Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 12: Turn the Beat Around

Apologies for not posting/reposting in a timely fashion. I keep meaning to post more often . . . not only putting up my Gauntlet recaps, but also my takes on The Challenge, Survivor and The Amazing Race. Contrary to what people might tell you, the winning team from the latter was NOT the worst in the show's 29-season history. Also, I keep wanting to writing about the Mets possibly being cursed. Bright side: This episode is light on agita for me. In the following episode, the bile started filling my mouth to overflowing. Not good times.

Airdate: December 8, 2003
Recap Published: December 13, 2003

It’s Battle of the Sexes all over again, as the cocky guys on both teams size up the girls for elimination. But by episode’s end, two of the strongest men fight for their own survival.
I have to be honest, I’m not up on dating shows. How many of them end up “happily ever after”? Due to my commitment to this show, I missed the spectacle of Average Joe, so I don’t care about it one way or the other. But I did hear about the homecoming queen picking a guy named Jason over an Adam. That made me smile. I know it shouldn’t have, but it did.

Previously on The Gauntlet: Roni beat Mike in Rolling On a River, winning $10,000 for her team’s check-fattened bank account. Coral feels that the girls are being picked on and that it’s coming down to all boys. Naturally, the camera pans to the soon-to-be-gone Elka while Coral says this. Back to ROAR, Sarah got knocked off the log by Laterrian, and she eviscerates him in her interview. He just mumbles something about college foundations knocking on his door.

Mansion. Nathan tells Mike and Norman that he’s sick of losing and that the team has to win some Gauntlets to prevent a mismatch in the final mission. Mike asks who on the team finishes at the top of the competitions. Nathan answers the three people in the room. Honestly, it is hard to discern the best of the RW, given that nobody has had the one dramatic win. Nathan interviews that RW has had their ups and downs. Flashback to Holey Canoe, with Matt steering, Coral freaking out, and Nathan cursing at her. Good times. “It’s been one big tension ball,” Nathan continues. “When you hit rock bottom, the only place you can go is up.”

Outside. Adam discusses voting strategy with Theo V. and Dave. He feels that they can’t afford to lose a guy in the Gauntlet. “They have two less girls than we do,” he explains, “so obviously, to even it out, we get rid of a girl.” It’s a wonder he gets dates that aren’t producer-arranged. Adam interviews that Theo, Dave, and himself have risen to the top. He continues: “The way top win these challenges is to [super obvious cut] vote off all the girls.” Even with the ham-fisted editing, Adam is still a loser.

Cut to the mansion. The editors have piped in “Not Gonna Get Us” by the Russian duo known as t.A.t.U. You know the song; it’s the one they did at the MTV Movie Awards, and the set finished with dozens of women in school uniforms making out with each other. Great times. Coral tells Veronica she doesn’t want to be available to be sent into the Gauntlet just because she’s a girl. “The guys are scared to sacrifice another guy,” Veronica interviews. “They think the girls aren’t as strong as the boys.” Sounds like Ruthie picked the wrong Challenge.

Back to the RR Brain Trust, such as it is. Adam says it would hurt to lose a guy before the final mission. “I’m playing for the $150,000 and the fifteenth mission,” Dave interviews. “The potential that a guy can offer is a lot better than what, say, Veronica can offer.” *koff*Foreshadowing!*koff* And I still think Dave asks Cara permission to trash-talk the ladies. Adam notes that if not for the money, people would have gone home. He does make a valid point; Battle of the Sexes was loaded with deserters, and Sarah would’ve bailed out a long time ago if there wasn’t a bank involved. “I love my girls,” he interviews, “but at the end of the day, the girls are going to be the ones to look the weakest.” Your girls? Seriously, who should beat this guy up? So far, I got Ruthie, Sarah, Ellen, Emily, Jisela, Sophia, Blair and Steve, Coral, Veronica and Rachel, Timmy, Ethan Zohn and Jenna Lewis, and t.A.t.U. What? Russian lesbians can’t hate Adam, too?

