Friday, December 30, 2005

Gauntlet 2, Episode 4: Earmuffed

I hope everybody is having a happy holiday. We got a top-notch episode this week, with a booting even more satisfying to watch than Adam L’s ouster two weeks ago. And 2006 will kick off with an episode so hyped, MTV has at least two commercials airing to promote it. And unlike Mark Long, I don’t feel the need to get out.

Previously on Gauntlet 2: Derrick shocked Adam in the Gauntlet to take the reins of the Veteran’s team. “I don’t have to be a jerk to anybody anymore,” Derrick told us. “Actually, I can be a jerk to whoever the fuck I want now, because I’m all by myself.” Hey, if he didn’t act like a jackass then, we wouldn’t have the redemption arc now. The Rookies tried to win two straight missions in Team Builders, but the Veterans triumphed. Cut to Ruthie getting mobbed by her teammates. ‘Winning our first challenge as a team was awesome,” she interviewed. “It was because we can work together as a team. Victory is just so sweet.” Cameran managed to piss off TJ by forfeiting her Gauntlet match with Kina. TJ asked anybody who else wanted to give up. Cut to a shot of Derrick. I’m filing that under “Editors trying to convince me that Danny isn’t dead meat.”

Night. There’s Jodi palling around with Adam K. Cut to Danny talking to Robin: “She’s fucking insecure and she fucking seeks that shit in fucking guys. You know what I mean?” I don’t know, Danny. Could you dumb it down for me? Ibis interviews that Danny has a lot of animosity towards Jodi stemming from his boot from Road Rules: X-Treme. Apparently, he felt that she was a weaker competitor. Danny interviews that Jodi screwed him over, and he was made to look weak. Flashback to 2004, where Danny can’t choke down cow parts for a mission.

Random mingling shots. Alton spins the wheel. Jeremy tells Jodi that Danny rubs him the wrong way. Quite an endorsement from the second most annoying Rookie guy. Jodi tells him that Danny felt shafted, and she relates the story to him. Flashback to Derrick telling Danny that he is the weakest player. Jodi goes on, saying that Danny felt wronged, and got voted out for no reason. She interviews that he tried to vote her out, but everybody else voted for him, and he took it personally. “He can’t let things go,” she tells us. “You can’t have that on a team.” If Danny should be mad at anybody, it’s Bunim-Murray Productions. Eliminations work great for the Challenge, but it killed Road Rules. Besides, how many substitutes did anybody care about right away? The only ones that qualify are Tina (discount Coral, mouthy as heck), Angela (whiny, whiny, whiny) and Jillian (hooked up with Patrick way too fast). Did anybody really care about Katie before her feud with Veronica? Or Chris or Nick? I’m just saying.

Clue time! Mark reads about having to be “on top” of the game. Adam reads that they have to be ready to leave by 9:30 a.m. Alton thinks the mission will be “a high one.” Make your own Randy/Jamie joke here. Alton interviews that if his team doesn’t win, he will go to the Gauntlet. Adam mock-reads about the girls having to wear thongs and the guys wearing g-strings. Since we’re all about seeing how messed up Danny is, we’ll let Adam’s flight of whimsy slide. He interviews that he doesn’t want to get foot in the Gauntlet if he can. Once again, the editors try to mislead us. Then they trot out Ace smacking a ping pong ball away, prompting Mark to yell at him. “I’ve been kicked off two Challenges really early,” Ace interviews. “The boys are gonna kill me if I go home one more time early.”

New day. Shot of the locals fishing. Derrick interviews that he goes to the Gauntlet if his team loses, and he’ll try to get his team to win.

Mission site. TJ welcomes everybody to Canoe Bay in Trinidad & Tobago. I get annoyed every time TJ tacks on “Trinidad & Tobago.” I know these kids aren’t that swift, but I think they would know what country they’re in. Anyway, our mission today is Moving Pyramids. TJ points out sixteen bamboo flagpoles for each team. The teams must construct human pyramids; three players on the bottom, two in the middle, and one on top. The teams must crawl to the first flagpole, where the person on top collects a flag, and the team goes back to the start. The second flag collected is a little farther away, and so on. Adam expositions that if the pyramid falls apart, they must start at the spot of the crumbling. TJ adds that each person must be on top of the pyramid at least once. Sadly, we don’t get to see Syrus on top at all. TJ notes that there is an one hour time limit, and the team with the most flags in the end wins. In the event of a tie, each team sends out a pyramid to race each other. The winning team gets $10,000 for their bank account. Since this is a men’s Gauntlet day, the winning male captain gets...the same damn $1,000 gift card that Alton and Ruthie have won already. Translation: “Get an XBox 360 and some launch titles. We couldn’t get them as sponsors, but we want you to rock out on Call of Duty 2.” TJ ends things by telling the teams to take the mission seriously.

