Friday, May 26, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 11: Oedipus Rex

Spoiler Warning: This is a brutal episode.

I don't know if I can be impartial with reality television, in the sense that there's usually people I root for, and then there are folks I'd fall into an open manhole. And, of course, I would take sides with The Challenge.

In retrospect, I can see why members of the Road Rules teams wanted Sarah off. She was a scrub on RR: Campus Crawl. She didn't have much of a good time in her brief stint on the show. Shit, she probably would have been cast on The Real World, but that was the season in Las Vegas, and she was under 21. And even if she did make the cut, she probably would have taken Brynn's slot and had to deal with the likes of Steven and Trishelle. Basically, she was a downer. And you know what? So was I. Still am in many ways. I don't root for that many people on shows that hard, but I can be heavily invested when I do. I related to Sarah more than most of the gang from The Gauntlet, so -- of course -- she would be in constant peril. To me, it was a karmic price to pay for Melissa (somebody I REALLY liked) lasting almost the full length of Battle Of The Sexes.

As you'll see in the first few paragraphs, I was mad before the episode aired. For somebody who doesn't drink alcohol, this was "pregaming" for me. And most of these people did NOT disappoint when it came to pissing me off. If you roll your eyes and think I should have gotten a life by then, you'd probably be right. But I had favorites, and I stuck with them.

Airdate: December 1, 2003
Recap Published: December 6, 2003

The title is a ten-letter substitution for a twelve-letter phrase which can't be said in an RNO recap. After you read what happens between Sarah and her teammates, you'll probably be muttering that as well.
I should have seen it coming. Wait a second... I did see it coming.

So there I am late Friday night, waist-deep in MTV dreck, trying to find a commercial for the latest episode. I sifted through one of the "Sunday Stew" shows... you know, the one with the guy from Jackass. Or maybe it was the other one with the guy from Jackass. Finally, I found what I was looking for, and I wished I hadn't. Rachel B. and Sarah, best of friends, were going into the Gauntlet.

It wasn't just that two of my favorites were going to battle each other to stay in Telluride. In fact, from the extended teaser that aired after the first episode, I figured this would happened. I just wanted to live in denial. This wasn't the first time MTV spoiled things... they had aired clips of Elka/Cara and Trishelle/Sarah. I heard a rumor that Bunim and Murray were selling their long-running franchises to a major network, so maybe that's why MTV is doing this. They got enough non-BMP shows on their own, so why would they act like spoiled brats now?

Oh, and I knew Sarah was going to win. Colin Mortensen, one of the big winners from Battle of the Sexes, had interviewed Nathan for show recaps. Nathan revealed that Road Rules would send in one of their players a fixed number of times. Because I don't want to spoil any of you, I won't reveal how many. But it became obvious that he was talking about Sarah and that she would win in the Gauntlet for a fourth time. Sadly, Colin erased all of the current recaps, citing that the show "bores the sh*t out of me and is a waste of my time and energy." I learned two things from Colin: we're obviously watching different shows and he didn't buy class with his $50,000.

So, as I grimly plopped myself down to watch the latest debacle, one question remained: who was gonna piss me off tonight? Previously on The Gauntlet: A dog on a bench? That's random. Anyway, while the guys and girls partied, Rachel B. and Sarah became friends. In Inferno, Laterrian skipped two rungs, getting disqualified. Real World won, upping their bank account to $30,000. Adam went into his "stronger and weaker" spiel after voting Sarah into the Gauntlet. Sarah interviewed that she can't agree about sending somebody over and over and still not seeing any positive attributes. She then won her third Gauntlet. "They can do whatever they want," she said. "I'm not going anywhere."

Breakfast time. Theo V. drawls about the truth being sugar-coated. Sarah jokingly asks if he's voting her into the Gauntlet today and he tells her yes. Gallows humor seems to be the only kind of humor she has nowadays. Theo tells Abram that she lives in the Gauntlet. She interviews that she's been signing things, "Queen of the Gauntlet." Ouch. "I already own this season," she tells Theo. "It's called `Me and My Gauntlet.'" She's so jovial, she does her own rimshot on the table.

Mission site. Norman sees two logs above the pool. Jonny welcomes everybody to Rolling On a River. The objective: to test endurance and agility. Roni expositions that this is a "motorized log rolling competition." Jonny continues: last player standing wins $10,000 for the team, and the remaining players from each team get the Freshlook Lifesaver, which keeps them out of the Gauntlet. The rules: once a player falls off, that person is eliminated, even if pulled off. There's a cut to Laterrian after Jonny says that.

Preparations. Both teams suit up. Abram jokes about not grabbing teammates while falling. Alton tells his team to jump off right before getting thrown. Irulan interviews that RW has to keep the momentum going. What momentum? They haven't gotten consecutive mission wins yet.

Both teams slowly walk on their logs. For some reason, the editors pipe in Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl." Jonny blows the airhorn. I see guys in striped shirts, so I'm guessing they'll be keeping things kosher. Soon, the RR log lurches forward, and four players fall off, while the others regain their composure. Out: Laterrian, Dave, Darrell, and Sarah. "Laterrian wallops me," Sarah interviews, "and claws me off this log." Cut to instant replay, with a sky view and spot shadow. Sure enough, Laterrian does knock her off. Sarah: "And that sucks." Oh, you have no idea.

Both teams try to keep balanced. Mike interviews that RR is more nervous and his team will win. Rachel B. drops into the water. She interviews that she fell off way too fast. "I beat out four Road Rulers," she continues, "but I'm the first one to go, and I'm the only one to go, and I go off on nothing."

More balancing. New tune: "Fall Back Down" by Rancid. Both teams dance on the logs. Veronica takes a dip. More balancing. Three RW players fall. From above the pool, one of them looks dangerously close to bonking his head on the RR log. Rachel R. falls. The three RWs are identified: Alton, Irulan, and Theo G. Theo interviews that his footwork was good, but he slipped. Mike voiceovers that it's down to Coral, Nathan, Norman, and himself. Theo V. shouts "Hoo-RAH!" As Adam repeats it, Theo slips and falls. This gives Mike great pleasure. "Boom!" he laughs in an interview. "Right into the water! Funniest thing I've ever seen in my life!"

More rolling. Coral slips and falls, followed by Adam. Nathan curses as he plunges, quickly followed by Norman. Cara takes a dip. Don't ask me where Abram went. So it comes down to a battle between Mike and Roni. Mike grins while Roni concentrates. She voiceovers that she's not tired. "I'm the only one left," Mike interviews, "so this is all on me... which I love."

