Emily Thorne (Emily Van Camp) is new to the Hamptons. She's met some of her wealthy neighbors, has made a few new friends and seemingly blends into the town. But something is a little odd about a young girl living in a wealthy town all on her own, and the truth is that Emily isn't exactly new to the neighborhood. In fact, this was once her old neighborhood, until something bad happened that ruined her family and their reputation. Now Emily is back, and she's returned to right some of those wrongs in the best way she knows how — with a vengeance.A modern retelling of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte-Cristo.The Character Sheet could use some love.
This series contains examples of the following tropes:
Absentee Actor: Because season one's "Legacy" - except for the final scene - takes place before and on New Year's Eve 2002 with added flashbacks, Connor Paolo, Christa B. Allen and Ashley Madekwe are all MIA (Paolo's character Declan does appear, but as a prepubescent in one scene).
In season two both Connor Paolo and Christa B. Allen are absent from "Penance," and the latter also does not appear in "Lineage."
Action Girl: Emily is very proficient at beating people up with her bare hands. She's also very comfortable with guns.
A Friend in Need: Nolan is the only friend of Amanda's father who does not abandon him. When Amanda turns 18 he comes to her and tells her of her father's innocence and gives her her father's 49% worth of shares of Nolan's company (worth billions of dollars) since her father was Nolan's first investor and Nolan believes he would not have succeeded without him.
He also is determined to help Emily in her quest for vengeance, even when she doesn't want him to.
Alpha Bitch: Victoria rules the Hamptons with an iron fist.
Amoral Attorney: Ryan Huntley, Victoria's lawyer, who's willing to fake documents in order to help Victoria nullify her prenup and extort more out of Conrad in their divorce.
As it turns out, he's actually been working for Emily. Take that as you will.
Also Senator Tom Kingsley, who was bribed to lead the prosecution against David Clarke in the trial which started it all. Emily decimates his career as payback.
Charlotte is also now becoming really close and caring to Faux!Amanda.
Anti-Hero: Emily's a Type IV; she goes after Asshole Victims but isn't exactly concerned about the innocent people who get hurt along the way, like the employees of an investment firm that she bankrupts.
Anyone Can Die: In a series called Revenge, a few deaths are to be expected, but Amanda's death is still surprising.
With the Season 2 Finale, this has been thoroughly cemented.
Arbitrarily Large Bank Account: While we're never given a definitive number on the size of Nolan's fortune, we are told that the combined wealth of the Hampton's elite is worth approximately the same as a week's worth of interest on his money. It's big enough that he can buy Emily's house out from under Victoria, and then give it away. Since Emily owns the other 49% of Nolan's company it seems safe to say that she has this as well.
Arch-Enemy: Victoria Grayson is Emily's, although the former doesn't know about it yet.
Ax Crazy: Tyler becomes even more unhinged when he stops taking his medication. He stabs Nolan and threatens the people at Daniel's party with a gun.
The real Emily Thorne.
Kara Clarke, who tried to drown her daughter and was institutionalized for nearly 20 years.
Daniel, at least initially he wants to do what's right.
Mason Treadwell, towards the end.
Victoria, of all people, starts coming off as this in the last few episodes of the season, as she dedicates herself to taking down Conrad for what happened to David Clarke, no matter the cost. Though there is at least some question as to whether this is because of a genuine desire to atone or because the whole affair is a convenient weapon to use against Conrad (Victoria was careful to secure immunity for herself and separate her assets from his before she said anything.)
Big Bad: Conrad and Victoria hold this position for most of season 1 by default of being at the center of the conspiracy to frame David Clarke. However, by the end of the season, the Americon Initiative are established as the Eviler than ThouBigger Bad, and seem to be pushing the Graysons out of the position in season 2.
Actually, by this point it seems to be more of a Big Bad Ensemble, with the Graysons and the Initiative plotting against each other.
And Conrad is fully back in place as Big Bad by the end of season two, knocking Victoria out of the spot.
Big Brother Worship: Charlotte seems to adore Daniel, turning to him rather than her parents when she gets in trouble.
