UnREAL: “Guerilla” Season 2 Episode 3 Review

Photo Credit: http://www.ew.com/sites/default/files/i/2016/06/15/ur_203_04052016_jd_0102-1.jpg

Things get dark as Rachel and Quinn’s relationship reaches its tipping point.

UnREAL‘s debut season quickly displayed the lengths the producers were willing to go to in order to get their ratings-worthy reaction shots. While a biting takedown of reality television, this show is still largely fictional, and so it wasn’t too surprising when the plot went much darker than its real-life counterpart. The season’s most tragic plotline featured single mom and domestic violence survivor Mary committing suicide after being forced to reunite with her ex-husband, and being taken off her anti-depressive meds without her knowledge.

It’s a plausibility stretch for sure, but UnREAL earned major points for how it dealt with the aftermath of the trauma. “Guerilla” goes down a similar route, by having Rachel and Quinn manipulate Brandi, an MMA-fighter who grew up in the foster care system. Brandi unravels after Quinn pits her against against another contestant, and then Rachel locks her in a closet until she’s able to convince her to talk about her troubled past. Then they go in for the kill and convince Darius she lied about the whole thing by bringing in an actress to play her “real mom.”

It’s heartbreaking to see Brandi breakdown and attack Darius on-camera, but what’s interesting about this plot is how Rachel seemed to participate with a guilt-free conscious. Last season’s drama with Mary was almost entirely executed by Shai, a producer who hasn’t made a return appearance this season. She was an easy villain to route against; someone who got way too caught up in the behind-the-scenes competition between the producers. Rachel, while still the maker of some very questionable decisions, was never fully responsible for someone’s death. Season 2 has already seen a darker version of Rachel, willing to go to almost any length in order to create a “major cultural shift,” as she puts it, on national television. One of ideas I think this season will explore is how many bridges she’ll have to burn just to build this new one with Darius, and whether or not that will be worth it.

The introduction of Coleman will likely play a huge part in this, as he already seems to be on Rachel’s side, especially once he sees how good of a producer she is. A scene in which she manipulates him into giving up information about his ex-girlfriend is a true delight, especially with her triumphant ending line, “THAT’s how we make the show.” Rachel is initially upset about the fact that she wasn’t picked to be in charge after her conversation with the network exec, but I like that she (hopefully) has someone in her court now.

She’ll need this more than ever because, at episode’s end, Quinn discovers that she went behind her back, and she is not happy. The two have bickered before, but seeing them go head-to-head is entirely new territory. I’m beyond excited to see how this showdown is executed, and how it affects Everlasting as a whole. With Coleman at her side, and his voice in the network exec’s ear, this fight could be a major gamechanger. Still, would that be a good thing for Rachel? Everlasting is an excellent use of her skills, but it’s also been a very disturbing rabbit hole for her to go down. Will giving her more power actually allow her to make the important work she wants, or will she just become a clone of Quinn? Only time will tell.

I’m a little nervous about the Rachel-Coleman romance that’s ignited in the episode’s final minutes, if only because of how things went down with Jeremy last season. Still, I’m glad that his returned presence hasn’t resulted in Rachel running back into his arms, and I’m intrigued by where this will go.

What really bugged me this week, was Chet, who’s becoming less and less of a villain and more of a straight up nuisance. Quinn is obviously a much better producer and showrunner than him, as each of his ideas blows up in his face and he gets put in the back seat. Then it’s revealed that all of his macho decisions are made as a result of him losing custody of his kid? Ugh. The worst part about all of this is how he fails to look inwardly after a series of bad choices, and continues to blame things on all of the female energy around him. I get that UnREAL is a feminist show designed to illustrate the very real gender inequality in the entertainment industry, but Chet’s sexism feels cartoonish at this point. He’s bad at his job, bad at life, and just needs to go away.

I’m much more interested in the systematic sexism that’s developing as a result of Rachel and Quinn at each other’s throats. They should be helping each other out, but the nature of their business is having them compete against each other instead. That’s something that I’d love to see UnREAL delve into with it’s uniquely layered and provocative way of tackling serious issues. I’m excited to see what happens next, so long as Chet is out of the picture. Grade: B

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Quinn’s manic excitement over the Brandi storyline they manufactured was frightening. Rachel definitely has a tough road ahead for her.
  • Ugh, please tell me that Jeremy and Yael aka “Hot Rachel,” aren’t going to get together. That would be so gross.
  • Still, I like that Yael is so adept at how the game is played. She definitely has something up her sleeve and I can’t wait to see what it is.
  • So Darius clearly has a secret injury that he doesn’t want the NFL to know about. Not sure how this will play into the rest of the show, but I’m intrigued.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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