(Spoilers) Revenge has been served but unfortunately the delicious moment when Victoria Grayson gets locked up in a psychiatric ward like little Amanda Clarke could not be savoured against my growing distaste for how protracted and ludicrous this series has become.
Many may still love the show (1.4 million tuned in last night), others will readily write it off as "trash" and I am not here to argue against either except to say that I have persisted for as long as I can and now the dish for me has gone cold.
I began season three with very little expectation of being satisfied, no matter the outcome. Because when a terror attack is used to keep what is an essentially Desperate Housewives plot alive, the series is inevitably doomed. And I am left imagining scriptwriters locked in a cell as studio bosses stand behind a one-way mirror screaming at them via an intercom that they aren't leaving until they make us understand - much like Charlotte Clarke (the part-time Grayson) experienced this season.
So we set the new season's scene with an only-in-television notion that a terrorism cell operating in America was taken down by socialites living in the Hamptons, some of whom are secret Japanese ninjas in designer threads, but at the we-have-to-be-realistic cost to more of the good guys (aka non-Graysons: Declan Porter and Nolan Ross' squeeze Padma Lahari).
Rather than dwell on the sticking points - Charlotte's pregnancy to Declan and Nolan's surprising female dalliance after several gay relationships - the season quickly disposed of the pregnancy via a mystery trip overseas for the rich-party-pill-popper-turned-Clarke-woe-is-me-whiner and Nolan got to have his own daddy issues story played out in the form of revenge on a mean PR lady who outed him even though he wasn't strictly gay. Confused? Try keeping up with Daniel Grayson's love life.
So the show gets back to relatively safe territory of just keeping it to the well-heeled lifestyle of Grayson manor and Victoria's high-backed armchair poses, rather than spending any more time in a badly developed plot of 24. But we need more characters (insert: new revenge plot) to spice up the ultra-dull charity events Emily Thorne (our supposed hero) likes to throw.
Enter Victoria's illegitimate son-born-of-rape Patrick Osbourne, Conrad's first wife-turned-alcoholic and mother of Jack, Stevie Grayson, Daniel's ex who turned back pain into cupcakes, Sara Munello, a vengeful Australian with a murdered Japanese father, Niko Takeda, and the French duo (because I was begining to feel uncultured) Margaux LeMarchal and her father Pascal.
They are not targets, however, for Emily (insert: Amanda Clarke), whose hunting methods have not deviated that far in two years thanks to convenient means of computer hacking and spying technology-fixes-all fallbacks. They are more just a means of feeding viewers more backstories in the hope of once again breathing fresh life into old characters.
And in what can only be described as an act of desperation, this season pulled the TV fail-safe of throwing a wedding.
Somehow the wedding was to be Emily's ultimate revenge, but when we heard the plan of staging her own murder, there was something bleedingly (in the way of two gunshot wounds to her stomach/abdomen) obvious that this was a bad plan and not a satisfying revenge plot.
So when it developed into Daniel who-loves-to-shake-off-murder-charges pulling the trigger (in an act just like his father, "if you can't pay 'em, kill 'em") there was an instant sense of "can't we be just done with this yet?".
So lucky us, Emily is married to her would-be killer, loses all hope of a new family thanks to the wounds and we're expected to believe somehow this is all part of a brilliant plot for revenge? I mean didn't this girl spend years plotting this and her best effort was to marry a Grayson?
Taking away their money made sense (giving it back - none) and arresting and getting them to look bad publicly works (telling the press your shooter
was resurrected character Lydia Davis - doesn't).
And so it drags on, with subplots and more revenge, until finally Emily decides it's time to put an end to the Graysons. Hang on, wasn't that decided at the start? And the plan that pulled them down was brilliant, only I couldn't help screaming at the television "why didn't you do this to begin with?!"
Using a kidnapped Charlotte as bait to entrap Conrad into a usable confession was a masterstroke helped along by the sudden involvement of Jack Porter, who we all thought had just lost his nerve and freed her against Emily's wishes.
Then using Victoria's psychiatrist against her to get her locked up in a mental ward screaming, "She's Amanda Clarke, she's Amanda Clarke", like an unhinged sociopath is truly what she deserved. To put it bluntly, it was sweet, just what revenge should taste like.
But don't be duped into thinking that this is the end because revealing that David Clarke is still alive, and now turning his hand to murder, in the finale cliffhanger means another season of revealing who Amanda's father truly is, why he couldn't come forward all these years and how he and Emily will be able to reveal their true identities and live happily ever after, with Jack by the real Amanda Clarke's side. I can't be bothered.
The problem is that I just don't care about the character of Emily anymore. Along the way the body count just got too great. And call me a sentimentalist but her likeability died when Sammy the dog died in season one, because he was the only connection that kept her being that little girl we were all rooting for.
Even the other Emily personality that came out this season, when she experienced blackouts, wasn't very nice. And I'm sick of seeing a raised eyebrow that somehow is meant to translate into an emotion other than "I-look-like-a-know-it-all-bitch".
The best revenge is a digestible (insert: believable) journey through the moral minefield of sin and justice that ultimately leads to the saviour of the soul hell bent on revenge. Forgiveness tends to be the key, as is love.
But the term love gets bandied about by these characters all too readily, to the point that it has no value anymore. Victoria loved David Clarke, she helped him become Conrad's patsy, she was then in love with Pascal, who is also a cold-blooded killer who met a sticky end, so she kills Aiden Mathis, Emily's love, which is all part of the writers' plan to get Jack back in the picture.
And Jack, who loved a fake Amanda Clarke (why wasn't he quizzing this more deeply?), then hates but really loves Emily, while on the way loves Margaux, who in turn falls back in love with Daniel, as part of the Grayson heir's endless delving into past girlfriends obsession (aka cupcake Sara). And Aiden had an affair, which easily kicked off again, with Niko.
I can't help but agree with Emily, who upon getting her wish of clearing her father's name says, "[it] makes me think about all the people we had to hurt", and later in the psychiatrist's office: "Sorry is not enough."