Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Montezuma's Revenge: Inside the Inferno

I know that this recap was long overdue for reposting. I just get into periods where I lose interest in putting up my older seasons. Aside from trying to find ongoing work and watching Vendettas, I haven't been doing much. Once again, I miss the straight-forward nature of The Challenge back when I was recapping it. One bright side is that Devin (assisted by Tony) successfully bounced Johnny from the game. Of course, Mr. Bananas did not take that well at all. It would have been better if Devin wasn't such a tool himself. The next batch of recaps will pose an interesting question: as bad as the current edition plays out, is it anywhere near as bad as Battle Of The Sexes 2? I cannot wait to reopen those wounds!

Airdate: May 31, 2004
Recap Published: June 4, 2004

The surviving cast members of Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno spill their guts. Who got freaky? What did Julie do to Coral's bed? And because nobody demanded it: a Road Rules preview.
Before I finish out this train wreck of a season, I want to congratulate Kelley Limp. The one-time Real World and Battle of the Seasons cast member married actor Scott Wolf this past weekend. While I paid more attention to the likes of Melissa and David during her season, I grew to like Kelley. On her sole Challenge, she and best friend Danny kicked ass, making it to the final round and winning the grand prize. I just hope that if she has kids, they'll have better bladder control than Julie. I'll get to that in a minute.

Opening credits: Katie screams at Veronica. Shane pukes himself off the show. Jeremy sticks his head in the Bug Helmet. Julie tugs on Veronica's harness. Rotten eggs get dumped on David. The title: Montezuma's Revenge: Inside the Inferno. Does that mean I'll lock myself in the bathroom before the first commercial?

We're at MTV headquarters on Broadway, with an actual audience. I tried to make it, but I didn't get an invite. Then again, with all the bad stuff I've written in the past three months, maybe it's for the best. Out host is the VJ known as Lala. Make your own Teletubbies joke. Our guests are the twelve remaining players: Mike, Coral, Syrus, CT, and everybody from the Road Rules team except for Shane and Jeremy. Lala thinks that RR winning again is ridiculous. Boy, there's an insight. Everybody talks at once. Lala asks why RR is so unstoppable. "Every time I see Mike," Darrell says, "I rise to the occasion a little bit to whup his ass once again." I'm sorry... how many "win or go home" games did you play, Darrell? He adds that the RR folks are used to traveling and competing, while RW people argue with each other. Christena feels like RR are the underdogs, and they have to overcompensate. Timmy picks up a basket and starts a collection for RW. I like you Timmy, but please... go to bed. Seriously, go to bed already. Mike insists that RR got lucky twice in a row. He adds, "Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while!" Syrus thinks that RW chills in a mansion, while RR is used to sleeping in a Winnebago.

Lala decides to move onto the sexy stuff. Clips time! Mike play-wrestles with Kendal. She interviews that she can't think about him without blushing. Now Mike's on the phone, discovering that Trishelle is spreading rumors about the new couple. Cut to earlier in the season, where Trishelle tells Mike that she doesn't enjoy watching him kiss other people. Slow-motion shot of Mike and Kendal kissing. Mike: "I can't help it if a girl likes me and I like her."

Back at the studio, Lala asks for an update. Timmy asks what they'll do with the baby. Pipe down, Timmy. Kendal tells us that she and Mike are better off as friends. That wouldn't happen to do with Mike's drunken tirade during Kendal's Inferno, would it? Lala asks about Trishelle ratting Mike out to his friend. Mike informs us that when Trishelle got home from the Inferno, she started rumors about Mike and Kendal doing stuff they weren't doing at the time. The audience laughs as Mike continues: a friend of his who Kendal was barely seeing got pissed off hearing the story. I'm guessing this was before Trishelle got host-slapped by Sally Jesse Raphael. [2018: Link to the final of The Surreal Life 2. Also, once again, I would not wish Sally Jesse on a lot of assholes, and Trishelle was one of them]

Lala brings up Mike dancing with Christena at the club. "Mike was trying to dip into the chocolate," Christena beams. Oh, whatever. Lala tells Mike it wouldn't be a bad idea. It would be with Christena in my opinion. Seriously, I hate her so much now. Christena says that Trishelle threatened to punch her. Mike adds that Trishelle was crying in the bathroom about how much she loved him. I'm guessing that true love involves kissing five guys in front of your ex. Katie lunges, covering Mike's mouth, saying that she doesn't wanted anybody talking about Trishelle since she's not here to defend herself. Katie, I've grown to like you over the past few months. Do yourself a favor: move away from Trishelle. If I had to be in the same apartment as Trishelle and her hook-up du jour (currently the odious Adam Larson, last I checked), I'd be as irritable as Katie. I'm sure there's another BMP alumnus who needs to split the rent with somebody.

Lala moves on to the Coral/Trishelle rivalry. Cut to the club, where Coral doesn't want Trishelle to touch her. Trishelle threatens to beat Coral's ass. Coral interviews that Trishelle causes her own drama. Coral asks Trishelle what she should have done, and Trishelle thinks Coral should have kept her mouth shut. Good luck with that. Trishelle: "I'm not going to let her walk all over me and intimidate the [bleep] after me." Suddenly, we segue to Coral vs. Julie, which is the Challenge equivalent to "Shoe vs. Ant." Julie tells Syrus that she's not willing to let Coral run things. Coral: "Do I not want to see Julie's big ugly face everyday? No, I'd rather not." Julie tells Coral to keep her mouth shut, which angers Coral. Julie calls out Coral to wrestle her. You can guess what happens next. "I don't wrestle!" Coral blurts out. "I [bleepin'] beat bitches up!"

