Saturday, December 10, 2016

Battle of the Sexes Episode 10: Shirks and Skins

Apologies for the long wait. November 8 happened, and I didn't feel like blogging old stuff. Back in 2003, we were living in a post-9/11 world governed by Curious George and the Legion of Doom. Next month, we're getting a guy who would screw this country worse than Johnny fucked Sarah in Rivals III. Really, if Johnny and his idiot cousin get high-paying government jobs for their televised "work," I won't be surprised. On the other hand, I am forced to reevaluate evil in general. "Johnny Bananas" doesn't seem like such an asshole nowadays. Of course, he will be in the upcoming season, so I might change my view again.

Where were we? Right . ..  Puck was gone, Emily had swung her bloody axe, and the only person I was really rooting for was Melissa. And probably Ruthie, since it turned out she was much more than an alcoholic. Unbeknownst to us, another bump in the road was about to change the game.

Airdate: March 3, 2003
Recap Published: March 7, 2003

Who wants to play strip trivia? Well, actually, some of the women don’t. Too bad for them. It’s a battle to the skin if they’re going to win. But what happens when Emily doesn’t want to play while boyfriend James does? Uh oh.

Sympathies go out to Daniel Lue, who was voted out of Survivor: The Amazon last week. You may recall that he was eliminated from the early sessions of Tough Enough. On the bright side, should he get kicked off one more reality show, he wins a date with Jisela.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: contestants played People Mover. Jonny announced that the women won the mission. Actually, if you add up the point totals, both sides were deadlocked. But Ellen and Ayanna got it done the fastest, and that’s what counted. Colin informs us that the guys have won three missions, and the women have won four. Emily at the Inner Circle: “I really think that the longer Veronica stays here, the more animosity our team has. She’s poisoning the team.” If you say so. Ellen tells us Veronica threatens Emily. Speaking of Veronica: “I would love, love, love, love to send Emily home.” Wow, I don’t know where Ellen got her impression.

Credits! Midtown! Since we’re now officially Puck-free, why won’t BMP do the right thing and erase him from the credits? Take him and Julie out, and all would be well.

It must be an off night, since everybody’s partying. Jamaican drummers play, and some of the players dance. Antoine and Ayanna do a little line boogying. Meanwhile, James and Emily are having dinner together. Emily attempts to get some of James’ pineapple dessert while he makes playful stabbing motions with the spoon. After MacheteGate, maybe BMP took away all sharp objects. Christina interviews that the couple has a good spirit of teamwork, and she’s happy to see a couple supportive of each other. James smudges dessert on Emily’s nose, telling her “it would be a lot better eating it off your naked body.” Don’t laugh; that might be how he got Rebecca during Extreme Challenge. Emily interviews that she and James have been together for a year, and she loves being in Jamaica with her boyfriend. James tells us he’s having a good time, and it’s good that Emily is here. They hug for a while, and James hungrily kisses Emily.

Morning. There’s a caterpillar or some other creepy-crawly on a branch. I’m stumped as to the meaning. It’s Mission Phone time, as Eric, Antoine, and Lori get the clue from different locations. The deal: wear shirts, shorts, and two undergarments, but no more than four. Veronica’s alarm goes off, as she thinks they might have to take stuff off should they mess up.

At the Women’s Villa, Tonya talks to Ruthie about voting off the lowest scorer. Ruthie interviews that the guys vote according to score. Tonya keeps talking as Ruthie presses her face on a pillow. “This is the healthiest way to go because I don’t want girls to backstab each other,” Tonya interviews. “If I’m at the bottom, I want her to send me home.” She tells Ruthie that the main goal is to push the strongest women forward to beat the men. Have I mentioned how glad I am that Tonya is here and not Cara? Tonya v2.0 rocks.

