Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Gauntlet Episodes 1 & 2: Back In The Saddle

Here we go again. I'll admit that I complained a lot during The Gauntlet, but compared to The Inferno and Battle Of The Sexes 2? I'll happily take it. Back when I was recapping, I didn't know that I'd end up "covering" lame Infernos, Julie's kindasorta attempted murder of Veronica, Eric Fucking Nies looking to legally marry his jump rope, and Sophia's many breakdowns on Elimination Hill . . . all of which contributed to my services no longer being required on Reality News Online paritily because I was so damn negative Even with Sarah getting scapegoated often, Coral breaking into tears, and a few of my favorite folks leaving (including one this episode), this season seem so nice in retrospect. It took Inferno II before I felt the show was good again. And then came Gauntlet 2, which not only wasn't as good as the original, but also Beth. For now, let's go back to 2003 and The Gauntlet.

Airdate: September 29, 2003
Recap Published: October 5, 2003 (hey, I worked best with 30-minute episodes. No way could I cover the current format)

They're baaaack. The Real Worlders and Road Rulers have come together to battle it out once again. Jason has all the details of the first hour!
First of all, I’d like to give shout outs to my friends at GuidoCon: T.J., Illeen, Kim, as well as the others who figured out that “Jason” is Greek for “Has Trouble With Names.” Of course, I can’t forget Joe and Bill, whose villainy on The Amazing Race set the standard, and whose niceness knows few limits. Also, special thanks to Clara for inviting me to her apartment to not only watch The Gauntlet, but also VH1 Goes Inside: The Real World afterwards. Here’s hoping this season goes on as you like it.

Secondly, I’ve been thinking about Bob Murphy. For those who aren’t Mets fans (and I can’t blame you), he was the radio voice of the team for 42 years, ending last week. His trademark was saying, “We’ll be back with the happy recap,” after every Mets win. I’ll say this now: not every recap will be pleasant. Some of these people tick me off. But I promise that I can make these recaps entertaining as possible. So saddle up, buckaroos. We got a long ride ahead.

Serene countryside shots intercut with a plane landing. People walking around, having no sense to run or hide from what’s about to come. A plane door pops open. Say, Mike, do you want the first line? “Road Rules, kiss my ass, baby!” And we’re off.

Shots of American flags, where the stars have been replaced by team logos. More deplaning. Jonny Moseley voiceover: “The players: twenty-eight alumni of The Real World and Road Rules. The location: Telluride, Colorado.” Brief shot of Jonny on horseback. I wonder if the other moguls skiers give him grief for hosting this show. Jonny: “The stakes: $300,000.” The editors put in a heartbeat over that last part, it’s that dramatic. David and Theo G. whoop it up getting off the plane. Theo interviews that everybody is here to win the money. Jonny: “The challenge: survive the Gauntlet.” Rachel R. figures that her team has the edge. “Road Rulers are some very cocky people,” Coral quips. “I think they’re used to living in RVs, and they’re not used to hanging out with people that are normal.” Yeah, Coral is the epitome of the status quo. Matt: “This is the true story of what happens when you pick 28 freaks to live in a mansion.” Dude, you lived with Melissa. It’s “maaaaaannn-shun” Jonny: “This is the Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Gauntlet.

Credits. Last time, we had Midtown’s “Let Go” with all the beach cheesiness. This time, we got somebody called Ill Kid and “Rock Star.” I don’t think it’s as catchy, but it’ll grow on you. Anyway, Darrell and Rachel R. pose with pitchforks, and Rachel jump into Darrell’s arms. Norman and Matt are on horseback, and Norman tips his cowboy hat. Steve gives Sarah a squeeze as they pose. She’s shocked at first, but looks like she liked it. If she didn’t already have a boyfriend, she’d do a lot worse than Steve. Tonya rides piggyback on Theo G. Adam and Katie pose in front of a stable. Mike makes the “call-me” gesture with his hand, while Coral puts up the fakest smile she can muster. Trishelle and Nathan pose near some hay. Tina and Roni sit on a car, lift a leg up, then hug. Ew! Keep your mitts off Roni.

