Friday, December 30, 2005

Gauntlet 2, Episode 4: Earmuffed

I hope everybody is having a happy holiday. We got a top-notch episode this week, with a booting even more satisfying to watch than Adam L’s ouster two weeks ago. And 2006 will kick off with an episode so hyped, MTV has at least two commercials airing to promote it. And unlike Mark Long, I don’t feel the need to get out.

Previously on Gauntlet 2: Derrick shocked Adam in the Gauntlet to take the reins of the Veteran’s team. “I don’t have to be a jerk to anybody anymore,” Derrick told us. “Actually, I can be a jerk to whoever the fuck I want now, because I’m all by myself.” Hey, if he didn’t act like a jackass then, we wouldn’t have the redemption arc now. The Rookies tried to win two straight missions in Team Builders, but the Veterans triumphed. Cut to Ruthie getting mobbed by her teammates. ‘Winning our first challenge as a team was awesome,” she interviewed. “It was because we can work together as a team. Victory is just so sweet.” Cameran managed to piss off TJ by forfeiting her Gauntlet match with Kina. TJ asked anybody who else wanted to give up. Cut to a shot of Derrick. I’m filing that under “Editors trying to convince me that Danny isn’t dead meat.”

Night. There’s Jodi palling around with Adam K. Cut to Danny talking to Robin: “She’s fucking insecure and she fucking seeks that shit in fucking guys. You know what I mean?” I don’t know, Danny. Could you dumb it down for me? Ibis interviews that Danny has a lot of animosity towards Jodi stemming from his boot from Road Rules: X-Treme. Apparently, he felt that she was a weaker competitor. Danny interviews that Jodi screwed him over, and he was made to look weak. Flashback to 2004, where Danny can’t choke down cow parts for a mission.

Random mingling shots. Alton spins the wheel. Jeremy tells Jodi that Danny rubs him the wrong way. Quite an endorsement from the second most annoying Rookie guy. Jodi tells him that Danny felt shafted, and she relates the story to him. Flashback to Derrick telling Danny that he is the weakest player. Jodi goes on, saying that Danny felt wronged, and got voted out for no reason. She interviews that he tried to vote her out, but everybody else voted for him, and he took it personally. “He can’t let things go,” she tells us. “You can’t have that on a team.” If Danny should be mad at anybody, it’s Bunim-Murray Productions. Eliminations work great for the Challenge, but it killed Road Rules. Besides, how many substitutes did anybody care about right away? The only ones that qualify are Tina (discount Coral, mouthy as heck), Angela (whiny, whiny, whiny) and Jillian (hooked up with Patrick way too fast). Did anybody really care about Katie before her feud with Veronica? Or Chris or Nick? I’m just saying.

Clue time! Mark reads about having to be “on top” of the game. Adam reads that they have to be ready to leave by 9:30 a.m. Alton thinks the mission will be “a high one.” Make your own Randy/Jamie joke here. Alton interviews that if his team doesn’t win, he will go to the Gauntlet. Adam mock-reads about the girls having to wear thongs and the guys wearing g-strings. Since we’re all about seeing how messed up Danny is, we’ll let Adam’s flight of whimsy slide. He interviews that he doesn’t want to get foot in the Gauntlet if he can. Once again, the editors try to mislead us. Then they trot out Ace smacking a ping pong ball away, prompting Mark to yell at him. “I’ve been kicked off two Challenges really early,” Ace interviews. “The boys are gonna kill me if I go home one more time early.”

New day. Shot of the locals fishing. Derrick interviews that he goes to the Gauntlet if his team loses, and he’ll try to get his team to win.

Mission site. TJ welcomes everybody to Canoe Bay in Trinidad & Tobago. I get annoyed every time TJ tacks on “Trinidad & Tobago.” I know these kids aren’t that swift, but I think they would know what country they’re in. Anyway, our mission today is Moving Pyramids. TJ points out sixteen bamboo flagpoles for each team. The teams must construct human pyramids; three players on the bottom, two in the middle, and one on top. The teams must crawl to the first flagpole, where the person on top collects a flag, and the team goes back to the start. The second flag collected is a little farther away, and so on. Adam expositions that if the pyramid falls apart, they must start at the spot of the crumbling. TJ adds that each person must be on top of the pyramid at least once. Sadly, we don’t get to see Syrus on top at all. TJ notes that there is an one hour time limit, and the team with the most flags in the end wins. In the event of a tie, each team sends out a pyramid to race each other. The winning team gets $10,000 for their bank account. Since this is a men’s Gauntlet day, the winning male captain gets...the same damn $1,000 gift card that Alton and Ruthie have won already. Translation: “Get an XBox 360 and some launch titles. We couldn’t get them as sponsors, but we want you to rock out on Call of Duty 2.” TJ ends things by telling the teams to take the mission seriously.

Skull sessions. Randy doesn’t think either team will get more than six flags. He interviews that the plan is to put the girls to start, and take the lead from there. On the other side, Derrick reminds his team that his butt is on the line, and he volunteers to go in the middle until he dies. Some redheaded production assistant tells us that they’ll run out of time before the guys get on top. Wait, that’s Montana. I forgot she was there. Ace interviews that his strategy is to not have anybody think of him when it’s time to vote.

TJ blows his airhorn to get things rolling. Both sides get stacked up and start to walk. Mark interviews that they’ll win and save one of their guys. MJ: “This is going to be hard. I don’t think the team realizes that we’re going to have to buck it up. There’s going to be some bloodshed here today. I guarantee it.” Cut to Katie tripping over and staggering around hurt.

Commercials. Let me get this straight...some guy from freakin’ O-Town has his own show on MTV? It’s official...anybody can get their own reality show these days. Honestly, wouldn’t people consider Da Band to be ancient history in the whole Making the Band mythos? Who remembers O-Town, aside from the time one of thier incarnations beat the cast of RR: Maximum Velocity Tour in a regatta race? Wait...don’t answer that.

Both sides struggle. Time remaining: 56 minutes, 30 seconds. The Rookies take a 4-3 lead. Randy interviews that they’re getting the flags faster than planned, so they’ll have to carry the guys farther out. The score gets tied, 5-5.

Time remaining: 49:19. Jodi and Danny are in the middle with Adam on top. Jodi tells Danny to move his knee, and she has to yell that to him because he doesn’t listen otherwise. Danny: “This bitch is turning around, telling me this stupid shit to do.” He whines about the others are following Jodi because she’s screaming. The Rookies yell for the pyramid to lower their bodies. Alton yells for Jodi and Danny to get into a “frog position.” Landon interviews that Danny’s knee is going up and down his spine. The Rookie pyramid moves slowly.

Time remaining: 32:00. Derrick crawls on the ground, interviewing that he’s willing to put 200-plus pounds on his back to get another flag, or he’s Gauntlet-bound. He grunts and struggles as the pyramid collapses at the finish line. “Derrick is absolutely incredible,” Ace interviews. “He gives it his all every single time, every single challenge. He’s probably the strongest player on the team, hands down.”

Ruthie grabs a flag, putting the Veterans up, 10-9. As the Veterans crawl back, the Rookies go the other way. MJ, Alton and Randy strain on the bottom. Alton interviews that his hips hurt and knees are sliding into his back, and it’s hard for everybody and not just for him. The pyramid collapses, and MJ beats the ground in frustration.

Jamie (with his weird samurai hair knot) grabs a flag, putting the score at 10-10. Danny is in this pyramid, getting instructions shouted at him from inside and outside the pyramid. Jodi yells for him to get down. Danny yells that he gets more support his way. “Danny can’t handle constructive criticism at all,” Jodi interviews, “and if you tell him to do something, like even in a nice way, he won’t change what he’s doing. That doesn’t work in a team situation. You cannot not listen to what people have to say. You have to be able to compromise and make a change.” The Rookie pyramid finishes and collapses. Danny tells Jodi to stop screaming his name, since he knows what he’s doing. “If Jodi thinks she’s helping me out,” he interviews, “she’s just annoying me even more. I’m getting angrier and angrier and angrier, and I’m so angry right now, that I’m honestly could just flip my fucking lid.”

Time remaining: 14:00. The Veteran pyramid collapses trying to get a flag. Katie sprawls herself out. The Rookies struggle some more. Mark grabs a flag to put the Veterans up 15-14, but MJ ties things up. The Veterans cross the line at 4:13, while the Rookie pyramid finishes up. Brad interviews that the Rookies are not sending out a sextet to go for the final flag. “In these games,” he adds, perhaps ruefully remembering the screwjob he got in Battle of the Sexes 2, “you always need to fight to the end, because you never know what’s going to happen.” David pick up the flag on top of the pyramid. MJ tells us that he doesn’t think that the Veterans will make it back before time expires, so the Rookies need to save energy for a possible playoff. I don’t see any problem with that. Unless they kick the Veterans in the face, there’s no way they could catch up.

The Veterans charge to the finish line with 2:30 left on the clock. I wouldn’t be surprised if BMP fudged the time. David is on top, Robin and Julie are in the middle, with Syrus, Ace and Derrick on the bottom. Jeremy can’t believe the tired and sweaty Veterans are making it back. The pyramid collapses with thirty seconds to go, but they get back up. “They’re like hungry pitbulls coming in to the finish line,” Timmy interviews. “This is incredible.” The Veterans on the sideline chant Ace’s name Aneesa interviews that he is a key player with a lot of heart. Time: eighteen seconds. Ace looks ready to keel over in the middle. “This has got to be one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in my life,” he interviews. “It really feels good that the whole team is cheering for me right now, because I am about to die.”

The Veterans finish with four seconds to spare, and we get the subsequent celebration, with Mark taping a half-dead Ace’s belly and dubbing him their MVP. “We deserved to lose!” Ibis gripes in an interview. “I’m sorry, but you sit back and say, ‘Let’s wait for them to fail,’ with that attitude, you deserve to lose.”

TJ congratulates the Veterans for their win. Derrick gets carried by his teammates to get the $10,000 check and gift card. Veterans are now in the lead, $20,000-10,000. Derrick interviews that he’s happy with the win and that it “looks good on my resume.” He’s done three Challenges and will be in a fourth. I didn’t even know he had a resume. TJ gives the Rookies thirty minutes to determine who gets spanked by Alton in the Gauntlet. Background music segues us to the next scene: “You had your chance/There’s no reason to cry about it now/You better know that this is all your fault/I hope that you know that this is all your fault.” Catchy!

Cara and Jodi chat quietly, only to get interrupted as Danny yells for Jodi to say what she has to say out loud. The girls try to talk to Danny, but he bitches about how Jodi has been doubting him. Jodi tries to explain that an argument needs both sides. He continues to bitch about her doubting him as far back as the first day, and how she’ll mess up the team. He punctuates this with, “Kiss my fucking ass, bitch!” He even smacks his own butt to emphasize the point. Jodi: “Go into the fucking Gauntlet and lose. I don’t care.” She interviews that she has no idea where his anger comes from, and he is screwing himself. Probably because nobody else will. Cara waves and smirks, “See you later, Danny. Good knowing you, Danny!” I love the gang snark, especially when the mark totally deserves it. Cara interviews that she laughed because she can’t believe what’s going on. “Everybody just can’t believe,” she adds, “that adults behave this wave.” This comes from the girl who shared an RV with the likes of Abram and Donell. Danny stalks past some girls, huffing “slut!” at either Cara or Jodi. He’s just so pleasant, isn’t he? “Go suck another dick!” he adds.

