Friday, June 16, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 14: Tubthumper

This is it . . . Sarah's final trial on her way to personal redemption. And yes, I really went "all-in" with her writing this recap. Once again: I identified with her a lot back then; of course I had a rooting interest. It's funny that we're thirteen years from when this was written, and not only did Sarah not prove to be the most-screwed person in Challenge history, she's not even the most pitiable player named "Sarah." Look at Sarah Rice-Patterson . . . she went years with below-average teammates (can't hate Devyn; she was awesome), and got forced off two seasons thanks to the dumbasses she was paired with (fat fuck Vinny in Battle Of The Exes; the always sucky Trishelle in Rivals II). She won Battle Of The Exes II with Jordan, came back two seasons later on Rivals III, got teamed with Johnny, and he denied her $175,000 in the end. Oh, and guys have gotten a lot worse than Adam Larson. But you knew that already.

Airdate: December 29, 2003
Recap Published: January 2, 2004 

Sarah gets knocked out, but she gets up again, and nobody can keep her down. But after a brutal mission, the Queen of the Gauntlet is primed to be overthrown. Will the forces of evil finally win out?
How’s everybody doing? Did you get what you want for the holidays? Cool. This episode is dedicated to Danny Roberts and his boyfriend Paul. If you skipped out after this episode aired, I’ll break it down: during Real World: New Orleans, Danny and Paul met up romantically several times. The problem was, Paul was in the Army, and his homosexuality was a big problem in the time of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” So Paul’s face was blurred every time he showed up. Monday night, the blur was finally taken off, and we got the first look at him. I dedicate this recap because I sometimes get so squirreled away in my little area, I forget that others go though tougher times than dealing with the obnoxious. Also, at the beginning of 2003, I found myself cheering on Melissa and her friend Amaya during Sergeant Says. So applauding another Belfort resident and his friend at the end seems fitting. I think I’ll overdose on that season’s marathon this weekend.

Previously on The Gauntlet: Real World won All or Nothing, upping their bank to $40,000, which was half of Road Rules’ total. Mike defeated Abram in the Gauntlet, but RR had nine players left to RW’s seven. Theo V. interviewed that it was tough to lose Abram. Sarah sat on the bench, looking distraught over how the bullet she dodged nailed Abram between the eyes. Roni interviewed that Sarah has gone to the Gauntlet four times and won, and that was big for the team.

We start with some quick cuts, which will be consistent for tonight’s episode. First, we flash from Sarah in the mansion to Adam and Theo V. walking outside. Theo can’t believe she has gone to the Gauntlet four times. He interviews that he likes Sarah and he wants her to stay. He tells Adam that they have to think of a way for her to use her Gauntlet energy in the missions. “Maybe it’s fear,” Adam muses, “a fear of getting sent home.” He’s perceptive, isn’t he? Cut to Sarah in the bedroom with Roni. “Sarah has gotten disqualified two or three times,” Adam interviews. “She is definitely the weakest link. If it was up to me, I would’ve voted her in the Gauntlet every single time, from the very beginning.” You mean he didn’t do that? I guess Tina and Steve were collateral damage. She might be the weakest link, but she doesn’t look like the missing link.

Mountain shots. Sarah laughs about the standard operating procedure of her team. “How many times can one person go into the Gauntlet,” she wonders, “before somebody starts to recognize that maybe that’s not exactly fair.” Shot of her in the bedroom, laughing with Roni. “They want me to go home. If I give up, that’s it.” Also, her “friends” wind up with larger shares from the bank. She laughs painfully, then frowns.

Later. Cara answers the sponsor phone. The clues: individual challenge, pick-up at 7:45 a.m., wear team colors and sneakers.

Mountains. Everybody looks up, as we glimpse some rope hanging from the cliff. Jonny welcomes everybody to Vertical Sweep. The object: to rappel down the cliff face while collecting flags. Nathan expositions that there’s a 100-foot drop. Jonny continues: failure to grab all the flags results in the mandatory (say it with me) worst logged time plus a two-minute penalty. For some reason Theo V. has his hand raised. Jonny concludes: the team with the fastest average time wins $10,000 and a sponsor audio notebook. He presents it with a big grin on his face. I know he annoys me, but I’m going to miss him when he leaves. “We really need everybody to step up here in the Vertical Sweep,” Theo V. drawls. “We need all the ladies to get lovely in this rock, and we need all the guys to come through. It’s gonna be tough.”

Darrell is first to descend, as he reminds us of his fear of heights. Jonny blows his airhorn and Darrell slowly descends. As he grabs the flags, Adam shouts advice to him. Darrell slides to the left, picking up another flag. “I just simply don’t trust equipment,” Darrell interviews, while we see a random key grip fiddling with the cord. “Man made it, it was made to be broken.” At least he didn’t say, “I don’t wanna hear, ‘Come on, Darrell!’” He grabs another flag before slamming into the mountain. Cut to a tight shot of Sarah. She interviews that seeing Darrell struggle she is hoping she can kick ass. Darrell grabs the final flag, clocking out at three minutes, 43 seconds.

Nathan descends, taking his time as Alton cheers him on. Irulan interviews that RW is stepping it up, “In every individual mission that we have,” she adds, “we shine and we win.” Nathan comes down at 4:00, getting hugged by Mike and Alton.

Roni jumps around, having trouble. Adam yells at her, telling her to cinch the rope. She climbs up to retrieve a flag, then twirls on the rope. Cut to Sarah, looking worried. Since she mentioned in a recap that Roni had firefighter training, I can’t blame her. “It’s really hard for me to maintain a positive energy level,” Sarah interviews. “It would really suck to go home with nothing.” Roni snags the final flag, hitting the ground at 9:59.

Techno montage! Theo G. yells while swinging. Veronica looks like she’s having an easy time of it as she grabs a flag. Theo V. grabs a flag. Mike descends. Theo G. finishes at 4:30. Theo V.: 1:46. Mike descends and the camera pans to Sarah. He finishes at 1:46. No shot of Veronica finishing. Average times: RW 4:12, RR 5:16. Since I have no life, I took the times at face value and calculated Veronica’s time at 5:36. Hey, I gotta use my math degree somewhere.

Suddenly, there’s an annoying pinging, like something off a submarine’s radar. Sarah looks on as Mike gets love from his team. “I’m just trying really hard to stay focused on the task at hand,” she interviews. “Screw the past, screw the future. Today is today.” She gets ready at the top, a little nervous, but in good spirits. Maybe she’ll be okay. It’s not like the producers showed her wiping out two weeks ago. Oh, wait... they did. Never mind.

Back from commercials, Sarah starts her descent. Adam yells instructions and encouragement from the ground. She snags a flag and all is well. The soundtrack gets happy, repeating, “I’m gonna do it!” She keeps grabbing flags. Adam looks like he doesn’t totally hate her. Soundtrack: “Isn’t it time to shine?” She keeps grabbing flags before getting stuck in a crack. She slowly crawls up to grab it. All in all, she’s kicking butt. Adam yells that her “momentum is awesome!” She swings left, hitting the wall hard with her back. Adam grimaces. She floats down on the rope, hitting the wall again. She whimpers as she tries to climb up. “Come on, you got it!” Roni hollers. “You do not quit!” Sarah grabs a flag, hitting the wall once more. Roni yells for her to pick her feet up. Sarah pushes herself off the wall, only to hit the wall and the ground. Damn, that had to hurt. Disqualification. Cara and Roni rush up to help her as we see the final flag still in place.

Montage! Norman descends, grabbing a flag. Irulan swings. Rachel grabs a flag, swinging far to her left, getting cheered on by Veronica and Adam. Well, the Axis of Ass has to stick together. Coral swings, hitting the wall hard. Cara struggles to grab a flag. Norman lands at 3:16. Rachel lands at 3:29, getting a hug from Adam. Irulan finishes at 8:04, getting hugged by Alton and Mike. She interviews that she brings a lot to the team, but she didn’t do her best. Coral grabs a flag, finishing at 7:07. She feels that since Irulan and herself are the last ladies on the RW side, she might be going to the Gauntlet again. Average times: RW 5:11, RR 5:58. Cara floats down with a smile on her face, not hitting the ground hard as she gets disqualified, making Theo V. curse. Cara thinks she might be Gauntlet-bound, while Sarah prays that’s not the case for her.

Adam gets ready as he and Theo V. yell instructions to each other. Adam descends with ease as the editing flashes between him and Sarah. She interviews, “Adam just views things from the perspective of a person who can do whatever the hell he wants, and has never had anybody beat him down before.” Hey, bring Adam to New York. I’m sure I could round up some friends to remedy that. He finishes at 1:39. Alton flies around, finishing at 1:59 and getting a group hug from the team. At least RW can openly display affection for each other. Final times: RW 4:43, RR 6:10. Don’t ask me why Dave wasn’t shown. I got him finishing at 5:20. Once again: I have no life. Norman (with bright red shades) explains that with Cara and Sarah getting disqualified, things are looking good for RW.

Jonny awards the $10,000 check to RW, which is picked up by Coral and Irulan. Current banks: RR $80,0000, RW $50,000. Jonny then hands out immunities to Adam and Alton. In past recaps, I got confused, calling it a “Lifesaver” when it should have been “Eyesaver.” You know what? It’s the Plate of Protection. It’s simple, it doesn’t cater to sponsors, and it’s easy to initial (PoP). Alton interviews that RW is in the game. We get a close-up of Sarah, zooming back to see Adam with his arm around Rachel. Jonny sends both teams to figure out who goes into the Gauntlet.

RW Meeting. Irulan feels like the inevitable time has come and she volunteers herself. Alton doesn’t agree, since she’s his girlfriend. Once again: Mike never copped to that with Trishelle. “I can’t do it,” Alton interviews. “There’s some others I can think of to go to the Gauntlet.” Irulan asks for an alternative and Alton offers himself. Coral reminds us that the PoP forbids him from going in this time. Irulan tells Alton that she wants to go out with some pride. The team gathers for the usual cheer, with Mike babbling about the “element of surprise.” They cheer... notice that RW displays some semblance of unity, at least on-camera.

RR Meeting. The tension is thick. It’s not like MTV ran a commercial with Sarah hanging upside-down in the Gauntlet to ruin the ending. Oh, wait... they did. Never mind. After an awkward silence, Adam rambles on, “apologizing” for the team losing four physical missions, and how he “prepared [his] ass off.” His latest t-shirt: “I’m a Pony!” He’s actually getting set to sell shirts from his web site. Theo V. is ticked about people who finished with a smile after getting disqualified. Why doesn’t he just say “Cara”? “I’m not feeling that same vibe,” he continues. “If you’re hitting the bottom and you’re disqualified, something should be wrong with you.” Cara asked if she did laugh, and Theo (and the replay) confirms it. Now Cara is pissed. “You can’t speak for me,” she snipes at Theo. “Don’t point fingers and don’t say that you think that I’m feeling a certain way when you don’t even know.” Theo figures she could’ve tried harder. Veronica blahs about the importance of not giving up. Sarah, defensive shields at the ready, thinks she didn’t quit. Veronica claims she didn’t say that, and she’s not pointing fingers. Adam wants people in the final mission with “different intensity.” I have no clue.

And now, it’s time for me to rip Adam with the power of numbers. “It’s blatantly clear that Sarah is the weakest player,” he repeats. “If she wasn’t there, then we wouldn’t have gotten disqualified.” What a jerk. First of all, the team lost. Get your words straight. Second, if Sarah had finished the course, it wouldn’t have been enough. Cara and Sarah would have needed to finish under the combined time of 10:55. Also, if Roni had done better, finishing under 5:38, the DQs would not have mattered. Why don’t you ride on Roni? Because she’s not your whipping girl. So don’t think that Sarah is the one bad thing holding you back from ultimate bliss, you pitiful Jamie wannabe. For my readers: I’d show the calculations here, but I got enough to write about. E-mail me if you want the exact methods.

