"A person's identity is hard to discern," narrates Emily Thorne in the beginning of the episode. Indeed, the identities for almost every character in the series is not their own. Emily's not who she says she is; the Graysons have a vault of secrets. The search for the falcon's identity underlines the objective of the episode. "Identity" exposes people or further corrodes one's image, one's perception of someone else, in some way or another. Jack and Declan are the only genuine characters on the show. Of course, their respective behaviors are being shaped/influenced by people who are playing someone else, who are not being themselves; thus, Jack's opinion of Emily drops even further. With all of the crappy stuff that's happened to him this season, he's resorted to doing what the powerful in the Hamptons do--he's using Ashley, who is not a saint, but Jack's indifference marks yet another character's who is being dragged into this nonsense.
Takeda and Aiden share a worthwhile talk about the mission. Takea loathes his people getting emotionally invested in what they're doing. Emily gets pulled in very easily, but Aiden's ceased playing by the rules. The Initiative broke their word to him when they killed his sister, which changed the game completely. Trask's murder was meant to help Aiden, as he thought taking the man's life in an act of revenge would purge the rot in his soul. It did not help him, and he tells Takeda he'll help Emily complete her mission as fast as possible. Takeda makes an angry face at him.
The takedown of the Graysons has been Emily's goal since the "Pilot." Aiden's feelings about revenge finally address a necessary element of the show. The Graysons, right now, are like a toy a kid's waited for all year for Santa to deliver, but then the toy lets him down. The takedown of the Graysons won't bring her father back or anyone else Emily lost. Each person taken down by Emily and Nolan serves as a band aid. Emily never feels good. Band-aids mask a wound. When it falls off, one sees how the wound hasn't healed. So it is when Emily and Nolan taken down the falcon. The falcon's a young girl named Edith Lee. She's responsible for David's demise as well as Padma's. Nolan fools her with an external drive and he gets the FBI on her. Emily and Nolan celebrate. Edith is a takedown, but Emily's still a stone. Nolan has a glass of whiskey and a picture of Edith he drew on, but he's alone. Worse still, Victoria shows up at his door. The Graysons are there, always.
Several things of note happen in the Graysons Nightline plot. The search for the falcon and Victoria's abandoned child cross paths. Nolan uses Victoria's abandoned child secret to get the falcon out into the public, and Emily tips off Nightline about the abandoned child. The truth about why Victoria abandoned her son is revealed in a series of flashbacks and confirmed by her on Nightline, furthering the divide between her and Conrad. Victoria's flashbacks are horrible to watch, especially any involving art. Who'll forget the regrettable James Purefoy artist storyline last season (late in the season actually)? I'm never sure what the purpose of Victoria's flashbacks are. I know the writers design them to induce sympathy and empathy in the character, to give her layers, and make her less of a vindictive bitch. The truth about her abandoned child does not redeem Victoria. It's basically the laziest storytelling I've seen on TV this season. Young Victoria tells a bearded gentleman that she likes a painting and an art school. The bearded man works as the dean of admissions for the school, likes that she likes the painting in front of them, and offers her a scholarship. Victoria later regrets and looks as torn about leaving her son as Emily looks torn bringing the falcon down.
The immediate impact of Victoria's confirmation of the rumored abandoned child involves Conrad's governor campaign going straight to hell, but who cares about Conrad Grayson. The character's never interesting. Jack and Ashley work to screw him together but really who cares. Maybe this storyline will lead to the final disintegration of the Grayson marriage. Ashley volunteers to save Conrad's campaign, though she's secretly working with Jack to bring him down (unless she's not because Ashley's motivations are incredibly inconsistent).
Emily's relationship with Daniel continues to deepen. She commits to marrying into the family. Jack reacts poorly to the news and fires her as godmother to Carl. Jack's genuine good guy personality is being corroded by the demands of Emily's revenging. Emily seems on the verge of telling Jack everything. Of the three men on the show, Emily shows the most genuine and honest affection her childhood friend and crush. He softens her. I won't be surprised if she gets her revenge, isn't satisfied, the show then wastes four seasons on Emily doing other stuff she'll hate herself for, before finding peace with Jack because he's the only person who'll truly love her in this cold world. The episode ends with a hook. Emily will marry Daniel, destroy the family, break his heart, and then go off somewhere and have passionate sex with Aiden. They plot this course and then go wild on one another.
Of course, in the midst of all the treachery, hurt feelings, and what-not, are scenes of displaying the other side of the character. There's Emily's affection for Jack; there's Victoria asking Nolan to help her find the son she abandoned; there's Nolan's elation after beating the falcon. Happiness won't come anytime soon for anyone in the show; but happiness is there, hard to see and bring out, but it's there.
-Declan and Charlotte are again involved in a storyline that's horrible. Charlotte suddenly becomes BFFs with the girl she punched at the masquerade party and makes out with her for the paparazzi to record. Declan is mad. Until this storyline doesn't suck, I'm not writing about it.
-Emily Vancamp's hair is excellent now. I'm elated she got rid of the pound cake color highlights.
-Joe Fazzio & Ted Sullivan wrote the episode. Charlie Stratton directed it.