Remember the dopey twirl Laterrian did last season? He’s all macho now, chopping some wood with a shirtless Abram. Irulan and Alton embrace and kiss. Montana and David smile with their heads out the window; David’s smile is the one that says, “I had sex with a woman ten minutes ago, and we never got to names.” Yes, I still remember that episode. Cara and Dave hold each other and smile. Elka and Rachel B. share a horse and smile. Veronica and Theo also share an equine, as he puts her hand near her stomach.

Climax. Both teams walk from opposite sides. Out steps Jonny. He looks at the RWs, and they’re making “Bring it, punk!” motions. He looks the other way, and the RRs make cutthroat gestures. Rumble time! Jonny shrugs. He’s just the host, people. Zoom shot away from the cabin.

Mountain shots, with the town near the base. Adam is amazed about the runway being on a cliff. He tells us that since Battle of the Seasons, he’s taken time off and trained for Eco-Challenge. Don’t remind me... not that Adam’s bad these days, but I miss Timmy. Mike’s wearing his own web site t-shirt:“The Miz Phenomena Has Begun.” This from a guy who can’t spell “Gauntlet” in his recaps. He tells us he’s been wrestling in the independent circuit. Immediately, he starts trash-talking Theo V. He interviews that he wants to prove that “Real World is the grandaddy of all realities.” Theo interviews that he’s been working as a tour manager, and he’s been looking for girls.

Sure enough, he waits in a doorway, kissing the cheeks of Tonya and Rachel B., and hugging and pecking Norman. Speaking of whom, Norman introduces himself. He claims the others are starstruck, since they saw him on the first season of The Real World when they were kids, which could work to his favor. “How can you get rid of George Washington?” he asks. “It would be like sacrilegious to get rid of him.” I hope that’s just Norman mocking David E’s “I am The Real World” intro from last season. He casually lifts Mike’s shirt up, declaring he wants to stay a week or two.

Cara and Dave get off the plane. We get clips of when Cara was voted off, where Dave was totally being dramatic about it. Anyway, he reunited with Cara in Los Angeles and “sparks ignited.” Cara adds that they’ve been hanging out in Chicago every second together. Veronica introduces herself. “I never really lasted the whole way through,” she interviews. “I’m so tired of going home with empty pockets.” I guess Emily’s bloody axe attack made her forget about Challenge 2000, where her team won over $60,000. Irulan and Alton intro: their relationship started after the show ended. Alton tells somebody that they’re sleeping together. That whole season skeeved me out. Alton: “The last thing I expected to do was fall in love.”

Oh, good. Tina’s bitching, since she expected somebody to grab her smaller bag while she hefted her suitcase. I hate her. Abram, looking to wipe his slate clean and maybe make a new friend, picks up her bag. Abram introduces himself. Naturally, there’s the clip of him fighting Donell. Abram is not worried about proving himself and he wants to chill and let things happen. Roni thinks she’s at a disadvantage, since nobody knows her. “As long as they know how I can compete,” she says, “then that’s all it’s gonna take.” Steve tells Roni and Tina it’s “big easy” to be half Asian and half white in the Midwest.

Nathan tells Theo V. he’s looking for a good time on this trip. He interviews that he’s been on Guiding Light, toured with the Dixie Chicks and Willie Nelson, and has done stand-up comedy. He adds to Theo that the money wouldn’t hurt. Theo: “Giddiyap, Buttercup.” Don’t resist the Theo quotes, let them come to you. The camera zooms on Theo’s butt as Elka and Coral look on. Elka: “Theo’s body is like a well-oiled machine.” Too much information. Elka interviews that she’s single, and she wants to “date around.” Coral’s introduction includes the final episode from Seasons, when her team won the $300,000 grand prize. She figures that her win gives her an advantage. “It allows me to just enjoy my time and be peaceful and make friends if I can,” she interviews. “But if not, steal their money.”

Coral teases Matt about him not having sex. He interviews that since his season, he’s been speaking in churches and the national Life Teen spokesman. Don’t worry: if you forget, he’ll remind you. He tells Coral he’d like the girls to keep their clothes on. Hoo, boy. Coral: “He’s annoying the hell out of me!”

Trishelle and Katie introduce themselves. Katie interviews that she’s living with Trishelle, she’s taking acting lessons and they posed for Playboy. Katie tells Rachel B. she didn’t recognize her. Rachel introduces herself, sans the heavy blonde dye she used to soak her hair. She has transferred schools and living in New York, which she can’t get enough of.

