Friday, June 09, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 13: Three’s Company

Hello. Today's theme is about standing by what you believe. I'm not sure if this episode pissed me off the most, or the following one where (spoiler!!) Sarah gets thrown into the Gauntlet for the fifth time. It takes a lot for me to back off on an opinion I feel strongly about. If I do a 180-degree turn on something, I would have to have a damn good reason because I don't feel like feeling like an asshole, even if nobody cares.

Last week, I brought up Danny Dias from Road Rules: X-Treme. I mentioned the time he got humiliated by Alton in Gauntlet 2. I said that Danny "was a little punk." Days later, I'm on Facebook, and I find a link from TMZ. Danny had died from an apparent overdose.

Of course, I felt shitty. In my defense, I don't think anybody has really thought of the guy since Alton defeated him. It's not like I wanted THAT to happen. While I want somebody on this show (or any reality program, really) to suffer, there's an unspoken limit. I don't want people to die. I hated Colton on his two stints on Survivor, but I never would have wished for his boyfriend Caleb to get killed by a train. In many cases, suffering would be good, but I'm more into somebody getting pants and everybody laughing at the meager genitalia. Yes, there would be a different situation for women.

And that brings me to my final recap from 2003. Before Champs Vs. Pros (and the upcoming Dirty 30), Veronica had not been on a Challenge since The Ruins in 2009. Rachel's last appearance was in Battle Of The Exes (2012). They've had lives away from the show. I know they had highs and lows. And yet, I can't divorce those two from what happened in The Gauntlet . . . or Inferno II, for that matter. And The Inferno in Veronica's case, to the point where Katie could have strangled her, and I would have been okay with it. I know, it's messed up . . . even if things had not broken her way, Sarah would have let it go a long time ago. And if Sarah has moved on, why can't I?

Airdate: December 15, 2003
Recap Published: December 21, 2003

The players compete in a challenging mission, Mike finds himself in a tough position, and Theo V. is forced to make a tough choice, Oh, and there’s a threesome, but you wouldn’t care about that, right?
I watched the Survivor: Pearl Islands finale on Sunday. I don’t care what anybody says; Sandra deserved the win. You should have seen me around 9:20 p.m. I had my fingers and thumbs crossed, begging Lill to take Jon out of the game. And bless her little heart, she did just that. I’ve overdosed on odious a few times while recapping The Gauntlet, and the last thing I needed was Jon to win $1 million. But Sandra won 6-1, a complete turnaround from that dark day when Jenna beat Matthew. Of course, I had to come down from my high quickly, since I had a new episode, and MTV already gave away the ending in their commercial. Thanks, MTV! Once would’ve been enough, but you showed us the Gauntlet at least three times! Way to take away the suspense!

Previously on The Gauntlet: Adam asked Sarah if she was the weakest player. Sarah figured that everybody had messed up at least once, and Theo V. backed her up. She interviewed that it was great to have a friend like him on the team. Over on the Real World side, everybody voted for Trishelle, and Mike voted for Coral. Cue the record scratch in the soundtrack. Nice one. Irulan questioned the integrity of Mike protecting his girlfriend. Road Rules won Rolling On a River, Red Baron and Turntable, upping their bank account to $80,000, while RW had $30,000. Norman notes that his team is losing players and missions, and they need to step up. “We’re just whuppin’ that ass,” Darrell interviews. “They can’t touch us.”

Mansion. Mike looks on while Theo V. sews a team flag. Mike small talks about how tough it is to lose people and how it was a lot easier when they were on Battle of the Seasons. Those were good times. Well, except for when the Inner Circle kicked out Stephen and Lindsay, and Kelley didn’t want Lindsay to go. “It’s hard to tell who does bad and who does good,” Mike interviews. “Sometimes, I don’t know who to vote for.” That’s the price the teams pay for the removal of the points system. Theo: “I believe that the Real World is in so much turmoil, they have no clue who they’re sending in the Gauntlet and all they to is wake up every morning and realize the state of pain that they’re in.” Mike says that Sarah is Theo’s girl, and he can’t understand why she keeps going back into the Gauntlet. You and me both, Miz. Theo labels her as a “good luck charm.”

Elsewhere, Veronica rubs her shoulder in slow-motion. Oh, please. Like I’m that weak? Abram sits on the bed, rubbing Rachel. He interviews that he’s thinking along the same lines as the girls. “If you keep rubbing her legs, dude,” Theo V. quips, “a genie will pop out of her ass.” Where would I be without Theo? Rachel thinks that Abram is trying to schmooze her and Veronica with special treatment. He jokes that he wants to do Veronica. What a smooth talker. “I think Abe has a lot to offer,” Veronica interviews. “I mean, I don’t want him to be my boyfriend, but I think he’s a really great guy.”

Daytime. Ridgway Marina. Jonny welcomes everybody to All or Nothing. The objective: jump off a twenty-foot platform and cling onto a rope suspended from a moving object. The editors pipe in “Ride of the Valkyries” for dramatic effect. I hum along, “Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit...” While Jonny lays out the exposition, a helicopter lifts off, arriving at the mission site. Abram feels like he’s in a “Vietnam movie.” The chopper makes impressive ripples above the water. Jonny continues: when he blows his airhorn, the players will jump on the rope and climb past the orange balls on the rope, towards the red balls. The team with the fastest average time wins $10,000. Jonny brings up the penalties: if a player misses the rope or fails to climb into the red zone, that person will get the worst logged time of the day, plus a two-minute penalty. Also, the top players on each team receive the Freshlook Lifesaver... or is it the Icesaver? At this point, I don’t care. Anyway, the player receiving that gets immunity from the Gauntlet and gets to break a tie. That was brought up a few weeks back, but I thought nothing of it. My bad.

Abram climbs up the ladder to the platform. What’s his strategy? “My plan for this is to jump off and grab the sonofabitch, and hang on for dear, sweet life.” Good thinking. “Balls to the wall. Go big or go home.” James would be proud, dude. Jonny blares his airhorn. Abram stands on the platform’s edge, waiting for the rope to come to him. He jumps, and proceeds to slide down the rope. He makes a token effort to climb before letting go, earning the DQ. I check off “go home” next to his name. “I think Abe just gets really excited and hyper,” Roni interviews, “and I think he loses mind of what’s at hand.” Abram gets hugged by Dave, while Alton tells his teammates how to get on the rope.

Mike bounces on the platform. He interviews that since he’s the team “leader” (his quotes, not mine), he has to set an example. He takes a running start, grabbing the rope and climbing up. But he loses his grip and falls down, getting the DQ. “Dang,” Theo G. grouses in an interview, “this cat’s stronger than I am, and he’s out.”

Back from commercials, Dave tells us that everybody has failed so far, so he has nothing to lose. He grabs the rope, loses his grip and falls. DQ. Irulan jumps, misses, and does a nice 270-degree flip into the water. Even her boyfriend laughs about that. “That was a very impressive little fall,” he chuckles. DQ. Cara grabs the rope, but loses her grip. DQ.

Theo G. expositions that everybody has been disqualified already, and he has to show his team that it’s possible. He takes a running start, climbs up the rope and reaches the red zone in 31 seconds. Of course, his teammates whoop it up, as he is slowly dipped into the water. “It was a good feeling of going in there and pulling something out for my team,” Theo interviews. Average times: RW 1:51, RR 2:31.

Norman jumps from the platform. Nathan explains that Norman climbed up the rope, celebrated, and jumped off... but didn’t hit the red zone. I’d make a senility crack, but since Norman griped about rules changes in his recap, I’ll pass. He stomps, obviously furious. DQ. Adam runs and falls. DQ. Loser. Coral starts to climb, loses her shoes, then decides to quit. DQ. Darrell drops. DQ. Theo V. hopes that he can come through for his team. He jumps on the rope and climbs, clocking out at 0:24. Average times: RW 2:07, RR 2:10.

Sarah comes up. How bad is it that I knew this wasn’t going to end well for her? She jumps on the rope. Veronica shouts encouragement, but Sarah is frozen, unable to pull herself up. Darrell: “I’m knowing she’s about to just give up, because that’s what she always does.” Hey, I got a Christmas present for you, Darrell. It’s a big box of Shut Up. Enjoy. Sadly, Sarah still dangles, and she makes the signal to quit. “I could’ve hung on all day,” she interviews, “but I couldn’t go anywhere. So what are you going to do? At least I grabbed the rope. Let’s hope that they noticed that and don’t send me in there for Gauntlet number five.” Nathan makes a run for the rope, finishing at 1:44. Average times: RW 2:51, RR 3:15.

