Saturday, December 10, 2005

Gauntlet 2, Episode 1: Debacle of Madness

We start on an old-timey globe, zooming in to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago off the coast of South America. Random shots of the coast, a skull and crossbones, parrot, etc. Shots of the Gauntlet site, which I originally compared to Stonehenge. More images segue to a landing strip, where our esteemed players arrive at the Crown Point International Airport. Cue the show’s title card.

Robin interviews that she’s feeling a good vibe. The players frolic outside as they board buses. Derrick interviews that he’s here to win it all. “You want to see drive,” he interviews, “You want to see determination, you want to see motivation? Watch me.” The players gabble on the bus. Syrus notices that the bus has gone off the beaten path, and they’re not going to chill at a mansion. The kids start to get alarmed. Jodi: “Where are we at, and what’s going on? Because this cannot be our house.” Make your own Talking Heads/”Once In a Lifetime” joke. Jodi points out a floating platform, which everybody decides to stand on. Landon interviews that everybody is getting nervous. On a happy note, Landon has abandoned the “skullet” hair from last season, going for the almost-bald look. Beth blabs that she’s “seasoned at this,” and that there’s going to be a twist.

Soon, a figure walks out, and the crowd cheers. This new face welcomes them to Trinidad and Tobago. Mystery Man is BMX biker TJ Lavin, whom Adam K. describes as “one of the greatest dirt jumpers to ever walk the walk of the Earth.” It’s been almost three years since Jonny Moseley and Battle of the Sexes, so why haven’t I checked in on alternative sports to check out potential hosts? Cara interviews that TJ is a “sexy, sexy stud.” So was Dave, your love interest from The Gauntlet. Please tell me you didn’t dump him. More cheering. TJ asks everybody if they’re wondering what’s going on. “This is your first challenge,” he tells them. Record scratch. Everybody cheers as the sky opens up. Or maybe it’s a rain machine. Adam K.: “I don’t know if we’re ready for this.” Just the way he says it makes me think that Adam will bring the stealth funny to this season.

Credits. We’re back to the cheesy credits and the theme song, as opposed to mere music from last season. Following in the footsteps of Midtown (“Let Go”), Ill Kid (“Rock Star”), Yellowcard (“Miles Apart”), and The Vandals (“Come Out Fighting”) is Superchic[k] with “Anthem.” I have no clue why the brackets are there.

Anyway...we zoom into a skull’s eyehole, over the Gauntlet site, and straight into the water. Under the sea, we have Challengers. Soon, they surface in pairs: Landon & Cara, Mark & Robin (ick), Jamie (and his mighty chest hair) & Susie, and Brad & Julie. Man, Brad just can’t win, can he? More duos: Alton & Jillian, David (adjusting his cowboy hat) & Katie, Syrus & Montana, and Timmy & Beth. It’s worth noting that while emerging to the surface, Timmy kisses Beth’s hand. To quote Darrell, “Timmy, Timmy, Timmy, what is you doin'?” Still more couples: Ace & Aneesa and MJ & Cameran.

Cut to a spilt screen of both teams walking on the beach. Both teams jump over a banner with their team name. The teams start taunting each other. Adam L. and Jisela go for the smoldering intimidation. Adam K. and Jo point and yell. No reaction from Ruthie, while Jodi points and Jeremy screams. Both sides rush each other. A neat wave effect reveals TJ. Title! Hook ripping through it! Awesome!

Rolling clouds and waves bring us back to the action. Timmy reminds us that there’s a mission right off the bat. TJ starts off by separating the teams into Veterans and Rookies. He reads off the roll call, going over the Real World seasons by city name, and Road Rules editions by season number. Veteran girls: Ruthie, Montana, Robin, Katie, Beth, Julie, Jisela, Aneesa. Veteran guys: Derrick, Brad, Adam L., Timmy, Mark, Syrus, Ace, David. Brad interviews that anybody who’s competed in two prior Challenges is a Veteran, while everybody else is a Rookie. Still doesn’t explain how Jamie isn’t a Veteran. I need somebody to explain that to me. TJ reads off the Rookies, starting with the girls: Jillian, Jodi, Susie, Kina, Ibis, Cara, Cameran, Jo. Rookie guys: Landon, Jeremy, Alton (from “Real World: V-Town,” according to TJ), MJ, Jamie, Randy, Danny, Adam K. Montana interviews that her team has a good chance to win, adding, “I could break those Rookie girls over my knees.” Landon: “If I were a Veteran, I would worry about breaking a hip. They’re delicate!”

