour begins, the suspense is absolutely phenomenal and the tension is consistent for nearly the entire time. While it sort of dials back a bit as we shift to other stories within the finale, the only one that truly feels not so tied into everything happens to be Charlotte and Declan's. But, with an antagonist that is perhaps the most vicious that Emily has ever faced, along with a few great surprises, the season finale continues the series strong streak and ends the year with a bang.

Perhaps the best element of the entire finale is the man who we're still simply calling "The White Haired Man". Out of all the witty foes that Emily has faced this season, the closest she's ever come close to a worthy enemy is in either Conrad, Victoria, or even Satoshi at times. The problem with Victoria and Conrad in that regard is that we saw how fundementally unstable they were as human beings, and that took them down quite a few pegs. Satoshi, on the other hand, never quite gave off the aura of someone who was fully against Emily's plans. Here, The White Haired Man is every bit as cunning, resourceful, willing, and secretive as Emily is. He perfectly matches her in nearly every regard, but she still has the upper hand after all, making him not exactly completley as intelligent. But then again, after their rumble, he does possess quite the powerful card in which he knows her secret and is in constant contact with Conrad, making him an incredibly dangerous player in the next season.

And honestly, I'd love to see more of him. The White Haired Man currently gives a face to an unseen enemy with The Initiaitive, and his ability to certainly pose a very serious threat to Emily is what makes him so powerful. It's a type of antagonism that hasn't really been seen on the show before, and expands that if your typical soapy enemies that we've seen a good amount of this season (Frank, Tyler, etc.). It tends to tie into this different road the series has seemingly taken us on following the beach murder, and it's become much less bubbly and much more hardenedn while still maintaining those key relationships and issues that made us fall in love with the show in the first palce. While I do fear that this new coroporation enemy may veer the show into a too familiar category that other series have possessed, it's still that showing that this revenge plot isn't necessarily over, that these relationships aren't over either, and there's still much more of a dynamic between the characters that looks very much to keep the series grounded as it may or may not head to a much grander scale.

As for Emily's love life this week, there was certainly one piece that I was completely caught offguard about. While the dissolution of one relationship was stunning-enough, you could easily see the twist that would come with Emily aiming for her true heart from a mile away. The return was incredibly predictable, but the baggage that came with the return easily made my jaw drop. It's there that you could feel pretty much the same shock and heartbreak as Emily did in that moment, and it's the following scene in which our croc-faced heroine actually shows her most human side that she's been learning to switch back and forth from every week that truly enables us an audience to connect with her.

Then again, it's there that the finale connected to the more soap opera side of the series in grand fashion. With the romance twist, and the montage at the end that left a great number of lives in danger, it all felt very campy and somewhat expected once the music began to play. I'm not saying that it's a bad thing; in fact, I embrace the more campy side of the series at time if it saves us from the Law & Order-like episodes we endured when the series returned after hiatus last month. But was it completely shocking? I'm not going to say yes. The entire hour, I was waiting for Charlotte to grab the bottle like I knew she would. I was waiting for Lydia to meet her demise (you know, after the first time didn't work). And most of all I was waiting for certain tensions to boil over. It's there where I felt the episode had a bit of a rocky road, but it still pulled off some pretty amazing feats.

One of the best things showcased may have been Emily and her development. While I've had a problem with another blonde main character on an ABC series failing to develop properly ("fairy tales" do come true, I guess), the writing for Emily Thorne all season long has been a progressive one. Even as early as half way through the season we were able to see the more emotional sides to her with her partner in crime Nolan, and we've had reverberating moments since then that have easily shown that there is some immense depth in their relationship. The finale easily plays this up as well, and it's now more than ever that Nolan is there for Emily in the final act. Their celebration together is a very triumphant one gleaming with plenty of sentimental undertones, while his desire to check up on her after her devastating blow is another dazzling scene as well. It's there that the series can truly have the most heart, and it's there were the emotion vastly succeeds.

Continuing with that progression, there's also one major line that indicates a massive change for the character that ultimately feels very rewarding. With the flashback episode very entertaining, we learned one thing about Emily: her father never wanted her on this path for revenge. He wanted her far away and as happy as possible. While that's easily not how it turned out, it's the fact she "honors her father" in one final moment of mercy that truly stands out. While she's not exactly doing so, she knows that the evidence will easily set her path to rest and she can go back to being Amanda Clarke again. It's from there we see a completely different Emily because she reverts to Amanda, and it's there that a give both kudos to the writing staff and Emily VanCamp's performance. It's the combo that truly makes us feel like at this point, Emily is no longer on the same path she was 21 episodes ago. We've become very close with this role, and we've see her shaken through all of these events, and she's been molded into someone completely different with Nolan, his Aunt, and Satoshi still preaching her father's words. It's here that it finally sinks in, and she's able to let go nearly burning the Infinity Box in the process.

As for other storylines tonight, the majority of the Charlotte/Declan plot was dull and a distraction that didn't exactly feel worthwhile. The finale had a certain pace, and while the slower encounters between Conrad and Lydia had an excuse as it tied into Victoria and Emily's overarching plot, the high schoolers were simply being catty to one another in an attempt to really push Charlotte over the edge. The major revelation came in the daughter's discussion with her mother regarding retribution. When she utters that line, there's an epiphany that everything she's doing can be see as one of two things: either a variation of her half-sister Emily and her own quest for revenge, or a variation of her mother Victoria's constant need to take down those who scorn her. Somehow, Charlotte's story is a mix of those, but to a much lesser extent. I don't really find myself caring for the incredibly misguided young one, and by the end of the night her story came to a very foreseeable ending that I just couldn't really muster up much to react to.

Overall, "Reckoning" is another shining tentpole in the drama's first season. While there were some less admirable pieces (including a majority of Declan and Charlotte's storyline), the finale not only shocks, but keeps suspense at an all time high. The shit hits the fan early and often, leading to only a few times where it actually slows down the entire hour. The episode is focused, but the shifting tends to blur that just a little bit. The strongest enemy of the series' history is perhaps the most incredible aspect of the finale, while the more soapy and predictable aspects can be seen as both hits and misses. The cliffhangers atest to that soap opera mentality, but it's also a very satisfying and strong hour that does the job well, and pulls all the necessary punches to end the season on a high note.

9 out of 10

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