Dynasty Recap: 1×04 “Private as a Circus”

Previously on Dynasty: Cristal became COO of Carrington Atlantic, so Fallon decided to be CEO of Carrington Windbriar, backed by Jeff. Blake brought Matthew by the house to mess with Cristal, but then Matthew died, and Cristal was all sad. Steven got arrested for Matthew’s death. Cristal didn’t want to tell Blake that she had a bad past in Mexico, so Sammy Joe just orchestrated a robbery to get money for Cristal’s sister back in Mexico. But he didn’t realize Blake had Matthew’s stolen phone, which went missing in the robbery, and the stuff on that phone could “ruin the Carrington name.”

Fallon and Steven are riding through their estate on some very pretty ponies when the episode starts. In case you’d forgotten, they are rich. Very rich. Super rich. Fallon was trying to cheer Steven up, but Steven refuses to be cheered. He doesn’t have an alibi to prove he didn’t kill Matthew, and apparently the FBI is demanding an alternative suspect, because American law enforcement likes to blackmail its own suspects into doing its work for them, apparently. Steven wishes their mom was here, but Fallon says they should learn a different lesson from their mom: “You can’t rely on anyone but yourself.”

Back at home, Cristal is packing to leave, and Anders, the mean butler who Knows About Her Past, brings her her bags while making a rude crack about packing the silver. This guy is the actual worst. You would think Blake is the worst, but Anders is even worst-er. Cristal takes it somewhat calmly. Sam arrives to ask where she’s going, and Cristal snaps at him over “arranging a robbery in my home” without even looking over her shoulder to see if the inconveniently ubiquitous Anders is listening. He isn’t, but I have low hopes for Cristal keeping her secret longer than about five minutes if this is her best game. Sam says everything will be fine and she can get a replacement ring with the insurance money that doesn’t look like it came out of a gumball machine. But Cristal is worried that the police are going to figure out he’s involved. She’s going to go on her honeymoon, she says, holding up some kind of black string concoction that I honestly don’t even understand how it goes on a person’s body. It looks like a hairnet. Sam speaks for all of us when he says, “I don’t need to see how Blake’s sausage is made.” Cristal warns him to lie low since Anders is sniffing around.

Meanwhile, Blake’s conferring in his office with his “pocket cop,” Stansfield. He says he doesn’t care about the ring since they have insurance, but that he needs the phone back. He lied to his son that he gave the phone back to Stansfield and reminds Stansfield that if anyone finds out Stansfield stole the phone from evidence, he’ll be in trouble too. Turns out Blake’s not great at keeping secrets either—just as Anders walks in to set out some kind of fancy coffees for their honored corrupt guest, Sam happens to walk by the open door and overhears them talking about how important the phone is.

Fallon meets up with Jeff at their new office and explains that she wanted to get in a morning ride. “Anyone I know?” Jeff quips. I shouldn’t laugh at slut-shaming, but that did make me giggle. Fallon explains that her horse was a gift for her sixteenth birthday from her father (oh, Fallon and your Daddy issues).

Getting down to business, she says they need a new name, and unrolls a poster mockup: “Morell Green Energy Corporation.” Morell is her middle name. She says it’s so she remembers to only rely on herself, and that she’s going to poach the city of Atlanta from her dad’s company to show everyone that green energy can scale up. Jeff points out it would also conveniently screw over her dad. Fallon promises him she can get the contract because the guy in charge of it is in love with her. She doesn’t seem to be at all worried that this description will remind Jeff of himself.

Cristal, wearing an inexplicably skinny scarf, meets Blake in a convertible and tells him she’s taking him on a honeymoon. He asks, not very excitedly, where they’re going, so she sticks her hand down his pants as a preview. Subtle, lady. He still hesitates, saying the robbery and Steven’s charges will make it hard to go away. Cristal wheedles him into it, saying they’ll only be a phone call away.

