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.