Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Inferno Episode 11: Plot Twist

In case you just stumbled in, here's the summary of this recap, in four words: "I hate Julie Stoffer." In February 2016, I wrote an essay on "Spotlight Challengers," and I included how Julie went from the greatest ingenue since Julie Oliver in the original Real World to a real pain in the ass in Extreme Challenge. She came back two years later in Battle Of The Sexes, and she had a pissed-off ex-roommate in Melissa to deal with from the start. But then Amaya & Melissa won the first mission (would "The Miracle At Montego Bay" be overkill?), and Julie was the first female gone . . . and that was over a pregnant woman (Gladys) and an albatross that was also the epitome of neediness (Beth). When I was writing before The Inferno took place, I wrote this about her: "I’ll say this much: if she makes it past six missions, you’ll see her as I do, as nothing less than a female Puck." Okay, that last bit was uncalled for, but I knew she'd be a pain in the ass. And how did she start the season? Right .  . forcing me to think of Veronica as a human being by making her think she was seconds from death. 

In retrospect, I realize that a viewer didn't have to pick sides between Julie and Coral. For Coral, Julie was an irritant. Like I have said, Coral loved to blast irritants. Also, she was best friends with Melissa at that time. Even though Melissa had won her "battle" with Julie, Coral felt the need to antagonize her further. Around this time, I was liking Coral's approach more and more, because she did not suffer fools gladly. I realize that her bark was probably worse than her bite, but her "victims" usually had it coming. At this point, the intensity between the two ws about to come to a head.

Oh, and while the Real World team was dealing with that, Road Rules was getting sicker and sicker of Katie. That would boil over in the next episode, leading to one of the craziest endgames ever played. But not today. Oh, and I "congratulate" Trishelle on the William Hung video and Sean & Rachel Duffy on the birth of their third child. Today, he's a congressman from Wisconsin with eight kids. EIGHT. I think they're eligible for their own series on TLC.

Airdate: April 5, 2004 (the one hundredth episode, according to Wikipedia!)
Recap Published: April 12, 2004 (either I wanted to take my time with this one, or I was lazy. Probably both)

The players twist and shoot for money, and Katie underachieves yet again. But what happens when Julie calls Coral out?

Before I start, I'd just like to congratulate Trishelle for starring in William Hung's video for "She Bangs." Way to find a new level of rock bottom! Also, congratulations to ex-Real World cast members Sean Duffy and Rachel Campos on the birth of their daughter, Lucia. Seeing how this is their third child in the span of five years, I implore Sean: let her breathe, man! Sheesh!

Previously on The Inferno: Katie's substandard water-bearing efforts in Balls Out not only lost Road Rules the mission, but made Real World declare her their mascot. Needless to say, Veronica was pissed off. Mike: "That girl is making us money. That girl is gonna make us bank." Voiceover Lady: "Despite Katie's struggles, Road Rules scores yet another win." Yeah, if the producers had actually enforced the "five minutes or disqualified" rule in Bungee Bound, then RR would have lost. Instead, Katie's underachieving actually won the mission, upping their bank to $70,000. Finally, we get footage of Coral and Julie sniping at each other during Ultimate Saturn Road Trip. Buckle up, babies . . . we're going on one helluva ride.

Nighttime at the Villa. Julie and Katie chat about being outcasts. Katie admits that she would perform better if her team was nicer to her. Otherwise, she can't be bothered. "When they're rude to me, I have no intention of busting my ass," she interviews. "I figure they're going to vote me anyway, so what the [bleep] do I care?" Yes, that's the attitude that got her through a whopping four missions last season. Julie figures that Veronica is rallying the team against Katie in the same way that Coral is doing to her. Cry me a river. "I have one more battle with that girl," Julie interviews of Coral. "If she crosses me one more time, then I'll scream." She tells Katie that Coral has been mean to her from the beginning. She interviews about feeling trapped and reaching her breaking point.

Night turns to day, and we go to the mission site where we see the players' faces with bulls-eyes on them. Dave welcomes everybody to Twist and Shoot. As Syrus does a cute twist dance, Dave explains that the mission will test their balance and hand-eye coordination. The objective: shoot paintballs at the targets. Abram interviews the same thing, but he's laughing about it. Guns and Abram should never mix. Dave brings in the twist: the players will shoot from a spinning 20-foot platform. CT explains that they have 30 shots, and they can't shoot if they fall off the platform. Dave mentions a critical rule: if anybody shoots before he blows his air horn, that's a 50-point penalty. Timmy adds that the players get 10 points per target hit, and any premature shots are deducted. The team with the highest average score gets $10,000, and anybody who hits the big chili pepper gets $1,000 from the sponsor.

Dave brings up Leah's anxiety attack from the last episode. Her doctor has recommended she sit this mission out, but RW won't be penalized. "We do not know how to win," Mike laments in an interview, as David climbs up to the platform. "Everyone needs to step it up, big time, because we can't lose another mission. They are killing us."

Air horn. David spins around and around, hitting pictures of Holly, Darrell, and Katie. He slips off, dangling on the bungee cord above the platform. His score: 60 points, plus $1,000. Darrell interviews that he's been shooting guns since he was a kid. Okay, then. He interviews, "I know I'm gonna get a couple rounds off somebody’s ass." He scores 90 and $1,000. Mike gets 50 and $1,000, and he's happy that he hit the chili. Christena gets 30 and $1,000. "It's so funny," she interviews, "to get Coral in the mouth and shut her up for good." Christena bugs, doesn't she? She's a stealth annoyance . . . you don't notice how big a jerk she is for a long time. CT is spun off quickly, getting 10 points and $1,000. Abram calmly fires, nailing 10 and $1,000.

Average scores: RW 40, RR 77. Coral comments that she is sick and tired of losing. Julie fires, as her teammates yell for her to aim lower. She runs out of ammo, scoring 20 and $1,000. On the ground, Coral shakes her head. Kendal gets spun off, only getting 10 and $1,000. Holly lifts off the platform, scoring no points and $1,000. She interviews, "It was a poor performance, to say the least."