Sarah speaks up, telling her team she’s feeling the effects from slamming into the wall. “My back hurts,” she says, “and if you send me in, and I’m doing a Deadman’s Drop, there’s a solid chance you’re going to lose a team member today.” That was weak. Rachel does everything in her power not to dance for joy. More silence. Adam: “Like I was wrong to say, ‘Everybody, go in there and do your best.’” Ugh. Veronica: “We’re not playing games, we’re competing, okay? So it does count to win.” Everybody starts to vote. Sarah and Cara don’t look happy.

Adam collects the votes. Theo voiceovers voting for Sarah. He rips off Cara’s head, and he votes for Sarah? I don’t think I’ll ever truly know what goes on in that guy’s head. Adam reads off the votes. The third person thrown in is Veronica, so I’m guessing the anti-Axis faction kept Roni out of the final vote. Cara admits to voting for Sarah, since she doesn’t want to vote for herself. Adam keeps reading off three-bombs in Sarah’s name. Veronica adds the totals, and guess what? Sarah’s going to the Gauntlet. How happy is she? “I’m getting fed up with the fact that I’m constantly being considered completely dispensable by our team.”

Gauntlet. Rain. Jonny does his spiel as Irulan and Sarah try and keep warm. Irulan rolls the die and it comes up Deadman’s Drop. “This is ridiculous,” Sarah snipes to the camera. “Why can’t we wait until the morning when it’s not raining?” Rachel snipes that Irulan has to do the same thing. Darrell actually nudges Rachel back while Sarah gripes some more. “It’s hard for me not to take it personally,” she interviews, “that there’s a lot of people out there who are waiting for me to fail.” Cut to Sarah with Adam behind her. “And Adam is at the top of the list.” He’s at the top of my list, too. He tells her that Irulan got as banged as she did. “Yeah,” Sarah replies, “she also weighs 65 pounds.” RW does a group cheer. Irulan interviews that Deadman’s Drop is Sarah’s event. Jonny goes over the exposition. Since this is the fifth time, I won’t go over it again.

Both players get into position and Jonny blows his whistle to start the game. The editors break out the effects from the Coral/Tina match. Elapsed time: 15 minutes. Irulan looks at Sarah. I guess Coral has been teaching the Evil Witch Eye to her. RW claps. Elapsed time: 32 minutes. RR stares; Sarah probably told them to keep quiet, like the time she faced Matt. Elapsed time: 46 minutes. Theo V. bounces around. “If Sarah wins her fifth Gauntlet,” he voiceovers, “there’s going to be a lot of kids in the water.” Coral yells at Irulan as she bends her legs over the bar. Coral interviews that Irulan is trying to win for the team and to stay with Alton.

The pinging comes back. Sarah: “Sometimes, they actually really want me to win, and sometimes they were hoping I’d lose.” Adam stands with his arms folded and I still think he’s trying to make Sarah lose with his mind. More pinging. The camera is upside-down as the water drips up off Sarah’s body. A piano plays softly. “This entire trip for me has been completely about personal redemption.” Cut to the RR guys, with their shirts off. Adam still has his arms folded. “It’s more than anything, the fact that I’m capable of better than what I put out there a lot of the time.” More pinging. The guys keep watching. “How many times can I disappoint myself before it starts hitting me that I can do better?. I just want to be proud of me.”

This is what went through my mind as Sarah was talking: No. Not like this. The only reason she’s reflecting is because she lost. She drops, the Axis of Ass wins. Sad, right? I’ve grown attached to a lot of people on past series: Judd, Sarah Becker, Melissa, Dorothy, John Vito and Jill, and Rupert, among others. I know it’s stupid to be a raving fanboy. But I see a lot of myself in Sarah, and the prospect of her going down was too much to bear.

Irulan is struggling. Suddenly, my attitude does a 180-degree turn. Alton yells for her to fight. Adam slowly goes nuts, waiting for the finish. Finally, Irulan drops. Elapsed time: 48 minutes. Game over. The RR guys dive into the pool. There’s a slow-motion shot of Sarah lowered into the water, while Darrell does a cannonball into the pool, splashing her. That seems appropriate. On the RW side, Irulan cries, comforted by the guys. Adam and Dave carry a fatigued Sarah away. Irulan shakes and cries some more.

Theo V. jumps around, his stuff flopping around. Seriously, it looks painful. Something for the ladies... and a few of the fellas. Soon, I’m able to make out what Theo is yelling: “GO HOME!” Oh, that’s nice. He interviews that Irulan caused a lot of trouble, “She’s been such an awful sport,” Cara adds, “we just feel she deserves it.” Looks like RR hasn’t forgiven her for using her clapper during the Sarah/Matt Gauntlet. Theo yells to Alton, telling him to help his girlfriend pack. Damn. And Theo has been so good lately. In Sarah’s recap of Mud Bath, she mentioned a dust-up between those two that didn’t make the air, so I guess Theo feels the need to rub it in. Immediately, Alton wants to squash the swamp rat and Nathan has to keep him from making the team lose another player. Sarah interviews that it hurts her feeling that her teammates feel the need to bitch out RW to celebrate. Adam and Rachel heap huge, hollow praise on her. She’s probably too tired to punch Adam in the nuts. “We couldn’t even say anything,” Adam tells her. “We couldn’t cheer you on because you were perfect!” Yeah, whatever. Alton warms Irulan up. He interviews that RR has a false air of team spirit around them. “They’re not all there with her,” he adds. “Every one of them are scared to see the Gauntlet.” Nathan: “It is false to cheer for somebody you vote to the Gauntlet five times and jump in the water, like, ‘Oh, we love you. Thanks for saving our ass again.’ You’re full of [bleep].”

Indoors. Sarah is shivering, as her teammates declare tomorrow a holiday from voting Sarah into the Gauntlet. That’s so nice of them, considering there’s only one Gauntlet left. Darrell starts up, “Who’s the big winner tonight?” Yes, he sounds like he’s talking to a dog, but RW did the same thing with Mike. The only difference: Sarah doesn’t cock her head to the side like a tool and slide a Miz cap on her head. “It would fell really great if we win,” she laughs. “I am not a winner! I haven’t been a winner my entire life!”

Cut to Theo G. and Mike at the table. Theo gives Sarah props for winning, knocking on the table. Mike knows that she’s been screwed over. How about that? This chick took out five of their teammates, including Mike’s main squeeze. She’s the biggest reason RW will go into the final day at a disadvantage... and they don’t hate her. “I’ve never been in a position where I’ve had control of anybody,” Sarah interviews. Alton hugs Irulan once last time before escorting her out. “I’ve sent five people home. I’ve taken this experience away from five people. I don’t really know how I feel about it all. I still feel really confused and heady.” The camera zooms on her, as she covers her mouth and gives a slight smile. With the glasses on, she’s adorable.

Next week: Jonny welcomes everybody to Dukes of Saturn. Basically, it’s two cars, a ladder between them, and a few hundred feet from the ground. If you listen closely, you can hear Melissa mutter, “Oh, hell no!” Coral worries that since she’s the last girl, she’ll go to the Gauntlet if she doesn’t do well. Theo V. tells Adam that Veronica is conniving and not good for the team. Adam: “Veronica needs to prove herself. Her attitude is pissing people off.” Hey, better this from Adam than having him beat up random residents for not being able to lose Sarah. Veronica straddles the ladder as her teammates count down. She interviews that people want her to go and she has to do well. The best part? No Sarah in there. Hoo-RAH!

Better theme song: “Let Go” vs. “Rock Star.” Worst villain: Puck vs. Adam. Biggest heroine: Ruthie vs. Sarah. Biggest blast from the past: Antoine vs. Roni. Cooler voting process: Inner Circle vs. the Gauntlet. How does Battle of the Sexes fare against The Gauntlet? Send me your feedback on the past two seasons at {REDACTED].

So much to talk about. You'll notice that I had a recap from Sarah's site linked, and that was visible through Archive. I don't know how to get the one related to this episode. From what I remember, she had major leg pain from her battles with David and Matt in the Gauntlet, and the production staff had to give her painkillers. I don't think it was quite enough to handle hanging upside-down against a woman who was lighter than either guy, even if you figure God was trying His darnedest to hold Matt above the water.

As for afterward . . . it turned out the staff congratulated Sarah for her win, and -- if I remember correctly -- they had been referring to Alton and Irulan as "Bobby and Whitney." DAMN. That was not a compliment. I laughed, though, because I HATED RW: Las Vegas. I mean, I liked Brynn, and I'd grow to appreciate Arissa, but the other five could soak their heads. Especially Steven Hill, the poor man's Stiffler. I'll be "covering" him in Battle Of The Sexes 2.

I did not notice Theo flopping around under his shorts until people on the Television Without Pity forum pointed that out. I don't think it's a phobia thing for me. I just don't notice stuff like THAT. Like the episode near the end of RW: Philadelphia where Landon is lying down with a girl, and he has a visible boner. That went over my head the first time.

Getting back to Sarah's site . . . you'll notice that Roni did not get put into Road Rules' voting process. I was wondering why that was the case because of her time on Vertical Limit. Well, when she was rappelling, she missed a few flags. Rather than take the penalty, she climbed up the mountain face to retrieve them. Also funny: this past Tuesday, MTV ran a special on ass-kicking women in Challenge history. Naturally, nobody from before the TJ Lavin era made the list, as they only went back to The Duel (specifically, Diem taking off her wig). However, Mike was hosting, and he brought up the time Roni beat him in Rolling On A River. That felt like the most random shoutout ever. I liked Roni. I never had a problem with her. I enjoyed meeting her at Calico Jack's, but I would never have expected anybody but the most diehard fans to remember her. If she's reading this, I'd want her to let her know that I still remember. Also, for smiling as I tried to push Reality News Online and my recaps on her. Hey, I needed validation. I still do.

Finally . . . last week, I mentioned how crappy my timing was in regards to reminiscing about Danny Dias. I forgot to post about a target of far greater ridicule for me: Rachel Robinson. In my mind, she is the most overrated Challenger in the show's history. All muscle, no hustle, and the lucky champion of two seasons. Also, she was at least 33.3 percent responsible for taking chunks out of Tonya's soul in Inferno II. Anyway, the gal I have taken to calling "Butterface" announced that she is pregnant with twins. I don't know the logisitics with her partner, and it's probably none of my business. In the interests of trying to resemble a human being, I wish the couple luck. Heck, if it turns out her RV buddy Shane was the donor, I'm be greatly amused. And I would not seek out the twins in a decade's time to tell them what I thought of their birthmother. Now . . . if they seek ME out and ask my opinion? I'm not going to lie. Hey, somebody has to explain why Rachel wakes up screaming, "EMILY, NO!!!!!!"

Friday, June 09, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 13: Three’s Company

Hello. Today's theme is about standing by what you believe. I'm not sure if this episode pissed me off the most, or the following one where (spoiler!!) Sarah gets thrown into the Gauntlet for the fifth time. It takes a lot for me to back off on an opinion I feel strongly about. If I do a 180-degree turn on something, I would have to have a damn good reason because I don't feel like feeling like an asshole, even if nobody cares.

Last week, I brought up Danny Dias from Road Rules: X-Treme. I mentioned the time he got humiliated by Alton in Gauntlet 2. I said that Danny "was a little punk." Days later, I'm on Facebook, and I find a link from TMZ. Danny had died from an apparent overdose.

Of course, I felt shitty. In my defense, I don't think anybody has really thought of the guy since Alton defeated him. It's not like I wanted THAT to happen. While I want somebody on this show (or any reality program, really) to suffer, there's an unspoken limit. I don't want people to die. I hated Colton on his two stints on Survivor, but I never would have wished for his boyfriend Caleb to get killed by a train. In many cases, suffering would be good, but I'm more into somebody getting pants and everybody laughing at the meager genitalia. Yes, there would be a different situation for women.

