Sunday, February 24, 2019

Battle of the Sexes 2 Episode 10: Pole Position

I don't have much to say about this episode. As usual, I'm taking my sweet time posting my old recaps. One nice discovery: apparently, I had uploaded BOTS2 pictures to my Flickr without realizing it. Every week, when I submitted my recap, I chose a pic from MTV.com to go along with the story. I just added those to each of my BOTS2 episode recaps I've reposted thus far. I just this would make for a nice touch.

As for this episode? It basically rekindled my hatred of Steven. Right after RW: Las Vegas aired, it was a contest between him and Trishelle as to who was the most obnoxious roommate was. As an added boot to the butt, they were a couple for most of that season, and that wasn't fun. And there was a pregnancy scare. It turned out to be a false alarm . . . I'm convinced that The Real World would have ended that season if a kid had been conceived. I've said that I'm convinced BMP's ultimate goal is to film someone dying on camera. A Steven/Trishelle lovechild would have been considered epic  enough for things to have come to an end. This episode would've been basically "Shut up, Steven" even if he didn't jaw with Sophia, one of the few people there I was rooting for.

By the way, I don't think the mission could be filed under "BMP trying to get someone killed." Electrocution by charged aluminum pole would have been too obvious.

Episode Aired: December 6, 2004
Recap Posted: December 9, 2004

The players get shocked in an electricity-themed mission. Viewers get shocked by the new romance, as well as Sophia’s new hairstyle.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes 2: There was tension on the women’s team. I know, big surprise. Tina didn’t like the “grimy underground tune.” The fellas won Sa-Wing! (I still hate the exclamation point), upping their record to 7-1. Coral interviewed that it was hard to keep morale up. “We’re losing by just a little bit,” she added, “and that’s even more frustrating than getting our asses kicked.” On Elimination Hill, Chris volunteered to go home in order to go back to his wife. Katie got the boot from the women’s team, denying us from yet another meltdown against Veronica. Oh, and we get footage of Nick and Shane dancing together. That was weird... I wonder if one of them goes home tonight.

At the Women’s Lodge, some of the girls lie in bed and talk about those not there. Veronica whispers about how Sophia wanted to buy her a drink after the Inner Circle had to choose between Sophia, Tonya and Rachel. For a second, I thought Sophia wanted to buy her a drink for... another reason. Wasn’t ready to go there, and I glad I didn’t have to. Coral adds that Sophia had hugged her goodnight and brought food to her. Coral and Veronica laugh, trying to keep it down. Coral brings up Ruthie getting drunk and saying that Coral has so much power. Speaking of our warrior princess, Ruthie walks closer to the room, in prime eavesdropping position. Coral goes on about how Ruthie wants her to use that power for good. Sure, Coral is practically a PhD in negativity, but it’s good when she jumps down the throat of some punk who had it coming. Look at past Challenges – Coral went after Stephen, Matt, Trishelle (twice) and Julie, all of whom deserved Coral’s special kind of “tough love.”

Ruthie walks in, clearly busting the girls. Coral doesn’t deny anything, and Ruthie walks away. She interviews that she’s hurt, and considers Coral’s words rude and disrespectful. “If you have the audacity to talk about me,” she goes on, “you might as well come into the next room and say it to my face.” Yeah, but going behind the back is so much more fun! Ruthie is clearly broken up, telling Coral how she feels. Coral replies that she wouldn’t say anything behind her back that she wouldn’t say to her face. “Tensions are high, and some people are on edge,” Ruthie interviews. “The rules of the game encourage behavior of people to get together and be cliquey and talk [bleep].”

Cut to Sophia outside, pounding on a punching bag. Honestly, I would not want to mess with her, because she looks like she knows how to hand out a beating. “It’s not about how well you do,” she interviews. “It’s about how many people are on your side, and how you survive. Plain and simple.”

Over in some secluded spot, far removed from the drama, Mark and Robin spend quality time together. Robin wants her team to succeed and for the best girls to win in the end. Mark replies, saying that won’t happen. Robin interviews that it’s fun to hang out with somebody, but it’s too early to know what will happen. Mark interviews that he wouldn’t get involved and get distracted.

It’s clue time in Santa Fe! Frank: “Why, it’s another message from Dr. Moseley!” The thought of Jonny in a white lab coat and stethoscope cracks me up. The clue tells the players to get ready for a “positively electric experience,” to wear socks, and to be ready for an 8:45 a.m. pickup. Back at the Women’s Lodge, Veronica reads the same thing while lying in a hammock with Tonya, who doesn’t want to be electrocuted. “The girls are really sick and tired of losing,” she interviews. “We have the capabilities and the strengths and the wisdom, whatever necessary to win these challenges, if we play our cards right.”

It’s mission time! We see “High” signs, long poles and walls with an electric-themed pattern carved into them. Arissa correctly guesses the purpose of the mission, calling it “pure evil.” Jonny welcomes the players to today’s mission: Electro-Shock. The object: move a 20-foot aluminum pole from one side of the wall to the other, through the pattern. The walls are electrified with 1,000 volts of electricity. Ruthie: “Just thinking that you’re gonna get shocked makes people twenty times more intense.” The three team leaders get in front of the pole. If the pole touches the side of the pattern, a horn goes off, the players get zapped, and they have to start over. There is a line on the pole which cannot be gripped past, and there’s a line on the floor that cannot be passed. If the players do either of those or let go of the pole, the team has to start over. This week’s prize: $1,000 worth of electronic stuff. Jonny gives both sides the usual 30 minutes to choose leaders.