TJ reminds everybody that this is the first mission, a “king of the hill” event known as Royal Rumble. Brad expositions that the last man standing on the platform becomes team captain. Katie adds that there are no rules, and the object is to knock each other off the platform. TJ drops another bomb: the teammates will be battling each other. MJ: “I thought I was here to go against these veterans, these old dudes, and now I got Alton and everybody else breathing down my throat.” That should be “breathing down my neck”...unless there’s something MJ isn’t ready to tell us. TJ continues, saying that the winners become captains, earning $1,000 in sponsor money. “This is my thing!” Derrick enthuses, snapping a Landon voodoo doll’s neck off-camera. “I’ve been wanting to rumble with people for the longest time.” TJ calls the Rookie guys up to star. Randy interviews that they have to “set the scene” to figure out who will lead. The sun goes down and the clouds get stormy.

The Rookie men gather on the platform in matching blue uniforms, getting ready to scrum. TJ counts down, then blows his airhorn. The guys start grappling, and Danny is imemdiately tossed off the platform and into the water. Derrick does play-by-play from the sidelines, and he’s a happy camper. Landon gets flung off. MJ plows into a guy. Adam K. Goes out. The players on the shore laugh it up. “The Rookie boys are out of their minds!” Aneesa interviews, wearing the Mohawk, big earrings and jewelry. Cara adds that she thinks she saw torn skin on the guys. Alton shoves Jamie and lightning lights up the clouds as we head into commercials.

We’re down to three players, as Jamie gets on top of Randy, while Alton is standing over them. I imagine that Jamie and Randy are secretly exchanging info on where to get the best pot in the area. Alton has no appreciation for drugs, and he shoves both players off to get the win. He follows that up with a nice side flip into the water. He interviews that he wants the position because he thinks there’s “some sort of immunity from the Gauntlet” involved. You can just see the vultures of foreshadowing pecking at his ankles. He adds that winning $1,000 isn’t a bad way to start things off, and I can’t argue with him.

Next up: the Veteran guys. The sky is pouring, and I’m thinking that maybe this isn’t BMP-manufactured. The fellas gather to recycle the old Road Rules cheer from Gauntlet: “Hey, Veterans! Go, Veterans! ATTAWAY!” TJ blows the horn, and the veterans look pumped to fight...except they don’t Mark tells us that rather than injury each other, the team has decided to work the system and play rock-paper-scissors to determine the captain. As much as I hate Mark, he has a point. The guys comically play the game, as Adam L. takes Timmy out. They hug, and Timmy pulls off a nice belly flop. Ace loses and jumps off. Jeremy calls them a “big group of girls.” Are we going to have that little snot trying to assert his manliness again? Derrick and David dive off. Syrus does an impressive cartwheel off. Brad jumps off, and our winner is Adam L. Booooooooooooooooooooo! He interviews that he belongs in the captain’s seat, since he can do the best for his team whenever they want. Once again: booooooooooooooo!

Rookie girls come up for their round. Ibis interviews that they’ve decided to copy the Veteran guys’ approach with rock-paper-scissors. The girls have their own version, starting with four matches. Losing the first round: Cara, Ibis, Susie and Jillian. The girls dance around, clearly loving the lack of violence. Jodi and Cameran botch the semifinals, and they dive off. “Basically, these Rookie girls are afraid to rumble,” Robin interviews. “They’re a bunch of little prisses.” In the final match, Jo defeats Kina to gain the captain’s spot. They hug and dive off.

