UnREAL episode 2 recap: We’re having a ball! And a baby! And a funeral!

Shiri Appleby (“Rachel”) and Johanna Braddy (“Anna”) star in Lifetime’s all-new drama UnREAL. Photo by James Dittiger Copyright 2015

In last week’s UnREAL series premiere, we learned plenty of the not-so-secrets that got Rachel Goldberg booted from — and invited back to — the Everlasting set. This week, we learn that secrets abound in the Everlasting control room — and not just in Dr. Wagerstein’s folder. And they go a long way in explaining why some of these folks have no problem waging war on love for the sake of a paycheck. Namely, their own broken hearts.

We start the episode with an interesting lesson in on-the-fly hygiene from the intrepid Rachel (toothpaste as pit-freshener!) who has apparently taken up residence in the back of a production truck for the night. It could become a permanent situation. Her rock ’n roll roommate Bethany, pulls up, dumps Rach’s stuff on the sidewalk and informs her that she’s now homeless, thank you very much. Oh and by the way? That’s not all her stuff in the garbage bags. She’ll pay Bethany the three months of back rent she owes her — like, yesterday — or the laptop Bethany is still holding hostage goes on Craig’s list.

Rachel is mortified. Things on there that could hurt people, she tells Bethany. Great reason to get your shit together, her ex-roomie retorts. Fair enough.

Meanwhile, Quinn is lamenting the loss of her villain after butt-grabbing Brittany managed to outwit her captors and head for the hills last week. And Adam would like to see Rachel, now. He’s out of a few Englishy items and would like her to fetch them, pronto. P.A.’s job, not hers, says Rachel. Oh. Well then, he has another job for her — watching him strip down and saunter starkers to the shower.

“That doesn’t even intimidate me,” she mutters, looking longingly in his direction. “I’ve seen enough suitor dong to last me, I would say, my entire life.” What she hasn’t seen lately is a proper shower, and hot water and soap holds much more appeal than anything else Adam has to offer her. She orders her shower buddy to keep his back turned and hops in with him to get cleaned up.

Adam gets his shaving cream and tea.

Tonight’s Everlasting episode will concern a Cinderella Ball at which the ladies will ostensibly prove they have the poise to accompany Adam to hoity-toity events. Or fight like cats in heat for a chance to rumba with their prize. But mostly we’re just looking to suss out a few ugly step sisters and plenty audience-satisfying drama. In the meantime, dance lessons for everyone! Yay!

Meanwhile, Rachel is playing let’s make a deal with Quinn for how much landing that new villain is worth. She’s got a debt to deal with, after all. And one she’s clearly keen to pay.

Then Shia and Rachel get to work. Shia tells kindergarten teacher Pepper — who calls her costars sweetie pies and sorts a necklace made by her students — that the other girls can’t picture her getting freaky, what with the baby talk and all. Rachel tells lawyer Anna that Adam likes her and Grace the best, but Grace got busy with Adam last night, so you know. Advantage, Grace. Unless you totally think she’s a slut for first-night nookie. And, I mean, why let a slut like that win? In the control room, Quinn watches.

Speaking of Quinn, like I said earlier, turns out Rachel isn’t the only one with a dooze of a secret. Because the statuesque blond who just rolled up on-set looking for Chet? His wife. Oopsie. And guess why she’s glowing, Quinnie? There’s going to be a baby Chet. Quinn looks nauseated and beats a hasty retreat.

As they watch the dance lessons, looking for clues as to how to best handle the ball, Rachel confides in Jay that Bethany is holding her laptop hostage. Big whoop, says Jay. Fresh start here, right? “You have no idea what’s on there,” she tells him before stalking away. What is on there, anyway?

Meanwhile, what Jay does have is a plan to score the villain bounty right out from under Rachel. He pulls the two remaining black ladies aside and tells them that if they want to bust the trend and get anywhere on this show, they have to take a cue from their badass reality sisters like Omarosa and NeNe Leakes. Shamiqua the Spellman Grad isn’t having it for a minute. She plans to make the finals just by being herself. (Which has happened to nobody ever, no matter what color they are. See also: a fine and longstanding history of Bachelor/ette breakups shortly after the cameras shut down.) Athena, on the other hand, is aces with doing whatever it takes to make herself memorable because she doesn’t have marriage on her mind for a minute. Athena plans to open a beauty salon and this is all just free advertising, thank you very much and point that camera over here.

Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (“Jay”), Christie Laing (“Shamiqua”) and Natasha Burnett (“Athena”) star in Lifetime’s all-new drama UnREAL. Photo by James Dittiger Copyright 2015

Athena it is, says Jay, giving Shamqua some “stay classy” consolation knuckles before leading his pay-day away for some boot camp bitch training.

When the group reconvenes for a progress report on villain acquisition, bad news awaits. Anna’s dad is in the ICU with a heart attack, leaving her teenage brother in the lurch. Dad’ll be fine, says Quinn to Rachel. Leave your conscience at the door and earn your payout. Rachel says sure — until Jeremy walks out in disgust.

