Wednesday, July 05, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 17: The Last Roundup

And now, the thrilling conclusion. Well, it was thrilling compared to what I had to deal with in The Inferno. And Battle Of The Sexes 2.

Airdate: January 19, 2004
Recap Published: January 24, 2004 

The season wraps up as both teams complete Gold Rush. Can a depleted Real World team win after losing Coral (pictured)? Will Road Rules suffer for their Gauntlet wins? The journey ends here.
Before I tag and bag this season, I just want to give special thanks to In case you didn’t see it, they had a shot of Coral on the ground, clearly not having a good day. The caption: “Who will win on The Gauntlet? See Coral struggle for life in the final showdown.” I don’t adore her that much, and even I thought that was tasteless. Shame on MTV.

Previously on The Gauntlet: Two minutes and thirty-seven seconds of prologue, all of it from last week’s episode. Given how things end up shaking out, that time could’ve been used better. Here's what we get: Sarah is getting nervous about Gold Rush. Coral starts getting fatigued. Mike goes insane at her flagging health.

We pick things up with footage from last week, where Coral is lying down, Alton is talking to her, and Mike is growling for her to get up. Coral wants to be left behind, interviewing that she blacked out and things were beyond her control As Mike lifts her up, we get the same surreal camera shot that ended things last week. When it’s adjusted, Mike and Alton are supporting Coral. Mike calls to Norman, asking him for his opinion. Norman interviews that the team will have to eat the ten-minute penalty, and makes an executive decision to leave her. Coral waves her teammates away. As Nathan gets informed of the decision as he runs out in front.

Gold Digger. Nathan starts digging for the lock box, and RR is still at it. Adam and Theo are on shovel duty while the others take a breather. Dave interviews that they’re exhausted and they’re trying to get oxygen. Sarah gets her back massaged by Veronica, who tells her that she can breathe all she wants tonight. Yeah, or else Sarah might waste her time solving dirty crossword puzzles with Theo. No, I’m still not letting that go. “Ten minutes is a long, long time,” Mike interviews. “We have to make that up now, because Coral couldn’t handle it.” Finally, Darrell pulls up the box, while Adam and Veronica snag the puzzle pieces. RW gets their box, as Mike and Alton smear the camera lens with dug-up dirt. Hope the cameraman got hazard pay.

While this is going on, a woman slowly walks up to Coral with an oxygen mask. Back at Gold Digger, Alton grabs the box. Coral gasps into the mask. Nathan interviews that RW has to catch up to RR and beat them by at least ten minutes. He adds, “It seems our backs are against the wall at this point.”

Coral, now on the brink of tears, is getting attended by two medics. She interviews that she can’t breathe, the sight in her left eye is gone, and her toes are numb on her right foot. She continues to gasp for air.

RR runs towards the next obstacle, Dough-Nut. Turns out I overestimated how tall it was last week. It’s only a few feet off the ground, but the problem is that only one person at a time can go through it. Immediately, RR starts lifting themselves through the tire. Sarah interviews that they’re hauling ass, but RW is even with them. Adam gasps that they’re going too slowly.

Darrell is worried about Cara, Sarah, and Veronica. Why doesn’t he ever think about Rachel like that? It's not like she’s any better in missions. “I don’t wanna hear just because one of them dropped out you can now,” Darrell interviews. “We're all gonna finish this together.” RW goes through the tire just as RR leaves. Mike interviews that RW has four strong guys, and they will catch RR. Both teams walk and jog to the next stage.

Elsewhere, Coral is still gasping for air. You know, I sometimes want bad stuff to people to people that I can’t stand. Coral’s ordeal might make me rethink things in the future. A medic calls in the emergency. The lady thinks Coral is suffering an allergic reaction, and asks for an Epi-Pen. To the uninitiated: if you are in Coral’s situation, you jam the Epi-Pen into your thigh. It provides you with a dose of adrenaline to keep you from going into shock before you go to the hospital. Having been to the hospital under lesser circumstances, I can tell you that an Epi-Pen is NOT something you screw around with. One of the medics asks Coral if she’s allergic to anything, and she shakes her head. But soon, she’s able to gasp “spider.”

