Friday, September 02, 2016

Battle of the Sexes Episodes 1 & 2: Jamaica Me Crazy

Hi. Welcome to Memory Lane. These are my recaps from Battle Of The Sexes, which I wrote in 2003. Apologies if the references are dated. For instance, I tend to bring up Dog Days, my first recapped show, which Animal Planet never repeated. Also, I tended to be dramatic. I mean, I strove to get everything just right, but there were a lot of headaches and I bitched a lot. And compared to the likes of "Johnny Bananas" and his clique of dickheads, they seem so quaint. Well, except for Puck. His sucking is timeless. I'll be tweaking things like links and typos. Rest assured, the opinions that I had back then will not be altered, even if my opinions changed. For instance, I didn't consider Rachel and Veronica to be less than human. Anyway, have fun reading, and I'll see you afterward with commentary. Oh, and I Insisted on using "Oedipus Rex" as shorthand for "motherfucker," because I was so damn clever, even though "Oedipus Rexing" would more or less translate as "motherfuckering."

Airdate: January 6. 2003
Recap date: January 10, 2003

The Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Sexes begins with a double-episode that gives us more than twice the drama we might expect. Melissa and Julie fight. Puck spits on David E. And there is even a competition along the way. Who will go home and who will stick around?
In case we haven’t met, my name is Jason Borelli. My previous recapping experience was covering Dog Days from Animal Planet. As you read this recap, and the others that I’ll be writing over the next few months, remember this: I volunteered for this gig. Nobody forced me into this. In retrospect, I think I bit off a lot more than I can chew. Writing about New Yorkers and their dogs? It’s a piece of drama-free cake compared to the devil’s food I’m eating here.

Before I start, I should say this: if you’re lost on what show and season anybody is from, read my recap of the preview special. I didn’t want to make the story longer with parentheses. Any past season would be italicized and initialed if need be (for instance, BOTS would refer to last year’s Battle Of The Seasons, as opposed to Battle of the Sexes). Also, I apologize in advance if I throw out a pop culture reference you don’t get. I’m just trying to go with the flow.

Establishing shots of Jamaica: surf, trees, and Jamaican flag. Enter the minivan, full of Real Worlders and Road Rulers. Dan is the first to introduce himself, pronouncing the country “Jah-MAY-ka!” He’s sitting next to Ellen. Great, I’m already nauseous. She’s trying to use the thick bald head of Syrus as a crystal ball. In an interview, she says that she’s working in the markets of Chicago, wearing the yellow jacket and yelling, “buy!” and “sell!” Wait, I though she was doing correspondence work for Jenny Jones. Anyway, she asks Syrus’ head who will be voted out first. Next to Syrus is Beth, who’s still bitter for getting kicked off of last year’s Challenge “for no reason at all.” Somewhere, Norman and Becky have a good laugh. Beth is paranoid, and hopes people will look past her reputation. Good luck, but don’t unpack.

Music plays in the background. Aneesa shimmies in her seat. Theo bobs up and down. Jamie is wearing a cowboy hat to go along with the new beard. “I’ve just been roaming around, like a nomad,” he muses. “I’m an outlaw, and I like it.” Whatever, Jesse Jamie. I bet he was voted “Most Likely to Wander The Earth” in Cornell.

The van arrives at the Round Hill resort, and everybody cheers. Several shots are established, including the Chili’s Lounge (what, you thought there wouldn’t be sponsors?) Emily introduces herself. James introduces himself. He talks about how he and Emily met during Extreme Challenge. There’s a flashback of those two doing a fetish skit as Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. That episode hasn’t been rerun in, like, ever. James and Emily went on a bike trip from Virginia to California, and they fell in love. I’m still wondering how many brain cells Emily lost in order to fall for James.

Women’s Villa. Shots of beds and a master bedroom. Jisela feels the bed sheet. “This is nice!” she exclaims. “This is Jisela material, right here.” Amaya lies on the master bed. “God, there’s so much in here I can steal!” she says. Make your own Veronica joke. In an interview, Amaya says she’s incredibly happy to be here.

Men’s Villa. Establishing shots, including one of the pool. Antoine identifies himself as the only non-American in the group (he’s from Belgium). He asks Syrus where in Africa he’s from. Syrus tells him he’s not from there, and then laughs. Jake introduces himself: “I’m a terrible competitor. I don’t think I have a chance in hell.” He says this with a smile on his face, so maybe I’d relate to him more than the other guys. David E. talks into a seashell like a cell phone. He brags about how he was the first person ever to get kicked off a reality show. “I know it’s a sad thing to be bragging about,” he says, “But that’s my ring, and I’m taking it. This is my thing. I am The Real World."

Women’s Villa. Beth and Rachel meet. Veronica still has her bags packed; after getting voted out first in Battle of the Seasons, she doesn’t want to be unprepared. Rachel hopes that the strongest people don’t go first. At the pool, Genesis talks to Ellen about her marriage to her wife. It’s not legal in Florida, so they had gotten “commitment certificates” in Las Vegas.

Julie and Ayanna reunite. You might remember that after Ayanna got kicked off for pummeling Christian during Extreme Challenge, Julie kept calling for a boycott to bring her back. Julie’s happy to be in Jamaica, and she wonders who else is coming. She’s also glad Ayanna is here, and that she doesn’t want drama. I marked the tape at three minutes, thirty-one seconds. For here on in, it’s nothing but drama.

At 3:32, Melissa enters the room, and she wants to talk with Julie. Ayanna, who probably has the theme music to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly blaring in her mind, runs out, yelling, “No drama!” Melissa replies, “Oh, there’s no drama.” Turning back to Julie, Melissa tells her that they’re not friends, and that Julie is “very dishonest.” Julie’s eyes light up, practically showing “No Sale” like an old cash register. “Did I do anything to offend you?” Melissa’s momentarily taken aback. “Yet?” she rebuts. “The past two years of my life!” In an interview, Melissa says that she and Julie were friends, but that there had been shady business dealings. “Once you go messing with my money,” she says, “You go messing with my emotions.” Back to the villa, Julie says, “I don’t know what to do for you, hon.” In her own interview, Julie talks about how former cast members go on lecture tours. In her mind, a school hired her over Melissa, and she’s still upset over that. More fighting. Another girl (Tonya?) walks past the car wreck. Back to Melissa’s dueling interview: Julie is greedy, and she lies about Melissa’s fees and autograph signings, then tries to scoop up the gig. She yells and curses at Julie to “keep my name out of your mouth.” Julie goes off to see Dan (her ex-Extreme Challenge teammate).