Uh oh. Bad game show music, followed by bad game show title: “Battle of the Opposite Sexes.” I don’t know how that’s different from “Battle of the Sexes.” Last year’s “Sidekick Showdown” made more sense. Those were the days: Dan and Theo revealing man-crushes for Timmy, Holly getting huffy and stalking off, and Coral smacking Mike with a cue card. Good times. Another title: “Starring Jonny Moseley.” Jonny’s hair has been moussed into submission.. Freestyle skiers should not use gel, ever. He uses the Game Show Voice, welcoming everybody to BOTOS, which is about how well the genders know each other. This week’s prize is an electric bicycle. Jonny goes on, saying that the player with the most tokens gets 36 points, and the last place finisher gets 16. Please keep that in mind as the recap continues. Anybody who gets disqualified receives no points. Anne shows a slight smile. Jonny goes on, saying that a correct answer gets a token from Tiffany, a blonde whose origins will forever remain a mystery. Jonny adds that anybody getting a wrong answer has to remove an article of clothing. Emily scratches her head. Anne’s smile disappears. Jake is wearing Eric’s dopey sunglasses, which does him no favors.

Anne does not like BOTOS. “I find this completely and morally reprehensible and obnoxious,” she says. “I refuse to participate.” Well, some people might find this show completely and morally reprehensible and obnoxious. There’s a group meeting amongst the ladies. Emily does not want to play, and Anne’s willing to receive zero points. Ellen says that some people are willing to do it. Anne rolls her eyes, Ayanna shakes her head, and Christina says she is nauseated. One of the girls asks if this is the Playboy Mansion. Hey, ask Anne! She went there during the first Challenge. More grumbling. Emily: “They can kiss my white ass.” Does she kiss James with that mouth?

Emily talks with James. He doesn’t want to be in a compromising position, but he’s caught between supporting his girlfriend and supporting his team. Emily feels wrong about BOTOS, adding, “We’re better than this.” Maybe this isn’t Emily. Maybe Emily’s locked up somewhere, and it’s Holly in an Emily mask. Antoine interviews that James is not playing because of Emily’s principles. “I think it’s very chivarlesque,” he adds, “but I’m just sorry to see that.” He’s not from around here, so he doesn’t make any whip-cracking gestures.

James tells the guys that Emily is not competing. Eric is wearing his “Got Soul?” t-shirt. Eric-haters across the land crack their knuckles simultaneously. Veronica tells the girls they can get through the game without stripping. Keep in mind, she posed for a Challenge spread last year in Playboy, so she’s no prude. Genesis says she won’t ring in if she doesn’t know the answer. Lori puts everything into perspective. “You don’t get points for taking your clothes off,” she interviews. “The objective is to be smart so you can keep your clothes on.” Thank you! Emily tells the dissenters those who participate will go up in the standings and take over the Inner Circle, and she’s willing to risk that.

Everybody gets ready to play or boycott. “You’re not doing it?” she asks James. “Thank you!” James interviews, “I don’t have a mission to screw up on.” Tonya turns around and asks him if he’ll do it, but he doesn’t know. He interviews that he could get voted off.

Back from commercials, James has joined the guys to play BOTOS. Antoine is glad to see him. “As soon as he takes his place, he’s got fire in his eyes and he’s ready to go,” Antoine interviews. “That’s the James we like to see.” Bet he hasn’t seen him throw a tantrum. It’s only a matter of time before Mt. James erupts.

Jonny asks the guys who was the first woman to run for the Vice Presidency. Naturally, Antoine (the Belgian) rings in, and responds with Elizabeth Dole. Immediately, he surrenders his shorts to Tiffany, and the guys find out it was Geraldine Ferraro. Jonny then asks the women what the tip of a condom is called. Melissa does the “Ooo! I know this!” dance, but Lori rings in with reservoir tip, which is correct. She licks the top of her rectangular token. Ew.

Montage. Tiffany grabs a guy’s shorts. Syrus takes his shirt off. Ellen takes off her socks. Tiffany receives more shorts. James loses his shorts. Melissa happy-dances in place. Ellen gets a question right. Blair takes off his shirt. Melissa cackles happily. Jonny has Eric’s sunglasses, and that’s not working for him. Ellen seemingly answers a question with “Your mother!” I smell an edit, although Ellen doesn’t strike me as a “your mother!” type. Naked Shane jumps around. Ellen correctly names two actors who played James Bond. Antoine voiceovers that Ellen is a fierce competitor. “When she’s competing,” he adds, “she’s ready to squash everybody and make sure she gets all the answers.” Antoine informs us that he’s down to his briefs, while Jake, Blair and Shane are naked. More laughter. Ellen looks flummoxed. After the first round, she leads the women with eight tokens, while Jake leads the guys with three.

