Sunday, February 12, 2017

Battle of the Sexes Episode 17: Penultimate Plunge

I'm not in the best of moods, so I figure it was time to get the penultimate episode on the blog. I wound up using "penultimate" in all six seasons that I recapped. I like showing people that I'm smart, but I don't want to club them over the head with it. That is what separates me from Wes E. Coyote: Super Genius.

Before I begin . . . anybody else see Invasion of the Champions? I don't think any of the "underdogs" came off well. That includes Nicole, the saving grace of Real World: Skeletons. I didn't think she'd be on The Challenge because she was pretty normal compared to her roommates. She's nice and from Staten Island, so I'm pulling for her. In other news, Darrell (who made his debut in The Gauntlet) has two kids, and CT has successfully reproduced. As much as I see CT as the closest thing to a hero this show has, little Christopher scares me. He is a cutie, though.

Airdate: April 28, 2003
Recap Published: May 4, 2003 

It's the second-to-last mission, which means the last-place overall on each team goes home. Can the women stop their losing streak or will the men power through as usual? Or are they all just hangin' around?

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: Shane won Spidermon. Melissa in interview: "Lose, lose, lose." Antoine won Human Aquarium. Melissa: "It's emotionally exhausting." Antoine won Razor's Edge, as Lori looked down in defeat. Ellen: "It's been mission after mission of the boys just dominating."

Women's Villa. Lori is sunbathing as she tells Ruthie she likes being a girl, and wouldn't come back as a guy. Ruthie listens as she rubs oil on herself. I have to repeat to myself, "She bats for the other team, she bats for the other team." Lori continues: "Think about survival in the world. It's not smart to walk across a steel beam sixty feet in the air, where you can slip off and bang your head. It's not smart to do that. It's smart to be afraid and cautious." She adds that guys do stupid stuff all the time. I am recapping this, so maybe she has a point. Lori interviews that the ladies have been on a losing streak, and it's been embarrassing. The background music whines, "Why do all the good ones have to die?"

Lori and Ruthie are floating on inner tubes. This is the most we've seen of Lori outside of the missions. Lori realizes she's not guaranteed to place in the final three; she's gone if she gets a zero and Melissa places in the top three. Ruthie interviews that they're one mission away from the final competition, and Lori has to do well. She tells Lori not to worry about placement, to do the best and show no fear. Lori interviews that the guys can't imagine losing.

Cut to Mark drinking tea with Antoine. How do I know it is tea? Because the soundtrack is formal and British, not something they'd bring in if coffee was involved. Antoine tells Mark that he can't imagine the girls winning other than by a fluke. He figures that only competitive girl is Ruthie, and even she can't compete against Mark or Jamie. Mark feels confident that the men will do well. Antoine interviews that the guys are reaping the benefits of teamwork, as opposed to individuality.

Bathroom mirrors. Two messages scrawled in lipstick: "Be strong, XOXO" and "Beat the guys!!! - Genesis." How long has it been since we've seen Genesisms? Ruthie reads the phone details: wear athletic gear and sneakers. Ellen interviews that she doesn't know what it will take to get their confidence back. Over at the Men's Villa, Antoine reads that the departure time is 12:15 pm. Mark interviews that if any of the top three guys gets a zero, Antoine could sneak into the final competition. He adds, "Antoine, you ain't gettin' my spot!"

Shots of an elevated platform and rope. You can practically hear Melissa groan. Jonny welcomes everybody to Maximum Velocity. They named a mission after Maximum Velocity Tour? Now I'm sad James isn't here to take part. BMP was probably going to send everybody on a scavenger hunt and call it The Quest, but Ellen might have shot that down. Jonny explains the objective: to free-rappel down a rope as fast as possible. Jamie expositions that they use a device: squeeze and you move, let go and you stop. Jonny adds that the contestants must reach the red area of the rope to log a time. Mark notes that if a competitor falls and bungees, that person is disqualified. Jonny continues, expositioning that those not playing will be blindfolded, so as not to know how the others did. For the winner: a Saturn Ion Quad Coupe for each member of the team. This is the "sudden death" round, so the lowest cumulative scorers will leave.

A few moments ago, the ladies were wearing different colors. Now they have red tops. Is this solidarity, or BMP's latest continuity failure? Ellen starts about how the girls have lost six missions in a row, but Lori corrects her with seven. Ellen continues, saying that she wants to give all the little girls at home something to cheer about. Any little girl who watches this show would have been traumatized a long time ago. Lori interviews that the guys are comfortable with winning, adding "I'd really like to see their faces in disappointment when they lose."

Platform shot. Jamie and Ellen are on the ground, hands on hips. Jamie admits he's nervous, but he wants to nail it. Colin whispers to Antoine about "bombing it." In an interview, Antoine says he really wants to win the car and he has to take risks. "We have to bum it down," he adds. "I will bum it down, and I really hope those guys will bum it down as well." Is Antoine a freelance slash writer back in Brussels? Colin keeps whispering, reminding Antoine that a win by him would be a hat trick.

