Thursday, March 10, 2005

Inferno 2 Episode 1: Get Off My Beach!

Previously on Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Eric Nies won $60,000, and there wasn’t an asterisk big enough to stamp on his forehead.

We go to Manzanillo, Mexico. The planes land and our plucky Challengers hop off. We go to Derrick, who felt like he got the shaft in Battle of the Sexes 2, as his team had voted him off over Mike. It probably had nothing to do with his drinking or following frogs around. An afro-wearing CT yells “Viva Meh-hee-co!” We reunite with Julie, who is no longer held in check by the likes of Melissa and Coral. Oh, and she’s blonde again. She tells us that she was in an “unhappy place” in the first Inferno, and she assumes there will be bad blood between her and Veronica. Cut to a clip from last year, where Julie almost got Veronica killed. “I’m over her tantrums,” Julie interviews with a straight face, “and I just hope that she keeps her legs closed, then this is a good trip.” Did she just try and take the moral high ground? Note to her newlywed husband: run!

We get shots of the new Inferno set, now with a second level. We get to Brad, as interviews that he has something to prove after getting screwed by his teammates in BOTS2. Another shot of the Inferno, along with a big-toothed skull. Jodi interviews about being one of the new people here, since the others might have alliances in place. Cut to Abram: “Dude, I love Mexico!”

Sunset. The players walk up to the Inferno, and they’re pretty awed. Tina compares it to what hell would look like. She interviews that this is the craziest thing she’s ever seen. She adds, “There’s going to be some bloodbath in this thing.” Don’t give the crew any ideas. Jamie thinks of the Inferno as a pit where gladiators fight to the death. An iron door closes on it’s own. Dun dun dunnnnnn!

Credits. The good news is that the blue screen is gone, and we’re back to the corny antics of the cast members. The bad news? We have theme music, not a theme song. Just makes me regret taking ditties like “Come On” and “Rock Star” for granted, as well as “Miles Apart” and “Come Out Fighting” to a lesser extent. Anyway, the “Good Guys” arrive in style, dressed in their finest. First, we have Jodi and Jon. The odds of us not seeing Jon’s cowboy hat outside competition are slim to none. Robin & Darrell are next, followed by two sets of same-season couples: Shavonda & Landon and Jamie & Brad. Finally, there’s Julie & Mike. Somewhere in California, Coral laughs, then points out to Melissa that she’s outlasted them both.

Uh oh! Here come the “Bad Asses” in a pickup truck! Suddenly, Julie & Mike are shoved away by Veronica & Abram. A vest-sporting Karamo is joined by Tonya. Rachel tugs on CT’s arm and slaps him. Yeah, whatever. Beth escorts a bleached-blonde Dan, prompting the first “Poor Dan” of the season. Finally, there’s Derrick and Tina. Both sides file into the Inferno, eyeballing each other. Dave “The Human Quaalude” Mirra stands between them, wearing a flannel shirt and t-shirt. What, he couldn’t ride a bike this time? We get close-ups of players making threatening gestures. CT jabs at the camera. Fire. Title. Scene!

Back to the Inferno, the players cheer the impending carnage. Dave introduces himself as the host. You know, I heard one theory that he was going to co-host with Jonny Moseley, so I think we got off easy. Dave’s first task is to get the teams situated, since things are going to be different this season. It’s not going to be Real World vs. Road Rules. Instead, the teams will be spilt between “Good Guys” and “Bad Asses.” I might need nicknames down the line. I’m leaning towards “Socs” and “Greasers” at the moment. Dave goes down the list of Bad Ass guys: Dan, Karamo, Derrick, Abram and CT. Dan interviews that his team has a license to “cut each other up,” and there’s no pressure to be a nice guy. I still think he’s horribly miscast. Moving on, Dave reads off the Bad Ass women: Tina, Tonya, Beth, Rachel and Veronica. Tonya interviews that she didn’t think that she’d make the other team based on her actions in BOTS2. We flash back to a “Tonya Gone Wild” montage. Tonya makes out with Theo. Tonya makes out with Ace. Tonya makes out with Shane (don’t ask). Tonya dances and flashes her breasts. Beth interviews that he reputation precedes her. “I’m a nice girl!” she kvetches, as we see her make a weak clawing gesture. “I should be on the nice team!”