Big Screwed-Up Family: The Graysons, although not a big family, otherwise fit the definition pretty well.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Emily can seem really nice to people she wants to win over, but her real persona is very different. Also Tyler, who takes great pains to appear wholesome and impress the Graysons.
As the series goes along, the previously comparatively sweet-tempered Ashley is revealed to be something of a naked opportunist who views with contempt the rich people she works for/befriends
Bi the Way: Nolan claims to be about a 3 on the Kinsey scale, right after he reveals that Tyler spent last summer living with another man
Fake Amanda/Real Emily makes out with a girl at the Stowaway.
Later on Nolan gets a girlfriend.
Black Best Friend: Eli James was this to Amanda when she was in foster care, to the point that neither of them wanted to be adopted without the other. This is deconstructed when it's revealed that Eli was the one who set the fire that got Amanda sent to juvie - to try and keep them together.
Buy Them Off: The Graysons started the Victims United charity for the purposes of easing Victoria's guilty conscience about the victims of the plane crash.
On a smaller scale, Conrad tries to gain Victoria's forgiveness for his affair with Lydia by buying her a sports car. Victoria, in turn, gives the car to Charlotte in hopes of buying Charlotte's forgiveness.
Chekhov's Gun: Since the show is a mystery/thriller, this trope is used a lot.
There is a literal case in the third episode when Daniel spots Emily's gun at her house, the same gun used in the pilot's teaser that will allegedly murder him.
The Chessmaster: Emily is certainly this, given the way she played Lydia and Bill like fiddles to ruin them. Only time will tell, but she is working her way towards being a full on Magnificent Bastard.
She seems to have learned everything she knows from the warden of the juvenile hall she was incarcerated.
Childhood Friends: Emily/Amanda and Jack were this. We're not given details, but they were close enough that he later names his boat after her and now takes care of her former dog Sammy.
Childhood Friend Romance: Jack has fallen for Emily without even realizing that she and Amanda are one and the same. She seems to return the feelings but refuses to act on them due to her revenge plot and relationship with Daniel.
To make things more complicated, he and the real Emily (who is impersonating Amanda for Amanda) seem to have a thing for each other.
Classical Mythology: Sammy - and his odd longevity - may be a reference to Odysseus's dog Argos, who recognized his master after 20 years of separation.
The first season ends with Emily calling off her engagement to Daniel only to find her chances with Jack ruined by Amanda revealing she's pregnant, the plane carrying Victoria (and all the evidence that could exonerate David Clarke) exploding, Charlotte overdosing, and Emily learning that her mother is still alive.
The second season ends with Declan dying, Nolan in jail for his involvement in the creation of the Carrion program, Victoria's long lost son Patrick showing up on her doorstep, the implication that Daniel shot and killed Aiden, and lastly, Emily finally telling Jack who she really is.
Cool Boat: Jack's (now Nolan's) boat is this, a hand restored sail boat that looks nothing short of fantastic.
Then it explodes.
Con Man: Tyler. Unfortunately for him, Nolan is better.
Crapsaccharine World: The Hamptons might seem like a sunny world of parties and pretty, rich people but underneath it is built on lies and betrayal.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Mason Treadwell. He comes off, at first, as a smug dandy, who enjoys the fruits of his betrayal to Emily and David. After Emily burns down his house, however, we see him destroy Victoria's chance at defending Daniel and said he would take her down. When threatened with his corruption being exposed, he merely stated that it would be a small price to pay for restoring his soul.
His reappearance in Forgiveness shows him being able to match wits with nearly every character he has screen time with, including Victoria.
Daddy's Girl: Amanda was definitely this, before he was arrested for treason. After discovering his innocence, she's now this again.
Charlotte Grayson is considerably closer to her father than her mother.
Until it's revealed that she's actually David Clarke's daughter, and their relationship falls apart.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Victoria. At the end of the first episode, she's already checking into Emily Thorne's past.
The Danza: Three - Emily VanCamp as Emily, Emily Alyn Lind as Emily in flashbacks, and Ashley Madekwe as Ashley.