Skull sessions. Randy doesn’t think either team will get more than six flags. He interviews that the plan is to put the girls to start, and take the lead from there. On the other side, Derrick reminds his team that his butt is on the line, and he volunteers to go in the middle until he dies. Some redheaded production assistant tells us that they’ll run out of time before the guys get on top. Wait, that’s Montana. I forgot she was there. Ace interviews that his strategy is to not have anybody think of him when it’s time to vote.

TJ blows his airhorn to get things rolling. Both sides get stacked up and start to walk. Mark interviews that they’ll win and save one of their guys. MJ: “This is going to be hard. I don’t think the team realizes that we’re going to have to buck it up. There’s going to be some bloodshed here today. I guarantee it.” Cut to Katie tripping over and staggering around hurt.

Commercials. Let me get this straight...some guy from freakin’ O-Town has his own show on MTV? It’s official...anybody can get their own reality show these days. Honestly, wouldn’t people consider Da Band to be ancient history in the whole Making the Band mythos? Who remembers O-Town, aside from the time one of thier incarnations beat the cast of RR: Maximum Velocity Tour in a regatta race? Wait...don’t answer that.

Both sides struggle. Time remaining: 56 minutes, 30 seconds. The Rookies take a 4-3 lead. Randy interviews that they’re getting the flags faster than planned, so they’ll have to carry the guys farther out. The score gets tied, 5-5.

Time remaining: 49:19. Jodi and Danny are in the middle with Adam on top. Jodi tells Danny to move his knee, and she has to yell that to him because he doesn’t listen otherwise. Danny: “This bitch is turning around, telling me this stupid shit to do.” He whines about the others are following Jodi because she’s screaming. The Rookies yell for the pyramid to lower their bodies. Alton yells for Jodi and Danny to get into a “frog position.” Landon interviews that Danny’s knee is going up and down his spine. The Rookie pyramid moves slowly.

Time remaining: 32:00. Derrick crawls on the ground, interviewing that he’s willing to put 200-plus pounds on his back to get another flag, or he’s Gauntlet-bound. He grunts and struggles as the pyramid collapses at the finish line. “Derrick is absolutely incredible,” Ace interviews. “He gives it his all every single time, every single challenge. He’s probably the strongest player on the team, hands down.”

Ruthie grabs a flag, putting the Veterans up, 10-9. As the Veterans crawl back, the Rookies go the other way. MJ, Alton and Randy strain on the bottom. Alton interviews that his hips hurt and knees are sliding into his back, and it’s hard for everybody and not just for him. The pyramid collapses, and MJ beats the ground in frustration.

Jamie (with his weird samurai hair knot) grabs a flag, putting the score at 10-10. Danny is in this pyramid, getting instructions shouted at him from inside and outside the pyramid. Jodi yells for him to get down. Danny yells that he gets more support his way. “Danny can’t handle constructive criticism at all,” Jodi interviews, “and if you tell him to do something, like even in a nice way, he won’t change what he’s doing. That doesn’t work in a team situation. You cannot not listen to what people have to say. You have to be able to compromise and make a change.” The Rookie pyramid finishes and collapses. Danny tells Jodi to stop screaming his name, since he knows what he’s doing. “If Jodi thinks she’s helping me out,” he interviews, “she’s just annoying me even more. I’m getting angrier and angrier and angrier, and I’m so angry right now, that I’m honestly could just flip my fucking lid.”

Time remaining: 14:00. The Veteran pyramid collapses trying to get a flag. Katie sprawls herself out. The Rookies struggle some more. Mark grabs a flag to put the Veterans up 15-14, but MJ ties things up. The Veterans cross the line at 4:13, while the Rookie pyramid finishes up. Brad interviews that the Rookies are not sending out a sextet to go for the final flag. “In these games,” he adds, perhaps ruefully remembering the screwjob he got in Battle of the Sexes 2, “you always need to fight to the end, because you never know what’s going to happen.” David pick up the flag on top of the pyramid. MJ tells us that he doesn’t think that the Veterans will make it back before time expires, so the Rookies need to save energy for a possible playoff. I don’t see any problem with that. Unless they kick the Veterans in the face, there’s no way they could catch up.