Mansion. Coral reads the clue off the sponsor phone. The next mission will test the players’ endurance. “Like the others ones haven’t?” Coral quips. She continues to read: pick-up time is 6:45 a.m., wear team sweaters and sneakers. Alton and Irulan joke about working out.

Cut to the gym. Mike and Laterrian lift some weights. Roni, Rachel, and Veronica heft small barbells. Theo V. cleans and jerks. Theo G., on the phone: “I’m here in the gym with the Hulks.” Only thing missing is Amaya and Melissa doing some funky aerobics. He interviews that he has to start performing, or else he’s going to the Gauntlet.

Gauntlet site. The soundtrack blasts some scratching as we look at a giant record. Jonny welcomes everybody to Turntable. The objective: sit on the spinning platform as long as possible. The player who stays on the longest wins $10,000 for the team bank account. The rotation speed of the turntable also increases in time. Dave expositions that the players must hang onto balls which are attached to the wheel. Jonny reminds the players that the last player from each team will receive the Freshlook Lifesaver.

The players find places to sit on the wheel as it begins to rotate. “I think I’m the stronger person on the team,” Adam interviews. “When it comes down to it, I’m going to be the last man standing.” That was probably taken out of context of this episode, but I’m surprised his arm hasn’t broken off from all the times he patted himself on the back. Jonny asks both teams if they’re ready, and he blows his whistle to start the game. The editors have fun, moving the film back and forth and adding scratch sound effects. A few RR guys yell out the “Hey Road Rules” chant. Abram: “It’s like a big merry-go-round that goes really, really fast.”

Elapsed time: two minutes, 20 seconds. More spinning. The editing kicks in, and Darrell flies off the wheel. “My back was going out,” he interviews, “my legs were asleep. I’m the non-flexiblist cat you ever seen.” Do they still make amateur boxers wear headgear during fights? Just curious.

Elapsed time: 3:22. Whirling. Scratching. Adam tumbles off. Ha! “I couldn’t hack it,” he admits. “Records are so 1980s anyways.” Excuses, excuses. Adam and Darrell look on as the game continues. Nathan flies off, making a scary Popeye face in the process. He interviews that he couldn’t hold on. Veronica: “At this point, my hands feel like they’re going to fall off.” More spinning as we go into commercials.

Elapsed time: 5:01. “Help me, Lord!” the soundtrack blares. “I found myself in some kind of hell!” Dude, it’s just Monday night at 10 p.m. Chill out. Cara flies off, and Alton slams into her prone body. Ouch. “It is not just about your muscle bulk and how big and scary you look,” Cara interviews. “It is seriously about your duration and your mental control.” Mike spins off, followed by Abram. The latter interviews that he doesn’t know what’s going on with the guys. Laterrian is flung off. “Should I have done better?” he interviews. “Yes. I didn’t win when I should’ve won. That’s it.”

Elapsed time: 6:31. Coral hits a bump and gets spun off, followed by Norman and Theo V. Next to go? Sarah. Is she happy with her performance? “I looked up and I was like, ‘Wait a minute. [looking over both shoulders] There’s only three people left now that I’m gone!’ Yes!”

Irulan takes a backwards somersault off the wheel, followed by Roni and Rachel. Now it’s down to Veronica vs. Theo G. “Give me the victory in the name of Jesus!” Theo gasps as he spins around. Yeah, whatever. Mike interviews that Theo feels the pressure of being on the chopping block. Elapsed time: 9:12. I’m surprised nobody threw up. Theo is still praying for the win. But one edited scratch later, he goes flying off, giving RR the win. “I was really focused the whole time” Veronica tells her teammates, “I had a really good grip and a good lock with my legs, and I couldn’t get off, or else I’d be in the Gauntlet.” Go ahead... take the comments out of context. “I feel like we forgot how to win,” Mike glumly interviews. “We’ve lost I don’t lost how many in a row. What are we doing wrong? I just don’t get it.”

