If Emily VanCamp gets her way, this will be one helluva final season for ABC's Revenge. Actually, the actress would have even been satisfied had last May's jaw-dropping finale spelled the end of her vengeful character Emily Thorne's (aka Amanda Clarke) three-year takedown of the conspirators she blamed for her father's false imprisonment and death. In the season ender, Emily's fiancé, Aiden (Barry Sloane), was poisoned and then smothered to death by sinister socialite Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe), whom Emily promptly had committed to a sanitarium. And Victoria's husband, corrupt businessman Conrad Grayson (Henry Czerny), was fatally stabbed by none other than Emily's supposedly dead father, David Clarke (James Tupper), who turned up very much alive. The wild hour also saw Jack (Nick Wechsler) being arrested for kidnapping Charlotte (Christa B. Allen), and Emily's ex, Daniel (Josh Bowman), photographed with a dead girl in his bed.
"Last season's finale was one of my favorite episodes to date, and to me, that would have been an amazing series finale," says VanCamp. "Because that's what it was all about for Emily: She accomplished what she set out to do. So this season has been very tricky to approach. Where is she at now?"
Indeed, what could possibly be left for this poor little Hamptonite? Plenty, executive producer Sunil Nayar insists, noting that Aiden's death will resweeten Emily's taste for revenge, and her father's mind-blowing return will lead her to second-guess everything that has come before.
VanCamp admits Nayar's decision to reveal that David Clarke never actually died came as a big shock, given that she'd been assured by the show's creator and previous executive producer, Mike Kelley, that under no circumstances would that ever happen. "It will be interesting to see how the fans react [to the storyline]," she says. "Even though it could seem like Emily's revenge plan was all for nothing, Conrad and Victoria still ruined this woman's life. It's almost even more of an injustice that her father was alive the whole time."
One die-hard Revenge addict has already expressed her overwhelming approval — Tupper's girlfriend, actress Anne Heche, the only person to whom he revealed the secret of David's shocking return. "I waited a few days to tell Anne," the actor says. "She's such a fan that, when I finally divulged it, it became this hilarious game where she would wink at Revenge fans who came up to us and asked if David was alive."
Now, after three seasons of politely sitting off to the side during cast table reads, Tupper has pulled his chair right up alongside his costars as a full-fledged series regular. He teases that the upcoming discovery of David by daughters Emily and Charlotte, former lover Victoria, and trusted partner Nolan (Gabriel Mann) will be a "slow burn" but well worth the wait.
"I can't say too much about how David is revealed [to his family]," adds VanCamp, "except that it is kind of epic and hugely emotional."
The premiere episode, the first ever without a flash-forward opening, picks up approximately six months from the season ender, with Victoria still locked away. Yeardley Smith, the longtime voice of Lisa Simpson, will be introduced as an unhinged patient named Phyllis, while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Elena Satine will play Louise, a sanitarium resident who will eventually be woven into the Hamptons fabric.
Another new addition is Brian Hallisay (The Client List and Mistresses), playing a righteous cop named Ben, who will be working alongside Jack to clear his name. While Ben will set his sights on Emily, VanCamp has requested that the writers not go there. "I get that they want a romance [for Emily], but right now it wouldn't make any sense," the actress says, insistent that Aiden's loss remains a deep and lasting wound.
What viewers can look forward to is new love for both Jack and Charlotte, more fabulous parties (including a season premiere boat bash), the debut of a new yacht club, fresh digs for Daniel, a likely pregnancy, a raging fire, and yet another big death.
And though Nayar stops short of declaring Season 4 as Revenge's last, VanCamp hopes the road is indeed being paved to give fans the satisfying conclusion they've been craving. So how does VanCamp envision Emily's madcap journey concluding? "Of course, she and Jack realize they truly are soul mates. It has to happen. The ultimate salvation for her is to find love."
Revenge returns Sunday, Sept. 28 at 10/9c on ABC.