And that brings me to my final recap from 2003. Before Champs Vs. Pros (and the upcoming Dirty 30), Veronica had not been on a Challenge since The Ruins in 2009. Rachel's last appearance was in Battle Of The Exes (2012). They've had lives away from the show. I know they had highs and lows. And yet, I can't divorce those two from what happened in The Gauntlet . . . or Inferno II, for that matter. And The Inferno in Veronica's case, to the point where Katie could have strangled her, and I would have been okay with it. I know, it's messed up . . . even if things had not broken her way, Sarah would have let it go a long time ago. And if Sarah has moved on, why can't I?

Airdate: December 15, 2003
Recap Published: December 21, 2003

The players compete in a challenging mission, Mike finds himself in a tough position, and Theo V. is forced to make a tough choice, Oh, and there’s a threesome, but you wouldn’t care about that, right?
I watched the Survivor: Pearl Islands finale on Sunday. I don’t care what anybody says; Sandra deserved the win. You should have seen me around 9:20 p.m. I had my fingers and thumbs crossed, begging Lill to take Jon out of the game. And bless her little heart, she did just that. I’ve overdosed on odious a few times while recapping The Gauntlet, and the last thing I needed was Jon to win $1 million. But Sandra won 6-1, a complete turnaround from that dark day when Jenna beat Matthew. Of course, I had to come down from my high quickly, since I had a new episode, and MTV already gave away the ending in their commercial. Thanks, MTV! Once would’ve been enough, but you showed us the Gauntlet at least three times! Way to take away the suspense!

Previously on The Gauntlet: Adam asked Sarah if she was the weakest player. Sarah figured that everybody had messed up at least once, and Theo V. backed her up. She interviewed that it was great to have a friend like him on the team. Over on the Real World side, everybody voted for Trishelle, and Mike voted for Coral. Cue the record scratch in the soundtrack. Nice one. Irulan questioned the integrity of Mike protecting his girlfriend. Road Rules won Rolling On a River, Red Baron and Turntable, upping their bank account to $80,000, while RW had $30,000. Norman notes that his team is losing players and missions, and they need to step up. “We’re just whuppin’ that ass,” Darrell interviews. “They can’t touch us.”

Mansion. Mike looks on while Theo V. sews a team flag. Mike small talks about how tough it is to lose people and how it was a lot easier when they were on Battle of the Seasons. Those were good times. Well, except for when the Inner Circle kicked out Stephen and Lindsay, and Kelley didn’t want Lindsay to go. “It’s hard to tell who does bad and who does good,” Mike interviews. “Sometimes, I don’t know who to vote for.” That’s the price the teams pay for the removal of the points system. Theo: “I believe that the Real World is in so much turmoil, they have no clue who they’re sending in the Gauntlet and all they to is wake up every morning and realize the state of pain that they’re in.” Mike says that Sarah is Theo’s girl, and he can’t understand why she keeps going back into the Gauntlet. You and me both, Miz. Theo labels her as a “good luck charm.”

Elsewhere, Veronica rubs her shoulder in slow-motion. Oh, please. Like I’m that weak? Abram sits on the bed, rubbing Rachel. He interviews that he’s thinking along the same lines as the girls. “If you keep rubbing her legs, dude,” Theo V. quips, “a genie will pop out of her ass.” Where would I be without Theo? Rachel thinks that Abram is trying to schmooze her and Veronica with special treatment. He jokes that he wants to do Veronica. What a smooth talker. “I think Abe has a lot to offer,” Veronica interviews. “I mean, I don’t want him to be my boyfriend, but I think he’s a really great guy.”

Daytime. Ridgway Marina. Jonny welcomes everybody to All or Nothing. The objective: jump off a twenty-foot platform and cling onto a rope suspended from a moving object. The editors pipe in “Ride of the Valkyries” for dramatic effect. I hum along, “Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit...” While Jonny lays out the exposition, a helicopter lifts off, arriving at the mission site. Abram feels like he’s in a “Vietnam movie.” The chopper makes impressive ripples above the water. Jonny continues: when he blows his airhorn, the players will jump on the rope and climb past the orange balls on the rope, towards the red balls. The team with the fastest average time wins $10,000. Jonny brings up the penalties: if a player misses the rope or fails to climb into the red zone, that person will get the worst logged time of the day, plus a two-minute penalty. Also, the top players on each team receive the Freshlook Lifesaver... or is it the Icesaver? At this point, I don’t care. Anyway, the player receiving that gets immunity from the Gauntlet and gets to break a tie. That was brought up a few weeks back, but I thought nothing of it. My bad.

Abram climbs up the ladder to the platform. What’s his strategy? “My plan for this is to jump off and grab the sonofabitch, and hang on for dear, sweet life.” Good thinking. “Balls to the wall. Go big or go home.” James would be proud, dude. Jonny blares his airhorn. Abram stands on the platform’s edge, waiting for the rope to come to him. He jumps, and proceeds to slide down the rope. He makes a token effort to climb before letting go, earning the DQ. I check off “go home” next to his name. “I think Abe just gets really excited and hyper,” Roni interviews, “and I think he loses mind of what’s at hand.” Abram gets hugged by Dave, while Alton tells his teammates how to get on the rope.

Mike bounces on the platform. He interviews that since he’s the team “leader” (his quotes, not mine), he has to set an example. He takes a running start, grabbing the rope and climbing up. But he loses his grip and falls down, getting the DQ. “Dang,” Theo G. grouses in an interview, “this cat’s stronger than I am, and he’s out.”

Back from commercials, Dave tells us that everybody has failed so far, so he has nothing to lose. He grabs the rope, loses his grip and falls. DQ. Irulan jumps, misses, and does a nice 270-degree flip into the water. Even her boyfriend laughs about that. “That was a very impressive little fall,” he chuckles. DQ. Cara grabs the rope, but loses her grip. DQ.

Theo G. expositions that everybody has been disqualified already, and he has to show his team that it’s possible. He takes a running start, climbs up the rope and reaches the red zone in 31 seconds. Of course, his teammates whoop it up, as he is slowly dipped into the water. “It was a good feeling of going in there and pulling something out for my team,” Theo interviews. Average times: RW 1:51, RR 2:31.

Norman jumps from the platform. Nathan explains that Norman climbed up the rope, celebrated, and jumped off... but didn’t hit the red zone. I’d make a senility crack, but since Norman griped about rules changes in his recap, I’ll pass. He stomps, obviously furious. DQ. Adam runs and falls. DQ. Loser. Coral starts to climb, loses her shoes, then decides to quit. DQ. Darrell drops. DQ. Theo V. hopes that he can come through for his team. He jumps on the rope and climbs, clocking out at 0:24. Average times: RW 2:07, RR 2:10.

Sarah comes up. How bad is it that I knew this wasn’t going to end well for her? She jumps on the rope. Veronica shouts encouragement, but Sarah is frozen, unable to pull herself up. Darrell: “I’m knowing she’s about to just give up, because that’s what she always does.” Hey, I got a Christmas present for you, Darrell. It’s a big box of Shut Up. Enjoy. Sadly, Sarah still dangles, and she makes the signal to quit. “I could’ve hung on all day,” she interviews, “but I couldn’t go anywhere. So what are you going to do? At least I grabbed the rope. Let’s hope that they noticed that and don’t send me in there for Gauntlet number five.” Nathan makes a run for the rope, finishing at 1:44. Average times: RW 2:51, RR 3:15.

Roni drops. DQ. Rachel drops. DQ. Veronica drops. DQ. She interviews: “This has been the most difficult challenging mission ever [pause] invented.” Alton jumps on the rope. After smoking Laterrian in Pole Climb last week, what else can you expect from Alton but a 0:23 time? Irulan jumps around like an excited cheerleader. “That’s my dawg!” she tells us. Adam interviews that since three RW guys climbed the rope, they got the win.

Final times: RW 2:47, RR 3:24. Jonny awards the $10,000 check to RW. Nathan interviews that RR has peaked, and RW is just starting to rise. Jonny awards the Lifesavers to Alton and Theo V., then gives both teams 30 minutes to decide who goes into the Gauntlet.

RW Meeting. Nathan interviews that the smaller the team gets, the harder it is to vote. “You look around,” he continues, “and everybody you look at is valuable for the team.” Theo G. brings up Mike, based on performance in the last few missions. There are a lot of cuts, followed by Mike’s interview, where he votes for himself. “It’s time for me to step up and show you why you guys call me leader,” he says. “It’s time for me to be the Miz.” And it’s time for me to bang my head against a wall. I hate the Miz. Irulan interviews that sending a strong player would psyche out RR, but losing him would be a blow against morale.

RR Meeting. Our finalists today are Abram, Cara, and Sarah. Wait a minute... Cara? She’s been kicking butt since beating Elka in the Gauntlet. What gives? Adam announces a tie between Abram and Sarah. “If you guys really wanted me gone that bad,” Sarah says, “why didn’t you just [bleeping] break my knees in my sleep?” Adam says nothing, almost as if he’s contemplating the notion. He puts on the same track as before in an interview: Sarah is the weakest person on the team and she does the most for herself and the team in the Gauntlet. Roni interviews that Sarah hasn’t held her weight, but she’s gone to the Gauntlet four times, which is more than what Abram has done. It turns out that Theo’s Lifesaver allows him to break the tie. Cara expositions that he makes the decision at the Gauntlet. “It’s not fun being the middleman,” Theo interviews. “I like her, I want her to be here, but I care about this team first and foremost.” Cut to Abram, cut to Sarah looking miserable. The suspense is not killing me. Once again: thank you, MTV.

Gauntlet site. Jonny goes through his Gauntlet spiel. Abram reminds us that his team doesn’t know who’s going, and he hopes it’s Sarah. Jonny calls up Mike, provoking a huge RW celebration. Jonny then goes on about the tie vote and how Theo broke it. After it’s dragged out enough, Abram is called up. While everybody else cheers, Sarah remains seated. Maybe she caught the ending, too. She interviews, “The fact that Theo choose Abe shocked the hell out of me.” Abe and Mike hug in a manly manner. Theo interviews that making the right call, adding, “I’m sick of seeing sacrificial lambs in this Gauntlet. I have a feeling that if Abram goes, he’s going to do well.”

Mike rolls the die and it comes up Knock Your Block Off, which provokes another RW celebration. Coral and Norman make punching motions, which cracks me up. Jonny lays down the exposition: the players fight with fugel sticks on a balance beam. First to knock the other in the water wins. Abram is excited to battle Mike. As for Mike... he goes into Miz Mode. Basically, the Miz is a poor man’s Rock, and as somebody who rejects all things wrestling, I’m not quoting him. But I will translate and make Mike sound like a nerd. “You did defeat me once, Abram, but I was drunk then [clip from the wrestling match in the first episode]. But now I am sober and ready to give you a sound thrashing. And I wish to ask you this: are you ready? Because, quite frankly, I do not think that you are, my friend.”

The guys get ready. Mike puts on his psycho game face. RR whips out the “Hey Road Rules!” cheer. “This is what the Gauntlet is all about,” Theo V. drawls. “The Gauntlet is all powerhouses. It’s all about two bulls heading straight at each other.” Jonny blows his whistle. Both players feel each other out. The RW side looks stressed. The opponents exchange blows. Sarah is still seated, perhaps feeling guilty about Theo’s decision. Soon, Mike nails Abram in the butt, pushing him into the water. Game over. The RW side is jubilant, knowing they dodged a bullet. “There’s nothing like it,” Mike interviews about the Gauntlet. “There’s no rush like it. I loved every second about being in that Gauntlet.” He hugs Abram. “But I never want to do that again.” Cut to Abram stretching and Sarah apologizing. The only person feeling lower than her? Theo, who’s sitting on the bench, as bummed as I’ve ever seen him.

