UnREAL S3E4 Episode Review: “Confront”

This week, all our major players found themselves confronting some very unpleasant truths—about the lies they tell others and the lies they tell themselves.

The episode opens with Quinn getting fitted for a smoking-hot custom suit. Jay comes in to talk about his new show, Passport to Dance and sees that the poster features Alexei. Jay is upset because he thought his boyfriend, Xavier, would be more involved in the show but Quinn is all aboard the Alexei train. Speaking of which, she tells Jay to get some sexy and romantic footage of Alexei that she can use to pitch Passport to Dance to Gary. Madison comes in with August’s man-bun in hand, much to the amusement of Quinn and Jay, who recognize right away that Man-Bun Gate is going to be television gold.

Dr. Simon approaches Rachel and wants to keep their line of communication open after Rachel opened up to him the night before. She’s realized that she definitely over-shared and she doesn’t want to keep thinking about the Bad Shit and stir up all kinds of repressed emotional trauma while she’s trying to stay focused on work. Her job is what allows her to feel in control and she doesn’t want to jeopardize that by opening old wounds. Being shrinked and working at Everlasting don’t mix.

August, sans man-bun, confronts the rest of the guys. He’s really pissed but nobody (including the cast and crew) is taking him seriously. Rachel is criticizing Madison for not being able to produce Serena and Madison uses the opportunity to remind her that she has a pilot. “What’s it called?” Rachel asks. “Keeping Up With Gary’s Sidepiece?” Sick burn, Rach. Madison is in denial about being a side-chick but Rachel points out, accurately, that Gary has never taken her out in public.

Serena is just as pissed about Man-Bun Gate as August is and tells the guys that the “frat boy crap is a huge turnoff.” The plan for the day was for her to hear all the guys pitch their dream dates but she says she only wants a date with August. This isn’t going to work for Quinn, who needs the date to be with Alexei so she can get Passport To Dance approved. Rachel tells her she’s got it. Quinn’s dragon is back.

Chet shows up with a reporter named Robin who he’d sent some of his “zeitgeist-y” interview footage. Chet thinks she’s there to write a story about some of the “important issues” they’ll be tackling on his new-and-improved, Emmy-worthy season of Everlasting. Quinn sees right through her and knows that the last thing they need is a reporter sniffing around set but Chet wants the publicity for his Emmy campaign. In a show filled with delusional people, Chet might be the least self-aware of the bunch.

chet robin
Source: UnREAL / Lifetime

Meanwhile, Rachel is trying to get Serena to pick Alexei for the date. She tells Serena she’s making it too easy on August and that picking Alexei would make August jealous. Rachel works the situation so that it seems like Serena chose Alexei on her own, because she’s in Good-At-My-Job mode. She cuts a deal with Serena: pick Alexei for the date, and Rachel will arrange some alone time with August later that night, off-camera. Rachel reports back to Quinn that it’s all good and Quinn couldn’t be prouder and now I’m back in my QuinnXRachel feelings.

Madison seems to be taking Rachel’s criticism to heart and calls Gary, trying to get him to take her out to dinner in public, at some fancy restaurant where they are sure to be seen. Gary agrees to make a reservation but quickly shifts gears and tells her he’s got some news about her pilot, but he won’t tell her until he sees her.

Dr. Simon approaches Quinn to voice his concerns about Rachel but Quinn doesn’t want to hear it. Rachel is getting it done—Quinn’s got her dragon back—and her arrangement with Simon was that he was just to be there as a “walking Xanax dispenser” to keep Rachel on track. Quinn doesn’t want him going deep into Rachel’s broken psyche, but it’s a little late for that. The Doc makes it clear to Quinn that Rachel is most definitely not okay and that she’s headed for a breakdown. The look on Quinn’s face says that she knows that he’s right and she doesn’t want to see Rachel break again, but that doesn’t change the fact that she needs her dragon by her side in order to get shit done.

Jay gets a call from Xavier and leads him to believe that Quinn wants him involved in the show, but he neglects to mention the whole Alexei thing. He then goes to Alexei with a list of things he wants him to say while pitching Serena his dream date but Alexei isn’t receptive to being treated like a puppet. He tries to talk to him about the show but Alexei storms off.

