Saturday, January 28, 2017

Battle of the Sexes Episode 14: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

I keep meaning to post more often. Nobody contacts me about reposting the recaps, and there's no movement on the BOTS thread at Previously.tv, but I want to get the stuff on my blog for the sake of it. I think this is the last recap where I was fond of Eric Nies. Then came Battle Of The Sexes 2 three seasons later, and . . . that was not fun. I wound up giving him a middle name that I use anytime I visit the forums. That was a bad season (which I hope to post here), but Eric was one of the worst parts. Not Puck-level bad, but man, I wanted him hurt back then.

Airdate: April 7, 2003
Recap Published: April 12, 2003

Shane wants to leave. Or does he? Maybe. Maybe not. But meanwhile, the challengers have to play Spider-Man and do some swinging and climbing. Will the Ion Lifesaver ever be put to good use?
 
It’s a good time for reality television. The Real World: Las Vegas has finally sputtered and gasped its last breath. Seriously, why did we have to endure seven months of that? Anyway, with that gone and this show drawing to a climax, I figured I should be at peace soon. Then I heard that Kyle, the big-headed tool from Chicago, got a plum part on Days Of Our Lives, and a rumor that a major label signed Julie’s band. Now I’m ticked off all over again.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: Shane lamented over the departures of Campus Crawl mates Rachel and Eric J. Lori reminds us that the ladies are on a losing streak. Cut to a shot of Shane with a big smile on his face, shooting Emily in Collision Course. Sweet. “It’s humiliating,” Lori continues. “We just need to win another game.” Ellen gets the instructions from the sponsor phone: wear sneakers, boots, and athletic gear. How can any of that be considered “previously” when those scenes never aired? I hate BMP editing.

Night. Quiet shots. Cut to outside one of the Villas. Nobody is out there. Perhaps I got another week off.

Oops, I spoke too soon. Party time! Everybody’s dancing. Antoine has Anne riding on his shoulders. I’m not concerned for Antoine’s health as I was when Syrus was riding him. Emily and James dance seductively. Once again: run, James! A figure with a pixilated butt shoots down a water slide. Hey… I know the hair! It’s Blair! What’s BMP trying to pull this time?

But not everybody is having a good time. Shane is in the confessional booth. I thought all the interviews were done on-site or in post-production. Anyway, Shane feels out of place. “I could care less what happens tomorrow,” he tells the camera. “If I win the damn thing, if I’m in last place, I’m still going home.”

Cut to Shane giving Melissa a foot rub. She digs it, calling him “adorable.” Colin adds that all the guys love him as well. Colin interviews that Shane has voiced his opinion on leaving. He adds, “I think Shane’s looking forward to decompressing and being around people he’s comfortable with.”
I’m guessing Shane means being around other gay people, since we cut to him chatting with Ruthie and Genesis. Good edit. Ruthie finds out that Shane is a Taurus, which is funny since her girlfriend is one as well. I never got astrology. Ruthie’s lived with her lover part-time, which is something Shane can’t imagine doing. Ruthie responds with, “Well, you’re young.” I think there’s about four years between those two. Ruthie is so not an old lady. Genesis says that she’s been with her wife for four years. Shane interviews that they talked for three hours, adding, “It was nice to know there was someone who got me and was giving me something in return.”

Van. Shots of random sites. “Oh my God,” Anne says. “What is that?” Well, it’s a net. It’s a huge net, with blow-up dolls at the top. I haven’t seen inflatable playmates since the time one played Roy to Dan’s Siegfried on Extreme Challenge. Good times. Jonny welcomes everybody to Spidermon. The objective? First, to swing from the tenth floor balcony of the Sunset Beach Resort and into the “spider web.” Then the players have to go up the net, rescue the opposite sex doll, and climb down. Fastest time wins. Once again, Melissa is not feeling the love. “I’m in a tropical paradise and you want me to drop out of a building?” she interviews. “Are you people crazy?” No, but they’re sadistic. Jonny goes on, saying that the winner gets 36 points, and the last place finisher gets 23, unless the player gets disqualified. Emily drops some exposition on us, saying that the only way to get the DQ is by dropping the doll or if the player drops off the net. Jonny adds that the winner gets pursuit kayaks for the teammates. I don’t know how that’s different from a regular kayak. Oh, and there’s the Ion Lifesaver, which can be used to save somebody from getting eliminated. But after nine missions, who’s going to put it to good (and dramatic) use?

More net shots, accompanied by tense music. Colin gets suited up. He interviews that there are people stronger and faster than him, so he has to be more competitive. He’s going up against Ellen in this round. Both get attached to a cord that’s connecting two buildings. Ellen says she’s not nervous. “There’s a big net,” she interviews. “You’re fine, you’re safe. It’s all good.” But as she hangs off the balcony, she starts to gasp. On the ground, Anne goes on about Ellen’s high-pitched squeaking. Wow, I can’t believe I forgot all the times she did that on The Quest. On the cord, Ellen admits she’s scared. On the bullhorn, Jonny counts down from ten, his voice fading out in favor of a studio-produced heartbeat.

Jonny sounds the airhorn, and Ellen and Colin swing. No, I mean, swing. Remember the time Daffy Duck was trying to be Robin Hood, shouting “Yoinks and away!” and slamming into trees? Same thing. Ellen screams on the way to the net. Colin grabs his girl doll, attaching it to his belt. He manages to finish after 52 seconds. Ellen gets tangled in the net. The other girls laugh as her doll is held between her legs. She finishes at 1:39. She interviews that the mission was a lot tougher than she figured. She voiceovers during a replay about how the doll was between her legs and she kept stepping on it. Even she has to laugh. Insert your Adam joke here.

Eric lies back on the cord. He voiceovers that the only way for him to make the Inner Circle is by finishing first or second in every event. Lori whimpers as she steps off the balcony, rolling into position. “What the hell am I going to do with a kayak?” she asks out loud. Bludgeon your bigheaded boyfriend with it? They swing. The “Eric-Cam” shows us the way while Lori screams. The impact is so hard, she almost bounces off the net entirely. Worse still, her shoe flies off. Not a good day for Lori. Eric goes down the net, voicing over that he’s trying to get points. He dives over the finish line (:45), stoked that he has the fastest time. Meanwhile, Lori takes a while to get untangled before finishing (2:19) She interviews that the mission was harder than she thought.

Lori tells Ruthie that she thinks Eric got zero points, since he didn’t hook his doll up to his belt. James interviews the obvious: a zero plummets a guy to the bottom of the standings. Jonny tells Eric that he has to check the tape, but Eric isn’t worried. He interviews that he didn’t think he did anything wrong until he dropped his doll into the net, and he hopes he’ll slide by. Unfortunately for him, Jonny tells him that he’s been disqualified. The replay shows that he did let go of the doll. “I don’t feel like Spider-Man,” Eric muses. “I feel like Spider-Geek.” If you ever read the comics, Eric, you’d know that’s the same thing.

The beach. I’m thinking that there was a lot of time to kill, since the production crew had to reset everything. Shane asks Eric how he got a zero. “I lost the girl,” Eric says, “story of my life.” Shane suggests he should have gone for the boy doll. Did I mention Shane is gay? Just checking. Eric knows he’s going home, but Shane shoots that idea down. “I am ready to leave,” Shane interviews. “I’m totally sick of this place and sick of dealing with this.” For some reason, we go back to the dance floor, with Eric and Mark busting their respective moves. Cut to Shane in the confessional, not feeling jovial. Back at the beach, Shane wants those having a good time to stay. “No matter what my score,” he interviews, “this is my last mission, and thank God, I get to go home.”

Genesis vs. Mark. Genesis is nervous, given that she’s in last place and she wants to stay on. Both players swing into the net, but Genesis drops her doll. She screams, cursing up a storm as she climbs down the net.

After commercials, we get a replay of Genesis’ miscue. She interviews about how she badly she need the points. Shane interviews that she’s his best friend, and this is a low blow to him. Meanwhile, Mark finishes at 1:09. Jonny lets Genesis know that she’s been disqualified and then asks if she wants to hold the doll, much to her amusement. She interviews that she doesn’t want to leave, but it’s been agreed that the lowest scorer must go home.

Chili’s Lounge. Genesis cries a little, hugging Ruthie. The other women comfort her, but she’s still ticked off. “Irony of life,” she tells them. “The one time I actually excel at something and I [bleeping] drop the dude.”

Anne vs. Jamie. He actually hangs back and sings before swinging. They swing. Jamie finishes at 1:04; Anne finishes at 3:24.

Emily vs. James. You knew it had to come down to this. Emily: “I will be waiting on the ground to congratulate him whenever he reaches the finish line.” All he can reply is smile and say, “Yeah. As always.” I checked: he’s scored better than her in eight of the twelve missions. They swing, and Emily screams on the way. We get a spilt screen that isn’t the least bit informative. James gets to the finish line first (0:54). Make that nine-for-thirteen. Emily gets tangled up before diving into James’ arms (1:32). Did I mention they’re a couple? Just checking.

Ruthie vs. Shane. He interviews that doesn’t want to do this. He adds, “I feel like I’m jumping to my death.” He hollers while swinging. The race looks close, but Shane finishes at 0:48, followed closely by Ruthie (0:51). Shane’s a little happier now.

Melissa vs. Antoine. Since Blair’s done dodging bullets, the editors have a new running subplot: how bad will Melissa freak out before a mission? She starts whimpering while hanging on the balcony. “All I know is, these are two very high buildings and there’s a net,” she interviews. “Wrong. Uh-uh. No. Uh-uh.” Maybe it’s the crush I have on her, but I’m not seeing why anybody would object to her carrying on. For one thing, I’d be trying not to wet myself if I was in her position. For another, how could she have known she would last this long? I had her pegged for leaving in the first few weeks, before the events got tougher. I don’t see her as somebody who loves being the damsel in distress. She’s just somebody who doesn’t salivate the thought of risking her neck.

Anyway, Melissa panics as she hangs on the cord. The editors don’t do her any favors, playing circus music while showing the others laughing at her predicament. Melissa calms down before she has to swing. Antoine interviews that he has to beat Shane and James in order to stay in the game. But the doll drops and he gets the DQ. “This is how the game works,” Eric interviews. “The way we’re dealing with it, you go to the bottom, you’re out.” Meanwhile, Melissa finishes at 2:45. Except for Collision Course, she’s completed every mission and stayed in the middle of the pack. You have to respect that. She interviews that this is her first near-death experience.

Jonny asks Antoine what happened. Antoine notes that the doll wasn’t rigged on the net correctly, so he gets another chance. Shane tells Eric the news, but Eric isn’t worried.

Antoine, Take Two. He hits the net and manages to grab the doll, telling her, “Now you stay with me, girl!” Even while climbing down a net, the guy is a riot. He dives past the finish line (1:00). “I feel like I’m pretty happy to see my baby girl here with me,” he interviews with his doll. “She tried to bail on me, and that ain’t gonna happen no more!”

Post-mission. Jonny awards the kayaks and the Ion Lifesaver to Shane. He interviews that he was ready to go home the previous night. “I don’t know what changed,” he adds. “I think winning just really made me worth something again.” I think he’s spent too much time with James. Jonny tells everybody that the Inner Circles will be announced in one hour.

Scoreboard.

Men: Colin (345), Mark (344), Jamie (339), Antoine (318), Shane (315), James (314), Eric (297)

Women: Ruthie (334), Ellen (318), Emily (291), Lori (281), Melissa (253), Anne (245), Genesis (218)

Jonny announces the Inner Circles (Ruthie, Ellen, and Emily; Colin, Mark, and Jamie). Colin interviews that there is no need for the guys to decide since there is no vote. Foreshadowing is a bitch. Colin continues: “The women aren’t deliberating because I think after twelve missions, they’ve picked up on the fact that voting the lowest cumulative score actually works for your team.” Let’s break down the past Inner Circles. Six resulted in the lowest scorer going home (Gladys, Jisela, Aneesa, Tonya, Christina, Ayanna), two had the most unpopular people leave (Julie, Beth), and one contestant forced the Inner Circle to send her home (Amaya). What I’m trying to say is this: shut up, Colin. Not every IC had Emily hacking away at her enemies (Rachel, Veronica), so save the condescending tone.