Lala points out that drama always goes on around Coral. She replies that she only hates four people, listing Trishelle, Julie, and Slappy Stephen from RW: Seattle. Syrus asks who the fourth person is. Coral replies that she reserves the right to put somebody in there. Basically, it's an irritant to be named later. I reckon she's a lady after my cold heart. Lala asks everybody why it's hard to get along with Julie. Coral says that she hates Julie's ass. "I don't have to like everybody," Coral adds, "and everybody doesn't have to like me."

Lala introduces a new clip, much to Coral and Katie's excitement. Leah tells Coral that Julie was huffing about doing something really bad. David: "She definitely peed on your bed." Several shots of the gang trying to figure out Julie's technique. Cut to Julie telling us she pissed on Coral's bed. Coral tells Timmy, and they both laugh. Timmy: "See what happens when you don't wrestle people?" This is a clip that has to be shown to Frankie. Girl, this is what you're life is gonna be if you don't shape up.

Back in the studio, Lala asks if the cast dislikes Julie. Most of them disagree, and Coral insists it's just her. Veronica pipes up, saying that Julie almost killed her. Syrus comes in to defend Julie, saying she did a lot of growing up on TV. But he draws the line at the pissing.

Lala goes to commercial, teasing us with never-before-seen footage of Inferno and the new Road Rules season. I feel like the luckiest boy in the land. Not. We get a clip of two girls puking, and one guy throwing a fit about a mission.

Back from commercials, Lala says that RR won the cash, but there was some "serious sneakiness" going down. We start with a "Katie sucks" montage: she gets disqualified from Grope the Rope, gags on bird feed and worms during Birdfeeder, balks at doing Climbing Wall, and freaks out during Bungee Bound. Veronica interviews that Katie is holding the team back. Once again: they ended up winning all by four missions, so I'm not being the least bit sympathetic. Cut to Balcony Swing, where RR sought to give Veronica the Aztec Lifesaver in order to shove Katie into the Inferno. Abram carries on as he rappels down, humiliating Katie. She wins the Inferno, but Veronica sends her in again.

The audience bursts into applause. In my world, intense booing would have shoved Veronica out of the building entirely. Lala asks Katie about RR's backstabbing ways. She claims to have been wise to their plans, thanks to Mike, Syrus and CT. Abram doesn't buy it, but Mike confirms it. Katie says that she pretended not to know about the machinations. Lala asks Abram if he felt bad about lying to her. Abram claims to have been pushed into throwing the missions, and he says this with a straight face. I add "pathological liar" to his ever-expanding profile. CT wonders why they wanted to dump Katie if they kept winning missions. Thank you! Abram insists he didn't want to "fight the world" on this Challenge. Did he "fight the world" before or after the threesome with Veronica and Rachel during The Gauntlet? "I thought that people were too stupid to know what the [bleep] was going on," Abram continues. "I went and threw the [bleeping] missions, and it pissed me the hell off!" The audience breaks into applause, and I honestly hope they got paid for doing that. How can anybody watch this show and think Abram was being honest? He tells Katie that he didn't want to be secretive about it. Wait, wasn't he the one wearing Mike's Miz gear, lying to her face about not throwing Balcony Swing? Christena: "So you laughed in her face." Shut up, Christe-... wait, she's right. Abram yells that he was pissed at throwing the mission. Christena says that he made jokes about it, and insists Katie didn't care about it.

Lala asks Katie if she's over it. Katie answers that she thought she was over it. Lala asks Veronica what's up between her and Katie. Veronica: "Between who?" Coral: "You and the Lord." Lala asks again. Veronica: "There is no deal." Segue to clips. Veronica: "As long as I'm here, I don't want her on my team." Katie: "Screw a few more cast members, slut!" I really need that on a t-shirt. Of course, we get Katie's raging against Veronica one more time.

The audience cheers again, and I cannot blame them this time. Veronica notes that things aren't cool between her and Katie. Katie doesn't want to discuss it. Lala snipes that she has to do a show, telling them not to front like they like each other. Whatever, Lala. The feuding ladies insist they're being honest. Lala wants to know if Veronica was the mastermind behind the dumped missions. "If you want to make it so it was me that wanted to," Veronica replies, "then go ahead. But I don't think so."

Lala turns to Kendal about how she botched a thrown mission. Kendal says that nobody let her in on the plan. Lala then asks Timmy why he was afraid of going into the Inferno. Since he's a veteran reality star, Timmy dodges the question gracefully, saying that he volunteered for the first Inferno. "I would've been afraid to go up again David, for sure," he continues, talking about his would-be opponent. "David brought his C-game. I know he's got an A-game in here."

Lala turns on RW, bringing up their mission drama. Cut to clips of CT wanting to throw Leah into the Inferno. No word on how afraid Timmy would have been to have faced her. CT snipes at Leah to step up in the Inferno. To her credit, she doesn't lodge a brick in CT's ear.

Lala asks CT if he feels bad about how upset she got. He claims to have gotten mad at her insisting she deserved to be there as much as the others. "If she deserved to be there," he adds, "then I deserve a larger car." In my opinion, a doctor's note trumps everything. Leah would have taken part in the two missions she missed, so CT can shut up. Lala mentions that CT's actions got Darrell in trouble with Leah, and she asks what's going on between them. Darrell says that she's still friends with Leah. "Like they say," he continues, "what happens in Acapulco stays in Acapulco." Christena: "Unless you're being filmed." Timmy: "Unless you need a prescription to get rid of it!" Katie thinks that cast members will realize hook-ups on shows won't work. Once again: since she's near Trishelle, she would know about that.

Lala teases us with the promise of new clips, and new RR footage. Right now, we got a dune buggy flipping over. Joy.