Tonya and Sophia examine the pole. I should add that Sophia’s hair is now flat. The magnificent poofiness is just about gone. It’s jarring, to say the least. Aneesa decides to lead, as well as Coral and Robin. Coral figures that the stronger people should go in front. Over on the men’s side, Randy, Dan and Steven step up to lead. Brad interviews that he feels confident in the leaders. Randy adds that the team strategy is to keep things quiet, listen to the leaders, and go slow and steady.

Both teams reveal their leaders, then take their positions on the poles. “We know we’re gonna take this,” Steven interviews. “We know we’re gonna destroy this course.” Coral tells her team that the guys will get shocked, interviewing that something has to change for her team. Jonny blows his air horn, and Coral and Randy take the front of their respective poles, slowly maneuvering them.

Back from commercials, Coral instructs her team, but the pole hits the side. It’s like Operation, but with actual shock. Dan does the same for his team, and the guys are forced to regroup. “You take your eye off the pole for one second,” Dan interviews, “and the whole thing just shakes, and you hit the side and get shocked.” Coral notices pole shaking and tries to calm her team down, but they get shocked anyway. “It comes from nowhere,” Ibis interviews. You kinda expect it, but you don’t. You’re on your toes the whole time.” The women get shocked again. Aneesa interviews that this mission is more difficult than anything. The horn goes off on the guys’ side, since Dan took his hand off the pole.

Coral instructs her team as they slowly maneuver the pole in the pattern. But they nail the side and get shocked. The guys move their pole. Nick interviews that they don’t have to change anything. “Just keep smart,” he adds, “don’t make any mistakes, and finish this thing up.” Coral firmly instructs her side. Ruthie interviews that Coral is “yelling all over the place.” Honestly, I’m not seeing that. That might be on the cutting room floor for all I know. Coral and Robin lead the pole down a diagonal. Robin interviews that it’s hard to lead with Coral and it’s hard to get a word in. Okay, that I can believe. Randy calmly leads his group. Coral tells Aneesa that she needs more guidance in the front. Sophia interviews that a lot of the team’s weight is in the front, and some people in the back can’t even see the puzzle from the back. While the women struggle, Dan guides his crew. “Fourth quarter,” he whispers, “everybody toughen up.” The ladies make a push, but the guys nail it for the win. Again. Man, this is getting depressing. I mean, it’s all about sponsor prizes and not screwing up until the final mission, but constant losing is not fun.

Anyway, while the guys celebrate, the girls get shocked one last time. Tonya interviews that she’s frustrated with Aneesa, who hasn’t pulled her weight. “The whole team just worked unreal together,” Dan interviews. “Getting ten guys to do it at one time was the toughest thing to do, and everybody came through like champions today.” Shane: “Those girls are heartbroken right now!” Shut up, Shane. I don’t think he’d be gloating if his buddy Rachel were still there.

Jonny awards the prize package to the guys, and goes over Inner Circle procedure for both teams (male leaders pick off a non-leader, women’s team picks off a leader). The women recover, going over what went wrong. Tina is disappointed that they lost again. Coral figures that the back was leading and that’s why they lost. “I don’t think there should be any fingers pointed at the back,” Ibis interviews, “because the leaders don’t know what it’s like to be in the back.” Of course, if Coral is right, it still doesn’t make a difference. They lost, and those up in the front are up for the boot. Nice flaw to the system, isn’t it?

And now it’s time for Steven to remind us why we hated him in the first place. “Unlike the girls, we don’t have weak players,” he tells us. “All of our players are strong. [cut to Coral looking ticked off] All of our players from the beginning have been pretty strong, and that’s the saddest part, because any one of these guys could beat any one of those girls.” First of all, I hate the condescending attitude that comes from these missions. The guys win damn near every mission, so there’s no need to twist the knife. Secondly, those are words meant for a confessional interview, as opposed to an open, “on the fly” interview. Coral comes up to him. To her credit, she tries to be calm, touching his arm and asking him to go easy on her team. He backpedals to the tune of, “Yeah, sure, okay.” Arissa: “At this particular point, Steven’s an [bleep], and right now he’s being a [bleep].” I can’t argue with her. Mark feels the need to defend Steven. Hate him, too.

Now Sophia starts to break up, saying that the girls give guys respect when they win. Steven feels he was just talking about how strong his team was. “It’s my team,” Sophia interviews, “I can make fun of them and bitch about them if I want to, but you can’t, because you don’t have that right.” Steven wants to know how he offended her. Sophia explains that she’s pissed that the girls aren’t getting respect that they deserve. Steven looks away, giving a little chuckle. Shut up, Stifler. The other women look glum.

After commercials, Coral attempts to rally the team. “I don’t care if the next mission is bench pressing,” she says, getting some laughs. “We will win the next mission!” Ruthie interviews that Coral is good at giving pep talks. “She has a great way,” Ruthie adds, “of covering up her negativity or anything that happens on a mission.”

Outside, Sophia doesn’t know what to do in order to make the team dynamic better. Ruthie doesn’t want to point fingers. Sophia adds that she doesn’t want the blame to go to those on the back of the pole. Ruthie feels that the leader wouldn’t blame herself, but rather everybody else.

Men’s Lodge, Boys’ Inner Circle Meeting. The fellas pull out their chart, which is on a crumpled piece of paper. According to their records, the two candidates for the boot are Nick and Shane. So that’s why we saw them in the teaser! Randy notes that Nick lost his round of Bombs Away, and he and Shane lost High Noon. Randy adds that Nick is more serious about the missions and he doesn’t party that hard, but the Inner Circle has to go on performance. He interviews that both guys are close, but a choice has to be made.

