Let’s go back to 2002, when a brown-haired (with bangs!) Emily catered the Graysons’ big New Year’s party.
Tonight’s flashback episode gives us some more details about how Emily’s plan for revenge all fell into place. At first she believed, just like everyone else, that her father was guilty of downing that plane. Nolan had to convince her — he was called upon to protect her, remember? — to read her father’s journals and figure out who he really was.
So Emily, here on out tonight referred to as Amanda, revisits her former stomping grounds and hits up the Stowaway. Can we talk for a second about how absurd Jack looked tonight? With that gross, stringy wig of his? Yeechhh. I admit it is a challenge to believably reverse-age your cast, but they really went to town on these folks. At least little Declan was an entirely different person with no lines, so that worked out nicely. Anyway, Jack’s dating the Stowaway’s bartender, Kai, and his dad (RIP) is living upstairs, having had his houses on Seacliff Lane (which apparently doesn’t exist on real Long Island, per my Long Island-born boyfriend’s note) bought up by a one Mr. Nolan Ross, though of course Nolan doesn’t know he practically put this family into poverty. Amanda must have carried a torch for Jack her whole life, because as soon as she sees him smoochin’ Kai, she leaves in a fit and heads to the house to read the journals. David Clarke narrates and tells Amanda everything, introducing her to some key characters along the way: Bill Harmon, Tom Kingsley and Roger Halstead.
Ah, the Graysons’ New Year’s Eve fete. Always a cause for celebration with those two, amiright? You may recall that this is the party Amanda worked at that was captured on film — earlier in the season we were all like, how the hell did she get there and what is she doing? Tonight, we get answers. Amanda scores a job catering the gig after trading NYE gigs with her new bartender friend Kai. Frank’s in charge of aggregating the guest list because Conrad received a suspicious note in the mail that said “Shame…” and was bloodily sent by David Clarke (from the grave! Oooh!) — so they’re trying to figure out just who, internally, is conspiring against them.
The party starts, and Victoria leaves to pay a visit to the (empty) Clarke house. On the floor is a picture of David. In a couple flashbacks within the flashback tonight, we learn how Victoria came to fall for David — meeting at another holiday party — and that Mrs. David Clarke is “no longer with us.” Conrad finds Victoria in the house and calls her out on still loving David — so he’s aware of his wife’s misconduct, it seems. We also learn that the Graysons still own the house: Even though Lydia and her husband Michael want it, Victoria holds onto it because it’s her last connection to David.
At the party, Amanda’s in charge of seating, and we get to meet some of her dad’s foes that she’s read about before, namely Bill Harmon, who’s described as a reckless gambler, and Tom Kingsley, who buried evidence against the Graysons. Treadwell also snags an invite, and we in addition meet Roger Halstead, who David describes in his journal as a true friend who knows his innocence. When Roger finds out he’s seated with Bill and Tom, he asks Amanda for a seating switch — he can’t stand to be near those people. Amanda makes the connection and asks Roger about her father — but he’s scared to spill what he knows.
Tonight we also see the beginnings of Conrad and Lydia’s affair. After we learn that he bribed her with a cool $1 million to corroborate his testimony, she tells him that she did it not for the money but to protect him. Passion ensues. And, oh, looky here, Lydia’s able to get Conrad to relinquish his deed to David Clarke’s house. So now they’ll all be friends AND neighbors. Victoria apologizes for not telling Lydia she in fact owned the house, and, I’m sorry, is that a morsel of sympathy I have for Victoria right now? When she tells Lydia about the house being the only tie she has left to David, my heart wept a bit. I felt for her. She never wanted to be a part of this whole thing. Her horrible husband sucked her into it. I hope he burns in hell.
Back to the story. Good-guy Roger gets wasted at the party and Frank gets suspicious, removing him from the scene. He corners him about the note, but Roger denies writing it. Amanda comes by to check on Roger and give him some aspirin, but Frank says he has something stronger. And by “something stronger” I think he means “a plan to kill him.” Because that’s exactly what happens: Amanda later finds Roger dead in the tub, covered in blood. The Graysons all assume he sent the letter and then committed suicide, though he didn’t leave a suicide note (and they’re all blind to the fact that Frank murdered him).
Back at the Stowaway, bartender Kai, who overheard Nolan tell Papa Porter he bought up all his property, suddenly decides she and Jack no longer want the same things and plants a big one on Nolan, which naturally infuriates Jack. So I guess we can see how this whole hatred thing he had going for Nolan came about.
Victoria’s talking to Treadwell after the party and we learn it’s really he who wrote the note, because “he’s a writer” and he’s trying to drum up inspiration and interest in his newest book. Listen buddy, I’m a writer too, but I don’t pull that kind of f—ed up s—. Was it possible for me to like him less? Yes, because now I do.
Amanda’s dreams are crushed further when she realizes that drunken Roger maybe wasn’t so drunk at all — he was able to plant a note that basically said “I’ll explain everything” in her jacket. But it’s too late: He’s dead and now she’s without answers. She gets her infinity tattoo and (a bit hysterically) vows to Nolan to get back at all the people who screwed her dad and, consequently, her. Nolan doesn’t thinks she’s capable of taking down the Graysons alone, but clearly he doesn’t know what this girl can do.
Flash back to the present: It’s New Year’s Eve again, and Daniel and Emily are going to the annual Grayson New Year’s Eve party. Daniel’s all like, I know you don’t want to make small talk with all my parents’ friends, but a-ha, as we know now, that’s exactly what she’s RSVPing to do.