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ATX Festival 2014: Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts talk 'Revenge' season four

Aaron Harbets and Gretchen Berg with Nick Wechsler at the Revenge panel at ATX Festival.
Aaron Harbets and Gretchen Berg with Nick Wechsler at the Revenge panel at ATX Festival.
Photo Courtesy Of Gary Miller

I had the privilege of speaking with Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, who are executive producers of “Revenge” last weekend at ATX Festival. “Revenge” returns with season four Sundays this fall on ABC.

Allison Nichols: Would you say that Emily considers herself done?

Gretchen Berg: I think Emily probably considers herself, at the end of the last episode, I think that she is feeling a good sense of accomplishment. In a lot of ways, you know, you never know if a show is coming back as you are in the creation process of it towards the end of every season, and so you always, in the back of your mind, also want to make sure that you are not leaving, the fans of the show are so fantastic that you don’t want to leave them with too much unresolved. That could have been the ending point in a lot of ways, but um, especially with David coming back, we feel like it's such a huge start that there is so much more to explore.

Aaron Harberts: I think she would have considered herself done from a plot perspective, but I don't think she would be able to consider herself done and fulfilled because Aiden is dead, and I think that that is, I don’t think she is thinking too clearly. Obviously she is still super laser smart and laser focused because she gets Victoria into that psychiatric hospital, and she gets rid of Conrad, or so she thinks. But when she walks out the door of that facility, I still think there is a lot of turmoil churning, and we are sorta going to pick up season four as she starts to discover that she is clearly not done because Conrad is missing.

Have you decided if there is going to be a time jump for season four?

Berg: We've only been back in the writer’s room for a couple weeks now, but what we're all excited about is the idea of picking up where we left off without jumping ahead in time right away because we have so much to play right in front of us. We have a lot to dig into and play right in front of us, so why, I don't feel like we have to say to you guys, ‘Remember all that cool stuff? Now wait we are going to show you even more!’ Let's play with what we have right here because there is a lot to do. So we are pretty excited about the idea of picking up where we left off with our group because they are launched and ready to go.

How would you say Charlotte is feeling, because Jack has been very much a big brother to her, how would you say she is processing Jack's involvement in her kidnapping?

Berg: I think she feels very confused and betrayed because I think in a lot of ways, everything she thought, she keeps getting bad news after bad news…I think maybe it had to do with her age. She was growing up. A lot of stuff is happening in her life, and as you get to the level of maturity or age where she is now, that’s not, she is ready to handle it herself. It was one of the exciting things about doing episode 3x21 last year, was letting her sort of, as an adult, come up to speed and really make her make a decision as to are you going to grow and understand everything Conrad has done, everything your mother has done, and were you play in this? She’s processing a lot. She’s processing a lot.

Harberts: The other question for sure is that she is such a patient, good, and kind character, but when she starts piecing things together that it couldn't have just been Jack who did this that he doesn't necessarily have all of those skills to put a camera on her jacket, to pull off a lot of these things. I think she is going to start to realize as well, like, can I trust anybody.

Berg: She also has, to me, just been kidnapped and victimized. I think she is like no more, no more. I’m going to get to the bottom of this.

Harberts: But also what, we’re also thinking to, what bad patterns does that sort of experience put back up in Charlotte. We’re really having talking about that character in terms of how that Jack relationship plays out for the first couple of episodes.

Do you have any idea what Charlotte’s focus going into the new season will be? Is she going to be more involved in sort of what Emily’s doing, but not being fully aware of what’s going on?

Harbets: Well I think what we’re talking about is the journey for Charlotte up to the point where she's gotta get the full truth. And for Emily, you know, the first three seasons of Revenge were all about Emily’s lies, deceit, and manipulation, and in season four is really going to be about Emily wondering who Amanda Clarke is, and also trying to, not make right, but clear up all of the horrible things she has left in her wake, and Charlotte is one of the big ones. So, you know, she has got to tell Charlotte everything, and at this point, is going to be good enough, you know? So how does Charlotte react? How does Charlotte, how does it affect Charlotte when she discovers all of it, everything that Emily has done? And that is going to, when you get a revelation like that, you can go one or two ways, and right now we are really trying to decide, dramatically, what is the best way is for her to go.

Once Victoria gets out of where she is, what do you think her new plan is going to be? I mean she figured it out. She knows. Is her mission going to be more taking down Emily?

Harberts: Yeah, we are excited about the drive for Victoria this season, really sitting with all the things that Amanda Clarke/Emily did to her family and all of things that really trickled down from that, and how she really wants to take of the situation and sort of avenge herself. But the most important character for us in how she is going to do that is David because both she and Emily share such a history with David, you know. From where we sit right now, the exciting thing is how is Victoria going to use her relationship with David to get to Emily? Because as much fun as it is on Revenge to do those plot things to really constantly get at each other, the emotional torture, for us, is just as exciting. And so, you know, how Victoria can kind of us the presence of Emily’s father, how can she use that to her advantage, we think is going to be really exciting.

I reached out to twitter and tumblr, and I was surprised that the majority of my questions were about Victoria and David.

Berg: Yay. That's great.

They are very excited. Can you share any of how either Victoria will react to David or how she use him?