After commercials, Mike and Roni are keeping pace. Mike gripes about Roni being in the zone and how it pisses him off. Roni voiceovers that she has to keep the pace. Darrell interviews that Mike "looks like a troll walking over a mountain," and he doesn't give Roni a chance for winning. More rolling. Mike starts to lose his balance. Coral from the sidelines: "Come on Mike! IloveyouIloveyouIloveyou!" But it's too late, as Mike falls over. RR celebrates, lifting Roni up in their arms. If there's any bright spot in this episode, it's her. "It's really good to see Roni shine," Veronica echoes my sentiments. "She's a quiet person, and we don't really see this whole side of her." Mike gets support from his team. "I did the best that I could," he says, "and my best wasn't good enough today."

Jonny awards the $10,000 to RR, giving them a $70K-$30K edge over RW. Roni happily accepts the check. "It feels so good to win one," she interviews. "It makes me feel like I deserve to be on the team." Jonny awards the Lifesavers to Roni and Mike. Have you noticed that the people who win those aren't the ones who need protection? Jonny gives the usual spiel, asking both teams to figure out who goes to the Gauntlet.

RW Meeting. Mike votes for Rachel B., since she clocked the second worst time in Inferno and was the first off the log today. So how come he went after Coral last week? That must have been some vaginal spell Trishelle was using. Theo G. goes for Rachel. Alton votes for Theo, feeling he can step up. I'm surprised anybody remembers Theo being on the team. Maybe he could marry Roni and they'd have cute, non-dramatic kids. Nathan feels Rachel could win in the Gauntlet again. Irulan splits from her boyfriend, voting for Rachel. Coral goes for Theo. "We're down to three girls," she cites, "and I think eventually, women are going to come into play." Norman cops out, saying he flipped a coin and it came down to Rachel. She admits she sucked and votes for herself to avoid drama. The team does a group cheer and I notice the crowd is rather smaller than from the beginning.

RR Meeting. Put on your hip boots and gas masks. Abram brings up the group splashdown, asking if anybody was pulled off. Dave says he wasn't touched. Sarah: "I was pulled off. Well, smacked off, but it was an accident, so it's not that big a deal." Famous last words.

Voting. Rachel R. feels that Laterrian is weaker than Sarah. Laterrian's points: 3, 2, 3, 3. He interviews that he can bring a lot to the team. First round results: Laterrian 25, Sarah 15, Veronica 14. Thank goodness I already knew what was about to go down. Otherwise, the next few minutes would've really pissed me off.

Voting. "If we're looking at the Road Rules team like a sports team," Dave interviews, "you're gonna keep voting off the person who is doing the worst on the team, who's holding you back." Notice he doesn't say a name. He reads the votes. Veronica gets three points. Sarah gets three points twice. Adam read the final results: Sarah 23, Veronica 22, Laterrian 21. Wow. Sarah is officially the least-liked cast member this side of Dat Phan. "Oh my God," she gasps, "this is (bleeping) [BS], you guys." She insists that she was knocked in and thought nobody was going to be penalized for that. Veronica wonders why they didn't talk about that. "Dude," Sarah replies, "because it's not my job to incriminate the person that made me fall." The room empties as Sarah voiceovers that standing up for herself doesn't work, and Laterrian left a bruise on her arm. After the room empties, it's just Sarah and Laterrian. And now, LT offers to go to the Gauntlet. "I don't wanna go," he mutters, "nobody wants to go." Gee, why would Sarah balk at going? Maybe because, I don't know, she went there three times?! He brings up college loans he has to pay as a reason to stay on. Sarah thinks she wouldn't be in this situation if women had been on both sides. Laterrian doesn't want to argue. I cannot believe I ever sympathized with him after his three-episode stint on Battle of the Sexes. "Way to go," Sarah snipes in an interview. "One of the few opportunities that you'll ever have in your entire life to stand up and be a man and admit making a huge mistake, and you sent me in." Pause. "Again." Hey, what else can you expect from Osterrian?

Later. Abram: "If I sent somebody else to give her a bye, I think it would be unfair to that other person." Shut up, Abram. Don't you have people to beat up or something? Veronica says that in the past three missions, one person did badly. Once again, you don't know if she's talking about Sarah or Laterrian. Rachel R. thinks it's odd that LT had 25 votes in the first round, but finished in last in the final round. Cara proceeds to lose it. "Everybody voted!" she cries out. "And everybody voted her in again! There are other people who deserve to go in!" I'm so wound up, I can't even muster a "You go, girl!" Seriously, if Sarah has allies on her team, why is she constantly going into the Gauntlet? Hell, I even look at Roni with my eyebrows cocked, and I like her.

Sarah and Rachel B. chat. Rachel interviews that the last thing she expected was RR sending Sarah in. She continues, "What is the irony of it, when it's the one person that I like, and one of us has to send the other one home." Sarah laments a little. "At least my team likes me," Rachel blurts out. They both have a good laugh. Rachel is wearing a Miz cap, and that isn't right. Not for her final day.

Cut to what appears to be the confessional booth. It looks like Sarah and Rachel are locked in a basement and are videotaping their final moments. Also, Sarah appears to be sitting on Rachel's lap, which is just plain weird. Then again, Rachel is a tall lady. Sarah laughs, "Guys, once you keep voting me off, you're next!" Rachel does some mugging. Sarah continues, "You only hope that I come back triumphant, so you're not [bleeped] too, because there's people gunning for you as well." This is sad and funny, like the Mardi Gras confessional with Melissa and Julie, before Julie turned into a total stinker. Sarah: "Once you get rid of the whipping boy, who do you whip?"

Gauntlet. Jonny lays out the usual spiel before bringing Rachel and "Gauntlet specialist" Sarah up. Cara interviews that she can't imagine trying to beat her best friend. Sarah laughs as she rolls the die and it comes up Ride `Em Cowboy. The players hug as Jonny lays out the objective: to stay on the mechanical bull for as long as possible. Sarah calls it "the one thing that I didn't want to do, against the one person I didn't want to do it against." They get on the bulls. Rachel interviews that it's a lose/lose situation, since one of them is going home.

Airhorn. The bulls start to buck. We go into slow-motion, as Chevelle's "Send The Pain Below" plays. Adam stares on and I'm convinced he's trying to push Sarah off with his mind. Soon, Sarah is chest-down on the bull. In the forums, some thought she should have been disqualified for touching the bull, a rule that was enforced on Montana several weeks back. However, Sarah has her hand raised. She touches the bull, but she doesn't grab it. Coral screams for Rachel. Adam's still staring, with his arms folded. Sarah is struggling as her cowboy hat flies off. She is about five seconds from getting bucked off when Rachel flies off her bull. Game over. As RR celebrates Sarah's win, the graphic tells us RW has now lost seven players. That's half the team, people. Stick a fork in `em, they're done.

