Sunday, April 9, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Arrangement' - Kyle and Megan are Faced with Tough Romantic Choices in 'Control'

E!'s The Arrangement - Episode 1.06 "Control"

While Megan preps for the opening night of her play, Kyle must deal with the reemergence of a controversial person from his past. Terence realizes he needs Kyle's help to save the Institute from a possible scandal. DeAnn discovers a much needed escape from her demanding life.

"Control" is all about whether the characters will stay committed to their current romantic relationships. It's a very scandalous episode where characters have to decide if they can act on these impulses. If they do, what would the consequences be? Megan could be sued for breech of contract. But would Kyle face the same kind of punishment? Or is it all okay if he cheats because it's largely just a business transaction for the Institute? The show says that these romances are real and full of love. That really hasn't been earned. Megan and Kyle's bond is the closest to that being true. And yet, it still feels like it's being rushed just to create drama. But with the other characters, the audience is just suppose to accept that Terence and DeAnn are a couple even though there has been very little evidence of that. So, all of this does make it difficult for the show to do an episode all about challenging and tempting these romantic couples. And yet, there are still a few moments that work incredibly well.

It's fun that Kyle and Megan are still learning new things about each other. Their relationship is still young and fresh. They can still sweep each other off their feet with surprises - like when Kyle buys Megan a new car and shows off his rollerskating skills. However, this episode still relies too much on the tortured backstory of Kyle's past relationship with Lisbeth. So much has been made about those two as a couple. Everyone worries about how Kyle will react whenever Lisbeth is in his immediate orbit. Will he completely lose it on her? Will he get back together with her? And yet, when it's actually happened, he's been able to keep it calm and collected. He doesn't fall back into past destructive behavior. He instead seems very mature in this situation when he tells Lisbeth they shouldn't get back together because she broke his heart and he's finally happy again. All of this seems to happen just so it's clear to the audience how much Kyle loves Megan. Even when she's gone, he professes his love for her. Even when he's with his ex-fiancé, he would rather be with Megan. It's all just solid foundational work for the twist at the end of the episode.

It is very devastating that Kyle cheats on Megan simply because Terence tells him to in order to protect the Institute. That moment could feel very unearned because so much of the Institute is still shrouded in secrecy. It's still not all that clear how far this show is willing to go with this program. Is it actually helping people or is it an abusive system? It's wanting to play things both ways. And yet, that's unsustainable over a long period of time. This episode seems to land on it being a soul-crushing organization. It's hard to care about the one security guard killing himself right in front of Terence though. It's the visual that is the most memorable part of that sequence. It's not shocking because it's a character who has never been important and won't be missed at all. It simply gives Terence an easy way out of the current murder investigation that is happening. That story had the potential to really expose all the dark secrets of the Institute. In the end, it does. But it's largely just how much control this program has over Kyle and what all he is willing to do to help it survive for Terence.

It did seem like the show was setting up some big twist with the hookup between Kyle and the detective as well. She seemed determine to dig and expose all of the secrets about the Institute. And yet, her morals go completely out the door when she gets two hours alone with Kyle West. It seemed like the show setting up a twist to reveal that she was a smart detective who found a way to get Kyle alone and out of the grip of Terence and the Institute. But the reveal that that's not what was going on at all was a little disappointing. It basically reaffirms that this show just wants to be a sexy soap opera that has fun with its characters while just teasing some darker and more shocking themes. It's just building to a personal moment of betrayal for Kyle and Megan. He doesn't want to cheat. He's just forced to by Terence who manipulates their friendship and his knowledge of Kyle's past to his benefit. Perhaps this will be the thing that gets Kyle to start turning away from the Institute and its darkness. However, it seems like it will more than likely only cause drama for him and Megan that threatens the marriage contract they have between them.

Megan's story in this hour seems lighter in comparison. All she has to do is constantly reject the advances of her director. It does start playing as sexual harassment after awhile too. He professes his love for her at work once everyone else has left. He gets into her car after she rejects him. He keeps making these big declarations that there is something real and genuine between them. He keeps texting her that he still feels all of this to be true. It's a lot to take. It seems unbearable. This kind of behavior shouldn't be rewarded at all. And yet, the show is just playing off how creepy and obsessive all of this is. It's not okay but it comes across as simply a nagging thought of the life that could have been if Megan hadn't signed the contract. Both she and the show are able to justify all of this behavior because the play is so great. Once that's gone as an excuse though, this should be taken as a serious overreach on Nate's part. He comes across as desperate and one-note. However, it also seems inevitable that Megan will give in to her feelings for him once she discovers what Kyle did right before opening night of her play. If that's what actually occurs, it will be both predictable and awful.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Control" was written by Leah Benavides and directed by Carol Banker.
  • It seems like this play came together fairly quickly. And yet, that's not unrealistic. Most of the time rehearsals are just a few weeks and then it's time for opening night. It just doesn't feel like Megan has been a part of this world for a long time considering she's been distracted with other things as well.
  • DeAnn and Annika's relationship just makes no sense whatsoever. It has been so inconsistently written all season long. It seems to change in every single episode. That makes it so easy not to care about. There is just no emotional through-line that is easy to understand. It's simply something that's happening that seems important but isn't.
  • Kyle wants to direct. And yet, his dream project is a World War II movie. That's just such a familiar concept that I don't know if anyone can find a new spin on it. The deal seemingly falls through too. However, the show sets up a lot of backstory with the optioning of a book. So, it seems far from over.
  • Megan seems very wise when it comes to Lisbeth's manipulations of Kyle. She knows that she warned him about the radio interview so that she could say she still loves him. It's very obvious. That's what makes it important when Kyle doesn't fall into that trap.
  • Kyle's therapist from the series premiere was the missing person who has just showed up dead. That story is resolved by the security guard suddenly being mentally unstable and killing her and himself in an act of passion. And yet, it doesn't work because these weren't actually characters who were important before.
  • I enjoyed that little montage at the top of the hour that shows everything that Kyle's assistant does for him. It's a role that could go under-appreciated by both the characters and the show. But here, it's clear that there is a gratefulness to his presence.
  • The radio interviewer really wants to know if the Institute is a cult. Lisbeth doesn't offer any scandalous details about the program. She's been set up as knowing all of these dark secrets about Kyle's past. She's keeping them for some reason. That's probably because she still loves him. However, that could change soon.