Revenge

I just watched four episodes of Revenge, one right after another, and now that my stash is up, I am left on a cliffhanger (as always) and wanting more. But I am strongly drawn to it, and I want to study the reasons why, to consider while building my own stories. Here’s what I came up with: (POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT!)

  • Characters:

    • Each is complex, driven, and with their own motives that always butt against another character’s desires.

    • Some of them have a history, and these are the ones with the most complicated and gripping relationships: These are deep, meaningful histories, not a scant “Oh, we went to school together,” thing. History often contains hints at happiness, an emotion that Emily (the main character) hasn’t felt since the day she was taken from home.

    • Everyone knows that everyone else is secretive and lying. And then there are the few innocents, and so we are given people to root for: Emily, who is a bad-ass and knows a lot and who has suffered (she is our hero); Jack and his brother Declen, who know nothing in the beginning, and have lost their father, and are essentially the “poor/good” characters; Victoria and her husband, who have helped to destroy many people, and the even more evil powers that control them.

  • Plot:

    • Constant plot twists. Mysteries, secrets and lies. It’s a character-based story for sure, but well-written and well-formed.

    • Reminiscence is strong and often informs the present.

    • Acting: a smile is not what it seems. Lots of actors pretending to fake emotion.

    • Revenge, an important plot point—the purpose behind Emily’s quest, and the entire show—and a rare one for an entire TV show to go off of, especially with a female protagonist.

    • We often know what most of the characters do not, leaving us on the edge of our seats to find out how certain ones are going to react. And then the writers shock even us with a new twist.

    • Not afraid to kill off characters that we’ve grown attached to, but who need to die for obvious plot reasons. (Sometimes too obviously)

  • Cliches

    • A list of people to “get”

    • Strong female lead, a complicated love triangle, long lost sisters, helpful computer geek, enough money to do whatever they want…

    • Adultery, pregnancy, murder, blackmail.

  • Themes

    • Coming home

    • Hero prevails over the bad guys (or bad guys prevail over hero…)

    • Rich vs. poor

    • Good vs. evil

    • Family vs. strangers (who is more important?)

In the end, Revenge is a character sketch testing its audience to decide who we are, and how we would react in the same situations as those on screen: Would we devote our entire lives to destroying people who hurt someone we love? If we had the option between framing an innocent man, and losing our entire livelihood and family—which would we choose? So, if you haven’t seen it yet, you know the next question. It’s worth watching.


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