So Charlie knows Emma’s secret, but she has yet to learn his…and she’s getting closer to the truth. Meanwhile Daphne says the Nicolettis owe her for exposing the truth to Connor, and they’re going to repay her by stealing a black book from a former spy.
Please note this recap contains spoilers for season 1, episode 5 “The Spy Who Loved Me”
Charlie (Milo Ventimiglia) and Emma (Catherine Haena Kim) are having breakfast at his place and she tells him, “I think I figured it out.” He asks what and she says the clue to the crossword puzzle! Charlie is distracted, as she reads the next clue about a Hepburn/Grant romp. 7 letters. She tells him he can tell her if something is wrong. Charlie suggests they take the day off and forget the world, but her phone rings. He listens to her conversation, as she asks, “can you make out our mystery man? Partial Plate? I’ll take it!” Before she leaves he tells her the next crossword answer is Charade, his parents’ favorite movie.
Daphne (Felisha Terrell) is meeting with another rival and apologizes for what Connor did to their associate. She promises it won’t affect the partnership going forward. She says she can get their stuff out of the shipping crates and back on the streets. He asks if she has friends in high places. She does. Daphne meets with former sorority sister at a ritzy restaurant. She says she’s consulting for an international corporation but the red tape in DC is a problem. “If anyone can help me grease the wheels in Washington…it's you.” Daphne casually mentions that she’s surprised her friend is working as the Chief of Staff House Majority Whip and not the president. Her friend tells her John Baylor (Paul Blackthorne) is the guy to call to cut through red tape. He's former MI-6 turned beltway fixer and he can apply pressure to the right people. He’s eccentric but effective and hiring him comes at a cost. Not money, but secrets.
Emma and Mason (Courtney Taylor) have surveillance footage and get an enhanced read on the license plate. The vehicle is a stolen car, so they’re going to check with local body shops for any leads.
Charlie calls his friend at the scrap yard and insists he crush the car. “I need it to disappear.” Birdie (Sarah Wayne Callies) overhears and asks what’s got him worried. Charlie says he’s being extra careful and to have mom keep Ollie at Uncle Gio’s for a few more days while dust settles on the last job. Birdie tells him Daphne is there. Daphne wants the Nicoletti’s to con Baylor to get access to his book of secrets. Leo (William Fichtner) says they’re all paid up, but Daphne disagrees, says they called Connor in to undermine her. She gives them just a phone number for Baylor then tells them he’s a cold war relic. “Good luck, you’re going to need it.”
The family discusses their situation and Leo says spying on a spy is nearly impossible. Looks like they’ll have to hire him. Charlie says he’s got a “tip” his “friend” Ray Tipton Jr. (RTJ) is checking out of a posh hotel after a wild night with details he’ll want buried. Leo jokes that RTJ is a worse human than his father was a VP. Birdie says they’ll slip Baylor a phone filled with delicious blackmail—and malware—that will give them access to his computer and files.
The next day at the hotel the Nicoletti’s get to work making the room a mess for Baylor’s arrival. Charlie poses as RTJ and Birdie as his girlfriend. Baylor tells them to start cleaning the place up.
David (Tim Chiou) has a meeting with his campaign team which now includes Claire Fox’s friend, Jen. Jen points out the need to reach the Gen Z crowd with better social content. Joe (James Saito) pulls David aside and says “don’t tell me this was Claire Fox.” David points out that she supported the campaign, but Joe tells him, don’t assume this is for you. She always has another agenda.
Back at the hotel, Baylor tells Birdie that the woman pays the price. Always. She should take the money he’s giving her and forget everything that ever happened. Just then “RTJ” gets a call from the junkyard. The feds are there and the car is still on the lot. He says he can give them the grand tour so Charlie can come by and take care of the car. Charlie leaves the hotel. Baylor uses a spy camera to take pictures of Birdie’s phone, then puts it in the microwave.
Damn! Trying to improvise, Birdie says Baylor needs to give her a ride since he killed her phone. He agrees.
Charlie gets to the lot and swaps license plates on the car, right as Emma and Mason make their way over. For added distraction, he calls Emma and they agree to meet later that night. She approaches the car, moments after Charlie sneaks away.
Birdie has a mini breakdown in Baylor’s car expressing how heartbroken she is over RTJ. Baylor says let the past stay the past. She comments about how he must see a lot of people with regrets in this line of work. He pulls over for her to get out and tells her the sob story needs work. “I have more on you than you do on me.” Before she gets out of the car, she notices a specific set of keys to a safe on Baylor’s key ring.
