Not a fan of happy endings? Then you probably shouldn’t have watched the Sunday, May 10 series finale of Revenge. After four seasons of red Sharpies, colossal takedowns, conniving cocktail parties, and pun-tastic dialogue, Amanda Clarke (Emily VanCamp) and her bartending honey Jack Porter (Nick Wechsler) literally rode off into the sunset.
But the happy ending happened only after our favorite black hoodie-wearing protagonist endured her fair share of loss and an eerie heart transplant (or did she?!). Showrunner Sunil Nayar spoke to Us Weekly’s Rachel McRady about the explosive finale on Monday, May 11, and had some interesting incite into the lingering questions — like why in the world would Jack and Amanda would get back on a boat! Plus, he revealed that the happy ending wasn’t always in the cards for Ms. Clarke.
Us Weekly: I’m actually dying to know. Was Amanda’s dream real or was it all made up? We talked to Madeleine Stowe earlier today and she said the cast was under the impression while filming that it was real, and then in the finale it was left up to interpretation.
Sunil Nayar: And I loved leaving it up to interpretation. I think that there’s a huge element of this show that’s been about, ‘Are your nightmares real? Are your memories real? Or are they just misconceptions of a past that you’re looking to change?’ I had lots of conversations with Emily [VanCamp] and Madeleine about it, and I know that they had definitive opinions. And I thought, ‘Wow, what’s interesting about the debate is, is it more moving if it’s actually physical or is it more moving if it’s purely psychological, considering the games these two played with each other for all these years?’ So as I’m hearing the question being debated, I completely embrace the debate.
Us: That’s awesome! You were saying that Emily VanCamp and Madeleine Stowe had different opinions on it. So I’m assuming Madeleine felt it was a physical reality and then Emily thought it was more psychological?
SN: Yeah, exactly. Emily really loved the psychological reality of it, I think having been shot before at the other wedding and for what this character can actually withstand in the way of living. Emily loved the psychological underpinning of it, which Madeleine also embraced, but I think there was to her, also the fun of both women actually died and both women actually lived, which was something that I felt was really interesting also. I think in talking with the both of them — because both of their opinions mattered very, very much to me about the resolution to these characters’ stories — I thought this is a debate worth having moving forward.
Us: Absolutely! And you mentioned Emily getting shot before. Can I just ask, why in the world would Emily and Jack honeymoon on a boat after both of them had had boat issues post-weddings?
SN: [Laughs] We definitely talked about that. It actually was a way to show how the fears of the past repeating themselves had gone away. We certainly said, [sarcastically] ‘Wow Jack, this doesn’t bring back any insane memories to be leaving with Amanda Clarke on your honeymoon, on a boat?!’ But we think in some ways that’s exactly what the point is, is that they are leaving in a way that there’s nobody left in this world that wants to hurt them or so they believe. We also thought of the iconography of: This was Jack’s dream at the beginning of the series, to sail away into the sunset and then when he met Amanda again it was just a dream come true. And it was her dream to get out of this alive, and she found her true love in doing so and she left with even more than she thought she might have. But that’s such a great point, it’s like, ‘Come on, guys! Take the train!’
Us: We saw Charlotte come back in the finale. Where do you think her loyalties were at the end of the finale? She skipped Victoria’s funeral, but then she was a part of that creepy dream. Do you think she would have ultimately reconciled with Amanda?
SN: Definitely! She’s definitely reconciled with Amanda, which is not to say that had the story gone forward they wouldn’t have had their share of difficulties. We really wanted to let these sisters be sisters. That’s why you see her at the wedding and Amanda hands her the bouquet and she’s with her at the cemetery. So the audience really knows that these two have made their peace with each other with what they’ve gone through with regards to each other through the years. We just thought that, ‘This is her only really living blood relative that she has had a chance to connect to,’ so we didn’t want to end with Charlotte’s absence.
Us: Speaking of absences, David Clarke seemed to go through more than any character. What ultimately made you decide to kill him off?
SN: One of the things that we liked about him getting cancer was to give Emily/Amanda a situation that was fully out of her control. She’s been a woman who’s been in control for four straight years, whether it’s a physical problem, mental problem, societal problem, she can handle it, because she’s smart and she’s capable. But once something actually infects a person that you love, it doesn’t matter how smart you are or how trained you are, or how rich you are, you have to deal with it on an emotional level.
And as we got to discussing the epic final showdown between Victoria and Emily, it was very important to me that she didn’t end up killing anyone over the course of this series. She didn’t end up crossing that line, because as much death as we do have in the series, I wanted the audience to remember that it does have an impact and that it does fundamentally change characters in the way that they’re perceived in the show.
Us: Did you ever consider killing off Amanda? She hasn’t crossed that line into killing another person, but she certainly committed her share of sins.
SN: Yeah, we definitely talked about it. We talked about every iteration of who lives and who dies. But really felt that at the end of the day, even though she’s done some very questionable things, they’ve been done in the name of goodness and what’s right on behalf of the people she cared about. When we talked about her dying at the end of the show, it just felt to all of us writers that the ripple effect of having her die, either having achieved or not achieved the resolution of her goal, just felt like too unsatisfying a resolution for this show.
Us: Was there any one death that was particularly hard to write?
SN: They’re all hard! In some ways the harder ones are when you know the show isn’t over. Losing Josh [Bowman who played Daniel Grayson] in the middle of the season was something we knew from the beginning of the season was going to happen, but when you’re actually writing it, you think, ‘Wow, we’re about to lose this wonderful actor.’ So the harder thing is when the story dictates the loss of someone you really love working with. I mean, Conrad last year — knowing that Henry [Czerny] wasn’t really going to be on the show this year was a colossal bummer. Everybody that died, died for the right reasons, and I’m going to miss working with all of them.
Us: Are there any story lines you wish you had more time with?
SN: Definitely! I mean, I personally feel just because we had so much story we were telling in those last couple episodes, I wish we’d given Mason a better send-off. When I saw Roger Bart at our wrap party, I told him as much. I said, ‘We were just so filled with other story lines that had to come to their conclusion that this wonderful character and this wonderful man who inhabited him,’ I said, ‘We just ran out of air time to tell this story with Mason.’ We discussed bringing Kara Clarke back and Jennifer Jason Leigh is shooting a Tarantino movie, so we knew that if we were going to have a great story with her, it would need many episodes, which we couldn’t have. We felt also that we didn’t want to overload the stories we were trying to tell, because already there was a lot of story we packed into those 42 minutes.
Us: You mentioned Mason Treadwell, who by the way is my favorite character. Do you have a vision for where he would have ended up after Victoria and Emily’s showdown happened?
SN: No! Again, it’s a question we never had the chance to answer. But if there was to be another season of the show, obviously we’d envision Mason being a huge part of it because he sort of would be the most delicious villain who could come up against Emily and Jack and Nolan.
Tell Us: Were you pleased with the Revenge finale?