Dark Secret: Framing David Clarke is the Graysons', and they will protect it at any cost.
Dawson Casting: 21-year-old Connor Paolo as Declan, who is 17 (at most).
Many of the people who helped convict David Clarke did so because the Graysons bribed them.
Conrad Grayson framed David Clarke in order to cover up the deal he made with a terrorist group.
Defeat Means Friendship: When Amanda first met the real Emily in juvie, they got into a brief but brutal fight; now, they seem rather close, enough for Emily being willing to switch identities.
Department of Child Disservices: The child psychologist in charge of Amanda's case tried to break her spirit and brainwash her into thinking her father was a despicable human being. She is the reason why Amanda spent most of her childhood in a juvenile detention facility. Victoria bribed her to do so
As it happens, the owner of the foster care home Amanda stayed it was absolutely no better.
The Dog Bites Back: Mason's second appearance has shades of this — Victoria recruits his help in proving Daniel's innocence, but when he's led to believe that she's been deceiving him, he goes in the exact opposite direction, more or less destroying the defense's case.
Until it turns out that Conrad has been with the initiative all along, ever since Flight 197. Though admittedly, Victoria is still even more appalled at this revelation.
Evil-Detecting Dog: Sammy does not like real-Emily. At first, anyway; he seems to warm up to her quickly.
Evil Genius: As of Illumination, The Falcon is this for the Graysons - a master hacker who has their finances guarded enough to protect it from Carrion (which prevents Emily and Nolan from completely bankrupting them in one fell swoop), and also played a role in the framing of David Clarke.
Hoist By Her Own Petard: Victoria tries to buy Declan off to get him to break up with Charlotte. He responds by faking breaking up with her in order to get the money, then putting that money towards getting his own place where he and Charlotte can go. And then the two of them have sex. Great parenting there, Victoria.
Honey Trap: Emily is actively working on seducing Daniel Grayson (and judging by the opening flashforward, she'll succeed), although her exact plans are unknown.
It's implied that Emily also set one for Mike Davis by introducing him to the woman who later became his mistress.
How We Got Here: The pilot opens five months after Emily moves in to provide a tease of how far Emily will go to get her revenge, before we go back to her moving in and wait to get back there.
Ironic Echo: Emily's takedowns frequently fit this trope.
Lydia entered the Hamptons upper-crust thanks to her betraying David Clarke - and Emily's revenge gets her kicked out.
Dr. Banks made sure Amanda was locked in a small, dark room without any hope of escape - and Emily locked her in a box of her own.
Bill got involved in the conspiracy because of his gambling debts and insider trading - and loses everything when Emily tricks him into betting big on an insider tip.
Tom Kingsley launched his political career by participating in the frame-up - and lost it when Emily framed him.
Mason Treadwell took away the only opportunity David Clarke had to get his story out there - and Emily burned the only copy of his new book as well as his collection of rare first edition books. Also, after reading his first book's lies as a child, Emily burned a treasured photo of her dad.
Lonely Rich Kid: Nolan is this, a problem he attempts to solve by bribing Jack into hanging out with him.
On the other hand, he apparently has enough company at the mansion to have a collection of "house bikinis" onhand.
Love Dodecahedron: It started out as a nice, simple Love Triangle: Daniel and Jack are both in love with Emily, who has romantic feelings for Jack but has to stay with Daniel (for whom she may or may not also have feelings) because it's part of her plan. Then things got complicated: First, there's Tyler, who's in love with (or at least obsessed with) Daniel, but is dating Ashley while having an affair with Nolan. Then, there is "Amanda" who is dating Jack while pretending to be his childhood friend and you've got a web that should keep everyone tangled up for several seasons. And that isn't even getting into the older generation...
