Monday, July 18, 2016

UnReal Roundtables 2x05 and 2x06: Things Are Getting Dark [Contributors: Maddie, Meredith, Chelsea]

UnReal has continued to be quite the ride for audiences this season. The last two episodes delivered some jaw-dropping moments, interesting character development, and some great teases for what is to come in the rest of the season. Maddie, Meredith, and Chelsea discussed their thoughts on “Infiltration” and “Casualty.”

Is there hope for a Quinn and Rachel reconciliation?

Maddie: There is no way around it, in my opinion — these two are linked. They are Everlasting, and as long as the show is on the air they are a huge part of each other’s lives. There were some nice signs of how these two actually do care about each other as people in the past two episodes. They are family — a very dysfunctional family, but a family nonetheless. Personally, I can see a professional reconciliation before a personal one. They both respect each other’s talent and competence and that they need the other in order to make the best show possible. However, they still have a long road ahead to any kind of friendship since there still are problems between them from season one that need to be addressed.

Mer: There’s always hope. Things change so quickly and drastically and dramatically on this show. But I think Quinn needs to own, apologize for, and relinquish her manipulative hold on Rachel. She wants Rachel to herself, because of how lonely she is. So she wants Rachel to be lonely with her too.

Chelsea: The last few episodes have proven that Rachel and Quinn are forever entangled with each other. They’re at their best when they’re working together. Even when they’re fighting, Quinn will have Rachel’s back, as proven with the Jeremy situation because Quinn only really cares about Rachel.

Can Quinn be happy? Or will she sabotage this blossoming connection with Mr. Fantastic?

Maddie: I’m on the fence about this. However, it is a credit to Constance Zimmer’s performance that I can see Quinn going in either direction. It helps that Ioan Gruffudd is charming as all get out, and was able to have easy banter with Quinn. However, I could also see her never quite letting her guard down enough to let him in. The only other person she ever did that for was Chet, and while he is on some semblance of a redemption arc, Quinn still wasted her best years on him.

Mer: I’m not sure. I think Quinn views romantic entanglements, ultimately, as weakness. And Quinn hates weakness.

Chelsea: Quinn can be happy, and I think Mr. Fantastic is a great step for her. The relationship is still quite new, but it’s refreshing to see her away from Chet’s toxic aura. Plus, she just misses Rachel and having her work-wife by her side. There’s always hope.

Darius is getting the short end of the stick and is starting to appear tired of it, too. Do you think he is going to stop playing the game and go rogue?

Maddie: Darius basically has whiplash from all the drama and all the directions he’s been pulled in. This is putting him in a vulnerable spot. He could keep fully cooperating with Rachel, but he is susceptible to manipulation right now that could make him do something rash.

Mer: No. In the end I don’t. In the end, I think he really believes this can rehab his image and get him some sort of next deal to secure his future. And he believes Rachel knows what she’s doing.

Chelsea: He’s been going rogue a lot throughout the show, and I can’t blame him because there are so many cooks in the kitchen trying to create their vision of Everlasting. He’s tired of it, but he also knows what he signed up for. I think he’ll play the game still but he has a chance with Chantal or Tiffany. 

How much did Ruby and Darius’ arc break your heart?

Maddie: One of the things I enjoy about this show is the writers know there needs to be at least one relationship between characters that is sincere amidst all of the cynicism and darkness. That way the audience has enough hope to get emotionally invested in the relationship. Last year had prime opportunities for shipping and also just had the precious cinnamon roll that was Faith. This year, Ruby was the character that immediately made audiences root for her. She seemed to be good person, and her dynamic with Darius was wonderful. Each of their interactions just had that spark. The overnight date really could have been the start of something real and wonderful, and that is why it hurt all the more when it crashed and burned. We need the beautiful moments to make the destruction have substance.

Mer: I’m hoping we see more of Ruby. I have a sneaking sense they’ll bring her back. It did break my heart because they both had real feelings, but also because Ruby gave up so much to come do the show. I want it to be worth something, you know? To not have been in vain.

Chelsea: It was sweet while it lasted, but Darius was right that he would be disappointing her. Ruby is so strong in her personality and convictions and does need somebody that won’t fold. Darius always needs his hand held and needs to start becoming his own person and make his own decisions before he can ever ready for Ruby.

How do you feel about Coleman and Rachel as a couple? Do you feel he gets Rachel?

Maddie: I love Michael Rady, and he has been doing a really good idea with this character. However, I feel like Coleman still doesn’t get both Rachel and the world that he has entered. I also am not the biggest fan of the power imbalance between the two. The way in which he told Rachel in the imperative that they were leaving the show after this season did not sit right with me. Coleman and Rachel’s scenes to me kind of feel like eating a “chocolate sandwich cookie” from Walmart, when you think you are eating an Oreo. The experience is almost what you are expecting and wanting it to be, but it’s just a little bit off.

Mer: LOVE IT. LOVE. IT. I like their chemistry and I think this nice, smart, normal guy is what Rachel needs. He doesn’t get Rachel because Rachel isn’t letting him. If she can let her walls down just a little bit, he’d totally get her and I think he’d embrace all sides of her.

Chelsea: I like Michael Rady in most things, but he is too vanilla for Rachel and really doesn’t understand her very much. For her, he’s the ideal guy that isn’t drama-filled and will make important things with her. I’m glad she has him now but I don’t see them working out because Rachel thrives on the drama and her work with Quinn. Also, can we just address that Coleman just has bad hair? What kind of look are they going for with it? Because it’s definitely not working. 

Are you waiting for the other shoe to drop with Coleman (whether his destruction or a reveal of an ulterior motive)?

Maddie: This is UnReal, so we already know things are not going to stay hunky-dory. I’m leaning less toward Coleman having an ulterior motive because we now officially have our villain in Jeremy. At the end of the day, I feel like Coleman is too nice and unwilling to get his hands dirty to survive in this world. Coleman reminds me of Piz from Veronica Mars — nice enough character, wonderful actor, but the character just has no idea what they have gotten themselves into. Either Rachel, Quinn, or both women are going to destroy him.

Mer: Not really, actually. I think Rachel may end up sabotaging it, either on purpose or not, maybe with Adam now that that ball is rolling. I actually think Coleman is pretty much exactly what he appears. I could be wrong, but that’s my feeling.

Chelsea: I’m anticipating that other shoe dropping soon. Nobody makes it as far as he has in the industry without stepping on some toes. I’m curious to see what his story is and his inevitable destruction.

How do you feel about Jeremy’s evolution into a villain?

Maddie: CALLED IT! From day one, I had a strong feeling Jeremy would end up being an antagonist. However, it wasn’t until the finale last year that I got villainous vibes from him. As soon as he started talking with Rachel’s mom, I knew the “Nice Guy” was going to don his metaphorical fedora and assume his place as the show’s villain. Also, Quinn’s takedown of him was immensely satisfying.

Mer: It works. It made him interesting, and it proved that as messy and sometimes questionable as our other characters are, they aren’t really villains, right?

Chelsea: Called it from day one. Jeremy is the absolute worst and I hope that’s the last we see of him. Glad Quinn got one last dig at him.

Are we supposed to start feeling sympathetic to Chet now?

Maddie: The answer, oddly enough, is yes. The past few episodes have shown that even though he is still deeply flawed, he is now self-aware and refuses to blame his issues on others. He is trying to change, and it is really interesting to watch. I feel like since the character up to this point has been so easy to hate, it is also easy to overlook Craig Bierko’s performance of the role. He is doing a dynamic and compelling job of showing Chet’s evolution. I want his arc to be slow, but I am genuinely intrigued with where the show is going to take this character.

Mer: Chet needed something to make him relevant to the storyline again, other than chasing after or fighting with Quinn. My romantic heart wanted Coleman to save the day for Rachel, but in the end I’m really glad it played out the way it did. And I enjoy not totally hating Chet.