Rookies’ Gauntlet Deliberation. Apparently, the captain will always decide who goes into the Gauntlet. He brings up how Danny has been mentioned and Danny’s feud with Jodi. Bottom line: Danny’s going into the Gauntlet. Of course, Danny ain’t happy. He doesn’t think the arguments should be brought up, since it has nothing to do with gameplay. He accuses Jodi of screwing up the team in the mission. Randy interviews that he can’t believe Danny is lashing out, and that Danny is confirming every suspicion about him. Susie: “Why would anyone want you to be our leader?” Overjoyed that he has yet another person stabbing his back, he lashes out at Susie for not being on his side. Susie: “Danny, you’re behaving like a child! Grow up!” Says the woman in the pigtails whose future meltdown has been previewed in commercials. Danny yells at her for getting him pissed off. Alton: “You’re a weak player. I’m sorry.” Danny snaps that this is just feeding his anger.

Here comes TJ to get the name of Alton’s opponent and to spin the wheel. I get a little edgy at this point, since there might be something Danny could kick Alton’s butt in. Happily, the wheel goes past “Be a Little Bitch” and lands on Beach Brawl. This brings out a huge smile on my face, with visions of Danny’s legs sticking out of the sand dancing in my head. Danny mutters that he’s ready to go, and he stalks off. Adam hugs Alton (what would Ace think?) and the team does a group cheer. Do you have anything to say, Mr. Dias? “If they chose me because of some stupid arguement between me and some slut, let them fuckin’ do their shit, because you know what? I’m gonna turn it around and beat his fuckin’ ass at Beach Brawl. I wanna fuckin’ see him in that shit right now.” So precious!

Gauntlet! TJ welcomes the assembled crowd, then congratulates the Veterans for their win. He calls down Alton and Jeremy, the latter of whom gets cheered by the Veterans. Syrus: “Danny, if you take out Alton, my team is winning this whole damn Challenge.” And that’s why Syrus doesn’t get annoying after four Challenges.

TJ explains Beach Brawl. Basically, the players challenge each other in a circle drawn in the sand. The objective: take the opponent out of the circle. Oh, and the players will be covered in oil, so they get slicker and harder to grab. Also, the homoerotic content gets bumped up, but that’s more of a side effect. First player to win three matches gets to stay in the game.

Alton and Danny get greased up, and the ladies in the audience (as well as a few of the fellas) faint at the sight of an oiled-up Alton. Danny thinks that if he’s greasy enough, Alton can’t hold him. “Danny is pissed off,” Julie interviews with buggy eyes and teeth. “He is fired up and he is ready to go CRAZY!”

The players get ready to grapple. Landon interviews that his team needs Alton to stay, and the worst thing would be to keep their weakest player. TJ rings the bell. Danny lunges for Alton, but Alton manages to lightly tapped him on the back, using the momentum to send him flying out of the circle. And yes, it’s as hysterical as I type this as when I first saw it. Alton leads, 1-0. Julie recaps for us, laughing that Danny lasted at least 2.5 nanoseconds. Great...I’m laughing with Julie. Danny really does suck.

The players gear up. Danny interviews that he’s starting to get worried, and he needs the refocus in order to win. TJ rings the bell. Both players circle each other, as the teams look on. Finally, Alton shoves Danny out of the circle, going up 2-0. “This is your chance,” Alton interviews. “Really try. I’m not gonna sit and embarrass you. Like, just try.” He’s a bigger man than me. If I had my way, Danny would be hanging onto one of the Gauntlet’s masts by his underwear.

Round Three. Both players circle. Jeremy shouts for Alton. I start hoping that Alton sends him home in two weeks. Danny lowers himself, prompting Timmy to yuk about going into a crab position. Danny lunges...but Alton pulls him out of the circle. Game Over, Alton wins 3-0, and we’re out one snot. Perfect way to end 2005. “It was just such a pathetic loss,” Jodi interviews. “You know what I don’t like? I don’t like when people talk a bunch of shit and they don’t have anything to back it up with.” I am so amped by this Gauntlet, I choose to ignore how Veronica beat Jodi down in the Inferno. Danny whips his helmet off like the punk that he is. Alton gets high-fives from his mates. Susie interviews that Alton staying keeps team morale high, and that he’s a great communicator.

Denouement. TJ calls Alton an “animal” and congratulates him. He then gives Danny 20 minutes to clear out and fade into obscurity. Jillian feels miserable about losing two missions in a row, but she thinks the team is better off without a loose cannon.

Mansion. Ace sits on the deck, happy that this is the longest he’s been on a Challenge. “It just feels so good right now to actually be winning,” he interviews. “We’re all screaming. We have unity. It’s just a great feeling.” I keep thinking that the pattern for him is being the xth man out of an xth Challenge, as opposed to including men and women. In other words...unless Mark bolts from the show next week and ruins the pattern, I wouldn’t be shocked if Ace has to face Derrick in the Gauntlet in two weeks.

On a lighter note, Danny goes to the pool area and apologizes to Susie. He adds that he was mad at the people who were laughing at him. He then turns on Cara, accusing her on laughing at him. When she tries to weasel, he notes that her laugh is distinctive. “It’s comedy, basically,” Cara interviews. “Everybody’s basically just holding in their laughter until he leaves.” She tells him that they got along, and asks why he’s pissed at her. “I wasn’t laughing at you,” she claims. “Okay, maybe I was a little bit.” Cut to Landon chuckling, then covering his mouth. Sweet edit. Danny: “Whatever. You’re a fucking bitch.” Compared to what Tina would’ve given out, you got lucky. “Danny’s very classy,” Jodi interviews. “And he definitely likes to go out in style. Like, could you just leave already and just stop trying to create junk?”

Outside, Ibis tells Danny that they love him. Danny interviews that the Rookies lost a good competitor. “They’re probably fail every single challenge from now on,” he adds. “Unfortunately, that’s going to lead you to your loss.” Just for that, I hope the Rookies go on a winning streak. After hugging Ibis and Jillian, he gets in the Taxi of Shame. If he hates people laughing at him, he’d better not leave home for the next few months. What a total asshole. Cut to Landon looking on from poolside. “That was Danny,” he says out loud. “That was Danny going.” He dives in the pool. Fade to credits. Perfect!

Next week: We have a mission where people squeeze stuff between each other. I have no clue, but Jeremy calls it a “ridiculously sexual challenge.” But who cares? Jodi’s crying! Robin is interrogating Mark on the bus! MARK NEEDS TO GET OUT!!! And take Beth with ya!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Gauntlet 2, Episode 3: Succumb All Ye Faithful

Previously on Gauntlet 2: Thirty-two former cast members from The Real World and Road Rules came to Trinidad & Tobago for fortune, drama and sex. The Royal Rumble event determined who the captains were, but there was a twist. Win, and you get a nifty sponsor gift. Lose, and your butt goes into the Gauntlet, no questions asked. According to the voiceover, Jo couldn’t handle the pressure, and she abruptly left the game. That was probably one-third of it, with the remaining two-thirds being, “Why do these sodding wankers have to slap and tickle on MY bed?!?” Anyway, Kina was selected to fill Jo’s shoes as the female captain of the Rookies. The Veterans got defeated in their first mission, and a belligerent Derrick got sent to face Adam L. in the Gauntlet. Happily, Derrick defeated the ADD-afflicted tool, assumed the captain’s position, and announced to us that he had a license not to care what his team thought.

Nighttime. Alton and David have themselves a boxing match. It’s funny...I once thought it would make great television if they tried to beat each other up without using their hands. David is wearing tight black briefs...and there goes half the audience, fainting at the sight. Alton gets decked, but it’s all in good fun. Aneesa interviews that the guys are fighting and sliding on the slippery decks for no apparent reason. Ruthie gets the boxing gloves, saying out loud that she’s been drinking. RUN! Oops...darn reflexes. Kina dons the gloves, as Derrick interviews that both captains are awesome and strong. Mark tells the ladies to go at half-speed, but they start smacking each other hard. Ruthie gets a few jabs in the back of Kina’s head, sending her sprawling near the pool. Mark: “I SAID HALF-SPEED!” Kina gets up, and they start swinging, to the point where not even Alton can break them up. Ruthie interviews that she’s just letting out aggression, and she wants to have fun. Ruthie and Kina hug.

Phone clue! Syrus reads off the text message, loudly announcing the sponsored phone’s name. Now that’s a veteran for you. Cara reads off her phone: “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’.” They Wear team colors and tennis shows, and be ready to go at 9 a.m. Syrus looks over enthusiastic, chest-bumping everybody in sight. He interviews that his team is down by one mission, and they’ll do anything possible to win.

We cut over to Randy & Kina. She’s concerned about staying in the game and what she has to do. He thinks no girl can physically beat her, and she’d win if she breaks them down mentally as well. He tells us that they’ve been dating for five month, and they love each other. “If I ended up leaving this island,” Kina interviews, “and Randy was here to win the game by himself without me, I would be a very sad girl.”

Daytime. Shot of Jamie standing on the edge of the pool, in deep thought. Or maybe he’s recovering after sampling the local stuff. I think the whole “players in the pool” thing might be a running theme.

Mission site. We see two large balls. TJ welcomes the players to the Mt. Irvine Golf Club for today’s mission: Team Builders. This mission is broken down into three parts: Team Bridge, Up & Over, and Carry the Load. TJ warns the competitors that the teams need strategy and communication. He’ll blow his horn, and the players will race downhill to their first task. Syrus expositions that the teams can’t move on to the next station until they completed the first task. TJ adds that the winning team gets $10,000 for their bank account, and the female captain gets the same $1,000 electronic store gift card Alton won last week. The captain on the losing team will go into the Gauntlet TJ adds that he wouldn’t want to face Ruthie or Kina in the Gauntlet.

Strategy sessions. Timmy is still uncertain about how Derrick will do as captain, adding that he has “a lot of psycho popcorn kernels poppin’ in his head.” Derrick interviews that his team is already down, and his teammates don’t know what to expect from him, but he’s ready to bust ass.

