Thursday, May 04, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 8: Nobody Beats the Miz

Not much to say about this episode. Once again, I yearn for the simpler days of The Challenge, especially when the final mission of Invasion Of The Champions is going off the rails.I don't think we're going to have a universally happy ending. Then again, I don't think that's really happened on this show in its history.

One note: turns out the link to Steve's essay works through Archive. He struck me as a smart guy, but the grammar might make your eyes bleed. At least Mike had the excuse of head trauma for his crappy grasp of English.

Airdate: November 10, 2003
Recap Published: November 17, 2003 

Sure, Road Rules beats his team down on a regular basis. But Mike has Trishelle, he has the leadership of his team, and he has Elka’s one-way ticket out of Telluride. Can a guy ask for anything more?
A few things before I get the party started. First: you have to read Steve’s latest recap (where you can see how much common sense the players and producers lack). Secondly, I found out that the title for the next Challenge is “Inferno.” I’ve been a good little recapper this year, so I have an unusual request for Christmas: I want a flamethrower. Given what I’m going to be dealing with starting in January, a weapon would come in handy. I want to be the guy who actually fights fire with fire. Hey, it beats paying for therapy.

Previously on The Gauntlet: Cara was excited to be in Telluride with Dave. Trishelle almost killed herself mountain biking. Mike: “I kind of realize how much I did care about her.” Trishelle thinks Mike is wonderful, even as he tries to cop a feel. Real World won Heavyweight Hustle, and the editors skip past Matt getting excommunicated from the team. Elka noted that she had a doctor’s note preventing her to compete in missions involving kneeling or crawling. Trishelle thinks people are using injuries as an excuse to stay.

Night. Mike and Trishelle are outside, lying in the hammock. She tells him that he has to meet her friends back home. She adds, “You would really like the place because the people are so different.” Gentleman that he is, Mike asks if they’re toothless. Trishelle has a good laugh about that. He interviews that the more he gets to know about her, the more he likes.

Bar. Dancing. Once again: no Antoine, no fun. Norman blabs that it’s not even gossip that Mike and Trishelle are an item. Let’s go down the list of guys she’s been in a friendly way with: Steven from her season, Eric from Campus Crawl, Adam, and Mike. Does Trishelle even exist off-camera? The sad thing is, I think Mike’s a huge step up for her. They dance. Coral’s probably not there, since their heads are intact.

RW Table. Strategy session. Alton: “Try hard. Go there and bust your ass. If you have to, go beyond your busted ass.” If he becomes a self-help guru, Go Beyond Your Busted Ass should be the title of his first book. He interviews that the voting process isn’t working and they need a new plan. Irulan repeats what Matt said two weeks ago about friendships not being real if a Challenge interferes with it. Nathan brings up Mike and Trishelle, and how Coral and Elka might think he wouldn’t vote for her. Trishelle claims that she’d vote on Mike if necessary, and vice versa. “He’s golden, man,” Irulan pipes up about Mike. “You guys can make it work. You will make All-American children.” Yeah, but the parents are dumb as rocks. Best line from Real World: Las Vegas... thanks, Frank!

Mansion. Rachel R. reads the sponsor phone clues: get ready to leave at 8 a.m., and wear a bathing suit. Veronica chuckles, since she ate a lot during the weekend. Theo V. wonders what “a.m.” stands for. Abram, the noted savant, figures it means “after the morning,” adding, “That means we can sleep late tomorrow!” Yeah, whatever.

Morning. Ridgway Marina. Jonny welcomes everybody to Sink My Ship. He reveals that they’ve made it to Phase Two, where individual efforts would be awarded. After every event, the best performers receive the Fresh Look Lifesaver that saves people from being cast into the Gauntlet. It doesn’t look different from last season’s Ion Lifesaver. On the other hand, you can’t conceivably kill somebody with it, unlike the Immunity Cutlass on Survivor. Elka feels good about the mission, even though her team has fewer players.

Everybody gets into their rafts. They must be safe, since Coral isn’t going on about her fear of water. Abram drops the exposition: each raft has a ball. The players seek to grab the ball and pull the cord, deflating the opponent’s raft. Nathan interviews that his team’s strategy is to go in two lines of five rafts, with the balls facing each other to block Road Rules.

Jonny blows his horn and everybody paddles into each other. “We come up with a strategy,” Nathan voiceovers, “we think our strategy is going to work. The minute the game starts, our strategy falls apart and it’s complete chaos.” Nathan gets sunk first, followed by Abram and Cara. Theo V. pulls Trishelle’s cord. Steve and Mike paddle into each other. Coral sinks Adam, while Darrell eliminates Elka. Dave backpedals, ordering his squad to follow him to safety. The RR team celebrates the end of the first heat. A lovely sea shanty plays as we see who was wiped out on RW: Trishelle, Alton, Irulan, Rachel B., Elka, Coral, and Nathan. Jonny announces the three remaining players: Norman, Theo G., and Mike. Over on RR, the eliminated are: Abram, Cara, Steve, Adam, and Veronica. That leaves them with seven players left. Mike is not intimated. “I don’t care!” he shouts, “And I’m not scared!”