Roni drops. DQ. Rachel drops. DQ. Veronica drops. DQ. She interviews: “This has been the most difficult challenging mission ever [pause] invented.” Alton jumps on the rope. After smoking Laterrian in Pole Climb last week, what else can you expect from Alton but a 0:23 time? Irulan jumps around like an excited cheerleader. “That’s my dawg!” she tells us. Adam interviews that since three RW guys climbed the rope, they got the win.

Final times: RW 2:47, RR 3:24. Jonny awards the $10,000 check to RW. Nathan interviews that RR has peaked, and RW is just starting to rise. Jonny awards the Lifesavers to Alton and Theo V., then gives both teams 30 minutes to decide who goes into the Gauntlet.

RW Meeting. Nathan interviews that the smaller the team gets, the harder it is to vote. “You look around,” he continues, “and everybody you look at is valuable for the team.” Theo G. brings up Mike, based on performance in the last few missions. There are a lot of cuts, followed by Mike’s interview, where he votes for himself. “It’s time for me to step up and show you why you guys call me leader,” he says. “It’s time for me to be the Miz.” And it’s time for me to bang my head against a wall. I hate the Miz. Irulan interviews that sending a strong player would psyche out RR, but losing him would be a blow against morale.

RR Meeting. Our finalists today are Abram, Cara, and Sarah. Wait a minute... Cara? She’s been kicking butt since beating Elka in the Gauntlet. What gives? Adam announces a tie between Abram and Sarah. “If you guys really wanted me gone that bad,” Sarah says, “why didn’t you just [bleeping] break my knees in my sleep?” Adam says nothing, almost as if he’s contemplating the notion. He puts on the same track as before in an interview: Sarah is the weakest person on the team and she does the most for herself and the team in the Gauntlet. Roni interviews that Sarah hasn’t held her weight, but she’s gone to the Gauntlet four times, which is more than what Abram has done. It turns out that Theo’s Lifesaver allows him to break the tie. Cara expositions that he makes the decision at the Gauntlet. “It’s not fun being the middleman,” Theo interviews. “I like her, I want her to be here, but I care about this team first and foremost.” Cut to Abram, cut to Sarah looking miserable. The suspense is not killing me. Once again: thank you, MTV.

Gauntlet site. Jonny goes through his Gauntlet spiel. Abram reminds us that his team doesn’t know who’s going, and he hopes it’s Sarah. Jonny calls up Mike, provoking a huge RW celebration. Jonny then goes on about the tie vote and how Theo broke it. After it’s dragged out enough, Abram is called up. While everybody else cheers, Sarah remains seated. Maybe she caught the ending, too. She interviews, “The fact that Theo choose Abe shocked the hell out of me.” Abe and Mike hug in a manly manner. Theo interviews that making the right call, adding, “I’m sick of seeing sacrificial lambs in this Gauntlet. I have a feeling that if Abram goes, he’s going to do well.”

Mike rolls the die and it comes up Knock Your Block Off, which provokes another RW celebration. Coral and Norman make punching motions, which cracks me up. Jonny lays down the exposition: the players fight with fugel sticks on a balance beam. First to knock the other in the water wins. Abram is excited to battle Mike. As for Mike... he goes into Miz Mode. Basically, the Miz is a poor man’s Rock, and as somebody who rejects all things wrestling, I’m not quoting him. But I will translate and make Mike sound like a nerd. “You did defeat me once, Abram, but I was drunk then [clip from the wrestling match in the first episode]. But now I am sober and ready to give you a sound thrashing. And I wish to ask you this: are you ready? Because, quite frankly, I do not think that you are, my friend.”

The guys get ready. Mike puts on his psycho game face. RR whips out the “Hey Road Rules!” cheer. “This is what the Gauntlet is all about,” Theo V. drawls. “The Gauntlet is all powerhouses. It’s all about two bulls heading straight at each other.” Jonny blows his whistle. Both players feel each other out. The RW side looks stressed. The opponents exchange blows. Sarah is still seated, perhaps feeling guilty about Theo’s decision. Soon, Mike nails Abram in the butt, pushing him into the water. Game over. The RW side is jubilant, knowing they dodged a bullet. “There’s nothing like it,” Mike interviews about the Gauntlet. “There’s no rush like it. I loved every second about being in that Gauntlet.” He hugs Abram. “But I never want to do that again.” Cut to Abram stretching and Sarah apologizing. The only person feeling lower than her? Theo, who’s sitting on the bench, as bummed as I’ve ever seen him.

