It’s 4:30 in the morning, Frank Stephens is dead, and Amanda Clarke’s past has literally caught up with her in the form of a trashy stripper who doesn’t own a straightener. The fake Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) drives angrily along the dark coastline, glaring into the murky abyss. Sitting shotgun is the real Emily Thorne, who seems either clueless that she killed throaty Grayson security honcho Frank Stephens, or totally and sociopathically smug about it. “I was expecting a bit more gratitude,” the real Emily says to fake Emily, who we will now call Amanda Clarke in order to minimize confusion. Basically, the Hamptons is one big sorority of infinity pools and “house bikinis” and girls with American Girl doll names.
Amanda pounds on the door to Nolan Ross’s (Gabriel Mann) house, which is seemingly made entirely of windows and sharp corners. It’s like he decorated by artistically arranging marble slabs and abstract orange paintings. Nolan’s linebacker bodyguard, Ed, hears the frantic banging and tries to fend Amanda off with his deep voice as Nolan daintily descends from his tower in — what else? — a paisley robe. Nolan calls Ed off, explaining it’s just Emily (er, Amanda) “delivering her daily dose of fresh hell earlier than usual.” Amanda asks Nolan to babysit her new wavy-haired friend, who at that point struts into the glass house and smooches Amanda goodbye with her Bonne Belle stripper lip gloss.
Across town, Conrad and Victoria Grayson cower over Lydia Davis in her hospital bed as her doctor evaluates her pupils. Lydia has no idea why she’s there, and her unassuming doctor tells the Graysons that, in order to fully recover, Lydia needs to rest and be supported by “friends like you.”
Victoria must be taking fashion advice from Michelle Obama because her wardrobe was full of red, the color of power, this episode. Conrad puts his jacket on and the Graysons examine their blonde mistress problem through the hospital blinds. Conrad tells his wife they need to get their stories straight, and then leaves Victoria to stare at Lydia like Gollum gazed at his precious ring. If Lydia is the ring, does that make Emily the Elijah Wood of the Hamptons? Yeah, we took this Lord of the Rings reference one step too far.
On the other side of town, and the tracks, Charlotte Grayson bounds down the stairs at The Stowaway, where the Porter boys seem to both work and live. Declan follows her carrying a tray of orange juice (chivalry is alive even in Hamptons poverty!). Jack side-smiles knowingly, pours his brother some coffee, and gives him the sweetest big brother talk ever (until later in the episode). “That girl comes from a totally different planet, man,” Jack warns Declan, adding, “if that girl gets pregnant, man…” Declan clarifies that he didn’t sex Charlotte up, he just “slept with her,” a.k.a. played Dreamphone and braided her hair. Sigh, somehow Jack got all of the charisma — and hoodies — in this family.
Meanwhile, Daniel Grayson is sitting in his pool house (or wing, or suite) in the Grayson mansion, which is painted a color of navy blue only ever seen in issues of Town & Country. Daniel is having a solemn WASP intellectual moment while reading The New Yorker when Tyler and his shiny grey tie roll in looking smug. Then, Amanda compounds the WASPyness by coming back from the fish market, and Tyler buttons his jacket and leaves with his (or maybe Nolan’s?) panties in a bunch.
Emily and Daniel argue over who said “I love you” first, a moment Daniel calls “a nugget” he “tucks away.” Quick, get shirtless fast, Grayson; you’re quickly losing your manhood. Maybe Amanda stores your balls in the same secret compartment in the floor where she keeps her infinity box! Daniel is all sorts of angsty in this episode, having traded his Soulcoughing in for some M83, and tells Amanda that he’s worried about his dad and is contemplating taking him up on that internship. Amanda’s eyes gleam at him, proving that this is the Hamptons’ Lord of the Rings and she’s Elijah Wood and Conrad Grayson is the Eye of Sauron.
Ashley saves Daniel from further emasculating himself, and clocks our walk-of-shame count at two in the first 20 minutes. But, unlike Charlotte, Ashley got herself some by making up with Tyler “and then some,” she sheepishly tells Daniel and Amanda while holding her Louboutins. Amanda and Ashley head for the foyer, but Victoria beats them to the front door by bursting through it, doing her best Florence Nightingale impression while wheeling Lydia into the family home.
Lydia does a simpleton head tilt thing but still can’t place Amanda’s face. Victoria spots Charlotte bounding up the stairs, surveys Ashley’s rumpled hair, and lights the room on fire with shame by scolding Ashley: “Seems you’re not the only one flaunting last night’s dress.” Lydia, still blinking blankly at Amanda, is wheeled into a guest bedroom within arm’s reach of the front door, which is a moot point, because the girl can’t walk and only has the use of one arm.
Meanwhile, in poor people news, Declan has designs on borrowing the USS Amanda and making sweet love to Charlotte Grayson. “I’m hoping tonight might be the night, if you catch my drift,” Declan winks at his brother, which is just a) EW, and b) a bad ocean pun. Jack, wearing another hoodie (it’s the v-neck of the working class), sighs and pleads “just promise you’ll use protection.” Better loot some more lobster traps for condom money, young Porter! Then Daniel Grayson walks in, hands in khaki jacket pockets, and quits his tenure as a person who knows what dollar bills feel like.
