It's about time the stakes were raised a bit. Though it seemed a bit contrived when Eli arrived on the scene as sort of an adversary to Emanda, he reveals his true intention. He wants to continue his guardian relationship with Ems, and to get revenge against their awful foster mother Meredith Hayward. When they were kids, Meredith would abuse them and pocket all government assistance money. Eli's plan involves leveraging his co-chair position with the Amanda Clarke Foundation to offer Meredith a donation to keep her foster home from foreclosure and draw her out into the public before destroying her.
Eli gets Meredith to agree to the whole thing by making her believe they are in league together to milk the Graysons for more money. Emanda's interest in all of this is that Meredith was in possession of some lost letters from David Clarke that were stashed away somewhere in the foster home. I mean... aren't countless journal entries and everything in the infinity x infinity box already enough, Ems? Jeez. At the press conference to announce the ACF's donation to Meredith, Eli publicly outs her for the abuse. It's not nearly as spectacular as the spousal abuse press conference, but Eli gets lots of points for throwing away all of the street cred he so quickly built up with Victoria just for this takedown. She kicks him out of the fold immediately, and there's also some more collateral damage dealt out by Meredith. She reveals to the press conference that it was Eli who lit the fire that sent little Amanda Clarke to juvie. Emanda's devastated to hear that, but Eli makes it up to her by confronting Meredith at her home and torturing her to find out where David Clarke's letters ended up. What else are foster brothers for?
While all of this is going on, Nolan and Aiden are left to fend for themselves in a more dire situation. Padma returns from hiding with proof that her father is still alive. An exchange is arranged with Initiative -- Carrion for Padma's father. Aiden and Nolan think they've prepared well for the meeting, bugging the flash drive housing Carrion and setting up with a sniper rifle on a rooftop that has a good vantage point for the meeting spot. Things naturally go wrong. Padma's father isn't brought to the meet up, and Padma gets kidnapped. Now, the only lead they have to go on is an encrypted text message from the Initiative, meaning that Padma's life rests on a head-to-head hacker duel between Nolan and the Falcon -- the only coder in the world better than Nolan. It's hardly ideal.
On the Grayson front, it really says a lot about Daniel and how slow he is that everyone expects him to confide his troubles and secrets to Emanda. Ems knows it. His parents know it. And the Initiative probably knows it. Dan does a pretty subpar job of pretending he's talking to a "Mr. Taylor" when he takes calls from Emanda about arranging a lunch meeting. When they do meet face-to-face, Dan tips her off to Aiden's imminent fate as the fall guy for his parents. Later, Dan gets an anonymous package with a candid photo of his meeting with Ems and two bullets that seem to be from the Initiative, but they're really from his mother, who wants to stop the leaking of information from Daniel. That's just family business, I guess.
Jack's still digging for information on what happened to him because what else is he going to do? Not like he has a baby to be raising or anything. He can't turn up any leads on Kenny Ryan's whereabouts, but Declan has a solution. He jacks a phone from Trey, the guy he did those silly house burglaries with, and poses as Trey to lure Kenny into a meeting with Jack. He and Jack agree to work together to hold Conrad responsible for the deaths of Amily and Nate. That will be slightly easier with the help of some audio recordings he has that Nate made from all of his meeting with Conrad. All Jack needs now is proof that they had a contractual agreement to kill him and Ams. He can probably find that by getting closer to Conrad. Lucky for him, Conrad wants exactly that. He asks Jack to become his "Joe the plumber" on his gubernatorial campaign trail. Jack accepts. This should be good.
So... about those David Clarke letters Ems wanted from Meredith -- it turns out she sold them to Mason Treadwell. Emanda goes to talk to him at the prison where he's serving his life sentence or whatever, and demands the letters. The problem with that is they went up in smoke that one time she burned down Mason's house. That's an instance where revenge can bite you in the butt. But really the physical letters aren't what matters; it's what was said in them. Mason reveals to Emanda that the reason David was so worried about her being in a foster home is that he witnessed first-hand how it affected someone close to him to give up a child to one of those homes. That person was Victoria. She gave up her first-born son. And yet another random character gets introduced. Can't we just make what we've got better, please? Daniel and Dec could be better. And then there's Ashley... I'm only saying.
-- 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're back in the bleakness of Amanda's foster home when she and Eli were kids. Amanda reads in the dark with a flashlight from "The Society Connection" for probably the hundredth time. Emanda voice-over: "In the art of war, if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the approaching battles." When she's reached her limit of disgust, she pulls out a big, red marker and marks an "X" over her father's head in one of the photos of them together. Someone opens the door to the bedroom, startling Amanda. She accidentally drops her book to the floor and pretends she was asleep under the covers. It's just little Eli. Amanda's surprised to see him because he was adopted by some family. He just says that they made a pact to always stick together, as he holds his hand up for Amanda to take it in hers to show solidarity. VO: "But if you know only yourself and not your enemy..." Flash to present day at Casa Emily where Ems sits in front of her laptop reading news articles from when she was in foster care. "...For every victory, there will also be defeat."
Aiden walks in, noticing that Ems doesn't seem to be acting too urgently on their Falcon lead. Nolan's on that, she says. Instead she's worried she's found out that Eli has been in contact with their foster mother Meredith Hayward, who was a horrible lady who took in kids nobody wanted so she could collect checks. All of the kids she cared for have become either drug addicts, prostitutes or are dead. That's better than raising a brat, though, isn't it? Aiden doesn't like the emotional toll this is taking on Ems. He thinks she just needs to get rid of Eli. She will, but she won't hurt him. Emanda changes the subject to Grayson Global. Nothing's really happening there ever since Aiden got his seat on the board. They both know Daniel will only confide in her, so she picks up her phone.
Daniel answers as if he's talking to a Mr. Taylor. Emanda immediately gets the hint that he's covering his tracks and facilitates a fake conversation while still arranging a real meeting for lunch tomorrow. When they hang up, Daniel asks Grace to make a reservation under the name "Taylor." Even Grace thinks something's weird about that since the name "Grayson" would get a better table. Dan's like, "Uh... uh...," and blames the paparazzi for him wanting to stay low in public. Lady Gaga must've been the last thing to play on his iPod, I guess.