We go to Purgatory, better known as the Main Lodge. Robin hugs Mark. He interviews that it would suck if she had to go home. “I hope she stays,” he adds, “but if not, I’m sure she’s going to be bummed, and I will too.” Aneesa hugs and kisses Nick. She interviews that she had her chance, and she might not be here tomorrow. Coral doesn’t feel safe. She interviews that the others might be tired of her.

Women’s Lodge, Girls’ Inner Circle Meeting. Tonya thinks they’re getting down to solid women. Tina notes that in the last mission, Coral and Robin finished, but Aneesa didn’t. Tonya wants to play fair. Arissa has an idea in her head, but she doesn’t want to say it. Sophia adds that the decision is hard to make.

Welcome to Elimination Hill, where the Cabs of Shame are always gassed and ready to go. After Jonny goes through his spiel, Sophia comes up to announce the booting. Man, hasn’t she been through enough today? She goes on about how hard it is for her to sum up what the booted party means to her. Cut to Aneesa in her “DORK” sweater looking away and smiling. Sophia starts cracking again, saying that Aneesa’s elimination was a matter of fairness. They hug, as both sides applaud. Aneesa says that she had a good time, and she hopes the girls win something. Ruthie interviews that she’s sad to see Aneesa go, but it was a fair decision that people don’t take as bad.

Steven comes up for the guys. “Everybody loves this guy,” he starts. “He’s the only person that will let me close to winning in ping pong before killing me.” Our lucky loser? Nick. Damn, I wanted Shane to go. That guy just bugs me. The girls playfully wail in protest, but Nick shushes them. He knew that he was going home, and he’s walking away with prizes and new friends. Jonny gives Nick and Aneesa until 10 p.m. to clear out.

Aneesa gets her goodbye hugs. She interviews that the team’s vibe has changed, and everybody is getting along. “I have faith in the women,” she adds. “They can definitely win.” She gets into the car to leave. Elsewhere, Nick gets love from his team. In an interview, he thanks them for doing things the right away. He gets an escort to the cab from Shane. Nick interviews that he sees himself being friends with Shane. Whatever.

At the Blue Corn CafĂ©, Robin and Mark have lunch to discuss things. She feels that her mother will be worried about her moving. Mark offers to write a letter for Mrs. Hibbard about how he’s a little older and more responsible. Robin interviews that she was focused on winning and meeting Mark was a bonus. Mark says the same thing in his interview, that he didn’t expect to meet somebody, and now he’s attracted to Robin. I checked IMDB; there’s almost eight years between them. It shouldn’t be too gross, given that they’re both adults, but she was 14 when he first appeared on MTV. The big question still remains: can Robin handle being a dodgeball player’s girlfriend? [2019:Link to GSN's website for Extreme Dodgeball; I couldn't retrieve it via Archive]

Next time: Tina yells at Tonya. What was Aneesa saying about the vibe changing? Arissa: “We’re in our last week and a half, and everybody is [bleeping] petrified.” The new mission involves jumping bikes off ramps. Ibis brings up Arissa’s fear of heights. Sure enough, Arissa rides offscreen, screaming all the way. Poor girl.

I never got an answer on how or why Sophia's hair was straightened. It wasn't a huge thing in the bigger picture, but it did perplex me a lot at the time.

I have no idea what happened to Nick. Searching online didn't reveal much. In contrast, Aneesa kept doing Challenges, never winning one. Unlike Shane, she had made a few finales (Gauntlet 2 and Duel II).

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Battle of the Sexes 2 Episode 9: Swing For It

Another season of The Challenge is nigh. Last night, MTV ran the run-up to War of the Worlds, with the game launching next week. Apparently, Bunim-Murray Productions were so impressed with the English imports, they've decided to recruit worldwide (okay, technically the Americas, Europe and Australia). Bottom line: same drama, more accents! Also, Natalie Duran from American Ninja Warrior. While I don't think she's in the upper echelon of top female ninjas (is that stealthy racist? I always feel weird using that term) and she's not a favorite of mine, I do fear for her mental and physical health. I like ANW, and now I have to worry about ninjas getting recruited for future Challenges, especially youngsters like the phenom Mathis "Kid" Owhadi, who will probably clear all obstacles within a few years. Catching hell and/or STDs from Challenge veterans should not be an option for him.

Oh, and I found out that Natalie (dubbed "Ninja," mostly because "Natalie That Isn't a Waste Of Genetic Material" was too long) has a degree in neuroscience. Awesome . . . maybe she could crack some skulls open and see why the veterans act like fools. And if someone like Natalie, Ashley or Paulie are permanently affected? Well, you can't have an omelette without cracking eggs.

This episode? Girls struggle, and we see the last of Abram's replacement from Road Rules: South Pacific. Basically, "meh."

Episode Aired: November 29, 2004
Recap Posted: December 4, 2004

Arissa deals with her fear of heights. Chris deals with getting hitched. Everybody else deals with a grueling ropes course.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes 2: Katie joined up with the newbies to target the veterans' alliance. The guys won Fill 'Er Up, upping their record to 6-1. Mike was finally let go by the guys, while the rookies on the girls' team picked off Rachel. Veronica vowed vengeance on those who took Rachel out. Three weeks ago, I put Angela, Rachel and Veronica on top of my "Needs to Go" list. Will I be lucky tonight?

