Thursday, December 26, 2019

Battle of the Sexes 2 Episode 15: Are We Done Yet?

"Worst season ever."

When we're dissatisfied with a show, we tend to snap into Comic Book Guy Mode. With The Challenge, there are a lot of contenders for that title . . . if there was to be a title. Over the years, I feel there have been a lot of nadirs. Extreme Challenge. Gauntlet 2. The Island. The Ruins. Rivals 3. Final Reckoning. And, of course, Battle of the Sexes 2.

It wasn't just the show. At this point, I was being sniped at by most of the other recappers at Reality News Online. They didn't like my negativity. They disagreed with opinions I took on The Apprentice. One of the writers misinterpreted my comments and called me a misogynist, which really upset me. They didn't like me frequenting the Television Without Pity forums, as they didn't seem to actually visit and see that the average discourse was more civil than most message boards. Snarky, yes, but it wasn't mostly cursing and typos. And while they shit was going on, the sixth season of The Amazing Race had the nicer teams getting eliminated and the nastier pieces of work clinging on. Because of the awesomeness of the prior season and its happy ending (middle-aged couple Chip & Kim winning), karma balanced the tables, and my favorite reality show became a horror movie. And unlike most films of that genre, the "final girl" -- in this case, long-distance dating couple Kris & Jon -- wound up getting a machete to the head at the end, finishing second to the odious Freddy and racist Kendra.

I just feel that I feel to explain the context determining my mood, as I try to recover memories from almost fifteen years ago . . . why I kept being negative. Well, more negative. The final three episodes of Battle Of The Sexes 2 would prove to be one painful kick to the body after another, in the few places that hadn't felt pain yet. And that brings me to Sophia Pasquis.

I never met Sophia in person. I interviewed her twice in 2001 for an article I wrote while I was enrolled as a grad student at New York University (you can read it here ). In retrospect, she probably didn't have to help me out. I think she was interviewed by anyone into reality TV and culture back then, since she was the first openly gay cast member on Road Rules. Before and after those interviews, I had liked her "work" on MTV. She was pretty mellow on Road Rules: The Quest, at least compared to headcases like Adam, Ellen and Jisela. And that mini-Afro was soothing to look at. Not as majestic as Malik from RW: Back to New York, but it was still a nice signature.

Sophia came to Battle of the Sexes 2. I was looking forward to it . .  .two of my favorite females that I had been in touch with from time to time -- Melissa Howard and Sarah Greyson -- had come to The Challenge (Battle of the Sexes and The Gauntlet, respectively), and they made out well. Melissa almost made the finale and got Julie eliminated in the first episode, and Sarah was on the winning Road Rules team after fighting for her survival five times. Surely, Sophia wouldn't be put through the wringer as bad as that, right?

I was wrong. Her team got manhandled in almost every mission. She had a few breakdowns on Elimination Hill. Watching her slowly lose her mind was brutal . . . and the worst was yet to come.

Postscript to the Prologue: War of the Worlds 2 ended as a big mess. On the bright side, I got an article published on Saniac Podcast about how Johnny might be the Typhoid Mary of The Challenge, in the sense that all those would have beaten him in elimination games have not won a title on their own since. Seriously, give it a read. There is a little negativity, but not as much as what you're about to read.

Episode Aired: January 10, 2005
Recap Posted: January 16, 2005

Do you crave depressing moments and the eternally lame triumphing week in and week out? It's more of the same this week.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes 2: There was an argument between Sophia and Coral that we never saw before. Coral felt that she expects so much more from Ruthie, while Sophia didn't want Ruthie to be punished. The guys won Semi-Cross, running their record to 11-2. Theo: "The girls' team is like some little forgotten country that has pretty much all been defeated." Shots of dejected girls, followed by Coral ripping into Robin. Here's my question: what would their national anthem be? I got it down to either "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day, or My Chemical Romance's "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)." On Elimination Hill, Shane was booted by the guys, while the ladies voted out Robin, tearing her from Mark. Yeah, I'm so sure he'll be suffering from that. Coral interviewed that she loved Robin, but she wants the $60,000. Can things get more depressing tonight?

At the Women's Lounge, Ruthie and Sophia shoot the breeze. Ruthie interviews that she thinks about the shadiness on her team. "There's some people that have gone that have good hearts," she adds, "and now I know Sophia's the only one left." That's a helluva endorsement. Sophia tells Ruthie that she's willing to punch out and cuss at people. They laugh.

Outside the Men's Lounge, Eric and Mark play catch. Mark feels that since they're so close to the end, they might as well buddy up. Eric interviews that everybody knows he and Mark would protect each other no matter what. Mark asks who would be in the final three. Eric figures it's a toss-up between Theo and Dan, and that they're both good for certain tasks. "Eric's one of my best friends," Mark interviews, "and it's good to have someone on your side that is a good friend."

Nighttime at the Men's Lounge. Theo answers the sponsor phone, getting the clue. Cut to Brad, walking on his hands. I'm guessing he's all about mocking the exposition, and I can respect that. Over at the Women's Lounge, Sophia reads the clue to Ruthie: "Are you ready for loads of fun?" More details: be ready by 8:30 a.m., and wear tennis shoes. The girls wonder if this mission will require getting naked. Theo thinks that maybe they have to play tennis. Brad interviews that he's getting along with everybody, and it's going to be difficult to vote somebody off.

It's a new day, as the kids get to the mission site. This time, we have cars on platforms and a few dozen luggage bags. Jonny welcomes everybody to today's mission: Car-Go. The objective: lift a car ten feet off the ground. The method: each car is loaded onto a contraption, which is connected to four free weight pulleys. The players must pull the chains to raise the contraption, and the key is for the chains to be pulled at the same time. Before any of that happens, the cars must be loaded with luggage. "Packing is not my forte," Coral interviews. "I tip bellboys to do that kind of [bleep]." Jonny explains that the luggage fits in a certain way, and that the bags cannot be stuffed, crunched, broken, or shoved into other bags. The first team to raise the car wins exercise equipment, worth $2,600 per person. Jonny gives both sides 30 minutes to pick leaders. Since we're so late into the game, there will be two leaders per side. Arissa interviews that it's every person for themselves, and they all what to get the cash.

