Saturday, October 22, 2016

Battle of the Sexes Episode 8: Cold-Butted Snakes

I'm back. Sorry if you've been impatient. Two weeks ago, I hit New York Comic Con, and I've been working on stories from there. I've also been playing catch-up with my television addictions. Yes, that includes The Real World: Bad Blood, which is going to have fourteen cast members in the near-future. "Shitshow" just about covers it. If you just care about The Challenge, two of them are slated to appear in the upcoming season. As for BOTS? We reach a critical point where the true villain makes her first big movie. And this is the last full episode with Puck . . . and thank goodness for that. My condolences if you stumbled across a RW: San Francisco marathon on MTV Classic, and got to see him in action. His shtick is timeless, in the sense that he probably deserves a beating now as he did in 1994 and 2003.

Airdate: February 17, 2003
Recap Published: February 24, 2003 

“You’re as cold as ice. You’re willing to sacrifice…” a good player. Yes, coldness was the theme of the day as first they have to withstand an icy torture and then Ellen the ice maiden boots another woman – to the dismay of many other teammates.
This recap goes out to reality television’s number one fan, Kathy Griffin. She represented herself with honors on Celebrity Mole: Hawaii, raising the quality of the show in the process. Props also go out to our own Brian James, who interviewed Flo for this site, giving a reviled character an added dimension. Will I take a similar route and interview Ellen? Don’t hold your breath.

Previously on Battle of the Seasons: Puck got married to Betty in the biggest wedding on reality television. Well, it was the biggest, until Ozzy and Sharon renewed their vows. Choke on that, Corey Feldman! Lori gets the mission clue on the sponsored phone. She admits that the girls are on a losing streak, and it’s embarrassing. Cut to the first episode, where Melissa brings up voting off Julie. In light of what happens tonight, I don’t see how she “set the tone” for future Inner Circles. Julie was so unpopular, most of the RW women were aiming on voting her out. Christina thinks the voting in a popularity contest. Rachel: “Anyone can go home now, and that’s a threat that you don’t want to live with.”

After the credits, we get shots of the sky and flowers. There’s a shot of a slug crawling. Cut to Puck hugging Betty and Bogart. That can’t be a coincidence. Puck interviews that he dreamt of having a healthy baby and a good wife, and he has both. “Don’t piss her off, though,” he adds. “She’ll stab you with a pair of scissors.” Betty and Bogart ride off in a van.

Women’s Villa. Rachel gripes about how some of the women don’t want to be there for the whole four weeks. So it wasn’t just Amaya? I wish there was elaboration. Genesis explains to us that Rachel has expressed negativity about the group as a whole.

Outside. Amusement park atmosphere. The contestants fast-motion walk to Jonny. When there’s fast-motion, you know there has to be drama squeezed in. Jonny welcomes everybody to Freeze Your Butt Off. Rachel expositions that the object is for the players to sit on a block of ice and hold their hands over their heads, and the person who does this for the longest period wins. Jonny whips out this week’s sponsored prizes, which are mountain bikes for the winning team. Half of them are probably on eBay as you read this. Genesis and Theo give dueling confessionals: she says the girls are hell-bent on ending the losing streak, and he says the guys have to stay focused. Jonny also brings out some hand-held doughnut-shaped thing. Oh, that’s the Ion Lifesaver, which took last week off. Aneesa sees that she’s at the bottom of the standings. Dan observes that he’s third from last, ahead of Blair and Eric, and he has to beat at least one of them in order to stay.

Jonny tells the guys that fairness has to be ensured in relation to the amount of exposed skin. He holds up a pair of Speedos. Immediately, the girls cheer, since they’re obviously fans of male blur shots. “We got to wear punk-ass Speedos!” Theo grouses. “I don’t wear Speedos because my thang can’t breathe!” As if that wasn’t bad enough, we get a shot of Theo getting a wedgie. The guys pull them up and rub sunscreen on each other. Shane wiggles around. Jake: “Quite frankly, we look damn fine.” Thong Boy would say that. More stuffing of male parts. Melissa and Veronica laugh. The guys pose, blurred bits and all. Melissa: “This is the best day ever!” Dan complains that he didn’t know how big his butt was.

Everyone gets ready to sit on the blocks of ice, in what appears to be a grounded roller coaster. It’s hard to tell what exactly the BMP people are smoking. Everybody sits down, butts and feet on the ice. Of course, there’s yelling and screeching. Lori interviews that the ice is so cold, “it’s like sitting on fire.” Puck groans. He’s sitting next to Ellen. For a second, I almost feel sorry for her. More groans of agony. Puck spills some popcorn into his mouth while keeping his arms raised.