Back from commercials, Lala tells us that with seasons of Real World, unseen footage would make it on tape. But here, this is the only place to see unaired Inferno material. Am I the only one who thinks they could be a market for Challenge DVDs? Challenge 2000 would move quickly, with Heather sitting on Teck and chastising him, the Los/Piggy fights, Amaya clotheslining Veronica in a flag football game, David running after a cow as he tries to kiss it, and Amaya running from a midget wrestler. Good times. Better that the times we get nowadays.

David tells us that CT spoons Julie and calls her, "my lil Stormin' Mormon." CT tells David that he shaved in a certain place, and he's getting a rash. Abram and Mike wrestle. Coral lies in bed, asking if we want to see her boobs. I got enough of them under tops, thank you very much. In the pool, the girls get on top of the guys' shoulders, and Coral's boobs come out. Syrus flicks food at Coral, trying to get it between her boobs. On the boat, Darrell wears the wig and teeth, telling us he's Adam from RW: Paris. That's mean. Funny, but mean. Darrell jumps on top of Leah, and she's grossed out by the teeth. Julie squirts a drink at Jeremy. I'm happy it's just a drink. At the club, David enjoys Veronica grinding on his leg. Between this and CT spooning Julie, I'm guessing playoff stress does weird things to Red Sox fans. At the Kendal/Leah Inferno, Abram calls somebody a whore, flipping the bird. Holly tells him to shut up. He continues to act like an ass. Abram: "[Bleep] you, [bleep] you!" Coral: "We saw already, Abram!” [2018: Road Rules: South Pacific episode dealing with aftermath of Abram beating up Donell]

Katie tells us the rumor about the house being haunted. She tells members of Yellowcard about it, but CT denies it. Timmy pours beer into his sneaker. He drinks from it, staggers around, and falls into a kiddie pool. During Birdfeeder, David complains that he has to go to the bathroom again. Coral tells him to go in the chicken suit. CT brags about seeing Coral’s nipples.

The crowd applauds, since everybody loves Coral’s breasts. Lala asks her if that’s her favorite body part. She they moves to Veronica, asks her about the deal with David. She insists that the clip was all that happened between them. Moving on to the ghost story, several of the players inists the phantom was real. Holly tells the story: she met a girl who grew up in Mexico City, and who spent summers in Acapulco. Apparently, two women were murdered in the house. Christena says she saw the ghost, but nobody believed her.

Lala asks Abram about his rant. He breaks out into the most incoherent rambling this side of Jerri Manthey. “It’s a show that’s meant to bring out the worst in people and, at the same time, the best. It was hard for me to deal with watching such deviousness, such hatred, such lies, everything. Just the entire situation was really hard to deal with, because everything was based to selfishness, greed and trying to [bleep] each other over. It was really hard to live for an entire month with everyone that I live with. Even Timmy, a good guy, I couldn’t trust him, because it would be stupid to trust people on the show.” If this came from Katie, I would understand. But right now? Shut up, Abram. Christena thinks that the game makes players blame themselves. Coral: “The game can’t make you anymore of a liar than you were before you got there.” Bless you, Sister Coral.

Now it’s time for Lala to pimp Road Rules: X-Treme. We start with a guy driving the RV. Players rappel under a waterfall. We meet Patrick, who hails from Park Ridge, IL. Cut to a clip of him puking. “I’m a lustful person,” he interviews. “Whenever I see girls, I see their ass.” The sad thing is that he probably has lots of girlfriends. Next is Ibis, who is from Florida. Cut to her going in a tandem bungee. She interviews about being emotional, but she tires to keep it to herself. Cut to her sobbing a little.

One of the boys has the other in a wrestling hold. Now we meet Derrick, 20, from Chicago. “If someone challenge me,” he interviews, “I’m gonna give it my all.” He argues with one of the females. “I say thing people are afraid to say.” I bet he’s a charmer. One of the girls: “Uneducated, ignorant, [bleeping] [a-hole]!” This is Kina, 18, from South Jersey. She quits during a flying mission. She interviews that she likes new experiences.

Now we meet Jodi, 22, from Richmond, VA. She has a “J” on her top, so I’m guessing she’s supposed to be Laverne 2K4. She talks about getting into a threesome. Back at the studio, you just know Veronica is writing a letter to the producers, begging them to let Jodi on the next Challenge. We see footage of a guy yelling at somebody off-camera while carrying a girl on his shoulders. I’m guessing this is Danny from Hillside, NJ. Cut to him gagging on something. Danny is the gay guy from this season, as he complains about somebody telling him “thanks” after he expressed affection. “If I say ‘I love you,’” he adds, “I expect to hear it back.” I’m sorry, but I’ve already seen one gay Danny, and this kid will not measure up.

Footage! Running from an explosion. Holding onto a pole over a river. The camera zooms out to show what appears to be a volcano. Players bungee over mountains. Attack dog training. Jumping into inner tubes. We go back to the driving footage, when a tree falls on the hood of the car. That’s not a good sign. “Road Rules: X-Treme: So bad, even the trees want to hurt them.”

The studio audience applauds, and I question their intelligence. Lala asks the players what they think of their potential teammates. Of course, everybody talks at once, and they seem happy. After the train wreck known as South Pacific, anything would be an improvement. Abram thinks they’ll do awesome. Coral is hoping for another Battle of the Sexes, since being on the RW team isn’t working for her. Syrus: “Where the brothers at on Road Rules?” Thank you! Darrell adds that all the black Challengers made it to the end of Inferno. “We like a horror clip,” he adds, “we be the first ones to go!”

Lala asks the cast for final thoughts. “Just because you guys won twice in a row,” Mike sputters, “doesn’t mean you guys are better!” Kendal covers his mouth, and Lala wraps it up. Once again: thanks for reading my recaps, and I hope to entertain you in the near future. Be cool, be safe, and stay the hell away from Veronica.

 Nice stuff here and there . . . like how the black Challengers all made it to the end. Cut to Free Agents, where Devyn Simone whispered about all the black people disappearing. Also, I more or les pegged Derrick to be the Abram for 2004. For the most part, I was wrong. In retrospect, I have to cringe about Coral being game for a battle of the sexes, given how the next season panned out for her.

That's that for The Inferno. Four months after the Reunion, I would recap Battle Of The Sexes 2 for Reality News Online. That was my final assignment for that website due to differences of opinion, which I will go over soon. Unless I obtain a job and/or life. Seriously, that was one of the worst seasons in the history of the series, and that is saying something. Why rush through the pain?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Amazing Race 30: Thoughts Before The Finale

The thirtieth season of The Amazing Race is drawing to a close. CBS has compressed the episodes into eight weeks, and fans are on the edge of their seats . .. not so much in anticipating which of the four remaining teams will win, but whether the series will get one more season.

I have to admit, I always feel like CBS puts the screws to TAR and its fans. I don't feel that's unjustified on my part, given that the other big reality series on CBS (Survivor and Big Brother) always have a place on the network. With TAR, fans have to go on a year-by-year basis waiting for word on when a new season will air. In my head, I feel that TAR deserves two editions ("cycles" never caught on for me) within a standard network season. The reality is that it would probably be one . . . maybe in the spring, probably in the summer. The fear is that CBS would pull the plug. The glass-half-empty part of me fears that if the team of "stars" from last summer's Big Brother (Cody & Jessica) win, CBS would cancel the series, because Big Brother contestants have been inflicted on TAR for years. A win by Cody & Jessica might be seen as the "perfect" ending, by which there could be no better note to go out.

Yes, I will also admit that I am unreasonable about TAR, to the point where if that were to get canceled, Survivor should follow it into oblivion. I know Survivor has the ratings to -- well -- survive, and then some. But it's not the "water cooler" show it used to be. If you haven't been following the series lately, it's drowning in twists and gimmicks, and most of them involve host Jeff Probst trying to cater to alpha males. For him, a buff dude winning is way more necessary than a balanced season. The upcoming edition premiering next week -- Ghost Island -- looks to be more of the same.

I feel that TAR30 has been pretty good. The show abandoned gimmicks after two seasons (online celebrities in TAR28, eleven teams of strangers racing in TAR29), going with a "soft" theme of "winners." I take that as a subtle jab of the current president of the United States, who hated how TAR kept winning Emmys over The Apprentice. Right now, we're approaching the final two legs with four teams vying for $1 million: Cody & Jessica, Alex & Conor (IndyCar drivers; Alex won the Indianapolis 500 in 2016), Kristi & Jen (extreme skiers and friends), and Henry & Evan (dating debaters from Yale). The odd thing is that unlike the past two seasons, the better teams haven't skidded out of contention prior to the finale. I won't bore you with the math; just know that if you take the leg averages of all teams, they almost line up in order of elimination. Also, there were only three legs where teams finishing sixth through eleventh finished in the top three. I'll go over the stats after the finale.

As for problems this season, there were three. Here they are, in order of annoyance:

3. The Partner Swap

Going into TAR30, fans heard that teams would be switching partners. Needless to say, that didn't go over with fans that well. I thought it would have been more appropriate in TAR26, where five of the eleven teams were strangers set up for "blind dates" while racing around the world. Mixing things up gave me the image of host Phil Keoghan throwing a glorified "key party."

What ended up happening was a bit of an anticlimax. Teams wound up in Zimbabwe, camping out overnight. The follow morning, Phil woke them and revealed the twist. The teams that had arrived at camp first and successfully set up a tent would pick another team, and partners would be chosen from there. Cody & Jessica chose Kristi & Jen and Lucas & Brittany (dating lifeguards, until Lucas popped the question in France) picked Conor & Alex, leaving Henry & Evan to mix with Eric & Daniel (twins/firefighters/unrepentant punsters). The new pairs wound up performing two tasks before arriving at the Pit Stop, where the teams had to wait to reunite before proceeding to the next leg.

The stupid thing is that TAR already did something close to that. The Intersection debuted in TAR10, and would be used in the following season and TAR16. Instead of switching partners, two teams would combine to form a foursome and perform tasks until they were told to separate. The Swap was basically a more-hyped Intersection. In the end, it didn’t upset me so much as make me wonder how badly the producers wanted to create drama.

2. The U-Turns

I have come to accept some gimmicks to be adopted. The U-Turn evolved from the Yield, where one team would pick another to wait for a predetermined amount of time before proceeding. Originally, teams would perform a Detour, choosing one of two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. Upon completion, a team would arrive at a Route Marker with the U-Turn. If they chose to do that, another team would have to go back and perform the second Detour task. Last season, the format was tweaked. Now, the U-Turn would be set up before the Detour, meaning teams could perform that, and the affected team would have to perform both tasks. Suddenly, a team could throw a roadblock (small letters) at a rival without much effort.

I’m being pedantic, but I think the original format worked better. Or maybe I was just “butthurt” that Cody & Jessica (fresh from a series of which I have no interest) pulled that on Trevor & Chris (violinists, nicknamed “Well Strung” after the quartet for which they play), leading to their elimination. I get really picky about U-Turns in general. In my mind, they should come after a Detour, and a U-Turned team would not be able to do that to a rival until they performed both tasks. I don’t get that anal about it, but I can burn up a forum thread. But that’s nothing compared to this season’s “twist.”

