Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 3: When Drama Mamas Attack

This is the beginning of a theme that would run heavily through The Inferno: Katie The Scrub. I can't say I was a fan of hers back then. She replaced Jisela on Road Rules: The Quest and added little to the drama. That was probably for the best, since most of the show was centered on Adam and Ellen's toxic relationship, with bits of goofiness from Blair and Steve sprinkled in. In the four seasons I recapped for RNO, The Inferno was the only one where I didn't feel close to any of the contenders. I crushed upon and met Melissa in 2001, interviewed Sophia a few months later for class at NYU, and had e-mail exchanges with Sarah during Campus Crawl. By the end of The Inferno, I was full-on Team Katie. At this point in the season? I was ambivalent about her on a good day, which you will see.

Airdate: October 6, 2003
Recap Published: October 12, 2003

After a brain teaser challenge, does the Road Rules selection for The Gauntlet really make any sense? Does the person sent take it well? Would we write about her if they did?
Just want to acknowledge those who wrote to me last week. Thanks for the support, and also to Laura, for telling me that people can tread water with their arms raised. I really didn’t know that. Thanks!

Previously on The Gauntlet, Elka braved the ice cold water to win Snake Soup, earning $10,000 for the Real World bank. Both teams had to sacrifice one of their own into the Gauntlet. Get used to the word “sacrifice,” since the players and Jonny will run it straight into the ground. Kind souls that they are, Darrell and Rachel R. decide to gun for ex-teammate Sarah, based on past experiences with her. Over on the other side, RW sends David. In the Gauntlet, David’s upper-body strength proved no match for gravity in Dead Man’s Drop, as he fell to his elimination.

Credits. There’s no rearrangement of the cast members, although a few seconds are clipped here and there to speed things up. Seeing David smile depresses me. David, if you’re reading this: don’t do another Challenge. Or if you do, at least learn to swim.

Whoa, Bunim and Murray chipped in for decent music this week! Junior Senior’s “Move Your Feet” plays as the RR gang has a good old time, carousing, hot-tubbing, and the like. Dave is pumped since they’re a complete team. Even Sarah’s laughing! In a sequence that might induce seizures, we flash between Bubble Bath Santa Theo (with Rachel, Darrell, and Tina) and Interview Pirate Theo. “I’m actually glad that we haven’t lost anyone,” he says. “I don’t want to see anyone go home.” BBSTheo: “This is the Road Rules soup! This is the soup of the day!” Dave sees Veronica in the shower. Theo asks her to write “Real World Sucks” on the door. She does, and they whoop it up. “I’m excited to be here,” Katie interviews, “and I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”

Outside, Elka and Montana share a hammock. Elka talks about getting to know people. Montana: “There’s not as much incentive when you have a real job and another life, and you’re not just making your money doing the Challenges.” Nice. Elka laughs, since this is only her second Challenge. Montana confesses that the others are younger, and she might be at a disadvantage. Cut to shots of the RR kids, including Katie flicking a lighter really close to Adam. Elka thinks she doesn’t have the gusto. Montana warns her to keep that to herself since the others could pick up on that.

Sunrise shot from the mountains. Game site. Jonny welcomes everybody to the next event, Masquerade. It’s a team challenge, where all of the players work together to solve a puzzle. In this case, it involves comedy and drama masks. The boards have seven frown faces and five smiles. The players must rearrange the pieces to form thirteen masks: nine frowns and four smiles. Elka expositions that only two people can work on the puzzle at a given time. Mike follows up, mentioning that everybody else directs. Jonny says that the team that completes the puzzle “to my satisfaction” wins $10,000 for the bank.

Both teams huddle to form strategies. Theo V. wears a “Where’s Timmy?” t-shirt. Aw, I miss him, too. I heard he was supposed to come to the show, but scheduling conflicts got in the way. Mike is still wearing his “Be Miz” tee. Abram, Mike, Cara, and Alton interview to say their teams have it nailed.

Jonny sounds the airhorn to start things off. On the RR side, Abram and Theo start reassembling the pieces. Make your own jokes. Over on RW, Coral calls Tonya to help her, and tells Matt to stand back. Rachel B. starts to direct from behind the line.