The editors pipe in "Stand Up" by Ludacris. First of all, is it normal of me to immediately associate that song with the time Veronica saved herself from a Gauntlet trip? Secondly, how long before BMP makes the players hang midgets from their necklaces? I'm sorry, but that is such a catchy song. Anyway, Coral starts shooting, and she shoots the "peppa," as pronounced by CT. She runs out of bullets, getting 40 points and $1,000. She gets spun around some more, and she yells for the turntable to be stopped. On the ground, Dave has himself a nice chuckle. Veronica shoots, forcing Darrell and Coral to duck. She gets spun off, receiving 10 points and no money.

Katie's turn. Timmy yells for her to aim lower, but she can't pull it off. "That's my girl!" Mike yells from the sideline. Katie hangs on the cord with a smile, getting no points and no money. That has to annoy her teammates. Christena snipes that Katie wasn't even spinning. Timmy: "On a scale of one to ten, Katie just did [raspberry, thumb down]." Looks like Uncle Timmy is losing his patience.

Syrus climbs up to the platform. He voiceovers that he has to get a good position. As Dave gets ready to blow his air horn, Syrus shoots, nailing Holly's picture. Dave reminds Syrus that he just got a 50-point penalty. Syrus cannot believe it, and he threatens to shoot Dave. He spins around and fires, getting 30 points (eighty minus the penalty) and $1,000.

As Timmy climbs up to the platform, Dave explains that he needs to shoot four targets to win and three to tie. "Put it this way," Timmy quips to the others, "this is the only time you're going to see me nail Trishelle!" Nice! After everybody has a good laugh, Timmy gets spun off. Veronica counts the targets hit, and Christena figures that the final result is close.

Dave announces the scores. RR got 280 points, which averages out to 35 each. RW got 210, which also averages out to 35 each. Dave asks the best shooters from each team to face off in a sudden death match. This time, the players must hit only the pepper.

Syrus takes his turn, occasionally firing sideways. He gets spun off, scoring 50 points. On the ground, Darrell reminds Abram to keep his finger off the trigger. As the countdown ends, Abram squeezes off a premature shot. Sensing their losing streak is about to end, RW laughs and cheers. Abram interviews that he has to hit the pepper five times just to get to zero, then hit it five more times in order to tie. "I feel like we won," Syrus interviews, invoking the gods of foreshadowing. "It's a done deal."

After commercials, Abram waits for the air horn before shooting. He fires, spins, waits and fires again. As he falls off, his team cheers. His score: 50 points. I don't necessarily root for the guy, but that was impressive. On the ground, Coral rolls her eyes.

Dave reviews what just happened, then announces double overtime. This time, each team sends a female shooter to compete. Christena volunteers for RR. Coral asks Julie if she wants to go. Julie decides to let Coral go at it. CT interviews that he feels confident that Coral will win.

Coral takes her shots, getting 40 points before falling. Christena says that she needs five shots to win, adding that she'll try to get more than she needs. Naturally, she succeeds, getting 80 points for the win. RR whoops it up, RW looks glum, and Christena screeches that she smells $10,000. Once again: shut up, Christena. David interviews that RR has now won five missions in a row. "It's one thing to lose," he adds, "but to lose in a double overtime? That's a tough pill to swallow."

Denouement. Dave awards the cardboard check to RR, upping their bank account to $80,000. Christena accepts it, and somebody waves her picture in the background. Dave also awards $1,000 individual checks to everybody except Leah, Timmy, Veronica, and Katie. He concludes by sending both teams off to nominate two women into the Inferno. Mike: "It's not bad enough that we just lost a mission. Now we gotta vote two people as well. I mean, this sucks."

Time lapses from day to night. RR meeting. Veronica immediately volunteers herself. She interviews that she has to go eventually, so she might as well get it over with. Holly tells her that no RW girl can beat her. Holly then asks Katie if she's okay with going each time. Katie doesn't want to get nominated for the next time. Veronica: "But do you not think that you're the weakest girl?" It's the superior tone that ticks me off. Katie just stares back. "Yes, Katie is the weakest girl on our team," Holly interviews. "Do we hope that they pick Katie over Veronica? Yeah, we do." Looks like Aunt Holly wants Katie gone as well.

RW meeting. Leah volunteers, interviewing that she wasn't able to compete because of the anxiety attack. "I need to step up and go," she adds. "It's my turn." Leah and CT figure that she'll go with Julie. I can approximate Julie's expression as this: "Whuh?" Coral points out that Julie is the only person who hasn't been nominated yet. Julie is wearing a t-shirt that says "Devon Sawa For Pres." I feel sorry for Devon Sawa. She says that she's looking at the big picture. "If I go this week," she goes on, "there's a chance I'll go next week as well." Coral just stares at her. "Look around, bitch!" she interviews. "There's only three of us!" Coral is like Dave Chappelle, in the sense that they can say "bitch" all the time, and it never gets old. She asks Julie if it's fair to nominate herself. Julie: "I feel Coral's strong point is her manipulation. She manipulates situations to her advantage all the time." David points out that she hasn't been nominated. Syrus wants her in the Inferno now. CT thinks she needs to prove herself. Coral is quite the evil mastermind, to woo all those people. CT interviews that Coral has outperformed Julie. That's news to me. "Julie really needs to step up," he adds, "and show us what she's worth." Julie smiles and agrees to go.

Dave announces the nominees: Julie and Leah from RW, Veronica and Katie from RR. Blah blah blah, pick one player from the other team.

RR meeting. Katie feels that Julie would be the stronger competitor than Leah. Veronica feels more confident going up against Leah. The team debates, before Dave drops by to ask them to pick a plate. Veronica gives Katie the call, and she picks Julie. All right, Katie!

RW meeting. Julie wants to be honest, thinking that after the first mission, she doesn't know if she can take Veronica out. She adds that Katie has been stepping up a little in the missions. What kind of measurements is Julie taking? David turns his head in disbelief. CT interviews that the team made an agreement to keep Katie in the game, since she hurts her team so much. Seeing how RR has won eight of eleven missions, I'd say they're getting by. Mike looks totally disgusted. "You can't beat [bleeping] Veronica?" he sputters to Julie. "Give me a break!" David bows his head. Julie interviews that RW is telling her Katie staying is more important to them. She tells the team that she would lose to Veronica. Just typing that makes me all giddy inside. Dave pops in, as Julie gets more agitated. Coral hisses for her to pick a plate. Julie gripes about not feeling like part of the team. Coral repeats her demand. Julie: "Coral's doing anything she can do to push my buttons, and try and get me to break." She chooses Veronica.

Now Julie is sniping about being bullied, still believing that Veronica would beat her. Julie tells Coral to shut her mouth. Now Coral is angry. They commence to curse each other out, each bleep a three-point piece of heaven for anybody playing the Fantasy Challenge. Coral tells Julie to back off. David's caught in the middle, chuckling his head off. Coral walks away, still yelling. A few of the RR girls look on, and Julie flashes a smile.

Back from commercials, Julie is still whining about Coral. "When I hear her voice," she snarls, "it makes me want to go home." I'm surprised the team didn't pull out money to pay for her trip. She declares that she'll do her best, and she wants the team to be together. "Yeah, I was kind of forceful," Julie interviews, "but after all the crap she said to me, all the crap I swallowed for two weeks, for me to say one thing and have her freak out like that is like, 'What is wrong with you?'" Yeah . . . aim high, Julie.

The plates get put up. Katie interviews that Veronica is Inferno-bound unless she gets the Aztec Lifesaver. Suddenly, wrestling matches spark up on the lawn, as Abram grapples with CT, and Darrell goes up against David. Coral declares that RW will be normal once Veronica defeats Julie. More wrestling. Now Coral is on bended knee, begging Veronica to take Julie out. Okay, now that's going a little too far. Veronica interviews about a backup plan where Katie would go in her place.

Mike holds back Coral, explaining how her begging Veronica would give RR an edge. "Coral is thinking irrationally right now," he interviews. "It's just a tough situation to be in. Hopefully, it'll be okay. I doubt it." Coral: "Tell her that she gets that for free. The next one, she going to have to pay out for.” Mike asks if she'll take a check or Visa card. She replies, "I don't take credit cards."

In the bedroom, Julie tells David that she finally gave Coral a reason to hate her. David brings up the guys grappling outside. Julie thinks that the men are sensible, and that she would want to wrestle Coral. Grinning in excitement over impending drama, David asks if he can promote it. Julie agrees, as she wants to wrestle and get things over with, followed by team unity, and the defeat of Veronica.

Somehow, CT gets to be the lucky guy to issue the challenge to Coral. Her reaction is the quote you've all been waiting for. "I don't wrestle," she snipes. "I [bleepin'] beat bitches up!" Instant classic. She interviews, "There's nothing more that I'd like than to [bleepin'] knock her teeth completely out of her [bleepin'] mouth." The payout Julie could get from the Tooth Fairy would probably exceed what she'd get on this show. Julie is in the hallway, wondering if she has to call Coral out. Yeah, keep hitting the hungry tiger with a two-by-four. See where that gets you. Coral repeats to Julie about getting the first one for free. CT pushes Julie back, while Coral declares that Julie is out of her mind. Julie makes a run, but CT intercepts her and hustles her off. More arguing. Julie wants to fight like a man and wrestle. Cut to Syrus looking on with Darrell, Abram, and Veronica. "I can hear Coral screaming at the top of her lungs," Abram interviews. "Everybody is shouting, yelling, and screaming at each other. What a bunch of [bleepin'] schmucks!" As Troy proved to us on The Apprentice, few things are as funny as a Midwesterner using Yiddish expressions.

"I have to kick her ass," Coral tells Mike. "I will have that bitch in a headlock. She'll be choking, and I'll be going home." Mike tries to calm her down, telling her to stay while he deals with Julie. Coral: "Julie challenged me to a duel. I wear a 32 DD bra. One boob alone could kick her ass." I can imagine a few viewers wondering why Mike would fight Julie. Speaking of our favorite part-time wrestler, he asks Julie why she's acting that way. And then Christena sticks her nose in there, asking Mike why he would discourage her from wrestling. Honestly, I'm missing Tina right now. Why is Christena even here? Mike replies that there won’t be wrestling. Back in the bedroom, Coral backs up Mike. "She'll go home in a gurney," she shouts, "and I'll go home in handcuffs." Julie tells Mike that the problems won't go away unless she wrestles Coral. CT and Mike inform her that Coral would throw a punch. Julie: "Well, then she'll go home." Oh my goodness. That is a page from the playbook of David Edwards: take somebody whom you don't like (Puck), and agitate that person to the breaking point (spitting water). Is Julie a punk for even thinking that? You better believe she is, and Mike and CT agree that's a load of bull. "What the hell is going on?" Mike interviews. "The team is falling apart."

Cut to Coral, who's still contemplating knocking Julie out. Cut to Julie, who thinks the Coral doesn't want to go home, so she's not fighting dirty. "Julie, have you ever been in a fight?" CT asks. "Don't start now!" The funny thing is that Julie has been in two on-camera fights, and she got stomped on both occasions. Good times. "I knew that Coral wouldn't wrestle me," Julie interviews. "I don't know if I ever thought it would go down, but if it ever did go down, I'd be game for it. Whether it was good timing or not, I don't really care, because it was said and I'm glad." Fade to black.

So... how do I score Round 2? Coral is somewhat passive-aggressive. Maybe she does manipulate. And it's funny that she "beats bitches up" when she once chided Trishelle over the same thing. But this time, I have absolutely no qualms about giving her the victory. Julie stinks, no question of that. I said at the very beginning that the longer she stuck around, the worse things would get. I don't agree with the RW pact to keep Katie in the game. Given that they picked Shane over Abram last time, RW needs another easy win. But they made a pact, and Julie tried to duck Veronica. Why? Because Julie doesn't want Veronica to pay her back for nearly killing her in the first mission. Julie is an annoyance and a coward, and if I get my way, she'll be off the show next week. At least she can get that dream job at Hot Topic with fellow faux punk rock girl Frankie. They would totally adore each other. Once again: if you agree or not, e-mail me.

Next week: Rappelling off a huge building. I get wicked bad Sarah flashbacks. Coral tells Mike that RR is throwing the mission so Veronica can win the Aztec Lifesaver, Katie is shocked. Veronica smirks. Abram tells Katie he wasn't in on the plan. Katie: "You think [bleep] Coral's a bitch, wait til you [bleep] with me!" Whoa, mamma. Oh, and we got more Coral/Julie drama. Remember: one of those four women will be going home soon, so we'll try and treasure their final moments on the show.