Jonny eliminates Antoine for putting his hands together. True story: I actually picked him to replace David on my Fantasy Team. So when he got booted, I got mad. Anyway, Antoine clocks out at 14 minutes, 23 seconds. He interviews that he didn’t realize his mistake because he was focusing on his butt. Aneesa lowers her arms while singing, and one of the masked judges catches her (22:37). Puck reaches into his mouth, only to be busted by Jonny (24:13). Puck bitches about the decision, saying that he was told he could eat popcorn, but he didn’t know he couldn’t pick his teeth. Ever hear of a tongue? Loser. Christina raps about beating the boys as Dan beatboxes along, but he gets nailed for clapping (29:02). He immediately figures that he’s going home.

As Blair leans over to sniff her armpit, Tonya tells us about the girls losing two missions in a row. Blair corrects her, saying that it’s three. Shane gets eliminated (31:22), followed by Syrus (33:12) and James (47:54). “One by one,” Ellen interviews, “all of the guys are dropping like flies.” In fast-motion, Colin (one hour, 17:14) and Jake (1:23:33) bow out. Mark clings to hope, saying that women have a greater tolerance for pain, but the men are motivated. More fast-motion: Blair (1:29:13), Mark (1:33:12) and Theo (1:35:00) get the boot.

Soon, Eric is the last man sitting. Jake interviews that all of the guys’ hopes are on him. Multiple shots of Eric concentrating. “He’s a little dehydrated,” Jake continues, “a little crazy in the coconut.” Tense music plays. Eric looks around before slowly lowering his hand to scratch his ear. The music stops. Eric pulls the arm back up. “No one saw that?” he asks a teammate. Aneesa: “No one saw what, Eric?” Busted!

After commercials, Eric gets eliminated (1:47:45). Mark notes that a lot of the women are still in the game. “The girls have won that mission,” Antoine says softly. “They have the mountain bike. But two hours down the road, arms up, ass on the ice, fighting for one little point.” Man, that’s evil. His accent makes him sound a lot more diabolical.

More shots of the ladies. A fly crawls on a stomach. One of the masked judges sees Rachel’s foot coming off the ground and boots her (2:14:14). She interviews that she did well, beating all of the guys and four of the girls. Following her are Lori (2:27:07), Veronica (2:29:07) and Ruthie (2:43:22).
Melissa is in pain. Mervin Palmer, an on-site medic, checks her pulse. “Melissa has turned blue,” Christina voiceovers. “She’s completely blue.” In other words, she’s a Melissicle. Mervin tells her that her pulse is 64, which is below normal. He tells her she could get hypothermic, and there are no drugs to treat her. As her legs shake from the cold, some of the contestants beg her to get off the ice. Jonny assures her that she would get 33 points, her highest score since the first mission. She finally bails out after 2:58:37. “She’s such a tiny little lady,” Christina says. “She’s like 80 pounds. Melissa is, like, my leg.” Melissa lies down on something inflated, crying in pain while the feeling is rubbed back into her legs.

Meanwhile, a judge busts Emily for lowering her arms (3:00:25), paring the contest down to Ellen and Ayanna. Ellen, cool as a cucumber, turns around. Ayanna looks skyward, in obvious pain. Finally, she quits at 3:09:15, giving the mission to Ellen. Eric lifts Ellen from her seat, taking her to get warmed up. Ayanna reveals that this was a strategic decision; since she will team up with Ellen in the next competition, Ayanna wants Ellen and herself to remain healthy. Eric dips Ellen in water. Ayanna goes up to Rachel in fast-motion and shakes her hand, causing Rachel’s breasts to bob up and down violently.

Jonny awards the bike to Ellen on behalf of her team. Puck, being the consummate good sport that he is, razzes Ellen while giving her two thumbs down. As you know from last week, Ellen did flip the bird to Puck when he won last week. Oh, wait… that didn’t happen. So shut up, Puck. Ellen dedicates her win to Ayanna. Aneesa says that the girls can beat the tough guys. “The ladies just held it down,” Theo interviews. “They represented, and they beat us.” Why can’t Puck take lessons from him?

Fast-motion takes us to the scoreboard, as Jonny announces the Inner Circles. For the women, it’s still Ruthie, Emily, and Ellen. For the men, it’s Colin, Theo, and Mark. He gives both ICs one hour to decide who goes next, and reminds them that Ellen holds the Ion Lifesaver.

