Young Emily Thorne, nee Amanda Clark (Emily Alyn Lind), is reading The Society Connection by Mason Treadwell. On the cover of the book is her father's face, split in half. On one side he's wearing a suit, on the other an orange prison jumpsuit. She's in the dark, she is crying very piteously, and have I mentioned before about hating to see little kids cry? It's the worst. We cut to present day Emily (Emily VanCamp), whose stony visage couldn't be more different from the tear-streaked misery of her past self, but she's reading the book, too. She reads that book with revenge in mind (because, hi, title of the show).
Daniel (Joshua Bowman) interrupts Emily's vengeful reading to tell her he's quitting business school and staying with the company full time. Then, maybe "after the season is over," they can get a place together in the city? Emily pats the puppy on the head and gently turns him down. She pleads the dead-parent card, says she wants to honor them by not moving in with a boy until she's married, because that's what they would have wanted. It's an unbelievable flimsy excuse that just screams HINT HINT, PROPOSE TO ME, FOOL.
The next day, we meet Mason Treadwell (Roger Bart) himself, who is doing a reading at a local bookstore. He's dressed like some Truman Capote wannabe, in a white suit, pink bowtie, and stylishly thick-framed glasses (not a coincidence this episode is called "infamy," methinks). Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) is there to keep tabs on her lackey, but Nolan (Gabriel Mann) and Emily are there for more nefarious purposes. Victoria stares at the enlarged poster of her former beloved's face, as Nolan and Emily plot things. After the reading is over, Emily introduces herself and Nolan to Treadwell, and Nolan schmoozes his way into good graces by strongly hinting that after recent events he's looking for a biographer to chronicle his amazing young billionaire life. (Victoria hilariously calls Tyler "that little deviant.") After Nolan and Emily depart, Victoria invites Treadwell to her house for lunch. She wants him to find out why Amanda Clarke (Margarita Levieva) is back in town, and the threats from Victoria to keep in line with his "deal with the devil" are not the only reason he's interested; he wants a second interview with the daughter of the man whose betrayal made him rich and famous.
Meanwhile, Amanda herself -- or rather, Fauxmanda -- is getting fed up with her cage. She pesters Jack (Nick Wechsler) to blow off work and take her to Atlantic City for a little fun and trouble. "Come on, be impulsive. Unplan your life." But Jack can't do that because he's an adult, not a 21 year old college boy with his daddy's cash to burn. And of course Amanda, frustrated, makes it about Emily. (And maybe she's not wrong? But mostly it's just her own insecurities coming out to play.) While they're fighting it out, Emily brings out the long-missed diary. We haven't seen it in at least four episodes. David Clarke (James Tupper) speaks from beyond the grave, and not just from the diary. It seems Emily has gotten ahold of interviews videotaped by Treadwell in which her father tried to convince him of the vast conspiracy that doomed him to prison. David Clarke's diary tells Emily, and us, that Clarke convinced Treadwell to help him tell the real story of Flight 197 and the Grayson family, but Treadwell betrayed him instead. Emily turns Treadwell's book over in her hands to examine his picture on the back cover. Good news! It's not just the diary that's back, but the red Sharpie, too. She makes a giant red 'X' over Treadwell's grinning face. It's been a while since Emily ruined someone . . . and it feels good.
Treadwell visits The Stowaway to see Amanda, and as if we needed any more proof that he was a complete phony, he uses a cigarette holder (okay, Cruella de Vil). Fact: People only use cigarette holders if they are practically worthless human beings. While Treadwell is off doing Victoria's bidding, Victoria herself is being informed by her lawyer that Conrad (Henry Czerny) is seeking to divest her of her stock in the company. But the lawyer has a plan to counter this move: get Daniel's trust fund released, which includes shares in the company, and then Daniel and Victoria would have controlling interest of Grayson Global. Victoria moves quickly, and that day at lunch, Daniel asks for his trust to be released. Conrad agrees, seeing it as a condition for Daniel's hiring, but he and the lawyer also smell a Victoria-scented trap (neither suspect puppy-eyed Daniel). Conrad reasons that if he outright refuses Daniel's request, Victoria will use that action to turn Daniel against him once and for all (too bad he doesn't know that's already happened), so he comes up with the genius idea of giving Daniel access to the funds, but not the shares. Nope, he won't have access to those until he's 30, or until he marries . . . yep. See where this is going? Conrad sure doesn't. He thinks Daniel is just like him, a playboy who can't be satisfied unless he's chasing some tail, and he doesn't think E&D's relationship will last the summer. (He's nicer in his language, though; he calls it being "easily distracted.")
