Saturday, February 18, 2017

Battle of the Sexes Episode 18: Finale

This is it. Well, for this season. As much as the ending might have been foul, it felt a lot "cleaner" than the other finales I wound up covering. Judge for yourself.

 Airdate: May 5, 2003
Recap Published: May 15, 2003 (I really took my time with this one. This might have been the biggest delay I had with the website.)

It's the big finale - three guys against three women in a challenge that combines brains and brawn. But the guys seem a little short on the brain end. So what do they do to overcome it? Well, you'll just have to read on to find out.
 
This is the end, my friends. After five months and eighteen episodes, we can put the latest offering from Bunim-Murray Productions to rest. I've had my ups and I've had my downs, but I have to say it was worth it. I got one more rant in me, so let's get started.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: The ladies won Maximum Velocity, ending their losing streak. Mark voiceovers that the field has gone from 36 to six. One fun thing about watching MTV's marathons is that you can see the mob get cut down every half-hour. Jamie expositions who the final six players are: Lori, Ruthie, and Ellen, Mark, Colin, and Jamie. Mark reminds us that the winning team will get $150,000 in Chili's Cash.

For the last time: Credits! Midtown! Bye, Anne! I won't miss your bony self! Bye, Amaya and Dan! You'd be such a cute couple if Dan didn't swing that way! Bye, Emily! Please don't chop me up with that bloody axe! Bye, James! Please break up with that crazy woman! Bye, Colin! Do you know most of the people who post on the forums want to take out your other ankle? Bye, Theo! You got something malignant on your back! Wait, that's just Ellen. Bye, Melissa and Jamie! Your season is represented well with you two! Bye, Rachel! I hope you don't try to break Emily into too many pieces! Bye, David E! You suck, you know that? Bye, Antoine! I know you're from Belgium, so you don't have to play nice with me! Bye, Jisela! Please don't do another Challenge! Bye, Christina! I wish Piggy or Susie made the trip instead of you! Bye, Puck and Julie! I'd wish you luck in duping colleges into thinking that you're viable guest speakers, but you don't need any help! And I hope Judd becomes Bogart's favorite author! Bye, Jonny Moseley! I hope Colin isn't looking outside your window right now, breathing hard! Bye, Midtown! I hope your careers get some sort of boost from this show! I know my writing career won't!

We start with the girls sipping drinks. Melissa is still there. I'm thinking BMP intended the last two episodes to be run back-to-back. Melissa is giving the remaining girls tips, including "steer clear of the D-R-A-M-A." Ellen interviews that it feels good to make the final three, but it's bittersweet that Melissa has to go. While I wouldn't fit Ellen for one of Melissa's t-shirts, at least she came around from Julie's booting. She adds, "I know she's definitely surprised by her own performance." You, me, and everybody else on the planet. Ellen talks about how the girls were awarding superlatives the previous night. Lori gives Melissa one for Most Fashionable. Melissa interviews that she's been packed to go for eleven days. She repeats that she's "missioned out" and she's glad the losing streak is over.

Men's Villa. Mark voiceovers that he feels for "Frenchy." So do most American Idol fans. Oh, he means the departing Antoine. My bad. Mark calls Antoine by that name again as he gets into the van. I know Antoine has been the best sport on this show, but just once I wanted him to yell, "I'm not from France! I'm from Belgium, you Yankee bastards!" "If you need a place to stay in the U.S.," Mark offers, "call Jamie." On the women's side, the girls gang-hug Melissa. She thanks Ruthie for the car and Lori for "understanding my pleasant negativity." I think "pleasant negativity" would be a good home page name. Melissa turns to Ellen. "Thank you for all the excessive cheerleading," she tells her. "In hindsight, it really does help." Ha! Melissa interviews: "To my girls that are left: good luck, win the money." Antoine interviews that the men's top three has a better chance of winning. The van departs as Melissa waves goodbye.

Men's Villa. The guys have been given a puzzle to fool around with before the final mission. Mark tells Jamie that he can't see it being the final mission. Jamie sees it as a big part.

Women's Villa. Ruthie asks the others to assemble their puzzle together. Ellen voiceovers that the women who are left are awesome. "The boys are stronger," she adds, "but we're tough little cookies and we can hold our own and show them what we got." They complete the puzzle and celebrate.

Men's Villa. Mark: "Do you think it's weird that we haven't got the first one yet?" Jamie interviews that his team's athletic prowess shouldn't be a problem. He adds, "This mind game could potentially be a stumbling block for us."

A close-up shows the sponsor phone ringing and vibrating. Ellen and Colin read the instructions: girls wear pink, boys wear blue, and both teams wear athletic apparel with swimsuits. "This is what it's about," a slightly abrasive Colin interviews. "No more talking, no more complaining. It's game time."

Competition site. For the first time, there's an audience. Wouldn't that be problematic in diffusing spoilers? Everybody slo-mo walks. The guys tower over the girls. Jonny welcomes everybody to the final mission, where the scores have been wiped clean. This mission, called It Takes Three, will test balance, agility, brains, and teamwork. Ellen starts the exposition: the mission has three parts. The first is the Tri-Ski Slalom. Next comes the Block-by-Block Brainteaser. Third comes the ropes course known as Pole Cat. So it smells really bad? Mark picks up the exposition, saying that part of Pole Cat is called Bridging the Gap, where players have to cross poles using planks. Jonny reminds the teams that they're only as good as their weakest link. Ruthie expositions that they can't continue to the next event without completing the first, and they must obtain a flag upon completion. Jonny mentions that the ropes course has been adjusted to accommodate the height and weight differences between the genders. Of course, first team to finish wins. Colin: "It's time to get it on."

Preparation. The players put on helmets, belts, and gloves. Colin duct tapes his ankle, which has been hurting since Tree House. "Ankle schmankle," he tells the camera. "As far as I'm concerned, I don't even have ankles." Ruthie tells Lori that they have to stay together and commutate. The mission is about to start. Colin voiceover: "I know it's gonna be domination." Ellen voiceover: "They'll be eating our dust."

Back from commercials, Jonny starts things off with his bullhorn's siren. I guess BMP is twelve-stepping him off of airhorns. Tri-Ski Slalom. Both teams strap into two long skis and navigate an obstacle course. Thankfully, there's no dancing involved. Mark interviews that they have to walk as a unit, "kind of like a three-legged race." Or a six-legged, but who's counting? The girls step on the first hurdle, lifting themselves. Ellen voiceovers that if one person leans, so do the others. The guys clear two hurdles, while the women are working on the first. Jamie is in front, shouting the cadence. Now the guys slalom around leftover figures from People Mover. The girls sound off in unison while slaloming. Jamie voiceovers that they're in the flow. Mark picks up the flag, and the guys run to the next part as the crowd cheers. The girls continue, "Right and left. Right and left."

Event 2: Block-by-Block Brainteaser. The guys look at the large Styrofoam pieces, seeing that they have to assemble a bridge shape. Like at the Villa, they have problems. BMP decides to unleash the popular music, starting with "Take It Off" by The Donnas. Jamie interviews that the guys are shooting blindly. Meanwhile, the girls are done slaloming, and run to the blocks. Ellen interviews that the guys have gotten nowhere. "There's literally eight million ways to solve it," Mark interviews, "but there's eight million ways to screw up. As soon as you think you nailed it, something's wrong. So we're sinking in quicksand, fast." Jamie goes through the pieces, but he's stumped. Colin shouts, "Where's the hint, Jonny?"

The ladies study the picture of the assembled puzzle, as Ruthie dissects it. They get to work. The guys struggle. The girls solve it and get their second flag. Yep, it's Battle of the Seasons all over again, with the Road Rules team struggling with fishes and poles, and dopey Mike solving the puzzle for Real World. The crowd goes wild. "Now they're ahead of us," Colin interviews, "and all I can think is, "Hey, I just lost my shout at 150 grand!'"

The girls keep running. Ruthie interviews that they're on an adrenaline high and the guys are scratching their heads. They come to the Polecat Ropes Course. Ruthie climbs the net, and then encourages Lori to take her time. Next comes Bridging the Gap. Lori expositions that they have to get across telephone poles by creating bridges from pole to pole.

The guys are still trying to solve the puzzle. Just when I think my capacity for ill was diminished when Emily slithered out of the game, I am proven wrong. Mark: "The guys kinda get a twinkle in their eye. If [the girls] leave out their puzzle, why not take a look at it?" Because it would be cheating? Colin disassembles the ladies' puzzle, shouting commands to Mark and Jamie. Soon, the guys got it. Mark continues: "Do I feel guilty copying their block game? No. It's strategy." No, it's cheating. Even if the rules are ambiguous towards such tactics, it's still cheating. I'd expect an old-school RR veteran and team mentor to know better. I am ashamed of Mark. The guys run towards Pole Cat. Colin has no idea how far the women have gotten.

The answer: not far. The women work on the planks, but the camera pans to show the approaching men going into the net. Ruthie starts to walk on the plank as the guys set up. She voiceovers, "How the hell did they get that puzzle together?" Because they cheated, Ruthie. The opening bars of "Can't Stop" by Red Hot Chili Peppers play. Ellen: "I'm totally shocked. I'm in complete, utter disbelief." Ruthie and Jamie cross their respective planks. Ellen voiceovers that it's anybody's game.

Back from commercials. Jamie takes the lead as Ruthie has trouble. Ellen interviews about how unsettled she gets when Ruthie has problems, since she's Superwoman. Colin crosses the plank. Jamie points out the obvious: the women are having problems, while the men are keeping things as smooth as possible. Ruthie crosses, as do Jamie and Colin. Mark points out a problem with going last: the poles have gotten loose, and he has to balance himself. He crosses.

Ruthie gets across the poles, and shows Lori how to follow her, adding "Don't be scared!" Ruthie interviews that the guys have zoomed past them, but they're not giving up. Next on the hit parade: "Still Waiting" from Sum 41. I liked the video, but I love the one for "The Hell Song." Lori slowly crosses. Ellen crosses. Meanwhile, the guys cross ropes on pulleys. Colin, bum ankle and all, walks the tight rope with little difficulty. Mark gets shaky on the rope, but he manages. Ruthie gets to the pulley. "If we don't get across soon to race them," she interviews, "it's not going to be pretty."

The guys reach the zipline. Jamie goes first, hitting the water. Lori goes on the pulley. Colin flashes gang signs on his way down. Ellen goes on the pulley. Mark zips down. The guys swim to shore, as Mark gets the final flag.

The moment we've been waiting months to see. Good Charlotte's "Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous" blasts on in the background. What's with the hits today? The guys run, bursting through a sign. And that's that. They win $150,000. While they hug and celebrate, the girls keep plugging away. "We put our best to the top," Colin interviews, "and the best just took home the money. I can't wait to call every single guy, because they all wanted this to happen."

Quiet music plays, as Ellen crosses the tightrope. Ruthie goes down the zipline, as the guys cheer her on. She interviews that she doesn't want to see the guys. She adds, "All I'm concerned about right now is, 'Girls, let's finish this out.'" Lori zips down. Ellen squeals on her way down. The guys still and wait. "You gotta give them credit," Mark interviews. "They were great competitors throughout this competition, and they didn't give up. So big-ups to all you women." Whatever, cheater. And a guy that white shouldn't be saying "big-ups."

Finally, the ladies reach the end. Colin gives Ruthie a long hug. Once again, I adore the intraseason love. Come to think of it, how come we didn't see Jamie give Melissa some love before she left? Colin interviews that he's sad Ruthie couldn't win as well. As much of a jackass that Colin can be, he's always genuine about Ruthie. He suggests he buy her dinner if she picks him up in her car.

Jonny comes by to recap what transpired. He notes, "Ladies, you should have knocked your blocks over!" Ellen says she didn't know and Jonny admits he didn't either. Man, this is a tainted win. Jonny tells the girls that they represented well, then awards the big ol' cardboard check to the guys. Of course, Colin hugs Jonny. Seriously, Colin is fixated. Ruthie interviews that the guys did a great job.
Now Jonny has a surprise announcement. He awards a Saturn Ion Quad Coupe to each of the guys. Mark actually tosses the check in celebration. That man is going to get spit in his food every time he goes to Chili's. And that's if he's lucky. Colin's reaction? "I'm gonna hump this car!" I think that might be the only humping he'll do for a while. "Nobody gives you $150,000 and then a car," he interviews while in his Ion. "This is what you call 'big pimpin'," right here." Would it be wrong to ask BMP to digitally replace Colin with Teck in future reruns? Here's another beef: how come all the guys get cars? Last season, the only members of the victorious RW team to win Saturns at the end were Sean and Elka, since they had the best score among the RW duos. In other words, only Mark should have won a car. It's disappointing that everybody from last week got a new set of wheels except for Antoine.