Back to RR, Steve is figuring out the puzzle. “I had no friends when I was little,” he interviews with a straight face. “I had puzzles. Puzzles were my friends, and I’d solve them. I’m great at these things.” The teammates up front also shout their advice. On the RW side, Rachel instructs Coral and Tonya to remove the top pieces. Elka interviews that she’s confident with those two, but they were taking time. Irulan interviews her concerns for the duo representing.

RR. Abram and Theo quickly move the pieces. Adam, donned in a different “Where’s Timmy?” t-shirt, tells the pair that they’re kicking ass. A graphic shows that RR has four out of four smiles, five of nine frowns. On the RW board? Zero smiles, zero frowns. Coral shushes encouragement from Matt. I guess he’s still on her list. “Let’s be honest,” Rachel B. interviews. “Anyone could figure out the puzzle. I had to look at it for two seconds, and I figured it out.” She asks if she and Matt could take over. Quickly, the blondes rush in, going at a faster clip.

RR. Abram and Theo are keeping the pace, getting feedback from their teammates. Meanwhile, Rachel and Matt have one smile and two frowns up. Matt puts up a piece, only to have it drop from the board. Nathan yells for Matt to listen to them. “We just got kind of jumbled up,” Nathan interviews. “Too many people talking at one time.” Elka doesn’t feel that they’ll win. Matt takes out a piece and another pops out.

Back from commercials, RR has five smiles (one over) and eight frowns. RW: two smiles, five frowns. Finally, Abram and Theo get the faces in. The others simultaneously count the masks, then they celebrate. The RW folks encourage Matt and Rachel to keep working, in case the RR solution isn’t done to Jonny’s satisfaction. They have three smiles and six frowns before Jonny blows his horn, ending the game. Abram tells us the obvious: RR won $10,000 for their bank. Nathan interviews that his team did well but “the Road Rules team was just a better team today. They got it done faster.”

Jonny awards the check to Theo and Abram. Theo says it’s just the beginning. Then he breaks out the Official Road Rules Cheer: “Hey Road Rules! Go Road Rules! Attaway! ATTAWAY!” That might just get on my nerves by the end of the month. Abram is wearing a “Where’s Timmy” shirt. So he didn’t know about Elka last episode when she won, but he knows Timmy? Jonny gives both teams a half hour to figure our who to sacrifice to the Gauntlet.

Norman: “The tough thing about voting somebody into the Gauntlet is that you don’t know what kind of asset they are, because it’s unproven.” Especially when a combined six people worked on Masquerade, out of 27. Irulan suggests that a woman be sent up this time. Coral agrees, taking some of the girls with her. She weeds out those who did well in Snake Soup, ending up with herself, Irulan, and Montana, the first three women out of the pool.

The guys have their own huddle. Nathan wonders which girl can be sacrificed without hurting the team. He immediately suggests Montana and the others agree. Mike interviews that the guys see her as the weakest. She did putter on the puzzle like an old lady. Oh, wait, that was Coral. Never mind.

Coral gathers everybody, bringing up the finalists. “We feel we need a fierce competitor in there,” Mike says. “We need someone that’s gonna step.” He tells Montana she is that person. Her face says that she is not that person. “You don’t want to be the second person to go to the Gauntlet,” she interviews, wiping a tear. “It’s embarrassing, and you can’t help but take it personal.”

Mansion. RW Gauntlet meeting. Montana agrees that the sacrifice should be a woman, but she hates the guys for blowing smoke up her ass. She plays the duck-duck-goose game the Inner Circle played before they took out Rachel R. last season: Coral is friends with Mike and Irulan is dating Alton. Hence, Montana = Goose. She interviews that it hurts to feel expendable. She tells her teammates that it’s tough for her to feel pumped up going into the Gauntlet. Mike apologizes to her for the blowing of smoke, interviewing that it’s hard to vote somebody off. The team does a quick cheer.

RR Gauntlet meeting. The check is fixed on the wall. Adam reminds us they’re using a 3-2-1 points systems. Steve’s t-shirt: “Courier New.” Katie interview that there’s supposed to be a performance policy, she’s expecting Laterrian, Theo, or Steve to go, and she was seventh out of the pool, so she’s in the clear. Rachel R. reads off the votes. Katie is mentioned first twice, and a crazed look slowly appears on her face. Sarah is “beyond shocked” that she’s still getting votes. Final results: Katie with 24 points, Sarah with 23 (exhale from me), and Roni with 17 (huge exhale). Needless to say, Katie is very not happy. “We have talked about doing it based on performance,” she interviews. “Apparently, the team doesn’t like to really do what they say.” Steve interviews that he’s known Katie for three years, that she’s a great person, “but I don’t really have that much trust in her.” Man. Doesn’t Steve like everybody?