Ayanna approaches Ellen in regards to the IL. “You earned it,” Ayanna tells her. “Now do with it what you want to do.” Can you say, “famous last words”? Ellen considers giving it to Dan, but she respects the guys and their system of voting out the lowest scorer. Lori hugs Dan, telling him he can’t go, but he sees his score as the lowest. Aneesa is disappointed in getting the lowest score. Behind her, Colin is carrying Melissa. Since I recapped the hookup special, I wonder if that would be mentioned next year. They would make for a cute couple. Dan hugs Aneesa, asking, “Shall we exit gracefully?” Tonya hobbles along, still injured from last week, knowing that’s a disadvantage to her. Rachel is happy, telling Veronica she’s moving up in the standings.

Women’s Inner Circle. Ruthie asks Ellen who will get the IL. Ellen brings up Dan again, but she mentions a flaw: if Dan is saved, Blair and James are tied for next-to-last. Since Blair is Ellen’s friend and James is Emily’s boyfriend, that would be problematic, so Ellen decides to give it to Tonya. Emily brings up Aneesa, but Ruthie shoots that idea down, since Aneesa brings morale to the team. Since Tonya is saved, Ruthie moves on to Christina, which Emily immediately rejects, since she’s friends with her. “I think it’s hard for me to send somebody home that I really like,” Emily adds, “where there are people left in the game that I think should go home first.”

Ellen asks for another name. Emily complies, bringing up Rachel. Ruthie asks if Rachel’s performance has been consistent. “Consistently bad,” Emily snipes. Meow! The claws are officially out. She goes on to say Rachel is unfocused and uncompetitive. Ellen interviews that Rachel was the only person all three Inner Circle members had to question. Ellen is on a roll: she calls Rachel flaky and suggests that she has done some shady things. Emily says that Rachel reminds her of girls she knew in high school who made her life wretched. Oh, good, now Emily is projecting. A few muscular girls stuffed Emily into a locker when she was 15, and now Rachel is going to suffer for that. “I don’t think she deserves to be here,” Emily hisses. “If she stays, she’s just going to be a toxic teammate. I just want her gone.” Emily? Honey? Do you even know Ellen? She deserves biohazard signs all over her. Ruthie says that Rachel was the only person where elimination dawned on all three of them. Emily grins.

Judgment time. Jonny invites the Men’s Inner Circle to make their announcement. Theo spares us the drama, giving the boot to Dan. He’s a good sport about it, telling everybody that there’s chocolate cake in the girl’s kitchen. Everybody cheers.

Women’s Inner Circle Decision. Ellen steps up, and produces a long-winded speech on how nobody can compete without the support of others. She keeps going, making Genesis’ booting of Julie downright abrupt. And it continues: “The person tonight who’s leaving, I’m sad to see go, but thank you so much for all you’ve given and all your hard work. And Rachel, we’ll be sad to see you go.” There’s a cut to the guys. If BMP ever needed to make money, they could sell posters of that shot. Theo’s lips are puckered. Antoine’s leaning in, almost as if to say, “Excuse me?” Dan’s eyes are so bugged out, they threaten to knock his glasses off. “The girls’ house is nuts!” he voiceovers. You would know, dude; you’ve spent half the time there. Tonya’s eyes dart around in surprise.

After commercials, the guys are chattering as Rachel comes up to make her speech. Lori interviews that there’s no reason to vote her off, adding, “I think the Inner Circle made a very big mistake.” The guys continue to cheer Rachel on. I think half of it is caring about her; the other half is that the girls bring the entertainment to these announcements. Jake: “It’s clearly ‘[Cat hiss], I don’t like you, you took my makeup, who ate my cheese.’ It sucks, it’s lame.” And Jake calls Eric nuts?

Rachel starts to break down, saying that the IC is B.S. The guys (led by Puck, naturally) egg her on. She goes on to say that the IC set a negative tone that won’t disappear. Emily mouths off silently, probably telling Jonny to wrap things up. Rachel stalks off from the cameras.

Now it’s time to announce who gets the Ion Lifesaver. Ellen gives it to Tonya, since she “took one for the team” in the last mission. The men jeer the decision as Ellen hands the IL to Tonya. Ellen: “I feel like I’m being completely criticized over every decision I’m making, and nothing I do seems to be right.” My goodness, it’s almost like she’s talking to me!