I'm not sorry for what I said. It's not a "double down" thing; I just never grew to like Julie again. Okay, she wasn't the worst thing about Gauntlet 2, but that season had Beth. BETH. She achieved a level of suck that would take others years to reach. Also: I didn't emphasize CT trying to talk Julie down with his thick Boston accent. If you ever see this episode. It came out: "Julie, have you ever been in a fight? Don't staht now!"

Next episode: All hell breaks loose. I'll end with a "motivational poster" I made in 2007, inspired by this episode.

Monday, December 04, 2017

The Inferno Episode 10: Hail to the Hero

Once upon a time, before his redemption storyline that kicked off in Cutthroat (with Johnny kicking, fittingly enough), I was a CT fan. Well, for a few weeks. On RW: Paris, he went from being a well-natured goof to a volitile goon. The "highlight" was the time he almost came to blows with Adam King, where CT was yelling, "ONE! ON! ONE! ONEONONE!!! I will WORK you!" and shoving the guy around. He didn't really look better going into this episode, but then he made a nice move and came out on top. Yes, it was in a stupid game that required zero skill, but I was still amped up over it, especially since I did not like the other guy. Of course, CT blew it three weeks later, but at least we had an entertaining clusterfuck to distract us. Oh, and Leah suffers a massive panic attack, while looks really mild when compared to recent seasons.

Airdate: March 29, 2004
Recap Published: April 5, 2004

Katie underachieves, Leah freaks out, and one team is undermined by the rules... and that's just a prelude to the most exciting Inferno yet.
I have a confession to make, dear readers. Up until now, I haven't been feeling this season. It's symptomatic of my views of reality television so far this year. Survivor: All-Stars is now made up of people whom I'd rather not see win $1 million, and I've written off Real World San Diego altogether. And since I'm not in the business world (or employed, for that matter), The Apprentice is mostly lost on me. As for the Challenge? It's the usual mix of toxic personalities, lame missions, and crack editing... emphasis on "crack." But today, one episode has brought me back from the brink, and one player has restored my faith.

Previously on Inferno: Darrell and Leah spent a lot of time together. Road Rules thumped Real World in Come Sail Away, boosting their bank to $60,000. Coral didn't want RR to win anymore. David and Shane were nominated and subsequently selected to go into the Inferno. CT interviewed that David is his good friend, and he wants him to stay until the end.

Villa. Darrell is at the window, chatting up Leah, who is poolside. In a miraculous development, Abram's hair has grown out, and his mohawk from last week is gone. Bad editors... if I notice something like that on the second view and with nobody [2017: else telling] me, then something's wrong. "That's the beautiful Leah right down there trying to get a tan," Darrell tells us. "She's trying to get as black as she can be so she's trying to [bleep] with me." Charming. Leah lies on a chair, and she has a nice tummy. "Why do y'all think I'm doing so damn good on these missions?" Darrell asks, pushing the TMI envelope. "I'm getting sexual healing every morning, every night, three times a day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and sometimes a late night snack." I know it's wrong for him to say that and for me to quote him, but dammit, you try not quoting him. In the pool, Leah and Darrell flirt and sweet talk each other. Darrell interviews that Leah is cool, but it's not a relationship. "When's the last time Darrell did a relationship?" he asks. "Darrell don't do relationships!" Darrell also don't do first-person.

Night. David and CT check to see if David wet the bed. Alrighty, then. CT interviews that he's known David for a long time, and they're both from the Boston suburb of Charleston . "To have David here is a comfort," he adds. "I know my experience would be different if he wasn't here." He then demonstrates what he found his buddy doing on the bed. David laughs, interviewing that he's had a great time with CT.

Daytime. Giant platform. Dave welcomes the players to Bungee Bound. The object: bungee 160 feet off the ground, grab a flag, and throw it to the water below. The team that has the fastest time wins $10,000. The catch? The players are handcuffed behind their backs. Veronica explains that they have to get out of makeshift handcuffs made of two wristbands attached to three carabiners. Between "carabiner" and "candelabra," my vocabulary's getting bigger. Dave continues, adding that all jumps will begin with the sound of the air horn. The players will have five minutes to jump. If a player doesn't jump within that time, that person will get the slowest time, plus a five minute penalty. Please get a red pen, and circle, underline and put arrows around what I just wrote. There will be a test later. CT reminds us that RW has lost the last three missions, and he hopes everybody jumps. Dave adds that the best players on each side will win the Aztec Lifesaver. "I want to have the best time," Shane interviews, "we win, we get $10,000, and then I send David's ass home tonight." And to think I once liked him. Shut up, Shane.

Abram gets strapped and cuffed. As you might figure, he's a little too excited. He interviews that the only problem he sees is getting the cuffs off. Dave blows his airhorn, and Abram drops immediately. As he bounces back up, you can see the traffic on the ground. Abram gets free and throws his flag at 52 seconds. He interviews that the only problem was getting the carabiners off. His mohawk has returned in all its punk glory.

Montage! Mike drops. Timmy drops. Julie drops, and the POV camera shows us all 145 of her front teeth. Syrus drops. Mike finishes at 0:23. Timmy shouts "dammit!" as he finishes at 0:40. Julie: 0:26. Syrus grits his teeth, getting out at 0:38. Coral interviews that RW is kicking RR ass.

Cumulative times: RW 1:27, RR 1:32. No averages? I'm guessing that this was supposed to be a "gimme" mission for RW, given their small numbers. Christena drops and spins around smiling, finishing at 0:24. Kendal does a somersault off the platform, clocking out at 0:35. CT voiceovers that he really wants to come through for the team, and he wants to come in first. He clocks out at 0:18. Timmy interviews that it's not a good day for RR. Coral steps off the platform feet-first, finishing at 0:25. David: "All we have to do is sit there and cruise. Get pretty good times and we got it won." Times: RW 2:10, RR 2:31. Veronica jumps, and the editors get fancy on us, showing stills of her face while in the air. She finishes at 0:19.

Leah and Katie walk hand-in-hand, both nervous about the jump. Katie interviews that Leah has never jumped. "I'm trying to act like I know what I'm doing," Katie adds, "but we're both very nervous." On the platform, a shuddering Leah tells Katie to go first. As Katie suits up, Leah has a case of the dry heaves. She tells Katie that she can't feel her hands. Katie is panicking because she's going first.

Air horn. Most of the RR team is already screaming at Katie, who is sobbing. I don't get it... I know she's bungeed at least once. While the thought of being handcuffed behind the back is scary, I figure it would be a better option than going with a 50-something, which is what she did on The Quest. Meanwhile, the editors blur Leah, trying to sell to us that something's wrong. RR is still screaming. Timmy is rubbing his face, unable to hide his frustration.

Time elapsed: 5:36. Remember when I said to get the red pen? Look at what you marked down. Dave said they had five minutes. Veronica: "I [bleeping] hate you!" Is it wrong of me to want Katie's cord to break, and for Veronica to break the fall? Shut up, Veronica. Holly in an interview: "Katie's time is not good for our team." Veronica: "What the [bleep] are you doing?!?" Finally, with 10:38 elapsed, Katie jumps. Cut back to a blurred, wavy Leah. Katie gets uncuffed. Elapsed time: 12:27. "Real World is stoked, because we know we won," Julie interviews, basically all eyes and teeth. "All we gotta do is wait for Leah to come down, and even if she takes a minute, it's gonna be okay, because we're gonna win."

On the platform, Leah gasps, collapsing into the arms of a production guy. He says that Leah is going down... via the elevator. On the ground, Coral cheers Leah on, not knowing of the drama. Leah lies down, gasping, squealing and crying. She still can't feel her hands. This is every bit as painful to watch as Coral's allergic reaction from last season. Various production guys attend to her as she gasps.

After the commercials, Leah is still gasping, getting carried away by one of the guys. Coral goes to her side. With tubes up her nose, Leah cries that she wants to jump. Darrell comes over, interviewing that he doesn't know what's going on. Leah hyperventilates, and Darrell wipes the drool off her mouth with his shirt. Leah gets on a stretcher and is loaded into an ambulance, with Coral riding with her. See, this is the Coral I like. This wipes out the bad vibes I felt towards her last week.

Dave fills everybody in on what happened. Leah will be disqualified, and receives the worst time logged, plus a five minute penalty, for a total of 17:27. "I feel bad for her," Shane interviews, "but I thank God for my team, because Real World was kicking our ass." Dave adds that they're going to finish the mission. "Let's see some smiles," he adds. Shut up. I miss Jonny Moseley. Julie: "It is such a bummer when you can taste victory, and you know you're going to win, and it just gets ripped out of your hands because Katie jumps and Leah doesn't!" Julie has a point, but she's smiling through the whole interview. Julie can shut up as well.

David interviews that he wants the Aztec Lifesaver. He somersaults off, with CT cheering him on. Final time: 0:40. "Every single mission I have, I had to undo a carabiner," David interviews. "If the Inferno has carabiners, I'm going home."

A nervous Darrell gets ready. "Today, I gotta bungee-jump handcuffed, pull some Houdini stunts," he interviews. "You ever see a black Houdini? No!" He voiceovers that he's trying to conquer his fear of heights. Are we still on that? He jumps, finishing at 0:22. Holly jumps. Her time: 0:17. Veronica yells that Holly did better than her. Shane jumps, the rope banging his head on the bounce up. It looks like he was perilously close to getting strangled by the cord. His time: 0:20. "In the Inferno, it's game time," he interviews while lying down. "This was the appe-teaser. Now it's time for the real meal."

Dave announces the final times: RR 18:07, RR 17:07. In other word, Katie's extended freak-out made Leah's freak-out even worse. If Katie had been disqualified, like she should have been, RW would have won. Instead, RR profits from the one person most of them cannot stand. Dave gives the win to RR, and there is subdued applause. "I'm glad that we won," Veronica interviews, "but I'm really not too happy that we won because the other team got a disqualification over a mental health thing." Dave hands the Aztec Lifesavers to CT and Holly. Syrus says that RW only has $30,000 (to RR's $70,000), and they're getting their butts kicked.

Hospital. Leah is in bed with Coral by her side. Leah interviews that she can't control her anxiety, and she feels bad because it affected her teammates. Coral asks the doctor if Leah can go to bed at the Villa. The doctor prescribes something to help Leah sleep. Coral wheels Leah out of the hospital.

Thirty minutes before the Inferno. CT and David decide to swap clothes. Must be a Boston thing. CT figures that the Inferno will depend on how David performs. He foreshadows, "Honestly, I want Dave to stay no matter what." The fellas whoop it up. "There's nothing I'm really not afraid of," David interviews, "but I don't wanna eat bugs."

Inferno site. Slow-motion walking. David sees milk and cookies, and he's not happy. Dave welcomes everybody to Don't Toss Your Cookies. David explains that both players drink whole milk and eat cookies, then spin around on a turntable for ten minutes. The first person to throw up loses. As if I can't hate Shane any more than I already do, he's wearing the "Where's Rachel" t-shirt. I hate her, and I hate him. "Going into the Inferno, I feel the best I've ever felt," Shane interviews. "I honestly feel like I'm going to win. David's not a competitor. There's nothing fearsome or competitive about him." Time out. Has Shane never seen David's season? David was a rough-houser back then. I don't care how weak his stomach is or how sore his body can get. Bottom line: I would not want to mess with David.

Dave goes through the motions, asking Holly if she wants to use the Aztec Lifesaver to take Shane's place, but she has faith in his eating ability. Dave asks CT the same question. CT says that he sat on the AL twice already, but he never had somebody close to him go into the Inferno. He interviews that David has a weak stomach. CT declares that he will take David's place. "That's a MAN!" David shouts. "Bye, Shane!" Poor sportsmanship? Yeah. Much deserved? And how! Shane interviews that he's not afraid of David, but CT intimidates him. You smell that, Shane? It's a big plate of comeuppance. Hope you like the taste.

The guys get on the turntable chairs as Dave explains the rules. Each player will have 10 minutes to eat one cookie and drink one glass of milk. Afterwards, they spin around for ten minutes. In the next round, they eat two cookies and drink two glasses of milk. They repeat the process until somebody pukes. Shane interviews, but it's just a flurry of bleeps. Dave goes on, saying that the turntable will go faster as time goes on. CT jokes that this will be the only time he'll cheat on his diet.