The Veterans charge to the finish line with 2:30 left on the clock. I wouldn’t be surprised if BMP fudged the time. David is on top, Robin and Julie are in the middle, with Syrus, Ace and Derrick on the bottom. Jeremy can’t believe the tired and sweaty Veterans are making it back. The pyramid collapses with thirty seconds to go, but they get back up. “They’re like hungry pitbulls coming in to the finish line,” Timmy interviews. “This is incredible.” The Veterans on the sideline chant Ace’s name Aneesa interviews that he is a key player with a lot of heart. Time: eighteen seconds. Ace looks ready to keel over in the middle. “This has got to be one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in my life,” he interviews. “It really feels good that the whole team is cheering for me right now, because I am about to die.”

The Veterans finish with four seconds to spare, and we get the subsequent celebration, with Mark taping a half-dead Ace’s belly and dubbing him their MVP. “We deserved to lose!” Ibis gripes in an interview. “I’m sorry, but you sit back and say, ‘Let’s wait for them to fail,’ with that attitude, you deserve to lose.”

TJ congratulates the Veterans for their win. Derrick gets carried by his teammates to get the $10,000 check and gift card. Veterans are now in the lead, $20,000-10,000. Derrick interviews that he’s happy with the win and that it “looks good on my resume.” He’s done three Challenges and will be in a fourth. I didn’t even know he had a resume. TJ gives the Rookies thirty minutes to determine who gets spanked by Alton in the Gauntlet. Background music segues us to the next scene: “You had your chance/There’s no reason to cry about it now/You better know that this is all your fault/I hope that you know that this is all your fault.” Catchy!

Cara and Jodi chat quietly, only to get interrupted as Danny yells for Jodi to say what she has to say out loud. The girls try to talk to Danny, but he bitches about how Jodi has been doubting him. Jodi tries to explain that an argument needs both sides. He continues to bitch about her doubting him as far back as the first day, and how she’ll mess up the team. He punctuates this with, “Kiss my fucking ass, bitch!” He even smacks his own butt to emphasize the point. Jodi: “Go into the fucking Gauntlet and lose. I don’t care.” She interviews that she has no idea where his anger comes from, and he is screwing himself. Probably because nobody else will. Cara waves and smirks, “See you later, Danny. Good knowing you, Danny!” I love the gang snark, especially when the mark totally deserves it. Cara interviews that she laughed because she can’t believe what’s going on. “Everybody just can’t believe,” she adds, “that adults behave this wave.” This comes from the girl who shared an RV with the likes of Abram and Donell. Danny stalks past some girls, huffing “slut!” at either Cara or Jodi. He’s just so pleasant, isn’t he? “Go suck another dick!” he adds.

Rookies’ Gauntlet Deliberation. Apparently, the captain will always decide who goes into the Gauntlet. He brings up how Danny has been mentioned and Danny’s feud with Jodi. Bottom line: Danny’s going into the Gauntlet. Of course, Danny ain’t happy. He doesn’t think the arguments should be brought up, since it has nothing to do with gameplay. He accuses Jodi of screwing up the team in the mission. Randy interviews that he can’t believe Danny is lashing out, and that Danny is confirming every suspicion about him. Susie: “Why would anyone want you to be our leader?” Overjoyed that he has yet another person stabbing his back, he lashes out at Susie for not being on his side. Susie: “Danny, you’re behaving like a child! Grow up!” Says the woman in the pigtails whose future meltdown has been previewed in commercials. Danny yells at her for getting him pissed off. Alton: “You’re a weak player. I’m sorry.” Danny snaps that this is just feeding his anger.

Here comes TJ to get the name of Alton’s opponent and to spin the wheel. I get a little edgy at this point, since there might be something Danny could kick Alton’s butt in. Happily, the wheel goes past “Be a Little Bitch” and lands on Beach Brawl. This brings out a huge smile on my face, with visions of Danny’s legs sticking out of the sand dancing in my head. Danny mutters that he’s ready to go, and he stalks off. Adam hugs Alton (what would Ace think?) and the team does a group cheer. Do you have anything to say, Mr. Dias? “If they chose me because of some stupid arguement between me and some slut, let them fuckin’ do their shit, because you know what? I’m gonna turn it around and beat his fuckin’ ass at Beach Brawl. I wanna fuckin’ see him in that shit right now.” So precious!

Gauntlet! TJ welcomes the assembled crowd, then congratulates the Veterans for their win. He calls down Alton and Jeremy, the latter of whom gets cheered by the Veterans. Syrus: “Danny, if you take out Alton, my team is winning this whole damn Challenge.” And that’s why Syrus doesn’t get annoying after four Challenges.