Shots of stormy clouds. A blindfolded Lori yawns. Jonny walks by, letting everybody know that Maximum Velocity has been postponed due to lightning. Ellen is wearing red, but Lori and Melissa wear darker shirts. Ruthie (with white top) interviews about how it sucks to wait another day, and that she wants to keep the momentum going.

Mood-setting rainy shots. A strong wind blows the curtains. At least Hurricane Juliet isn't paying another Challenge season a visit. Melissa tells the other women that she put in a formal request for a win, which Ruthie seconds. "I don't know if you heard me the first time," Melissa replies, "BUT WE HAVE TO WIN THE CAR TOMORROW!" Lori laughs on the bed. "It's going to take everything the girls got to beat the boys right now," Ruthie interviews. "I personally cannot take another loss." Shots of the girls. Dreadful music: "Tomorrow never comes until it's too late." Shut up, music.

Normally I don't talk about commercials, but I have to ask: has anybody seen the latest Snapple commercial with the bottles and the guinea pigs? Does the bottle with the blonde hair and blue visor remind anybody else of Mark? Maybe it's just me.

Time lapse shot of sunrise and cranes setting up. It's Mission Day 2. Ellen wants to set the tone for her teammates. "If I do really well," she adds, "the rest of the girls will follow my lead." Jamie is feeling good. Both contestants are strapped in, and the platform is raised. We get two shots of the Ion, in case we've shrugged off the last 1,503 subliminal messages to buy one.

Jamie gets ready as Jonny starts the countdown. Jamie barely moves as the camera stays on him and Jonny's voice fades out. Airhorn. Jamie drops quickly, then bounces back up for the disqualification. Jamie notes that he dropped faster than he thought. Mark interviews that Antoine has a shot at the final three.

Ellen hangs as Jonny asks if she's ready. Countdown. Airhorn. In comparison with Jamie, Ellen's drop is slower, with more control of the device. She voiceovers that her strategy for every mission is to think things through. Cut to her dropping, where she lets out a yelp. It turns out her hair is caught in the rope. She makes a noise so shrill, I thought it was a bleep. Jonny tells her to yank it out. Jonny has never had long hair before. Lori and Antoine are blindfolded at the sequestration tent, but they can hear Ellen. Her final time: 59 seconds. "When you get scared, fear just leads to mediocrity," Ellen interviews. "I did less than mediocre today."

Colin vs. Lori. Colin: "Jamie took his balls, put them in his hand and shot down the rope, and I'm going to do the same." Colin needs to stop fixating on the naughty parts. Countdown. Airhorn. He slides down, pausing a few times before hitting the red. His time: eight seconds. Mark is enthusiastic in his interview. "Colin just kicked ass this mission," he notes, "so the women are gonna need some sort of miracle to win the Saturns."

Queens of the Stone Age play as Lori gets ready, slipping a little before starting. Countdown. Airhorn. She slides down the rope as Colin did. The girls cheer. Her time: nine seconds. Ruthie expositions that Lori's score was good enough for the final three, but maybe not enough to win. She adds, "Somebody's got to get in and do something."

Antoine vs. Melissa. You think Melissa is that somebody? She interviews about how fourth place is not good when there's only four people. She gets strapped in, and she feels good. Then the platform starts to ascend. "Oh, hell no," she mutters, putting on her blindfold. Back to the interview: "I'm going to go in there, leap to my death and be done with it." The platform keeps rising, and Melissa is still not in a good mood.

Antoine gets ready. From the top of the platform, he interviews that the rope looks short and there's little margin for mistake. Countdown. Airhorn. Antoine doesn't even stop on the way down, bouncing back up and getting disqualified. Colin interviews that Antoine didn't win three in a row, and he's going home. I don't understand. If Jamie logged no score, how come Antoine didn't take it easy? A car is good to have, but he had a shot to win $50,000.

A guy on the platform reassures Melissa as she hyperventilates. "Maximum Velocity is not fun," she interviews. "It's not cute. I don't think it really helps anybody. It would be bad sportsmanship to [say], 'I'm scared, I don't want to do it'." She pauses. "But I don't want to do it!" Back to the platform, Melissa is near tears. I'm still amazed she's lasted this long. Jonny is on the bullhorn, asking if she's ready. Colin: "I think there's pee dripping down her leg." God, shut UP, Colin. Even if it's true, you should keep that to yourself. Jonny's countdown has a nice echo effect, while Melissa screams. He pauses at four after she tells him to stop. He continues, she yells, "Jonny, that's not nice!" Maybe it's the bias working, but I think if you search Jonny's room, you'd find a Bunkbed Incident CD signed by Julie.

Jonny sounds the horn. Cut to wide-angle shot. Melissa is not moving. She interviews that all trust is out the window. "This isn't about the game anymore," she adds. "This is about me facing a fear." She asks Platform Guy if it's hard before sliding down, jerking to pause a few times. Her time: 29 seconds. So after all the drama, she still finished a half-minute better than Ellen. She interviews that she is proud to have done it.