Dave bangs the gong. Both players eat their cookies. Syrus: "CT keeps a stone face, got his shades on, cool as can be. Lookin' like a Boston mafia boy, chillin' in the corner." More eating. Veronica teases that everybody won't be able to see CT's six-pack abs after he eats the cookies. CT: "You won't be able to see Shane after all these cookies!" Zing! CT might be my new hero. Both sip their milk from straws.

Now it's time to get on the turntable. It slowly spins, as Shane whoops it up. CT doesn't show any emotion. Coral interviews that CT has never thrown up in his life, and it would be the first time if he does it here. The turntable goes into edited fast motion. A time-lapse camera shows Shane keeping his head still, while CT goes from left to right.

After the turntable stops, Dave gives both players ten minutes for two cookies and two glasses of milk. David sidles up to CT, saying that Shane couldn't last two more rounds. CT replies that he'd be surprised if he lasted two more rounds. Shane munches away. CT quips that the whole milk might put him to sleep. And then... Shane pukes up white stuff. If it’s wrong of me to celebrate, then I don't want to be right. RR looks stunned. "Man," Timmy laments in an interview, "just a whole lot of baby food came flying out of his mouth." The editors give us a slow-motion replay. It's so typical that somebody from Campus Crawl would go out by puking. Game over. The RW guys celebrate, hugging CT. Shane admits to Holly that he swallowed his vomit three times. Kendal actually wipes away her tears. "It's like seeing Superman crumble," she interviews. Oh, come on. Shane isn't Superman. He's not even Booster Gold. Shane interviews that he doesn't drink milk at home, and he wanted to stay.

Denouement. Dave congratulates CT for risking himself. That was a bold move. Had CT lost, RW would've been down three people and looking at another Challenge loss. Now the team has hope. Mike says that RW has seven players to RR's eight. Dave tells Shane that he did a lot for RR, and it was a pleasure meeting him. Whatever.

Pier of Shame. Shane is escorted by Christena, Holly, Veronica, and Kendal. I'm guessing Katie is happy-dancing back in the Villa. She'll be breathing easier tonight. "I wish I could stay," Shane interviews. "I wish I could finish this. But the cookie crumbled. I lost." For the last time: shut up, Shane! He sails on the Short Boat, while the ladies wave and hug the despondent Kendal.

Back at the Villa, Darrell and Coral check up on Leah. She interviews that Darrell has been sweet to her, and that she's not sure what will happen with them both. Darrell jiggles a stuffed bunny, prompting Coral to leave. Darrell interviews that it's more than sexual with him and Leah. "The whole incident with the anxiety attack is scary," he adds, "but now I want her to fight it out and stick it out and make it to the end with me." The couple cuddles in bed. I think this is my favorite pair for this season.

Next week: How do you top CT stepping up and saving the season? To start, we got rotating platforms and paintball guns. Katie screws up so badly, Mike cheers her on. But that's nothing compared to the man event. It's Coral vs. Julie: Round Two. Needless to say, I'm not feeling so bad about recapping anymore.

I was really in the tank for CT, wasn't I? In my defense, I was grasping for ANY reason for that season to be redeemable. Once again: stupid, stupid endgame. On the upside, we get a dose of Compassionate Coral. My take on her is that she does care for her friends, she only ridicules people who really deserve it, and they deserve it more often than not. At the time, the most recent example had been her comforting Sarah after getting sent into (and winning) her fourth Gauntlet, followed by her giving justified crap to the Road Rules team. In the next two episodes, "compassionate" would not be an adjective that would apply to Coral.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Inferno Episode 9: Hot Bargains

I probably won't get around to talking about Dirty XXX in full detail here, so here are the basic results: most everybody sucked, and Camila got her second win. So did Jordan, but he didn't come to Champs vs. Stars and smack a production aide like Camila did, which basically puts her on BMP's "do not invite" list. Remember, in order to make that, you have to either quit on Saint TJ, or be accused of committing a Law & Order: SUV-style crime during the taping of the show. And Camila was just the tip of the dysfunctional iceberg that was Dirty XXX. Once again, it's sad that I look back on The Inferno as "the good old days," even though it wasn't that good of a season. This episode was fun, though.

Hey, preserved the picture! It's Syrus in a sombrero! Good times. Looking back, he was a guy that wasn't the best player around, but you needed him to lighten the mood.

Airdate: March 22, 2004
Recap Published: March 30, 2004 (yeah, I took too long on this one. I think it was worth it, though)

The players get to sell dubious wares to unsuspecting tourists. David takes a siesta, Coral discovers new levels of bitchiness, and Katie actually has fun.
Previously on The Inferno: Road Rules players sought to dump Katie into the Inferno, but the plan backfired when Christena, the nominee, gave up in the Don't Yank My Chain challenge. In happier news, RR won their second mission in a row, upping their bank to $50,000. Kendal rubbed it in that RR had a 5-3 advantage over Real World. In the worst Inferno yet, Christena defeated her best friend Mallory, leaving RW with seven players.

It’s a quiet night at the villa. Katie reads the mission clue off the sponsored device, telling the others of the 7:30 a.m. pickup time. She interviews that she's sure to do a lot better than before. She decides that she's going to exercise. "I'm going to try and work out," she adds, "and win this with dignity." I have to ask once more: do these people know what show they're on?

Back inside, Coral asks anybody if they want to join her in making sandwiches. At long last, she's wearing her shout-out shirt, "Melissa Will Kill You." Veronica insists that Abram wants one. Coral fixes a sandwich as Syrus looks on. She spreads mustard on the bread... and then she licks it and laughs. It's not that clear if her tongue makes contact, but it is disgusting regardless. Syrus laughs, saying he'd never do that to her. "I wouldn't do that to you!" she responds. More licking, more cackling, and then she hands the sandwich to Abram. After what he did with Rachel and Veronica in Telluride, he shouldn't be that uptight about germs. Shane warns Abram, but he takes a bite. "Why is she filming the sandwich?" he asks of a nearby camerawoman. Maybe Abram isn't as dumb as I thought. Coral laughs while Abram takes a big bite.

Outside, David and Holly do stomach crunches. He jokes that this is better than going to work. He then engages in Jane Fonda-style aerobics, which cracks Holly up. "I'll put it straight," he interviews, "I'm here for a good time. I guess my motivation for this challenge was Acapulco, paid vacation, suntan. That's pretty much it." Gotta love the honesty. "When it comes to competition, I'm pretty much going to take it as it goes." Mike interviews that David is a good guy, but he's been lackadaisical lately. More aerobics, as Mike and David grin from the pool. CT interviews that he's comfortable with David, since their mothers knew each other. "He does little things that make him look weak to everybody else," CT interviews. "The kid's legit. He's one of our best players."

Sunrise. Dave welcomes everybody to the next mission, Come Sail Away. Each team is given items to sell to passengers disembarking from a cruise ship. The team that earns the most money gets $10,000 for the bank account. Mike interviews that he doesn't want RR to win three missions in a row. Dave reveals the catch: these items aren't very popular. The camera scans as Dave's words sink in: sombrero, iron, cotton balls. Dave adds that the teams get three and a half hours to sell their wares. Abram interviews that they need to sell at the highest prices.

David volunteers to pick the items from RW. Mike interviews that David has to step up, and hopes it's good enough. Veronica picks for RR. David grabs a toy torpedo. Coral gets pissed as David snares a sombrero. "Coral gets pissed" will be a running theme today. Veronica grabs roller skates. Syrus carries a pinata. Veronica gets a CD player. Syrus grouses about a toy fish. RR gets a microwave, RW gets a car battery. To sell. Yeah, good luck with those.

Coral instructs David to get a swimsuit, but he veers away from that. Coral openly wonders if he's on crack. Syrus rubs his head, already in agony. "David is having a terribly off day," Coral interviews. "We're all just like a deer in headlights, we can't believe this is happening." David threatens to smack everybody, insisting he's had coffee. Veronica smiles. Julie looks perplexed. Coral looks pissed.

After commercials, Dave blows his air horn to start things off. Back in Extreme Challenge, Syrus was going into a cheerleading mission with little prep time. His idea? "Be a ham. Ham this up. Honey. Glazed. Ham." Cut to today: "Get your beautiful Mexican sun piƱata! Comes equipped with a black man!" Holly has trouble selling pliers. Julie lures a younger tourist away from RR, offering to juggle and dance for him. RR sells a pair of briefs. Mike gives an older woman a sombrero so big, it almost knocks her over. David unsuccessfully tries to sell a bikini top to her. Mike interviews that he's having a blast. "I'm just lying my ass off," he continues, "trying to get her to buy anything."

Time remaining: three hours, 17 minutes. Timmy has his Pirates cap on, along with an oversized clown nose. I miss Jon and Al from The Amazing Race. Timmy asks a guy if he wears muumuus. Coral grabs some cash, and we see the first returns: RW has 1,660 pesos, while RR has 940. Kendal fits an old lady for a sarong. She interviews about not being good with sales or being pushy. Katie talks to Darrell about booth position. He interviews that they have to push the stuff cheap. It would be different if they had to make a profit, as opposed to just selling the stuff. I'm sorry I compared this to The Apprentice last week. I'm actually having more fun watching this than that episode.

Time remaining: 2:30. David: "I'll be straight, I brought my C-game to this challenge." Cut to David yawning in a chair. Syrus: "He's kinda ADD. I don't think he's much help." Katie pushes the CD player and interviews that she's happy with this mission. Timmy interviews that she's making a comeback.

Time remaining: 1:45. Julie is yelling for female tourists to look at the bare-chested CT and Mike. As Mike pops his butt out, Julie tells a woman that if she buys a bikini, CT will wear it. That's supposed to be incentive? Ladies, is this what happens at Victoria's Secret? Please e-mail me. Since this is an MTV show, Leah helps CT into the thong and top. I need to gouge out my eyes. As much as some viewers might go for CT's butt, I don't need flashbacks of Jake and his thong. "Desperate times call for desperate measures," CT interviews, "and I had to step up for the team." He dances, while the ladies admire him. Julie: "When I saw CT come out with that bikini on, I realized my life was complete." Whatever. CT makes the sale and hands the stuff to the lady. Don't ask. RW now has 4,230 pesos to RR's 3,750. Leah is excited, since RR is having trouble selling. Timmy tries to convince a guy to buy hangers used by Burt Reynolds. Seriously, you wouldn't expect a reference like that from anybody but Timmy.

Time remaining: 1:15. David is still in the chair. I smell sneaky editing. Coral orders him back, but he isn't budging. "I like the kid," Coral gripes, "he's a great dude, but David can't even stay awake during a mission." Elsewhere, Shane and Abram give massages to a woman. She must be so brave to let Abram anywhere near her neck. Shane interviews that they won't let her leave until she buys something. I’m not quite getting the logic there. Abram adds that he's promising anything and everything in order to make a sale. Timmy kibitzes a man about putting RR over the top. Shane and Abram keep rubbing. Totals: RW 5,490, RR 5,305. Christena: "Shane is raunchy and massaged gross women's feet. Whatever gets the job done." Oh, shut up, Christena.

Time remaining: 0:45. Timmy's taken to juggling to attract customers. "Sales! Bargains! Love! Puppies!" Leah has trouble haggling with an older guy. Timmy: "Buy a bucket before you kick one!" Cut to two older ladies, who don't seem the least bit offended. They might not in the mood to contemplate their mortality, Timmy. Mike and Julie successfully unload an afro wig to a white guy. Timmy sells lipstick to a woman who could have been Dick Clark's babysitter.

Time remaining: 0:10. David is still in the chair. On the RR side, a woman asks about clothespins. Syrus tries to sell a sombrero. RR tries to sell a hammock, with Katie still in it. Yeah, they wish they could pull that off. Dave announces the 30-second warning. David is still in the chair, and Coral is pissed about it. Finally, Dave blows the air horn, ending the mission. Leah and Mike both interview that they think RW won the mission.

Denouement. Dave declares that the money earned will be donated to a local charity. After both sides cheer, Dave announces the totals: RW 6,330 pesos, RR 6,505 pesos. What kills me is that Dave has to tell RR that they won the mission before it dawns on them. They whoop it up, while RW looks bummed. And why not? They lost by about 15 pesos, and they were probably in the dark about their lead. Katie interviews that this being one of the best missions so far, and how she's happy to have helped. Christena declares it a team victory, since everybody did something stupid to win. Dave hands over the check. Timmy says that RR has a 6-3 lead on RW. Syrus and CT looked pained. "I'm a little pissed off," CT interviews, "because I've been running around in g-strings for three hours." So it wasn't just the one time? I'm learning so much about CT. Dave reminds everybody that each team nominates two men into the Inferno.

