Jack finds a new ally, Emily loses hers, and Victoria shows her tender side
Credit: Colleen Hayes/ABC
S2 E18
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Six weeks have gone by since last week’s episode, and yet, not much has changed. Jack is still biding his time in his revenge plot, Charlotte still looks mopey, and Emily — well, she’s been sending postcards from 1973. But I get ahead of myself; let’s discuss Nolan’s degeneration into Carrie from Homeland. Our favorite blond hacker has transformed his office into a crazy den, papered with leads on Padma’s disappearance. (Can they be called leads if they don’t lead anywhere?) Emily’s worried: Nolan hasn’t left his office in weeks. But it’s not just Padma that he’s concerned about; it’s everybody that he’s failed over the past year. “You saved Jack’s life,” Emily reminds him.

Victoria’s looking particularly chipper planning the Grayson Masquerade. Daniel strolls in on her preparations, which include setting him up with every eligible woman in a 150-mile radius. He’s not especially thrilled, but Victoria chides him for raining on her parade. “If memory serves, we had to cancel last year due to your murder charge.” Touché, Mrs. Grayson. Ashley brings Victoria a pile of RSVPs from the office, including one dated from 1973, courtesy of…her son. When Ashley asks who it’s from, Victoria shoots back, “it’s just a seasonal trifle. Not unlike yourself.”

Emily is so worried about Nolan that she asks Aiden to play their final card against the Initiative: torpedoing their investments. “There’s still the smallest chance that she’s alive,” Ems says of Padma. She made Nolan a promise and she intends to keep it (even if it took her six weeks to do so). Meanwhile, Emily continues her one-woman haunting of Mrs. Victoria Grayson via the USPS.

Conrad is rehearsing for his town hall Q&A. When Ashley rattles off an especially tough question, he replies: “These people are townies. Are any of them smart enough to ask that?” A man of the people, Conrad Grayson is. But Jack is keeping Conrad in line with his blue-collar advice. “Don’t say working class,” Jack counsels. “Tap your inner Clinton,” Ashley adds. Poor choice of words, Monica Lewinsky. But her next words of wisdom are priceless: “Wear a tie. People want to be able to relate to you, not feel like you’re related to them.” Oh, rich people.

NEXT: Investing, Aiden Mathis-style

Aiden informs Daniel of his shoddy investments, which, of course, scares the crap out of him. But Trask doesn’t care. “My colleague got ahead of himself,” Daniel insists to the weaselly Initiative member. However, the Initiative has decided to liquidate their assets in Grayson Global as a part of “phase two” (I’m assuming this has nothing to do with Marvel and everything to do with Carrion), so all Aiden’s done is give the organization a head start. If only that were the end of them. But we’re not that lucky. Daniel phones Emily, excited. “It was all for your protection,” he says, attempting to explain his six-week absence before inviting her to his mother’s masquerade ball. Emily’s uncertain: she tried to wrangle an invitation earlier, but Victoria unceremoniously turned her down. “I guess we’re lucky her disapproval will be stuffed behind a mask.”

Nolan finally leaves his fanatical abode to visit Jack, who needs his help getting his revenge on Conrad at the town hall Q&A. Side note: I was glad to see he showered somewhere in there. Nolan’s just not Nolan when he’s not showered. Elsewhere, Victoria tries to comfort a depressed Charlotte, but she’s got other things on her mind. Like the bouquet of black roses missing a twelfth bloom so she can recognize her son at the masked ball. Ems, you are so delightfully creepy.

Trask leaves Grayson Global only to find Aiden in his back seat. With a gun to his head, Trask is forced to take Aiden to Padma. Meanwhile, at the town hall Q&A, Conrad consoles a woman whose mother has Alzheimer’s. He’s actually surprisingly convincing, but that could be because he rehearsed all his answers in advance. Too bad a question about David Clarke manages to get through. And yet, shocked as he is, Conrad handles himself with aplomb, promising to re-open his case and “secure a presidential pardon” for Amanda’s ill-fated father. I wouldn’t have gone that far, but the poor man was under pressure.

Conrad returns home to confront Victoria about all the postage she’s been receiving. “From your loving son,” he reads, retrieving the card for the roses from the trash. “Well, we can be certain that’s not Daniel.” Zing! Victoria reveals that she was indeed pregnant when she was a teenager (thanks to her mother’s lovely boyfriend), but insists that she terminated the child. “I try to keep the ghosts out,” she tells Conrad. “They always force their way back in.”

NEXT: A death!

Trask leads Aiden to Padma… Or what’s left of her, that is. She was kept alive for six weeks, only to be killed today. Seems rather odd, and I have to admit, I’m suspicious. What were they doing with her for those six weeks? Aiden wonders the same thing, but Trask refuses to answer, instead informing him of the motion-detector system that will send a call out to the cops should Aiden activate it by shooting him. Aiden elects to snap Trask’s neck instead (which alerts the police anyways).

“Leave your identities at the door… Let the masquerade commence,” Victoria greets her guests. As she and Conrad descend the stairs, he asks her if his mask projects likeability. “More so than the man behind it,” she answers cheerfully before catching sight of Emily. Victoria confronts her: “Is it possible I wasn’t clear when I spoke with you?” But Emily’s back with Daniel, guaranteeing her an invite to any and all Grayson events.