The medic tells her to calm down. We switch to a camera on the ground. Coral is still gasping. “Stay with us,” the medic tells her. “Try to breathe.”

Another medic: “She stopped breathing on me.” Fade to commercial.

Coming back, the editors replay the last few seconds. Cut to the contestants running. Back to a guy calling an ambulance in. More running. Mike screams for his team to hustle. Rachel interviews that the teams are neck and neck. “But there’s one very important detail,” she smiles. “They don’t have Coral.” One of the medics talks to Coral.

Next obstacle: Loop the Loot. A puzzle piece is floating in the middle of the pond, and the teams must retrieve it using ropes on both sides. Adam yells directions to Theo as they slowly pull the piece. Nathan and Mike follow suit on their piece. Mike interviews that he has a fear of losing, but he’s willing to go into that fear. Theo and Adam get their piece to move on. Theo interviews that RW has five people and they can pass RR quickly. I’m guessing that interview was conducted before the mission.

Adam runs and yells at his teammates to go. Meanwhile, Nathan is cursing Mike for pulling on the rope too much. Eventually, they manage to grab their piece. The editors pipe in Missy Elliot’s “Pass the Dutch,” as RR runs in the lead.

Next obstacle: Goldie-Locks. Nathan expositions that both teams are given the first digit of the three-digit combination that unlocks their box. The other two digits are on the license plates. Teams must unlock the box, get the keys, open the Saturns, and retrieve the pieces. RR lets Dave handle the numbers.

Suddenly, Mike gets his box open, and RW gets the pieces. Dave is still on the box, and Veronica keeps repeating numbers. She interviews, “We could have possibly just lost the mission.”

Final obstacle: Gold Bar, which is Perfect Fit with a golden stand. Mike starts assembling the puzzle. Nathan expositions that RW has to finish and make up the ten-minute penalty. Back at Goldie-Locks, Dave is still having problems with the box. Darrell’s jabbering confirms that about “Mr. Mathematician Dave.” I’d write his whole rant, but quoting Darrell talking is like quoting David scatting. Dave asks one person to call out the numbers. I did the math: they only have 15 combinations. RW is still working at Gold Bar.

Elsewhere, Coral is still in pain. The camera goes inside an SUV. Apparently, there was an ambulance strike that day in Telluride. Coral gets lifted into the back seat, wheezing all the way. The SUV drives off as we fade to black.

“Let me call them out. Six, two, three.” Dave is still on the box. Finally, the box opens on 624, and the team grabs the two pieces. RW is still working on Gold Bar. Both sides scramble to assemble. “This puzzle is mine,” Theo drawls in an interview. “M-Y-N-E.” Hey, it’s just Theo being Theo. He goes on about how Mike nailed the puzzle at the end of Battle of the Seasons to defeat Theo and his RR squad. RW shuffles their pieces. “We need to do this,” Mike interviews. “Time to step it up one notch. I really do feel like we can win this thing still.” Both teams scramble. Nathan is on the ground, throwing up a little.

Hey, we got an Inferno commercial! First, we see the word “dignity.” Cut to a guy in a chicken costume, spitting into a fake chick’s mouth. The kid looks a little like Steve, so I’m guessing it’s Jeremy. He’s the guy who replaced Donell on South Pacific and took part in three missions. I’m still convinced he was a BMP intern. Anyway, “dignity” melts away. Voiceover: “The Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno. $150,000 to win, a lot more to lose.” Well, at least the network is being up front about things.