Women’s Inner Circle. Ruthie gives Genesis her due before dropping the hammer. Genesis interviews that she’s sad about going home, but her wife is waiting for her. She hugs Ruthie, telling her, “I’m going home to have sex.” Too much information, Genesis.

Men’s Inner Circle. Mark reminisces about his time with Eric in Cabo San Lucas as hosts of Battle of the Seasons, and that he’s going to miss him. The elders of RW and RR hug.

Now it’s time to award the Ion Lifesaver. Shane says that his decision was not made out of malice. “I knew if I ever got the Lifesaver,” he tells the contestants, “I would give it to the person that was saving me.” And without further ado, he gives it to Genesis. Finally, somebody puts the damn thing to good use! Genesis interviews that she has to decide whether to accept it or not. This has become a land of confusion to her. This is the world she lives in (whoa-oh-oh) and these are the hands she’s been given (whoa-oh-oh). She’ll never-…okay, I’ll stop now. I was dying to drop that reference in at some point.

We get a replay of what just happened after commercials. “Ladies and gentlemen,” Jonny exclaims, “we have a wrench!” Genesis asks the others what she should do. She interviews that she doesn’t want to leave, but if she accepts it, somebody else would have to leave. “Make up your mind,” says the painfully obvious soundtrack. Random shots of the guys. Genesis looks at the board. Jonny says that the Women’s Inner Circle must deliberate once again.

Apparently, “Women’s Inner Circle” means “Everybody on the women’s team.” After all, watching Emily fixate on others to a select audience is half the fun on this show. Once again, Genesis expresses her unwillingness to mess up the system. Then Anne steps up and says she’s fine with going home. Genesis points out the huge difference between her and everybody else. Anne replies that Genesis would get another weekend in Jamaica and a chance to win another prize. “She’s such a good person,” Anne says of Genesis. “I think she absolutely deserves it.” Time out. Is it wrong of me to think the producers convinced Anne to take a dive? Think about it: Anne is nine points behind Melissa. If Anne does well in the next mission, or if Melissa wipes out and takes a zero, Anne could pass her and maybe take a shot at Lori’s position the following day. While the Inner Circle is a longshot, Anne has a better chance of winning mission prizes. Maybe BMP, seeing their precious Ion Lifesaver becoming a total joke, bought Anne off. I know I’ve been really critical of Anne these past few weeks, so watching her go from badmouthing Ayanna to giving Genesis a huge gift is a little much. I could be wrong. Anyway, Genesis tears up, hugging Anne. “I think this decision tonight really symbolizes the fact that that our darkest days are behind us,” says Ellen, with shots of the other smiling ladies. “This is the first time we’ve really made a group decision that settles well with everyone.” Anne jokes that she hates Shane, and everybody laughs.

Back to the proceedings. Jonny calls the Women’s Inner Circle up. Ruthie punctuates Anne’s dismissal with, “I absolutely love you.” Anne and Ellen hug. Anne tells her teammates to win on Monday to break their losing streak.

Time lapses from sunset to night. Eric gets hugs from Antoine, Melissa, and Colin. “My personal victory with this experience was being able to share my experiences and my life with other people here,” Eric muses. That could be ego right there. Or maybe all the youngins wanted to know what it was like when he got pinned by Heather B. back in ’92. He continues: “Hopefully, those experiences will bring happiness in their life [sic].” He rides away in the van, shouting, “Love your brother, respect your sister! It’s the only way!” Farewell, Ancient Jungle Monkey.

Anne hugs her teammates. “I am happy that I accepted the Ion,” Genesis interviews. “This is the first time I ever felt wanted by the team as a whole. It’s just a fabulous feeling.” Anne’s van drives off.

Next week: Jonny welcomes everybody to Human Aquarium. The players lie in a small pool with snorkels. Shane expositions that they have various sea creatures dumped on them. Sure enough, they get sea urchins, crabs, and lobsters dumped in there, which forces one woman out. Then BMP spoils everything by showing the scoreboard. So not only do we know who comprises the Inner Circles, we can determine who will win the mission. The bright side? James and Shane are tied for last place. Do you know what that means? The guys actually have to make a decision. Colin suggests a coin flip, so nobody’s feelings get hurt. Please tell me he’s kidding. He interviews that it’s been easy for the guys to vote in the past. James: “If I was in the Inner Circle, it would be my duty to make a decision.” And if the rumors are true, we might get the most dramatic episode of the season.

Yes, I was waiting for a long time to make a reference to the band Genesis. Had the person been obnoxious, I would've called her "Invisibly Touched in the head." Or was that just Phil Collins? "Land Of Confusion" was my go-to. I did not miss Anne at all. On the bright side, compared to the next episode, this one was awesome. Seriously, I could tell who placed where based on the teaser. And the ending? Oy. I'll try to get the recap up in less than a week.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Battle of the Sexes Episode 13: Ayanna Get Your Gun

Well, today happened, and the skies didn't turn crimson red. That's a good thing, right? In news closer to this blog, it's become evident that MTV Classic isn't going to run "vintage" BMP shows. I mean, they did RW 1-4, which was nice, as well as the first two seasons of Road Rules, but then they ran crap RW seasons like Hollywood and Denver. I don't see them airing old Challenges anytime soon. If anything, they'd play the bit from Rivals III where friggin' Johnny takes all the money for himself and Sarah crumples into a heap, and loop that moment for an hour. Nevertheless, I'm still going to repost my old recaps. Because I used Television Without Pity as a guideline (much to the annoyance of my "peers" at RNO), I feel that you don't need to watch the episodes to get a feel for them. All those hours of rewinding the tape, taking notes and repeating came in handy. That is what I tell myself.

Airdate: March 31, 2003
Recap Published: April 3, 2003 (three days after the previous episode's recap)

It’s time for laser tag! Ayanna (at right) has some expertise in the game, so surely the other women will listen to her for advice, right? Right? Um. Yeah. Sure.

This recap goes out to all my buddies who came to support Television Without Pity this past Saturday in New York. Together, we had fun and raised over $1,000 via silent auction. I kicked in $48, with the purchase of two postcards and a mousepad. Perhaps next time, we can outdo the Washington contingent, or any other city that boasts the biggest supporters.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: “Battle of the Opposite Sexes” reared its ugly, lopsided head. Christina: “We have to take off our clothes and play an intellectual game.” Ayanna: “If I get a question wrong, that’s what I say ‘no’.” For the last time-… ah, screw it. I don’t have a time machine, so I’m not going to explain things yet again. Jake sits naked on the bike. Flashing Caption: “Men Win!” Oh, come on. If the guys hadn’t let Jake answer most of the questions in the second half, the women would have taken it. Way to not show context. Cut to the Unnamed Stirrup Mission. Veronica hangs by her ankle. Christina falls in the water. Eric gets the win. “Men Win!” Cut to Stairway to Heaven. Oh, this isn’t right. Jamie flies up the ladders, while Melissa has a panic attack. Jamie probably loves to run up mountains, whereas Melissa probably enjoys walking up escalators. Not a fair comparison to make. “Men Win!” A scoreboard has the guys winning six out of ten missions. Does it matter? The point is for individuals to do well enough to remain in the game. The men vs. women thing is just for prizes. Genesis voiceovers that the girls are sick of losing. I’m starting to get sick of this show.

We go to the bar area, where Emily, Genesis, Ruthie, and Lori are hanging out. We get a quick clip of the girls screwing up missions. Tree House? “Defeated.” Stirrup-A-Go-Go? “Defeated.” Seven Rings of Saturn? “Defeated.” BOTOS? “Defeated.” Looks like it’s sunny in Jamaica, with a better-than-average chance of anvils falling. Melissa interviews that she’s tired of losing and some of the missions are geared for men. I’ll give her Breath Hold Bungee and Stairway to Heaven. Lori counters, saying that it’s stupid to blame their performances on fairness. Melissa: “If we had a competition on manicures, the boys would lose and probably bitch about it.” I don’t know… I bet Shane, Antoine, and Blair are all about the fingernails. And I know Emily has dragged James to the manicurist a few times. Ellen suggests that the unfairness factor would be incentive to win, adding, “There’s nothing a girl can’t do that a guy can do. We can probably do it better.” Cut to Ayanna reading on a bed. She interviews that part of her doesn’t want to stay, and she feels “hellagrimy.”

Ellen and Ruthie have their own meeting. Ellen feels that the women can do anything the guys can do. Ruthie agrees, but she adds that they have to prove it now. Ellen says that the others aren’t having fun anymore. Well, an unchained and delusional Emily will do that to a group. Don’t look into her eyes! She’ll slay you where you stand! Yes, a whole week has gone by, and I’m still mad at her. Anyway, Ellen interviews that she and Ruthie are the strongest competitors on the team. She tells Ruthie that she wants to win tomorrow more than the others. “I know that the girls team really needs a leader,” Ellen voiceovers, “but Ruthie and I don’t want to, because we don’t want to piss people off.” I got a news flash for the both of them: this is not Survivor. Both have been in the Inner Circle from the second mission. Both have shown no signs of falling out of it. They can decide whom they want and don’t want. They can openly talk smack about the others and expect no repercussions. As long as they’re in the IC, they can’t be voted on. Why can’t they understand that? Both Ellen and Ruthie want to kick some ass.

Night shot. Morning shot. The mission phones ring. Ellen and Antoine prattle off the specifics: sneakers, athletic gear, get hydrated, and get ready to leave the Villas in 25 minutes. Super fast forward, the guys get ready. Super fast forward, the van careens down the Jamaican highways. Eric interviews that the girls can call it quits. “When it comes time for us to work together,” he adds, “the guys are gonna be more ready than the girls.” Oh, good. More anvils.

There a shot of packs and guns, as Jonny welcomes everybody to the site. Ayanna gets excited, knowing that she’s going to play Laser Tag. I played that at a friend’s birthday party several months back. It was okay. I think I killed more than I got killed. Melissa doesn’t share Ayanna’s joy. “I don’t walk around shooting guns off,” she grouses. “I don’t play videogames every day.” For some reason, I get this mental image of Melissa and Amaya in gang colors, walking the mean streets of West Hollywood, popping caps in whoever displeases them. Jonny introduces today’s game, which is Collision Course. Sounds like a demolition derby to me. The object is to score points by eliminating opposing players. “Ayanna is well-versed in the tactical art of Laser Tag,” Colin muses in an interview. “For this reason, we have to take her out quickly.” If I ever do this again, I’ll have to include “Don’t Brag About Expertise” on the “What All Challenge Contestants Should Know” list. Jonny shows off the impressive gift package to the winner and that person’s team: a DVD/VCR, an MP3 player, and a digital video recorder. “Give it up for the sponsors!” Jonny adds. Oh, shut up. He also throws in the Ion Lifesaver. Since this episode is short on actual action, Jonny adds that the points go from 36 down to 21. Genesis states the obvious when she interviews that a win would lift her team’s spirits.

Everybody enters the dark warehouse. I hear familiar music. Slow motion walking. I can see the packs blinking on their chests. And then, I remember the song. It’s Nas! It’s “Hate Me Now”! I can so relate, because I hate these people now, but I won’t stop now, because I can’t stop now. The gang starts preparing. Jamie expositions that the object of the game is to run from one side of the field to the other without getting shot. There are two minute-long rounds, and each player gets five lives, represented on screen as a green light. Once a player loses all the lives (green lights go red), that person is out. Cut to Emily, with James standing next to her. “We go to arcades a lot,” she tells us, “and he always ends up leaving a little mad, a little sore, because his girlfriend kicked his ass.” Pause. James tries to say something, but Emily shoots him. That is so emasculating. Get away from her, dude!