Finally, we have the Veteran girls. After TJ blows the horn, Jisela jumps off the platform. Great...we’re on the first day, and she’s already giving up. More alarming is her interview segment, where she not only matches Aneesa’s jewelry, but also wears a ton of makeup. It ain’t flattering at all. Anyway, she’s not fighting, but the rest of the girls are. After all, this is a group with Robin, Katie and Julie, so there had to be a rumble. Anyway, the girls get into a huge non-sexy pileup. Ruthie interviews that she wanted to be a captain right away. Aneesa shoves Beth off. The spectators are loving the brawling. Katie gets pushed off, and she manages to drag Robin with her. Julie stays on the edge, battling Ruthie. “I am shocked that the Veteran girls are animalistic as they are,” Susie interviews. “Maybe they’re trying to psyche out the Rookie girls, and if so, it’s working.” Cut to Julie on top of Aneesa. Julie has an interview, and she’s got a nasty cut on her right eyebrow. I’d give props for whoever did it, but she’s crazy enough to have done it to herself. Anyway, she’s out of gas, Aneesa interviews that she’s out of breath, and they decide to hand the title over to Ruthie.

Denouement. TJ awards the Rookie captaincies to Alton and Jo. Adam K. is ecstatic with Alton being captain since “he is out best competitor, hands down.” TJ also awards Adam L. and Ruthie with captain positions. David brings up Adam having done the Eco-Challenge. Jo hugs Alton. “I’m thinking, ‘Hallelujah’,” Cameran interviews. “This girl is very calm, and I think if anybody, she’ll be the last person to start drama.” If I didn’t see the commercials or the preview, that quote would’ve put me on alert. TJ stares that each captain has won $1,000....and luxury accommodations at the house.

The house? Oh, right...the house. The players walk in...and yep, they’re impressed. Brad likes the pond with a waterfall in the front door. Jamie interviews that before this Challenge, he was living in a Buddhist monastery. I did not make that up. Beth introduces herself to us as we see her drag her bag, dredging up memories of Inferno II, when Tonya dumped her stuff in the pool. Cara tells us that she’s been “getting naked for Playboy” as the magazine’s November centerfold. More fun from the cast, more running around. Jo and Adam L. check out their deluxe accommodations. Jo laughs that the other girls are crammed into bunk beds in one room. Timmy points out that Jo is the oldest Rookie girl, and that she hasn’t been on a reality show for “a decade of two.”

One guy dives into the pool. We see a stairway leading to the pool, with the last few steps submerged. Kina interviews that she’s still in school, and she’s dating Randy, whom she calls “the greatest thing I’ve ever met in my life.” Robin sits on Mark’s lap, and I get nauseous. She interviews that they care about each other, but they’re just friends. Alton interviews that he moved into a house in Venice Beach with Irulan, but they broke up. Ace laughs about how bad he’s stunk in prior Challenge. “I’m ready for anything,” Mark interviews. “I’m ready for the Gauntlet, I’m ready for the challenges, I’m ready for whatever. Throw anything at me, I’ll do my best.” Katie tells Adam K. that Theo and Adam L. described her as the “most disgusting girl they’ve ever met.” She proves their point by belching really loud and really long. How cute.

Night lapses to day. We see the mansion from the sky, one road leading to it. Two guys stare out at the horizon from the pool. It’s quite a beautiful view.

A wave effect takes us to the Gauntlet site. Background Music Voice: “How long will I live. I do not know.” The players arrive at the site. Alton describes the Gauntlet as “some crazy sunken pirat ship,” with masts coming from the ground. I gotta admit, the production crew has officially topped the Inferno site from last season. Brad interviews that it looks like an intense battleground for the Gauntlet. Susie: “You can sort of feel that this is the place where you will be made, or you will be sent home.”

Once again, TJ welcomes everybody to Gauntlet 2. The teams will be competing in fifteen missions, each one paying out $10,000. The final mission is worth $150,000, making the total prize money $300,000. Everybody cheers about the money. One girl asks if there’s a catch. TJ answers that after each mission, there will be a Gauntlet. There will be “guy captain days” and “girl captain days.” Come on, let the sexes mix it up! The captain of the winning team gets an individual prize. Alton figures that the captains will be rotated. TJ drops the bomb: the captain remains the captain until his/her team loses. Then that person goes into the Gauntlet. Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuunnnn! Jo’s jaw drops. Alton calls the deal “gnarly” in an interview. Adam K.: “[pause] Not so sweet now.”