Easy for you to do, camera man. Peachy-dandy to film the crap as long as you don’t have to orchestrate it.

“Oh come on,” she cajoles her former beau, promising she’ll clue Anna in soon enough. “You hate this job as much I do.” Not anymore, he says, spotting Lizzie who is waiting for their lunch date. With Josh out of earshot, Rachel apologizes for the footage Lizzie watched earlier and Lizzie says she knew all about it anyway. No harm, no foul. If Rachel needs anything, Josh and soon-to-be-Mrs.-Josh are there for her.

Meanwhile, Quinn walks in on Chet snorting some motivation for the day off a coffee table and congratulates him on the baby. Asshole. “Eighteen more years on my sentence,” she growls. Might not even be his, stammers Chet. Or the pregnancy might not even, you know, take. Charming. Not even Quinn can get behind that. “So I’m supposed to hang around and hope that your wife is a slut or that she miscarries?” she screeches? Rachel prefers her human disasters on the monitors, in someone else’s life. She’s done being Chet’s “side wife,” so there.

Let’s have us a ball.

As breezy Grace monopolizes Adam’s time, Rachel suggests to Anna just how bad a girl the sexy Brazilian is and says just for once, she would like to see someone deserving win. “Play the game,” she tells her entrant in the villain horserace. Anna narrows her eyes and heads for the pair to give her best shot.

“I heard the other girls saying you are a …” she begins. Grace and Adam look at her expectantly. “A really good dancer,” she says finally. “And so pretty.” Anna beats a retreat back to a deeply nonplussed Rachel.

“I realized I was about to slut shame a woman on national television and I’m not about that. That’s not me,” Anna explains. “Me either,” says Rachel. Let’s try a different tack.

She pulls the legal eagle aside and tells her about her dad. ICU, heart thing, but he’s fine. Promise. Anna’s free to go home — right after the elimination ceremony. Contract and all, you know, she shrugs. Anna asks if Rachel will text her brother to explain her delay.

Shiri Appleby (“Rachel”) and Johanna Braddy (“Anna”) star in Lifetime’s all-new drama UnREAL. Photo by James Dittiger Copyright 2015

While Rachel tries to hunt down Quinn to tell her what’s going on, her would-be Cinderella bolts the ball, running down the road in her gown and bare feet. Rachel gives chase in a golf-cart with a camera-toting Jeremy.

Back at the ball, Quinn tasks Jay with getting “moony-eyed princess footage” of the lovestruck ladies. OK, the ladies except old, unhip, dried up Mary of the boo-boo bear. Viewer repellant, that one, for sure.

Seeing her chance, Pepper decides to do something about her goody-two-shoes rep. She plants a wet one on Adam, squeezes him suggestively, then whispers her wishes in his ear. Cut Rita. Teacher will give him extra credit for completing the assignment, if you know what she means. Adam looks puzzled. Shia gives a jolly thumbs up.

Adam — either still in the thrall of Rachel’s suggestion last week or realizing Faith may be his only port in a storm — asks Faith to dance, giving Jay just the in he’s looking for for his bitch recruit to do her thing. And does she ever. Moving closer to the pair, Athena accuses Faith of stepping on her foot, and when Faith cheerfully blames her own two left ones, Athena goes in for the kill. “Are you saying only black people have rhythm?” she crows. And it goes down hill from there. Faith says where she comes from, it’s all about hootenannys and hoedowns. “Instead of twerking and crunking on the wrong side of the tracks?” counters Athena. But half the kids in her school were black, Faith protests, genuinely perplexed at what is going on. Lots of black friends. Do not go there, says Athena. “I am not a racist,” says Faith. Athena pushes back — literally.

Natasha Burnett (“Athena”), Freddie Stroma (“Adam” and, Breeda Wool (“Faith”) star in Lifetime’s all-new drama UnREAL.

Jay grins as Adam shepherds Ms. Handsy away. “Way to go, Uncle Tom,” purrs Shamiqua, gliding past Jay.

Rachel and Jeremy’s golf-cart Anna chase leads them to a local bar, where she is drowning her sorrows away from the camera. And what sorrows they are. Her dad isn’t fine; he’s dead. She and Rachel have a bathroom-stall moment and Rachel promises to get Anna home.

Back at the mansion, we’re having a post-mortem of the ball. Pepper feels much better about pretty much everything. The unflappable Faith isn’t sure what went down, but she knows who she is and that’s good enough for her. Then Quinn radios Rachel, wanting to know how Anna is. Bad, says Rachel. Good news for Quinn. Bring Anna back here.

As Jeremy and Rachel drive Anna back to the mansion, swearing they will keep her from the cameras all the while, Quinn orders an ambulance — and everyone in her cast to gather out back with dead-puppy faces at the ready.