Country shots. A cow and her calf. The gang is traveling by bus. Tonya interviews that she is no longer with Justin. Who? Oh, the sugar-daddy boyfriend. Anyway, she’s transferred to UCLA to finish her nursing degree. Darrell interviews about winning his local Golden Gloves boxing tournament two months ago. He adds, “I’m here for the money, simple as that.”

More outdoors shots. Matt listens to Sarah as she feels like she did stuff for other people half-assed on her season. The editors break out the first “Sarah Sucks” clip, the one where she couldn’t stay on the pole at the University of Alabama. She interviews about how people saw her as “being very weak and lazy, and having a bad attitude.” I just write it off as “horribly miscast.” She’s trained for the Challenge, losing 20 pounds. Meanwhile, Mike is already having it out with Theo. “Last time,” he jaws, “we handed you an ass plate of whoop!” Was that in English? Coral’s sitting next to Theo, across from Mike, and she wants no part of this. Mike feels it’s his responsibility to hold the title of “Real World Champion.” Theo rebuts, “Dude, name the solar system, bro. I will [bleeping] run circles around it.” He interviews (in a Santa hat) that he needs to beat Real World for peace of mind.

Exterior shot of the Wyndham Peaks Resort and Golden Door Spa. Everybody cheers as they see “The Gauntlet” sign and some production guys, most of whom are not getting paid enough for this show. The kids start to sit in the stands, intercut with a slow pan up to a somewhat rugged Jonny Moseley. He welcomes everybody to the Resort and introduces himself. Applause. The cynical part of me thinks the applause is from where he announced that Emily wasn’t coming. He welcomes them to (brief pause) The Gauntlet. Everybody pretends to be scared. Jonny says they’ll be competing in various challenges. The Ghost of Episodes Future stops by to show us rappelling, a giant turntable, folks in sumo suits, the rotating ladder, rope-jumping, and a log roll. I assume they’ll have cute mission names when they air. Jonny continues: the first fourteen challenges won are worth $10,000 each. The final mission will be for $150,000. Immediately, everybody gets excited. Guys, pace yourselves! One of you isn’t even going to last through this episode! Alton doesn’t know what to say. Adam: “Pretty cool, huh? Where do I sign up?”

Of course, Jonny has a catch. Turns out the money won by the teams gets banked, and only those who make it to the end get access. Jonny continues, “Half of those assembled will be gone by then.” That’s not good. Think of a person you cannot stand in there. The odds of that person going away in the next few months currently stands at 50/50. After every round, each team selects one person to be “sacrificed” into the Gauntlet, a series of different challenges where only two people compete. The Ghost floats back to show us Dead Man’s Drop, some jousting, and mechanical bull riding. The winner of the Gauntlet returns to the team that kicked him off, while the loser goes home. “This game has serious potential to get ugly,” Cara interviews, “because nobody wants to go home and everybody wants to win the money.” Lots of crowd reaction shots. Cara: “It could get dirty.”

After some welcomed commercials, Jonny wishes everybody luck as they get back on the bus to their house. After another outdoors montage, they arrive at their new digs. Elka screams in joy at the six-story rustic log cabin. Theo: “It’s red, white, and blue-tiful in here!” There’s a reference in there, but I got enough to recap as it is. Elka expositions that this is the first time both teams will be sharing a house, but each side has its own sleeping quarters. Rachel R. introduces herself, mentioning her work with gay and lesbian organizations. Montana introduces herself, mentioning she’s stopped drinking and smoking. She doesn’t know what to expect with this Challenge.

More moving in. Tonya finds the communal shower with the transparent glass doors shipped in from the Las Vegas house. David runs up the stairs. He introduces himself, saying he expects great things. He digs through a bag, noting, “I don’t like swimming trunks, because that means we’re swimming.” Some of the ladies get excited over their free gear. Cara doesn’t think her breasts will fit in a bikini top. Tina gasps after seeing Steve’s “eggroll.” Steve has a huge smile on his face.

