It’s another party in the Hamptons, though this week’s has a much smaller guest list. As Conrad (Henry Czerny) and Victoria Grayson (Madeline Stowe) prepare to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, Times reporter Melissa is on the scene to document the occasion with hard-hitting questions like, “What’s the secret to a quarter-century of marriage?” After the Graysons lie through their clenched teeth, Queen Victoria sends the Life & Leisure section’s finest to admire the begonias in the garden with Ashley (Ashley Madekwe). She then proceeds to have a meltdown as she worries about what they’ve done to Frank (Max Martini) and Lydia (Amber Valletta). Turns out that ruining lives is the secret to wedded bliss.
Emily (Emily VanCamp) visits Nolan (Gabriel Mann), who isn’t happy to see his “former friend,” but he lets her in past his new bodyguard anyway. The billionaire is freaked out about his encounter with Frank and isn’t about to take chances with his life. Still, he’s curious to find out exactly how Emily plans to screw with Daniel (Joshua Bowman), but Emily swears that particular Grayson isn’t on her enemy list. Nolan is quick to forgive Lady Vengeance but muses that she’d be better off sailing off with Jack (Nick Wechsler) than continuing to take down the Hamptons' elite one by one. That’s one piece of advice Emily isn’t ready to take.
It’s tea time at the Graysons and Melissa is still there, getting details from Charlotte (Christa Allen) about life as the child of a perfect power couple. Charlotte is surprisingly well-behaved, though she manages to get in a dig about Daniel getting away with murder, hence his absence from the interview. Like a white knight with a self-inflicted battle scar, Tyler (Ashton Holmes) swoops in with a cover story for his best friend. He then asks Victoria if he can pretty please invite Ashley to her anniversary dinner. Sly move, asking in front of the reporter and Ashley herself; Victoria consents but icily denies Charlotte’s request to bring a date.
Daniel is still a tad hung over from his whiskey with a dash of roofies, so he buys Tyler’s story that he caused his friend’s gaping head wound. “Apparently, I can’t mention Emily’s name without you going ballistic,” says Tyler, and like a genie, Emily appears at the sound of her name. When she requests privacy, Tyler fakes a phone call from his mother in Rio, but he really activates his spy device so he can listen to Emily and Daniel. Naturally, Emily has more skeletons in her closet than she does cocktail dresses and doesn’t want Daniel to mention her to the reporter. Tyler smiles and closes his phone before he has to overhear them making out or talking about the weather or whatever it is they’re about to do next.
After leaving the Graysons, Emily finds the door to her house open and Frank holding her gun. The gravelly voiced investigator has discovered Emily’s juvie past, and he’s very suspicious of her and her pal Nolan. Once he leaves, Emily dashes to her semi-well-hidden mystery box and gets on the phone with a warden. The woman knows her as Amanda Clarke.
The elusive Daniel is ready for his sit-down with Times reporter Melissa. She remembers him as a party boy, so she’s surprised that he’s so humble with his bartending job and nonexistent bank account. “What’s her name?” asks the savvy reporter. While Daniel doesn’t want to give it, Tyler is more than happy to supply details once he’s out of earshot.
At the Stowaway, Jack isn’t happy with his new buddy Nolan; the tech genius’ dating advice caused him to humiliate himself with Emily, so he kicks Nolan out of his bar, for good. Meanwhile, Charlotte invites Declan (Connor Paolo) to her parents’ anniversary party, and the reporter tracks down Emily. Although Emily tries to dodge her questions, she finally consents to the interview.
A still-comatose Lydia is visited in the hospital by Victoria. When Frank shows up, the Queen sends for guards. Before they haul him away, Frank tells Victoria he’s going to redeem himself with her or die trying. It’d be kind of romantic if IV bags and antiseptic smells weren’t involved. Cut to Frank trying to use his Columbo charm to wield information out of the warden Emily spoke to earlier. He knows Emily Thorne’s record includes stabbing her foster with scissors, but the warden points out the man was convicted of abuse years later himself. Just when we’re starting to make Lisbeth Salander comparisons in our heads, the warden proposes a tour of the newly improved facilities; it turns out Emily has donated a bunch of money to show her gratitude for their care.
Melissa’s paper, the Times, has an extraordinarily fast turnaround time, and her article on the Hamptons’ golden couple is already printed. Declan reads Jack the section where Daniel mentions the Stowaway, but declares the rest of the article “gah-bage” in his befuddling accent. Once his brother leaves, Jack sees the picture of Daniel and Emily. He’s not the only one upset by Melissa’s crack reporting — Victoria laments to Conrad that they’re nothing like the husband and wife in the article. We learn two surprising bits of news: Victoria is paying Lydia’s medical bills, and the Queen stole Conrad away from his first wife 25 years ago.
Once they’re finished frolicking in the ocean, Emily and Daniel run into Tyler. Emily outs Tyler as the one who gave Melissa her name, and Daniel is not happy. She slips away to make a phone call to the warden; apparently she taught Emily a thing or two about taking people down. When she returns home, Emily has two more visitors: Nolan and his bodyguard, Ed. They want to install a panic room. “I don’t panic,” says Emily. Instead, she gives Nolan his first solo assignment: Operation Take Down Tyler.