Anna is driven into an ambush. She pushes her way through the crowd, then wheels on Rachel. “All you care about is this hideous, soul-sucking show,” she seethes before racing up the stairs. So much for bathroom-stall bonding. If you can’t trust a stranger with a headset, who can you trust?

But Rachel orders Jeremy to stop filming. Well, except for Anna’s bloody footprints. Get those real quick.

Upstairs, Rachel tells her quarry that the show will fly Anna home, but if she doesn’t finish her story of her own volition, the editors will make one up for her and Rachel can make no guarantees about what that will look like. They might sue her, even.

“Like I give a damn,” hisses Anna. “So sue the girl whose dad just died.” Then she looks into Rachel’s eyes. “You know,” she says, “I thought you were an actual person.”

Not like Rachel hasn’t heard that before. How are we going to fix this one? Easy. By commandeering Adam and winging off to the funeral, filming the proceedings with her smartphone from the pew.

Back at the mansion, Chet wants to see Quinn, and his enraged mistress grants him an audience long enough to tell him what for … until he shows her the blueprints for the house he says he is having built just for them. Well, she’ll live in it alone mostly, but still. Top of Mulholland. With a view. “We’ll even put in a deluge shower,” he smiles, certain he has found the way back into her heart. Or at least her pants in her office or his. “I don’t want a deluge shower, Chet,” Quinn says mournfully, her eyes filling up.

Again — anybody else getting a much better idea about why Quinn is such an expert at waging war on a fairytale she seems to wants for herself, even as she self-sabotages by making her prince charming her own, decidedly not-charming married boss? This is not a dear man. So why does she want him so badly?

After the funeral, Adam approaches Anna and asks her to return with him to Everlasting. He wouldn’t be here if he didn’t care, after all. Anna says she’s all her brother has now, so thanks but no.

Brother, huh? Good enough. Let’s go for little Terry … with the numbers. Terry thinks Everlasting is bull … until Rachel confides that there could be a $200K payday if Adam ends up marrying his sister. Just give it a think.

It’s not a real long think. When Anna storms up, Terry is already on the hook. You won’t find a guy like that here, he tells his sister. It’s why you went on the show in the first place. Why bail now? Just six weeks. He’ll spend them with Aunt Ruth.

It works. I can’t imagine why it works, since mere days have passed since Anna — who is smart enough to pass the bar exam — was lying on a public restroom floor with the woman who drove her, literally, straight into public humiliation. But it works. Cinderella has been orphaned and now she needs her prince, I guess.

As Anna heads off on Adam’s arm, Terry hits up Rachel for an X-Box. He’s got a future in Everlasting, that kid.

With that disaster handled, another one looms for Rachel in the form of a phone call from Bethany, who is enjoying everything on the laptop that Rachel is so desperate to hide. Full payment of back rent — $3,900 via Pay Pal by 10pm — or her secrets go to every person on the handy-dandy Everlasting crew list thereon. Including the soft-core, marriage-proposal video and some previously unsent “heart-barf” e-mails. Then we’ll see how much Ms. Lizzie knows.

Back at the belated elimination ceremony, beautiful brave Anna gets the first call back, right? Wrong. She’s last. WISE UP, CHILD! Please tell me you are wising up.

“Don’t torture me like that again,” Anna seethes in Adam’s ear.” “They made me do it,” he stammers. Does he mean they made him call her last? Or call her back to the show in the first place? I guess we’ll see.

Faith gets the first nod, which makes me glad because I love her best, even if Adam doesn’t. Athena gets call back too. And Pepper. Our story is intact.

With ten minutes to Bethany’s threat becoming a mortifyingly public promise, let’s have us a villain pageant. Rachel’s is a late entry. And it’s a doozy. With the cash she needs to save face and her own secrets at stake, Rachel deals Anna the horrifying blow yet, cobbling together a horrifying reel of the poor woman’s most vulnerable, grief-stricken moments. The tape is Quinn’s; the money is hers. Five seconds too late to stop all the cells phones in the room from going off at once. And Rachel’s Everlasting nightmare begins all over again…

So talk about it, UnREAL fans. I’m having trouble believing Anna would return to the fold so quickly, and hoping hard that she returned a wiser woman and we just don’t know it yet. As for Jay’s advice to Shamiqua and Athena to go NeNe, that’s a tough one, too. On one hand — the most obvious — it’s salt in the wound of reality television’s myriad racial issues. On the other, it’s hard to argue Jay’s logic, given the history of reality television’s myriad racial issues . Either way, when it played out on the dance floor, I found myself feeling worse Athena for selling herself into stereotype at the hands of her producer than for Faith, the target of that forced ire.

But this story clearly belongs to Quinn and Rachel and there’s so much I want to know about why these two smart cookies are so careless with the hearts (and souls and spirits) of other women even as they do the greatest damage to their own.

So yes, UnREAL, I will happily continue on this journey with you. No matter what you do to my own tender heart.

New episodes of UnREAL premiere Monday nights at 10/9CT on Lifetime.

Photo by James Dittiger

















About Lori Acken 1195 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.