Dave reveals the fellas on the Good Guys team: Jon, Landon, Darrell, Brad and Mike. Actually, Dave says “Mike the Miz,” which everybody seems to be doing this season. Suddenly Mike is “Dirk the Daring” or something. Mike talks trash in an interview, ending it with “Nice guys always finish first!” Dave completes the GG team: Shavonda, Julie, Jamie, Jodi and Robin. Julie interviews that as long as she doesn’t lose her temper, she’ll be the perfect match for her team.

Dave goes over the rules: the teams will compete in missions. After every other mission, each team picks one player from the opposite team to go into the Inferno. Shavonda expositions that her team doesn’t nominate anybody, and there’s no control. Dave continues: for those voted into the Inferno, there’s one more mission. If the nominee performs better than anybody else on the team, that person receives the Aztec Lifeshield, which allows self-preservation. These immunity devices are two snazzy ancient-looking plates. I give props to the production crew for their choice. The Inferno is an “extreme challenge,” where the winner stays, while the loser goes home. There will be fifteen missions, where the winners receive $10,000. The final mission is worth $150,000. Robin looks unusually shocked. Dave adds that there’s a catch: the winnings are put into the teams’ bank accounts. He doesn’t mention that only those who make it to the end can get the money. Dave ends the proceedings by ordering the kids to get settled into their villa.

The players pile off the van and go nuts over their new home. Jamie is impressed, interviewing that she can hear the ocean from the balcony. She adds, “It really makes you feel like you’re on this great vacation.” Brad admires the showers. Robin doesn’t want to leave this “most romantic place.” Great, now I’m mentally inserting Mark into the scenes. Derrick does a cannonball into the pool. Shavonda loves the bed.

Sponsor phone clue time! CT and Robin read the text message for their respective teams: first mission is tomorrow, wearing team colors and tennis shoes. CT interviews that everybody is nervous about the mission and the new voting process.

In the Bad Asses girls room, Tina doesn’t want all of the girls in there, for fear that there would be too much fighting. Tonya concurs, not wanting a repeat of BOTS2. We flash back to Tina screaming at Tonya about…something. I think it was a cell phone. “It’s not a rivalry,” Tina interviews, “because for a rivalry, you need some competition. Tonya’s not my competition. She’s my doormat.” I’ll miss Coral, but not as much with Tina’s tart tongue in action.

It’s a new day, as we head for the mission site. Dave welcomes everybody to the Wyndham Grand Bay Hotel, as well as the first mission: Surf Torture. This mission will test endurance, as well as physical and mental strength. Dace introduces Mark and Nash, the two Navy SEALs who will put the kids through their paces. Jamie interviews that she’s getting nervous, knowing they’re going to get worked. Dave lays down the exposition: the teams will break up into pairs, with no balance for gender. The pairs line up on the shore and perform exercises ranging from doing a push-up to lifting a log over the head. Shavonda expositions that the logs weigh anywhere from 40-65 lbs. She also brings up “wheelbarrows,” where one partner carries the other to the water and back. Julie adds that the players will perform these exercises until the SEALs are unsatisfied. Then the players go over and ring a bell, signaling their elimination. Dave goes on to say that the last pair standing wins $10,000 for the team. He then gives them five minutes to break up into pairs.

On the Good Guys side, Robin suggests paring up two strong guys, as well as a strong guy and strong girl. Jamie repeats it for us, then points out the strongest boys are Landon and Mike. Elsewhere, Dan tells the Bad Asses that only one pair has to win for the team. Veronica asks if she can carry Beth. Tonya asks Veronica if she’s crazy. Dan gets snippy, saying that those two probably won’t win. Tonya angrily interviews that she’s stuck with Beth, and that her team has screwed themselves.

Dave gets the pairs up in front of the logs. Tina (paired with Veronica) tells us that her team will win thanks to Abram. Turns out the Bozeman Bozo went to military school. The other team members pair off: Rachel/CT, Tonya/Beth, Derrick/Abram and Dan/Karamo. Landon and Mike are teamed up for the Good Guys, and both are confident in winning. The other pairs: Jamie/Julie, Jodi/Darrell, Robin/Brad and Shavonda/Jon. Mark the SEAL orders the kids to do wheelbarrows; one partner grabs the other by the ankles and goes into the water. Beth is already struggling in the sand, and Tonya asks if she’s quitting. Beth interviews that Tonya isn’t supporting her weight. I’m guessing that carrying Beth’s weight will be an ongoing theme for this season. Mark: “You people need to get off my beach!” Yes, it’s his beach. He has the deed and everything. Tonya rings the bell, bitching about how Beth gave up. Get used to it, girl. Beth snots about Tonya not supporting her.

