Post Mortem: Revenge Boss on Why [Spoiler] Shot Emily – Plus, Scoop on that Memory Twist, Victoria's Upper Hand, Aiden's Past and More
Since the start of Revenge‘s third season, we’ve known that we would eventually get to see a twice-shot Emily Grayson, née Thorne, plummet off of a yacht to a (theoretically) watery grave — but the identity of the trigger-puller has remained a secret… until now!
On Sunday, ABC’s primetime sudser revealed that the person packing the pistol is none other than… our scheming leading lady’s new hubby, Daniel!
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That’s right, a drunk and disgruntled Danny Boy — who, having just learned that his beloved ex, Sarah, has tried to take her own life — overhears Victoria and Emily discussing the latter’s fake pregnancy, then confronts his betrothed over her incessant lies and, without hesitation, retrieves the loaded gun she has nearby as a means of faking her death. She immediately apologizes, but it’s (way) too little, (way) too late: He’s already shot her. Twice.
When a very-much-alive Emily doesn’t meet Aiden at their planned rendezvous point, he and Jack — who’s come to say (another, better) goodbye to his childhood sweetheart — happen upon her bloody, discarded wedding gown. Daniel, meanwhile, watches his missus float away and returns to the party as if nothing has happened.
At a recent press conference, Revenge boss Sunil Nayar discussed the near-fatal twist, revealing why the show chose Daniel as the shooter and what’s next for an amnesiac (!) Emily. The EP also previewed Victoria’s next move now that she (for once!) has the upper hand on her daughter-in-law, and multiple “amazing cliffhangers” ahead.
QUESTION | Talk about the decision to make Daniel the shooter.
We played around with lots of different options… We had about three different people that we were really seriously considering and then tried to make it work… We just wanted to do the one that’s the juiciest and that ultimately changes the show as much as possible. We wanted to almost paint ourselves into a corner where you think, “How on Earth are they going to get out of this?!” because we’ve established so many realities that we can’t deny are true now. I think that we found elegant ways out of these problems that really give us tons more story going into the back half of the season.
QUESTION | Who else was under consideration to pull the trigger?
We toyed with so many different people. There was a time that we played out what if it was Aiden who shot her, and then we realized that that just would seem so incongruous with the couple that we know them as. So even to try to think about getting him to that point didn’t really work. We obviously toyed with the idea of Victoria shooting her, because it’s so delicious and wonderful, and then we had Lydia coming back… So we teed up everybody we could think of as the shooter and just saw which had the best prize when it happened and the best dramatic merit coming out of it, and Daniel really was the answer to that question each time we looked at it.
QUESTION | How will Daniel’s actions impact him in the episodes to come?
He’s tormented by the nature of what he’s done. You even get a sense after he shot her, there’s this flicker of regret. He [committed] a brash act. He’s been completely betrayed. It’s not like you don’t understand the impulse to do it. Carrying through with the act was the big moment for Daniel. He will have to wrestle with the demons of what that means and wrestle with the fact that now, he’s learned the truth about this woman that he’s given his heart over to back and forth over the last couple of years. You’re going to see a real transformation in him. There’s a regret that will come from it initially, but then it will grow into a strength, a hardening in Daniel Grayson, because the person he trusted the most has really upended the nature of that trust. It’s going to be a great journey we’re going to put him on.
QUESTION | How did Josh Bowman react to the shooter twist?
He was blown away… Once we knew were doing the storyline, we thought, “We have to talk to Josh before anybody,” because from his acting standpoint, we wanted to give him as much time to prepare for it and make sure he was nuancing his performance as he got up to it. He was obviously very concerned, because it’s a big move, and we kept assuring him, “We’re going to get you to an emotional place where we’re going to believe that you did it,” and hopefully all you guys [watching] actually believed that he got there. I think he did. He did a fabulous job, but he was knocked out that he was going to be the shooter. But also, in a very legitimate way, we wanted to make sure we were going to attend to the nature of his character going forward, and it wasn’t going to be for simply sensational [effect] like, “Holy moly, I can’t believe it’s Daniel”; it actually informs his character going forward, and the dynamic between Emily and all of the Graysons. With his input, we really got to the right place for it, and you’ll see where we get to going forward.
