Saturday, April 30, 2005

Inferno 2 Episode 8: Sting of the Verantula

Previously on Inferno II: The Bad Asses won Fill In The Gaps, increasing their bank to $50,000. The team selected Jodi to go into the Inferno. According to Voiceover Guy, the Good Guys picked Tonya, but Jodi switched the pick to Veronica. Last week, it was Julie’s plan to swap. Could the editors make up their minds? The Bad Asses lived up to their name, picking on Jodi and making her cry. Can Jodi bring forth a whumpin’ and send Veronica home? I had such high hopes, man.

Nighttime, possibly picking up from last week. Rachel snorts that the game has just begun. “We are so much stronger than them,” she snipes about the Good Guys, “they’re retarded.” Derrick interviews that Jodi’s swap as “shady as hell,” adding, “I don’t feel right being around such crookedness.” He tells Rachel that the Good Guys played dirty. “So much for the nice team!” Veronica bleats out. “You’ll be on the naughty one next time!” She should know, since she’ll probably be there with them. She interviews that her only concern is beating Jodi in the Inferno, and that the Good Guys have another things coming for pulling this on her. She openly wonders if she should be throwing clothes in the pool. Dan laughs, cheerfully volunteering to get Jodi’s stuff. Shut up, Dan.

Elsewhere, the Good Guys are having a beach bonfire, probably because the Bad Asses ran them off with torches and pitchforks. Jodi tells Brad that the Bad Asses are not happen with the way things turned out, but she doesn’t care as long as her team is behind her. She interviews that what she did wasn’t shady, and her only hope is to win the Aztec Lifeshield or the Inferno itself. Brad tells her that he’s confident she can beat any girl. He then drops a foreshadowing nugget: “The only person that can beat you is yourself.” He interviews that Jodi is a great player, but adds that if she has too much pressure, she seems to buckle. The only thing missing is vultures circling over Jodi’s head.

Text message time! Tonya reads the clue: leave by 11 a.m., wear team colors, sneakers and get ready to “live it up.” Brad interviews that the Good Guys are down by three missions, and they’re dying to get a win.

A flaming segue takes us to a new day. The players arrive at the mission site, checking out ropes suspended by a crane. Dave welcomes everybody to today’s mission: Zip Up. Sadly, this will not be about shutting certain cast members up. Instead, the goal is to travel as far up the lines as possible. The players are suspended from a zip up, and they have to pull themselves up the line, with meter markers indicating how far they’ve gone. When Dave blows his airhorn, the players have two minutes to get as far as possible. Shavonda expositions that they have to go on a steady incline, which gets progressively harder. The team with the longest collected distance wins $10,000 for their bank. Also, the best performers on each team not only receive the Aztec Lifeshield, but they also win a plasma television. It’s from the same company that gave away laptops two weeks ago. Once again, I foresee many calls to Tech Support. The players freak out over the awesomeness of it all, while Dave laughs that nobody will throw the mission for the Lifeshield. CT interviews that Veronica was hoping for that, but it would happen due to the plasma TV.

Heat One: Abram vs. Mike. Mike tells us that he doesn’t want the Lifeshield, but he would like the money and the TV. The players bump fists, then Abram roars, “OHHHHH YEAH, BITCH!” Whatever. Mike doesn’t feel right on the rope, interviewing that Abram is in the “Superman position.”After Dave blows his airhorn, Abram goes across the rope using his arms and legs. On the other hand, Mike is stuck using just his arms. And he’s done stuff like this for how long, exactly? Abram bellows while climbing. Mike struggles, coming to a stop, then actually sliding back on the rope, as we go into commercial.

Coming back, Mike lets go of the rope. Abram grunts some more, as his teammates cheer on the ground. Results: Abram traveled 20.2 meters, while Mike dropped off with 17.3. Abram interviews that he feels winded, but it feels good to have outlasted Mike. Speaking of “The Miz,” he interviews that he had no strategy, he didn’t know what he was doing, and he hopes that his team can make up for his mistake.

