Columns / Recaps

Two Takes: UnREAL “Transference”

Photo Credit: Lifetime

With almost three seasons under our belt, UnReal fans should know that when things seem too good to be true, it’s usually because they are. The drama on this show never stops and every lull only sets the characters up for a bigger fall. And this week was no exception.

Flying high after rescuing her dad from her mom’s lithium-ladeled grasp, Rachel quickly saw her dream life and Everlasting escape plan fizzle out as reality came crashing down. But she wasn’t the only one to find drama knocking at their door.

Jay’s dalliance with drugs (and Alexi) took a steep downward curve, while Quinn and Chet made up some onscreen drama of their own to ensure this week’s episode wasn’t a snooze. There’s so much to discuss that we better jump right in to it.

Cortney: Tina, the obvious place to start this week is with Rachel. We both anticipated that her plan to “play doctor” and be her dad’s caretaker as he came off lithium was not a good idea and, unfortunately, we were right. As soon as she told Doctor Simon that her dad is “the best he’s been in years,” I knew something bad was coming. However, true to form, I think it went deeper than either of us expected.

Not only did he expose Rachel’s history to the whole cast and crew, but his necessary admittance to a facility robbed Rachel of the opportunity to buy a cabin and escape this life that is so detrimental to her own health.

I know Rachel doesn’t always make the best decisions, but she does try and she has a big heart when it comes to those she loves….so is it wrong that I really do feel bad for her? Sometimes I feel like she just can’t catch a break.

Tina: No matter what she does I will always feel bad for her. We know her history. Rachel’s a fully drawn, fully fleshed out character. Even when she’s as stubborn as a mule when it comes to her dad, and even though she refused to see how her way might be detrimental to her father, when everything falls apart, I feel bad for her.

Having said that, I know she loves her dad. I know she feels responsible for him. I know that maybe she feels it took too long for her to save him from her mother. But I don’t see how she thought it was a good idea to have him go off the lithium while living on the Everlasting set. The grip truck is no place for him!

I don’t know how she ever thought she could be in charge of weaning him off the drugs. She gets in her own way so much she can’t see the forest through the trees. Is that the expression? I may have gotten that expression wrong. Sue me.

On the positive side, she had people looking out for her in “Transference.” Now that everyone knows her dad is on the set, she had Jeremy stepping in to help find her father who wandered off. She had Dr. Simon who knew Asa needed more help than what he was currently being given. And even though he knew it would piss Rachel off, he tried to have a talk with her dad anyway.

And then there’s Quinn. She gave Rachel some really great advice. As much of a hurricane of destruction that that woman is, she does totally get Rachel. Every once in a while she sounds like she has this girl’s best interest at heart. Especially when she says stuff like this:

I know you think if you fix him you will somehow fix himself but that’s not how it works.

Cortney, with this episode, I have officially become hooked on UnREAL again. Maybe not quite at the season one level, but I’m hooked.

Cortney: While I’ve enjoyed a handful of episodes to this point, I have to agree, this one really went above and beyond. And I’m so glad you brought up that Quinn comment — it was next on my list. Initially Quinn was none too pleased to have a “bring your dad to work” day because Rachel had a date to produce and she didn’t want her distracted, which is more relevant than she even realized given that it took Asa all of two minutes to wander off and give Serena quite a fright in the shower.

However, after being the target of Asa’s protective papa outburst (which we’ll discuss more in a minute), Quinn knew this was more than just a friendly visit from dear old dad. She went from work-focused boss to what appeared to be a concerned friend — even putting Chet in his place for recording the outburst on his phone. I actually liked seeing Quinn support Rachel, even if it did involve a little tough love.

As far as Asa’s outburst, while his delivery was obviously not ideal, what he said wasn’t all wrong. After learning the truth from Simon about Rachel’s past and what Everlasting has done to her, he made a beeline for Quinn and delivered this message.

Asa: What are you doing to her? You’re hurting her, you know that? And you have to stop it. I will not let you poison my little girl. She has more guts and more talent than any of you and you are RUINING her.