Men’s Villa, where the drama is non-existent (for now). Yes introduces himself as he wrestles with Laterrian. Yes had been voted out with Veronica during BOTS, saying that he “got it in the butt.” Lovely. They grapple some more, as Mark and Eric N. observe their younger teammates. As the elder members on this show, they’re trying to save their energy. Cut to Eric diving off a balcony and into the pool. I’m hoping they have substitutes on call. “Damn, Eric busted his head open. Can Malik come over right away?” Mark quips that the girls are preparing for a slumber party. Colin introduces himself. “Everybody who’s ever been on this show is a freak,” he says. “You get 36 of these people in the same room, and something’s going to explode.” He’s got a brain and a body! Meanwhile, Mark makes his own jump into the pool.

Uh oh. Eminem’s “Without Me” plays: “Guess who’s back… back again.” Let’s see, the video for the song starred Julie and Syrus in small roles, and one oth-ah, the heck with it. Puck is here. I feel the bile build within me. He visits the Girls Villa, and somebody yells, “HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!” Yeah, that would be my reaction. That, and grabbing something I could use to defend myself. In an interview, Puck feels accomplished, since he has a kid, a house, and a pool. Puck has a kid? That’s scary. He says he feels grown up. Naturally, cut to him thinking aloud about lesbian sex in the Villa. Emily is surprised Puck is here, noting that the two other people who have been kicked off shows for physical violence are here (that’s David E. and Gladys, for those scoring at home). She adds, “I think this is going to be the Jerry Springer of Battle of the Seasons." Wrong title, Emily, but I know what you mean. Puck passes gas near Mark. Puck to the camera: “Ladies and gentleman: rock and roll!”

Opening credits. Quick, name the worst opening credits in BMP history. For me, that was Road Rules: Maximum Velocity Tour, with the lame music, the multiple spilt screens of the mobile home, and some putz calling himself “The Roadmaster” trying vainly to look menacing. In Road Rules: Campus Crawl, they brought back the opening lines of the first several seasons. You know: adventure of a lifetime, your money’s gone, throw out your old rules, etc. But it had a weird hip-hop beat, fused with inexplicable blueprint graphics. Now, let’s talk about the credits for this show. I hope this is one-time-only, because it’s too long and it’s way over the top. I needed a nap afterwards. Without further ado, I give you Beach Blanket Battle of the Sexes.

A band called Midtown plays, while the boys and girls engage in a tug-of-war. RW fans might remember that the lead singer went out with Rachel, the tall blonde girl, during Back to New York. Shots of everybody dancing on the beach. It’s all swimsuits here, for maximum body exposure. Amaya and Dan gaze into each other’s eyes, kiss, and she smacks him. Mark and Lori shake their butts and pose for the camera. Veronica and Ellen pose, as they sit on Colin and Theo’s backs. David B. and Yes look like they’re fishing, since I see a rod. They look into the camera and then faint as Christina and Tonya walk by. The cheese is oozing from the TV screen. Beth smudges something creamy in Syrus’ beard and moustache, and she tries to lick it off. Eric N. and Rachel pose, then limbo. Antoine and David E. smile for the camera, then feel the butts of a passing Ayanna and Jisela. The girls smack them, giving the thumbs up afterwards. It’s almost like Ayanna advocates beating up European guys (Christian was Norwegian).

Midtown is still playing. James floats on a surfboard, and Emily joins him. They smile, and she elbows him off. Gladys and Aneesa stand on surfboards held by some of the guys. Laterrian whips around for the camera, revealing a face that would neutralize every gung-ho expression he’ll show on this program. He’s showering outside with Eric J., but Genesis and Ruthie shove them out. Blair gets off a surfboard, and is joined by Anne. Jamie and Melissa grind on each other, saluting Dirty Dancing. Jake and Shane pose, try to walk away, but smack into each other. Puck works the grill, dropping a hot dog. Looking around, he wipes it off and hands it to Julie. Those two deserve each other. And the song still isn’t over. Jonny Moseley (remember him? The host? Sleepy-eyed dude, got an Olympic gold medal?) jogs towards the camera, looking like he’s gotten out of the water. Only thing missing is: “And Jonny Moseley as ‘The Mose’.” The tug-of-war rages on, as the camera quickly pans on the guys and girls. Finally, there’s a huge cheer from the contestants around the band. End of credits. If I were a smoker, I’d be doing that now.

Back to Jamaica. When’s the commercial break? Everybody cheers as Jonny Moseley arrives. He welcomes them to Jamaica and lays the basic spiel for them and us. There are eighteen men and eighteen women. Over the next four weeks, they will be competing in all sorts of events. After each event, the top three men and women will form the Inner Circle to eliminate one of their own. In the end, there will be three-person teams on each side, and those squads will compete for $150,000. Excuse me, the “Chili’s Jackpot.” of $150,000. For the slower people, he breaks it down to $50,000 per person. I like this. After watching weeks of BOTS, where the same twelve people played games rendered mostly meaningless by the finale, the thought of a constant elimination process leading to the big finish works for me. Ruthie says that she didn’t come to work on her tan, that she’s motivated to win. James thinks that the others are willing to die for the prize. Cut to Jamie looking somewhat spazzed out. Amaya smiles. David E. smiles. Mark looks determined. Jonny holds the two checks. And finally, we have commercials.

Coming back from the break, Jonny is still holding the oversized checks. His arms must be tired. He informs the group that the first mission is on Monday, and that it will be a “same-sex pairing endurance test.” Everybody must choose a partner, but they can’t hook up with the same one in future competitions. He advises them to choose wisely, and enjoy their time.