Sam’s come to visit a friend who’s working in a warehouse, asking if he got the phone. Apparently this is the robber friend. “Relax, man. I’m gonna cut you in,” he says. Sam tells him the phone is turning up the heat on the investigation and they should just give it back. He says he’ll pay the couple hundred it’s worth. His friend, Crockett, corrects him: it’s worth a couple hundred grand. Turns out this phone is not just stolen evidence. It also just so happens to have a sex tape of Cristal and Matthew on it. Sam tells him he can’t sell it, but Crockett says it’s “Kardashian-level” and the Carringtons better pay full market value. He doesn’t exactly feel bad for the Carringtons while they live in their big mansion. Sam has to get Crockett the money by five.

A hyperventilating Sam finds Steven and admits to him that some of his friends “Bling Ring”ed the house the other night. Steven’s about to call Stansfield, but Sam stops him and tells him about the phone with the sex tape on it. This, of course, reveals to Steven that his dad lied about giving the phone back. Somehow, though, when Sam says they need two hundred thousand dollars to get the phone back, Steven’s first response is to call him anyway. He doesn’t pick up. “Well, what would he do?” Sam asks.

The obvious answer is to spend money, so I guess that’s what they’re going to do.

Cristal and Blake have arrived at her planned honeymoon, which is not a lavish weekend in Paris or London but a free stay at one of Carrington’s own estates. LAME. I expect better honeymooning from these conspicuous consumers.

Blake is also disappointed, because none of the beautiful trees surrounding his giant wooded hideaway is a cell tower. And there’s no wifi, because his grandfather wanted this to be a hideaway. “Even better! More time for us,” Cristal says and throws her arms around Blake. I can’t tell if she’s being purposefully dim or if she actually doesn’t notice that Blake hates this whole thing. He is literally waving his cell phone around trying to get reception while she hugs him.

Fallon arrives to the meeting with the Atlanta councilman and is horrified by the conditions public sector workers have to endure. She’s greeted by a woman who says she works with Councilman Pfeiffer (the guy who’s in love with Fallon), so Fallon asks for a real cup of coffee. There’s an awkward pause and the woman, whose name is Kori Rucks, clarifies pleasantly that she doesn’t work for the Councilman; she’s also on the council. Oooops. The woman is black, by the way. She says she’s taking over dealing with energy stuff. Fallon makes an “oh shit” face. She can’t use her usual tactic of exploiting people who are in love with her to get this contract, and she just mixed up the councilwoman for an assistant.

Sidebar: Fallon is supposed to be a clever businesswoman, no? Why does she have to be relying on men being in love with her to get this contract? DISLIKE.

Anders visits what appears to be a seven-car garage that presumably holds all the fancy cars Michael has to drive the Carringtons around in. Michael is shooting hoops. He kids lightly about Anders loosening up since Blake’s away for the weekend, but Anders just wants to know if Michael saw anything about the robbery. Or maybe he had his head in other matters? And speaking of which, did Ms. Carrington see anything? Unruffled, Michael says he’ll have to ask Fallon. “This incident doesn’t reflect well on those of us who are employed here,” Anders says, and if Michael is depending on the salary, he might want to try to help solve this mystery. Michael agrees to keep an ear to the ground listening for news of the stolen goods, and Anders adds rudely, “And your mouth off Fallon.” Gross! I hate Anders.

This scene was fine, but let’s face it, both actors are being majorly upstaged by the excellent performance Michael’s abs are turning in.

Over at the city council, Fallon is telling Kori all about her plans to expand her new company. Kori says, “Atlanta is not some pawn in a Carrington family feud.” Fallon protests that it’s a different company. Kori remarks that she hasn’t changed since high school, at which point Fallon gives a desperate and very unconvincing attempt to pretend she remembers Kori from high school. She just keeps digging herself deeper here, doesn’t she?

Steven has decided to take a page from his dad’s playbook and call in the pocket cop. He explains that Sam’s friend used him to get into the house to rob them and is now trying to sell them the phone. “How much does he want?” Stansfield asks a little nervously, and Steven, amusingly, just shrugs and says, “Two hundred thousand, that’s easy.” What he’s really worried about is making sure he gets the only copy of the video. Stansfield wants to go back to Sam, but Steven—who really is Blake’s son, as much as he pretends to hate him—shuts that down real quick by saying arresting Sam would only bring attention on the whole issue, which Stansfield doesn’t want because he stole the phone from evidence in the first place. Well played, Steven. He says he’ll go in and buy the phone so Stansfield can arrest the guy. “Silver spoon’s first sting. Your dad would be proud.” Steven, annoyed, tells Stansfield he’s actually cleaning up his own corruption and should focus on finding the real killer.