TJ blows his airhorn to start the mission. Both teams head run down the hill to the first station: Team Bridge. Each team has a pile of rope, tires and boards. All materials must be used to get to the second station. If any body part or board touches the ground, the team must start over. Randy suggests putting the tires out and using the boards to make bridges. Jodi interviews that her team will walk forward on the board, and whoever is in the back passes the tire to the front. TJ reminds both teams about touching the ground and starting over. As the Rookies continue, Ruthie tells us that the Veterans will just copy the Rookies’ idea. Cameran interviews that the team is moving slowly, but the plan is working. The Veterans push on, but they get a whistle blown on them. Turns out Timmy’s foot hit the ground. As the Veterans rush back, David tells us that they got done in by “the always dexterious Mr. Timmy.” That’s cute for some reason. Derrick barks for everybody to get back. Aneesa interviews that the Rookies are already ahead. “We’re fucked,” she adds. Derrick yells some more as we head for commercials.

Rookies still chugging. Randy interviews that they have a lot of people to move along on the planks. Ace comes up with a plan for the Veterans: put feet inside the tires and walk to the next station. It’s unconventional, but the team makes it work. On the other side, Alton’s foot can’t adjust, and it hits the ground. He bitches to the whistling referee before heading back, doing a cartwheel along the way. “Holy shit!” Ibis gripes in an interview. “Are you kidding? We’re almost there!” Alton adds that they have to figure out that they have to do as the Veterans do.

Both teams walk in the tires. Guys walk with girls strapped to their backs. Kina goes lovingly limp on Randy. Derrick walks, his feet in two tires, carrying three more tires and rope in his arms. Syrus is impressed that the “littlest fucking guy” is carrying tires five times bigger than him. Ruthie tells us that Derrick is pulling his weight, and the team respects him as captain. For now, anyway. More walking. Derrick carries a board across his shoulders. Timmy makes a face while carrying Aneesa. The Veterans reach the end of the stage, and they move on. TJ tells the Rookies that this is just the beginning of the competition.

The Veterans reach the second stage: Up and Over. Julie expositions that the players must jump over an elevated rope using a board, without touching the rope. Elsewhere, Alton stalls out with Danny on his back. The Veterans get Ruthie over the rope. Danny tries to encourage Alton, but the big guy stumbles and almost falls. Quickly, Landon launches a rescue effort, as he wraps the rope around a pair of tires and walks to Alton. Landon squats down, Alton puts his head down, and we have a weird homoerotic moment as Danny jumps on Landon’s back. The Rookies applaud the heroic effort. Meanwhile, Ace tries to finish the task, but his foot hits the rope, forcing the Veterans to start over. Alton grimaces as he gets to the end, as TJ yells that the Rookies are even with the Veterans.

Veterans start over. Rookies get started. Cara interviews that it’s anybody’s game now. Players on both sides get help from their teammates. Mark interviews on how bad it sucks to get caught up. The Veterans complete the second station, and they move on to the climax. Meanwhile, MJ tries to jump over the rope, but he nudges it. Rookies start over, and MJ yells “dammit!”

The Veterans read the final clue for Carry the Load; they have to get the ball to the finish line, but without using their hands. Sounds challenging, but the “ball” is a glorified balloon. All the Veterans have to do is tuck in their hands in and move it. Meanwhile, MJ jumps off Alton’s back and over the rope. Veterans still moving. Alton gets off a great vertical leap to finsih the stage for the Rookies. Both sides push their balls, and the Veterans get their first win, triggering a huge celebration. Ruthie interviews that they had problems in the beginning, but they came together. Meanwhile, the Rookies press on, as Alton tells us that they won’t quit now. “The mission is Team Builders,” he interviews, “and if we don’t finish the mission as a team, did we ever build a team?” The ladies of the Veterans sing-song about not going to the Gauntlet, while Kina grimly looks on. She interviews that somebody is going home, and it won’t be her. She adds, “You got to figure you box Ruthie, you can take on some of the girls from my team.”

TJ awards the $10,000 check to Ruthie for the Veterans’ bank account, in addition to the $1,000 gift card. The girls celebrate by gang-hugging Ruthie. This gives me happy Battle of the Sexes flashbacks. “We can work together as a team,” she interviews. “Victory is just so sweet.” TJ moves on to the bad news, as he gives the Rookies thirty minutes to pick somebody to face Kina in the Gauntlet.

Mansion. Rookies file into the room. Cameran interviews that the dynamic of the game will change now that they have to vote each other out. “People’s true sides are going to flare,” she adds, “and it’s gonna get a bit dirty.” Everybody stares at each other, as we go to commercials.

Coming back, Kina announces that she has chosen Cameran. The weird part? Cameran has decided to go home. Cameran explains that she would rather have Kina lead the team than herself. Danny sits next to Cameran, giving her a severe stink-eye. “What?” Jeremy bitches in an interview. “You’re here to compete for cold hard cash, and you don’t have this competitive drive to stay? I don’t understand this.” Once again, he makes sense, but I listen to that voice and look at his face...and I just want him to shut up. Adam and Susie look confused.

TJ moseys in to find out that Cameran will be facing Kina in the Gauntlet...or so he thinks. He goes to the wheel, asking for an easy or hard whirl. “Just spin the shit,” Kina replies, a bit testy in her response. The wheel lands on Capture the Flag. TJ will fill the fillies in on the rules later, and he wishes them luck. Susie interviews that she hopes Cameran changes her mind because she wants her to stay.

Gauntlet. Both sides file in. TJ welcomes everybody back, then congratulates the Veterans for their win. After the applause dies down, TJ calls down Kina and Cameran to play Capture the Flag. Both players will try and grab a flag on top of the hanging net. The players will be positioned on either side of the net, and they must race up to get it. Winner stays in the game, loser packs her bags and spilts. TJ tells Kina and Cameran to take this seriously and not to let him down. Cameran laughs, telling him that she’s about to do that, as she will be “succumbing” to Kina. TJ: “Nah, nah, you can’t do that. This is the Gauntlet. It don’t go like that. Get it laced up. Let’s go.” You know, we will have seen TJ for only four episodes in 2005, but I think this clinches Worst Host honors for him. The Veterans cheer, as if the BMX biker’s words will move Cameran to fight. She tells everybody that she is going to “succumb to the gods of the Gauntlet.” TJ snipes that somebody has to get the flag. Kina volunteers to do that. A visibly cheesed-off TJ asks if anybody else wants to quit, blathering that he’s feeling let down. I miss Jonny Moseley and Dave Mirra. Derrick bitches in his interviews about why Cameran came when she doesn’t want to compete.

Beth: “That means that she quits, right?” Yes, Beth...just like you did last season. The Veteran girls start wishing that Cameran was on their team, with Aneesa saying that she loves Cameran. “You don’t love her,” Cara says. “You don’t know her.” The following exchange saves this episode from being a complete and total dud:

Aneesa: “You can still care about somebody. I wish you would get in the fuckin’ Gauntlet with me, bitch! You wouldn’t fuckin’ leave it! How ‘bout it, bitch?!” [Syrus puckers lips behind her]

Cara: “You are so gross.”

Aneesa: [mocking Cara, as Timmy mocks her from behind] “‘You are so gross because I lost twenty pounds and I’m hot now, so I feel like I can act any way I fucking want!’ Suck my [bleep], bitch!” [Dear Lord, I hope she didn’t say “dick.” There’s only enough I can take from these people. Cara smiles in spite of herself]

Cara: [interview] “I don’t really understand Aneesa and her personality, [shot of Aneesa shouting again, while Timmy gets back to copycatting] and the way she screams things. And how she dresses? Not intimidated by her. She’s crazy.”

Aneesa: “I don’t need a Gauntlet, bitch! I will cut you with words!”

Aneesa: [interview] Now, bitch, you don’t know me. You don’t know who I know. You don’t know what the fuck I’mma do to you if I didn’t care about being here.”

Wow. One thing I know for certain...if you’re a cast member from RW: Chicago, you lose your mind on the third Challenge. Look at Tonya...she seemed so normal in Battle of the Sexes and Gauntlet, and now she’s messed up. Maybe that’s why Theo Gantt won’t come back, because he values his sanity. Seriously...”I will cut you with words!” Where did that come from?

Anyway...Kina shouts “Fuck them!” to Cara, and she claps in approval, as does Cameran. Kina interviews that she will get the flag to win, adding, “Fuck the Veterans.”

TJ rings the bell, and Kina goes up the net to get the flag. MJ interviews that Kina is one of the strongest female competitors on the team, and she’ll be a great captain. Kina grabs the flag to win, and gets a hug from Cameran.

TJ congratulates Kina for the win, reminding her that she will remain team captain. Cameran gets 20 minutes to pack up and leave. I thought the usual period was a half-hour. I think TJ is that peeved at Cameran. Randy interviews that the team is psyched with Kina staying on.

Sunset. Cameran jokes to her teammates about changing her mind and staying on. Cara brings up getting into a fight over her. “These people have ten times more of a competitive spirit than me,” Cameran interviews. “Of course, I would much rather them be here all the way to the end than me.” She wishes Kina luck. MJ makes a sour face, interviewing that Cameran doesn’t portray team spirit, and he’s pissed that she threw away a chance to win money. Dude, lighten up. Your team lost a weak link and you get a slightly larger share of the bank account. Cameran gets into the departing car, telling the Rookies to “fight the good fight.” MJ: “I would never go out like that.” Cameran rides off.

Later. Kina tells Randy that they need the team to view them as teammates, rather than as a couple. Randy asks if the other girls are pissed with him watching her back. Kina thinks so, adding that they’re subject to scrutiny. Landon: “I know that Randy’s going to be fighting for Kina to stay, just so they can be together. I see that as being a conflict of interest. This is a problem.” Yeah, it is a problem...if you’re a hater who can’t get beyond hooking up with a woman. Sorry for the cynicism. It’s just that if “Big Rand” is happy, then I’m happy. So I’m happy with Kina remaining in the game.

Randy tells Kina to do whatever she feels like doing, and he’ll her if her butt’s on the line. “Randy is my rock,” Kina interviews. “He really is my best friend. He keeps me sane. If he jumps, I jump. I love Randy, and there’s no way that I couldn’t show that.” She asks Randy if he can imagine her doing this without her. He thinks that it would be so much worse. Kina figures it would be unbearable. They look at each other silently before he kisses her lips. He interviews that she has more fight in her than any girl he’s met. That’s remarkable, since he and Robin used to be lovey-dovey with each other, and that girl got arrested once. He continues, “This Challenge is literally going do strengthen our relationship or break it.” Kina hugs him and sighs deeply.

Next time: The teams crawl around in pyramid positions. Judging from Ace on the ground, it ain’t easy. He interviews that he doesn’t want the others to think of him while voting. Alton feels that he’s Gauntlet-bound. Jodi tells us that Danny can’t handle criticism, and he invites Jodi to kiss his ass. I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping for Alton to humiliate Danny the way he did Laterrian two years ago. Happy Holidays, everybody!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Gauntlet 2, Episode 2: Delayed Karma

What a week we’ve had. Stephenie managed to burn down all her bridges and lose 6-1 to Danni. The Weavers broke down, finished third, and even lost the Internet-exclusive task to the Bransens. And while I swore off Donald Trump’s version of The Apprentice (though I do keep up via Reality Remix, which does have a use after all), I was stunned to hear than Randal wouldn’t bring Rachel into the fold. I checked the forums, and I can’t remember the last time that many people jumped off a bandwagon at the same time. So much for Randal being as cool a guy as Bill, Kwame or Troy. Oh, and there was what happened on Monday night, where I found out that karma didn’t have a statute of limitations. Read on!

