From a once inflexible path of revenge, Lily Cruz shifted her headstrong strides to championing justice instead, no less as the Philippines' future president, at the conclusion of the hit primetime series "Wildflower" on Friday.
In the finale dubbed "The Wildest Ending," Lily (Maja Salvador) finally comes face to face with her nemeses, Emilia (Aiko Melendez) and Julio (Tirso Cruz III), after they connived to assassinate her husband, Diego (Joseph Marco).
Having stormed the Triad's island hideout, Lily is equipped with deadly force to finally take down both. However, with the two at her mercy, Lily ultimately hesitates to put blood on her hands. Instead, Emilia and Julio are both incapacitated as they exchange bullets.
Anguished after learning that Julio was, in fact, behind the death of her mother, Helena (Zsa Zsa Padilla), Emilia indiscriminately fires gun shots at her father -- but not before Julio manages to lodge a bullet in his daughter's spine, paralyzing her.
Julio appears dead, but is later shown to be in the hands of a mysterious woman (Karylle). Introducing herself as an adopted daughter of Helena and the rightful inheritor of the Triad, the vengeful Venus -- much like Lily's hate-filled alter ego Ivy -- decides to exact "justice" with her own hands, and tortures Julio presumably to death.
Earlier in the series, Lily would have been on a parallel path as Venus'. But having lost more dear to her in her war with the Ardientes, Lily realizes that revenge only risks pulling one to a darker place, rather than being freed from hatred. The once vengeful Ivy Aguas decides that justice, taking its genuine course, is the answer.
This pivot in Lily's mindset slowly unfolded in the series, as she backed her husband Diego's bid to become governor of Poblacion Ardiente. His governance would extinguish any abuses started by his ousted predecessor, Julio, and rule of law would be observed. But that plan came to an abrupt end with Diego's assassination.
In the finale, Lily instead ascends to the gubernatorial seat of what is now called Bagong Ardiente. Years later, her supporters are shown campaigning for her as senator, and then as president of the Philippines. While she is not shown winning the election, a news program announces that Lily is well on her way to Malacañang as she continues to top presidential surveys.
Lily's political career reflects the shift in her character, from a woman consumed by revenge to one whose vision has widened to include people whom she can serve.
"Hindi ko masasabing walang bahid ang aking pagkatao," Lily is heard saying in the closing scene. "Ang kagustuhan kong maghiganti ang nagdala sa akin sa pinakamadilim na sulok ng aking kaluluwa. Pero ang pag-ibig sa puso ko ang umahon sa akin para labanan ang sarili kong kadiliman, hindi lang para sa sarili kundi para sa isang buong bayan."
"Sa huli, hindi paghihiganti, kundi hustisya; hindi lang basta pagpapatawad, kundi katarungan; pero higit sa lahat, pagpapatawad sa sarili. Hangga't hindi natin pinapatawad ang mga sarili natin, hindi tayo magiging malaya para yakapin ang pinaka-maliwanag na bukas."
Lily indeed arrives in this bright future, along with her friends and family. Her mother Camia (Sunshine Cruz) weds a reformed Damian (Christian Vasquez), who was pardoned after being incarcerated as "Jaguar." Jepoy (Vin Abernica) and Ana (Yen Santos), Lily's childhood friends, can finally have a peaceful relationship with the Ardientes gone. Natalie (Roxanne Barcelo), meanwhile, becomes Lily's "BFF" and appears to win the heart of Marlon (Miko Raval), now mayor of Bagong Ardiente.
An unexpected new ally is also brought into the fold. Wheelchair-bound and in jail, a desolate Emilia gets a visit from Lily, who has her former rival in tears when she hands her a cake on the occasion of her birthday. She is not forgotten, Lily tells Emilia and she in fact has a friend in her.
"Lahat ng tao, Emilia, ay likas na mabuti, lalo na pag binibigyan ng pangalawang pagkakataon, lalo na pag hindi sinusukuan. Hindi pa huli ang lahat. Kaya mo pang magbago," Lily says.
Throughout its year-long run, "Wildflower" followed the journey of Lily through several changes -- from an orphaned child, a vengeful seductress, a gun-totting antihero, to finally a public servant with a newfound purpose.
The actress, Salvador, has referred to the role as a highlight of her 15-year career, saying in a recent interview that it will be more "difficult to let go" compared with her past characters. "Hindi ko alam kung paano siya aalisin. Forever siyang nandoon," she said at the time. "Iba 'yung ginawa niya sa sarili ko, sa career ko, at sa trabaho ko."
With "Wildflower's" conclusion, its Primetime Bida time slot will be occupied starting Monday by "The Blood Sisters," which stars Erich Gonzales as three women who share the same face.