TV

UnREAL: Season 2, Episode 5 - "Infiltration"

J.M. Suarez

If "Treason" was about betrayal, this episode keeps the theme going while dealing with some long-simmering consequences.


UnREAL

Airtime: Mondays, 10pm
Cast: Shiri Appleby, Constance Zimmer, Craig Bierko, B.J. Britt, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Josh Kelly, Denee Benton, Monica Barbaro, Michael Rady, Elizabeth Whitmere, Ioan Gruffudd, Carl Lumbly
Subtitle: Season 2, Episode 5 - "Infiltration"
Network: Lifetime
Air date: 2016-07-04
Amazon
Coleman: She outgrew you. It happens. You had to know it eventually would.

Quinn: You know what? You can just get out of my control room.

Coleman: You're pulling all of this crap just to mess with Rachel. Be bigger than that. Trust me. You're gonna get your show back at the end of the season. I don't plan on putting roots down here.

Quinn: So you got big plans, do you?

John Booth [to Quinn]: Everyone here knows that you're the true creator of Everlasting and in a roomful of legends, you’re a legend.

Quinn: This is who you are, Rachel, and this is what we love to do.

"Infiltration" marks the halfway point in UnREAL's second season; it also marks a shift in Quinn (Constance Zimmer) and Rachel’s (Shiri Appleby) relationship, one that proves they're on their way back to being a team. If "Treason" was about betrayal, this episode keeps the theme going, but also deals with some long-simmering consequences.

Much of the initial action this episode revolves around the Impact Awards and who will attend to represent Everlasting. It's also a major opportunity to pitch to media mogul, John Booth (Ioan Gruffudd), and Coleman (Michael Rady), Rachel, and Quinn all have plans to win him over. That he immediately reveals himself to be a huge fan of the show is a surprise, but one that quickly works to Quinn’s advantage ("Well, well, it's true. You do fill a room."). She pulls out all the stops in offering him behind the scenes access ("Oh, we make it up. We make it happen."), and going all out to generate the biggest excitement of the season so far.

This week on Everlasting, America has "voted" for two women to vie for an overnight date with Darius (B.J. Britt) and Quinn has picked Yael (Monica Barbaro) and Dominique (Elizabeth Whitmere) for him to choose between. Darius ignores the two women and instead picks Ruby (Denee Benton), who he's genuinely bonding with. Never one to be underestimated when it comes to the show she knows better than anyone else, Quinn still manages to orchestrate plenty of drama. To Jay's (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) horror, she's installed more cameras in the overnight room, despite the fact that Darius and Ruby believe they're not currently being filmed. She's also flown in Ruby's disapproving, activist father, Dr. Carter (Carl Lumbly). It's a recipe for personal disaster for Ruby and excellent ratings for Quinn.

Even when Jay, Coleman, and Rachel try to stop the cameras from filming Dr. Carter walking in on Darius and Ruby, Quinn knows to appeal to Rachel. Here's a moment that perfectly encapsulates the understanding they share over the show, and how it always takes precedence. Rachel’s consistently talked about taking the moral high ground -- while Quinn's perfectly content to revel in all the show's behind the scenes manipulations -- but ultimately, she gives in to what she knows works for the show and its audience, although she may wish for things to be different. It's this level of connection between that two that Coleman can never hope to sever.

In a twist that could only be expertly planned by Quinn, Darius chooses to cut Ruby at the end, even though he’s shared more with her than he has with any of the other contestants. It solidifies all of Ruby's fears in agreeing to be on the show, but also it's a genuinely painful moment for her. She's proven her father right, embarrassed herself on national television, and had her heart broken. Ruby's a cautionary tale for the other women on the show, one that they'll surely all ignore.

Additionally, Jeremy's (Josh Kelly) increased anger over Rachel's betrayal last season, and his newly diminished role on the set of Everlasting, leads to a nasty confrontation. Jeremy's been acting out all season, and surprisingly, it's Chet (Craig Bierko) who brings everything to the fore and makes him admit he still has feelings for Rachel, angering him further. The fact that he sees Rachel, so soon after admitting his feelings, quickly leads to an escalation and Jeremy physically attacks her.

In the moment after Chet intervenes and fires Jeremy, Appleby communicates Rachel's resignation, her shutting down and internalizing, in one look. It's not only a reaction to Jeremy's attack; it's her tried and true coping mechanism. She pretends to be fine, all the while struggling internally. How this attack will play out emotionally for Rachel in the remainder of the season is unknown, but it's sure to have a lasting effect.

"Infiltration" brings Quinn and Rachel back together again, even if their relationship is still on somewhat shaky ground. It also shows Coleman that, despite whatever Rachel may say, or what plans they may have, her loyalty to Quinn isn't easy to break. UnREAL continues to delight in the uncomfortable; it understands that complications and messiness make for intriguing, if questionable characters, and like its characters, it does so with intelligence and wit.

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