The RR guys get together. Darrell interviews that since the men have two Infernos left, they'll take turns volunteering. Darrell is still pronouncing it as "Infuerno." Meanwhile, Coral tells Leah that she's mad and that it was an easy mission. RR is still celebrating. Coral snipes that she doesn't want RR to win again. "I'm PMS-ing or something, but I'm [bleeping] pissed," she interviews. "I'm tired of losing, I'm over it. We all did well, except for David, of course." Cut to David telling Syrus that he's going to take a nap. He spent most of the time in a chair, and now he wants to catch some sleep. Coral: "He should not have even been there. I wish we had Katie take his turn. He ruined the whole mission. I'm just praying to the Lord that he gets beat in the next Inferno." While I do see the difference between winning and losing being equivalent to David possibly selling one trinket, I think Coral just needed an excuse to hit a whole new level of bitchiness. Love you lots, Coral, but lighten up.

RR Meeting. Abram tells the team the men will all volunteer. Shane adds that he'll go. He interviews that he doesn't want to, but he'll take the chance. Abram and Timmy want to volunteer, and they decide to play rock-paper-scissors for it. As Timmy stands up on the table, he slips and nearly slams into Abram. "We play it differently where I come from," Timmy deadpans. "That was my rock." Abram laughs, afraid to ask what Timmy's "scissors" would be. Abram takes the match, and Timmy jokes about how everybody wants to go into the Inferno. "We like to play the game fair," Holly interviews, "and both boys are ready to go to the Inferno." To recap: Road Rules? All smiles.

RW Meeting. Total doom and gloom. David volunteers, admitting he was a disaster. "If anybody should be going to the Inferno," Coral snipes in an interview, "it's David's ass." David votes for Syrus, mentioning that CT has won two Aztec Lifesavers already. Syrus reminds everybody that he finished first in two missions as well. Coral interviews that Syrus has carried the team in different ways. It is hard to vote for a man who would let a woman step on his head. Mike votes for CT, since he has yet to be nominated. Leah thinks CT is a top performer, but it is his turn. "Whatever," CT interviews, "I'll roll with it." In a weird move, Julie votes for Mike. Coral asks why, and Julie answers that he had not received a vote. Coral: "I think she was trying to wait until everyone voted, then voted for the person that it wouldn't matter. I think that sucks, and I think she sucks." Way to push the bitterness envelope.

Dave announces the nominees: David and CT from RW, Abram and Shane from RR. He asks both teams to pick one person.

RW. Coral interviews that she doesn't want to take a chance and lose another player. David votes for Shane. "I don't want to mess with Abram," he adds, "because I think he's a psycho." No argument here. Leah: "We chose Shane because we think Abe's crazy. We think Abe will do absolutely anything. That's definitely intimidating."

RR. Christena wants to send in David, "the guy with two colored eyes." I can't believe I forgot that. I’ll have to check the interview segments next week. Everybody proceeds to make lame jokes about David's attention span, and I won't quote them here. Abram interviews that David is the easy choice. I think that there is no easy choice between David and CT, and David's just been in a slump.

Plate standoff. I think Leah tries to snap her fingers in the style of West Side Story. The plates go up with the usual fanfare. "I'm not afraid of David," Shane insists, "but you don't want to go to the Inferno, ever." Ah, shut up and take your medicine. Christena drops the usual Aztec Lifesaver exposition, giving Shane a chance to bail himself out next week. Mike interviews that the selection is a kick in the ass, and that he hopes David gets back all of his steam. What does David think of going a few hours in the Inferno? "I'd rather have certain knee surgery than go do that. It's going to be ridiculous, and I don't know how I'm gonna survive."

Times passes. Darrell and Holly chat on a rocking bench. I'm amazed that Darrell, the would-be Olympic boxer, hasn't even been nominated yet. I'm sorry... after listening go on and on last season about Sarah underachieving, I just want him to sweat a little. Anyway, he laughs about how RR has "volunteerin' fools." He interviews that the team has well-rounded people and it's possible they'll win in the end. He moves on to Katie, and how she doesn't believe in herself. Holly doesn't think an RR woman will go home, and that Katie just had a few bad missions at the beginning. "If she was on [the RW] team," she continues, "she'd be right in the middle of the pack." Come on. I'd rank Leah and Coral over Katie. Holly interviews that she doesn't know if the others are laying blame on Katie, but she has impressed the team.

Villa. Syrus: "Abe seems like he's just nuts, and nuts usually prosper in this realm of life." Darrell shaves Abram's head. Abram interviews about wanting a mohawk his entire life. "We are kicking the Real World's ass now," he interviews, hair moussed up. "That means I am hardcore enough to have a mohawk." Insert your own Taxi Driver joke here... ah the hell with it. "You talkin' to me, Donell?"

Sunset leads to night. David tells Christena that he has to step up, and that he needed to go to the Inferno. I guess that Christena is RR's Julie, in the sense that she's always in the middle of the drama. "The Inferno isn't going up against another person," David interviews. "You are what you're essentially going up against. I go to the Inferno, and I will do it up. Shane, you're going home." Cut to Shane, oblivious to David's renewed energy. For what it's worth, I hope David pulls it off.

Next week: I realize that in three seasons, I've never covered a straight-up bungee mission. Anyway, Katie sobs a lot, wiping out Holly's good vibes towards her. Veronica takes it upon herself to holler at Katie from the ground. CT interviews that RW has to step up, and he hopes everybody jumps. Cut to Leah suffering a massive panic attack. How bad? Enough to get shoved into an ambulance. How do you say "medical place" in Spanish?

I miss Timmy. I didn't miss David after Gauntlet 2. I think he peaked in the "scavenger hunt" mission in Challenge 2000, where he chased a cow in order to kiss it, yelling "YOU HAVE NO HEART!!!" It's funnier because of the thick Boston accent. The good news was that this was a prelude to a heroic moment, a point where I thought the season would be halfway decent. I was wrong, of course.