UnREAL: Season 2 Finale: Friendly Fire in the Hole (Review)

Quinn and her minions in UnREAL

The season finale of UnREAL was an explosion, or an implosion,  waiting to happen. Last week’s “sh*t storm” took Yael out of the running. The disgraced contestant still planned to tear Quinn and Rachel’s playhouse down though. Unfortunately Wasserman gets his toys taken away and he is escorted off the set.  There was nothing friendly about this episode. With the impending explosion about to go off any minute, it could have been titled, “Fire in the Hole.”

UnREAL has upped the stakes.  Last season ended with Mary jumping off the roof, it was murder plain and simple.  This year the show ends with what appears to be a double homicide instigated by Jeremy (Josh Kelly).  (This lovelorn ex of Rachel will do anything to redeem himself, including killing the two people who could destroy her.)

Coleman continues to sink to new depths.  The former showrunner has managed to become an even bigger douche.  His plan to shuffle Rachel off to an asylum while he took over was pretty bad. He now intends to destroy her and Quinn with his shocking documentary.

Unfortunately, since Quinn has taken his source material it will be difficult to put the thing together.  Although, as Rachel found out, his award winning documentary was a lie. He hired actors to play the “real” subjects in his film.

Throughout the Wasserman vs Goldberg storyline, Quinn orchestrates an “Everlasting” finale that is guaranteed to blow up the ratings. She tells both the finalists that Darius has chosen them. Quinn also relates that he will be marrying them on live television.

Both families are invited to attend the finale screening.  Quinn then attempts to screw over Chet and Tiffany on air using Yael as the bearer of ill tidings.  She learns that Chet has been sleeping with  the finalist via the anklet he gave her. It is, she tells a bemused Chet, his “signature move.”

Wasserman sneaks back on the set and arranges to have Yael tell the world she is an investigative reporter on the live finale.  She will expose the show’s murder of Mary.  Jeremy has been included in this plan. He then learns of Rachel’s rape when she was 12. He is horrified to learn that her mother tried to cover it up.

Darius is fed up with the entire thing. Even Romeo has trouble getting him to cooperate. The “live marriage” is sprung on him at the last minute and he is furious.  Rachel, in an attempt at controlling Yael locks her in a room and has security take Coleman away from the live set.

Goldberg also calls Ruby and asks her to appear on the show as a surprise guest.  On the Everlasting set, Tiffany (Kim Matula) and Chantal (Meagan Tandy) both turn up in their wedding dresses.  The women walk up the aisle which is separated by a long screen, both have family seated along the walkway. 

Quinn is in the production room waiting for Yael to provide an explosive moment when Ruby (Denée Benton) arrives. Darius is pleased and proposes to her.  She turns him down but says that she loves him. The two leave in the “Just Married” limousine. It is a happy ending. 

Meanwhile, Jeremy is guilt stricken and he apologizes to Rachel profusely. He is furious with her mother for covering up the rape and for drugging her. Rachel tells him that is it too late for them.  Jeremy tells her he would do anything to protect her.

Yael and Coleman drive off the set in the “Everlasting” car. Jeremy calls Chet out of the production office. The two men come back in.  Jeremy explains that Yael and Coleman left to “break” their story to CNN. He then says they do not have to worry about the couple. Turning to Rachel he says, “I told you I would do anything to protect you.”

Over the news they see footage of the “Everlasting” car crumpled up at the bottom of a canyon. The episode ends with Rachel, Jeremy, Chet and Quinn on chaise lounges. All are sitting  in a row, their lives are now inexorably linked to a potential double murder.

This was a brilliant episode. All the machinations by Quinn and Rachel to  make the finale  a hit and prevent Team Yaelman from destroying the show and the two women running it were impressive.

Quinn in her bid to make “one of these b*tches bleed” on national television was a little frightening.  Still, at her very core, Quinn is touched by the “true love” found by Darius and Ruby on the show. Her expression speaks volumes and in that moment, one feels a deep sympathy for this driven woman.

Despite all of her constant disclaimers, Quinn wants love as well. She knows, however, that  it is beyond her reach. It is fitting that she and Chet are together to witness Darius’ triumph.

UnREAL leaves on a murderous note.  But before the end credits roll we have seen the “real” Quinn underneath that powerful exterior. We learn that  Rachel really is the master of “Everlasting.” There is no doubt that Wasserman is a pig, even if he is dead, and that he and Yael make the perfect couple.

When Emmy time comes rolling around there should be gongs for Constance Zimmer and Shiri Appleby. These two powerful actors rocked their performances and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that strong female characters are not just mesmerizing to watch but are damned sexy as well.

CAST:

UnREAL: Espionage – Sh*t Storm (Review)

Rachel and Quinn on Espionage

The penultimate episode of UnREAL season two “Espionage” was a real “sh*t storm” in more ways than one.  Rachel Goldberg takes down “Hot Rachel” in a move that would make the Borgia’s envious and Quinn has a meltdown.  Coleman shows his true colours and Chet makes a move on Tiffany.

In many ways this has been the top episode of season two.  There cannot be many who did not react to Yael soiling herself on national television with horrified laughter.  Quinn loved it  which made her baby news later seem like instant karma.  There was no guilty laughter from Ms. King, she reveled in the humiliation of Yael.

All this toilet tragedy went to prove  that Team Rachel/Quinn is essentially unstoppable.  The two are, as has been mentioned before, the perfect storm together.  They may have difficulty showing it but they do love each other.

“I love you. I love you. You’re fired,” says a broken Quinn.  She wants Rachel to be with “douche” Coleman and get away from the poison that is “Everlasting.” Goldberg reveals that Wassermann wants to destroy the show and Quinn. (What Rachel does not know is that he wants to take her down as well.)

There was much wheeling and dealing going on in UnREAL in this episode.  Wasserman editing Rachel’s rambling confession to Mary’s murder and other nefarious goings on at “Everlasting.”  He then goes on to tap her phone so Quinn can incriminate herself and Rachel.

Jay works to get Chantel to take herself off the show and Madison shoots that down  by throwing shade on his intentions.  Behind all this scuppering of plans is the Quinn and Booth romance.

The two go to a doctor. She has accepted the idea of being a “mom” and tests were needed to see if Quinn could have children.  The news is bad. Quinn goes into free-fall and throws Booth over and smashes up the production room.

Coleman works with Yael, who revealed last week that she was an investigative reporter, and after her “sh*t storm” on television, He promises to take both Quinn and Rachel down.

It is Yael’s downfall, orchestrated masterfully by Rachel,  that is the highlight of the episode. Madison cattily informs Goldberg that Coleman was in Yael’s room. Rachel then sets up “Hot Rachel” with Darius for a date involving sushi and sauces.

Goldberg then substitutes the blue dress prepared by wardrobe for the date with a white number. (All the better to show off the results of eating that doctored sauce.)  Rachel orders the cameras to stay on Yael as she attempts to leave.

As the view focusses mainly on the victim’s crotch area, it seems that the mess will be revealed there. Mercifully, the woman slumps down with her back to the locked door and it is sound effects that tell us she defecated in front of the world.

Wasserman is a real rat after all. He may be telling Rachel that he loves her but he plans to have her institutionalized. After she is cured, he says, she can rest.  It is this revelation that wakes Goldberg up to his real intentions.

UnREAL this week manages to ring the changes for Quinn. This powerful woman who shapes everyone else’s world  fell apart. (As “apart” this woman of steel could allow herself.)  Her reaction the the news “I wanted to have a choice,” was both a lament and a cry for help. It was also one of those tissue reaching moments.

Quinn immediately pushes Booth away. Her rationale is that she will not be the cause of his disappointment.  (Was there also not just a bit of guilty relief? Is that what Quinn was really angry about? Thoughts and/or answers in the comment section below please…)

This was a brilliant show stopper  episode. The real sh*t storm was not Yael losing control of her bowels on national television, it was Wasserman’s betrayal and Quinn’s devastating news.  Expertly written and handled by all, “Espionage” was a laugh one minute and cry the next episode. Kudos to all and Emmy’s should be handed out to more than one performer.

UnREAL ends next week on Lifetime. Do not miss the season two finale, titled “Friendly Fire” as it looks like the real “sh*t storm” has yet to appear.

CAST:

Guest Starring: Ioan Gruffudd as John Booth

UnREAL: Fugitive – Evil Secrets (Review)

Constance Zimmer as Quinn in UnREAL

Last week on UnREAL Romeo was  shot and Rachel went into  her second meltdown. In “fugitive” a lot of secrets come to light, including the one that tore Rachel and her mother apart.  Coleman fights being fired, Jay steps up to the challenge of producing sans Rachel and Yael reveals her own secret. And, as if there were any doubt, Rachel’s mother (Mimi Kuzykproves that she is indeed evil.

Wasserman catches Yael on his laptop after Quinn reminds him that he is fired. Yael confesses that she is really a reporter writing an expose. Her title for the project is “Realty TV Kills.”  Coleman agrees to  help Yael.

In this episode Rachel is under her mother’s care until Coleman rescues her. Quinn steps into the Everlasting driver’s seat with no hesitation and she begins turning the show around. Chet helps Quinn to cover up the shooting.

Darius meets with Ruby (Denée Benton) and professes his love for her. He also reveals that his NFL career is over. She reacts badly, he did after all, rebuff her on national television. Jay comes in to tell Darius that he needs to return to Everlasting.

Jay and Madison work their girls into better positions on the show and three of the contestants turn on Quinn’s favorite to win; Tiffany.  Quinn does help to eliminate Tiffany in the immunity round just to annoy Chet.

Coleman takes Rachel to the set  and not his home. He begins to interrogate his lover to find out more about Mary’s suicide. Rachel tells Coleman that they murdered Mary.

Wasserman tells Rachel that all this is needed to help show the truth.  He starts with the “racist” slant on Romero’s shooting and then concentrates on the show ruining lives.  While he continues to question Rachel, her mother turns up on the set with another psychiatrist.

Quinn sees Dr. Goldberg and intercepts her. The two spar  verbally, there is no love lost here, and Olive accuses Quinn of trying to be Rachel’s mother.  Quinn walks in on Rachel and Coleman. Goldberg and her daughter leave the room.

Coleman and Quinn talk about the camera and the shooting.  She points out to Wasserman that he and Rachel were responsible for Romeo being shot.   She  warns Coleman that he better not hurt Rachel.

Dr. Goldberg’s associate questions Rachel and  she volunteers to talk about her real issues.  Olive steps in and stops the Q&A.  Chet offers to help Tiffany and she responds to his flattery and attention.  “You know I have major daddy issues,” she says while kissing the producer.

Rachel and Olive have a confrontation about the secret of her childhood. Goldberg calls her daughter damaged and claims that no one wants to deal with that.  Rachel tells Coleman the truth.

He  learns that Rachel was raped when she was 12 by one of her mother’s patients.  The woman opted to treat her daughter for the trauma. She did this  to protect her new business.  Coleman comforts Rachel.

As the vote-off commences,  and  Tiffany learns that she has been voted off,  Darius returns. He stops the proceedings. First he  sends  Jamison the cop  home and he tells Chantel she will not be on the date.  Tiffany is chosen instead.

Darius explains that he does not want Rachel near him and that he will listen only to Jay.  Quinn makes up her mind about Booth and the possibility of children and Coleman meets with Yael. It looks like Rachel’s savior is about to stab her in the back.

UnREAL just took things up a notch or two. The near death of Romeo was shocking but  nowhere near as shocking as the childhood rape of Rachel.  That her mother chose to cover it up and drug her child to protect her fledgling business, is beyond evil.

It looks like Wasserman may be another contender for the crown of evil douche as he continues to work with undercover reporter Yael.  Rachel really does seem to have only one person who really cares about her;  Quinn. The  same woman she stabbed in the back earlier.

This series is addictive and full of secret surprises.  UnREAL airs Mondays on Lifetime. Watch this one, you will be glad you did.

CAST:

Guest Starring: Ioan Gruffudd as John Booth

UnREAL: Ambush – Meltdown Part 2 (Review)

Chantel and Darius

On “Ambush” UnREAL yanks the rug solidly out from under the feet of its fans.  Rachel goes through another meltdown, part deus  as it were and things go really wrong for Daris, Romeo and their dates.  The show begins with some humorous moments and a look at the romantic tangle that is Goldberg’s life.

(Sadly the episode ends with a cop/black situation that could not have been more awkwardly timed.   These shows are filmed quite a bit in advance of their air dates and the show’s producers could not have foretold the despicable social situation facing America right now.  There is a message at the beginning warning of a law enforcement, gun and race issue in the show and  pledges support to those affected by gun violence.)

Back to the episode:  Before the shocking ending, something that UnREAL does very well, Jeremy is still fired and the Coleman/Goldberg romance is going strong.  Last season’s “Everlasting” bachelor Adam turns up to see Rachel while she is in bed with Wasserman. Her new fella is not too pleased by this.

Cromwell has returned because of Quinn, but this time he is no longer a neophyte in the world of reality television.  This time around Adam is cynical and knows what the show is;   an unreal depiction of reality.

In the scene prior to the shooting, Adam calls Rachel out about feeling  proud of her accomplishment and  her show:

Adam: “Your black suitor…”

Rachel: “Mm-hmm.”

Adam: “Is on a fake date in a fake boat on a fake lake. That is “Everlasting,” and you’re completely delusional.”

(This scene also has a comic slant that softens the viewer up for the tragedy later.  Darius ends up with Chantel’s dead fiancee’s ashes in his face. The NFL star splutters and says “Oh my God. Dead guy in my mouth!” This was very funny and set up by Lawrence, just as Rachel sets up Beck later on with the police.)

Before the boat incident, Darius spends most of the episode angry at Rachel. He has still not forgiven her for Alabama.  Quinn, who brings Adam back to break up Coleman and Rachel, insists that Cromwell is needed to  bring some life to the show. (It is Adam who urges Darius to pick Chantel for the date.)

There is a lot of time spent on the two couples. Rachel and Wasserman as well as Booth and Quinn work on their separate relationships but ultimately both are doomed to fail but for different reasons.

Booth reveals to Quinn that he is falling in love with her but his partner must want children, “More than one, less than five.” The look on Quinn’s face says it all, the fire in her eyes slowly dies.  Ms. King is all about the job and would, with her manipulative “I’m in charge” attitude, be a horrible mother.

Rachel and Wasserman are equally doomed for different reasons. Not least of which is Goldberg herself.  She has been taking the medication her mother sent her and Coleman does not truly understand the woman he loves.  He thinks he does but in reality the only person who really knows Rachel is Quinn. 

Together these two women are a perfect storm of creative management and  are masters at manipulating  the contestants and the show’s bachelor.  They also equally use one another via emotional blackmail and are in an unhealthy “love/hate” relationship. Each women knows what triggers the other and this makes for a successful show but it is ultimately destroying Rachel.

Which is happens after the shooting. Goldberg’s mental state is destroyed.  She  is seen in a psychiatric facility with her mother pushing pills down her daughter’s throat.  Her mom says,  “You  know I love you, right?” Rachel lies back down and closes her eyes.

The shooting is prompted by a disastrous series of events that starts in the fake boat. The ashes in Darius’ face infuriates him and he wants to blow off some steam. Romeo  (Gentry Whitesuggests going out in the Bentley.  The two invite Yael (Monica Barbaro) and Tiffany (Kim Matula) along. The contestants are intoxicated and all too ready to leave with the two men. 

Madison calls Rachel and tells her that Darius and Romeo have taken the Bentley.  She decides to call the police and then film what happens. A rookie cop and his partner stop the car and things quickly escalate out of control.  As the incident is being film, Rachel realizes that this has all gone too far.

Darius is hurt by the cop throwing him against  the car and Romeo reacts. He is worried about his cousin and he tries to tell the rookie that he is hurting an injured man. Rachel runs up shouting and the cop turns to her, gun drawn. Romeo rushes up to Darius and is shot.

The female cop tackles Rachel and the world goes into a spin. Wasserman appears, arms spread and asks for an ambulance for Romeo.

Before Rachel seen in the hospital,  Yael meets with Jeremy and she asks him to tell her about the show. He agrees and she sets her phone to record the conversation.

UnREAL has managed to  trump the death of Mary (Ashley Scott) in season one. The season where Rachel is recovering from meltdown part un.  As “Ambush” ends, Romeo may still have a heartbeat but it looks like Rachel’s romance with Wasserman is through. Quinn throws him off he set as Gary has put her back in charge. 

Quinn has won again.

UnREAL airs Mondays on Lifetime.

CAST:

Guest Starring: Ioan Gruffudd as John Booth and Freddie Stroma as Adam Cromwell.

UnREAL: Casualty – Shiri Appleby Directs, Pathos Ensues (Review)

Lindsay Musil as "Beth Ann"

UnREAL “Casualty” picks up this week where “Infiltration” left off.  Jeremy fired and Rachel on the floor of the wardrobe van; bruised, shaken and angry.  This episode of UnReal was intense and Shiri Appleby, who directed this segment, made sure  that pathos ensued throughout.

The faltering courtship of Booth and Quinn continues and Goldberg initially  steps back from Coleman after her run-in with Jeremy. After Chet talks her out of going to the police, Rachel throws herself into her work. First, however, she photographs her bruises and then covers them with makeup.

Goldberg then forces Darius into doing the “home visit” with Beth Ann (Lindsay Musilby basically throwing a fit, not in private but in front of contestants and the show’s host. Darius agrees to  the Alabama visit despite his misgivings and Coleman invites himself along.

Quinn and Booth share a kiss at the cemetery and on the drive back, Quinn gets a call from Chet . He is concerned about Rachel but cannot divulge too much as Booth is in the car.

In Alabama the expected race problem fails to ignite when it turns out that Beth Ann’s family are more about football than racism. The rebel flag bikini was a false signal that Rachel counted on too much for ratings.

As the group bond and then shoot guns together Goldberg struggles to get the episode back on track.  Back at the studio set, Madison is annoyed that Rachel took “her girl” and moans to Jay about it. The two make plans to create a stir at the Everlasting house while Rachel is in Alabama.

Chet reveals the Jeremy attack to Quinn who rings Rachel to support her protege and producer. She offers to help and Rachel hangs up.  Beth Ann learns she is pregnant and Goldberg sees this as a Godsend.  The Alabama girl reveals that the baby’s father is former boyfriend and prison inmate Brock (Zach McGowan). 

Quinn confronts Jeremy about the attack. He angrily tells Quinn that Rachel stole her show. Quinn reacts by grabbing the former DP’s balls and squeezing.  As she holds Jeremy hostage she asks: “What do you want to do Jeremy? You want to hit me now?”

She continues to goad Jeremy as he squirms in agony. At the end of her assault she finishes by telling him that next time she will cut them off and  that he is not to  come back. Ever.

Jay and Madison get Dr. Wagerstein (Amy Hill) to host a “drink and discuss”  session (Mirror of Truth)  with the contestants who are left at the house.  Quinn is surprised at the initiative of the two producers but she allows it.  She then sends Booth away and he tells Quinn  to call when she is ready.

The topic of this “truth” session is why they were not picked for the Home Visit. As the liquor flows the women get harsher about one another. Chet prompts Madison to reveal the sexual liaison that Tiffany James  (Kim Matula)  had with Romeo.

Back in Alabama Rachel tells Coleman that she has convinced the contestant to tell her parents and Darius about her pregnancy  on camera that night.  Quinn calls Wasserman to warn him that Rachel is headed for a meltdown and about Jeremy’s assault.

In the Dr. Wagerstein truth session the girls all bring up the Tiffany/Romeo sexual tryst and the discussion turns into a shouting match.  Coleman confronts Rachel about the attack and says  he is worried about her. He also reveals that he is uncomfortable with her plan for Beth Ann.

Rachel’s response is that she is fine. “Can we please just go blow this thing up?” Chet confronts Tiffany and offers to help her in return for an introduction to her father.

Beth Ann speaks to Coleman about her fears and  decides to carry on.

Rachel pulls a Quinn. She tells the former boyfriend about Beth Ann being pregnant and gives Brock a ring so he can propose to her on camera.  Things explode. Beth Ann  implies that the baby is not Brock’s and could be Darius’.  She professes her love for Darius while Beth Ann’s father forces Brock to leave.

Goldberg is overjoyed with the result and Coleman is disturbed.

Back at the set, Tiffany talks to Darius about Romeo and Coleman talks to Chet, Quinn and Rachel about going to the police. Rachel leaves the meeting and Wasserman is not happy.   Chet tells Quinn that he thinks Rachel is in love with Coleman.

Quinn is inspired when Chet says he has never seen Rachel like “this” before and she makes a phone call.

The elimination round begins and  the last two contestants are Beth Ann and Tiffany. Beth Ann reveals that Darius is not the father and pleads to be left on the show.  The NFL star tells the Alabama girl that he is sitting up a college fund for her baby.  He then picks Tiffany to stay.

Beth Ann leaves in tears and Darius angrily confronts Rachel.  Graham (Brennan Elliott) gets the line of the night when he bellows out, “Rach! Who banged the racist?”

Quinn is approached by Wagerstein who offers some unwanted therapy.  The doctor warns that if she does not hurry that Booth will get away. She claims that Quinn is lonely. After chasing Wagerstein out of her office, Quinn calls Booth and invites him to dinner.

Rachel deletes the bruise photos on her phone and she and Coleman talk,  initially, and then have sex.  Coleman tells Rachel he is going to take her away from Everlasting.

The camera shifts from Rachel’s face to a very familiar character getting out of a car. It is Adam Cromwell (Freddie Stroma); the bachelor that Rachel fell for from the last season of Everlasting. 

Quinn strikes again.

Shiri Appleby slotted this episode of UnREAL together like a finely crafted puzzle.  Flipping back and forth between scenarios and keeping the pace fast and fluid.  This performer has proven that not only does she have massive acting chops but she can helm the chair as well.

Constance Zimmer also allowed us to see a tiny bit of vulnerability in Quinn’s iron woman exterior. Twice she proved that Quinn really cares about Rachel and she actually takes Wagerstein’s advice about Booth.

Kudos to Lindsay Musil for making us actually feel for the little cornpone cutie by the end of the show.

UnREAL looks like it is going to become very interesting now that Cromwell;  the man that Rachel almost ran away with, has returned. The series airs Mondays on Lifetime.

CAST:

Guest Starring: Ioan Gruffudd as John Booth and Freddie Stroma as Adam Cromwell.