I feel like I should come up with some sort of clever nickname for this melodramatic voiceover thing* that Emily (Emily VanCamp) does every episode. This week's is especially ripe. She quotes William Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell": "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it was: infinite." Perception is the name of the game, I guess, because Emily tells us that her "perception of late is blinded by one thing: revenge." All this talk of poetry, it's like I'm back in graduate school, Emily. I'm having horrible flashbacks of my oral exams -- I'm like, all traumatized and stuff. That's probably a good state of mind to be in, honestly, because everyone else in this episode is pretty traumatized, too.
*EmilyOver? Yeah, let's go with that.
So what's actually going on in the Hamptons this fine morning? Everyone has received their extravagant, ribbon-wrapped, Fire & Ice, Emily/Daniel engagement party invitations. Nolan (Gabriel Mann) opens his with scorn and calls Emily; he wants to know what happened to the regrouping plan, the not being a revenge-happy siren for once. He pretty much shuts up, though, when Emily tells him what Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) said to Daniel (Joshua Bowman). You know, about David Clarke (James Tupper) raping her, and Charlotte (Christa B. Allen) being a rape-baby and stuff. “Wow, she threw a dead man under the bus? She’s certainly committed.” After warning Emily that her new plan to tell Charlotte who her real father is is a crappy one (Emily acts all noble and pretends she's doing it for Charlotte's own good, because she needs to know the truth), Nolan meanders over to The Stowaway to check on the last person who got caught in Emily's crosshairs.
Jack (Nick Wechsler) has also gotten his Emily/Daniel invite, and neither Nolan's quippy quips ("I don’t need to give you the other fish in the sea talk, do I? Because you’re basically a fisherman.”) or the ginormous flat-screen he brings with him can cheer Jack up. He's got an engagement party invitation for a girl he likes but can't have, and the girl he did have has run out on him without an explanation. He's got three broken ribs and a nasty looking black eye to boot. He grills Nolan for a bit, wondering if Nolan knows where Amanda might have gone, but it's fruitless. He throws the invitation away but misses the bin, and when he goes to pick it up, he spots the lone Treadwell interview tape under his bed. It has Amanda's name on it, and Treadwell's. Jack quickly makes the connection between his runaway girlfriend, the recently torched house, and his three broken ribs. He's in it now.
Over a ways yonder, Conrad (Henry Czerny) is having lunch with the gullible guppy Daniel, and it's very obvious to him that Daniel has bought completely into his mother's bull-session, although he's not sure what she told him to get him in her corner. “If you’re this easily manipulated by your mother, I shudder to think what Emily will do as your wife.” But Conrad's enjoyable witticisms are interrupted by the surprise entrance of his father, Edward Grayson (William Devane). Grandpa is upset that Conrad is ruining the Grayson name with his domestic troubles, and Grandpa has a soft spot for old Queen V. So: we've got Grandpa Grayson's visit, Emily planning to go public with Charlotte's paternity, and Jack on the fast track to learning Emily's secrets. Mix and stir, Revenge. Mix and stir.
You guys? All of that happened before the credits. This show is whacked.
Chez Grayson, Emily and Daniel's photo shoot. While Emily is getting her supermodel on in front of a Grayson staircase (excellent scenery choice, V), Victoria is buttering Charlotte up like she's some sort of warm croissant ("What if I had a croissant blog?"). She knows if she's ever going to repair her relationship with Charlotte, the time is now when Conrad is all but ignoring Charlotte. It's like how if you feed a starving animal it will follow you around and rub up on you, and Charlotte would be that starving animal, except Victoria's plan is slightly flawed, because if she wanted to, Charlotte could just go rub up on Declan (Connor Paolo) for a while. When Daniel arrives, he tells Queen V that they need to tell Charlotte about her real father, but not surprisingly, V disagrees. She knows if that secret were to get out, her already fragile bond with Charlotte would be completely shattered. She's already having a tough enough time convincing Conrad not to let Grandpa know just how messy their divorce actually is because she wants to stay his special girl. She tells Conrad if he doesn't help her, “I can make it an apocalyptic showcase of just how ugly things have become and how much worse they can get.”
Back at the Stowaway, Jack has left an angry voicemail on Amanda's phone, saying he has the tape and if she wants it back, they need to meet face to face. Of course, Emily has the phone, not Amanda. Nolan thinks they should tell Jack what's going on. He tells her, "I think you’re so busy looking down the road that you lost sight of us mere mortals long ago.” Despite his objections, they hatch a plan to get the tape back from Jack that involves Nolan unsubtly grabbing it and putting it in his pocket. This not surprisingly doesn't work, and instead Nolan ends up promising to help Jack find a player so he can listen to it. Emily is not happy when she learns that not only did Nolan fail to retrieve the tape, he promised to do the exact opposite of what Emily wants. She knows Jack can't see that tape, it has her interview with Treadwell on it, from when she was ten years old. He'll know everything if he sees it (well, everything except that Amanda isn't Amanda, and Emily isn't Emily). She's so desperate that she calls in Fauxmanda (Margarita Levieva) for help. Fauxmanda is staying at a motel just outside of town, and Emily convinces her to call Jack to set up a meet.
Motel Fauxmanda: Amanda wants to tell Jack the truth, too. This truth thing is going to make Emily's head explode. Everywhere she goes, people are telling her she's being a bad person, like this is news. All these people being right is making it very hard to do her thing. She talks Amanda out of spilling her secrets, and what truth, anyway? “That you’ve been pretending to be me this whole time? He’d never forgive you for that.” This is a scary enough thought -- even if it's not true -- to keep Amanda in line. Later at Motel Fauxmanda, Jack shows up and he gets up in Fauxmanda's bidness. He demands she tell him why she came back: for him? for something else? She gets very upset with him so close. She tells him, meaning it quite literally, “That little girl you loved, she’s not me.” This pisses him off, so he says he’s keeping the tape. "I want to see what was worth throwing everything we had away." After he storms out, Emily comes gliding down the stairs like the evil pirate hooker she is, but Amanda's had enough. She tells Emily, "You want that tape so bad, you get it from him."
At Nolan's house, he once again tries to convince Emily to let Jack see the tape. (“Poor Jack must really want answers if not even the Long Island Lolita could pry it grom his grasp.”) But? She's still not having it. So later when Jack shows up for his super secret tape viewing, whoops! Oh, did that tape not erase? My bad! Sorry I think Jack might have accidentally seen the whole entire thing. OH WELL. So Jack rushes back over to find Amanda and declare his undying devotion, but she's scared and doesn't answer the door. Instead she calls Emily, who makes her so mad -- with Jack still screaming her name in the background -- she finally just tells Emily to shove it: “I’m done listening to you. I’m gonna start listening to Jack now.” But she doesn't catch him in time . . . so where did he go?
While Jack is out making shenanigans and learning about all the nasty stuff Victoria has done, Victoria is dressing like a teenager and hanging out in his bar with her daughter. When she and Charlotte walk into The Stowaway all slo-mo, and she's wearing jeans and her hair's in a ponytail . . . it's one of the funniest things I've ever seen. (Declan: "It's like the beginning of a joke: Two Graysons walk into a bar.") It is not a natural image, and even Charlotte knows that this behavior is desperate. The sad part is that even knowing that, you can see that Charlotte is actually beginning to enjoy herself . . . her mother is trying, after all. Ashley (Ashley Madekwe) drops by Conrad's hotel to finalize his list of invites for the engagement party, but he takes the opportunity to try an turn her against Queen V.“Ah, it’s V’s pet bird,” he says, and asks her what her game is. "You're too refined to be a grifter, too smart to be a lackey." He tells her she's an opportunist, and that she's hitching her wagon to the wrong Grayson. And that's not all Conrad gets up. He's gearing up to take his power back.
While Queen V is out dancing with Grandpa (who has a fond start for self-starters like her, and like Declan), Conrad pulls darling Charlotte into a back room and apologizes to her. He tells her she did nothing wrong, that he took his frustrations with her mother out on her, and that -- no matter what -- he'll always be there for her. It's a nice moment, as Charlotte gets her daddy back, and we finally see Conrad look past her paternity to the daughter he's always loved so much. There's this great moment where he tells her her that her laugh is probably his most favorite sound in the whole world. He laughs with her, forgetting for a moment she's not his, and then you see it on his face when he does. It just drops. Emily witnesses the whole scene -- and this is important -- she takes the DVD that she's had shipped to Chez Grayson, the one with her father confessing the affair, and that Charlotte is his. Will she have mercy on her sister? Yes looks to be the answer.
For the first time in a long while, things appear to be going great for old Queen V. Charlotte is all smiles, she's on the arm of Grandpa Grayson, who loves her in a way that her husband never has, and she's got Daniel on her side. So of course it all falls apart, because look! I found Jack! He's right here, storming into Chez Grayson and spilling all of V's secrets. He tells the whole table that she was in love with David Clarke and he's got the tape to prove it; he roars his lion roar, and then stomps out again amidst the bloody wreck. Grandpa's face is a stormy cloud. So hey, Conrad thinks, what the hell? As gently as he can, he tells Charlotte the truth: that her mother had an affair with David Clarke, and that Clarke is her real father. Charlotte doesn't believe him at first -- who would? -- but all she needs to do is look over at her mother, her head bowed in shame. For once, Victoria has no words. She doesn't even bother to defend herself, but Daniel does, and OH MY GOD SHUT UP, DANIEL. He's talking about the rape again, and it's embarrassing and awful, because Conrad kills that lie dead -- It was an ongoing affair, my poor foolish guppy -- and once again, Victoria's downcast eyes and silent acceptance tell the real story. This night could not have been worse for V. So this is the show having fun with us: Emily wasn’t going to go through with it after all, but Nolan showing Jack the tape had the same effect anyway, and it was probably even more devastating the way it actually played out. Charlotte heard the bad news out of her father's own lips. The fracture came from within. At least where this matter is concerned, everybody's perception is now exactly the same.
Grandpa Grayson is flabbergasted at the tomfoolery going on. He and Conrad get into a delicious screaming fight. Grandpa: "What kind of a man forces his children to participate in such a charade?" Conrad: “Perception is reality, you taught me that.” Grandpa: “In business, Conrad. This is family!” Conrad: “It’s the same thing isn’t it?” No it isn't, you complete IDIOT. WHAT HAVE I EVEN TAUGHT YOU YOUR WHOLE LIFE? NOTHING! So I have an idea: you're fired because I'm still chairman of the board, and I'm going to make Daniel CEO because he seems like a nice kid -- a little slow, but I can work with that -- and you are acting like a turd on the bottom of my shoe. And then he's gone.
Emily calls Jack, and you can see on her face as he talks that she does want to tell him everything. She wants to tell him she was that little girl in the video, that it's her he's really worried about. “She was just some little girl who everyone stopped fighting for,” he tells her. “Truth is a battle of perceptions," EmilyOver tells us, "People only see what they’re prepared to confront. It’s not what you look at, it’s what you see.” What Jack sees is Fauxmanda. What Amanda sees is disaster. As she's finishing up a conversation later that night with Nolan, she comes home to find her secret floorboard wide open, and her stash gone. In it's place is an RSVP'ed invitation signed Emily Thorne. Fauxmanda is taking back her name.