Vivian continues with her story in the second episode of “Inventing Anna”, interviewing Anna (in the special area for media visits, a.k.a. “VIP” at Rikers) and a few of Anna’s acquaintances, some of whom we met in the first episode and some who are new to us. This episode jumps back and forth in time and space, with Viv reporting from New York and the Hamptons, Todd practicing law, and Neff anxiously attempting to convince her pals to see Anna; and the past, with Anna swanning across the globe. As a few people get chatty, we’re basically treated to an hour full of a Mean Girls-esque “Regina George wore army pants and flip-flops, so I wore army pants and flip-flops”-esque tour through some of Anna’s past relationships, Viv — and us at home — learn a lot more, yet still not enough, about Anna’s Before Times.
In episode two, “The Devil Wore Anna,” what do all of these characters want?
Despite Anna telling Vivian at the beginning of the episode that she and Val were not close, Val gives Viv a lot of information when she interviews him, including several adoring compliments about Anna’s apparent hereditary wealth, wonderful taste, and how badly he wanted to be friends with her. Nora is his best friend, with whom he “stays,” and she loves him “more than [his] bitch mother ever did,” we learn. Val may be conceited and snobbish, but this line, along with the rest of his story, effectively warmed me to him. While all of this helps Vivian learn more about Anna and her life in New York, the juiciest hint comes when Val mentions Chase, Anna’s boyfriend — TEDx speaker and founder of Wake, a dream-cloud-data app that I didn’t fully comprehend until Anna explained it to me on a yacht in Ibiza (so, Chase was not wrong to want to officially bring Anna into Wake after that, tbh).
At first, Chase appears to be a dead-end (and Todd, for what it’s worth, appears to be uninterested in working with Vivian), until the Scriberia crew discovers an Instagram snapshot of Anna, Chase, and super-rich lifestyle blogger Talia Mallay. Vivian and Jack are heading to the Hamptons, where they are wowed by the scale of the houses, and Vivian is easily persuaded to wear one of Talia’s beachwear kaftans and spend the night in her sage-scented guest cottage, which also has heated bathroom floors and a wardrobe full of beauty items. While Vivian appears to be drawn to and perplexed by the obscene wealth on display in Anna & Co.’s world, it’s evident that she’s also drawn to and perplexed by the excessive wealth on exhibit in Anna & Co.’s world.
What drives Talia and Val to be so open with a reporter like Vivian? Neither of them is friends with Anna anymore, yet neither of them seems motivated by vengeance – they aren’t trashing Anna; in fact, despite the broken relationships, they both seem fairly taken in by her. It appears that there’s something about Anna that drew these individuals to her in the first place and that the same thing that drew them to her in the first place also makes them want to talk about her, to share their version of Anna Delvey narrative. After a Paris breakdown over a hotel room payment and Val’s discovery that Anna’s surname name on her passport is “Sorokin,” Val discloses that Anna iced him out. Nonetheless, he appears more concerned than skeptical of Anna, and he is anxious about the color of her jail uniform (which he is happy to learn is not orange). Talia, who is lovely in her own way and was wooed by Anna’s fine art taste, never spoke to Anna again after she and Chase stayed on Talia’s friend’s yacht in Ibiza for a full FIVE DAYS after the rest of the group had left. (I’ve never been on a yacht in Ibiza or anywhere else, but Talia says this is a very rude and unclassy gesture, and I agree.) Despite this, she blames Chase, not Anna, for the sleazy behavior in the present. It’s also likely that they’re simply trying to avoid any potential fallout from Vivian’s investigating by getting their side(s) of the story out there.
Talia persuades Vivian to remain in the cottage where Anna previously slept, and Vivian wonders aloud to Jack how many rooms like that Anna has stayed in! (In the first episode, Vivian enthused about how the indictment read like a novel, persuading her editors to allow her to pursue the narrative.) It’s an intriguing dynamic, made all the more intriguing by the fact that Anna, as we’ve seen her in the past, while eccentric, cool, and aloof, doesn’t quite radiate the thing that everyone in her orbit claims she emits. That is until she persuades a wealthy yacht-owner friend of Talia’s to invest in Wake. Even after she reverses Chase’s last-name confrontation in Paris, tells him about the home/foundation/club for artists and patrons she wants to construct in New York, and claims she can’t have people questioning her past while she builds it (as scary music plays), he seems too easily swayed. Her influence isn’t quite coming through on the screen (Chase may also have an ulterior motive of his own at play that makes giving in the smarter move for him in this scene). Julia Garner is a fantastic actress, so I’m left wondering if this is on purpose, or if something is wrong with Anna’s entire portrayal. Because, at the end of the day, it’s all a show: she’s Russian, no, she’s German; Daddy pays for everything, no, Daddy’s cut her off; she understands wine, art, and fashion… it’s all a show.
In fact, Anna’s friends and acquaintances do not all seem to feel the same way about her. Neff spends the entire episode attempting to persuade Rachel and Kacy to schedule Riker’s visits with her, but neither is interested. When Rachel and Neff argue about their level of relationship with Anna and how many times Anna paid Rachel’s way, and Rachel claims that Anna “bought” Neff, a Black woman, things turn heated. That’s not cool. Then, while Kacy is sympathetic to Neff’s visit, she admits she is setting some limits with Anna as well. She tells Neff about the potential of her going to Rikers just to find out that the Anna they knew was a “made-up figure.” Neff goes to Rikers, disappointed and enraged with her former pals, but she can’t bring herself to enter the visiting room when the time comes.
Finally, as Todd receives a truckload of evidence from Catherine’s office (I’m still not really concerned about the lawyers’ plotlines, to be honest), Vivian returns to Anna and inquires about Chase. While Anna maintains her composure in front of Viv, this line of questioning appears to grate on Anna’s nerves, as she grunts and frets alone in her dark cell.
With Vivian sniffing around the Chase area, it’ll only be a matter of time before we discover out what went wrong. Meanwhile, I’ll be thinking about how Vivian’s colleague appears to believe that the fact that Anna Delvey and the Ebola virus arrived in New York City at the same time had something to do with it.