On the guys' side, Mark asks Dan if he's good at loading. Dan thinks that he is, and Mark pronounces him and Eric to be the leaders. Brad interviews that the leaders were picked without any discussion, adding "that's a little creepy." He goes up to the guys, asking who the leaders are. After some awkward silence and a commercial break, Brad points out that figuring out leaders is more important than putting bags in the car, and that he does not want to get burned in the end. Dan interviews that Brad is nervous, since Eric is on the bottom rung but is leading. Mark wishes that somebody had two disqualifications. Theo thinks that Eric has messed up a little more than the other team members. Mark figured that Eric and Dan were good packers, and Dan adds that he used to pack trucks for a living. Brad notes that he used to work at UPS. Eric says that if the team loses, the leaders would be at risk, but he's willing to chance it. "I know that the only way for me to survive is to be a leader and win," Eric interviews. "There's no other place for me, because I'm number five when it comes to points." Brad interviews that he's alone, but he'll abide by the team decision.

Over on the girls' side, Coral feels it's important to pick leaders. Tina steps up, then adds that she doesn't want Coral or Sophia to lead with her. Coral goes on about how Ruthie wouldn't want to go up against a strong person. Ruthie: "So you're saying I'm not strong?" Coral asks why Ruthie isn't stepping up to be a leader. Ruthie responds that Coral thinks that she would go home with a loss. Coral thinks that Ruthie has done the same things as Tina. Ruthie brings up her struggles with the Sa-Wing mission. Once again, Coral asks why Ruthie isn't stepping up. "Picking leaders is no longer a way of winning a mission," Coral interviews. "It's a way of keeping your ass in the game." Arissa doesn't want to step up, since that's a 99.9 percent chance they'll lose every mission. "Stepping up is pretty much asking to die," she interviews. "I'm not stepping up!"

Coral asks if Ruthie is not stepping up, which Ruthie denies. Ruthie interviews that Arissa is quiet, and that she has a good feeling about the mission. So at long last, Ruthie steps up. Either she's very naive, very optimistic, or Coral has Jedi mind powers that do not translate well on the screen.

Jonny calls up the team leaders. Dan starts organizing the guys. He interviews that Eric will pack the trunk, Brad and Theo will deal with the small bags, and Mark will cram the front seat. Tina wants to stick the bags in vertically, which Ruthie interviews is a waste of space. Turns out Ruthie wants to stack the bags horizontally. Tina isn't comfortable with Ruthie's plan and feels it isn't fully thought out, but she goes along with it.

Jonny blows his air horn to get the mission started. Both sides stuff the cars with bags. It's not boring, but it's not exactly action-packed. The guys finish packing their car first. Theo supervises the lifting while the others pull the chains. The ladies join in, as Arissa oversees their efforts. "I'm determined to win," she voiceovers, "not only because of the prize, but because of my pride. I can't stomach another loss. The girls gotta step it up." Both sides pull. Eric yells about something we didn't know about; namely, the bottle that is attached to the contraption. Once the bottle leaves the ground, the car has offically gone ten feet. We get a shot of the bottle lifting up. Jonny blows his air horn. Guess what? The guys won. Again.

This is not the worst season ever. That distinction goes to Extreme Challenge and The Inferno. However, this is the most depressing season ever. And what lessons have we learned every week? First of all, I know enough not to make judgments on the genders based on this show. I know that if I were to gather eighteen guys and eighteen gals to compete, the results would probably vary from what we've gotten. Secondly? "Battle of the Sexes" does not work… not for Challenge, not for Survivor, not for The Apprentice, not for any reality show. I don't even watch American Idol, but I know you fans are gonna be upset within the next month over the semi-final format. The women just never seem to come off well with this format, and I'm sick of typing "guys win" damn near every week. We now go back to your regularly scheduled recap.

The girls try to dissect where things went wrong. Arissa notes that the guys got their car up quickly. Coral feels it came down to the packing of the last bag. Tina says she felt better with her plan. Ruthie thinks she didn't have a bad plan, and she's pissed off that Tina is placing the blame. She also interviews that Tina can go procreate in isolation, if you know what I mean. Sophia is hoping that Tina was just explaining what had happened. "But it was more for blaming," she adds. "I don't think that's cool."

Jonny wraps things up, awarding the exercise equipment to the guys. Today's voting: Dan and Eric pick off a guy, Ruthie and Tina are vulnerable. Sophia interviews that she will act as Ruthie's lawyer in order to convince the others to let her stay. Jonny gives both sides one hour to deliberate.

At the Main Lounge, those not in the Inner Circles sweat out their fate. Mark feels he would go home if the guys don't like his overall performance. Theo states the obvious: that Mark is lucky to be buddies with Eric, and Eric is on the bottom of the totem pole. Brad reminds everybody that the teams had 30 minutes to pick leaders, and the guys did it in five seconds. He interviews that he should have stepped up to prevent Eric from leading. Mark asks how Arissa dodged being a leader. I'd like to know that as well. Ruthie interviews that it's obvious that Arissa should be going home for a long time. Tina feels that she would be ready to pack if she was next to Coral or Sophia, and she's confident being next to Ruthie or Arissa. Ruthie: "That's because I don't [bleepin'] toot my horn about every [bleepin'] mission." Tina: "I'm sick of waiting around, waiting for this so-called huge character Ruthie to come out and to dominate the game. She hasn't done such at all. She hasn't delivered at all." Sad but true. Back in BOTS1, Ruthie was on top of the leaderboard after all but two missions. Maybe she's just an individual star, and not a huge team player. In a way, it breaks my heart.

Men's Lounge, Boys' Inner Circle. Eric asks Dan if one guy steps up more than the others. Dan interviews that this is a rough decision, since the remaining men are strong. He thinks that Theo sometimes gets "too heated" in missions, and he brings up Mark's loss in Bombs Away. Eric notes that Dan, Mark and Theo have been in the final mission in past Challenges.

Women's Lounge, Girls' Inner Circle. Sophia is acting as Ruthie's defense counselor, and the prosecution is hammering her. Coral thinks Sophia and Ruthie want to be together in the final three, and if Tina goes home, Arissa will follow. Sure, but you'd be safe, right? Sophia rebuffs the accusation. Coral thinks that if Sophia had to choose between and Ruthie, she would be gone. That, and some of my Coral-hating friends would treat Sophia like a queen for the rest of her life. Coral interviews that it's not smart to keep two best friends. She tells Sophia that keeping Ruthie jeopardizes her or Arissa. Arissa butts in, saying it just jeopardizes her. Coral does not want to be at the mercy of best friends. "They see these friendships as a hindrance," Sophia interviews, "but they'd better think about who they're voting off and who they left to make it a strong team." Coral asks Arissa whether she can trust her and Tina, or Sophia and Ruthie. Everybody just stares quietly.