Julie seeks damage control. She’s convinced that three days isn’t enough time when dealing with Melissa. She talks to Anne while Ayanna observes. Anne says that Julie isn’t going to leave because of Melissa. In an interview, Ellen says that the others should know that Julie is a tough chick. Well, so is Ellen, but they’re also aggravating. Dan had suggested to Ellen that she’d team with Julie, but she already had. Ellen and Julie talk some more, and the bottom line is that they’re teaming up. Two of my least favorite people joining forces? Stellar. It’s one-stop loathing for me.

Elsewhere, a chant goes up: “Mullet! Mullet! Mullet!” Sadly, it’s not to summon mulletted mommy Belou from BOTS. Puck is going to get a “rockin’, American-style, seventies pimp-ass mullet.” David B., knowing that scatting isn’t appropriate for this occasion, opts for chanting like a holy man. “Puck has an uncanny way of controlling his environment,” says Eric N. “He has such a powerful energy, that it overtakes everything else that’s going on.” I get it. Puck has formed an honest-to-Dave Koresh cult. Why else is he so popular among these people? Yes and Tonya get close-ups; Tonya looks really worried. Puck looks like a maniac in his close-up.

Mark and one of the girls start in on Puck. Strands of hair are laid on a giant leaf (come on, that has to be a cult ritual!). Puck checks himself in the camera. Tonya has a pained expression. Never thought I’d empathize with her. Needless to say, Puck likes the new look. “This is more of the competitor I wanted to be,” he says. “Business in the front, party in the back.” Is that the official mullet motto? Because that’s exactly how Matt described the hairstyle back in New Orleans. Puck won’t shut up: “We got five black guys and a dude with a mullet. Want some of that?”

Now Puck is chatting with Shane. No, Shane! He’ll make you put key organs in a Mason jar, man! Shane says that he was nervous in coming to Jamaica, but he loves it now. Puck starts in on his redemption profile: he used to be an aggressive person who pushed people away, but now he likes the camaraderie. “I’m infamous for causing controversy,” he muses, while the editors stick stormy skies in his interview. “If you get to know me, I’m a good guy.” Somewhere out there, all five of his roommates from San Francisco snort in derision.

A piano plays softly, as a new morning is established. And then: “You made fun of somebody who died of AIDS! That’s why you’re famous!” David E? Hi. Listen, if you’re going to be dramatic, you should never, and I mean never, bring up Pedro Zamora’s name like that. Ever. Even when railing on Puck. Got me? Eric J. briefs us: he was eating breakfast when Puck and David E. started yelling at each other. David is going on about how Puck’s girlfriend used to call him because he was beating on her. The others look on, unable to turn away. I’d be checking into the girls’ villa and hiding under a bed. “Go beat your wife some more!” he yells. He rants and curses some more, and then Puck spits water on him. Classy move. Couldn’t he just ooze something on him? David is ticked. “Excuse me?” he yells at another guy. “Puck just spit on my face. Disqualification!” In an interview, David said he’s never had somebody spit in his face. Naturally, the crack editors replay it, hoping to turn it into “The Loogie Heard ‘Round the Caribbean.” David’s still mad, muttering “mullet-wearin’ [bleep] spit in my face. If he ain’t gone, I’m gonna bust his [bleepin’] teeth out, and I’m goin’ home.” Not to put my personal preferences in front of a recap, but Melissa ain’t looking so bad in confronting Julie, does she?

Oh, good. David is still talking. “GO BEAT YOUR WIFE SOME MORE, WHITE BOY!” he yells. A maid, who probably has never seen the show and doesn’t know about the drama generated by these people, tries to offer David some water. Puck wonders if David is crazy and calls him a crackhead. David: “You live in a [Oedipus Rexing] trailer!” This whole exchange is sad on so many levels. It’s beyond The Surreal Life sad. “You’re gone, buddy!” David reminds Puck. “You spit in my face! You did exactly what I wanted you to do!” Wow, David is the biggest moron ever. The dumbasses from other reality shows bow to his mammoth stupidity. Of all the ways to get rid of Puck, not only does David take the worst possible route, he also went up front about it. “Tell your mom to shave her back,” Puck chimes in. Theo (hey, there are other people on this show! Who knew?) says that David and Puck have had a history of fighting, making peace, and fighting again. Outside, Puck puts a hand out, trying to make peace (or at least give the illusion), but David? Still cursing.

The guys talk with Puck, reviewing the case. One of them noted that David might have premeditated the fight, in the hopes of getting rid of Puck. Eric N. compares it to Sun Tzu and “The Art of War.” So the warlord was a skinny punk, too? David is on a cell phone with executive producer Jon Murray. Now, as much as I feel that Murray and co-creator Mary-Ellis Bunim have let their franchises slowly go to hell, I feel bad for him. He’s probably chilling out on a beach, getting a tan and sipping a drink. Then he gets a call from a screechy cast member. Nobody deserves David’s drama. Speaking of which, David is threatening to hurt Puck. Meanwhile, Puck is on the phone with his fiancĂ©e Betty. “I got something important to tell ya,” he says. “I have a mullet.” Nice contrast. Back to David, who’s planning on beating Puck up and leaving. Back to Puck, telling Betty that his ass has been threatened, “now AND when I get home!” Back to David, who’s still on the cell. “No, this is what y’all want!” he bellows, spittle leaving his mouth. “Y’all not trying to do anything about it!” Puck tells Betty to call David’s wife. David: “If I spat in somebody’s face, I would not be talking to you right now! Y’all would have my ass and I would be going home! And you know this! So I’m gonna [bleep] him up and get it over with! Because nobody has my back!” As valid a point that he has regarding Puck’s popularity and BMP possibly coddling him, David’s argument has one drawback: HE’S THE ONE PRESENTING THE ARGUMENT. David sits on a step, recharging his battery for more raving.

In an interview, Beth says that everybody was getting on a bus when Murray showed up. She left out the part about her being thrilled that she’s no longer the most despised cast member from her season, but that’s implied. Murray drops the hammer: “Puck? Bad news. You gotta go home.” Sweet. Puck, sensing that his fifteen minutes might be coming to an end, starts objecting. “I’m a father,” he says. “Don’t do this to me.” Wow, just like the time Belou offered up her daughter as a reason not to go home. Except that never happened. There’s more arguing, followed by a close-up of Puck, a single tear rolling down his cheek.