The guys make plans. Antoine interviews that the girls aren’t a team, and the guys have to be one in order to win. How good does an umbrella have to be to handle an anvil? Blair brings up his ongoing subplot: once again, he’s in last place, and he has to do well. Eric shows off a move, where he hides underneath a barrier and pops unsuspecting ladies as they run by. Pretty sneaky, Eric. Did you pick that up from Vietnam, World War II, or the Civil War? The crafty editors show a map of the guys’ strategy, complete with arrows, dots and lines.

Well, the women should be organized, yes? Ayanna offers her take on what to do, but I barely understand it. When she gets excited, the Ayanna-to-English dictionary is a must. Melissa tells Lori that she’s not well versed with guns. Okay, I get it. Emily and Ruthie talk at the same time. Ayanna wants the guys to come to her. Melissa: “The next mission better be the boys sew up [bleep] or bake some [bleep].” Ayanna keeps talking strategy. Lori interviews that it’s not a good time to go over the basics one minute before the event. Did the guys get an hour to plan? Lori makes my head hurt. More talking. Ayanna starts to say something, but Emily cuts her off. Ayanna is rightfully upset that the others are shutting her down. The basic plan is that the women are going for themselves. As if we didn’t get the disharmony, we get a graphic with a big question mark and arrows going every which way.

Colin tells the others to go with “blanket fire.” He interviews that the team is targeting the “power players”: Ayanna, Ruthie, and Ellen. Ayanna tells the others, “Protect your back, protect your neck.” Cut to Anne in an interview, eyerolling, “Great, she’s talking again.” Did I ask for your opinion, Skeletor? You should be feel lucky that your friend Emily kept you an extra day and drove out a far better player in the process. So shut up. Man, I’m getting cranky. The women break out in a lot of “whas” and “huhs.” Ayanna interviews that nobody is letting her talk. Genesis: “We’re all starting to explode over each other.” First of all, I got that. Second, that’s some disturbing imagery.

The music swells as both teams get ready. The girls are rigid, while the guys look jovial. An airhorn sounds, and everybody starts running. This is a bad mission to watch, since you can’t tell who got hit, and by whom. “You can’t split up!” Ayanna interviews. “It’s not gonna work! They’re gonna pick us off like chickens in the middle of a wolf field!” Alrighty, then. Ayanna’s green lights go red, and she’s out. Ruthie? Out. Genesis? Out. The airhorn sounds, ending the round.

James sums things up: “The first round is basically a massacre.” Ruthie can’t believe the guys waited to pick her off. Anne, who has two lives remaining, figures out that the guys are shooting for specific people. Ruthie says that the guys were patient. Colin: “Is that all they have?” Yes, that is all they have.

We get where everybody stands, and it’s a stinker. Each guy has at least four lives, except for Blair (1) and Jamie (3). On the other side, Emily, Ellen, and Anne have two lives, while Melissa and Lori have one apiece. “Crush Ellen,” Colin tells the others. “Crush her. It’s over.” It’s like he reads my mind! The ladies go over their remaining lives. Melissa’s One Life To Live joke falls flat. Ruthie hopes that the remaining players have a plan. The guys, smelling blood on the warehouse floor, elect to catcall Ellen. Good choice. “Ellen!” Jamie taunts. “Come out to plllllaaaayyyy!” Nice use of a quote from The Warriors, even though Jamie doesn’t have two glass bottles to chink together. Melissa’s cracking up, while Ellen tries to keep her game face on. She wants somebody to watch her back. The guys continue. Jamie continues. “Come out and plllllaaaayyyy!” Heh.

Back from commercials, the guys continue giving Ellen the business. Colin whispers to the camera, “Ellen is gonna get crushed this round!” The airhorn blares. More running. “The women’s strategy is basically not to have a strategy,” Mark interviews. “They’re just doing their own thing and running around like chickens with their heads cut off.” Gee, I didn’t notice. Anne and Lori are out. The lights are on, revealing the bunkers with scribbles on them. So sad. The airhorn goes off, just as Ellen is eliminated. She yells that somebody got in her way. The guys whoop it up. Another scoreboard. Oh, this is pathetic. All eight guys are still in there. As for the women? Emily is the only one left, with one green light.

Anne starts getting snippy towards Ayanna, and they start bickering. “The girls’ team is falling apart right now,” Mark comments in an interview. “They need leadership, but no one seems to be stepping up to the plate.” Enough already! I get it! The women are screwed! Anne tells Ayanna not to yell at her, and Ayanna goes into passive-aggressive mode. Anne actually goes “blah blah blah” into the camera with Ayanna behind her. Shut up, Anne, and eat something. Even Heidi from Survivor is probably watching this and saying, “Damn, don’t they have food in Jamaica?” Ayanna says that the team had a chance. Anne bitches to Ruthie, with Ayanna near them both. Ruthie interviews that she doesn’t want the team to be bogged by negativity. I wonder… are you bogged if you’re in it up to your neck? That should be beyond bogged, in my opinion. Ruthie talks to Ayanna, who’s still in passive-aggressive. More bickering. Ayanna insists she’s trying to stay cool. I’ve seen her go ballistic, so this would be considered cool. “Great teamwork, Ayanna,” Anne snots. Why couldn’t BMP ship in Roni or Tara instead of her? She’s the worst representative from Northern Trail on any Challenge. I’d take Noah in a wig over Anne. She insists it’s not her fault the team is losing. Ayanna feels like she’s being framed as a scapegoat, while the others rebuke. Meanwhile, everybody is telling Emily what she has to do to win the game.

On the other side, all eight guys are waiting for the inevitable. “Let’s just bomb her, dude,” Colin suggests. Genesis interviews that Emily had the one life, and all the pressure is on her to win. The carnage continues. There are quick cuts, disguising how truly boring this mission is to watch. A voice rings out: “I got her! I got her!” And Emily is out, as Shane nudges her out of bounds. “Shane’s taken a lot of pleasure in shooting Emily in the back,” Colin interviews, “just as she stabbed Rachel in the back.” What is the word I’m looking for? Ah, yes: HA! That cracked me up something fierce. “We crushed the girls,” Shane beams. “They basically suck at Laser Tag.” Emily stalks off. “It’s supposed to be a game,” she interviews. “It’s supposed to be fun. And I’m not having any fun.” Would she like to bring Veronica back, so she can shove her off a cliff? Ayanna tells Emily she did a good job.

Since we need a winner, Jonny splits the guys into two teams by alphabetical order: Colin (3 lives), Antoine, Eric and Blair (1 apiece) vs. James (3), Shane (2), Mark and Jamie (1 apiece). Rewinding the tape, I find out that Emily didn’t take out a single light. Misleading editing or poor marksmanship? The girls look on glumly. Blair interviews that it’s important for him to go well, since he doesn’t want to go home. The order of elimination: Antoine, Shane, Jamie, Blair, Mark and Colin, with James as the winner. In her article, Melissa said that it took forever for James and Colin to duel in the end. Because I’ve been a good guy in recapping this dreck, I offer my interpretation on what was left on the cutting room floor:

Colin: (behind "bunker") Okay, fun's fun. Now get shot, willya?

James: (likewise) Dude, you're in the Inner Circle, and I'm not! I need the points!

Colin: Be reasonable!

James: I am!

Colin: (imitating Emily's voice) "Oh, James? Come on honey, the new chick flick is playing! You can buy the tickets and popcorn, and maybe... maybe... I'll let you sit next to me!"

James: Grrrrrrrrrrr...

Colin: "You don’t want to be with your greasy guy friends, do you?”

James: (imitating Amaya's voice) "Oh! Spoon me, Colin! Spooooon me, you big schmoopy-whoopie!"

Colin: Oh, you miserable bastard.

James: "Come on! Kiss my bunny! Kiss it!"

Colin: (bolting up) That tears it! DIE MOTHER-

James: (bolting, taking the shot) Too easy, dude. Too easy.

Post-mission. Ayanna gets close to Shane. “Don’t go shootin’ real guns,” she tells him with a smile. “You had fire in your eyes when you shot Emily, dog.” Anne says that Ayanna is mad at her, but she’s not mad at Ayanna. “I was listening,” Lori interviews. “I wasn’t hearing anything about what to do.”

Jonny awards the prizes and the Ion Lifesaver to James. The guys clap. The girls clap politely. Emily claps, and she has a big smile on her face. Because he’s the boyfriend, you know. Shut up, Emily. Ayanna: “After I’ve seen how the girls acted today as a team, it’s time for me to go on ahead and go on ahead.” I checked the Ayanna-to-English dictionary. “I should get going now.”

Ayanna tells Ellen that she’s not having fun anymore, and feels that she has to watch her back. Ellen tries to talk her out of it. Ayanna interviews that if she leaves, it would be a wake-up call for her teammates. Ellen wants her to reconsider; she interviews that she’s worried when one of the stronger competitors wants to leave. “People are only going to listen to people that have respect for or what their opinions are,” Ayanna tells Ellen. “If I don’t feel you can trust me, then how can I trust you?” Ayanna tells Emily of her intentions. “I think that’s the wrong decision,” she tells Ayanna. “You can’t base anyone’s trust off one mission. You’re not a quitter.” Great, now Emily doesn’t want a teammate to leave. What is it, Emily? Did Genesis grab the last orange and you want her gone? Ayanna interviews that she’s not a quitter, but she sees the situation for what it is, and she chooses to leave.

Scoreboard. Since the field’s been whittled down, I may as well start posting the scores.

Men: Mark (314 points), Colin (310), Jamie (308), Eric (297), Antoine (287), James (281), Shane (279), Blair (259)

Women: Ruthie (300), Ellen (290), Emily (262), Lori (254), Melissa (227), Anne (223), Genesis (218), Ayanna (215)

One thing that didn’t catch my attention right away was that Melissa, Genesis, and Ayanna’s scores didn’t change. Speculation on the forums says that they didn’t shoot anybody, so they got disqualified.

James looks at the scores with Emily. Ellen rubs her eyes near Blair. Eric eats from a pudding cup. He interviews that he’s been knocked to the bottom of the board, and he’s crawled his way back. I’m thinking Eric’s might make a run for the final three slots, and this is foreshadowing. Genesis is impressed that Anne moved up. Ruthie asks Anne, “Didn’t I tell you miracles can happen?” Aren’t miracles supposed to be good things? Blair hugs a slightly weeping Ellen. I think she loves the guy. Maybe not in the hooking-up way, but he seems to be somebody she can talk with. Blair interviews that it’s his time, adding “God is saying, ‘Blair, go home. Please.’”

Jonny starts the elimination proceedings, telling us the Inner Circles (Mark, Colin, and Jamie; Ruthie, Ellen, and Emily) and the Ion holder (James). Ellen interviews that there was no deliberation, since Ayanna has no intention of staying. Jonny asks the Women’s Inner Circle who is going home. Ellen calls Ayanna “awesome” and says she’s going to miss her. Ayanna doesn’t hug, but she does bump fists with the IC ladies. “For the girls to have any kind of fighting chance at winning this competition,” she interviews, “they’ve got to come together. And right now, they’re not.”

Jonny calls up the Men’s Inner Circles, and “reminds” them that they can’t vote him off. Shut up, Jonny. Mark goes on about how Blair has hung on in last place in the past seven missions. Mark adds, “He’s been a great roommate in the room where no one ever leaves.” Your guess is as good as mine. Blair walks up, says “It’s my time,” and walks back to the other men.

Now it’s time for James to award the Ion Lifesaver. Without fanfare, he gives it to Blair. Whoa! Intrigue! Sadly, Blair interviews that he’s not going to take it. “Why mess up what we’ve been doing now?” he ponders. He tells everybody that he’s going home. He then crouches, as the other guys spray beer on him. Don’t read anything into that. I’m begging you, do not go Psychology 101 on that scene. Blair interviews that he’s content in going home, and he stretched his time in last place as long as he could.

