'Dirty Sexy Money': Nutcracker, indeed

Nataliezea_dirtysexymoney_240 Nothing is what it seems -- and honesty doesn't necessarily make you happy. That was the message I took away from tonight's Dirty Sexy Money -- and I'm pretty sure I got it right because they beat me over the head with it like Oliver Stone. But it was fun and there were ballet dancers, so it's pretty hard to complain.

Spoilers ahead...

Tripp comes to see Brian in church, and the not-son is bitter and prickly as usual. Then Tripp says something interesting -- and poignant ("poignant" is a word I'm probably going to over-use here, but it fits) that he's spent most of his life trying to find himself in Brian, but he couldn't. But nonetheless, he's looking forward to having a relationship with Brian. Then Brian meets with his superior at church, who tells him that while he has a great "independent spirit," that spirit -- and the affair, out-of-wedlock child, and bribery charge -- is going to be his downfall. He's suspended from the church for six months.

Which, understandably, sends Brian into a bit of a tailspin, and he brings his troubled soul to Letitia. He doesn't know if he ever really had faith, he says. "You can't deny you have a way of articulating the questions people have about God and faith," she responds. He protests: "I get weepy at Christmas; the crucifixion kind of gets to me -- but that's not the same as having faith."

Did I mention that while they're having this conversation, she's essentially washing his feet? Holy biblical metaphors, Batman.

In the end, Brian seeks advice from Tripp -- first in a conversation about his faith and purpose in life, and finally asking Tripp to let him join the family business. That'll definitely have an interesting effect on Darling Enterprises.

Speaking of kids working for the old man -- hoo boy, Karen! Just when you think you have her figured out, she throws you for a brand-new loop. Karen's playing naughty naughty footsie footsie with Simon Elder -- and it's all on the QT. In the spirit of full disclosure, Simon tells Nick that he's seeing Karen. And asks for the profit/loss statements for Darling Enterprises for the last five years. Nick seems far more conflicted about the Karen development than the profit/loss statement request. When he tells Tripp about Simon wanting the documents, Tripp surprises him by saying fine, he'll have the accountants put something together and have Karen bring it by Nick's office. There's your first tip.

Next, Karen skips the family tradition -- an at-home performance of "The Nutcracker" at Simon's request -- he wants to introduce her to someone very special over dinner. It turns out to be Simon's ex-wife, who tells a -- yes -- poignant story about how they first met, and squeezes a choked-up Karen's hand, giving her blessing to the relationship. Karen, shaken, shows up at the Nutcracker night not wanting to talk with Nick about her evening, which later prompts him to tell Simon to leave her alone. Geez, Nick -- jealous/not jealous, interested/not interested -- pick a side already.

Ah, but it's not over. Instead of the customary Tripp/Nick conversation at the end of the episode, it's Tripp and Karen. Tripp asks her if she's in over her head with Simon. "You promise me you're not getting emotionally involved," he says. "Because we agreed that that was absolutely not part of the plan." Holy moly. It was like the scene in Gladiator when Marcus Aurelius laments to his daughter that she's not a man, because what a Caesar she'd make. Except Tripp seems to be giving Karen on-the-job training for Caesardom. Brilliant. It's a beautifully played scene between Tripp and Karen -- conveying how close this father and daughter are, and how like their natures are. But Karen retains a fantastic vulnerability. Let us bow our heads and thank the heavens for Natalie Zea.

Other highlights:

  • Loved Lisa and Jeremy in the gallery -- and was thrilled to see her put a stop to it when he kissed her, which I worried would go off the deep end. I've loved this whole little storyline -- their budding friendship, her inability to say no to his insane plot, her insistence on lecturing him to tell the truth. We all like a little bad boy, and because he's a little bit removed from her, it's safe for her to indulge. Lisa's comments to Jeremy about the way she and her daughter miss Nick were touching and sad -- and made her frustration about his choosing the Darling madness and not being there for them more palpable. And Lisa's coat was great.
  • Delighted to see Nick and Lisa pull it back from the brink at the end. Sure, she lost her job after her doobie evening at the gallery with Jeremy. But Nick actually looked a little relieved that now she seems to really understand what it's like to have a relationship with this family. And just once in my life, I want to come home and deliver the blow that I'm unemployed, only to hear, "It's OK -- we've got plenty of money. Want to have another kid?" Keep on playing the lottery, honey -- someday we'll hit those numbers.

What did you think? Will Brian be able to handle the world of big business? Do you think Juliet's fling with her man-candy will last? Do you think Ellen had something to do with Carmelita's disappearance?