Emily Thorne’s campaign for revenge has become noticeably unfocused throughout this current season of ABC’s hit drama, to the dismay of many fans. Whatever happened to the list? Who cares about the Porters? What the fuck is an Initiative? Fucking racists replaced Takeda? As episodes sauntered on, viewers clamored for answers (with more or less profanity) and a return to the root of what has made this series so compelling to begin with, the eponymous revenge-seeking.
It would take an Amanda Clarke—not the calculating, competent main-protagonist one but the other—to bring back the vengeance we pay good DVR and hard drive space to enjoy. With her new, somewhat makeshift family in danger, Amanda leaped into action, while everyone else in Montauk was busy either chasing ghosts or sleeping with the enemy.1 Amanda played every Amanda Clarke card at her disposal—video evidence of all of the shady Grayson dealings that left the real Amanda’s dad in prison and eventually dead—in one brash, reckless play that made the casual viewer wonder why this wasn’t Emily’s plan to begin with. The Graysons were afraid. Her demands were met. Everything was going swimmingly.
That is, until we find Amanda and Jack on a honeymoon boat trip foreshadowed heavily to include inevitable bloodshed and at at least one sunken corpse. Fake-Amanda has always been an unpredictable agent of poor decision-making and clumsily unintentional sabotage, so the possibility of her being dispatched at sea by a more solution-oriented goon, simply made sense. In season one, there was even a very real chance that Emily would just kill her like a pawn in a game of chess where you kill pawns for not being good enough pawns.2
But this time around, it becomes clear that Emily needed and loved Amanda just as much as we found her infuriating. She followed directions poorly. She fell over banisters too easily. Her uterus was too healthy. She seemed a little slow. But we all should’ve appreciated fake-Amanda a little bit more. In a show very much about meticulous planning, diabolical schemes, and pristine lifestyles, perhaps ad nauseaum, someone needed to mess things up a bit. Amanda was the hand of the proletariat waving guns and computers filled with incriminating files in the face of all that is summer in the Hamptons. In this week’s episode reminds us that although our Emily Thorne might very well be the true lost child of the whole David Clarke as scapegoat travesty, Emily is still an insider here. Amanda is an outsider and, in a sense, as much the true victim of the Graysons’ and the Initiative’s wrongdoing as subprime mortgage holders or the American people if Conrad is elected to public office. In this light, Amanda’s sporadic, careless, shortsighted but admirable behavior appears to be more of a 99%er power move, orchestrating her own Occupy Revenge.
But sadly, just like her Wall Street counterpart, fake-Amanda Clarke, the poor girl from equal parts juvey and the streets, is now dead. Hopefully, her sacrifice leaves a lasting impression on the fictional landscape of Revenge, like all the bankers and politicians that were held accountable for their roles in ruining the real world landscape, global economy, and the lives of millions. Jk. That didn’t happen. But political ideologies aside, Revenge has an opportunity now to return to its original dynamic of bad guys and comeuppance, exposing the evils of the upper class, and righting wrongs. So just as Emily in some sense regains a bit more of her original Amanda-ness with the death of her surrogate sister, everything about the series must regain the luster of an all out brawl on behalf of the little guys, the ones framed as terrorists and murdered and cheated on and tortured by secretive cloak and dagger organizations. Remind us that rich people suck and designer clothes, lavish Labor Day parties, and convoluted plot points isn’t all that’s left in Montauk. Do it for us, truly just a bunch of fake-Amandas at heart.
1Sidenote: Wouldn’t finding out your little sister, who you’ve been searching for most of your life, is probably dead be exact time you would want your girlfriend to stop sleeping with her ex, even if it is part of some elaborate scheme to combat the shadowy killers? And after she supposedly stops, wouldn’t this be the exact wrong time for her to start fantasizing about how much she’s still in love with her childhood sweetheart on the day he is marrying her Count of Monte Christo avatar? Is Aiden going through his own hilarious “she’s just not that into” you subplot? Do we care enough about Aiden yet for it to matter?
2How does chess work?