1, The Head-to-Head

Okay. So . . . you’re running the Race, and you’re doing pretty good. You see Phil at the Pit Stop mat, but you can’t check in. No, you have to play a game with another team. If you fail, you have to wait for the next team to arrive and play them. The last team remaining gets eliminated.

There are many reasons to loathe this twist. For one thing, while the Head-to-Head was only done in two legs (second and fourth), they were at the very end, potentially negating all progress made by teams. It didn’t help that the game involved team members pushing a cart of frites through a course, while being dressed as a bag of frites. Henry & Evan arrived at the Route Marker in third place, but then proceeded to lose match after match, dropping further down the leaderboard with each failure. Finally, they managed to best April & Sarah (mothers, practitioners of “Goat Yoga), checking in eighth.

It got  worse. From what I heard, April & Sarah waited for the last team – Eric & Daniel – for three hours, then proceeded to lose the final Head-to-Head, earning an elimination. While most of the editing suggested that the women were snippy towards each other I their two legs, it didn’t seem fair that one team would have that large of a lead negated without getting an advantage for their patience. The second (and final) Head-to-Head involved a less ridiculous game of pétanque (or bocce, if you’re Italian), and that led to elimination for Cedric & Shawn . . . which was a relief after Cedric interviewed in the prior leg about having three heart attacks. That was also the episode when he elected to perform a Roadblock (running the streets of Tangiers in search of a Travelocity Gnome) while wearing a huge backpack, something he could have left with Shawn. While I’m certain all contestants had to go through physicals, and a quick online search reveals that Cedric’s heart attacks were “small,” it still felt like a relief for him and Shawn to bow out, albeit in the dumbest way imaginable.

Bottom line: I feel that Head-to-Head is a cheap way for a team to get eliminated. I prefer the more conventional methods . . . like losing a foot race to the Pit Stop (models/”ring girls” Dessie & Kayla), not being able to figure out how to open a puzzle to get a clue (competitive eaters Joey & Tim), or misplacing a passport (Lucas). Also, I did not mention that the Head-to-Head matches had Phil doing running commentary from the Pit Stop. He has never done that in the prior 29 seasons, and it showed. That is more of Jeff Probst’s deal, albeit with more shaming of women and beta males for poor performances.

Despite my problems with this season, I am convinced that average TAR is better than most reality programs. We’re going into the finale with four strong teams, and there’s no one favorite to win. I’m good with anybody getting the $1 million save for Cody & Jessica, for reasons I’ve already mentioned. After tonight, I will have to hope that The Amazing Race gets renewed by CBS. That, and hoping Survivor: Ghost Island won’t be a dud. But I doubt the latter.

PS: Here are Trevor and Chris -- along with their fellow performers of Well-Strung -- performing the theme music of The Amazing Race.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Inferno Episode 17: Blaze of Glory

This is the end. Well, this and the reunion. Once again, I regard Inferno as one of the dumber seasons in Challenge history. It didn't have a satisfying ending; anything with Veronica getting a big payday and a new car was never fun to watch. Ditto for the likes of Abram, Christena and Holly, who also hurt Katie, the unquestioned heroine of the season. The weird thing is that I don't think Veronica was as heinous as Johnny has been in his "career." For God's sake, he actually had his sister write disparaging notes prior to Vendettas, then left them in strategic places so most of the females would suspect each other. At least most of Veronica's nastiness was improvised.

Worse, the producers decided to lay into Coral in the finale, with her mistakes playing a part in the second consecutive loss for Real World. I know, she was never a "gamer," and she had an uncanny knack of making it to the end (as you'll see in Battle Of The Sexes 2). Still, she managed to save herself from going into the Inferno, and at least she managed not to come close to dying this time. Like I said . . . her "character" of being a bitch worked when her targets deserved it. You'll see how bad that could get in BOTS2.

Screw it . . . .lets get this recap over with . . .  

Airdate: May 24, 2004
Recap Published: May 30, 2004

Can Road Rules put an exclamation point on this season? Can the underdog Real World team pull out a miracle win? And how much Mexican food can you eat before throwing up?
Looking back on this season, I should feel lucky. Lucky that I'm not covering the train wreck of a season that is Real World: San Diego. Lucky that I didn't have to burn precious brain cells on Survivor: All-Stars, which had been the worst season ever prior to the finale. And I'm grateful for being out of the Bachelor and American Idol loops entirely. Anyway, I guess after seven months of recapping the tribulations of tools, I need a break. Well, no rest for the wicked, and the good don't need any. Let's wrap this season up.

Rather than recap last week's episode, Voiceover Lady takes us directly to the start of the final mission. Dave tells the players about Seven Deadly Sins, and goes into more detail than we got last week:

Lust: The teams are handcuffed together as they run through a tire course, straddle poles, and go under a limbo bar. What limbo and tires has to do with lust is anybody's guess.

Wrath: The players bust open fifty piñatas. Once all the piñatas are shattered, players look for the key to unlock the handcuffs.

Gluttony: Each teammate must eat ten taquitos. That's it.

Envy: The teams come across two platforms with oversized bricks. Each team takes the other team's bricks (hence the "envy," I guess) and carries them over several narrow bridges.

Greed: The players climb over cargo nets four feet above the ground, crossing one at a time. Also, there are seven bags connected to the net. Five contain cash and prizes, while two hold a "penalty card," which knocks their time back by one minute.

Pride: The infamous final mission puzzle. This one is of the crossword variety. Teams must solve the puzzle using clues and letter tiles provided. Dave: "The answers can be proper names, places or events." Cut to Coral looking on. This will be important later.