Treadwell shows off his once-owned-by-Hemingway house to Nolan and Emily. Said house tour also includes a look at the sole working print of his memoir, the memoir which is practically his child. With no copies. None. Uh huh. Right. (More griping about this later.) They also see where he keeps the videos for all of his interview sessions, ever. While he's busy showing off his extreme valuables to scheming vengefuls, he lets it slip that he's interviewing Amanda. Amanda, who is slowly coming unhinged. Speaking of, there she is, the little minx, setting shots on fire and flirting with hot blonde girls. (A hot blonde who later says she wants to kiss her -- "Not while my boyfriend is watching," says Amanda.) She is acting like a hot mess all over the place, so Jack tells her to tone it down. The first thing she does immediately afterwards? Kiss the blonde and climb up on top of the bar like a Coyote Ugly girl gone mad. "Dollar shots for everyone!" Jack is seriously concerned, like, who is this person. Emily comes in during the shenanigans and takes her outside (but not before Amanda's jealousy can flare up again). When she's calmed down a little, Emily tells her that Treadwell is a liar and that she believed her father was guilty because of that book. Amanda is confused: her father could be innocent? Emily says there's more to the story and asks for Amanda's help. Amanda is in, because of course she is. She wants trouble, and she doesn't sense the danger.
The next morning, Declan and Jack are opening up the bar and Declan says Fauxmanda's behavior last night has been "blowing up [his] phone," and shows Jack a particularly fun picture of her kissing the blonde. But the scene doesn't go the way you'd expect it to. Instead of both men condemning Amanda (I believe some people refer to this behavior as "slut-shaming"), Declan says Amanda is good for Jack; Jack is wound up way too tight for such a young guy. I'd say that's pretty much true, but they also don't know that Amanda is even more of a basket case than they realize, and also that she's a liar (even if for a good* cause).
Nolan, Emily, and Daniel are at the shooting range. Nolan is a total spaz, and Daniel . . . Daniel is exactly what would happen if you gave an actual puppy a gun. (It's nice to see ramifications tonight over last week's Tylercatastrophe, particularly with Nolan, who was probably emotionally closer to Tyler than anyone realized.) Emily takes her turn and turns out some pretty respectable shots, but none hit the mark. As soon as Daniel leaves to go meet a potential investor, Emily and Nolan get down to business. They need to control the story; control Amanda -- she tells Nolan that Mason Treadwell is really Leo Treadwell, a journalist. Flashback to young Amanda. She shows Treadwell her hidden picture, the one of her dad that she keeps under her mattress so they won't take it away from her. She's afraid to tell Leo the truth, that she believes her father to be innocent, and if she says differently that they'll lock her away. "Amanda," he says, "How would you like to help me rescue your father?" Back in present day, Emily takes a second try and this time she hits the target dead-on all five times. That target may just as well be named Treadwell.
So while the rest of this action packed, exciting episode is going on, Charlotte and Declan prance about doing nothingwith. Declan is freaking out about not seeing Charlotte in the school year, and it is basically a pointless storyline. Also, he's being an incredible turd. SHE HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL, YOU PONCE. I mean, what exactly was he expecting? My theory about this whole Declan/Charlotte side-trip is that Charlotte needed to be in this episode to keep her fresh in our minds (see the last paragraph of this recap for further elaboration), and this was the way the writers chose to go about it.
Later, Amanda is acting as Emily's mouth via earphone as she is being interviewed by Treadwell. At first the interview is flowers and puppies, but then Emily/Amanda confronts him about not printing a word he said the last time he interviewed her, and he gets all flustered. The camera cuts back and forth between Emily and Amanda saying the same words, and Amanda gets fierce with it. She gets up in his face. She strongly hints that he redeem himself at the reading the next day, or she'll do it for him. It's awesome.
