Photo: Bettina Strauss (Lifetime)

Tonight’s episode of UnREAL is called “Gestalt,” defined by Merriam-Webster as “an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts.” Which is an interesting choice for an episode that at times seems very fractious. Some parts fared better than other parts, but the editing seemed off: How can you possibly cut from Serena and Jasper’s romantic evening to Rachel rescuing her lithium-addled dad?

We know that Rachel has been getting closer to the heart of what’s really bothering her for a while now, but this kidnapping plot reminds me of a scene in The Graduate. Benjamin tells his parents that he’s going to marry Elaine Robinson, even though she doesn’t like him very much much, and his father says, “Ben, this whole idea sounds pretty half-baked.” Benjamin replies, “No, it’s not, Dad. It’s completely baked.” Rachel, your plan to rescue your father is pretty half-baked. She lives in a truck, so how in the world is her dad supposed to detox from lithium while laying on a cot? And isn’t her mom just going to show up next episode to take him back home anyway? Poor Dr. Simon, the only wholly decent person on the Everlasting set, now stuck with babysitting Rachel’s dad. 

While Rachel is off on what has taken a bizarre domestic turn, at least we get to see Quinn triumphantly crush network exec Gary, aided by Madison, of all people, after fearlessly shutting down the show. Gary had it coming: You do not stand up Quinn when she is in her red custom power suit. Finally accepting that her pilot is a wash, Madison sells out her disinterested paramour, so that Quinn has total domination. It would be almost frightening if it wasn’t so heartening; her team has needed a win for awhile this season. To make it as humiliating as possible for Gary, she pulls in everyone, even the suitors, for his public dressing-down. Proving that power is an aphrodisiac, Chet is so turned on he doesn’t even need his little blue pills: It’s so hard to believe that Chet and Quinn were actually engaged at one point.

Gary’s not the only guy who sinks to the bottom this episode: Maybe that’s what makes it so gratifying? Serena, who is my favorite-ever Suitor even though I think her plan to find true love in TV is bananas, runs roughshod over not only August, Jasper, but basically all of the guys. August gets trapped in a dumb conspiracy plot that’s right out of a scene from Porky’s as “Ranger Pam” attempts to pull his pants off in front of Serena. Kind of messed up that all of the suitors are expected to be faithful to Serena while she is the farthest from it with them, but that’s how the whole thing works, I guess.

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Serena could be devastated and fall apart when she discovers that the two guys she’s most interested in are dishonest on varying levels. Instead, as the mogul she is, she whips them all into shape, not even cutting anyone, and refusing to follow the typical Everlasting rules. She even cuts off Graham’s wannabe-poetic intro. It’s pretty great. Even better though, is her reveal to Jasper that he won’t win the bet anyway, because she already had sex with the jockey. Even Quinn and Rachel immediately withdraw their protests to let Serena get her way, recognizing a fellow queen and laughing at Jasper getting called out her his arrogant dickishness.

Some people are still doing terribly—it wouldn’t be UnREAL otherwise. Alexi is straight-up strung out and is giving Jay oral sex in exchange for drugs. Jay is at the brink of success—Quinn’s shenanigans mean that his Passport To Dance show is secured. But his star is a mess, to put it mildly, and now he’s even put his own relationship in peril.

Part of the fun of UnREAL is seeing women working together in power for once, even as often as Quinn and Rachel appear to be at odds with each other. In this episode, we see the women completely dominate. They may need to use a little underhandedness, like Quinn and Madison, or sheer adrenaline and belief in what they’re doing is right, like Rachel, or straight-up leadership skills, like Serena. She’s the one who knocks on Jasper’s window, after all; Rachel sets up August; and Quinn turns down Chet. The women are ruling at this part of the season in UnREAL, and it makes for a fun ride, even as storm clouds (Rachel’s dad in a truck, Alexi about to blow, Gary undoubtedly out for revenge) begin to assemble.

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Stray observations

  • We can only pray that Jeremy’s new girlfriend heeds Rachel’s warning.
  • What could Rachel’s end game possibly be for her dad?
  • Kind of glad that all the guys are still going to be around, just for the heightened drama factor.
  • Graham’s tantrum over Ranger Pam getting his meager lines was hilarious.

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