“It’s the liberation of a stolen future... Absolution is the mercy the people who killed him will never know.”
Welcome back to the United States of Revenge. (That name is officially going to stick because I want to live in this state of suspense and awe forever, and now it’s an invented country where that’s possible. You’re welcome.) Now that the hubbub of Daniel’s Rich-Playboy-Versus-the People trial is over, Emily moves on to her real mission: Uncovering the horrible wrongdoing brought against her innocent father and bringing the responsible parties to justice. But the responsible party may be bigger than even the all-powerful wizards of money we've come to know as the Graysons.
As usual, there are just a few factors Emily can’t manage to control. Namely, the public’s opinion of Daniel and Daniel, himself. She manages to mold her future hubby into the man she wants him to be long enough to get him in front of a television camera, but once he gets there, she can’t coax him into doing her bidding and timid Daniel goes rogue. Suddenly, mastermind Emily is beholden to the whims of a silly little boy who thinks he’s doing the right thing by his family. Instead of pulling all the strings, Emily is tangled up in them, like a fly caught in an unknowing spider’s web. Considering that there are only two episodes left this season, this uncomfortable position is exactly where we want Emily, because it’s a place that will drive her to anger and potentially bad behavior. (And could that bad behavior mean spilling the beans or least giving Jack a little kiss? Yes, please.)
Emily’s journey towards the mess she finds herself in by episode’s end starts when she visits Charlotte, who’s having “father-daughter time” with everything she can find about David Clarke, officially making poor little bastard daughter Charlotte the saddest character on this series. Charlotte found a photo in the lining of Victoria’s jewelry box, it was taken the day David died. Emily snaps a cell phone pic and notices he’s writing in a notebook that was missing from the infinity box. She immediately charges right into Nolan’s home office and catches him trying to hide it and he swears David asked him to hide it, but Emily is on a path of Revenge, Nolan Ross, get out of her way, so she holds him up against the wall like a sexy lady Batman and he gives it up.
As Emily reads the journal, we see a flashback and realize there’s no way David could have asked Nolan not to show Emily/Amanda the journal because we see in a TV audience only flashback that immediately after he wrote the last lines — “I’m now trapped in a race between fate and freedom … CM will come tomorrow with proof” — a fight broke out and a US Marshall waltzed up and murdered him with all the casualness of someone on a Sunday stroll.
Next: Emily faces down the barrel of a shotgun.
[Image:ABC]Because her stint in juvee apparently taught her the skills of a super spy (and people say the system is broken!) Emily easily finds out who CM is and ascertains that she’s still alive and living under a different name. Pretending to be investigating Conrad for the Dept. of Homeland Security, Emily pays a visit to CM, or Carole Miller. And Miss Super Spy gets more than she bargained for because not only did Carole work for Conrad has his personal secretary once upon a time, but she’s got a shotgun and she’s not afraid to use it. But it turns out Miss Hatfield is actually Aunt Carole to Nolan, who comes dashing down the stairs to stop his aunt from killing Emily and reveal that she’s actually Amanda Clarke.
Now before you get all worked up about Nolan betraying Emily/Amanda, the over-privileged brat is actually a millionaire with a heart of gold. He was hiding the journal to protect his family and to make up for it, he makes Emily’s warpath a little more manageable by clearing up a Carole-sized chunk of the mystery. When Nolan moved in with his aunt, he confided in her that he was worried David Clarke was framed by Conrad Grayson, so instead of baking him cookies and making hot chocolate like we’d expect someone named Aunt Carole to do, she started investigating Grayson Global from the inside, where she found that the Graysons’ accountant thought he had enough evidence to exonerate David. But because she’s just sweet old Shotgun Annie/Aunt Carole and not a super spy like Emily, the Graysons were one step ahead: as soon as she found out, David was killed in prison. And now for the linchpin: she reveals that Conrad had a frequent sinister white-haired visitor, connected to the plane crash and David’s murder. And you don’t add a sinister white-haired character into a mystery like this unless some serious action is about to go down, just ask any Kung Fu movie ever.
Meanwhile, the Warf Rat brothers are dealing with the fallout from the trial, even though it seems the Graysons care more about replacing all the perfectly seasonal flowers in their entryway than monitoring Jack and Declan. Jack thinks the Graysons still care about Declan lying on the stand, but he’s more concerned about his giant crush on Emily.He makes it his mission to save her from marrying into a corrupt family, because he assumes she’s pure and good when really, she’s a ninja who stole his sweatshirt, framed Lee, and started dating Daniel just to get back at his family.
When Prince Jack (who I guess is sort of the Prince Ali/Aladdin variety of princes on account of his lack of infinite wealth in the face of the Hamptons elite) visits Emily to tell her about his sweatshirt (which she already knows about, you poor fool!), she gets a call to pick Daniel up from prison. His plan B is to confront Daniel directly, in hope that he’s not as corrupt as his parents. While he gets his point across about the bloody sweatshirt being stolen and planted on Lee, he adds the rivalry-stoking zinger: he’s only telling Daniel “Because Emily trusts you.” Translation: I’m in love with your girlfriend, so protect her or else. That's some sort of nautical threat only boat captains understand.