Both teams are working, as the wind whips up. Dave interviews that he can’t believe how close they are. Nathan interviews that it will take RR ten minutes to finish because they’ll see RW cross the finish line. Both teams keep assembling. The camera pans around the RR team. Do you remember the Peanuts Christmas special, when the kids wave their hands around Charlie Brown’s crappy tree and suddenly make it beautiful? Well, the RR team does that with the puzzle. One minute, the pieces are everywhere. The next? Perfect fit. Adam interviews that he knew they pulled off a miracle. Mike interviews that his stomach sank. “But like I’ve always said,” he continues, “we’ll always finish. Always.” Slow-motion shot of the RR team rushing for the finish line. Dave voiceovers about not expecting to win. “We had so many more people,” he continues, “we had so many more ways to screw up, we had so many more problems that could have happened. I can’t believe that we won!” Theo is shirtless, screaming, “Oh, my God!” as he dashes. “In the end,” he interviews, “we let go of out differences and we joined hands and we became victorious.”

Airhorn. Game Over. Season Over. Road Rules wins their first Challenge in four years. They immediately collapse in a jubilant pile. Some of them are crying, but no tears come out. Theo screams that they’re champions. “I’m proud of my team,” Adam interviews. “We’ve proven that Road Rules can come together as a really good team, that we didn’t have animosity between each other about alliances, that we can run one of these Challenges and do it right.” I’m guessing the thrill of victory blocked out key memories for him.

Roni leaps into Darrell’s arms. Norman and Adam hug. Mike interviews that this was the hardest mission for him. “That puzzle’s tricky,” he muses, “it’ll get you every time.” Norman and Alton hug, not having any hard feelings. Now Rachel is hugging Sarah, smiling all the way. Let me get this straight: Rachel basically wanted to run Sarah through with a pitchfork from the very beginning. In fact, their friendship got shredded in Tahiti during the Campus Crawl/South Pacific face-off, as chronicled by Sarah on her site. And now Rachel loves her? Whatever... I’m just glad I don’t have to deal with Rachel anymore. “I have to hand it to her,” Rachel interviews of Sarah. “She really pulled through for our team in the end.” Sarah cries about how she’s never won anything before. “I’ve never pushed myself so hard in my entire life,” she interviews, “and I wanted to give up so many times.” I can imagine Adam screaming, “I KNEW IT!” at his TV. Speaking of Adam, he hugs Sarah. Yeah, winning a Challenge can do weird things to people. She continues, “The only person that could control whether I made it to the end or not was me, ultimately.”

Nathan throws a water bottle in disgust. Remember the Cobra Kai sensei at the start of Karate Kid II? Same thing; he ain’t happy with second place, and neither is Nathan. He yells at Alton for not voting Coral into the Gauntlet. Alton wonders what would’ve happened if the team left Coral at the beginning. “She talked a big game,” Nathan bitches, “and didn’t [bleeping] complete it. I’m sorry.” I’ll bet you are. “A lot of people put faith in Coral in this last Gauntlet vote,” he interviews. “The time to shine is today, and it’s really disappointing.” Mike gripes about having to carry her. “Coral quit on us,” he snots. “She quit on our entire team, and it hurts the most that I felt like I got manipulated into believing that she can handle this. That’s what really hurts.” Mike? Shut up. Seriously, you’re whining as badly as Ellen did after she got snowballed by Emily last season. I don’t remember Coral putting a gun to your head.

Hey, it’s the medical place! Coral interviews that she got bit by a spider and had a severe allergic reaction. “I want them to know that I didn’t quit,” she interviews, “and I think that the fact they weren’t there, the fact they didn’t know what happened really affects that. I guess I care more about what they think than I thought I did.” Cut to Norman: “Maybe we shouldn’t really be looking at Coral as the complete scapegoat. My friendship with Coral is much more important than some money and a car.” He can be catty and his grammar is atrocious, but I dig Norman for that. Way to keep things real.