Everybody gets off the bus. Beth says that if Puck goes, they’ll follow him. Wait a second. People would give up a shot for $50,000 and a free vacation to show solidarity for Puck? Even if this is more about sticking it to Bunim-Murray Productions than sticking up for Puck, I still can’t believe it. Beth says that nobody will leave until everything is settled. “How can you do this to me, Jon?” Puck whines. “I gave you so much!” I have no idea where to start with that. A few of the girls yell at Puck, trying to rein him in. Ayanna reminds him that everybody is behind him. Puck sits on a stoop and cries, pushing the camera away. Jisela stands in front, blocking the camera. Easy for her to do… she never lived with him. Girl, remember Adam? The guy who would honk the horn while you were calling home? The guy who refused to take his ADD medication? Puck is Adam to the nth degree. Puck is every annoying cast member these people had to deal with to the nth degree.

Meanwhile, David E. (surprise, surprise) is still raging. And now, we come to the most bizarre development of this never-ending plot: the intervention of David B. DB says that he’s trying to be in the middle to work things out. He tells DE to let it go. “People respect me,” DE says. “If I let him get away, on national television, with spitting in my face, I’ll never live it down.” The funny thing is DB’s head going back in a state of delayed shock. DB asks DE if he wouldn’t put the blame on himself. DE: “I did nothing wrong.” And to think I called DB “The Ego That Walked Like a Man.” DE does offer a way of settling this: he spits on Puck. Now I know why DB looks good here. During New Orleans, the conflicts arising he started were so fourth-grade. DE and Puck are operating on a kindergarten level, so DB can’t help but look mature and poised.

Back to a paragraph where I don’t have to use initials to make writing easy, David B. talks with Puck to review David E’s offer. Puck feels disrespected, but he wants the show to go on. “So I’ll go ahead and let him degrade me,” he says. “Big deal. I will eat his spit. I don’t care.” I’m betting that he’s tasted worse things. David says that he’ll clear it with Murray.

DE and Puck are together again, ready to settle things. Puck lies down, and opens his mouth. DE walks over to him, and what does he do? “I wouldn’t give you the [bleeping] pleasure,” he says. “You are going home, bitch.” There’s just no pleasing some people. He walks away, muttering “Good to see you crawl like a dog. Just to see how low you can [bleeping] go.” I’m starting to wonder if Stephen was ever this cracked. DB walks with Puck and Ayanna. If there’s a bright side to this debacle, it’s David B. Seriously, after watching him irritate all of his roommates during New Orleans, I never expected him to be a mediator. He’s not ready to hash out peace in the Middle East, but he did well here, given what he was working with. I bet this is where Ayanna starts digging him.

Puck briefs Murray about what just happened. The boss orders everybody to go back on the bus. Puck prances as the other cast members cheer. “Two words,” Mark shouts as the bus gets reloaded, “Happy thoughts!” Amen, Brother Mark. David E. still won’t let go. “That man spit in my face, ladies and gentlemen,” he tells the camera. “What would y’all do?” Not carry on like a total punk? That might just be me.

DE is still pleading his case to Murray. DB thought that the deal went down okay, but DE isn’t having it. “Why do y’all have his [Oedipus Rexing] back?” he shouts to the people on the bus. “He doesn’t give a [bleep] about us! He thinks he’s better than us! Why do y’all still have this man’s back?” Once again, valid points, but he’s the one presenting the argument, so his words mean squat. In an interview, he’s completely flabbergasted. “Am I in the Twilight Zone?” he asks. Yeah, and I want you to go to the cornfield. Bill Mumy would’ve turned him into the screechiest Jack-In-The-Box ever.

Men’s Villa. Puck is moving out. Veronica explains that he can’t stay with David, so he’s moving to the Women’s Villa for the night. Nice move, but how much fumigation will they need once he leaves?
Nighttime. At long last, the drama is over, or at least on hold. The girls are in the pool when the cell phone rings. Christina reads the instructions: competition tomorrow, wear sneakers and sunblock, and get into pairs.

The ladies gather for a meeting. Rachel suggests that everybody say something about themselves. At this point, Gladys reveals to the group that she’s pregnant. She has to be kidding me. Even when Belou brought her seven-month-old daughter to BOTS last year, at least the kid was outside of her mother’s body at the time, especially during competition. Gladys says that she didn’t want to keep it a secret. “When I know it’s my time to go,” she says, “I’ll let you guys know.” Everybody claps, and Ruthie hugs Gladys. Rachel says that the competition would not be happening if they didn’t have a chance, adding, “they picked the most bad-ass girls to be here.” Aneesa breaks into a huge grin and makes two devil’s horns with her fingers. Ellen chimes in, wanting to prove the guys wrong about them, that they’re not “petty girls.” There’s a cut to Melissa after she says that. Why does the production team hate me? Jisela picks things up, applauding the group for being “total ladies.” “We don’t need to say anything to [the guys],” she says. “Our actions will say it all.” In an interview, Aneesa feels nice that she’s surrounded by different women who share a common interest. Everybody gathers around, and Tonya suggests a cheer. Somebody pipes in with “vagina,” Gladys voice-overs that the girls are going to take it to the top. Nice shout-out to Sharon from BOTS. The girls cheer: “VAGINA! VAGINA! VAGINA!” The only one who doesn’t cheer? Tonya. But that’s probably more about issues of decency than lack of team spirit.

That’s it. Join me next week… what? There’s still a half-hour left? Dear Lord! Give me Danielle. I yearn for her now. Heck, lock me in a room with Flo. I can handle her! The last episode of The Amazing Race 3 is a pleasant memory compared to this!

Sunrise. Random outdoors shots. Then military drums start playing. A guy in fatigues gets a few close-ups, walking in slow motion outside a Villa. There’s a shot of the girls sleeping. Uh oh. Even those who never watched Boot Camp knows what’s about to happen. Military Guy doesn’t even set foot in the Villa before he starts shouting, giving the girls 15 seconds to get outside. They start scattering. “Good Lord,” Puck yawns. “Ladies, we have jarhead.”