Colin carries Ruthie to the water, and Mark does the same with Lori. "We're walking away from a month in Jamaica," Lori interviews, "having known that we've done some crazy things here." Cue the misty water colored memories, as "I'll Do Anything" by Simple Plan plays. Mark dives off the ledge and into the pool. Anne and Lori have a pillow fight. Dan falls through the sunroof during Seven Rings of Saturn. The guys hang Antoine by his ankles while Mark wails on him with a pillow. A buck-naked Jake rides his new bike past the girls. James pukes up water after winning Breath Hold Bungee. Veronica's ankle gets caught in the stirrup. Seriously, that pretty much wrecked her chances in retrospect. A quick Spidermon shot. The guys hose Blair with beer. Eric Nies lifts Ellen after she wins Freeze Your Butt Off. Quick shot of Puck giving the thumbs down. Rachel gives the peace sign before leaving the show. Dan does his happy dance as he re-enters the game. Ruthie: "From this experience, I will definitely miss those moments, such beautiful moments that can't even be explained."

Apparently, when Ruthie says "beautiful moments," the editors think "a slow-motion shot of Puck spitting water on David E." Being the punk that he is, David demands Puck's disqualification. And cut to… oh, good. Melissa is reaming out Julie. I'm torn. On the one hand, Melissa comes off as a bitch to those just tuning in. On the other side, Julie is so shady, she needed to be cussed out. And kicked off. I know the Melissa bias is active in me, but Julie's booting was sorely needed. Ellen cries after the whole "kick my ass!" exchange with Puck. And bless her heart, there's Aneesa, one breast exposed. Puck smirks. Shut up, Puck. Ellen interviews that the true challenge was not battling others, but herself.

Men camaraderie highlights. Laterrian leading the "Ride or [Oedipus Rexing] die!" shout. Mark interviews that he's proud that the Inner Circle never sent anybody home who was in the middle of the pack. Shot of Ruthie yelling at Ayanna. Cut to Emily making the icky face. Cut to Ruthie hugging Gladys. Ruthie: "To actually take that extra step, to vote somebody off not just based on points, shows a lot of courage." Tell that to Rachel and Veronica. Scenes from Puck's wedding, since the sun rises and sets at the Scabbed One's will.

The guys and girls frolic in the water. Would anybody like to take us out for good? Okay, Ruthie, the floor is yours. "I think what we proved here is that no matter who wins, it's about respect. Men, women, we're equal, because we respect each other." Cut to credits.

And that is officially that. Well, that's almost that. We got a reunion to slog through. Will Puck make an appearance and make the show all about himself? Can Colin don the garb of Leon Phelps, a.k.a. "The Ladies Man," and hawk copies of his book, "The New Ladies Man"? Would MTV set up a makeshift obstacle course and put Melissa through her paces? Will Lori finally explain what she sees in that bigheaded dope she calls her boyfriend? Will Rachel and Veronica blowtorch an effigy of Emily, to the delight of the throngs in Times Square? And finally, will a certain recapper express great sadness that he didn't lie about his age and attend the reunion? Stay tuned. 

There's one more recap covering the reunion, but this is the last Challenge appearance for Lori, Colin and Ellen, as well as Antoine and Melissa (for obvious reasons). Want to know something weird? I would wind up missing Ellen. I didn't like her on Road Rules: The Quest, I was hard on her, even as she battled the epitome of all that was wrong with reality television. I would have figured she'd come back because she was as able a competitor as Ruthie, but she apparently got a life of her own. Meanwhile, Katie wasn't anywhere near as good, and she became a bonafide veteran. Ellen would come back in the preview special for Battle of the Sexes 2, which will get posted here eventually. All I remember was her recalling the puzzle. "Boys cheated," she noted. "Looking at you, Mark Long!" Who would have guessed we'd be on the same wavelength?


The other bummer was that this would be the best Challenge in Ruthie's career. I'm happy she got labeled something other than "Dangerous Drunk Girl," but a win would have been nice in her four Challenges. I'll eventually break down BOTS2, and how she wasn't at peak performance. She looked okay in Gauntlet 2, but she got into the worst possible endgame against Beth, the worst possible opponent. The episode was not for the faint at heart. And then she only lasted five rounds in The Duel II. Like Ellen, I'm guessing she got a life of her own. Good for her. And nearly eighteen years after Real World: Hawaii, her antics seem so tame. Well, except for the drunk driving. I still like her, though.

ETA: Just remembered hearing about people cheering Ellen during the final mission. The funny part? They thought she was Janet from RW: Seattle. She was also Korean-American. I felt like sharing that.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Battle of the Sexes Episode 17: Penultimate Plunge

I'm not in the best of moods, so I figure it was time to get the penultimate episode on the blog. I wound up using "penultimate" in all six seasons that I recapped. I like showing people that I'm smart, but I don't want to club them over the head with it. That is what separates me from Wes E. Coyote: Super Genius.

Before I begin . . . anybody else see Invasion of the Champions? I don't think any of the "underdogs" came off well. That includes Nicole, the saving grace of Real World: Skeletons. I didn't think she'd be on The Challenge because she was pretty normal compared to her roommates. She's nice and from Staten Island, so I'm pulling for her. In other news, Darrell (who made his debut in The Gauntlet) has two kids, and CT has successfully reproduced. As much as I see CT as the closest thing to a hero this show has, little Christopher scares me. He is a cutie, though.

Airdate: April 28, 2003
Recap Published: May 4, 2003 

It's the second-to-last mission, which means the last-place overall on each team goes home. Can the women stop their losing streak or will the men power through as usual? Or are they all just hangin' around?

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: Shane won Spidermon. Melissa in interview: "Lose, lose, lose." Antoine won Human Aquarium. Melissa: "It's emotionally exhausting." Antoine won Razor's Edge, as Lori looked down in defeat. Ellen: "It's been mission after mission of the boys just dominating."

Women's Villa. Lori is sunbathing as she tells Ruthie she likes being a girl, and wouldn't come back as a guy. Ruthie listens as she rubs oil on herself. I have to repeat to myself, "She bats for the other team, she bats for the other team." Lori continues: "Think about survival in the world. It's not smart to walk across a steel beam sixty feet in the air, where you can slip off and bang your head. It's not smart to do that. It's smart to be afraid and cautious." She adds that guys do stupid stuff all the time. I am recapping this, so maybe she has a point. Lori interviews that the ladies have been on a losing streak, and it's been embarrassing. The background music whines, "Why do all the good ones have to die?"

Lori and Ruthie are floating on inner tubes. This is the most we've seen of Lori outside of the missions. Lori realizes she's not guaranteed to place in the final three; she's gone if she gets a zero and Melissa places in the top three. Ruthie interviews that they're one mission away from the final competition, and Lori has to do well. She tells Lori not to worry about placement, to do the best and show no fear. Lori interviews that the guys can't imagine losing.

Cut to Mark drinking tea with Antoine. How do I know it is tea? Because the soundtrack is formal and British, not something they'd bring in if coffee was involved. Antoine tells Mark that he can't imagine the girls winning other than by a fluke. He figures that only competitive girl is Ruthie, and even she can't compete against Mark or Jamie. Mark feels confident that the men will do well. Antoine interviews that the guys are reaping the benefits of teamwork, as opposed to individuality.

Bathroom mirrors. Two messages scrawled in lipstick: "Be strong, XOXO" and "Beat the guys!!! - Genesis." How long has it been since we've seen Genesisms? Ruthie reads the phone details: wear athletic gear and sneakers. Ellen interviews that she doesn't know what it will take to get their confidence back. Over at the Men's Villa, Antoine reads that the departure time is 12:15 pm. Mark interviews that if any of the top three guys gets a zero, Antoine could sneak into the final competition. He adds, "Antoine, you ain't gettin' my spot!"

Shots of an elevated platform and rope. You can practically hear Melissa groan. Jonny welcomes everybody to Maximum Velocity. They named a mission after Maximum Velocity Tour? Now I'm sad James isn't here to take part. BMP was probably going to send everybody on a scavenger hunt and call it The Quest, but Ellen might have shot that down. Jonny explains the objective: to free-rappel down a rope as fast as possible. Jamie expositions that they use a device: squeeze and you move, let go and you stop. Jonny adds that the contestants must reach the red area of the rope to log a time. Mark notes that if a competitor falls and bungees, that person is disqualified. Jonny continues, expositioning that those not playing will be blindfolded, so as not to know how the others did. For the winner: a Saturn Ion Quad Coupe for each member of the team. This is the "sudden death" round, so the lowest cumulative scorers will leave.

A few moments ago, the ladies were wearing different colors. Now they have red tops. Is this solidarity, or BMP's latest continuity failure? Ellen starts about how the girls have lost six missions in a row, but Lori corrects her with seven. Ellen continues, saying that she wants to give all the little girls at home something to cheer about. Any little girl who watches this show would have been traumatized a long time ago. Lori interviews that the guys are comfortable with winning, adding "I'd really like to see their faces in disappointment when they lose."

Platform shot. Jamie and Ellen are on the ground, hands on hips. Jamie admits he's nervous, but he wants to nail it. Colin whispers to Antoine about "bombing it." In an interview, Antoine says he really wants to win the car and he has to take risks. "We have to bum it down," he adds. "I will bum it down, and I really hope those guys will bum it down as well." Is Antoine a freelance slash writer back in Brussels? Colin keeps whispering, reminding Antoine that a win by him would be a hat trick.

Shots of stormy clouds. A blindfolded Lori yawns. Jonny walks by, letting everybody know that Maximum Velocity has been postponed due to lightning. Ellen is wearing red, but Lori and Melissa wear darker shirts. Ruthie (with white top) interviews about how it sucks to wait another day, and that she wants to keep the momentum going.

Mood-setting rainy shots. A strong wind blows the curtains. At least Hurricane Juliet isn't paying another Challenge season a visit. Melissa tells the other women that she put in a formal request for a win, which Ruthie seconds. "I don't know if you heard me the first time," Melissa replies, "BUT WE HAVE TO WIN THE CAR TOMORROW!" Lori laughs on the bed. "It's going to take everything the girls got to beat the boys right now," Ruthie interviews. "I personally cannot take another loss." Shots of the girls. Dreadful music: "Tomorrow never comes until it's too late." Shut up, music.

Normally I don't talk about commercials, but I have to ask: has anybody seen the latest Snapple commercial with the bottles and the guinea pigs? Does the bottle with the blonde hair and blue visor remind anybody else of Mark? Maybe it's just me.

Time lapse shot of sunrise and cranes setting up. It's Mission Day 2. Ellen wants to set the tone for her teammates. "If I do really well," she adds, "the rest of the girls will follow my lead." Jamie is feeling good. Both contestants are strapped in, and the platform is raised. We get two shots of the Ion, in case we've shrugged off the last 1,503 subliminal messages to buy one.

Jamie gets ready as Jonny starts the countdown. Jamie barely moves as the camera stays on him and Jonny's voice fades out. Airhorn. Jamie drops quickly, then bounces back up for the disqualification. Jamie notes that he dropped faster than he thought. Mark interviews that Antoine has a shot at the final three.

Ellen hangs as Jonny asks if she's ready. Countdown. Airhorn. In comparison with Jamie, Ellen's drop is slower, with more control of the device. She voiceovers that her strategy for every mission is to think things through. Cut to her dropping, where she lets out a yelp. It turns out her hair is caught in the rope. She makes a noise so shrill, I thought it was a bleep. Jonny tells her to yank it out. Jonny has never had long hair before. Lori and Antoine are blindfolded at the sequestration tent, but they can hear Ellen. Her final time: 59 seconds. "When you get scared, fear just leads to mediocrity," Ellen interviews. "I did less than mediocre today."

Colin vs. Lori. Colin: "Jamie took his balls, put them in his hand and shot down the rope, and I'm going to do the same." Colin needs to stop fixating on the naughty parts. Countdown. Airhorn. He slides down, pausing a few times before hitting the red. His time: eight seconds. Mark is enthusiastic in his interview. "Colin just kicked ass this mission," he notes, "so the women are gonna need some sort of miracle to win the Saturns."

Queens of the Stone Age play as Lori gets ready, slipping a little before starting. Countdown. Airhorn. She slides down the rope as Colin did. The girls cheer. Her time: nine seconds. Ruthie expositions that Lori's score was good enough for the final three, but maybe not enough to win. She adds, "Somebody's got to get in and do something."

Antoine vs. Melissa. You think Melissa is that somebody? She interviews about how fourth place is not good when there's only four people. She gets strapped in, and she feels good. Then the platform starts to ascend. "Oh, hell no," she mutters, putting on her blindfold. Back to the interview: "I'm going to go in there, leap to my death and be done with it." The platform keeps rising, and Melissa is still not in a good mood.

Antoine gets ready. From the top of the platform, he interviews that the rope looks short and there's little margin for mistake. Countdown. Airhorn. Antoine doesn't even stop on the way down, bouncing back up and getting disqualified. Colin interviews that Antoine didn't win three in a row, and he's going home. I don't understand. If Jamie logged no score, how come Antoine didn't take it easy? A car is good to have, but he had a shot to win $50,000.

