On paper, last night's "Lineage" episode sounds pretty terrible. It's kind of confusing; it spends too much time on the Porters' bar, as usual; and the show's idea of indicating that we're in 2006 is to comb two characters' hair forward unflatteringly, and leave everyone else styled exactly the same.
But: it's awesome.
2006. Emily lurks around a shady nightclub owned by Russian gangsters and repeats variations on "I can take care of myself" to Foxy Aiden, whom we will refer to only as "Aiden" this week thanks to a horrendous hair-don't reminiscent of David Silver in "Beverly Hills 90210's" college years. It seems like they already know each other based on the repartee, but we're meant to understand that this is how they met. This is also how Emily meets Ashley; Ashley's trying out for a dancer's spot in the club, but Emily prevents her from getting human-trafficked by the head Mafia guy, Dmitri, who has a taste for underage sex slaves. She hands Ash a wad of cash and instructions to call her when Dmitri is set to arrive at the club -- because that's when Em's real plan is set in motion.
His sister's keeper
See, Sensei has dispatched Em to track down a girl named Colleen who vanished back in 1993. Emily expositions that she isn't happy about the diversion from her primary plot, namely worming her way into the collective Grayson bosom with intel about Conrad's affair with Lydia (remember her?), but she agrees to pose as a dancer herself. It's all going fine until Aiden starts shooting at Dmitri, because of course Colleen is Aiden's sister; then Emily has to save Aiden from a torture room by crawling John-McClain-style through some ductwork, against Sensei's advice, and exposition that Aiden's father, a baggage handler, ALSO got framed by the same explosion that set up her father as a terrorist; then she has to try to save DMITRI when Aiden wants to shoot him for kidnapping Colleen, because if Aiden kills Dmitri, he'll never know what became of her. Dmitri leers in a Count von Count accent that Colleen "even grew to like it," and gets three to the head for his trouble. Then Aiden asks Emily to get Sensei to take him on.
And that isn't even the good part!
Neither is the Porter subplot, so let's dispense with it. Carl is getting strong-armed by…a union guy? A low-level mobster providing protection from developers? Not clear; doesn't matter. The way people go after ownership of the Stowaway, you'd think they had unicorns in the kegerator, but anyway, there's a firebomb, Captain Sketchball threatens Jack and Declan, a neighbor shoots Sketchball for putting his daughter in the hospital, and when Jack comes running down to see what's going on, Carl lies that it's the Amanda's engine backfiring.
Over at Grayson Manor, Daniel and the much-mellower Conrad of six years ago discuss Hahhvahhd clubs. Daniel admits that he may not major in business after all: "I'm actually taking this workshop in…creative writing. Poetry, specifically." Well, that's…HAAAAAA HA HA HA HA! Oh wow, that's ridiculous and great. Daniel's also run into Victoria's estranged mother, Adrienne Barbeau, and invited her and her gentleman friend for Thanksgiving. Victoria seethes, and in a flashback within the flashback, we find out that Barbeau is a grifter who hunts rich men like big game.
Her mother's daughter
Barbeau wants to bring the latest target, Greevey, to Thanksgiving to impress him and get him to take a knee. Victoria assents to this, and after some icy conversation, she springs a dinnertime trap when Barbeau slimes that Victoria has always been her greatest blessing: "That's not what you said when you kicked me out of the house." Another flashback to Barbeau getting in a fight with a prospective fiancé; he didn't sign on for a kid, he says, and when Barbeau offers to get rid of Victoria, he's like, that's even worse, and starts to storm out. Barbeau knocks him out, hands Victoria a gun, and tells her to shoot the guy and they can tell the cops he tried to attack them. This homage to Lana Turner succeeds, but Victoria is in a psych ward for six months, and when she gets home, Barbeau sees her next beau sneak into Victoria's room, blames Victoria, and boots her from the house at age 15. "You drove a wedge between me and every man I ever loved!" Barbeau grits, then says she should have gotten an abortion. Greevey is like, I…can't with this, and leaves.
Barbeau, broken, pleads with Victoria: I have nothing, and nowhere to go. Victoria literally shrugs and opens the front door for Barbeau to leave. Brrr. And then! Victoria set the whole thing up, from Greevey himself to their chance meeting with Daniel. Later that evening, Conrad mentions that he wired Greevey a large sum for playing "the role of a lifetime," and asks Victoria if it was worth it to "orchestrate [her] mother's demise." It was worth it to the audience, Connie.
Nolan, meanwhile, is announcing the NolCorp IPO to the troops -- then sharing a romantic Thanksgiving dinner with the CFO who made it all happen. No, not Padma, blessed be; it's an adorable young man named Romero. But love's labor is about to get lost; the new accounting firm found Nolan's Caymans account, and Romero is not happy to learn that the $500 million he put in it is now gone. He's even less happy to hear that Nolan had kept it for David Clarke's daughter: "You are choosing a convicted terrorist over me!" Nolan's like, if you don't get why I have to protect her, we have no future, so you're fired and here's your half of the company. "I don't want your blood money," Romero says. "Go to hell."
We wrap up 2006 with Conrad reading some of Daniel's poetry before laying each page gently in the fireplace; the verse is as forgettably turgid as you might imagine. It's supposed to seem mean and manipulative of Conrad that he's going to instruct publishers to give Daniel a series of polite rejections, thus driving him back into the arms of a pre-law major of some sort, but this author DID major in creative writing ("poetry, specifically"), and Conrad is doing him a huge favor. It's kind of a shame we won't get to see Daniel's continuing adventures with the villanelle, however. …Hee. Hee hee hee. AHHH HA HA HA HA HA Daniel writing poetry! [wipes eyes] Oh, my.
So, yes: back to the present day, where Daniel tracks down Romero and tells him he has a business proposition for him involving NolCorp, and Romero is "listening"; where Conrad brings Victoria a cognac, she orders Conrad to help her protect Daniel, and Conrad wonders if maybe Daniel should have become a poet after all (hee) (also: no); and where it turns out that Kenny Homeowner, the Porters' current "partner" in the bar, is of course Sketchball's son, although Sketchball actually looked younger than Kenny does now, in a flashback from six years ago.
And Foxy is in bed with Emily, murmuring that he'd never have believed he'd be here with her six years ago. Emily, looking actually happy for a change: "Don't disappear on me again." "I won't…Amanda." And then she shows him the Big Box o' Conspiracy.
Next week: Ashley and Conrad Did It. Nobody is happy about this.
Speaking of poetry, here's what you tweeps thought about "Lineage":
No character greater than Victoria Grayson. She's the one and only evil queen in Hampton. She learnt from the best. #revenge— rama kristian (@ramakristian) November 26, 2012
"Revenge" airs Sundays at 9 PM on ABC. Watch the full "Lineage" episode right here: