'Revenge' postmortem: Madeleine Stowe on Victoria's true fate
The war between Victoria Grayson and Emily Thorne—errr, Amanda Clarke—has finally come to an end. Maybe. Probably. We think.
During Sunday’s episode of Revenge, Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) planned to finally take down Emily (Emily VanCamp) by turning over the evidence of her quest for vengeance to authorities. Naturally, Emily got the upper hand and stole the evidence—but Victoria took things one step further by, well, killing herself to frame Emily. Unless Victoria has the super-speed required to run out of the gas-filled Grayson Mansion before flicking that lighter, then it’s ding-dong the witch is dead. Or is she? EW caught up with Stowe to get the scoop:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, is Victoria actually dead?
MADELEINE STOWE: Here’s the answer: I’m not returning to Revenge for another season. You will see her in flashbacks. I think that anybody who has really, really watched the show and who really knows Victoria would know that she’s pretty much had a death wish. Victoria has died.
Wow. I assumed she was probably faking her death to frame Emily for her murder.
You’ll see her in flashback in the coming episodes, and you’ll get an understanding for why she did what she did from a more macro standpoint. There are a couple of revelations, if they use them. But it goes very far back and very deep. At the end of this episode, you’ll see what predated that, even the day or so up to this explosion that made Victoria take such radical action.
How did you feel when you learned this was what was going to happen with Victoria?
I’m very story-centric. At the end of season 1 [when Victoria apparently perished in a plane crash], I felt that was a perfect ending for Victoria. I really did, but it was very clear that [Victoria actually dying] wasn’t going to happen. At the end of season 3, when we were all discussing what’s going on with Conrad going to prison and dying and Victoria being put in a mental institution, I thought that was a perfect ending for the Amanda arc. In my heart of hearts, I really thought there was nothing more to tell with respect to Victoria. We all sat down and I said, “I’m very flattered you all want me to come back, but I really think this story is finished—my story, not Revenge.” They explained why they felt differently about that. I was contracted for five years, so that was very much their option.
I love the people I work with. So as they’re figuring out this puzzle, it became increasingly clear to me by September that we should probably wind her up. In absence of something that tilts the show on its axis, in terms of the fundamentals of the show, which is that maybe there’s a whole misperception in terms of what was going on, I think the characters have a more finite period. I went to [showrunner] Sunil [Nayar] and said, “Maybe we should think about this now,” and they were really great about it.
Is this the ending you imagined for Victoria?
I imagined many different kinds of endings. There are so many possibilities. At one point in time, there was a bit of discussion about whether or not David Clarke (James Tupper) was so innocent all along, that was one thing. Then I think ABC had the wisdom of knowing who their audience is. They’re very devoted to that audience, and the core audience is very devoted to us, so that would’ve been incredibly unsettling to them. To me, that was the only way you could shed new light on Victoria. That’s a game changer.
But in the absence of anything like that, I felt that her story was quite done. It’s almost done, I should say that. It’s done in a way that we know Victoria. There will be some information that should come to the fore about what her deeper motivators were, that you may not like her, you might understand it. I feel like you’re watching a torch being passed generationally from Victoria’s mother to Victoria, and then the damage Victoria did to Amanda. The difference between Victoria and Amanda is that Victoria has been really, really hyper-vigilante [about] viewing outside forces as an imminent threat, and you’ll understand why in the finale. Amanda has the ability, because she has healthy relationships, to possibly have a chance. Whether she grabs at that chance and accepts it or continues to go on this path is a lot of what makes up the drive of the finale.
I found it curious that Mason’s (Roger Bart) arrival coincided with this explosion at the Grayson Manor, especially given the lines he recited about Emily lighting a match. Whatever Victoria has planned, does it have to do with Mason?
That was a great speech. I can’t say. I will say there it’s really clear if you really watch the show that Victoria has a plan. When she goes to the van and the chair is in there, she is as cool as a cucumber. All that staring and moping around is a freaking act. People who really know the show picked up on that. But conversely, she had a huge death wish.
In doing this, do you feel like Victoria has ultimately won?
There is no winning in this game at all. There’s no winning. She’s completely willing to meet her maker. The only thing that has really kept her alive is this compulsion that she has to make sure her children are safe, and by the finale, you’ll understand why she might’ve felt that way. She was left so exposed as a kid, so she can’t separate what happened to her from the terrible things that might happen to her children. Granted, Conrad (Henry Czerny) did a lot of bad stuff. She was ready to leave with this guy, with David, and then all of a sudden Conrad says, “By the way, I’m involved with these terrorists and if you make a move, they’re going to take our kids’ lives.” So she’s put in this bad situation where she betrayed the man she loved to keep her son alive. It’s not been an easy life. She really, at the end of the day, wants peace and calm.
Do you think this should be the final season of Revenge?
I think that this should absolutely be the end of the Victoria Grayson storyline. I think that’s done. For the show to go on, it has to be reinvented and a whole new set of characters have to come in. This is as elastic as it can possibly be. I felt it was time. I think the writers felt this arc should be done, too. I hope they did.
Revenge airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.