A guy on the platform reassures Melissa as she hyperventilates. "Maximum Velocity is not fun," she interviews. "It's not cute. I don't think it really helps anybody. It would be bad sportsmanship to [say], 'I'm scared, I don't want to do it'." She pauses. "But I don't want to do it!" Back to the platform, Melissa is near tears. I'm still amazed she's lasted this long. Jonny is on the bullhorn, asking if she's ready. Colin: "I think there's pee dripping down her leg." God, shut UP, Colin. Even if it's true, you should keep that to yourself. Jonny's countdown has a nice echo effect, while Melissa screams. He pauses at four after she tells him to stop. He continues, she yells, "Jonny, that's not nice!" Maybe it's the bias working, but I think if you search Jonny's room, you'd find a Bunkbed Incident CD signed by Julie.

Jonny sounds the horn. Cut to wide-angle shot. Melissa is not moving. She interviews that all trust is out the window. "This isn't about the game anymore," she adds. "This is about me facing a fear." She asks Platform Guy if it's hard before sliding down, jerking to pause a few times. Her time: 29 seconds. So after all the drama, she still finished a half-minute better than Ellen. She interviews that she is proud to have done it.

Mark vs. Ruthie. Ellen interviews that it's all up to Ruthie. The platform ascends. Mark hangs on, ready to go. "There's always something to prove that I can do anything," Ruthie interviews. "Just like anyone can do anything."

Dark skies. Mark notes the thunder and lightning. The platform descends. Ruthie feels the need to win it for the girls. "I don't want to see the looks on their faces again with another loss," she says. "It just kills me." As opposed to Emily, who kills everybody.

Mission Day 3. The Ion is still out there. I'm surprised nobody ripped it off during the night. Mark wishes he could have done the mission yesterday. Ruthie notes that she thought about it last night, and she's excited. "Better be a dead stop," she laughs.

Mark. Countdown. Airhorn. He slides down, finishing with fifteen seconds. Now Jonny starts the countdown for Ruthie. "Do it for the girls," she voiceovers. "Do it for the looks on their faces. I don't want to see them down again." She slides down as we go into commercials.

Back to the show: Ruthie slows down once and stops dead. She shouts, "Got it!" as the girls cheer. Even Mark, who is still hanging on the cord, has to smile, while Ruthie thanks God. Her time: four seconds. Not to doubt Ruthie's phenomenal abilities, but divine assistance could have been a plus. On the ground, Jamie and Colin look sour. Because they lost the Ions, or that they have to beat Ruthie's time? "We've got two chances of winning this: slim and none." Colin interviews. "And slim just left town." Once again, BMP's continuity stinks.

On the ground, Ellen hugs Ruthie. Mark admires Ruthie's style. As they stand next to each other, I see that Ruthie is tiny. I mean tiny. In a show of intra-season love, Colin hugs Ruthie. Mark interviews, "After watching Ruthie go and get such a incredible time, the girls deserve that car, one hundred percent." Well, that and all four ladies finished the mission. How screwed up would it have been for Jamie and Antoine to get cars despite their blunders?

Jonny makes it official, giving the car to Ruthie on behalf of her team. Once again, she thanks God and restates that she didn't want the girls to be disappointed again, adding, "We're ridin' in style!" Ruthie interviews that it felt good to end the losing streak before the final mission.

Scoreboard:

Men: Mark (443), Colin (439), Jamie (407), Antoine (391)

Women: Ruthie (401), Ellen (378), Lori (376), Melissa (341)

Jonny restates that since this is the sudden-death round, the lowest scorers go home. Melissa steps up to make her farewell speech, clad in a pink maid's outfit. She interviews that carries no disappointment since she's "missioned out." She tells the groups that she's staying to work with Ms. Faye and Ms. Joan. "My heart will be in the game," she adds, "but my ass will be in the kitchen." See, this is the chick I grew to dig during her season. She tells the boys it was nice hanging with them, and the girls to win the money.

Antoine's turn. He tells the girls he's glad they snapped their skid "with so much brilliance." He tells the guys that over time, he thought of them as a family. He interviews: "This challenge of adapting my European personality and identity within a bunch of American guys has been the greatest and most enjoyable challenge, and I'm very happy with that. That's what I'm taking home." That, and a truckload of prizes. I think I'm going to miss Antoine the most from the men's side. He's the best thing to come out of Belgium since Nostradamus. Or at least Jean Claude Van Damme.

Sunset. Restaurant. The remaining players (Melissa and Antoine included) toast to the final day. Ellen interviews that they've been waiting for tomorrow. Mark states the obvious: that they've spent the past four weeks whittling the field down to six people to compete for the "Chili's Cash." Lori interviews that the girls are feeling positive. "This is it," Colin interviews. "It's been really fun this last month, but it's time to go get paid. It's time to get it on."

Next week: Final mission. All I saw were ropes, nets, and skis. Skis in Jamaica. That is not right. Oh, and a trio will walk away with $150,000, and I'll walk away with mental scars and involuntary twitching when I hear the name "Emily."

One more thing: if you want to comment on the show, the recaps, or anything else, my line is open. You can e-mail me at [REDACTED]. Heck, comment on the Dog Days articles if you'd like. I cleared up some room on my account, so I'm ready.

This would be the last time we would see Melissa in a competitive environment. Okay, there was Battle Of The Network Reality Stars, but does that really count? I was happy she made it this far, and I was joyful that taking out Julie in the first episode didn't make her a target. Yes, Antoine was awesome, but Melissa is my people. She doesn't blog as much as she used to, but you can find her stuff here. And I don't ever want to hear "MElissa" ever again.

Damn, the continuity was wacky. From what I remember, in missions like that, those at the top of the leaderboard would go first, meaning Ruthie would have started things off with her miraculous performance. I wish I could check the recaps from Colin, Lori and Melissa, but those are more or less gone.

For safety's sake, I took out my e-mail. Nobody ever wrote in, which kinda sucked since I liked feedback. If you have Facebook and want to hit me up, here you go. And now, because nobody asked for it . .. . the Snapple commercial with the Mark-looking bottle!

Monday, February 06, 2017

Battle of the Sexes Episode 16: Everybody Sucks


This season is drawing to a close. Or was back in 2003. I'm writing this on the night before Invasion of the Champions debuts, which will no doubt be another clusterfuck brought to you by Bunim-Murray Productions and MTV. Even if Johnny doesn't luck into yet another win, or if CT gets the title that Diem never could, it's going to be a painful ride. And I can't seem to shake it. If there are programs to kick that habit . . . twelve steps or not, I'm ready for it. Compared to 2017, Emily's actions in Battle Of The Sexes seem so quaint.

 Airdate: April 21, 2003
Recap Published: April 27, 2003

We find out Emily's decision - does she go home with James? Do the women win a mission? Does MTV manage to show the episode without royally screwing up? There is a "yes" and two "no"s in there, but you'll have to read on to find out which is which.
Quick heads-up for the readers: do you live in New York? Are you between the ages of 16 to 25, or can pass yourself off as such? MTV is looking for people to attend a reunion special for the show. Am I going? Well, the notice says that everybody is going to be there. On the one hand, I'd like to see some Challengers, such as Mark, Jamie, Veronica, Rachel, David B., and Blair, among others. And while I did meet Melissa once before, it would be nice to see her again. On the other hand, I still see red anytime I think about Emily and her actions. Ellen works my nerves frequently, and I can't stand to look at her or Ruthie, not after they both rolled over for Emily. And Puck is an automatic deal-breaker for me in any situation. He'll just make the reunion all about him. The last thing I want is get in trouble when I smack him with an Adventures of Barry Ween trade paperback, shouting, "The power of Judd repels you!" Nah, I'll stay home and recap the sucker when it airs.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: Everybody played Human Aquarium. The girls didn't fare well. Their Inner Circle booted Genesis, who raised a glass to her own dismissal. James and Shane were tied for last place, and Ion Lifesaver holder Antoine decided to save Shane. At this point, Emily decided it was time for her to go. Basically, it's the final minute from last week, with dramatic editing and music. Then the screen goes black. There's silence for a split-second. And then . . .

CREDITS! MIDTOWN! Damn, that's jarring. I see Emily elbowing James off the surfboard yet again. The guy is whipped. I used to think that Emily could do so much better. Now, I think James needs somebody new in his life. Or somebody who's familiar. Hey, James. What happened to Rebecca? Did her folk music drive you crazy? Go back to her, dude. Believe me… you'll be saving yourself a ton of grief if you dump Emily, and soon.

We go back to where we left off. Genesis yells, "What the [bleep] are you talking about?" Ruthie asks Emily why she didn't say anything until now. Emily responds, "Because I didn't know what their decision was going to be." Ruthie turns away in disbelief. Emily interviews that one of her sisters needs her badly back home. Cut to black and white shot of Emily on the phone. Great… first Amaya's crisis and now this. I hate withheld information. Emily continues, saying she has to be there for her sister. For a second, I lower my anger. Ruthie says she doesn't want anybody who doesn't want to stay to remain. Emily tells the other ladies that if their sisters needed help, they would go. Ruthie expresses her shock. Then Emily tells the others that if James had stayed, she would have stuck it out one more day. So the sister isn't that important? What a bitch. There's a dramatic pan to Lori. "Yeah, Emily has personal matters," she interviews, "but the fact that she admits she would be here if James was still here? Tell me one situation where it's cool where a girl bails out on the rest of the girls because of her boyfriend. It's a lame move." Word on that, Lori.

More dramatic editing. Ruthie interviews about some girls who have left like Veronica. The Ghost of Highlights Past shifts us back a few weeks, taking out the color, but giving us echoing voices. Ellen doesn't consider Veronica a friend, but does see her as a competitor. Cut to Emily, who really wants to send her home. "I know that Veronica really wanted to be here," Ruthie interviews in the present, "but Emily was very adamant getting Veronica out." And it helped that you and Ellen let her, Ruthie. Never forget that. Back in the past, Emily lays on a huge pile of crap about Veronica: "She doesn't care about teamwork." Back to Ruthie: "To watch Emily leave now… that's not a team player." You're damn right. Let's say that you and Ellen kicked out Anne that day. At this point Veronica might still be with you. But with Veronica gone and Emily departing, you and Ellen are stuck with Lori, Melissa, and Genesis, three ladies who don't strike fear in the hearts of men. And one of those three will be on the final team to go up against the men. Do you see that bag in the sky with the wings and the dollar sign? That's your $50,000 prize flying away. Wave bye-bye, Ruthie. Wave bye-bye.

Jonny calls up the Women's Inner Circle to explain what's going on. Emily repeats her deal while laughing, as if shooting her team in the foot for the third time is so funny. She says that James has been her moral support in Jamaica, and now she needs to go home. She cries a little. I'm not caring, at all. Genesis and Lori look on. Cut to Shane, who's probably wondering how to break the news to Rachel. Can you imagine that? I keep picturing Rachel and Veronica at the Los Angeles airport, lying in wait for Emily. The fact that she quit would push them over the edge. Emily repeats that she's going home, and Genesis is staying. Great… another call to the wife to hold off the welcome home party. Genesis bursts out laughing, as the background music drones on with "totally insane" over and over. Genesis and Emily hug. Ruthie looks on. Jonny bids farewell to Emily and James, telling them, "It wouldn't have been the same without you." He welcomes back Genesis, and she laughs some more.

Melissa comes in for an interview: she figures that Emily's departure is beneficial for Lori and Genesis. What about you, Melissa? You go from next on the chopping block to getting a brief reprieve. She continues: "I'm happy that Lori's finally in the Inner Circle." Yeah, Lori is King Ralph. She's been below the radar for so long, and now an improbable series of events has thrust her forward. Clearly she knows this, as she laughs about being so far behind Ellen.

Packing. James packs his bag. Hey, there's a rugby ball! I forgot that James played for Berkley. Genesis and Emily hug. James packs. Emily and Ellen hug. More packing. Emily leaves. "See you guys," she tells Ruthie. "Good luck." Yeah, you too. Try not to bite James' head off when you mate. They get into the van and ride into the night. My verdict? She' going into the Reality TV Hall of Shame. What she's done in the past few months is reprehensible, and she deserves her induction.

Sunrise. Awesome aerial shot of Jamaica. Men's Villa. Everybody's still sleeping. The camera focuses on the Sponsor Phone, as it lights up and rings. Shane reads the instructions: wear sneakers, boots, and sunscreen. Lori repeats that at the Women's Villa. Melissa: "Okay, so I'm going to wear just my birthday suit and some boots. Cool." Here's my Melissa Conspiracy Theory on why we haven't seen her dole out the one-liners. In case you didn't know, Melissa is in the cast of Girls Behaving Badly, a practical joke show that airs on Oxygen, a cable network is owned by Oprah Winfrey. I'm guessing that Oprah called up Bunim and Murray, telling them that she owns Melissa's funny, and if they show her like that, she would kill them. Seriously, there should be balance for all the "I'm not cut out for this crap" segments. Back to the show: Shane sees that he's behind Antoine by six points. He figures that he has to have seven people between him and Antoine in order to stay in the game, but he concedes that the odds are against him. Genesis explains her only chance to stay on: win the competition, get the Ion, and keep it for herself. She thinks she's about 40 points from Melissa. Actually, it's just 30. If she scores 31 points and Melissa gets disqualified, then Genesis would advance. Ruthie interviews that all she's thinking about is how well the team can do.

