UnREAL Season 1 Finale Recap: A Game Well Played

by Brianna Martinez / August 4, 2015

After nine — at times crazy — episodes of UnREAL, the series delivered some of its craziest, amazingly manipulative moments in the final hour that highlighted how well (or terribly) everyone on Everlasting played the game. From Rachel’s determination to deliver the best finale in the show’s history to Quinn’s own professional agenda, there were plenty of losers and maybe a few winners (technically).

With the Everlasting girls narrowed down to Anna and Grace, production goes into high gear to churn out an entertaining finale. Of course, that becomes a little more difficult to accomplish with Adam’s proposal to Rachel to run away together…and she seemed to agree to it. That bit of happiness quickly disappears for Rachel as she finds out that Adam’s changed his mind…thanks to a little talk from Quinn about Rachel’s mental state. His quick willingness to accept the lies from Quinn was an interesting choice, but ultimately emphasized the characterization that we’ve seen him play along with on the show within a show.

Hell hath no fury like a Rachel scorned. Adam telling her exactly how much of a bad idea running away together is after he is caught sneaking out by Quinn, is the one thing that sets Rachel in action to put her manipulative powers to what she thinks for most of the finale is her own personal gain…with the help of a “supportive” Quinn who has her own agenda the entire time.

Meanwhile, Quinn and Chet’s relationship implodes and, honestly, it was only a matter of time. The break up and her continued determination to get what she deserves (her own show) serves as the final strong push into what will lead to some very complicated dynamics between her and Rachel going into season two.

The Quinn and Rachel relationship begins to shift when you see Quinn is up to, no matter how vague an idea we are given up until the final act of the hour. You can see that the dysfunctional and somewhat maternal dynamic is meant to put Rachel and Quinn on the same level, with Quinn seemingly operating under the idea that it’s all for the best. At least, that’s what you’re meant to believe from her explanations, something we know we can only accept so much of on a show filled with master manipulators and self-interested human beings.

Seeing Jeremy playing dumb despite the fact that he knows exactly what Rachel was planning was a little awkward to watch, which made the reveal at Adam’s family home in England that much more upsetting (in a good way).

The hour also proved that even in a situation where you should technically feel bad for someone like Jeremy for almost getting abandoned in the middle of the night with just a note, he’s still not even close to being one of those kinds of characters on the show that you’d root for. After embarrassing Rachel in England and vowing that he’s going to permanently stop her from ruining someone else’s life, the final scene showed the return of Rachel’s mom in the most ominous way possible, as it seems like Jeremy will be teaming up with the least understanding person.

UnREAL gave us a fun level of uncomfortableness that played out so well throughout the finale because everyone pretty much knows everyone’s dirty secrets (for the most part) and they all just attempt to pretend not to until it’s convenient for them. An element that I’ve grown to really appreciate about these terrible people. Shiri Appleby completely owned it throughout the hour, especially the scene in the church before the live wedding between her and Adam in a confessional, all while Ana was listening in the confessional next to theirs.

That masterful manipulation serves as the final push into the final minutes of the finale as we see Ana playing into Quinn and Rachel’s hands, abandoning the wedding, making Adam look bad, and Rachel learning that Quinn was playing her own game and, essentially, using her life as a prop.

And with that final scene, we’ve reached the end of UnREAL’s first season. Now, to predict who will be claiming retribution next season and who will be returning…


Pop culture obsessive, Brianna spends her time between work and studying, watching all the television she can (and is eternally grateful for the DVR and Hulu Plus) and writing about it. Brianna's contributed to TwoCentsTV, Examiner, and her own critical essays could be found on The Diligent Couch Potato. You can follow Brianna's live-tweeting adventures at @itsbriannam.