In the beginning it was a guilty pleasure; then it was a morality play; now with the pivotal episode "The Watch" Dirty Sexy Money has become in my perspective a full-fledged drama to be reckoned with.
Let's get the minor scenes out of the way first and move on to the meatier ones. The aftermath of Patrick's recovery from his wife shooting him and the scene of Karen's burgeoning affair with her father's hated arch-rival Simon were filler, plain and simple. The levity of the episode was found in Jeremy's obsessive pursuit of Sofia who doesn't know that he is a Darling so one lie leads to another and before you know it he is in so deep he turns to Lisa for help, which she so willingly provides. Their scenes are fresh and it looks like the two get very cozy in next week's Christmas episode.
OK, the remaining scenes were electrifying thanks to the writing, the direction and the impeccable performances turned in by Glenn Fitzgerald (Brian), Jill Clayburgh (Latitia) and guest star Peter Strauss (the late Dutch George). Nick and Trip have their moments as well but Strauss' return to television in this role is a welcome sight after gripping performances 30 years ago in his breakout smash Rich Man Poor Man and then later on, Masada. For weeks the tease has been which of the children were not Trip's but rather the fruit of Latitia's on-going affair with Dutch? Flashbacks give texture and context to the mystery while allowing the audience to witness some poignant and painful moments for Latitia and Nick. What should have been to no one's surprise is that the one Darling which is Nick's half-brother turns out to be Brian. To date Brian has garnished little sympathy as he usually appears sullen and cynical. Now we understand. Even tho he didn't know the truth, in a riveting scene, he confesses to his mother that he has always felt estranged from the Darlings, a contention Latitia vehemently denied. That's why he went to seminary, Brian says, because he just never felt like he fit in.
Nick finds Brian sitting alone in a pew with the scene opening up with Brian praying. Actually it's more of a statement than a prayer. "You have some sense of humor" he says wryly. After telling Nick that he still hates him and this newly revealed brethren status changes nothing, Brian softens a bit and asks him to stay. Then comes one of my favorite quotes that appeals to me as a minister. "That's what church is for; dragging a ruined past through a messy present to a perfect future…" And he's right! The last time Nick saw his dad alive, Dutch gave his son his father's watch, which then Nick gives to Brian which he initially refuses but then changes his mind and in the last heart wrenching scene we see why. Brian takes off the watch and gives it to Brian Jr. as the tyke is whisked off by his mother far away from anything smacking of the Darling dynasty. The tears flow freely between father and son and perhaps for the first time we the audience feel sorry for Brian. What some may feel is emotional manipulation I do not. I saw the scene as real and powerful. Why does this episode move me so? Combination of factors. One, I too am a minister who at times has resorted to marital and professional malfeasance. Secondly, my own family held secrets from me as to my own parentage. My birth father abandoned his wife and four children two weeks before I was born. When my mother re-married her new husband quickly adopted me and gave me his name before I was old enough to realize what was going on. It would be years later when I was 11 or 12 before I forced the family to fill in some gaps.