Jonny welcomes everybody to Razor's Edge. He tries to make it sound suspenseful, but falls flat. Quick shots: scooter, platform, scooter, scooter, platform lifted higher. The objective: cross one of three beams while riding a scooter, without falling off. Shortest time wins. Colin expositions that the metal frame is lifted 100 feet in the air by two cranes. Antoine drops exposition with graphics backup: there are three paths to the finish line. The right-hand path is longer, but is twelve inches wide. The left-hand path is shorter and eight inches wide. The straight path is the shortest route, but it's only four inches wide. There are safety nets that catch anybody who falls in between the beams. Genesis explains that the players have to get to the end without falling off or taking a foot off the scooter. Jonny announces what the winner gets for the team: a vacation to Cancun, with airfare. Melissa cheers, so I'm guessing hope does indeed spring eternal. Oh, and the winner gets the suddenly popular Ion Lifesaver. Genesis interviews that the girls are hellbent on ending their losing streak.

Hey, we got popular music! Missy Elliot's "Work It" plays as the ladies practice riding the scooters. Sadly, they don't get to the part where Missy sings backwards. Ellen tells Ruthie that they have to go "balls to the wall." She also figures that if Genesis gets through it, then more than half of the team has a chance to win. Not much faith for Lori and Melissa, I take it. Those two ride the scooter on a simulated beam. Missy sings, "Girls, girls, get that cash." We get it, Missy, but thanks.

The platform is raised. Jonny asks Mark if he's ready. Mark is strapped to a bungee cord, in case he falls off. He tells Jonny he's picturing the platform being two feet above the ground. Jonny counts down from five and blows an airhorn. Jonny loves his airhorns. Mark slowly pushes the scooter down the path. He veers right, towards the long and safe route. Jonny yells at Mark, telling him to keep one wheel on the board. Mark takes the front wheel off the path, still taking his time. A helmet-cam gives us Mark going slow. He finally pushes off towards the finish line, clocking out at 47 seconds. He tells Jonny the trip was nerve-wracking.

Ruthie's turn. In the Fantasy Challenge, I finally got her, trading Emily in the process. Ruthie interviews that the rest of the women go after her, and she wants to set an example to inspire them. She starts off slow, going left. And then she takes her foot off the scooter. Jonny blows his horn twice. He tells her that's against the rules, and disqualifies her. Perfect. I wait so long for Melissa to leave, so I could get Ruthie. When I finally get her, she gets no points. Jonny instructs the platform lowered, as Ruthie covers her face.

Back from commercials, Ruthie hops off the lowered platform. Genesis walks with her, and Shane hands her a cigarette. This show is one huge tobacco ad at times. Genesis voiceovers that the girls depend on Ruthie to win. She tries to reassure Ruthie about the DQ, since she got two during Collision Course and Spidermon, adding that she stepped off to regain balance on the beam. Melissa adds that Ruthie has more than enough points. Obviously, Ruthie is disappointed in herself.

Platform. Ellen tells us that she has to perform well to "hold it down" for the team. She starts off, going left. The front wheel goes off the path, over the edge. She tries to adjust herself, but she takes a foot off the scooter. Double airhorn blare from Jonny. Did I mention Ellen is on my fantasy team as a starter? She mutters, "Oh, dammit!" Ruthie is on the ground, shaking her head. Jonny tells Ellen her foot came off, and the replay backs him off. Ellen states the obvious: "This mission is teaching us we have to rely and trust the rest of the girls." Cut to Ellen on the ground, supervising Lori on a practice beam, telling her not to take her foot off.

Colin on the platform: "No, I'm not scared of heights. But I'm scared of Jonny Moseley." Judging from his recaps, I think Colin's got an obsession. He starts off, the background music going on about "amazing trails." I get depressed, still CBS is airing a half-assed response to American Idol where The Amazing Race should be. Colin takes the long route, finishing at one minute, ten seconds.

Lori goes off, cheered on by Ellen and Ruthie. She goes left, finishing at 0:54. Ruthie interviews that she's glad Lori made it across.

Jamie on the platform: "Relax, get across the finish line, score some points." He looks down while scooting, taking the safe route, finishing at 0:25.

Antoine pushes off, picking up speed before the path separates, slamming on the brakes at the right time. Colin and Mark smile on terra firma, in awe of Antoine's skills. He goes right, not being overly cautious, finishing at 0:23. Over a replay of Antoine's performance, Colin labels him "The Mad Frenchman." He adds that it's either Antoine or Jamie winning.

Melissa on the platform: "It looks like it's all fun and games until you fall off and [bleeping] die." Look, if any of you have a problem with her doom-and-gloom attitude, take it up with Emily. If the stronger players had remained, Melissa wouldn't be here. Ruthie yells at Melissa to take a deep breath. Melissa in interview: "Again, I know I have to do it, so it's not like I can quit." She starts to lose it as Jonny counts down. "See, there he goes," she continues. "Jonny blowing that horn again. What's that?" I think it's a fetish with him, Melissa. He blows, and she starts scooting slowly. Very slowly. A glacier going uphill could go faster. Ruthie looks at her watch, as if Melissa is going to beat 23 seconds. Being the nice guy that he is, Antoine starts yelling for Melissa to look at him. Pan from him to her, and she's barely out of the starting line. She gets scared as she goes towards the split paths, shushing Antoine. She asks him if the wheels are still on the track. She finally gets a little speed, finishing at 2:40. Say what you will, but Melissa is not a quitter, unlike certain harpies we know and loathe. "It's fun for everyone," she tells the camera. "Okay, can we bring it down, now?"

Shane tells us his chances: since Antoine wasn't disqualified, he has decided to go down the middle on the narrowest path, since he has nothing to lose. He slowly goes down, trying to keep his balance. Antoine is on the ground, smiling. "Look in front of you," he encourages Shane quietly, "look ahead." Hey, it beats Julie's "BUNGEE, CHRISTIAN!" from Extreme Challenge. But Shane can't keep his balance, falling into the net for a disqualification.

Genesis is on the platform, and she has decided not to duplicate Shane's path. Melissa feels bad that all the pressure is on Genesis to win the vacation for the team. Genesis reviews what went down: Ellen and Ruthie got disqualified, and Melissa moved at a snail's pace. She adds, "I feel like it's really solely up to me if we're going to win this or not." Ellen tells the others to focus positive energy on Genesis. That's easier to do since Emilizzy Borden took a hike. Lori wants to close her eyes. Genesis gets ready as we go into commercial.

Coming back, Emily is telling the others she's leaving. Normally, when there's a screw-up, I blame it on BMP. This time, somebody fell asleep at MTV, and the first act got run again. So what does MTV do? Right… go to credits and start up Aston Kutcher's opus, Punk'd. People from the Eastern and Central time zones got screwed for the night. Yes, I realize the episodes are often rerun, but some of us have an interest in the damn show. Some people might not want to wait until the next day. So shame on MTV for dropping the ball.

17 ½ Hours Later…

Lots of editing. Genesis starts on the path. Lori interviews that if Genesis flies across the course, they could win. More editing. Genesis is struggling, shaking juts a little. She takes her foot off, getting the double blare. She didn't even choose a path. In her interview, Genesis silently rolls her eyes. The ladies look dejected. Lori states the obvious: once again, they have lost.

Jonny takes his time in award the prize package and the Ion Lifesaver to Antoine, whose time of 23.1 seconds beat out Jamie's 25.58. Antoine accepts everything with a big smile.

A production assistant puts Mark on top of the scoreboard with 410 points. On the other side, Ruthie is leading with 365. The others look at the boards. Mark flexes his muscle, pointing at his score. Given that Mark hasn't been a total tool, he's entitled to brag. Genesis notes that neither Inner Circle is going to deliberate.

Men: Mark (410), Jamie (407), Colin (404), Antoine (391), Shane (349)

Women: Ruthie (365), Ellen (347), Lori (342), Melissa (309), Genesis (245)

In a sad attempt at humor, Jonny walks up with something under his shirt. I don't know what it is, but it squeaks. Genesis compliments him on his "rack." Whatever. Jonny calls up the Women's Inner Circle, and Lori is really excited to be up on the other side. She even handles the announcement: "I would like to ask Genesis to leave now!" Everybody laughs. It would've been better if Genesis had worn an Emily mask. Catharsis can be good. Lori and Genesis hug.

Men's Inner Circle. For the first time, Jamie handles the announcement. He says that he has nothing but love for Shane, but it's time for him to go. More hugging.

Now Antoine gets to award the Ion Lifesaver. "I was intending on trading this item of power for some intercourse with Genesis," he begins, as Genesis smiles. "But since we couldn't agree on a rendezvous time, all I have left is Shane." He explains his choice: Shane was the only person who attempted scooting down the middle. He continues: "He really rocked it. He's been rocking it for a couple of days really well." He tosses the Ion to Shane. Antoine interviews that Shane is one of the youngest people on the show, adding, "You've shown so much maturity and courage, that I really think it must be awarded." Shane interviews that Antoine knows he wouldn't accept the gift, so he gives it back and they hug. Genesis pipes up: "I'm finally going home!"

Night. Shane hugs Ellen, thanking her for a good time. Genesis didn't think she'd get attached. She laughs, "Why do I care about you losers so much?" More laughter. Ellen replies, "Before you're a loser, too!" Genesis asks the ladies to beat the guys, and Lori responds, "Well, we're kind of trying!" The van goes off into the night.

Women's Villa. Ruthie and Ellen are sharing quality time. Beats the old days, where Ellen would fiddle with her nails while Ruthie looked seriously contemplative. "It's not about winning prizes at this point," Ellen interviews. "It's about pride." No offense, but pride is all you have left. They laugh some more. Ellen: "There's a lot of pressure, but I think we can do it." Not according to the oddsmakers, Ellen.

Well, there's no more Inner Circles. Next week, the top three on each side advance to the final round. Antoine has a good chance on making it. If one of the other men should receive a zero, all Antoine has to go is complete the mission. He would get a minimum of 29 points, vaulting him into the top three for the first time. As for Melissa, things are a little dicey. First, Lori would have to get a zero. Second, she would need to score a minimum of 33 points, placing fourth place or better.

Next time: Oh, look. It's another elevated platform. A figure slides down a bungee rope. Jonny tells everybody that the winner gets a Saturn Ion for each member of the team. For some reason, Antoine is wearing a tie. Mark: "The women are going to need some sort of a miracle to win the Saturn." Naturally, Melissa is panicking. Ellen's hair gets caught in the rope. Close-up of Ruthie, her eyes going all "Eye of the Tiger." Ellen: "It's all up to Ruthie now. She's our last hope."

Postscript: Number of combined Fantasy Points from Ellen and Ruthie: 20. Number of Fantasy Points from Emily: 28. Number of Fantasy Points from Melissa, who I had on the bench: 39. Thank goodness Jamie (40) and Antoine (41) stepped up; otherwise, the week would have been a total waste.

Yes, children . . . once upon a time, MTV constantly ran this show on the schedule. Nowadays, if you miss it the only time it airs, you have to watch it online or "On Demand." And I don't take back my tone with Ruthie, even though I grew fond of her. She made mistakes, and she and Ellen wrecked their best shots at winning on that show.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Battle of the Sexes Episode 15: Passing the Franc

This is the big one. The huge turning point for this season of The Challenge. I vaguely remember knowing about this, and I was hoping it wouldn't be that bad. It was. Easily the worst moment that didn't involve Senor Scabby.

Airdate: April 14, 2003
Recap Published: April 20, 2003 (It probably took a while to extract all of my venom)
 
Shane and James are both in danger of leaving. What will happen? Why does Emily look so conflicted (at right)? Will the Ion Lifesaver actually be used? Will the guys have to make a decision?! And what's with the "To Be Continued" cliffhanger?
 
Previously on Battle of the Sexes: Some guy with a weird face and an annoying voice tells us that there's no need for the Men's Inner Circle to deliberate who gets voted off. Oh, that's Puck? Man, it's been a while. I still hate him. James and Emily are still a couple. She loves being in Jamaica with him. Christina thinks it's good to see a couple supportive of each other. Emily calls him the best friend she ever had. And once again, Christian, Devon, and Timmy cry.

James and Shane are sitting around one of the Villas. James feels "sketchy" about being at the bottom of the standings. A graphic shows that James has 314 points, while Shane has 315. James figures that he has to be two places better than Shane in the next mission. "James is built for competitions," Emily interviews. "This is where he feels comfortable. This is what he loves." James thinks that the eliminations have been done in a fair way, adding "I'm going to be going for it, just like anybody else, dude." He and Shane laugh, while I hyperventilate. He said "dude"! Fifteen episodes, and he finally cracked a "dude"! If you watched a lot of Maximum Velocity Tour or Extreme Challenge, you know James is all about the "dude." This is truly a landmark.

