Sunday, April 2, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Arrangement' - Megan Takes a Class at the Institute and Begins Play Rehearsals in 'Temptation'

E!'s The Arrangement - Episode 1.05 "Temptation"

Megan takes a course at the Institute to get closer to Kyle. Terence grows concerned about Kyle's erratic behavior. DeAnn finds herself entangled in a new, provocative relationship.

It seemed inevitable that The Arrangement would have Megan learn more about The Institute of the Higher Mind by taking the introductory class. It was built up as this very important thing in Kyle's life. It's the program that brought Kyle and Terence together. Megan has frequently been commenting on how Kyle becomes a different person after he talks things out with Terence. Taking this course could serve as an explanation for why that is. It could also provide the audience with an even larger glimpse of what the Institute is and how it helps people improve their lives. It's been a lot of talk so far with very little action. The previous episodes have hinted at darkness with the Institute. It may not be as healthy as it appears to be. Megan has seen firsthand how powerful and manipulative Terence can be to control a story. That seems to be the defining message of the Institute. Reshaping one's narrative is a key component of this place. It comprises a lot of what Terence preaches. It's a program where the secrets of the past are exposed and the people reshape their pasts to whatever makes their future better. That's the basis at least. Megan really hasn't been exposed to the scandalous side of the program yet.

Megan is seemingly juggling a lot right now too. She doesn't appear to be great with a schedule because she doesn't realize that Day 1 of the introductory class overlaps with rehearsal for her new play. And yes, she did book the lead role in the play. She proved the asshole writer wrong. She was ultimately right for the part. But these two things she's doing often conflict with one another. That mostly plays as Megan not really taking the Institute seriously while still putting in the effort to attend the classes with an open mind. That's what everyone is pressuring her to do. Terence, Kyle and Shawn all tell her she should do this. It's going to be a part of her life as long as she's dating Kyle. So, she might as well just see what it's like now and form an actual opinion on the program. She seems noncommittal to it. And yet, she passes the test that Terence presents in front of her. The woman she befriends at the Institute is actually an undercover reporter writing an exposé that will uncover all of the Institute's dark secrets. Megan exposes her to the security guards because she doesn't believe the very personal stories from the rest of the group should be a part of this story. Of course, it's then revealed that it was just Terence testing her.

All of this makes it seem like Megan is going to give the Institute a chance to fulfill her life like it has for Kyle. But then, the final beat of the story includes her lying to the group about her biggest secret. The show is still playing things very coy in regards to her past. She's not willing to share that with the group like the rest of the people there. Instead, she just delivers a heartbreaking story about the death of a child. It's a story she had recently heard from her co-star in the play. It came out when someone else asked how the actors perform crying scenes. That's never been a problem for Megan. She's always been able to turn it on like a switch. That is abundantly clear when she's sharing this story with the Institute. It's not personal. She's putting on a performance. It's a believable one too. It shows that Terence is still spying on her. Perhaps to learn as much about her past as possible to keep her in line with the marriage contract. Whatever is going on, the show is purposefully keeping it a secret right now. That quality of the show has gotten annoying. And yet, this episode does a better job at addressing it while still setting things up for the inevitable reveal.

Meanwhile, Kyle is in a surprising story where he doesn't let anyone know what's going on with his life. His friendship with Terence is very meaningful for him. Kyle sees Terence and the Institute as the reason for why he has such a successful career. But he's willingly keeping a secret from Terence. It's surprising to the audience that Kyle's dad is still alive. The hour starts with him talking about being an orphan in public. It's a part of the narrative he crafted with Terence. Maintaining that narrative is of the highest importance to Terence. He doesn't want anything to complicate that. Kyle giving money to his half-sister to pay for their father's medical bills has the potential to destroy everything. And yet, this story works better when it focuses on Kyle's uncertainty over what to do in this situation and how it impacts production on his new movie. It's less engaging when it's Terence talking about Kyle not informing him about all of this. It's lame and just continues to show that Terence is a one-note manipulator who wants to be in control at all times. He still ultimately is in the end. He succeeds because he actually listens to DeAnn for once too.

And yet, Kyle is the main driver of his story and it's pretty engaging to watch. Everyone who knows him personally knows that he is acting weird. He's not letting anyone in though. Megan is too busy with the Institute and her play rehearsals. DeAnn and Terence know what's going on and steer him to the inevitable outcome. But they want him to come to them with his problems. Meanwhile, Kyle just doesn't know if he can forgive his father for his horrible childhood. He doesn't know if people can really change or if it's just a construct made for the movies. Even his efforts to rewrite the script don't ultimately help him. It proves that he's a capable writer in addition to an aspirational director. But his writing doesn't match the rest of the script or the tone of the movie. It's too much emotional and waxing poetically about the nature of redemption. It gets in the way of the key action of Kyle's character killing the man who turned him into what he is. It's a familiar action story plot beat that Kyle wants to reinvent. And yet, the motivation for that comes from his own personal issues. If he's in turmoil that much, it's clear he still a lot of work to do on himself. He lets his personal feelings disrupt production of the film. So, he's not as great a professional as everyone thinks. However, all of this probably won't change anything for the future. His father dies and Kyle shoots the scene. He then talks to Terence about what he did. So, everything is still on track to keep the narrative alive and well.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Temptation" was written by Rob Bragin and directed by Carol Banker.
  • Megan kisses the playwright during a bonfire to help the cast bond together. It's a weird moment because he's been such a dick to her in every scene so far. And yet, he believes there's now this connection between them. She shuts it down immediately. But this has the potential to really destroy the play.
  • How can Megan say that the play's writing is great last week and then say it's too complicated with no payoff this week? Those feelings just don't work like that. If Megan had concerns about the script, she wouldn't be passionate about this project. At least, she's confident enough to voice her concerns and changes are made.
  • Speaking of scripts, DeAnn actually reads the one Annika gave her. It's still very difficult to care about this subplot. It remains such a minor part of the story. It's largely just difficult to take Annika seriously since she's just a walking plot device to put DeAnn on edge. She serves no larger purpose than that.
  • Kyle's co-star in the film keeps forcing her way into Kyle's life when she's not shooting. She's on set when she doesn't have to be. And then, she just shows up at his house. There definitely seems to be a closeness between them as well - though neither one actually acts on it.
  • So, Shawn is now all for the Institute because she's sleeping with the guy who teaches the introductory class. She did it and responded well to the program. That largely just sets Hope up as the voice of opposition. But Megan probably won't take her concerns seriously after she learns Hope is responsible for the nude pictures leak.
  • Things are fine between Terence and DeAnn for once. All it takes for that to be seen as a healthy marriage is Terence actually listening to and taking DeAnn's advice. It still doesn't feel all that genuine or romantic though.
  • Terence had someone following Kyle and taking pictures. That's how he knew about Kyle's situation with his father. It also seems like he has someone following Megan too. And yet, that is yet to be actually confirmed.