We go to Elimination Hill. Dan and Eric step forward to make the announcement for the fellas. Dan claims that it was a difficult decision, and that they had to make a logical choice. All three guys actually look stressed. Our unlucky loser? It's Brad, and unlike the last several dismissed players, he does not look happy. He steps forward, telling his team that he went through the emotional roller coaster already, and he's just spent. Eric insists it wasn't personal, adding, "We love you as a person, dude." Go play with your jump rope, Eric. Brad interviews that he was so close to the big prize, and could taste it. I feel you, man. I had Brad, Dan and Theo being on the final team. Now, I might be lucky to have one person there by the end of next week.

Coral steps up for the women's side, and goes into her spiel when… oh, no. Oh, no no no no. Don't walk forward, Sophia! Don't nudge Coral out of the way! I swear, she was so normal on The Quest, at least when compared to her fellow cast members. This show is slowly driving her out of her mind. Anyway, Sophia says this is the hardest thing for her to do, and that she fought for this person. She's so sad, she can't even say Ruthie's name. The others clap as the friends hug. Ruthie admits that this wasn't her game. Sophia: "It was your game, it just wasn't your circumstance." Ruthie goes on about hoping the people who deserve to be on the final team stay on to make up for the losses. "I decided to play it fair," she interviews, "and unfortunately, it cost me my spot. I don't ever want to sell my soul for money."

Brad walks with Dan, still not getting why he's going home. Ever the good cop, Dan says that he and Eric looked to see who had standout missions. Cut to the Lounge, where Mark and Eric hang out. "You're not really playing an honest game," Eric interviews. "Although everybody says that they are, am I going to feel bad? No. Why should I have a difficult time sending somebody else home? It's the nature of the game." And needless to say, the nature of this game sucks raw eggs. Seriously, at least Norman carried himself with some dignity in The Gauntlet. You take away Eric's time on RW, and he's just a sad man with a jump rope.

Elsewhere, Coral hugs Brad, trying to comfort him. Not exactly the "Mother Hen" moments like with Sarah and Leah, but I can take what I can get. He tells her that he still can't believe she's out, and that he should have fought for the leader role. "I wanted to feel like it was my time to go," he interviews, "but certain people that are still here that aren't supposed to be here, that's the only thing that bothers me walking away from this game. This was my game. I should have made it to the end." Poor guy. He's rumored to be doing the next Challenge even as you read this. Here's hoping he plays the game with honor and gets his just reward.

Theo escorts Brad to the van. "He was a great competitor and he's unbelievable," Theo interviews. "Eric doesn't deserve to be here, and it's time for him to bow out gracefully." I've had issues with Theo throughout this season, but we're on the same wavelength. Of course, that probably means that Theo will be out on his butt next week, and Eric would win $60,000. Have I mentioned how much I hate this season? Elsewhere, Ruthie and Sophia share one last hug. Sophia interviews that she doesn't know this game will end, but she knows that she must perform well in the next mission. "Right now," she adds, "I only have my back."

Next time: Mark and Eric feel that Dan and Theo deserve a spot in the final three. Eric: "It's all about strategy. It's all about positioning." Arissa has trouble with walking on a beam jutting off a roof. Two guys fall off. Why do I feel like next week will be a lot worse than today?


In terms of diminishing returns, Ruthie's Challenge "career" could be considered tragic. Yes, people will point out her drunken misadventures on Real World: Hawaii, and that isn't easy to paint over, even when most of her roommates were mentally skewed in their own individual ways. While she did let Emily call her shots in the Inner Circle during Battle of the Sexes, Ruthie was the most consistent performer, leading the rest of the women after all but two missions.

She would come back in Gauntlet 2, and earned herself the position of becoming the female Captain of the Veterans team. But then she had to face a bad person (Beth), and that person got to choose the worst possible game for Ruthie (Reverse Tug-Of-War). Needless to say, Ruthie was bounced from the game in an even more inglorious fashion than in BOTS2

Ruthie's final season was Duel II. She lasted five missions before being bounced by Kimberly from RW: Hollywood. On the plus side, Ruthie seems to be doing good with her life. I saw her at Caroline's in Manhattan a few months ago. She really rocked the shorter hair. When asked if she would return, Ruthie figured that she wasn't in the type of shape that The Challenge demands these days, but she ended her response with a "never say never."

Brad's "career" was more checkered, as he would eventually become the poster boy for Challengers who couldn't get that first win. Inferno II saw him pressed into a battle with Abram that ended with his defeat. Oh, and that same episode started with Brad getting an epic wedgie from Mike. Gauntlet 2 had Brad verbally squaring off with Derrick in one episode. While they eventually made up, they were eventually pitted against each other in the Gauntlet, with Derrick coming away the winner. To keep thing short, here's the rest of his run:
  • The Duel: lost to CT in the final Duel, but wound up advancing to the finale when CT pulled a carabiner even after host TJ Lavin told them not to do that, like, fifty times. Brad would up losing the final mission to Wes. 
  • Gauntlet III: He was the only male on the Veterans team that I could respect, since most of them were in "Trim The Fat" mode, constantly trying to lose the female teammates that could weigh them down in the final mission. They would eventually win that season . . . but since they had to dump a dying Eric Banks (a guy full of actual fat that the Veterans didn't want to face in the Gauntlet), the Rookies would up with the victory.
  • Duel II: Brad wound up the final two Duels, winning both . . . including an upset over Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) short-list candidate Landon. He would lose to Evan in the final mission, extending his woeful streak.
  • The Ruins: I blocked out most of this horrible season. All I remember in regard to Brad is that he wound up punching Darrell. He responded with about fifty shots to Brad's face, giving him a black eye. If Darrell has a "man cave" away from his wife and children, I wouldn't be surprised if he had a large picture of Brad with that black eye. Oh, and both were ejected from the game.
Brad finally got over the hump in Cutthroat, as he won with the Red team . . . a foursome that included his wife Tori Hall. And then things went south again . . .  they got divorced, Brad returned in Vendettas and Final Reckoning, falling short both times. He also got into a showmance with Britni from Are You The One? Thanks to the age difference, I wound up making a LOT of "windowless van circling the high school" jokes. I know, real cheap, but Brad had long soured in my eyes. On the bright side, the recent actions of Stephen Bear gave me a new target for those jokes.
Next recap: even more depressing stuff. In the meantime, have a happy (and safe) holiday season.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Battle of the Sexes 2 Episode 14: Keep On Truckin'