Season 2 makes this slightly more elaborate, adding a little more to the current generation as well as throwing more notches into the older one. Jack and "Amanda" are married with a son partway through the season, effectively keeping Jack from getting involved with Emily out of his love for "Amanda" until her death. Jack's place in the triangle is taken up by Emily's New Old Flame Aiden. Daniel becomes involved with Ashley after Emily calls off their initial engagement. Ashley does the impossible by linking the dodecahedron to the older generation by mixing it up with Conrad. Victoria uses this information to blackmail Ashley into prostitution which then causes Daniel to break up with her when he finds out. Daniel then returns to Emily, who breaks up with Aiden for the sake of infiltrating the Grayson family yet again, though Emily is still involved with Aiden behind-the-scenes, because unlike Jack or Daniel, Aiden is fully aware of Emily's plans and thus will readjust images and affections for the sake of whatever Emily's planning. After half a season of being a jerk to Emily for Amanda's death, Jack returns to Emily when he finds out that Emily called off the first engagement for him. So by the end of the season, three men are vying for Emily's attention. We had to ask!
Make It Look Like An Accident: Lydia's near death; it didn't go the way Frank planned, but he was probably making it look like suicide even if she hadn't fallen off her balcony.
Which he clearly did a great job of given that he physically confronted her before throwing her off the roof...aren't signs of struggle the first indicator of non-suicide?
Mama Bear: Victoria Grayson is an interesting example, given that she has no problem manipulating either of her children in schemes against Conrad. But if an outside force threatens Daniel or Charlotte, she will destroy them with extreme, ruthless prejudice. Helen Crawley found this out after threatening Daniel. Held at gunpoint by Victoria, Helen calmly pointed out that Victoria spent twenty years regretting what she'd done to Emily's father, and that she couldn't possibly be capable of cold-blooded murder. Victoria responded with a polite smile, and shot Helen without another word.
The Man Behind the Man: Takeda is more or less this to Emily, as he taught her everything she knows about the art of revenge, and moves in and out of the story whenever it's necessary for him to aid her, even when she doesn't want it, including killing Tyler and framing Daniel for it in order to keep her scheme on track.
The Americon Initiative, represented by the White Haired Man, is this to Conrad and the Graysons.
My God, What Have I Done?: Nolan has this reaction after watching the video of Frank attack Lydia, an event that he inadvertently helped set in motion.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Emily ultimately decides not to kill the White Haired Man (the man who killed her father), because she knows her father wouldn't want her to be a killer — but since he's still alive, he's able to blow up the plane carrying Victoria and all the evidence that could incriminate Conrad and clear David's name.
No Party Given: In the later half of the second season, Conrad runs for office, but it's never elaborated what party he belongs to.
No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: A writer keeps all copies of the manuscript for his new book and all his research material in his home. Emily sets fire to the house
Inverted in the case of the psychologist who was not supposed to record her sessions and keep copies of the recordings.
Ominous Latin Chanting: Used in Masquerade, when Victoria makes eye contact with the boy she gave up, all grown up.
Once an Episode: Emily destroys the life of someone related to her father's conviction. Hinted at during a news report she was watching in the second episode that described the person testifying as "one of many" former friends now testifying. Looks like she has her work cut out for her. This gets dropped after a few episodes, though.
Emily's opening and closing narrations, on the other hand, are still used.
Only Sane Man: Nolan, occasionally. Although he's usually on board with Emily's complicated schemes, every now and then he takes a step back and comments on the ridiculousness of what everyone else is up to. For instance, during Daniel's trial for murder, Victoria decides to try getting an acquittal by sending a thug to threaten the young son of one of the jurors; while she is busy trying to get away with her crimes, and Emily is feverishly attempting to prove that the Graysons are jury-tampering, Nolan is the only person to express sadness and concern for the four-year-old whose life is being threatened here.
Parental Abandonment: Jack and Declan Porter's mother abandoned her family when the boys were very young and they were raised by their father.
The Password Is Always Swordfish: The password to Emily's laptop is "infinity", a word with extreme significance to her due to her father's use of it (he said that the amount he loved her was infinity times infinity). It takes Amanda (and later, Jack) about three seconds to deduce this while looking at the symbol.
Pet the Dog: White Haired Man/Gordon's interactions with Kara in her flashbacks.