Sloth: Pick up a teammate and run to the finish line. First team across wins the Challenge and $150,000 to add to the bank account.

Kendal interviews that the beginning of the course will be more difficult for RR, since they have eight players. The RR players try to figure out how to run while handcuffed. Kendal continues: "I just really hope that we just try to stick together, and try to think like one person, instead of eight different people." Timmy adds that RR is uneasy, but not as much as RW.

On the other side, CT tries to limbo, as Coral tells him that she'll fall if he does. Syrus thinks he'll have problems. "Syrus makes me nervous when it comes to missions," CT interviews. "He's worried about his knee popping out because he's over 30 now. He feels like his body's going to fall apart for some reason." Are we back on that now? Coral holds her arm out, and Syrus tries to go under. CT: "He's all nervous about the limbo. I'm like, 'C'mon, man, it’s limbo.'"

Both teams get handcuffed. Dave counts down from three, then we cut to credits. Goodbye, Jeremy and Shane! I certainly didn't miss either of you after you got eliminated. Goodbye, David and Trishelle! David, I'm sorry about the Sox, but at least you got the Pats. Trishelle... screw it. Anybody who fools with Adam is not somebody I want to chat with. Goodbye, Coral and Mike! Honestly, both of you should've stopped with The Gauntlet. Goodbye, CT and Leah! Maybe you can go five minutes without driving each other mad, but I doubt it. Goodbye, Abram and Veronica! You both suck, you know that? Goodbye, Syrus and Julie! Syrus, as long as you don't bring the drama, I'll always like you. Julie, Katie, for God's sake. Goodbye, Ace and Mallory! I honestly don't care for either of you, which is better than earning my hatred. Goodbye, Katie, Holly and Christena! Katie, if you ever finally snap and beat up the other two, call me first. I want to witness that first-hand. Goodbye, Timmy! Please stick to Discovery Channel from now on. Goodbye, Darrell and Kendal! Darrell, I hope you get those diction lessons with your money. Goodbye, Dave Mirra! You actually made me miss Jonny Moseley.

Back to the action: Dave blows his air horn to kick things off. Both teams run, as RR gingerly goes through the tires. Mike points out that RW is going faster with fewer people. We know, Mike. Both teams straddle the poles. Mike limbos first, helping Syrus under the bar. RW completes Lust first, with RR trailing.

Both teams arrive at Wrath. Darrell interviews that RW took off, since they had fewer people. Everybody grabs a stick. Darrell: "But we get to the piñatas, boy, and I like to break [bleep]. I'm gonna tear a piñata up." Sure enough, both teams pound on the piñatas. CT actually grabs one and stomps on it. Suddenly, Syrus and Coral start yelling. Turns out that the handcuffs came off. A graphic tells us that the key must be found anyway. As RW stumbles around, RR continues to bash away. Abram finds the key, and his teammates take care of the rest of the piñatas. Syrus interviews that "things just went to hell." As RR unlocks their cuffs, RW roots around the debris. RR takes off for Gluttony. Christena: "I feel very confident right now. We might win this."

RR arrives at Gluttony and starts downing the taquitos. Holly reminds us that they have to eat ten taquitos as quickly as possible. A graphic informs us that ten taquitos times eight people equals 80 taquitos. Thanks for the unnecessary math lesson. Wouldn't it be more intriguing if both teams had an equal amount of taquitos, and RW had to chow down more per person? Katie interviews that she's a vegetarian. "Eating meat is not my idea of a good time," she adds. "They're cold, and I see flies landing on them." Katie belches, looking close to throwing up. Don't walk away from the table! Spew on somebody! Abram and Christena puke, while Timmy coughs.

Back at Wrath, RW is still searching for the key. A spot-shadow reveals a red salt shaker, where the key is contained. Syrus interviews that it's hard to find with all the red stuff from the pinatas. Coral points out the irony that they're not cuffed.

Over at Gluttony, Darrell spits up and pukes. Katie pukes. "I don't like throwing up," Darrell interviews, "because it hurts my nuts." Timmy: "Ironically, the taquitos taste better on the way back up." Back at Wrath, Syrus finally finds the key, and the team takes off their cuffs.

RW chows down. CT spit-pukes. He interviews that the team has to step up and make something happen. Christena and Veronica puke, while Syrus spits up. RR completes Gluttony and starts running to Envy. Timmy reminds everybody to grab RW's bricks. He expositions that the team has decided to station themselves on the bridges and pass the bricks around. RW is still eating. RR passes the bricks. Coral stuffs down the taquitos, then pukes up. RR passes bricks. Syrus blows chunks, as Mike yells "Let 'er rip, baby!" Yeah, that will motivate a guy. "There's money on the line," Syrus interviews, "and you want to get the loot. So it's just time to suck it up and deal with it."

RR is still passing bricks. Coral chows down, complaining that Gluttony is the worst game, and complained about the taquitos. "They're terrible," she interviews. "They are the most disgusting things I've ever eaten in my life." While she gags, RR passes some more bricks. Coral drops some food on the floor, but scarfs it down. "Coral steps it up," Mike interviews. "That big mouth of hers does something good. That girl yaps yaps yaps, but that girl can eat, man." RW is waved off Gluttony, and they run to Envy. And RR is still passing their bricks.

Commercials. Guess what, kids? Only two more weeks until the premiere of Road Rules: X-Treme. Let me give you my first impression of the previous season: "The only thing I can deduce is that this Donell character is a big guy, and I'm going to like him." In other words, I'm not going to look for favorites with this new cast.

RW catches up to RR on Envy. Syrus interviews that RR is wasting time with their assembly line, and he can carry lots of bricks. Sure enough, the RW players lug several bricks over the planks. Mike interviews that they're doing an amazing job working as a unit.

