It's the Puck farewell episode! To my surprise, he's over and out before the first commercial, which I would not have bet on at the time. The guy is a mixed blessing, in the sense that I freaking hate him, yet I couldn't resist beating him like a pinata. With the news coming in over the details of his departure, I wound up doing a whole essay about it later that week. Also, he was rumored to be on the upcoming season of The Surreal Life, which turned out not to happen. No, we wound up with Trishelle from The Real World: Las Vegas, as well as The Gauntlet and The Inferno. And I didn't realize there was no "E" in "Broom." I don't think David would care either way, but I'm still kicking myself.
Airdate: February 24, 2003
Recap Published: February 28, 2003
Puck is gone in a fit of fury, but the game must go on. How does Aneesa (right) fit into the plan to change the Women’s Inner Circle?Before I begin, I need to have a word with David Broome, formerly of RW: New Orleans and this fine show. David, I saw you on Chappelle’s Show this past week, and I have to ask: are you going to come up with new material soon? As much as everybody loves “Come On Be My Baby Tonight,” it’s more for the kitschy appeal than anything else. You might end up being perceived as a one-trick pony, and you know that’s not love (woo woo). You’re young, you’re talented, and thanks to Julie, you’re no longer the most loathed person from your season. If you want, add words to the song. I don’t want your career highlight to be having your song played on Real World: Chicago as Cara landed her umpteenth guy.
Previously on Battle of the Sexes: Puck got married. Betty (the bride) and Bogart (their son) left to go home. “I’m all broke up over it,” Puck tells us, “but the P-Man is still here.” I hate the P-Man. Cut to last week, where Ellen lowered the boom on Rachel. Dan’s jaw couldn’t drop any lower. Lori interviews that there was no reason to vote Rachel off. Emily makes the “hurry it up” sign to Jonny. Puck tells us that Betty is in an “immigration hole.” Uh oh.
After the credits, we get super-fast-motion of clouds streaking, as tense piano music plays. Mark interviews from the Men’s Villa that Puck says he’s done. Puck curses out the cameraman, saying he doesn’t want to be filmed. Wow, he is ticked. Doesn’t Puck cease to exist if there are no cameras? Mark interviews again (with different hair) that Betty is not a U.S. citizen and she forgot her green card. The cynical voice in my head says that it’s in Puck’s back pocket. Anyway, Betty and Bogart are detained in Jamaica. Puck cusses out another cameraman. Colin says that Puck is detained by the show, while immigration authorities detain Betty and Bogart. “Puck is the type of person who doesn’t want to be restricted by anybody or anything,” Colin analyzes. “When that happens, he rebels.”
Thunder and lightning segue to the Women’s Villa. Something breaks very loudly. Christina tells us that Puck is smashing things, including his guitar. Cut to stock footage of stairs in a scary light. Christina: “And then he walks out with a machete in his hand.” Cut to black-and-white hand holding machete. Could be Puck, could be one of the guys from Tambaqui on Survivor. Ayanna continues: “A mah-che-tee!” she overenunciates. “He came up to us with a mah-che-tee!” Then Christina says that Puck told her he had to go.
Sure enough, there’s a night vision shot of Puck (with lit cigarette) going to the van, with Mark right behind him. The van drives off. America learns the meaning of the word “anticlimactic.” Seriously, when Wanda from Eonline and other spoiler freaks were talking about this, I figured it wouldn’t be over before the first commercial.
The Women’s Villa is a wreck, with a hole in the wall and other shambles. Colin informs us that Puck leaving was part of the “Master Plan.” “He came here to be Puck,” Colin adds. “When he was done, he was done, and he doesn’t need to stay.” Christina has more to say: “I think all of us are here because our parents probably didn’t pay enough attention to us.” More shambles. She continues: “Or maybe Puck’s looking for some kind of validation.” Somebody other than Puck sweeps up the mess; a more symbolic gesture I have yet to see. Syrus interviews that the men’s team has lost a good player and their best nightly entertainment, but they’ll be sleeping better. A camera zooms in on the machete, impaled in some sort of fruit.