Jeff and Fallon and Fallon’s leopard-print turban are sunbathing by a pool as Jeff makes fun of Fallon for not remembering Kori from high school. When Jeff’s sister Monica arrives, Fallon has to admit that she thought Kori was an assistant. Jeff is like, uh, I think I’ll handle this from now on. Monica, who for some reason still seems to like Fallon, lets slip that she still keeps in touch with Kori and in fact is seeing her soon. They agree that they’ll ambush this poor councilwoman on what she thinks is a social outing, and then Jeff will butter Kori up and Fallon will swoop in to close the deal.

Sam has met Crockett to buy the video back. He asks Crockett to prove that this is the real phone, so Crockett smirks and shows him part of the naughty video, which… I feel like Sam kind of walked into that one. Crockett swears this is the only copy.

Out in the parking lot, Sam slips into the car with a waiting Steven, who is somewhat adorably wearing a black baseball cap like a celebrity who is pretending not to want to be papped. Steven immediately calls Stansfield, horrifying Sam, but promises Sam that he didn’t implicate him. It all has the distinct ring of “famous last words.”

Cristal wrapped in a rug, sticking out her leg

Up at the vacation house, Cristal has decided to strip down and wrap the skin of a dead bear around her to seduce her new husband. OH MY GOD WE GET IT. You wear lingerie. You have sex with your husband all the time. You’re the last-century ideal of the perfect wife. Now put your damn clothes back on already.

Anyway, she finds Blake outside trying to get bars on her cellphone. After a little pouting from Cristal, Blake heroically suggests that they go stargazing at a waterfall he knows, and even to have sex with her on the porch before they do so. Oh my gosh you guys, do you think the waterfall is where Blake can get reception? That would be a SHOCKING development that hasn’t AT ALL been telegraphed so clearly that Matthew Blaisdell figured it out from his grave.

Back at the Estate, Steven is chastising Sam in his characteristically gentle way for calling Crockett a “friend.” Sam’s response is that Steven has never had to worry about rent or about breaking the law. “I’ve never extorted anyone,” Steven says. “Because you’ve never had to,” Sam says. Steven is an IDIOT if he falls for this nonsense. Anyway, Sam is mad that he didn’t know the plan, but Steven insists he was just trying to protect him. Sam hits back where it hurts: lying to people to protect them is a total Blake move. He has a point there, if nowhere else.

Fallon is readying her outfit for her night out with Jeff, Kori, and Monica, when Steven shows up to display his loot: the stolen phone. “Sam’s friend [took it] when he robbed our house. Long story,” he says. Fallon cannot even begin to care about this because it doesn’t affect her, so he just blows right on by and explains that the photo of Cristal and Matt in the car has been, er, expanded upon. Fallon grabs the phone and cackles. “She almost looks hot upside down,” she remarks with the cudgel of compulsive meanness she apparently wields even when Cristal isn’t around.

Steven proudly explains that he managed to help Dad, Cristal, Stansfield and Sam by getting the phone back. Fallon gets right down to the important question: “What do you get?” Darling babe-in-the-woods Steven doesn’t even understand this question, so she explains patiently that he’s on the hook for murder so he should negotiate for Stansfield to find a replacement suspect, not just give back the phone. After some protesting, Steven starts to see what she’s saying. Fallon reminds him that they can’t rely on anyone but themselves. Once they solve this problem, he can get back to saving the world and she can get back to conquering it.

I think one problem with really idealistic characters on TV shows is that the writers have to find a way to like, stop them from going back to the village where they were providing free medical care because then they won’t be involved in any of the main plotlines. So they start to seem kind of wishy washy and hypocritical, which conveniently makes viewers feel better about the fact that they themselves have not sold all their possessions to go provide medical care to developing areas. Or whatever. And yes, I mostly mean myself here.