Women's Villa. The Sponsor Phone rings. This time, it falls on Melissa to read the instructions: the men wear Speedos, while the women wear two-piece swimsuits. Ellen wonders why the guys can't wear trunks. Melissa wonders what's with the bikinis. "We're going to do something very humiliating," Ellen suggests. "Dude, I'll humiliate myself," Melissa counters. "I need 50 G's." I hope Emily doesn't find out Melissa said "dude." She might think Melissa is making a play for James.

Sunset. Mission site. Jonny's there with three guys and two girls, all in red shirts. Jonny welcomes everybody to Human Aquarium. The objective is to stay submerged in the aquarium while holding a cup of fish upright between the knees. Emily expositions that they will use snorkels to breathe, and that their bodies much stay submerged, save for the knees and one hand. Jonny adds that there is a twist: every five minutes, a "new marine resident" would be added to the tank. Shane and Mark run down the list of creatures to be dumped every five minutes: lobsters, sea urchins, and shrimp. You think Melissa is going to like this mission? "This isn't really me at all." Shane and Mark continue: sea cucumbers, algae, and crabs. Melissa: "Not really into that, either." The weird thing is, she's wearing the same outfit from the first week. Can you say "out of context"? Jonny notes that the winner gets a winter vacation for the whole team. The women already have the ski and snowboard package, so that would be a nice bonus. Oh, and there's the Ion Lifesaver, making its penultimate appearance.

The contestants strap on the snorkel gear. Jonny counts down from ten while the contestants submerge themselves. Shots of Ellen, Jamie, and Mark. The goggles make Mark's eyes look really big. One of the red-shirted women points at Melissa. Already? Melissa interviews that water is coming into her snorkel. Jonny sounds the airhorn, stepping back as Melissa thrashes out of the water. Total time: 25 seconds.

Shot of snorkels jutting out of the water. A redshirt points somebody out: Emily. She coughs up water, throwing her snorkel and goggles away. Her time: 49 seconds. She interviews that she's disappointed, and she hopes her score will be fine.

Another snorkel shot. Colin's eyes bug out before Jonny taps him out. Colin interviews that when Emily got out, the water got into his mask. He chucks his bottle, finishing at one minute, three seconds.

After shots of Ellen and Mark, Lori surfaces (2:05). Ruthie interviews that she felt Lori leaving on her left, but could still feel Genesis on her right. She adds that she really wants the women to win.
Another shot of goggles and knees. Jonny instructs a redshirt to tap Ellen out, since her head came up. She lasted 3:20. This was not the most well thought-out mission.

Finally, Jonny gets to add some "marine residents." With five people out in under five minutes, this would be as good a time as any. Jonny and the redshirts dump sea urchins into the tank. Mark's eyes dart around. The soundtrack goes into a Jaws riff. Shane interviews that he can feel the urchins sucking on his skin. "They're fine," Ruthie interviews. "Sea urchins are harmless, unless they sting you." More are dumped into the tank, and Genesis decides she's had enough, surfacing at 5:07.

Underwater shot of a fish. Jamie has urchins on his chest. Jonny tells a redshirt girl to tap Ruthie, since her head came up. On all that I hold holy, the editors put in a sound effect from the pinball game on my laptop. What is up with that? Did Bunim-Murray Productions decide to save their money and good editing techniques for The Real Cancun? Ruthie notes that only the guys are left, and it's disappointing. Melissa interviews that she's tired of losing. The editors replay all six women messing up, in case we didn't get it the first time.

Jonny pulls Mark up. Mark has that "What did I do?" look on his face. He interviews that he floated to the top, and his forehead was exposed. He adds that the only ones left are Shane, James, Antoine, and Jamie. Who's having the most fun? Jamie interviews that he's in his environment, going so far as to name his urchins. In a rare show of editing genius, the urchins' names are shown: Sebastian, Ken, and Wilbur.

The redshirts pour in sea cucumbers. Jamie sticks his hand in his Speedos, since he doesn't want to get bitten there. Lobsters are dumped in. Shrimp are poured in. Mark and Colin shout to the remaining players, warning them of the seaweed. The time elapsed is 27:16, and crabs are introduced. Here come the brown sea urchins. Antoine interviews that he had to punch those away from his body. A crab scuttles on the tank floor, obviously angry he couldn't get on Survivor.

Elapsed time: 39:26. Jamie chokes under the water. He interviews that his snorkel was leaking, and he had to blow out water. Melissa quietly mutters, "Oh no no no." She still loves the big dope. Anyway, he surfaces at 42:55, interviewing that he's happy with his performance. "We're all one big happy family down there," he adds.

Mark interviews that Antoine, James, and Shane are in the water, adding that James has the most to gain, since he's in last place. James interviews that he has to remain there. Ellen interviews that Shane is comfortable under the water, but James is a fighter and Antoine is chilling. She adds, "This is going to take a long, long time before this is over."

Back from commercials, Ellen yells to the remaining players that they've been under for two hours. I hate to think how wrinkled they'll be once they come out. Colin shouts encouragement to Antoine: "Do it for the Motherland, 'Toine!" I thought Belgium was the Uncleland. Ellen yells encouragement to Shane. Shane interviews that it's all about staying power, adding, "If James wins, he's staying." A graphic pops us to remind us that Shane has 315 points and James has 314. James interviews that he's not coming up before Shane.

Shot of fish, followed by a small crab and a giant lobster. Ellen and Colin yawn. Elapsed time: 3:07. Shane interviews that the show tunes he's been singing in his head have gotten old. "I'm even out of hymns, for God's sake!" he adds. "I have nothing to do." However, Antoine is amused, as he laughs through his snorkel. Lori interviews that he's making jokes and hitting on the girl judges. "What is the name of the girl?" Antoine asks in a muffled voice, as if he's talking through a kazoo. Lori points out that Antoine is aroused. Too much information. The girl judge replies, "Nice boner!" and everybody laughs. In an effort to kill me, BMP substitutes "boner" with a "BO-OING!" sound effect. Lori interviews that Antoine is happier under water that she's seen him above it. BMP wastes a few seconds to have Colin parody a credit card commercial. Lame.

Shane interviews that he started laughing and water shot into his mask. BMP decides to cut out the real reason he got that way (as recapped by Colin and Lori) and have us think Antoine made him like that. Shane surfaces at 3:21:17. Emily yells support to her boyfriend: "Stay there, Jim! Stay there!" Oh, shut up. Shane feels good to get out of the water and stretch his legs. He notes that he lasted two hours longer than he imagined.

Emily has her head over the tank, telling James not to give up. She interviews that he wants to stay in the game. Antoine is still laughing. "I'm in a world of frickin' pain," James interviews, "and this guy's just laughing and having a good time." Antoine yuks it up some more. He interviews that James is not having a good time. Emily starts yelling at Antoine to knock it off. She's got a smile, but I think she's serious. Antoine: "I can feel that the more I talk to him, the more I laugh, the worse he feels." Emily is still talking when James bolts up (3:23:25). With the win, Antoine slowly gets up after 3:23:25. "I would like to enjoy this moment to the full," he says as Ellen towels him off. "Okay, so what are the names of these girls?" The redshirt ladies smile.

Jonny takes about 20 minutes to announce that Antoine won the prize package and the Ion Lifesaver. He interviews that it feels great for him. Genesis interviews that he deserved to win for the team, and she hopes that the girls will strive harder.

Scoreboard. Genesis points her bottom-dwelling score to Ruthie, indicating that it's her time to go. This is out of sequence, since I can see the men's scores. Ruthie interviews that everybody knew Genesis was going home.

Ruthie (365), Ellen (347), Emily (317), Lori (309), Melissa (278), Genesis (248)

Now we get a production assistant putting up the men's scores. Lo and behold, there's a tie: James and Shane each have 349 points. Shane interviews that he did the math wrong, thinking he'd be up by one if Antoine beat James. "We've gone through the hell," James drones, "gone through the gauntlet, and we're just trying to survive."

Mark (376), Colin (372), Jamie (372), Antoine (355), James (349), Shane (349)

Jonny announces the Inner Circles: Ruthie, Ellen, and Emily; Mark, Colin, and Jamie. Antoine has the Ion Lifesaver. He gives both teams one hour to deliberate. Melissa interviews that there's no deliberation on the female side, since they're voting off the lowest score. Mark tells us Shane and James are tied. We know, Mark! Colin interviews that the Inner Circle has to make a decision as a team. Jamie notes that this had to happen sooner or later. Colin interviews that this is what the women went through in the past twelve missions. You mean they had to break a tie every week? Shut up, Colin.

After the commercials, all six guys have a meeting. Colin interviews that it's been easy to not make a decision in the past. James says he wants to stay. Shane says he wants to stay. Mark asks how the Inner Circle can make a fair decision, and Colin suggests a coin toss. What if it lands on edge, man? What then? James thinks he'd lose in a toss. I'm not going to lecture him on probability, since I have the same way about 50/50 odds. Colin notes than both James and Shane have won prizes for the team, and he doesn't want to make a decision that isn't cool. Enough waffling! Make a choice! Mark points out that Antoine has the Ion. In an interview, Mark confesses that the IC has been reduced to giving Antoine the choice. Fellas, it's not a hard thing to do. Write down a name on some paper. Put it in a box. Count the names. People do it all the time. Antoine says he would save Shane since, "I think I feel closer to him." Make of that what you will. Antoine also brings up James, who would be the "most pained" to leave.

Now James has something to say. He declares that he should stay, since he's worked for it, overcoming a zero to make it this far. I can't blame him for speaking up. I'd be restraining myself from lying about what Shane would do to the IC should he get the boot. James interviews that he thinks Shane's going home. Colin tells James and Shane to leave the room so the rest of the team can make a decision. Shane interviews that James has won two missions, and he feels he's going home.

Now it's time for the Men's Inner Circle, plus Antoine, who is still on the fence. He interviews that he wants to hear from the IC. Colin says that he's been amazed by James' performances. Mark suggests that they might need calmness, which Shane has. Antoine brings up "something grander," whatever that means. Mark says that Antoine has the right to save somebody, and Colin agrees. Antoine interviews that he feels comfortable in his decision.

Judgment. Since the women are lacking drama, Jonny invites their Inner Circle up. Ruthie calls Genesis awesome, but adds, "today is your time." Ruthie laughs, saying this is the second time she's had to say goodbye to Genesis.

Men's Inner Circle. Colin tells Jonny that things are different, and he calls up Antoine. James and Shane link arms in anticipation. Antoine doesn't drag it out, giving the Ion to Shane. James nods, apparently okay with going home. Emily has a sad look on her face. "Something bothered me in the way that James approached facing our decision," Antoine voiceovers, as the guys hug James. "I find Shane's attitude more ad-meer-able in that he sold me much better than James not facing the music." Lori hugs Emily. James and Shane hug. James thanks the IC, telling them, "I don't bear any hard feelings, dude." He said it again!

Personally, I would have gone with James to stay. He got next to squat in Extreme Challenge, and he's a lot fiercer than Antoine and Shane. If something were to happen to the IC, James would fill in with little fuss. I have nothing against Shane: any guy who gives Emily crap about her IC decisions deserves affection. But Shane's a relative newbie, and he was hell-bent on going home last week before he won Spidermon.

Jonny recaps: James and Genesis are departing. Here comes Emily, with a small smile on her face. "Hey, guys?" she says to the girls. "That changes my decision to stay." Even though I've known about this for a while, it was still a breathtaking moment. Genesis has the best follow-up reaction: "Huh?" Emily: "That changes my decision to stay. Sorry." Let's review: Emily railroaded the Inner Circle to vote out two of the strongest competitors, Rachel and Veronica. And now that her boyfriend is going home, she's going with him. Unbelievable. Genesis in interview: "What the hell are you talking about?" Lori in interview: "Our biggest 'We're tough, we're independent' cheerleader is now saying, 'Well, my boyfriend is leaving, so I'm going to go, too.'" Graphic: "To Be Continued."

Next week: Emily's addressing everybody, saying that James has been her moral support. Lori: "Tell me one situation where it's cool where a girl bails out on the rest of the girls because of her boyfriend." We'll overlook that her boyfriend is Kyle. Genesis: "What the [bleep] are you talking about?" Cut to the next mission: Razor's Edge. It has a scooter, a narrow beam, and a really panicky Melissa. A helmet cam shows one contestant falling off. The big question: will Emily come to her senses, or will she deserve to be scorned and ridiculed in my very first Reality TV Hall of Shame article?

I like imagining what the situation would have been had T.J. Lavin had been hosting. "Not Quitting" is 85 percent of his brand. With so many people bailing on their own that season, Teege would've went ballistic.

The fallout spills into the next episode, but I might as well say that we'd never see James again. Or Emily. From what I heard, they stopped being a couple (presumably without Veronica screwing things up) and went on to live normal lives. Like you'll find out in my recaps of The Gauntlet, I would eventually forgive Emily, at least for Rachel and Veronica. I can't take back wanting James to stay for a number of reasons. . . . including the possibility that he would reignite his bromance (a term not yet coined) with Theo in a future season, and Shane interviewed about how Sarah sucked during Road Rules: Campus Crawl, which I did not take well since I identified with her the most. Spoiler warning: The Gauntlet would be downright brutal to view, let alone recap.

Sadly, I don't remember why Shane got eliminated from this mission, because I can't retrieve Colin and Lori's recaps. Also, I think Melissa's mask was defective, but she probably wouldn't have lasted long if that wasn't the case. I was NOT kidding about the pinball noises. At least Jame said "dude" a few times. On many levels, that's all I wanted from him.

PS: I never did write a Hall of Shame article on Emily. Or Puck. Meh.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Battle of the Sexes Episode 14: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

I keep meaning to post more often. Nobody contacts me about reposting the recaps, and there's no movement on the BOTS thread at Previously.tv, but I want to get the stuff on my blog for the sake of it. I think this is the last recap where I was fond of Eric Nies. Then came Battle Of The Sexes 2 three seasons later, and . . . that was not fun. I wound up giving him a middle name that I use anytime I visit the forums. That was a bad season (which I hope to post here), but Eric was one of the worst parts. Not Puck-level bad, but man, I wanted him hurt back then.

Airdate: April 7, 2003
Recap Published: April 12, 2003

Shane wants to leave. Or does he? Maybe. Maybe not. But meanwhile, the challengers have to play Spider-Man and do some swinging and climbing. Will the Ion Lifesaver ever be put to good use?
 
It’s a good time for reality television. The Real World: Las Vegas has finally sputtered and gasped its last breath. Seriously, why did we have to endure seven months of that? Anyway, with that gone and this show drawing to a climax, I figured I should be at peace soon. Then I heard that Kyle, the big-headed tool from Chicago, got a plum part on Days Of Our Lives, and a rumor that a major label signed Julie’s band. Now I’m ticked off all over again.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: Shane lamented over the departures of Campus Crawl mates Rachel and Eric J. Lori reminds us that the ladies are on a losing streak. Cut to a shot of Shane with a big smile on his face, shooting Emily in Collision Course. Sweet. “It’s humiliating,” Lori continues. “We just need to win another game.” Ellen gets the instructions from the sponsor phone: wear sneakers, boots, and athletic gear. How can any of that be considered “previously” when those scenes never aired? I hate BMP editing.

Night. Quiet shots. Cut to outside one of the Villas. Nobody is out there. Perhaps I got another week off.

Oops, I spoke too soon. Party time! Everybody’s dancing. Antoine has Anne riding on his shoulders. I’m not concerned for Antoine’s health as I was when Syrus was riding him. Emily and James dance seductively. Once again: run, James! A figure with a pixilated butt shoots down a water slide. Hey… I know the hair! It’s Blair! What’s BMP trying to pull this time?

But not everybody is having a good time. Shane is in the confessional booth. I thought all the interviews were done on-site or in post-production. Anyway, Shane feels out of place. “I could care less what happens tomorrow,” he tells the camera. “If I win the damn thing, if I’m in last place, I’m still going home.”

Cut to Shane giving Melissa a foot rub. She digs it, calling him “adorable.” Colin adds that all the guys love him as well. Colin interviews that Shane has voiced his opinion on leaving. He adds, “I think Shane’s looking forward to decompressing and being around people he’s comfortable with.”
I’m guessing Shane means being around other gay people, since we cut to him chatting with Ruthie and Genesis. Good edit. Ruthie finds out that Shane is a Taurus, which is funny since her girlfriend is one as well. I never got astrology. Ruthie’s lived with her lover part-time, which is something Shane can’t imagine doing. Ruthie responds with, “Well, you’re young.” I think there’s about four years between those two. Ruthie is so not an old lady. Genesis says that she’s been with her wife for four years. Shane interviews that they talked for three hours, adding, “It was nice to know there was someone who got me and was giving me something in return.”

Van. Shots of random sites. “Oh my God,” Anne says. “What is that?” Well, it’s a net. It’s a huge net, with blow-up dolls at the top. I haven’t seen inflatable playmates since the time one played Roy to Dan’s Siegfried on Extreme Challenge. Good times. Jonny welcomes everybody to Spidermon. The objective? First, to swing from the tenth floor balcony of the Sunset Beach Resort and into the “spider web.” Then the players have to go up the net, rescue the opposite sex doll, and climb down. Fastest time wins. Once again, Melissa is not feeling the love. “I’m in a tropical paradise and you want me to drop out of a building?” she interviews. “Are you people crazy?” No, but they’re sadistic. Jonny goes on, saying that the winner gets 36 points, and the last place finisher gets 23, unless the player gets disqualified. Emily drops some exposition on us, saying that the only way to get the DQ is by dropping the doll or if the player drops off the net. Jonny adds that the winner gets pursuit kayaks for the teammates. I don’t know how that’s different from a regular kayak. Oh, and there’s the Ion Lifesaver, which can be used to save somebody from getting eliminated. But after nine missions, who’s going to put it to good (and dramatic) use?

More net shots, accompanied by tense music. Colin gets suited up. He interviews that there are people stronger and faster than him, so he has to be more competitive. He’s going up against Ellen in this round. Both get attached to a cord that’s connecting two buildings. Ellen says she’s not nervous. “There’s a big net,” she interviews. “You’re fine, you’re safe. It’s all good.” But as she hangs off the balcony, she starts to gasp. On the ground, Anne goes on about Ellen’s high-pitched squeaking. Wow, I can’t believe I forgot all the times she did that on The Quest. On the cord, Ellen admits she’s scared. On the bullhorn, Jonny counts down from ten, his voice fading out in favor of a studio-produced heartbeat.

Jonny sounds the airhorn, and Ellen and Colin swing. No, I mean, swing. Remember the time Daffy Duck was trying to be Robin Hood, shouting “Yoinks and away!” and slamming into trees? Same thing. Ellen screams on the way to the net. Colin grabs his girl doll, attaching it to his belt. He manages to finish after 52 seconds. Ellen gets tangled in the net. The other girls laugh as her doll is held between her legs. She finishes at 1:39. She interviews that the mission was a lot tougher than she figured. She voiceovers during a replay about how the doll was between her legs and she kept stepping on it. Even she has to laugh. Insert your Adam joke here.

Eric lies back on the cord. He voiceovers that the only way for him to make the Inner Circle is by finishing first or second in every event. Lori whimpers as she steps off the balcony, rolling into position. “What the hell am I going to do with a kayak?” she asks out loud. Bludgeon your bigheaded boyfriend with it? They swing. The “Eric-Cam” shows us the way while Lori screams. The impact is so hard, she almost bounces off the net entirely. Worse still, her shoe flies off. Not a good day for Lori. Eric goes down the net, voicing over that he’s trying to get points. He dives over the finish line (:45), stoked that he has the fastest time. Meanwhile, Lori takes a while to get untangled before finishing (2:19) She interviews that the mission was harder than she thought.

Lori tells Ruthie that she thinks Eric got zero points, since he didn’t hook his doll up to his belt. James interviews the obvious: a zero plummets a guy to the bottom of the standings. Jonny tells Eric that he has to check the tape, but Eric isn’t worried. He interviews that he didn’t think he did anything wrong until he dropped his doll into the net, and he hopes he’ll slide by. Unfortunately for him, Jonny tells him that he’s been disqualified. The replay shows that he did let go of the doll. “I don’t feel like Spider-Man,” Eric muses. “I feel like Spider-Geek.” If you ever read the comics, Eric, you’d know that’s the same thing.

The beach. I’m thinking that there was a lot of time to kill, since the production crew had to reset everything. Shane asks Eric how he got a zero. “I lost the girl,” Eric says, “story of my life.” Shane suggests he should have gone for the boy doll. Did I mention Shane is gay? Just checking. Eric knows he’s going home, but Shane shoots that idea down. “I am ready to leave,” Shane interviews. “I’m totally sick of this place and sick of dealing with this.” For some reason, we go back to the dance floor, with Eric and Mark busting their respective moves. Cut to Shane in the confessional, not feeling jovial. Back at the beach, Shane wants those having a good time to stay. “No matter what my score,” he interviews, “this is my last mission, and thank God, I get to go home.”

Genesis vs. Mark. Genesis is nervous, given that she’s in last place and she wants to stay on. Both players swing into the net, but Genesis drops her doll. She screams, cursing up a storm as she climbs down the net.

After commercials, we get a replay of Genesis’ miscue. She interviews about how she badly she need the points. Shane interviews that she’s his best friend, and this is a low blow to him. Meanwhile, Mark finishes at 1:09. Jonny lets Genesis know that she’s been disqualified and then asks if she wants to hold the doll, much to her amusement. She interviews that she doesn’t want to leave, but it’s been agreed that the lowest scorer must go home.

Chili’s Lounge. Genesis cries a little, hugging Ruthie. The other women comfort her, but she’s still ticked off. “Irony of life,” she tells them. “The one time I actually excel at something and I [bleeping] drop the dude.”

Anne vs. Jamie. He actually hangs back and sings before swinging. They swing. Jamie finishes at 1:04; Anne finishes at 3:24.

Emily vs. James. You knew it had to come down to this. Emily: “I will be waiting on the ground to congratulate him whenever he reaches the finish line.” All he can reply is smile and say, “Yeah. As always.” I checked: he’s scored better than her in eight of the twelve missions. They swing, and Emily screams on the way. We get a spilt screen that isn’t the least bit informative. James gets to the finish line first (0:54). Make that nine-for-thirteen. Emily gets tangled up before diving into James’ arms (1:32). Did I mention they’re a couple? Just checking.

Ruthie vs. Shane. He interviews that doesn’t want to do this. He adds, “I feel like I’m jumping to my death.” He hollers while swinging. The race looks close, but Shane finishes at 0:48, followed closely by Ruthie (0:51). Shane’s a little happier now.

Melissa vs. Antoine. Since Blair’s done dodging bullets, the editors have a new running subplot: how bad will Melissa freak out before a mission? She starts whimpering while hanging on the balcony. “All I know is, these are two very high buildings and there’s a net,” she interviews. “Wrong. Uh-uh. No. Uh-uh.” Maybe it’s the crush I have on her, but I’m not seeing why anybody would object to her carrying on. For one thing, I’d be trying not to wet myself if I was in her position. For another, how could she have known she would last this long? I had her pegged for leaving in the first few weeks, before the events got tougher. I don’t see her as somebody who loves being the damsel in distress. She’s just somebody who doesn’t salivate the thought of risking her neck.

Anyway, Melissa panics as she hangs on the cord. The editors don’t do her any favors, playing circus music while showing the others laughing at her predicament. Melissa calms down before she has to swing. Antoine interviews that he has to beat Shane and James in order to stay in the game. But the doll drops and he gets the DQ. “This is how the game works,” Eric interviews. “The way we’re dealing with it, you go to the bottom, you’re out.” Meanwhile, Melissa finishes at 2:45. Except for Collision Course, she’s completed every mission and stayed in the middle of the pack. You have to respect that. She interviews that this is her first near-death experience.

Jonny asks Antoine what happened. Antoine notes that the doll wasn’t rigged on the net correctly, so he gets another chance. Shane tells Eric the news, but Eric isn’t worried.

Antoine, Take Two. He hits the net and manages to grab the doll, telling her, “Now you stay with me, girl!” Even while climbing down a net, the guy is a riot. He dives past the finish line (1:00). “I feel like I’m pretty happy to see my baby girl here with me,” he interviews with his doll. “She tried to bail on me, and that ain’t gonna happen no more!”

Post-mission. Jonny awards the kayaks and the Ion Lifesaver to Shane. He interviews that he was ready to go home the previous night. “I don’t know what changed,” he adds. “I think winning just really made me worth something again.” I think he’s spent too much time with James. Jonny tells everybody that the Inner Circles will be announced in one hour.

Scoreboard.

Men: Colin (345), Mark (344), Jamie (339), Antoine (318), Shane (315), James (314), Eric (297)

Women: Ruthie (334), Ellen (318), Emily (291), Lori (281), Melissa (253), Anne (245), Genesis (218)

Jonny announces the Inner Circles (Ruthie, Ellen, and Emily; Colin, Mark, and Jamie). Colin interviews that there is no need for the guys to decide since there is no vote. Foreshadowing is a bitch. Colin continues: “The women aren’t deliberating because I think after twelve missions, they’ve picked up on the fact that voting the lowest cumulative score actually works for your team.” Let’s break down the past Inner Circles. Six resulted in the lowest scorer going home (Gladys, Jisela, Aneesa, Tonya, Christina, Ayanna), two had the most unpopular people leave (Julie, Beth), and one contestant forced the Inner Circle to send her home (Amaya). What I’m trying to say is this: shut up, Colin. Not every IC had Emily hacking away at her enemies (Rachel, Veronica), so save the condescending tone.

Women’s Inner Circle. Ruthie gives Genesis her due before dropping the hammer. Genesis interviews that she’s sad about going home, but her wife is waiting for her. She hugs Ruthie, telling her, “I’m going home to have sex.” Too much information, Genesis.

