And we’re back! After a seemingly endless holiday break, my #3 best show of 2011 returns with a doozy of an episode.
Let’s break it down…
When last we saw our Hamptons crew Tyler Barrol (Ashton Holmes) was becoming dangerously unhinged as he worked his Machiavellian plots on the Graysons. Tonight he went completely Whitney Houston without his meds. The damage included slashing and tying up Nolan (Gabriel Mann), threatening Daniel (Joshua Bowman) in the most one of the most homoerotic/psychotic scenes I’ve seen in some time, and holding Daniel’s birthday party hostage at gunpoint before being taken away in cuffs. Thankfully Emily (Emily VanCamp) planted the wallet of deceased head of Grayson security, Frank, on him so he’s libel to go down for murder on top of everything else. Way to send him up the creek, Em!
On the whole this was a very satisfying return for America’s favourite primetime soap. In one fell swoop, half of the most dangerous people in Emily’s life have been taken out. With Tyler’s exit, only Faux-manda (Margarita Levieva) remains. Something tells me she’ll be significantly more challenging to get rid of, though.
In reality Emily got a bit lucky with Tyler. Oh sure, I’m sure she never anticipated having a lunatic on the loose mucking up her plans, but as soon as Tyler got dangerous, he no longer posed a threat. No, at that point, he became an opportunity: a chance for Emily to tie up loose ends, and draw Daniel further into her web. It’ll be interesting to see what this does to her relationship with Ashley (Ashley Madekwe), with whom she had one of the most terse exchanges of the evening. Em asked the party planner how it felt to spend the summer dating Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde (which is pretty cold even for her), to which Ashley got this great dig in: “He’s not a monster. He’s sick. It’s called empathy. You should try it.” Score one for the British waif! Without the troublemaking ginger, though, does Ashley still have the balls to make a move against our antiheroine?
While most of the episode was spent dealing with the damage from Hurricane Barrol, ‘Duress’ wasn’t all Tyler all the time. We also got some juicy developments in the Conrad (Henry Czerny)/Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) divorce front as she challenged their 1986 pre-nup. The resident queen of ice claimed she was in duress when she signed because she was pregnant (she later admitted to her lawyer that this was a lie). Still, by the end of the episode the lawyer had found a quack Hamptons doc to forge a fake document to void the pre-nup, thereby entitling Victoria to 50% of the Grayson empire. Suddenly Conrad’s attempts at sucking up to daughter Charlotte (Christa B. Allen) and yawn-worthy boyfriend Declan (Connor Paolo) seems like child’s play. The old man better learn to up the ante because it is game on!
- Stowe’s recent Golden Globe nomination was validated in full force throughout the episode. How that woman can do much with a simple chilling smile is amazing…and a little frightening. At one point I may have felt a testicle retract.
- With so much cray-cray on the Tyler front, there wasn’t much for Faux-manda to do except cause some friction when she and Jack (Nick Weschler) hit up Daniel’s beach party. Her first meeting with Victoria was a bit lacking in fireworks considering Queen V’s chilly disposition, but worth it to hear her take down the stripper-impostor’s cheap shoes and lack of etiquette. Meow
- Speaking of Tyler, how film noir was that confrontation with Daniel in the pool house? Chiaroscuro lighting across the faces? Check. Strangely erotic physical contact? Check. Dangerously close to making out and/or murdering? Check. Hot and weird – just the way I like it.
- Clearly the gods of amazingly unhinged nighttime drama (the shrine for whom is Nolan’s dolphin fountain) heard my prayers not to kill Tyler, but merely ship him off to prison. On a show like this as long as someone is alive, that bitch is coming back. So in honour of everyone’s favourite bisexual schizo: see you soon Tyler!