For better or worse, UnREAL season two has totally cast its lot in with Quinn and Rachel. Mostly, it’s been for worse, as the contestants have primarily sucked. This episode, however, reminds us why Rachel and Quinn belong together, forever and ever amen.

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It’s unfortunate that part of the reason is that the rest of the world for them can’t be trusted at all. Quinn can’t have kids (but did Rachel’s suspicious looks in the viewing room mean that she had something to do with that phone call from the doctor?), and Coleman, unsurprisingly, has turned out to be a two-faced garden-variety sleaze. Still and all, Quinn and Rachel are two extremely damaged people, which it why it makes the most sense for them to be with each other.

Nearly every episode this season has contained something terrible to behold: screaming Brandi locked in a room, Ruby’s dad walking in on her having sex, and of course Romeo’s shooting (the fact that we still have not had a real update on him is egregious at this point). Ranking high on that list is Rachel’s revenge on Yael. I hate anything scatologically related, so found it tremendously awful that Rachel would do that to anyone and that Quinn would find it so funny: Even though Yael, unlike Brandi or Ruby, had a hand in her own destruction by spying on the show and setting her sights on Coleman. Still, tough to watch, but fairly gratifying when Darius and Jay immediately know who’s behind it: “Why?”

Because Rachel is an expert player, and Shiri Appleby is excellent at playing her. She adds so many dimensions to Rachel that she could conceivably be triple-timing everyone. But the Rachel we know is savvy enough to see that Coleman can’t be trusted, and also to be able to tell, deep down, that Quinn is the one who’s going to keep her out of prison, even if they’re not speaking. I like how Rachel knows almost immediately this episode that Coleman is up to no good. With a lesser actress, maybe we could see that Rachel was playing all sides, but Appleby’s performance is a manipulation master.

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Constance Zimmer is no slouch either, especially this episode. She shows just why she got that Emmy nomination not in the scene where she attacks the office, but the one before it: Where she realizes instantly that she has no future with John, almost gives in to breaking down about it, swallows her tears, and walks out. Quinn was a bit too happy about that Yael bit for my liking, still had some great one-liners, but Zimmer proved why she’s so great with that moment. Also her love-late relationship with Rachel: She’ll easily dismiss Rachel for not talking to her, then immediately glide into gleeful when she realizes Rachel’s back on board. It’s enough to make this penultimate episode the perfect setup for next week, as Coleman-Yael and Quinn-Rachel are perfectly aligned, but we all know who the eventual victors will be. What’s even better is that no one else around them even begins to understand the dyad of Rachel and Quinn; certainly not Darius, or Jay, or the opponents in question, making their relationship to each other all the more vital.

Our secondary players have been even more secondary this season, but in this episode, even Madison makes sense. Her immediate spillage of seeing Coleman and Yael would almost make you think that she hasn’t learned a damn thing (save that info for when you really need it, Madison!) but her speech to Chantal finally lands. If you don’t want to be a loser, win. Since we’re all still not sure how a sham marriage will help out Darius’ now-failed football career anyway, maybe someone who actually cares for him might be his best option.

What struck me this episode is the absolute unreality of UnREAL: The horrible host narrating as you dance on a tiny platform, the twinkle lights that make every setting they’re in sparkle, a neverending supply of evening wear. It makes the moments of reality—Yael without makeup after her acute humiliation; Rachel realizing who’s actually on her side and who isn’t—land even harder, but in such a cartoon land, how can anyone separate fantasy from reality? Quinn and Rachel are fucked up beyond comprehension, but their constant surroundings (we don’t see their actual homes for a reason) makes that fairly easy to understand.

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Stray observations

  • Crazy fast-forwarding Rachel looks creepily like a Stepford wife.
  • What is wrong with me that I am actively rooting for the Tiffany-Chet relationship? It’s like my favorite on the show for some reason.
  • Quinn’s fertility breakdown would make a lot more sense if she and John had been together for longer than .02 seconds. Also, remember when Ioan Gruffudd had a movie career? This seems like a pretty thankless role for him.
  • Jeremy just sounds like a deranged person on that tape. Some have predicted that next week’s finale will involve him attacking the Everlasting set, really hope that’s not the case.
  • I like how Quinn and Rachel go from not speaking to uniting forever by the end of the episode.
  • “These two screwed last night, and now they’re doing a commercial for Florida.”
  • Madison is “a girl whose one claim to producing is how much of her boss she can keep in her mouth.”
  • I was really afraid of how far the show was going to go to show Yael’s destruction in that white dress.
  • “Do we ever clean that thing?” “Every time Graham gets out of it.”

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