Jonny awards the $10,000 check to RR, bumping their bank to $80,000. He also awards the Freshlook Lifesaver to Veronica, who admits she needed that. Theo V.: “I think it’s becoming more and more obvious that everyone on our team has something great to offer that they can offer not only in the missions, but also for the future of our team.” Jonny also hands a Lifesaver to Theo G., who was also prime Gauntlet bait last week. He interviews that he had to show the team that he’s a fighter. Jonny gives both teams time to go back to their lounges and figure out who’s going to the Gauntlet.

RW Meeting. Irulan doesn’t know who she’s voting for. Coral interviews that it’s hard to gauge who would be strong in future missions. Alton tells the group that he was the second person gone in ROAR and Turntable, and the voting shouldn’t be hard. He interviews that he feels like having the best chance of winning in the Gauntlet. “You have to make a sacrifice,” he adds. “Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.” And here I was worried about Cara’s skull after he smacked into her. Irulan tells the group that she wants to be strong, but it’s hard to vote for her boyfriend. Why couldn’t Mike just admit that with Trishelle? She interviews (behind a pair of huge sunglasses) that she’s behind him, but she can’t contribute to sending him home. Cut to Alton and Irulan kissing in front of the camera. I hate to say it, but those two have grown on me. He apologizes for volunteering, but he feels the need to represent the team.

RR Meeting. Cara reminds the team that they’re voting on overall performance. She interviews about how the men are getting a reality check. At this point, Laterrian decides to step up, volunteering himself for the Gauntlet. Too little, too late in my eyes. Sarah wastes no time in thanking the team for not sending her in. “There’s always tomorrow,” one of the guys pipes up. Sad but true. “Finally,” Sarah interviews, “the guys are starting to realize that girls are an asset to the team, and not just this thing that they have to carry around like a big monkey on their back.” Laterrian interviews that he’s out to prove his worth to the team. “I don’t know who the hell I’m going against,” he adds, “but I’m trying to take somebody’s [bleeping] head off.” You have to positive about these things.

Gauntlet. Alton and Irulan hold hands. Jonny does his usual bit, bringing Alton and Laterrian up to the front. Laterrian rolls the die, and it comes up Pole Climb. While Laterrian makes a sour face, Alton threatens to break his teammates’ hands with hard high-fives. “Alton has a history in climbing,” Laterrian interviews. “I have to go against him, and I’ve never climbed ever in life. How does that suck?” Ah, shut up, or I’ll start playing the violin. Wait, Alton’s good at that, too. Nathan drops the exposition: two poles dangle from the rafters over the water. The object: get up the pole as quickly as possible and release the opponent’s lever, releasing the pole. Norman interviews that Alton can climb anything. “Laterrian is some freak of nature,” Dave retorts. “He’s just in perfect shape to do something like a pole climb.”

Jonny blows his whistle, signaling both players to go into the water. Laterrian dives in, while Alton plops, keeping his hands out of the water. “These missions have torn us apart emotionally and physically,” Norman interviews. “Alton, you need to come back to us. We need you.” Irulan feels confident in her boyfriend. Jonny blows his whistle again. From start to finish, it’s a bloodbath. Alton zooms up the pole like he’s got a jet pack, while Laterrian can’t even grab onto the pole. Game over... or as Laterrian’s old pal the Roadmaster would put it: “Nighty night!” “For someone as strong as Laterrian,” Adam snipes, “I expect bigger things out of him.” Looks like somebody’s grumpy after not sending a lady off to die. Alton and Laterrian hug manfully. Norman is feeling strong with seven players on his team.

Denouement. Jonny restates that Laterrian is going home. Cut to Laterrian, with Sarah behind him, covering her mouth. Really, I don’t think she’s hiding a smile. A graphic shows that RR has lost four members, while RW lost seven. Laterrian tells his team that he made good friends, and he wants them to bust RW’s ass. “I let my entire team down,” he interviews, “and that hurts me to my heart.” He gets hugged by his teammates while Alton and Irulan hug and kiss.