Night. The guys are celebrating. Are they going into a rousing chorus of "Ding Dong, The Miz Is Gone"? No, it's all for Chris, who is getting married in two days. Turns out the guys are throwing a bachelor party, complete with a stripper. Not the best idea for a guy who turned his life over to a higher power years ago. He laughs, looking somewhat embarrassed. Can you imagine Matt in the same situation? The poor boy would turn white. Well, whiter. Theo: "I think Chris might be thinking that this bachelor party may end up keeping him as a bachelor for the rest of his life!" Whatever. Chris interviews that he did not sign up for this. Also, he's sitting in front of a blue screen with a giant cross. Did I mention he's religious? Because the editors don't think you got that.

Over at the Girls' Lodge, Katie and Arissa chat about the game. Arissa makes with the recreational profanity, saying she wasn't prepared for the game. She also confesses to being afraid of heights and bugs. Well, she got one fear out of the way last week. "I don't really see myself stepping down from anything," she interviews. "That's what makes a good competitor. You go out and you do what's presented in front of you." My foreshadowing sense is tingling. Katie admits to sucking in missions, but she does them. She interviews that she can win the money at the end. More tingling!

Now let's take a look at Chris's itinerary: drive five hours to Amarillo, Texas. Catch a plane and fly to San Antonio, arriving at 9:09. Make the 9:30 wedding rehearsal. Take a nap. Get married at 7. Have a honeymoon night. Fly back to Santa Fe, all in 36 hours. You know, if he moved the wedding to Santa Fe, he could save himself some trouble. Oh, wait ... he's not Puck. And for that, I am truly thankful.

Clue time! Arissa reads off the sponsor phone: get ready to go at 8 a.m., and wear a bathing suit.

Daytime. Veronica: "I feel like we killed ourselves when we sent Rachel home. We don't have our strength anymore, and I know it's gonna bite us in the ass." First of all, your team went 1-6 with Rachel. I'm pretty sure you could have gone 1-6 without her. Secondly: you've been on three Challenges with Rachel. When has she ever stepped up big? Seriously, I know you two are friends (and perhaps more, if the rumors are true), but let's be realistic here. Anyway, Veronica bitches about the vote to the other girls, not understanding how one person can slide by when she hasn't performed as well. Tina fills in the blanks for us, saying that she didn't vote for Tonya because Tonya had redeemed herself. Coral thinks that they can't vote based on one disqualification. She interviews that Tonya has two infractions to Rachel's one, and Rachel's DQ didn't make a difference. Coral then calls out Ibis and her friends, saying, "You don't act like you're so above people not voting for people." Ibis's general reaction: "Whuh?" Katie interviews that some people play the game dirty, and she broke the Coral-Rachel-Veronica alliance to give the rookies (naming Robin, Ibis, and Sophia) a chance to make it to the end. Tina thinks that leaders are supposed to step up. She interviews that she doesn't like how the meeting is going and that the girls are voting on emotion and not on the game.

On the bus, the players relax. Chris reads on the bus as we get a few fleeting glimpses of the wedding. He's had one honeymoon night, but he's back in the game. "People think I'm crazy because I'm doing the Challenge and I'm getting married," he interviews. "But this would be an awesome way to start off a family, with a nice lump sum of $60,000 in my pocket."

The kids arrive to find yet another metal contraption hanging over water. I've lost count... how many times have we seen this on a Challenge? This one has ropes dangling from it. Jonny welcomes everybody to today's mission: Sa-Wing! Yes, it has an exclamation point at the end. I have issues with that. In this mission, the players will use the ropes to swing from one side to the other. Arissa interviews that she's petrified of heights. "It was a fear that I thought I had conquered when I was in Australia," she interviews, "which is a crock of [bleep]." She hopes that she won't have to put herself out there. Jonny adds that the object is to get as many people across as possible. The players will climb down a ladder and go on a rope, sitting or standing on a pipe at the rope's bottom. They would start swinging from there. If both teams get the same number of people across, the faster team wins. Today's prize: guitars, valued at $600 apiece. Jonny gives both sides the usual 30 minutes to pick leaders.

Theo and Brad step up to lead. Mark asks who else wants to go. Steven: "Who wants to be guaranteed not to go home?" It's just foreshadowing of next week's episode, so I'll just say, "Shut up, Steven," and move on. Shane steps up to lead. On the other side, Katie finally volunteers to lead and interviews that it's time to prove herself. Ibis and Ruthie follow her.

Jonny reveals the team leaders. The players get loaded into the contraption. Jonny blows his air horn. Ruthie and Eric are the first to climb down. Eric interviews that he's doing well. "Whenever my team is looking for a fall guy," he continues, "they know that they can count on me." But he struggles, hanging upside down on the pipe. He interviews that his upper body is "almost at complete and total failure." Steven interviews that Eric having trouble scares the whole team. Background music: "Let it go, let it go." Finally, Eric splashes down. I'd make a snide comment, but I'll leave it to Tina. "Eric Nies the jump rope king can't even hold his own body weight. How's your jump rope helping you now, huh?" Thanks, Tina!

Players swing from the ropes. Ruthie declares that she needs to rest. Eric shouts advice to Frank from the sidelines, but Frank falls anyway. Katie interviews that she feels confident, since the guys are dropping and all the girls are still in there, even if they're in one place. The guys struggle some more, and Ruthie is exhausted. She interviews that the mission is much harder than it looks. She doesn't want to hold her team back, but they want her to get out of their way.

Shane drops. Mark interviews that none of the guys have finished. He manages to complete the course, putting the guys up, 1-0. He yells for his team to save their arm strength. Ruthie is still hanging on. Tonya: "It's hard being a team leader, but she needs to step it up." Katie tries to hold on, but she drops. She interviews that the longer she hung on, the more arm strength she needed. "It's hard to go from point A to point B," she adds, "when someone else hasn't even gotten off point B." Ruthie as a weak link? I never saw that coming.