Previously on Gauntlet 2: thirty-two former cast members from The Real World and Road Rules arrived in Trinidad & Tobago for fame and fortune. And sex. The players were separated into Veterans and Rookies. In the Royal Rumble mission, Alton and Jo became captains for the Rookies, while Adam L. and Ruthie claimed the top spots for the Veterans. The next day, the captains found out that they would get individual prizes if their respective teams won...but a loss would put them into the Gauntlet. The gang threw a wild party, but Jo flipped out big time.

We pick up Jo mid-freakout, with what appears to be Alton trying to pry her off of Ruthie. Continuing from last week, Ruthie wants to know what made Jo snap. Jo calls the police, telling them that she’s been manhandled and attacked, and that she has marks on her wrists. While this goes on, Julie tells us, “She’s crazy!” Yeah, Jo is insane for peeing on another person’s bed for petty reasons. Oh, wait...that was YOU. Shut up, Julie.

Jo is still snapping, going so far as to sue the island. Is she reading The Reality Star’s Guide To International Diplomacy by Colin Guinn? Anyway, she’s going to wait to get escorted out. Derrick interviews that he didn’t know what happened. “Did I do something?” he asks. “I know I didn’t do nothin’. I was sleeping.” He asks Jo what’s wrong, but Jo mumbles a response.”I don’t know what’s wrong with her,” Ruthie interviews, “but at the same time, it’s she drunk or is she just crazy?” A police car arrives, and Jo leaves the house. Ruthie: “Bottom line? She’s just crazy.” Jo leaves the premises with the police.

Ruthie delivers the news to the others, and they cheer. “The crazy bitch is gone!” she exclaims. But...but Julie’s still here! Cut to a gauzy flashback of Jo yelling and pointing at the camera. Alton interviews that it sucks for the Rookies to lose a captain, and he doesn’t think anybody will step up.

Before I continue, I have to ask: is it wrong of me to still think that Jo may not have been that crazy? It’s just sad that I still can’t completely trust Bunim-Murray Productions or at least half of the cast without question. Part of me hopes that there’s something bigger than anything a cast member would say in public. I just have this image of the police swinging by to arrest cast members. And if it’s during a mission? Even better.

New day. The players gather at the mission site, as we see two piles of coconuts, some of which are marked with skulls and crossbones. TJ welcomes them to Back Bay and today’s mission: Chock Full O’ Coconuts. He brings up Jo’s departure, then assigns Kina to replace her, since she was the last girl on the platform before Jo won. Kina interviews that she is excited, but she’s a little nervous because she’s more likely to go home.

Back to the preliminaries: TJ points out that each team has 200 coconuts and two large bamboo sticks. The objective: transfer the coconuts to a “deposit circle” using the sticks. If the coconuts are dropped or if they fall out of the circle, one person must put them in their proper place, while another carries the sticks back. The captain of the winning team gets $10,000 for the team, and a $1,000 gift card to a major electronics chain. I go there all the time just to mess around with video game demos. Yes, I have a problem. The captain of the losing team gets a date in the Gauntlet. Today will be a “Male Gauntlet Day,” so Adam L. and Alton are on the hot seat. Adam interviews that he’s accepted responsibility for his position. “I know that if we lose,” he adds, “Adam goes to the Gauntlet.” Speaking in the third person? That’s new. Alton interviews that he feels he’s the most likely to go into the Gauntlet, but that makes him want to win every mission. TJ gives both sides ten minutes to break into pairs.

Strategy sessions. Adam L. tries to figure out who gets partnered up and how to carry the coconuts. Brad foreshadows that the plan is to send the guys out first to get a feel for things before bringing in the girls. Over on the Rookie side, Jodi interviews that they’ll be in boy/girl pairs, so that the guys can carry the sticks back, while the gals collect loose coconuts.

TJ blows the airhorn to get the mission started. Both sides load up their sticks with coconuts. Brad and David start out for the Veterans, followed by Ibis and Alton. Both pairs carefully walk to the deposit circle. Two coconuts fall from the Rookies’ sticks, prompting Alton to tell Ibis to squeeze the sticks together. The Veteran pair drops off their coconuts, taking a 15-0 lead. The Rookies cut it down to 15-5, as Alton carries the sticks back and Ibis grabs the stray coconuts.

Both sides load up again. Mark & Syrus and Jodi & MJ set off. The Rookies lose a lot of coconuts on their way, as MJ spilts the sticks apart. He interviews that it’s his first mission and he’s already lost six coconuts, and that he’s not proving himself to be strong right now. The Rookies narrow the gap to 15-9, but the Veterans widen their lead to 28-9. Adam L. feels that the Veterans have a good technique. “We got them loaded way up,” he interviews, “so if we drop any, we got a problem.”

Montage! Landon & Jillian drop their haul in the deposit circle, followed by Adam L. & Timmy, Jeremy & Jamie, and Ace & Derrick. The Veterans are up, 38-29. Next up: Kina & Adam K., Aneesa & Jisela, and Jodi & MJ. Veterans still up, 85-80. Adam L. interviews that the mission is looking good, but the girls are going a lot slower than the guys. Sure enough, Katie and Ruthie slowpoke it, while Susie and Danny trot faster. Adam: “Speed is definitely going to be of the utmost importance.” Suddenly, we see that the Rookies are up 111-92. Ruthie drags her sticks, as her teammates scream for Katie to grab one. I think the sticks are bigger than Ruthie’s tiny body. She’s strong, but she needs help.

More running from Cara & Randy and Beth & Julie. Randy runs back with the poles, but ends up in the sand. Rookies are up, 134-100. Ibis interviews about not knowing if her team is ahead or behind, but they’re learning from each other. More running from Jeremy & Jamie, Montana & Robin, and Brad & David. Cara thinks they’re even, but she feels that the Veterans are putting more coconuts on their sticks. As we see Adam L. & Timmy motor, the Rookies’ lead goes from 171-153 and 184-183. Both sides load up. Adam K. expositions that both teams have one trip left. The pairs to decide who wins: Beth & Julie and Jodi & MJ. Nice...when you want to seal a victory, you definitely need the biggest liability andthe most insane person to bring you glory. Way to go, Veterans! Anyway, the Vets do an “OLD SCHOOL!” cheer, while the Rookies pull for Jodi & MJ.

Back from commercials, Jodi tells us that the first team to make it back with both sticks wins. Both pairs carry their loads. Ibis wraps her arms around Cameran as they both jump up and down like madwomen. Both sides drop their coconuts, evening the score at 200-200. We go slo-mo as MJ and Julie run with the sticks. Running...running....and MJ arrives first to win the mission and trigger a huge celebration. Julie staggers back as the Rookies keep whooping it up. Jodi interviews that it was down to her and MJ to win, and they pulled through. Doesn’t erase the shame of Veronica beating her in the Inferno, but it’s a start.

Over by the beach, Julie kicks the water in frustration and curses loudly. “What the fuck did we do wrong?!?” she cries out. Adam K. interviews that he’s lost the mission, the team prize money and the captain’s prize, and now his team will lose a player. Funny thing...Julie greasing the skids for Adam completes a circle. Way back in Battle of the Sexes, Julie got pulled from the first mission because she was partnered with Ellen, who had not lifted her legs high enough to stay in. As a result, Julie could only stand by as she saw Melissa & Amaya win the mission, get into the Inner Circle, and help vote Julie out. Why do I rehash all this? Because Ellen was from RR: The Quest, same as Adam. At this point, I thought how funny it would be if Julie got Adam booted from this Challenge.

Denouement. TJ awards the $10,000 check to the Rookies, and gives Alton his $1,000 gift card. Of course, Alton’s a happy camper about not going to the Gauntlet, even though he could take out at least half of his male teammates. TJ gives the Veterans thirty minutes to decide who faces Adam L. in the Gauntlet. Adam interviews that he doesn’t want to face certain team members because they’re too valuable. “To take them out of the game,” he continues, “or to take myself out would be sad.”

Scenic shots lead to the mansion and the Veterans’ Deliberation Meeting. Timmy reminds us that the team lost, so they have to figure out who faces Adam in the Gauntlet. Ace plays around with some sort of stick while holding his head down, probably thinking he’s dead meat already. Mark suggests voting, but Derrick isn’t hearing it, as he starts ranting and cursing. Apparently, he’s into how Real World did their business in the original Gauntlet with the open voting. Aneesa tries to rationalize it, but Derrick ain’t having it. “That’s bullshit!” he barks. “Fuck that, and fuck you, too!” Julie takes a cringing breath, while Derrick expresses his need to be told if he’s going in. Brad interviews that Derrick’s “testosterone factor” is out of control, causing tension on the team. Jisela wants to get the vote done.

The team writes down their picks and hands them off to Julie. Ace explains that they’re going with a secret ballot, since an open vote would make people go for a person who gets brought up. Adam tallies the votes as Derrick looks over his shoulder. Don’t you just hate that? We see that Derrick has three votes, Mark has two (one from Robin, perhaps?), and Syrus and Ace each have one.

Time passes. Adam announces that he won’t be announcing the figures, and that Derrick will be his opponent. After the pair share a brief man-hug, TJ pops up to confirm the match and to spin the wheel. Turns out I was totally wrong about the preset endgames. Instead, TJ gets to spin a nautical wheel marked with Gauntlets. Nice step up from the die roll in Gauntlet. On the other hand? Potential rigging. Anyway, the wheel lands on Name That Coconut. TJ tells everybody that he’ll explain the rules later on. “I can face Derrick, no problem,” Adam interviews. “And I’m not going to let him get out of the hot seat because he’s obviously run his mouth. He starts too much shit with the team for no reason..” Derrick interviews that he wasn’t expecting this, but he’ll give it his all. “I’m gonna brush my teeth,” he adds, “and get ready for the fuckin’ war.”

Ocean shot! Gauntlet! The Rookies whoop it up, while the Veterans are quiet. TJ calls out Adam and Derrick, then explains the rules to Name That Coconut. This Gauntlet has 32 trivia questions, the answers are on the coconuts, and each answer is a name of a Challenger. Julie expositions that TJ will ask a question, and then ring a bell. The guys will race down to race down the field, find the coconut with the correct answer, and bring it back. TJ indicates a safety zone, where no contact can be made. Once a line has been crossed, the players enter the battle zone. There, the players can root through the coconuts and knock them from each other’s hands to steal it. First player with five correct answers wins. If a player answers incorrectly, his opponent can go through the coconuts at his own leisure. Loser goes home, winner get the “pimp room” in TJ’s words. Adam interviews that he’s not good with trivia, and Derrick may have the advantage. “If he gets rough with me,” he adds, “I’m gonna fuckin’ kill him.” Derrick: “I’m focused, man. I’m determined, I’m ready to win.”