Denouement. RR now has nine members, while RW holds steady at seven. Jonny asks Abram if he has parting words, but the Bozeman Brawler declines. The RW kids cheer for Mike, feeding his massive ego as he strikes a highly derivative pose. Nathan interviews that RW now have a one-male advantage over RR. Wow... so rampant sexism in the voting booth does work!

Mansion. Veronica is really bummed. So bummed, she doesn’t want to join Rachel in partying. She interviews that she thought the majority was going to vote for Sarah, so she leaned towards Abram, not anticipating the tie. Translation: “I felt sorry for Sarah, and I’m not going to do that again!” Elsewhere, Abram packs. I’m just glad he didn’t beat anybody up this time.

Theo and Sarah work on a crossword puzzle. He tries to figure out who said “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.” Sarah thinks it’s Mark Twain. I think Willy Wonka, not remembering he had quoted Ogden Nash. Cut to the bathroom, where Veronica is working on her hair and Rachel is taking a bubble bath. Veronica wants Sarah to go back to the Gauntlet and Rachel doesn’t want her winning there anymore. Veronica then suggests that Theo is thinking with his penis, since he sympathizes with Sarah. Wow. Okay, I understand Theo is the guy who said, “If you’re a guy and you can’t hook up on the Challenge, you basically need to donate your penis to charity.” But Sarah has a boyfriend back home and I know Theo is gentleman enough to understand that. The “ladies” go into a giggling fit about crossword puzzles and sex. Do you remember the scene in Mole 2 where Dorothy told the others she made her future boyfriend play Scrabble with her and Darwin shouted out “Triple Word Score!”? Rachel and Veronica are at the opposite end of the spectrum, they stink that much.

Abram ambles into the room, wearing a Miz cap and t-shirt. I bet Mike made him pay for it since he lost. Abram hugs Veronica, copping a cheek in the process. Rachel beckons him into the tub for one more time. In fast-motion, Abram strips and eases into the tub. Soon, Veronica joins the duo, and Abram starts writing a letter to Penthouse in his head. The girls invite Coral to join them, but she knows a ho train when she sees one. Just then, Norman gives her a call. Judging from the previews, I thought it would be Coral’s roommate, Melissa. Yes... THAT Melissa. “He is the happiest man in the world right now!” Coral gushes. “Getting voted off is the least of his worries right now!”

News of an impending orgy travels fast, and the gang shows up to revel. Roni even takes a picture. “I think Abe is doing well for himself,” Veronica voiceovers. “He might have lost in the Gauntlet, but I think Abe feels like he’s a pretty big winner in life.” Keep deluding yourself, Veronica. Beer bottles line the tub’s rim. The trip decide to retreat to the shower. How I miss Dan, Flora, and Sarah Becker right now. They weren’t in the RW: Miami threesome, but their supporting roles made it great. Adam shouts that he would’ve gone to the Gauntlet instead of Abram. Shut it, Adam. I can barely see Abram and Veronica making out behind the shower door. “This has been a wonderful and pleasant experience,” Abram interviews, “and perverse and [bleeped]-up, and twisted and bizarre. I loved it.” Cut to outside the mansion, hearing happy noises as we fade to black.

What have we learned today?
  • Sarah should have made an effort to climb the rope. At least make a tiny attempt, then fall into the water. What am I saying? She could have climbed the rope, boarded the chopper, tossed the pilot out, and land all by herself... and she’d still get threes and twos.
  • Theo V. is RR’s true alpha male. He’s made more of an effort than Adam. In the context of the Challenges, Theo is the best person to come out of Maximum Velocity Tour
  • If you and somebody of the opposite gender work on a crossword puzzle, you want to have sex. Don’t look at me like that. Veronica and Rachel set the rules, and I merely state them.
  • It’s okay to rank on Theo and Sarah, then have a pity threesome with Abram. The worst part is that this might have sent him the wrong message about women in general. Yes, I still remember everything prior to his last day on South Pacific and his beatdown of Donell. Abram has issues, and it should be interesting to see how that plays out in Inferno.
  • Rachel and Veronica are bitches. Like I said last season with Emily, that is not a word I want to use lightly in these recaps. These two learned absolutely nothing from their encounters with Emily and her bloody axe. Seriously, where is Irulan to wrestle Rachel to the ground? Where is Amaya to clothesline Veronica? Or should I send a telegram? “Dear Ms. Bailey [stop]. All is forgiven [stop]. I am sending you $5,000 in travel money and a baseball bat [stop]. Hee-haw and Merry Christmas, Jason Borelli.”
Next time: Mountain scaling! Coral slams into the mountain hard. Adam: “Sarah is definitely the weakest link.” Sarah slams into the mountain again and again. Adam again: “If it were up to me, I would’ve voted for her into the Gauntlet every single time.” Look, Mommy! Recapper says that every time Adam pisses on Sarah, an angel gets its wings! Sarah tells her team that her back hurts. “If you send me in,” she adds, “there’s a solid chance you’re going to lose a team member today.” Wow... weakest defense ever.

Bad news: MTV will not be airing the next episode this coming Monday, opting for a marathon of some other show. You know, the one with the ditzy pop star and her husband from that boy band. No, the other boy band. No, the other, OTHER boy band. So we’ll meet back in two weeks. In the meantime, have yourself a happy holiday. And if a friend gives you the complete Real World: Las Vegas collection, then that person was never your friend to begin with. I’m just saying.

Two hundred seventy-two days. That was the duration between my recap of Emily wielding her axe to eliminated Veronica from Battle Of The Sexes to me basically forgiving her. I thought she did Rachel and Veronica dirty, then screwed the other women by leaving the game when her boyfriend was voted off. Amazing what a difference almost nine months makes.

I know that reality television is subject to the whims of the producers . . . and if you haven't noticed that Bunim-Murray Productions are a shysty bunch, you have not been paying attention. And a lot of a viewer's opinion (if that person has one) depends on belief. In that vein: I don't that Sarah and Theo were that deep into each other, in any sense. I realize that Sarah had a boyfriend back home, and it may be considered shady for her to snuggle up to somebody, even if it's the charismatic weirdo swamp rat. But I doubt it got past second base. That is what I choose to believe. I know Theo got around a LOT in his many BMP tours of duty, but I doubt he and Sarah went all the way.

And they I turn to Rachel and Veronica. At the end of this episode, I was livid. Basically, they talked shit about the one person I liked the most on the show, and then they got Abram into a threesome, and they all but forced to cameramen to film it at gunpoint. To me, this was a gigantic "fuck you" to Sarah, and maybe to me as well. I know, I shouldn't take that personally. I take lots of stuff personally. It's a flaw.

Cut to Inferno II in 2005. I'm watching the preview special on MTV, and it got around to Sarah & Theo. And then I had to contend with Rachel and Veronica sharing the camera, both with shit-eating grins on their faces,  talking epic amounts of smack about those two. And by "those two," I mean Sarah. Even if they did go "all the way," at least they tried to be discrete about it. Meanwhile, these two bitches did it with Abram. First of all, who knows what kind of weird Bozeman-born diseases he had. Doing that in a tub doesn't reduce the likelihood of an STD. Secondly, this is a guy who willingly scarred himself, AND he got kicked off Road Rules: South Pacific for beating up Donell. At that point, I probably didn't regard the guy as a Section 8, but as a Section 64 (eight squared). And Inferno II didn't help me much, with those two heinous bitches and Tina teaming up to make Tonya's life miserable. You know something? I heard that Tonya was partying the night before the finale. I know she could barely be stable, but had the "Mean Girls" had bothered to treat Tonya like a human being, the Bad Asses would have won. I firmly believe this. Also, there was Veronica's triumph over Jodi in the Inferno. That was not fun for me.

Once again: I know Rachel and Veronica are human beings. I know that anybody can improve over time. Fuck, that's basically been CT's theme in the past several years. Last week, I found out that Rachel had a life partner, and she was pregnant with twins. I wish her well. And I hope Veronica has had a good life, and I hope that she doesn't revert to being a wicked hosebeast next season. But if somebody brings up either or both of those two, their actions in The Gauntlet come back to me, and I don't think I can ever let that go.

I'll end on  a positive note: I still believe a RW: Las Vegas DVD set is a shitty present to give anybody. Okay, Brynn was bearable, and I grew to like Arissa, but man, those people sucked. They deserved the horror that was "Awesome Anne."

Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 12: Turn the Beat Around

Apologies for not posting/reposting in a timely fashion. I keep meaning to post more often . . . not only putting up my Gauntlet recaps, but also my takes on The Challenge, Survivor and The Amazing Race. Contrary to what people might tell you, the winning team from the latter was NOT the worst in the show's 29-season history. Also, I keep wanting to writing about the Mets possibly being cursed. Bright side: This episode is light on agita for me. In the following episode, the bile started filling my mouth to overflowing. Not good times.

Airdate: December 8, 2003
Recap Published: December 13, 2003

It’s Battle of the Sexes all over again, as the cocky guys on both teams size up the girls for elimination. But by episode’s end, two of the strongest men fight for their own survival.
I have to be honest, I’m not up on dating shows. How many of them end up “happily ever after”? Due to my commitment to this show, I missed the spectacle of Average Joe, so I don’t care about it one way or the other. But I did hear about the homecoming queen picking a guy named Jason over an Adam. That made me smile. I know it shouldn’t have, but it did.

Previously on The Gauntlet: Roni beat Mike in Rolling On a River, winning $10,000 for her team’s check-fattened bank account. Coral feels that the girls are being picked on and that it’s coming down to all boys. Naturally, the camera pans to the soon-to-be-gone Elka while Coral says this. Back to ROAR, Sarah got knocked off the log by Laterrian, and she eviscerates him in her interview. He just mumbles something about college foundations knocking on his door.

Mansion. Nathan tells Mike and Norman that he’s sick of losing and that the team has to win some Gauntlets to prevent a mismatch in the final mission. Mike asks who on the team finishes at the top of the competitions. Nathan answers the three people in the room. Honestly, it is hard to discern the best of the RW, given that nobody has had the one dramatic win. Nathan interviews that RW has had their ups and downs. Flashback to Holey Canoe, with Matt steering, Coral freaking out, and Nathan cursing at her. Good times. “It’s been one big tension ball,” Nathan continues. “When you hit rock bottom, the only place you can go is up.”

Outside. Adam discusses voting strategy with Theo V. and Dave. He feels that they can’t afford to lose a guy in the Gauntlet. “They have two less girls than we do,” he explains, “so obviously, to even it out, we get rid of a girl.” It’s a wonder he gets dates that aren’t producer-arranged. Adam interviews that Theo, Dave, and himself have risen to the top. He continues: “The way top win these challenges is to [super obvious cut] vote off all the girls.” Even with the ham-fisted editing, Adam is still a loser.

Cut to the mansion. The editors have piped in “Not Gonna Get Us” by the Russian duo known as t.A.t.U. You know the song; it’s the one they did at the MTV Movie Awards, and the set finished with dozens of women in school uniforms making out with each other. Great times. Coral tells Veronica she doesn’t want to be available to be sent into the Gauntlet just because she’s a girl. “The guys are scared to sacrifice another guy,” Veronica interviews. “They think the girls aren’t as strong as the boys.” Sounds like Ruthie picked the wrong Challenge.

Back to the RR Brain Trust, such as it is. Adam says it would hurt to lose a guy before the final mission. “I’m playing for the $150,000 and the fifteenth mission,” Dave interviews. “The potential that a guy can offer is a lot better than what, say, Veronica can offer.” *koff*Foreshadowing!*koff* And I still think Dave asks Cara permission to trash-talk the ladies. Adam notes that if not for the money, people would have gone home. He does make a valid point; Battle of the Sexes was loaded with deserters, and Sarah would’ve bailed out a long time ago if there wasn’t a bank involved. “I love my girls,” he interviews, “but at the end of the day, the girls are going to be the ones to look the weakest.” Your girls? Seriously, who should beat this guy up? So far, I got Ruthie, Sarah, Ellen, Emily, Jisela, Sophia, Blair and Steve, Coral, Veronica and Rachel, Timmy, Ethan Zohn and Jenna Lewis, and t.A.t.U. What? Russian lesbians can’t hate Adam, too?

Mansion. Coral reads the clue off the sponsor phone. The next mission will test the players’ endurance. “Like the others ones haven’t?” Coral quips. She continues to read: pick-up time is 6:45 a.m., wear team sweaters and sneakers. Alton and Irulan joke about working out.

Cut to the gym. Mike and Laterrian lift some weights. Roni, Rachel, and Veronica heft small barbells. Theo V. cleans and jerks. Theo G., on the phone: “I’m here in the gym with the Hulks.” Only thing missing is Amaya and Melissa doing some funky aerobics. He interviews that he has to start performing, or else he’s going to the Gauntlet.

Gauntlet site. The soundtrack blasts some scratching as we look at a giant record. Jonny welcomes everybody to Turntable. The objective: sit on the spinning platform as long as possible. The player who stays on the longest wins $10,000 for the team bank account. The rotation speed of the turntable also increases in time. Dave expositions that the players must hang onto balls which are attached to the wheel. Jonny reminds the players that the last player from each team will receive the Freshlook Lifesaver.

The players find places to sit on the wheel as it begins to rotate. “I think I’m the stronger person on the team,” Adam interviews. “When it comes down to it, I’m going to be the last man standing.” That was probably taken out of context of this episode, but I’m surprised his arm hasn’t broken off from all the times he patted himself on the back. Jonny asks both teams if they’re ready, and he blows his whistle to start the game. The editors have fun, moving the film back and forth and adding scratch sound effects. A few RR guys yell out the “Hey Road Rules” chant. Abram: “It’s like a big merry-go-round that goes really, really fast.”

Elapsed time: two minutes, 20 seconds. More spinning. The editing kicks in, and Darrell flies off the wheel. “My back was going out,” he interviews, “my legs were asleep. I’m the non-flexiblist cat you ever seen.” Do they still make amateur boxers wear headgear during fights? Just curious.

Elapsed time: 3:22. Whirling. Scratching. Adam tumbles off. Ha! “I couldn’t hack it,” he admits. “Records are so 1980s anyways.” Excuses, excuses. Adam and Darrell look on as the game continues. Nathan flies off, making a scary Popeye face in the process. He interviews that he couldn’t hold on. Veronica: “At this point, my hands feel like they’re going to fall off.” More spinning as we go into commercials.

Elapsed time: 5:01. “Help me, Lord!” the soundtrack blares. “I found myself in some kind of hell!” Dude, it’s just Monday night at 10 p.m. Chill out. Cara flies off, and Alton slams into her prone body. Ouch. “It is not just about your muscle bulk and how big and scary you look,” Cara interviews. “It is seriously about your duration and your mental control.” Mike spins off, followed by Abram. The latter interviews that he doesn’t know what’s going on with the guys. Laterrian is flung off. “Should I have done better?” he interviews. “Yes. I didn’t win when I should’ve won. That’s it.”

Elapsed time: 6:31. Coral hits a bump and gets spun off, followed by Norman and Theo V. Next to go? Sarah. Is she happy with her performance? “I looked up and I was like, ‘Wait a minute. [looking over both shoulders] There’s only three people left now that I’m gone!’ Yes!”

Irulan takes a backwards somersault off the wheel, followed by Roni and Rachel. Now it’s down to Veronica vs. Theo G. “Give me the victory in the name of Jesus!” Theo gasps as he spins around. Yeah, whatever. Mike interviews that Theo feels the pressure of being on the chopping block. Elapsed time: 9:12. I’m surprised nobody threw up. Theo is still praying for the win. But one edited scratch later, he goes flying off, giving RR the win. “I was really focused the whole time” Veronica tells her teammates, “I had a really good grip and a good lock with my legs, and I couldn’t get off, or else I’d be in the Gauntlet.” Go ahead... take the comments out of context. “I feel like we forgot how to win,” Mike glumly interviews. “We’ve lost I don’t lost how many in a row. What are we doing wrong? I just don’t get it.”

Jonny awards the $10,000 check to RR, bumping their bank to $80,000. He also awards the Freshlook Lifesaver to Veronica, who admits she needed that. Theo V.: “I think it’s becoming more and more obvious that everyone on our team has something great to offer that they can offer not only in the missions, but also for the future of our team.” Jonny also hands a Lifesaver to Theo G., who was also prime Gauntlet bait last week. He interviews that he had to show the team that he’s a fighter. Jonny gives both teams time to go back to their lounges and figure out who’s going to the Gauntlet.

RW Meeting. Irulan doesn’t know who she’s voting for. Coral interviews that it’s hard to gauge who would be strong in future missions. Alton tells the group that he was the second person gone in ROAR and Turntable, and the voting shouldn’t be hard. He interviews that he feels like having the best chance of winning in the Gauntlet. “You have to make a sacrifice,” he adds. “Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.” And here I was worried about Cara’s skull after he smacked into her. Irulan tells the group that she wants to be strong, but it’s hard to vote for her boyfriend. Why couldn’t Mike just admit that with Trishelle? She interviews (behind a pair of huge sunglasses) that she’s behind him, but she can’t contribute to sending him home. Cut to Alton and Irulan kissing in front of the camera. I hate to say it, but those two have grown on me. He apologizes for volunteering, but he feels the need to represent the team.

RR Meeting. Cara reminds the team that they’re voting on overall performance. She interviews about how the men are getting a reality check. At this point, Laterrian decides to step up, volunteering himself for the Gauntlet. Too little, too late in my eyes. Sarah wastes no time in thanking the team for not sending her in. “There’s always tomorrow,” one of the guys pipes up. Sad but true. “Finally,” Sarah interviews, “the guys are starting to realize that girls are an asset to the team, and not just this thing that they have to carry around like a big monkey on their back.” Laterrian interviews that he’s out to prove his worth to the team. “I don’t know who the hell I’m going against,” he adds, “but I’m trying to take somebody’s [bleeping] head off.” You have to positive about these things.

Gauntlet. Alton and Irulan hold hands. Jonny does his usual bit, bringing Alton and Laterrian up to the front. Laterrian rolls the die, and it comes up Pole Climb. While Laterrian makes a sour face, Alton threatens to break his teammates’ hands with hard high-fives. “Alton has a history in climbing,” Laterrian interviews. “I have to go against him, and I’ve never climbed ever in life. How does that suck?” Ah, shut up, or I’ll start playing the violin. Wait, Alton’s good at that, too. Nathan drops the exposition: two poles dangle from the rafters over the water. The object: get up the pole as quickly as possible and release the opponent’s lever, releasing the pole. Norman interviews that Alton can climb anything. “Laterrian is some freak of nature,” Dave retorts. “He’s just in perfect shape to do something like a pole climb.”

Jonny blows his whistle, signaling both players to go into the water. Laterrian dives in, while Alton plops, keeping his hands out of the water. “These missions have torn us apart emotionally and physically,” Norman interviews. “Alton, you need to come back to us. We need you.” Irulan feels confident in her boyfriend. Jonny blows his whistle again. From start to finish, it’s a bloodbath. Alton zooms up the pole like he’s got a jet pack, while Laterrian can’t even grab onto the pole. Game over... or as Laterrian’s old pal the Roadmaster would put it: “Nighty night!” “For someone as strong as Laterrian,” Adam snipes, “I expect bigger things out of him.” Looks like somebody’s grumpy after not sending a lady off to die. Alton and Laterrian hug manfully. Norman is feeling strong with seven players on his team.

Denouement. Jonny restates that Laterrian is going home. Cut to Laterrian, with Sarah behind him, covering her mouth. Really, I don’t think she’s hiding a smile. A graphic shows that RR has lost four members, while RW lost seven. Laterrian tells his team that he made good friends, and he wants them to bust RW’s ass. “I let my entire team down,” he interviews, “and that hurts me to my heart.” He gets hugged by his teammates while Alton and Irulan hug and kiss.

Mansion. Water fun. A few of the guys play Marco Polo in the pool. Mike admits to Veronica and Rachel that he thought the men would dominate, like they did last season. Here’s the thing with Sexes: the guys had a plan. They were able to control who left the game (Puck and Jake aside) and they kept the drama out. On the other side, some of the stronger women (Rachel, Veronica, Julie to some extent) were booted due to the pettiness of a few people. With the different voting processes, comparing Sexes to Gauntlet is comparing apples and oranges. Mike wonders in an interview what would happen in a “girl mission,” and that nobody knows what future missions would bring. He laments to the ladies that RW has tried every method to select somebody for sacrifice. Veronica thinks that Turntable was a turning point. “The boys are always looking at themselves,” she continues, “like, ‘Who’s gonna win it today,’ and they never really though they could look to the girls for a win.”

Abram and Theo V. gripe about Laterrian’s performance. For some reason, Theo is sewing a flag. Maybe he wants to get a head start on those “girl missions.” “He didn’t get off the pole today,” he tells Abram. “What’s up with that?” They keep talking about how much he bench presses, and how he prepares the wrong way. It’s luck of the die, to be honest. If David had rolled Knock Your Block Off, Sarah would be a distant memory. Tonya would have fared better in Hangman against Steve. Laterrian just got the one game he was certain to lose.

Night. Roni takes a picture of Laterrian with Dave and Theo G. Dave: “I just want you to know we’re going to miss you as much, if not more, than Montana.” Laterrian’s brain needs that extra second to motor before he laughs. Theo V.’s t-shirt: “SPEED KILLS.” Make you own “slow” joke. The goodbye takes way too long, especially since Laterrian will probably try to latch himself back onto a Challenge next year. Honestly, after the incident with Sarah, I’m not going to miss him as much as last season. His final words: “Telluride or Die.” Okay, that was funny.

Next time: Helicopter! Loud helicopter! So loud, you can’t hear Jonny say his spiel. The object is to run and grab the rope hanging from the chopper. At least one player misses and hits the water. Veronica calls this the most difficult mission ever. Considering this is her thirty-fourth Challenge mission, that would be saying something. Norman stomps his foot is obvious disgust. Abram: “The girls, they’re all good-looking. We’re all thinking along the exact same lines, looking for the exact same targets.” Cut to: Abram, Veronica, and Rachel in a bubble bath. Oh, wow. Coral’s nearby on the cell phone. “He is the happiest man in the world right now!” she gushes. The trio move to the shower. Dude! Abram came to Telluride a boy, and he’s leaving a happy, happy boy. Hoo-RAH!

 At least we Laterrian never came back. Or maybe BMP lost his number. Whatever. I thought that Alton was a beast in his first two Challenges, but his four endgame wins came against overwhelmed opponents: Laterrian, Danny, Adam King and Ace. If it turns out Danny is still in therapy for how Alton took him out, I would not be surprised. Good times, because that Danny was a little punk.

Looking back, I forget if I was aware that only three Gauntlets (Dead Man's Drop, A Perfect Fit, Ride 'Em Cowboy) could be played between genders. I get how  we get alternating gender endgames from Inferno II to today, but I like the idea of anybody going home. Otherwise, you get Gauntlet III, where the Veterans team kept chanting "Trim the fat" and throwing missions to lose their women, only to fuck up by keeping plus-sized Eric "Big Easy" Banks for fear of getting eliminated by him in the Gauntlet. In the finale, he almost died, the team lost for having him drop out, and Coral probably laughed herself sick. Also, that's a strike against CT, who was screaming at Eric to run. This is for those who weigh CT's pros with the cons from early in his career.

