Revenge returns on March 8, and though this season’s ratings have been poor, there is still a good chance the show could be renewed for Season 5, if statements made by ABC President are to be believed. Since Emily’s revenge plot is kaput and all the major threads have already been wrapped up, we’ve come up with a few ways the show could shake things up to have a successful fifth season.
1. Drop characters that don’t work. We get the importance of David Clarke from a series lore perspective, but the character’s infuriatingly nonsensical behavior has made him largely unlikeable. Margaux has long outstayed her welcome, with her current story—plotting revenge against Emily—falling flat. We know Emily needs a new enemy, but Margaux’s never been a schemer before, and nobody expects her to outwit Ems. Ben is an acceptable temporary roadblock on the path to Jack and her eventual romance, but he doesn’t need to stick around once that’s over.
2. Avoid overly soapy twists. Revenge’s campy, over-the-top twists have been fun for the past two seasons (since series creator Mike Kelley left), but the show’s dark, “smarter-than-you” tone in the first season is what made it a hit. Takedowns should be wickedly clever and have lasting effects, rather than silly and predictable.
3. Pick and choose when to put a character in mortal danger. How many times a season can characters withstand extreme physical peril and narrowly avoid certain death? Say what you will about the uneven second season, but crazy situations actually meant something back then. Emily and Nate’s battle aboard The Amanda resulted in Fauxmanda’s death. Conrad’s attempt at killing Jack via bomb took out poor Declan, instead. Rather than giving Emily a weekly fight/action sequence, save them for important moments.
4. No more cartoon villains. This season’s big baddie, Malcolm Black, felt like a character from a cheap action movie. The show’s most menacing and memorable villains have always been layered and carefully crafted—Tyler Barrol was a ticking time bomb of crazy, the White Haired Man was completely disaffected and willing to kill for any price and Conrad was the most entertaining and compelling character of Season 3. So stop giving us Kates and Malcolm Blacks and give us something more complex.
5. Bring back interesting supporting characters. The cast may have dwindled in recent months, but there are still plenty of interesting characters that could refresh the show and make for exciting storytelling. Our suggestions: sleazy writer Mason Treadwell; compassionate but drunk Stevie Grayson; insecure vamp Lydia Davis; and any number of other faux-Hamptonites that have passed through over the years.