Dinner table. Theo G., David, and Laterrian chat. Laterrian introduces himself, mentioning he got “a little crazy, a little wild during Battle of the Sexes. Cut to the obligatory “Ride or [Oedipus Rexing] die!” clip. Only thing missing was Dan rolling his eyes. Laterrian claims he’s calmer and that the missions will be more mental than physical this time. The camera pans past the bulbed antlers overhead to the big table, where the players toast themselves.

Nighttime. Cara and Dave lie in a hammock. Alton and Irulan stand outside. Matt kisses a cross before he puts it on the wall over his bed. Meanwhile, everybody is having a good time, yelling, high-fiving, playing Jenga, and maybe partaking in alcohol. It’s a hunch. Montana interviews that everybody is used to being a leader and the center of attention.

Wrestling! Unlike some of the other writers here at RNO, I’m not grappler-inclined. It’s Mike, “a.k.a. The Miz,” versus Abram, “a.k.a. Mini Miz.” That’s the best name they could come up with? The guys wrestle and Abram is on top most of the time, winning the bout. Wow, the Miz is overrated. Mike admits he got his ass kicked, but that “there’ll be many rounds.” Abram: “But we're comin' back for round two!" So much for me thinking he wouldn’t fit in. More yelling and merriment.

Meanwhile, Rachel B. and Sarah sit at a table, away from the fun. “Everybody’s drinking themselves into an idiotic stupor,” Sarah snipes. “Woo-hoo! Beer bongs!” Yes, she does come off as condescending, but she makes me laugh. She adds that she’s concerned about splitting from the rest of the group, like she did in Campus Crawl. She adds, “I want to be in control more than I want to be part of the frat party.” Sorry, Sarah... that’s Phil Kural’s department, not mine.

Hot tub. Gratuitous shots of Tonya and Veronica’s breasts. Trishelle sucks on Adam’s side. Turns out they dated a while back. So Trishelle has dated Steven and Adam, while Adam went out with Ellen and Trishelle. I don’t know who I should feel more sorry for. “She has the ability to make you feel really special, like you’re the only person in the world,” Adam muses. “Then you find out she kind of does that to a lot of different people.” You know, I might not hate Adam anymore. That was funny.

In the hammock, Theo drawls to Elka about how he’ll throw rocks at her window. She is touched, but she tells him that he’d have to move to Manhattan. Theo goes on about his affection for “the lovely Miss Elka.” They joke about getting married.

Night shot gives way to morning shot. Breakfast time. For some reason, Trishelle and Coral compare and compliment each other’s breasts. Then Matt shows up, talking about how he’s been living in Phoenix and half the women there have implants. Yes, Matt is quite a goober. The look on Coral’s face translates into, “Oh, goody! I got a chew toy I can gnaw on!” As he continues, Tonya interviews about Matt not knowing her breasts are fake. She drops that bomb on him and the others laugh as it slowly dawns on Matt that he just put his foot in his mouth. Tonya interviews that he should be more respectful.

Later, as Matt reads his Bible, Coral and Tonya take turns ripping into him. Not that I blame them, but I got a soft spot for the New Orleans season. Tonya: “Now every time he walks by, he looks at my boobs.” Coral figures he wants to lick and suck them. That’s a mental image I did not need. Coral interviews that she’s prepared to send him into the Gauntlet. “I really like Matt,” she tells Tonya. “I really think he’s cool. And hopefully, they’ll give him a first class ticket.” She and Tonya have a good laugh. “That’s the least we can do.”

After commercials, Rachel R. huddles close to ex-teammate Darrell, thinking the guys will try to take the girls out first. He assures her she has her back. Guess who they both think is sacrifice-worthy? Once again, Sarah is in the crosshairs. Darrell bases this on her past experiences. The editors bring in “Sarah Sucks: Volume Two”; her struggling at the Citadel, barely able to get up a run and do push-ups. Thankfully, they leave out her falling down twice and hurting herself. Darrell insists this has nothing to do with her physically, only with her competitiveness. Boy, Darrell is all heart, isn’t he?

A sunset shot segues into team meetings. In the RR powwow, Theo asks everybody to explain why each of them is an asset to the team. Over at RW, Coral wants to figure out strategy. She’s wearing a Miz cap. So very sad. She asks what people won’t do in a mission. For some reason, Matt decides to inform everybody that he’s the Life Teen spokesman, and he can’t jeopardize that. The boy just isn’t that fast, is he? Coral interviews that he just put his head on the chopping back. “His church will be glad to have his ass back home,” she adds. Matt goes on, saying the organization would use the money he gets to rebuild a camp and help a Mexican orphanage. “If I’m called to be naked,” he adds, “then I’m just not going to do that. Throw me to the Gauntlet, it’s just not gonna happen.” If he ends up leaving, he’s going to get kicked in the shins by so many orphans.

Over at the RR meeting, Steve has developed a points system based on performance. Dave interviews that this would make things easy, especially where you have to choose between the girl whose heart isn’t in the game and the 245-pound albatross who isn’t contributing anything. Or maybe he’s just thinking that. Veronica doesn’t think that system could work. Rachel interviews that she and Darrell know Sarah the best, and they would be lying if they thought she didn’t have to prove herself. The multiple stab wounds in Rachel’s back from Emily, Ellen, and Ruthie have healed a little too well. Sarah: “It’s hard not to feel like everybody’s out to get you when it seems so deliberately pinpointing you.”

Mike talks to the RW squad about his time on Seasons, saying that RR was always arguing amongst itself. Cue the clip of the present-day RR, bickering. Mike continues how the old RR team couldn’t trust each other in the end. Mike? They got a clue after Chadwick and Piggy were booted. They all liked each other. Well, maybe not Holly, since she was hard to take. Mike interviews that his team is solid and will win.

RR meeting. They’re still squabbling. “This freakin’ voting idea is ridiculous,” says Theo, who is wearing a bandana and an eyepatch. “I mean, it all comes down to whatever you tell Jonny Mosely anyway.” Back to RW: Irulan feels people should be honest with each other. Nathan interviews that there is no backstabbing here. Everybody does a group cheer. Over at RR, there’s still arguing, and everybody there is exhausted. Darrell admits that there is no system.

Time-lapse to morning. Breakfast table. Matt is wearing an “I [Heart] L.T.” t-shirt. My brain sputters before I realize that stands for “Life Teen.” Can you imagine Laterrian’s reaction? “I’m flattered, but I don’t ride like that.” Matt reads the sponsor phone’s text message: Mission at 8:30 a.m., wear bathing suit with team colors and sunblock. Nathan expositions a few people on the RW team are afraid of water. David is already nervous. “Even if there’s this much water,” he asks Coral, “they still have to give you a life preserver, right?” They both have a good laugh over that. David interviews that everybody knows he can’t stand water. Theo G. points out that David should have learned how to swim. “It’s a little late now,” David replies.

Wyndham Peaks. The players walk to the stands. Nathan notices the giant pool. Jonny welcomes everybody to the first competition. The object: tread water in the pool. David’s head is in this hands. Jonny continues: last person left wins $10,000 for the team. The players cheer and I think Laterrian let out a “Hoo-RAH!” Jonny reveals the catch: the name of the game is Snake Soup, and they’ll be sharing the pool for hundreds of snakes. “This is like my worst nightmare,” Montana interviews. “Seriously, I can’t think of anything that would scare me more.”

Jonny continues with the rules: tread water in place, you can gently move the snakes away, and interference results in a disqualification. David interviews that treading water freaks him out. The RW team does a group cheer. Rachel B. thinks her team is more united. Theo V. tells his teammates to help each other out. Rachel R. feels her team has the edge. A few players decide to look in the snake bag. “I’m totally vulnerable to these snakes, and if aggravated, they can bite you,” Tina interviews. “Reality sets in and I am freaking out.”

Apparently, Jonny isn’t over his airhorn addiction, as he blows his to get everybody in the pool. He also neglects to tell them the water temperature is 48 degrees. The players scream as they gather around the edges. Coral looks like she’s in pain already, while David takes his time. Mike: “I jump into that water, and I’m telling you, my balls went up into my throat.” Always a pleasure, Mike.

Jonny blows the airhorn again, signaling the start. Everybody treads water, except for David, who proceeds to thrash and sink, eliminating himself. Before he can get out, Coral climbs out. David interviews that he nearly drowned. While this is going on, Nathan interviews that the snakes are coming, biting at their necks. Dave gets surrounded quickly. Cara interviews that she’s scared and she tries to clear her head.