(Quick note: There’s more to be said about what happened, but if I start here, it’ll take a while to stop. So I’m putting my take on Puck and Bunim-Murray Productions in another article. Meanwhile, RealityNewsOnline sources say that Puck claims he will be on the second edition of The Surreal Life, so you can look forward to seeing him there…)
Daytime. A plane flies overhead. It could have the Rainey’s flying back home, or it could have Rachel flipping the bird to Emily and Ellen. Speaking of Ellen, she asks Syrus what the guys will do now that they’re down one man. Theo doesn’t doubt that Puck would come back, but Syrus tells him that he wasn’t there to see what happened last night. Ellen smirks. “See you later, Puck,” she says. I wouldn’t have blamed her for doing an extended version of Melissa’s happy dance. Cut to a crack in the wall, and a maid mopping up.
Back to the game: Emily and Ellen are talking about Rachel being voted out. I’m thinking of calling these two the Axis of Petty. “That decision didn’t go very well with the group,” Ellen understates. She tells Emily that she had talked to Ruthie, and that maybe a group meeting is in order. Emily says that if the others want the Inner Circle to change, they have to work to get inside. Ouch. Ellen interviews that Emily is not making friends, and that there might be consequences.
Cut to a shot of a spider in its web. Oooo… symbolic! Veronica, Lori, and Aneesa are having breakfast. Veronica interviews that she would love to send Emily home, since she did that to her on Battle of the Seasons. Cut to a flashback shot of Veronica and Yes getting voted off. I miss Belou. BMP could’ve charged people to see a Puck/Belou fight. Veronica goes on, saying that Emily was responsible for sending Rachel home in a similar manner. “I’m beginning to see how threatened she is by competition,” she adds. If that’s the case, then why is Emily in her third straight Challenge? Veronica needs to think things through. Aneesa thinks that Emily is settled in to do whatever she wants. Cut to a shot of Emily during Freeze Your Butt Off, staring down the cameraman. “I think she wants to win,” Aneesa continues, “and she’ll eliminate any competition. That’s not teamwork to me.” Not to defend the emerging villain, but elimination is a huge part of the game.
Happy rock music plays after the commercials. Jonny tells the assembled players that he decided (yeah, right) to bring back the last player to be voted out. Curtains are raised, and Dan makes his return. Immediately, there’s yelling and moaning, followed by muffled sobbing and cursing. Not from the cast members, but from everybody who dumped Dan in the Fantasy Challenge. The contestants cheer loudly, as Dan strikes a cute pose. Really, who doesn’t love this guy? “I wish that everyone would have the opportunity to step through curtains,” he muses, “And look at all their friends applauding them. It just makes you feel so good.” He runs to the girls and they gang-hug him.
Once the excitement dies down, Jonny introduces everybody to the latest game, People Mover. The object is for each pair to move gender-specific pieces from an outer rink to the inner. I get the impression it’s more fun to play than to watch. The pair with the fastest time wins a ski or snowboard package for the entire team. It’s Jonny’s signature skis! The winning pair also gets the Ion Lifesaver, which gets ridiculed by the Immunity Idol and the Power of Veto all the time. He goes on about yellow spaces and that each person can only move one piece at a time. Finally, those not competing are sequestered in the “Pineapple Lounge.” There’s a sign that says, “Cast Lockdown.” I guess that was meant just for Puck.
The contestants map out strategies. Ruthie sits on the floor, eyes closed. Genesis explains that Ruthie likes to clear her mind in order to focus. Ruthie interviews that there’s something going on with the other girls, and that’s stuff she’d never do. “I know this is a game and there’s money involved,” she says, “but I wouldn’t have imagined people getting ugly in character just for $50,000.” Clearly, Ruthie is not a reality TV fan.
First match: Mark/Jamie vs. Anne/Emily. Jamie interviews that he has an idea on how to move the pieces, by working on opposite sides of the puzzle. Emily and Anne slowly go over their task. Mark and Jamie move in fast-motion. The ladies aren’t going that fast in comparison. Mark blows his whistle at three minutes, 23 seconds. Emily interviews that the puzzle was simple, but “sometimes, you just freeze.” She blows her whistle at 6:38.