Most Depressing Footage Ever. Cara hugs Sarah while Theo V. jumps around like a goob. Rachel cries and is hugged by Mike, who tells her it's okay. Sarah cries as Cara tells her she deserves to stay in the game. Yeah, maybe Cara is cool after all. Sarah breaks away to hug Rachel and they both sob. The others look on, not saying anything. That must have been awkward, especially for RR, who could have avoided this. In a perfect world, Rachel would've stomped on Laterrian like she did Katie, and sent him back home a three-time loser. "We definitely feel like we got a solid friendship out of this bullshit," Rachel interviews, while Sarah's sinuses try to clear up. "It's a really good thing that means more, the moral aspect of it means more than the money."

Denouement. Jonny tells the group that Rachel's going home and Sarah gets to stay for at least one more day. Soon, Coral is hugging Sarah, trying to calm her down. You know, I get on Coral's case a lot, but there are times I forget how cool she can be. Remember the time where Nicole kept throwing up during her date, and Coral cleaned her up and reapplied her makeup? Or when she comforted Mike after he went on a Miz rampage in Cancun? "I just think it's pretty crappy," Coral voiceovers. "I think a lot of people are saying to take emotion out of it and don't take it personal. But honestly, people do."

Mansion. Coral is having a chat with Adam as Rachel R. looks on. Coral wonders how many times Sarah has to pay for mistakes. Adam says that it's hard for him to say what's fair. Yeah, he would. Coral: "You don't know what it's like to go to the Gauntlet." Adam: "That's [BS]. Why do people say that?" Coral talks about how bad it feels to have the team say they can do better without a player. Adam claims that nobody on his team says that and he doesn't want to see anybody go home. "It's not about wanting to see somebody go," Coral says, "but it's about letting people on your team know that you want them on the team." She asks him if he's thankful for Sarah, and he shrugs.

Rachel B. packs. We'll always have Hangman. Kicking Katie out was fine by me. Sarah tells her she's sorry for beating her. "It's okay," Rachel responds. "Seriously, I'd rather you beat me than anybody else." They laugh. Sarah compares herself to those clown punching bags that get smacked and come right back up. They laugh and cry some more. "Rachel is the one that I relate to the best," Sarah interviews. "I know that once she's gone, I have nobody to be happy with about anything."

Anybody want to role-play? Okay, you're Sarah. You've been thrown to the wolves by your teammates for the fourth time. You beat your new best friend. The question: do you want cake? Yep, in the most self-serving move in recent reality television history, the RR team gets Sarah a cake. It's chocolate, with an inscription: "Thanks For Saving Our Butts Again Again Again Again." Oh, and it has four candles in it, one for each time Sarah had to save HER OWN BUTT. What says the King of Condescending? "The cake is a sign that she deserves to feel like she's part of the team," Adam interviews. I'm surprised that Adam didn't coat his beard in flour and bitch about how long it took to bake the damn cake. Sarah has a good laugh, at least for her so-called friends. "It's kinda flattering," she says, "but at the same time, it's like, give me a break." The team claps and has a good time. Cut to Laterrian, who should not even get a whiff of the cake. Fade to black. Sarah: "And it did make me sick." You and me both.

Next time: Mike and Theo V. do some intense weightlifting. Anybody else want to see those two in the final Gauntlet? I don't really hate them, but we need a climatic clash of those two titans. The players are spinning on a giant turntable. Cut to Adam walking with Dave and Theo. "We need to compete against the Real World right now," Adam tells them. "And we can't let go of a guy right now." Adam in interview: "The way to win these challenges? Vote off all the girls." Oh, man. Now I want Ellen to fly down to Telluride to stomp on him. Players spin off hard. Cara: "The guys are getting a reality check. This isn't just about sending women to the Gauntlet." Hey, Adam! Knock knock! Who's there? Instant karma! Instant karma who? Instant karma's gonna get you!

I know, this was overkill from me. I don't care. I lost all respect for Laterrian, whom I likened to Osten Taylor of Survivor: Pearl Islands. He was hapless during his time there, but was kept in the game by Andrew Savage and the bulk of the Morgan tribe before being the first contestant to fal-out quit.

And I really, really, REALLY hated Adam. Passing the buck, protecting an obvious scrub, piling on Sarah's woes, getting a cheap-ass store-bought cake . . . ugh. Just thinking about him chaps my behind. I take solace that he hasn't popped up since avoiding elimination in the ill-conceived Road Rules: Viewers' Revenge. Between then and Telluride, he did one more Challenge. That didn't work out for him. Because I'm that petty, I went to town with that. In the weeks that followed, more members of the Road Rules team would work my last nerve.

One more thing: a tiny part of me thinks Rachel B. may have thrown the Gauntlet. I'm probably wrong; BMP edited things to show Sarah struggling harder than Rachel because Sarah was the underdog the audience should root for. But if Rachel said that she said "fuck it" and let her then-BFF have it, I would understand. This would be the last we'd see of her on MTV. She was nice. Also, as you'll see eventually, the wrong damn Rachel left the show, and we were stuck with the overrated butterface.

Finally, to give you an idea on how painful the Gauntlet was, this is the video for "Send The Pain Below" by Chevelle. Not the cheeriest of songs, and perfect for that match.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 10: Masters of Their Domain

This was not a fun episode for me. Once again, the person I identified with the most got thrown to the wolves. Also, the alpha dudes on both sides acted like assholes. And I took Rupert's ouster on Survivor: Pearl Islands to heart. Hey, there weren't heavy guys like me  on reality television at the time. Today, I see Rupert as an overrated blowhard who seldom got bad press, even when he wound up berating Lillian in the finale, and she was basically getting beaten up by most of the jury. On the bright side, I don't hate voters in Indiana for trying to elect him as their governor, since one of the alternatives was Mike Pence.

Airdate: November 24, 2003

Recap Published: November 30, 2003

After the latest mission, Adam and Mike take reign of their respective teams. Does it work out? Here’s a hint: no, it doesn’t.
I was bummed out last week. First, Steve got beat in Perfect Fit... by Trishelle, of all people. A few days later, Rupert was voted off on Survivor. Yeah, he was a bit of a pill in the end, but I identified with the big lug. As I watched the commercial for the next episode, I got a sick feeling... one of my favorite people on the show was going into the Gauntlet. And so I went into Monday night with a mixture of hope and dread. That night, I was going to be really happy... or I was going to take the worst hit since John Vito and Jill got eliminated.