Sunset shot. Ellen and Ruthie walk down the stairs. Ellen comments that she didn’t buy into the mindset the guys had at first. “But it worked,” Ruthie chimes in. Never have three words so eloquently summed up this entire series.

Night. Brief shot of Ayanna packing up. Cut to a meeting of the women. Ellen says that each person brings her own strengths to the team. Emily says that due to lack of communication, they lost it right before the mission. Lori mentions that she’s never played in a sport before, but she’s willing to follow orders if need be. Ellen: “I felt that Ayanna was trying to tell us how to go about doing it.” You think? Emily thinks that Ayanna didn’t “relay it to us in the best way.” Ruthie steps up, saying that the women need to trust each other. I already have Step One: Dump Emilizzy Borden ASAP. Ruthie interviews that she can’t let the others slip, adding “I need my team as much as they need me.” Ellen says that if tomorrow brings wrestling or flag football, the team shouldn’t get psyched out. Melissa’s rubbing her eyes, and I think she’s remembering the thing her good buddy Amaya went through when she played those in Challenge 2000. Ellen adds that if anybody has experience in a future mission, that girl should “take the leadership chair and run with it.” The only thing missing is Ayanna yelling, “Great! Why didn’t you think of that before the game?” Ruthie tells the group they have to learn from their mistakes, adding that the guys had a lot of time to be a team, and the women can learn from them. “It’s Battle of the Sexes,” she interviews. “We’ve got to come together and battle out with the guys.”

MTV decided that Punk’d, Aston Kutcher’s opus, needed to start early on Monday night, so the teaser got clipped. But it came back on the Tuesday rerun, so I don’t have to speculate. Next week: The guys and the girls dance around. You Antoine fans should be happy to find out that the Belgian busts a move. Shane interviews that he’s going home. Jonny welcomes everybody to Spidermon. Apparently, Spidermon involves swinging from an impossibly long rope and clinging to a cargo net. Jonny at the elimination proceedings: “In this situation, the Inner Circle will have to deliberate one more time.” Colin in interview: “What!?” Hey, anything’s better than the drama the girls have been serving up.

I forgot about the TWoP "benefit." I might have the mousepad, which had Miss Alli's wisdom related to The Amazing Race written on it. She was good people, though a bit harsh as a forum moderator. The sad part about this episode is that this proved to be Ayanna's best exit. She got bounced from Extreme Challenge for beating up Christian after he said a certain word, and I won't spoil you on what happened in Battle Of The Sexes 2. I really hope she's doing good with her life. I've seen Blair on TV from time to time, such as appearing on G4's X-Play, and doing online content for DC Comics. I actually saw him at a convention along with Blair Butler, but I didn't say hi. I feel bad in retrospect, especially since I would see Steve, his buddy from Road Rules: The Quest, later in 2003. He may have compared himself to a venereal disease, but at least he didn't act like he wanted to give it to everybody, unless certain people from BMP shows.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Battle of the Sexes Episode 12: True Colors

This is the infamous "bloody axe" episode. Between the state of reality television today (especially The Challenge) and reality itself (less than ten days to the end of days!), this seems so quaint to look back on. And once again: this was a time where I actually liked Veronica. That would not be true by the end of 2003.

Airdate: March 24, 2003
Recap Published: March 31, 2003 (I'm thinking either it took a lot of time for me to expel the rage, or my "boss" had issues with the negativity. Maybe both.)

We see Emily’s true colors shining through – but it’s definitely not making Jason love her! Nor Veronica for that matter. Will the Ion Lifesaver actually be used this week?
 
Warning: The following recap is full of bile and hatred. Seriously, the actions of a few participants have ticked off this recapper, and he is mighty pissed. He knows that there’s bigger stuff to get angry about in the world, but he feels that it’s easier to write about what he knows. Oh, and the recapper also knows how annoying it is to refer to oneself in the third person. He is so angry, he just doesn’t care.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: Tense music played as Emily tried to convince Ruthie and Ellen that Veronica had to go. In a nice show of intelligence, Ellen tells Emily that she is adamantly opposed. Veronica: “I feel that Emily would jump at the chance to send me home. Cut to the next episode, where Veronica could have sent Emily home, but didn’t bring it up. Ladies meeting: according to Melissa, they’re losing every mission. Come on, you gals won four out of nine. Cut to Tonya’s final words, where she encourages the women to vote off the lowest scorer. “It’s the easiest way to go,” she reasons, “because people don’t feel very hurt.” Does anybody think the ladies will heed her plea? Let’s find out.

After the credits, there’s a shot of Veronica, followed by one of Emily and James together. Emily interviews that she’s with her boyfriend and there are a lot of “sexy girls” walking around, and she feels vulnerable. Melissa drops some exposition on us: a while back, James helped Veronica move into her apartment. Ayanna picks it up, telling us that they had fooled around. Finally, a reason for Emily’s hatred! But when was this? Before James went on Maximum Velocity Tour? Before he met Emily on Extreme Challenge? Before they started dating? Afterwards? A time frame would come in handy right now, given what’s about to unfold. Emily: “I don’t want to see myself get hurt.” Others might not share that sentiment, Emily.

The sponsor phone rings. Ayanna reads the instructions: wear boots, athletic clothing, and bug spray. We waste no time with contestant preparations, going directly to the mission, which involves two sets of impossibly tall ladders. Jonny welcomes everybody to Stairway to Heaven. A close-up shows that the ladders are made up of smaller ladders, some of which aren’t connected. Jonny says that the course is 80 feet high, which isn’t as high as some of these people have been while in Jamaica (rimshot). Hey, I hear things. Syrus voiceovers that everybody is getting goosebumps. Jonny explains that the object is to climb as high as possible in one minute. Ruthie interviews that it’s not just a matter of mental preparation, but physical ability. Emily expositions that the smaller ladders have different colors, with bigger point total the further they go. Jonny unveils the prize for the best contestant: $1,000 of sponsor money for each member of that person’s team. Finally, something that won’t go on eBay. Oh, and there’s the Ion Lifesaver, which hasn’t played a role on the show. Yet.

Tense music plays as the camera pans from Melissa to Veronica. Emily interviews that she wants to stake her claim in the Inner Circle. “I’m going to take out the one person that I really want to see go home,” she says in an interview, with James standing next to her. Dude, you gotta get away from her. Mark states the obvious, that both teams want the money.

Shane vs. Genesis. Shane takes the early lead as the others cheer them on. Shane reaches the top, getting 80 points in 55.53 seconds. Genesis only earns 60 points. “I am scared to death,” she says while still on the ladder. “I never knew I was afraid of heights until right this very second.” Bungee cords lower both players to the ground. Shane picks up some sod and kisses it in relief.

Eric vs. Lori. Eric: “I’m running right up this [Oedipus Rex].” Eric takes the lead, huffing and puffing. Lori voiceovers that there are sections where the ladders are not connected. Eric gets to the top first (80, 34.56). Lori hears the countdown, but can’t make it to the top (70). “It’s scarier than you think,” she says. “I’m shaky.”

Syrus vs. Ayanna. Syrus is nervous about the mission, and notes that he’s in eighth place, while Blair is ninth. Both players go up the ladder. “Keep going, Syrus!” Antoine shouts. “Up! Up! Up!” Ellen cheers in that voice where she’s annoying even from 80 feet below. Ayanna only gets 65 points. Syrus reaches the top (80, 55:86), but he’s pissed off about his performance.

Emily vs. Antoine. Shots of Emily and Veronica. Yes, the manufactured tension is that thick. Veronica interviews that Emily doesn’t like her for some reason. That’s a huge understatement. And now it’s time for Emily to get really vicious. “There’s a bloody axe waiting for me at the top of this ladder,” she says, “And I have to get it.” Wow, I’m surprised Veronica is still breathing at this point. Jonny asks “Frenchie” if he’s ready, Antoine responds, “I’m going to try and get my Frenchie ass up in the air, you know.” The slash fiction writes itself on this show. They start up the ladder. Cut to shots of Veronica and James. Antoine gets to the top first (80, 36.67). Emily peaks as well (80, 45:09), whooping it up. Antoine: “I’m very proud to have the highest hairy back at this time in Jamaica.” Um, what? Emily sees her performance as a window of opportunity to get back in the Inner Circle. The wind is very loud eighty feet in the air.

Veronica gets ready for her run, getting support from a shawled Melissa. Emily is still whooping as she’s lowered down. “I don’t trust her at all,” Veronica says of Emily. “Every time she’s in the Inner Circle, I get a little quest [2017: queasy?] because I feel I may be sent home.”

Veronica vs. James. James takes the lead right away, hitting the summit at 39.43 seconds, letting out a “HOO-RAH!” afterwards. Veronica beats the time limit, finishing at 59.99. “I didn’t fall and I got points today!” Veronica cheers.

Mark vs. Ellen. Mark goes up fast as happy rock music plays in the background. He finishes at 34.63, and he’s not even breathing hard. The airhorn sounds, leaving Ellen with 70 points, muttering a brief “dammit!”

Colin vs. Ruthie. She closes her eyes, going into her zone. She voiceovers that the height isn’t crossing her mind, and she just wants to beat the guys. Ruthie runs up the ladder. I’m serious; she’s practically sprinting. Colin: “Ruthie is metaphorically spanking my ass.” She hits the top at 33:31. Genesis voiceovers that Ruthie is good at everything she does. Melissa points out to the guys that Ruthie is on her team. The girls cheer Ruthie as she walks towards them, with Lori referring to her as “our little monkey.” The editors don’t care about Colin’s time.

More tense music as we get a close-up of Syrus, followed by Ellen hugging Blair and saying that he’ll never leave. “I got staying power, dude,” he says. “If I had the same thing in bed, I’d be the champion of ladies nationwide.” He tells us that he has to beat Syrus to stay in the game. Meanwhile, Anne reminds us that she’s the lowest scorer on the women’s side. Blair gets to the top at 47.23, dedicating his performance to the “Royal Family,” a shout-out to Theo. Anne can only get 60 points.

Melissa expresses concerns about her weight (lack thereof) to one of the supervisors. She and Jamie wish luck for each other. Aw, I’m a fan of intrahouse love, and these two were so tight on their season. Jamie runs up with a vengeance. Melissa has problems. “Oh my God,” she shouts. “It’s really not that easy!” Jamie continues to race up the ladder. Melissa complains that the ladder is wobbly and stops where she is. Jamie hits the summit at 28.77. “Sexual chocolate!” he shouts at the peak. “I’m Spider-Man without the mask!” Back at the ladder, Melissa clings on, fearing the wind will blow her off. Some think that Melissa was being too big of a damsel in distress for carrying on, but the woman weighs as much as Christina’s leg. And, unlike fellow New Orleans castmate Danny, at least she confronts a fear of heights. One of the safety guys climbs the ladder, telling her not to hold him since he’s not tethered. Melissa lets go, but swings around as the others try and catch her. All that’s missing is green tights and a jaunty hat. “She’s very strong in other things,” Lori says of Melissa. “This mission wasn’t her mission.” Melissa tells us that getting down was harder than getting up.

It’s award time. Jonny awards the money and the Ion Lifesaver to Jamie, who proceeds to strike another rock star pose. James points out that the guys have won six missions to the girls’ four.
Scoreboard. A close-up shows that Blair is above Syrus. Blair has officially broken the record for dodging bullets, set by Kristen Kirchner (Murder in Small Town X). Syrus: “Blair took me down by one, Bob!” Who’s Bob? If it’s any consolation, Blair is 20 points behind James, so it would take a miracle to save him next week. We see that Anne is in last place, 18 points behind Ayanna. Anne interviews that everybody expects her to go home, including herself. Jonny announces the Inner Circles. For the guys, it’s Mark, Colin, and Jamie. Yes, Colin is no longer at the top. Editing glosses over a lot of little things. For the women, it’s Ruthie, Ellen, and Emily. Veronica interviews that she thinks Anne will go home on points. Great, why doesn’t she mention that she’s two days from retirement?