First question: “On his first Challenge, he was the first cast member to be sent home. On his second Challenge, he was the second cast member to be sent home.” TJ rings the bell, and the players dash to go coconut-grabbing. Things get a little tense, as TJ tells them not to wrestle. “The guys are tearing each other apart,” Cara interviews. “It is gruesome, and it is almost hard to watch.” Cut to shots of Kina, Jodi, Randy and Julie looking on, as the guys scrum their way into commercials.

Coming back, Derrick and Adam are still scrapping. Jeremy fills us in on what’s going on. “They’re not messing around.” he adds. “No one wants to go home.” Derrick tries to break loose, but Adam knocks the coconut out of his hand. Derrick recovers and gets into the safety zone with the correct answer: Ace. Cut to Ace’s farewells: waving from the boat in The Inferno and hugging Adam K. in Battle of the Sexes 2. Cara interviews that Adam L. losing would benefit the Rookies. “Not only is he their stronger players,” she adds, “but he is also the brains of the whole function.” Honey, you were on his team in Gauntlet. Did you really just say that?

TJ asks the next question: “This cast member was the final replacement in Tahiti.” While my brain tries to unscramble the clue, Adam and Derrick scramble. Derrick grabs the coconut, and Adam rips into his shirt on the way to the safety zone. “Please try to take me down,” Derrick interviews, “because I’m not gonna fall. And if I fall, I’m gonna get right back up.” He needs to get up now because his answer – Jillian – is wrong. Dude, she was on your season! Adam gets to root through the coconuts to grab the right answer: Jeremy. Cut to Jeremy getting welcomed to RR: South Pacific by Chris. Tie score, 1-1. Timmy interviews that he wants Adam to win, because they’ve been through a lot with each other (on the Eco-Challenge, presumably), and that Derrick mouthing off doesn’t equate to team unity.

Next question: “Who won the ‘Smell This’ Inferno in the first season of The Inferno?” Not to nitpick, but it’s “Smell Ya Later.” Adam picks up a coconut, but Derrick gets him and the answer from behind. “Derrick is just going crazy,” Adam interviews. “And once you yank it out from someone who’s lying down, they’re pretty much done.” As Adam hopes he can get the right answers, Derrick screws up again with Aneesa. Once again, Adam leisurely looks through the names. Once again, he comes up with the right name: Katie. Cut to Katie coming out of the liquid gunk as the winner. Wouldn’t things be more fair if any questions relating to cast members from the same season were pulled? Anyway, Adam is now up, 2-1.

Question #4: “During their season, which cast member had a relationship with a member from the casting department?” Is it wrong of me to want somebody to screw up, just so I can scream, “You don’t even KNOW!!”? Derrick comes up with David, and we get a few shots of David getting cuddly with Kira during RW: Seattle. David smiles on the sideline, probably grateful that his crying fit wasn’t included tonight. Tie score, 2-2.

Fifth question: “Which original male cast member never made in to Argentina on Road Rules 13?” More grappling. Once again, TJ reminds the pair not to wrestle. Adam comes up with Ibis. “Male cast member,” man. Is it stupidity or lack of observation that causes these mistakes? Derrick grabs a coconut and point to the Rookies, shouting, “Hey, you’re my boy! My boy, boo!” Danny doesn’t look that moved. Eh, it’s a step up from “earmuffs!” Cut to Danny saying goodbye on RR: X-Treme. Derrick leads, 3-2. Adam interviews that the game is still close, and he’s confident that he can hold his own against Derrick.

Sixth question: “Who was sent home for being afraid to rappel down a mountain?” What did I just say about cast members from the same season? There’s some light grabbing, as Adam grabs a coconut and falls into the safety zone. He blows a kiss to Jisela, and we’re treated to the freakout on RR: The Quest which got her voted off. Tie score, 3-3.

Next question: “Which cast member was accused of trying to kill another cast member during a challenge?” Adam gets on top of Derrick as they both look. TJ warns them not to wrestle. Adam gets the answer...Cameran. What?!? Does punching guys in the nuts constitute as attempted murder? Derrick tosses the right answer to TJ: Julie. Cut to the clip with Veronica. Sing along if you know the words! “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!? WHAT IS SHE DOING?!?” Does Veronica get paid royalties every time that gets played? Cut to Julie: “That’s the wrong answer, bitch!” Relax, people. Just close your eyes and imagine Ruthie making some homemade “Hawaiian Punch” for Julie in the Gauntlet. You know, the kind that knocks out sixty of her teeth. Derrick is up, 4-3. Aneesa interviews that she’s going to throw up, and that her team doesn’t want to lose either player.

TJ reminds Derrick that if he gets the next question, he’ll be the new team captain. The question: “Whose butt sent them home on Road Rules 13?” Oh, come on! Shuffle the deck, TJ! Derrick looks around as Adam waits on top of him. Once more, TJ doesn’t like the idea of wrestling. Adam tries to prevent movement from Derrick, but the pint-sized powerhouse falls intot he safety zone with the coconut. TJ examines it, and the answer of “Ibis” is correct. Cut to the mission where she and Angela get knocked off a pole by a bus, and Ibis landed on her rump, losing the mission for her team. Game Over, Derrick wins, and Adam’s going home. Needless to say, I’m a happy recapper. TJ compliments both guys for their hard work, and there are no hard feelings between the two guys. “I’m glad I’m at the top,” Derrick interviews. “That’s the best part abouyt it. I can be a jerk to whoever the fuck I want now because I’m all by myself. It doesn’t really matter if they vote against me or not.”

Day lapses to night. At the mansion, everybody applauds the outgoing Adam, who brags that Jo was the first to go home and not him. Shut up. Of course, everybody cheers at the expense of the crazy lady. Timmy interviews that Adam’s departure is detrimental to the team, and that he thinks Derrick has a lot to prove. Adam interviews that he has no regrets, and he’d become team captain all over again. He rides off into the night.

Derrick moves out of the bedroom and into the captain’s quarters. Why? “Because I whooped the fuck out of Adam today,” he tells us. He jokes around to another guy that he should be called “captain” now. “I just proved that I’m the best,” he goes on, “and I will continue to prove that I’m the best on my team. To be at the captain’s position now is just awesome, man. It’s good to be the king.” I doubt he’s ever seen History of the World, Part One, but I bet he’d get a kick out of it. He does kick a giant silver ball into the bedroom. David looks up, cowboy hat on his head and concerned look on his face. He interviews that the team lost a great competitor in Adam, and that Derrick’s ego and bravado will hurt the team. Cut to Derrick playfully slamming the ball on some girl’s head. Fade to black.

Looking back, I realize that Sarah probably has gotten over what happened with her and Adam during The Gauntlet. I doubt that Cara took a private moment to dance by herself, having seen first-hand what a colossal prick Adam was in Telluride. That said? I don’t give a damn. Honestly, I waited two years and four seasons for Adam to come back, and what happens? He lost. In the Gauntlet. He helped sent Sarah in five freakin’ times, and she walked back to the team every time. He did one Gauntlet, and he lost. Worse, he was the first person to lose. That’s hysterical to me. That’s just so rich, and I don’t care how petty it is to celebrate.

Next time: Kina is concerned that her butt’s on the line. She ended up doing some non-mission boxing with Ruthie. There’s a mission involving walking in skis and jumping over bars. Alton: “I’m strong, but I’m also human. I...can’t...move.” Cut to him faltering with Danny on his back.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

TARCon: The Short Story

Well, my worst fears were confirmed about three hours ago. Reality Remix was in the house, and nobody knew how bad that show, as well as correspodants Lynn & Alex, stunk.

All right, it could've been worse. Kennedy could've made it out here. Or Mark Long. It's just that when I saw Lynn & Alex, I got grumpier than Judd Seargent in a room full of howler monkeys. But screw it...a few hours before all that, we fans got an early Christmas present: the Weavers crashing, burning and finishing third. Bonus: the closest finish this side of Chris & Alex racing past Tara & Wil on TAR2, as one of the Linz boys barely surpassed Wally Bransen in a geography-based Roadblock.

The finish was awesome. Rather than have Phil jack up a team for finishing last in the penultimate leg, we got the double leg, with a hunt for charter flight tickets in Olympic Stadium in Montreal. And as much as I hated the Weavers, I understand their breakdown. I've been to Olympic Stadium. That place could break anybody.

There's probably a million things that happened, but I've forgotten most of it. The best news was a peek at TAR9, which airs in Feburary. Teams of two! Five continents! It's like going home again! And the nerd guy kinda looks like me...poor bastard. Now, if he can outgeek Gary from TAR2, that would be something else.

As for the Racer turnout? I think all TAR8 teams came except for the Weavers...and unlike Freddy & Kendra, I totally understand why they didn't stop by, and I don't hate them for it. Now, if they finished first, would I feel the same way? Honestly, I don't know. But I feel that the door sould be open for them in the future. All they need is some perspective, and the knowledge that we forums dwellers only go after teams that suck, and that we'd probably go after somebody far worse by March. But yeah...I think all the other teams came over, as well as a few former Racers (Avi, Meredith, Lena, Jon & Al). Weirdest part was the Clowns wrestling Brian Paolo around. I have no clue what that was about. And I met a guy who's writing a book on TAR entitled (and I am NOT making this up) "My Ox Is Broken." Sadly, he hasn't gotten to Colin yet. I'd love to see his reaction.

I didn't take as many pics, and I left early. But I will say this...even though Planet Hollywood was a smaller venue, I'm glad there was a TARCon, and I'm glad I went. I'm also happy that I shared a table with three ladies and a guy who listened to me babble on about reality TV and my time in Toronto without bailing. Much love to Kelley, her friends, and the one dude whose name I didn't get.

I'll be poking around the forums before going to bed...gotta record the Linzes getting their check tomorrow morning. And after seeing an endless swarm of Linz relatives tonight, something tells me that money will be half-gone after Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

TARCon: Countdown to Oblivion

The good news: TARCon is offically on tomorrow night, and I'm guessing 95 percent of the crowd will be anti-Weavers. The bad news? We might be in trouble. Big trouble.

It's more than just the luck they've recieved along the way (finding the red coffee bean before the Gaghans, surviving two Yields and a non-elimination leg), despite ther total lack of respect for the other teams and the locales they inhabit. See, I believe in karma...or, at least, I'd like to believe. I believe that what goes around comes around...and yet, I believe that there always has to be a balance.

Last night, I saw Danni beat Stephenie to win Survivor. True, Steph wasn't as ugly a person as I've seen this year on TV...but she had entitlement issues, and watching her closer than in her first stint only to fail miserably? That was fun, but I wasn't that elated.

Cut to tonight and Gauntlet 2. From the commercials, I thought that the whole episode would be fallout over the Jo situation. But they swept it under the rug in about two minutes, and put a "bitch crazy" stamp on her case file (I still think she might've had just cause for her flipout, but I'll never know). So we went onward to competition...and the possible demise of Adam Larson.

