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 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.

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