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Dynasty - Twenty-Three Skidoo - Review

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Break out the bubbly because “Dynasty” is back to soap it up for a second season. The debut – “Twenty-Three Skidoo” – pulls the Carringtons up from the many cliffs they were left hanging from in a breezy, entertaining way.

Let’s start with the stable fire that left several characters’ lives in mortal danger. Picking up a month later, the episode is quick to reveal that Culhane (Robert Christopher Riley) and Steven (James Mackay) are okay – and soon shows Alexis (Nicollette Sheridan, now a series regular) enjoying a leisurely, luxury hospital stay on the Carrington dime – but that Cristal perished, though it was from her gunshot wound versus the flames. Not a huge surprise if you’ve been keeping up with casting news and, honestly, not a huge loss in my opinion. I wasn’t a big Nathalie Kelley fan when she was first cast and nothing she did while on “Dynasty” really turned that opinion around. And while Blake (Grant Show) and Sam (Rafael de la Fuente) are both deeply sad (though the former does a much better job selling that in his performance than the later), the show also handles it with some humor when Alexis mistakes the urn for an ugly decoration (her “Well, it’s not Waterford” comment when informed that “It’s Cristal” really made me chuckle) and it ends up smashing on the foyer floor.

Early on, a woman by the name of Cristal Flores shows up at the manor claiming that the deceased Cristal stole her identity. Even though Sam disputes the details – his aunt got her name from a nurse in Mexico – Blake insists Anders (Alan Dale) cut her a check to make her go away. As Anders fears, the front gate is soon swarmed by other Cristal Floreses and their relatives demanding reparations. But it’s only at the end of the episode that we see a woman in Arizona watching tabloid coverage of the Carringtons, commenting to a co-worker that she feels “like [she] knows them.” This is Cristal Jennings (telenovela star and new series regular Ana Brenda Contreras), the real Cristal (Wikipedia informs me that Jennings was a married name Krystle had in the ’80s series). I’m intrigued that this story is going to be a slower burn and I’m interested to see how they weave this woman into the Carrington fold.

Moving on, with Blake making the titular hasty departure after Cristal’s death, Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies) was the one left behind to orchestrate the sale of Carrington Atlantic. Having reunited with Culhane, she’s eager to complete the transaction with ex-husband Liam’s (Adam Huber) family and start a new life with him in New York. But it turns out that Uncle Max (C. Thomas Howell, “Stitchers”) thinks that Fallon and Liam are still married and that’s why he’s pursuing this deal (and sidebar – Steven brings up the possibility that Liam knew about these strings. Fallon sticks up for him, but I say watch this space). Further complicating things are Uncle Max’s desire for Fallon to stay on for a transitionary period, lingering frisson between Fallon and Liam, and the possibility that Blake and his “Joaquin Phoenix beard” will throw a wrench in things.

At a Roaring ‘20s party to celebrate Carrington Atlantic’s 100th anniversary, Fallon tries pursuing a second option with less complications – a Russian oligarch her “cuz” Jeff reluctantly puts her in contact with. But it turns out this fellow – who quirkily struts around the party with a bird on his shoulder, p.s. – has history with Blake (he banged Alexis! And the bird used to be Blake’s!) and that sparks a furious fight between father and daughter. Fed up with his family’s treatment of him since his return, Blake makes a speech in which he reveals that his “Parisian bender” was actually about setting up charitable foundations in Cristal’s name, exposes Steven’s paternity secret (more on that in a second), and backs Fallon into selling to the Van Kirks. It’s a soapy mic drop of a scene and Grant Show plays the hell out of it. These shenanigans mean Fallon will be entangled personally and professionally with Liam and the Van Kirks for even longer, but Culhane shows he’s committed to her with a sweet marriage proposal.

Back to Steven’s baby drama, he spends most of the episode putting off telling Sam about Mrs. Daniels’ (Kelly Rutherford) pregnancy, worried about pushing him over the edge emotionally after Cristal’s death (which, again, Rafael de la Fuente doesn’t do a great job of showing). But once Blake does the job for him, Sam takes it surprisingly well, seeing it as a sign to honor Cristal’s role in his life by helping to raise this child. But what was more intriguing to me was a moment right after this – Alexis comes upon Sam alone and correctly notes it’s kinda unbelievable that a pre-menopausal woman got knocked up having sex with a gay man once. Now, Mrs. Daniels certainly seems to be pregnant (she presents Steven with a sonogram picture and has a visible bump), but between her general off-kilterness and Sam’s quickness in shutting down Alexis, again, I say watch this space.

Speaking of Alexis, she’s got her own problems. Her fake son slash lover slash co-conspirator Hank (Brent Antonello) calls her and threatens to reveal her complicity in everything that happened unless she pays him off. And he ups the ante by soapily tape recording their incriminating conversation and playing it back to her. Desperate, Alexis tries breaking into a safe in Blake’s bedroom only to get caught by the man himself. The heated argument that ensues unsurprisingly turns passionate and they Hate Do It on a bunch of money. Cannot wait to see how the kids react to Mommy and Daddy’s hookup.

Finally, there’s the matter of Anders’ daughter. All we saw of her in the finale was trashy tights and a stubbed-out cigarette, but now Kirby’s here in the form of relative newcomer Maddison Brown, who’s got a real Bella Throne thing happening. Anders has apparently been hiding her in hotels all around Atlanta, concerned that she’ll be blamed for the fire. Kirby angrily insists that she did not set it – or the one she was blamed for when she was sent away – and is hurt that her father continually chooses the Carringtons over her. It’s also clear she’s still got a big grudge against Fallon and I’m excited to see those two mix it up in the weeks to come.

That’s all I’ve got on “Twenty-Three Skidoo.” What did you think of the start of “Dynasty’s” second season? Come share your thoughts in the comments section.

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