Victoria: Last season, Victoria successfully put all her energy into breaking Daniel and Emily’s engagement. It’s inevitable, then, that her first course of action, in her ploy to regain control over Daniel, is to reconcile the pair, using Emily as the pretty bait to snare him. Inviting Emily over to Grayson Manor for lemonade, Victoria tells her that Daniel’s still in love with her, and enlists her help; Victoria says that Daniel’s changed since their breakup, and not for the better. Later, Victoria holds a dinner for her friends, Judge Robert Barnes and his wife, Patricia, and arranges for both Daniel and Emily to attend.
Emily: While Emily’s more than happy to oblige Victoria in her matchmaking plans, she has other reasons for accepting her dinner invitation, as we learn that Robert Barnes was the judge at Emily’s father’s trial. Moreover, Emily has a letter written to her father acknowledging his innocence, from a man named James Palmer, who knew both Barneses, and who died suspiciously in an accident a few days after the trial. As Emily takes the opportunity to not quite discreetly grill the couple at dinner, the party, like most other Grayson gatherings, doesn’t go exactly to plan for Victoria. Nonetheless, the dinner does bring Emily and Daniel closer. In addition, Emily orchestrates a perfectly executed fake breakup with Aiden at a restaurant, a few tables from where Daniel and Conrad are having lunch. As Emily flees the restaurant following the sham fight and brushes past Daniel, the smile that flickers across her face as she walks away, knowing full well that Daniel’s eyes are still on her, is all Amanda Clarke. And when, at the close of the episode, Emily catches Victoria at her watchtower spying on her and Daniel on the porch, she revels in kissing him and thus sealing her pact with Victoria. But the real victory for Emily comes with a breakthrough at the benefit Victoria hosts for the Barneses, where Emily persuades Patricia to come clean about her husband’s misgivings as a judge – there was a tainted jury at David Clarke’s trial – and as a tyrant husband who abuses his wife. Patricia, it turns out, was really the author of the letter to David Clarke.
Daniel: It’s a seemingly good week for Daniel. Having recently usurped his father as CEO of Grayson Global, he’s enjoying the power — and rocking the business suit. And with Emily newly single, his love life’s already on the up after the Ashley Davenport debacle – need we remind you of the previous episode’s Ashley-Conrad sex tape, and the Salvador hotel room affair? Strangely, Daniel’s bumping into Emily a fair amount lately. (Coincidence, or the shrewd planning of an ever-resourceful Victoria Grayson?) Regardless, Daniel finds an excuse to visit Emily later, recruiting her at Grayson Global to oversee their charity division. And then, clinching the win for Daniel, Emily kisses him. Still, it’s only a matter of time before Daniel gets hurt again. The young Grayson should enjoy this victory while he can.
Helen: We still don’t know a lot about Helen from the Initiative, except that she’s Helen from the Initiative and everything she says is important. This episode, though, she shows up more than once, and when she does make an appearance, it’s to actually interact with the characters. In person. Helen’s no longer on the end of a formidable phone call to Conrad or Victoria, but in a limo talking business with Daniel, tipping him off about his father’s hidden assets in Grayson Global. Later, Helen coaxes Aiden to a warehouse to blackmail him with the fact that his sister, Colleen, is still alive after all, and being held by the Initiative, which we learn killed off Colleen’s kidnapper some time ago. Aiden: 0, Helen from the Initiative: 1.
Aiden: Though the Colleen narrative is one of the show’s murkier story lines, what we do know from poor Aiden’s exchange with the Initiative is that he is, for the moment anyway, quite doomed, with no foreseeable solution. Getting fake broken up with by Emily sucks, too, and although he’s in on the ruse, we can see some involuntary Daniel jealousy in his future.
Declan and Charlotte: These two had a chance to pull an Emily-and-Aiden-style operation this week, but instead failed miserably. While clumsy Declan was out back, sifting through bags of coffee beans to unearth the bags of drugs the Ryan brothers have been harboring at the Stowaway – and spilling the beans everywhere in the process – Charlotte completely fudged her attempts at distracting the Ryans.
Jack: In an effort to deal with the fraudulent, drug-hoarding Ryan brothers for good, Jack calls the cops – a cop friend, no less – to expose them. But, when the police search the Stowaway and their dog sniffs out a bag of drugs next to the handgun on Jack’s boat, it’s Jack who takes the blame and winds up arrested, calling Amanda from jail. Oh, the irony.
Amanda: Four words: arrested fiancé, screaming baby. Sucks to be you, fake Amanda.
Conrad: While Daniel’s begun digging around for his father’s secrets at Grayson Global, Conrad endeavors to enjoy retired life around Grayson Manor, though it doesn’t really suit him – much like the regrettable pair of plaid shorts he’s sporting at lunch. A man of leisure, he’s also irking Mrs. Grayson: “Oh God help us all,” Victoria sighs at the unfortunate prospect of having him constantly at home with her.
Nolan: Back in town as Nolcorp’s reinstated CFO, Marco’s once more seeking Nolan’s affections. Despite Nolan’s reluctance to indulge him, it’s obvious that something will happen (much to Padma’s chagrin) between these two. Next episode? Or perhaps, the one after? Also troubling is that Marco holds the key (well, a USB) to some valuable but dangerous software that he suggests using against Grayson Global (now Nolcorp’s parent company), though Nolan’s skeptical for some unexplained reason. Could Marco use that power against Nolan somehow? Regardless of his feebler moments this week, Nolan does coin one of his finest phrases to date in the series: the “fake up,” which he uses to refer to Emily and Aiden’s faux break up.
Judge Robert Barnes: The ultimate loser this week is unequivocally Judge Barnes, the Graysons’ guest of dishonor. Beyond being exposed at the benefit as a corrupt judge and husband, Barnes is the latest to fall prey to Emily’s red Sharpie pen in her plan to avenge her father, as she marks his face in a photograph, as she does all her victims: with a ceremonial, final X.