This episode opens with a creepy as shit nightmare of Amanda hanging out with her mom until her mom morphs into Victoria. Unsettling! Both women are presumed dead and both will be resurrected in this season. I see what you did there, show!
Having successfully faked her death, Victoria wants to take Charlotte (and her inheritance money) and get the hell out of dodge. Two things get in her way: 1. Emily manipulates Charlotte into staying by making her aware of Amanda’s pregnancy; 2. Conrad has taken over Charlotte’s inheritance. Victoria’s plan depended on the inheritance to pay off the White Haired Man, so she ends up having to change course and rise from the dead. She contacts Conrad and they frame the White Haired Man, making it look like he abducted her and Conrad took Charlotte’s money to pay a ransom. Conrad and Victoria’s antagonism is absolute perfection when they are reunited. Love it.
Charlotte did not seem nearly as awesome as she did in the premiere. Of course, she got to deliver melodramatic lines like “You really are a monster!” Given the direction everything went with her dad coming out of it the hero, maybe she’ll retain some of her innocence. I do hope we see more character development for her as she becomes tougher and more mature.
Daniel had his good moments. He went to bat for his sister when he found out what his dad had done. It was good to see him stand up to Conrad, and it’s actually kind of sad the way he and Charlotte are constantly pulled under by their parents’ deception. As soon as they claim a bit of independence they get dragged back into their parents’ control and lies. It’s kind of frustrating to watch.
Oh, and Ashley has turned into a sneaky little greed monster. She’s basically spying on Daniel for Conrad. If Ashley and Conrad don’t have a gross affair at some point I will be really surprised.
Some of the best and most heartbreaking moments were when we saw Emily watching Amanda live the life she could have. In fact, Emily is setting Amanda up to connect with the people she secretly loves. She sets up a meeting with pregnant Amanda and Charlotte and she sits and watches them hug and bond from her car. She sees Jack and Amanda together and pretends to be happy for them. Emily ensures their relationship by guaranteeing that the paternity test names Jack as the father.
Of course, what’s messed up about all this is that she’s using all of them for her own ends. She plants doubt in Jack’s mind about the child’s paternity so that she can secure Amanda’s loyalty and help in manipulating Charlotte. She tells Amanda that the baby isn’t Jack’s, but it is. She has chosen revenge over Jack and Charlotte and has placed Amanda in their lives, but she resents and envies their relationships. Lying to Amanda about the test results has the added benefit of making her further indebted, but there’s more to it.
I really can’t compliment Emily VanCamp enough for her performance in this series. She manages to convey all of that while her character rarely ever admits to it out loud – or even to herself. She balances manufactured warmth that’s believable with underlying icy resolve as she moves the pawns in her plan. And then there’s a deeper level of actual warmth, but it’s so deeply buried behind walls and lies you seldom see it.
This is what makes this show better and more satisfying to watch than other soapy dramas I’ve seen. The characters lie so much to themselves and each other they rarely say what’s really going on, but they show you, even if their intentions are mysterious at times. I think it’s why I can not only stand but actually kind of like the voice over narration in this show. In every other show I literally just tune the narration out. Emily Thorne’s musings on destiny, vengeance, and resurrection set a tone and lay out the themes of the episode rather than over explaining or, say, rambling nonsensically.
Remember that hidden layer of warmth Emily is hiding? It shows a little more around Nolan. Emily has begrudgingly developed trust and dare I say affection for the king of one liners. She keeps telling him to move out, but I think she’s just trying to keep up appearances. They are secret dysfunctional BFF roomies and I love them.
Nolan was removed from the main storyline this week as the show introduced a new character (of the bow chicka bow wow variety?). I like the Account Analyst turned CFO. First, I liked it when he had Skype meetings without pants on. I’ve worked from home before – totally legit. Second, I think a less completely effed up love interest than, say, Tyler (see: anyone ever) will make a good balance to the generally twisted relationships on this show. Of course, she will probably end up being some kind of evil ninja spy torture master (and not in a good way).
Oh, and Declan! He met a suspicious kid at school who asked him to hold on to some stolen jewelry for a bit for extra cash. I’m sure this will not backfire at all. Honestly, I don’t want to see Declan being stupid and getting in over his head. Don’t be stupid, Declan!
At the end of the episode, with her plan having been foiled, she decides to call the “White Haired Manible Lectre” (Nolan’s words), the thinking presumably being “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Wrong. Although he starts to explain what happened to her mother, he just ends up trying to kill her. Luckily her secret ninja friend Aiden shows up to save the day. Maybe we will get to know him better next week.
All in all, the plot is already pretty intense for episode 2 and I’m pretty much having a blast watching this season. Comment and let me know what you thought of the episode and if you’re enjoying the show as much as I am!
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