Is Rachel Goldberg the least predictable character in TV history? She always manages to surprise me with her behavior — just when you see yourself on her side, she throws you for that dreaded loop again. I swore I was going to see it coming this time! But once again, I didn’t.
I don’t necessarily mean that in a good way. UnREAL is entertaining twisty TV for sure, but when your main protagonist is so indecipherable, so cryptic, it makes you second-guess your own bearings. If there are no rules here, what’s the point? You need at least one person you can count on, someone to play the “straight man” (or woman!) to the messiness around them. That person, I thought, was Rachel. Turns out, she is not.
Rachel’s mother Olive checked her father out of the rehab center and took him home, leaving Rachel a message on her answering machine that Asa is “happy to be home” and back on back on his meds (a.k.a. the mind-numbing lithium). Rachel realizes that she has to cut them off once and for all — even if that means losing her father. Dr. Simon, maybe the only sane person left in our cast of characters, tries to put her at ease: “I understand how painful your father’s choice must be for you, but it’s his choice.” But she goes. She has to go.
Chet half-assedly tries to break into Quinn’s computer, trying to get the information Gary had asked for to help him screw her over. He doesn’t seem into it, though, trying “Quinn” for her password. (Her password, as it turns out, is something he knows … but it’s not “Quinn”.) Quinn is out for the day, convinced by Fiona to relax and take some time to herself. Isn’t she like a millionaire now? I guess she’s still new to this lifestyle, so she leans into it by putting Rachel in charge for the day. (Rachel, in turn, puts Madison in charge. She has to go talk to her mother.) Chet is unable to deal with Quinn’s absence, telling Madison to “set something up” to “explode” so that Quinn has to hurry back. He seemingly forgets about asking her to do that and just goes to find Quinn.
You get a sense that these two are meant to be, at least I do, and when Chet offers to fly Quinn to L.A. in his private jet, she accepts. She has something to show him, anyway — the house they designed together, mid-construction — but just for her now. “Screw Virginia Woolf and her drag little room,” she says. “This is a house, a palace, of my own.” She’s totally cool dying alone, she tells him, but we’re not sure if she means it. It all sounds good, and Chet praises her for it. Even if we know it’s not going to last.
The theme of Everlasting this week is history — both Serena’s and the remaining men’s pasts — and they’re digging into everyone’s social media for answers. Rachel says to Serena: “Trust me, until you deal with the past, you’re stuck.” Not too far from her own life, not too far at all.
Speaking of Rachel’s past, she heads back to her parents’ house to confront her mother. She has a new therapist, and she doesn’t need Olive’s manipulation in her life anymore. “Does this new therapist know what you were like as a child?” asks Olive. “Too much for me to handle … too clever, too pretty for your own good. You could talk anyone into anything.” What kind of mother is this? Blaming her 12-year-old for the sexual assault she experienced at the hands of an adult?! It’s this perspective that means Rachel won’t get anywhere with this approach, telling Olive she’s leaving and she’s not coming back. And when she walks out that door, she’s free. At least, that’s what she thinks.
On Everlasting, Serena reveals that her biggest baggage comes in the form of an ex named George — an ex she “was almost engaged to.” Because Rachel and Quinn are busy and Madison has the directive to “blow things up,” she (you guessed it!) calls George. He shows up to tell his side of the story, which involves Serena stalking him for weeks after they split. They were hooking up for a few weeks before she “went nuts,” he says, in front of all the guys. Yikes. Naturally, Quinn and Rachel arrive just as this shitshow is going down. Serena is breaking apart and they’re not happy. “You just destroyed Serena in front of the guys, that is not awesome,” Quinn says. It’s drama, all right, but the kind of drama that ruins Serena’s credibility and likability with the audience.
Now Quinn and Rachel have a lot of fixing to do. They build Serena up with a feminist pep talk that reads something like, “Screw George and every other man who wants us to be perfect princesses. Everyone is damaged. We are going to turn this around.” (Sound anything like the soul-searching that Quinn is doing on herself right now? It’s supposed to.)
But they also have to deal with the guys, who saw this entire thing with George go down. Rachel puts on her Fixer hat. If she’s good at anything, it’s her magic knack at manipulation — sound familiar? Rachel’s mom should have protected her as a kid, but that doesn’t mean her words don’t come flooding back as Rachel sits down with Jasper and fully breaks him apart. She figures out that the guy dated every single member of a wedding party once (shitty!), but then she pulls out the big guns: “You’re adopted, right?” He flinches. “Is that why you find or make a problem in every relationship? Because you’re trying to protect yourself.” She reads him thoroughly: He’s just a scared boy who never belonged anywhere. Nobody gets too close to him. Her cold tone and the cruel reading sound awfully familiar. What do you do when your own emotional scars are what you use to gain professional success?
Jay creates his own mini Everlasting for Alexi, a.k.a. lights and flowers in a truck. “I’m not gay,” Alexi scoffs to Jay, explaining that he was just trading sex for drugs. A vengeful Jay tells Serena that he found coke in Alexi’s room, and she cuts him. Just like that! How are Jay and Quinn going to convince him to go along with their dance show now? I have no idea.
Jasper got the Rachel treatment, Alexi got kicked off, Owen is M.I.A., and August goes to Serena’s room, saying he doesn’t care about George: “We do crazy things when we’re in love.” Just me, or do we not really trust this guy? Anyway, they hook up.
Rachel, still high from her newfound “freedom,” thanks Dr. Simon by kissing him. It doesn’t seem like she’s better at all, crossing every single boundary she tries to set up. He rebuffs her, but all she can do is give him a wicked smile. She goes to find Alexi and kisses him instead. That works and they hook up — as a heartbroken Jay watches from the control room, of course. On Everlasting, there are eyes everywhere. No one is to be trusted.