The Arrangement recap: 'The Betrayal'
Megan cries a single tear and gets caught up in Charlotte's web
Let’s jump right in with a couple of headlines about this week’s episode. First, it was scary as hell. Second, it was deeply confusing – like, House of Cards-level confusing. And finally, I noticed something in the credits that really threw me for a loop: The actor who plays Zach, Kyle’s presumably gay assistant, is literally named “Kyle Toy.” WHAT?! This is unrelated to my recap of course, but it was too good/too insane not to share up top. Moving on!
After last week’s break-in, a security expert named Quinn installs a new system at Kyle’s house. Megan is a little nervous about it; she doesn’t want cameras in the house. The last thing she needs is a sex tape. Granted, a sex tape can do wonders for your career in the Kardashians’ America, but Megan isn’t an aspiring reality star; she’s a real-ass actress! And she’s already been burnt by a public slut-shaming scandal with the whole nude-photo-leak thing.
Kyle agrees not to do interior cameras, but Quinn thinks it’s the wrong decision. How many stalkers has he had? Kyle thinks: “…Three? Ish?” Quinn says he needs to step up security and hands him a gun. Actually, she opens a small briefcase, pulls the gun out, loads it, and hands it to him. (What’s that old Chekhov rule? If you show a gun on stage, it’s gotta be used by the end of the play? Not to brag, but I did theater in college. Before switching majors to TV recapping, of course!)
The disconnect between Terence and Deann is growing; he won’t tell her why he’s estranged from Kyle, and she’s not telling him about her affair with dominatrix/screenwriter Annika. Terence is preoccupied with revamping the Institute’s public image. He’s confident that Kyle will come crawling back, but for now, enough with the celebrity angle. He wants to be taken seriously.
And so does Megan, who’s shooting a guest star role on a TV procedural drama with her childhood idol, Charlotte Banks. She kicks off her day in the makeup trailer alongside Charlotte, and when Megan plops down in her chair, she tries to bond with her leading lady by… quoting Pinocchio? “Hi diddle dee dee,” says Megan. Charlotte is silent. This moment made me feel very, very weird.
Megan also feels weird (have you noticed how good my segues are getting?!) when she receives new pages for the scene they’re about to shoot, completely rewritten by the showrunner, Patrick. Charlotte thinks this is a bunch of bullcrap: “You think he’d try this s— with Jeff Daniels?! He’d get his ass handed to him!” (This really shook me: Is Jeff Daniels a mean guy? He seems like a nice guy! This is a show about fictional celebrities, so it’s unsettling when they suddenly mention real ones. I’m fine, guys; I just got disoriented. Let’s keep going.)
To help her remember the dialogue changes, Patrick gently asks Megan if she’d like to use cue cards or a conspicuous earpiece. That’s when Charlotte steps in and says, “Okay guys, slow down! Everybody take a breath!” (But everyone was already speaking slowly and breathing, from what I could tell. What’s happening?!)
Charlotte tells Megan not to accept cue cards or earpieces; it will damage her reputation as an actress, and she should just trust that she’ll get the lines. She presents this solution as a real ladies-supporting-ladies act of solidarity.
They shoot the scene, and Charlotte was right. Megan nails it, even crying a single tear on camera. (Between this performance by Megan and Lisa Rinna’s recent turn on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reunion show, it’s been a great week for single-tear moments on TV.)
Megan thanks Charlotte for looking out for her, and Charlotte says the belated actress “Shirley Tate” (back to fake celebrity names here) did the same thing for her. Megan loved Shirley Tate, referring to her as “the original take-no-s— gangster.”
There’s a big back-and-forth conflict this week between Kyle and Deann, and honestly, I could not make heads or tails of it. It’s something about losing the rights to the movie Kyle wanted to direct, and it’s kind of Deann’s fault because she missed an important meeting with the rights owner when she was doing dominatrix stuff with Annika. When Deann breaks this news to Kyle, she warns him to “take a breath.” (This “take a breath” thing is the weirdest low-key thematic runner I’ve ever seen, and I love it!)
