91 Days and the Cycle Of Revenge

Spoilers for the ending of 91 Days! Please watch that before reading this. It’s good though, you should anyway!

In his final moments, Angelo Lagusa stands next to only one man. This man is so many things to him: an accomplice to the murders of his family, the one closest to Angelo’s own victims, and a former friend. Ostensibly, this friendship was naught but a lie- a creation of necessity for Angelo to get himself close enough to those he intended his revenge for. But, as he stands next to his only living target, he confesses something. The reason he didn’t kill that man Nero Vanetti even when he had the opportunity, something Nero himself had angrily questioned him about. “The reason I didn’t kill you…is because I didn’t want to.” He says no more than that, yet it says so much more about him.

While one might want to assume that it is a typical kind of forgiveness that drives this newfound respect for the life of another, the steps it took Angelo to get here make that a bit harder to reconcile. Angelo did not simply call off his revenge realizing he had made a connection he did not wish to sever- he had arguably already completed his plot of revenge. He had killed essentially every other key figure in the Vanetti circle, something which leads to the downfall of the Vanetti mafia family (The new Don of the rival Galassias family even thanks him for indirectly aiding him, after noting that Angelo had orchestrated this all quite deftly). He even tells Nero at first that he spared his life because he wanted Nero to feel just as he did back when The Vanettis had the rest of the Lagusa family killed. Considering his second explanation is so earnest, one may be tempted to simply disregard this earlier one, but I wouldn’t be so quick to do that. I think both can be at least somewhat true at the same time, especially considering Angelo could very well have thought this long before any sentimental feelings would have arose. In Angelo’s own words he wanted Nero to know this feeling he had carried for so long- “a fate worse than death”. Loss throws anyone into despair, but having your whole life and everyone you loved ripped away from you hurts in a way little else can.

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This last point is a key one in a different way as well. Nero is completely on his own in the end, speeding off in his vehicle to a destination he doubtlessly knows as little of as we do. Angelo had lost his entire family, but he was not truly alone. His childhood friend Corteo had been there for him back when he had no where else to go, and was still there for him for as long as he could be. That even meant joining him on his quest, sliding himself along with Angelo into the mafia world. Of course, this was destined to end poorly as Corteo was never going to find himself fitting in with the criminal underworld. But even Angelo probably never imagined that the man holding the gun to Corteo would be himself. The events of the story had led up to Angelo being tasked with killing Corteo in order to prove his loyalty to the man he intended to betray and kill. While this is the first and perhaps only time killing elicits an emotional reaction from Angelo, it shatters an already broken man. It’s a tear-jerking moment, but also an anger-inducing one. Angelo’s revenge led him to kill the one person who truly cared about him. He was all Angelo had left, but he couldn’t bring himself to abandon his goal so he might save his friend. Could he really claim to have no reason to live after his family died despite having such a close friend? Could he really claim to have been just as alone as Nero is in the end when Nero has no best friend to turn back to?

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It is this action that really makes Angelo’s reluctance to kill Nero so surprising. His actions led to the death of his best friend at his own hands, and yet the target of his revenge is someone he has seemingly grown so close to that he can’t bring himself to finish the job. Though he doesn’t exactly lay out his reasons for no longer wanting Nero dead so there is interpretation to be had there. Perhaps he really had grown fond of Nero, despite killing those closest to him and destroying his life. Perhaps he had realized that revenge was no longer a pursuit he cared about, especially since he had already accomplished everything else he had set out to do. He could even have felt that he in fact had finished his revenge plot, as Nero had no where to return to, leaving him in a rather similar position to Angelo all those years ago. But unlike Angelo, Nero sees the future differently. “You don’t need a reason to live. You just live.” After he shares this and Angelo tells him his true reasons for not killing him, Angelo slowly walks forward, likely aware of what comes next. Nero takes out his gun, lines up his shot, and hesitates ever so slightly. But in the end the sound of the bullet being fired echoes out among the soothing sound of the lightly crashing waves, and Nero is now well and truly alone. The cycle of revenge is one that is never truly complete.

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