In a characteristically insightful article on EW.com earlier this year, my colleague Jeff Jensen summed up the essential requirement of the hypothetical series that would one day inherit Lost’s pop culture mantle: that it would be absolutely nothing like Lost.
Well, Doc J was right. And, amazingly, it didn’t take long for that mantle to be transferred. The show that would take Lost’s place as the nexus of a bona fide pop culture moment would not be a series with heavily symbolic, geek-friendly sci-fi mysteries—sorry, FlashForward, V., The Event, Awake—but simply one with storytelling integrity: a vividly evoked milieu populated by characters whose complex, sometimes counterintuitive, motivations would drive the plot. That show has turned out to be, of all things, a nighttime soap. The funny thing about Revenge, though, is that it also happens to take place on an exotic island full of history-haunted characters working out daddy issues related to the tragic crash of an airplane.
“Reckoning,” the white-knuckle finale to a first season that now seems like years worth of storytelling packed into 22 episodes, even began with an image straight out of Lost: a tight close-up on Emily Thorne’s left eye as her iris closed in to reframe her perspective. She needed to do a lot of reframing in this episode, and so did we. Victoria Grayson, her daughter Charlotte, and nemesis Lydia Davis could all be dead. A pregnant Fauxmanda popped up Whac-A-Mole-style once again to thwart Emily’s chance of romance with Jack. Emily confronted the White-Haired Man and discovered the limit to what she’ll do in the name of revenge. And finally she discovered that her mother is still alive. Has your head stopped spinning yet? No? Me neither. First of all, though, a big EW “thank you” to Gabriel Mann for stopping by our live chat during the finale last night. I can’t imagine a better companion to guide us through this hour of roller-coaster television.
Last week’s installment, “Grief,” ended with Emily’s realization that Daniel had brought all the evidence of his parents’ misdeeds directly to her. A Pandora’s briefcase of incriminating hard-drives, photos, and receipts lay on her kitchen table downstairs. So to open “Reckoning” she staged a robbery to explain its “disappearance.” Luckily, she had the perfect fall guy in mind: the White-Haired Man, whom Conrad now believed was threatening his family. When Daniel told him that the evidence was missing, Conrad showed his son the footage of Emily and him in bed that he assumed the White-Haired Man had sent him.
Daniel went back to Casa Clarke and promptly found a videocamera hidden in a George Orwell book. Because the White-Haired Man may be a lethal assassin, but he’s not above a little irony in his espionage. Heavy-handed symbolism though it was, I think it still went over Daniel’s pretty little head.
Conrad began a sweep of Grayson Manor, much to Victoria’s horror. “I certainly hope it was worth whatever petty little frisson you derived from your dalliance with the SEC,” he told her, proving yet again that he’s become Revenge’s new MVP of bitchery.
Of course, the Graysons had it all wrong. The White-Haired Man did not have the evidence they needed. But he did have Nolan, and when Emily showed up at the billionaire’s minimalist mansion she saw a laptop with a message being telegraphed via webcam: “Call My Cell Or I Die.” She did. Emily, meet White-Haired Man. Or rather, for her initial introduction she identified herself as Amanda Clarke, all the better for him to know that he was about to pay for the death of her father. They had unfinished business. Unfinished business that could only be resolved face-to-face.
NEXT: White-Haired Man. You’re going down. Or not.