This Dynasty review contains spoilers.
Dynasty Episode 6
This is the first episode that feels like we’re going beyond the events of the pilot (new stepmom/boss, Steven returns, dead Matthew) to put into place the rest of the web of love, corruption, and deceit.
The best soaps have a cast of characters with a wide array of secrets and competing interests that cause them to believably switch loyalties at the drop of hat, making for strange bedfellows when their interests align, and pulling people who should be together away from one another. The late, great Vampire Diaries excelled at this, and it allowed them to reasonably propel enemies into bed and best friends or lovers to be at each other’s throats for the entire eight season.
Currently, everyone on Dynasty has a pretty straightforward mission, with at most two priorities to juggle, like Cristal’s loyalty to Blake versus the one to her family. I’m going to need everyone to have at least three more motivations that can be put into play at any moment if a secret is revealed or a bribe is offered in order for this show to generate the heat necessary to justify how goofy it is.
Steven is starting to have those layers, with his tie to Willy’s death, the evidence tying him to Matthew, and the foundation’s funny business causing him to be at odds with his loyalty to his family and his own morality. Everyone else is a little too single-minded to be manipulated in new and interesting ways from week to week.
Fallon makes a last-ditch effort to save her company
The list of people in Fallon’s life who have had enough of her BS is continually growing, and this week she finally realizes that if Jeff becomes a permanent member of that list, she’s cooked. She at least has the good sense to admit to him when the party she suggests is a naked ploy to make him forgive her, and lucky for her it actually works. She does her best to torpedo it though, with Monica Colby talking her into actually inviting Jeff’s contacts to a party that is allegedly half his, and drunkenly insulting everyone she spends time with.
If you were hoping to see a bunch of people awkwardly use slang, you’re in luck. Michael Colhane is officially on record to be the first man who is angry his hookup buddy didn’t “catch feelings,” but it’s still not enough to get Fallon to grow up and be both genuine and respectful. Monice calls Fallon out for her fickle taste in men that changes about as often as she changes shoes, but it still doesn’t get through.
Fallon has only become more one-note as the episodes wear on, and that note is unbridled selfishness. There’s nothing wrong with selfish characters, but unlike a Blair Waldorf (Gossip Girl) or a Victoria Grayson (Revenge), her sense of humor and badass-factor are uneven at best. As Jeff pointed out, she has yet to do anything but spend his money and insult him, and that pretty much holds true through this episode as well. By the end of the episode she has also managed to piss off Michael and her frenemy Corey some more and accidentally mend fences with a couple of tech geniuses, but it all felt a bit predictable and unimpressive. The Fallon of the first few episodes had so much promise of biting humor and business acumen that the character hasn’t demonstrated for a little while now, leaving her a whining freeloader.
Claudia moves into the Carrington Estate
Claudia survived the car accident, and luckily her character improved since she appears to be with us for the long haul. Her sense of humor was delightfully biting as Cristal obliviously tried to make jokes about “growing up working class like us” while talking about getting lost in their own shooting range. For reasons that make sense only to her, Cristal channels her Claudia-guilt into moving her in to their house and first caring for her, but then quickly passing her off on Sammy Jo.
Sammy Jo is definitely the person you want to be your tour guide through the world of the 1%. He wears great clothes, encourages the little devil on Claudia’s shoulder, and enjoys conspiring about the folly of the upper crust. Can we just have a show that is Anders and Sammy Jo reading people, or each other?
Personally, I was hoping that Claudia really was Single White Female-ing Cristal, but the writers went for something more in the style of Hitchcock, though we’re a long way from being able to say that with a straight face. Claudia is the victim of a classic soap opera medicine switcheroo, so of course she has a naked kiss in the tub with Blake, and asks Cristal to raise Matthew’s baby with her. The best part of this storyline – other than Sammy Joe and Claudia’s quips – was watching Cristal and her nephew turn into the Scooby Gang when they realized something was afoot. Let’s have more of these two as private investigators, please!
Steven digs into the foundation’s finances
Steven continues to be pretty much the only Carrington who works, so he’s already delivered a suggested portfolio of charities to his father, who wants him to support safer, more conservative causes. Steven rather pragmatically tells his father to pitch the charities he likes, so they can stand on their own merit, which takes them to a local boxing club. Blake and the boxing club know what they’re doing, so of course they have an adorable, feisty little girl on hand to wow Steven. They almost got him to overlook his concerns around brain damage in child athletes until Steven sees a photo on the wall of his father’s favorite cop Hot tip: if you’re going to steal money by funneling it through a charity, get your lies straight and don’t put your picture on the wall.
Steven already had his hackles up about Stansfield after he probably (definitely) killed a man to get Steven out of murder charges, so I can’t imagine this will end well for either Blake or Stansfield. I’m a bit surprised Steven doesn’t know about this little arrangement already, especially after his comment in the pilot about how the local PD should just set up shop in the Carrington Estate, but I guess all that time away in Haiti kept him away from the underbelly of the business.
The real question is, how much of a Carrington is Steven? When this all inevitably blows up, will he keep his mouth shut to protect his own and the family’s secrets? Will he allow his father to pin everything on Stansfield and get off scot free? Or will Steven remain the principled man he is, and take them all down?
The heat of this show is in the meddling, the layered loyalties, and the rat-a-tat snark. One or two of these storylines are getting there (or starting to) in any given week, but there’s always at least one that missed the mark.