In these days of the one percent versus the 99 percent (relevant, you guys!) Daniel may be acquitted in court, but in eyes of the poor, huddled masses, he’s a former playboy whose parents’ money just won him his freedom. When he and Emily leave the prison like Brad and Angelina of New York’s Elite murder trials, they’re met with angry cries from the crowd and “Murderer” scrawled in red paint on her car. Emily’s plan is to have him speak out in the media instead of hiding and Conrad agrees, which makes Victoria contort her face like an angry naked molerat (which is the scariest of her trying-to-remain-composed-and-resist-the-urge-to-rip-out-your-heart-like-a-vampire-on-True-Blood faces).
Next: Victoria crafts her own revenge.
She doesn’t murder anyone, but Victoria does take her revenge (see, because it’s the name of the show) on Conrad for banishing her artistic lover and stealing the favor of her son. Dear old Connie took Victoria’s toys and her form of a temper tantrum is selling her stock in Grayson Global and ratting him out to the feds, who immediately seize his company and laugh in his face. In light of this event the night before Daniel’s big interview, ol’ Connie decides to spill everything to Daniel because he’s sure to field reporters’ questions about the issue the next morning. Luckily, Emily still has her bug set up and hears the whole story of what Conrad did to David Clarke and “his innocent little girl” (aww, he’s only sort of soulless!) and how Victoria paid Lee to have Daniel beat up in prison. Unfortunately for us, we don’t actually hear that whole story about David, because like a good first date, the writers know they have to keep the mystery alive.
Charlotte is still with her pill pusher ex-cum-current boyfriend, though she can’t even stand to kiss him. He calls Declan a Warf Rat like he thinks he’s one of those guards chasing Aladdin through Agrabah. (I love Disney movies and Disney references and I simply will not apologize for it!) When Charlotte all but ignores him, he rats – being a Warf Rat and all – her out to the principal, who raids her locker and finds the Oxy as Declan stands by in a perment state of sulking. Like her secret sister Emily/Amanda did to Nolan, Charlotte also throws him Declan against wall and holds his neck like lady Batman. Maybe it runs in the family? She threatens to have him kicked out of Prep school, but Nolan takes care of that when he uses his useless millions to pick up Declan’s tuition bill. But this is the only happy story you will hear, so cherish it.
And now for Showtime! As he’s being prepared by a makeup artist, Emily tries to convince Daniel to resist his Grayson-given talent for lying and Victoria makes her plea to ignore everything Emily says. Unfortunately for Victoria, Daniel joining her team is out of the question because he knows she paid for his prison beating. So now, the conflict comes down to Conrad versus Emily.
As Daniel’s begins the interview with a nondescript news station it’s going rather well, except for the fact that #OccupyDaniel was trending on Twitter. (That sounds like an adult film and not the point his critics are trying to make. Then again, Twitter would.) As he walks through his “epic” polished interview, he touches all the right Emily bases and we think, “By Jove, she’s done it!” But when the reporter switches gears to ask him about the allegations against his father, Daniel resolutely chooses to back his father, and like a dopey dog following his master, says his father is the victim of a witch hunt stemming from the public’s distrust of Daniel in the wake of his trial. With that, he’s aligned himself with his father’s prong of this three-prong fight, and Emily has landed herself in a marriage that is looking more and more like prison sentence.
And in case the favor of his son wasn’t enough, Conrad pulls in some extra help: Emily’s former friend and Victoria’s PR wiz, Ashley, who’s just been burned by Victoria. She lost her job with Mr. Brooks, the Graysons’ lawyer, because Victoria tipped him off to the fact that Ashley leaked the bloody photos of Daniel to the press so she’d have a crisis to manage so perfectly. Conrad loves a conniving woman and gives her a Lexus (product placement!) as incentive to join the Dark Side. I can hear the “Imperial March” now.
Victoria, realizing she’s lost her son, moves onto her bastard daughter and only just now realizes that there might just be a connection between Charlotte’s Oxy addiction and the fact that her real father was killed violently as a framed terrorist and she’s been lied to her whole life. But to be fair to Victoria, having two kids and a never-ending scheme running in one’s head does take a lot out of you. To further the only bond Victoria has a chance of solidifying (because Charlotte is so fragile and malleable) they visit David’s grave and Charlotte sees that there’s a single rose placed on the grave and what should be a mother-daughter moment goes right back to scheming. We can see the elegant, Cartier wheels turning in Victoria’s head: Amanda Clarke is lurking nearby, she just knows it. Of course, she’s right, she just doesn’t know how right she is.
Finally, Emily tells Nolan her plan over top shelf liquor at the Stowaway (which is probably the closest we’ll ever get to drunk Emily, because she’s just so dedicated to this mission): She’ll marry Daniel and find the man who killed her father … and then kill him. But, she already found him, she just doesn’t know it. She watches yet another tape of Conrad talking about David Clarke, filmed in his office and “that white-haired man” that Aunt Carole was talking about shows up. She cross checks it with the photo of her father the day he was killed and we see that the white-haired man is the man with the US Marshall patch who killed David in the flashback. Emily can’t know that yet because she doesn’t have the benefit of TV flashbacks like we, the lucky audience do, but she does know that this man has something to do with Conrad’s scheme and that he did the unthinkable: He put the fear in the man who can make any bad situation disappear.
Emily’s shown us she can handle herself better than most of the men on this show, but now she’s going up against what my video-game loving brother would equate to the “big boss” of Season 1. Conrad told Ashley as she got into her car that Victoria matters very little in the grand scheme of things, which means we may be moving on up to a bigger, better mystery and villain with the introduction of this white-haired figure.
Who do you think the mystery man is? And why does he scare ol’ Connie so much? Is Daniel really on his father’s side or is he (gasp) playing a little game of his own? Is he even capable of that?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.