Meanwhile, CT moves Rachel along at a nice clip, but Karamo gets surf in his face. He interviews that he got nervous about the mission especially with water being involved. “The minute water hits my face,” he adds, “I’ll probably drown.” Nash yells for Karamo to get off his elbows. He can’t, so Nash orders him and Dan off the beach. Dan tells Karamo not to worry. Jon and Shavonda are also ordered off, as are Robin and Brad.

Next exercise: log lifts. Jamie and Julie try to lift the log over their heads, but they can’t do it together, and they end up quitting. The players go back to doing wheelbarrows. Nash: “I know it’s your favorite exercise!” Shut up, Nash. Veronica interviews that she has to do this again. She crawls while Tina carries. Nash gives them a warning. Veronica: “It’s really, really miserable!” Nash orders them off.

The players move on to pulling lumber. Jodi struggles, but makes it. Nash barks for the kids to do wheelbarrows. Rachel decides that she’s done, taking herself and CT out. Dave sidles up to CT, asking him what happened. As Rachel collapses to the sand in pain, CT explains that Rachel had to carry him. Nash gets in Jodi’s grill as she struggles with carrying Darrell. Darrell interviews that the wheelbarrow is kicking his butt since Jodi is dropping him. The SEALs order the kids to perform flutter kicks, which has them on their backs, kicking up and down. One of the instructors asks Abram and Derrick if they’re going to sleep. They reply “No, sir!” in unison. Unfortunately, Jodi is in a world of hurt, and she and Darrell are ordered off the beach. Darrell is so mad, he bangs the hell out of the elimination bell.

We’re down to two pairs: Derrick & Abram vs. Landon & Mike. They perform wheelbarrows once more, with Abram and Landon doing the carrying. “As much as this mission is torture,” Derrick interviews, “and as much as I’m hurting, I’m not going to give up to the Miz or Landon.” Both sides hit the water. Landon interviews that his hamstrings are cramping up, but there’s no reason why he can’t win. The pairs switch positions from the water, and Nash yells for Abram to get up. To his credit, Abram manages to walk on his hands. He interviews that he’s dying, but his opponents are hurting just as bad. Mike struggles, hitting the sand with his forearms. He interviews that part of his mind is telling him that he can’t do it, but the other part tells him to win for his team. He crawls on the sand, while his teammates chant “Miz! Miz!” The Bad Asses cheer their pair on, as we head to commercials.

Back on the beach, Nash orders the remaining player to perform one more wheelbarrow. “It doesn’t matter how big you are,” Brad interviews. “It’s not the dog in the fight, it’s the fight in the dog.” Actually, it’s the size of the fight in the dog, but you’re on the right track. Thanks to Cee for pointing that out to me. Anyway, Darrell yells for Mike, while CT cheers for Derrick. Mike struggles some more in a slow-motion shot, and it looks painful. Abram uses an interview to impersonate Mike’s effort. “Looks like Godzilla going through Tokyo!” he cheerfully adds. Mike tries to lift himself up, while Derrick doesn’t have any problems. Mark snaps at Mike. Julie interviews that her team is trying to give their energy to Mike, since he’s drained. Mark asks Mike and Landon if they want to finish second. Jodi: “Are you gonna let Derrick beat you?” Man, that was harsh. Mike struggles in slo-mo. Derrick has no problems in regular speed. Mike? Slo-mo. Derrick? Regular.

Nash: “All right, fellas! Get off my beach!” Game over, Bad Asses win. By the way, do you remember who won the first mission for their team last season? Abram and Derrick. I could not make this stuff up. Anyway, Mike collapses in a heap, while Derrick lunges for the log, sealing the win. As the Bad Asses celebrate, Brad comes over to comfort Mike and Landon. Abram violently hugs Derrick, interviews that it feels good to beat Mike and Landon. Mike rings the bell, then chucks the bell-ringer to the ground.