Nolan’s idea of babysitting means taking Emily out to the infinity pool and telling her to find a “house bikini,” which she promptly prances off to do while Nolan calls Amanda to hiss at her through his iPhone. However, Amanda’s idea of friendship means favors that are never repaid, and she interrupts Nolan’s whining to ask him to Photoshop “a new face” onto an old photo of her face. The new face being that of his new friend Emily Thorne. Nolan smells a rat (or maybe just too much Sun-In) and spots blood on Emily’s jacket while she frolics in the pool. Two, or eight, can play this game, Amanda Clarke.
Daniel storms into his father’s office while Tyler is trying to work his smarmy sycophant magic on the Grayson patriarch. Daniel begs for the internship, adding “maybe I could give the family business a shot.” Conrad Grayson gets out of his weathered wingback leather chair long enough to give his son a fatherly back pat and a speech about pride. Then, the police call, and everything feels like a Madoff Lifetime movie.
The real Emily Thorne is still vigorously splashing in the pool when Jack arrives looking for Nolan so he can ask if his brother can borrow his boat to have sex with his girlfriend. Isn’t he too busy for this? Doesn’t he have a bar to run? Jack hears the siren’s call of the house bikini, crosses his arms, and appraises the new girl from under his windblown hair. Then, Emily Thorne twirls her hair and pulls the cheapest trick in the book by asking Jack to reapply her sunscreen. Use protection!
Bernie Madoff Conrad Grayson finds Victoria and tells her what the police told him: that Frank was found dead in a ditch and they’re performing the autopsy later that afternoon. Victoria looks uncharacteristically heartbroken and asks if Frank was murdered. Conrad is irritated with her display of emotion. “Our secrets died with Frank; in many ways, you should see this as a relief.”
Speaking of love matches made in purgatory, over at Nolan’s Escher-inspired mansion monstrosity, Emily has Jack captive with a bad French accent and a recipe for a cocktail called “The Black Dahlia.” Jack, forgetting his audience, jokes “my new crowd of customers would go nuts for this.” Then Amanda shows up and Jack tries to introduce her to her ex-Juvie roommate, but he still doesn’t know her name, thank God. Sidebar: Where is Sammy? Ghost Dog will know this isn’t the real Amanda.
Emily and Amanda retreat to Nolan’s office, which looks straight out of set from Didion’s Play It as It Lays, and Emily plays with Amanda’s hair while she types. Amanda has a new plan for Emily: “You can stay at my apartment in Paris,” and Emily professes her deep enduring loyalty. “You know I’d do this for you anyway, even without the money.” Then they hug and Amanda flashes back to juvie, when the warren sat her down and told her that she was way smarter than Emily Thorne and “violence is a short-sighted solution when it comes to handling your enemies.” Basically, the warden told Amanda to gain Emily’s trust and then make her turn revenge tricks for a living.
Meanwhile, in the land of beige padded rooms, Victoria is still wearing red and manipulating her invalid charge. In the Grayson living room, Ashley is packing boxes when Amanda walks in and slips the Photoshopped picture in a box behind her back. Amanda then takes it upon herself to walk a box into Lydia’s room, triggering her memory of spotting Amanda in a picture taken back in 2003. “She was there,” Lydia tells Victoria, who looks dubious about Lydia’s ability to know anything.
Ashley, still smarting from her very public walk of shame, pours herself some vodka, while her boyfriend turns her against her best friend. “Our problem is, we’ve been playing too nice,” Tyler explains, saying Amanda’s the worst of them all.
Nolan figures out the whole Emily/Amanda switcheroo and now it’s his turn to bang on all of the windows at Amanda’s house. “Look, I’m not built for prison time,” he says, beating us to it. Amanda relents on her scheming but not before asking him to do one last thing: wipe the GPS on Frank’s old phone. Amanda then gives Emily a passport, but Emily looks terrified and says, unconvincingly, because it’s in a heavy French accent, “I’ve never even left the state, not even Canada or Mexico.” Then more hugging and hair-petting happens.
The Hamptons Discovery channel continues over at Grayson mansion, where Charlotte scampers down the stairs in a polka-dot tank top and tries to sweetly sneak past her father so she can go have sex with her boyfriend. Conrad, however, picks this moment to tell “Charlie” that he and her mother are going to be living in separate houses. Needless to say, poor Declan’s dreams of romancing Charlie out on the open water are dashed twofold this evening.
Finally, the police come for Amanda Clarke. Daniel Grayson shows his white collar colors by being nice to the police and welcoming them into Amanda’s house before she returns. “I found these two nice detectives on your porch,” he says, having never seen a crime drama in his life. Amanda then explains her dark past to both the detectives and Daniel — that she went to juvie because her last foster father “abused us” and she “put a stop to it.” The detectives then ask for an alibi for the night Frank was murdered, and Daniel says Amanda was in his bed all night, but she adds that she snuck out early to go to the fish market. The lady cop then checks her fridge to find some fancy salmon with a 5:36 a.m. time stamp. Who knew you could get couture seafood so early in the morning?
Daniel then stomps off into the sunset to accuse his mother of murder, and Victoria is so upset she forgets to chew her peach. Then, her ex-husband shows up and tries to put his key in the front door (not a euphemism), but she’s already changed the locks. “We need to appear united,” Conrad pleads, and lists a handful of their most sinister moments while invalid Lydia listens from the foyer’s side guest room. Victoria slams the door in Conrad’s face, spots the cracked door to Lydia’s room, and removes the phone.
Looks like no one’s leaving this town anytime soon; Emily Thorne struts back into The Stowaway after closing time as Jack counts his tips. “Two Black Dahlias,” she commands, resting her chin in her hand in a move she must’ve learned from Nolan. “I think I might stay awhile.”
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