After hearing of Conrad’s promise to grant a pardon to David Clarke, Emily wryly notes to Nolan that Conrad Grayson just got her vote. And it’s all thanks to Nolan for planting that unauthorized question at the Q&A. The Porter brothers stroll over, looking mighty fine. “Who knew the Porter brothers could pull off masks?” Ems asks. “That’s exactly what I want to do,” Declan replies. “Pull this thing off.” He takes his teenage hormones elsewhere, leaving Emily to speak to Jack, who, after six weeks of the silent treatment, actually speaks back to her.

After the debacle at the Q&A (which included Jack playing a fragment of one of Nate Ryan’s tapes), Ashley is in the doghouse. The minute Conrad makes it to the governor’s office, he plans to jettison Ash and not look back. He should think twice — she’s mainly the reason he’ll make it there in the first place. One of Victoria’s prospects for Daniel stops by for a chat with the dragon lady, lamenting that Danny is “back on the arm of the ice queen.” This is the first Victoria’s heard about it, but the proof is on Page Six, which features a shot of the two of them dining together. She’s dismayed, but unfortunately her son isn’t as stupid as she’d like to think. He figured out that she — and not the Initiative — was behind the particular image in question. Daniel’s even so kind as to return the bullets.

NEXT: Aiden could use a lesson in tact.

Is there a good time tell your friend that the love of his life is dead? Probably not, but there’s got to be one better than at the Graysons’ masquerade. That doesn’t stop Aiden, though, who drops the bombshell on Nolan in the middle of the festivities. He takes off in tears, followed by Emily. “She got dragged into this because of me,” he weeps, blaming Emily as well. “I’m sorry,” she says, because what else is there to say? Nolan insists she head back to the party, but for once she’s more focused on him than on revenge: “I’m not leaving you alone Nolan.” In the end, however, he just wants be alone, and she lets him be.

Charlotte stumbles across some mean party guests making fun of Amanda and her slutty ways. So what does she do? Throw a punch. Day-um, girl. Emily makes her way back to Aiden, who’s heard that she’s reunited with Daniel — and is less than thrilled. Aiden knows that it was Daniel who planted that photo on Page Six as a way of solidifying his and Ems’ relationship status. Emily realizes this too, but of course it’s in her interests to be back with Danny Boy.

“I heard Charlotte hit someone,” Victoria tells Jack in passing. Parenting 101, everyone. She thanks Jack for his help on the campaign, adding that it will be a victory for his late wife if Conrad pursues the clearing of David Clarke’s name. “There’s no victory for Amanda,” he answers. She is, after all, dead (or his version of Amanda is, at least).

So he wasn’t wearing an iron mask, but for those of you who’ve seen it, did this next scene not play out just like The Man in the Iron Mask? I laughed audibly when the white and black masked guy showed up, complete with a black rose in his lapel. Poor Victoria never stood a chance, though I didn’t expect her to pass out.

NEXT: Victoria reminds us why we like to root for her.

The next morning, Victoria awakes to find Conrad working from home. “I wanted to be here for you, my dear,” he says, offering her some tea. “You may need your strength while explaining what happened.” He suspects she lied about having the pregnancy terminated (she did), but she insists she has the proof to back her story up and promises she’ll produce it. Let’s take a moment to notice that what Conrad’s actually concerned about is the effect this revelation will have on his campaign. He couldn’t care less that his wife has another child outside of that.

Aiden’s heartbroken because he didn’t hear from Emily all night. He assumed she was with Daniel, though she says she was talking to Nolan. “I hate that it has to be this way,” she tells him, referring to her faux-relationship with Daniel. “I’m not jealous, Emily,” he replies. “I’m disgusted.” Emily warns him that Daniel is looking into him thanks to something Trask said, but Aiden doesn’t really care. He heads to New York. Separately. Is that it for them? Seems like an anti-climactic ending for these too.

Ashley visits Jack, who offers to make her a part of his revenge team. “I heard the way Conrad talked to you at the party,” he says. She agrees, but only after insisting she wasn’t involved in Amanda’s death. “You wouldn’t be standing here if you were.” Back at Nolcorp, Nolan’s tearing apart his crazy den, only to be walked in on by the inspector investigating Padma’s disappearance. Whoops. It’s incriminating to say the least, and added to the fact that Padma died only yesterday, it’s downright damning.

Victoria’s off to find her proof for Conrad (or to fake that proof). She visits a church, where she meets with the nun who took her son all those years ago. Again, she looks almost happy hearing about her forsaken child. Certainly the boy has had a better life than she has. “Thank you, sister,” she tells the nun. “For everything.” Victoria gets up to leave and her spot is taken by Emily, who asks the sister for help: “I’m pregnant. I’ve got nowhere else to go.” Talk about déjà vu.

Was it just me, or did this week’s episode feel messy? Maybe it was the bizarre six-week time jump, but the whole thing was rushed: In one fell swoop Aiden and Emily’s relationship ended, Padma died, Nolan became a murder suspect, Jack teamed up with Ashley…on and on and on. And who knows what happened with Carrion and the Initiative? I’d have had more appreciation for this episode if I felt like the writers were wrapping up bad plotlines, but I can’t help but think that the Initiative and perhaps even Padma will be back in the near future. And let’s just say that doesn’t exactly thrill me. What were your thoughts?

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Welcome to the Hamptons, a glittering world of incredible wealth and privilege, where smiles hide secrets—and nothing is colder than revenge.
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