Like I said, he isn’t wrong. But when you stomp on to a set ranting and raving, no one is going to take you seriously. However, I want to circle back to something you said earlier about Rachel needing to care for her dad because she felt guilty for not saving him from her mom sooner — I think that street goes both ways and it’s clear that’s what pushed Asa to take such action as well.

He let Rachel down when he didn’t speak up against her mother and the abuser. They are both trying to right past wrongs and it’s sad to see both of these people, who clearly have big hearts and love each other very much, were so manipulated by the same woman that they couldn’t even protect themselves, let alone one another. To watch these two together and see the care and love they have for one another is really powerful.

But, like you said, in this episode, Asa and Quinn weren’t the only ones to express concern for Rachel, especially after the outburst. Serena, formerly frustrated by Rachel’s antics and her father’s presence, clearly felt bad and verbalized her support.

While Jeremy, who was willing to help from the beginning, really stepped up and put people in their place once the snickering began and even went to check on Rachel later, only to be put in his place by an equally concerned Quinn.

Tina, like you said, this kind of support is rare for Rachel, but I really enjoyed seeing it. However, unfortunately, it doesn’t fix the fact that her bank account is now empty and her escape plan is now kaput.

Tina: I guess Rachel won’t be moving out of the grip truck anytime soon. And as an aside, I wonder if there’s anyone who works (or has worked) on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette who makes — or made — their home in the grip truck. If so, that’s crazy to me. I want Rachel to find herself an actual place to live. But as it stands right now, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

Back to Jeremy for a sec. This is the first episode in a long time that I was feeling good about him. I also felt good about Quinn calling his girlfriend Charlie “Peppermint Patty.”

Cortney: Agreed! On both fronts! This felt more like “old” Jeremy. And I have to say that Peppermint Patty got some “way to be mature” points with me by telling Jeremy to go check on Rachel rather than being angry or jealous that he was defending her.

Tina: What I’m noticing is that a lot of these UnREAL characters often have to remind themselves that everything’s not all about them. A little earlier you mentioned Serena. I don’t blame her for forgetting there’s a whole world of people feeling the feels outside her bubble. After all, this whole season of Everlasting revolves around her. But it’s nice to see the clarity happen when she eventually expressed concern for Rachel and what she’s going through. Although it felt like Rachel had her walls up with Serena.

What was truly wonderful is we did get to see flashes of vulnerable Rachel. Two moments were the most powerful to me: 1) After she realized her dad wasn’t okay and he was sitting down and she went over and laid beside/on him. I don’t know. That moment really hit me. 2) Then there’s the scene where she dropped her dad off at the facility. She walks outside and she’s on the phone with her realtor telling him she no longer has the money for her dream cabin, even though the couple that owns the place were willing to sell to her. After she ends the call, she walks over to Dr. Simon and she just hugs him. She clearly needed comfort and this is where she was getting it from. It took him a second, but Simon eventually hugged her back.

Did these two moments affect you as much as they affected me? Are you reading anything into the Rachel/Dr. Simon comfort hug?

Cortney: Both of those moments were definitely powerful and I like seeing vulnerable, but not off the rails, Rachel. Usually when she spirals, all hell breaks loose. But there was something somber and resigned in these moments that made them feel really genuine and heartbreaking.

I don’t know that I read anything in to the Dr. Simon hug other than the fact that she’s finally letting her walls down and recognizing that she can’t do this alone. From the get-go, she’s rebuked Dr. Simon’s help, but now, she seems to recognize and accept that she needs it. I think that’s a big step for her.

One other thing I wanted to explore before we jump to another topic — do you think that her dad’s current issues are more than just lithium withdrawal? Could the mother have been right to some extent? Albeit, poorly treated and maybe for the wrong reasons? After all, lithium is often used to treat bipolar disorder, which tends to have a genetic component and seems very in line with Rachel’s behaviors. I only ask because taking on her father’s withdrawal was one thing, but taking on whatever the lithium may potentially have been treating is a whole other can of worms.