At the club that night, Michael’s about to drop Fallon off when she invites him in on the spur of the moment to keep her company while she waits for Jeff. Somehow he seems to find this idea enticing despite how patently insulting it is. They enter the club and see from afar that Jeff is across the club with Monica, but Fallon doesn’t want to show up till Jeff has “fluffed” Kori. She suggests getting a drink but then complains about having to wait in line, and Michael patiently says, “Your Carrington’s showing”—but then offers to get her a drink anyway. She demands club soda because she’s working.

As soon as Michael leaves her alone, she’s accosted by another friend of Kori’s who, we quickly gather, Fallon hooked up with. He is very excited to take her to St. Bart’s. Luckily Michael shows up so Fallon can snake an arm around him and declare him her boyfriend. Several tragic things immediately happen: first, Robbie asks him if he also went to “Penley,” which… is a really sad thing to ask anyone when you’re twenty-seven, like you think no one has met anyone new since high school. Second, Michael gets all excited that Fallon called him her boyfriend. Oh, Michael. I think we should rename you Honey, as in “Oh, honey.”

Michael and Fallon start dancing sexily, but Fallon ditches him as soon as she starts getting beeps on her phone. Turns out Cristal’s sex tape has hit the internet. Fallon can barely contain her glee.

Back at home, Steven and Stansfield are drowning in the dramatic irony as they agree that the tape should never become known to anyone. But Steven withholds the phone, to Stansfield’s disbelief. He emphasizes that this is a second chance for Stansfield to make things right, like getting justice for Matthew. Stansfield starts making excuses that the FBI took over the case, but Steven says he has to close the case first. Stansfield crumples like a paper cup.

Monica and Fallon have joined forces and are looking at the video. “I didn’t expect the landing strip,” Fallon remarks, aaaaaaand that’s an image I’ll never get rid of. Then Monica, who also had a runin with Mr. St. Bart’s, asks about Fallon’s boyfriend. “God, no. I just told him that so he’d get off my back,” Fallon says. In yet another TOTALLY UNFORESEEABLE (unless you’ve ever watched TV before) twist, Michael is eavesdropping from about four feet away and somehow manages to hear this even though they’re in an actual club, like with music and everything. Then Fallon gets a text and ditches the scene so quickly you’d think Monica was Michael or something.

By the way, I think there should be a moratorium on naming any more of these characters with M or S names. It’s really getting hard to type.

Back on the other side of the club, Kori is giving Jeff her speech about how Atlanta won’t be used by Fallon. She doesn’t trust Fallon to worry about people who are struggling to keep their lights on, which, fair enough. But Jeff says that he partially owns the business too, and that makes Kori agree to hear Fallon out. “For you,” she adds, with a flirtatious laugh. Then Jeff says, “You know, I think my sister invited her out tonight,” which somehow doesn’t set off any alarm bells for Kori, like, why would he not have mentioned that before? CLEARLY she has been set up.

Jeff goes off in search of Fallon but only finds Michael, who gets very bitter when Jeff refers to her as “your girlfriend.” “I’ve never gotten a straight answer out of her, maybe you will,” he says. This apparently awakens a sense of kinship in Jeff, who also knows the burning pain of being secretly in love with Fallon, and he invites Michael to join them for drinks. He introduces Michael as “a… friend” to Kori, who lights up and asks if he’s a single friend.

Out in the forest, Blake and Cristal are supposedly lost, and Cristal offers to look at the map. She quickly figures out that they’ve been going north the whole time (how, I don’t know, since they’re literally in the middle of the forest and paper maps don’t exactly label individual trees). When Blake agrees too quickly to get help from a nearby rangers’ station, Cristal figures out immediately that he brought them here on purpose to get reception. This was actually a gratifyingly unpredictable part of the story – usually, a show would make the person in Cristal’s shoes so dumb that she doesn’t figure it out till she literally sees Blake whip out his phone. Cristal goads Blake into looking at his phone, which is suddenly beeping. Both of them figure it out at the same time: her sex tape. “Million-Dollar Tramp,” reads the not particularly creative headline.

Back in the Blaisdell house, someone else is even less thrilled to discover this: Claudia, Matthew’s wife, who we already know is not in good mental health.

Blake and Claudia arrive home grim-faced in their convertible, now with the top definitively down to drown out the paparazzi clustering outside the property. As soon as he enters, Blake demands his lawyers. “Waiting in the study, sir. Perhaps we should suggest that they move in,” wisecracks Anders, right before shutting the door in Cristal’s face. Heh.