Tense piano music plays over rushing clouds. Seriously, it’s like the editors fed David B. some uppers and told him to go psycho on the keyboard. Then the sky turns red. Given what’s about to happen, I’m not sure if it’s a BMP trick. It is now time for the Women’s Inner Circle. Ellen voiceovers that she and Ruthie have their own idea on who should go, but Emily brings up Veronica. Emily goes into the usual rant, saying that Veronica isn’t mean to Melissa or Lori, but she is mean to everybody else. “And I mean MEAN!” she adds emphatically. Cut to Veronica on a lounge chair and James in a pool. Emily in interview: “I know this is my last chance to convince Ruthie and Ellen that this girl needs to go home.” I’m surprised the other girls didn’t bring out some cheddar for Emily. After all, cheese goes great with whine.

Ruthie asks what Veronica has done to deserve elimination. Does Emily bring up Veronica and James’ brief fling? “She doesn’t care about teamwork or people’s feelings,” Emily snarls. “She just likes to walk around and make people feel inferior.” Wait… isn’t Emily the one that helped fracture the team by boycotting “Battle of the Opposite Sexes”? And didn’t she get into a riff with James when he wouldn’t join her? Emily needs a mirror, especially since the flower she wears in her hair does her no favors. Ellen interviews that Veronica threatens Emily, and she doesn’t know where that comes from.

Emily continues: “I’m saying let Anne stay in this game, because Anne deserves to be here. She’s played nice and she gets along with everyone.” Yeah, Anne’s a go-getter. She’s only in last place by 18 points, and she has a history of getting hurt on missions. I sneeze in her direction, and she’d bust a few bones. But she does get along with everyone… except Veronica. Emily needs to shut up. Ruthie tries to reason with Emily, saying it’s more practical to eliminate from the bottom up. Emily thinks it’s a good idea, and that they should start tomorrow. If Emily isn’t voted out of reality television in Peggy Keller’s column, I’m going to be very disappointed in all you readers who can participate. At their worst, Heidi and Jenna were never as petty as this flaming hypocrite. Ruthie in interview: “I’m really doing the best of my ability to make sure that everything’s fair.” Ellen tells Emily that she doesn’t consider Veronica a friend, but she does see a competitor in her. Emily snipes that she can’t stand the other WIC members straddling the line anymore. She continues, “I’m ready to send her home and stop all this bull[bleep].” I don’t see any bulls in Jamaica, Emily, but I know where that stuff’s coming from.

Back from commercials, Emily is still on her vendetta. “I want her gone,” she says. “She’s not making the game fun for a lot of people.” Ruthie asks for specifics, and Emily offers Ayanna and Genesis. There could have been more, but the editing cuts her off. Ellen interviews that Emily is trying to convince her and Ruthie to feel the same way. “As far as speaking for the team,” Ruthie tells Emily, “I think you spoke for the team.” Ruthie interviews that her heart isn’t in voting out Veronica, but it’s the right decision for the team. Say what? Are you telling me Ruthie is falling for Emily’s mind control voodoo again? Ellen thought that the vote was obvious before, adding, “If that many people are being affected negatively by Veronica, even if it’s not me included, then that makes sense to me.” Ellen? Are you stupid? Veronica’s only ticked off two people, maybe four if you take Emily seriously about Ayanna and Genesis. Did you have a problem with her? It’s like Emily feeds on the brains of the Inner Circle. Emily thinks it will take guts to reveal the decision, but she can go to sleep at night. Good for you, girl. Nice to see backstabbing doesn’t give you insomnia. The terrible trio walks down the stairs. Ruthie has an unsettling feeling, and Ellen agrees with her.

Announcement time. Because the guys are never dramatic, they go first. “This person wears more jewelry than I’ve seen in my life,” Colin quips before dropping the hammer on Syrus. The big guy celebrates his dismissal by hopping on Antoine’s back for a ride, smacking his butt. Damn, Antoine’s a strong guy. He’ll feel the pain tomorrow morning. Lori interviews that the guys have the right idea in voting off the lowest scorer. “It involves no blame and no subjectivity,” she observes.

Women’s Inner Council decision. After badmouthing Melissa in the past for not personally announcing Julie’s dismissal, Emily backs it up by taking the floor. She tells the guys not to judge the women for not voting in the same way, “Because we’re women. We’re not men.” I want Deena from Survivor to kick her ass for using gender differences as an excuse. Emily cuts to the chase, booting Veronica. “It’s sort of a team morale thing,” she lies. “I think most of us feel that way.” She then offers Veronica a chance to speak. To her credit, Veronica takes this better than Rachel did. “I can’t believe you guys,” she tells the Inner Circle. Ellen has her head down in obvious shame. Good. Veronica continues: “I’m disappointed. I’m not going to say anything because I don’t want to regret these words. I think if I speak with my heart, it won’t be pretty.” Veronica, if you want to e-mail me what you would have told her, I’ll be game. Emily in interview: “We’re not sending these people home to their death. We’re just sending them home. I’m definitely not going to stand up there and cry. It’s just not my style.” Once again: Shut up, Emily.

Now Shane has something to say. He tells the girls that they’ve been losing missions, and it’s because they’ve voted out their best competitors. Go, Shane! “It’s not fair to the girls you send home,” he says, bringing up Julie, Rachel, and Veronica. I’m so happy that Shane’s chewing out the Inner Circle, I’ll give him a pass on Julie going, even though she was a boil that needed to be lanced. Ellen interviews that they took Emily’s word, but nobody is saying anything good about the decision. Paranoia will do that to a group.

Jonny brings up Jamie to award the Ion Lifesaver. Jamie says he was going to give it to Blair, but he hands it to Veronica. Ha! Melissa cheers her ex-housemate and hugs him. The other girls aren’t really celebrating. Eric’s jumping up and down while laughing. Ellen cracks a smile. Emily looks ticked and tries to hide it. Me? I’m shouting “JAMIE! JAMIE! JAMIE!” as loudly as I can. He interviews that it felt awesome to give Veronica the IL.

Uh oh. Jonny wants a word with Jamie, and I’m guessing it’s not to ask for tips for bridge bungee. Veronica doesn’t know what’s going on until Melissa clues her in: Jamie was supposed to tell Jonny who gets the IL before the announcements. Jonny goes into Jeff Probst’s level of pissiness, telling Jamie that the procedure had always been that way. Eric interviews that Jonny didn’t get that information. Jonny announces that the original choice stands, and Blair gets the IL. I have a fantasy where the guys start chanting, “Let her stay! Let her stay!” Then the girls start in, “Let her stay! Let her stay!” Then passing locals pick up the pace with “Let her stay! Let her stay!” The scoreboard from the Astrodome magically materializes, lighting up “Let her stay! Let her stay!” Finally, Jonny gets the call from Jonathan Murray: “Jonny? Let her stay, dog.” Look, this has been the worst episode for me to recap. I’m entitled to dream.

The Inner Circle meets again at the Women’s Villa. Ruthie expresses that she had the same feeling when she helped to vote out Rachel. I hate to think what Rachel did to her television once she saw this episode. “I just wanted to make sure the decision is fair,” Ruthie states. “In a way, I kind of feel like a pawn.” In a way? Kind of like a pawn? Wake up and smell the manipulation, Ruthie! If Emily asked you to jump off a bridge, I know you’d do it. Ellen points out that some of the other teammates are upset. “I’m not worried about making everyone happy,” Emily replies. Yes, I get that from you. Ellen notes that the vote was to make people happy and now she’s conflicted. Ruthie says that Melissa had come up to her fearing for her future. Taking Melissa out would probably be the worst thing Emily could do to me at this time. Ellen interviews that she listened to Emily because she had so much passion.

In the bedroom, Veronica asks Ellen to explain herself, adding, “Maybe it’s another way of being told that you really can’t trust anyone.” Oh, Veronica. Just because the Inner Circle screwed you over due to one member’s rampaging insecurity doesn’t mean you have to lose faith in humanity. Ellen, who still looks ashamed, says that she can’t think like that. Veronica responds, “I don’t feel the same from the two of you, especially.” That hurt. She leaves, but not before asking Ellen for a hug.

Outside, a bikini-clad Emily walks with James. “Everything worked out the way I wanted it to,” she says. “That takes balls to pick off people in the middle, to look that person in the eye and say, ‘Look, you’re not pulling your weight. Time for you to go.’” Wow. First of all, I got a message for James: check your drawers every morning. Secondly, when didn’t Veronica pull her weight? She got a zero for falling in the river last week. Anne got her zero for backing out of “Battle of the Opposite Sexes.” I can’t believe I got to go another week watching Emily’s henchwench not impress me. Ayanna hugs Syrus goodbye. “I’m going out like a man,” he interviews. “I’m juts riding on it, into the sunset, Bob.” Who is this Bob? So long, Syrus. I’ll never hold appearing in an Eminem video with Julie and Puck against you.

Veronica makes her own departure as Melissa helps her carry the bags. Some wonder if Veronica had indeed ticked off the other ladies, since they’re not seeing her off. I prefer to think that the others are in fear of getting in Emily’s crosshairs. Melissa goes on about how Veronica has $9,000 worth of makeup in her bag. She continues, “This is the first time, including all of the missions, that I actually used my muscles.” The pair shoves Veronica’s bags in the van. “I kinda feel like we were the girls that smoked in the bathroom in high school,” Melissa interviews. “It was just wrong on so many different levels.” They hug. Veronica waves as the van goes off in the night. Having Melissa for a friend is a nice consolation prize.

So what did we learn today? Antoine has the lower back of a god. Melissa is not going to star in a revival of Peter Pan. Ellen and Ruthie roll over as good as Cherry [2017: Dog Days reference], and they’ve learned to play dead. And we learned that Emily is the biggest bitch on this show, and possibly on reality television today. That’s not a word I use lightly, but it fits her. With no Julie or Holly to make her look like a heroine, Emily flat out sucks. I hate her. I hate her hypocritical attitude about not wanting to be dramatic. I hate how she took out two players who gave their all for the team. I hate the stupid flower in her hair; Kaia worked her bindhi better in Hawaii. I hate how anybody looking at James in the wrong way is subject to her wrath. Ellen and Ruthie suck for letting history repeat itself, but Emily reaches a stratosphere of suckiness that Puck and Julie inhabit. After this show, I don’t ever want to see her on the screen again. And if she does do another Challenge, may her teammates boot her out as quickly as possible. If anybody deserves to be voted out of reality television permanently, it’s her.

Next week: Lori voiceovers that the women have lost many missions. Eric: “They can call it quits.” Melissa: “Possibility of me quitting? None!” The mission is laser tag, which really excites Ayanna. The guys catcall Ellen. “Come out and plllaaaaayyyy!” Jamie taunts Ellen. Nice use of a Seventies movie reference, Jamie. Now do us all a favor and pop an electric cap in Emily’s ass.

Man, I was MAD. Not a fun week . . . Veronica went out, likable Syrus bottomed out, and my main girl had to be helped off the ladders. I'm not taking back any of what I said, even though I would more or less forgive Emily at the end of the threesome episode on The Gauntlet, but I don't regret calling her "bitch." I will admit that I used that word in the Television Without Pity forums more than I should have, and that's still the case on Previously.tv. But within a professional setting, I didn't want to use it like punctuation. And as much as I grew to like Ruthie, I wonder if she ever second-guessed herself afterward, especially how things shook out. I could ask the same about Ellen, but she was one-and-done. Battle Of The Sexes was the first Challenge for Ruthie, and it would wind up being the closest she'd get to the "handsome reward." I wonder if it keeps her up a few nights a year. Probably not the biggest monkey on her back, but my mind still goes there.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Battle of the Sexes Episode 11: The Ancient Jungle Monkey (And Other Jamaican Folk Tales)


I haven't posted a "new" episode recap in almost a month. Let's remedy that, shall we?

Airdate: March 17, 2003
Recap Published: March 21, 2003

Battle of the Sexes is back and it’s time for another challenge. The players have to make it across a river using stirrups. Some will fall in and fall down in the standings, but will the women finally agree on a person to vote out for a good reason?

