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Two Takes: UnREAL “Guerilla” 

Two Takes: UnREAL “Guerilla”
Photo Credit: James Dittiger/Lifetime
Photo Credit: James Dittiger/LIfetime
Photo Credit: James Dittiger/Lifetime

One of the things both Rachel and Quinn specialize in on Lifetime’s UnREAL: head games. They know how to manipulate. They know how to position the girls against each other. They know how to make sure everybody before them bends to their wills including the Suitor, the behind-the-scenes crew, and each other.

We’ve already seen them in action this season. But it’s nothing like what they did in “Guerilla.” The main targets: Brandi (Monique Ganderton) and Chantal (Meagan Tandy). They especially do a number on Brandi. It’s a tag team operation that’s both effective and really freakin’ scary. If they can’t use the tools at their disposal they bring in some outside help — in this case, it’s in the form of the damaged girl’s “biological mother.”

And we can’t forget that Chet and Quinn are still vying for control despite the fact that Coleman’s holding on to the reins. It erupted in a Coleman vs. Quinn convo at the beginning of the episode. By the end of the hour, it’s clear he’s not on Quinn or Chet’s side. He’s on Rachel’s side. And she’s going to need him. Big time.

Photo Credit: James Dittiger/Lifetime
Photo Credit: James Dittiger/Lifetime

Tina: Cortney, Cortney, Cortney!! When I finished this episode all I could think was that 1. This show is INSANE. 2. I’m glad these people are fictional characters. 3. I love this show SO MUCH.

By the way, I have a feeling, this may be our longest Two Takes ever. And we usually talk a lot. I don’t even know where to start, there was so much that went on in “Guerilla.” In my intro, I concentrate on Brandi. She’s the episode’s biggest victim. I think we should start with her. Rachel and Quinn? They ruin lives. They just do. I feel so bad for Brandi.

Cortney: Tina, Tina, Tina!! As you know, I watched this episode before you and by the end, I could hardly contain myself and was dying for you to watch ASAP! I’m so glad you see why! This episode was above and beyond as far as insanity — and that’s saying a lot.

Photo Credit: James Dittiger/Lifetime
Photo Credit: James Dittiger/Lifetime

I agree, I think Brandi is a fair place to start. I feel so bad for all of the girls and the manipulation they endure, but this one felt especially harsh. First, locking her up in solitary — not cool. It’s both seriously upsetting and also fascinating to watch as Quinn and Rachel “work her” and make her feel guilty for Chantal’s “near fatal injuries”. And what’s so crazy is that they don’t even need to discuss it, they just know how to pass the baton seamlessly.

But of course, that was only the beginning. What really got me was the fake mom — really?! It’s bad enough to bring up someone’s painful past, but then to make it look like she is lying after she opens up, yikes. I gotta say, watching Brandi attack Darius was rough (and did not bode well for her) but I don’t blame her for being PISSED. I would be, too! I mean, how do you say “I don’t know that woman” and get people to believe you?!

This poor woman was first portrayed as a villain and then as a crazy liar and now thanks to the magic of television, she will always be labeled as such. Her life is pretty much ruined. And all because she was “Quinn’d”. That being said, Quinn did start it, but the whole team (including Coleman) also applauded it, which kind of just made me sick….but I also couldn’t turn away. That’s what this show does to me! It’s like an amazingly brutal car crash — it’s horrifying and yet I can’t turn away! What did you think? And speaking of manipulation, how do you feel about Darius playing the women as well? I’ve got quite a few thoughts on this….

Tina: Before I get to Darius in this scenario, I want to bring something in that Coleman said.

Coleman: “The two of you together are terrifying.”

Yes, the Rachel and Quinn two-headed monster shtick is something that’s very terrifying to behold. Like I said earlier, they ruin lives. They used a contestant’s abusive past and turned it on her. You’re right. It was so difficult to watch. And then they branded her a liar. I don’t even have the words. Coleman couldn’t do anything but sit back in awe and horror. That line perfectly described these two smart and soulless women. Well, Quinn is soulless. Rachel turns it on and off when she needs to.

Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/Lifetime
Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/Lifetime

As for Darius, I think it’s fascinating to see the relationship Rachel has forged with this year’s Suitor. Obviously, it’s way different from the one she had with Adam. Darius knows what he needs to do. He needs to repair his reputation. He’s kissing the girls after helping get the moments that give Quinn a hard on (yes, I went there). He’s visiting them in the hospital (Poor Chantal). He’s listening to them reveal their ugly pasts (Poor Brandi).

He’s definitely joining in on the reindeer games. When he’s not feeling the situation, he turns to that. But I feel like there’s something genuine about him, too. I think he felt bad for Brandi. Until she jumped on his back and exacerbated the injury he’s been hiding from the world. Smartypants Rachel’s the only one who guesses what’s up. This is going to be a problem for him. Who knew being the Suitor is such a high-stress, highly physical job?

Cortney: Well, I think we’ve always known it’s not easy! I definitely don’t envy these guys. And while I am really liking Darius and LOVING the working relationship he is forming with Rachel, when he gives the camera “that look” while kissing Chantal or comforting Brandi, it just feels smarmy to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I get that he is in on the shtick and I’m fine with his faux charm (the bear! the balloon! the flowers!), but these girls are being open and genuine and think this is real so when he looks at the camera with that look, it kind of makes me shudder. I mean, doing it behind their back theoretically is fine, but doing it literally right behind their back, that’s just icky.

Tina: Such a good point. haha

Cortney: As far as the injury, I love that Rachel called this in advance! Him not participating in Chet’s “Miss Ameri-Ninja Warrior” competition was a clear sign, I mean, he is a pro athlete! It was well played-off as far as his body being insured (especially since Chet’s set-up was less than safe) but there was, obviously, more. So, not only does he have to rehab his image, but he also needs to find another way to garner sympathy and find fame now that his football career may be over. Clever clever. What did you think of his reaction to Ruby (Denée Benton) and that smokin’ red dress?

Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/Lifetime
Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/Lifetime

Tina: I think he’s into her. Right now, he’s more into her than anyone else, to be honest. Except maybe Tiffany the NFL owner’s daughter, who didn’t play much of a role in “Guerilla.” For her part, Ruby’s way into him, which is why she’s playing the dress-up game.

Ruby looked fabulous in that red dress, by the way. I hope she has a real shot with Darius, but I don’t want her to compromise too many of her principles. I know. Compromising principles is the name of the game on Everlasting. Jay’s trying to get her to soften up on her militant angle, but she has to be her. She couldn’t hold back and finally had a bit of a confrontation with Miss Confederate Bikini, Beth Ann (Lindsay Musil). It wasn’t quite the drama Quinn wanted but it was something.

Cortney: It was definitely something! She went OFF on Beth Ann! If she wants to make it to the end of this show, she is going to need to learn to control her temper!

Tina: It’s not enough that Quinn took the reins of the show back from Rachel. Now that Coleman is in place, she’s taking the reins of producing individual girls now, too. She always has to be in control in every situation, doesn’t she? She worked her dark magic. It was good enough for her to send Gary the Network Head a sizzle reel of what she engineered all by her lonesome.

Cortney, everyone behind the scenes needs to learn something: Do not go above anyone’s head thinking it’s going to work to your advantage. Because it will actually backfire spectacularly in your face.

Cortney: I have to admit, I both loved and hated watching Quinn producing the girls. Something about her is far more ruthless than Rachel, which again, is both fascinating and horrifying. I don’t think there is anything she won’t do.

And amen to your backfiring point! When Quinn found out about Rachel at the end, gaah! I mean, Rachel HAD to know it would happen eventually, but in typical Rachel fashion, she didn’t consider consequences before she acted. I am truly terrified for her. That being said, she does have the big boss man (Coleman) in her corner now and I am absolutely loving these two together! The chemistry is undeniable and they definitely challenge one another in a good way.

Photo Credit: James Dittiger/LIfetime
Photo Credit: James Dittiger/Lifetime

But even as an individual, Coleman is growing on me too. Not only is he aware that this show is “vapid” and the “lowest common denominator, ” he is also self deprecating (shout out to the trust fund jokes) and seems to genuinely respect Rachel. On top of that, this guy may not come off as cunning, but he knows how to play the game. He admitted to choosing Chet’s version of the show only to give him the rope he needed to hang himself, which earns him major props in my book. That being said, my favorite line was when he caught Rachel mid-panic-packing after Quinn found out the truth:

Coleman: You don’t need Quinn. Don’t you get that, I watched you work today, you were incredible. Chet and Quinn are dinosaurs, sure they can run this show, they can run Everlasting, but that’s all they can do. Between you and me, we can make shows that actually mean something, shows that people need.

He believes in her! I love that! He sees the potential she has and respects her desire to actually make something that matters (even if it is guised as trashy television). I have to say, he definitely started to win me over this episode. Until that last Gary moment, but we’ll discuss that later. How are you feeling about him?

Tina: I am enjoying Michael Rady on UnREAL immensely. I’m enjoying his rapport and chemistry with Shiri Appleby. I love that Coleman gave Chet enough rope to hang himself and let Quinn create her vision for the show. He’s a smart, smart guy. Like you said, he’s self-deprecating and self-aware enough that it impressed me.

The problem is, I’m wary of trusting anyone on this show. He’s growing on me for now. The con — for me at least — is he’s the network head’s boy as evidenced by Gary arriving on set complete with a new car for the person responsible for making such good TV — and more importantly, potentially higher rated material than last season’s suicide on TV. The car went to Coleman. Not Quinn.

I don’t trust a network head’s golden boy. He’s saying all the right things right now. But I can’t completely be on board yet. Just consider that my issue that I may have to deal with. haha

Meanwhile, Gary (I adore Christopher Cousins, the actor who plays him, by the way) is the one that lets Quinn know about Rachel’s betrayal. The look on her face said it all. It’s why Rachel knew she had to get out of town tout de suite. And it’s why Quinn didn’t get the car.

Cortney, when Gary told Quinn, “if you want the reins back, get control of your people,” I — no lie — hit pause on my screener. I got so scared for Rachel. I didn’t go back and press play for about five minutes. I had to work my courage up to watch the rest. To me, that’s a sign of a good show. One that scares the you-know-what out of you!

Cortney: Hahaha! I hear you! I was downright terrified as well! But to back up for one second, I love the symmetry that was created with the whole Gary-highlights-Coleman moment. Just last week, Rachel sat all high and mighty as Gary praised someone who had the power and experience to run this show and with a swift kick to the knees, she went down as he brought in Coleman.

Cut to this week, as Quinn is standing there, just as smug, waiting for all this praise to put her in the spotlight, only to have Coleman steal her place on the pedestal. Ouch. Like you said, Coleman is the network’s golden boy and Gary is a jerk and both of these women were reminded of that the hard way.

But back to Quinn and Rachel. That look on Quinn’s face — I can’t even. She will take down people who haven’t even done her wrong, so I can’t even imagine what she has in store for Rachel right now. However, I do know that whatever it is, it will make hell look like a paradise vacation. And if she thinks Rachel is cozying up to Coleman, well, that’ll just be the icing on the cake.

Tina: Yeah, Coleman and Rachel are going to want to keep their budding whatever you want to call it on the down low. Just saying. And I hope Quinn’s retaliation doesn’t have anything to do with Rachel’s mom.

Photo Credit: James Dittiger/Lifetime
Photo Credit: James Dittiger/Lifetime

There’s some other business we need to take care of. Did you see what’s going on with Chet? He (SHOCKINGLY) lost custody of his kid. I’m seriously kidding about that shockingly. The man is so out of control in his own life and since his return from “reclaiming” his manhood status, he’s continually been outgunned by women. Now it seems like he’s taken off with his baby. The guy always finds the worst way to handle a situation. Why doesn’t he just make himself a better man? Because that would be an “UnREAL” story arc for him?

Cortney: I hear you! And since when did he grow a heart and actually care about having a kid? This story seemed to totally come out of the blue for me as Chet never cared about anyone or anything except himself. Which makes me think there is more to this…I mean, he is being emasculated by Quinn, so is this how he proves himself?

Like you said, a typical Chet move with typical Chet logic. I don’t have much to say about this storyline yet because I can’t even begin to guess where it’ll go (and if I did, I’d probably be wrong since my brain doesn’t naturally venture in to crazy territory!) but I’m interested to see. Honestly, the idea of Chet raising a baby just makes me shudder, but like so many other things on this show, that’s also part of what keeps me hooked. The more unreal, the better — so keep it coming.

UnREAL airs Monday nights at 10/9c on Lifetime.

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