Cristal wears a gret beret.

Cristal—who, incidentally, has a very fetching grey beret on—finds Sam in the living room and cuffs him on the back of the neck, yelling at him for letting his friend do that to him. Sam apologizes, but when he lets slip that he told Steven about this Cristal is even more horrified. “I might have fudged some of the details,” Sam admits. He claims he did it to protect Cristal so no one would find out about his mom, and apologizes. She sinks into a chair and demands to know what they’re saying about her. Sammy says the most clever one is “private relations,” like as opposed to public relations. Then he shows her a video of Fallon saying, “I can’t comment on somebody else’s proclivities, I think those are questions for the movie star.” “That bitch,” Cristal hisses. Heh.

Steven gets a call from a desperate, panting Willie, who complains that Stansfield and the FBI won’t call him back. Shocker. He says Claudia’s a mess, which isn’t exactly news, and says this is clearly a motive for Blake to kill Matthew. Steven offers to come meet him, which can only mean that he has yet another Blake-like plan up his sleeve.

Fallon arrives at the construction site that is soon to be her new office, apparently right in the middle of tossing off yet another cutting line about Cristal to a journalist: “This is between his father and his surprisingly flexible new bride.” Heh. Fallon is so evil. She asks Jeff—who a thousand percent wins best outfit of the episode, with a suit jacket that has gorgeous green art-deco dragon paws on it:

Jeff's awesome suit.

He’s pissed when he realized Fallon ditched the plan to talk to Kori in order to give interviews about her stepmother’s sex tape. (When you put it that way it does sound pretty bad, doesn’t it? On the other hand, Fallon’s evil little quips about Cristal’s tape are by far the best thing in this episode.) They lost the deal to a company called Southern Power. Fallon has the grace to look guilty. “I’m guessing you didn’t play team sports as a kid,” Jeff says. You can say that again.

Steven has arrived at Willie’s apartment. Like most poor people, Willie lives in a building where the sunlight is super dusty and everything is desaturated. Steven calls Willie, hears the phone ringing behind the door, and pushes it open to find Willie collapsed on the floor. Well, this doesn’t look good.

Stansfield has gathered the whole family in the Carrington piano room and is explaining that Willie seems to have intentionally overdosed on sleeping pills, with a note claiming responsibility for the Windbriar explosion. Steven remarks that that doesn’t make sense, but fails to mention that Willie called him specifically to talk about the fact that he thought Blake killed Matthew. Stansfield keeps going, spinning a big story that Willie killed Matthew by accident trying to sabotage Carrington-Atlantic after getting denied a promotion. He claims that the police department is confirming the story, but it’s just a formality, and after that the charges against Steven will be dropped.

After some overly significant, not very subtle eye contact from Stansfield, Steven appears to make the connection that none of this adds up. He follows Stansfield out to the hall and starts to ask questions, but Stansfield gets tough all of a sudden and says coolly, “It’s been a rough day, hasn’t it? While I’m here, I believe you have something for me.” Steven hands over the phone. Oh, Steven! Don’t do THAT!

Blake finds Steven and asks if he’s OK. Steven says he didn’t see a note when he found Willie, and it’s a huge coincidence that he’s off the hook now right after accusing Blake of killing Matthew. “Guilt is an unpredictable animal,” says Blake, who is not noticeably acquainted with the emotion himself. He insists Stansfield isn’t a bad guy because “he’s only helped this family.” Not exactly a sound philosophical argument, but OK.

Fallon knocks at Michael’s apartment and, not getting an answer, strides right in to find him still in his boxers. She teases him about going too hard last night, but he says rather coldly that he’s just beat. Then Fallon unwisely claims to be beat from commenting on the video—which is clearly a lie since she obviously enjoyed the hell out of it. Michael, who has decided to stop playing along with her, shrugs and says, “I mean, you took the phone, didn’t you? You leaked the video.” Caught, Fallon says only that she didn’t take the phone. Michael calls her out on the way she treats Cristal, and Kori. Fallon, not picking up on how weird it is that he even knows the story, just defends herself by saying that her mom left in the middle of sophomore year so she became a bitch. Oh, sure, play the mom card. It worked for Joey Potter and Phoebe Buffay! Many times!