Previously on The Gauntlet: Road Rules won Red Baron, upping their bank to $60,000. Coral: “Maybe we can get more than four dollars in our stupid little [bleeping] bank account.” RW put Trishelle in the Gauntlet, while Mike voted for Irulan, who felt his decision was a cop-out. Coral: “Mike is under some sort of vaginal spell.” Hate the player, love the quotes. In the Gauntlet, Trishelle upset Puzzle Master Steve. His last words? “Yeah, good for her.” I hope he gets invited to the reunion.

Telluride. Mike and Trishelle are fishing. I picked up my first rod and reel a month ago. It was fun. I even caught my first fish, a scrawny thing I threw back. Mike talks about how didn’t want a girlfriend while living in Los Angeles, because the women he met were fake. “You’re beautiful, inside and out,” Mike gushes to his girl. “You’re the girl every guy would want, but probably couldn’t get.” That made me laugh. Who has Trishelle made out with on camera? There’s Steve, Frank, Eric, and Mike. Oh, and Adam dated her off-camera. And from what I’ve heard, that’s barely chipping at the iceberg. “He makes me smile,” she interviews. “I’m just happy to have him.”

Mansion. Nathan reads the clues for the next mission: depart at 8:30 am, wear bathing suits, tennis shoes, team colors, and mouth guards.

Morning. View of an odd, ladder-type contraption. Two stuffed cats hang from the top rung. The editors pipe in some mewing, since this is a cheesy production. Jonny welcomes everybody to Inferno. The objective: to climb up the spinning ladder, rescue the cat, and climb back down in the shortest amount of time, while being sprayed with water. A few contestants question the last part. “Well,” Jonny replies, “they gotta put out the fire to save the cat.” Makes sense to me. Jonny continues to lay out the rules: every rung must be climbed. If a player drops the cat, that person is assigned the longest time plus a two minute penalty. Mike interviews that they’re not racing against each other, but against time. Jonny continues: the times will be pooled, and the team with the shortest average time wins $10,000. Also, the fastest players get the Freshlook Lifesaver, which gives them immunity from the Gauntlet. Coral expositions that RR must sit out two players. This time, it’s Cara and Adam. Why, Cara? That’s the second time in a row. I know this will come back to haunt her.

Norman vs. Darrell. Remember Darrell dissing the old guy about outrunning him? Jonny blows his airhorn and they start climb. Norman takes a slight lead. “I don’t think this is Darrell’s mission,” Theo V. interviews. “He’s scared of heights. He grew up his whole life in an one-story house. He comes from a long line of low-level people.” Reminds me of an old SNL sketch with Martin Short as a solider who can’t climb stairs. Anyway, Norman gets his kitty and hits the bottom first, clocking in at 1:09, while Darrell finishes at 1:21 and he can’t believe Norman beat him.

Abram vs. Irulan. He finishes at 0:42, she at 1:14. Veronica and Theo G. race, but we don’t see their times. Rachel R. clocks out at 0:50, faster than Coral’s 1:07. Mike and Dave shake hands before and after their race. Mike finishes at 0:50, Dave at 1:03.

Roni vs. Trishelle. Roni takes the lead early while Trishelle struggles. She interviews that she took her time since she didn’t want to drop the cat. Roni finishes at 1:04 while Trishelle stops after 1:51. Mike assures Trishelle she did good while Coral makes a sour face. RW has an average time of 1:12, while RR clocks in at 1:06.

Jonny calls up “notorious” Alton and Laterrian. Both run up the ladder, hooking their cats to belts. Alton gains a small lead while we get two shots of Laterrian skipping a rung. Cut to Jonny looking on, since you can sneak one by him the way you can sneak a rising sun past a rooster. Both sides cheer; Alton has a time of 0:41, while Laterrian finishes with 0:46. Jonny drops the hammer on Laterrian, disqualifying him for his miscue. Laterrian denies it, but Jonny and the replay shut him down. Jonny assigns the maximum time, plus the two minute penalty. New times: RW 1:08, RR 1:21. Laterrian breathes hard, knowing the bad luck that dogged him on Extreme Challenge and Battle of the Sexes has caught up to him.

Rachel B. vs Theo V. He interviews that his team is going to be fine. Rachel struggles, stuffing her cat into a pocket. Theo comes down at 0:36, Rachel at 1:28. Theo figures he did well enough to give his team a chance.

As the cats are pulled into position, we see the times: RW 1:10, RR 1:15. Dave voiceovers that it’s down to Sarah to pull out the victory. Time out. Who put Sarah in the final slot? On Campus Crawl, I saw her choke in the clutch. As much as I like her, I wouldn’t have put her in a position where she could make or break my day.

Final heat: Nathan vs. Sarah. She interviews about winning for the team, adding, “I need to make sure that they understand that I want to be here.” Nathan takes the lead immediately. Sarah breathes hard on her ascent. Nathan grabs his cat and climbs down. Sarah grabs hers and slowly goes rung by rung, holding the cat. No clipping of the cat, no stuffing into a pocket. This is as painful for me as watching Melissa struggle. Her arm goes back, and the cat falls out of her hand. Cut to the cat on the ground. Only thing missing is RW singing, “Sarah killed the cat, Sarah killed the cat.” As Nathan’s teammates hug him, Sarah has a sad look on her face.

Back from commercials, we see the final times: RW 1:08, RR 1:29. Jonny awards the $10,000 check to RW. Coral claims it and playfully keeps it away from Roni. Jonny hands out the Lifesavers to the fastest contestants: Theo V. (0:36) and Alton (0:41), He orders both teams back to the mansion to figure out who goes to the Gauntlet.

RR Meeting. Sarah apologizes for dropping the cat. There’s an awkward silence that I’m sure is edited in. She interviews: “It’s really starting to grate on my nerves that a lot of people have no respect for me as a competitor, or as a team player, or even as a person.” Theo reads the votes: Veronica with 9, Laterrian with 25, and Sarah with 26. Second vote. Laterrian interviews that he knew his name was coming up. Adam reads the votes as Sarah gets two three-pointers. Veronica: “As soon as I hear my name being brought up, it’s like ‘Oh, God, again’. Then I look around the room and try to figure out who is giving me those points.” Based on the first set of average times, I figured that Veronica came out with a time of 1:36, which was pretty slow. In other words, Little Miss Entitled should shut up. She gets one three-pointer. Darrell figures that Veronica is due, since Sarah has been to the Gauntlet twice. Cara covers her eyes, interviewing that she can’t imagine what Sarah is going through.