I think that I created a thread on the Television Without Pity forum for Darrell, starting with The Inferno. The title: "Darrell: Non-Flexiblist Cat."

And damn, I was so okay with the threesome going into the next episode. Then I found those two bitches slagging Sarah, and . . . no. Next time. And  I'll try to post that soon.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 11: Oedipus Rex

Spoiler Warning: This is a brutal episode.

I don't know if I can be impartial with reality television, in the sense that there's usually people I root for, and then there are folks I'd fall into an open manhole. And, of course, I would take sides with The Challenge.

In retrospect, I can see why members of the Road Rules teams wanted Sarah off. She was a scrub on RR: Campus Crawl. She didn't have much of a good time in her brief stint on the show. Shit, she probably would have been cast on The Real World, but that was the season in Las Vegas, and she was under 21. And even if she did make the cut, she probably would have taken Brynn's slot and had to deal with the likes of Steven and Trishelle. Basically, she was a downer. And you know what? So was I. Still am in many ways. I don't root for that many people on shows that hard, but I can be heavily invested when I do. I related to Sarah more than most of the gang from The Gauntlet, so -- of course -- she would be in constant peril. To me, it was a karmic price to pay for Melissa (somebody I REALLY liked) lasting almost the full length of Battle Of The Sexes.

As you'll see in the first few paragraphs, I was mad before the episode aired. For somebody who doesn't drink alcohol, this was "pregaming" for me. And most of these people did NOT disappoint when it came to pissing me off. If you roll your eyes and think I should have gotten a life by then, you'd probably be right. But I had favorites, and I stuck with them.

Airdate: December 1, 2003
Recap Published: December 6, 2003

The title is a ten-letter substitution for a twelve-letter phrase which can't be said in an RNO recap. After you read what happens between Sarah and her teammates, you'll probably be muttering that as well.
I should have seen it coming. Wait a second... I did see it coming.

So there I am late Friday night, waist-deep in MTV dreck, trying to find a commercial for the latest episode. I sifted through one of the "Sunday Stew" shows... you know, the one with the guy from Jackass. Or maybe it was the other one with the guy from Jackass. Finally, I found what I was looking for, and I wished I hadn't. Rachel B. and Sarah, best of friends, were going into the Gauntlet.

It wasn't just that two of my favorites were going to battle each other to stay in Telluride. In fact, from the extended teaser that aired after the first episode, I figured this would happened. I just wanted to live in denial. This wasn't the first time MTV spoiled things... they had aired clips of Elka/Cara and Trishelle/Sarah. I heard a rumor that Bunim and Murray were selling their long-running franchises to a major network, so maybe that's why MTV is doing this. They got enough non-BMP shows on their own, so why would they act like spoiled brats now?

Oh, and I knew Sarah was going to win. Colin Mortensen, one of the big winners from Battle of the Sexes, had interviewed Nathan for show recaps. Nathan revealed that Road Rules would send in one of their players a fixed number of times. Because I don't want to spoil any of you, I won't reveal how many. But it became obvious that he was talking about Sarah and that she would win in the Gauntlet for a fourth time. Sadly, Colin erased all of the current recaps, citing that the show "bores the sh*t out of me and is a waste of my time and energy." I learned two things from Colin: we're obviously watching different shows and he didn't buy class with his $50,000.

So, as I grimly plopped myself down to watch the latest debacle, one question remained: who was gonna piss me off tonight? Previously on The Gauntlet: A dog on a bench? That's random. Anyway, while the guys and girls partied, Rachel B. and Sarah became friends. In Inferno, Laterrian skipped two rungs, getting disqualified. Real World won, upping their bank account to $30,000. Adam went into his "stronger and weaker" spiel after voting Sarah into the Gauntlet. Sarah interviewed that she can't agree about sending somebody over and over and still not seeing any positive attributes. She then won her third Gauntlet. "They can do whatever they want," she said. "I'm not going anywhere."

Breakfast time. Theo V. drawls about the truth being sugar-coated. Sarah jokingly asks if he's voting her into the Gauntlet today and he tells her yes. Gallows humor seems to be the only kind of humor she has nowadays. Theo tells Abram that she lives in the Gauntlet. She interviews that she's been signing things, "Queen of the Gauntlet." Ouch. "I already own this season," she tells Theo. "It's called `Me and My Gauntlet.'" She's so jovial, she does her own rimshot on the table.

Mission site. Norman sees two logs above the pool. Jonny welcomes everybody to Rolling On a River. The objective: to test endurance and agility. Roni expositions that this is a "motorized log rolling competition." Jonny continues: last player standing wins $10,000 for the team, and the remaining players from each team get the Freshlook Lifesaver, which keeps them out of the Gauntlet. The rules: once a player falls off, that person is eliminated, even if pulled off. There's a cut to Laterrian after Jonny says that.

Preparations. Both teams suit up. Abram jokes about not grabbing teammates while falling. Alton tells his team to jump off right before getting thrown. Irulan interviews that RW has to keep the momentum going. What momentum? They haven't gotten consecutive mission wins yet.

Both teams slowly walk on their logs. For some reason, the editors pipe in Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl." Jonny blows the airhorn. I see guys in striped shirts, so I'm guessing they'll be keeping things kosher. Soon, the RR log lurches forward, and four players fall off, while the others regain their composure. Out: Laterrian, Dave, Darrell, and Sarah. "Laterrian wallops me," Sarah interviews, "and claws me off this log." Cut to instant replay, with a sky view and spot shadow. Sure enough, Laterrian does knock her off. Sarah: "And that sucks." Oh, you have no idea.

Both teams try to keep balanced. Mike interviews that RR is more nervous and his team will win. Rachel B. drops into the water. She interviews that she fell off way too fast. "I beat out four Road Rulers," she continues, "but I'm the first one to go, and I'm the only one to go, and I go off on nothing."

More balancing. New tune: "Fall Back Down" by Rancid. Both teams dance on the logs. Veronica takes a dip. More balancing. Three RW players fall. From above the pool, one of them looks dangerously close to bonking his head on the RR log. Rachel R. falls. The three RWs are identified: Alton, Irulan, and Theo G. Theo interviews that his footwork was good, but he slipped. Mike voiceovers that it's down to Coral, Nathan, Norman, and himself. Theo V. shouts "Hoo-RAH!" As Adam repeats it, Theo slips and falls. This gives Mike great pleasure. "Boom!" he laughs in an interview. "Right into the water! Funniest thing I've ever seen in my life!"

More rolling. Coral slips and falls, followed by Adam. Nathan curses as he plunges, quickly followed by Norman. Cara takes a dip. Don't ask me where Abram went. So it comes down to a battle between Mike and Roni. Mike grins while Roni concentrates. She voiceovers that she's not tired. "I'm the only one left," Mike interviews, "so this is all on me... which I love."

After commercials, Mike and Roni are keeping pace. Mike gripes about Roni being in the zone and how it pisses him off. Roni voiceovers that she has to keep the pace. Darrell interviews that Mike "looks like a troll walking over a mountain," and he doesn't give Roni a chance for winning. More rolling. Mike starts to lose his balance. Coral from the sidelines: "Come on Mike! IloveyouIloveyouIloveyou!" But it's too late, as Mike falls over. RR celebrates, lifting Roni up in their arms. If there's any bright spot in this episode, it's her. "It's really good to see Roni shine," Veronica echoes my sentiments. "She's a quiet person, and we don't really see this whole side of her." Mike gets support from his team. "I did the best that I could," he says, "and my best wasn't good enough today."

Jonny awards the $10,000 to RR, giving them a $70K-$30K edge over RW. Roni happily accepts the check. "It feels so good to win one," she interviews. "It makes me feel like I deserve to be on the team." Jonny awards the Lifesavers to Roni and Mike. Have you noticed that the people who win those aren't the ones who need protection? Jonny gives the usual spiel, asking both teams to figure out who goes to the Gauntlet.

RW Meeting. Mike votes for Rachel B., since she clocked the second worst time in Inferno and was the first off the log today. So how come he went after Coral last week? That must have been some vaginal spell Trishelle was using. Theo G. goes for Rachel. Alton votes for Theo, feeling he can step up. I'm surprised anybody remembers Theo being on the team. Maybe he could marry Roni and they'd have cute, non-dramatic kids. Nathan feels Rachel could win in the Gauntlet again. Irulan splits from her boyfriend, voting for Rachel. Coral goes for Theo. "We're down to three girls," she cites, "and I think eventually, women are going to come into play." Norman cops out, saying he flipped a coin and it came down to Rachel. She admits she sucked and votes for herself to avoid drama. The team does a group cheer and I notice the crowd is rather smaller than from the beginning.

RR Meeting. Put on your hip boots and gas masks. Abram brings up the group splashdown, asking if anybody was pulled off. Dave says he wasn't touched. Sarah: "I was pulled off. Well, smacked off, but it was an accident, so it's not that big a deal." Famous last words.

Voting. Rachel R. feels that Laterrian is weaker than Sarah. Laterrian's points: 3, 2, 3, 3. He interviews that he can bring a lot to the team. First round results: Laterrian 25, Sarah 15, Veronica 14. Thank goodness I already knew what was about to go down. Otherwise, the next few minutes would've really pissed me off.

Voting. "If we're looking at the Road Rules team like a sports team," Dave interviews, "you're gonna keep voting off the person who is doing the worst on the team, who's holding you back." Notice he doesn't say a name. He reads the votes. Veronica gets three points. Sarah gets three points twice. Adam read the final results: Sarah 23, Veronica 22, Laterrian 21. Wow. Sarah is officially the least-liked cast member this side of Dat Phan. "Oh my God," she gasps, "this is (bleeping) [BS], you guys." She insists that she was knocked in and thought nobody was going to be penalized for that. Veronica wonders why they didn't talk about that. "Dude," Sarah replies, "because it's not my job to incriminate the person that made me fall." The room empties as Sarah voiceovers that standing up for herself doesn't work, and Laterrian left a bruise on her arm. After the room empties, it's just Sarah and Laterrian. And now, LT offers to go to the Gauntlet. "I don't wanna go," he mutters, "nobody wants to go." Gee, why would Sarah balk at going? Maybe because, I don't know, she went there three times?! He brings up college loans he has to pay as a reason to stay on. Sarah thinks she wouldn't be in this situation if women had been on both sides. Laterrian doesn't want to argue. I cannot believe I ever sympathized with him after his three-episode stint on Battle of the Sexes. "Way to go," Sarah snipes in an interview. "One of the few opportunities that you'll ever have in your entire life to stand up and be a man and admit making a huge mistake, and you sent me in." Pause. "Again." Hey, what else can you expect from Osterrian?

Later. Abram: "If I sent somebody else to give her a bye, I think it would be unfair to that other person." Shut up, Abram. Don't you have people to beat up or something? Veronica says that in the past three missions, one person did badly. Once again, you don't know if she's talking about Sarah or Laterrian. Rachel R. thinks it's odd that LT had 25 votes in the first round, but finished in last in the final round. Cara proceeds to lose it. "Everybody voted!" she cries out. "And everybody voted her in again! There are other people who deserve to go in!" I'm so wound up, I can't even muster a "You go, girl!" Seriously, if Sarah has allies on her team, why is she constantly going into the Gauntlet? Hell, I even look at Roni with my eyebrows cocked, and I like her.

Sarah and Rachel B. chat. Rachel interviews that the last thing she expected was RR sending Sarah in. She continues, "What is the irony of it, when it's the one person that I like, and one of us has to send the other one home." Sarah laments a little. "At least my team likes me," Rachel blurts out. They both have a good laugh. Rachel is wearing a Miz cap, and that isn't right. Not for her final day.

