Things have started to go a little haywire on Dirty Sexy Money. Everyone’s manipulating everyone. Everyone’s lying to everyone. Everyone thinks they can pull something over on someone else. Everyone is causing each other pain, and everyone is vowing to get even. It’s like Peyton Place, but richer, meaner, and, well, dirtier.

Dirty little secret spoilers ahead…

Three plotlines remained central to this week’s action: Letitia’s murder case, Karen’s engagement to Simon, and Nick and Lisa’s marital struggles. Brian’s storyline is still relegated to B status, which is a shame, because it means we don’t get to see nearly enough of either Brian (Glenn Fitzgerald) or Brian Jr. (Will Shadley — adorable, yet not annoyingly precocious).

Letitia’s Murder Case: Jeremy’s still carrying on with Nola, and she makes it absolutely clear to him that no one can know about their relationship. meanwhile, Nola hauls Nick in for a meeting with the judge, accusing him of witness tampering because he visited his mother in france and persuaded her not to testify. Nick goads Nola, dropping a hint about her secret relationship. Out in the corridor, he flatly tells her he knows about her extracurriculars. But since he has no proof, she essentially tells him to buzz off. 

Later, furious over Jeremy’s alliance with Lisa, he threatens to pound Jeremy unless he testifies in court about his relationship with Nola. Jeremy reluctantly agrees. Now it’s Nick who’s doing the hauling in to the judge’s chambers, where he confronts the judge and Nola with an affidavit from Jeremy swearing to his sexual relationship with Nola. Not only does the judge dismiss the murder charges against Letitia, but she forces Nola to go before the state bar’s ethics committee for her prosecutorial misconduct. And Nola breaks it off with Jeremy. 

But Nola’s not done with the Darling family yet. Patrick’s been resisting Tripp’s efforts to meddle in his choice of a chief of staff. Nola goes to Patrick and essentially blackmails him into giving her the job, letting him know in no uncertain terms that she knows how Ellen died and how the family took care of it. So meet Patrick’s new chief of staff. 

Meanwhile, Nick joins Tripp and Letitia for a toast to her freedom, and he says it’s only right that an innocent woman went free, hinting that he knows Tripp isn’t so innocent.

The double cross: Jeremy, heartbroken over losing Nora, meets Letitia on the roof, where she’s getting some air. "Good job with that Nola woman," she tells him. "Thanks — I’m glad I could help out," he replies. The problem of course is that he really was in love with Nola. And what’s with Letitia and Tripp pulling the strings of their children’s love lives for personal gain, like they’re Thomas Boleyn?

Nola’s strings are being pulled too — but it turns out that she’s working for Simon, who’s enraged that her lack of self-control ended Letitia’s case and put an end to his uber project. When Nola tells him she’s found another way into the family, working for Patrick, he’s so relieved he actually cracks a smile.

Karen and Simon:
Karen’s busy planning her wedding, but no one in the family has responded to the invitation to her and Simon’s engagement party. She gleefully tells Nick that she’s going ahead with the marriage and tells him he’s paranoid for believing the Simon-taking-over-Darling-Enterprises story. Haven’t these people ever heard of a prenup? I realize that Simon would probably be able to lawyer himself out of any agreement, but surely there must be some way to protect Karen’s assets and share in the company if she does marry Simon.

Nick, aghast, goes to Tripp and tells him that the only way to protect the company and the family is to cut Karen out of his will and strip away her shares of the company and her inheritance. After she gets the papers, Simon counsels her to make sure her brothers show up at the engagement party — and after a funny scene where she leans on them to do so, they give in. At the engagement party, Patrick toasts his sister and Simon talks about the kind of family they intend to build — with no secrets, no loyalty tests, and no traditions, but filled with freedom, mutuality and respect.

Tripp’s timing is perfect, and he shows up, Nick in tow, at the party, telling Karen that it’s just money and nothing personal. He hands her a present, which turns out to be the crystal duck that was swiped from Simon’s apartment a few episodes back — not quite the horse head scene in The Godfather, but something’s up. Then he turns to his sons with a hilarious over-the-top turn. "As for you three, clearly you felt the need to sneak around behind my back," he scolds. "That was unfortunate." The Darling men trot after him, abandoning Karen.

Lisa and Nick: Nick, still believing that Lisa’s new gallery is a solo endeavor, goes to her opening night party (And it has to be said: most of the art in the gallery, well, sucks.). He runs into tabloid kid Joel Madden (of the band Good Charlotte, best known for his work in fathering Nicole Richie’s baby), who tells him that he posed for a picture as a favor to the gallery’s owner: Jeremy Darling.

Nick confronts her, saying he knows she couldn’t have gotten the place on her own, knows she lied to him, and knows about Jeremy. Lisa stammers that she was going to tell him. Yeah, right. And Nick storms out. After he spends the night on the couch, she tries to talk to him, but he’s not interested. He said no to partnering with Jeremy, she did it anyway, so talking’s not helping. Later, they talk again. You lied to me, he says, and I can’t be married to someone who lies to me — I get enough of that from the Darlings. They’re hanging on for dear life, but it’s killing them, he tells her. He needs some time away. Lisa, crying, is shocked that he’s leaving, even for just a little while. And when they hug, he looks lost. It’s an interesting scene; his coldness is such a change from how he behaved when we first met him.

The thing is, how in the world could Lisa have honestly believed she could keep a partner — particularly Jeremy — a secret from Nick? In what universe does that line of reasoning hold up? It’s just stupid. Also, Nick’s tactics really seem to indicate an embrace of the hardline Darling way. There’s been a good bit of discussion of Nick’s "forbidding" Lisa to go into business with Patrick. And normally I’d cry foul; but in this instance, he recognized that his wife was walking over the line, that there was a temptation there that was coming between them, and he had a right to put his foot down. I’m on Team Nick on this one. But I’ll grant you that he could’ve handled it better.

Speaking of temptation, after he leaves Lisa, Nick catches Karen in the lobby of Simon’s building and tells her not to marry Simon. You’ve done your duty and saved the company, Karen shoots back. But the company’s not his first concern, he says. She is. Karen and Nick. And God bless Karen, she calls him on it. Fine, then step up, she says — don’t make me give up everything for a vague abstraction. Don’t screw with my head; what’s it going to be?

And Simon, of course, is watching on the building’s security cameras.

Quickly to the B: Brian Jr. comes down with a sore throat, prompting Brian to tell Andrea that they can’t go back to Brazil. The doctor, double-checking for parasites from them, finds that Andrea has cancer.  She was diagnosed a year and a half ago, and pursued a holistic treatment in Brazil that led to remission — she was disease free for a year. Brian, in that Brian way of his, asks her not to go back to Brazil but to stay and let him take care of her.

What did you think? Are you keeping track of the puppeteering plots of the Darling parents and Simon? Are you as glad as I am that you’re not related to them? What do you think will happen with Nick and Karen? And Nick and Lisa?

Posted by:Lisa Todorovich