Distributor: Seven Network
Release Date: Mondays, 9:00 PM
Revenge is an American drama that aims to combine one of the best 19th century plotlines with the pull of modern-day soap opera.
Emily VanCamp plays Emily Thorne, a well-to-do young woman who rents a home in the Hamptons, the summer playground of America’s rich and famous. As she moves into the home next to the multi-million dollar Grayson family, she gives the impression of being just another successful young woman in a sea of socialites. However as the episodes have ticked by viewers have learned that this is not her first time in town. In fact Emily is Amanda Clarke, the daughter of the Grayson’s former hedge fund manager David Clarke. CEO Conrad Clarke and his wife Victoria conspired to accuse David of diverting funds to a terrorist cell, an accusation that saw him jailed for life. His daughter has now returned to avenge her father’s death by coldly taking down every person who had a role in his demise.
Not surprisingly Revenge is a long running essay on the value and consequences of vengeance. The producers have actually based it on an even older tale, The Count of Monte Cristo written in 1844 by Alexandre Dumas. In Dumas’ tale a man called Edmond Dantès was also falsely accused and imprisoned. However in his confinement a fellow prisoner tells Edmond of a fabulous hidden treasure. When the opportunity arrives for him to escape, he finds the treasure and dedicates himself to the ruination of those who ruined him. Dumas’ main character pursues his plan to its bitter end, acting as something like God’s avenging angel on a group of French aristocracy whose comfort has been built on the suffering of others. However it’s very clear by the end of the book that despite his best intentions, his actions have made himself unfit company for the very people he has sought to restore. Having visited the Hell he suffered on his victims, Dantès disappears at the end of the novel in search of peace.
The advantage of Revenge is that it comes to the conclusions of the book far earlier in its storyline. By the sixth episode Emily has begun to realize the damage she is doing to herself even as she seeks to punish others:
“They say vengeance taken will tear the heart and torment the conscience. If there’s any truth to it, then I now know with certainty that the path I’m on is the right one.”
In other words this must be vengeance because Emily is already feeling the torment it contains. She lacks the absolute conviction of Dantès and realizes that those who do not deserve to be hurt will be caught up in her plans, particularly those she has come to care for. But what both she and the original protagonist lack is a confidence that justice will be done without their help. Rather than punish our enemies, Jesus counsels his followers to pray for and even do good to those who persecute us. I’m not writing these lines glibly; I have learnt that putting them into practice is actually the hardest spiritual lesson I’ve ever had to learn. However the strength to do so comes from two sources that both Revenge and The Count of Monte Cristo lack. Firstly, a deep awareness of our own culpability before God should have the effect of hushing our demands for justice. Secondly, a real understanding of how seriously God takes sin, and how inevitable His punishment will produce sympathy for even the most determined sinner. In the end Emily and Edmund resort to revenge because they have no-one to trust in but themselves.