Heat Two: Dan vs. Jamie. Dan interviews that he’s not thinking of the Lifeshield. “I’m just thinking about my life,” he goes on, “how valuable it is, how important it is how I don’t fall off this thing, because if I dide, a plasma TV won’t come in handy.” The players go up the rope, with Dan taking the lead. Abram: “DAN, YOU MOVE YOUR ASS RIGHT NOW! YOU MOVE!” Wouldn’t Abram make a great soccer dad? Jamie gains some ground at the end. Results: Dan 16.4, Jamie 16.2. Jamie interviews that she made up some time in the last 30 seconds, and she’s proud of herself.

Heat Three: Tina vs. Shavonda. Shavonda interviews wants the plasma TV so bad. On a technical note, she adds that the mission is about pulling body weight, and it could come down to the women. Tina takes the lead, while Shavonda screams as she climbs. Results: Tina 18.0, Shavonda 13.9. CT: “I thought the Good Guy team was going to be a lot tougher than they really are. I think mentally, we’re starting to beat on them. I think physically, we’re starting to beat on them.” While the Good Guys figure out the results, we see that the Bad Asses are ahead, 54.6-47.4.

Heat Four: Tonya vs. Darrell. Darrell takes a huge lead and doesn’t let go, getting 20.2 meters to Tonya’s 15.8. Due to the excessive drama of this episode, I’m betting Darrell complaining about heights got cut out.

Heat Five: Derrick vs. Julie. Derrick wants to win the money and the TV. Julie: “I love being up high, closer to God, but I don’t like looking down because I’m scared of heights.” Both climb up the rope, as the background music repeats, “Come on, lets go!” Julie starts to gasp, “Dear Lord! Please help me to that flag! Dear Lord! Please help me to that flag!” Veronica looks up from the ground, and Rachel breaks out in a grin. When it comes to Julie acting the fool, I guess we’re all on the same team. As the horn blows, Derrick lets up know that he traveled “Two-motherfucking-six!” meters, while Julie climbed 20.4. Derrick interviews that he hopes nobody beats his score, since he wants to win the TV. On the sideline, Mike notes that his team is getting their asses “whomped.” Current score: Bad Asses 96.4, Good Guys, 88.0. Julie: “We’re trying to hang in there, and we’re just slipping.”

Guess what? Rachel is wearing her “Where’s Shane?” t-shirt. Could we please burn that article of clothing? You love him, he loves you. We get it. Anyway, she tells us that Veronica and Jodi are in the same heat. Veronica thinks it’s two Infernos in one day, but she’s not intimidated by Jodi. Speaking of Jodi, she doesn’t care about the TV, and she wants the Lifeshield. Dave blows his horn, and both start climbing. Rachel jumps around, yells that Veronica has “got” Jodi. More climbing. Mike and Darrell nearly injure themselves pulling for Jodi. We get the wide view, and Jodi is basically spanking Veronica. Rachel turns away. Who’s got who now? Veronica clocks out at 15.8, Jodi at 21.2. “This is great for Jodi,” Jamie interviews, as Julie and Shavonda share a high-five. “Jodi really needed this kind of confidence boost. She’s ready to go into the Inferno.” Veronica doesn’t feel this means anything, saying she didn’t try very hard. Jodi happily jogs to her team, interviews that she’s beaten all of the girls and most of the guys. Jamie adds up the totals, concluding that the team is behind. Mike expositions that Brad and Landon are left. Landon figures Brad would have to beat Rachel, then he would have to beat CT.

Heat Seven: Rachel vs. Brad. Brad voiceovers that he’s not just thinking about the TV, but also doing his best. Rachel interviews that Veronica was targeted by the Good Guys, so she’s aiming to win the Lifeshield and take her place in the Inferno. Both players climb up. Rachel huffs, while Brad yells and strains. The wide angle shot reveal that Brad is wasting Rachel. Results: Brad 28.0, Rachel 19.7. Nice going, Rachel. Way to bail out your friend, Rachel. As a bonus, she dangles from the rope dejectedly, not unlike Snoopy hanging off his doghouse. Veronica looks hurt. Hee hee. Abram tells CT that Derrick has a 26. CT interviews that it’s down to him and Landon, and he has to beat that 26. “If we win the ten grand, fine,” he continues, “but the only thing I got on my mind is that TV.” Some team spirit he has there.