Mark vs. Ruthie. Ellen interviews that it's all up to Ruthie. The platform ascends. Mark hangs on, ready to go. "There's always something to prove that I can do anything," Ruthie interviews. "Just like anyone can do anything."

Dark skies. Mark notes the thunder and lightning. The platform descends. Ruthie feels the need to win it for the girls. "I don't want to see the looks on their faces again with another loss," she says. "It just kills me." As opposed to Emily, who kills everybody.

Mission Day 3. The Ion is still out there. I'm surprised nobody ripped it off during the night. Mark wishes he could have done the mission yesterday. Ruthie notes that she thought about it last night, and she's excited. "Better be a dead stop," she laughs.

Mark. Countdown. Airhorn. He slides down, finishing with fifteen seconds. Now Jonny starts the countdown for Ruthie. "Do it for the girls," she voiceovers. "Do it for the looks on their faces. I don't want to see them down again." She slides down as we go into commercials.

Back to the show: Ruthie slows down once and stops dead. She shouts, "Got it!" as the girls cheer. Even Mark, who is still hanging on the cord, has to smile, while Ruthie thanks God. Her time: four seconds. Not to doubt Ruthie's phenomenal abilities, but divine assistance could have been a plus. On the ground, Jamie and Colin look sour. Because they lost the Ions, or that they have to beat Ruthie's time? "We've got two chances of winning this: slim and none." Colin interviews. "And slim just left town." Once again, BMP's continuity stinks.

On the ground, Ellen hugs Ruthie. Mark admires Ruthie's style. As they stand next to each other, I see that Ruthie is tiny. I mean tiny. In a show of intra-season love, Colin hugs Ruthie. Mark interviews, "After watching Ruthie go and get such a incredible time, the girls deserve that car, one hundred percent." Well, that and all four ladies finished the mission. How screwed up would it have been for Jamie and Antoine to get cars despite their blunders?

Jonny makes it official, giving the car to Ruthie on behalf of her team. Once again, she thanks God and restates that she didn't want the girls to be disappointed again, adding, "We're ridin' in style!" Ruthie interviews that it felt good to end the losing streak before the final mission.


Men: Mark (443), Colin (439), Jamie (407), Antoine (391)

Women: Ruthie (401), Ellen (378), Lori (376), Melissa (341)

Jonny restates that since this is the sudden-death round, the lowest scorers go home. Melissa steps up to make her farewell speech, clad in a pink maid's outfit. She interviews that carries no disappointment since she's "missioned out." She tells the groups that she's staying to work with Ms. Faye and Ms. Joan. "My heart will be in the game," she adds, "but my ass will be in the kitchen." See, this is the chick I grew to dig during her season. She tells the boys it was nice hanging with them, and the girls to win the money.

Antoine's turn. He tells the girls he's glad they snapped their skid "with so much brilliance." He tells the guys that over time, he thought of them as a family. He interviews: "This challenge of adapting my European personality and identity within a bunch of American guys has been the greatest and most enjoyable challenge, and I'm very happy with that. That's what I'm taking home." That, and a truckload of prizes. I think I'm going to miss Antoine the most from the men's side. He's the best thing to come out of Belgium since Nostradamus. Or at least Jean Claude Van Damme.

Sunset. Restaurant. The remaining players (Melissa and Antoine included) toast to the final day. Ellen interviews that they've been waiting for tomorrow. Mark states the obvious: that they've spent the past four weeks whittling the field down to six people to compete for the "Chili's Cash." Lori interviews that the girls are feeling positive. "This is it," Colin interviews. "It's been really fun this last month, but it's time to go get paid. It's time to get it on."

Next week: Final mission. All I saw were ropes, nets, and skis. Skis in Jamaica. That is not right. Oh, and a trio will walk away with $150,000, and I'll walk away with mental scars and involuntary twitching when I hear the name "Emily."

One more thing: if you want to comment on the show, the recaps, or anything else, my line is open. You can e-mail me at [REDACTED]. Heck, comment on the Dog Days articles if you'd like. I cleared up some room on my account, so I'm ready.

This would be the last time we would see Melissa in a competitive environment. Okay, there was Battle Of The Network Reality Stars, but does that really count? I was happy she made it this far, and I was joyful that taking out Julie in the first episode didn't make her a target. Yes, Antoine was awesome, but Melissa is my people. She doesn't blog as much as she used to, but you can find her stuff here. And I don't ever want to hear "MElissa" ever again.

Damn, the continuity was wacky. From what I remember, in missions like that, those at the top of the leaderboard would go first, meaning Ruthie would have started things off with her miraculous performance. I wish I could check the recaps from Colin, Lori and Melissa, but those are more or less gone.

For safety's sake, I took out my e-mail. Nobody ever wrote in, which kinda sucked since I liked feedback. If you have Facebook and want to hit me up, here you go. And now, because nobody asked for it . .. . the Snapple commercial with the Mark-looking bottle!

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