With that taken care of, Emily heads to The Stowaway, the Hamptons’ newest hot spot. Ever since word got out that Daniel Grayson works there, everyone in need of a shaved-ice apple martini is lushing it up there. As a thank you for fixing her porch swing and an “I’m sorry I flat out rejected you,” Emily gives Jack an old mariner’s compass. (We kind of think she’s blowing her cover here, because really, a bottle of that expensive pinot they shared the other night would’ve sufficed.)
Ashley tells Tyler how excited she is to have made the guest list for the Graysons’ dinner party, and she pops in to a shop to look for a dress. Ever so casually, Nolan strolls up to Tyler, and just as casually, he drops the words “restraining order” and the name “Leslie Montgomery” into the conversation. He’s really good at this. He tells Tyler to meet him at his place, at the exact time of the Graysons’ shindig.
Evidently the warden forgot to escort Frank out of the juvenile detention center, because it’s late at night, he’s wearing gloves, and rifling through files. He finds Emily Thorne’s, but the girl in the mug shot is most definitely not our Em.
The Graysons are making awkward small talk with Declan and Emily and holding dinner for Tyler, but their houseguest is keeping his appointment with Nolan. What’s all this about Leslie Montgomery and a restraining order? Nolan knows Leslie’s not a lady at all. It seems Tyler spent the last year having his bills paid by the male equivalent of a cougar. The boys have a bit of a bonding moment when Nolan admits he’s a bit sexually ambiguous himself. So is Tyler a gay hustler? Ty’s a little “eh” on the first part, but he owns up to the second. His family is bankrupt, but he thinks Nolan would make a great sugar daddy. He leans in for a kiss.
It’s probably a good thing the Grayson party has given up on Tyler. They sit around the dinner table, and Declan rails against Emily for destroying his brother and giving him false help with that present she delivered earlier in the day. One by one, everyone leaves the table except the unhappy anniversary couple.
Frank visits a strip club, where he pays the chick dressed as a cop and straddling the pole to talk. It’s the girl from Emily Thorne’s juvie file, and she’s now going by the name Amanda Clarke. Meanwhile, the girl she’s swapped identities with, Emily, is fighting with Daniel. He’s not happy she saw Jack and lied about it, and he walks out when she tells him that she’s falling in love with him.
Back to Frank’s strip club adventure: Amanda Clarke tells him that yes, Emily paid her to switch names and identities. Every once in a while, a reporter still comes looking for Amanda, wanting to do a story about her father. Frank shows her Melissa’s article (that thing has gone the paper-and-ink equivalent of viral), and she asks him to meet her in the parking lot when she’s done stripping.
After Daniel brings her a cocktail, Victoria is left alone on her balcony. There’s a flashback to her, Conrad, and Frank. The men are preparing her for David Clarke’s trial, telling her that she’s not being convincing and if the truth comes out, Daniel will be taken away from her. Victoria starts her story again, saying David threatened to hurt her family.
Victoria’s phone rings, snapping her back to the present. Frank’s on the phone, and he tells her that Emily is not who she claims to be. Thwack. The stripper version of Emily/Amanda knocks him out, hangs up on Victoria, then hits him again.
An apologetic Tyler hands Ashley a single rose, which doesn’t impress her. Then he fesses up about his money troubles, and she admits she has ambitions herself and she’s loyal to herself above anyone else. These two could get in serious trouble together.
Much like the audience, Declan thinks Charlotte only invited him to her parents’ party to piss them off. She admits that it’s true, but she also thinks he’s smart and funny and cute and stuff. They proceed to make out.
Nolan’s lounging in his bed, dressed in a robe and an air of post-coital satisfaction. As he talks to Emily on the phone, he watches a video of his hook-up with Tyler. Emily is pleased that Tyler didn’t make it to dinner and tells Nolan to keep up the good work. He is happy to oblige. After she hangs up, Daniel joins her and admits that he’s falling in love with her, too. They proceed to make out (on the porch swing that Jack fixed for her, which is just cold).
Back in the hospital, Lydia slowly wakes up and notices Conrad at her bedside. The scene cuts to Emily and Daniel in bed; there’s a knock at the door. Stripper Amanda/Emily is on the other side and throws her arms around Hamptons Emily/Amanda. In a flashback, we learn that the girls met in juvie when Emily still had her black emo hair. We return to the present, and the stripper promises the rich girl that she took care of everything. The stripper has Frank’s phone and says someone named Victoria has been calling constantly. As the camera pans over Frank’s lifeless body, Queen V leaves a voicemail for her former employee, asking what he meant when he said Emily Thorne is not who she claims to be.
Is the stripper hanging around the Hamptons for a bit? Are Nolan and Tyler a cuter couple than Ashley and Tyler? Will Charlotte pay for a dialect coach for Declan? Unfortunately, we have to wait two weeks to find out.
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