Theo/Syrus vs. Ayanna/Ellen. Jonny blows his whistle weakly, and stares at it. Heh. The guys are slow in going over what to do. Ellen interviews that the plan is to rotate the puzzle. Theo gets stuck moving the pieces. Ellen blows at 2:42. She brags, “Theo and Syrus are still trying to figure out what we figured out in there is having a game plan and sticking with it.” She’s just ten pounds of smug in a five-pound bag. Syrus blows at 8:22. He interviews with Theo that they had the puzzle done without knowing it. Theo make fun of Syrus, and then asks him if he’ll be back tomorrow. Syrus playfully wrestles Theo. I like those two.
Eric/Colin vs. Genesis/Ruthie. The guys move in fast motion. Genesis says that if one figure is placed incorrectly, four have to be moved. The guys argue and Eric yells at Colin. After he screwed up the last pairs mission, resulting in Yes going home, maybe Eric is the Mole. He blows his whistle at 3:03, while Ruthie blows hers at 4:04.
Jake/Shane vs. Melissa/Veronica. The guys argue. Jake interviews that Shane moved pieces one way, and Jake moved them back. Veronica blows at 3:22. The guys go into super fast-motion before Jake blows at 4:23. “All I was doing was slowing down the genius,” Jake interviews afterwards, “and he had the hands of a surgeon.”
Antoine/James vs. Christina/Lori. James shouts at his partner. Mark my words: it’s only a matter of time before he snaps. Antoine voiceovers that he had good vision of the puzzle. James blows really hard at 3:02, to the point where his head is about to explode. Christina blows at 4:10, saying afterwards that she and Lori had been mellow with it, but they should have hauled more ass.
Blair/Dan vs. Aneesa/Tonya. Okay, how fair is this for either guy? I had a source tell me that Puck had a weird respect for Blair, making him a “Puck Whisperer.” So when Puck leaves, Dan is automatically inserted to replace him? Couldn’t Jonny (or the producers) give the guys more of a warning, to allow for pairs changes? As for Dan: I don’t think it’s right that his partner had to be the one who is above him in next-to-last place, with nothing to lose. Anyway, Blair interviews that he and Dan decided to make up the plan on the spot. The girls move the pieces around. “You got it, baby!” shouts Tonya. Man, who would’ve guessed she’d say something like that to Aneesa? Dan blows out at 4:27. The girls go fast-motion before Tonya blows at 7:14. She interviews that she feels comfortable with her performance. She and Aneesa hug. Never thought I’d see that.
Jonny announces the winners of the prize package. After a dramatic pause, he gives it to the ladies, who cheer and hug each other. Jonny goes on, saying that Ayanna and Ellen had the best time, and they won the Ion Lifesaver. Melissa is brought out of hiding to say that the guys thought they had the game in the bag. Ayanna squeals a lot, skipping away with Ellen.
Ruthie and Anne walk alone. In an interview, Ruthie says that one of the girls had a plan to sabotage another teammate. Wow, this is The Mole! “As much as I’m trying to dismiss it,” she adds, “I just can’t get it out of my head.” She tells Anne that she finds out more about people’s true character every day and it’s not pretty.
Since Ellen saved Tonya last time (and what a good decision that was), she offers the IL to Ayanna to give. Ayanna contemplates giving it to Aneesa. You know who would be nervous at this point? Genesis. Think about it: Aneesa gets saved, Tonya would be protected by Ellen, and Emily would shield Christina. That leaves Genesis, who (like Rachel last time) is fourth from last. Ruthie takes Ayanna aside to tell her about something Aneesa was contemplating, which is something Ayanna didn’t know about.