At the Men’s Villa, another Military Guy is yelling, “You need to step on it now!” and other stuff I can decipher. Military Guy #2 is Staff Sergeant Draud of the U.S. Marine Corps. If he’s in a battle zone now, I hope there’s no MTV there, because he won’t live this down. He’s shouting, knowing somebody is missing. In an interview, David E. (remember him?) thinks that it’s great that Puck was with the girls. Naturally, David rats Puck out to Sgt. Draud. If you’ve seen Boot Camp, you know that all drill instructors need is an opening. “WELL, COME ON, PUCK!” he hollers out loud. “GET YOUR LITTLE BRA AND PANTIES AND GET UP HERE, PUCK!” Jamie lets out a snicker. Puck arrives, trying to find a place in line while David breaks out into a smirk. He clearly takes his victories wherever he can find them. Sgt. Draud gives the men one hour to get ready. Over at the Women’s Villa, Sergeant Griffin (the jarhead) gives the ladies one hour. Sgt. Draud tells the guys to get their gear and meet at the Chili’s Lounge.

Preparations. The guys have the camaraderie down cold. Dan collapses in bed. The guys gather around as Laterrian cheer-leads, “On three, we’re not gonna ride or die, we’ll ride or [Oedipus Rexing] die. You got me?” Dan looks bewildered, voicing-over that his teammates dined on a “testosterone buffet.” I hear ya, Dan, but you still need to cut your hair. Laterrian is still in the moment, yelling “I’m so [bleeping] hyped!” In an interview, he says that his “boys” are warriors. They cheer. Syrus says that they’re going to kick the girls’ butts.

The women are getting ready, but an active blow-dryer is driving Rachel crazy. She thinks that the other girls have no idea what’s about to happen. While Veronica goes through her huge makeup kit, Melissa works on her eyebrows. Christina interviews that the guys are fit and into their bodies. Shots of the guys engaging in manly exercises. And… cut to Melissa and Amaya, engaging in some sort of dancing/exercising routine. Before Melissa leaves the show, I have got to touch upon the lack of coordination from New Orleans cast members. Christina thinks that the girls have fire and that they’ll outshine the guys. The girls cheer: “VAGINAGINAGINAGINAGINAGINA!!!” No wonder I didn’t write about that last week; I had no idea what they were saying.

There’s a shot of a bird flying, followed by a spider on a web. I guess BMP is ripping off Mark Burnett’s “animals represent actions of people” shtick now. At the event site, the guys kneel while the ladies stand. I think it’s more ritual than orders. Genesis expositions that the sergeants are teaching them certain exercises that they’ll have to memorize later. Sgt. Draud barks them out: log roll, jumping jacks, lunges, and others. My favorite is sugar cookie, where a person has to lie on the stomach and frantically cover himself with dirt. Ride the Harley works for me; squatting down and revving an imaginary motor seems easy. Veronica voiceovers that she’s trying to pay attention and focus. Tonya is nervous that the guys are physically tough. Eric N. thinks that the mission will be easy.

Competition time. Jonny greets the group then reveals the game, which is Sergeant Says – “Simon Says, boot camp style.” Since this is a pairs competition, if one person is eliminated, his/her partner is also out. Jonny continues, saying that the top pair will receive 36 points, with the value declining by twos (34 for second, 32 for third, etc.) The team with the winning pair wins a year’s worth of free rentals from Blockbuster for the entire team. The top pair also gets the Ion Lifesaver. Anne picks up the exposition, saying that the winner of a mission can pick somebody to not get eliminated. Sad story: I actually thought this was a shout-out to Judd Winick, one of Puck’s ex-roommates. Judd writes Green Lantern, and in one story arc, the protagonist got unbelievable power and called himself Ion for several issues. I figured BMP would be counteracting Puck with that, but then I saw that it’s named after the Saturn Ion. Needless to say, I felt stupid. Anyway, Sgt. Draud will be leading the fun today, and he points out the one rule: all of his orders must begin with “Sergeant Says.” In order not to confuse you reading at home (or the office, or wherever), here are the pairings:

Girls: Amaya/Melissa, Aneesa/Genesis, Anne/Christina, Ayanna/Beth, Ellen/Julie, Emily/Rachel, Gladys/Jisela, Lori/Tonya, Ruthie/Veronica

Guys: Antoine/Laterrian, Blair/Theo, Colin/Jamie, Dan/Jake, David B./Syrus, David E./Eric N., Eric J./Shane, James/Yes, Mark/Puck

Everybody jogs in place. The pairs are lined up in double file, while those in the front play along. Everyone is doing well. David B. and Syrus engage in patty-cake. Anytime you have two big dudes doing that, in a serious manner, that’s comedy. Rachel voiceovers that once Sgt. Draud blows the whistle, you go to the back of the line. Tonya reminds us that if he doesn’t say “Sergeant Says,” you don’t do that.

Then there’s a double-elimination, as Emily/Rachel and Antoine/Laterrian fall for “log roll right.” In an interview, Emily saw Rachel roll her way on the very first call. Antoine didn’t expect Laterrian to fail. Laterrian says that he had a game plan, but he didn’t implement it. How much of a plan is “don’t screw up”? “I’m pissed,” Antoine says as he smiles.

Back to the action: Ayanna/Beth get burned on “do-si-do.” James/Yes do “log roll right” and the Sergeant did Say that, but James leaned left first. James looks at Sgt. Draud with the “you gotta be kidding me” face, but he doesn’t blow his top. Remember, it always takes a few episodes for him to go into full-on jock mode. David E./Eric N. follow Sergeant Says with jumping jacks and bicycle, but David gets decked on “log roll right.” “The boys are seriously underestimating the girls,” David says in an interview, “Women can listen.” Unless he’s screaming at them. Eric J. and Shane roll into each other, so they’re out. Jisela breaks into “mountain climber,” so she and Gladys are out.