Elapsed time: ten minutes. Rachel B. violently splashes, trying to shake the snakes. Irulan interviews that she saw the snakes around Trishelle’s neck and she freaked out. Cut to Irulan at poolside, sitting next to Coral. Roni grabs a rope to get out, but screams as a snake gets on her. Montana climbs out, complaining that her chest was seizing up. Theo G. climbs out, followed by Roni. Alton is in pain at poolside, his joints stiff and unable to breathe.

Steve climbs out. Laterrian gets out, kicking a snake away. Sarah climbs out, happy she wasn’t the first one out. “I feel like I stood in there longer than at least four or five people,” she says. A cluster of snakes float near Mike’s neck. Veronica gets helped out of the pool by Laterrian. “Snake Soup is a mess,” Matt interviews. “It is everything a human is not supposed to do. A human is supposed to get out of freezing water. A human is supposed to escape hundreds of snakes. But no, the humans stay in for ten grand.”

Veronica hugs Katie for warmth. Tonya is still in the water, yelling that the snakes are chasing her. Theo V. stands at poolside, eliminated. Abram gently shoves some snakes away, but the others yell at him, prompting Jonny to blow his horn. “You said we could move them gently!” Abram yells as he climbs out of the pool. Jonny says they were supposed to be on him. Abram gripes some more, clearly not upset. Well, he is upset, but not “get kicked off the show” upset.

Elapsed time: 25:23. Tina cries as she is surrounded by snakes. Yes, I laughed. “I realized that I am treading in a snake pit,” she interviews. “It’s an anxiety attack that chills me to the bone.” She gets out, followed by Matt. Rachel R. gets warmed by Laterrian and Theo V. Tonya climbs out, unable to stand. “I pretended that I was in a tanning bed!” she laughs. Nathan gets lifted out by his teammates. Rachel B. tries to warm herself up.

Elapsed time: 31:45. Jonny announces there are four members on each team still treading. Theo leads his buddies in a cheer, which gets shouted back to him: “Hey Road Rules! Go Road Rules! Attaway! ATTAWAY!” Norman’s treading, all “What the heck is that about?” Trishelle bails out, followed by Dave. Darrell sees Laterrian, Theo V., and Steve on the sidelines. “What’s with my team?” he interviews. “Do you want $10,000, dog? Do you want $300,000 in the end?”

Elapsed time: 52:05. Jonny announces Phase Two: everybody lifts their hands above the water while treading. I didn’t think that was possible to do. Elka interviews that she can’t feel her lips and she’s getting scared.

Jonny blows the horn and the remaining players lift their arms. Immediately, Darrell sinks, leaving two of his teammates in the pool. Adam grabs a rope. Elka reaches towards the sky. Mike? Out. Norman? Out. Cara grabs the rope, giving Elka the victory. Her teammates cheer, but they don’t jump in the pool. They’re clearly not that insane. Abram comes back in to drag Dave out. Alton and Montana hug Elka, warming her up. Steve and Roni lift Dave out. Elka can’t believe she won. Adam gets encouragement and towels. Abram is stunned that Elka won; he doesn’t even know who she is.

Aftermath. Jonny congratulates everybody, adding “that absolutely looked brutal.” The players are too cold to even think of shoving Jonny in the pool.He gives the slightly-oversized check to Elka, and he tells them to decide who gets sacrificed to the Gauntlet.

RR Gauntlet Meeting. I might miss the old Inner Circle debates. Less people to cover. Theo goes over the procedure: list the three people to send out in descending order, with three points for first place, two for second, one for third. Top three names get voted on again. “As a team, Road Rules decides to create a system not based on personality, [but] based on points,” Sarah expositions. “Based on performance in a mission.” Veronica announces the finalists: Sarah, Roni, and Laterrian. Laterrian explains the flaw in the system: with a secret vote, he wonders who voted for him. Veronica comes up with the final scores: Laterrian with twelve points, Roni with 23... and Sarah with 28. Guess who’s going to the Gauntlet? “Wait a second!” Sarah laughs in her interview. “I was sixth out! Why isn’t Roni in the Gauntlet? Why isn’t Laterrian? He sank like a stone!” The others wish poor, doomed Sarah luck. “My whole team is my fair-weather friend,” she says. “When it’s a choice between me and a Laterrian, they’re throwing me to the wolves.” Adam tells her not to come back bitter. Oh, shut up, Adam. Steve interviews that she doesn’t deserve to go, since the votes were based on her past experiences. Naturally, we see Rachel and Darrell. I think Steve feels guilty his name wasn’t brought up since he bailed right after Roni. Sarah laments that her reputation precedes her.