Meanwhile, the ladies who aren’t playing (a.k.a. “Club Zero”) are riding around in a golf cart. Remember the last time Emily took a stand? During Extreme Challenge, James felt slighted during a paintball mission, thinking that Jamie hit Emily after she completed a course. So he nailed Julie in a similar fashion, and didn’t try to hide it. Next thing, Syrus had him jacked up and almost grinded him into a frat meat patty. Anyway, BMP sent the RW and RR teams to New York, where their case would go before Judge Mills Lane to decide who would get the $10,000 prize money. I am not making this up. Emily decided that the RR team would boycott the mission, since she didn’t want to go through it again. The lone dissenter was Laterrian, who went on to present his case. Because Laterrian was the only person representing his team, Judge Lane gave the RW team the money, and gave Laterrian a gavel. That’s why Laterrian was cussing out Emily in the preview. I’m still not certain whether that boycott was as ill conceived as the one she organizes here. Sorry for the tangent. Anyway, the girls sing about not taking their clothes off. Fortunately, they don’t break into song about Tonya’s kidney stones.

BOTOS. The guys huddle up, noting that the girls can get better scores since they can divvy up the tokens six ways, as opposed to the guys’ eleven. Syrus interviews that Blair has decided to sacrifice himself to go along with the plan; to let Jake (the leading scorer) answer the questions. Blair interviews that he doesn’t mind doing that for others, as long as it’s for the greater good of the team.
Jonny asks the women who won the first gold medal for the United States at the 1998 Winter Olympics. Melissa rings in, but she has no clue. In desperation, she lobs a half-court shot: “Jonny Moseley?” That’s correct, and Melissa goes into Excited Game Show Contestant mode, jumping around and screaming. Since BMP hates my guts, this is the last I see of her. Jonny asks the guys to name the vibrator mentioned on Sex and the City. Jake rings in with “Rabbit,” which is correct. The guys celebrate, lifting Jake up.

Montage of Jake’s Answers. He names three Spice Girls. He answers several questions. Ellen looks miffed. Veronica and Melissa take their shirts off. An overhead shot shows Lori and Veronica disrobing. Jonny’s final question to the guys is on vaginal exercises. Jake answers correctly, and the guys lift him up again as he covers his privates with a shoe.

A caption shows that Jake has eleven tokens, while Ellen has ten. Ellen looks upset at not winning. Jonny invites Jake to accept the bike on behalf of his team. Ellen’s upset face makes way for an “Ew!” look, as Jake sits on the bike naked. Genesis has to hide her eyes, as Jake pushes the bike forward. I’m hoping that Jake got that bike, as opposed to a fresh one. He interviews about being thankful for the sacrifice by the others.

Scoreboard. There’s a new leader on the ladies’ side, as Ellen has passed Ruthie. As much as I hate giving any credit to Ellen, I cannot ignore this: she scored 107 points out of a possible 108 in the last three missions. Ellen jokes that she’s taking Ruthie down. Ruthie notes that because Emily didn’t play, she plummeted in the standings, and Veronica has taken her place in the Inner Circle. Emily walks down the stairs. “I think I’ll stay for a while,” Veronica grins. “I’ll stay and have some fun sending people home.” This must be her birthday, Christmas, and the Fourth of July rolled into one for her. Tonya thinks that there’s no other way to play than sending home the lowest scorer. Blair is fairly sure he’s going home, since he’s in last. James walks down the stairs.

Ruthie chats with Emily, telling her not to be mad at James. Ruthie interviews that Emily feels betrayed, and she and James are not on speaking terms. Emily doesn’t know if she can forgive him.
Wait. Do you hear that? It’s can’t be! But it is! Popular music! “One By One” by Foo Fighters plays as James sits down. “Weird as it sounds, you’ve got to put a price on misery,” he says in an interview. “Right now, misery has a much higher price tag than what they’re offering.” Huh? He keeps going, talking about how he and Emily have had to deal with crap, and it’s not worth it. He semi-dramatically pulls a clothesline loose.