“Sergeant Says ride the Harley!” Melissa rolls her eyes, while Puck blows a razzberry, revving his engine. But he and Mark get whistled out. Syrus does an unauthorized jumping jack. Whistle. Out. Dan log rolls. Whistle. Out. The scoreboard shows that the girls have six teams still in the game, while the guys have just two. Theo sums it up: “The girls are serving us up a helping of ass-whumpin’.” He patty-cakes with Blair, voicing over that he knows when to shut up and get his “mean face” on. Lori and Tonya execute an exercise incorrectly, so they’re out.

Back from commercials, Ellen notes that the guys are “dropping like flies.” Cut to a weird shot of ants tugging at a leaf. Whatever. The girls who are out of the game are ranking on the guys, practically picking out what they’re going to rent at Blockbuster. “There are many battles in a war,” says David B. “The war is not over yet. The guys will come back.”

Anne/Christina and Colin/Jamie are up. Sgt. Draud shouts, “log roll,” but nobody buys it. They go through several correct commands before Christina takes too long to do lunges. The whistle blows again. Julie says that while she was waiting on line, Ellen didn’t pick her legs high enough, so they’re both gone. I try not to cry. Ruthie log rolls into Veronica, and so do Colin and Jamie, so all four are gone. Blair voiceovers that he’s focusing on Sgt. Draud, adding, “The only way I’m going to win this is if all my concentration goes to this one man.” In regards to Blair’s hair: it looks like he’s using the Yugi Moto Starter Kit. The whistle blows. Blair asks if he and Theo can move. They don’t; unlike the remaining women (Amaya/Melissa, Aneesa/Genesis), they can’t alternate, since all the other guys are gone. Blair makes a “holy crap” noise.

Aneesa/Genesis vs. Blair/Theo. Sergeant Says jumping jack, sugar cookie, orbits, thrust. Then he says butter kick. From his posture, Blair knew he screwed up the instant he changed position. He and Theo are out. The girls on the sideline cheer in victory as Aneesa and Genesis move to the side to face off against Amaya and Melissa for the 36 points. “They won the freakin’ ‘Sergeant Says,’” grumbles Syrus, albeit with a smile. “What a smack in the face!”

Now we get the most dramatic game moment in reality television for 2003, at least thus far. Amaya? Looks like hell. “Sergeant Says jumping jacks. Sergeant Says mountain climbers. Bicycle.” No sale. “Sugar cookie.” No sale. “Sergeant Says sugar cookie. Log roll right.” No sale. “Log roll right.” Genesis and Aneesa do so. Whistle. Game over.

Before I pick up the rest of the scene, I just want to say that I was blown away. I dig Melissa, big-time. But I probably would have only laid two bucks on her and Amaya winning a physically demanding mission. I called her the antithesis of a RR girl, so seeing her prevail was a shocker. As for Amaya? Sergeant Says was more demanding than anything she faced in Challenge 2000. Like Melissa, she isn’t known for great athletic feats… unless you count getting chased around the ring by a midget wrestler. These two have been tight since they met on the alumni circuit. It’s fun to see that in a competition of strong humans and scheming dwarves, two hobbit chicks from the shire of West Hollywood can win out in the end.

Back to the action: Melissa screams in joy, hugging Amaya and pulling her to the ground. Gladys voiceovers that it’s ironic that the guys got their asses kicked. The other women join in the celebration, and the guys stagger in to congratulate them. Amaya says that she was shocked. “I never work out, and she weighs two pounds,” she says, as Melissa breaks out in a loud giggle. “So this is really encouraging to win a mission.”

Jonny awards the year’s worth of rentals to Amaya and Melissa (on behalf of all the ladies), who proceed to curtsy up a storm. They also get the Ion Lifesaver. Jonny tells everybody to meet up at the Chili’s Lounge, as he will reveal the Inner Circles for both teams. Melissa starts a chant, “No late fees! No late fees! What?” and the others pick it up. The only ladies not celebrating? Julie and Ellen. Man, this is sweet. Julie says that the biggest threats to her will be in the Inner Circle.

Men’s Villa Of Shame And Self-Loathing. The guys are hanging out by the pool. Colin asks those assembled how to determine who the weakest link is. Cut to a seagull on a pole. I’m stumped for relevancy. Dan decides to cash a reality check. “I don’t know if this has hit home,” he says. “All eighteen of us were beat by Ah-MY-Yah and Melissa.” I like his overpronunciation, and I laugh at the fact, even though none of the guys do. Dan continues, saying that it’s not about who’s stronger, but who is here for the team. Blair checks his nails in the pool. Sugar cookie cleansing, I wager. Jake suggests that Laterrian should go home, since he bowed out first. What about Antoine? Laterrian looks upset at the thought. The seagull is still on the pole. Puck, being the team player that he is, brings up David E. Not this again. David says that he hates beating a dead horse, and brings up the spitting. Just then, a package arrives. It’s the decaying corpse of Seattle Slew, along with hammers with Puck and David’s names on them. Maybe not, but you get my point. Everybody talks at once. Eric N. takes a deep, smoothing breath. Laterrian shouts for everybody to shut up so David can talk. “I could have sent you home yesterday!” David yells. “And I shoulda! I shoulda tagged your ass back home!” Eric walks away. James throws up his arms. More shouting. James declares that the meeting is over, since half the group has left. Anybody want to hear from the new meat? “I’m the youngest male on this cast,” says Eric J. in an interview, “And I’m acting more like a man than these individuals who are 30. I feel sick to be a part of this whole situation that’s going on.” The seagull is long gone.

Inside, David E. is ranting to Mark. He can’t understand why people are telling him to calm down, even though Puck spat on him and brought it up at the meeting. Let’s see: Puck’s an instigator, but you’ve been raving like a mental patient, and you won’t take a shower to cleanse yourself of Puck’s saliva. Seriously, I can’t imagine how toxic Puck’s fluids can be, but a shower could help. David goes on, saying that Puck is campaigning to have him voted out, so he has decided to disqualify himself.
David E. is talking with David B. about leaving. In an interview… okay, this is the dumbest quote of 2003. It might be the most ignorant thing anybody has ever said on a reality show – and that’s saying something. Here goes: “No one… not even Jesus Christ… would spit in my face and get away with it.” Wow. I mean… WOW. It takes a small person to make Puck look like a big man. Puck might have dug a hole for himself, but David has gone past the Earth’s core and found China. I wish I could curse as I recap. Then again, I’d have to invent new words to express my feelings towards him. David’s final words are about how he’s going out with a bang, his way. And he’s gone. Smell ya later, Pucky-hater.