Men’s Inner Circle. Mark reminisces about his time with Eric in Cabo San Lucas as hosts of Battle of the Seasons, and that he’s going to miss him. The elders of RW and RR hug.

Now it’s time to award the Ion Lifesaver. Shane says that his decision was not made out of malice. “I knew if I ever got the Lifesaver,” he tells the contestants, “I would give it to the person that was saving me.” And without further ado, he gives it to Genesis. Finally, somebody puts the damn thing to good use! Genesis interviews that she has to decide whether to accept it or not. This has become a land of confusion to her. This is the world she lives in (whoa-oh-oh) and these are the hands she’s been given (whoa-oh-oh). She’ll never-…okay, I’ll stop now. I was dying to drop that reference in at some point.

We get a replay of what just happened after commercials. “Ladies and gentlemen,” Jonny exclaims, “we have a wrench!” Genesis asks the others what she should do. She interviews that she doesn’t want to leave, but if she accepts it, somebody else would have to leave. “Make up your mind,” says the painfully obvious soundtrack. Random shots of the guys. Genesis looks at the board. Jonny says that the Women’s Inner Circle must deliberate once again.

Apparently, “Women’s Inner Circle” means “Everybody on the women’s team.” After all, watching Emily fixate on others to a select audience is half the fun on this show. Once again, Genesis expresses her unwillingness to mess up the system. Then Anne steps up and says she’s fine with going home. Genesis points out the huge difference between her and everybody else. Anne replies that Genesis would get another weekend in Jamaica and a chance to win another prize. “She’s such a good person,” Anne says of Genesis. “I think she absolutely deserves it.” Time out. Is it wrong of me to think the producers convinced Anne to take a dive? Think about it: Anne is nine points behind Melissa. If Anne does well in the next mission, or if Melissa wipes out and takes a zero, Anne could pass her and maybe take a shot at Lori’s position the following day. While the Inner Circle is a longshot, Anne has a better chance of winning mission prizes. Maybe BMP, seeing their precious Ion Lifesaver becoming a total joke, bought Anne off. I know I’ve been really critical of Anne these past few weeks, so watching her go from badmouthing Ayanna to giving Genesis a huge gift is a little much. I could be wrong. Anyway, Genesis tears up, hugging Anne. “I think this decision tonight really symbolizes the fact that that our darkest days are behind us,” says Ellen, with shots of the other smiling ladies. “This is the first time we’ve really made a group decision that settles well with everyone.” Anne jokes that she hates Shane, and everybody laughs.

Back to the proceedings. Jonny calls the Women’s Inner Circle up. Ruthie punctuates Anne’s dismissal with, “I absolutely love you.” Anne and Ellen hug. Anne tells her teammates to win on Monday to break their losing streak.

Time lapses from sunset to night. Eric gets hugs from Antoine, Melissa, and Colin. “My personal victory with this experience was being able to share my experiences and my life with other people here,” Eric muses. That could be ego right there. Or maybe all the youngins wanted to know what it was like when he got pinned by Heather B. back in ’92. He continues: “Hopefully, those experiences will bring happiness in their life [sic].” He rides away in the van, shouting, “Love your brother, respect your sister! It’s the only way!” Farewell, Ancient Jungle Monkey.

Anne hugs her teammates. “I am happy that I accepted the Ion,” Genesis interviews. “This is the first time I ever felt wanted by the team as a whole. It’s just a fabulous feeling.” Anne’s van drives off.

Next week: Jonny welcomes everybody to Human Aquarium. The players lie in a small pool with snorkels. Shane expositions that they have various sea creatures dumped on them. Sure enough, they get sea urchins, crabs, and lobsters dumped in there, which forces one woman out. Then BMP spoils everything by showing the scoreboard. So not only do we know who comprises the Inner Circles, we can determine who will win the mission. The bright side? James and Shane are tied for last place. Do you know what that means? The guys actually have to make a decision. Colin suggests a coin flip, so nobody’s feelings get hurt. Please tell me he’s kidding. He interviews that it’s been easy for the guys to vote in the past. James: “If I was in the Inner Circle, it would be my duty to make a decision.” And if the rumors are true, we might get the most dramatic episode of the season.

Yes, I was waiting for a long time to make a reference to the band Genesis. Had the person been obnoxious, I would've called her "Invisibly Touched in the head." Or was that just Phil Collins? "Land Of Confusion" was my go-to. I did not miss Anne at all. On the bright side, compared to the next episode, this one was awesome. Seriously, I could tell who placed where based on the teaser. And the ending? Oy. I'll try to get the recap up in less than a week.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Battle of the Sexes Episode 13: Ayanna Get Your Gun

Well, today happened, and the skies didn't turn crimson red. That's a good thing, right? In news closer to this blog, it's become evident that MTV Classic isn't going to run "vintage" BMP shows. I mean, they did RW 1-4, which was nice, as well as the first two seasons of Road Rules, but then they ran crap RW seasons like Hollywood and Denver. I don't see them airing old Challenges anytime soon. If anything, they'd play the bit from Rivals III where friggin' Johnny takes all the money for himself and Sarah crumples into a heap, and loop that moment for an hour. Nevertheless, I'm still going to repost my old recaps. Because I used Television Without Pity as a guideline (much to the annoyance of my "peers" at RNO), I feel that you don't need to watch the episodes to get a feel for them. All those hours of rewinding the tape, taking notes and repeating came in handy. That is what I tell myself.

Airdate: March 31, 2003
Recap Published: April 3, 2003 (three days after the previous episode's recap)

It’s time for laser tag! Ayanna (at right) has some expertise in the game, so surely the other women will listen to her for advice, right? Right? Um. Yeah. Sure.

This recap goes out to all my buddies who came to support Television Without Pity this past Saturday in New York. Together, we had fun and raised over $1,000 via silent auction. I kicked in $48, with the purchase of two postcards and a mousepad. Perhaps next time, we can outdo the Washington contingent, or any other city that boasts the biggest supporters.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: “Battle of the Opposite Sexes” reared its ugly, lopsided head. Christina: “We have to take off our clothes and play an intellectual game.” Ayanna: “If I get a question wrong, that’s what I say ‘no’.” For the last time-… ah, screw it. I don’t have a time machine, so I’m not going to explain things yet again. Jake sits naked on the bike. Flashing Caption: “Men Win!” Oh, come on. If the guys hadn’t let Jake answer most of the questions in the second half, the women would have taken it. Way to not show context. Cut to the Unnamed Stirrup Mission. Veronica hangs by her ankle. Christina falls in the water. Eric gets the win. “Men Win!” Cut to Stairway to Heaven. Oh, this isn’t right. Jamie flies up the ladders, while Melissa has a panic attack. Jamie probably loves to run up mountains, whereas Melissa probably enjoys walking up escalators. Not a fair comparison to make. “Men Win!” A scoreboard has the guys winning six out of ten missions. Does it matter? The point is for individuals to do well enough to remain in the game. The men vs. women thing is just for prizes. Genesis voiceovers that the girls are sick of losing. I’m starting to get sick of this show.

We go to the bar area, where Emily, Genesis, Ruthie, and Lori are hanging out. We get a quick clip of the girls screwing up missions. Tree House? “Defeated.” Stirrup-A-Go-Go? “Defeated.” Seven Rings of Saturn? “Defeated.” BOTOS? “Defeated.” Looks like it’s sunny in Jamaica, with a better-than-average chance of anvils falling. Melissa interviews that she’s tired of losing and some of the missions are geared for men. I’ll give her Breath Hold Bungee and Stairway to Heaven. Lori counters, saying that it’s stupid to blame their performances on fairness. Melissa: “If we had a competition on manicures, the boys would lose and probably bitch about it.” I don’t know… I bet Shane, Antoine, and Blair are all about the fingernails. And I know Emily has dragged James to the manicurist a few times. Ellen suggests that the unfairness factor would be incentive to win, adding, “There’s nothing a girl can’t do that a guy can do. We can probably do it better.” Cut to Ayanna reading on a bed. She interviews that part of her doesn’t want to stay, and she feels “hellagrimy.”

Ellen and Ruthie have their own meeting. Ellen feels that the women can do anything the guys can do. Ruthie agrees, but she adds that they have to prove it now. Ellen says that the others aren’t having fun anymore. Well, an unchained and delusional Emily will do that to a group. Don’t look into her eyes! She’ll slay you where you stand! Yes, a whole week has gone by, and I’m still mad at her. Anyway, Ellen interviews that she and Ruthie are the strongest competitors on the team. She tells Ruthie that she wants to win tomorrow more than the others. “I know that the girls team really needs a leader,” Ellen voiceovers, “but Ruthie and I don’t want to, because we don’t want to piss people off.” I got a news flash for the both of them: this is not Survivor. Both have been in the Inner Circle from the second mission. Both have shown no signs of falling out of it. They can decide whom they want and don’t want. They can openly talk smack about the others and expect no repercussions. As long as they’re in the IC, they can’t be voted on. Why can’t they understand that? Both Ellen and Ruthie want to kick some ass.

Night shot. Morning shot. The mission phones ring. Ellen and Antoine prattle off the specifics: sneakers, athletic gear, get hydrated, and get ready to leave the Villas in 25 minutes. Super fast forward, the guys get ready. Super fast forward, the van careens down the Jamaican highways. Eric interviews that the girls can call it quits. “When it comes time for us to work together,” he adds, “the guys are gonna be more ready than the girls.” Oh, good. More anvils.

There a shot of packs and guns, as Jonny welcomes everybody to the site. Ayanna gets excited, knowing that she’s going to play Laser Tag. I played that at a friend’s birthday party several months back. It was okay. I think I killed more than I got killed. Melissa doesn’t share Ayanna’s joy. “I don’t walk around shooting guns off,” she grouses. “I don’t play videogames every day.” For some reason, I get this mental image of Melissa and Amaya in gang colors, walking the mean streets of West Hollywood, popping caps in whoever displeases them. Jonny introduces today’s game, which is Collision Course. Sounds like a demolition derby to me. The object is to score points by eliminating opposing players. “Ayanna is well-versed in the tactical art of Laser Tag,” Colin muses in an interview. “For this reason, we have to take her out quickly.” If I ever do this again, I’ll have to include “Don’t Brag About Expertise” on the “What All Challenge Contestants Should Know” list. Jonny shows off the impressive gift package to the winner and that person’s team: a DVD/VCR, an MP3 player, and a digital video recorder. “Give it up for the sponsors!” Jonny adds. Oh, shut up. He also throws in the Ion Lifesaver. Since this episode is short on actual action, Jonny adds that the points go from 36 down to 21. Genesis states the obvious when she interviews that a win would lift her team’s spirits.

Everybody enters the dark warehouse. I hear familiar music. Slow motion walking. I can see the packs blinking on their chests. And then, I remember the song. It’s Nas! It’s “Hate Me Now”! I can so relate, because I hate these people now, but I won’t stop now, because I can’t stop now. The gang starts preparing. Jamie expositions that the object of the game is to run from one side of the field to the other without getting shot. There are two minute-long rounds, and each player gets five lives, represented on screen as a green light. Once a player loses all the lives (green lights go red), that person is out. Cut to Emily, with James standing next to her. “We go to arcades a lot,” she tells us, “and he always ends up leaving a little mad, a little sore, because his girlfriend kicked his ass.” Pause. James tries to say something, but Emily shoots him. That is so emasculating. Get away from her, dude!

The guys make plans. Antoine interviews that the girls aren’t a team, and the guys have to be one in order to win. How good does an umbrella have to be to handle an anvil? Blair brings up his ongoing subplot: once again, he’s in last place, and he has to do well. Eric shows off a move, where he hides underneath a barrier and pops unsuspecting ladies as they run by. Pretty sneaky, Eric. Did you pick that up from Vietnam, World War II, or the Civil War? The crafty editors show a map of the guys’ strategy, complete with arrows, dots and lines.

Well, the women should be organized, yes? Ayanna offers her take on what to do, but I barely understand it. When she gets excited, the Ayanna-to-English dictionary is a must. Melissa tells Lori that she’s not well versed with guns. Okay, I get it. Emily and Ruthie talk at the same time. Ayanna wants the guys to come to her. Melissa: “The next mission better be the boys sew up [bleep] or bake some [bleep].” Ayanna keeps talking strategy. Lori interviews that it’s not a good time to go over the basics one minute before the event. Did the guys get an hour to plan? Lori makes my head hurt. More talking. Ayanna starts to say something, but Emily cuts her off. Ayanna is rightfully upset that the others are shutting her down. The basic plan is that the women are going for themselves. As if we didn’t get the disharmony, we get a graphic with a big question mark and arrows going every which way.

Colin tells the others to go with “blanket fire.” He interviews that the team is targeting the “power players”: Ayanna, Ruthie, and Ellen. Ayanna tells the others, “Protect your back, protect your neck.” Cut to Anne in an interview, eyerolling, “Great, she’s talking again.” Did I ask for your opinion, Skeletor? You should be feel lucky that your friend Emily kept you an extra day and drove out a far better player in the process. So shut up. Man, I’m getting cranky. The women break out in a lot of “whas” and “huhs.” Ayanna interviews that nobody is letting her talk. Genesis: “We’re all starting to explode over each other.” First of all, I got that. Second, that’s some disturbing imagery.

The music swells as both teams get ready. The girls are rigid, while the guys look jovial. An airhorn sounds, and everybody starts running. This is a bad mission to watch, since you can’t tell who got hit, and by whom. “You can’t split up!” Ayanna interviews. “It’s not gonna work! They’re gonna pick us off like chickens in the middle of a wolf field!” Alrighty, then. Ayanna’s green lights go red, and she’s out. Ruthie? Out. Genesis? Out. The airhorn sounds, ending the round.

James sums things up: “The first round is basically a massacre.” Ruthie can’t believe the guys waited to pick her off. Anne, who has two lives remaining, figures out that the guys are shooting for specific people. Ruthie says that the guys were patient. Colin: “Is that all they have?” Yes, that is all they have.

We get where everybody stands, and it’s a stinker. Each guy has at least four lives, except for Blair (1) and Jamie (3). On the other side, Emily, Ellen, and Anne have two lives, while Melissa and Lori have one apiece. “Crush Ellen,” Colin tells the others. “Crush her. It’s over.” It’s like he reads my mind! The ladies go over their remaining lives. Melissa’s One Life To Live joke falls flat. Ruthie hopes that the remaining players have a plan. The guys, smelling blood on the warehouse floor, elect to catcall Ellen. Good choice. “Ellen!” Jamie taunts. “Come out to plllllaaaayyyy!” Nice use of a quote from The Warriors, even though Jamie doesn’t have two glass bottles to chink together. Melissa’s cracking up, while Ellen tries to keep her game face on. She wants somebody to watch her back. The guys continue. Jamie continues. “Come out and plllllaaaayyyy!” Heh.

Back from commercials, the guys continue giving Ellen the business. Colin whispers to the camera, “Ellen is gonna get crushed this round!” The airhorn blares. More running. “The women’s strategy is basically not to have a strategy,” Mark interviews. “They’re just doing their own thing and running around like chickens with their heads cut off.” Gee, I didn’t notice. Anne and Lori are out. The lights are on, revealing the bunkers with scribbles on them. So sad. The airhorn goes off, just as Ellen is eliminated. She yells that somebody got in her way. The guys whoop it up. Another scoreboard. Oh, this is pathetic. All eight guys are still in there. As for the women? Emily is the only one left, with one green light.

Anne starts getting snippy towards Ayanna, and they start bickering. “The girls’ team is falling apart right now,” Mark comments in an interview. “They need leadership, but no one seems to be stepping up to the plate.” Enough already! I get it! The women are screwed! Anne tells Ayanna not to yell at her, and Ayanna goes into passive-aggressive mode. Anne actually goes “blah blah blah” into the camera with Ayanna behind her. Shut up, Anne, and eat something. Even Heidi from Survivor is probably watching this and saying, “Damn, don’t they have food in Jamaica?” Ayanna says that the team had a chance. Anne bitches to Ruthie, with Ayanna near them both. Ruthie interviews that she doesn’t want the team to be bogged by negativity. I wonder… are you bogged if you’re in it up to your neck? That should be beyond bogged, in my opinion. Ruthie talks to Ayanna, who’s still in passive-aggressive. More bickering. Ayanna insists she’s trying to stay cool. I’ve seen her go ballistic, so this would be considered cool. “Great teamwork, Ayanna,” Anne snots. Why couldn’t BMP ship in Roni or Tara instead of her? She’s the worst representative from Northern Trail on any Challenge. I’d take Noah in a wig over Anne. She insists it’s not her fault the team is losing. Ayanna feels like she’s being framed as a scapegoat, while the others rebuke. Meanwhile, everybody is telling Emily what she has to do to win the game.

On the other side, all eight guys are waiting for the inevitable. “Let’s just bomb her, dude,” Colin suggests. Genesis interviews that Emily had the one life, and all the pressure is on her to win. The carnage continues. There are quick cuts, disguising how truly boring this mission is to watch. A voice rings out: “I got her! I got her!” And Emily is out, as Shane nudges her out of bounds. “Shane’s taken a lot of pleasure in shooting Emily in the back,” Colin interviews, “just as she stabbed Rachel in the back.” What is the word I’m looking for? Ah, yes: HA! That cracked me up something fierce. “We crushed the girls,” Shane beams. “They basically suck at Laser Tag.” Emily stalks off. “It’s supposed to be a game,” she interviews. “It’s supposed to be fun. And I’m not having any fun.” Would she like to bring Veronica back, so she can shove her off a cliff? Ayanna tells Emily she did a good job.

Since we need a winner, Jonny splits the guys into two teams by alphabetical order: Colin (3 lives), Antoine, Eric and Blair (1 apiece) vs. James (3), Shane (2), Mark and Jamie (1 apiece). Rewinding the tape, I find out that Emily didn’t take out a single light. Misleading editing or poor marksmanship? The girls look on glumly. Blair interviews that it’s important for him to go well, since he doesn’t want to go home. The order of elimination: Antoine, Shane, Jamie, Blair, Mark and Colin, with James as the winner. In her article, Melissa said that it took forever for James and Colin to duel in the end. Because I’ve been a good guy in recapping this dreck, I offer my interpretation on what was left on the cutting room floor:

Colin: (behind "bunker") Okay, fun's fun. Now get shot, willya?

James: (likewise) Dude, you're in the Inner Circle, and I'm not! I need the points!

Colin: Be reasonable!

James: I am!

Colin: (imitating Emily's voice) "Oh, James? Come on honey, the new chick flick is playing! You can buy the tickets and popcorn, and maybe... maybe... I'll let you sit next to me!"

James: Grrrrrrrrrrr...

Colin: "You don’t want to be with your greasy guy friends, do you?”

James: (imitating Amaya's voice) "Oh! Spoon me, Colin! Spooooon me, you big schmoopy-whoopie!"

Colin: Oh, you miserable bastard.

James: "Come on! Kiss my bunny! Kiss it!"

Colin: (bolting up) That tears it! DIE MOTHER-

James: (bolting, taking the shot) Too easy, dude. Too easy.

Post-mission. Ayanna gets close to Shane. “Don’t go shootin’ real guns,” she tells him with a smile. “You had fire in your eyes when you shot Emily, dog.” Anne says that Ayanna is mad at her, but she’s not mad at Ayanna. “I was listening,” Lori interviews. “I wasn’t hearing anything about what to do.”

Jonny awards the prizes and the Ion Lifesaver to James. The guys clap. The girls clap politely. Emily claps, and she has a big smile on her face. Because he’s the boyfriend, you know. Shut up, Emily. Ayanna: “After I’ve seen how the girls acted today as a team, it’s time for me to go on ahead and go on ahead.” I checked the Ayanna-to-English dictionary. “I should get going now.”

Ayanna tells Ellen that she’s not having fun anymore, and feels that she has to watch her back. Ellen tries to talk her out of it. Ayanna interviews that if she leaves, it would be a wake-up call for her teammates. Ellen wants her to reconsider; she interviews that she’s worried when one of the stronger competitors wants to leave. “People are only going to listen to people that have respect for or what their opinions are,” Ayanna tells Ellen. “If I don’t feel you can trust me, then how can I trust you?” Ayanna tells Emily of her intentions. “I think that’s the wrong decision,” she tells Ayanna. “You can’t base anyone’s trust off one mission. You’re not a quitter.” Great, now Emily doesn’t want a teammate to leave. What is it, Emily? Did Genesis grab the last orange and you want her gone? Ayanna interviews that she’s not a quitter, but she sees the situation for what it is, and she chooses to leave.

Scoreboard. Since the field’s been whittled down, I may as well start posting the scores.

Men: Mark (314 points), Colin (310), Jamie (308), Eric (297), Antoine (287), James (281), Shane (279), Blair (259)

Women: Ruthie (300), Ellen (290), Emily (262), Lori (254), Melissa (227), Anne (223), Genesis (218), Ayanna (215)

One thing that didn’t catch my attention right away was that Melissa, Genesis, and Ayanna’s scores didn’t change. Speculation on the forums says that they didn’t shoot anybody, so they got disqualified.

James looks at the scores with Emily. Ellen rubs her eyes near Blair. Eric eats from a pudding cup. He interviews that he’s been knocked to the bottom of the board, and he’s crawled his way back. I’m thinking Eric’s might make a run for the final three slots, and this is foreshadowing. Genesis is impressed that Anne moved up. Ruthie asks Anne, “Didn’t I tell you miracles can happen?” Aren’t miracles supposed to be good things? Blair hugs a slightly weeping Ellen. I think she loves the guy. Maybe not in the hooking-up way, but he seems to be somebody she can talk with. Blair interviews that it’s his time, adding “God is saying, ‘Blair, go home. Please.’”

Jonny starts the elimination proceedings, telling us the Inner Circles (Mark, Colin, and Jamie; Ruthie, Ellen, and Emily) and the Ion holder (James). Ellen interviews that there was no deliberation, since Ayanna has no intention of staying. Jonny asks the Women’s Inner Circle who is going home. Ellen calls Ayanna “awesome” and says she’s going to miss her. Ayanna doesn’t hug, but she does bump fists with the IC ladies. “For the girls to have any kind of fighting chance at winning this competition,” she interviews, “they’ve got to come together. And right now, they’re not.”

Jonny calls up the Men’s Inner Circles, and “reminds” them that they can’t vote him off. Shut up, Jonny. Mark goes on about how Blair has hung on in last place in the past seven missions. Mark adds, “He’s been a great roommate in the room where no one ever leaves.” Your guess is as good as mine. Blair walks up, says “It’s my time,” and walks back to the other men.

Now it’s time for James to award the Ion Lifesaver. Without fanfare, he gives it to Blair. Whoa! Intrigue! Sadly, Blair interviews that he’s not going to take it. “Why mess up what we’ve been doing now?” he ponders. He tells everybody that he’s going home. He then crouches, as the other guys spray beer on him. Don’t read anything into that. I’m begging you, do not go Psychology 101 on that scene. Blair interviews that he’s content in going home, and he stretched his time in last place as long as he could.

Sunset shot. Ellen and Ruthie walk down the stairs. Ellen comments that she didn’t buy into the mindset the guys had at first. “But it worked,” Ruthie chimes in. Never have three words so eloquently summed up this entire series.

Night. Brief shot of Ayanna packing up. Cut to a meeting of the women. Ellen says that each person brings her own strengths to the team. Emily says that due to lack of communication, they lost it right before the mission. Lori mentions that she’s never played in a sport before, but she’s willing to follow orders if need be. Ellen: “I felt that Ayanna was trying to tell us how to go about doing it.” You think? Emily thinks that Ayanna didn’t “relay it to us in the best way.” Ruthie steps up, saying that the women need to trust each other. I already have Step One: Dump Emilizzy Borden ASAP. Ruthie interviews that she can’t let the others slip, adding “I need my team as much as they need me.” Ellen says that if tomorrow brings wrestling or flag football, the team shouldn’t get psyched out. Melissa’s rubbing her eyes, and I think she’s remembering the thing her good buddy Amaya went through when she played those in Challenge 2000. Ellen adds that if anybody has experience in a future mission, that girl should “take the leadership chair and run with it.” The only thing missing is Ayanna yelling, “Great! Why didn’t you think of that before the game?” Ruthie tells the group they have to learn from their mistakes, adding that the guys had a lot of time to be a team, and the women can learn from them. “It’s Battle of the Sexes,” she interviews. “We’ve got to come together and battle out with the guys.”

MTV decided that Punk’d, Aston Kutcher’s opus, needed to start early on Monday night, so the teaser got clipped. But it came back on the Tuesday rerun, so I don’t have to speculate. Next week: The guys and the girls dance around. You Antoine fans should be happy to find out that the Belgian busts a move. Shane interviews that he’s going home. Jonny welcomes everybody to Spidermon. Apparently, Spidermon involves swinging from an impossibly long rope and clinging to a cargo net. Jonny at the elimination proceedings: “In this situation, the Inner Circle will have to deliberate one more time.” Colin in interview: “What!?” Hey, anything’s better than the drama the girls have been serving up.

I forgot about the TWoP "benefit." I might have the mousepad, which had Miss Alli's wisdom related to The Amazing Race written on it. She was good people, though a bit harsh as a forum moderator. The sad part about this episode is that this proved to be Ayanna's best exit. She got bounced from Extreme Challenge for beating up Christian after he said a certain word, and I won't spoil you on what happened in Battle Of The Sexes 2. I really hope she's doing good with her life. I've seen Blair on TV from time to time, such as appearing on G4's X-Play, and doing online content for DC Comics. I actually saw him at a convention along with Blair Butler, but I didn't say hi. I feel bad in retrospect, especially since I would see Steve, his buddy from Road Rules: The Quest, later in 2003. He may have compared himself to a venereal disease, but at least he didn't act like he wanted to give it to everybody, unless certain people from BMP shows.