Mansion. Water fun. A few of the guys play Marco Polo in the pool. Mike admits to Veronica and Rachel that he thought the men would dominate, like they did last season. Here’s the thing with Sexes: the guys had a plan. They were able to control who left the game (Puck and Jake aside) and they kept the drama out. On the other side, some of the stronger women (Rachel, Veronica, Julie to some extent) were booted due to the pettiness of a few people. With the different voting processes, comparing Sexes to Gauntlet is comparing apples and oranges. Mike wonders in an interview what would happen in a “girl mission,” and that nobody knows what future missions would bring. He laments to the ladies that RW has tried every method to select somebody for sacrifice. Veronica thinks that Turntable was a turning point. “The boys are always looking at themselves,” she continues, “like, ‘Who’s gonna win it today,’ and they never really though they could look to the girls for a win.”

Abram and Theo V. gripe about Laterrian’s performance. For some reason, Theo is sewing a flag. Maybe he wants to get a head start on those “girl missions.” “He didn’t get off the pole today,” he tells Abram. “What’s up with that?” They keep talking about how much he bench presses, and how he prepares the wrong way. It’s luck of the die, to be honest. If David had rolled Knock Your Block Off, Sarah would be a distant memory. Tonya would have fared better in Hangman against Steve. Laterrian just got the one game he was certain to lose.

Night. Roni takes a picture of Laterrian with Dave and Theo G. Dave: “I just want you to know we’re going to miss you as much, if not more, than Montana.” Laterrian’s brain needs that extra second to motor before he laughs. Theo V.’s t-shirt: “SPEED KILLS.” Make you own “slow” joke. The goodbye takes way too long, especially since Laterrian will probably try to latch himself back onto a Challenge next year. Honestly, after the incident with Sarah, I’m not going to miss him as much as last season. His final words: “Telluride or Die.” Okay, that was funny.

Next time: Helicopter! Loud helicopter! So loud, you can’t hear Jonny say his spiel. The object is to run and grab the rope hanging from the chopper. At least one player misses and hits the water. Veronica calls this the most difficult mission ever. Considering this is her thirty-fourth Challenge mission, that would be saying something. Norman stomps his foot is obvious disgust. Abram: “The girls, they’re all good-looking. We’re all thinking along the exact same lines, looking for the exact same targets.” Cut to: Abram, Veronica, and Rachel in a bubble bath. Oh, wow. Coral’s nearby on the cell phone. “He is the happiest man in the world right now!” she gushes. The trio move to the shower. Dude! Abram came to Telluride a boy, and he’s leaving a happy, happy boy. Hoo-RAH!

 At least we Laterrian never came back. Or maybe BMP lost his number. Whatever. I thought that Alton was a beast in his first two Challenges, but his four endgame wins came against overwhelmed opponents: Laterrian, Danny, Adam King and Ace. If it turns out Danny is still in therapy for how Alton took him out, I would not be surprised. Good times, because that Danny was a little punk.

Looking back, I forget if I was aware that only three Gauntlets (Dead Man's Drop, A Perfect Fit, Ride 'Em Cowboy) could be played between genders. I get how  we get alternating gender endgames from Inferno II to today, but I like the idea of anybody going home. Otherwise, you get Gauntlet III, where the Veterans team kept chanting "Trim the fat" and throwing missions to lose their women, only to fuck up by keeping plus-sized Eric "Big Easy" Banks for fear of getting eliminated by him in the Gauntlet. In the finale, he almost died, the team lost for having him drop out, and Coral probably laughed herself sick. Also, that's a strike against CT, who was screaming at Eric to run. This is for those who weigh CT's pros with the cons from early in his career.

I think that I created a thread on the Television Without Pity forum for Darrell, starting with The Inferno. The title: "Darrell: Non-Flexiblist Cat."

And damn, I was so okay with the threesome going into the next episode. Then I found those two bitches slagging Sarah, and . . . no. Next time. And  I'll try to post that soon.

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