A crab scuttles away from the camera, threatening it with his mighty claw. Mark Burnett has a patent on the scuttling crabs, so maybe he should sue. The Women’s Inner Circle meets. Ruthie states the obvious: team morale is down because they lost BOTOS and because of the split. Ellen says that Anne was upset that the girls didn’t come together to back out of the game. I’m starting to like Anne less. Veronica looks away and smirks. Ruthie asks what’s on her mind. Veronica goes over what happened, saying that the only one with moral issues was Anne. Ayanna and Christina joined her, and Tonya was having problems with her family and her boyfriend. Is she back with that putz, Justin? Ah, never mind. Veronica then notes that Emily backed out. “Yet [James] does it?” she playfully gasps. “As a woman, I’m embarrassed!” If that’s a low blow, then why am I smiling? Ruthie agrees with me, breaking out a big grin of her own. Back to business, Ruthie tells the others that Tonya is going home anyway, and Veronica says that they didn’t have to discuss this.

Inner Circle Announcements. Tonya comforts Ellen as they sit on a chair. Tonya interviews that Ellen doesn’t want her to leave, and she might have moved up in the standings had she competed. As a friend, Tonya is a huge step up from Julie.

Jonny still has the Game Show Hair and he’s talking in his Game Show Persona. He calls up the Women’s Inner Circle. Ellen thanks Tonya for being “the most positive person to be around.” Tonya tells her team that she’s leaving because of the points, and that is the easiest way to go. Veronica interviews that she could have taken Emily out, but she didn’t choose to do that. Emily interviews that she got a lucky break.

Jonny brings up the Men’s Inner Circle of Colin, Mark, and Jamie. Mark is still wielding Puck’s broken guitar handle like a scepter. The cult lives on. Mark brings in a guest speaker, “Sy-Mon.” Syrus then praises Jake for his performance. What? Well, it turns out that Jake had decided to go home earlier in the day. He interviews, “For my teammates to push me forward like they did without knowing I was going home, was just incredible.” Jake gives the Ion Lifesaver to Blair. Jake interviews some more, saying that Blair should be going home, but Jake had been out of the loop back home, so it was his time.

I just want to pause for a paragraph. Blair has got to be the luckiest stiff in Jamaica. If Jake hadn’t recovered the ring during Seven Rings of Saturn, he and Blair would not have gotten points, and Blair would have been out. If Ellen gave the Ion to Dan, then Blair and James would have been candidates for dismissal. If Dan hadn’t replaced Puck as Blair’s partner during People Mover, Blair wouldn’t have been guaranteed at least one person with fewer points than him. And now Jake spares Blair the trip back to the Saddle Ranch and the mechanical bull. Fortunately, I like Blair, so his staying doesn’t bug me.

Emily smokes alone at the bar. James is walking somewhere else. “I’m tired of fighting,” the background music drones in the background. James joins her. Emily interviews that she’s having a miserable time. They talk to each other. Emily continues: “A guy is like a machine when it comes to competition. He’s programmed to compete and do his best. To sit out for emotional reasons isn’t programmed in a man. He has to go fetch the stick when it’s thrown.” Is Emily a sociology major?
The couple cuddles in bed. James voiceovers that he can’t be happy unless they’re both happy. He asks her if he can stay until she falls asleep. Emily interviews that James needed to play to stay in the game. Actually, Jake already planned to depart. This is the hindsight episode. “He’s my best friend,” Emily concludes, “The best friend I’ve ever had.” Somewhere, Christian, Devon, and Timmy sob uncontrollably.

Next time: Jonny’s hair is back to normal! He says that the object of this mission is to traverse a river via the stirrups course. Genesis interviews that the women are fractured and there’s a lot of animosity. Anne: “The one huge pool of negativity is Veronica.” Shut up, Anne. Veronica yells as she’s caught in a stirrup while hanging upside-down.

 I just want to scream "YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO TAKE OFF YOUR CLOTHES!!!!" even today. And Veronica didn't dropkick Emily out of the game, which would bite her in the ass a few episodes later. At least I had the brief Melissa moment. Also, this would be one the last times we'd see a sane Tonya. She'd return in The Gauntlet, but she wouldn't last long. Watching her be well-adjusted was one of the neglected storylines that season. Then came Battle Of The Sexes 2, where she binged on crazy wafers, and she wouldn't be the same. Shame, really.

One final note: MTV didn't air a new episode until March 17. I filled the void with three midseason analyses. I'll try to get those out in a more timely manner.

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