At the dream date pitches, the guys are even more blatant caricatures of themselves than usual. August assumes he’ll be picked but, as agreed, Serena chooses Alexei. August goes to Rachel for some answers and she tells him he’s lucky that he’s even still there. Her question—“why do you care?”—is a good one, considering that up until she dumped him, he was all about Quinn.

In another excellent QuinnXRachel moment, Quinn approaches Rachel to tell her she’s doing a good job and to apologize for the nasty stuff she said to her the day before. Rachel apologizes for being “the curse” and tells her that she’s on top of everything. Quinn doesn’t seem to fully believe her but she’s content to let it sit for the moment because Rachel is determined to get her job done and Quinn needs her on Serena’s date so she can make Alexei “sizzle.”

Rachel goes off to wardrobe to produce Alexei, who couldn’t be less interested in Serena, the “lonely businesswoman.” Rachel gets him to go along with it by bringing up his ex-girlfriend, Natalia—the woman who broke his heart, leading to his public downfall. Rachel tells him that Natalia has been tweeting and is obviously watching the show, which is probably a lie but also conceivably true because who wouldn’t hate-watch their ex on a dumb reality show? Rachel convinces Alexei to shine on the date, not for Serena but for Natalia because “it’ll destroy her.”

Jay is waiting outside the trailer to confront Rachel for producing Alexei. Rachel thinks she’s doing him a favor by getting his guy some major screen time but unbeknownst to her, it’s much more complicated than that for Jay. After Jay storms off, Rachel receives a notification on her phone that the dude she’s been cyber-stalking has posted a new photo. She’s all kinds of shook by it but she’s got to shake it off and focus on work.

Quinn is bitching to Madison about the presence of the reporter and tells Madison that they need to feed Robin a story to write—something that won’t be a PR nightmare. She puts Madison in charge of things on set and tells her to go full “Bun-ghazi” on the August Man-Bun situation. But Madison has a date with Gary and tells Quinn she has to leave early. Quinn is not surprised to find out that Madison lied to her about it being a one-time thing with Gary and throws her “Mini Me” Madison some Essential Honesty: all she’s done is hooked up with her fiancé and banged her boss, and if she wants to be like Quinn, she’s got to be her own woman, not somebody else’s bitch. Madison actually seems to recognize the truth in Quinn’s words, just as she did earlier with Rachel’s. Is Madison finally becoming self-aware? Only time will tell.

With her dragon off campus, Quinn is left to try to work the upcoming Man-Bun segment into what she needs it to be. She takes Madison along as support but she’s running the show. She tells Zach the Influencer that he’s bleeding Instagram followers because he’s not popping. Quinn suggests that he admit to being the Man-Bun snipper, even though he didn’t do it, just to “make some noise” on the show. He thinks that confessing would be a bad look for him and almost certainly result in Serena cutting him but Quinn tells him that Serena is probably cutting him anyway so he might as well.

man bun inquisition
Source: UnREAL / Lifetime

In yet another ridiculously dumb segment, Graham walks through a jungle set and introduces “The Man Bun Inquisition.” In the control room, Chet tries to work Robin and convince her that the absolute trash she’s seeing is deeper than it appears: it’s about exploring the why of the Man Bun incident, and the “roots of male aggression.” She’s not buying it, though, and even if she did believe it, it’s clear that’s not the story she’s trying to write.

Zach has decided to take Quinn’s advice and confesses to cutting off August’s man-bun, which leads to a fight between him and Billy, who actually did it. Billy insists that they go to the security camera footage for the truth. Of course, Quinn has it, but she’s had it doctored to make it look like Zach was the one who did it. Quinn sends Dr. Simon to talk to Billy, who is even more unstable than usual, and informs Robin that they have a shrink on set to make sure things don’t get too out of hand. Robin throws in a dig about Mary jumping off the roof and now Quinn is 110% sure she’s there to do an expose.