Steven finishes, extending the guys' lead to 2-0. Randy drops. Ruthie takes a last gasp in pain before dropping. "I wanted to set an example for the team," she interviews, "and I feel like I [bleeped] up." She pounds on the water in anger. Nick drops. Coral finishes up, bringing the score to 2-1. "I can back up what I say," Coral interviews. "The reason why I can talk so much [bleep] is because I'm a good player." Aneesa and Tonya drop. Brad finishes (3-1), Ibis drops while Theo finishes (4-1). Robin and Tina finish (4-3).

Arissa starts going down the ladder and she's shaking. She shrieks, wanting to go back up. To her credit, Veronica tries to encourage Arissa, but she's willing to go home.

After the commercials, Arissa is still in a lot of trouble. Not as bad as Leah last season, but pretty bad. Meanwhile, Mark and Theo are eating sandwiches. At least this mission is catered. Arissa is still willing to go home for her fear. Ruthie glumly interviews that if Arissa doesn't make it, the team will lose. While this is going on, Chris swings on the ropes. Theo: "C'mon, bro, you can bear that cross, baby!" Arissa climbs back up on the contraption. Sophia dangles, while Chris flails and falls. Coral yells to Sophia and Veronica that they have to make it. Dan finishes the mission, giving the men a 5-3 lead. Sophia explains that she and Veronica have to cross, then Arissa must finish to give the women a victory. Sure enough, Sophia and Veronica finish, knotting the score at 5-5.

Arissa looks down. "I'm afraid," she interviews, as she lowers herself down to the rope. "But no matter how frightened I am, or how much I think I'll never be able to do it, I have to do it because I have no choice." She swings, trying to cross, but she drops. Game over. The guys celebrate. Arissa interviews, that she's very hard on herself in terms of competition. She adds, "I never even realized I was like this until I got here."

Jonny wraps things up: since the guys finished first, they win the mission and the guitars. Jonny gives the usual Inner Circle spiel: the three men's team leaders will pick off one guy, and the ladies will take out one of their leaders. Chris interviews that he's proud of Dan and the rest of the guys, but he wants to go home and be with his wife.

On the bus ride back home, Chris tells Theo and Mark about his plan. He interviews that he's putting himself on the block. Theo sees that Chris wants to leave, and that he's starting a "whole new adventure." Chris says, "I got the grand prize waiting at home. I already won!" Getting over $10,000 in prizes doesn't hurt, either.

Boys' Inner Circle Meeting. For whatever reason, all three guys are in bed. Here's the short version: Chris wants to go home. They don't have to grant his wish, but they will. Brad wants to go to sleep.

Girls' Inner Circle Meeting. Tina votes on performance and goes with Katie. Coral feels that Ruthie deserves another chance, and she goes with Katie. Robin notes that none of the leaders completed the mission, and Ruthie was the first to fall, so she gets her vote. Tonya adores Ruthie, but she's voting for her since Katie keeps improving. Here's my question: where's Ibis? I mean, she's probably a nice person, but Ruthie is a warrior, and Katie's a snarky little princess, and I'd miss her online columns. [Note: the Archived link covers the previous episode.]

Elimination Hill. Shane comes up on behalf of his Inner Circle. I notice several of the guys wearing light blue shirts, each one blurred out. Shane respects and admires Chris, and he sends him off with a big hug. Chris tells the assembled players that he weighed his options between his wife and the money, and he had to go home.

Robin comes up to announce the Girls' Inner Circle decision. She says that it was a difficult decision to make. Our unlucky bootee? Katie. Drat. Katie gives out a hug, clearly not feeling bitter. She says that this was more fun than the other Challenges she's been on, and she hopes her team wins. Coral interviews that she's sad to see Katie go, but Ruthie is a "kick-ass girl."

Girls' Lounge. Tina leads a toast to Katie and the way she kicked ass on Gauntlet and Inferno. "There are two ways to leave when you are sent home," Katie interviews. "You can either scream and cry, or you can leave with dignity and pride, hold your head up high, and realize you made it halfway through the game, and you met some cool people." Good for her. The last season was downright brutal for her, and it's nice that she had allies this time. She adds that she already won a Challenge, but this wasn't her time.

Chris departs with the guys escorting him. Eric calls this "a happy goodbye." Chris is excited to go back home. I like him, too. I'm actually going to forgive him for voting off Cara from South Pacific and keeping Donell. Chris and Katie get into the car. "Sweetheart, I love you," Chris interviews. "I can't wait to come home." The car departs. Fade to black.

Next time: Mark and Robin get closer. Given how we first saw Mark on RW: San Francisco as a candidate to replace Puck ten years ago, isn't that robbing the cradle? Robin thinks it's too early to tell what will happen. The mission: something to do with guiding a metal rod and not getting shocked. Five bucks says that Tina makes a crass comment about the guys handling poles. Steven: "Unlike the girls, we don't have weak players." Arissa tears Steven up in her interview, as we inch towards an intrahouse showdown. And apparently, Steven is so awful, he provokes an outburst from Sophia. If seeing the Mistress of Mellow unhinged isn't weird enough, try this: her hair is straight. Her minifro is gone. For some reason, I am scared.

You think Mike was watching at home, fuming at the idea that the next guy out of the game basically volunteered? Eh, probably not. As for Chris, he and the missus have this (very religious) website, as well as five kids. And yes, Jenni is the woman he married in 2004. I didn't think much of him back on RR: South Pacific. The only people I really liked were Dave and Christena, and she had flat-out disappointed me in the prior season.

Katie went on to do six more Challenges (including Gauntlet 2), but was never able to add to her win in The Inferno. I didn't think much of her in her original tour of duty (RR: The Quest), but I grew to be okay with her. Well, at least when she was surrounded by people way more annoying than her.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Battle of the Sexes 2 Episode 8: Squirm

I'm going to spoil this one right off the bat: this is the episode of Battle Of The Sexes 2 where Mike gets voted off.

When you get the Elimination Hill bit, you'll see how shocked I was when that happened. Basically, when somebody gets taken out of the game the one time, it will shock you. Similar moments where a Challenger was eliminated from the game the one and only time:

  • Theo (with Chandra) getting bounced from Fresh Meat (something about an alliance with Derrick gone wrong; Theo used his last time on BMP making a crass joke about Derrick's height. I was appalled . . . and then I soured on Derrick years later, and started making cracks myself)
  • Landon losing to Brad in in the final Duel of Duel II (I do not remember that; Landon would return two seasons later and win Fresh Meat II with Carley, giving him three titles in four seasons and status as a dark horse G.O.A.T. candidate)
  • Timmy getting disqualified in the Inferno against Abram in Inferno 3, fucking up his legs in the process (it was so bad, Timmy basically called it quits . . . and unlike some people, he truly never came back)
  • Mark (with Robin) losing the final Dome to Johnny & Camila in Battle Of The Exes (yes, you have to leave out how Mark quit near the end of BOTS2 . . . and believe me, I have thoughts on that)
  • Laurel (the one I called "Killbot") getting beat in the final Fortress by Camila in Invasion of the Champions (I heard that Laurel had packed it in on purpose because she had injured herself and was unwilling to hurt herself further in the final mission. I buy that . . . and if I didn't, I wouldn't say it out loud. Once again: she's the one I call "Killbot")
Anyway, here's a disgusting mission that the guys win. Oh, and an update on Julie months before Inferno II started airing.

Episode Aired: November 22, 2004
Recap Posted: November 27, 2004


Worms and roaches plague the players, as they're forced into a Fear Factor rerun. Plus: Two veterans are sent packing.

Before we begin, I just want to wish everybody a happy holiday weekend. Also, one Challenge veteran got hitched recently: Julie Stoffer was wed to Spencer Rogers a few weeks back. Julie, I hope you're happy. As for Spencer? Run. Trust me on this. Just run, dude.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes 2: the veterans on the ladies' team influenced decisions, forcing the newbies to rethink their strategy. Cynthia told a few rookies to stand up for themselves. Tina and Tonya got into a fight. Cynthia got voted out, which caused more friction for the team. The boys beat the girls in High Noon, running their record to 5-1. Shawn and Angela were sent home, but not before Angela whined about how she didn't bitch or backstab. In case you haven't figured it out, it sucks to be on the women's squad right now.

Women's Lodge. Coral sings the praises of the Slurpee machine to Tonya. Yes, that's another reason to hate these people: they get to have frozen drinks, while you have to shlep to a convenience market. Coral then brings up Cynthia with Robin in earshot, since Robin was part of the Inner Circle that voted her off. Coral, if you wanted to impress me, try ranking on your pal Veronica or Ruthie the warrior princess. Robin tells Coral that if she should lead the team and win. "I don't have to step up, bitch," Coral snipes. "I was born to stepping up." Sure you are. I like Coral, but she tends to stretch the truth. Robin interviews that Coral is an intimidator who doesn't want others to do well, and that she wants new blood instead of the same people. Coral interviews that the new girls are biting off more than they can chew.

In the kitchen, Katie tells Aneesa that she wants to break up the alliance. Aneesa claims she can't trust anybody. Katie interviews that the veterans (Rachel, Veronica, and Coral) are confident, but the newbies (Robin, Ibis, and Aneesa) want to play fair. Actually, Aneesa went through this already. Ibis gripes how anybody who threatens the alliance gets whacked. Katie: "They care about one thing, and that's themselves. Not even each other." She labels Rachel as the bad seed and Veronica's "little protege." Burn! Aneesa makes sure that the conversation they just had never happened. Ibis interviews that she's aware of what's going on, and she's ready to start voting people off.

Daytime. Sophia talks with Nick and Shane about how people see them as gay characters. Shane tries to be strong from it. Eric pipes up about how they would come out to the world. I'd tell Eric to shut his heterosexual mouth, but the guy was probably close to Norman way back in 1992 during RW: New York. Shane interviews that he's happy Nick is here, since he's not the only gay person on the Challenge. What about BOTS1 and Dan Renzi? And I know Antoine seemed to be on the sexuality fence back then. How could you forget about those guys, Shane? "I think I could learn a lot from Shane," Nick interviews. "He's been through things that I'm going to be going through. I'm getting to see his perspective on all of this." Right away, the alarms go off in my mind. We've never focused on Nick or Shane this season. Are the Foreshadowing Fairies back in force?

Twilight. Mark and Brad play table tennis, when the sponsor phone rings. Jonny's message is weird, starting off with "There are 24 souls left." Huh? Yadda yadda yadda, be ready at 9 a.m., wearing bathing suits underneath clothes.

New day! Jonny welcomes the gang to today's mission: Fill 'Er Up. The guys hoot and holler for whatever reason. Jonny claims that this mission doesn't involve "any prior skills or talent," but it is extremely gross, and it involves strategy. Jonny takes the tarp off a container, which holds 100,000 "superworms" and 1,000 giant cockroaches. Yes, it's gonna be that kind of day. If you're eating something now, you'd best wait a few hours before continuing. The players' reactions range from being amped to two seconds from throwing up. Ibis interviews that she's never seen bugs that big. Jonny says that they don't have to eat them. Instead, they "only" have to chew them up and spit them out. Good thing Ace isn't here. That guy would've run halfway to Albuquerque by now, and I wouldn't have blamed him.