Welcome back. It’s been two weeks, but I’m not feeling well-rested. I just want to get this out of the way: I could go through several pages with my opinions on current events, but this gig is about the tempest in a teacup that I watch over, as opposed to the tempest outside our window. I hope that all of you reading this will remain safe in the rough times ahead.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: Jamaica was a friendly place, where nobody had a care in the world. But then, a great evil descended upon the land, a malevolence that was never dreamt of. This evil took on a form of its own, and set out to hurt all whom it came across, all in the name of its own goals. This epicenter of wickedness goes by one name: Veronica. Do not gaze upon her, for she will make your life-… wait a second. I got Emily’s copy in front of me. My mistake. Let’s start over.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: Jonny laid out the rules for “Battle of the Opposite Sexes,” emphasizing that a wrong answer meant removal of an item of clothing. Anne interviews that Tonya, Emily, Christina, Ayanna, and herself boycotted the game, because they “find it morally wrong.” She left out the part where stripping wasn’t a given in the game. Ruthie and Veronica state the obvious: the women’s team is fractured.

Credits! Midtown! In the wake of the Challenge marathons that aired this past weekend, I need to make two corrections. First, it was Antoine who was soaking in Puck’s speech looking scary, and not James. Also, after completing Seven Rings of Saturn, Jake hugged and tackled Jonny, not Blair.

Night at the Men’s Villa. Eric is on the cell phone, sounding concerned. He interviews that there’s distress back home, and he’s upset that he can’t be there. Mark fills us it: Eric’s sister has been in the hospital for a week with a high fever, and that’s riding on Eric.

Morning at the Women’s Villa. Everybody is asleep as the corporate sponsor phone rings. Ayanna reads the clue, which involves swimsuits and bug spray. She interviews that it’s important for her and the rest of the boycotters to step up.

And now it’s time to listen to Jamaica’s most judgmental radio station, VSUX. Anne, Christina, and Genesis sit on a bench, talking smack about Veronica, while Emily sits elsewhere. Actually, you don’t hear a name in the smack talking, but the interviews are spliced to make it seem like a Veronica bitch session. So I’m on the fence between thinking the worst of the characters and thinking the worst of the editors. Christina thinks that Veronica(?) is a bad person. “The one huge festering pool of negativity is Veronica,” Anne spews in an interview. “She makes all the other girls feel like crap.” All girls? I haven’t heard squat from Melissa and Lori about that. Somebody jokes that Veronica(?) kicks dogs. The others laugh, because nothing is funnier than animal abuse. I’d pay to see these girls work as dog walkers at Osbourne Manor. I’d feed Lola burritos for a week for maximum effect. Emily shares an opinion we didn’t ask for: “Veronica is just that girl that walks around like it’s her job to make you feel bad about yourself.” I thought that was Emily’s job. Anne thinks that Disney should base a villain on Veronica(?). I’d do the same for Anne, but villains aren’t supposed to be so bony.

Segue to the Women’s Villa. Genesis, who I’m trying not to judge, notes that the group is fractured, and there’s a lot of animosity and insecurity. Veronica notes that the current plan is to vote out the lowest scorer, but she doesn’t see that lasting. She adds, “I can tell that there are some people that are joining together, and the energy and the positivity is just getting wiped away.”

Establishing shot of moving bus. Cut to everybody walking to the mission site. Yes, Colin is still on crutches. Mark is wearing his “Hustle” t-shirt, which doesn’t bug people like Eric’s “Got Soul?” tee. Jonny welcomes everybody to Phase 2 of the game, saying that it’s everybody for themselves. Ruthie expositions that the game is half-completed, and it’s up to the individuals to determine whom the final teams will be.

Jonny goes over the mission, which doesn’t have a clever name. The challengers will hang on ropes, traversing a river by walking in stirrups. Then the Ghost of Highlights Future comes, showing clips of what’s to come. Melissa looks very reluctant. “You’re telling me I need to traverse across the dirty water for fun,” she says in an interview. “I was promised there were no leeches and no alligators. I know that’s not true.” Jonny keeps going, telling the assembled that both teams will walk from different sides. Colin expositions that time stops when the final stirrup is reached. Jonny tells everybody there’s only one shot, and those who don’t make it will receive no points. Blair tells us something I already knew: he’s starting in last place, and he’s competing against Syrus, who is a few points ahead of him. Jonny finishes up, saying that the winner gets Apple IBooks for the entire team, and the sadly misused Ion Lifesaver.

Ellen is nervous, since she’s the first woman to walk, making her the guinea pig. Colin points out his sprained ankle, saying that he’ll rely on his upper-body strength to go across. Jonny blows the air horn, starting the game. Both Ellen and Colin have little problem. Colin smarts off, telling Ellen, “I will crush you!” in a cheesy Austrian accent. Colin, you can grab her, but you can’t crush her. Colin steps into the last stirrup, finishing with a time of 3 minutes, 35 seconds. Ellen makes it at 4:08.

Ayanna is dedicating her performance to “everybody that stood by their morals yesterday.” For the last time: you did NOT have to take your clothes off! You could have stood there, not answered a question, and gotten points. Or you could have gotten a few questions right, then sacrificed tokens for wrong answers. Did everybody get the same instructions? Anyway, Ayanna goes up against James. She talks herself through it, muttering, “Stay focused. Keep it moving, girl.” She finishes at 2:42. James pulls the stirrup to his foot, ending it at 3:20. Emily cheers loudly, lest we forget she’s his girlfriend.

Ruthie vs. Mark. Mark voiceovers that it’s physically demanding, and the pain he’s getting is worse. Ruthie clocks in at 2:30, while Mark finishes at 2:56.

Melissa tells Veronica to take her time and not to fall in. Veronica interviews that she’s been in and out of the Inner Circle, and she hopes to keep doing well. Veronica faces off against Jamie, who struggles a little with the ropes. But he hangs on to finish at 1:58. Veronica keeps going. Cut to Ruthie looking concerned. Cut to Veronica dropping three times from three different angles, hanging on to a stirrup by her ankle. The last time BMP pulled that was when James crotched himself on the tightrope in Extreme Challenge. This isn’t as funny, though. She starts spinning around, trying to hang on. “I’m even reaching into my toes for strength,” she voiceovers as we go into commercials.

Admit it; you were surprised that Emily and her Emiliettes weren’t whacking Veronica with sticks. Anyway, she’s still spinning. Emily interviews that everybody is yelling encouragement, telling her not to give up. Veronica lets go, getting disqualified in the process. Worse, she hops along as the medical staff attends to her. Eric tries to get her to push against his hand, but she can’t do it. She dips her foot in a cooler filled with ice, but she can’t take the cold. “I think that brought a lot of us together,” Genesis interviews. “The fact that everybody can put their feelings aside showed a lot.” Cut to Emily looking concerned.

Melissa is still not looking forward to playing. “There are animals in those waters,” she interviews. “You think it’s fun and games until someone falls in there and dies. And I feel that I might be that someone.” Where’s Jamie as Nature Sensei when you need him? Theo interviews that he’s planning to do well, since he has “long monkey arms.” His words, not mine. Melissa grimaces as she navigates, trying to figure out which stirrups are hers. Theo gets tangled up before falling into the river. He curses, knowing he’s been disqualified. Melissa is still struggling. Theo is back on land, complaining that his arms got tired. “Hopefully,” he adds, “I got enough points where I ain’t goin’ nowhere.” Famous last words, man. Meanwhile, Melissa finishes at 9:45.

Lori vs. Antoine. Syrus yells, “Go ahead, Frenchie!” Frenchie Davis? Here? Oh, that’s Antoine’s official nickname. Oh, those wacky boys. Antoine finishes at 2:12, Lori at 3:42.

Eric has no strategy, as his mind is still on his sister and family. He competes opposite Genesis. Eric is going at a decent rate. Mark: “Watching Eric go across the wires is such a thrill because he’s maneuvering like he’s an ancient jungle monkey.” That’s the most unlikely assessment of Eric I’ve ever heard. Anyway, Eric falls over reaching for the final stirrup, but he picks himself up, finishing at 1:41. Genesis clocks out at 4:36.

Emily vs. Shane. Cut to prerequisite close-up of James. Emily grits her teeth, finishing at 2:32, as her boyfriend cheers her on. Shane completes the mission at 3:02. Emily shakes hands with Ellen and Veronica. Yes, that Veronica.

Syrus: “I’m rocking my Speedo in good faith right now.” He adds that he doesn’t want to get a zero. He faces off against Anne, whose arms look like sticks. Come on… lift a weight or something. “C’mon, Sy!” Antoine yells from the sidelines. “Give me some ghetto, man!” I’m guessing that they got a relationship where Antoine says something stupid, and Syrus gives him noogies. James interviews that Syrus is a big guy and he’s having problems, but he’s not giving up. While Syrus is tangled up, Anne finishes at 5:06. Syrus is in bad shape, with one thigh in a stirrup. He is maneuvering like he’s an ancient mountain goat following an ancient jungle monkey through the trees. This goes on for so long, the others start cheering him on. He grabs four cords as he finishes at 9:10, getting a loud ovation afterwards.

Blair interviews the obvious: he’s in last place and he has to do well. He faces Christina. It’s smooth for her at first, but cut to her foot feeling for a stirrup. Cut to Christina falling into the water. Meanwhile, Blair finishes at 3:49.

The mission done, Jonny gets to announce the winner. Melissa is in a position where she’s about to jump ten feet in the air if she gets an IBook. But the winner is Eric, who’s mobbed by the other guys. He’s still thinking of sister, and he adds that he’s having a good time.

Scoreboard. I notice that Ruthie is back in the lead on the women’s side. Who’s taking whom down now, Ellen? With Veronica’s DQ, Melissa finishes in third, which makes me a happy camper. Theo is laughing since he’s “Audi 5 G’s.” The camera shows that Theo falls from fourth to last place. Now that’s a freefall. Once again, Blair is still in the game. “I’m like herpes, dude,” he interviews. “You might lose track of me, but I’m always there.” I was going to say that Blair has dodged more bullets than Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, but the herpes analogy works.

Jonny announces the Inner Circles. For the women, it’s Ruthie, Ellen, and Melissa. For the men, it’s Colin, Mark, and Jamie. Jamie strikes a rock star pose. The guy is wearing a shower cap. I have no idea. Seriously, I’m still trying to figure out what was up with the afro he wore in Extreme Challenge. Jonny gives both ICs one hour to make their decisions. Christina notes that she has the lowest score, and if she stays in the game, it will be based on whoever likes her in the IC. She’s 59 points behind Anne, so yeah, somebody would have to love her a lot. Anne tries to build the suspense, pointing out that Veronica took a zero and she’s vulnerable. Whatever you say, Anne.

Women’s Inner Circle. Ruthie asks Melissa to start the proceedings. But whatever she has to say isn’t important, since we go to the Women’s Villa. Lori asks Veronica if she could get voted off. Veronica interviews that she expects to go home anytime she’s not in the IC. Back to the WIC, Ellen thinks that the decision they’ve made is the smartest option. Lori and Veronica joke around. Lori in interview: “I think this girl team has perpetuated the stereotype that women are catty and not team players, because sending home someone who shouldn’t go home is pretty much going to hurt team morale and make you not trust the Inner Circle once again.” Once again, Lori is the voice of reason.

Jonny starts the elimination proceedings. He’s wearing a wool hat. In Jamaica. Yeah, whatever. He calls up the Women’s Inner Circle. Ever the goodwill ambassador, Ruthie starts with, “My speech couldn’t do her justice.” Eventually, she drops the hammer on Christina. Anne laments the move. “Who am I gonna play with now?” she asks. May I suggest Veronica? Just a thought. Christina thanks her “homegirls”: Ruthie, Genesis, Anne, Ayanna, and Emily. “I feel like our darkest days are behind us,” Ellen interviews. “The Inner Circle has made a peaceful decision. Hopefully, it’ll be a turning point for the girls’ team.” Once again: famous last words.

