By Thom Geier
Updated November 01, 2007 at 02:00 PM EDT

In the immortal words of Karen Darling, this show is starting to activate my yummy. I’m even beginning to get into the whole who-killed-Nick’s-dad plot, at least as it’s playing itself out in the rivalry between Tripp and Simon Elder (though Blair Underwood seems a little too lightweight for the part, like Donald Trump by way of Lando Calrissian). Simon convinces Nick that the NTSB report on his dad’s fatal plane crash was tampered with and that he’ll fork over the real report if Nick persuades Tripp to ante up Darling Plaza (Tripp’s very first home in Manhattan) in an ultra-high-stakes poker game among billionaire moguls (including a token woman) who seem to have nothing better to do than lose $100 million assets in a game of chance.

And it seems Nick isn’t the only member of the Darling camp currying Simon Elder’s favor. By the end of the episode, Patrick is cozying up to Mr. Moneybags too. You see, Tripp hires paparazzi to snap a pic of Patrick and Carmelita smooching, then tries (unsuccessfully) to pay off Carmelita. (I never thought Candis Cayne could hold her own with Donald Sutherland, but darned if she pulls off that feat with lines like: “I’m a living, breathing testament to the fact that nothing, and I mean nothing, is impossible.”) When Patrick learns of Tripp’s plan, he goes ballistic on Dad, who has big plans for Patrick to fulfill the destiny of his assassinated Uncle Kenneth. (This is now the second reference to Kenneth, though we still don’t know what office he held or how he got killed. Any bets on whether Dutch and/or Simon Elder were involved?)

But back to the game. Nick does persuade Tripp to bet Darling Plaza, and Simon promptly wins the hand (seems the dealer doubles as Simon’s executive assistant). Then we get the surprise twist that I, for one, did not see coming. (Did any of you, sage PopWatchers?) Seems Nick leveled with Tripp from the get-go, and the two conspired to lose Darling Plaza to Simon and fake a falling-out so Nick could ingratiate himself with Simon and dig up more information — on Simon’s business interests, on Dutch’s death, on how a fairly recent émigré from Russia could, um, look and sound like Blair Underwood. The new lead in the Dutch mystery turns out to be a dead-end, literally. The airplane mechanic apparently lied to Nick about tampering with Dutch’s plane, but now he’s pushing daisies too. (It’s a shame Ned can’t hang around for a couple extra hours of primetime to solve this one.)

Speaking of Dutch: Not only was the man a crummy dad to Nickand possibly a turncoat working for Simon Elder, he was also apparentlya lousy family lawyer. Karen learns that Dutch never actually filed herdivorce papers, so she’s still technically married to Hubby No. 3.Luckily for her, and us, Sebastian Fleet is People‘s sexiest man alive in the “anthropologist division.” (Think former History Channel hottie Josh Bernsteinis jealous?) She tries to dispatch Nick to see Sebastian, but he refuses, prompting thisutterly Karen-esque exit line: “Letting me risk ruining my marriage toFreddy sure makes it look like you want me free for you.”

Fleet, whose name is remarkably similar to teddy-bear-clutching man-child Sebastian Flyte from Evelyn Waugh’s classic Brideshead Revisited, is embodied (and I choose that verb deliberately) by Third Watch alum Eddie Cibrian, who thankfully answers his door dressed (barely) in a towel. Karen, naturally, sleeps with him. (She’s no idiot, after all.) For his part, Fleet signs the papers and shares his opinion that Marriage No. 4 ain’t gonna work since Hubby No. 4 ain’t Nick George. (Like many a Dirty Sexy Money fan, the girl has apparently had it bad for Peter Krause for a verrry long time.) Karen’s response? She moves up the wedding,of course. Excellent. Better to move this plot along so we can get to the good stuff of Karen wrecking two marriages instead of just one.

Thanks to new working man Jeremy, we finally learn the source of the Darling wealth. Nick gives a tour of the family holdings in a quest for an entry-level job suitable for the twin’s unique skill set. (Wonder where one puts “zoning out” on a résumé.) So, the Darlings make their moolah from pharmaceuticals, organic produce, and real estate mostly (including some hotels, stadiums, office towers, and residential buildings). I had speculated that Jeremy (Seth Gabel, pictured) might end up as a doorman, but instead he’s working for his former doorman as a… valet. And he promptly crashes a — product placement alert! — Toyota owned by a hot Latina whom he tries to impress without revealing his secret identity as a filthy-rich guy (though he predictably winds up buying a new car for her until the old one can be repaired). Jeremy may be fickle when it comes to women (and life), but he’s got this endearing charm that recalls, well, Sebastian Flyte. Any guesses on how long he’ll last as a valet — or if he’ll cycle through a series of low-level jobs before deciding that employment is just not his thing?

Oh, one thing I should mention for those who’ve quibbled with my last recap: I reviewed the last episode (as well as this one) based on an advance screener from ABC and there were/are some small differences between the version I saw and the final broadcast. Juliet’s ringtone in the last episode, for instance, switched from “Rich Girl” to “It’s My Party.” Also there was a line cut in which Brian admits that Brian Jr.’s mom initially came to him for counseling for the death… of her dog.

I’m glad that’s off my chest. I feel a little less Gustav, a little more Brian Jr. (Sure wish I had a $30,000 watch of my own.) Now let’s turn things over to you, PopWatchers. What do y’all make of Tripp telling Nick that he’s going to run the Darling businesses one day? Is that a ruse to lure Nick deeper into the fold and distract him from any involvement he might have had in Dutch’s death, or a legitimate suggestion, perhaps based on the fact that none of Tripp’s offspring seem up to the task (assuming that any of the Darling kids are actually his, or that he’s not secretly Nick’s dad)? And on a stickier subject: While I’m charmed about the two Brians bonding over videogames, backgammon, and pancakes, does anyone else find the notion of a “syrup hole” a rather dubious delivery system for rich, mapley deliciousness?