Monday, June 20, 2016

REVIEW: 'UnREAL' - Quinn and Rachel Show Coleman Just How Effective a Team They Really Are in 'Guerrilla'

Lifetime's UnREAL - Episode 2.03 "Guerrilla"

Chet has been given the reigns to produce a more male skewing version of the show. Quinn decides to produce the "Sistine Chapel" of episodes by targeting the two most vulnerable contestants in order to prove her own value. Rachel starts to suspect Darius is hiding a secret. Chet struggles in a custody battle over his son.

The team of producers in charge of Everlasting have definitely taken the priority over the new suitor and contestants this season so far. Quinn, Rachel and Chet have all been vying for power. That led to a war that almost destroyed the show. And since it's produced dangerously and inexplicably close to its air date, that threatened the show's position on the network schedule. That's why Gary brought in Coleman to steer the ship. His talents could be wasted on this show. He's gone from producing award winning documentaries to showrunning Everlasting. That's a steep fall that deserves explanation. But he is in charge because Gary needed someone to manage all of the chaos happening on set who wasn't all that closely attached to it. He's hoping that move will force greatness and unity from Rachel, Quinn and Chet and lead to the most memorable season yet.

Quinn is largely focused on regaining the keys to her kingdom. She has produced so many great seasons of this show. She knows how to deliver epic moments and great ratings. Her position has been threatened because of Chet. That lights a new fire within her that is magnificent to watch. Now, she's the one working the girls in order to create captivating moments of TV. She still does so with the grand plan of creating true love for Darius, one of the contestants and the audience watching every week. But she is also having fun along the way by creating moments of true substance that will have much more value and depth than Chet's flashy displays of sportsmanship and explosions. Coleman only picked Chet's pitch for the show over Quinn's because he knew Chet would be a problem that needed to be handled. Chet has some control now. Coleman is hoping Chet hangs himself with that power because he has no idea what he's doing. That creates an opportunity for Quinn to regain the confidence of the network and the crew in time to make another successful season of the show.

Plus, Rachel and Quinn prove themselves to Coleman as a very effective and manipulative team that actually gets stuff done. Chet is too focused on showing the masculinity of the obstacle course. It's yet another way for his new male superiority and gaze to ogle attractive woman in skimpy clothing. He has no idea what to do when Brandy, an MMA fighter with a tragic past, pushes Chantal, the contestants with the dead fiancé, off the final climb of the course. When that moment happens, Quinn and Rachel are in charge. They've orchestrated all of this. They know exactly what to do because they are working towards the goal of creating entertaining television. Quinn stirred the pot to ensure that there was a rivalry between Brandy and Chantal going into the obstacle course. It's because of the work she does that they are both passionate and desperate enough to win. She fills their heads with lies to force a reaction - telling them that they said condensing things about the other. And then, she reaps the benefits. Rachel gets an emotional scene of Darius visiting Chantal in the "hospital" for her head wound - dramatized even more by a ridiculous head wrap. But they also isolate Brandy to the point where she is so desperate to tell Darius the truth about her past.

It really is brutal and terrifying to see what Quinn and Rachel are willing to do to Brandy just to create one entertaining hour of the show. Quinn promised suicide ratings to Gary. And now, she's working hard to achieve that. She locks Brandy in a room for what she did to Chantal. Quinn and Rachel make her feel responsible. They break her down to the point where she needs to confess all of the secrets of her past. When she does, it's on camera too. She was a victim of abuse while in the foster care system. She has the scars to this day to prove it. But that's nothing compared to the trauma Quinn and Rachel inflict on her. They make Darius believe that she is a pathological liar. That none of this story was the truth. They did so solely so she can lash out at him at the elimination ceremony where she is the only contestant he cuts despite a great date that ended with a kiss. As Coleman notes, it's terrifying to watch Quinn and Rachel work. But Quinn doesn't even reap the rewards of this excellent drama. Instead Gary praises Coleman for the good work and hands him a stylish new car. He understands that Quinn is actually responsible. He's just punishing her because Rachel isn't in line as much as she thinks.

Quinn is playing the game right now in the hopes of regaining control of the show. She's not putting in the effort to build a mutually beneficial relationship with Coleman. She doesn't think he'll last long on this set. Rachel is doing the opposite. She wants to know more about him. She wants to understand why he came here to take over the show. He did so because Gary wanted him to despite it being his ex-girlfriend's favorite show. He has much loftier ambitions than producing a season of Everlasting. But he is constantly entertained by what Quinn and Rachel are capable of doing. He stands back in awe and watches them work. They deliver content of value as opposed to Chet who largely remains frustrated by his string of bad luck. But Coleman also sees great things in Rachel. He believes she can do much better than this show. She has the capabilities of producing something that actually means something. She doesn't just have to work at getting various women to fight over the same man for a guilty pleasure viewing experience. She still has the opportunity to do more with her life.

Rachel found structure and stability with this show. She is committed to this job. It is her life. But she also wants this season to matter. She fought for Darius to be the suitor. It's given her the chance to tell a story that can truly resonate with a mass audience and steer the entire cultural conversation forward. She started the season in control. Now, she is essentially back to being Quinn's right hand. Her play for power backfired. And now, Quinn knows that. So that should create some wonderful tension between the two friends. They are cut from the same cloth. They can both make this show. But Rachel may be getting too large for Quinn to handle. Coleman wants to see what happens to her within this power vacuum. She has positioned herself well to get so much control. But she also has her own problems as well. Instead of facing the new threat from Quinn head on, she retreats to the familiarity of sex. This time it's with Coleman. It's not surprising the show is playing into that dynamic. But it's also indicative of a pattern Rachel has. She needs sex in order to feel comfortable in a constantly changing world. She needs it to feel safe and assured. Her actions have major consequences. But sex makes her feel okay with everything she has done. Of course, she isn't able to enjoy it with Coleman. A new problem with Darius pops up that interrupts the moment. Rachel doesn't get her release which could add to the complications in next week's episode. Instead, she just gets more problems in need of solving.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Guerrilla" was written by Alex Metcalf and directed by Adam Kane.
  • Darius still largely exists as a plot construct and not a character. He is either the first Black suitor in Everlasting history or a professional quarterback. But there is clearly something up with him as well. He seems aloof and uncertain about a lot of what is happening on the show. It's all getting to him. Though the reveal of what's going on will have to wait until next week's episode.
  • It's important that the show doesn't forget about Chet's family life while he has returned to set as a new man. This new ideology affects that corner of his world as well. It's not surprising in the slightest that his ex-wife gets full custody of his son. Though things look like they may be taking a dark twist with Chet seen picking the baby up and walking away with him. That could be the thing that ruins his status on the show should it erupt in a scandal.
  • Madison got a taste of power and manipulation. And now, she wants more of it. Though she doesn't need Rachel or Quinn to coach it out of her. She is able to get the interview she wants from Beth Ann because she makes note of how many new Twitter followers she has gotten because she always speaks her mind.
  • But it's still important to point out though, that it is entirely impractical to shoot Everlasting so close to its air dates. It's meaningful that Madison can boast of Beth Ann's social media presence and Gary can talk about the ratings. But it's just not something that would actually happen with a real production.
  • Jay is still doing his best to help Ruby make it far in this competition. Though she continues to prove to be more stubborn than anything else. Everyone views her as being too smart to be on the show. But that could provide her with an interesting advantage. Now, she just needs to take the opportunity that's been given to her. She takes that first step by putting on the beautiful dress and going to meet Darius during the big party.
  • Jeremy got his promotion and is now working as the director for Everlasting. But he also has a run-in with Yael who confirms that it was him who started the nickname "Hot Rachel." Yeah, they are totally going to be hooking up soon. It's only a matter of time.
  • Rachel had to have known that Quinn would find out about her betrayal eventually, right? She's not that naive and foolish.