It’s scoreboard time. I list the names in pairs to save on room.

36 Amaya/Melissa
34 Aneesa/Genesis
28 Veronica/Ruthie
26 Ellen/Julie
24 Anne/Christina
22 Lori/Tonya
14 Gladys/Jisela
6 Ayanna/Beth
2 Emily/Rachel

32 Blair/Theo
28 Colin/Jamie
20 Dan/Jake
18 David B./Syrus
16 Mark/Puck
12 Eric J./Shane
10 David E./Eric N
8 James/Yes
2 Antoine/Laterrian

Jonny says that since there are ties for third place, the Inner Circles will consist of four people just this once. The Women’s Inner Circle consists of Amaya, Melissa, Genesis, and Aneesa, all from RW. The Men’s Inner Circle consists of Theo, Colin, and Jamie from RW. The RR guys cheer as Blair also makes the IC. Nice contrast from last year, where the middle RR teams managed to outlast most of the RW pairs during the Hangman mission. Jonny then announces that David E. has taken himself out of the competition. Puck, who hasn’t let a sleeping dog lie since he was eight, shouts “Lucky for him!” But wait… he’s not finished. “You sucked for me, Dave,” he snarls in an interview. “You’re going home. Ooo… that sounded good!” Jonny goes on, saying that all of the guys get to stay. The WIC will have one hour to deliberate, and Jonny will need to know whom Amaya and Melissa will give the Ion Lifesaver to before the announcement. What good does that do? They don’t have to save any women, since they’re half of the WIC. They can’t really save a guy, since the MIC doesn’t meet. David ruins everything. I’ll feel bad if anybody from this MIC won’t be able to drop the axe on somebody before the game is done.

Dead Chicks Walking. Tonya strolls arm and arm with Dan. She interviews that she’s nervous since Aneesa is in the WIC, and she has done damaging things to her. Chicago seems like a hundred years ago, rather than just the one. Julie floats on an inner tube with Shane. She tells him about her gut instinct that maybe this is her last day.

Women’s Inner Circle. Melissa asks if anybody wants to start the meeting. Pause. “I personally want Julie off.” Almost forgot about that drama didn’t you? The others ask if it’s personal, and Aneesa doesn’t want it to be that way. Amaya mentions that Julie’s been on the phone with her boyfriend (supported by shot of Julie on the phone). Aneesa brings up Emily, who’s with James. In an interview, Emily thinks she screwed herself by finishing in last place. Genesis asks whose fault it was between Emily and Rachel for their elimination. Rachel says that the WIC would choose between her and Emily. Some time passes, because Genesis asks if everybody is in agreement, and the others nod. Now it’s a matter of who gets to break the news. Shots of Julie, Tonya, Emily, and Rachel.

Dark clouds gather. It’s not just symbolism, as the sun isn’t beaming during the big announcement. Jonny reminds everybody that one of the women will be going home. But first, Amaya and Melissa have to award the Ion Lifesaver. Amaya makes a speech, awarding it to Dan, since he made a conscious effort to get to know the women. She also says that he’s an honorary member of the girls’ team. Dan doesn’t say a word; he just breaks out a goofy smile, accepts the IL, and walks back.

Now it’s time to bounce somebody. In a voiceover, Genesis says that she felt the need to step up and make the announcement. She tells the group that it was a very difficult, that she didn’t want anybody to go. She stops short of offering water to the eliminated party if she was dying of thirst, saying that communication is what makes a good team member. Genesis hems, haws, says “voted off” while using finger quotes before revealing that it’s Julie. I need a moment. Celebrate good times, come on! I’m back. Genesis says that she’s sorry. “I love you, Julie!” Puck shouts. Shut up… you’re not even on probation, Scabby. As Julie gets hugged, the editors set up a dunk tank, which consists of Melissa, balls for a dollar, and a vat of acid. Let the backlash begin!

Emily plops a buck down, saying “She should have had the courage to stand up here in front of everybody and say, ‘Julie, I just don’t like you. Bye.’” First of all, we don’t need more up-front drama. Secondly, Emily is the last person I’d expect to be on Julie’s side. After all the crap she took from her during Extreme Challenge, I thought Emily would be turning cartwheels. Puck yells that the girls are mean, and Aneesa tells him to shut up. Yay, Aneesa! Dan unzips his lips, as he throws down a buck. “Julie got hosed,” he says of his former teammate. “If these girls think that Julie is the weakest link, they are kray-zee, and we are going to trounce them!” Who said she was weak? In an interview, Julie says that it sucks, since she’s competitive.

Julie packs. Ellen cries, since she was partially responsible for Julie’s ouster. Julie has to reassure her that she’ll be okay. Ellen places $5 on the table, whining that this is supposed to be a game. “It’s supposed to be the guys versus the girls,” she says. “Not the girls versus the girls.” Has she read the rules? Elimination from within is a huge part in the game. Julie grabs $6 worth of balls, claiming that Melissa rallied everybody against her, and if Ellen were to object openly, she would be the next target. Melissa giving Ellen the boot? Man, do I dare to dream that?

Christina puts her money down. Melissa is so not popular with the RR chicks today. She claims that Melissa set the tone, playing on Genesis’ ignorance on the whole Julie affair. Speaking of Genesis, she buys a few balls, saying that nobody bothered to tell her about the Melissa/Julie fight. Um, didn’t Melissa say in the WIC that it was personal? Wasn’t Genesis in the WIC? Even if she objected and Melissa, Amaya, and Aneesa got the majority, she shouldn’t be saying this. She goes on, saying that she would have argued for Julie to stay. At the bar, she chats with Ruthie, who isn’t buying any balls to dunk Melissa with. Meanwhile, Julie snaps a picture of herself and Ellen.