Anything else you want to say about Rachel before we move on?

Tina: I wouldn’t even be able to begin to answer your question about whether there’s more to Asa than being manipulated with drugs. I think there’s a good chance, in which case at least he’s in a hospital where they can help him through these withdrawals and figure out if there’s any lasting damage from this long-term use of a drug that he may or may not have needed to be taking. I feel so bad for Asa and Rachel.

As for anything else in this episode, there’s still a lot to talk about even though I was mainly interested in Rachel. Let’s see. We can always tackle Jay, who unfortunately, disappointed me once again. But even though we did see him experience a break-up with his BF and do a line of coke with Alexi, I’m so happy he has a storyline. So I’ll take anything they want to dish out that features him.

I just wish I was feeling more when it comes to his story. I didn’t care that his boyfriend was upset and decided to go back home…his real home. I’m with Jay. The fact that he kept coming to set with food was weird. And I’m not feeling much of anything between Alexi and Jay either.

Although what’s going on between them isn’t about a connection. It’s about Jay needing Alexi to host his Passport for Dance (I put “for” on purpose since Alexi keeps calling the show that). And it’s about Jay being able to provide Alexi with extracurricular entertainment of the drug variety. And the occasional sexual act variety.

They’re using each other. I’m here waiting for the time it’s all going to blow up in Jay’s face. Pun intended.

Cortney: I have mixed feelings on this storyline as well. First and foremost, I hate seeing Jay spiral downward so hard and so fast. This isn’t who he is, which is just more proof of what this show does to people. Granted, it’s more Alexi, who is a total mess and an overall bad person, but still.

As far as Xavier, how is it that he always conveniently pops up at the most inconvenient times? That just feels so forced to me, especially since he’s a character we’d never seen or even heard of until five minutes ago. I get what they’re trying to do with him, provide another reason for Jay to spiral, but it’s just not working for me. There wasn’t enough foundation first and like you said, I’m not feeling it.

Inevitably, we know this is going to backfire in a bad way, which I’m not looking forward to. However, I do hope someone actually notices or cares. Jay at least deserves that. And I hope Alexi gets what he deserves as well, which is not anything good in my opinion.

Speaking of contestants, let’s touch on Jasper before we get to Brokeback Bachelor. In an attempt to win Serena over again after she (but not America) learned that he was there on a bet, he shelled out a pretty penny to build a heart-wall of roses, woo’ing her with the reassurance that he never would’ve taken the money.

Jasper: “This is what 400k looks like, The money I could’ve won. The money I never would’ve taken”

First of all, I’m going to call bullish*t here. This guy is so full of crap and such a charmer. I don’t believe he cares about Serena one bit — to him, it’s all about the win, which he made clear when Owen called him out in the gym. In his mind, that was “game on”. Nevertheless, he continued by telling Serena that the wall only cost $100K so he donated $100k to Planned Parenthood and a couple hundred to Girls Who Code. Honestly, talk about laying it on thick and trying to buy her affection.

I can’t even with this guy. The fact that Serena appeared to fall for it at first also had me seriously concerned, so when she said she’d think about, I was majorly relieved. Let’s hope she comes to her senses and sees through his act. Tina, what do you think? Am I being too cynical here?

Tina: I don’t know if this guy is sincere. I just don’t know. I feel like he’s a competitive person. He didn’t want to go out in such bitch fashion. And I think he’s enough of a charmer to know how to talk — and buy — his way out of things.

I loved that Serena didn’t quite fall for his act so quickly. She’s going to think it over first. That’s how I was hoping she’d react to this mea culpa of sorts. After watching what went down with Warren and Guy and how the show went into manipulation and “alternative facts” edit mode, I’m thinking this season of Everlasting might all come down to Jasper and Owen as the final two. Is that me not being cynical enough? What did you think about Warren and Guy?