Denouement. RR now has nine members, while RW holds steady at seven. Jonny asks Abram if he has parting words, but the Bozeman Brawler declines. The RW kids cheer for Mike, feeding his massive ego as he strikes a highly derivative pose. Nathan interviews that RW now have a one-male advantage over RR. Wow... so rampant sexism in the voting booth does work!

Mansion. Veronica is really bummed. So bummed, she doesn’t want to join Rachel in partying. She interviews that she thought the majority was going to vote for Sarah, so she leaned towards Abram, not anticipating the tie. Translation: “I felt sorry for Sarah, and I’m not going to do that again!” Elsewhere, Abram packs. I’m just glad he didn’t beat anybody up this time.

Theo and Sarah work on a crossword puzzle. He tries to figure out who said “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.” Sarah thinks it’s Mark Twain. I think Willy Wonka, not remembering he had quoted Ogden Nash. Cut to the bathroom, where Veronica is working on her hair and Rachel is taking a bubble bath. Veronica wants Sarah to go back to the Gauntlet and Rachel doesn’t want her winning there anymore. Veronica then suggests that Theo is thinking with his penis, since he sympathizes with Sarah. Wow. Okay, I understand Theo is the guy who said, “If you’re a guy and you can’t hook up on the Challenge, you basically need to donate your penis to charity.” But Sarah has a boyfriend back home and I know Theo is gentleman enough to understand that. The “ladies” go into a giggling fit about crossword puzzles and sex. Do you remember the scene in Mole 2 where Dorothy told the others she made her future boyfriend play Scrabble with her and Darwin shouted out “Triple Word Score!”? Rachel and Veronica are at the opposite end of the spectrum, they stink that much.

Abram ambles into the room, wearing a Miz cap and t-shirt. I bet Mike made him pay for it since he lost. Abram hugs Veronica, copping a cheek in the process. Rachel beckons him into the tub for one more time. In fast-motion, Abram strips and eases into the tub. Soon, Veronica joins the duo, and Abram starts writing a letter to Penthouse in his head. The girls invite Coral to join them, but she knows a ho train when she sees one. Just then, Norman gives her a call. Judging from the previews, I thought it would be Coral’s roommate, Melissa. Yes... THAT Melissa. “He is the happiest man in the world right now!” Coral gushes. “Getting voted off is the least of his worries right now!”

News of an impending orgy travels fast, and the gang shows up to revel. Roni even takes a picture. “I think Abe is doing well for himself,” Veronica voiceovers. “He might have lost in the Gauntlet, but I think Abe feels like he’s a pretty big winner in life.” Keep deluding yourself, Veronica. Beer bottles line the tub’s rim. The trip decide to retreat to the shower. How I miss Dan, Flora, and Sarah Becker right now. They weren’t in the RW: Miami threesome, but their supporting roles made it great. Adam shouts that he would’ve gone to the Gauntlet instead of Abram. Shut it, Adam. I can barely see Abram and Veronica making out behind the shower door. “This has been a wonderful and pleasant experience,” Abram interviews, “and perverse and [bleeped]-up, and twisted and bizarre. I loved it.” Cut to outside the mansion, hearing happy noises as we fade to black.

What have we learned today?
  • Sarah should have made an effort to climb the rope. At least make a tiny attempt, then fall into the water. What am I saying? She could have climbed the rope, boarded the chopper, tossed the pilot out, and land all by herself... and she’d still get threes and twos.
  • Theo V. is RR’s true alpha male. He’s made more of an effort than Adam. In the context of the Challenges, Theo is the best person to come out of Maximum Velocity Tour
  • If you and somebody of the opposite gender work on a crossword puzzle, you want to have sex. Don’t look at me like that. Veronica and Rachel set the rules, and I merely state them.
  • It’s okay to rank on Theo and Sarah, then have a pity threesome with Abram. The worst part is that this might have sent him the wrong message about women in general. Yes, I still remember everything prior to his last day on South Pacific and his beatdown of Donell. Abram has issues, and it should be interesting to see how that plays out in Inferno.
  • Rachel and Veronica are bitches. Like I said last season with Emily, that is not a word I want to use lightly in these recaps. These two learned absolutely nothing from their encounters with Emily and her bloody axe. Seriously, where is Irulan to wrestle Rachel to the ground? Where is Amaya to clothesline Veronica? Or should I send a telegram? “Dear Ms. Bailey [stop]. All is forgiven [stop]. I am sending you $5,000 in travel money and a baseball bat [stop]. Hee-haw and Merry Christmas, Jason Borelli.”
Next time: Mountain scaling! Coral slams into the mountain hard. Adam: “Sarah is definitely the weakest link.” Sarah slams into the mountain again and again. Adam again: “If it were up to me, I would’ve voted for her into the Gauntlet every single time.” Look, Mommy! Recapper says that every time Adam pisses on Sarah, an angel gets its wings! Sarah tells her team that her back hurts. “If you send me in,” she adds, “there’s a solid chance you’re going to lose a team member today.” Wow... weakest defense ever.

