UnREAL (S03E01) “Oath”

A new year brings a new season of the hit show UnREAL, and man does it knock it out of the park! We have come to expect intense drama, but we are also treated to some wonderful character growth. The season picks up where season 2 left off, with Quinn and Chet showcasing their new bachelorette to the head honcho. He is hesitant that this new version of “Everlasting” will do as well, but Chet with all his charms manages to calm Gary down.

We then move to Rachel, whom is seen floating serenely in a lake until she is interrupted by Quinn. Seeing the dynamic duo of women power back together is a sight for sore eyes. Quinn wastes no time getting to the point of her visit; she wants her partner in crime back. Rachel is understandably resistant, given what has happened previously on set, but eventually agrees to come back.

It was then time to head back to where it all began, the mansion set for “Everlasting”. Plenty of familiar faces are abound, as the production team preps for their new season. Dr. Simon is psychologist who joins the crew, though he certainly isn’t the sharing type as his predecessor was. Quinn is annoyed by this, but doesn’t have time to dwell. It’s show time!

The suitors begin to arrive, but it is quickly made clear that Serena’s standards are above average. As a powerful, driven woman, she expects nothing less than the same in her partner. She appears to have it all, so one wonders as to why she would agree to do the show in the first place. Well, that is until we see how she interacts with the bachelors. She is quick to judge, and tries to cut Norman early during the cocktail party. This doesn’t go over very well with production, so Rachel must hastily work her magic to rectify the situation. With some advice and a little bit of alcohol, she manages to relax Serena enough where she could shed her steely exterior. Unfortunately she ends up taking it too far and sleeps with the very bachelor she wanted to eliminate. This spells disaster for the rest of the night, as everything goes downhill from there.

Serena manages to recover her faculties in time for the elimination ceremony, but once again does not follow what production has instructed. She eliminates Norman, which causes Quinn to erupt in fury. It’s growing clear that the Suitress can not be easily controlled, which will certainly lead to some intense drama further in the season.

Oh yeah, that new psychologist? Not there so much for the guys, but to watch Rachel to make sure she isn’t going to have a break down. This understandably upsets her when she discovers this, but it could be a blessing in disguise considering previous seasons.

An issue I’m glad is being addressed immediately is Jeremy’s actions in last seasons finale. The fact he murdered two people isn’t being swept under the rug in the narrative. The core characters are all dealing with it in their own secret way, and some are undoubtedly better at that than others. We can be sure that as the season progresses the consequences will unfurl. My hope is that we will see how each member who took the blood oath deals with it specifically, and who will break first. With this show murder and suicide are not off the table, so it is possible that we may lose one or more of them.

Another prevalent theme that I am happy continues is how they keep mental health in the spotlight. The show is very good at showing the highs and the lows of mental illness, even when it isn’t pretty. I’m glad that they keep the characters real by having each of them deal with it their own way. It’s also great that they identify what is toxic behaviour and what is healthy, not allowing one to romanticize it. I’m hoping that the new Doctor will be helpful, but with UnREAL you never know what you are going to get.