Anybody who reads my recaps after the original Gauntlet season might wonder why I hate Adam so much. Since the second week of Road Rules: The Quest and through his two Challenge stints, he's been insufferable. Gauntlet was the worst...true, he did compete well enough in competition. But he was also part of a clique of "cool kids" such as Rachel, Veronica, Abram, Darrell and Laterrian. Their goal? Force out the outcast, Sarah Greyson. Five times, they sent the one they thought of as the weakest link into the Gauntlet, so that a Real World player could take her out. Five times, she walked off the victor.

The worst of these episodes started when the teams competed in the Rolling On a River mission, where the teams had to keep balance on a motorized log. During this mission, Laterrian knocked Sarah into the water as he fell. She refused to rat him out, and got her fourth trip to the Gauntlet for her misfortune. Worse, she had to take on her best friend, Rachel Brasband (the overgrown pixie Rachel, not the hulking butterface). In what remains the most painful endgame ever, the players had to ride mechanical bulls. First off off had to go home. As the editors piped up Chevelle's "Send The Pain Below," Sarah flailled on the bull, barely keeping herself on long enough, until Rachel got tossed. Afterwards, Coral had a heart-to-heart with Adam about trying to accept Sarah. And what does Adam do? He gets her a store-bought cake, saying that it's a "thank you" for saving her team's butts four times. Sickening stuff. Of course, we had a happy ending, as Road Rules won the final mission, and Sarah and Adam went home with some serious dough...but even as I loathed Abram, Rachel and Veronica in following Challenges, I still had a major mad-on for Adam.

Anyway...Adam is a captain. Being captain means that if your team loses, you go into the Gauntlet against one of your own teammates. The mission involves carrying coconuts with rods, using two-person teams. It goes down to the wire, but MJ manages to beat Julie to seal the win for the Rookies. Something concurs to me...Ellen was a member of Road Rules: The Quest. In the first mission of Battle of the Sexes, she got herself and Julie taken out...and as a result, the Inner Circle booted Julie. Could Julie complete the circle? Could her failure doom Adam, who was also on The Quest?

Of course, we need somebody to defeat Adam in the Gauntlet. Ace seems like the obvious choice, but Derrick spouts off enough to get his teammates' votes. I'm conflicted about the guy...he seems nice, and he was the coolestst of the Bad Asses last season. On the other hand: he fooled around with Tonya, got into a fight with Landon, could be seen challenging Brad in a teaser for this season, and is supposed to be doing his fourth straight Challenge after Gauntlet 2. Oh, and his blood type is labelled as "80 proof." You put him on The Real World: Hawaii, and the roommates would've had an intervention for him faster than they did with Ruthie.

To the Gauntlet we go...a weird mismash of grappelling, trivia and coconuts. Derrick blows a few questions, but he keeps up and takes the lead. Finally, Derrick takes the lead, doesn't let it go, and takes out Adam. It didn't matter that Derrick might not be an ideal captain for the Veterans. It didn't matter that Adam didn't do anything wrong this season, except for maybe making time with Jodi. The point was this...after two years, karma laid a beatdown on Adam, and I was thrilled...until I realized the big picture. If all the good vibes were felt today...where would they be tomorrow?

I might be overthinking things, but there are precendents. At the end of TAR5, fan favorites Chip & Kim rallied from third place to overtake the other two teams (including Colin & Christie, the New York Yankees of TAR) and win the $1 million. To start TAR6, we saw five of the nicer teams go out in the first eight weeks, while the more vile duos remained in play. Conversely, I was bummed out after Brad got beat by Abram in the Inferno last season. That night, I feared that the episode would lead into Rob & Amber winning TAR7. Turns out I misread things, and Uchenna & Joyce pulled off the upset.

We have less than 20 hours before we find out the winner. If the Weavers win, it will suck. It won't kill the show for me or most of the show's fans, but it will hurt like a bitch. But tomorrow night, we'll be pulling for the Linzes and Bransens to pull out the win. And if they manage to hold back Linda and her ugly brood, then this will be a great week for reality television.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Crisis Averted

Good news for anybody for anybody who takes reality TV too seriously: TARCon8 is offically on for tomorrow night at Planet Hollywood. So much for staying home and cussing out the Weavers at I get to do that with a few hundred other people.

I'll try to write my thoughts on the impending finale tomorrow before I head out. In case I don't make it, here are the basics:

Linzes: God if they win. Should be in the Pantheon of fun TAR teams at the very least (along with the Frats, Cha Cha Cha, Ken & Gerard, Clowns, Chip & Kim, Kris & Jon, and Brian & Greg)

Bransens: Would feel good if they's like Danni winning last night, in that I don't love them, but I wouldn't want them getting hit by a truck.

Weavers: No way they should win. They've had enough lucky breaks already, and karma has to slap them sometime.

Biggest Fear: It's a toss-up between the Weavers winning, or Lynn & Alex covering TARCon for Reality Remix, since they said they'd be coming to NYC for the hoopla. And since I might be the only one there who watches that show, I'm afraid nobody else would know what assholes they've turned into. I mean, they were jerks before, but they've really blossomed in that regard.

Gameplan: Take bookbag filled with books that have to go back to the library, since I need something to read on the ride over. Take digital camera and a pack of super-powered batteries, since I don't want a repeat of last TARCon (never did get my pick with Brian & Greg). Time my exit to make the ferry, getting home at an ungodly hour. Wake up really early, record stuff from The Early Show, hope that there's no ugly twists for next season. Go out for dim sum with fans, go back home, fall into a mild coma.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Survivor Finale: Before & After

Two days before what will probably be a cathartic (and probably catastrophic) finale for The Amazing Race: Family Edition, we gotta sit through two final hours of Survivor: Guatemala - The Maya Empire. I want to keep things real, so I'll be writing my thoughts right now before the finale, then post on what happened later.

It's been a good season...not anywhere as good as Palau, but good enough to not totally suck. You had the race to camp disguised as a death march. You had Bobby Jon looking like Jesus and smacking himself. There's Brian setting off Operation: Bait Blake, proving that being platinum is better than gold. There's Judd jawing with Margaret over possibly having ADD. Look at Jamie and Bobby Jon nearly come to blows. Or kissing. I still wish that they made Day 39, just for the Southern-themed deathmatch. Lots of other stuff comes to mind: Lydia's pancake dance, Stephenie's entitlement trip, Rafe running from the hornets, Gary getting the hidden idol after refusing to fall for Judd's lies, Judd saying "man" the way The Boondocks liberally drops n-bombs, Howlie the Howler Monkey barking out loud, Gary dissing Steph and ripping into Judd's lie at his final Tribal I said, fun season. The big question: Who walks away with the big cardboard check?

Here's my breakdown:

4. Danni

She's the one that withstood a potential Pagonging. While she had to say goodbye to Brandon, Bobby Jon and Gary, she managed to stay on to Day 37. Right now, I can't see her winning, since I haven't gotten that certain editor-influenced buzz off her. Also, I have to root against her, because the head honcho of Reality News Online inducted her into the Hall of Fame. I don't get that at all. So she literally bought a clue at auction, giving her an advantage at the Immunity Challenge. So what? That's more about how stupid the other contestants were to let her get it. After Chris went from a 5-1 disadvantage to win Vanuatu, holding off one's demise isn't as great to watch anymore. I'd e-mail the guy about it...but my opinion didn't matter to those people back when I was writing for the site, so why would it matter now? Anyway, look for Danni to go out 3-1 on Day 37.

3. Stephenie

Forget's the real villain of this season. Forget about her entitlement trips and freaky eyebrows. Two episodes ago, Judd won a visit from his wife at auction, and he could bring two other players and their loved ones to stay overnight. He picked Cindy, who had fronted him money to clinch his win. Then he picked Steph. A few days later, Steph, Rafe, Danni and Lydia turned on Judd. Cut to the next episode...Cindy wins the Reward Challenge. After skipping through the whole "car curse" stuff, we see that she can bring somebody with her on a trip. She chooses Steph. And guess who Steph votes for at Council? Even if they didn't make the connection that Steph sold them down the river, dontcha think karma should take care of her? Also, if she wins, there's a huge asterisk attached to her time, since she (along with Bobby Jon) was brought back for another season. Trust's better if she loses out in agonizing fashion.

2. Lydia

Why does everybody cringe at the thought of her winning? So she sucks at challenges. Big whooop...Tina and Sandra never won an individual immunity challenge, and Sandra never got any part of an individual reward. Lydia helped around camp, to the point where Brooke and Morgan got booted over her. I just like watching Lydia's like seeing Mama Solis from Desperate Housewives, only without the crankiness and the vechicular homicide. But the real big sign was from Jamie in his aftershow speech, where he ripped into Lydia. Translation: she makes it to Day 39, and he tears into her. She's sweet, she'll win immunity on Day 38, but she'll lose 5-2 to...

1. Rafe

I just feel that the gay and Mormon communities are due for a win from somebody who doesn't totally suck. Sure, he might be a little too Ian when it comes to dropping the hammer. When he was kvetching about being a part of the "Axis of Evil," my reaction was, "If you don't slit some throats on Survivor, you're just not playing." But he's managed to turn on Cindy and Judd (including a vote for "Juddinator," which was dorky cute), and most people are starting to see him as the Keyser Soze of this season...the guy who stops limping and walks away with the $1 million.

As far as jury wigouts, I'm thinking that Judd and Jamie are givens, with assists from Steph and Cindy. The editors will do the ol' "We're doing the vote reading live, and you won't know until you hear the crowd" thing...I think I've only fallen for it the one time. Judd will get worked over at the reunion for being a dope, Gary for being such a lousy liar, and maybe Amy can bench-press something or someone, because she's that tough a cookie. And maybe...just maybe...Bobby Jon and Jamie will make out for us. Finally, we'll get a look at the next season, and pretend to be happy that Jeff Probst is staying on. I was hoping Shii Ann Huang would replace him, because she's smary, funny...and her presence would honk off a certain recapper. Ah, well.

I'll check back later to see how right...or wrong...I was.

Sometime after 2:00 a.m...

Lesson learned? I shouldn't be predicting anything, ever. Nostradamus? Try Nostradumbass. Why didn't I learn from the time back when I was on RNO, and had predicted Rob Cesternino would win Survivor: All-Stars? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Anyway...this was a good finale for a good season. Nothing could have beaten Palau, but this wasn't a letdown. If anything, it gives Survivor a great headstart at an Emmy, since The Amazing Race is still on the family season.

I'm still bitter how things turned out...though I'm not joining the Rafe hate train. He is who he, Mormon, and a bit of a dope. I mean, he's small and cute and I get this weird urge to scratch behind his ear. But telling Danni that he was releasing her from their alliance? What the hell? I mean, odds were good that Danni would've picked Steph no matter what. I'm not seeing why Rafe needs to be dropkicked.

