Sunday, March 26, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Arrangement' - Kyle and Megan Go on a Double Date that Goes Awry in 'Crashing'

E!'s The Arrangement - Episode 1.04 "Crashing"

As Megan struggles to figure out the next step in her career, Kyle attempts to reconnect with her on an unpredictable double date with a superstar pro athlete and his outspoken wife.

The Arrangement feels a little more scattered in "Crashing" than the previous three episodes. It has one too many ideas on its mind. It's presenting so many different opportunities for Megan's career. But it's also offering a ton of subplots that may go somewhere or not. Right now, it's still hard to tell what's important and what's not. That's a significant problem for the show. It's trying to present a world of possibilities. But it should be focusing on these characters and how their relationships are deepening. Last week's episode ended with the huge betrayal of Kyle replacing Megan in his upcoming movie. She shouldn't forgive him so easily for that decision. And yet, all it takes is some phone sex for things to suddenly be alright between them again. That just rings so hollow. It's awkward and weird. Plus, it's a stalling technique for the show to delay telling the audience anything about Kyle's personal issues and how Terrence helped him. Those answers are still just be teased while also hinting at much darker issues on the fringes of this world.

This hour provides perhaps the largest glance into The Institute of the Higher Mind of the season so far. And yet, that's still not a whole lot. It's largely just little snippets of information. Terrence is asking Kyle to recruit a football star to the program. It's a part of him building his structure or something like that. The language used in discussing this program makes it all seem like a scam. It's basically enlightenment and then recruiting as many people as possible. That can't be healthy at all. However, Kyle listens to it. So, it's something the audience should take seriously. It's just difficult to do so because it's still so unclear what this program is and what it means to Kyle. The double date that Kyle and Megan go on with the football player and his wife would mean more if the audience had an understanding of what was being asked of them. Kyle is recruiting for a new program. Megan is simply the supportive girlfriend. They are the stable couple in this dynamic. The other two are constantly fighting and ultimately cause a car accident.

That moment shows just how much power Terrence has in this city. He can make all of this go away with one phone call. Brandon is being arrested for not cooperating with the police officers on the scene. Terrence shows up and everything is suddenly better. And then the next morning, a tale is spun that makes Kyle and Brandon seem like heroes. It's not the truth. Megan was the one who saved the truck driver's life. But that just shows how powerful and manipulative Terrence can be. He made all of their problems go away. All he wants in return is loyal devotion to the Institute. That's not a healthy relationship. And yet, it's hard to invest because so little has been said about Kyle's friendship with Terrence. Megan presses for more answers. All she gets is a little tease about Kyle's hardships growing up. He was beaten up by an uncle who always wanted him to be the happy and compliant child. That's horrifying. It's understandable why Kyle doesn't want to talk about it. But it still doesn't do a whole lot to define Terrence or Kyle's loyalty to the Institute.

Meanwhile, Megan's story is just weird and erratic. It's great that she ran into Daisy again in Los Angeles. Those two seem like great creative partners. And yet, their team up is what leads to the introduction of porn in this story. That entire world just doesn't seem genuine. It plays as this over-the-top reveal that then is able to surprise Daisy and Megan. That's odd and more than a little manipulative. The lives of people who work in porn can be compelling. They don't all follow a stereotypical path. But this story essentially boils down to people judging Megan because she was on a porn set for some random reason. She gets a lecture from Terrence about intimacy and how porn is a big lie that warps the mind. The show wasn't being all that subtle in that moment on how porn should be condemned. The narrative trying to find more nuance in that is just problematic. It treats all of this as the next big thing for Megan's career. She going to be a producing partner with Daisy to develop this film. That could be very promising. And yet, the details of her marriage contract will more than likely ruin that for her somehow. It just feels too predictable.

And then, Megan also has to audition for a role in a play she really loves. That story has its weird beats as well. Leslie is trying to argue that a small recurring arc on NCIS: New Orleans is a preferable career move to a lead role in a play. Sure, television would be more visible to a mass audience. But plays can lead to fame as well. But for most of the running time, it's not set up as a choice. Megan wants to do this play but the playwright won't let her audition because he has a certain opinion of her. Of course, it shouldn't be surprising that it's a white guy who wrote the play. He's this arrogant asshole who doesn't want his masterpiece to be corrupted by Hollywood elites. Megan doesn't represent that at all. She's on this whirlwind romance with Kyle. She's in the tabloids. But underneath all of that, she just wants to be an actress who does great work. She has the talent to do so. It's likely that she impresses this guy with her audition. It just takes the events of this episode for her to get the courage to show up and read for the part anyway. That makes sense. She did say she never wants to feel powerless again. It was just inevitable that it would happen by the close of the episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Crashing" was written by Patricia Resnick and directed by Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum.
  • A detective is persistent in interviewing Terrence in regards to a missing person's case. It turns out that he knows exactly where she is too. She's in a program at the Institute that will now need to be sped up so she can return to society as a "normal" person.
  • Shawn shows up for a tour of the Institute. Of course, most of that happens offscreen. But it does allow her and Terrence to spend some time together. They are both capable of being blunt. She also seems like the perfect point-of-entry character for this because she saw the Institute as a cult earlier this season.
  • Annika continues to just pop up and demand things from DeAnn. She is just wildly inconsistent though. First, she wanted help being an actress. And now, she wants help getting her script produced. And after that, she appears to help DeAnn and Terrence through their marriage problems. Again, it shows how the Institute does things. But it hardly feels like a surprise because it doesn't make much sense.
  • There's a part in the marriage contract that says Megan can't go three days without talking to Kyle. That's insane. It's part of what makes this fight so intense. Megan is right to feel betrayed but is forced into forgiving him because of the contract. That should mean more than it ultimately does.
  • Apparently, the fact that Hope leaked Megan's nudes to the press is going to be an ongoing story. Megan doesn't know the truth. And yet, they are still friends. Once the truth finally comes out, it's suppose to be a big deal that will tear them apart. And yet, that just feels too predictable.
  • Production on Kyle's new movie has started as well. And of course, the only shooting the audience sees is the scene Megan auditioned with. It largely just shows that Kyle is capable of being mean to actresses to get great performances out of them when he needs to.
  • At least, the karaoke was fun. Though it's definitely weird that a famous actor and football player are willing to go to the same bar as a porn star. Those visuals don't get them in trouble but they could have. But again, the singing was fun.