Earlier, Daniel met with his prospective "investor" only to find she was way more into the phrase "be careful who you're getting in bed with" than it's traditional business use implies. (She wanted to GET WITH HIM.) As Victoria is preparing for the reading at her house, he tells her about the setup, and what conditions Conrad has imposed on his trust fund. He tells her all he needs is for Emily to say yes . . . Victoria is not surprisingly against the idea. Daniel insists that he's ready, that he's in love with Emily, but she doesn't want him to marry the wrong person . . . like she did. She's actually a pretty good mom, considering . . . well, except for Charlotte, but again, later. Victoria enlists Ashley (Ashley Madekwe) to "let it slip" to Emily that Daniel's motives for proposing might be less than pure, but joke's on her, because Emily could care less. In fact, marriage probably falls right into her plan.
Just before the reading is to start, Treadwell tells Victoria that Amanda remember's Victoria's affair with her father, that Amanda wants to "pull on that thread until the whole tapestry unravels." He doesn't want to go down as the biggest literary fraud in history, which is exactly what would happen if the truth were revealed. In flashback, we see the moment of betrayal. Treadwell is confronted by both Graysons. He tells them he has literally nothing to lose, so suing and threats won't work -- the true story of what happened to David Clarke WILL be published -- so Victoria tries the carrot instead. You have nothing to lose? I'll GIVE you something lose. I'll make all your problems go away, and then hold it against you for the rest of your life. Sound good? YES PLEASE. At the reading, he reads from his newly written interview with Amanda. He hints that he has doubts about what really happened that night, doubts cast by the sorrowful and piteous figure the orphaned daughter cuts, but then squashes them and seals his own fate. Dude is so finished. (Nolan: "Spineless seersucking dilettante. I haven't been this disappointed since The Phantom Menace.")
And this is it. Nolan lures Treadwell away from his house on the premise of a first interview for his upcoming biography, written by Mr. Mason Treadwell, and Emily breaks in to the house and lights everything EVERYTHING (including his SOLE MANUSCRIPT) on fire. Add arson to Emily's list of crimes committed in the name of justice. But perhaps we shouldn't count leaving Fauxmanda's lighter at the scene of the crime -- a lighter Fauxmanda visibly wielded when Treadwell interviewed her -- that just feels like spite. In flashback, young Amanda finishes Treadwell's book and burns the picture of her dad. It is awful, but that little actress is dynamite. When Nolan brings Treadwell home and he sees that his house INCLUDING HIS SOLE MANUSCRIPT is burning to ashes, he just breaks. brings (I get that for her revenge to be complete, the manuscript had to be completely destroyed, which meant no copies for storytelling purposes, but I still can't get behind there only being one copy. No author would do that. Ever. I don't care HOW awesome that last scene was -- and it was pretty awesome.)
Victoria talks to her lawyer about D's marrying Emily. "The company is far less important to me than my son," she says, "You said this was going to be an insurance policy." But the lawyer -- who is in Emily's pocket, remember -- convinces her to let Daniel make his own mistakes. If he wants to marry Emily, let him crash and burn. He'll learn his lesson. Over at the Stowaway, Jack tells Amanda that the old uptight Jack has died. "You're not repulsed by my behavior?"she asks. No, in fact, he envies her "ability to leap without looking." He presents her with the tip money she earned on her wild night ($500) and Jack tells her they're taking it to Atlantic City. "Youre going to watch me turn $500 into $5,000." She squeals, and they totally do it.
And finally, Emily comes to see Daniel at the poolhouse; she tells him her bed feels empty and cold, and she's wearing naughty lingerie under that coat. ("You just coming to hook up and leave?" "That's the idea.") But both of them are thinking about marriage. Later that night, Emily is playing one of the videos she found before she burned Treadwell's house to the ground. It's labeled "DAVID CLARKE FINAL SESSION." Her eyes go wide as she watches David tell Treadwell that V was going to leave Conrad and they were going to be a family. As he tells Treadwell that Victoria's six month old baby girl, Charlotte, is his baby girl, too. I just want to say CALLED IT. I KNEW CHARLOTTE WAS D'S. I FRAKKING KNEW IT. So why is Victoria such a biznatch to Charlotte if he's the only thing left of her precious David? Maybe because she's a constant reminder of her betrayal? This puts their whole story into a different context. Also, what is it about the daughters of David Clarke and falling for the Porter brothers?
Now all I need is for David Clarke to actually be alive and I'm all set. (Crosses fingers and waits hopefully by the television.)