Once again, I'm taking my sweet time with my "legacy." Here's the situation in regards to The Challenge: 

PRESENT: War of the Worlds 2 is the usual mix of clusterfuck, only more so than usual. In the span of three episodes, three legitimate legends of the series (Wes, Laurel, Johnny) were sent packing from the game; Laurel losing to Natalie "Ninja" Duran in what will be considered one of the most chaotic elimination games in the history of the series. And defending champion Turbo was ejected after he going after Jordan, whom he had called a "pussy chicken." Basically, Turbo lost a lot of luster, and now I want Jordan to get smacked hard. With the absence of Johnny, he's stepping up as the unbearably irritating veteran male this season. Also, the UK team is a hot mess, CT has been the voice of reason on that team, and Cara Maria and Paulie continue to be toxic. Fuck, just about everyone left in the game could give you tumors. If the season ends with the million dollar grand prize getting split between CT, Natalie (whose mere existence causes pain for a lot of people on both sides of the TV) and Leroy (the perpetual also-ran who's been trying to step up as the voice of the reason of the US team), I'd be great with that.

PAST: Unbeknownst to me, my tenure at Reality News Online was drawing to a close. At some point, most of the other writers decided that I was an asshole. I'd watch reality stuff on TV, post on the RNO Yahoo group, and I was the asshole. I'm not the sort of person that tries to be an asshole . . . and yes, I am aware that's what most assholes would say. It got to a point where "Jesus, I agree with Jason" was said once or twice. That is not a good place to be. A while back, people were talking about Even and Kenny on a Challenge-based Facebook page, and Beth commented about how neither deserved to return due to their alleged assault on Tonya in The Ruins. My first instinct was to express disbelief about being on the same side as her . . . and then I remembered that Yahoo group.

I'd go over individual moments, but that would involve opening old wounds, and I don't want to do that. Same with naming names. They hurt me, but I don't wish to be that sort of asshole. All I know is that even with the amount of time between episode and recap, even with all of the negativity I brought to the group and to the recaps, I was doing a good job.

This episode: basically, Coral crosses a few lines, and I remember that I wasn't always on her side. Also, Eric Nies acts the fool. Well, more than usual. Enjoy!

Episode Aired: January 3, 2004
Recap Posted: January 9,  2005
The kids find themselves running an obstacle course pulled by a semi. Can Robin overcome the mission’s toughness? Will Coral exceed her bitchy boundaries? Will Eric put his nose where it doesn’t belong?

Previously on Battle of the Sexes 2: Steven smacked Shane, resulting in his dismissal. That was so underwhelming in retrospect. Where were the producers jumping out of the bushes?  Where were the cast members crying as they watched the footage on tape? Despite being shorthanded, the guys managed to win, slicing yet another layer from the women’s collective self-esteem. The women voted out Tonya. Oh, and Mark got cuddly with Robin.

As we get to the credits, I can announce the last names of the kids from RR: X-Treme that I couldn’t get when I wrote my preview: Nick Haggart, Ibis Nieves, and Angela Trimbur. I’m pained by that last one, since I would have went nuts with her booting. Trrrrrriimmburrrrrrrrr! Ah, it could be so much worse; try being named “Tonya Cooley.”

We start at the Men’s Lodge, where Mark and Robin spend some quality cuddle time. Mark says that he’s never gone into a chow think he’d meet somebody [2019: I’m certain I meant “into a show thinking”]. Well, he was married during BOTS1. He adds that it’s good to separate himself from the game, and that he and Robin are alike in many ways. Did Mark slap a Marine and get arrested for it, too? She tells him that her deal is to go into the final mission and win. He whispers that she’s going to get crushed tomorrow. “Mark’s the kind of guy that’s so great and amazing,” she interviews, “but he’s able to laugh at himself. I’m very lucky.” 

Later on at the Men’s Lounge, Shane picks up the sponsor phone. Dan and Mark comically dive onto the bed. Brad ups the ante by being enthusiastic about the clue to a cardboard cutout of Randy. I swear, this had better be nominated for Funniest Moment at the 2005 RNO Awards. At the Women’s Lounge, Tina reads the clue to Coral and Arissa: “Keep on truckin’. Ready, steady, go.” More details: be ready by 8:30 a.m., wear pants, long sleeves and tennis shoes. Shane smacks Randy’s doppelganger, while Coral gives two thumbs up.

It’s daytime at the Sandia Motor Speedway. The players arrive and are captivated by this week’s prize, a motor scooter. Jonny welcomes everybody to today’s mission: Semi-Cross. The deal: a semi-truck rolls around the track, towing three trailers. On top of each trailer is an obstacle course. Mark explains that each trailer has its own obstacles: balance beams, tires, see-saws, and high and low hurdles. Jonny adds that the game starts once the truck goes 30 miles per hour. Once that speed is attained, the driver will blow his horn to start the mission. The teams will go into heats of three players each. The squad with the lowest accumulated time wins the scooters, which are worth $3,000 apiece. Tina pronounces that her team has it “in the bag.” Jonny gives both sides 30 minutes to pick leaders, helpfully pointing out that half the team will be leading. 

On the guys’ side, Dan steps up, interviewing that he has good balance and a good center of gravity. Mark and Brad follow his lead. “We’re just so focused right now and determined,” Theo interviews. “We have such a great set of players. I don’t know how we can lose anything.” Elsewhere, Sophia, Tina and Robin step up to lead. Tina interviews that she was a gymnast and knows how to keep balance. Coral interviews that the team has a good chance of winning the mission, as well as their dignity.

After Jonny calls up the leaders, the first three guys – Shane, Mark and Brad – suit up. Brad interviews that he can’t fathom running across trailers. The truck blows its horn, signaling the start of the mission. First, the guys have to cross three balance beams, which are formed in an “N” pattern. Brad can’t take a step without falling off the first balance beam. Shane tries and fails. Brad goes on about how disheartening the mission is, adding, “You can’t even make five feet down this thing.”

Following the commercial break, the three men keep having trouble. Brad makes it to the second beam before falling. More jumping on and hopping off. Mark interviews that it is impossible to cross. That is, unless they use another beam as a brace. The fellas spilt their legs apart, with 12:11 passed. Shane and Mark go past the beams, onward to run and go through tires. Tina is amused about how Mark has to squeeze through the tires, as Shane pulls him. Brad is still on the beam, as 15:40 has elapsed. Shane hits the see-saw, then Brad finally finishes the first part of the course. He goes on the see-saw, then goes under and over the hurdles. Shane blows his air horn, stopping the boys’ time at 17:05.