Coming back from commercials, we get shots of our four captains, all of whom have just figured out that stepped in poop: Jo, Ruthie, Adam L., and Alton. Ruthie interviews that the winning captain gets a prize, while the loser goes in the Gauntlet. TJ adds that before the Gauntlet, the team deliberates on who else goes into the Gauntlet to fight the captain. MJ expositions that if the challenger wins, that person becomes captain. See, you gotta think like a pirate. If the team loses, the crew has a munity, and somebody challenges the captain. Loser takes a walk on the plank and into Davy Jones’ Locker. Alton calls it “a purification by fire.” Jo jokes that if the team wins, nobody has to go home. Landon interviews that being captain is good for winning prizes, but the probablity of being around for the final mission isn’t good. Cara: “Thank God I’m not a captain!” She adds that Jo is freaking out. Kina hugs her, telling her things will be okay. Ibis: “Knowing Jo’s our captain, I’m stoked because I know that I can kick her ass, so that works for me.” Teammates wanting to knock each other out? The new format’s working already!

Night. A female hand writes an invitation to a “super exclusive party tonight.” Who’s invited? “Good looking people only.” Damn, there goes at least ten people right there. Robin has decided to throw a birthday party for Mark. He woo-hoos in an interview about turning “thirtyish.” Whatever. By the way, is it just me, or has he acquired the hair of Matt from RW: New Orleans? Tonight, the house is “The Dirty Pirate.” Julie and Ace don eyepatches. Derrick roots through the fridge, taking out bottles and stuffing them in every pocket he has. This is not going to end well for him, is it? Katie plays the part of the door lady, lining everybody up. David interviews that this is the best party in Challenge history. Oh, come on...this doesn’t hold a candle to the Hurricane Juliette shindig on Battle of the Seasons. A few guys play bodyguards for Mark. Katie asks Beth for her name, then pretends she’s not on the list. Probably not the first time Beth’s been through that. Adam L. pop a balloon on MJ’s crotch, and everybody responds like it’s gunfire. Cut to Jo going online, turning around. Other than that, everybody’s having fun. “I feel like I’m in Animal House,” Susie interviews. “These people are insane!”

More alcohol-fueled hijinks. Julie sits on the top bunk, not doing anything. Cara interviews that people are “enjoying each other,” and that Jo’s not liking it. While she says this, we see Mark and Robin making out. Yeah, I’m not liking that, either. Montana goes to Jo, trying to bring her to the party, telling her it’s not that bad. Jo: “Ewww, nasty!” Both ladies laugh, so we’re not going into dramatics just yet. Beth accuses Adam K. of looking at her breasts. Jeremy predicts that this season will bring “mad hookups.” Cut to Beth pulling Ace itno the bathroom. Please tell me Ace didn’t go there. David tells us that people are already hooking up. Cut to Adam L. and Jodi in the pool. I feel that if Jodi had beaten Veronica in the Inferno, she wouldn’t be squeezing on something Trishelle got to first. “Homegirl is about to steamroll the cast!” David enthuses, as we see Jodi shimmy in her swimsuit. “She is horrrrrrn-nay!” Thanks for sharing.

Robin tells Mark that she has a present for him. After a few seconds of anticipation, we see Aneesa rubbing herself on Mark. Seriously ick. It could be worse...I would’ve expected Eric Nies to pop out of a cake, wearing nothing by a jump rope. Ibis doesn’t look happy, but everybody else seems to love Aneesa going below the camera. I’m thinking something disgusting happened. I hope that I’m wrong, because Mark doesn’t deserve that done to him by anybody, ever. The guys chant Aneesa’s name, and I’ve lost a lot of respect for her. Meanwhile, Ruthie tries to pry something from a naked Danny. Upstairs, Jo brushes her teeth, not looking too pleased. Danny interviews that Jo has an emergency, and she needs to use the phone.

Cut to Jo outside in a car in the rain, calling her father in England. “I swear to God,” she tells him, “there people are absolutely insane. And today has been an absolute debacle.” We get a faraway shot of cast members looking on, then zoom back to Jo. “I walked in on people on the bathroom floor shagging.” She’s British, so it’s okay for her to say that. “There’s so many other aspects of life apart from, you know, sex and competition. It’s just boring.” Girl, have you seen this show? It’s all most of them do! If BMP could get away with a sexual Challenge, they would have done it years ago. David turns to Julie, while Jo figures that she never should’ve come here.