Madison tries to change the topic to her pilot, #adulting, which is the perfect name choice and will never not be funny to me. Quinn overhears her and makes sure the reporter knows that her “meteoric rise” was a result of her “unzipping” her way to the top. Quinn figures that if Robin wants a behind-the-scenes story, she may as well give her one that makes Madison look bad.

Meanwhile, Rachel and Jay are off campus at the theater where Serena and Alexei’s date is to take place. There’s zero chemistry between Serena and Alexei, much to Jay’s dismay. Alexei lights up when he sees Sergei, an old friend of his, and asks for a two minutes with him off camera to catch up. Jay doesn’t want to give him off camera time but Alexei charms Jay into getting his way. While he’s waiting for him to return, he confesses to Rachel that he committed Alexei to Passport To Dance without talking to him about it first. Rachel tells him that messing with Quinn’s empire is a bad move and that he needs to handle his shit and get Alexei on board.

UnReal Season 3, Ep. 304 "Confront"
Source: UnREAL / Lifetime

Jay’s No Good Very Bad Day continues with a surprise visit from Xavier, who is there to help him with the pitch. Alexei finally emerges, invigorated and good to go, and he recognizes Xavier from the video. Xavier is awestruck meeting Alexei but shit goes south pretty quick when Alexei is all over Jay in front of him. Serena and Alexei watch the private ballet performance and, to her surprise, Alexei joins in the dance and shows everyone what he’s got. That “sizzle” Quinn was looking for is definitely on display and Serena seems kind of into him now.

Back on campus, Serena thanks Rachel for the Alexei date but still wants some alone time with August. Rachel swears to keep her promise and have August in her room after the elimination ceremony. She heads to the control room to get a moment with Quinn and the reporter pounces on Rachel right away. Robin clearly wants an interview with Rachel, whose got a reputation as a hot mess, but Quinn shuts that shit down right away and takes Rachel away for a chat.

Madison takes the opportunity to try and talk herself up to Robin, who sees an opportunity to work Madison for info about Quinn. Madison goes for Quinn’s jugular and tells the reporter that Quinn is threatened by younger, ambitious women. She even spills the tea about Quinn’s drinking on set. The reporter sees right through her but realizes that, with a little flattery, she can get Madison to get her an interview with Serena and Madison falls for it. Remember when I asked if she was becoming self-aware? Yeah. No.

We get some more quality QuinnXRachel in Quinn’s office. Rachel is struggling with the fact that she has to lie to Serena, knowing that she really likes August when he is still hung up on Quinn. She tells Quinn that she can’t keep on with the lying and Quinn drops some truth on her: “You can’t do this job and be essentially honest at the same time.” This is something that Rachel knows deep down but she’s still clinging to the hope that she can be an honest producer. Rachel tells Quinn that she’s barely hanging on, and Quinn can see that it’s true, but the show is her #1 priority, however much she may care about Rachel.

Robin gets her interview with Serena and it goes about as well as expected. She’s only got five minutes alone with Serena so she dives right in: “I’m just wondering how a Silicon Valley baller let herself descend into a literal damsel-in-distress in a matter of weeks. What message are you trying to send to women?” Serena tries to defend her actions but the reporter tells her she’s being manipulated. She tells her she overheard Rachel convincing Alexei to pretend to like her. She tells Serena that her goal is to expose the producers for the monsters that they are and not to trust anyone. Serena confronts Rachel about it—the moment of truth—and Rachel chooses honesty, telling Serena about August and Quinn.

Serena confronts Quinn about it and tells her that she plans to cut her “boy toy” at the elimination ceremony. Quinn can’t have that so she basically threatens to out her for sleeping with The Jockey if she cuts August. Serena says she’ll only work with Rachel from now on because Quinn has proven herself to be the vile monster the reporter said she was. Quinn has had enough and kicks the reporter off set. On her way out, the reporter throws in Quinn’s face that Madison is following her example of sleeping her way to the top. The reporter has some parting words for Quinn: “You hate yourself which is why you’ve made it your life’s work to destroy other women.” Ouch.