The first three women – Tina, Sophia and Robin – prepare. Robin prays on getting past the beams. Tina: “We have this sucker in the bag. This is gonna be a piece of pie.” The women struggle on the beams. Tina: “Okay, this is ten times harder than I thought.” Tina makes it to the second beam before falling. Sophia figures out the secret, and Tina follows. Robin struggles some more, while her teammates finish the beams. Time elapsed: 12:05. Robin interviews that this mission is a lot harder than she thought. Sophia tries to guide Robin, but she still falls down. Tina shouts advice. On the sidelines, Coral paces. Elapsed time: 14:00. Robin gets on the final beam. Sophia yells for her to run across, but she falls off yet again.
Cut to Coral, muttering that she will kill Robin, adding, “Say goodbye to your little girlfriend!” Ouch. “If you can’t complete this mission,” she interviews, “then we are seriously concerned about your ability to be an asset to the team in the final mission.” Coral would know about final missions, since she’s been on the losing end of two of them. Mark and Theo shout advice to Robin. Mark interviews that Coral’s griping is not fun to be around, and he’s praying Robin can figure out the beams. From their respective positions, Sophia and Mark yell for Robin to run. At long last, Robin nails it. Mark cheers, as his honey negotiates the tires. “I’m not going to be nice,” Coral mutters to Ruthie. “I’m not here because I’m nice.” Can’t argue with that. Robin goes through the see-saw and the hurdles. Tina blows her horn, putting the girls at 17:45. Robin interviews that she usually performs well, but she had trouble on the beams.

Coral: “If we lose, we can send her home. That’s the only advantage of losing.” Oh, Coral. I know you’re a bitch, but why do you have to be an evil bitch now? Robin looks shook up, telling Coral that she has yet to go on the course. Tina figures that the mission has to do with “personal problem solving.” Robin adds that she had extra pressure, since she was the last one to finish. Coral argues with Robin about how the whole Challenge is about pressure, and that this mission is nothing compared to the finale. Coral interviews that she’s frustrated with all the losing. Gee, I hadn’t noticed. Coral then admonishes Robin for resting before the see-saw. Robin insists she was waiting for the semi to make the corner turn. She walks off, unable to take it. Coral: “Don’t buckle under pressure.” Robin: “You’re a [bleepin’] bitch.” Tell us something we don’t know.

Mark interviews that the women argue constantly. “They’ll argue during missions,” he adds, “they’ll argue after [missions], they’ll point fingers at people, make people feel like jackasses.” Outside of Coral and Tina, I honestly don’t get that vibe. Maybe it was left on the cutting room floor. Mark goes to talk with Robin, who insists she didn’t quit. Mark tells her that she thinks of the team, while the others think of the final mission. She sobs a little. “They love to single out somebody,” he tells her. “That’s what they do.” Seriously, has Sophia been a jerk? Or Arissa? Or Ruthie? I don’t get it.

As if things aren’t bad enough, Eric decides to insert himself into the mix. “I’ve been listening to Coral berate people this whole trip,” he interviews. “Coral can’t get along and is very selfish. It’s constant.” He’s kidding me, right? The guy couldn’t handle Heather B. in his prime way back in 1992. What makes him think he could handle Coral now? He yells at her. She insists she had not said a word to Robin. So she’s a liar, the editing is loopy, or she has a evil twin. Well, a more evil twin. Eric repeats himself, while Theo and Brad have lunch. Coral: “You worry about your jump rope and yourself! And that’s it!” Sophia looks down, probably wishing she had stayed at home where it was safe. Eric says that Robin was upset. Coral: “I’d be upset too if I [bleeped] up!” Damn. Eric ends it by saying he’s just giving his opinion. “Eric and his little jump rope hop over to me and start talking about how mean I am and ‘be a human being’,” Coral interviews. “Really, it’s none of his business what I say to a teammate.”

I will admit it: this is where I draw the line with Coral. Her ability to be likable is linked to the people she ranks on. With Robin, she was way over the line. With Eric, it was just right. Seriously, why should Eric jump in? I just hate how some exercise shill tries to lecture Coral. On, there’s an interview with Dan [2019: Link via] where he was very disappointed in Coral’s behavior. If he had come up to Coral, things would have gone better. Why? Because Dan is a reasonable guy, and Eric is a joke.

Oh, look. Eric is jumping rope again. He even gets Theo and Dan to kiss the rope before their heat. Honestly, if the others don’t dump him before the final mission and they win, I will be very upset. Eric walks the beam with ease as Dan shouts advice at him. Time elapsed: 3:20. Dan stops everybody as the semi turns a corner. He ends up tripping and falling hard on the beam and is forced to start over. The boys negotiate the course quickly, finishing at 8:05.
The final three women step up: Coral, Arissa and Ruthie. Coral psyches the team up, interviewing that Robin had problems with the beams. “Hopefully, I won’t have those same difficulties,” She adds, “or I’m gonna look really stupid for yelling at her.” She then breaks out into a grin. I break out into my mantra: “She’s not as bad as the Apex women, she’s not as bad as the Apex women.” [2019: Reference to the second season of The Apprentice. Yeah, I regret watching that. Hindsight is a bitch] Coral does cross the beams, as does Ruthie. Arissa comes close to nailing the final beam, but she falls down, then yells as she jumps back up. Tina: “All I hear is cussing and jumping up and down like a temper tantrum. Get your ass across those beams . . . NOW!” Arissa decides to cuss some more.

After the break, Arissa continues having problems. Ruthie yells encouragement, but to no avail. Arissa gets to the final beam, and Coral yells for her to run. She does, and goes through the tires, see-saw and hurdles. Final time: 13:19. “I let the pressure get to me,” Arissa interviews. “When you lose your head in competition, it just destroys you and any potential you have of winning the game.” First of all, that’s a great microcosm of the women’s season. Secondly, am I bad for thinking Arissa threw the mission? It would have taken a breakneck pace for the women to beat the men’s time, but Arissa isn’t a leader. If her team wins, she would have a one-in-three shot at having to go home. Even with Ruthie being vulnerable and Coral getting on Robin’s bad side, Arissa would probably be the best bet for elimination.

Jonny wears shades and a bicycle helmet as he announces the times. Seriously, I stopped figuring out Jonny a long time ago. The women’s time: 31:04. The men’s time: 25:33. As usually, the guys win the mission. Shane comes over, hugging Jonny and copping a buttcheek. Yikes. Jonny goes over the Inner Circle procedures: male leaders pick off a guy, female leaders are vulnerable.

