Thom Geier
October 11, 2007 AT 03:00 PM EDT

I think I’m falling in love with Dirty Sexy Money. Who knew all it would take is an episode named after an imaginary sexual position, the Italian Banker? (At least I think it’s imaginary — though there is apparently a real position called the Italian Chandelier.) That and the further development of Kristin Bauer’s “Rebecca Colfax, Darling family publicist.” She may be my favorite publicist of all time (though her repeating her full name and title every time she enters a room could grow tiring fast — as fast as Nick’s vanity ringtones, which thankfully were phased out in this episode.)

“Rebecca Colfax, Darling family publicist” is the one who instigates this week’s main plot thread, telling Nick of an Aussie who’s phoned in a blackmail threat demanding $1 million for a “raunchy sex tape” involving an unnamed member of the Darling clan. Juicy. Plus, it gives Nick a decent excuse to have amusing scenes with each member of the clan to ID the identity of the naughty schtupper.

First choice, naturally, is senator wannabe Patrick, who donsa ridiculous flag apron on morning TV to tout his new image as areformed ladies’ man. He denies the tape is his although, naturallyagain, no one believes him. And no wonder. Like Ted Kennedy on speed,trying to cram a lifetime of political scandal into a single week,Patrick gets drunk and crashes his car into a fire hydrant just minutesbefore his big speech announcing his campaign. We also finally get aglimpse of his poor wife in this episode, although by the end Patrickhas decided to ignore his dad’s advice and get back together with histranssexual lover. (“Carmelita made me 30 pairs of underwear with myfavorite Yankees on the butt,” William Baldwin deadpans. “That’s love.What kind of jerk throws that away?”)

Rev. Brian is naturally offended at Nick’s sex-tape question. Perhapshe’s too distracted trying to pass off his illegitimate son as aSwedish orphan named Gustav to his none-too-quick wife. (This ongoingfarce remains the least successful of the sibling subplots.)

The twins, meanwhile, offer a slew of surprises. When he isn’t watchingBuddy Ebsen sex tapes (how does one undo that mental image?) or havingwitty exchanges with Juliet about her supposed twintuition, Jeremy isstill slipping sis’ archrival Natalie her favorite smoothie ingredient.(He later gives Nat a pricey diamond necklace, proving that it don’tmean a thing if you don’t give the bling.) Meanwhile, Juliet (Samaire Armstrong, pictured) tells Nickshe’s a virgin, which prompts this terrific exchange: “Why do you…?” “Let everyone think I’m a slut?” Nod. “It’s easier.” Anyway, Julietgets kicked out of her hotel by Natalie, then gets into a hilariousknockdown wrestling match with her foe outside Bulgari, the site ofPatrick’s campaign kickoff. “It was worth it,” Juliet says after thefact. “I think I definitely connected a few times.” We agree, Juliet.Definitely worth it.

And that just leaves cyclical divorcée Karen, who initially denies thetape is hers — until it actually arrives. Seems she’s boinkingher fiancé’s caddy, including a move called “the Italian Banker.”Before long, Karen is sending Nick to the grandson of the position’sinventor, the Darling clan’s private banker with the improbable name Paolo Vulva, whofills up a duffel bag with payoff money for Nick. Unfortunately,there’s a bit of a hitch when he finally meets the rep for theblackmailer: A third party has made a higher bid. (“We feel reallybloody awful about it,” the junior baddie says. “This is not how we dobusiness.” Will Nick get a discount on his next blackmail exchange as amake-good?)

Peter Krause remains charmingly unflappable through the whole sillyplot — and the search for his dad’s killer remains mostly onthe sidelines… until the bitter end, anyway. Here’s what we learn: Thefemale detective originally investigating his dad’s mysterious planecrash has been transferred, ostensibly to L.A. to be with herboyfriend. His dad’s dossier on billionaire philanthropist Simon Elderincludes a number of apparently incriminating documents on hisimmigration application and the patent that made his fortune. Tripp hastold Nick two different stories about whether or not he knew his wifewas having an affair with Nick’s dad, who was his roommate at Yale wayback in the day. Oh, and the person who outbid Nick for Karen’s sextape is… Simon Elder, who hands over the tape and delivers a message to Nick not to trust Tripp.

Even as this episode packed in a lot of plot, it remained deliciouslyfun pretty much throughout. There was Juliet’s vacuous line to thestalkerazzi outside her hotel (“Peace out. Bring the boys home”) andthe multiple bon mots of “Rebecca Colfax, Darling family publicst”(“It’s a legal problem, not an afterschool spin project”). There wasthe red-carpet girlfight between two hot babes. And there was theseen-it-all reaction of Tripp on hearing police sirens at their son’ssenate campaign launch (“Well, at least he’s here”).

Well, PopWatchers, is anyone else starting to groove on this show andits campy storytelling vibe? Any predictions on how soon we’ll seeanother deck-clearing brawl, perhaps between Carmelita and Patrick’swife? And can anyone diagram “the Italian banker” for me?

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