Emily VanCamp Emily VanCamp

If there's one person on Revenge who can turn Emily Thorne's world upside down, it's the return of her thought-to-be-dead father. When David Clarke moves into the Hamptons full-time this fall, Emily will be shaken to her core.

For three seasons, Emily (Emily VanCamp) has stopped at nothing to take down anyone involved in the wrongful imprisonment of her late father (James Tupper). Her mission had finally reached ultimate success by the end of the Season 3 with Conrad Grayson (Henry Czerny) implicated in the crimes and his estranged wife Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) locked up in the looney bin. But, as viewers watched in the final minutes of the hour, David Clarke appeared very much alive taking revenge in his own hands by killing Conrad.

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Speaking Friday at the ATX Television Festival panel for Revenge, moderated by this reporter, executive producers Aaron Harberts and Gretchen Berg explained why it was time to bring David back.

"It's hard to introduce new characters who don't have a past history with Emily, but will make her invest as much in their character," Harberts said. "As we looked back, David seemed like someone who would shake an unshakable character to the core. She's certainly not predictable, but she's a machine and we know how she's going to react in certain situations, but we don't know how she's going to take it when she finally sees her father. What if he says, 'I'm disappointed in you.' And what happens when he crosses into Victoria's story and says, 'She did some things to you. You don't really know why, but there might've been a reason.' [David] is a new barrier to entry [and] he can fill in a lot of the gaps Emily wasn't privy to."

While Berg said the idea continually came up in the writers' room, it wasn't until near the end of the season that they knew they could even secure Tupper who has since signed on as a series regular. "We were thinking about David [returning], but out of the blue [James] actually texted me like, 'Don't you think it's time for David Clarke to come back?'" Harberts said."There are so many moving parts because he could've been [committed] to a series. We were on pins and needles because you start trying to convince the network of the story, but if he wasn't available it could've changed everything. When we pitched the last episode, that's when we went and made our deal with James to make sure he'd be around."

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Looking ahead to how David's return will completely alter the series moving forward, Harberts and Berg said Jack (Nick Wechsler) will be a huge part in helping Emily navigate what's next. "This year Emily has the opportunity to come out with David Clarke and the question becomes is Emily going to do it or not?" Harberts said. "As we get to know more about Emily/Amanda, she also has to start confronting all of these things she's left undone and how she is going to clean up messes with the people who have taken such good care of her. As we launch into Season 4, Jack becomes the center of that journey." Added Berg, "Emily is going to start from a wounded place next year and she also has to confront not only who she is as Amanda, but what that means for people around her."

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As to whether or not Jack being by Emily's side will (finally) bring them together in this coming season has yet to be decided. "I think we all know in our heart of hearts what the very last frame [of the show] is," Berg said. "Until then there's a lot to try and cover." Said Harberts, "There are the shows where you get those two characters together and it's considered a series ender because people aren't as invested. Other shows set up romantic triangles where they've all been together and you're bobbing back and forth. Honestly, I don't think we know which way is right to go with Revenge. Our gut says to keep building [their relationship] and earning it. How do we deepen and reconnect these characters next season so the audience believes it could happen? I don't think they can possibly start to find the path towards coming together until she embraces who she used to be and that's going to be a huge step."

Revenge returns this fall on Sundays at 10/9c on ABC. Are you excited about David Clarke's return?

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