“We looked at every iteration: what if Amanda Clarke/Emily Thorne died or Victoria Grayson killed herself? Or David Clarke taking the bullet for his daughter. There were myriad options,” adds the showrunner.
In the final shot, we see socialite Amanda Clarke sailing off in the sunset with her childhood beau Jack (Nick Wechsler), having survived a bullet wound to the heart after a shootout with her longtime nemesis Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe), now dead. In a TV age where a number of popular complex characters meet their maker — read Walter White in Breaking Bad and Nucky Thompson on Boardwalk Empire, why not just have Amanda die? God knows, she would be in peace after the hell she weathered, i.e. losing her father twice. “Emily’s inspiration for executing revenge was inspired by honoring her father. To tell this story, she deserved success when she came out of it, and to have her die as a resolution, felt wrong. If she died, then everyone who helped her out on this journey, specifically Jack and Nolan (Gabriel Mann), would be in a place of utter sadness. And that’s not the right way for the show to go out.”
The big huzzah that Nayar and his team hatched in Revenge‘s series finale is the playful notion that Amanda Clarke might actually be living off a heart transplant from Victoria Grayson — and it’s just haunting the heck out of Amanda.
“We like the idea that this might be a dream; that it’s possible that both of these women are technically alive, yet that they died in the same sense,” says the EP.
The mystical, spooky heart wrap-up was “a big discussion” says Nayar who looped in VanCamp and Stowe. “They had strong opinions about it, but I felt we struck the right balance. The show is fueled by the nightmares that Amanda Clarke had as a child. The question of Amanda’s heart will linger in the air and never have an answer. It plays with the ‘two graves’ Confucius philosophy and ultimately the feeling that the heart captures every moment of a person’s past in the physical and metaphysical sense.”
Nayar took over Revenge after series creator Mike Kelley left at the end of Season 2. Nayar, an EP vet of CSI: Miami and ABC’s Body Of Proof, began working on Revenge on the onset of season 2. It was a big deal to Revenge fans, almost on par to George Lucas handing Star Wars: Episode 7 over to J.J. Abrams. Kelley always mentioned in interviews that Revenge would ultimately end with two bodies in two graves, however, didn’t leave any stage notes for Nayar. Actors would remind the showrunner every now and then how Kelley intended to wrap their characters’ storylines and Nayar would take their suggestions into consideration.
Stowe recalls, “Mike told me that he saw an end where Amanda and Victoria are standing face-to-face surrounded by the broken dead bodies they were responsible for. I don’t know if he was speaking metaphorically.” Nayar actually played this out at the end of Season 3 when the duo are standing in a cemetery. However, last night’s shootout was “about these two women in a raw place, just the two of them in solitary” says Nayar versus them “being surrounded by the history of their collateral damage”.
One dangling plotline that Nayar vied to wrap up in season 4 was Amanda’s birth mother, Kara Wallace Clarke (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who was introduced in Season 2. Amanda never revealed her true identity to her mother, and ran her out of the Hamptons as Kara was about to off the Graysons. In addition, Amanda didn’t exactly have a great relationship with her mother, who tried to drown her as a mere tot.
“It was scheduling,” says Nayar about why mama Clarke never returned, “Jennifer Jason Leigh was shooting Quentin Tarantino’s new movie The Hateful Eight, but we did look into her availability. Amanda’s mother was a huge part of the story. Amanda would have learned a massive amount of truth, and there could have been resolutions with David,” says Nayar.
Then alluding to fans’ online gripes last night about the finale being too short, the EP says, “but there’s a ton of stories to cram in 42 minutes and we are surrounded by those restrictions, not just in adding story, but in exploring where characters have been.”
Aside from spinning fans’ heads with Amanda/Emily’s supposed Frankenstein heart transplant, one of the biggest payoffs for Revenge watchers was the possibility that the door might be open for a spinoff centered around the leading protag’s rich hacker sidekick, Nolan Ross. At his social club, we see Nolan being approached by a young man asking for help. His C.F.O. mother has been framed for murder and embezzlement. Amanda Clarke referred this guy to Nolan. So is there a Nolan spinoff??
“That would be great,” says Nayar, “but no plans right now.”