Cut to what appears to be the confessional booth. It looks like Sarah and Rachel are locked in a basement and are videotaping their final moments. Also, Sarah appears to be sitting on Rachel's lap, which is just plain weird. Then again, Rachel is a tall lady. Sarah laughs, "Guys, once you keep voting me off, you're next!" Rachel does some mugging. Sarah continues, "You only hope that I come back triumphant, so you're not [bleeped] too, because there's people gunning for you as well." This is sad and funny, like the Mardi Gras confessional with Melissa and Julie, before Julie turned into a total stinker. Sarah: "Once you get rid of the whipping boy, who do you whip?"

Gauntlet. Jonny lays out the usual spiel before bringing Rachel and "Gauntlet specialist" Sarah up. Cara interviews that she can't imagine trying to beat her best friend. Sarah laughs as she rolls the die and it comes up Ride `Em Cowboy. The players hug as Jonny lays out the objective: to stay on the mechanical bull for as long as possible. Sarah calls it "the one thing that I didn't want to do, against the one person I didn't want to do it against." They get on the bulls. Rachel interviews that it's a lose/lose situation, since one of them is going home.

Airhorn. The bulls start to buck. We go into slow-motion, as Chevelle's "Send The Pain Below" plays. Adam stares on and I'm convinced he's trying to push Sarah off with his mind. Soon, Sarah is chest-down on the bull. In the forums, some thought she should have been disqualified for touching the bull, a rule that was enforced on Montana several weeks back. However, Sarah has her hand raised. She touches the bull, but she doesn't grab it. Coral screams for Rachel. Adam's still staring, with his arms folded. Sarah is struggling as her cowboy hat flies off. She is about five seconds from getting bucked off when Rachel flies off her bull. Game over. As RR celebrates Sarah's win, the graphic tells us RW has now lost seven players. That's half the team, people. Stick a fork in `em, they're done.

Most Depressing Footage Ever. Cara hugs Sarah while Theo V. jumps around like a goob. Rachel cries and is hugged by Mike, who tells her it's okay. Sarah cries as Cara tells her she deserves to stay in the game. Yeah, maybe Cara is cool after all. Sarah breaks away to hug Rachel and they both sob. The others look on, not saying anything. That must have been awkward, especially for RR, who could have avoided this. In a perfect world, Rachel would've stomped on Laterrian like she did Katie, and sent him back home a three-time loser. "We definitely feel like we got a solid friendship out of this bullshit," Rachel interviews, while Sarah's sinuses try to clear up. "It's a really good thing that means more, the moral aspect of it means more than the money."

Denouement. Jonny tells the group that Rachel's going home and Sarah gets to stay for at least one more day. Soon, Coral is hugging Sarah, trying to calm her down. You know, I get on Coral's case a lot, but there are times I forget how cool she can be. Remember the time where Nicole kept throwing up during her date, and Coral cleaned her up and reapplied her makeup? Or when she comforted Mike after he went on a Miz rampage in Cancun? "I just think it's pretty crappy," Coral voiceovers. "I think a lot of people are saying to take emotion out of it and don't take it personal. But honestly, people do."

Mansion. Coral is having a chat with Adam as Rachel R. looks on. Coral wonders how many times Sarah has to pay for mistakes. Adam says that it's hard for him to say what's fair. Yeah, he would. Coral: "You don't know what it's like to go to the Gauntlet." Adam: "That's [BS]. Why do people say that?" Coral talks about how bad it feels to have the team say they can do better without a player. Adam claims that nobody on his team says that and he doesn't want to see anybody go home. "It's not about wanting to see somebody go," Coral says, "but it's about letting people on your team know that you want them on the team." She asks him if he's thankful for Sarah, and he shrugs.

Rachel B. packs. We'll always have Hangman. Kicking Katie out was fine by me. Sarah tells her she's sorry for beating her. "It's okay," Rachel responds. "Seriously, I'd rather you beat me than anybody else." They laugh. Sarah compares herself to those clown punching bags that get smacked and come right back up. They laugh and cry some more. "Rachel is the one that I relate to the best," Sarah interviews. "I know that once she's gone, I have nobody to be happy with about anything."

Anybody want to role-play? Okay, you're Sarah. You've been thrown to the wolves by your teammates for the fourth time. You beat your new best friend. The question: do you want cake? Yep, in the most self-serving move in recent reality television history, the RR team gets Sarah a cake. It's chocolate, with an inscription: "Thanks For Saving Our Butts Again Again Again Again." Oh, and it has four candles in it, one for each time Sarah had to save HER OWN BUTT. What says the King of Condescending? "The cake is a sign that she deserves to feel like she's part of the team," Adam interviews. I'm surprised that Adam didn't coat his beard in flour and bitch about how long it took to bake the damn cake. Sarah has a good laugh, at least for her so-called friends. "It's kinda flattering," she says, "but at the same time, it's like, give me a break." The team claps and has a good time. Cut to Laterrian, who should not even get a whiff of the cake. Fade to black. Sarah: "And it did make me sick." You and me both.

Next time: Mike and Theo V. do some intense weightlifting. Anybody else want to see those two in the final Gauntlet? I don't really hate them, but we need a climatic clash of those two titans. The players are spinning on a giant turntable. Cut to Adam walking with Dave and Theo. "We need to compete against the Real World right now," Adam tells them. "And we can't let go of a guy right now." Adam in interview: "The way to win these challenges? Vote off all the girls." Oh, man. Now I want Ellen to fly down to Telluride to stomp on him. Players spin off hard. Cara: "The guys are getting a reality check. This isn't just about sending women to the Gauntlet." Hey, Adam! Knock knock! Who's there? Instant karma! Instant karma who? Instant karma's gonna get you!

I know, this was overkill from me. I don't care. I lost all respect for Laterrian, whom I likened to Osten Taylor of Survivor: Pearl Islands. He was hapless during his time there, but was kept in the game by Andrew Savage and the bulk of the Morgan tribe before being the first contestant to fal-out quit.

And I really, really, REALLY hated Adam. Passing the buck, protecting an obvious scrub, piling on Sarah's woes, getting a cheap-ass store-bought cake . . . ugh. Just thinking about him chaps my behind. I take solace that he hasn't popped up since avoiding elimination in the ill-conceived Road Rules: Viewers' Revenge. Between then and Telluride, he did one more Challenge. That didn't work out for him. Because I'm that petty, I went to town with that. In the weeks that followed, more members of the Road Rules team would work my last nerve.

One more thing: a tiny part of me thinks Rachel B. may have thrown the Gauntlet. I'm probably wrong; BMP edited things to show Sarah struggling harder than Rachel because Sarah was the underdog the audience should root for. But if Rachel said that she said "fuck it" and let her then-BFF have it, I would understand. This would be the last we'd see of her on MTV. She was nice. Also, as you'll see eventually, the wrong damn Rachel left the show, and we were stuck with the overrated butterface.

Finally, to give you an idea on how painful the Gauntlet was, this is the video for "Send The Pain Below" by Chevelle. Not the cheeriest of songs, and perfect for that match.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 10: Masters of Their Domain

This was not a fun episode for me. Once again, the person I identified with the most got thrown to the wolves. Also, the alpha dudes on both sides acted like assholes. And I took Rupert's ouster on Survivor: Pearl Islands to heart. Hey, there weren't heavy guys like me  on reality television at the time. Today, I see Rupert as an overrated blowhard who seldom got bad press, even when he wound up berating Lillian in the finale, and she was basically getting beaten up by most of the jury. On the bright side, I don't hate voters in Indiana for trying to elect him as their governor, since one of the alternatives was Mike Pence.

Airdate: November 24, 2003

Recap Published: November 30, 2003

After the latest mission, Adam and Mike take reign of their respective teams. Does it work out? Here’s a hint: no, it doesn’t.
I was bummed out last week. First, Steve got beat in Perfect Fit... by Trishelle, of all people. A few days later, Rupert was voted off on Survivor. Yeah, he was a bit of a pill in the end, but I identified with the big lug. As I watched the commercial for the next episode, I got a sick feeling... one of my favorite people on the show was going into the Gauntlet. And so I went into Monday night with a mixture of hope and dread. That night, I was going to be really happy... or I was going to take the worst hit since John Vito and Jill got eliminated.

Previously on The Gauntlet: Road Rules won Red Baron, upping their bank to $60,000. Coral: “Maybe we can get more than four dollars in our stupid little [bleeping] bank account.” RW put Trishelle in the Gauntlet, while Mike voted for Irulan, who felt his decision was a cop-out. Coral: “Mike is under some sort of vaginal spell.” Hate the player, love the quotes. In the Gauntlet, Trishelle upset Puzzle Master Steve. His last words? “Yeah, good for her.” I hope he gets invited to the reunion.

Telluride. Mike and Trishelle are fishing. I picked up my first rod and reel a month ago. It was fun. I even caught my first fish, a scrawny thing I threw back. Mike talks about how didn’t want a girlfriend while living in Los Angeles, because the women he met were fake. “You’re beautiful, inside and out,” Mike gushes to his girl. “You’re the girl every guy would want, but probably couldn’t get.” That made me laugh. Who has Trishelle made out with on camera? There’s Steve, Frank, Eric, and Mike. Oh, and Adam dated her off-camera. And from what I’ve heard, that’s barely chipping at the iceberg. “He makes me smile,” she interviews. “I’m just happy to have him.”

Mansion. Nathan reads the clues for the next mission: depart at 8:30 am, wear bathing suits, tennis shoes, team colors, and mouth guards.

Morning. View of an odd, ladder-type contraption. Two stuffed cats hang from the top rung. The editors pipe in some mewing, since this is a cheesy production. Jonny welcomes everybody to Inferno. The objective: to climb up the spinning ladder, rescue the cat, and climb back down in the shortest amount of time, while being sprayed with water. A few contestants question the last part. “Well,” Jonny replies, “they gotta put out the fire to save the cat.” Makes sense to me. Jonny continues to lay out the rules: every rung must be climbed. If a player drops the cat, that person is assigned the longest time plus a two minute penalty. Mike interviews that they’re not racing against each other, but against time. Jonny continues: the times will be pooled, and the team with the shortest average time wins $10,000. Also, the fastest players get the Freshlook Lifesaver, which gives them immunity from the Gauntlet. Coral expositions that RR must sit out two players. This time, it’s Cara and Adam. Why, Cara? That’s the second time in a row. I know this will come back to haunt her.

Norman vs. Darrell. Remember Darrell dissing the old guy about outrunning him? Jonny blows his airhorn and they start climb. Norman takes a slight lead. “I don’t think this is Darrell’s mission,” Theo V. interviews. “He’s scared of heights. He grew up his whole life in an one-story house. He comes from a long line of low-level people.” Reminds me of an old SNL sketch with Martin Short as a solider who can’t climb stairs. Anyway, Norman gets his kitty and hits the bottom first, clocking in at 1:09, while Darrell finishes at 1:21 and he can’t believe Norman beat him.

Abram vs. Irulan. He finishes at 0:42, she at 1:14. Veronica and Theo G. race, but we don’t see their times. Rachel R. clocks out at 0:50, faster than Coral’s 1:07. Mike and Dave shake hands before and after their race. Mike finishes at 0:50, Dave at 1:03.

Roni vs. Trishelle. Roni takes the lead early while Trishelle struggles. She interviews that she took her time since she didn’t want to drop the cat. Roni finishes at 1:04 while Trishelle stops after 1:51. Mike assures Trishelle she did good while Coral makes a sour face. RW has an average time of 1:12, while RR clocks in at 1:06.

Jonny calls up “notorious” Alton and Laterrian. Both run up the ladder, hooking their cats to belts. Alton gains a small lead while we get two shots of Laterrian skipping a rung. Cut to Jonny looking on, since you can sneak one by him the way you can sneak a rising sun past a rooster. Both sides cheer; Alton has a time of 0:41, while Laterrian finishes with 0:46. Jonny drops the hammer on Laterrian, disqualifying him for his miscue. Laterrian denies it, but Jonny and the replay shut him down. Jonny assigns the maximum time, plus the two minute penalty. New times: RW 1:08, RR 1:21. Laterrian breathes hard, knowing the bad luck that dogged him on Extreme Challenge and Battle of the Sexes has caught up to him.

