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.