i’ve seen a post going around about rachel not genuinely caring about chloe and in addition to ranting about it in private with friends, i thought i might as well try a coherent rebuttal to post here
some things about rachel we need to acknowledge up front. she’s 1) super smart and 2) able to use her smarts and social adeptness to manipulate people pretty easily. we see this with victoria in episode 2, how rachel plays her to get her to drink the spiked tea. we see this in episode 1, how rachel dissipates tension in the drama club meeting by shifting the focus of the discussion to chloe.
manipulation is a tool rachel has developed to help her navigate the world. manipulative =/= malicious. consider rachel’s reputation around blackwell in the first game - she has her detractors, sure, but overall she’s widely loved by students from all types of backgrounds and cliques. no doubt rachel achieved this using the same skills and tactics that people would label as manipulative. knowing what to say to endear someone to you, to make them feel better about themselves, to relate to them – it’s all the same skill set. there’s not an inherent moral value in that.
now if we’re going to talk about rachel’s relationships with frank and jefferson and how they took place apparently alongside rachel’s relationship with chloe, without chloe’s knowledge (which there’s some ambiguity about – chloe never confirms whether she and rachel were dating, though she was clearly upset to learn about rachel and frank) we need to do so analytically.
rachel’s goal was to get out of arcadia bay. to do this, rachel needed resources. what makes sense? taking advantage of the attention and interest paid to her by two adult men with means and using it to her own ends. frank has money, drug connections, etc that rachel could use to get out of town. jefferson had social capital, he probably made her promises or offered guidance for her career, that would also be an attractive option for escape.
what doesn’t make sense? trying to make a poor, mentally ill high school dropout from an abusive and controlling home your ticket out of town. if you refuse to give rachel credit for anything else, you have to believe she’s smarter than that. chloe has nothing to offer materially that rachel can’t already get from someone else easier and more reliably.
which means that what chloe has to offer is herself. her presence in rachel’s life, the relationship they have together is what rachel wants from chloe.
in game we see that chloe is obviously super eager to please rachel and to provide for her, because she cares about her that much, and they share the same goals. why then does it have to be rachel manipulating chloe and exploiting her for money and transportation that she can easily get from other sources? why can’t it be chloe acting of her own will to achieve a common goal?
because y’all are still super duper eager to vilify teenage girls for making what you perceive as selfish choices
i’ve also seen the dream addressed, particularly rachel being the fire william speaks about
if we’re going to interpret chloe’s dreams we have to recognize them as products of chloe’s subconscious. the things she dreams about are her fears and doubts manifesting
in the first dream, rachel is on fire and chloe can’t reach her. in the second dream, william speaks about rachel as the fire (though not directly) consuming herself and threatening to consume chloe, as well. it’s important to keep in mind chloe’s fears about rachel as evidenced by the “i’m leaving” quote from the bathroom graffiti scene. chloe’s scared of being used. she’s scared of being abandoned again. her feelings for rachel are so intense, have come on so quickly, she’s terrified that the consequence of trusting rachel, of giving into her feelings, will mean she’ll be destroyed in the process.
also worth noting that chloe appears to herself as the raven in both dreams. first on the playbill, second EATING HER OWN DAD’S FACE – which means chloe 1) doesn’t trust herself and 2) thinks she is to blame for every bad thing that’s ever happened to her or the people she’s cared about. that’s less to my rachel point, but i think it’s necessary context for analyzing the dreams in general
finally, going off-script for the play - there’s definitely lots of room for different interpretations of rachel’s lines here, but i think the answers you come up with have more to do with how you view rachel’s intent than anything. anyone suspicious of rachel or believing she’s out to do harm will obviously focus on the detail of prospera reneging on her promise to grant ariel’s freedom.
but if you’re interpreting rachel’s actions and words sincerely, it’s an entirely different meaning. chloe’s “excitement isn’t happiness” line and the line about her plainest self is an expression of doubt that rachel’s feelings for her are real. that rachel will still want her once the dust settles and they’re done planning their great adventure. she fears being abandoned again. rachel reacting to that by insisting she’s certain. that they can have a life together where they both are free. she’s asking chloe to trust her enough to take that leap with her.
for me, that’s just one teenage girl who feels alone and misunderstood asking another teenage girl that she cares about to take a chance on her. to be brave enough to explore the relationship developing between them. and i refuse to see that as a negative thing.