Speaking of which, Jonny awards the $150,000 check to RR, adding it to the $80,000 they banked for a grand total of $230,000. That comes out the $25,556 per person, before taxes. Not exactly the handsome $50,000 per from the last two seasons. Oh, and everybody on RR gets Saturn Ions, which surprises Cara. I guess she hasn’t seen any finale since Challenge 2000. Theo walks up to accept the check, interviewing that he’s going to give money to his mother, and help his brother get a car. Sarah thinks of paying rent on her apartment and getting a job that she wants. “I can stop settling so much,” she adds, “which is what I tend to do.” Jonny also congratulates RW for their $60,000 performance, which breaks down to $12,000 per person. It was worth ditching the likes of Elka, Trishelle and Theo G. after all. “It was a pleasure, you guys,” Jonny tells the players. “Don’t spend it all in one place.” Those were his last words? Weak.

Alton puts things in perspective: “What life are you twenty-two, living in a 9 million dollar, five-story home? This is a dream.” Cut to Mike’s first words getting off the plane: “Road Rules, kiss my ass, baby!” It’s flashback time.

We see Elka and Montana in awe heading inside the mansion. The guys drink, while Sarah and Rachel B. look on. “There’s twenty-eight people living in a house,” Veronica interviews. “Things are going to happen, obviously. I mean, why wouldn’t they?” Cut to Veronica and Abram necking in the shower. Blech. Shot of Mike and Trishelle in the hot tub. Sarah defeats David in Deadman’s Drop. Abram and Mike wrestle. RR wins Masquerade. RR piles on Katie after she wins Ride ‘Em Cowboy. Various shots of Mike. “I’ve come away from this Challenge with a bunch of new friends,” he interviews, “a bunch of prizes, and a girlfriend.” Cue the Mizhelle Montage. Double blech. Nathan interviews about doing cool stuff. I can’t wait to see his friend David in Inferno, that’s how sick I am of Nathan. Speaking of Popeye Puss, he shoots down Rachel in Red Baron. Alton bounces off a giant ball in Mud Bath. Shots of the carnage in I Scream and Heavyweight Hustle. RR lifts Roni up after she wins Rolling On a River. Irulan does her 270-degree dive in All of Nothing.

Sarah montage. She outlasts Matt in Deadman’s Drop. She wins Perfect Fit against Trishelle. “I never in my wildest dreams thought I was even going to make it past week two,” she interviews, as we see her win Ride ‘Em Cowboy and get carried off after beating Irulan. “And for whatever reason, I kept fighting.” Shot of Sarah with that damn cake. “Who’da thunk it?” she beams. “Sarah just won a Challenge.” Seriously, I love this girl. She took crap from her team, only a little of which was justified. She was given a chance to stay in the game, and she seized it. Looking at her smile, it’s worth people like Adam and Rachel winning the same money as her. Heck, Veronica coming back for fifths in a few weeks doesn’t bother me as much. At long last, Sarah rocks the house, end of story.

More celebrating by RR. “We are the underdog team,” Rachel interviews. “We all know that it feels like to fail, which is why we are all so happy to succeed. You couldn’t have written it better.” I’m sure I could have. The RR team poses for a group shot with the check and Jonny. Fade to black.

One last item: there’s been speculation on various forums that Coral tanked the last mission; that the spider bite was overblown in order to excuse RW’s loss. Personally, I don’t buy it. I am not Coral’s biggest fan. Her being Melissa’s roommate doesn’t change her bitchy ways in my eyes. And yeah, maybe Alton should have sent her to face Cara in the Gauntlet. But I don’t see a cover-up. This is Bunim-Murray Productions we’re talking about. They couldn’t cover up Tammy Faye Messner’s face with blush, let alone start a conspiracy. Coral’s life was in danger, as least to the extent where she had to drop out. I hope that Mike and Nathan feel six inches tall hearing about her ordeal. Coral went through some genuine suffering, and I felt for her in the process.

So, what’s next?

Monday, January 26: Battle Scars: From the Gauntlet to the Inferno. “You got reunion in my preview!” “You got preview in my reunion!” Hopefully, we’ll find out how Mike reacted upon hearing the full extent of Coral’s ordeal. Also, why would she come back after what happened in Telluride? Since this is filmed in Los Angeles, I'm expecting the usual gang of aspiring actors yakking about the Challenges, as well as a preview for Inferno. Who made the cut? Which rivalries will scorch the landscape? What romances will smoulder the scene?