After commercials, Jonny lays out the rules: the team leaders choose one person to be drenched in honey. That person is placed in a glass coffin and gets covered in worms and roaches. One at a time, the players pick off the critters… with their mouths only. They proceed to run to a container, where they spit the mess out through a connecting straw. Who thinks up this crap? I want a name, people. Steven expositions that the first team to fill the container up to a set line wins. Nick adds that if the players touch the container, that results in a one-minute penalty. The winning team gets a "Swedish sleep system," valued at $2,100 apiece. First of all, just say, "mattress," Jonny. Secondly, is it worth a good night's sleep to be inhaling stuff you're not supposed to inhale? Jonny gives both sides the usual 30 minutes to appoint team leaders.

The guys decide to pick names out of a hat. What is this, The Apprentice? From that, method, we get Nick, Frank and Eric. On the women's side, Coral figures that the mission will be "almost impossible" to win. Rachel feels that certain people need to step up, and that they might sacrifice somebody before the mission. She then figures it'll be herself and Katie. Speaking of whom, Katie interviews that she's ready to step up, even though this is something she is not good at. Rachel goes on about how she doesn't want to see anybody in a leadership position go home. Katie interviews that she thinks Rachel is saying that she would be going home. For those new to this program, pressing Katie against a wall brings out the tiger in her. She tells Rachel that she's not going to be a leader. "Katie is jeopardizing my position on the team," Rachel interviews, "by not stepping up as a leader, because she should be the one to go home if we lose this mission." Scheming for Katie to leave? That's so last season.

Jonny calls up the teams to reveal their leaders. The women end up being led by Tonya, Sophia and Rachel. The mission starts with Mark and Arissa lying down in the coffins and getting drenched in honey. Soon, the roaches get dumped, with Arissa complaining about the pain. The worms get dumped next. One girl tells Arissa that the team loves her. They had better. Both stand up, covered in critters from head to toe. Mark: "I've looked better, I think." Okay, that was funny.

Jonny blows his airhorn to start things off. I'm skipping play-by-play, since I care that my audience doesn't get nauseous. The players rush over to snag the worms and bugs, then spit them out in the container. Robin: "This is the foulest, most nastiest mission." She's only a rookie, but I think she's right. Shane manages to spew into the container. Nick tells us that puking on command is Shane's talent. Coral: "I gotta get a real job, man! This is whack!" More licking, running and spitting. You know, if you get rid of the vermin, this would be as homoerotic as Melt With You. Randy: "You just feel them wanting to get out or go down your throat. They got plans of their own. It's like, eat them before they eat you." More spitting. Randy grabs the container while spitting, invoking a one-minute penalty for his team. Sophia interviews that she thinks the women will win this mission. Rachel touches the straw, causing her team to get penalized.

More licking off Mark and Arissa. As much as I hate Mark, as much as I'm apathetic towards Arissa, I feel they had better use this mission to get out of going home at least once. Finally and mercifully, the guys get to the line, winning the mission. Arissa yells for somebody to get a roach off her crotch. Sophia is brave enough to flick the bug off. Somewhere, executive producer Jonathan Murray is hating himself, wishing he had put the Challenge in Baltimore. Mark gets hosed off, interviews that he couldn't want for the mission to be over. Jonny awards the "sleep systems" to the guys, then gives both teams the usual spiel about voting.

Boys' Inner Circle Meeting. Eric brings up the guys who have lost so far: Mike, Mark, Chris and Shane. Nick doesn't want Shane to go, interviewing that he's been proud of him in the last few missions. Eric brings up Randy's penalty, and how Mike is the only guys to have both a loss and a disqualification. Frank leans towards Mike. Eric then goes through the usual crapola about how he's waiting for "The Miz" to come back, and that Mike has stepped it up lately. Eric interviews that Mike is part of the core team, but he doesn't want other people to wonder why Mike is being pushed to them.

At the Main Lodge, Mike figures that he's always up for getting the boot. Elsewhere, the three leaders from the women's team talk about their survival. Rachel interviews that she has been a strong voice on the team, and that she's feeling confident. Tonya tells Theo that her teammates think she's part of the alliance. She interviews that she's definitely on the chopping block.

Girls' Inner Circle Meeting. Aneesa doesn't feel Sophia deserves to go home. The others agree, and the vote comes down to Rachel and Tonya. Aneesa votes for Rachel. Ibis thinks that Rachel is a great girl, but she gets the vote. She interviews, "I think that a lot of the new girls, all of our purpose in this Challenge is to not let intimidation get to us." Ruthie leans towards Tonya, based on past disqualifications. Coral votes for Tonya, because she needs Rachel in the final mission. For what? Stomping on spiders? Katie figures Tonya and Rachel are even, since neither one has performed better than the other. "Rachel," Katie interviews, "you're not as slick as you think, and I'm sending you home." Hard to believe that I hated Katie this time last year. The girl is a stone-cold hater after my own heart. Robin rubs her eyes before voting for Rachel. Coral chimes in about how people think she's hooked up with Rachel, Veronica and Tonya, then tries to point people out. Arissa votes for Tonya, saying that she can't vote for Rachel or Sophia. Tina interviews that it's come down to her.

Elimination Hill. Jonny goes through the usual stuff before calling the guys for their decision. Eric lumbers up with the freakin' jump rope around his head. To give you guys a unique perspective, I'm going to write the entirety of Eric's speech, along with an approximation of my thoughts while I watched.