Cortney: I agree and am glad you brought up Owen. He seemed like a front runner in the first episode and yet, we’ve hardly seen anything of him since, which feels odd to me. If they’re going to make him a final contender, we need to see more of him and more of his connection with Serena, which feels nonexistent at this point.

As far as Warren and Guy, I’m going to actually redirect and start by talking about Quinn and Chet. First off, I have to admit I was a bit shocked that Quinn so easily went to Chet for help in creating a good, drama-filled episode. Sure, the Serena-requested, Rachel-approved interviews were boring, but to go to Chet after all the stunts he’s pulled lately, I didn’t expect that. And let’s be honest, she’s never gone to Chet for help before, so why start now?

Nevertheless, these two are on the same page when it come to manipulating (or should I say “making up”) stories and knowing what it takes to pull it off. As far as Warren and Guy, we have literally seen NOTHING of these two suitors to this point (or maybe we have and they’re just so unmemorable that I don’t remember! Lol) so that in and of itself made it all feel a little out of left field to me.

But that being said, Quinn and Chet knew exactly what buttons to push in order to make things happen. After a casual limo ride with the Warren, where she questioned his sexuality, Quinn liquored him up and sent him in to crash Serena and Guy’s date. Honestly, this was beyond awkward…but so was the date so I don’t really feel like much was lost.

However, once Guy was primed, Chet and Quinn presented him with the video of his and Warren’s “romance,” saying he was likely going to be cut anyways and this video would not only give him a chance to make a name for himself, but if he approved, they just might be willing to invest in a restaurant for him as well.

Nevermind that he’s not gay — we all know the truth doesn’t matter when it comes to Everlasting. It’s all about the ratings and thanks to the resulting “squeeze that launched a thousand tweets” on his way out, Quinn and Chet got exactly what they wanted. And Guy didn’t fair so badly either. While I don’t love that he was forced to suggest something that was untrue, he did get a restaurant out of the deal, which is a pretty big deal and more than he probably could’ve hoped for if he’d been cut by Serena.

What did you think of Chet and Quinn’s scheme and Guy and Warren’s bromance, Tina?

Tina: I just want to say to Chet, “good luck on winning that Emmy.” I know he wants to leave a legacy to his kid, but he may be experiencing some unrealistic expectations here. Also Quinn tells Chet not to give up. That he needs to fight. Wonder if he’ll try to revise his custody situation with his ex.

This whole Warren/Guy showmance that really wasn’t, was an example of reality TV at its worst. The Brokeback storyline was completely manipulated at every turn, from drunk limo ride to crashing the date to the elimination round. How many times IRL when a contestant is eliminated, they complain about having a bad edit? I think Warren can maybe claim that. Not that there’s anything wrong with being in a gay relationship, that is.

I ended up feeling bad for under-the-radar Warren. He didn’t know what hit him. Hopefully he’s learned a lesson about being on reality TV. He threw a nice potshot to Quinn on his way out, but there’s really nothing he could do. The producers decided they needed to up the drama and they engineered a storyline that resulted in him going home.

You mentioned how you feel you barely saw him and then this whole concentrating on Warren and Guy stuff came out of left field. Well, that’s exactly what reality TV LOVES to do (and some scripted shows too). On competition shows, there are those contestants who fly under the radar, but as soon as you see them getting the bulk of the airtime of an episode, it’s usually a big clue that that person is getting eliminated.

I hate when that happens. If they had just told their story all along, then when that person is eliminated it’s more significant. The impact is greater. But if you barely remembered this person was on the show and then all of a sudden cameras are following his or her every move, get ready to say goodbye.

That’s why suddenly seeing a lot of Guy and Warren didn’t much matter to me. Because I knew we were finally up to these two and that they were most probably going home.

I think it was awful what they did to Warren because I don’t think he’s ready to face the social media universe. And I doubt his friendship with Guy will last in the real world. Actually, it probably ended once Guy turned to the cameras and announced he was opening a restaurant in Vegas. Soulless people, every single one of them.

UnREAL airs Mondays at 10/9c on Lifetime.

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