Anyway...Rafe? Gone. Lydia? Gone. So it came down to Steph and Danni. And the jury wasn't that bitter. I still use the All-Stars jury as a measuring stick, what with Lex's guilt trip, Rupert's raging entitlement and "Don't be stupid, stupid!" The only guy who stepped up to the plate in that regard was Judd...and even then, he was only registering a 6 out of 10. And he was ripping into Steph lying to his wife about staying in the game, so that made it all right for me. Of course, I didn't get him telling Danni she should go to confession, since he was the big poopy-headed liar to begin with. In the end, Danni won, 6-1. Not bad for a chick who was looking like the biggest target this past Thursday. The bad news: Rafe goes from being a good power player to the loser's table, where he's doomed to spend eternity with the other sole dissenting votes (Butch, Tijuana and Coby). Poor lil guy.

The reunion was decent, and we got to see what the next season is about: something about new twists and exiling people on a crappy island for days at a time, kinda like what happened to Janu last season. I don't know when it will start airing (TAR9 is being delayed to March so as not to go up against the Olympics), but I'll be there.

I guess that I can't muster up any real feeling either way for this season. After all, when it comes to guys like Judd, Jamie and whoever else, what are they compared to the buttholes of The Amazing Race (Weaver family), The Apprentice: Martha Stewart (Jim) and The Gauntlet 2 (damn, where the hell do I start?). Just be glad that it's over, and start the speculation. My biggest question? When Stephenie pops up on TAR10, will she race with her boyfriend or with Bobby Jon? Come on, like you weren't thinking that.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Gauntlet 2, Episode 1: Debacle of Madness

We start on an old-timey globe, zooming in to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago off the coast of South America. Random shots of the coast, a skull and crossbones, parrot, etc. Shots of the Gauntlet site, which I originally compared to Stonehenge. More images segue to a landing strip, where our esteemed players arrive at the Crown Point International Airport. Cue the show’s title card.

Robin interviews that she’s feeling a good vibe. The players frolic outside as they board buses. Derrick interviews that he’s here to win it all. “You want to see drive,” he interviews, “You want to see determination, you want to see motivation? Watch me.” The players gabble on the bus. Syrus notices that the bus has gone off the beaten path, and they’re not going to chill at a mansion. The kids start to get alarmed. Jodi: “Where are we at, and what’s going on? Because this cannot be our house.” Make your own Talking Heads/”Once In a Lifetime” joke. Jodi points out a floating platform, which everybody decides to stand on. Landon interviews that everybody is getting nervous. On a happy note, Landon has abandoned the “skullet” hair from last season, going for the almost-bald look. Beth blabs that she’s “seasoned at this,” and that there’s going to be a twist.

Soon, a figure walks out, and the crowd cheers. This new face welcomes them to Trinidad and Tobago. Mystery Man is BMX biker TJ Lavin, whom Adam K. describes as “one of the greatest dirt jumpers to ever walk the walk of the Earth.” It’s been almost three years since Jonny Moseley and Battle of the Sexes, so why haven’t I checked in on alternative sports to check out potential hosts? Cara interviews that TJ is a “sexy, sexy stud.” So was Dave, your love interest from The Gauntlet. Please tell me you didn’t dump him. More cheering. TJ asks everybody if they’re wondering what’s going on. “This is your first challenge,” he tells them. Record scratch. Everybody cheers as the sky opens up. Or maybe it’s a rain machine. Adam K.: “I don’t know if we’re ready for this.” Just the way he says it makes me think that Adam will bring the stealth funny to this season.

Credits. We’re back to the cheesy credits and the theme song, as opposed to mere music from last season. Following in the footsteps of Midtown (“Let Go”), Ill Kid (“Rock Star”), Yellowcard (“Miles Apart”), and The Vandals (“Come Out Fighting”) is Superchic[k] with “Anthem.” I have no clue why the brackets are there.

Anyway...we zoom into a skull’s eyehole, over the Gauntlet site, and straight into the water. Under the sea, we have Challengers. Soon, they surface in pairs: Landon & Cara, Mark & Robin (ick), Jamie (and his mighty chest hair) & Susie, and Brad & Julie. Man, Brad just can’t win, can he? More duos: Alton & Jillian, David (adjusting his cowboy hat) & Katie, Syrus & Montana, and Timmy & Beth. It’s worth noting that while emerging to the surface, Timmy kisses Beth’s hand. To quote Darrell, “Timmy, Timmy, Timmy, what is you doin'?” Still more couples: Ace & Aneesa and MJ & Cameran.

Cut to a spilt screen of both teams walking on the beach. Both teams jump over a banner with their team name. The teams start taunting each other. Adam L. and Jisela go for the smoldering intimidation. Adam K. and Jo point and yell. No reaction from Ruthie, while Jodi points and Jeremy screams. Both sides rush each other. A neat wave effect reveals TJ. Title! Hook ripping through it! Awesome!

Rolling clouds and waves bring us back to the action. Timmy reminds us that there’s a mission right off the bat. TJ starts off by separating the teams into Veterans and Rookies. He reads off the roll call, going over the Real World seasons by city name, and Road Rules editions by season number. Veteran girls: Ruthie, Montana, Robin, Katie, Beth, Julie, Jisela, Aneesa. Veteran guys: Derrick, Brad, Adam L., Timmy, Mark, Syrus, Ace, David. Brad interviews that anybody who’s competed in two prior Challenges is a Veteran, while everybody else is a Rookie. Still doesn’t explain how Jamie isn’t a Veteran. I need somebody to explain that to me. TJ reads off the Rookies, starting with the girls: Jillian, Jodi, Susie, Kina, Ibis, Cara, Cameran, Jo. Rookie guys: Landon, Jeremy, Alton (from “Real World: V-Town,” according to TJ), MJ, Jamie, Randy, Danny, Adam K. Montana interviews that her team has a good chance to win, adding, “I could break those Rookie girls over my knees.” Landon: “If I were a Veteran, I would worry about breaking a hip. They’re delicate!”

TJ reminds everybody that this is the first mission, a “king of the hill” event known as Royal Rumble. Brad expositions that the last man standing on the platform becomes team captain. Katie adds that there are no rules, and the object is to knock each other off the platform. TJ drops another bomb: the teammates will be battling each other. MJ: “I thought I was here to go against these veterans, these old dudes, and now I got Alton and everybody else breathing down my throat.” That should be “breathing down my neck”...unless there’s something MJ isn’t ready to tell us. TJ continues, saying that the winners become captains, earning $1,000 in sponsor money. “This is my thing!” Derrick enthuses, snapping a Landon voodoo doll’s neck off-camera. “I’ve been wanting to rumble with people for the longest time.” TJ calls the Rookie guys up to star. Randy interviews that they have to “set the scene” to figure out who will lead. The sun goes down and the clouds get stormy.

The Rookie men gather on the platform in matching blue uniforms, getting ready to scrum. TJ counts down, then blows his airhorn. The guys start grappling, and Danny is imemdiately tossed off the platform and into the water. Derrick does play-by-play from the sidelines, and he’s a happy camper. Landon gets flung off. MJ plows into a guy. Adam K. Goes out. The players on the shore laugh it up. “The Rookie boys are out of their minds!” Aneesa interviews, wearing the Mohawk, big earrings and jewelry. Cara adds that she thinks she saw torn skin on the guys. Alton shoves Jamie and lightning lights up the clouds as we head into commercials.

We’re down to three players, as Jamie gets on top of Randy, while Alton is standing over them. I imagine that Jamie and Randy are secretly exchanging info on where to get the best pot in the area. Alton has no appreciation for drugs, and he shoves both players off to get the win. He follows that up with a nice side flip into the water. He interviews that he wants the position because he thinks there’s “some sort of immunity from the Gauntlet” involved. You can just see the vultures of foreshadowing pecking at his ankles. He adds that winning $1,000 isn’t a bad way to start things off, and I can’t argue with him.

Next up: the Veteran guys. The sky is pouring, and I’m thinking that maybe this isn’t BMP-manufactured. The fellas gather to recycle the old Road Rules cheer from Gauntlet: “Hey, Veterans! Go, Veterans! ATTAWAY!” TJ blows the horn, and the veterans look pumped to fight...except they don’t Mark tells us that rather than injury each other, the team has decided to work the system and play rock-paper-scissors to determine the captain. As much as I hate Mark, he has a point. The guys comically play the game, as Adam L. takes Timmy out. They hug, and Timmy pulls off a nice belly flop. Ace loses and jumps off. Jeremy calls them a “big group of girls.” Are we going to have that little snot trying to assert his manliness again? Derrick and David dive off. Syrus does an impressive cartwheel off. Brad jumps off, and our winner is Adam L. Booooooooooooooooooooo! He interviews that he belongs in the captain’s seat, since he can do the best for his team whenever they want. Once again: booooooooooooooo!

Rookie girls come up for their round. Ibis interviews that they’ve decided to copy the Veteran guys’ approach with rock-paper-scissors. The girls have their own version, starting with four matches. Losing the first round: Cara, Ibis, Susie and Jillian. The girls dance around, clearly loving the lack of violence. Jodi and Cameran botch the semifinals, and they dive off. “Basically, these Rookie girls are afraid to rumble,” Robin interviews. “They’re a bunch of little prisses.” In the final match, Jo defeats Kina to gain the captain’s spot. They hug and dive off.

Finally, we have the Veteran girls. After TJ blows the horn, Jisela jumps off the platform. Great...we’re on the first day, and she’s already giving up. More alarming is her interview segment, where she not only matches Aneesa’s jewelry, but also wears a ton of makeup. It ain’t flattering at all. Anyway, she’s not fighting, but the rest of the girls are. After all, this is a group with Robin, Katie and Julie, so there had to be a rumble. Anyway, the girls get into a huge non-sexy pileup. Ruthie interviews that she wanted to be a captain right away. Aneesa shoves Beth off. The spectators are loving the brawling. Katie gets pushed off, and she manages to drag Robin with her. Julie stays on the edge, battling Ruthie. “I am shocked that the Veteran girls are animalistic as they are,” Susie interviews. “Maybe they’re trying to psyche out the Rookie girls, and if so, it’s working.” Cut to Julie on top of Aneesa. Julie has an interview, and she’s got a nasty cut on her right eyebrow. I’d give props for whoever did it, but she’s crazy enough to have done it to herself. Anyway, she’s out of gas, Aneesa interviews that she’s out of breath, and they decide to hand the title over to Ruthie.

Denouement. TJ awards the Rookie captaincies to Alton and Jo. Adam K. is ecstatic with Alton being captain since “he is out best competitor, hands down.” TJ also awards Adam L. and Ruthie with captain positions. David brings up Adam having done the Eco-Challenge. Jo hugs Alton. “I’m thinking, ‘Hallelujah’,” Cameran interviews. “This girl is very calm, and I think if anybody, she’ll be the last person to start drama.” If I didn’t see the commercials or the preview, that quote would’ve put me on alert. TJ stares that each captain has won $1,000....and luxury accommodations at the house.