RR finishes Envy and rushes to Greed. Timmy nearly blows out a lung yelling for his team to stop before the cargo net, since they can only go one at a time. Darrell starts out on the net. Over at Envy, Coral carries some bricks. Timmy tells us it will take twice as long for RR to go through the nets. Holly crosses. Timmy: adds that RR isn't going for the bags. "We're going for the $150K here," he says. "We're not going to grab a free pair of jeans." He's not going to get love from the sponsors for that.

RW finishes Envy and runs to Greed. CT doesn't break stride as he hits the net. Abram can't believe that RW caught up. As Mike and Christena crawl on the nets, a graphic tells us that three members of RW are left to cross the net, compared to RR's five. Soon, RW completes Greed. Darrell: "In the back of my head, I'm thinking we ain't gonna win, honestly." Darrell is such a bastion of negativity. Timmy is the last RR to cross, and he stumbles and bumbles on the net. This is the guy the Axis of Ass guilt-tripped Kendal into sacrificing herself for?

RW reaches Pride, ready to start the crossword puzzle. Two-Down: "Disco Domino Derby Home." Mike knows the answer: El Alebrije. Timmy stumbles off the net, and RR heads for Pride. "No matter what the lead is," Timmy interviews, "you can blow the whole thing on the puzzle." He should know; his RR team from Battle of the Seasons couldn't figure out the puzzle, and RW ended up taking the puzzle, the game and the grand prize. CT tries to spell "El Alebrije." Flashback to the club's exterior, and Dave (in the throwback gear) welcoming the kids. RW is having problems. Kendal interviews that it's time to work as a team. Holly thinks it's "Al Alebrijie." Back to the club exterior, and the club sign is inverted, so we can see all the letters. RR gets it right.

Six-Across: "Tarjeta Amarilla." I don't know Spanish, but RR does: it's "Yellow Card," as in Yellowcard, as in the band who played in Wreck 'n Roll, and who might be the only guys whose reputations don't take a hit from this season. Cut to the lads playing "Way Away." RR gets that right.

Two-Down: "Julie's Method of Destruction." Her teeth? Her cord-snapping hands? Her own hubris? We flash back to Julie in Wreck 'n Roll, bashing stuff with a guitar. Christena puts in "Epiphone," the brand of guitar Julie used. That's correct. RW has "Electric." Guys, are you new? You have to think of the sponsors all the time! Mike: "This puzzle is gonna kill us if we don't get it."

A graphic shows RR has four out of ten clues right. Four-Across: "Tickle the Twine." Answer: "Grope the Rope." I'm guessing that the guys who came up with this game watched a lot of old-school Batman. "The crime took place over the sea... sea... 'C' for Catwoman!" Mike reminds us that the puzzle always determines the winner. RW has two out of ten, and they're still having trouble with "El Alebrije."

Commercial time, and we got a reunion for next week. It's everybody who made it to the final mission, so there's no Jeremy, Shane, or (thank goodness) Julie. Abe has a buzz cut, and CT's hair has grown out. Coral is wearing a top that make her breasts look so big, they appear to be on the verge of collapsing in on themselves. Katie claims she's over it. Christena rips into Abram for making a mockery over throwing the mission. Abram: "And it pissed me the hell off!" More griping. Coral: "The big plan to keep weak Katie around got them a hundred and ten [bleepin'] thousand dollars!" Timmy grabs a basket, trying to raise money for RW. I am not looking forward to recapping that.

RW gets "Tickle the Twine" right, as we get a flashback of Grope the Rope. As RW examines the board, Coral whispers the clue for Nine-Across: "Sweet Surrender." Cut to a flashback of cookies. RR examines Three-Down: "_______ City _____" They start with "Student City." Flashback to Dave welcoming the players to Student City Beach. As RR nails it, RW has trouble with it.

RR moves to Four-Down: "Cold Girl." RR can't get it right away. CT thinks it might be Katie. Coral: "They wouldn't use our names." The editors eagerly sink their fangs into Coral, running the footage of Dave telling the cast, "The answers can be proper names, places or events." Katie thinks "Cold Girl" is Trishelle, since she couldn't eat enough peppers to win her Inferno. A flashback shows that Katie is correct. Holly interviews that Katie would know this, since she's best friends with Trishelle. Veronica: "Who would have thought that Katie and Trishelle would have both helped us?" Shut up, Veronica. And why, Katie? Why are you helping these people? What happened to dumping the mission?

Mike reads a new clue: "Lights Out." Oh, come on. He should know this. We flash back to a hand holding a candle. Katie figures that it's Jeremy, since he lost Human Candelabra. A flashback shows that she's correct. Nobody says anything about how Jeremy was the only person on RR to see Katie as anything but an albatross. RW goes to "Sweet Surrender." Darrell thinks it's Shane. Sure enough, we get a flashback of Shane eating a cookie, and throwing up. I still get joy from that moment.

RW hits One-Down: "'Booty' Babes." Flashback: money changing hands, money in a jar. RR is on it, needing that to finish the puzzle. RW only has four out of ten correct, and they'll stuck on "Sweet Surrender." Holly instructs Timmy to stand in front of the puzzle, presumably to avoid a repeat of the Battle of the Sexes finale. CT: "Student City Cycle?" RR is close to clinching it. CT: "You're sure it's not Student City Cycle?" Coral: "No, it's not Student City something." Cut to Dave, welcoming the players to Student City Beach.

RR figures it out. Timmy expositions that Holly and Coral handled the money (or "booty") during Come Sail Away. RR is done with the puzzle, and they run off to Sloth. Mike is distraught. "My heart just sinks," he interviews. "My stomach sinks." Coral says that it's over. Mike: "I told you it would come down to the puzzle."

