Isn't it funny that 'engagement' can mean both a union of love and an act of aggression? Right about now Emanda doesn't find much funny about that, except maybe that her re-engagement is causing the Botox to boil in Victoria. If you look closely, you can actually see some Botox leaking out when Daniel reveals to his mother that he and Emanda aren't just going to Paris for their honeymoon, they're going to be moving there. But, as always, Victoria puts on her fake smile and throws an engagement party for her baby boy. (Not the illegitimate one who has yet to turn up.)
Still seeking a way to bring down Conrad, Jack grows impatient, taking a calculated risk by showing Victoria the spy photos he took of her husband with the governor's wife. Seeing a tiny opportunity to maybe drive a wedge between her son and Ems once again, Victoria informs Jack that he was the reason they broke up last time. She then confronts Alison Stoddard about what she's doing with Conrad, and is sort of blindsided to find out that it's all on the up-and-up. It turns out the governor is dying of a heart condition, and Alison is helping Conrad oust him from office so the stress of the job won't kill Governor Stoddard. We're so used to backstabbing and affairs, it really comes as a shock for something so good-intentioned — albeit underhanded— to be what's really going on. Thus far, Alison has been supplying Conrad with advanced notice of attack ads and strategies from her husband so Conrad can adjust quickly and gain an advantage. Victoria's confrontation of Alison culminates in the news of the heart condition being released to the press, giving Conrad a commanding lead in the polls down the homestretch. After this goes down, Victoria seeks out Jack because she's figured out that he's out to derail the campaign like she has been. When she asks why, Jack shares the audio evidence he has, which implicates Conrad in ordering a hit on Amily.
Not everything in Grayson camp is all political victories and enlightening confrontations. Charlotte's downward spiral 2.0 is in progress with the help of her new bestie Regina, who is bad influence personified. Instead of attending Daniel and Ems' engagement party, the two girls go out for a night of clubbing. They get tracked down by Declan just as Charlie's stumbling out of the club with a tremendous underage buzz going. She happens to puke right in front of a cop and gets taken down to the station. She uses her phone call to let Daniel know what's happened. He sneaks off from his own engagement party to bail her out before word gets out to the media. He's already tried to talk to his little sister about what's going on with her lately, but now she's hit rock-bottom and admits what's been bothering her. She's pregnant. Is it Declan's? Is it Eli's? Is it... Regina's? What? I don't know how these things work!
The results of Daniels' background check on Aiden have come back, revealing Aiden's dad was the one who put the bomb on Flight 197. Despite Aiden's good job of playing dumb when Dan accuses him of working against the Initiative, he gets fired. Ems confronts Takeda for planting this seed with Daniel, jeopardizing everything, but Takeda's walking his own path now. It leads straight to a battle with Aiden, complete with samurai swords. The thing about samurai sword showdowns is that only one person walks away from them. In this case, Aiden gets the better of his sensei, impaling him on a broken shard of sword embedded in a wooden pillar. It's an unbecoming end for a sensei who never did much senseiing. All of this second guessing of leadership has Aiden trying to convince Nolan that they need to go behind Emanda's back before she gets in too deep with the Graysons. He employs Nolan to get into the Graysons' Amanda Clarke Foundation bank account to finally bankrupt them now that they have identified the Falcon. Nolan meets with her in prison because she's been indicted on federal charges, and offers to help free her if she gives up information about the Graysons and the bank account. She reveals that there's going to be no legit illegitimate son seeking out Victoria because she already pain him off $5 million to stay away decades ago. She adds that she implemented her own bit of code to Carrion that makes her a necessity to initiate the program, so either Nolan or the Initiative will be needing her services in the future. As for the account information? The Falcon's more coy about that. She gives Nolan a riddle to solve that will give him the location of the info he needs.
As much as things seem to be coming together for Emanda, they really aren't. Jack approaches her to have a talk at the engagement party now that he knows that what he and Ems had between them was strong enough to end her first engagement to Daniel. Once again, Ems doesn't take the opportunity to come clean to Jack about why she's engaged to Daniel. Jack walks out of her life... again. Ems then walks in on Aiden and Nolan's secret "No Emandas" club just in time to find them in the middle of bankrupting the Graysons. She tries to stop Aiden, but he initiates the transfer of funds out of the ACF account before she can intervene. Ems flips because this was done using Aiden's administrative account. They're going to easily trace this back to him now. Also... accessing this account triggered Carrion. (Sneaky Falcon.) All of New York City has gone black. It's about damn time.
-- Pablo G. is some guy who lives in Austin, Texas. He used to co-host TWoP's original "Trailers Without Pity" with his brother Omar G. Check out their webcomic Space Monkeys! and follow Pablo's writing at Pablog. Follow him @PendejoJoe on Twitter.
We pan across the Manhattan skyline at night. Without the sound of traffic, it's a nice backdrop for meditation. Wearing a semi-formal black dress and her hair up in a bun, Ems stares out at the structures from a balcony. She looks down at her hand, which has Daniel's engagement ring. Ems voice-over: "Engagement can be a commitment to love or a declaration of war. One must enter every battle without hesitation, willing to fully engage the enemy until death do you part." OK, give that writer a bonus. On cue, Daniel calls out to Emanda. She turns and we see that there's a romantic dinner setting under a white canopy being guarded by a man in a tux on this private rooftop. The shot is framed by the opposing sides of a life-sized chessboard, the middle of the board forming an aisle towards the dinner table. This is something Emanda arranged to surprise Dan. The combative board game wasn't a very subtle touch, Ems. She goes to meet Daniel at the table, posing the question, "Le blanc ou le rouge?" Dan wants red wine, in case you care, and he has Emanda figured out. He knows she's up to something. They take a seat and Ems invites her faux beau to lift the lid off of a silver platter. There's two tickets to Paris in there. Emanda says that her biggest regret last year was not hopping that flight to Paris with him. She asks if it's too late to say yes. Daniel couldn't be more pleased. They drink to their renewed engagement.
The next morning, Declan storms into the Stowaway in his school uniform. Jack asks what he's doing home. Turns out Charlotte stood him up (again) for his ride to school. Pff... not like Dec's learning anything at Collin's Prep anyway, besides how to get treated like a chump. Jack asks if the young couple's troubles have anything to do with the paparazzi video of Charlotte making out with Regina and why Dec never said anything about it to his brother. Surprisingly sagacious for his age, Declan attributes it all to Charlie being in a dark place since Amily died. It seems like every day this young man gets a tiny bit less greasy. I'm proud. Jack can't drive Dec to school because Ashley's on her way over. He's still not sure what Conrad's up to with the governor's wife, but maybe Ashley has some news, Jack says as he walks Dec out. Declan stop all of a sudden to say, "Hey, do you know why you're supposed to bury politicians 100 feet down? Because deep down they're really good people." That was... random. Bonus revoked, writer.
Grayson Manor. Victoria follows Conrad into his office, badgering him about what his motives could be for so easily giving up Nolcorp. Conrad says that with the Initiative out of the way, paring down the company is what's best. Plus, it might help speed up the process of tracking down Victoria's illegitimate son. He notes that there are 34 letters sitting on his desk from people claiming to be that son. Neither he nor Victoria believes any of them are legit. Conrad tells Victoria he wishes Nolan luck finding her son before walking out into the foyer where he runs into his own son. Daniel is given documents for turning over Nolcorp, which he's totally OK with. He couldn't care less from cloud nine.