Chelsea: I hate that I’m enjoying this Chet redemption arc, but at least it’s keeping the character viable and interesting. At least we know he has limits in what terrible things he will do. Saving Rachel and trying to make Jeremy own up to his faults before that shows there’s more to Chet than we know. Maybe he is making a change. 

Let's talk about the confrontation between Rachel and Jeremy, and its fallout. Can we give Shiri Appleby all the award nominations? Especially since she directed this episode, too.

Maddie: This scene was so hard to watch, and yet I couldn’t look away. It was absolutely terrifying. I did not know how far they were going to take it. You could feel every ounce of Rachel’s fear and helplessness in that scene. I was so relieved when Chet intervened. Shiri Appleby is an acting powerhouse. Her performance in the following episode was raw and electric, and her direction of the episode heightened it. That scene where she takes the photos of the bruises is enrapturing. Her acting and direction kept Rachel’s manic energy as the emotional core of the episode and it was incredible to watch.

Mer: It was fantastic, very real, very scary, and hard to watch. It was everything that makes this show so wonderful. I was actually taken out of the scene for a brief moment because there’s one shot where you can tell Shiri is pregnant. And even though I know it’s pretend, I’m pregnant and the sight of this big guy hitting her and shoving her made me physically ill. But yes, it was extremely well done, really, on the part of both actors. 

Chelsea: My heart stopped. Thank God it wasn’t worse and that Chet stopped it all. Shiri just killed it, and then again in the following episode where Rachel’s clearly not dealing with it. I’m worried about Rachel, and she needs somebody in her corner. I’m glad Quinn kept fighting to make sure she was okay, even when Rachel was turning her away.

The tension between the directions Rachel is being pulled in are about to snap. Do you think Rachel is going to try to find redemption with Coleman or go further into the abyss with Quinn? Or is there a third option?

Maddie: I think Rachel has been kind of stuck between these two all season. I think the show is going to surprise us with a third option which I cannot surmise yet. However, I think the show and her career is going to come first.

Mer: I don’t know. My shipper heart wants to root for Rachel and Coleman. I like it, and I like them.

Chelsea: Ultimately, she’s going to be with Quinn running the show in some way. Coleman is nice now but he’s too vanilla for the complex and dark women. I think Rachel is going to try very hard to be with Coleman, but the show will win in the end.

Does the show seem less fun this season? It's still amazing, but this season seems to be in a darker place.

Maddie: It is darker this season, but I do love it. Last year, in my opinion, it felt like there were moments where the game stopped or it was only one-sided. You had Rachel manipulating the girls, but we — as an audience — were in on it. This year everyone is out to play against each other and everyone has an agenda, and the audience is less informed of character’s motivations. It makes the viewing experience more intense but still a great ride.

Mer: Hm. I see what you’re saying, sort of. But there was plenty of dark last season, too, and there are fun moments this season as well. I find the tone similar, and I’m pleased to say that I find the show just as compelling in its sophomore season.

Chelsea: I like the dark direction it’s taking this season and that it has a steady voice. Season one veered between the dark and light tones, but I’m glad they have a clear direction of what they want this year.

Lastly, ADAM IS BACK Y'ALL! This is going to bring some amazing explosive drama. What are you expecting/wanting to go down next week?

Maddie: I am so glad Freddie Stroma has returned from Westeros and is back. Adam is a really interesting character and, all shipping aside, his scenes with Rachel are just fun to watch. I am really looking forward to how his dynamic with Coleman and possibly Darius will be like. Also, I am curious if Quinn updated him on the Jeremy situation. Moreover, the promo for “Ambush” is anything to judge by, we are going to get some hot moments this episode and I am here for it. My Goldwell shipping heart sings. I still have no idea what is going to go down, but I know this show is going to knock it out of the park.

Mer: Oh there’s gonna be some triangle drama. Normally I dread it, but this show does everything so well that I’m excited for it! I like Adam and I liked his dynamic with Rachel, too. So I can’t wait to see what happens.

Chelsea: I don’t know what I want, but I’m excited to sit back and watch the fireworks.


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