Cut to early 2004. The Real World team had painted itself into a corner, as alpha male Alton (sorry, Mike, you know it's true), had to decide who would go to the final Gauntlet: Coral or Theo. Once again, I put too much thought into what might happen. This was published on January 12, 2004, the day when the results would be shown.
Alton has a choice to make: who to send to the last Gauntlet. At stake: the possible elimination of Cara and a better chance of winning the final mission. Who’s it going to be: Coral or Theo?Meet Alton Williams. Alton is a member of the Real World team competing in The Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Gauntlet. Throughout the season, Alton has been a top performer for his team, finishing at or near the top in the missions. After two sub-par performances in a row, he volunteered for the Gauntlet, managing to smoke Laterrian in Pole Climb. If ever there was a better example of a RW alpha male, it’s Alton.
As described in my recap of the 15th episode last week, Alton has a dilemma. For completing Dukes of Saturn faster than anyone else on his team, he was awarded the Freshlook Eyesaver, which kept him from being voted into the Gauntlet by his teammates. It also gave him the power to break a tie, should that occur. As Peter Parker once learned, with great power comes great responsibility. And for a team already guaranteed to have a disadvantage going into the final mission, Alton’s decision could be the difference between a $60,000 and $210,000 payday.
On one side is Theo Gantt. A rarity amongst the Bunim-Murray set, Theo left most of his drama back in Chicago. He competed well in Battle of the Sexes, constantly finishing near the top of the standings. He seemed to be a prime contender for the final threesome, until he fell off a stirrups course, plunging him from fourth place to dead last. Since his team established that the last-place finisher would go home, Theo left, and without regret. In Telluride, his performances had not blown away his teammates, to the point where he received votes to go to the Gauntlet. Since then, he has stepped up, performing to the best of his abilities.
On the other side is Coral Smith. In contrast to Theo, Coral brings the drama wherever she goes. She didn’t even unpack her bags before getting in Matt’s face. A member of the winning RW squad on Battle of the Seasons, Coral’s early performances were dismal. The lowest point came when her team, longtime friend Mike included, sent her to the Gauntlet. After defeating Tina in Deadman’s Drop, Coral’s name was kept out of Gauntlet consideration, save for Mike, who wanted to protect girlfriend Trishelle. Coral is the last woman on the RW side, and does not relish the thought of losing a share of her team’s bank with a Gauntlet loss.
In the closing minutes of last week’s episode, Coral and Theo voted for each other. Norman and Mike voted for Theo, while Nathan and Alton chose Coral. Whomever gets selected will face Cara in the final Gauntlet... but it’s unlikely that RW will know that until the actual match. With all this said... what will Alton do?
What Alton Should Do
With no points system, both teams have not had a set voting plan. Sometimes, the decision is based on overall performance. Other times, it’s a case of “What have you done for me lately?” Let’s look at the players’ performances in individual events, as presented by the editors (some information extrapolated from average times):
Coral: Second person overall to drop out.
Theo: Fifth person on team to drop out.
Coral: Eliminated after Round One.
Theo: Eliminated after Round Four.
Sink My Ship
Coral: Eliminated after Round One
Theo: Eliminated after Round Two
Coral: Shot down Laterrian.
Theo: Shot down by Adam
Coral: 1:07 (fifth place)
Theo: 1:01 (fourth place)
Rolling On a River
Coral: Fifth person to fall.
Theo: Second person to fall, tied with Alton and Irulan.
Coral: Fourth person to fall off.
Theo: Last person to fall off.
All or Nothing
Coral: Grabbed the rope, lost her shoes, decided to quit.
Theo: Grabbed the rope, finished at 0:31.
Coral: 7:07 (sixth place)
Theo: 4:30 (fourth place)
Dukes of Saturn
Coral: 25.29 (second place)
Theo: 37.74 (third place)
As you can see, Theo has the edge over Coral. In addition, Coral has been a drag on her team throughout the season. She took the lead with Tonya in Masquerade, failing to put the faces together before tagging out to Rachel and Matt. Her freak-out during Holey Canoe led her teammates to send her to the Gauntlet, which led to a massive crying session over Mike’s decision to shove her in. On the other side, Theo has proven himself to be a good player, unable to provide the drama that this show demands. And that is why Alton should send him into the Gauntlet.
What Alton Will Do
My guess? He’ll stick with his vote and send Coral. It’s easy for me to analyze the situation. After all, I have six days, 23 hours and 30 minutes to think up scenarios. Alton has less than half an hour. Besides, if he looked at the final missions of the last two seasons, he would see they were both gender-neutral. In fact, the course in Sexes was adjusted for both male and female teams. In other words, Coral would be more expendable.
Who Will Win the Gauntlet?
In Sarah’s recaps, she mentioned that the two dice used in the game were different. The same-sex die has six missions, while the opposite-sex has three. Once again, Cara is the RR representative. She is the only person on her team to survive a Gauntlet outside of Sarah, defeating Elka in Knock Your Block Off.
Cara vs. Coral
Think of this as the Princess Battle. The winner gets two Gauntlet wins, and gets to play Princess to Sarah’s Queen. If Cara loses, she will be forced to leave Dave, breaking up the third couple this season. In addition, she will be the second South Pacific cast member Coral racked up in the Gauntlet. If Coral loses, Cara will have eliminated two members of the winning RW team from Seasons. Let’s check out the possibilities.
Deadman’s Drop: I think Cara has this one in hand. Coral can give her the Evil Witch Stare all she wants, but she should have learned what to do in this event (Sarah) and what not to do (Tina).
Hangman: For some reason, I see Coral hanging a little tougher here. I’m probably thinking of how well she and Mike did on the original Hangman mission in Seasons.
Knock Your Block Off: Coral will have learned from the mistake Elka made, which was being too aggressive. Elka had Cara nailed, but her momentum threw her into the water. If Mike can learn patience, so can Coral.
Perfect Fit: Outside of David, name a cast member who has more issues with water. Yeah, Sarah managed to come back after Trishelle took a head start, but I feel Cara would solve the puzzle before Coral.
Pole Climb: Coral has this, since she has Alton on her side. His advice? Keep the hands dry before climbing.
Ride ‘Em Cowboy: This is a tough one. I’ll give this to Coral, who would hang on out of sheer spite.
Cara vs. Theo
This doesn’t have the punch of Cara/Coral, but the stakes are just as high. If Theo loses, he gets the label of “two-time loser.” Given that Beth and Emily formerly had that title, and Veronica’s currently wearing it, I would advise him never to do another Challenge. He’d probably come back as a bastard in the third.
Deadman’s Drop: For some weird reason, I don’t see this event claiming a third male victim. I just checked my recap of the event from last season, and they never showed Theo’s time. But it’s a feeling that I have that he would win.
Perfect Fit: This one goes to Cara, if she gets the pieces quickly enough.
Ride ‘Em Cowboy: From one of Sarah’s recaps, she mentioned that the man’s bull would be faster. Even so, I think Theo would pull it out, holding onto the bull, while Cara flops around.
To find out how well I know these people, check out The Gauntlet this Monday on MTV at 10 p.m., or any of the other hundreds of times they choose to air it. Then keep an eye right here on RNO for my recap, to see me crow about how right I was... or to just pretend this analysis was never written.
How did I do? Here's a hint: about a month later, when I contributed to a roundtable on who would win Survivor: All-Stars, my pick was Rob Cesternino. He was the fourth person vote of the game. Apparently, being a genius on a tribe with no prior winners did not work into his favor. I'll have the next recap -- "Beginning Of The End" -- posted soon.