Theo reads the final tally: Sarah 27, Laterrian 21, Veronica 18. Sarah admits she messed up, but feels that the team doesn’t need a “Gauntlet diplomat.” Adam snots, asking her if she wants a bye. “Once you start mentally packing your bags,” she responds, “twice, and then have to do it a third time, then you can tell me how I’m supposed to feel.” Not taking a hint, Adam asks if she feels like the weakest player on the team. She replies that everybody has messed up at least once. Adam goes into a spiel about strong and weak players. Cara snaps, asking him why she’s telling Sarah that before entering the Gauntlet. “Because he doesn’t understand tact,” Sarah answers. Adam doesn’t look like he understands. Sarah: “The only motivation to come back to the team at this point is really just to shove my giant shoe up Adam’s ass.” I would pay money to see that.

Post-meeting. Darrell talks to Adam about sending Sarah to the Gauntlet with confidence. “I saw her panic and I saw her give up,” Adam sneers. “As soon as I see those things, I don’t want that person on my team.” Looks like somebody is having Jisela flashbacks. But maybe he has a point. I didn’t see Adam give up in the Inferno. Come to think of it, I didn’t see Adam in the Inferno, period. He asks what he was supposed to do. “Bite your tongue?” Dave replies. Oh, good. Ellen flashbacks. Adam stares, like the massive tool that he is.

Outside, Sarah takes a walk with Theo V. She snarks that she should have volunteered for the Gauntlet every time. Theo agrees with her about Adam’s lack of tact. He interviews that he’s on her side and she shouldn’t have to go all the time. He tells her that he wouldn’t blame her if she loses, but he hopes she wins.

RW Meeting. Alton asks if they’re going on performance to determine the voting. Coral quotes Trishelle about going back to the Gauntlet after a poor performance. Trishelle says that she never said to go from mission to mission, and while the others dropped out of Snake Soup, she stuck it out and got hypothermia. Once again: the producers want to kill their stars, I’m sure of it. Coral claims to have had only two bad missions. Not to nitpick, but I count at least four (Snake Soup, Masquerade, Mud Bath, Holey Canoe). Mike takes the floor, saying that whoever had the fastest time out of the two people he was thinking of would not get his vote. Then he says that since Coral was a little slower than Irulan, she would go to the Gauntlet. Let’s say the times were not doctored in any way. If that’s the case, Irulan was seven seconds slower than Coral. Who is Mike kidding? Trishelle chimes in, voting for Coral. Of course, she takes it well. “Mike and Trishelle miraculously came up with [my] name to throw my name in the Gauntlet,” she interviews. “I don’t know if they’re standing in front of the microwave too long, but that was a complete shock.” In quick order, everybody else votes for Trishelle (37 seconds slower than Irulan). Coral cocks an eyebrow, seemingly mocking Mike before she votes for Trishelle. She interviews that she didn’t think she would be going back to the Gauntlet, and she thought they were going by overall performance.

Outside. Coral bitches about Mike, bringing up the two missions again. She interviews that Mike should admit to not voting for Trishelle since she is his girlfriend. Irulan doesn’t think Mike has integrity and she would vote for him. “He needs to start thinking with the correct head,” Rachel B. gripes, “because he’s [bleeping] not!” Brilliant! Just then, Mizhelle comes outside. The vibe: “Cheese it, you guys!” As everybody shuts up, Mike looks around, ten seconds from Mizzing out.

After commercials, the others walk away as Coral calls Mike over. He interviews that his friendship with Coral has been a roller-coaster ever since he met her. She asks him if Trishelle is doing better than her. Mike says yes. Mike isn’t the brightest bulb, is he? Coral shakes her head. She asks, “How come everyone else sees it but you?” She interviews that Mike is totally oblivious. Eventually, he admits that it dawned on him once everybody else voted for Trishelle. Coral: “It just seems like your heart is kind of getting in the way.” Or other body parts. Hey, I’m just saying.

Gauntlet. Jonny goes into the usual spiel before bringing Trishelle and Sarah up. Trishelle says she is more nervous about battling Sarah than any guy, adding, “She might give me a run for my money.” Trishelle rolls the die and it comes up Perfect Fit. The optimism that was on the RR side when that came up last week shifts to RW. Jonny lays out the rules as we get a flashback of Trishelle taking out Steve. Sarah: “All I’m thinking in the back of my mind is. ‘I will not lose a puzzle to Trishelle.’” Jonny lays out more exposition. “It’s scary,” Mike interviews. “I can lose my girl in a matter of seconds.” As I hold back the tears, Mike and Trishelle share a kiss.

Jonny gets the players ready as they wish each other luck. For some reason, Jonny doesn’t have his trusty airhorn, so he’s forced to whistle, starting the game. Both players dive in, throwing the puzzle pieces out of the water. Trishelle gets out first while Sarah struggles. Trishelle starts working on the puzzle. Rachel R. covers her face and maybe she’s on Sarah’s side for once. Sarah finally gets out, but Trishelle is ahead of her. Both work on the puzzle. “Keep going,” Mike shouts out. “Keep playing with it. Keep playing with it.” Heh. More struggling on both sides. Irulan, Alton, and Nathan get out of their seats to watch. Sarah’s puzzle is almost complete, as she tries to cram pieces into the hole. Trishelle is still working. And finally... FINALLY!... Sarah slams the final piece. Game over.

Before I get to the celebration, let’s review what Sarah has just done:
  1. She won the Gauntlet for the third time, keeping herself in the game and making me a happy recapper in the process.
  2. She booted Trishelle from a reality show. Had she stayed, we would have had but a few precious weeks between the end of this season and the start of Inferno, as well as The Surreal Life. Now we get some breathing room away from her presence.
  3. She broke up Mizhelle, the most nauseating couple this side of Chadwick & Holly. She also delivered Mike into the somewhat sinister embrace of Coral, who is most entertaining when she has a whipping boy to call her own.
  4. She prevented an ending where Adam and his buddies get the last laugh. Honestly, I forgot what it was like to really loathe the ADD-addled dink until this episode. Adam, I know Jamie. I’ve watched Jamie. You are no Jamie. So lose the hat and shave the beard.
  5. She avenged Steve. I half-expected him to appear as a blue-tinted Jedi ghost, giving Sarah the wink and the thumbs up. Future get-togethers between those two should be fun. “Wanna play Jenga? I should win... after all, since Trishelle beat you, and I beat Trishelle, then I’m guaranteed to triumph!” At least she met one guy from The Quest who wasn’t all ego.
Back to the celebration. Sarah is mobbed by her teammates while Adam keeps away. “After everything that happened today,” she interviews, “it’s the big middle finger to a lot of people.” Cut to Adam. Sweet. “It’s awesome,” Theo V. drawls. “I think if Sarah wins the Gauntlet one more time, she should be able to take the Gauntlet home with her!” On the other side, Mike tells Trishelle that she did her best, then hugs her.

Denouement. Jonny brings up Trishelle for parting words. She leaves it at just having a good time. “Y’all don’t let it get too personal,” she says, “because everyone has friends here and we are going home after this.” Jonny asks “the undisputed queen of the Gauntlet” for her thoughts, but Sarah declines. “I’m a barnacle, man,” she interviews, “and they can do whatever they want. I’m not going anywhere.”

Mansion. Players are eating Subway sandwiches. Anybody got Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki they don’t want? Okay, just asking. Mike voiceovers that he has to tell his team that he screwed up. He apologizes to Coral, not realizing his vote was stupid until he talked with her. “Did I expect Mike to [apologize]?” Coral asks in her interview. “No, but he should have. I accept his apology. I’m just not going to make a parade of it and give him a medal or a brownie or some [bleep].” Trishelle exits, escorted by Norman. Cut to Mike, looking forlorn.

Next time: Log-rolling! Veronica bitches about one person not performing in the past three days. Laterrian volunteers to go into the Gauntlet. “I don’t want to go,” he interviews. “Nobody wants to go.” Female voice: “Way to stand up and be a man and admit to making a huge mistake.” Laterrian: “I [bleeped] up, but not as much as she did!” Cara can’t believe... something. We’ll find out about it when it happens.

Postscript: My good mood lasts less than 48 hours. I was happy for Sarah, and I was thrilled that she was able to give my Fantasy Challenge team a much-needed boost. Then I watched Survivor, where Jon played the Dead Grandma card, and I was furious all over again. Hey, I never said all my recaps would have happy endings.

Writing assignment: Which past and present Challenge players would you like to come back? Which “virgins” would you like to see again for the first time? And which RW and RR cast members would you not want polluting your TV screen ever again? E-mail me with your opinions at [redacted].


Of course, things would get worse for Sarah. On the bright side, "Mizhelle" did not last long after the season. I remember Mike going over events in the Gauntlet/Inferno special about how Trishelle caem to him before a party, told him that she was going to kiss a bunch of guys, and he wasn't supposed to get mad. Not as bad as telling people that your grandmother died for shits and giggles, but Trishelle just flat-out sucked.

Oh, and next episode? I get mad. Really mad. Just a heads-up. I know, it's stupid of me to get worked up about such things, especially in the "long long ago" era before friggin' Johnny.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 9: Wild Blue Yonder

I'd talk about the fallout of Invasion Of The Champions, but I'm thinking of saving that for a separate post, what with that ending and Champs vs. Pros starting up, the clusterfuck that is Survivor: Game Changers, and The Amazing Race trying to stay afloat. Short story: I'm happy CT got his second win, saddened that Nicole came in third, and appalled that Ashley won six figures, because she sucks. I mean, there are worse women in the BMP stable, but she just irks me a lot.

Airdate: November 17, 2003

Recap Published: November 22, 2003 (hey, I was writing faster! Way to go, 2003 version of Jason!!)
The players fight in the air and on the ground. While Real World argues over who to sacrifice to the Gauntlet, Road Rules sends in a familiar face.
Previously on The Gauntlet: Trishelle and Mike became a couple. “If either one of us had to vote the other off,” she interviewed, “we would do it.” Please print this recap out and circle that quote in red ink, since we’ll be getting back to that. Road Rules won Sink My Ship, boosting their bank to $50,000. Mike voted for Elka, feeling she ran out of steam after winning the first mission. In the Gauntlet, Cara lucked out, as Elka knocked herself out of the game. Elka felt that Mike was biased with his vote, questioning whether his relationship with Trishelle was getting to him. That didn’t doesn’t explain the other people voting for you, though.

Credits. For some odd reason, the graphics and names are gone. “Rock Star” still plays, so it’s mostly good.

Night. Mike tells Coral he loves killing Road Rules, but they’re killing Real World this time. He brings her up, saying she has to do well in the next missions. Coral interviews that she knows she’s going back to the Gauntlet, since friendships are not involved. Quick flashback to Mike voting for her and her blubbering to him afterwards. “For Mike, winning is more important than loyalty to your friends,” she interviews. “But I think loyalty to your friends is the best way.” Coral brings up Elka getting put in the Gauntlet over Trishelle. Mike figures that Elka hadn’t done as well as the others. “Mike and Trishelle have formed a hybrid person,” Coral gripes, as we see the couple share a friendly moment. “I just woke up one morning and they were Siamese twins. It’s just [bleeping] sickening, and you have to see them glued to each other the entire time.” Sounds like somebody is bitter. Then again, if I had to spend time near the dreaded Mizhelle creature, I’d be cranky as well. Mike interviews that he’s going for the weakest links and he would send Coral out again.

Sunrise. Montrose Airport. Military drums play in the background as the players assemble. The camera pans up on Jonny, wearing jeans, a white t-shirt, shades and dogtags. Adam feels like he’s in a dream. Jonny welcomes everybody to Red Baron. If the graphic is to be believed, it’s “Red Barron.” I guess it must be Drunken Interns Week at BMP. Either that, or Mike is handling graphics. Anyway, the object is for the players to shoot each other down in the shortest amount of time. “I will be flying a plane today?” Adam asks, ready to burst. Jonny confirms it and Adam is ecstatic. In short, his breath has been taken away. Rachel B. looks a bit squeamish. Abram interviews, and I think he just had an airgasm. Mike lays the exposition down: there will be a dogfight between two players. The goal is to get behind the opponent and get their plane in the windshield. Jonny adds that those who win in the shortest time will receive the Freshlook Lifesaver. “I’m so excited,” Nathan interviews. “I cannot wait to blow somebody’s ass out of the sky.”

Instructions. John the Flight Instructor goes over what the players have to do. Basically, once a player gets the opponent in the windshield, the guy on the intercom would confirm the hit, and the attacked plane blows smoke to signal the hit. Theo G. expresses the urgency for RW wins in this mission and in the Gauntlet. Over at RR, Darrell explains that three people have to sit out in order to ensure balance. Cara mentions to the group that she gets motion sickness and claustrophobia, but she doesn’t want that used against her. This must be a huge issue for her, given the last time she sat out a mission due to injury she was voted out the following week for her lack of commitment. Over Donell. That still gets to me. Adam interviews that Cara, Darrell, and Sarah will not be flying. “I don’t see it as a cop-out at all,” he continues. “I just think they’re looking out for the better interest of the team.” Anybody else think he’s full of it?

Jonny asks the teams for their flight order. The RW side has out their plan. Over at RR, Laterrian is raising a ruckus. It goes by so fast, I’m vague about details. I think he wants to go in a certain slot and is being a jerk about it. Adam feels the need to tell Laterrian to chill out. Adam interviews that Laterrian brought down morale, and he needs to step up, adding, “It’s just the wrong way to start a mission.”