But this snafu is also the studio guy Adam’s fault, because he lost the rights to Jeremy Renner. (Kyle: “If you tell me it’s Jeremy Renner, I’m gonna lose my s—. Son of a bitch!”) (Now we’re referencing a real-life celebrity; I have whiplash.) Oh, and when Kyle roars in on his motorcycle to confront Adam about dropping the ball, guess what Adam tells him to do? “Take a breath.” (What in Jeff Daniels’ name is happening here?!)
Kyle asks Megan to move in with him, and she freaks out. (Really? You signed an actual marriage contract with this guy, but you’re not sure you’re ready to cohabitate?) But Kyle loves her, he’s ready for this, and he’s worried about this stalker thing. So Megan agrees.
Cut to a fun packing-up-the-old-place sequence with Megan, Shaun, and Hope, reminiscent of the Sex and the City movie when Carrie decides to move in with Big, and the girls gather for a closet-fashion-show montage. (For the record, Megan is a Carrie, Shaun is a Miranda, Hope is a Samantha, and I am a classic Charlotte-who-thinks-she’s-a-Carrie. I’m not proud of this.)
The fun comes to a screeching halt when the secrets start to come out. First of all, Shaun has been getting deeply involved with IHM behind Megan’s back, even going so far as to provide Terence with legal advice. (And if we’ve learned one thing from the iconic Leah Remini A&E series, it’s that these cults be lawyered up.) But even worse, Hope finally confesses to leaking Megan’s nude photos to the press. She begs for forgiveness, but Megan tearfully tells Hope that their friendship is over.
Alone at home, apparently brooding about the whereabouts of those three-ish stalkers, Kyle is feeling pretty jumpy. First he gets startled by Kyle Toy. And then later, he has an elaborate nightmare about Terence burning his own hand on a waffle iron. And then — in a genuinely scary scene — Kyle wakes up to the sound of his new alarm system going off. He grabs his gun (here we go!), creeps through the house, and finds… Megan, fumbling with the keypad (and weirdly dressed like a burglar in all-black loungewear with the hood up). Kyle takes Megan to bed, hiding his gun in the nook of his rock-formation wall. And the next morning, he gives it back to Quinn, telling her he won’t be needing it anymore. (Sorry Chekhov, guess we’re gonna have to wait ’til the finale, girl!)
Deann drops by Annika’s to give her a check for $100K to buy her screenplay, also suggesting a new nom de plume: Ann Torren. (I’m not sure “Ann Torren” screams star power, but then again, I’ve got the nerve to go around town calling myself “Matt McConkey.” What’s in a name, anyway?)
Next, Deann visits Megan on set to give her a copy of that script, in hopes that she’ll convince Kyle to direct it. It’s called Technicolor Highway, and Deann describes it as “a smart, completely fresh take on Southern California Gothic.” (Say what? Don’t get me wrong; I’d love to see it. But is that a genre?)
But before Megan manages to read that script, she gets even more new pages in her script at work. She skims them, and sees a familiar phrase: “the original take-no-s— gangster.” WTF? She bangs on Charlotte’s trailer door demanding an explanation. And here’s where it gets a little murky for me this week…
So, apparently, Charlotte is indeed the one behind these last-minute rewrites. She’s also an executive producer on the show, so she’s been demanding rewrites, then blaming the showrunner, and convincing Megan not to use cue cards or earpieces… because she’s got to protect herself? It’s unclear if Charlotte wanted to make her guest star look bad in order to make herself look better (because that’s totally not what happened), or if she just wanted to teach Megan some kind of lesson, or if she’s just bats— crazy. Whatever it is, Megan is pissed, Charlotte is pissed, and I am… stumped. This won’t come as a surprise if you’ve been reading these recaps, but I’m no intellectual. So I’m probably alone here — but I couldn’t follow this one for the life of me.
That did not, however, diminish my absolute enjoyment of this episode. When Megan comes home to tell Kyle she’s found the perfect script — Technicolor Highway — we pan out to reveal that Kyle has installed interior cameras after all. But the big shocker is what follows, when we’re shown the current security footage outside Kyle’s house: There’s a man in the bushes. Let me repeat that: THERE’S A MAN IN THE BUSHES. It’s chilling. It’s awesome. And it’s the second time this show has made me scream out loud. Here’s hoping it’s not the last!