Final Heat: CT vs. Landon. Landon interviews that all he has to do is beat CT, but he’s kind of doubting himself. Both players go into position as Dave slowly counts down. He blows the horn, both players begin their ascent, and we go to commercials.

Coming back to the action, we see both competitors climb frantically. Landon interviews that he knows CT will push him really hard, and he’s using every part of his body instead of just his arms. Both players climb. Both sides cheer. The wide angle reveals that Landon is massacring CT. As Dave blows his horn, Shavonda and Jamie jump for joy. Final distances: CT 26.2, Landon 33.5.

Flame segue! Dave goes over the final tallies. The Bad Asses came in with 157.4 meters, while the Good Guys got 170.7. Dave awards the $10,000 to the Good Guys, which Landon picks up. Jodi interviews that the team is ecstatic to be winning again. Dave notes that Abram set the bar, Derrick raised it, then CT logged in 26.2 meters, thus earning the Aztec Lifeshield. CT: “Derrick has a really good score, but I’m CT, and I win the Lifeshield all the time.” Dave continues, saying that Brad got 28 meters, but Landon trumped it with 33.5, getting the prizes. Dave awards the plasma TVs, and CT playfully shoves Landon away from the display model. Dave concludes by saying it will be Jodi vs. Veronica in the Inferno, and he’ll be seeing them at nightfall.

Just want to stop the recap for a little bit. If you are eating anything while reading this, you might want to wait a few hours before moving on. Every time I think of what happened, I go into a maddening frenzy. The following events have to be among the most depressing that I have ever recapped. You have been warned.

Inferno time! Dave gets the players pumped up, and Abram yells while flipping both middle fingers. Dave brings out Jodi and “the one and only” Veronica. Rachel looks on, interviewing that she doesn’t know what she would do if Veronica loses. Dave tells us that since nobody won the Lifeshield, there is no way out for out competitors. Ever hear of continuity, Dave? Our host tells us of tonight’s Inferno: That’s a Wrap. For some reason, Veronica looks shocked. The objective: using a giant spool full of cloth, the players must mummify themselves until they’re tightly wrapped. Then they have to go across the floor and pull down their respective team flag. The first player to get it done wins and stays in the game, while the loser goes home. Veronica looks up fromn the ground. Rachel looks down from her second floor view. I hold in my dinner.

Brad interviews that he is confident Jodi can win. “As long as she keeps her head in the game,” he foreshadows, “and she stays focused, there’s a great possibility of her winning this mission.” Landon instructs Jodi to keep turning her head while spinning. Jodi interviews that she’s coming in to kick some ass. Rachel tells Veronica that she’s a dancer. A private dancer? Veronica interviews that she has to keep her head in the game. She adds, “I also know that Jodi sometimes loses her cool, so I’m really trying to make sure that I don’t get flustered.” At this point, I’m blindly plowing through the warning signs, confident that Jodi can break Veronica into pieces, and serve notice on the Bad Asses in the process.

Dave bangs a gong, and we are underway. Both players spin, wrapping themselves up. Jodi gets wrapped around her legs. More spinning. We get a forced perspective from Jodi, with slow-motion thrown in. Not a good sign. And then...she falls down. The Good Guys yell for her to get up. Veronica keeps spinning. Jodi tries to get up, but falls down again. The Bad Asses cheer, their noses filled with the smell of blood in the water. Veronica spins. Jodi falls backwards. Jamie looks away. Veronica runs out of cloth, and Jodi can only watch as Veronica hops over to her flag and pulls it down. Game Over. Let’s break down the following scenes for maximum pain, shall we?

1. Veronica jumps up and down, screaming for joy. It’s like watching Katie beat Julie in the Inferno, or Shii Ann’s immunity victory on Survivor: All-Stars...except it’s just so horribly wrong. After seeing Veronica and her friends roll Sarah under the bus in The Gauntlet, I wanted to see her get beat down this season. Instead, I have this.

2. The Bad Asses jump up and down, shaking the cage from the outside. Maybe this win will shut them up. Meanwhile, Brad and Landon silently look on.

3. There’s Jodi on the floor, looking like she’s in pain. To add insult to injury, you can hear Rachel scream out: “AND YOU PICKED HER!” Classy as always, Butterface.

4. Now Jodi’s sitting down, hands over her face. Dan: “KARMA’S A BITCH!” And so are you, Dan. That’s the biggest mystery in this Challenge: how has a funny guy like Dan turned into an obnoxious jackass like the rest of his teammates? If he didn’t beat Jon in the first Inferno, then I’d still be liking Dan. Now, I want a Good Guy to humiliate him in the Inferno. Heck, I’d settle for Jodi popping him in the face. He’s certainly earned it.

Jodi interviews that the cloth was wrapped around her feet, while Veronica was perfectly rolled. She adds, “This Inferno just had nothing to do with skill whatsoever.” That’s a weak argument, but I don’t hate her for it. Veronica interviews that it sucks that Jodi got what she wanted and lost.

Dave congratulates Veronica for her win, then sends her back to her team. She runs through the door, prancing and jumping into Rachel’s arms. This is sickening. I hate those two so much. Hate their attitudes, hate their t-shirts, just hate them, period. “Watching Veronica win is equivalent to basically watching myself win,” Rachel interviews, “because I’m so happy for her, and I know how much this means to her. I think I’d go crazy here without her.” My urge to puke rises. Let’s ignore the homoerotic subtext and move to the comparison of the two. If Rachel goes into an Inferno, she’s toast. She is the single most overrated Challenger ever. I’d even give odds to newbies Jamie and Shavonda over her in a given contest.

Moving on, Dave wishes Jodi a safe trip home. Derrick interviews that it sucks saying goodbye, since she’s like a sister to him. Through the cage, he tells her that she did a good job, and that she’ll learn from this. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the only Bad Ass with any trace of humility. The Good Guys walk down for their farewells. Jodi hugs Jamie, crying and apologizing for her loss. “Jodi’s pretty much just destroyed,” Landon interviews. “You can tell she’s beating herself up about it. She was a huge part of our team. We’re going to miss Jodi a lot.” Jodi interviews that she’s sorry to have let her team down, and that she appreciated the time spent with them. “Thank you so much for your friendships,” she continues as she sobs, “and I just want you guys to do so well, and please win all the missions and just get rid of everybody on their team.” Here’s hoping.

Outside, Veronica and Rachel celebrate, walking arm-in-arm. Veronica: “For all you Good Guys out there that think you guys finish first, it ain’t gonna happen this time. It ain’t gonna happen.” Jodi walks through the Inferno door. Fade to credits.

I think that maybe the swap was Jodi’s idea, that maybe she crossed up her own team. Or maybe the editors got it right the first time, giving Julie the credit. But after the last two episodes, I am firmly in the Good Guys’ camp. The Bad Asses’ behavior from being outsmarted is deplorable, and Veronica’s victory keeps them firmly on their high horse. I would group some of them together and dub them the Axis of Ass like I have in previous seasons (Adam, Rachel and Veronica in The Gauntlet, Abram, Christena, Holly and Veronica in The Inferno), but they all qualify. If Mike or Julie win an Inferno and take a Bad Ass out, I would not mind. You heard me...if Julie were to take out Rachel or Veronica in the Inferno, it would not be a bad thing. Somebody shoot me. And if Dan gets beat down in the Inferno in two weeks, I will have the biggest smile when I hit TARCon the following night.

Next time: something with a huge vertical course with ladders and falling onto platforms. Oh, and Julie’s a-scared, because she’s afraid of heights. Yeah, that will cheer me up.

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