The house? Oh, right...the house. The players walk in...and yep, they’re impressed. Brad likes the pond with a waterfall in the front door. Jamie interviews that before this Challenge, he was living in a Buddhist monastery. I did not make that up. Beth introduces herself to us as we see her drag her bag, dredging up memories of Inferno II, when Tonya dumped her stuff in the pool. Cara tells us that she’s been “getting naked for Playboy” as the magazine’s November centerfold. More fun from the cast, more running around. Jo and Adam L. check out their deluxe accommodations. Jo laughs that the other girls are crammed into bunk beds in one room. Timmy points out that Jo is the oldest Rookie girl, and that she hasn’t been on a reality show for “a decade of two.”

One guy dives into the pool. We see a stairway leading to the pool, with the last few steps submerged. Kina interviews that she’s still in school, and she’s dating Randy, whom she calls “the greatest thing I’ve ever met in my life.” Robin sits on Mark’s lap, and I get nauseous. She interviews that they care about each other, but they’re just friends. Alton interviews that he moved into a house in Venice Beach with Irulan, but they broke up. Ace laughs about how bad he’s stunk in prior Challenge. “I’m ready for anything,” Mark interviews. “I’m ready for the Gauntlet, I’m ready for the challenges, I’m ready for whatever. Throw anything at me, I’ll do my best.” Katie tells Adam K. that Theo and Adam L. described her as the “most disgusting girl they’ve ever met.” She proves their point by belching really loud and really long. How cute.

Night lapses to day. We see the mansion from the sky, one road leading to it. Two guys stare out at the horizon from the pool. It’s quite a beautiful view.

A wave effect takes us to the Gauntlet site. Background Music Voice: “How long will I live. I do not know.” The players arrive at the site. Alton describes the Gauntlet as “some crazy sunken pirat ship,” with masts coming from the ground. I gotta admit, the production crew has officially topped the Inferno site from last season. Brad interviews that it looks like an intense battleground for the Gauntlet. Susie: “You can sort of feel that this is the place where you will be made, or you will be sent home.”

Once again, TJ welcomes everybody to Gauntlet 2. The teams will be competing in fifteen missions, each one paying out $10,000. The final mission is worth $150,000, making the total prize money $300,000. Everybody cheers about the money. One girl asks if there’s a catch. TJ answers that after each mission, there will be a Gauntlet. There will be “guy captain days” and “girl captain days.” Come on, let the sexes mix it up! The captain of the winning team gets an individual prize. Alton figures that the captains will be rotated. TJ drops the bomb: the captain remains the captain until his/her team loses. Then that person goes into the Gauntlet. Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuunnnn! Jo’s jaw drops. Alton calls the deal “gnarly” in an interview. Adam K.: “[pause] Not so sweet now.”

Coming back from commercials, we get shots of our four captains, all of whom have just figured out that stepped in poop: Jo, Ruthie, Adam L., and Alton. Ruthie interviews that the winning captain gets a prize, while the loser goes in the Gauntlet. TJ adds that before the Gauntlet, the team deliberates on who else goes into the Gauntlet to fight the captain. MJ expositions that if the challenger wins, that person becomes captain. See, you gotta think like a pirate. If the team loses, the crew has a munity, and somebody challenges the captain. Loser takes a walk on the plank and into Davy Jones’ Locker. Alton calls it “a purification by fire.” Jo jokes that if the team wins, nobody has to go home. Landon interviews that being captain is good for winning prizes, but the probablity of being around for the final mission isn’t good. Cara: “Thank God I’m not a captain!” She adds that Jo is freaking out. Kina hugs her, telling her things will be okay. Ibis: “Knowing Jo’s our captain, I’m stoked because I know that I can kick her ass, so that works for me.” Teammates wanting to knock each other out? The new format’s working already!

Night. A female hand writes an invitation to a “super exclusive party tonight.” Who’s invited? “Good looking people only.” Damn, there goes at least ten people right there. Robin has decided to throw a birthday party for Mark. He woo-hoos in an interview about turning “thirtyish.” Whatever. By the way, is it just me, or has he acquired the hair of Matt from RW: New Orleans? Tonight, the house is “The Dirty Pirate.” Julie and Ace don eyepatches. Derrick roots through the fridge, taking out bottles and stuffing them in every pocket he has. This is not going to end well for him, is it? Katie plays the part of the door lady, lining everybody up. David interviews that this is the best party in Challenge history. Oh, come on...this doesn’t hold a candle to the Hurricane Juliette shindig on Battle of the Seasons. A few guys play bodyguards for Mark. Katie asks Beth for her name, then pretends she’s not on the list. Probably not the first time Beth’s been through that. Adam L. pop a balloon on MJ’s crotch, and everybody responds like it’s gunfire. Cut to Jo going online, turning around. Other than that, everybody’s having fun. “I feel like I’m in Animal House,” Susie interviews. “These people are insane!”

More alcohol-fueled hijinks. Julie sits on the top bunk, not doing anything. Cara interviews that people are “enjoying each other,” and that Jo’s not liking it. While she says this, we see Mark and Robin making out. Yeah, I’m not liking that, either. Montana goes to Jo, trying to bring her to the party, telling her it’s not that bad. Jo: “Ewww, nasty!” Both ladies laugh, so we’re not going into dramatics just yet. Beth accuses Adam K. of looking at her breasts. Jeremy predicts that this season will bring “mad hookups.” Cut to Beth pulling Ace itno the bathroom. Please tell me Ace didn’t go there. David tells us that people are already hooking up. Cut to Adam L. and Jodi in the pool. I feel that if Jodi had beaten Veronica in the Inferno, she wouldn’t be squeezing on something Trishelle got to first. “Homegirl is about to steamroll the cast!” David enthuses, as we see Jodi shimmy in her swimsuit. “She is horrrrrrn-nay!” Thanks for sharing.

Robin tells Mark that she has a present for him. After a few seconds of anticipation, we see Aneesa rubbing herself on Mark. Seriously ick. It could be worse...I would’ve expected Eric Nies to pop out of a cake, wearing nothing by a jump rope. Ibis doesn’t look happy, but everybody else seems to love Aneesa going below the camera. I’m thinking something disgusting happened. I hope that I’m wrong, because Mark doesn’t deserve that done to him by anybody, ever. The guys chant Aneesa’s name, and I’ve lost a lot of respect for her. Meanwhile, Ruthie tries to pry something from a naked Danny. Upstairs, Jo brushes her teeth, not looking too pleased. Danny interviews that Jo has an emergency, and she needs to use the phone.

Cut to Jo outside in a car in the rain, calling her father in England. “I swear to God,” she tells him, “there people are absolutely insane. And today has been an absolute debacle.” We get a faraway shot of cast members looking on, then zoom back to Jo. “I walked in on people on the bathroom floor shagging.” She’s British, so it’s okay for her to say that. “There’s so many other aspects of life apart from, you know, sex and competition. It’s just boring.” Girl, have you seen this show? It’s all most of them do! If BMP could get away with a sexual Challenge, they would have done it years ago. David turns to Julie, while Jo figures that she never should’ve come here.

Meanwhile, Kina tells Danny that Derrick has passed out on the bed. Vegas wouldn’t take odds on that happening. Naturally, it’s time to screw with our favorite drunk, as the kids grab chocolate syrup and run to the bedroom. And guess what? Derrick is on Jo’s bed. Anyway, the gang tries to be careful, but some syrup spills on the floor, while Alton falls down carrying Derrick.

Back to Jo...she tells her father that she has to get her stuff, since it’s not safe. Maybe she has seen the show after all. Julie walks over to Jo, because when you’re feeling down, you need an insane girl with 531 teeth to comfort you. Susie interviews that the captaincy has gotten to Jo to the point where she doesn’t want to be here.

Cut to Jo in the room, with the syrup on the floor. She sees the mess and wants out. Cut to Timmy hiding behind a wall. “Wait a second, bitch,” Danny snots in an interview. “There’s something wrong with her.” There might why do I want to punch Danny in the head? Al of the sympathy from his early exit in RR: X-Treme is gone, and I want Alton to drop-kick him off. Jo yells about how she doesn’t live like this. Cut to Beth looking on, smiling her butt off. Timmy: “I don’t know Jo at all. I don’t know her from a ham sandwich.” See, that’s why I like Timmy. He’s too old for this crap, but he’s funny. Also: he doesn’t screw with younger cast members. He adds that somebody had sex on her bed, and “that would send anyone into a tizzy.”

Somebody knocks on the door. Jo holds the door shut with her foot, then releases it. Ruthie comes flying in, looking a lot like Kramer. With David and Aneesa behind her, Ruthie tries to find out what’s wrong. She grabs Jo, but Jo does not want to be manhandled., adding, “I will call the police if you put your hands on me again.” Yikes. Aneesa looks on in total disbelief. Ruthie asks if they can talk. Jo loudly announces that she will call the police if she can’t pack her bags. Ruthie tries to reason with Jo, but Jo doesn’t feel like owing anybody an explanation. Ruthie interviews that there’s a wall between her and Jo, and she can’t look into her eyes without her looking elsewhere. “I feel like I was the enemy,” she adds, “and I didn’t know why.” Ruthie still tries to help, and Jo ain’ having it, as she yells at a cameraman, stalking off and grabbing the camera. Fade to black.

Okay. On the one hand, Jo should’ve known this might happen. I can’t blame her being captain for setting her into her funk. On the other hand, I think BMP is covering stuff up, and some stuff must have went down that we will never hear about. Or maybe she had enough “fun” and decided to fake a meltdown before leaving. Of course, BMP could make her look more nuts. She won the Royal Rumble...they couldn’t just edit her out like they did Piggy in Inferno. I just feel that no many what anybody says, we’ll never know the entire truth.

This season on Gauntlet 2: Jo is still nanners, as she threatens to sue the island. WhawhaWHAT? Clip of Katie yelling at Derrick, “Why are you acting like this?!?” Cut to Danny: “Because I’m fucking tired of it. Shut your fucking hole!” If Alton won’t kick his ass, I will. Guys climb on cargo nets. Two girls tethered to each other run in opposite directions. Girls wrestle in the sand. Guys tethered and pulling. Aneesa: “Suck my [bleep], bitch!” Syrus lays in the sand, looking wiped out.

Kina cries about how she hates this. Mark bitches at Robin, and he is really, really mad. Random dance and makeout montage. Randy tells Kina that he’s not worried about the money, and he wants to be with her. Can I be invited to the wedding? There’s a mission with poles and fruit. Rolling of fake boulders. Pushing of pickup trucks. Alton gets sprayed with water. Timmy walks on skis with Aneesa on his back. A guy jumps over a bar. A girl crawls through suspended tires. A guy slides around in blue pain. Syrus: “You need to go NOW!” More missions. Beth: “She’s luck I didn’t fucking bitchslap her.” Derrick: “You’re the meanest person I fucking know.” More Gauntlet footage. Mark: “I NEED TO GET OUT!” That’s how most people feel when you’re in a room with them, buddy.