TJ explains Beach Brawl. Basically, the players challenge each other in a circle drawn in the sand. The objective: take the opponent out of the circle. Oh, and the players will be covered in oil, so they get slicker and harder to grab. Also, the homoerotic content gets bumped up, but that’s more of a side effect. First player to win three matches gets to stay in the game.

Alton and Danny get greased up, and the ladies in the audience (as well as a few of the fellas) faint at the sight of an oiled-up Alton. Danny thinks that if he’s greasy enough, Alton can’t hold him. “Danny is pissed off,” Julie interviews with buggy eyes and teeth. “He is fired up and he is ready to go CRAZY!”

The players get ready to grapple. Landon interviews that his team needs Alton to stay, and the worst thing would be to keep their weakest player. TJ rings the bell. Danny lunges for Alton, but Alton manages to lightly tapped him on the back, using the momentum to send him flying out of the circle. And yes, it’s as hysterical as I type this as when I first saw it. Alton leads, 1-0. Julie recaps for us, laughing that Danny lasted at least 2.5 nanoseconds. Great...I’m laughing with Julie. Danny really does suck.

The players gear up. Danny interviews that he’s starting to get worried, and he needs the refocus in order to win. TJ rings the bell. Both players circle each other, as the teams look on. Finally, Alton shoves Danny out of the circle, going up 2-0. “This is your chance,” Alton interviews. “Really try. I’m not gonna sit and embarrass you. Like, just try.” He’s a bigger man than me. If I had my way, Danny would be hanging onto one of the Gauntlet’s masts by his underwear.

Round Three. Both players circle. Jeremy shouts for Alton. I start hoping that Alton sends him home in two weeks. Danny lowers himself, prompting Timmy to yuk about going into a crab position. Danny lunges...but Alton pulls him out of the circle. Game Over, Alton wins 3-0, and we’re out one snot. Perfect way to end 2005. “It was just such a pathetic loss,” Jodi interviews. “You know what I don’t like? I don’t like when people talk a bunch of shit and they don’t have anything to back it up with.” I am so amped by this Gauntlet, I choose to ignore how Veronica beat Jodi down in the Inferno. Danny whips his helmet off like the punk that he is. Alton gets high-fives from his mates. Susie interviews that Alton staying keeps team morale high, and that he’s a great communicator.

Denouement. TJ calls Alton an “animal” and congratulates him. He then gives Danny 20 minutes to clear out and fade into obscurity. Jillian feels miserable about losing two missions in a row, but she thinks the team is better off without a loose cannon.

Mansion. Ace sits on the deck, happy that this is the longest he’s been on a Challenge. “It just feels so good right now to actually be winning,” he interviews. “We’re all screaming. We have unity. It’s just a great feeling.” I keep thinking that the pattern for him is being the xth man out of an xth Challenge, as opposed to including men and women. In other words...unless Mark bolts from the show next week and ruins the pattern, I wouldn’t be shocked if Ace has to face Derrick in the Gauntlet in two weeks.

On a lighter note, Danny goes to the pool area and apologizes to Susie. He adds that he was mad at the people who were laughing at him. He then turns on Cara, accusing her on laughing at him. When she tries to weasel, he notes that her laugh is distinctive. “It’s comedy, basically,” Cara interviews. “Everybody’s basically just holding in their laughter until he leaves.” She tells him that they got along, and asks why he’s pissed at her. “I wasn’t laughing at you,” she claims. “Okay, maybe I was a little bit.” Cut to Landon chuckling, then covering his mouth. Sweet edit. Danny: “Whatever. You’re a fucking bitch.” Compared to what Tina would’ve given out, you got lucky. “Danny’s very classy,” Jodi interviews. “And he definitely likes to go out in style. Like, could you just leave already and just stop trying to create junk?”

Outside, Ibis tells Danny that they love him. Danny interviews that the Rookies lost a good competitor. “They’re probably fail every single challenge from now on,” he adds. “Unfortunately, that’s going to lead you to your loss.” Just for that, I hope the Rookies go on a winning streak. After hugging Ibis and Jillian, he gets in the Taxi of Shame. If he hates people laughing at him, he’d better not leave home for the next few months. What a total asshole. Cut to Landon looking on from poolside. “That was Danny,” he says out loud. “That was Danny going.” He dives in the pool. Fade to credits. Perfect!

Next week: We have a mission where people squeeze stuff between each other. I have no clue, but Jeremy calls it a “ridiculously sexual challenge.” But who cares? Jodi’s crying! Robin is interrogating Mark on the bus! MARK NEEDS TO GET OUT!!! And take Beth with ya!

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