Airhorn. The soundtrack tells us we can suck or we can shine. Paddling. Coral screams “Watch out!” to her teammates. Mike gets sunk. Theo G. sinks Theo V., only to fall out of his own raft. While he goes to climb back in, Darrell pulls his cord. Norman voiceovers that Roni is chasing him, so he paddles to the saftey zone... and he realizes he’s the last person left on his team. RR celebrates some more as Jonny blows his horn. Theo G. and Mike are out for RW, while Theo V. and Laterrian got sunk for RR. “We got our fingers crossed,” Irulan interviews. “We’re cheering it up for Norm. Crazier things have happened before.” To her credit, she can’t keep a straight face, as we head into commercials.

Jonny blows his horn as Norman takes on the role of Emily from the Laser Tag mission last season – all alone against overwhelming odds. The soundtrack tries to pump us up with a faux version of Darth Vader’s march. Norman gets surrounded by his opponents. Mike and Trishelle jump up and down, so full of hope. But Dave pulls Norman’s cord, ending the game. So much for a miracle. Road Rules celebrates while Dave and Cara share a kiss.

Post-mission. Jonny awards the $10,000 check to Road Rules, giving them $50,000 overall. He reminds them about Phase Two and the Lifesavers, handing them to Norman (last RW paddling) and Dave (most ripcords pulled). Jonny gives both teams the standard 30 minutes to figure out who will go into the Gauntlet.

RR Meeting. Adam slaps the check on the wall... that sucker won’t be going up on eBay anytime soon. Abram brings up the obvious, that voting somebody off sucks, but it’s done to ensure a good final team. Roni adds that nobody makes for a good candidate to go, but a decision must be reached. The votes are read off, as Cara gets three points to her name. Rachel R. interviews that she’s voting for Cara, “because it’s her time.” Is Rachel the Grim Reaper? Another three-pointer is read off for Cara. She interviews that she voted for herself and she hopes to do well. Sure enough, Cara is voted into the Gauntlet. Dave admits that he had to vote for Cara. He continues, “I’m only doing it because that’s the way the team decided to do it.” Given what happened during his season, I’d expect him to go into flashback mode, curling into the fetal position, rocking back and forth, tearfully begging Chris and Christena not to keep Donell over Cara. Back in reality, Cara laughs nervously, asking her teammates what she has to know going into the Gauntlet.

Dave and Cara chat in the closet. He’s already starting to miss her. “I don’t know how to act,” he interviews. “I just try to stand near her and try to keep my calm.” He tells her that he would “flip out” if she won. She asks if he’d do that if she lost. Cara interviews that she needs support from Dave, “and he’s nowhere to be found.” She tells him that she would break up with him if he shrugs his shoulders. Nice. And yet, it’s still not as icky a couple as James and Emily.

RW Meeting. Mike claims there is no strategy and the team would start looking at mission performance. Coral adds that everybody has their own vote. Mike votes for Elka. He interviews that she won money for them, but “her steam has slowed down.” Elka does not know what Mike is thinking. She continues: “I don’t know if his sexual relations and little boyfriend/girlfriend game that him and Trishelle are playing right now is affecting his vote, but I guess it is.” Coral votes for Trishelle, saying that she has the best chance to win in the Gauntlet. She interviews that the difference is that Elka won money for the group. Trishelle goes for Elka, interviewing that “she hasn’t been about the game.” Theo G. votes for Elka, as do Alton, Irulan, Norman, and Nathan. “I can’t even believe that my name is coming out of these people’s mouths,” Elka interviews. “And what’s worse is the excuses that they’re giving on why they’re sending me. I don’t really get it. I don’t really understand why people don’t get it through their thick skulls that I am an asset to this team.” Elka, if you’re going to answer your own questions, why bother asking them?

Gauntlet site. Cara smiles, already hating the Gauntlet. Jonny welcomes Elka and Cara. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m tired of the constant girl-on-girl action. Send some guys in there! Cara rolls the die and it comes up Knock Your Block Off. Twangy music plays as Jonny lays down the exposition: both players balance themselves on a beam over the pool, hitting each other with fugel sticks.

Strategy sessions. Dave: “Go for the knees immediately.” Cara: “But she has an injured knee.” Dave: “Oh.” That’s mean. Dave must practice with the Cobra Kai. Alton and Mike demonstrate technique for Elka. Cara takes a practice hit at Steve. RW cheers for Elka. Cara struggles with her weapon before nailing her boyfriend. “Elka is toast, man,” Theo V. drawls. “Hasta la Elka.” Speaking of which, she thinks she’s stronger than Cara. “We think Elka can kick some ass,” Coral interviews. “I think she really wants to stay, to give a big ‘[bleep] you’ to the people who voted her off.”