Men’s Inner Circle. Mark offers nothing but love for Theo, saying he was impressed with him on RW: Chicago and in Jamaica. Theo’s got his “Royal Family” t-shirt on, so I guessing he’s in a pimping mood for his web site. He tells the guys to be reminded about how far they can fall. Blair interviews that Theo is one of his best friends, and it sucks that he has to go home.

Jonny brings up Eric to award the Ion Lifesaver. He talks about how his sister is his best friend, and he gives her the Ion. Oy. As much as I’d like to bust his chops for not using the corporate sponsor device to his fullest, I can’t. Besides, I don’t want Christina saved anyway, so it works out.

Speaking of Christina, she’s spending her last day in the Villa, saying that it’s like summer camp, and she doesn’t want to go home. Genesis interviews that she doesn’t feel that voting off the lowest scorer is the best policy, but it makes the women come together. Oh, and I suppose she wants to wait until somebody gets sick of her for no good reason. “It’s never as easy as people might see it to be,” Ruthie interviews. “It just feels like another part of the spirit is going.” Man, she’d get eaten alive on Survivor, superior athletic skills or not.

Sunset. Theo and Christina walk to the van. There’s lots of hugging. Any last words, Christina? “To the girls I left behind, I hope that you can transcend all of the bickering, all the talking about alliances, and whup the guys’ asses because I think you can do it.” Oh sure, now she’s above alliances. She and Theo board the van. Ruthie, Ayanna, and Genesis briefly cling onto the back of the van, saying farewell to Christina. The van drives off into the night.

Next time: Jonny welcomes everybody to Stairway to Heaven. It involves two impossibly tall ladders. Mark: “The guys want the cash, the girls want the cash. It’s gonna be a battle.” There’s an old clip of Emily making a face (I can see the back of Jisela’s head), followed by the clip of Veronica wanting to send Emily home. Inner Circle with Emily in it. Great, not only am I spoiled, but I also wanted Melissa to stay in there. “Veronica is not mean to Melissa,” Emily hisses. “She’s mean to a lot of the rest of us. And I mean MEAN.” Emily in interview: “This girl needs to go home.” Emily in IC: “I’m ready to send her home and stop all this bull [bleep].” So much for team unity.

Yes, this is the calm before the storm. I don't know what was more surprising: Melissa in the Inner Circle for a second time, or that she got to toss the player who accused her of being in "an evil cheerleading cult." Also, this was the start of a BOTS-centered trope: Melissa complaining about the mission. She did that a lot. I still rooted for her. Sadly, Theo would wind up getting boned a little harder in the penultimate mission of The Gauntlet, then never come back to BMP again. Hey, I'd take him over that fiveheaded asshole  Kyle Brandt. Oh, and according to Wikipedia, the mission was called "Leaky River." In case you were dying to know.

PS: I don't know what the lead paragraph was about. I'm guessing it was war-related. That's the messed-up part about the Bush Administration: as bad as it was, it might be preferable to what we'll be getting soon. I mean, I have an unlimited mad-on for "Johnny Bananas" and those that would enable his antics, yet I didn't really fathom how garbage most people could be until November.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Battle of the Sexes – Women’s Midterm Review

Happy 2017! Here's a post from March 17, 2003. That's a full teenager between then and now. I find this a little depressing.

We’ve covered the men, now it’s time to take a look at what the women have done in the first half (or so) of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Sexes.

If you turn on Battle of the Sexes, odds are you’re a huge fan of drama. While the men have been sorely lacking for the most part, the women have been delivered. Fans of Survivor: The Amazon can compare Jaburu with the Women’s Villa. Who’s a bigger spoilsport: JoAnna or Ellen? Which troika is more toxic: Heidi, Jenna, and Shawna or Emily, Christina, and Anne? 

Just as we took a look at the men yesterday, let’s take a look at the women now, beginning with those who are no longer competing.

Julie Stoffer (RW: New Orleans)

When did I start to hate her? Back in her season, she played the token ingĂ©nue, the Mormon girl who was looking to expand her horizons. Then came Extreme Challenge. I think once she knew there was no going back to Brigham Young since she (gasp!) lived with boys, she started to exist for the cameras. When Ayanna got kicked off for beating Christian up, Julie took it the hardest, making a big stink about bringing her back. She cheated in a rappel race against Emily, which led to animosity between the two women. I think the breaking point for me came during the tightrope mission. Christian was hundreds of feet in the air, walking on a rope attached to a bungee and no net below him. He’s trying to get across and win the mission for his team, and there’s Julie on the ground, screaming “BUNGEE, CHRISTIAN!” She wasn’t the best sport, but she got a share of the $110,000 pot that the RW team won.

She became a lot more self-absorbed. Former cast members have told stories on how she slighted them. The worse came when she wrote something online that pissed Melissa off, something that smart people just don’t do. Julie’s various acts of shadiness were covered on Melissa’s web site.
After Melissa’s tirade, Julie tried to convince several ladies that Melissa was wrong in bad-mouthing her. Please notice that these women were from RR, and might not have been in the loop. Her chumminess with Ellen just validated her as a world-class drama queen. On the up side, Ellen’s inability to pick her legs during Sergeant Says got her and Julie eliminated. I’m convinced the only way Julie would have stayed is if the Inner Circle was made up of RR women. Instead, the first IC had two recent RW alumni (Amaya and Aneesa), one from Boston who pled ignorance (Genesis), and Melissa herself. Julie was toast.

I’ll say it again: if Julie had stayed, the show would have been a lot more painful to watch. Now, we don’t have to see her try and be genuine while pimping her White Stripes wannabe band. Sadly, Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray probably still have her phone number, and she’ll be ready to go at a moment’s notice for any occasion.

Memorable Moment: The look of confusion on her face as Melissa gave her the business. Priceless.

Beth Stolarczyk (RW: Los Angeles)

From current phonies to old school, we have Beth. Last year, Beth brought her feud with Norman over to Cancun, along with her utter lack of self-awareness. Seriously, you look into her eyes, and there’s nothing there. Worse, when she was eliminated, so was poor Jon Brennan, whose only crime was being her partner.

The good news for Beth? She wasn’t the first person voted out, and David E. made her look sane. The bad news? She got voted out before a pregnant woman. Aside from a gripe towards Ruthie about not getting the Ion Lifesaver, I thought Beth had improved. Then I read Colin’s recap. It turns out that Ruthie had been suffering from numerous maladies and was dying in the bathroom. At that moment, Beth poked her head in and asked if she could have the IL. Worse, Beth had treated Ruthie like garbage in the past. So once again, what went around came around.

Memorable Moment: Griping about not getting the IL. I can imagine Norman and Becky watching at home, high-fiving each other.

Gladys Sanabria (RR: Latin America)

Why was she here? It was one thing when Belou brought her baby daughter to Battle of the Seasons last year. The little tyke wasn’t clinging to her mommy’s tummy the way Gladys carried her unborn child. Sure, the appearance money was good, but was it worth it to jeopardize the kid’s health? After getting a sympathy Ion Lifesaver for not being allowed to play Dead Man’s Drop, Gladys finished in last after three events, and was mercifully booted.

Last September, Gladys was part of a cadre of former reality show contestants who appeared on Extra regarding their negative experiences. While I appreciate Gladys coming out into the open about her miscarriage and smacking of Abe, I wish she didn’t do it alongside the likes of Cara Nussbaum (RW: Chicago), Sean Rector (Survivor: Marquesas), and Mike “Boogie” Malin (Big Brother 2). The same goes for Eric Nies; as much as I respect his right to get some syndication money, he shouldn’t be in the same crowd as those losers.

Oh, and I regret never calling Gladys “Happy Butt” once in my recaps. I just never found the time.

Memorable Moment: Revealing her pregnancy to the other women. Suddenly, Christy’s deafness isn’t such a big deal.

Jisela Delgado (RR: The Quest)

Why was she back? She didn’t carry her weight on The Quest. She underachieved in Battle of the Seasons. Now she came back, did four missions, and got voted off. In summary, it was a typical Jisela performance.

Once again, ropes and cords were her Kryptonite. She didn’t last long in Dead Man’s Drop and Breath Hold Bungee. She probably wouldn’t have lasted ten seconds on the stirrups course in the next episode. The only positive for her was that she only blew up the one time, during Tree House. While I like her a lot better than Ellen (her teammate on The Quest), I hope I don’t see Jisela on another BMP show again.

Memorable Moment: Cursing out Jonny Moseley during Tree House.

Amaya Brecher (RW: Hawaii)

The die-hard fans will never forget all the dumb things Amaya did during Hawaii and Challenge 2000. I was surprised that she came to Battle of the Sexes, given that the haters would have to reload. I’m guessing that she went with Melissa, who had become buddies with her.

After triumphing in Sergeant Says, Amaya fell to the back of the pack. Because she had a cousin dying in a hospital back home, that was enough to convince the Inner Circle to send her home. My only beef was that she should have opted out early; her dropping of a ring during Seven Rings of Saturn earned her and Tonya zero points, sending Tonya to the bottom for the rest of her stay. Still, Amaya carried herself with more grace and dignity than in her two prior BMP stints.

Memorable Moment: Winning Sergeant Says, even as it took all of her energy to do it.

Rachel Robinson (RR: Campus Crawl)

Poor Rachel. She has the determination and the will, not to mention a strong body. But she revealed herself as an underachiever, starting with the time she got outwrestled by Irulan during the RW/RR dustup in Las Vegas. Then she screwed up Sergeant Says, getting two points to start. Slowly, she began to claw her way upwards, earning 101 points after six missions.

During Tree House, she and Ayanna completed the mission. While Ayanna ran to help the others, Rachel had walked off, because one of the rules was that touching any other house would result in an automatic disqualifcation and zero points. Ellen didn’t get that memo, and pushed for Rachel’s expulsion in the Inner Circle.

Rachel’s farewell was a sad one. The Inner Circle had passed on Aneesa, Tonya and Christina to vote out. Then Emily brings Rachel up and proceeds to bad-mouth her. Suddenly, Rachel was the Great Satan. Emily hated her since she reminds her of girls who mistreated her in high school. Ellen was probably still sore over Tree House. Ruthie figured that Rachel was the only person they had to question. Custer faced better odds at Little Big Horn.

Memorable Moment: Her pep talk in the first episode, about how the most bad-ass girls were picked to compete.

Aneesa Ferreira (RW: Chicago)

Aneesa was easier to digest than on Chicago. Sadly, after her third place finish in Sergeant Says, she slowly slid to the bottom. Around the time of Rachel’s ouster, Aneesa approached Ruthie in regards to sabotaging Emily. This was a questionable move, given Ruthie’s nobility. For her scheming, she was kicked off.

The only reason I could think of that Aneesa would confide her plan in Ruthie. I have heard that Aneesa had gotten close with Rachel. Either Aneesa wanted to avenge Rachel, or maybe she wanted to get kicked off so she could go home and reunite with her.

Memorable Moment: Ellen is crying about how Puck mistreated her, and there’s Aneesa, covering her bare breasts. Out of all the drama being whipped up, Aneesa just wanted to be comfortable.

Tonya Cooley (RW: Chicago)

Tonya had nowhere to go but up. She had been one of the most isolated cast members in RW history. For goodness sakes, the other cast members made up a song about her in the car! Behind her back! I didn’t think she’d be healthy enough to compete, given her kidney problems, but she gave it her best, even after injuring herself in Seven Rings of Saturn.

The big news was that Tonya had become popular. Lori pointed out that Tonya nursed several of the women while they were sick. I noticed she was wearing the same shell necklace Theo had worn, and they hugged a few times, despite their conflicted history. And I can forgive her friendship with Ellen. Recently, somebody pointed out one reason Tonya was so nice, something I don’t feel right in divulging here. I hope that it’s because of what Lori said, that Tonya knew that her negative portrayal on Chicago was all her, and she sought to right that.