Men’s Lounge, Boys’ Inner Circle Meeting. Mark votes for Shane. Brad doesn’t think it’s a hard choice. Dan adds that Shane thought he was going home a week ago. Mark figures that they got him a scooter, so everything should be fine.

Women’s Lounge, Girls’ Inner Circle Meeting. Coral declares that it’s down to Tina and Robin. Not to complain, but how come Sophia is never targeted? Elsewhere, Tina interviews that she will be very surprised if she goes. Ruthie doesn’t want to send Robin home. Coral asks if Robin deserves another chance. Robin interviews that she’s done her best up until now. “If I go home now,” she adds, “it’s B.S., because I’ve performed.” Coral asks if they can vote Tina off, since she has come through almost all the time. Arissa nods her head, while Ruthie thinks about it. Coral votes for Robin. Ruthie has her head down, unable to bring herself to vote Arissa. Coral tells her that she has to make a decision.

Welcome to Elimination Hill, where Richard Branson intends on building a cottage. Or something. Mark talks for the Men’s Inner Circle, talking about how ironic it is that he saved Shane in BOTS1. Is he kidding me? Antoine saved Shane! And even if Mark means the Inner Circle at that time, he makes it sound like Colin and Jamie didn’t do anything. Man, shut up, Mark. Shane fakes a grimace as the other guys hug him. The women looked bummed; either they really adored Shane, or they’re depressed how the guys can eliminate somebody without anybody getting hurt. Shane declares that he’s happy, and this was the best Challenge for him. Yeah, this does beat throwing up in the Inferno and losing to CT.

Ruthie speaks for the women’s side. She goes on the usual spiel about how she didn’t want to vote this person off. Our unlucky loser? Robin. She laughs a little, telling Ruthie not to cry. She doesn’t feel bad about going home, since the other leaders deserve to stay in the game. “Can’t hate the players,” Robin adds, “hate the game.” I do, but not as much as Inferno. Coral interviews that she loves Robin, and she hates to see her go. “However,” Coral adds, “I want that sixty [bleepin’] thousand dollars!” Robin tells the women to kick ass. I think it’s way too late for that.

Nighttime in Santa Fe. At the Men’s Lounge, Shane packs. He interviews that he loves the guys, and hopes their last days are boring without him. Meanwhile, Robin packs up. She says her farewells to Sophia and Ruthie, interviewing about hoping her team beats the boys. Cut to a confessional with Robin and Mark. The cheese just oozes off the screen. “I’m not winning sixty grand,” she interviews. “I only won two prizes, but I have a much better prize.” Two years ago, I would’ve agreed with her assessment of Mark. But now?  Ewwwwwwww. To make things worse, Mark has this smug look on his face. Robin runs to Mark, getting one more hug and kiss before getting into the car.

Next week: Coral tests my limits some more. This time, she interrogates Sophia about her friendship with Ruthie. Coral: “Is it smart of me to keep two best friends here? [Bleep] no.” The mission has something to do with cars and pulling on chains. I’ll spend the weekend praying for Sophia.  Also, I’ll keep watching Mark’s last Extreme Dodgeball match, where he allowed a teammate to get hit, ending the season for his squad. Hopefully, that’s an omen for things to come. 

Small regret while reading my old recap: I didn't mention what Brad shouting at the cardboard cutout of Randy from the Bombs Away mission: "Yo, Big Rand! We got a clue, man!" You know those scenes of Challengers getting clues about future missions via sponsored phones? Man, I miss those, and I'm not conscious of it most of the time.

Like I said, there were times someone that Coral "clowned" didn't deserve it . . . like with Ace and the Bug Helmet, for instance. As for Robin . . . well, she never won a Challenge. She did nine seasons and finished three (including Gauntlet 2). She and Brad (ten seasons) were the two cast members of RW: San Diego with the most Challenge appearances (with both of them sharing the stage in six seasons), but they only had one win between them (Brad in Cutthroat). Meanwhile, Jamie and Randy combined for three seasons, and they won two between them (Jamie in Inferno II, Randy in Gauntlet 2). Go figure.

Shane also has come up goose eggs as far as The Challenge is concerned. Unlike Robin, he has yet to make it to a finale. I'm using present tense because he came out of the proverbial cornfield to compete in three recent seasons: Invasion of the Champions, Vendettas and Final Reckoning. Sadly, his pot-stirring "Shady Shane" persona wore thin, and I've been happy that he hasn't come back. He's probably a nice guy in "real life," but if you drop him in that environment, things get ugly. Well, not as ugly as the series has gone lately.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Battle of the Sexes 2 Episode 13: The Smack Heard 'Round Santa Fe

Blah, blah, blah, procrastination. Yadda, yadda, yadda, new season of The Challenge (Bloody Hell War of the Worlds 2) is nigh. Also, I still have to get around to blogging from my notes on the Challenge Mania event that I attended last Saturday). I didn't get to mingle, but I had fun . . . even with the prospect of Cara Maria and Paulie screwing on stage. Oh, and Ruthie was there. I didn't hit her up . . . and that's probably a good thing, given that my first and only question would be, "Do you have nightmares about Beth dragging you through the sand in Gauntlet 2?"

This episode? Right . . . Steven Hill. Stifler wannabe. He was an item with Trishelle in the original RW: Las Vegas, and they even had a pregnancy scare. Needless to say, I didn't think much of him. The good stuff is that I wouldn't have to deal with him for much longer. The bad news:his absence didn't improve this season as much as I would have wanted.

Oh, and I'm proud of the "Jingle Bells" riff I wrote below. Hey, I had keep myself amused this season, and these people weren't helping me at all.

Episode Aired: December 27, 2004
Recap Posted: December 31, 2004

Jingle bells, Steven smells from forty miles away. He's such a pain and he just whacked Shane, so he has to go away. Hey!

Previously on Battle of the Sexes 2: Tonya's off-the-field partying concerned her teammates. The guys won Shredder, running their record to 9-2. They proceeded to eliminate Randy, the last team member with a penalty. The women sent Ibis home, and she griped to Ruthie about Tonya coasting through the game. For some reason, the editors slip in footage of Tonya and Tina's fight from two weeks ago. Bottom line: Tonya is not popular.