RW Gauntlet Meeting. Coral wants to figure out how to proceed, whether it’s best to send a strong person based on a mission, or somebody who might not be strong in the long run. David is wearing a “CCCP” shirt, as in the Soviet Union. I start to imagine David giving up womanizing for the joys of communism. It could happen. Coral feels David is a strong competitor and she doesn’t want to lose him in the Gauntlet. David knows that it’s nothing personal against him. Irulan says that he is awesome, but she’s voting for him. Tonya votes for “a person that has caused conflict already.” The irony being that I can’t remember Matt stirring up things in the Belfort back in the day, but he’s pissing people off right now. She tells him that he hasn’t been meshing well. “I really feel like Matt honestly believes that we’re kind of sinful and he’s here is to save us,” Tonya interviews. “We’re just here to play the game.” Where was he during Las Vegas? Matt says that his Christianity is important to him and he hopes the others are comfortable with that. He interviews that the process can be highly political, adding that “one strong personality can sway an entire group.” Nathan insists nobody is disrespecting Matt’s faith. Elka interviews that Matt offended Coral and Tonya and she doesn’t want to vote for David. More deliberation as the guys from New Orleans look pensive.

Commercial. Hey, BMP is looking for fodder for future editions of Real World and Road Rules! For those who wish to apply, keep this in mind: if you don’t leave well enough alone and decide to come back for a Challenge, I’ll be waiting for you. I won’t ask why they played “Stacy’s Mom,” the ultimate MILF anthem.

Back the the meeting. Coral and Tonya cast votes for Matt, followed by several tallies for David. Nathan votes for Matt. Rachel B. doesn’t want to vote on somebody strong, but David was the first out of the pool. Final vote: David 10, Matt 4. “I already had the feeling it was going to be me,” David interviews. “That’s just how it goes.” So to recap: either the reformed playa from one of my favorite editions is going home, or my favorite girl from one of the worst seasons will be. Either way, I won’t win.

Gauntlet. Jonny welcomes everybody, reminding them that the winner stays and the loser goes. “It’s a little nerve-wracking to hear your name called out,” Sarah interviews, “and realize you’re going up against the Hulk.” Irulan thinks David has a great shot at winning. “She’s a scapegoat,” Irulan voiceovers, as Sarah beats her chest. “Why should she want to win for a team that doesn’t consider her valuable?” Good question. Take that up with Rachel R. and Darrell.

Since his team won the mission, David gets to roll the opposite sex die to determine the game. It comes up Dead Man’s Drop. I think David rolls his eyes; he knows he’s boned. Here’s what I don’t get: forget that Sarah lasted longer than David in the pool. If David has an advantage, why limit it to rolling a die? Why not have him pick the mission? Or come up with several options to present to her? “Okay, here are your choices: weightlifting, freestyle scatting, and servicing a ho. What’s your pick, Sarah?”

David and Sarah sit on trapezes. David expositions that they have to hang upside-down ten feet above “some death-defying water.” First one to drop loses. Both sides cheer. “Sarah can’t deal with the pressure,” Darrell interviews. “She’s gonna bail out.”

Jonny blows his horn and both players get into position. The others cheer. Then David drops... but his ankles manage to hang on to the trapeze. This is where upper-body strength becomes a liability. Nathan yells that Sarah is breaking, where she totally is not. Finally, David drops into the water. Sigh. 

The RRs cheer their teammate. Laterrian interviews that her actions spoke louder than words, even though she was betrayed. Sarah vamps on the trapeze, and who can blame her? This is her moment, the first time I’ve ever seen her shine this bright. Darrell interviews that he didn’t think she would beat David. I hope that crow is tasty, Darrell. Sarah thanks her teammates for their encouragement. “I hate to admit it,” she laughs, “but I couldn’t have done it without my team. Their help, their previous experience, combined with my will to piss them off and prove them wrong, has created such a wonderful vibe between us.”