QUESTION | Speaking of Josh, what are your thoughts on him recently saying he wanted to be killed off the show this season?
Josh had gotten himself into a space, because he knew he was doing this storyline, that some of the darkness was in [his remarks] in a way. He had just such a commitment to where his character was going that he, in his mind, just let it go to the nth degree. When he was just talking to [the reporter], he let his imagination get away from him a little bit, just because he was living in the darkest place his character’s ever going to be. Coming out of it, anybody could die on Revenge at any time, so it wasn’t an insane thing to say, but we love Josh and obviously we have plans for his character.
QUESTION | Has Emily really lost her memory, as the promo for January’s episodes suggests?
She has at the moment lost her memory of all of it, and you’ll see how we play out the amnesia storyline. Because obviously, it’s quite the soap opera trope. [But] what we’ve done with it is [do it] the way that Revenge would do it: in a way that’s extremely satisfying… We wanted to do it, but in the way that the show is capable of doing things, where you never know who’s telling the truth at any given moment. So, we play with the amnesia idea in many different ways, from the first episode back, that you’ll be happy about.
QUESTION | That said, how will an investigation into Emily’s shooting play out?
There are a couple different people who become primary suspects. Obviously, Emily’s not a benefit to them in the nature of the investigation, but they will have evidence on the boat that they’re pursuing, and then they’ll have photo evidence of what Margaux is doing on the boat, so that Voulez is primary in the investigation, and again, in classic Revenge style, you’ll see how one person becomes a real suspect, and then it shifts over to someone else’s focus.
QUESTION | What happens now that Victoria knows a little about who Emily is?
We wanted to set up things so that we have a greater knowledge of who Emily is going forward, and Emily will then slowly understand that the circumstances of what she can do are now drastically different also… Seeing this photograph is the catalyst that starts Victoria on a journey to really have something on Emily… She has no idea that she’s Amanda Clarke at this point in time, but she at least knows that this woman is not on the level and that some of her suspicions are actually correct, which gives Victoria a great engine going into the second half of the season. She now has the power in the relationship, which she hasn’t had obviously in the first half of the season.
QUESTION | And Emily still wants to take down Victoria?
She definitely still wants to take the Graysons down. That will never be a mission that leaves her, but again, with Victoria knowing who she is, and as we play things out coming back, she’s going to understand that the way that she has to go about this is going to be completely different than the way she’s done it in the past.
QUESTION | Will we see Emily quickly stripped of her Grayson name with an annulment?
It’s tricky. We looked into the rules of annulment in New York, and it requires, interestingly, a degree of fraud that has to be committed. Daniel actually has the grounds for annulment much more than Emily would at this point in time, but you’ll see coming into the next episodes that that’s actually not the best option for him at this point in time.
QUESTION | Emily’s humanity has been called into question quite a bit this season, particularly by those she cares for most. Will that continue to be explored post-shooting?
She’s a person who’s been created by circumstance, and so we’ve tried to explore in the first half of this season what her mission has turned her into in some ways. And then answering who shot her and why, we wanted, in the second half of the season, to really answer the humanity of Emily Thorne, to get back to the girl that was destroyed by what the Graysons did, to get back to the family that destroyed her. The examination of the first half of the season was, what are the merits of her mission, and what has it turned her into, and then post-shooting, it’ll be, who has she now become, and how does she see what her mission is and who she is with respect to it? It’s the real humanization of her you’re going to see in especially the next three episodes coming up.
QUESTION | Do Jack’s actions at the end of this episode signify a “reset” for him and Emily moving forward?
Yeah, we’ve had Jack really scrutinize the nature of who Emily is and what Emily’s doing, but he will come to see in the aftermath of the shooting that it’s really his ultimatum that’s led her to be in this position. There’s a bit of culpability that he has for it, so you’re going to start seeing the thaw between Emily and Jack as we get into the second half of the season… It’s a bit of a more equivalent relationship moving forward.
QUESTION | How will all of this impact Aiden?
There’s definitely still the triangle of Emily and Aiden and Jack, and Aiden’s definitely still in the picture. But his plans have obviously gone awry. His future’s just been upended, and Emily’s going to have to stay in the Hamptons for a little bit, so it’s confusing to him. There’s another great introduction into the nature of the Aiden backstory that takes him into the future that shakes things up between him and Emily, too.
QUESTION | Will Sara be back? And will we learn whether she actually tried to commit suicide?
Sara’s not gone yet… And you will find out in the episode back what actually happens to Sara.
QUESTION | And how long will Lydia be sticking around?
She’s sticking around for a little bit longer. She’ll play a big role in the episode back.
QUESTION | What’s next for Nolan and Patrick?
We always knew that we were going to bring back Victoria’s son and that he’d become a love interest for Nolan, and the two of them have been so great together. Frankly, what we’re going to do is we’re really going to put them through their paces when we come back. Happy relationships are all fine and dandy, but that’s not where this show thrives. Patrick, seeing that there’s this space between this painting that Nolan obviously bought from his mother, is going to have him call into question with whom his fidelities lie, and the answers are going to really cause a lot of great conflict in the Victoria/Patrick/Nolan triangle.
QUESTION | What’s Charlotte’s journey in the second half of the season?
She will slowly come to see Emily in a different way, which is going to cause that rift between the sister that she’s always tried to get closer to. We want to give Charlotte a love interest in the second half of the season, because now that she is more of a woman, it’s time to acknowledge her as such. We have a way that we could do that that will also create more conflict in the world of Emily and Nolan also, but we want to keep her going, because she’s been fantastic this year, and we love our new Charlotte.
QUESTION | Will we continue to see takedowns of the week moving forward?
Definitely. We’re not going to get rid of the takedowns. We’ve done them sparingly and with the right impact when we do it. Again, now with this new Emily, we have a different sense of how a takedown is going to work, so we’re not giving them up completely.
QUESTION | Are there any major cliffhangers planned to conclude your three-episode run in January?
Oh, yeah. When you get to the end of that Episode 13, there are three, maybe four amazing cliffhangers that we’ve got built up that will carry you into March… Now that we’re past [the wedding], and we’re to the place where Daniel has shot Emily, where Victoria’s figured out who she is, where Patrick’s seen where the infinity box may be hidden, we can get into the more salaciously, revenge-y, interpersonal stuff now. [Our new] 10 pm [timeslot] will give us the opportunity to show you the darker colors of all the people.
QUESTION | Now that some of Emily’s secret is kind of out, is this the beginning of the end? How many more times can her revenge plans be thwarted?
What’s interesting is that there is so much story left to tell, surprisingly, and again, one of the things this episode is helping to do is to change the nature of how we can [tell that story]. But definitely, that is one of the things we’re talking about, that Emily needs a measure of success by season’s end, just so we understand that she is good at what she does. That’s one of the things that you can all know: We’re working… to make sure… you’re satisfied by the nature of what she’s doing as we get into Season 4.
QUESTION | So, you’re feeling good about the future of the series, renewalwise and whatnot?
We all feel very confident that there will be a fourth season of the show, and obviously, we’re already trying to think of that now. We all have a belief that the show could go on as long as we keep changing the parameters of what the show is. The show has legs to keep running for a long time, but obviously, we all hope, and I would imagine even at the network, too, that when the show is going to finish, that we have a chance to finish it correctly, because it would be so unfun for us and for the fans to to not have a resolution. So we definitely want to make sure this is a story that has an ending when it’s done.