Katie stalks up the stairs, wondering who has it in for her. I’m wondering that myself. She contemplates quitting, which Theo V. can’t seem to believe. She feels she can’t win in the Gauntlet. “These people are liars, and they’re not doing it based on performance,” she hisses, as we get shots of Steve, Rachel R., Tina, and Veronica. “If I win, I’ll play the game very differently than I have before, and I’m coming back like a bitch. If I lose? Go Real World! [going from fake smile to bitter look]. I don’t care.” I know that I’m going to defend Sarah until the episode she underachieves herself off the show, but you have to give me this: in the face of getting sacrificed, she did not turn into a vindictive little snot. I swear, I half-expect somebody to pull off the mask and reveal Katie as Emily. And it’s gonna get worse.

Speaking of getting worse, here’s the Real World: Paris commercial where Chris smacks the hell out of some blur-faced guy and almost jacks up Adam. I heard a rumor he’ll be on the next Challenge, and you know what? Bring him on. Seriously, if he tries that “ONEONONE!” crap on Coral, she’d have him on his knees, begging for mercy. Maybe Adam would fit in better, since he’s the love child of David (bad singing) and Matt (bad dancing). “Hey there Coral, don’t go bein’ irate, pretty please honey, don’t playa hate.”

Majestic mountains shot. Katie lies in the hammock with Adam (that’s Cowboy Adam, not Bowler Hat Adam). Katie bitches, saying she could tell who was writing her name down. Adam claims they’re going on yesterday’s performances. Katie insists she was the seventh person out of the pool. “I would rather go home,” she gripes. “I don’t feel like being embarrassed again. It’s not fun.” Go home. If you run into Ellen, Jisela, or Sophia, tell them to fill in for you. In his best soap opera voice, Adam tells Katie he doesn’t want her to go. He brings up leaving Cabo San Lucas during Battle of the Seasons, saying his feelings were hurt. He was paired with Jisela, so I’ll let him slide. Katie still thinks she’s not a good competitor on her own, and doesn’t want to be humiliated. “I absolutely hate every [bleeping] person outside of you,” she tells Adam. “I don’t care about any of them.” Honestly, she’s making me miss Ellen. That is not right. She rants some more, then leaves to pack her bags. Adam ineffectually calls to her.

Gauntlet Site. The players gather in slow-motion. “I will be the first to admit that I’m a sore loser,” Katie interviews. More slow-motion. “So it makes me very angry.” Jonny welcomes everybody to the Gauntlet. Same rules: winner stays, loser goes home. He chuckles a little and the others laugh at him. Even Katie smiles. Jonny sets up the match: Montana vs. Katie. Since the Road Rules team won the mission, Katie gets to roll the die to determine the mission. Oddly, Jonny makes her close her eyes. Katie rolls. Cut to an incredibly fake shot, as the oversized die lands on Ride ‘Em Cowboy. Everybody whoops, as if Urban Cowboy was still in theaters. Montana reveals that she has won a mechanical bull riding contest. “There’s no way I can lose,” she interviews. “This is my event.” Mike seconds her emotion, adding, “I know Katie. She’s pissed off right now. I would think Katie would lose just to get back at her team, because Katie is a little fireball.” So she would leave and allow the others to get a better split of the loot? Whatever, Mike.

Theo breaks out the Road Rules Cheer, slipping Katie’s name in. She is an unmoved cowgirl. “Road Rules is so damn fake,” she snipes, “but I’m trying to be mature about this. It’s really hard because I’m not a mature person.” You don’t say. Adam shouts out advice to her. Veronica figures Katie will lose on purpose.

Jonny goes over the rules: stay on the bull the longest, hold onto the bull with one hand, and you can’t touch the bull with the free hand. Last player standing (or sitting) wins. More RR cheering: “Here we go, Katie, here we go! (clap! clap!)”

