Monday, November 26, 2018

Battle of the Sexes 2 Episode 6: Hope Floats

When you read these recaps from the past, I want you to keep something in mind in case you haven't already: I was totally thinking of things at that moment. At no point was I projecting into the future beyond the following season. At no point would I think of where the series would be fourteen years into the future: an utter, utter shitshow. Even for The Challenge, Final Reckoning was a disaster. There was virtually no way there could have been a happy ending. And we got the most miserable finale possible: Hunter and Ashley wind up lucking into a win, Ashley getting a chance of denying her partner of $500,000 . . . and she elected to go for it. We left the season with Hunter cursing out Ashley, Ashley trying to spin her decision as empowerment (as if Sarah would love her forever for doing to Hunter what Johnny did to her), Joss ripping into Paulie for going back on his word notto screw him and Sylvia at a key point (to be fair, Natalie did insist on that, and that was more important than him swearing on his family), and Cara Marie & Marie -- who were supposed to be the feel-good story of the season -- taking turns torching their friendship after they finished fourth.

Cut to 2004. I was a few months past the finale of Road Rules: X-Treme . . . a season so dogshit, it basically killed the franchise. Angela was the second subsitute that season, after the team screwd up a mission and they drew names to see who would leave have to leave (Kina). I dimly remember being really annoyed with her, particularly her infatuation with resident alpha asshole Patrick (I thought Derrick would be that season's pain in the ass. Live and learn.) And then Jillian dropped in to replace Ibis, and that made things worse. Basically, if you wanted positives from X-Treme, all you really had was Derrick, X the X-Treme puppy that got adopted by the team, and the mission where the Roadies took turns getting tackled by German Shepherds.

And then there was Cynthia. Her history went further back than anyone on the women's team: Real World: Miami (1996). Sure, there were a lot of highlights that season, like to roommates being nudged into a business venture, Dan and Flora ripping into each other, comically-undersized Joe (an ancestor to Jay from RW: X-Plosion) and his tall girlfriend, and the threesome between Mike, Melissa, and a waitress named Melody (remember, this was 1996!) Cynthia also stood out as funny, with her snark, dragon-like fingernails, and tendency to use the word "hella." Back when I was posting on the Television Without Pity forums, I rigged up a "March Madness" style tournament of cast members from the first twelve seasons (New York-Las Vegas). Cynthia won that, defeating her roommate Sarah (blonde tomboy who was working with Wildstorm Comics at the time, so you know I liked her) in the final match. To me, Cynthia was awesome. Angela was not. And then this episode happened.
Oh, and my family had a dog named Cynthia. Totally unrelated. Basic brown mutt. Remind me to tell you about the time with her and the possum.

Episode Aired: November 8, 2014
Recap Posted: November 14,2014 

This week, the teams build boats out of junk. Can Angela rebound from a disastrous decision, or will the ladies send her packing?
 
Previously on Battle of the Sexes: Derrick came a-calling with the booze, and that didn't make a good impression on his team. But he rebounded nicely, winning Dangle Drop for the boys. Dan admires how long he hung onto the bag. Huh… we haven't thought of the Frog Whisperer in a long time. Wonder if he's going home tonight. The girls lost Bombs Away, dropping their record to 0-4. The boys booted Abram, while the ladies kicked out Ayanna. Let's let her get in one last rant, shall we? "I ALWAYS! HAVE! PEOPLE'S BACKS!" And Apex thought Stacie J. was insane? Ruthie interviews that the girls feel like crap. "We're playing like a team," she goes on, "but at the same time, it doesn't really feel like we're a team.”

Let's get physical! The guys work out in the exercise room. Eric jumps rope, and he really needs to lose it. "It's a big ol' cornucopia of dudes," Theo drawls. "If this was a pasta, it would be Testosteroni." Thanks for sharing. Derrick walks in with two empty bottles. He interviews that he drinks every day, but he doesn't feel the pressure of being sent home since he's gaining respect. Apparently, he doesn't feel the pressure of anvils crushing him. Eric interviews that Derrick is a tough competitor, but he is a loose cannon. Eric wears the jump rope around his neck like a scarf. Enough, man. Let it go.