Poisonous Friend: Nolan is an inversion of this: while he is fanatically loyal to Emily/Amanda and assists her in her revenge scheme, he also frequently points out that she would probably be happier if she just dropped the whole thing and went off somewhere to enjoy her wealth.
Tyler to Daniel.
Promotion to Parent: When their father dies from a heart attack, the adult Jack becomes Declan's guardian.
Rage Breaking Point: At one point, Emily is considering taking a break from her quest for vengeance due to fallout from her latest power play to destroy the Grayson's divorce proceedings, and even considers leaving Daniel. Then, she learns instead of admitting that she had affair, Victoria claims that Emily's father raped her, she smiles, and instantly recommits to annihilating Victoria, all thoughts of collateral damage and remorse forgotten. The last shot of the episode is of her staring at Victoria in the distance with cold, chilling rage.
Reality Has No Subtitles: There are episodes in Season 1 where Emily speaks languages including French and Spanish without translation (though these aren't relevant besides telling us she's multilingual) and in one episode, where she repeatedly converses with another character in fluent Japanese, she then lies about what was said, and there is no captioning.
Sadistic Choice: Emily knows that Daniel is innocent of murdering Tyler...but she also knows Jack was the other guy on the beach. Any steps she takes to protect Jack will hurt Daniel and vice versa. She manages to Take a Third Option by having Lee Moran, a Grayson thug framed.
Samus Is a Girl: The hacker responsible for forging the evidence against David Clarke, the Fa1c0n, is a girl who wiped her identity from the grid years ago.
Sarcastic Confession: Emily: "Because that's exactly what I wanted. My most embarrassing confessions about [Daniel] broadcast for all the world to see."
Secret Test of Character: Emily is in the habit of arranging these for her targets. It's left unclear whether she'd actually let someone off the hook if they passed one, but it's a moot point since they invariably fail.
See You in Hell: The last exchange between Conrad and Victoria in the season finale:
Conrad: If you get on that plane, it's the last thing you'll ever do.
Shipper on Deck: Nolan seems to be shipping Jack/Emily, although his motives remain unclear. It's possible he just wants to anchor her to her happy past and not lose herself in the revenge. The two are also the closest things he has to actual friends/relationships.
In "Power," Conrad Grayson greets an acquaintance as "Fazzio," as in story editor (and writer of that particular episode) Joe Fazzio.
Sins of Our Fathers: Emily definitely views Daniel as fair game in her revenge schemes, despite the fact that he would have been in elementary school at the time her father was betrayed. Though she has stated that while Daniel is part of the plan, he is not a target.
She was reconsidering this — until Daniel learned the truth and chose to follow the Grayson party line.
"Amanda" (the real Emily) is threatening to become one as well.
Tyler's been steadily increasing as one since he first showed up. And it gets him killed.
Mason is one now that he knows that "Amanda" is a fake.
Spoiled Sweet: Both of Victoria's kids seem to be this, Daniel is a nice guy who has simply made some mistakes, and Charlotte tries to treat everyone equally regardless of social status. Emily was this as a child, and her public persona has everyone believing that she is one as well, but she isn't this at all.
Nolan. Despite being a Deadpan Snarker, and the richest character in the series, he is incredibly empathetic, often looking in the best interest of Jack, Declan, and Emily.
Stepford Smiler: Victoria Grayson rarely stops smiling, even as it becomes clear that she loathes many of the other characters (her husband, Emily, Lydia...). Invoked by Victoria during a particularly vicious spiel to Lydia:
"Understand something, Lydia: every time I smile at you across a room, or we run into each other at a luncheon, or I welcome you into my home, let that smile be a reminder of just how much I despise you."
Emily herself is something of a heroic version of this, as she appears sunny and nice but is in actuality motivated by making those who hurt her father suffer.
Sympathetic Murder Backstory: Victoria, although she is not the one who killed her mother's lover, is forced to shoot him post-mortem and take the blame for his death.
Sympathy for the Devil: It's hard not to feel a little sympathy for the corrupt biographer whose house Emily burns to the ground, especially if you're a writer yourself (he only had one copy of his manuscript - and she used it as kindling). His complete BSOD - falling to the ground sobbing is what makes it work.
