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.

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