Rachel B. vs Theo V. He interviews that his team is going to be fine. Rachel struggles, stuffing her cat into a pocket. Theo comes down at 0:36, Rachel at 1:28. Theo figures he did well enough to give his team a chance.

As the cats are pulled into position, we see the times: RW 1:10, RR 1:15. Dave voiceovers that it’s down to Sarah to pull out the victory. Time out. Who put Sarah in the final slot? On Campus Crawl, I saw her choke in the clutch. As much as I like her, I wouldn’t have put her in a position where she could make or break my day.

Final heat: Nathan vs. Sarah. She interviews about winning for the team, adding, “I need to make sure that they understand that I want to be here.” Nathan takes the lead immediately. Sarah breathes hard on her ascent. Nathan grabs his cat and climbs down. Sarah grabs hers and slowly goes rung by rung, holding the cat. No clipping of the cat, no stuffing into a pocket. This is as painful for me as watching Melissa struggle. Her arm goes back, and the cat falls out of her hand. Cut to the cat on the ground. Only thing missing is RW singing, “Sarah killed the cat, Sarah killed the cat.” As Nathan’s teammates hug him, Sarah has a sad look on her face.

Back from commercials, we see the final times: RW 1:08, RR 1:29. Jonny awards the $10,000 check to RW. Coral claims it and playfully keeps it away from Roni. Jonny hands out the Lifesavers to the fastest contestants: Theo V. (0:36) and Alton (0:41), He orders both teams back to the mansion to figure out who goes to the Gauntlet.

RR Meeting. Sarah apologizes for dropping the cat. There’s an awkward silence that I’m sure is edited in. She interviews: “It’s really starting to grate on my nerves that a lot of people have no respect for me as a competitor, or as a team player, or even as a person.” Theo reads the votes: Veronica with 9, Laterrian with 25, and Sarah with 26. Second vote. Laterrian interviews that he knew his name was coming up. Adam reads the votes as Sarah gets two three-pointers. Veronica: “As soon as I hear my name being brought up, it’s like ‘Oh, God, again’. Then I look around the room and try to figure out who is giving me those points.” Based on the first set of average times, I figured that Veronica came out with a time of 1:36, which was pretty slow. In other words, Little Miss Entitled should shut up. She gets one three-pointer. Darrell figures that Veronica is due, since Sarah has been to the Gauntlet twice. Cara covers her eyes, interviewing that she can’t imagine what Sarah is going through.

Theo reads the final tally: Sarah 27, Laterrian 21, Veronica 18. Sarah admits she messed up, but feels that the team doesn’t need a “Gauntlet diplomat.” Adam snots, asking her if she wants a bye. “Once you start mentally packing your bags,” she responds, “twice, and then have to do it a third time, then you can tell me how I’m supposed to feel.” Not taking a hint, Adam asks if she feels like the weakest player on the team. She replies that everybody has messed up at least once. Adam goes into a spiel about strong and weak players. Cara snaps, asking him why she’s telling Sarah that before entering the Gauntlet. “Because he doesn’t understand tact,” Sarah answers. Adam doesn’t look like he understands. Sarah: “The only motivation to come back to the team at this point is really just to shove my giant shoe up Adam’s ass.” I would pay money to see that.

Post-meeting. Darrell talks to Adam about sending Sarah to the Gauntlet with confidence. “I saw her panic and I saw her give up,” Adam sneers. “As soon as I see those things, I don’t want that person on my team.” Looks like somebody is having Jisela flashbacks. But maybe he has a point. I didn’t see Adam give up in the Inferno. Come to think of it, I didn’t see Adam in the Inferno, period. He asks what he was supposed to do. “Bite your tongue?” Dave replies. Oh, good. Ellen flashbacks. Adam stares, like the massive tool that he is.

Outside, Sarah takes a walk with Theo V. She snarks that she should have volunteered for the Gauntlet every time. Theo agrees with her about Adam’s lack of tact. He interviews that he’s on her side and she shouldn’t have to go all the time. He tells her that he wouldn’t blame her if she loses, but he hopes she wins.

RW Meeting. Alton asks if they’re going on performance to determine the voting. Coral quotes Trishelle about going back to the Gauntlet after a poor performance. Trishelle says that she never said to go from mission to mission, and while the others dropped out of Snake Soup, she stuck it out and got hypothermia. Once again: the producers want to kill their stars, I’m sure of it. Coral claims to have had only two bad missions. Not to nitpick, but I count at least four (Snake Soup, Masquerade, Mud Bath, Holey Canoe). Mike takes the floor, saying that whoever had the fastest time out of the two people he was thinking of would not get his vote. Then he says that since Coral was a little slower than Irulan, she would go to the Gauntlet. Let’s say the times were not doctored in any way. If that’s the case, Irulan was seven seconds slower than Coral. Who is Mike kidding? Trishelle chimes in, voting for Coral. Of course, she takes it well. “Mike and Trishelle miraculously came up with [my] name to throw my name in the Gauntlet,” she interviews. “I don’t know if they’re standing in front of the microwave too long, but that was a complete shock.” In quick order, everybody else votes for Trishelle (37 seconds slower than Irulan). Coral cocks an eyebrow, seemingly mocking Mike before she votes for Trishelle. She interviews that she didn’t think she would be going back to the Gauntlet, and she thought they were going by overall performance.

Outside. Coral bitches about Mike, bringing up the two missions again. She interviews that Mike should admit to not voting for Trishelle since she is his girlfriend. Irulan doesn’t think Mike has integrity and she would vote for him. “He needs to start thinking with the correct head,” Rachel B. gripes, “because he’s [bleeping] not!” Brilliant! Just then, Mizhelle comes outside. The vibe: “Cheese it, you guys!” As everybody shuts up, Mike looks around, ten seconds from Mizzing out.

After commercials, the others walk away as Coral calls Mike over. He interviews that his friendship with Coral has been a roller-coaster ever since he met her. She asks him if Trishelle is doing better than her. Mike says yes. Mike isn’t the brightest bulb, is he? Coral shakes her head. She asks, “How come everyone else sees it but you?” She interviews that Mike is totally oblivious. Eventually, he admits that it dawned on him once everybody else voted for Trishelle. Coral: “It just seems like your heart is kind of getting in the way.” Or other body parts. Hey, I’m just saying.

Gauntlet. Jonny goes into the usual spiel before bringing Trishelle and Sarah up. Trishelle says she is more nervous about battling Sarah than any guy, adding, “She might give me a run for my money.” Trishelle rolls the die and it comes up Perfect Fit. The optimism that was on the RR side when that came up last week shifts to RW. Jonny lays out the rules as we get a flashback of Trishelle taking out Steve. Sarah: “All I’m thinking in the back of my mind is. ‘I will not lose a puzzle to Trishelle.’” Jonny lays out more exposition. “It’s scary,” Mike interviews. “I can lose my girl in a matter of seconds.” As I hold back the tears, Mike and Trishelle share a kiss.

Jonny gets the players ready as they wish each other luck. For some reason, Jonny doesn’t have his trusty airhorn, so he’s forced to whistle, starting the game. Both players dive in, throwing the puzzle pieces out of the water. Trishelle gets out first while Sarah struggles. Trishelle starts working on the puzzle. Rachel R. covers her face and maybe she’s on Sarah’s side for once. Sarah finally gets out, but Trishelle is ahead of her. Both work on the puzzle. “Keep going,” Mike shouts out. “Keep playing with it. Keep playing with it.” Heh. More struggling on both sides. Irulan, Alton, and Nathan get out of their seats to watch. Sarah’s puzzle is almost complete, as she tries to cram pieces into the hole. Trishelle is still working. And finally... FINALLY!... Sarah slams the final piece. Game over.

Before I get to the celebration, let’s review what Sarah has just done:
  1. She won the Gauntlet for the third time, keeping herself in the game and making me a happy recapper in the process.
  2. She booted Trishelle from a reality show. Had she stayed, we would have had but a few precious weeks between the end of this season and the start of Inferno, as well as The Surreal Life. Now we get some breathing room away from her presence.
  3. She broke up Mizhelle, the most nauseating couple this side of Chadwick & Holly. She also delivered Mike into the somewhat sinister embrace of Coral, who is most entertaining when she has a whipping boy to call her own.
  4. She prevented an ending where Adam and his buddies get the last laugh. Honestly, I forgot what it was like to really loathe the ADD-addled dink until this episode. Adam, I know Jamie. I’ve watched Jamie. You are no Jamie. So lose the hat and shave the beard.
  5. She avenged Steve. I half-expected him to appear as a blue-tinted Jedi ghost, giving Sarah the wink and the thumbs up. Future get-togethers between those two should be fun. “Wanna play Jenga? I should win... after all, since Trishelle beat you, and I beat Trishelle, then I’m guaranteed to triumph!” At least she met one guy from The Quest who wasn’t all ego.
Back to the celebration. Sarah is mobbed by her teammates while Adam keeps away. “After everything that happened today,” she interviews, “it’s the big middle finger to a lot of people.” Cut to Adam. Sweet. “It’s awesome,” Theo V. drawls. “I think if Sarah wins the Gauntlet one more time, she should be able to take the Gauntlet home with her!” On the other side, Mike tells Trishelle that she did her best, then hugs her.

Denouement. Jonny brings up Trishelle for parting words. She leaves it at just having a good time. “Y’all don’t let it get too personal,” she says, “because everyone has friends here and we are going home after this.” Jonny asks “the undisputed queen of the Gauntlet” for her thoughts, but Sarah declines. “I’m a barnacle, man,” she interviews, “and they can do whatever they want. I’m not going anywhere.”

Mansion. Players are eating Subway sandwiches. Anybody got Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki they don’t want? Okay, just asking. Mike voiceovers that he has to tell his team that he screwed up. He apologizes to Coral, not realizing his vote was stupid until he talked with her. “Did I expect Mike to [apologize]?” Coral asks in her interview. “No, but he should have. I accept his apology. I’m just not going to make a parade of it and give him a medal or a brownie or some [bleep].” Trishelle exits, escorted by Norman. Cut to Mike, looking forlorn.

Next time: Log-rolling! Veronica bitches about one person not performing in the past three days. Laterrian volunteers to go into the Gauntlet. “I don’t want to go,” he interviews. “Nobody wants to go.” Female voice: “Way to stand up and be a man and admit to making a huge mistake.” Laterrian: “I [bleeped] up, but not as much as she did!” Cara can’t believe... something. We’ll find out about it when it happens.

Postscript: My good mood lasts less than 48 hours. I was happy for Sarah, and I was thrilled that she was able to give my Fantasy Challenge team a much-needed boost. Then I watched Survivor, where Jon played the Dead Grandma card, and I was furious all over again. Hey, I never said all my recaps would have happy endings.

Writing assignment: Which past and present Challenge players would you like to come back? Which “virgins” would you like to see again for the first time? And which RW and RR cast members would you not want polluting your TV screen ever again? E-mail me with your opinions at [redacted].


Of course, things would get worse for Sarah. On the bright side, "Mizhelle" did not last long after the season. I remember Mike going over events in the Gauntlet/Inferno special about how Trishelle caem to him before a party, told him that she was going to kiss a bunch of guys, and he wasn't supposed to get mad. Not as bad as telling people that your grandmother died for shits and giggles, but Trishelle just flat-out sucked.

Oh, and next episode? I get mad. Really mad. Just a heads-up. I know, it's stupid of me to get worked up about such things, especially in the "long long ago" era before friggin' Johnny.