After the announcements, Rachel decides to give Ellen a piece of her mind, telling her she doesn’t mind being sent home. But she objects to the charge that she’s not a team player, saying she’s done nothing but work things out. Ellen interviews that the Inner Circle takes three people to make a decision. She should be a bank teller, since she’s so good at passing the buck. “This game is ugly!” Rachel laughs at the camera. “The Inner Circle is ugly! And I don’t want to be a part of it anymore.”
As Rachel stalks towards the general direction of away, Ayanna passes her, muttering to herself. She tells Ellen she doesn’t want to be partnered with her for the next mission, adding that she would “rather be a partner with Tonya hobbling along on some damn crutches.” She interviews that the only reason for Rachel leaving is that somebody saw her as a threat.

Speaking of Emily, she’s avoiding the drama, as she hangs with James, Antoine, and Christina. In a confessional, she says it’s a game, and anybody can be eliminated that’s either a threat or undesirable to have around. “I don’t think there’s anything dirty about that,” she adds. Christina adds her two cents, saying that Emily is getting a bad rap, and everybody is overreacting. “It’s ridiculous high school drama,” she adds. Oh, sure, and when Julie got voted out, she thought that Inner Circle was an “evil cheerleading cult.”

Fans of Semester at Sea get something they’ve been expecting: Ayanna babbling off the deep end. “You talk about negativity?” she yells at Ellen. “There’s other people that have been heckuva more negative than her from the break! From the break! Don’t give me that negativity rhyme!” Ellen tries to tell her that it wasn’t a personal decision, but Ayanna isn’t buying it. Ruthie has to intervene, yelling, “If it wasn’t her, it would’ve been somebody else!” Ayanna calms down, telling Ruthie that she just doesn’t understand why Rachel had to go. In Ruthie’s interview, her voice wavers a little. She says that she didn’t realize how much the decision would hurt the others. Out of the three IC members, I expect Ruthie to lose the most sleep. I still like her. Ellen keeps babbling about things not being personal, and Ayanna decides to believe her. A defrosted Melissa interviews that it wasn’t fair that Ellen and Ruthie were the scapegoats. “I find it highly suspicious,” she adds, “that after that vote was made, Emily was nowhere to be found.”

Ruthie and Ellen walk together. Ellen thinks that they’ve tried to be fair in the Inner Circles, and she feels they weren’t fair tonight. You think? She starts to cry, blubbering that she felt played by Emily. “She’s the one who threw [Rachel’s] name out,” she sobs. So she just conveniently forgot about the time she wanted Rachel out because she wouldn’t help her with the log cabin? And it’s all Emily’s fault for following the logical path from last place to fourth-from-last? Is this girl kidding me? If Ellen gets $50,000 for winning the Challenge, then I might have to hurt somebody. Emily was catty in wanting Rachel out, and Ruthie should have sacrificed Aneesa for the good of the team, but Ellen chooses to live in denial. She keeps sobbing, “Now I don’t know if I trust someone else.” Shut up. Fade to credits.

Happy fantasy game postscript: I was all set to personally dropkick Antoine back to Belgium for his abysmal performance. But he gave me 56 points, 45 of them coming from three acts of nudity as he stuffed himself in Speedos. So thank you, Antoine, for not being afraid of the cameras. Rock on with your Belgian self.

Next week: Were you wondering why Puck’s family was in the first scene? Well, Betty gets detained, since she’s not a U.S. citizen and she left her green card at home. Puck is ticked. Female voice: “There was a break-in.” Puck tells the cameraman to not point the camera at him. Christina: “And then he walks out with a machete in his hand.” As anybody from Big Brother 2 will tell you, there’s nothing more dangerous than a would-be mental patient with a sharp object. He’s not so endearing now, is he?

I think this was the last time I was on Rachel's side on anything. I don't think she gave me anything really critical during Battle Of The Sexes 2 a few years later, but I wound up regarding her as "all muscle, no hustle," a competitor whose build scared off people from voting her into endgames. On the flip side, I think that I was pro-Emily prior to this episode. I probably doubted her sanity being in a relationship with James, but I didn't start to hate her until this episode. Not a fun week for me . . . I liked Dan, hated the Women's Inner Circle's decision, and my favorite cast member almost froze to death. If memory serves, Melissa said on her blog that didn't get any deep bruises from the ice like most of the other women. Oh, and the guy writing the summary saw "Cold-Butted Snakes," and didn't make a connection to Paula Abdul.

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