Christina has more balls to chuck at Melissa. “I think the girls have constructed the team spirit,” she says on the WIC, “To be more of an evil cheerleading cult.” I’m sorry, but I can’t see Melissa or Aneesa as cheerleaders, and Puck is the cult guy. Julie gets in the car. Now it’s down to Melissa. What can she possible say in her interview/confessional to counter all the bad vibes towards her? “Voting Julie off was absolutely necessary in order for me to have fun here, because I can’t stand the bitch.” Damn. As much as I like her, I thought that was out of line. Even with all the bad things Julie has done to her (and believe me, that list is long), she just comes off as mean and petty. Luck and determination got her to stay another day, but she’s become a target herself, along with her friends.

In an interview, Ellen says that when people play mental games on others, she has a problem with that. Does she even cast a reflection? I can point out stuff from the 2001 Casting Special and The Quest to show how bad she can be. She argues with Melissa while Aneesa watches. Melissa points out that it was a majority decision, and Ellen doesn’t care. Back to her interview: “If I have any say or influence in that, I’m gonna put [smacking fist to palm, making sputter noise] that to rest.” I honestly can’t hate Ellen more if she set my house on fire. Melissa: “It’s gonna get ugly.” Ellen: “[Bleep] y’all.” The End.

But wait! There’s more! Season highlights! I’ll try to get as many in as I can. Since there are 34 people in there and I’m afraid of mislabeling somebody, I might be a little vague. Also, BMP might not show everything in detail by season’s end. Remember freaking out over Coral and Theo getting cuddly during the teaser from last season? Wasn’t mentioned until the reunion.

Guys in tropical formal wear. Girls in tropical formal wear. Puck blows a conch shell. People stay under water. People play Laser Tag. A guy and a girl climb really big ladders. Jonny announces a ladies’ victory. Everybody is hanging on trapezes over water. Jonny announces a guys’ victory. Jake gets lifted in a celebration. Veronica slides her bikini bottom off. James attacks Emily’s face with his lips.

The wedding march plays: Puck is getting married! He kisses the bride, and I start wishing for the Atticus/Cherry wedding all over again. Antoine kisses Shane’s ear. Aneesa dances, rubbing her butt on Veronica. Ayanna dances alongside a guy. A guy falls off a scooter on a narrow ledge. Puck reminds us that this is Battle of the Sexes. Everybody seems to be on a pretend roller coaster. Ellen to Puck: “Shut up! Blonk blonk!” I don’t care what she meant; she reeks, and so does Puck. The guys and girls hang on triangles. Rubber logs drop from above. People walk on balance beams high from the ground. Ellen: “He just told me he was gonna kick my ass!” Don’t look at me like that. I haven’t told her to her face yet. More Laser Tag. Two people swing on a rope. Dan falls into some type of container.

Jonny wonders who’s being sent home. Anne (I think) would love to send Emily home. Puck tells somebody that a mistake is being made. Antoine: “I see more of a man in Shane than I see in James.” How many pieces will be left of Antoine once James is done with him? Rachel with a big smile: “This game is ugly!” Emily tells James that she was lied to, and she’s “done with it.” James rips a clothesline down. Ruthie is on the verge of crying. Aneesa holds her head. Ayanna: “Aneesa, I gotta go!” Multiple head shots of contestants. Female voice: “I don’t think the decision is fair.” Puck shoves a camera away.

Conspiracy Theory: I think BMP was only able to get seven guys from The Real World. They approached Puck, and he agreed to come, on the conditions that they hold a wedding for him (because he is an attention whore ) and he got to leave whenever it suited him. After more searching, they brought in David Edwards for the express purpose of instigating a fight, which would lead to Puck's "ejection." The part where the others defended Puck was real, though I wouldn't be shocked if David Broom got wind of the plan and got to play mediator to rehabilitate his image. I hope the fight was faked, because the other option is that grown adults (redundant, I know) acted like that. On purpose. Sad, right?

In the Inferno II preview special, it was revealed that David Edwards did, indeed, spit on Puck during the filming of the credits. If memory serves, I found out about that from Colin's recap on his site (which is defunct and unsearchable from David would also spit on Beth . . . and while I can get behind that on general principle, some of the saliva nailed Ayanna, and she almost got kicked out of another Challenge for beating the shitweasel up. Unlike Christian, David would have deserved it.

As for Melissa? Totally in her corner, even today. Part of me thinks that Ellen was DQed from the mission in order to set up Melissa and Amaya's improbable victory . . . but wouldn't it make more sense to keep Julie and Melissa on the show long-term for the sake of drama? The only way a fix could have been in is if BMP couldn't find enough RW girls (remember, Amaya and Melissa didn't really fit the ideal Challenger profile), and they decided to bite the bullet and bring back Julie. Then they got the Marines to prevent Julie from making the Inner Circle, and gambled that whomever made it there would be as sick of Julie's act as Melissa was. Sounds more far-fetched than a fake fight with Puck. Personally, I was dreading a possible "Everybody vs. Melissa" storyline, because I had gone through that with Sarah on Road Rules: Campus Crawl, and I really, really, REALLY liked Melissa. As a neurotic who masks angst with humor, I identified with her a lot, even though the girl was less than half of me. It sucks that she doesn't post on her Tumblr that much, because she's a good writer. Oh, and anybody who talked shit about her after the decision should have apologized after seeing Julie's "performances" in The Inferno and Inferno II. It's not too late. She digs Hello Kitty. Buy her some of that.

I managed to find the original credits, as opposed to the shortened version in subsequent episodes. Word of warning: Right before we get Midtown, there's a made-up Puck. If it turns out that image gives diseases to lab rats, I won't be surprised. And I can't believe I shit-talked the credits. I liked the old credits, including those for The Gauntlet, The Inferno, and Inferno II. There's a cheese factor that's undeniable, and I reckon that's missing from the current edition.

Next Time: Ruthie starts to change her narrative. Gladys takes a powder, Beth sucks, and I feel sympathy for Laterrian, which fades away quickly when I cover The Gauntlet later in 2003.

No comments: