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'Revenge' showrunner on that big death and what's next

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Revenge 01
Tony Rivetti/ABC

Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Revenge’s winter finale. Read at your own risk.

Another one bites the dust in Emily’s Revenge plot.

During the ABC drama’s winter finale, Daniel (Josh Bowman) happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when he stumbled upon Emily (Emily VanCamp) and Agent Taylor (Courtney Ford) fighting to the death. It turns out, Taylor is actually the daughter of David’s (James Tupper) nemesis, Malcolm Black (to be played by Tommy Flanagan).

Daniel arrived just in time to shield Emily from Taylor’s shots, sacrificing himself for the woman he once loved only moments after reconciling over the phone with baby mama Margaux (Karine Vanasse). What does Daniel’s death mean for the series? EW talked to showrunner Sunil Nayar to find out. (Read our interview with Josh Bowman here.)

EW: When did you decide you wanted to kill off Daniel and why?

SUNIL NAYAR: Josh and I had a breakfast right when we reconvened the writers’ room back in May. He and I were talking about the journey of the character. Daniel had started off as such an innocent, and then got darker and darker and darker. We took him down such a wonderfully dark path and Josh was so extraordinary with it. We wanted to make sure we did something big and splashy as we went into our December break. We came up with the thought of seeing if we could redeem him and he could die in a way that was actually a move of nobility so that the audience would be surprised, and also to warm him up with Emily in a way so the audience would be back on board with the nature of them and then we do something shocking. It was a collaboration all the way through. It was one of those things that was a little scary because he’s a major character on the show and he’s a wonderful person to work with. We proved to ourselves taking Conrad down and Aidan going is bad, we want to do the big things to keep the audience on the edge of their seats and make them wonder what’s coming next. Daniel’s death felt like one of those things.

Was Emily being honest when she told him it wasn’t a lie with him? In that case, will she come to regret getting Daniel involved in the first place?

I think there’s definitely regret. She’s being completely honest that it wasn’t all a lie with him. Their beautiful scenes together in the episodes leading up to this one, you see there was a real connection and they are kindred spirits in the most crazy revenge way possible. Those last moments were really honest. There is a degree of regret and a degree of loss that bonds Emily and Victoria in this really sad way because they both actually see there was a heroism to this boy that they both communally put through hell.

How does this death affect Emily, especially in comparison to how Aidan’s death affected her?

Obviously the Aidan death was devastating. He was the true love of her adult life. Daniel will definitely affect her in a way that she can’t forgive everything he’s done to her, he shot her, but you will see, especially in the episode we come back, you’ll really get a sense of what Daniel meant to her and what his loss means to her. She has to carry that with her. They all kind of do. One of the things we wanted to make sure we had in place was everybody—our three main players: Emily, Victoria and David—are all kind of culpable for what happened to Daniel. Because of circumstances all three of them put into motion, Daniel ended up in that house and got shot. Each of them carries it with them. Each of them can try to blame the other for it, but at the end of the day, they all know they had a hand in what happened to him.

How does Daniel’s death affect Margaux?

It’s devastating. It obviously takes her to a place where it lights a fire in her, because she’s the one person who had nothing to do with Daniel having died. She needs to come to learn what the truth of the situation was. You’re going to see her balancing sorrow and rage in a really extraordinary way. Especially because she’s pregnant, she has to find a way to keep her health while she’s not so concerned about others.

David planned to kill Victoria even before she admitted to double crossing him. Where is their relationship picking up? Does he plan to still kill her?

There are elements in which the revelation really just confirmed what he always believed, which is why he was implementing the long con on her. Daniel’s death certainly shakes him also because as much as he had a an energy for this woman, he’s seeing a woman who lost a child, which is something that’s very compelling to David. The show very much lives in what people will do for their children and what the children will do for their parents. It gives him a moment of pause, but he certainly has unfinished business

What can you tell us about Malcolm Black’s introduction in the second half of the season?

Oh, he’s so good, Tommy Flanagan is playing him. he’s a joy to watch and listen to. His entrance into our show is quite wonderful and dramatic. The things he does in the upcoming episodes are spectacular. The episode we’re shooting right now, which is episode 13, it’s going to be amazing. It’s huge. What Malcolm Black does, he’s not demure by any means. The actions he takes are really wonderful and the episodes are going to be fun.

Ultimately, Jack was the one to pull the trigger. What kind of danger is he in when it comes to Malcolm Black?

He’s certainly in danger. Absolutely. He’s also going through his own struggles, because he had to kill somebody, he had to kill somebody with whom he was intimate and he’s had to kill somebody whose father is one of the scarier people out there in the world. Jack is certainly on his heels, but you’ll also see him, from that, trying to find a stronger backbone than we’ve seen him have before and help try to manage the situation.

Will Ben be desperate to get on the case of who killed Agent Taylor?

You’ll see how Ben gets involved in the next episode, definitely, and how he sort of struggles to manage what he suspects is an odd situation.

Is this a turning point for David and Emily? Will he finally let her in?

It’ll definitely change the nature of their relationship. As much as he hasn’t let her in, she also hasn’t let him in a lot of ways also. You see that the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. We’re going to see their relationship change a lot. Obviously, with the threat of Malcolm Black, it unites them against a common foe. He’s going to let her in more and she’s going to see sides of her father that she hasn’t seen before.

You’re setting up the chess pieces in a way that feels like an ending. Do you feel like this is the final season?

Honestly, I don’t know. A lot of people said about the end of last year, “Oh, this show could’ve just ended here.” But what we’ve proved with this wonderful writing staff is that we can continue to keep these stories vital if we continue to change the circumstances without being scared to take the big swings. The decision is obviously not with me if this is the final season of the show, but I can say that creatively we’re not scared to do things that have a finality to them because we believe there’s always going to be more good story to tell. When we do paint ourselves into these corners, we find a way to get out of them.

Revenge returns Sunday, Jan 4 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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