As it turns out, allowing Rachel to be honest with Serena was part of Quinn’s master plan. While Serena may hate her, she’s now trusts Rachel 100%, which will ultimately work to Quinn’s benefit. Quinn thinks this has solved Rachel’s problem but Rachel doesn’t feel any better about things. She admits to Quinn that she’s dealing with a deeper issue. She stops short of telling her what that issue is and just tells Quinn that she’s trying to fix herself. She asks Quinn, “Don’t you want me to get better?” and Quinn tells her yes, but that she needs to wait until the season’s over to do it. Quinn’s ambition vs. Rachel’s mental health continues to be my favorite UnREAL dynamic.

Meanwhile, Alexei has fallen off the wagon and is in the bathroom snorting enough coke to kill a horse when he’s busted by Jay. He gets him to the elimination ceremony, where Serena ends up keeping August but refusing to share any alone time with him after. She cuts Crazy Billy and he goes nuts, making some good TV for Quinn. After they cut, Quinn gives Jay some positive feedback and tells him that whatever he’s doing to make Alexei pop, keep doing it. She doesn’t know about the coke, but something tells me that even if she did, she wouldn’t give a shit as long as Alexei keeps doing his thing. Jay decides to get his hands dirty and supply Alexei with cocaine as long as he agrees to host Passport To Dance. Jay has done a few shady things in the past, but this is a new low for him and something tells me it won’t end well.

alexei jay
Source: UnREAL / Lifetime

Madison’s dreams of a public date with Gary are dashed when he calls to cancel. She agrees to just meet him later in private, per usual, and color Quinn not at all surprised. Madison thinks she’s going to get fired but Quinn decides to have a little heart-to-heart with her and tells her that she’s actually trying to help her by being hard on her. She tells her that if she wants to have a long and meaningful career she needs to slow it down and not try to cut to the front of the line by banging Gary. Quinn knows from experience that it won’t end well for her.

Quinn is still dealing with the repercussions of her relationship with Chet and the fact that, despite all her hard work, people like Robin will always think she just slept her way to the top. She sees Madison making that mistake and it seems like she sincerely wants to stop it. Of course, I don’t trust Quinn to actually have Madison’s best interests at heart, but whatever. She seems to get through to Madison. Later, over a private take-out dinner with Gary in his office, she learns that he hasn’t even bothered to watch her pilot. She rebuffs his advances and after sending him to get her some aspirin, she starts snooping around on his computer.

rachel confronts rapist
Source: UnREAL / Lifetime

Rachel is nowhere to be found because she’s off “fixing herself” (i.e. showing up at the doorstep of her rapist and confronting him). This guy has convinced himself that their relationship was consensual even though Rachel was a kid at the time, which is bad enough for Rachel to have to listen to. There’s some vague allusion to a kind of sketchy couples therapy that Rachel’s mom was into and Rachel having watched it. They disagree on how it actually happened, with Rachel saying that he followed her to her bedroom and the guy saying that she approached him. We learn that Rachel lied and said she was 17 when it actually happened when she was 12. But guess what? None of the details actually matter because SHE. WAS. A. CHILD. Twelve or seventeen, he was still an adult man and he doesn’t get to play the blame game.

Things go from bad to worse when the guy informs Rachel that her father knew what happened. Rachel always assumed that he had no idea because he never talked to her about it, but the guy tells her that afterward her father came and beat the shit out of him. This is not comforting for Rachel, who went to this guys’ house hoping for some sort of closure and healing but came out of it with a fresh wound. With no one else to turn to, Rachel goes to Quinn for comfort. All her ambition aside, Quinn truly does care for Rachel and worry about her. We finally get some tender QuinnXRachel, which is my favorite kind of QuinnXRachel, but it comes at a very high cost. Rachel is on the verge of a meltdown and not even Quinn at her most caring is going to be able to stop it.

UnReal Season 3, Ep. 304 "Confront"
Source: UnREAL / Lifetime

Tune in to UnREAL on Mondays at 10pm EST on Lifetime.

 

 

 

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Author: Ali Sciarabba

Twitter: @alimscribbles

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