Elsewhere, the girls lie around, lamenting their winless record. Robin blahs that she would be cocky with four wins, and she's sick of the guys winning. Katie: "Boys are bubbleheads." Cut to a flashback of Mark breaking a stick on Eric's leg. What was that about? Rachel figures that when the guys lose to girls, it makes things much sweeter. "I have no idea what we need to do to win," Robin interviews. "We just need to win, bottom line."

In the bedroom, Angela and Frank talk. My heart sinks, since Frank was the closest thing to a favorite I had on The Real World: Las Vegas, and he's bonding with a ten-car pileup of a woman. Sure, he was attracted to Trishelle right off the bat, but we didn't know how bad she would be back then. Angela goes on about how she's stuck with people who don't like her, and that Frank gives her attention. Speaking of people who don't like Angela, we got a herd of them in the kitchen, talking smack behind her back. Shane: "She's not here. She hates this house." Tonya: "Try to be part of the group, why don'tcha?" Coral interviews that Angela is a competitor. "We need cutthroat women that can back it up," she continues, "and she's not that."

Coral reads the clue from the sponsor phone. Outside, Mike also reads: the mission requires great teamwork and patience. Coral reads that the players have to be ready to depart at 9 a.m. and to wear bathing suits. The ladies groan, and Coral tries to reply to the message. "We've been getting our asses kicked," Cynthia interviews. "It's about time we actually won."

Daytime. Conchiti Lake. Jonny welcomes the players to today's mission: Junk Boat. We get a look at a big pile of junk, most of which could help in the creation of a boat. Nick lays down the exposition: the leaders on each team pick one item at a time and bring it back to a "build zone." The teams go back and forth, until they decide there's enough material to start building. Remember the boat-building task in Celebrity Mole: Hawaii? Same idea. [2018: Dead link] It's a shame Corbin Bersen couldn't be brought in as the Super Veiny Mission Mayor. Jonny stresses that the players cannot build the boats until all the materials are picked up. There's a close-up of Derrick. You think something will go wrong with him? Steve expositions that seven people from each team will row the boat around the buoys and back, then the remaining players do the same. Today's winnings get a seven-day trip to Mykonos in Greece. Damn, why couldn't Jacquese still be playing? I'd love for the locals to mistake him for Nelly again. Jonny gives both teams the usual thirty minutes to pick leaders.

On the ladies' side, Robin steps up to lead. Coral asks Angela about her puzzle-solving abilities. Angela admits she has no real ideas on how to perform the task. Coral: "So, I'm thinking you're good at puzzles? I dunno, that's just my thought." It's hard to tell if Coral is being honest or manipulating Angela into a trap. "If we lose this mission," Veronica interviews, "maybe I want Angela to go and be a leader, so she can go home." Man, I hate when I'm on the same page as Veronica. Ruthie volunteers, as does Angela, who interviews about feeling "peer-pressured" into it..

Steven drops the three leaders on us: Mike, Derrick and Randy. Derrick plots out the boat construction, interviewing about feeling like he's a great leader. Sadly, the guys can't understand his way of thinking. "Derrick is a great competitor," Steven interviews. "He's young and he's excited, but he really doesn't make any sense."

Back at the girls' meeting, Angela announces that she is clueless, and she wants somebody to replace her as leader. Rachel: "I realize now that not only has she annoyed me outside of the game, but she's annoyed me inside of the game, and she needs to go." Remember what I said about agreeing with Veronica? Same goes for Rachel.

After commercials, Angela tells her teammates that she feels everything is going too fast. Veronica decides to replace her. She interviews, "I spoke without even knowing what I was getting myself into." Angela feels like the other players wanted her to lead in order to sabotage her.

The teams present their leaders. The girls do a cheer: "Let's go to Greece!" I guess Robin worked them into a frenzy, since she went there during her season. Jonny suggests to the players that they not touch the junk once it has been chosen, and that he will disqualify anybody who builds before collecting. Cut to Derrick, tossing a ball up and down.

Jonny blows his airhorn to start the mission. Ruthie grabs an oar, earning the jeers of the men. Mike interviews that they can use anything in the pile as an oar. Tina calls the guys “idiots,” and we cut to Derrick holding on to a toilet seat cover. Tough break from the ladies; they could’ve replaced the covers that Abram took away. The guys cheer as their leaders bring in a big board. Ruthie snags another oar, while Randy picks out a plastic case. Both sides pick wooden boards.

Suddenly, Coral points out Derrick messing with the items. Sure enough, he’s trying to fit a small piece of pipe on a larger piece, and that is the same as building. Mark interviews that Derrick is a leader, and he should have known all of the rules. Jonny makes the men skip a turn, and the ladies pick out two of what Derrick was examining. The guys are ticked, and Coral declares that her team is done selecting. The girls start duct-taping, while the guys finish collecting.

Both teams frantically build their vessels. “It’s kinda like automatic pilot,” Ruthie interviews. “Everyone starts doing something, and it all just seems to fall in place.” Eric interviews that his team needs a big boat to make up for the weight difference. As the teams build, we hear some bizarre barbershop quarter/sea shanty hybrid in the background. The ladies float their boat, which is basically a board on tubes. Their first seven players get on, using the oars to row. Coral shouts at Angela to row harder, interviewing that she’s barely paddling. Sure enough, Angela is barely putting her oar in.

The guys take their boat out, using two-by-fours to paddle. “I feel like we’re Noah’s Ark,” Theo interviews, “only on our ship, we gathered two of every kind of idiot.” From the beach, Mark and Chris yells contradicting rowing instructions to their teammates. The ladies finish their first heat, and their second seven start out. Steven thinks that his team isn’t that far behind. But the girls are far ahead, and they win, prompting a huge celebration. Mark rows in, sour-graping that he hates Greece anyway. “They’re going to Greece,” he interviews, “which sucks because I’ve never been to Greece. [pause] Bitches.” Cheer up, “Cruiser.” I’m sure you could go with your new Extreme Dodgeball buddies. Rachel gloats about the win before she gets ugly. Well, uglier. “Bye bye, Angela!” she hisses to the camera. “See ya in Greece, but I won’t see you here anymore!”

The girls are still giddy about their prize – which Tina calls the best of the bunch so far – as Jonny wraps things up. He reminds the ladies that their three team leaders will pick somebody to go home, while the men’s team will send one of the three leaders off.  Mike interviews that Derrick won the first mission and the trip to Cancun for the guys. He adds, “There’s no way they’re going to take Derrick out over me.” Derrick feels that it’ll come down to him and Mike, and that the guys might take his mental flub into consideration. As Angela yammers on her cell phone, Ruthie interviews that Angela feels a lot of votes will be cast against her. “I don’t really think there is a lot of basis for that,” Ruthie continues. “I don’t think it’s really fair. It’s not a popularity contest, but sometimes it is.”

Meanwhile, Frank tells Angela that when and if he leaves, he’d want to be friends with everybody. He then urges her to socialize with her teammates. Match, meet gas. Angela feels that nobody is on her side except for Frank, and that she’s going home. She adds, “If evil prevails, I don’t want to be a part of the game anyway.” Shut up, Angela. This is my fourth season recapping the Challenge, and I’m still doing it. After a while, you get used to evil prevailing

Boys’ Inner Circle Meeting. Eric reminds us that this is the first time to a team leader has to go home. Mark feels that it’s between Mike and Derrick, with Randy not being an option. He adds that Mike has had a disqualification and he lost his Bombs Away match. On the other hand, Derrick lost Bombs Away as well, and got penalized today. Steven: “if we’re voting off Mike, the Miz, or Derrick, the Miz would stay. I haven’t seen the Miz.” Do we really need Mike’s lame wrestling persona, Steven? Don’t tempt fate, man. Theo: “There were moments on the beach where I didn’t know if Derrick was some dude who wandered over from an AA meeting, or he was a leader on our team.” Shawn adds that being a leader and not knowing the rules raises a flag in his head. Theo openly wonders who would have his back in the end.

Girls’ Inner Circle Meeting. The ladies go over the boot list. Coral? Fine. Ibis? Fine. Cynthia? Red flag. We get a flashback of her talking to the team: “If I don’t ever want to be a leader, I don’t ever have to be a leader. If I don’t ever feel comfortable with being a leader, I’m not going to be a leader, and that should be the end of it.” Suddenly, I start to feel queasy. Robin interviews that she feels like that’s not being a team player. Veronica figures there are stronger players. Tonya? Fine. Angela? Ruthie feels that Angela is a good performer. Veronica doesn’t feel that Angela brings a lot to the team. Robin says that Angela thinks the others are out to get her.

Cut to Angela talking on the cell phone to persons unknown, whining about how the others don’t like her. If I wanted to recap Road Rules: X-Treme, I would’ve done that already. “Maybe I’m too nice to be in this game,” she deludes. “Maybe I’m not mean enough to win a game like this.” Cry me a river. Five-to-one says that she’ll declare herself “too punk rock” by the time she gets voted out. She continues, “Those [bleepin’] bitches are sitting in their seats laughing right now, because I’m going home, exactly what they wanted since day one.”

Cut to the Inner Circle walking to Elimination Hill. Robin doesn’t want issues in the house. Ruthie feels that they’ve reached a fair decision. “I want a happy home,” Robin declares. “I don’t want to go home to some [bleepin’] drama.”

Elimination Hill. Jonny calls on the guys to reveal their decision. Dan steps up, saying that the team didn’t want to make the decision. They based their choice on disqualifications, performance and leadership. The choice? Derrick. Once again, Mike wriggles off the hook. Derrick looks pain, but Dan hangs on to him, singing his praises. “He has no filter,” Dan proclaims, “between his heart, his mind, his actions, his words. I’ve known this kid for two weeks, and look at me!” Man, I love Dan. Derrick can barely look at anybody, and Dan’s trying to cheer him up. Derrick interviews that he’s hurt, and that he figured enough people saw him in action. “I know it’s a game,” Derrick interviews, voice cracking, “but it just hurts sometimes.”

Jonny calls up the ladies’ Inner Circle. Ruthie says that they wanted to make their decision based on “competition and contribution.” Robin picks it up, saying that this based the pick on disqualification and those not stepping up as leaders. Bottom line: Cynthia goes home. Immediately, Tina trashes the choice, starting a chain reaction of mutinous talk. Coral feels that it’s a horrible decision. “Cynthia has contributed not only to our missions,” Coral adds, “but to our sanity.” With a group like that, a den mother is most definitely required. To her credit, Cynthia keeps the peace, saying that the Inner Circle made their decision, and that she’s okay with it. The team applauds, probably in awe over Cynthia’s coolness. Angela interviews she’ll be getting to know Frank, but it hurts that everybody wanted her to go home. Ruthie: “Angela’s got a lot more fire than she puts out.  A lot of people underestimate her.” It’s not Ruthie’s fault; I’m guessing that Angela’s season was still playing at the time of this Challenge. Ruthie adds that she would have loved to keep Cynthia, but she wanted what was best for the team.

Women’s Lodge. Insurrection. Aneesa declares this to be the worst decision made. Cynthia brings up her statement on leadership, stressing that she won’t take it back. Aneesa insists Cynthia shouldn’t be going home. “Those three bitches need to get a realization!” Tina blows up to nobody in particular. “They wanna play the game grimy, let’s [bleepin’] play the game grimy!” Aneesa feels that a pattern has been set. Tina: “They knew that there were better calls to be made, but they went with it anyway.”

Over at the Men’s Lodge, the team drinks in Derrick’s honor, trying to reassure him. “Losing a player like Derrick is hard,” Randy interviews, “because he has so much heart and so much will to win. That inspires the rest of the team.” Derrick thinks going home sucks, but he’s learned so much from his teammates. As flawed as he might be, I think Derrick has a lot of promise in whatever he does. At least he’s not Patrick, I can say that much.

Cynthia says her goodbyes. “There is no reason why you guys need to keep me here to jeopardize the rest of the team,” she interviews. “If I’m the weakest link, then let me go.” She tells the girls, “See you bitches in Greece.” She interviews that she knows the girls will win, and she hopes they’ll make the right choices and “have the right ladies win.” So long, Cynthia. You’ll always be hellacool to me.

New day. The ladies play Tuesday Morning Quarterback. Robin explains that she didn’t want to make it personal. She points to Angela, saying that if the team had lost, she would have been sent packing. I’d like to think Veronica would have been booted instead. Robin says that she doesn’t think Angela performed bad in the last mission. Coral asks about Cynthia’s choice of not leading  factoring into the decision, then declaring it as “whack.” “She stepped up and then stepped down,” Coral adds. “That’s worse than never stepping up!” I wonder what Donald Trump would have done to Angela if she flip-flopped like that on The Apprentice. Nothing I can print here, that’s for sure. Veronica points out the lack of a points system, then says that the decision came between making the right choice and making everybody happy. Coral: “Then make everyone happy next time!” Sophia feels that half the team wanted to make things personal, and the rest wanted to base the decision on performance. “Winning this mission is the downfall of our team,” she interviews. “This so-called ‘semi-unity’ we have is now diminished.” Aneesa repeats that the decision set a tone, and that she’ll remember it. Tina: “There’s a grimy underground tune that’s going on right now. And I feel it, and I don’t like it one bit.” Quick shots of the ladies, ending with Tonya holding her head and Arissa shaking hers. Fade to credits.

Did the Girls’ Inner Circle goof up? In my opinion, yes they did. From watching her season, I can safely say that Angela is a black hole who gives nothing but bad vibes. She’s not an aspiring heroine in the mold of Sarah and Katie. Remember her last mission on X-Treme? I’m convinced that the producers fudged things in order for her teammates to get their “Handsome Reward,” since she got too close to blowing it. At the moment, Angela is on top of my Pyramid of Hatred. Right below her are Rachel and Veronica, both of whom have a lot to answer for their shenanigans in past Challenges. Below them are veterans, most of whom have overstayed their welcome: Aneesa, Coral, Ruthie, Tina and Tonya. At the bottom are the newbies: Arissa, Ibis, Robin and Sophia. I’ll drop Katie to the bottom, since she’s been good so far. Cynthia might have changed her tune about not leading, but we’ll never know now. I’m just upset that somebody as fun to watch as Cynthia had to leave, and Angela got to stay.

Next week: Frank walks with Angela. “She won’t tell you this,” he tells an unseen person, “but we did have sex just now.” Oh, Frank. Angela interviews that he is there for her. Great, now I’m hoping Jillian would pop by and flirt with Frank, just to see Angela’s reaction. Jonny introduces the mission as a “good old-fashioned showdown.” Players shoot each other with paintballs. And once again, Mike stands in front of the firing squad. Drop the hammer, guys! Get it over with!

My hatred seems downright quaint, doesn't it? For God's sake, I probably forgot about Angela sucking wind the instant Beth Bethed back into my life in Inferno II.

We know Derrick's story . . . he becomes a regular, suffering tough lose after tough loss, finally winning with the Bad Asses team in Inferno 3 after replacing CT, who had gotten ejected for punching Davis before the first mission. Derrick would also win in The Island and The Ruins, getting on my bad side to the point where I made jokes about his height on the forums similar to Theo's cheap shot in Fresh Meat. But I'm good with Derrick now. Better to be "Wee Dee" than "Other Derrick"/"Shit The Bed Derrick" from Are You The One?

Oh, and sometime before or during this season, GSN was airing Extreme Dodgeball. Mark was on the Reef Sharks team, and his nickname was "Cruiser." That seemed easy enough a target for me, as Mark started to fade from the decent guy I had seen in the past. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Battle of the Sexes 2 Episode 5: Choose to Lose

Apologies for not posting this sooner. I talk about how these recaps are the closest thing to a legacy that I [currently] have, but I can get too lazy to put them up. I can go on about how lackluster BOTS2 was, but that's not much of an excuse. Besides, with Final Reckoning getting set to end (final-fucking-ly) and no Champs vs. Stars to tide us over until next season, I gotta step things up . . . even if it involves the episode where Ayanna goes batshit on cable TV one last time. Also, I unconsciously write the words "goes boom" a few too many times.

Episode Aired: November 1, 2004
Recap Posted: November 6, 2004

Gross food. Puzzles. Explosives. The most dramatic Elimination Hill ceremonies ever. Two lovers separate. And Ayanna loses it yet again. This episode has it all.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes 2: Abram and Coral got romantic. Coral: "He's a big part of what makes me happy here." The ghost of Nostradamus: "Dude, I didn't see that coming." The women's team lost Melt With You, falling to an 0-3 record. Kina and Adam were picked off by their respective squads.

Women's Lodge. Ayanna talks to some of her teammates about the drama of her last Challenge. She interviews that things are different for this Challenge. She adds, "I let a lot of competition stuff creep in." For some reason, we cut to Extreme Challenge, where she's crying to Christian (the Norwegian nudnik from Road Rules 2 and RR's lone bright spot in that Challenge) about him "rubbing it in." Some context: Christian had been learning American slang from Laterrian, and he dropped a "n-bomb" on Ayanna, who proceeded to beat him up, resulting in her expulsion. Honestly, competition had nothing to do with it. Back in the present day, Aneesa says that she feels iffy about Ayanna due to drama from the original BOTS. "Now that we're here together," she says, "it's all love." Anybody need a quote from Ayanna? "If Aneesa was on a street, and a train was coming, she wouldn't get hit, and that's all I got to say about that..." That should hold you guys until later on.

The Foreshadowing Fairies now turn their light upon Coral and Abram. Coral interviews that Abram had a belief that different races didn't have to be together. She adds, "I definitely would not have to expect him to be open to a black woman." Flashback to RR: South Pacific, where Christena asks Abram what would happen if his soulmate was not white, and Abram figures he might hesitate. Who would have guessed? Not about Abram loving Coral; I mean that I'd hold Abram in slightly higher regard than Christena, in light of the events from last season. Back in the present, Coral and Abram dance. "The concept of color has never even come up in my mind," Abram claims. "The only color I could ever see in Coral is beauty." Anybody got a barf bag? Seriously, is Abram reading off a script? More dancing. Coral tells us that Abram brought out a kinder side in her. They kiss, smacking into a wall.

Back at the resort, Frank gets the clue off the sponsor phone: be ready for an 8:30 a.m. pickup. Aneesa reads that the teams have to wear team colors and shoes. Coral laughs, telling her team that they have to give 100 percent to win. Tonya interviews that she need to "bust ass," since she was penalized twice during Snake Pit Poker.

Daytime. The players arrive, surprised to see life-sized cardboard cutouts of themselves. Jonny welcomes everybody to the Vista Clara Rodeo Grounds and the next mission: Bombs Away. He recommends the teams pick their leaders wisely, and that they would want strong problem-solving skills and strong stomachs. The leaders pick two people at a time to go head-to-head in an eating contest, with the food going from bad (balls of wasabi) to worse (bowl of mayonnaise). Abram expositions that if either teammate throws up, both players are out of the competition. Frank adds that the losers get their cutout counterparts blown up. Once the eating is done, the remaining players move on to a puzzle, where they run pieces over a balance beam. Tina interviews that the more people work on the puzzle, the better the chances are to win. Jonny announces that the team who wins gets two video phones per player. He then gives both sides the usual 30 minutes to pick leaders.

Abram explains that the men rotate leaders with every mission. This week, we have Mark, Steven, and Chris. On the women's side, Coral and Sophia step up to lead. Ayanna interviews that she decides to step up if nobody else would. She tells her team that the three losses were "acts of God." Veronica figures to pair up the strongest people.

The teams announce their leaders. Coral interviews that being a leader might mean becoming a scapegoat if the team loses. Jonny brings up the first set of players. "I don't know what to expect," Cynthia interviews. "I don't know if something was going to come out and jump out at me, or start crawling away." Brad interviews that he's prepared for the worst.

Round One: Cynthia & Sophia vs. Brad & Shawn. The food: Garlic cloves and onions. Brad interviews that the garlic has an intense flavor which is an "explosion of burning." Cynthia can't hold it in, and she throws up, taking herself and Sophia out of the game. Cynthia's cutout goes boom.

Round Two: Coral & Robin vs. Dan & Frank. The condiment: glasses of hot sauce. Coral starts gagging right away. "As soon as it coats my throat," she interviews, "it's curtains." The guys chug their glasses for the win, and the girls' cutouts go boom.

Round Three: Rachel & Veronica vs. Steven & Theo. The food: peanut butter. Steven interviews that it's hard to get down. Veronica has problems with it, and the guys win. Veronica's cardboard copy goes boom. Theo: "Gosh, I love seeing her head blow off." You and me both.

Aneesa flexes her muscles while Tonya grabs her breasts in front of the camera. Tonya tells us she'll do anything to win. Mark smirks that the boys haven't had problems yet. "If we can keep on that theme," he adds, "it's going to be fifteen versus two doing that puzzle." It's the attitude that bugs me. Shut up, Mark.

Round Four: Aneesa & Tonya vs. Mark & Mike. The food: balls of wasabi. For those who don't eat sushi: a little of that stuff clears your nose right up. Imagine having to chew on a big ball of that. Both sides try their best. Ruthie eggs Tonya on, and the girls get the win. Mike interviews that he's never been vulnerable to elimination before. Mark and Mike's cutouts blow up. Aneesa: "Now it's time. We're setting the tone."

Round Five: Ibis & Ruthie vs. Chris & Derrick. The food: sticks of margarine. Ibis interviews that the taste is nasty, but she can overcome it. The ladies show off their empty mouths to the camera. Cutouts go boom, prompting a rattled Jonny to mutter, "Holy smokers!" Derrick can't believe Ibis ate three sticks.

Round Six: Arissa & Katie vs. Randy & Shane. The food: spicy cow brains. Somewhere, Danny from RR: X-Treme is in the fetal position. "The flavor is like rotten eggs in my mouth," Randy interviews. "The texture's like swallowing slime." Katie jokes that the brains are probably good for her. The boys win, and Katie's cutout goes boom. Cut to Theo sidling up to Arissa's cutout. "This may be the only chance I ever get to make out with Arissa," Theo drawls, "even though it's only cardboard. Hell, I'll take a paper cut." Theo rolls on the ground with the cutout. I'm sure her husband must be thrilled watching this.

Before his match starts, Abram laughs about how Angela doesn't eat red meat and Ayanna is a vegetarian. Ayanna interviews that she has to be a leader and set the tone to win the mission.

Round Seven: Angela & Ayanna vs. Abram & Nick. The food: Balut, or duck eggs. Abram coughs, while Angela looks ready to cry. And then Abram pukes on Theo. No, seriously, he spews right on Theo. The girls celebrate, while Abram reminds us that he is now "further down the list."

Round Eight: Tina vs. Eric. The condiment: mayonnaise. Tina interviews that she could either eat faster or wait for Eric to puke. He doesn't, and Tina's cutout goes boom.

Now we get to the puzzle portion of the mission, as both sides run back and forth with pieces, until all the pieces are on the same side as the puzzle. The guys go in with a 9-6 advantage. Randy interviews that everybody wants to work the puzzle at the same time, and nobody wants to just stand back. Ayanna interviews that her team is split in two, with half listening to Angela, and half listening to Ibis. She orders everybody to stop, then starts to organize her team. But the guys get their puzzle completed for their fourth consecutive win.

Regrouping. Ibis: "Nothing sucks more than when you know you have it, and you're just not heard." She tells Ayanna that she had ideas. Ayanna tells Coral that she fought through the mission. Coral responds that Ayanna has to take criticism, which Ayanna doesn't want to start up about. "If Ayanna had not have been there to screw everybody's mind up," Coral interviews, "we would have a better chance of winning." That brings up an interesting question: shouldn't Coral have won her heat in order to take part in the puzzle portion? Ayanna might be a pain, but she was the only leader to advance, and Sophia has the excuse of Cynthia throwing up.

Denouement. Several of the players hold their cutouts, and Theo holds Arissa's. Seriously, that's a little unnerving for me. Jonny throws the sponsor promotion to Mark before giving both teams' Inner Circles one hour to deliberate. Chris interviews about how tough it will be for him.

Boys' Inner Circle Meeting. Chris throws out Abram and Mike for consideration, which Mark is okay with. Steven points out Mike got disqualified in Dangle Drop. He then calls Abram "overzealous," and brings up his penalty in Snake Pit Poker. Chris compares Mike's DQ to Abram's two infractions. The guys end up agreeing on who to send home, which will remain a mystery for the moment. Elsewhere, Mike interviews about being nervous over his status. Meanwhile, Coral and Abram are out feeding apples to horses. Seriously, I'm dying over here. Abram interviews that he feels vulnerable with his DQ today.

Girls' Inner Circle Meeting. Aneesa feels that the loss came down to communication. She says that Sophia is a newbie and "extremely even-tempered," and Coral has done Challenges "a million zillion times," but she had pulled her weight. Aneesa explains that she loves Ayanna. She continues: "When you lead, you cannot be yelling and screaming. It was so [bleeping] confusing today for me." She interviews that Ayanna has good ideas, but doesn't know how to express them in a way everybody can understand. Tonya doesn't want Ayanna's type of leadership at the end. Ibis feels like she got shut down three times, and she votes for Ayanna. A few of the ladies feel that Ayanna will flip out, but Aneesa is willing to take the heat.

Elimination Hill. As we put on protective gear in preparation of Ayanna's meltdown, Chris comes up to drop the hammer on the men's side. He says that the Inner Circle tried to vote for the good of the team. Mike looks really worried, thinking that his streak of 47 missions without getting voted off is about to end.

After commercials, we get the verdict: it's Abram. The girls open their mouths really wide, while Abram nods in resignation. Coral cannot believe it. Abram interviews that he had an opportunity to prove has was a strong competitor, and he didn't fulfill his part. He tells the guys that he's okay with it. Who are you, and what have you done with the real Abram Boise?

Aneesa takes the stage for the Girls' Inner Circle. Already, Ayanna looks stressed, as Aneesa calls her an "amazing competitor." Aneesa drops the hammer, and Ayanna rushes up for her rebuttal. Duck and cover, folks!

"When we sat down in those chairs and nobody stepped up ... eight of y'all. That's all I needed, was eight of y'all to have! My! Back! All! I needed! Was eight! [cut to Coral, asking Mike what Ayanna is talking about] I SLEPT IN MY UNIFORM LAST NIGHT BECAUSE I WANTED TO WIN TODAY! [crying] But nobody stepped up today. Nobody stepped the [bleep] up today! That's all I got to say! That's all I got to say!"

Wow. Let's hear from a critic. "If Ayanna was an actress," Rachel interviews, as we see Ayanna stalk off, "that would have been one of the great Academy Award performances I have ever seen. But, unfortunately, that's really her, and that's one of the reasons why we can't have a time bomb like that." Strong words ... until you realize we're listening to Ms. "This game is ug-lay!" herself. Jonny dismisses the troops, giving Ayanna and Abram until 10 p.m. to clear out.

Girls Lounge. Ayanna takes her cardboard cutout and plops it on Aneesa's bed. Oh, yeah. Real mature move there, Ayanna. Aneesa throws it on the ground, accusing Ayanna of making her feel bad. The girls argue some more, to the point where Ayanna sticks her butt out. "My ass is getting stronger!" Ayanna tells Aneesa. "Would you like to kick it some more? Here it is!" Aneesa interviews that she made the right decision, and that she'll get over it. Ayanna packs and leaves, muttering about how she doesn't want to come back to the house. "Don't call me after this is over," she interviews, "because if you wanted to talk to me, you would've kept me here. And that goes for all of y'all." From the bottom of my heart: shut up and grow up. In her last Challenge, I felt bad for her, since she had to deal with bony Anne. But she wears her heart on her sleeve too much, and that's what killed her today. If she had toned it down, Coral would've gone home. Do yourself a favor, Ayanna. Heck, do all of us a favor, and don't come back.

Twilight. Coral and Abram spend their final moments together. Abram tells her that he'll miss her even from a few feet away. "Hell," he purrs, "I've been missing you just when I have to walk away from you for five minutes." Coral: "If I had to choose one friend for life, Abram would be it." Over your roommate Melissa? Are you kidding me? Abram interviews that he enjoys spending time with Coral, more than anybody he has ever known. He tells her they have to walk away from each other. More hugging. Fade to black.

My final words on "Cobram"? I'm still baffled. To me, Abram can't change his stripes, and that has nothing to do about Coral being black. Abram has done some awful things in the past, and I can't get over that. Part of me feels like the duo set this story up, that they don't really love each other and they want to put us on. Then again, I've always been allergic to schmoopy-woopy couples in general, and seeing those two threw me. Coral is a tough cookie. She could have pulled an Emily and left with Abram, leaving her team with an enraged and insane Ayanna. All Coral has to do is get back to her usual routine. All she needs is for some hapless dope to do something stupid around her, so she can sink her fangs into that person. And all will be right in the world.

Next week: Jonny announces the next mission: The Junk Boat. Angela doesn't want to lead anymore. There's another time bomb for the women to defuse!

Man, I keep forgetting how much I hated Rachel.As for Ayanna . . . I stick with what I said, and I am glad she didn't come back, but I hope she's led a good life. Also, if she had come back, she would have encountered some of the headaches of the modern Challenge. I don't hate Ayanna remotely that much to wish that on her.

I covered Abram two episodes ago. I'm still seriously amazed he and Coral were an item.