Memorable Moment: Playing People Mover with Aneesa, she was supportive of her, despite their prior differences.

And now, let’s look at those still in the game:

Christina Pazsitzky (RR: Australia)

I’m still a little upset that she bought Julie’s anti-Melissa spiel. She hasn’t gotten much camera time, but it’s clear that she’s tight with Anne and Emily. Her objection to “Battle of the Opposite Sexes” was ill timed, given that she already had one event where she scored no points. Now she’s in last place, 37 points behind Anne. Even if she wins the next event and Anne gets zero points, she would still remain at the bottom.

Memorable Moment: Calling Melissa and her friends in the Inner Circle an “evil cheerleader cult.”

Anne Wharton (RR: Northern Trail)

Anne made an impact early in the game, making the Inner Circle twice. She had been in the middle before objecting to “Battle of the Opposite Sexes,” dropping to ninth overall. Given her tendency of getting hurt, I’m surprised she’s been unscathed.

One thing that bugs is her hatred of Veronica. In one Inner Circle, she tried to sell Ruthie and Ellen on getting rid of her over Beth. Why? Doesn’t “Stolarczyk” mean “dead weight” in English? Anne comes off as one of Emily’s cronies who follow her mistresses’ orders without question. She actually calls Veronica a “huge pool of negativity” in the next episode. It just doesn’t make sense.

Memorable Moment: Going into a “What has Veronica done for me?” rant at the Inner Circle. Penny Ramsey would be proud.

Ayanna Mackins (RR: Semester at Sea)

We haven’t gotten the full Ayanna experience yet. What is it? Let me put it this way: when I saw Ghandia scream and throw wood into the water, I thought she was Ayanna’s aunt.

Two fits have been edited out: her fight with Aneesa after Rachel was voted out (as chronicled by Lori), and the time she almost punched David E. for spitting on her, but she backed off, not wanting to get kicked off again. Her unwillingness to potentially get naked pushed her to pass on “Battle of the Opposite Sexes,” dropping from fifth to eighth, this after winning 71 out of a possible 72 points in the prior two missions.

We did see a tender side in Ayanna, as she and David B. got cuddly. I have to admit, they do make for a nice couple. As insane as she may appear, Ayanna does have a very soft side to her.

Memorable Moment: Singing after she completed Seven Rings of Saturn. “WE ROCK! WE ROCK! WE REALLY REALLY ROCK!!”

Emily Bailey (RR: USA)

Emily is supposed to be the hard-luck heroine, the Susan Lucci of the Challenge. She competed in Extreme Challenge, but the RR team wasn’t as good as its predecessors, and she got a share of $40,000. The next year, she teamed with Timmy on Battle of the Seasons, staying in the Inner Circle in the preliminary rounds. Luck wasn’t with the team in the winner-take-all final mission, and she lost out on a $50,000 share. So she came back for a third year, resembling a boxer looking for the big break.

Something is different this year. While Emily had taken questionable stances in past Challenges, she was a rival to some hated cast members, such as Julie and Holly. Remember when Chadwick was bitter about getting voted out of Cancun, and he e-mailed Emily, saying she was the devil? I should have known something was up when she questioned Melissa’s guts in not announcing Julie’s ouster. The normal reaction would have been, “You mean I don’t have to share a villa with the girl who irritated me so much?”

After starting off with two points, Emily jumped to fourth place after three missions, making the Inner Circle after Seven Rings of Saturn. She had said she didn’t want to gossip, but she talked smack about Amaya and Veronica. Her hatred of Veronica is a mystery. Everybody knows that Veronica holds Emily responsible for getting booted in Seasons, but Emily’s attitude is unknown even to Lori and Melissa (the chroniclers of the show). In the next Inner Circle, Emily brought up Rachel, and proceeded to slam her verbally, going so far as to call her a “toxic teammate.” Lori and Melissa had few complaints about Rachel, making Emily more of a villain. And when Rachel was giving Ruthie and Ellen a piece of her mind, Emily was elsewhere, trying to avoid the drama.

In the boycott of “Battle of the Opposite Sexes,” Emily had the most to lose. If anybody really needed to know that stripping was not mandatory, it was her. But she didn’t play, and Veronica took her place in the IC. Worse, her boyfriend didn’t join her, leading to a temporary rift between them. Given their competitive natures, I know what James and Emily see in each other. But Emily was dreaming that James would face elimination by not playing. She is 28 points behind Veronica for the final IC spot, and Veronica is itching to pull the trigger. Don’t count out Emily prevailing in the end.

Memorable Moment: Holding court at the Inner Circle from hell, where she wasn’t going to be happy unless Rachel was gone.

Genesis Moss (RW: Boston)

If you’re wondering who Genesis is, you’re not alone. After making the Inner Circle with Aneesa, she dropped to the bottom. Since there were five girls boycotting “Battle of the Opposite Sexes,” that pushed Genesis from ninth to sixth, and in a position to get some camera time. I hope that happens, since I got a few puns with Genesis the band that I’m dying to use.

Memorable Moment: Saying that she didn’t know Melissa wanted Julie gone for personal reasons, even though Melissa was practically carrying a sign saying that.

Lori Trespicio (RW: Back to New York)

Here’s another lady with little camera time. You can’t get worked up for Lori. Last year, she was supposed to be teamed with Mike for Battle of the Seasons, but she didn’t make it after the September 11 attacks. Lori and Mike? Not exciting. Coral and Mike? Very exciting.

Lori’s main contribution has been recapping the episodes on her web site, dishing a lot of dirt in the process. The key is to just read her recaps, as opposed to the rest of her site. Some of the posters found her eulogy of Mr. Rogers to be in bad taste, and she posted a fairy tale about the love of koalas that was inspired by the love of her boyfriend. Some would think it cheesy, except the boyfriend is Kyle Brandt, the uber-tool from RW: Chicago, so the story makes people nauseous. She also strikes me as something with skin as thick as paper, yet she feels the need to fire back at her detractors. Lori, calm down. You don’t have to bare your soul all the time.

Memorable Moment: I can’t think of one on camera, so I’ll go with something from her recap. During the protest by the other contestants that wanted Puck to stay, Lori remained on the bus, since she didn’t care either way.

Melissa Howard (RW: New Orleans)

Remember when I said that I’d be taking her side all of the time? I’m sticking with that. For instance: how come the editors pin the process of the Inner Circle voting being a popularity contest on Melissa? All she did was to get rid of one of the most obnoxious people in Jamaica, and she gets hammered for that. A few of the contestants smacked her around in interviews, and the word “MElissa” started to pop up on TWoP. News flash: Julie was going to leave anyway. Having Melissa in the Inner Circle was a bonus.

Since then, we’ve seen little of Melissa, even as she remained in the front of the pack. I guess the editors need her in confrontation mode, as opposed to the super-funny Melissa I knew and loved during her season. You get glimpses of that: bouncing up and down with Ellen after Seven Rings of Saturn, making some weird arm movements after completing People Mover, and screaming in joy after getting a question right during “Battle of the Opposite Sexes.” Even when she skipped Puck’s wedding, we got more of Ellen and Tonya boycotting the ceremony than her.

I’m surprised she’s still in the game. Winning Sergeant Says with Amaya was improbable in itself; even she admitted on her site that she had no business coming in first. She hung tough during Freeze Your Butt Off, even as she suffered greatly for her 33-point effort. Happily, her recaps have been informative and funny, especially the one where she was joined by Coral. Perhaps when the field things out a little, she’ll get some exposure.

Memorable Moment: Winning Sergeant Says. Watching the episode, I was floored by her and Amaya’s outstanding effort.

Veronica Portillo (RR: Semester at Sea)

Veronica is tainted by the past, having plagiarized a paper from Ayanna and “borrowed” a shirt from Pua during her season. I can’t explain why else Emily and Anne have it out for her. According to Lori and Melissa, Veronica had been nothing but friendly to the others. It’s logical that Veronica would hold Emily responsible for voting her out last year, and it makes for a good story. You can imagine Veronica taking a cue from The Princess Bride, chasing Emily with a sword, shouting, “My name is Veronica Portillo. You forced me out of Cancun after two days. Prepare to die.”

Veronica has been in the Inner Circle twice; both times, she wanted to put the hammer to Emily, but Jisela and Tonya’s departures took precedent. She did express regret at voting Jisela off, whom she befriended last year. Either there’s a part of the story that Lori and Melissa aren’t telling us, or Veronica has made a huge turnaround in her attitudes.

Memorable Moment: In the last Inner Circle, where she gleefully brought up how James didn’t join Emily in boycotting “Battle of the Opposite Sexes.”

Ruthie Alcaide (RW: Hawaii)

Who would have guessed that the one-time problem child would blossom into a fiery competitor? After her performance in Dead Man’s Drop, she held on to the top spot for seven missions, locking her position in the Inner Circle. She has served as the conscience of the women’s team. When Rachel was voted off, you could see the look on Ruthie’s face in her interview, a look that screamed, “Maybe I didn’t do the right thing.” While Ellen blathers on about how she tries to be a savior, Ruthie does it without words.

The only chink in Ruthie’s armor is her inability to be deceptive. On more than one occasion, she expected the people around her to be truthful. So when Aneesa talked to her about sabotaging Emily, Ruthie reacted badly. I’m guessing that as good as she is athletically, she wouldn’t last a week on Survivor.

Memorable Moment: What else? Dead Man’s Drop, checking her watch while hanging upside-down.

Ellen Cho (RR: The Quest)

Let’s get this out of the way. Ellen is one of the best athletes on the show. Her determination makes her tough to beat, and the perfect teammate. In the past three missions, she got 107 out of a possible 108 points, putting her in the lead on the women’s side.

What is the down side? It’s her personality. Ask anybody who watched The Quest and they’ll tell you that Ellen bugs them. She got into a huge fight with Coral during the Casting Special. She showed off in an endurance course, endangering herself in the process. She got into a bizarre relationship with Adam, even though he gave her so much grief. In a blind date, she got so drunk she almost got run over. She felt the need to play “Who’s Got It Worse?” with Sophia, who had not come out to her parents. The whole time, she was annoying and condescending. When I heard that she wasn’t allowed to join the Back to New York cast in MTV Studios during New Year’s Eve 2001, I laughed. Hard.

She hasn’t changed much. Her inability to pick her legs up during Sergeant Says got her and Julie booted, and was enough to send her new best friend home. Ellen felt slighted that Rachel wouldn’t help her in Tree House, and she pushed to vote out Rachel over Gladys. But she got selective amnesia later on, allowing Emily to make her case to send Rachel home. Ellen would later cry about that, saying that Emily had played her. As Emily moved herself to be the main villain, some of the heat has been taken off Ellen. Remember the looks she exchanged with Ruthie as Emily talked smack about Veronica?

Ellen’s main mistake was trying to fight Puck. After David E. left, Puck needed somebody to torture. They argued about his wedding getting moved to Jamaica. She cried about how he threatened her with violence, yet those who witnessed the exchange said that Ellen was exaggerating. After announcing Rachel’s elimination, Puck threw up in front of her, on purpose. Ellen got the last laugh, as Puck left to be with his family.

The bottom line for Ellen: she has to be a good teammate. If she takes the attitude down several notches, we would have a halfway decent person.

As for the ladies, they must take advice from the departed Tonya: vote off the last place scorer, no matter what. While one or two women might be forced to depart after a sub-par mission, it would be for the good of team harmony. And right now, they’re playing all the wrong tunes.

 Once again . . . notice I'm being nice to Rachel and Veronica. That doesn't become an issue for me in future editions. Meanwhile, I gave Christina grief, including botching her last name (which I corrected). Funny enough, she wound up moving into comedy, appearing twice of Last Comic Standing. While she didn't last past the primary stages like Theo Von (or "Vonkurnatowski," if you want to be anal), at least she tried her best. I don't know if I've heard her act on XM. I did catch her on Not Safe with Nikki Glaser in a segment about "pegging." To say that it's not work-safe is an understatement.