This week was not UNREAL’s finest hour. The show seems stuck in an unfortunate cycle of watching its four main characters duel for power every week, which is getting old fast. This week, Quinn and Chet team up to bring Rachel and Coleman down, resulting in the seeds of an all-out war planted between Quinn and Rachel. At the top of the episode, Rachel perches on set amid chaos as usual; Jay’s freaking out about some offensive football uniforms Chet ordered for the girls to wear on set that day, which is bad because a correspondent from Entertainment Weekly is on set all day. Coleman rolls up in his obnoxious Everlasting sports car. Chet’s got his newborn baby on set, much to Rachel and Quinn’s chagrin.
Madison, who’s becoming quite the adept producer more and more each week, gets stuck with the unfortunate task of telling Quinn her father’s dead. Rachel stops by to give her condolences and Quinn, in case you doubted she was a true gangster, calls Rachel out on stabbing her in the back and going to Gary without telling her. She tells Rachel she’s ungrateful and unstable and can’t hack it in the business without her. Thoroughly dissed and dismissed, Rachel leaves. Later, to make Quinn’s day worse, Chet stops by to offer his condolences — with his baby. Jay bursts in and tells Quinn and Chet that Rachel and Coleman are acting shady with Darius.
Quinn, hungry for anything else to occupy her mind with, gets to the bottom of it quickly. She proposes to Chet that they make Darius’ injury the main event of the week; and if the ratings tank, they can still blame the injury on Coleman, which could cost him his seat. Quinn and Chet agree to get Darius on the field in the Powderpuff Football game and take him down. Out on the field, Chet pulls the Powderpuffs aside and urges them to take Darius down. A desperate bachelorette tackles him and Darius goes down, hard, and isn’t getting back up. Quinn watches this destruction from the control room, pleased. Later, Coleman and Rachel have a standoff with Quinn, which ends in near-bloodshed as Quinn tears Coleman limb from limb with Rachel watching mutely. Later, Quinn sets the girls up to frame Darius’ ambulance exit with a cascade of tears; this plan is foiled when Darius gets an epidural and continues shooting. Quinn’s determined to use the ambulance anyway and when one of the girls throws up on Darius’ shoes, drunk, Quinn insists she go out on a stretcher. Chet, impressed by how Quinn handled herself in this situation, declares his love for her once more. Quinn looks like she’s about to fall for it again until cops roll up and arrest Chet for stealing his own kid. Quinn sees Rachel in the control room and tells her she’s done with her. Madison intercepts them with a phone call inquiring about Quinn’s father’s personal effects. She takes the phone and orders everything burned to the ground.
Rachel sneaks a sports doctor in to see Darius. Romeo freaks out when he realizes Rachel knows about Darius’ injury. She stalls while Jay, who’s on set with the girls who are all suited up to play Powderpuff football, demands Darius on set. Darius is in a lot of pain. Apparently it’s surgery time. They can’t hide the injury any longer. Rachel realizes this is why Darius agreed to do Everlasting — it wasn’t just about the “bitch, please” publicity mishap. Romeo wants to take Darius away and leave the show immediately. Rachel uses the presence of the Entertainment Weekly reporter to leverage with them and they agree to stay until that night. Rachel tries to hide what’s going on from Coleman, but he can tell something’s amiss. Rachel tells him what’s up and he volunteers to call a friend in sports medicine for a second opinion. She pulls pro football heiress Tiffany out of the game and puts her in a commentator position alongside Darius. Rachel tries to bargain with Romeo to get Darius to stay longer, but he’ll hear none of it.
Later, Rachel tells Darius that Quinn’s threatening to use footage of him getting hurt and exposing him to the press, saying he’s been lying to his team. Rachel gets Darius to agree to get an epidural to continue shooting, even though doctors are saying if he doesn’t get surgery soon he could risk spending his life in a wheelchair. She convinces him that if he finishes out the season he’ll lock in endorsement deals out the ass, and Darius agrees. After he appears on set, Romeo confronts Darius and Darius tells Romeo about getting the shot. Romeo’s furious and worried about his friend. Darius fires him. Romeo blames Rachel and lays into her before storming off set. It’s important to note here that Darius and Romeo’s relationship is a mirror image of Rachel and Quinn’s relationship. Though inherently exploitative, Romeo and Darius love each other like family and deep down Romeo does really have Darius’ best interests at heart — and this is exactly how Quinn feels about Rachel in her own messed-up way. And Rachel, in this episode, destroys both these relationships in one fell swoop with her bloodthirsty quest for power.
After eliminations, Yael, aka Hot Rachel, finds Jeremy after shooting is over and hits on Jeremy pretty hard. She propositions him fairly directly to have sex in the truck. Ruby comes to visit Darius and they talk. She seems the most in-tune with his grief over losing his relationship with Romeo. They talk more and start making out. As they get down to business, we see Jay hiding in the bushes with a cameraman, filming the whole thing. Rachel and Coleman crack open a beer in the driveway before deciding to go home together.
“I’d put a pillow over its face right now. Still young enough to claim SIDS.”
“It’s as if Taylor Swift asked you to be a part of her Girl Squad… and then changed her mind.”
“I’m done with all the garbage people in my life.”
Something I loved about this episode was the reveal of Darius’ injury. It made sense that there was a deeper reason behind his appearance on the show than the “bitch, please” scandal, and this twist immediately raised the stakes for both Darius and our motley crew of producers. Aside from that reveal, however, this week’s episode of UnREAL felt monotonous and somewhat disappointing. It’s never easy or pleasant to watch a friendship disintegrate on camera, but something about the death of Quinn and Rachel this season feels especially heavy and sad. Rachel’s also quickly becoming less and less likable. I legit hate her and Coleman, you guys. Their romantic entanglement makes Rachel seem opportunistic, power-hungry, and disloyal, which would be fine except she’s supposed to be our Main Character and something about her should be likable or redeemable. Especially since everyone else is such an asshole too. The two most digestible characters, Madison and Jay, both lost credibility in this episode: Madison reminded us of that unfortunate moment last season when Quinn walked in on her giving Chet a blowjob, and Jay makes his play for power at the end using Ruby as his pawn.
It seems as though the big climax or showdown of the season that we’re building up to is between Quinn and Rachel, which is disappointing on many levels. While I’m down for any opportunity that gives Constance Zimmer more razor-sharp dialogue, I’d so much rather see Quinn and Rachel team up to take Coleman and his douchebaggy little sports car down, and I feel like most of the show’s audience would agree. Pitting Rachel and Quinn against one another feels like such an easy solution for a show that’s never settled for the easy solution once. I hope I’m wrong, and that Rachel will see the err of her ways and kick Coleman to the curb, but with the way Rachel and Quinn went to their corners and squared off this week, I’m doubtful. We’ll have to wait and see.
Season 2, Episode 4 (S02E04)
UnReal airs Mondays at 10PM on Lifetime
Ellen is a writer mostly because she can’t be a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Ellen Duffy | Contributor