It's nightclub time, as the kids get their respective grooves on. Tonya interviews that the other girls perceive her as a "ditzy blonde," but she's young and single. "I can be stupid and silly," she adds, "and still have my [bleep] together." She must be exaggerating, since she ends up kneeling down outside, eventually collapsing to the side and smacking her head against a car bumper. Theo comes out to check on his squeeze du jour, interviewing that Tonya is hard to figure out. Coral suggests that Tonya go home in a cab. She interviews that she has a problem with Tonya's drinking. "It's ultimately her decision," she adds, "whether or not wants to be here. If she [bleeps] it up, it's on her." Tonya gets loaded into the van.

It's daytime! The guys are chilling in the pool, as Dan reads off the sponsor phone clue, which includes the phrase "WORD UP." The players have to be ready at 9:30 a.m., and they must wear bathing suits. Brad: "What's Jonny's problem? He always wants to see us in out bathing suits!" Okay, that was funny. Theo: "At least say 'please.'" Over at the Girls' Lodge, Arissa reads the same clue. She and Coral pull off a double "Yeah, boooooooyyy!" that would make Flava Flav proud. Coral interviews that if the team can focus more on winning than their past losses, maybe they can win. Here's hoping.

The players arrive at the mission site. Jonny welcomes them to today's mission: Cast a Spell. This time, Jonny has to be mysterious about the mission, telling the kids that he cannot give them information until they pick leaders. He can tell them that they'll be using their brains. Tina interviews that Ibis was her team's "puzzle person," but she was voted out last week. Today's winners get spiffy laptops that can receive television broadcasts. I'd kill for that, since the TV in my room has a crappy antenna, and I can't see certain channels at night. It's the $2,000 dream: recap this show, and watch a far better reality show! Anyway, Jonny gives both sides the usual 30 minutes to pick their leaders.

The ladies try to figure out the mission. Sophia announces she would feel good with Coral and Ruthie leading, and Tina agrees with that. Ruthie interviews that people have faith in her, but she's made mistakes in past missions. Finally, Tonya steps up to lead. "I don't want to lose," Tina interviews, "but I don't want her here, either. If we happen to lose, that girl's gone." Nice to see Tina looking on the bright side. Over on the men's side, Shane and Brad volunteer to lead. Steven interviews that Shane is a better leader than follower, and that he's brighter than most people. Shane interviews that he has to win the mission to stay in the game.

Jonny announces that until he blows his whistle, the players cannot talk to each other or to him. Doing so results in a 20-point penalty. Next, Jonny shows the teams stencils of each letter of the alphabet. The leaders pick one letter to get spray-painted on each player's stomach. Jonny lifts his shirt to reveal a "J." Jonny has a bit of a gut; here's hoping other competitive moguls skiers don't meet the same fate. Anyway, the players will step onto a stage to form a word. Jonny's helpers will then take an instant picture and post it on a corkboard. The more letters that are used, the higher the points (in order: 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, and 28 points for a seven-letter word). Both sides have 30 minutes. Shane informs us that if a team uses the same word twice, the point total would be deducted. Of course, the team with the most points wins the mission. After the leaders reveal themselves, Jonny reminds them to stay silent.

The boys go off to the side, trying to sign at each other. Steven sounds close to whispering. Theo interviews that Steven is flirting with disaster. "It's like I'm so angry at him," Theo adds, "but I can't say anything to him." Shane figures that if Steven gets a penalty and the team loses, he will go home.

Jonny gives both sides 20 minutes that make their letter choices, and then blows his whistle. Theo gives Steven crap about almost talking. Steven replies that nobody talked. Shane grabs Steven's wrist. And how does Steven react? By smacking Shane upside the head! Wow. Has it really been 546 days since the last act of violence on a Bunim-Murray show? Steven argues with the guys some more, and we go to commercials.

We get a slow-motion replay of Steven's smack. He interviews that it was a reflex action, and he knew he did something wrong. "This angers me to see this go on," Brad interviews. "If you had a problem with somebody, that definitely should have been worked out after the mission." Brad is the voice of reason? Are pigs flying right now?

Now it's time for Jonny to make an announcement. Mark thinks something is up, since Jonny never calls the players twice. Jonny declares that there is a no-hitting policy, and that Steven violated said policy. Bottom line? Steven Hill, you have been eliminated from the Challenge. Somewhere, Brynn stops stabbing her Steven voodoo doll with a fork. Shane pleads for Steven to stay, interviewing that it was his fault for grabbing the wrist. I don't think Shane is playing the victim card. Part of it might be a fear that his would get voted out in the future due to Steven's departure. Or perhaps he remembers the time he drunkenly slapped Darrell in RR: Campus Crawl and didn't get ejected. Steven hugs Shane, interviewing that his departure was all his fault.

Jonny gives the guys a chance to replace their letters. Robin interviews that recent events are an advantage for her side, since the guys can't form a seven-letter word. Mark holds onto Shane, telling him not to take responsibility for Steven's departure. Theo tries to snap Shane out of it, telling him that he has to lead the team. Mark: "What if he punched Eric?" Mmmmm... Eric getting punched. That is such a happy thought. Tonya is happy, and why not? With the girls getting a break, they can win the mission, and she wouldn't have to get voted off.

The ladies gather to strategize. Ruthie picks out a word: "candles." The girls get the letters spray-painted on their tummies. Ruthie interviews that nobody came up with a better word. For the guys, Dan suggests "Master," which the guys like. Mark interviews that he's going into this thinking they have no shot at winning. To be honest, I don't smell the ironic foreshadowing. I'm losing my skills.

Jonny gives both sides 30 minutes to form their letters. There's really not much to write about. Both sides get coordinated (Theo calling the shots for the men, Coral for the women), go up on the stage, raise their arms, get their pictures taken, then step down. Coral interviews that her team has lots of five- and six-point words, as well as a few sevens. Honestly, I don't think you can use all seven letters from "candles." Mark sees that most of the girls' corkboard is filled with pictures. The guys discover that a few words has been repeated, resulting in a 28-point deduction.

Over at the Men's Lounge, Steven packs up. He holds up a fake grave marker (probably plucked from High Noon) with his death date being 2004. Ha ha, very funny. He stops to write a letter and interviews that he understands why he got kicked off. He leaves the note behind, carrying his bag and cardboard twin (from Bombs Away). He apologizes for hurting the team before he gets into the Van of Shame.

Jonny gives everybody one minute to finish up. The guys get one last word in, while the girls stand by. Jonny blows his air horn to end the mission. The girls try and psyche themselves up for the win. Ruthie feels that they got it in the bag. Brad tells his group that they did the best that they could. Mark: "I'm just gonna bury my head in the sand."