Michael is not any more impressed than I am. “That is heartbreaking,” he says sarcastically. “But it was almost ten years ago. Maybe you should stop blaming your mom, and try to figure out why you’re so screwed up now.” Ouch! And to twist the knife a little farther, just then Kori emerges from the bathroom in what appears to be Michael’s buttondown.

Sam finds Steven in the hallway. Does this poor guy just wander the halls waiting for people to come find him? Anyway, Steven apologizes for not telling Sam the plan, and for his privilege in not having ever been driven to extort money from someone for a sex tape, or something? (I mean I’m all for making rich people take more responsibility for their actions but this one seems a little far-fetched, even to me.) But Sam doesn’t let himself off the hook too easily; he confesses that he was involved in the robbery. Steven tries to look shocked, but he just kind of smiles more and then crosses his arms a little. “I know how much you hate being lied to, and that’s why I wanted to come clean,” Sam says. Aren’t people who make a big fuss about how they hate being lied to, kind of weird? EVERYONE HATES BEING LIED TO. It’s such a weird thing to claim as your own special pet peeve. Anyway, Steven pushes Sam off when he tries to pull Steven in for a kiss, and says, “Well I don’t accept that, and I get now why your aunt didn’t want you here.” That’s extremely harsh from Steven.

Cristal and Blake stare out at the gathered paparazzi. Cristal wants to make a statement, but Blake doesn’t want her to. They, too, both make confessions to each other: he knew about the phone, she about the robbery. She claims Sam’s a good kid who made a mistake. I mean, it’s been four episodes and he’s now been involved in two thefts, so, you do the math. Then Blake says Willie was blackmailing him and he didn’t tell Cristal either: the story is that Steven messed up an inspection and someone died in an explosion, so Matthew, as the field inspector, covered it up. I can’t tell if this is true or a lie. But according to Blake, Steven has no idea that the death and coverup even happened, and the phone had evidence of the coverup. Then Cristal, realizing what will work on Blake, reminds him that she was trying to protect Sam by not telling Blake about the robbery. Blake agrees easily that protecting your family is the highest good, blah blah blah.

Meanwhile, Fallon throws a bunch of assorted postcards from her mom into the fire.

Back in their bedroom, Blake tells Cristal that he hates secrets and they should start over with no more lies. Somehow he doesn’t notice that Cristal is doing that thing every TV liar does where she hugs him and then stares over his shoulder looking perturbed.


Pointing out when the plot is predictable is somewhat of a tiresome tic on the part of a TV recapper, I know, but it was nearly impossible to resist in this by-the-numbers episode, with Blake’s not-at-all subtle antics trying to get phone reception, Michael eavesdropping on Fallon at the exact wrong (or right) moment as all TV eavesdroppers seem to have the good luck to do, and Cristal’s sex tape getting out even after the Carringtons pay all that money. None of it was at all surprising, which I think is somewhat par for the course with a show that is intentionally soapy, but it also meant that the episode struggled for momentum.

There were, of course, fun parts—Fallon’s quips about Cristal’s sex tapes are to die for. And watching Michael finally call Fallon out on her self-deception at the end of the episode was quite satisfying; he’s utterly right, and in fact was perhaps too lenient on her, even now. From the last scene, you might gather that she is more bothered by her missing mother than Michael believes, but I think that the postcards really are just talismans. If anything motivates Fallon at the core of her being, it seems to be not the wish to have her mother back but her naked yearning for her father’s approval.

And, finally, we’re seeing what looks like the beginning of Steven’s slide into the Dark Side. He’s lying to protect people, extorting favors from cops in return for stolen evidence… he’s no Fallon, but, as Michael would say, his Carrington is definitely showing. So that could get interesting.

But the one thing I truly hope for next episode is for Fallon to rely ONLY on her business acumen and not on seducing any other male creatures in her orbit. Otherwise, it just feels like a classic story of women vying over male attention, thinly disguised as a business storyline, which–I’ll admit here that I have a weakness for falling in love with shows that heavily feature family businesses while still being violently bored with family business storylines; see: Brothers and Sisters–is really the worst of both worlds.

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