DYNASTY Review: “Rotten Things”

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This week on Dynasty, we got a couple of new characters to mix things up and a reveal of some hidden motivations that I really wasn’t expecting. After finally telling Blake about her past, Cristal and Blake bring Cristal’s sister from Venezuela into the Carrington fold. At the same time, after finding out that his carelessness or incompetence got a guy killed, Stephen is in New York doin’ drugs and gettin’ wild, and so he’s brought back to Atlanta by Grandfather Carrington, who’s worried about the family name.

I still feel kind of confused by Blake as a character — or rather, I feel like he’s fairly clear as a character by the way everybody talks about and reacts to him is so at odds with how he comes across that it’s just… weird. Like, I have never at any point gotten ‘cutthroat businessman and emotionally distant father’ from Blake even though we tend to act like he’s that stereotype. He’s fiercely protective of Cristal and accepting of her extensive bullshit. Most of his reveals end up showing us that even his more nefarious deeds are about protecting the ones he loves. I don’t know, man. Blake just seems like a good guy. Grandfather Carrington, hereafter Thomas, however, seems to be what everybody pretends Blake is.

He drags Stephen home and tells Blake that he needs to fire Stephen to prevent him from sullying the reputation of Carrington Atlantic. He also is pretty overtly racist, treating Cristal as the help from the get-go and making comments about ‘undocumenteds’ when Cristal’s sister, Iris, arrives. Blake, proving once again that he’s just a solid dude, refuses to fire Stephen and instead asks Stephen to go to rehab and get the help he needs. Unfortunately, Stephen is a bit off the rails, and so instead of doing as he says he will, he calls up his ex (current? I’m going to still call him his ex) who also has a drug problem (or did? I have to assume he’s not still sober but we sort of pole vaulted over any explanation there) and starts packing to go to Paris for New Years, or something. Before they can escape, his ex’s car is stopped and he’s arrested for having a whole lot of drugs in it.

Thomas praises Blake for his pragmatic approach in solving the Stephen problem — getting the person out of the way he sees as dragging him down — and Blake takes the credit, even though he didn’t do it. He and Stephen have an altercation over it where Blake tells Stephen he didn’t want him to know about the guy who died as a result of Stephen’s work because it would ruin him. Stephen tells Blake that instead of just ruining Stephen, he’s ruined their relationship.

Cristal’s sister, meanwhile, turns out to be a handful and a half, no surprise there. She from the beginning is clearly looking to stay in the U.S. indefinitely, rather than just visiting. This whole thing feels really weird and confusing to me, because if — as Cristal believes at the start of this episode — her sister is on the run from some dangerous criminals and has been for over a decade, why wouldn’t the plan be to keep Iris in Atlanta? I assumed that given all the drama over bringing Iris to the U.S. in the first place, and the talk of the expense of it, the intention was for her to move to the U.S. Not visit for the holidays. Cristal seems taken aback by Iris’s intentions, though. So, y’know. That’s super weird.

It’s also super weird to me that although there are more issues between the sisters than we knew (more in a sec), there’s never a moment of, “oh my god, I’m so happy to see you after OVER A DECADE.” Sammy and Iris are obviously happy to be reunited, but Cristal and Iris are bizarrely indifferent to one another. Like, yes, the baggage makes it complicated, but I find the lack of any knee-jerk joy truly strange.

Anyway, in Iris’s bag, Cristal finds the $300k Anders helped Cristal procure to supposedly stave off the guys chasing her. Anders marked the bills, so they know it’s the same money. Cristal confronts Iris, who admits she’s been more or less safe for the past few years, but that the only way she knew Cristal cared was to ask her for money? Flimsy explanation, but okay. Cristal threatens to tell Blake and make Iris leave, but Iris whips out the real story of why Cristal left Venezuela in a hurry: she murdered Iris’s husband. It was self-defense, as it seems in the flashback, or defense of her sister at least. I understand the running away thing in light of that, but I’m a bit unclear as to why Cristal was so resistant to telling Blake; not that murder isn’t all around bad and horrible and likely traumatic, but it’s not like she killed a man in Reno to watch him die. She was in a difficult, violent situation. She thought her sister’s life was in danger. She acted without thinking. It’s bad, but not “I wear the skin of my many murder victims” bad.

Fallon, for her part, is still sleeping with Jeff. She finds out that he’s been back in touch with his father, who’s in prison for drugs, and that his sister/Fallon’s good friend Monica is mad at him about it. She also is trying to figure out how to get Morrell out of the red for the year. Putting these seemingly unrelated things together, Fallon tricks Monica into visiting her father in prison — later we find out that her intent was to talk to some people at the prison while Monica was with her father to try and get a deal to provide them with energy and thereby fix her books, but Monica runs out, leaving Fallon to meet with Monica and Jeff’s father.

We learn two things from this meeting: for one, Monica’s father doesn’t want to see her, not the other way around; for another, Monica’s father hates the Carringtons, and forces her to leave as soon as she gives her name. (She does get in a great line when he asks if she’s Blake Carrington’s daughter, and she corrects him with, “Blake Carrington is my father.” I love Fallon.)

Fallon apologizes to Monica, who doesn’t really accept it, although she and Jeff seem to be doing well. She tells Jeff that she doesn’t just want to use him for sex, she wants their relationship to be real — this, crucially, comes on the heels of her finding out that Culhane is single again, and feels more than a little like a band-aid. (Although for the time being, it’s for the best, since Monica goes straight to Culhane to hook up.)

Unfortunately for Fallon, the reveal I wasn’t expecting is from Jeff. He goes to meet with his father in prison, and we find out that Blake was sleeping with Jeff’s mother, and that Jeff’s father’s drug charge wasn’t real. Jeff is getting close to the Carringtons to enact some sort of revenge. I feel sort of good about this because at multiple points I’ve found Jeff to be shady as all get out (how he treated Fallon when she was wasted; instating his cousin as police chief after buying Stansfield off) and so it’s nice to have confirmation that he is, in fact, shady as all get out.  I guess I just had lower expectations of Dynasty than I should have, or am just an idiot (probably the latter) because they actually played quite fair with this twist.

The last twist which is much less delicate and much soapier is when Blake goes into work to his morning meeting… and we find out his meeting is Iris’s husband, who isn’t dead, gasp. It’s a little funny because clearly, we haven’t seen this man enough to recognize him, so we get a brief flashback insert to tell us to gasp at the appropriate moment, basically.

I usually like shows more over time because I’m a sucker and get attached to characters pretty easily, so I’m not sure if Dynasty is finding its stride or if I’m just getting invested, but either way, I enjoyed this week a lot more than weeks prior.

TB-TV-Grade-A-Season 1, Episode 9 (S03E09)
Dynasty airs Wednesdays at 9PM on The CW

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