His subsequent actions somewhat redeem him too.
Victoria and Conrad often have scenes where it is hard to not feel sympathy for them. Many of the horrible things they do are meant to protect their children.
Take a Third Option: Due to Takeda's manipulations, Emily is stuck with choosing either Daniel or Jack to be framed for Tyler's murder. Instead, she frames one of Victoria's goons, thus protecting both boys.
Taking You with Me: Victoria seems determined to do this to the Initiative in season 2, rather than simply let them use her and Conrad and then dispose of them.
"You and I are already doomed. Let them think we're laying down and when the time comes, I say we drag them to Hell with us."
After Nate is shot, he blows up the Amanda, killing himself and Amanda in the process.
Not to mention Mason Treadwell's price he's willing to pay for regaining his soul back in season 1. (By telling all the secrets of the Graysons through media opportunity's they gave him)
Tranquil Fury: Emily often displays this. Of course, this typically is lost on everyone but Nolan.
True Companions: Despite Amanda's manipulations, and her constantly keeping Emily in the dark and getting her in a lot of dangerous situations, it's clear that she really does love her like a sister, and will follow her to Hell itself.
Season 2 has "Sacrifice". By the end, Jack's been shot, the Amanda's been blown up, and Amanda is dead.
Also from Season 2, "Engagement". Aiden kills Takeda when his mentor confronts him about interfering with Emily's mission, Charlotte reveals to Daniel that she's pregnant, and at the end, the entire city's power is cut, presumably by Carrion.
And Season 2's Grand Finale, "Truth" delivers in spades. To recap: Takeda's fiancée is revealed to have been on Flight 197, Grayson Global is blown up by the Initiative, who Conrad has been working with for the entire season (and Conrad attempts to capitalise on the explosion by having Jack killed in it, but fails), Declan dies, Aiden and then Nolan are arrested for the attack, Conrad wins the election, Aiden and Daniel fight over Emily, and it's implied that Daniel may have shot Aiden, Jack goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge of his own and attempts to assassinate Conrad, Victoria's long-lost son Patrick arrives on her doorstop, and to cap it all off? The final line of the season? Emily reveals her true identity to Jack. And they had the sheer audacity to leave all this on a cliffhanger.
Wham Line: "Six months after the trial, Victoria gave birth to a baby girl. Ask her who the father is."
"So what is she (Victoria) saying, they killed my mother too?" "No... She's saying your mother's alive."
What the Hell, Hero?: Subverted. While Nolan does point out to Emily that her revenge is hurting innocent people, he himself doesn't seem too concerned about it. In fact, he almost seems impressed by her conviction. Until recently, anyway.
On the other hand, he does call her out when he finds out that the real Emily killed Frank, but it's somewhat unclear if he's upset about Frank's murder or just the fact that Emily got him involved.
He really lets her have it after her actions lead to Jack getting beat by one of Victoria's goons, and he hasn't stop calling her out on it since.
Even Aiden has begun to be disgusted by Emily's actions, though this is mainly due to the fact that as long as Emily puts up the front as Daniel's loving girlfriend/fiancee, she can't openly be with Aiden.
Woman Scorned: When Victoria finds out about Lydia and Conrad's affair, she crushes Lydia, and effectively exiles her from the Hamptons.
Of course, then it's Lydia's turn to be scorned, and she threatens to expose the truth about David Clarke if Victoria doesn't take her back — Frank actually refers to her as this at one point (though he was referring to Emily's actions, which she had been framed for and which she was innocent of).
Yandere: The fake Amanda has shades of this in regards to the real one.
Your Cheating Heart: If a villain on the show is married or in a relationship, he/she will be cheating:
Both Graysons have or still are cheating on each other.
Both Lydia Davis and her husband.
Charlotte's rich prick boyfriend.
The senator who was the DA who convicted Amanda's father had a mistress who got pregnant.
Tyler is cheating on Ashley with Nolan. Tyler says he's just doing it to (unsuccessfully, unbeknownst to him) manipulate Nolan, but how true that is remains to be seen.