Jonny finishes things up by telling David to pack his bags, and he also congratulates Sarah. He adds, “Hopefully, you guys can work out your differences.” Yeah, good luck with that.

Cabin. Sarah feels bad for David, saying “It’s got to be the worst thing in the world to lose to me.” Actually, losing to Beth or the Morgan tribe would be more of a blow. She hopes her win changes things for her. She adds, “Maybe eventually, they’ll start to have faith in me.”

Outside. Okay, this is strictly for the New Orleans fans. Remember the time during Mardi Gras when David was having sex and Matt was trapped in the room? I found out this happened a lot. I say this to give you this irony: Matt is asking David for advice. Things have gotten that bad for Matt. David tells him that he’d have his back if he was staying. “Life Teen is not in there,” he tells his one-time housemate. “People don’t want to hear that.” In David’s mind, Matt has to win fans. Good luck with that.

David packs his stuff. Damn, it’s hard saying goodbye all over again. At least I don’t have to feel twice as bad, like I did for Ayanna last time when she lost her “road dog.” He wishes his team luck. “Get all those checks,” he voiceovers, as he hugs Elka, Mike, and Coral. “I’ll see you again sometime. You’ll all spend the money, break a brother off a little change.” Coral doesn’t think it was a good idea to send a strong person to the Gauntlet. “I just hope that my team members decide not to do that again,” she interviews, “because Mike could be next. I could be next.” David shows his “official David goes away” walk, as he walks to the door, looking over his shoulder. Farewell, Comrade Broom.

Season Highlights! Remember, the mileage might vary. Heck, I didn’t think Rachel had been eliminated when she went into her “this game is ugly!” rant.

Adam clicks his heels while in a flight suit. Mike screams in the cockpit. The giant turntable. Players getting sprayed with water while in their sumo/fat suits. Darrell: “Ten thousand dollars? C’mon, man. I’ll do anything.” Two girls fall off a log while Roni stays on. One girl jumps towards a rope, misses, and plunges into the water. Tonya wants to show how tough she is. Coral complains that the strategy ain’t working. Rachel B.: “We’re competing for the team, but in some ways, we’re competing against each other!” Katie thinks her team sucks.

Gauntlet footage, Jousting. Dead Man’s Drop, with the players hanging by their arms. Mechanical bull. Mike in a dark room: “The Gauntlet tears you apart.” Sarah cries. Darrell: “If you can’t take it, you might as well pack your bags early and go home.” Rachel B. comforts a crying female, telling her “they just keep [bleeping] us over.” Nathan snatches Adam’s cowboy hat. Adam thinks there are crybabies on the RW side. Nathan: “Road Rules is shaking in their [bleeping] boots.”

Theo V. tries to figure out how to fire up his team. Irulan: “I’m not intimated by Veronica or Rachel. I will put them both on their asses.” Has anybody seen Irulan and Emily in the same room? Just thought I’d ask. Tina yells. Coral cries at Mike. Cut to a clip of him dancing with Trishelle. Well, he would be a step up from Steven. Back to Coral weeping: “This is bigger than the game, Mike!” Irulan wants to punch somebody. Trishelle looks messed up. I mean, really messed up. Darrell voiceover: “It’s not personal. It’s just business.” Quick clips of hot tub and shower action. That’s it.

I'm happy to say that I'm still friends with Clara, and I wound up at her place for other Challenge season openers. She's grown out of the show. I am still stuck. If there's a program to get off reality shows that should have ended years ago, I'm all ears.

The funny thing about the episode(s) is that I'm okay with Darrell. Tonight, I saw him take out Zach on Invasion Of The Champions, and I was rooting for him. I think I made my peace with him during Inferno II. Then there was Rachel, whom I regard as perhaps the most overrated player in the show's history. You have to give me that she belongs in the top ten. All muscle, no muscle. Not unlike Zach, when you think about it. Sadly, there would be more people that would toss Sarah to the wolves, but you'll read about that down the line.

I couldn't find the credits online, so I can't post them here. The band was Ill Kid, and the song was "Rock Star." It was rather nice . .. mellow compared to "Let Go" by Midtown.

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