Jonny blows his horn and we are underway. Both players softly jab at each other. Soon, Elka is whacking away while Cara nimbly dodges. Dave interviews that he’s nervous and he wants it to end. Elapsed time: 2:48. Cara lunges, but Elka walks away. Time: 3:33. Still fighting. Time: 5:07. Come on, not even the American Gladiators would take this long before whacking somebody! Cara interviews that they’re both exhausted.

Time: 7:00. Cara swings and misses. Elka starts pounding. We go into slow-motion as Elka hits Cara once more, but the momentum takes Elka off the beam. Cara puts up her stick, but she doesn’t even connect as Elka takes a dive. Game over. That is a sucky way to go. RR cheers loudly, shocked that Cara got the win. Elka floats in her lifejacket and I think she’s shocked as well. While Roni helps Cara out of her jacket, Elka is pulled out of the water. The combatants hug as Cara interviews that she feels sad for Elka.

Denouement. Jonny cements that Cara is staying while Elka must leave. This puts RW at a three-person disadvantage. Dave is happy Cara gets to stay, while Coral doesn’t want to see Elka go.
Coral and Elka sit on the ground. For some reason, Theo V. is nearby with a big grin on his face. I believe he’s looking for a last-minute hook-up. Elka wants to take the check she won with her. She interviews that she and Coral had counted on each other, and Coral would never had voted her off unless it was the last possible option. Mike apologizes to Elka. Trishelle tells her she did well in the Gauntlet. As Elka rolls her eyes, you can feel the temperature drop. Luckily, the editors slip in a cat screeching for those who are blind to the obvious.

Mansion. Dave and Cara are in the bedroom. Cara drops the obvious: they need to communicate better to each other. As they snuggle in bed, he admits to freaking out, since he didn’t know what she wanted. “She’s good at letting me learn and forgiving me and getting angry and getting happy again,” he interviews. “We’re doing really well right now.” They’re gonna be together forever... or until she catches him with his elbows on the table, then it’ll be over.

Elka still doesn’t understand what happened with her team. “Friends are knocking out friends,” she goes on, “There’s a lot of rifts going on and it’s a shame, especially coming from Mike, which really upsets me.” She talks to Mike about his vote possibly being biased in favor of Trishelle. Coral looks on, grimly. Mike asks why everybody else voted for her. “I’m not concerned with everybody else,” she retorts. “I’m worried about you.” She’s a humanitarian, isn’t she? Mike talks about how he saw Trishelle flip over the handlebars and how she wanted to play despite the bruises and the concussion, while Elka sat out due to her knee injury. Elka thinks that’s a cop-out from Mike, adding that she was the strongest woman on the team and she doesn’t understand why Mike would want her gone. “She hasn’t been making the extra effort to come and hang out with everyone like a family,” he interviews. “That’s what’s going to win in the end.”

Mike tells Trishelle he doesn’t consider her a weak link. “I think we’re okay with losing Elka,” Trishelle interviews. “It’s like, ‘Go home. Don’t stick around and try to argue or pick fights or make Mike feel bad.’” Mike sits by himself, looking somewhat solemn.

Farewell. Elka hugs Irulan. Coral restates that she’s sorry to see Elka go. Elka is actually taking the cardboard check she won for her team. Who is she, Happy Gilmore? Well, at least we won’t see that again anytime soon... or will we? “I’m walking away with some new friends and some revelations about old ones,” she interviews. “I don’t understand why I was sent off today. I don’t get it. I just don’t.” She shares a big hug with Coral. “I knew that Elka had my back,” Coral interviews, “and I thought Mike did, too. But Mike’s sitting around, plotting and rubbing Trishelle’s ass. I really feel like I could be next to go to the Gauntlet again.” Here’s hoping. The van goes off, and we fade to black.

Next time: Dogfighting in the skies! Adam and Abram are stoked to go into the air. Please tell me they’re just shooting, and not piloting. Adam tells Laterrian not to cop an attitude. Wait, Laterrian is on this show? “I’m on a losing streak,” Laterrian says, “I have a good chance of going to the Gauntlet.” Smoke shoots out of one plane.

I wish I was kidding about the cat screeching effect. That's on the level of bad as the time on Battle Of The Sexes where they piped in sounds from my laptop's pinball game. Also, I'm thinking BMP might have regretted putting in Knock Your Block Off as a Gauntlet game. It was brought out one more time, and the result came a lot quicker. I didn't really care that much for Elka, but she went out in a bad way. And luck would stick to Cara later in the season.

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