Ultra-Cool Slow-Motion Shots of Players in Flight Suits: Rachel B., Nathan, and Coral; Rachel R., Theo V. and Veronica; Theo G., Trishelle, and Mike; Roni, Adam, and Laterrian. Quick note: Coral’s suit is zipped so far down, you can see she’s not wearing a bra. Like she’s posing for the “Girls of the Air Force” spread in Playboy. (See picture at the top of the article.)[2017: Sorry about that. She did make an impressive figure]

Abram climbs into the plane, ready to shoot his opponent. Alton notes that he has never flown a plane before. The planes start up. Irulan blows a kiss to Alton, while Abram gives a thumbs up to his teammates. He interviews that he wanted to be an Air Force pilot, so this is his boyhood dream come true.

Planes in the air. The intercom buzzes “Tally ho,” starting the match. Both pilots look for each other. Abram gets his plane behind Alton, who doesn’t realize it. Soon, Alton is in Abram’s windshield. Intercom: “Gun, gun, gun.” Smoke shoots out of Alton’s plane, while Abram whoops it up in the cockpit. He interviews about what happened, and I’m sure he had another airgasm.

The planes land as the RR side cheers Abram. Meanwhile, Theo V. and Trishelle gear up for their trip. “Trishelle is about to get at it in the air,” Theo drawls. “I know you’re used to getting at it, but I know you’re not used to getting at it up there. I’m gonna take you down. Holla!”

Round 2. The planes maneuver for position. Trishelle doesn’t see Theo behind her. “I got my eye on the prize, bro,” he cackles. Even in the air, he still has to be a wit. Theo positions. “Gun, gun, gun.” Smoke. Theo yodels joyously in the cockpit. Trishelle interviews that she hasn’t done well in the past two missions, and she thought she could have won.

Round 3: Adam vs. Theo G. Theo thinks he sees Adam, but Adam gets into position. “Gun, gun, gun.” Smoke. Road Rules up, 3-0. On the ground, the RR side celebrates, while RW looks dejected. Abram interviews, reveling in the misery of his opponents. Cut to Coral, whose flight suit is still zipped down, and you can check the lack of a bra for yourself. “This mission is killing us,” Rachel B. interviews. “We look like idiots.” Theo G. points out the obvious: RW has to win four in a row.

Back from commercials, the RW side cheers Nathan. He interviews about not flying. Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around, so don’t sweat it. His opponent for Round 4: Rachel R. They circle. Nathan gets behind her. “Gun, gun, gun.” Smoke. Nathan in cockpit: “That’s what I’m [bleeping] talking about!” Rachel in cockpit: “That sucks.”

Rachel B. voiceovers that she hates flying in planes, and she is extremely scared. Round 5: Rachel vs. Steve. Steve looks behind him, but Rachel manages to get the shot. “Gun, gun, gun.” Smoke. Theo V. interviews that Steve is not contributing to the team. Shot of Theo wearing a “Re-Elect Reagan” t-shirt. I’m sure there’s a funny story in that, but for now? Shut up, Theo.

On the ground. Coral talks to Irulan about the need to beat Laterrian in order to avoid the Gauntlet. Irulan interviews that since Coral’s win, she had been “on her p’s and q’s.” People still say that? Cut to flashback: Coral in the Gauntlet, staring at Tina, practically willing her to fall from the trapeze. Laterrian gets into his plane. He interviews about being on a losing streak (perhaps indicating bad times in Extreme Challenge and Battle of the Sexes), and that he might be going to the Gauntlet.

Round 6: Coral vs. Laterrian. Circling. Coral looks up and sees Laterrian. “Gun, gun, gun.” Smoke. Coral screams in joy, as she ties the score at 3-3. The roles are now reversed: RW is whooping it up, RR looks stunned.

Round 7: Mike vs. Dave. Circling. Mike comes from behind. “Gun, gun, gun.” Smoke. Mike’s really cutting loose in the cockpit. Dave asks if he’s done. RW up, 4-3. “I fully have confidence in my team,” Nathan interviews. “I really think this is going to be the mission we’re going to take.”

Round 8: Irulan vs. Veronica. Veronica wastes little time. “Gun, gun, gun.” Smoke. “It sucks to lose,” Irulan interviews. “I wanted to smoke that fool.”

Jonny Extreme Close-Up. He points out that both teams are tied at four wins apiece, and that it comes down to Norman against Roni. In the air, both pilots look up. Norman is in the target. “Gun, gun, gun.” Smoke. Game over. RR wins, 5-4. Roni whoops it up. Yes... this is a Roni moment. I honestly didn’t think she could be a hero on this show. As she lands, Roni flashes the devils horns while her teammates cheer and hug her.

Denouement. Jonny awards the $10,000 check to Road Rules, which is picked up by Cara, Darrell, and Sarah. That might have been a bad choice, since they didn’t actually fly. At least they thanked their teammates for the win. Jonny hands out the Freshlook Lifesavers to Nathan (gunned down Rachel in 26 seconds) and Adam (took out Theo in 2:10). Jonny gives both sides 30 minutes to decide who goes into the Gauntlet.

Mansion. RW meeting. Trishelle tells the group that she doesn’t think she’s the weak link and she’s frustrated that everybody else isn’t honest with themselves about their performances. While she labels Coral as the weakest link, she decides to vote for herself. Brilliant gambit, Trishelle. Why Mark Burnett hasn’t called you for a Survivor audition, I will never know. “We can’t lose Trishelle,” Mike interviews. “She has the heart, she has the desire. I don’t think we can lose someone who has that sort of drive.” I think she’s got something else, if you know what I mean. Coral interviews, repeating what Trishelle said in a mock Southern accent, then adding, “I was like, ‘biiitttcccchhh’!” Well put.

Returning from commercials, Coral votes for Trishelle. Irulan: “It’s kind of awkward when you feel like your loyalty has been broken by another woman.” She votes for herself, while Alton votes for himself. Norman’s vote for Trishelle is for support, since he is confident she can win in the Gauntlet. Rachel B. votes for Trishelle since she volunteered. Nathan votes for Trishelle, thinking she can win. Theo G. votes for Trishelle. Mike decides to go with his gut instinct... and vote for Irulan, since she didn’t win against Veronica. Wow. That was super weak. In her interview, Coral snipes that he was for people volunteering, but he’s upset that Trishelle did it. Irulan: “It feels a little bit like a cop-out.” The gang gets their act together for a group cheer.