Bad news: MTV will not be airing the next episode this coming Monday, opting for a marathon of some other show. You know, the one with the ditzy pop star and her husband from that boy band. No, the other boy band. No, the other, OTHER boy band. So we’ll meet back in two weeks. In the meantime, have yourself a happy holiday. And if a friend gives you the complete Real World: Las Vegas collection, then that person was never your friend to begin with. I’m just saying.

Two hundred seventy-two days. That was the duration between my recap of Emily wielding her axe to eliminated Veronica from Battle Of The Sexes to me basically forgiving her. I thought she did Rachel and Veronica dirty, then screwed the other women by leaving the game when her boyfriend was voted off. Amazing what a difference almost nine months makes.

I know that reality television is subject to the whims of the producers . . . and if you haven't noticed that Bunim-Murray Productions are a shysty bunch, you have not been paying attention. And a lot of a viewer's opinion (if that person has one) depends on belief. In that vein: I don't that Sarah and Theo were that deep into each other, in any sense. I realize that Sarah had a boyfriend back home, and it may be considered shady for her to snuggle up to somebody, even if it's the charismatic weirdo swamp rat. But I doubt it got past second base. That is what I choose to believe. I know Theo got around a LOT in his many BMP tours of duty, but I doubt he and Sarah went all the way.

And they I turn to Rachel and Veronica. At the end of this episode, I was livid. Basically, they talked shit about the one person I liked the most on the show, and then they got Abram into a threesome, and they all but forced to cameramen to film it at gunpoint. To me, this was a gigantic "fuck you" to Sarah, and maybe to me as well. I know, I shouldn't take that personally. I take lots of stuff personally. It's a flaw.

Cut to Inferno II in 2005. I'm watching the preview special on MTV, and it got around to Sarah & Theo. And then I had to contend with Rachel and Veronica sharing the camera, both with shit-eating grins on their faces,  talking epic amounts of smack about those two. And by "those two," I mean Sarah. Even if they did go "all the way," at least they tried to be discrete about it. Meanwhile, these two bitches did it with Abram. First of all, who knows what kind of weird Bozeman-born diseases he had. Doing that in a tub doesn't reduce the likelihood of an STD. Secondly, this is a guy who willingly scarred himself, AND he got kicked off Road Rules: South Pacific for beating up Donell. At that point, I probably didn't regard the guy as a Section 8, but as a Section 64 (eight squared). And Inferno II didn't help me much, with those two heinous bitches and Tina teaming up to make Tonya's life miserable. You know something? I heard that Tonya was partying the night before the finale. I know she could barely be stable, but had the "Mean Girls" had bothered to treat Tonya like a human being, the Bad Asses would have won. I firmly believe this. Also, there was Veronica's triumph over Jodi in the Inferno. That was not fun for me.

Once again: I know Rachel and Veronica are human beings. I know that anybody can improve over time. Fuck, that's basically been CT's theme in the past several years. Last week, I found out that Rachel had a life partner, and she was pregnant with twins. I wish her well. And I hope Veronica has had a good life, and I hope that she doesn't revert to being a wicked hosebeast next season. But if somebody brings up either or both of those two, their actions in The Gauntlet come back to me, and I don't think I can ever let that go.

I'll end on  a positive note: I still believe a RW: Las Vegas DVD set is a shitty present to give anybody. Okay, Brynn was bearable, and I grew to like Arissa, but man, those people sucked. They deserved the horror that was "Awesome Anne."

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