Berg: I think one of the things you are hitting on, these are all the things we want to explore because when you think someone is dead, you are not processing necessarily what, she has to backtrack a little bit. Where did we leave things is what Victoria has to figure out with the David of it all. And how much does David know? Has he been tracking everything? Has he been clueless to everything? Is it somewhere in between? How is has he been living in the world and getting information, not getting information? And what is his attitude towards Victoria? And that to us is the fun tango going on between the two of them. She also said at the end of the season finale last year, she told Emily that you don’t know everything about your father, more or less. He's not the man you think he is. She has a very specific point of view on the guy, as well, and picking up the relationship where they left off. Can it be what it was or does it have to be something different? That is where the writer's room, that is what we are doing right now. It’s really exciting stuff to figure out.

Harberts: The first person to get to David, be it Emily or Victoria, controls the narrative of what’s been happening. So if Victoria gets to David first, she can lay out all the awful things that Emily/Amanda has done. If Emily gets to him first, she can plead her case as well. But, the first three episodes of the season is really exploring and explaining where David has been, and what affect it has on his psyche and emotional state, and that also is going to be, he’s going to be a wildcard. I don’t think Victoria or Emily is prepared for the person who is coming, you know, who is coming back.

Timing wise it sorts points to that he has been following at least something. He doesn't reappear until after he’s been cleared and Conrad has been charged.

Berg: You're right. It's explaining the timing of it all of like when he came back. It’s really interesting to hear those questions because it’s a good gauge for us to make sure we are make sure that we are, you know when we hear something we’re like, okay good we’re tracking that! We’re tracking that! So um, the timing isn't coincidental, you’ll see.

Are we going to get flashbacks or something to figure out where David’s been?

Harberts: I think flashbacks work really well on our show. I think they really help get into, they just help explain in ways that just a character delivering backstory can't. So flashbacks are still going to be a very important part of the show. Maybe they won’t all be from Emily’s point of view, you know. We may be doing some from David’s point of view, maybe some from Victoria’s point of view, just so we can really fill out, fill everything out, and so the audience can see and sit with, you know, so that they understand that when we get back up to the present, what a character’s point of view on something is going to be.

I’m really interested in Nolan and David’s relationship. They did have a big part, and it’s not something that is often discussed. Can you share any of how Nolan will deal with all of this?

Berg: I think, you know, one of the things we are exploring right now is the idea because we are too, very interested in their relationship, we don’t, not that much has covered that much, I mean not that much has been covered thus far between the two of them. A few sentences here and there. For us it’s exciting to figure out is there a secret that Nolan has about David that he has never shared because why tell Emily something that would only devastate the memory of her father or make him look at him differently or something like that. So that actually, for us, is a really, fresh, interesting, and Nolan’s point of view on this guy is also so specific because he was a father figure to him, but he met him so much later in life, so he saw more of as an adult point of view. So those are the things we are diving into, but there will be interactions between the two of them. We have a lot to play with.

Harberts: The Nolan and Emily relationship is always fun to explore, and our fans really want those two, and they love them as friends, but I think they love them too when they are working through issues. And so, David has to bring a good central conflict into this, into play there. Because the other thing is, if David entrusted Nolan to make sure his daughter was on the up and up, and on the straight and narrow, and getting past things, and sort of learning to live in the spirit of forgiveness and not in revenge…

Berg: Which were the marching orders he left.

Harberts: Which were the marching orders, and Nolan didn't accomplish that? There’s a lot of juicy stuff to kind of play, you know, when David comes back in, and really take stock of what his daughter has done.

So Nolan, this season, has been doing a lot of his own revenge against Daniel. Is that going to continue? Aside from David Clarke, what will Nolan be dealing with?

Berg: I think once you set up a rivalry, you kinda have to keep it in play, and I think that, you know, what is interesting about their new butting of heads, is that it’s their own thing. And it will be something that, that dynamic is something that will remain in play, and also how we can turn it on a head. It is a relationship show…and being able to set up great challenges for ourselves as far as who makes great rivals, but when rivals make great friends. We will be moving forward with those two for sure.

Harbets: Nolan, as well, I mean I think just from a friendship side in terms of how he relates with Emily. I mean, again, she is trying to figure out who Amanda Clarke is this season. She doesn't know, and how Nolan can help on that journey. And in terms of Nolan wanting to maybe find a new love interest for him, wanting to find a new dynamic for him. He’s a character that we always love writing, the entire staff adores writing for him, so he’s someone we are going to be still brainstorming about. We really think David will charge that.

Do you have any storyline or character that you are really looking forward to this season?

Harberts: New character?


Berg: I think all of them. I mean, again, the great thing about David and bringing him back is that it kinda reboots the show in a way where we get to explore, he is at the center of so many relationships, like you've said, Nolan, Jack who knew him as a child, Victoria and her family, Charlotte, Emily, so just those dynamics, I think, are the things we are the most interested in exploring. People we all know, when you bring this new element in, how do they react and how does he become a part of the fabric of our world?

Harbets: I’m excited about how to get Emily over Aiden, which she will never be over Aiden, but I’m excited about seeing where, how the character of Emily turns into the character of Amanda. And I’m excited to see who sort of becomes the frontrunner as the season goes along in terms of how she learns to, you know, love again, and who she chooses to be as a person. I’m excited about the journey, the emotional journey that she is going to have to take in this season. And we have a couple of new characters that are still being sort of mulled over. Always excited about, you know, a contemporary of Victoria’s. Excited about a character that will be coming out of Emily’s past again in a new way. We’re just started to kick those around, but we have about between two to four new characters that we are planning to introduce sooner than later that we think will be nice for the show.

What are you most excited about for season four? Leave me your thoughts and theories in a comment below.

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