Jonny blows the horn as the editors slip in some angry mooing. The bulls move rather slowly as both players try to hang on. Montana falls forward and both hands land on the bull. Katie hangs on while her teammates call for the disqualification, which Jonny grants. Airhorn. Game over. Montana is out, Katie stays, and we get a week or more of intense drama. Wait, we were going to get that no matter what. The RR team mobs a happy Katie while Montana looks upset as she gets consoled by her teammates. A graphic tells us that Real World has lost two people so far. Mike interviews about restrategizing, but he doesn’t know how. The RWs applaud Montana. “I had my best shot and I have no one to blame but myself for that,” Montana breaks down in her interview. “Honestly, I did the best that I could.” She hugs Elka, saying at least she got a four-day vacation out of it. And without fanfare, Montana packs up and leaves.

Digression: is it distressing that two formerly messed-up people from The Real World come back more whole than before, then find quick exits? I don’t know much about Montana and her season, save for the boyfriend thing and the giving wine to kids thing. But I did hear in the forums that she got her life on track and she isn’t anything like her televised self. She seems to be a cool person, I’m sorry that her Challenge experiences haven’t gone well (she was part of the RW team that won one mission back in the ‘99 season), and I wish her well.

Storm clouds gather and thunder rumbles. Either BMP shot this footage ahead of time or drama queens can control the weather. Katie is outside the mansion with Tina, having a substitute-to-substitute chat. Tina understands why Katie is pissed off. Katie goes on about the lack of trust. Tina notes she would base future votes on that. Katie brings up Sarah making the top three again. She goes into yet another rant: “As much as you pretend, because you can chant each other’s names during a mission, you’re not a team. It’s fake [bleep]. You’re kissing each other’s ass so you’re not the next one voted off, and I’m not down with that.”

Lightning strikes. In the RR bedroom, Sarah tells the others there has to be a better way to vote, since Katie wasn’t supported. She wants a way to inspire the sacrificial lamb to kick some ass. Katie walks into the room. Tina and Veronica question Sarah on what she just said. Veronica figures they have to make the best of the situation. “We’re sending our weakest players into the Gauntlet because we don’t want to sacrifice our strong players,” Veronica interviews. “Especially with their attitude, they’re not making us like them, so we don’t really feel attached to them.” Oh, Veronica. I guess all those axe wounds healed up a little too well.

Katie starts backing Sarah up, then Veronica says, “I’ve been sent home three times.” Time out. She’s been on three Challenges. One of them was Challenge 2000, which didn’t have the voting system. So either she’s lying and hoping everybody hasn’t watched all of the seasons or the poor girl has amnesia. Katie starts to curse out Veronica, and Veronica retorts that she’s “been there.” Katie: “The why the [bleep] would you do it now?” Forget Ellen; I’m starting to hope that Emily comes back. Sarah interview: “It’s like we got a bunch of hotheads causing all this stupid drama. This definitely has a strong possibility that Real World is gonna come back and bite us in the ass.”

Katie is still yelling. “You played the game dirty!” she hollers. “You’re one of the bitches that voted me the [bleep] off! I’m not dumb! I know you did!” Veronica: “Really?” Katie: “Yeah! Really!” The sad part is Katie’s head bobbing, trying to be all ghetto. Please. Belou was the only girl who could’ve pulled that off and not look stupid in the process. Roni and Adam stand by Katie, probably getting ready to grab her. As we fade to credits, the “Here We Go, Katie” chant plays slowly. Nice effect.

Next week: We got giant inflated balls in mud. Diving in the mud. A guy bounces off a ball. Tonya elbows Sarah running after a ball. Terrific... now the RWs are trying to get rid of Sarah. Matt: “Any time you put mud and balls together, it’s gonna get dirty!” Tonya insists she’s not performing poorly. Coral says they’ve been in the room for an hour and it’s not working. A guy voiceovers that Trishelle fell off her bike, Hospital. Trishelle’s face looks really banged up.

Reading the recap, I feel like a jerk. Later this season, somebody got eliminated, and viewers received no "pack up and leave" footage. I did not remember the same thing happened to Montana. She would last a lot longer a few years later on Gauntlet 2. The bad news? Beth.

Man, hard to believe The Real World: Paris was running at the same time as The Gauntlet. I know Chris/CT would be a veteran, though I probably would've thought he'd retire by now. I'm happy for CT, I'm rooting for him in Invasion Of The Champions, but I kinda dread him backsliding back into being a thug. On the up side, if he were to slug Johnny, I would probably have no problem with that. 

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