UnREAL premiere recap: War
The ends justify the means.
This is the philosophy our new and Helmut-Lang-jacket-wearing improved Rachel Goldberg is living by when UnREAL season 2 kicks off. All the questionable things she despised Quinn for doing in Adam’s season of Everlasting, she’s doing herself because she’s running the show now.
“Love is not something you build a life around,” Quinn told her protégé in the season finale. (You can read a refresher recap here if you don’t remember that explosive episode.) And it seems both ladies are taking it to heart: Their new life credos are “Money. Dick. Power.” — which they each get tattooed on their wrists like BFF necklaces.
The besties jump on a private flight to Vegas, where they let loose with a hotel penthouse full of people, including Brad from the network. Quinn and Rachel have a surprise for Brad: a black suitor. And not just any black suitor. The women have secured pro quarterback Darius Beck (B.J. Britt) for the upcoming season of Everlasting. Brad is ecstatic (“You just made my dick hard”), but the next morning when they call Gary, the network president, he’s less than enthused.
Rachel can’t let this derail her plans; this isn’t just a chance at running her own show, this is her chance to “make history” — as she says many, many times. Her sole focus is making this season of Everlasting happen. Luckily, Quinn has her back, and she promises Gary they’ll have the best women possible (a racist, a black activist, a clergy, a terrorist… all “hot,” naturally), which will lead to millions of viewers.
Gary agrees to the show under the terms of acquiring those “looney tunes,” so Rachel has to go and find these women, even though the show is kicking off in a few days, and even though these women have no desire in joining. Rachel has to lie, lie, lie her way into creating “a ratings bonanza” so that she can change the world. The ends justify the means, right?
And they aren’t just lying to the women. When Darius and his manager Romeo (whom Rachel celebrated with a bit … intimately) pull up to the house, they’re still not fully on board. Darius wants to be in Cabo relaxing during the off-season, not living in a mansion under constant surveillance. But Rachel uses the same trick she used with Adam: The show will help his image. Darius currently has a bad rap for calling a reporter a “bitch” on camera. Well, he actually said “bitch, please,” but it made America — and his mom — unhappy in any case. Rachel’s magic works, and Darius agrees to move in.
Rachel may be able to handle suitors, but she’s failing at handling the men in her personal life. She keeps dodging Adam’s calls, and Wagerstein tells her Jeremy is telling everyone that Rachel’s on a “hypersexual manic episode.” He learned that phrase from her mom, who is still the worst it seems. Rachel tries to confront him directly about it. New Jeremy, with a gross beard, has replaced the only decent person we knew last season. He makes a weird comment about being happy that Rachel is going to hurt herself, and I want her to fire his ass so hard, but she has to be professional now.
Later, when he asks about “the cut list” (a list of women who won’t make it through the first night, which the camera guys use to know whom they can sleep with), she gets closer to my dream of firing him, but Quinn says it’s a sexual lawsuit waiting to happen. Instead Rachel goes to the camera crew and fires his focus guy instead. “Turns out being a sexist man-baby on my set has consequences.” They call her a bitch as she walks away, but she just smiles and keeps walking.
She’s taking lessons on being professional from Quinn, which Jay does not love. He failed to recruit Ruby, the young black activist, because she would have had to drop out of her last semester of college — which Rachel doesn’t see as a road bump in any way. After Jay calls her Hitler and compares her to a battered wife (Quinn’s the husband in that scenario), Rachel goes to the college to recruit Ruby herself.
NEXT: Just say no, Ruby
Ruby has seen The Bachelor Everlasting, though, and doesn’t want to be the token black girl who doesn’t even get to stick around for long. But Rachel lets her in on the season’s secret weapon and then quotes Teen Mom and The Real World for lowering birth rates and starting the gay rights movement, respectively. She is championing reality as a way for change in the world — and it’s unclear if she’s selling herself or Ruby on this more. But once Rach guarantees Ruby will be in the final 2, the activist agrees to join … and thereby drop out of college.
With her cast secured now, Quinn has nothing to worry about. Just kidding — what show did you think you were watching? Chet enters and says he’s going to take over. Not only did he lose 50 pounds thanks to a PALEOLITHIC LIFESTYLE RETREAT in Patagonia (seriously, wtf is that?), he also learned the ways of nature: That men should be in charge. Everlasting is his kingdom, so he needs to take it back to reset the order of things. I seethe with rage while Quinn just rolls her eyes. She doesn’t take him seriously, but she most definitely should because he got Brad fired and is now stealing her suitor.
Rachel is too busy coaxing stories out of the women for promo footage to notice, which is difficult when the only producers are Jay and Madison. And for someone who received her promotion thanks to a blowjob, Madison is awfully timid. Rachel wants her to dig deep with Chantal, a Type A control freak whose fiancé died in a car accident recently. Rachel needs her to say something on camera that will sell this season.
As Madison tries to coax information out of Chantal (played by Meagan Tandy), Rachel is squirming in the control room. She wants to go out there and take over, but Quinn says “teach a woman to make another woman cry, feed her for a lifetime”… or something like that. So instead, Rachel talks Madison through it with an earpiece. With lots and lots of pushing from Rachel, Madison sobs and asks Chantal questions about her dead fiancé. Chantal is crying herself, but finally Madison goes in for the kill and gets her to say, “I will love again or die trying” before she flees the interview.
Jeremy turns the camera to Madison, who is actually vomiting now, to publicly shame Rachel. Jay and Wagerstein are looking shocked at each other in the control room, but I’m sorry— what show were they on last season!? This manipulation is nothing new. They all know Rachel gets a kick out of it, and apparently so does Madison, who finishes throwing up and then yells, “That was amazing!”
With promo shots set, all that’s left is to start filming the premiere. Typically the women arrive in limos, but because the suitor is “a national hero” according to host Graham, he’s the one to make a grand entrance. All the season 14 ladies are excited to see who steps out of the limo, but no one does. Instead, a phone on the seat starts ringing, and when Quinn answers it, Chet tells her if she wants her suitor, she has to go through him.
Quinn and Rachel pause taping and rush to Chet’s house, where there’s a giant party with the suitor and Gary from the network. Quinn and Chet play chicken for a bit: He has the suitor; she has the women. Romeo (played by Gentry White) says Gary and Chet offered them better accommodations, use of their cell phones, and a three-year pay-or-play sports-casting deal.
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Chet wants control of the show, and he’s willing to go to extreme measures to exert power over Quinn; he wants the premiere to be filmed at his house with the women in bikinis, but Quinn compromises. They’ll do it at the mansion, but with the women in swimsuits. The battle may be over for now — but the war is just beginning. However, this means Quinn is going to have to take over for Rachel until Chet is “dead forever.” And while Rachel has been okay with anything and everything in order to “change the world” with this season of Everlasting, when it comes to her losing her status to get there, suddenly she’s not so sure.
Money. Dick. Power?
Well, we’re back. What are y’all expecting from Everlasting season 14 and UnREAL season 2? Share your thoughts below or find me on Twitter @realdalener.