Denouement. Dave awards the $10,000 check to the Bad Asses, which Derrick and Abram accept. After the celebration, Dave reminds everybody that it’s time to vote somebody into the Inferno. This time, it’ll be guys only. See, this is what I hated it the first time around. BMP seems to be overcompensating after the frequent BOTS2 blowouts in the men’s favor. Alternating never works out. Remember how the Road Rules team kept finding ways to shove Katie into the Inferno? Also, it will be two weeks before Beth can get endangered. I miss the Gauntlet. Anyway, Dave gives both sides 30 minutes to make their picks. Tina interviews that the first win was important for her team, adding, “It sets the trend for the trip here in Mexico.”

Locale shots. We go to the Good Guys Deliberation Meeting. Mike presents two choices: go hardcore and take out the biggest guy, or target a weaker player. Robin wants a weak player, because all the guys are strong. Brad wants to test the waters, and he wouldn’t mind going after a “lesser-skilled player": Dan or Karamo. Jon isn’t sure if they shouldn’t take CT out. Why do I feel that Jon will be to Inferno 2 what Steve was to RR: The Quest? We might start calling him “HiJon.”

Bad Asses Deliberation Meeting. Dan wants to gun for the stronger people. CT is eager for “The Miz” to go down, while he’s hurting. By the way, Rachel is wearing a “Where’s Shane?” t-shirt. I hate her, I hate him, and I hate that shirt. She’s so predictable. Tina interviews that the first vote is crucial, since they get to see how the other team votes.

Both sides arrive for the announcements. We see little blue and red figurines, each wearing a sombrero with a name attached. Dave asks the Good Guys whom they selected. Mike announces that Dan will be going into the Inferno. This does not surprise Dan. Jon is wearing a “Jesus is Real” t-shirt. I’ll allow it, but he’s a little close to Matt and his “Porn Destroys Women” stuff. Dave asks the Bad Asses whom they picked. Dan asks Mike if he wants to join him. Of course, Mike is pumped up about this. Dave orders the nominees to place their figurines in an Inferno set, and adds that tomorrow’s mission will be important. Karamo expositions that the players will have a chance to win the Aztec Lifeshield. Dave notes that if either player performs the best on their team, it will save them from the Inferno. We get player reactions, as Derrick and Tonya look bummed.

Dan walks off, interviewing that he knew that he’d be nominated. “The thing that bothers me,” he goes on, “is that they presume Mike can beat me.” Yeah, the thought has crossed my mind. “I hope it’s not breaking rocks against my forehead, because I will lose.” Ha! “But if it’s singing Madonna songs, ohmigod, I’m going to totally win!” Great…the funniest guy on this show, and he’s a dead man walking.

Now we go to Mike’s rebuttal. He trash-talks Dan to the camera, ranting about how he’s undefeated in the Inferno and the Gauntlet. He beat Abram, but only because Abram got overzealous. He beat Jeremy, but hey, it’s Jeremy. Who cares? “So you can be good,” Mike slobbers to the camera, “you can be bad, but there is nothing, and I mean nothing like being Miz! Hoo-Rah!” He’s not going to go away, is he? Cut to a shot of the Inferno cage and flames. Flame to credits.

It’s time for the extended season teaser! Blah blah blah, good versus evil. Beth bitches about a team throwing missions. Players swing from a cord and drop to the water. Beth and another girl compete in the Inferno, as a cord holds them back. Guys climb ropes. Robin: “I want everybody to know that you’re crazy and you’re a whore!” Tonya: “I’m a whore because I hooked up with a single man?” Robin: “It proves the point that you’re a whore!” Why do I feel that Mark the Dodgeball Boy is behind this drama?

Abram roars, yelling at people about their thinking that he’s in an alliance with Mike. One guy bounces off a platform, while another hangs onto a tube. Two helmeted males attack each other with pugel sticks in the Inferno. Another pair of guys tackles each other. Players bounce on spring-loaded shoes, picking fruit off trees and squeezing the juice into a container. Derrick fights a guy outside, and gets a gash on the side of his neck. Call me crazy, but I’m guessing alcohol was involved.

Now we come to this season’s Coral/Julie confrontation. Tonya rips into Beth, who just pulls the covers over her head while lying in bed. Cut to Tonya, emptying a bag into the swimming pool. Beth grins, threatening to kill Tonya. The guys look on while the clothes float in the water. Mike: “I’ve never seen anything like it! This is amazing! This is the coolest Challenge ever, and I love The Inferno Part Two! Thank you for having me!” As much as I hate Mike, he might have a point. There’s no Julie drama shown, and no Infernos that involve gross stuff. I reckon closet optimism pays off for me after all. Hoo-Rah!

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