There’s a shot of a small lizard, followed by a slug and an owl. Cut to the Women’s Inner Circle, walking into a field. I know Ruthie’s the owl, but I can’t match the others to the members of the Axis of Petty. Ruthie says that what goes on in the WIC stays there, and the others agree. Ruthie then drops the bomb on Emily: Aneesa had come to Ruthie with the plan to have somebody partner with Emily and sabotage her. Emily is taken aback before calling it B.S. Ellen snorts in derision. Ruthie claims that holding that in tore her apart. Yeah, if Aneesa is scheming like that, then why did Ruthie give her a pass last week? I think Ruthie’s got a grander plan. Emily isn’t worried about Aneesa, since she’s too far away from her, points-wise. She continues, “I really think the longer that Veronica stays here, the more animosity our team has.” Ruthie gives Ellen a look that roughly translates to, “What the hell is she talking about?” Ellen gives a responding look of, “I know!” Emily thinks that Veronica tries to cut down people. In an interview, Ruthie can’t believe that she went on about Aneesa and her treachery, and Emily wants Veronica out. She adds, “Now I know why everybody wants to see you gone!” Ellen claims that she and Ruthie have tried to be impartial while in the WIC, not taking out teammates for being threats, Emily thinks that the WIC “writes the game,” and wouldn’t want Veronica to replace either Ruthie or Ellen in the WIC.
Sunset. Time to announce who’s going home (again). Some of the guys are wearing Speedos. Jonny calls up the “Chippenmale Inner Circle.” Shut up, Jonny. Mark holds up the broken handle of Puck’s guitar, which represents “the P-Man.” Shut up about the P-Man! Damn, P-Man sounds like a character from a Masters of the Universe parody. Of course, Dan gets cut loose (again). He interviews that he had “such a blast,” and he fakes some tears.
Women’s Inner Circle/Only Entertaining Constant Of This Show. Ruthie goes on about the person who had a lot of spirit. Thankfully, she doesn’t drone on like Ellen, giving the axe to Aneesa. In an interview, Ruthie says that the others would think Aneesa left due to low points, and that the “other stuff” can’t be tolerated.
Jonny calls up Ellen and Ayanna to award the Ion Lifesaver. For some weird reason, Ayanna gives it to Tonya. But she got it last time! Maybe Ellen talked Ayanna out of giving it to Dan, since Blair had the second-lowest point total and would have been booted. Aneesa isn’t as sickened by the WIC decision as Rachel, but she says that she would have done anything to get Emily out of the Inner Circle. “It should’ve been taken care of a long time ago,” she adds.
Dan loads some bags into the van. Anne reaches in and pulls them out. I’m really going to miss Dan. He interviews that people thought they’d be competing for prizes, but none of it matters in the end. Dan hugs and gets kissed by Ellen. Aneesa gets a hug from Theo. Shane takes a picture of Aneesa and some other ladies. Ruthie has a contemplative look on her face. Next to her, Ellen inspects her nails. “Maybe it came out of desperation,” Ruthie interviews about Aneesa’s plan. “Maybe it came out of something that someone else had talked to her about. I really don’t know. But it doesn’t belong here.” Aneesa interviews that she hopes Emily doesn’t win, before laughing and wishing that the girls she likes kick some ass. She and Dan wave out the van’s windows.
Next week: The ladies have a meeting. Anne is not doing it. Doing what? Emily feels wrong about doing it. Once again, doing what? James feels that supporting the guys and being with his girlfriend are at polar opposites. He tells the guys that Emily’s not doing it, and that they’re a team. You’re killing me, man. James: “Why does there have to be nakedness?” That’s it! Jonny starts up a game. Overhead shot of two ladies taking off their clothes. Gratuitous nudity? Shoot, who needs the P-Man after all?
Reading the recap, I can't believe I forgot about Aneesa's plan to bring down Emily. I still like her more than Rachel, though. I know this was the first show that Aneesa and Rachel were on together, but I don't know if they hooked up, leading to their team-up in Battle Of The Exes. Between Rachel and Veronica (the Eminem-looking chick from her season), I'd say Aneesa has crap taste in women. I would miss Dan more, though I kinda soured on him in Inferno II. This episode would be a bit tame in comparison to the next one, where hell broke loose. After reposting my Puck piece, I'll go over the carnage in "Shirks and Skins."