Sunday, March 19, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Arrangement' - A New Scandal Makes Megan Feel Powerless in 'The Leak'

E!'s The Arrangement - Episode 1.03 "The Leak"

Just as Kyle and Megan cement their status as a Hollywood "it" couple, their relationship is tested when aspects of Megan's private life are leaked onto the internet. Terence and DeAnn confront the studio's rising concerns about Megan starring in Kyle's upcoming film. Hope and Shaun must figure out how they fit into Megan's new high-profile celebrity life.

It is absolutely ridiculous that Megan and Kyle are already saying "I love you" to each other. It's been a whirlwind romance for sure. It's easy to get lost in the fame and celebrity of it all. And yet, the show is seemingly playing this moment straight. It's extreme but it's for an extreme relationship. Megan and Kyle's relationship isn't normal. It's different because Kyle is an A-list actor. He has to think about different things when it comes to dating people. Megan has to step into the public spotlight in order to date Kyle. That puts so much pressure on their relationship. The marriage contract only increases that because it seemingly fast tracks the relationship. So, it's also important for the show to depict the actual moments of bonding and love between the two characters. Their lives beyond the celebrity and marriage contract need to be on display. The two of them do seem drawn to each other. They make each other happy. Saying "I love you" also comes after their first big fight. And yet, the two of them still don't know that much about each other. They are both carrying darkness that they haven't really exposed yet. So that will be the true test of whether this relationship will last as well as everyone hopes it will.

Of course, the "I love you" moment also seems like a setup for the big betrayal that happens at the end of "The Leak" as well. It's nice to see how the characters deal with Megan's nude picture scandal. It's a familiar plot device but one that also has awareness of how real-life actually works. This is a very real concern for celebrities. Female actresses are constantly getting hacked and being exposed to the world. How they react to that tells a lot about them. It's easy for Megan to slip into shock. She never imagined that this would happen to her. Kyle is there for her in her time of need. He understands that she just needs to cut herself off from the outside world. That's good advice that can sometimes be difficult to do. Fortunately, Kyle has a cabin for that precise purpose. So, it's clear that he's had to block the rest of the world out as well. That's not surprising given how everyone talks about what happened with Lisbeth. It's at the cabin where Kyle and Megan's bond grows. That's the moment where it's easy to bond with them as a couple and accept their growing intimacy.

It makes it all the more peculiar and weird when Kyle has these jarring moments of disconnection. One moment he can be perfectly fine and present with Megan. And then the next, he is suddenly somewhere else not really caring about her at all. It's all just further hints of something more going on with him than there appears to be. The show still isn't giving any definitive answers in that regard. It's the source for his first fight with Megan. She notices it when they are kissing and then says some horrible things about him and Lisbeth. It's a weird moment because she's then the one apologizing. Yes, he does come up with a story about the scandal affecting him more than he would like to admit. But it still feels like there is more going on. Plus, all of this shows how powerful his bond with Terrence is. When they are not open and honest with each other, Kyle has the confidence to offer different opinions. That's the case at the top of the episode when he threatens to leave the movie if Megan isn't the female lead. Terrence happens to agree with the studio who want a more recognizable name in the role. Megan ultimately gets the role. However, once Kyle and Terrence hash things out and become friends again, then she is dropped for a bigger star. It shows that Kyle and Terrence is a more powerful relationship than Kyle and Megan. That's something she is only now realizing.

It's stunning to watch Megan's big "I will never be powerless again" moment after all of this happens as well. She goes through a lot in this episode. Sometimes she could count on Kyle and other times she couldn't. She's realizing that she needs to be the strong one to define her story. She can't just sit back and let others control it for her. Both her and Kyle taking nude pictures and sending them to the press was a powerful statement. And yet, most of it felt like Kyle's idea to change the narrative and show that they are stronger than ever as a couple. Megan's power move comes when she uses the final minute of an interview to comment on both the scandal and the recast in a subtle but clear way. Others have manipulated her as of late and that stops now. She wants to be the one in control. That's what she wants. It may not completely align with Kyle's story though. She doesn't end the hour happily with him. She's refusing to answer his calls. He knows he's made a mistake. It will take a lot to win her over again. But that final sequence is much more interesting when comes to Deann coming over to apologize for what happened. She knows how difficult it is as a woman to get and maintain power in this industry. That moment seems genuine even though it's more than likely she's just doing it to stay in Megan's good graces for some reason.

And then, there is the whole mystery of who leaked the pictures in the first place. It's a huge story throughout this hour. And thus, it needed to have an answer that made sense. There are plenty of people who had access to Megan's computer. Anyone could have gotten their hands on the pictures and released them for some reason. It's fun to see the characters accuse each other of doing it just to advance Megan's career somehow. It's great to see Deann and Leslie sit down and discuss it. It's also great that Megan has someone in her corner all the time fighting for her best interests in this new and chaotic world. Moreover, Terrence seems like the likely culprit for leaking the photos or the story about Megan doing it for fame. He hasn't been a big fan of hers so far. He simply doesn't see what Kyle and Deann do. He says he does in the end to restore his friendship with Kyle. But it still feels like he'll be skeptical about Megan in the future. The ultimate answer to this mystery is a little disappointing because it has very little to do with the main story. It was actually Hope who leaked the pictures because she wanted to knock Megan down to her normal world again. She thought she was getting too lost in Kyle's world. She also doesn't believe Kyle is a good guy. That may still ultimately be proven to be true. But releasing the pictures was a selfish decision because Megan is moving on to bigger and better things while Hope is still just a struggling actress who can't impress anyone.

Some more thoughts:
  • The in media res opening wasn't all that interesting. It introduced the scandal without much context. And yet, the ultimate reveal would have played just as effectively without that moment that started the episode. It was just too unnecessary and added nothing to the situation.
  • Shaun has always seemed like a better friend to Megan than Hope. Perhaps that's because she's a lawyer and not an actress. She has a different career. She's not hoping to ride Megan's coattails to fame. But more importantly, Hope is the friend who brings the alcohol to the party while Shaun is the one who holds Megan's hair back when she's throwing up later on.
  • Shaun also meets a cute guy at the bar during the opening party. That's where she spends most of her time. Of course, she's incredibly skeptical of The Institute of the Higher Mind and this guy happens to teach the introductory course.
  • When is the show actually going to dig deeper into the world of The Institute? Right now, it's just a bunch of self-help sentences that Kyle says every once in awhile. There's no indication of what it actually does as an organization. Perhaps that's on purpose and will tie in to Kyle's inner darkness later on this season.
  • Of course, the hour also ends with a detective showing up at Terrence's office wanting to ask him about a girl who took a class at The Institute and is now missing. Maybe that will be the story that shines more light on what this organization is all about and how twisted it actually may be.
  • Leslie is such a fun character. Autumn Reeser is always a delightful addition to any show. She just really pops as Megan's agent, Leslie, who can go toe-to-toe with all of these people while pregnant.