RR meeting. After the first vote, Steve has 32 points, Laterrian has 13, and Veronica finishes with 10. Laterrian interviews that he’s a strong competitor and he doesn’t want to go to the Gauntlet. He apologizes to the group for arguing with Adam. What a dummy. The others have basically shoved Steve into the lead and Laterrian is fishing for forgiveness. Steve interviews and he’s as put off by the insincerity as I am. Adam reads off the votes, where Steve raises a fist in some power salute. Final score: Steve 35, Laterrian 20, Veronica 17. Steve is happy, since the others are honest with him.

Interlude. I post on Television Without Pity’s forums. I couldn’t ask for a better place to express my feelings on television shows. And they have a feature where you can black out stuff you don’t want to spoil for others. In my mind, I remembered blocks of text that was blacked out, and I realized something: The name of the next to go was short. Real short. Shorter than “Trishelle.” So I did what any recapper would do: lie to myself. “Hey, it’s Steve,” I thought. “He’s survived one Gauntlet. No way he can lose.”

Gauntlet site. Steve is in a boxer’s robe and the team is having fun with his fantasy. Jonny welcomes Trishelle and Steve to the Gauntlet. The RR side hams it up as Steve gets and spits out water. Steve has on his “Rozelle” headband, which he called a “screw you” gesture the first time he wore it. He rolls the die, and it comes up Perfect Fit. Jonny goes over the rules again: players retrieve puzzle pieces from the pool and assemble them on a stand. See, he has to win! When she was growing up, Trishelle had friends. Steve had puzzles. Steve probably thought he was a puzzle until the age of 14. Piece of cake, right? “I’m a little nervous,” Trishelle interviews, “but I’m good at a lot of things people don’t know about.” Steve is confident, since he beat Tonya at this last time.

Jonny gets the players ready. Mike: “I’m really nervous for Trishelle in this Gauntlet, because I can lose her.” Shut up, Mike. Airhorn. Both players dive into the pool, tossing pieces out. Steve climbs out first, going through the pieces. Trishelle gets out and starts on her own. Cut to Steve close to finishing. Cut to Trishelle, slamming the final piece for the win. Game over. What? WHAT?! You have GOT to be kidding me! I lucked out last season, when I only had Melissa to care about and she made to the penultimate episode. Seriously, I did not see this one coming. Remember: never get emotionally attached to anybody on a reality show. I should’ve learned that lesson after John Vito and Jill got eliminated in The Amazing Race.

Alton and Mike rush Trishelle, hugging her hard. Steve manages to mutter, “Yeah, good for her,” and actually sound sincere about it. “Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, I would have beaten Trishelle,” he interviews. “But this was that one time!” He’s smiling, so he doesn’t come off as bitter. I think Sarah speaks for us all: “Who would think Trishelle would be good at puzzles?” This causes Adam to laugh. Well, I still got Sarah... until her team decides to throw her over the edge again. Trishelle: “To all the people who don’t think I’m smart just because I’m a girl and because I like clothes and because I flirt with boys... boo-yah!” No, we don’t think you’re smart because... oh, I won’t get into it. I’m not in the mood for the easy kill.

Sarah hugs Steve. Cutest platonic couple on this show. Steve: “Out of all these wonderful things that I experienced in my life, the one story I’m going to have to swallow to tell my grandchildren is the day when Las Vegas Trishelle from Real World whupped my ass!” Once again, with a smile on his face and no venom in his heart. Are you taking notes, Katie?

Night. Irulan tells a few of her teammates that she loves Trishelle, and she herself didn’t take out Veronica. She adds that she told Elka that she was okay with going to the Gauntlet, but for the right reasons. “Mike talks all this stuff about track record,” Irulan interviews, “and it just started to feel like he just wasn’t being honest about what the reasons were.” Norman is wearing a shirt with the face of former castmate Heather B. on it. Is it wrong of me to want Heather to magically jump out and slap everybody on the RW side? Anyway, Norman thinks the eruptions caused by Mizhelle might break the team apart. Alton interviews that people look up to Mike to make the non-biased choices. Cut to Mizelle, snuggling in bed.

Guess what? BMP didn’t give Steve the farewell montage that the other departed players received. I guess that makes Steve the Osten of this group. Bleh. I’ll do the eulogy. When I first saw Steve, it was on a promo card for The Quest. Seeing him striking an Elvis pose, I was sure he would be the person voted out of the group and I would not like him. I am glad to have been wrong. Between The Quest and The Gauntlet, Steve has been one of the funnier guys in recent BMP history. Rather than shoot vainly for stardom in California, he decided to go into teaching. So if your kid starts raving about his cool new teacher who’s a Royals fan, you might have seen him on television already.

Next time: Jonny welcomes everybody to Inferno. What? The new season’s starting? But... I’m not ready! I don’t have my arsenal of CT jokes prepared! I barely know who Dave Mirra is! I... oh, that’s the name of the event. It’s weird, since I don’t see any fire involved. And I could’ve sworn I saw a cat doll. RR meeting. Adam talks about strong and weak people. Cara: “Why are you telling her that she’s weak before going into the Gauntlet?” I got a bad feeling about this. RW Meeting. Mike votes for Coral, and her eyebrow goes up. Rachel B.: “He needs to start thinking with the correct head, because he’s [bleeping] not!” Ha! Mike stands behind Trishelle, like the wimp that he is.

 Somehow, I forgot to point out that those sitting out of Red Barron (eyeroll, though I'm not getting the red misspell line) were immune. That's how Steve -- the architect of the 3-2-1 voting process -- got voted in. Otherwise, Road Rules would have tossed in Sarah. As you'll find out in the new few episodes, that was their all-purpose "Plan A."

If a production assistant comes out of hiding to reveal that the Gauntlet was rigged for Trishelle to win, I would not be that surprised. For the record: I don't think she's dumb. Sure. she makes a lot of bad life decisions (re: William Hung, "She Bangs"), but I'm thinking her IQ is in triple digits. I look at it from BMP's perspective . ..  would you rather have the seldom-seen cast member of The Quest win again? Or one of the leads in a very memorable season of The Real World? If the die came up Dead Man's Drop, Steve's trapeze would've been greased. If they had to do Ride 'Em Cowboy, Trishelle's bull would barely have moved. With Perfect Fit, I'm thinking Trishelle's puzzle pieces were numbered. They had to be, because I can't give her one shred of credit. Needless to say, I was never a fan.

Almost forgot: Steve and Sarah would have made a cute couple. I don't think his butt squeeze on her was the idea of the producers. Alas, Steve had a girlfriend (whom I also befriended prior to the season), and Sarah would win up hanging out with somebody else. That's another story, and I will vent when that time comes.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 8: Nobody Beats the Miz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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