RR arrives at Sloth. The girls jump on the guys' backs, while Veronica jumps on Holly. They run. They finish. Game Over, they win. I'm sorry, but I'm down on this. After all the crap they pulled getting here, I'm convinced that the bad guys won. They waste no time going into a victory pile. Over at Pride, RW is bummed out. Syrus can't believe they didn't win. "To come from behind," he interviews, "to pass them up and then to not figure out the crossword puzzle? Very frustrating."

RR celebrates some more, and the girls hug. "I'm just excited," Katie interviews. "Any drama with me and Veronica, I'm not even worried about right now." But you got my hopes up. You could've denied your teammates the big money, and stuck it to them. What happened? Veronica and Holly celebrate their second win as teammates, their first being Challenge 2000. RW runs in, as Coral rides Syrus, and Mike smacks CT like a pony. There's hugging and congratulating. Coral: "You wiped the floor with our asses this entire time!" That's a lovely visual. She tells RR that RW underestimated them as a team. I'm too tired to even rank on Coral for that.

Denouement. Dave: "Real World, you guys are great competitors." I'm amazed he had a straight face saying this. Winning four out of fifteen missions, this team was as hopeless as the Challenge 2000 team and the RR squad from Extreme Challenge. He awards the $150,000 check to RR, boosting their bank account to $260,000, which comes out to $32,5000 before taxes. Dave then tells RR that their prize awaits them, and they have to go get it. The team gets tickets, which will take them to their grand prize.

Graphic: "One Week Later: Malibu, CA." A parking lot filled with Saturns. You can probably guess what happens next. Timmy honks the horn, cigar in his mouth, bunny hood on his head. Kendal is happy winning her first Challenge. Katie interviews that she didn't have fun at first, but she deserved this more than the others. Who am I to argue? Cut to Darrell, with Veronica in the passenger seat. How about one more verbal nugget from Darrell? "Me and Veronica, with all our money, we gonna get ourselves a little house, have all kinds of little Cuban and mixed black babies." That is a scary thought. The kids would probably be jerks, but nobody would understand their jabbering. Footage of cars driving around. Whatever.

Time for the finale montage. Darrell interviews that he loved Acapulco, and it was a great vacation. Dude, a vacation implies you have a job. You've done two seasons straight. Who are you fooling? We get footage from the first episode. The kids get off the boats and explore the Villa. Darrell: "It's been cool, watching everybody fight, watching the drama. I loved it." Cut to the Coral/Julie and Katie/Veronica fights. Julie tries to murder Veronica in the name of getting paid.

Mike interviews that he learned so much about himself. Cut to Kendal throwing him to the ground. Mike: "I came out meeting an awesome girl." Didn't you say that last season about Trishelle? The couple kisses at the club, and rolls around on the beach. No footage of a drunk Mike slagging Kendal during her Inferno.

Now we get Leah backing that thing up on Darrell. He interviews that he enjoyed Leah's company. Cut to her bungee freakout. "I tried to make Leah feel more comfortable," Darrell interviews, "because I know she thinks negative all the time." He and Coral attend to her as she gets loaded into the ambulance. "I just wish she had more confidence so she can do good."

Cut to Syrus, who talks about getting older, as we see him struggle on Climbing Wall. "It's a growing process," he interviews, "it's an enlightening process." He makes it to the top. "You're dealing with yourself, you're dealing with your fears." He wins the Aztec Lifesaver in Chicken Feeder, saving himself from the Inferno. "I can't say in my normal everyday life I would go through half the stuff I just went through." I like him. Never mind this was his third Challenge. There appears to be a genuine air to him, and I can forgive him for stuff like trying to help boot Leah off, and the time he jumped on Antoine's back. Syrus is the man.

Katie montage. She gets scared on the bungee. She interviews that it was emotionally draining and intense. Cut to her balking, and her lovely teammates screaming at her from the ground before she actually jumps. "I'm extremely proud of myself," she says. "I beat the odds. I proved everybody wrong." She beats Julie and David in the Infernos. She flashes a smile. "Who's weak now?" I'm hoping she dumps the cancer sticks and gets away from Trishelle. She can do so much more with her life.

Cut to Katie putting Trishellle's name in the crossword puzzle. Veronica interviews that Katie came in big. "Winning the entire thing is a huge accomplishment for Katie," she adds. "Everyone had something to put in, all eight of us." Shut up. Just shut up. I'm putting show creator Jonathan Murray on notice: if you insist on bringing the Verantula back, you make damn sure Emily comes in as well. As much as I despised Emilizzy Borden for putting her own selfish motives above her team, she's the only person to put Veronica in her place. Without Emily, Veronica has gone unchecked, hanging out with the "cool kids" and making lives miserable... including my own.

More RR celebration. Christena: "There's been a lot of drama, a lot of fights, not seeing eye-to-eye on our team. But when you cross that finish line, you check all of that at the door and everything in that moment is right." If Christena wasn't such a fake, I might accept that. RR does a cheer and poses with the check. Fade to black.

I'll be recapping the reunion next week, but I want to thank you for reading now. By writing in to me, you showed me that I'm not wasting my time and brain cells recapping this show. I really appreciate all the feedback you've given me, and I hope I brightened things up for you in return.

And that was that. Four months later, I was recapping Battle Of The Sexes, which -- in a lot of ways -- was so much worse. And that would be the final season I recapped for Reality News Online. Yes, I will be bringing that up looking back in those recaps. First, we have a reunion to sort through, which ran for thirty minutes. Man, that seems so long ago, doesn't it?