Meanwhile, Kina tells Danny that Derrick has passed out on the bed. Vegas wouldn’t take odds on that happening. Naturally, it’s time to screw with our favorite drunk, as the kids grab chocolate syrup and run to the bedroom. And guess what? Derrick is on Jo’s bed. Anyway, the gang tries to be careful, but some syrup spills on the floor, while Alton falls down carrying Derrick.

Back to Jo...she tells her father that she has to get her stuff, since it’s not safe. Maybe she has seen the show after all. Julie walks over to Jo, because when you’re feeling down, you need an insane girl with 531 teeth to comfort you. Susie interviews that the captaincy has gotten to Jo to the point where she doesn’t want to be here.

Cut to Jo in the room, with the syrup on the floor. She sees the mess and wants out. Cut to Timmy hiding behind a wall. “Wait a second, bitch,” Danny snots in an interview. “There’s something wrong with her.” There might be...so why do I want to punch Danny in the head? Al of the sympathy from his early exit in RR: X-Treme is gone, and I want Alton to drop-kick him off. Jo yells about how she doesn’t live like this. Cut to Beth looking on, smiling her butt off. Timmy: “I don’t know Jo at all. I don’t know her from a ham sandwich.” See, that’s why I like Timmy. He’s too old for this crap, but he’s funny. Also: he doesn’t screw with younger cast members. He adds that somebody had sex on her bed, and “that would send anyone into a tizzy.”

Somebody knocks on the door. Jo holds the door shut with her foot, then releases it. Ruthie comes flying in, looking a lot like Kramer. With David and Aneesa behind her, Ruthie tries to find out what’s wrong. She grabs Jo, but Jo does not want to be manhandled., adding, “I will call the police if you put your hands on me again.” Yikes. Aneesa looks on in total disbelief. Ruthie asks if they can talk. Jo loudly announces that she will call the police if she can’t pack her bags. Ruthie tries to reason with Jo, but Jo doesn’t feel like owing anybody an explanation. Ruthie interviews that there’s a wall between her and Jo, and she can’t look into her eyes without her looking elsewhere. “I feel like I was the enemy,” she adds, “and I didn’t know why.” Ruthie still tries to help, and Jo ain’ having it, as she yells at a cameraman, stalking off and grabbing the camera. Fade to black.

Okay. On the one hand, Jo should’ve known this might happen. I can’t blame her being captain for setting her into her funk. On the other hand, I think BMP is covering stuff up, and some stuff must have went down that we will never hear about. Or maybe she had enough “fun” and decided to fake a meltdown before leaving. Of course, BMP could make her look more nuts. She won the Royal Rumble...they couldn’t just edit her out like they did Piggy in Inferno. I just feel that no many what anybody says, we’ll never know the entire truth.

This season on Gauntlet 2: Jo is still nanners, as she threatens to sue the island. WhawhaWHAT? Clip of Katie yelling at Derrick, “Why are you acting like this?!?” Cut to Danny: “Because I’m fucking tired of it. Shut your fucking hole!” If Alton won’t kick his ass, I will. Guys climb on cargo nets. Two girls tethered to each other run in opposite directions. Girls wrestle in the sand. Guys tethered and pulling. Aneesa: “Suck my [bleep], bitch!” Syrus lays in the sand, looking wiped out.

Kina cries about how she hates this. Mark bitches at Robin, and he is really, really mad. Random dance and makeout montage. Randy tells Kina that he’s not worried about the money, and he wants to be with her. Can I be invited to the wedding? There’s a mission with poles and fruit. Rolling of fake boulders. Pushing of pickup trucks. Alton gets sprayed with water. Timmy walks on skis with Aneesa on his back. A guy jumps over a bar. A girl crawls through suspended tires. A guy slides around in blue pain. Syrus: “You need to go NOW!” More missions. Beth: “She’s luck I didn’t fucking bitchslap her.” Derrick: “You’re the meanest person I fucking know.” More Gauntlet footage. Mark: “I NEED TO GET OUT!” That’s how most people feel when you’re in a room with them, buddy.

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