Monday, February 2: Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno. New location? Check. New host? Check. Two players with thick Boston accents? Check. Girl coming back who didn’t learn her lesson after her ex-roommate took her out last year? Check. Recapper with no job or life, wanting the attention and love of long-suffering Challenge fans? Check and mate. Check out the one-hour season premiere on MTV, and look for my initial thoughts on the cast here at RNO.

 I won't lie . . . I came close to tearing up seeing the Sarah montage. The only other times that's happened to me watching a reality show? John Vito & Jill getting eliminated in The Amazing Race 3, Chip & Kim winning The Amazing Race 5, and John Vito & Jill getting eliminated in The Amazing Race 11. Oh, shut up. Seriously, I was so happy for Sarah. Sure, she got put through the wringer, she went through a lot of pain, and the assholes that made her life miserable got the same amount of money she did, as well as a new car. The lack of risk those people went through was part of my idea to revamp the Challenge. I admit, some of it won't work these days, but more shares in a pot for endgame appearances and excellent mission work should be rewarded.

Also not fair: no reunion special, where an audience of twenty-somethings could have let Sarah bask in their love. Remember, she was voted off RR: Campus Crawl and she flamed out of the faceoff with the South Pacific kids, so a sweet ovation would have capped a remarkable season. In retrospect, that was probably good that it never happened. Thanks to Puck and Emily electing not to come to the Battle Of The Sexes reunion (probably thanks to restraining orders from Ellen and Veronica, respectively), it was a very nice affair. What would we have dealt with? Coral smacking Mike for ripping her, the burning remnants of Mizhelle, and Rachel and Veronica trying to take the high ground against Sarah. Yeah, definitely for the best. Honestly, people cheered when MTV showed Johnny push Sarah Rice-Patterson in the soul at the reunion for Rivals III. She had a point . . . who applauds that?!?

I still believe Coral almost died, as opposed to making a huge deal out of "mere" exhaustion. I still carry an Epi-Pen with me, because I want a fighting chance in the event of a severe allergic reaction. In late 2007, I ate a teriyaki dish for lunch that must have been made with peanut oil. Wound up swelling up when I got back to work, I threw up in the office (on my tenth day, no less), and I had to be rushed to a hospital. I recovered in a few days; I didn't use the Epi-Pen, but if things really got heavy, I would have broken it out. Allergies are no fucking joke. With that said, I hope Mike felt like a little bitch seeing his frenemy almost die on camera. Between that and his relationship with Trishelle failing to work out (which gets covered in the next recap), I'm amazed Coral let Mike anywhere near her in The Inferno. I'd lay the same hate on Nathan . . . but seriously, he probably knew he'd never do another Challenge, because nobody gave a shit about him. In the context of the guys from his Real World season,he's a distant third after his more famous classmate at VMI (David) and Slappy McSlapperslap (Stephen). His greatest moment on BMP was probably on All-Star Challenge, when a young Kobe Bryant asked abut him and his girlfriend. Sad, isn't it?

There's not much else to add. Funny that one of the winners was Dave. He got little camera time, he went into acting, and he played the lead in Grimm. I never got into it, but it's still an impressive feat for a BMP alumnus. Roni also finished her "career," but I don't think many people noticed. The rest of the victorous Road Rules team would return at various points, including Darrell and Veronica in The Inferno.

Truth be told, I thought this was a good season. Had it been nominated for an Emmy, I wouldn't have objected. Not that it deserved to win, because that should ALWAYS go to The Amazing Race, even with the various bells and whistles. Little did I know that the following two seasons would be a slog, and my negativity would not only paint me as the villain in Reality News Online, but also unceremoniously booted and replaced from the site. But that wouldn't be for another year.

Up next: The Inferno. Yellowcard, sucky endgames, the most epic tantrum in BMP history at the time, and the psycho bitch that got booted first from Battle Of The Sexes and had not learned a blessed thing from that. FUN!!!

No comments: