Things chug along in Inventing Anna episode three: Vivian starts making some real headway on her story; Before Times Anna starts making some real headway with her, uh, crime-committing; and we’re treated to some eye-popping sticker shock at Bergdorf Goodman. Overall, this episode narrows its scope in a way that I think works well from a dramatic, “we’re finished with the setup and ready to get the story moving” standpoint.
Vivian has a tense meeting with Anna at Riker’s. All Anna wants is (1) for Vivian to keep her promised visit times (and pregnancy is no excuse, she says, because some people have babies in fields); (2) to deny the depth of her relationship with Chase; and (3) for Vivian to bring her some luxurious underwear from Bergdorf because the panties in prison suck. Afterward, thanks to the usual inspo from her Scriberia crew, Vivian turns to Nora Radford for an interview.
Nora, who agrees to speak with Vivian only on background and with no recording device in sight, proves useful: She tells Vivian she didn’t really like Chase or Anna, but when we flashback to 2014 — just after the Ibiza trip and Anna and Chase’s fight with Val in Paris (the events of episode two) — it’s clear she’s fudging the truth a little. She was all in on Chase and his app, Wake, introducing him around town to investors. And while she first treated Anna like an assistant, she came around to her once Anna “let slip” that Chase and Wake were actually hard up for cash and struggling badly.
Why would Anna sabotage Chase’s bond with Nora and seamlessly ingratiate herself into that coveted mentee spot? Well, why does Anna do any of the things she does? That is ultimately still a mystery we’re unwinding throughout this series. But in this case, the answer is some mix of feeling burned by Chase and his keeping her in the dark re: Wake’s financial struggles, his own background, his trip to Berlin, and so on; her own ambition surrounding the Anna Delvey Foundation / social club she’s pressing full steam ahead with; and probably a little bit of anger at Nora’s repeated dismissal and errand-sending (though she also charges a ton of stuff on Nora’s credit cards in reaction to that last bit). Whatever her exact cocktail of reasons, Anna gets what she wants, and it’s kind of a thrill to see her really start to dig into her wily ways — now we can finally see what Vivian means when she admits to her Scriberia colleagues that she finds Anna a little bit fascinating. Back in the Before Times, Nora takes Anna under her wing for one brief moment in time, makes some key intros, and suddenly the bigwigs who turned Anna and ADF down left and right when she was first pitching them are practically lining up to get involved in her foundation.
Everyone in this episode is faking it ’til they make it, and it’s fun to watch it all play out. Nora is pretending she wasn’t taken in by Anna and Chase to protect her good name and reputation. Vivian takes control of her reporting and, in a bit of a gamble, plays the best card she’s got at the moment: convincing numerous folks (with multiple conflicting pieces of the Anna puzzle) that speaking with her for the article is the best shot they’ll have to get their side of the story out there. Chase is faking elements of his backstory and the potential imminent success of Wake in order to secure more funding. And Anna, well … Present Day Anna is adamant she and Chase were never working together and never helping each other, but in the Before Times, she pleads with him more than once about how he promised to help her with ADF. These two fakers may be cut from the same cloth, but Anna steps the game up a notch — as she says, if she’s a copy of Chase and his playbook, she’s “a gold-dipped fucking copy.” And while that may be true at this point in the story, Vivian is learning more about the detail in the show’s present, and things look a little different. Anna is locked up at Rikers, and Chase is living in a hotel in Dubai and working with the sheikh. Guess some of that gold dip eventually rubbed off …
This episode also starts to answer the “Who the fuck is Anna Delvey and why should I care about her?” question asked by one of the bigwigs whom Before Times Anna meets with to pitch ADF. The Anna we get to see through Nora and Chase’s interviews and flashbacks is a cunning young woman who knows how to scheme her way up the ladder, and she is more successfully than we saw in the first two episodes of the series. At the start of this episode’s flashback, Anna is on shaky ground financially, directionally, and emotionally (the breakdown she has when she learns Chase lied about Berlin bounces between unhinged and contrived). But by the end of it, she has amassed an advisory team, has her eye on a historic and exorbitant location for ADF (via Nora’s connects), stepped up her wardrobe (via Nora’s credit cards), and positioned herself as so formidable a force that Nora and Val react as if she sent them a bomb when a package arrives and they realize it’s from her.
In the end, Vivian finally manages to convince Todd to “let” her look through some of his case files and evidence discovery, and when she brings what she finds to Landon and Paul, she’s granted a few more weeks to report the story. She also buys Anna some undies — though not from Bergdorf. Somewhat of a win for Anna! Big win for Vivian! Less of a win for her husband, Jack, whose burning desire to set up their baby’s nursery is impeded by Vivian’s growing Anna Delvey–conspiracy wall. Hey, apartments in New York City are small (unless you run in Anna’s circles) … sometimes the nursery also has to be the evidence room. And the FaceTiming-with-Dubai room. And the stuffed-peacock-storage room.
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
• The package Anna sends to Nora and Val is a stuffed peacock. I read this as a power move on Anna’s part not only because the stuffed peacock was on display at Bergdorf when she and Nora went there together but also because Anna is peacocking around town and in Nora and Val’s faces.
• Anna-ism of the episode: “I forgot about that fucking peacock.”
• Wink wink, nudge nudge: We know that, in the real world, Neff did eventually speak with a reporter about Delvey; in fact, she’s the first person quoted in Jessica Pressler’s New York article. Neff the character doesn’t appear in this episode (and neither do Kacy or Rachel, Anna’s other friends), but judging from her apparent cold feet at Rikers in episode two and the fact that she will eventually get interviewed, it seems safe to say she’ll pop up again soon …
• Fashion is life: Nora got back all the money Anna stole from her because her BFF is the CEO of Federal Credit (NBD), so what she’s really most upset about is the fact that the fine folks at Bergdorf, where she shops so often that she has her own rack, thought the things Anna was buying would really be for Nora. Because to her, Anna’s taste is shit. (Even though they wear the same Celine sunglasses.)