Written by Matt Taylor
Full disclosure: I’ve never seen an episode of The Bachelor. So, when it comes to deciding how realistic each episode of UnREAL is, I have to use my (very minimal) knowledge of the reality juggernaut from which it draws inspiration. And, well, this week’s episode of UnREAL seemed awfully unrealistic. Entertaining, yes, and as smart as we’ve come to expect, but I definitely had trouble believing some of the plot developments.
Titled “Guerilla”, this week’s episode found Chet forcing the girls to compete in an obstacle course to win the first solo date with Darius. The contest quickly goes awry, however, when one contestant, Brandi, injures another contestant, Chantal, giving her a concussion. This development allows Quinn the chance to shine, as she mines Brandi’s past as an abused foster kid for drama. This subplot, while compelling and filled with the dark social commentary that UnREAL is known for, felt a bit too ridiculous. The obstacle course challenge felt entirely unrealistic, especially since Everlasting’s target audience would probably not be interested in what essentially feels like an athletic competition. Furthermore, Brandi was barely featured in the season thus far, so revealing her entire backstory in one episode was quite abrupt. While the subplot wasn’t a complete failure (watching Quinn do bad things is always fun), it definitely felt like one of the weaker stories.
But enough with the bad: this week’s episode did a remarkable job developing one of the most interesting contestants, Ruby. This week, we saw Ruby try her hardest to compete with the girls that are actually passionate about winning, even though she might not be as uninterested in the show as she initially let on. Denée Benton is easily the best addition to the cast this year, with her character’s moral conflict becoming both more apparent and compelling with each new scene. What’s great about Benton’s character, as well as her performance, is that she is so sympathetic that we want her to win; yet she’s also likable enough where we hope she rises about the competition. Of the new additions to the cast, I’m also interested in seeing what happens with Yael (a.k.a. Hot Rachel), who seems to be far more intelligent (and manipulative) than she is letting on.
The newest man on the show, however, might be the most cunning character. Wiz-kid producer Coleman, played by Michael Rady is a fascinating antagonist who appears to be a progressive, intelligent documentarian but actually cares more about his own personal success. In a way, he makes a perfect foil for Rachel: she frequently plays the “bad guy” in order to achieve what she believes to be the greater good, while Coleman would do anything to be liked, as long as he gets what he wants. The writers also made a great choice in having Rachel and Coleman hook up already: instead of drawing out the inevitable, the story progressed to its most likely conclusion. Now we can spend more time wondering about what comes next.
This was easily the weakest episode of UnREAL’s second season so far. But the second season has been so good that it’s hard to care. And, even in this “weak” episode, we still got to watch some fabulous character development and heard some terrific one liners (Quinn grabbing her crotch and yelling, “I’m so hard right now” is tailor made to be a gif). If the rest of the season stays at this level, it would still be pretty good. But, hopefully, they’ll go back to being great next week.
Overall rating: 7 out of 10