Eric: "We have a formula. We're sticking by it. We're dealing with points, wins and DQs."

Me: "It's Randy, right? Heaven forbid Mike should go home. It's a shame… I don't adore Randy, but I know people who love him."

Eric: "Today, [we're] not very happy to send home this person, because he's a great guy. He brings a lot of the energy to the team..."

Me: "Sure, sure. Just send Randy home, already."

Eric: "...and it's unfortunate that we have to send Miz home today."

Me: "There we go. I… WHAT?!? WHAT?!?"

Mike. Is out. Mike is gone. After three Challenges and change, the novelty of him getting dismissed takes a while to settle in, even as I write this. He grins and bears it, saying that this was the way he had to go out. He also breaks out "The Miz," and I'm not repeating it. I don't watch Tough Enough, so I don't have to care about his lame wrestling persona.

Women's turn. Coral and Veronica come up, but only Coral speaks. She goes on about how the team had different reasons for voting. And our lucky loser is… Rachel! Yes! I'm sorry, but I consider this boot payback for her subpar performances during BOTS1 and The Gauntlet, and for the times she tried to put the screws to Sarah. Rachel comes up, mentioning the time she got bitter when booted out of BOTS1. But she had a good time here, and she's never spent as much time with her buddies, Shane and Veronica. Rachel then does the "This game isugly!" shtick in jest. Have I mentioned that I'm glad she's going home? She interviews that she should have seen the boot coming. She adds, "I honestly thought that I didn't need to worry."

On the way back to the Lodge, Veronica snipes that she's pissed, and she doesn't think her team will win now that Rachel is gone. First of all, have you seen Rachel's performances in Challenges? She defines "underachiever." Secondly, when did you turn into Darrell? Enough with the negative attitude! Rachel gets snippy about how some of the girls can't look at her. Katie: "I'm prepared for the repercussions. Coral does not intimidate me, and Veronica does not intimidate me. I'll take them all on." I don't want Katie to throw down with Veronica. Been there, done that. But Coral vs. Katie? Ego vs. Temper? I'm there with popcorn and a drink.

Speaking of Coral, she walks in the field with Mike. He feels that he hadn't played his game. Coral says that if she goes home, it wouldn't be because she's weak. She then laments over losing Rachel, Abram and Mike. "I've done everything with Mike," Coral interviews, "and I feel like his time was cut short here. It's going to be weird for me to be here and have him not be here with me. I'm going to miss him." If it's any consolation to Coral, she currently owns the longest streak of missions done without elimination at 49. The only other players close to her are Dan (30 missions) and Mark (28).

Farewells. Mike gets hugs from his teammates. Mark interviews that it is tough to lose a competitor like Mike, and he feels Mike should have been around longer. Mike tells us that he can't be mad. "All you Mizfits out there," he adds, "I'll be back." Mizfits? Does anybody buy what this guy sells? Meanwhile, Rachel tells Veronica that she loves her more than anything. That's not as gross to think about as the worms and bugs… but it's up there. "Don't let these young bitches beat us out," she adds. Veronica: "They don't know how to play the game. When it comes time, never forget who voted for Rachel. They made a mistake, because I'm still here, and they will go home." Oh, I'm so scared. Seriously, the rookies have the numbers. Also, out of all the people there, who has done the most Challenges? Who would have the biggest target? That would be you, Veronica. Keep those bags packed, and get your resume ready.

Night. The Paramount nightclub. We have the usual dancing and grooving, with Shane twitching on a stage. Hey, he's not as bad as Matt in Telluride. Nick interviews that people would assume two gay guys would hook up if they're the only ones around. I don't think Karamo and Willie would make for a good couple, but I understand where Nick comes from. He joins Shane for some dancing. "Since I don't know how long I'm going to be here," Nick adds, "I'm definitely open to flirting with Shane and seeing whatever happens." More dancing, as Shane goes topless. He interviews that he's waited a long time to have fun with a gay man. He adds, "It's nice to know that I have met someone who has gone through the same experiences that I have." Shane grinds against Nick. Fade to black. I thank the producers for not blowing the ending.

Next time: The guys get Chris a stripper. No, really. Of course, being the God-praising guy that he is, Chris has issues with that. We got a climbing mission, and it turns out Arissa is afraid of heights. Ruthie grimly interviews that if Arissa doesn't make it, the ladies lose the mission.

The bit about Jon Murray wishing they had filmed in Baltimore . . . I have no clue. None. If anyone has an idea what I was referencing, please give it to me.

Good news: Rachel got voted off. Bad news: she was not humbled by it, and she spent most of the following season (Inferno II) bullying Tonya along with Tina and Veronica. I do have limits about past hatred. For instance, I will not track down Rachel's kid and tell her how much on an underachieving butterfaced bitch she was. But if they come to me, that's a different story. What, you'd want me to lie about that?

Mike wound up doing Inferno II as well. It was the first and only Challenge he ever did without Coral, and he won on the Good Guys side alongside Landon (in his rookie season), Darrell (getting his third title) and Jamie. The funniest thing was that Jamie was the only woman left on her team like Coral was in The Gauntlet and The Inferno, but she actually won. After that season, he basically retired from the show to focus on becoming a pro wrestler. Happily, he grew beyond his busted-ass impression of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

Apparently, Julie managed to hang onto a version of her website, Planet Julie. I believe she's still married to Spencer, and they have three kids. Good for her. But if they ever ask me what I thought of their mother? Once again, I will not lie to them #TeamMelissa