After months of teasers showing us literal knock-down, drag-out fights between Fallon Carrington (Elizabeth Gillies), and Cristal Flores-Carrington (Nathalie Kelley), Dynasty finally debuted on the CW last night. As we know, the 1980s primetime soap reboot is currently more interested in feminism than catfights — yes, even despite all those slap-happy promos — it was no surprise the series premiere, “I Hardly Recognized You,” ended with Fallon ditching her father Blake Carrington (Grant Show) and his company to strike out on her own. While viewers at home may have cheered Fallon’s major eff-you to her unappreciative father, it’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbows now for the Dynasty leading lady. In fact, Fallon’s decision may have actually put another sexist roadblock in front of her.
From the moment Dynasty begins, we learn Fallon’s biggest problem is the patriarchy of the 1% and the prevailing theme of men underestimating her. In the first scene of “Recognized You,” she talks to some mansplaining finance bros in a Denver airport about a flailing company called Windbriar, which, as the name suggests, specializes in wind energy. While the bros think a beautiful young woman like Fallon is a stewardess who can barely grasp their high-minded business chatter, the cutthroat energy mogul is already planning a corporate takeover strategy in her mind. For the youngest Carrington, this kind of ruthlessness proves she should be the next in line to rule the Carrington Atlantic empire, and will therefore be named the new COO of the business. After all, her dad is hiring. Instead, Blake announces he’s giving the position to his soon-to-be wife Cristal. To add insult to injury, the Carrington patriarch sends Fallon’s brother Steven Carrington (Andrew McKay) to a business meeting to explore the Windbriar prospect, effectively cutting her out of the deal. Fallon is rightly enraged.
That’s why Fallon’s realization she is her own greatest asset feels so cathartic. Rather than wait around for Blake to realize the prize business mind he has in front of him, she tells her dad’s greatest rival Jeff Colby (Sam Adegoke), “I have another investment opportunity for you — me.” As Fallon explains to Blake at the close of the episode, she is now the CEO of Carrington Windbriar with tech mega-mogul Jeff’s billions backing her up. “My own company, my name, and your new competition,” Fallon spits at her dad before storming off. This is all great, but you may have noticed one major flaw: it’s Jeff’s billions backing Fallon up, not her own.
While we can all pretend that little financial detail isn’t a problem, even Dynasty co-creator, showrunner, and executive producer Sallie Patrick admits that will not be the case going forward. “We wanted to tell a story of a girl who generally has been overlooked to be the next ruler of the ‘dynasty.’ And we wanted her to step out of her father’s shadow.” the former Revenge writer-producer tells Refinery29 over the phone. While that move shows viewers a big feminist win, a goal of Patrick’s with her new reboot, things can’t be so simple for a show like Dynasty, which has to sustain itself over multiple episodes, and possibly seasons, depending on the whims of the CW.
“We didn’t want her character to change so dramatically in the first episode because it is a serialized show,” Patrick continues. “So we wanted to have her inadvertently, not unusually, step into the shadow of another man. Jeff Colby.” The shackles of the male-dominated business industry clearly aren't that easy to break.
So, not only is Fallon still not free from the patriarchy, she’s also not free of her dad’s business games. The world’s most uncomfortable family dinner in “Hardly Recognized You” establishes Blake has a bitter rivalry with Jeff Colby because the younger man is a former Carrington Atlantic I.T. employee who developed his first billion-dollar piece of tech while at C.A., then left to be his own boss. It’s possible the Carringtons should have owned the software, but a judge disagreed. “I guess I do hate him,” Blake admits, dreaming of adding another billion to his company’s empire. Now that Fallon is partnered with Jeff, she’s officially trapped herself inside the CEOs' business feud, as opposed to separating herself completely from men and their corporate pissing contests. But, where would the Dynasty fun be if Fallon reached solo, well-adjusted world domination within the drama's first 43 minutes?
At least the tension between Fallon and Jeff will create some exciting television going forward. “I think it creates some great banter and dynamics,” Jeff’s real-life alter ego Sam Adegoke told reporters on Dynasty’s Atlanta of the pair's on-screen relationship. “I think when you match those two in a room, sparks fly … it’s like ping-pong.” Sparks and their flight patterns seem to be a theme when it comes to these two, as Fallon’s portrayer Elizabeth Gillies teased a similar path for the new leaders of Carrington Windbriar. “With Colby, she’s using him in the beginning to get back at her dad, but then sparks start to fly,” Gillies said of her self-described “love ‘em and leave ‘em sometimes” character. “It’s very confusing. Because she’s like, ‘Hm, what’s going on?’”
So, no, Fallon Carrington won’t be the sole queen of her own business empire by next week’s “Spit It Out.” But, knowing the Carrington up-and-comer, that future isn’t far off — and we’ll have a lot of fun getting there.
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