Jen takes a video of David making kimchi-jeon that she’ll post on his social channels. He feels self conscious, but she says it’s about connecting over the little things. She adds that she doesn’t want to step on toes with his team and that most people don’t want her at the table. Her parents have called in plenty of favors. David admits that he can’t believe that he deserves to be where he is. Jen said she could have worked any campaign, but chose David’s. She hopes others see he’s a great guy.
Back at the bar, Birdie says she’s thought Baylor made her, but then she’s sure he didn’t. Leo says they shouldn’t have improvised. Charlie says he called their contact to make sure the new plate on the car registers far from Baltimore. Birdie tells Charlie that Baylor nuked her phone, he used a spy camera and he’s got keys to a special safe. Leo called a buddy to see which places use that make and model safe. She ponders that maybe Baylor’s blackbook is physical and not digital. There’s a huge list of safes to go through and Charlie says he’ll cancel plans with Emma, but Leo tells him to spend time with her.
Mason finds nothing on the vehicle. Emma says call it a day, she doesn’t want to be late for Charlie. Her boss Cas stops her with new information about Connor’s car. He ditched the plates in El Paso. They’re close to finding Mcguire’s revenue stream. He wants to relocate a team to Juarez, Mexico and wants her to head it up. Mason is stoked. Emma, not so much.
Charlie meets Emma at a hotel. She says she’s glad they’re doing this. Imagine if we hadn’t sat at that bar at that moment…. Charlie says he tries not to think about it. Then she drops the bombshell. “Come to Mexico with me. I’m serious.” Charlie realizes she’s talking about work. She tells him two months ago she wouldn’t have hesitated to take the job and she knows it’s impulsive, but she can’t sleep when he’s not next to her. “I love you.” Charlie pauses a bit too long. “It’s not what you think,” he says. She gets up to leave and he asks her to stay. “I’m not gonna stay. Goodbye Charlie.”
Back home, Bridie asks why Charlie is not at the hotel. He tells her the night ended early. Her phone rings and it’s her ex, Simon. She doesn’t answer, but it shows she has 3 missed calls. Charlie asks if they had any luck with Baylor’s black book. There are still 200 lockers to check out in 34 buildings. She then changes the subject and tells Charlie she knows he’s been lying. What’s going on? He doesn’t think it’s going to work out with Emma. She doesn’t know about their secret lives. He’s got to let it go and let the past stay the past. Birdie has an idea and knows where to find Baylor’s book.
At the Hill house, David is on the phone saying “I’m the candidate not my father.” He hangs up and asks Emma what happened with Charlie. She says they’re done. She said the L word and he didn’t. She reads people for a living and somehow managed to get this so wrong.
Birdie’s idea is to visit the Thornton College Campus where Baylor posed undercover as a professor. The Reim Memorial Library has thesis lockers and uses the exact same key that she saw in his car. Leo disguises himself as A professor and distracts security while Birdie and Charlie find Baylor’s locker. Inside is a hidden panel with a pouch full of microfiche images. Birdie can scan them to a flash drive but it’ll take time. Unknown to them, the locker has additional security to notify Baylor. Sure enough, a bit later he walks in. Charlie sends him on a chase through the library while Birdie puts everything back. Leo pulls the fire alarm to buy them more time. BIrdie gets out to the van, but Baylor manages to grab Leo. Charlie reveals himself, while Birdie searches for dirt on Baylor giving the info to her brother. Charlie reveals his secret…Baylor had an affair with the wife of the dean. Leave my family alone and we won’t hurt her. Baylor lets them go.
David announces that Jennifer West is the new social media manager for his campaign. He says we need to stop making assumptions and see each other for who we are. That goes for voters too. David’s campaign manager and his dad are not happy.
Charlie gives Daphne the flash drive with all of Baylor’s secrets. She says this takes $2 million off their debt. Charlie pushes back, her issues are with Connor. She tells him it’s bigger than that, a CIA agent onto the Maguires. Fortunately her family isn’t very principled and a threat will “put a dent in her can-do spirit.”
Charlie goes to Emma to tell her about Daphne. She asks how he knows that, and he admits he’s the one working for her. “Why are you telling me this?” “Because I love you too.”
Two L-word exchanges in one episode? I can’t believe the truth is already out, but I am actually enjoying this pacing. I already want Emma and Charlie back together.