Jonny goes over today's events: Guys shorthanded, women had full roster, blah blah blah. Tonya and Tina are unable to stand still. Jonny announces that the guys got 735 points, then proceeds to drag out the women's score, making both sides sore. After commercials, Jonny reveals the ladies' score: 624. Damn. I mean, daaaaaaaaayymn. If you look up "tough loss" in the dictionary, you'd find a picture of Sophia's face deflating after hearing the news.

The guys celebrate like they just won the World Series. Fellas, you just kicked your underachieving opponents for the tenth time in twelve missions. I don't care if you were shorthanded. Simmer down. Sophia actually slams a chair down on the ground. I really hate seeing her that ticked off. Tina interviews that this was the biggest disappointment since coming to Santa Fe. "I honestly can't believe," she continues, "that they have outwitted us." The guys celebrate some more, as Brad hands out cardboard certificates for the laptops. Mark interviews that this will go down as "the biggest upset in reality television." Shut up, Dodgeball Boy.

Jonny reminds the boys that since Steven is gone, they won't have to send anybody home today. As for the women? They get to choose between Coral, Ruthie, and Tonya. Ruthie interviews that she didn't want to lose, but that guys had more five- and six-letter words, which she gives props for.

The guys arrive at their lounge, basking in the afterglow of their "upset." They find Steven's letter. Mark reads that Steven is sorry for hurting the team. "Shane," he adds, "I only pushed you because I love you the most." Wow, that is very creepy. Shane interviews that he appreciates Steven taking the time to write before departing. Brad thinks Steven did a "very negative thing," but the team won anyway. He brags about winning the laptop and wanting to show it off to the girls. Brad is still a meathead, but he's my second-favorite guy still in this Challenge. Sad, isn't it?

Outside of the Main Lounge, Tonya sits and waits. She interviews that the team wouldn't send Coral home, and that it would come down to herself and Ruthie. Inside, Ruthie and Coral wait it out. Ruthie concurs with Tonya's view, interviewing that the team was counting on her.

Women's Lounge, Girls' Inner Circle. Tina bases her vote on performance, and she's not ready to let Ruthie go, so Tonya gets the vote. "Tonya, it's nothing I'm doing," Tina snipes in an interview. "You just don't know how to perform. You're just not strong as me." I think Tonya could outperform Tina in anything athletic, but Tina is more fun to keep around at this point. Robin figures that out of the three leaders, she would rather do the final mission with Ruthie and Coral. Sophia dubs Coral "phenomenal," and calls Ruthie "strong," and see a lot of intensity in Tonya. Arissa doesn't feel like voting for Tonya.

Welcome to Elimination Hill, now with fifty percent fewer eliminations! Jonny reminds anybody who fell asleep that Steven already went home, so the guys didn't have to vote anybody out. Arissa comes up to drop the axe on behalf of the Inner Circle. She thinks that all of the players left deserve to be here, and she doesn't want to send anybody home. But she does, and Tonya is leaving today. Tonya laughs a little, then hugs Arissa. She doesn't have much to say, save for wishing her team luck. Jonny goes into his farewell spiel, interrupted by Tonya shouting, "I'll be back!" The sad thing is that she's right. I feel that she might be better off going into nursing, or wherever her skills may lead her. I've had one friend suggest that her antics in Santa Fe are a result of a delayed adolescence, due to her being in foster care when she was younger. I don't have a problem with her getting wild and kissing strange boys. I just have a problem with her doing that on camera, with those boys. Aim higher, Tonya!

Tonya walks with Coral and Shane, blurting out, "Walla Walla goes back home!" I cannot believe I forgot she's from Walla Walla. She interviews about being bummed over losing, and she figured to be on the final team. She adds that some girls are looking out for themselves. When it comes to a $60,000 check, who wouldn't?

Cut to the Men's Lounge, where Theo and Tonya get in one last snuggle. Theo figures he'll be friends with Tonya. "I'm not carrying anything out of this desert," he interviews. "I'll probably just leave here and let the little summer love fizzle and die out."

Tonya packs up and says her goodbyes. "I'm a strong competitor and a strong woman," she interviews. "I put myself in a position to be judged and to be questioned, and that's fine. I'd rather do that than back down because I'm too scared of being voted off." She gets a few hugs, orders her team to win, then gets in the van. And now, let us remember Tonya fondly. Will you do the honors, Tina? "Ding dong, the witch is dead! Good riddance!" I predict that Tina's compassion for people will be her downfall.

Next time: Mark and Robin snuggle. The mission has the kids walking on balance beams on top of speeding semis. And guess what? It's Eric versus Coral in a war of words. Robin's crying for some reason, but who cares? Here's hoping Coral ties up Eric with his own jump rope.

Depressing as fuck, huh?

The girls wound up with an advantage, and they still blew it. They did lose Tonya, but it didn't end up a case of "addition" by "subtraction." I wasn't kidding about wanting Tonya to have a normal life. After her turbulant time on RW: Chicago, it was nice to see her look sane in BOTS1 and The Gauntlet. But she would wind up in more four seasons: Inferno II (where the "Mean Girls" troika overlooked their own flaws to rank on her for most of the season), Fresh Meat (she and one-shot player Johnnie McBride were the fourth team eliminated, done in by a rookie Wes and his plus-one, Casey), Inferno 3 (where she won her first Challenge after six tries, winning $40,000 along with the remaining players of the Bad Ass team), The Island (first player voted off) and The Ruins, where this allegedly happened to her. I have to say "allegedly" because the case was settled out of court, and there are times I pretend to be a practicing journalist . . . but I'm thinking it happened.

Battle of the Sexes 2 turned out to be Steven's only Challenge, which was a pleasant surprise for me. Sadly, he would take part in the unnecessary Reunited: The Real World Las Vegas season in 2007. By the way, how weird was it that I felt bad for Shane back then, but I'd wind up rooting for someone -- ANYONE -- to slug him over a decade later? I'm sure he's probably a nice guy in "real life," but "Shady Shane" wore on my nerves. It tickles me that out of the six members of RR: Campus Crawl to compete in Challenges, he's the only one to have not won in multiple tries (alpha guy Eric Jones only did three missions in BOTS1). Basically, he's Homer Simpson, and Challenge titles are the Employee of the Month award at Springfield Nuclear. And Sarah Grayson would be the inanimate rod. That has to keep Shane up during some nights.