“Engagement can be a commitment to love or a declaration of war.”
While Emily’s initial voiceovers can be a bit much, this one was right on the nose. In this episode, the narrative structure was built around the celebration of Daniel and Emily’s betrothal, yet the underlying theme was the various declarations of war the characters are making, not only against each other but against themselves.
Clearly, the role of this episode was to set the stage for next week’s two hour season finale. All the players have hit their marks; the character cleanup has already begun; the plot lines are merging; and, several of the stories seem as though they may reach some sort of resolution. The tone of this episode felt like the tone of old, but ramped up a bit. By staging the episode around Daniel and Emily’s engagement party, the writers are either very bad at coming up with story ideas, or they intended to signal a return to last year. I choose to assume the latter.
There were, in fact, quite a few allusions to things that happened last year. Emily talked about regretting not going to Paris with Daniel. We are reminded who Aiden’s father is and about the shooting at the last engagement party. Emily and Jack discuss the kiss they shared.
Emily’s engagement to Daniel is not the betrothal that he believes it is. He is simply a pawn in Emily’s endgame, which increasingly seems to be about Victoria personally and less about the Graysons as a family. The interactions between these two women have taken on a wonderfully catty flavor. While last year, Emily was more willing to be polite, this year she and Victoria just claw at each other, especially when they are alone.
What makes this antipathy so much fun to watch is how evenly matched these women are. Never has it been better illustrated than at the party in this episode. Victoria gives a toast that, on the surface, is warm and lovely. The undercurrents, however, are deadly. Not to be outdone, Emily reduces Victoria to tears by pushing the David Clarke button. Simply brilliant.
Emily claims that her heart is with Aiden, but I believe she is fooling herself. Increasingly driven by his jealousy over having to watch Daniel and Emily together and his dissatisfaction in his revenge, Aiden is well on his way to going over a steep cliff. Although I am sure he believes that what he is doing is right, Emily’s revenge is more important to her than he is. Diverting the funds without consulting Emily just proves Takeda right; Aiden is “careless and undisciplined.”
But, Aiden knows what Takeda is up to and it is bad enough that Aiden can use revealing that secret as a threat. That sword fight was astonishing and the end result made me gasp. While Takeda has been a peripheral character at best, he has always been an important part of the background. His death leads to more questions than answers, but it also feels a bit as though the writers are clearing the decks.
Emily’s conversation with Takeda was disturbing, but I found the end of it to be fascinating. Emily offers her help and Aiden’s, both of which Takeda turns down flat. What a character development for this woman. At the start, she was on her own path as well. Now, she is relying on both Aiden and Nolan.
I was disturbed to see Nolan joining forces with Aiden against Emily. While she keeps many secrets of her own, Emily is going to be rightly furious when she discovers that her lover and her BFF have been conspiring against her. These are the two she trusts, who know as much about her as she is willing to reveal. She will, most likely see this as an enormous betrayal.
One of the real weaknesses of this season has been the relationship between Jack and Emily. She is clearly pining after him. She can’t look at him without longing and there are many looks this week. She is not alone in her feelings. There has always been something that has drawn Jack to Emily and this week he discovered the reason that her engagement to Daniel ended the first time.
The scene on the porch between Jack and Emily was moving. They are both obviously affected by the fact that one kiss was enough to change everything, yet life has moved on. Jack has now been married to Amanda and he hates the idea that not only is Emily marrying into the Grayson family, she continues to lie to him. There are some strong emotions at work here.
Now that Jack is as set on revenge against the Graysons as Emily is, it would be interesting to see these two more closely aligned next season. The problem, of course, is the issue of trust. It would take a strong man to recover from the fact that the woman he was married to was not the Amanda he has loved since he was a boy.
The last two minutes of this episode set up next week’s beautifully. Aiden has compromised Emily’s long-term plans; Conrad is set to be the next governor of New York; Jack has told Victoria the truth. But, all this may come to nothing as the lights have gone out while Falcon just knowingly smiles.
Three out of four sword fights to the death.
-- I am still convinced that Edith is not Falcon. When she told Nolan that Victoria was playing him, I smiled. Someone is playing Nolan, but it is whomever is manipulating this woman.
-- Speaking of which, now that Takeda is dead, I’m going to be interested to see how this all plays out.
-- Ashley summed up the last engagement party perfectly. Emily was in love with Jack while Ashley was in love with Daniel who was in love with Emily. What a lovely quadrangle!
-- Declan is standing by Charlotte, but why? I literally groaned when Charlotte announced that she is pregnant. Just when I think this show is pulling itself out of soap opera land, they go with some ridiculous story line like this. I can see the writers thinking that the ultimate end game would be for the sisters Clarke to end up with the brothers Porter. Please, writers, you can do better than this.
-- I got worried when Jack played the recording for Victoria. I think it is she that leaked the news of Stoddard’s illness to the press by recording her conversation with Alison. I wonder if she just did the same thing with Jack.
-- Before Aiden pushed that magic button, the Graysons were worth nearly $4 billion. That’s a nice chunk of change!
-- I couldn't help it. My mind went to a crossover episode at the end, different networks been damned.
Daniel: “I’m sure you’ll find my replacement before the week’s out.”
Victoria: “Don’t be cruel, Daniel. You and I have both made mistakes. The difference is, I don’t make them twice.”
Daniel: “Except bastard children, I guess.”
Jack: “And, folks tend to jump to conclusions when they see two people who are supposed to be enemies acting like friends.”
Victoria: “The opposite of you and Emily Thorne.”
Charlotte: “And this year, try not to shoot anyone.”
Victoria: “Hello, Alison. Were you expecting your husband or mine?”
Nolan: “You could be my bodyguard and I could be your Whitney.”
ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.