These were my thoughts on season one: I think it is so amazing, and brilliant, and I can’t wait every week to watch the newest episode and try to figure out what Emily, or Amanda, will do next. Every week I tune in to see Emily move one step closer in her quest for revenge. My ABSOLUTE favorite parts are with Jack. When Emily was little, before her family was destroyed, she lived in the Hamptons and she and her dog Sam played with a local boy named Jack. When Emily moves back to town years later Jack is still there, with a boat named after her, and Jack is still taking care of Sam. In the midst of all this anger and angst, I love watching to see if Jack is going to recognize the girl he fell in love with.
Revenge first season focused on Amanda Clarke and her path of revenge against those who destroyed her and her father’s lives. She changes her name to Emily Thorne and moves to the Hamptons with one goal: to take revenge on those responsible for destroying her family. Revenge season two brought in the Initiative-which made the show very mythology heavy. For those of us who aren’t great schemers-okay mainly me-had a hard time following all the spy talk. It pushed a lot of viewers away, but there is one essential part of this show I love: the need for revenge. While I’ve never felt the need to take revenge on anyone I can relate to the desire to get justice when the system doesn’t allow it. After all, isn’t that the basis of half the shows and stories we read?
When I started watching this show, I didn’t see the connection between Revenge and The Count of Monte Cristo, but after watching for a few weeks, it became shockingly clear to me. This need to make someone pay for their sins is not a new idea. It’s in literature, movies, art, and music throughout history. But it’s important to remember that the difference between revenge and justice is very wide.
I told my friend she should watch it, and afterwards she pointed out a fact that I had overlooked. She said she couldn’t decide whether she liked the main character, Emily. Is she justified or is she going too far with her revenge? This is where The Count of Monte Cristo comes in, favorite version is Jim Caviezel. Dantès is a character we can all relate to. Sometimes we feel we are overlooked or someone has taken something from us. Like a person’s affection, time, or a physical object or idea that someone has taken from us. When people take things from us, most of us feel the need for revenge, and the desire to get back what they took from us. In Dantès and Emily’s case, they set things into motion to force the corrupt elements to reveal their indiscretions without revealing their initial involvement. Emily and Dantès force their foes to pay for what they did to them. Something that makes me like her is that in the midst of her anger and determination she has rules.
Emily and Dantès are not the only ones who’ve taken the idea of vengeance into their own hands. Anybody who has watched Batman (most versions) knows that he became Batman to take down the people, who murdered his family. Once he becomes Batman; the first people he takes down are the people responsibility for ruining his family. (Yes I am excited about Ben Affleck being the new Batman, but that is a post for another time). Batman is a symbol of justice for many people, but he starts as a character out for revenge. Emily, Dantès, and Batman all start out as characters who are just out to make people pay, but often times in life as well as literature they are forced to do more than they had planned. Emily remembers Jack and doesn’t want to hurt him and finally accepts Nolan as a friend and confidant. Dantès realizes Mercedes had his son, and in the movie this changes his plans, not so much in the books. As we know Batman doesn’t stop after he finds the people responsible for his parents death, and to the city of Gotham he becomes a symbol of hope. There is a MUCH longer post coming about why we (and I mean I) love flawed characters and reluctant heros. As far as examples for characters obsessed with revenge, three more just popped into my head. So the point here is that this is an idea that can be found in so many movies, comics, TV shows, and works of literature. This universal concept is present in so many shows. As for Revenge, I’m cautiously optimistic about this new season. I hope that now Jack knows Emily is really Amanda things will get better, but let’s face it: probably not.
*This post is an expansion of a similar post I did for The Dome, a publication funded by The University of Alabama. I’d give you a link to that post, but The Dome no longer exists so I thought I should update that post to put on here.