LAST EDITED ON 07-16-04 AT 07:34 PM (EST)
Bottom of the inning, home team up to bat. (Of course I’m the home team. I’m batting last. First time in history the home team had to advance the runner so the visitor could score next ups, but…)
Previously on Outback Jack: MTW wrote that one, and I still have more confidence in your ability to find it than I do in my ability to link to it. You’re just going to have to go that extra click. But if it feels like it’s taking too much effort, I’m sure Jack will be happy to push your mouse for you. He’s got a little free time now, since he no longer has to wait for six women to finish rubbing his snake.
We’re going to rejoin Jack and his band of future merry widows (as long their future husbands turn out to be rich and completely unaware of prenuptial agreements) right where we left them: with the women on the backs of camels and Jack leading the way. At least in theory. Riding a camel is a lot like reading a summary. It may start out looking kind and innocent, and it may even seem as if it’s heading in a fairly linear direction – but if you give it any chance, it’ll buck, break out of line, run for the nearest watering hole, happily dump the rider into the water, and pause during the refreshment break to take a piece out of the nearest shoulder. Oh, and watch out: they spit. There are crueler things you can do to a group of high-maintenance women than putting them on the backs of a species that decided to avoid sentience because malice was more fun, but not many.
And what are some of those crueler things? Well… Roll opening credits. (Did you notice there’s more shots of Adrienne during the credits than any other contestant? If this was Survivor or any other show where people cared about spoilers, we’d have about twelve threads on that by now. As-is, this is Outback Jack, and it’s not so much about who wins in the end as who suffers along the way. Oh, well. Another golden argument possibility derailed.)
After a quick panoramic scan of the scenery, we catch up with the camel train, which has Jack at the front – on foot, holding the end of a rope that passes through all the camels’ bridles and the space between Mary and Natalie’s ears, giving him at least a theoretical chance of controlling the procession. Normally, we could grouse a little about how much work the show is forcing our poor, exhausted Jack to do, but given the choice between walking and going camelback – walk. The show is being unusually kind to Jack. Something’s up.
‘Are we really riding camels?’ Cortney openly wonders. No, Cortney: no one in the history of the world has ever ridden a camel. You’re providing a temporary fashion accessory, and when the camel decides to change looks, it’ll let you know.
As the collection of knees and saliva glands moves on, Jack advises the women to plant their All-Star Survivors more firmly in the seats, as most of them are operating under the mistaken impression that air works as a shock absorber. Natalie confessional-tell protests with ‘My butt was so far in that seat, even my bruises had bruises.’ Please let us know when your brains have brains. (If this was MTW’s summary, he’d probably say something about Natalie’s lips already having lips. Pity he got the odd numbers, huh?)
‘Come on, you lazy buggers!’ Jack yells, then quickly c-t adds that he has five great Sheilas left, just in case you thought he was targeting the passengers instead of the camels, and it’s not as if any of us have a single reason to think that.
Cortney c-t notes that Marissa had been using up a lot of Jack’s free time (anything not consumed leading clueless women across the Outback, saving their skins, hair, and luggage, pointing out little facts like ‘poison is bad’, and rescuing the occasional snake – which leaves about forty seconds a day), and now that she’s gone, ‘there’s going to be a catfight to see who gets it.’ Great. They’re gonna move the show to Spike…
Maria’s due for a c-t, so takes a moment to say that her feelings for Jack just keep getting stronger – but ‘it’s more than just me that’s after him. There’s a few others, too.’ Relax, Maria, camels look at everyone like that. (Y’know, if this was some show other than the one I’m currently watching, that would have almost sounded like foreshadowing or something. Good thing we’re still in the Outback, or I might have to become suspicious.)
Mary c-t announces that she’s here to fight, and she’s here to win, then sits quietly for a moment, recovering the energies expended in putting so many words together without saying or doing something stupid. After a few seconds, she succeeds and smiles, momentarily blinding the cameraman. The flash of light off her teeth is actually audible here, and sounds like ‘Ting!’, which is quite possibly the most intelligent thing anything associated with Mary has said in the entire series.
Natalie’s ride stops to refuel, and she immediately notifies Jack that ‘My donkey is hungry.’ All the energy Mary just recovered had to come from somewhere.
Jack c-t decides that the trip was ‘almost like Lawrence of Arabia’, and in one of those shots guaranteed to give movie fans shooting migraines, the camera immediately duplicates the exact angle and lighting of the camel train procession from the film, as oddly familiar music begins to swell up in the background, reaching for a horrifyingly accurate image that will completely ruin one of the best movies in history for the rest of time –
-- right up until Mary announces ‘I need a potty break!’
The shot, music, and mood simultaneously collapse.
‘Well,’ Jack c-t concedes, ‘it was almost like Lawrence of Arabia.’ Close. Too close…
The camel ride mercifully ends – mercifully for us, because Beau Geste was probably up next – and Jack leads the women into a beautiful natural grotto, reminding us that the best reason to watch this sort of series is to catch the wonderful natural scenery and cuing up the first cold shower I’ve taken since getting a good long look at the desert scrublands around Adam’s mansion. It’s not the site of their next camp, but a place to pause, relax, and enjoy a picnic lunch before moving on. However, before they can do that, they’re going to have to enjoy one of the Outback’s many outdoor activities. Namely, they’re all going to jump off a twenty-five foot cliff.
Into. Water. It was a perfectly natural conclusion and I understand why you went straight for it, but – into water. Sorry. Maybe next season.
After a quick pause so everyone can get into their bathing suits, Jack takes a running leap off the natural rock diving board (which probably triggered cold showers all over the country) and plunges into the water – and stays under the water long enough for the women to gather around the launch point, examine the pool with sincere concern, and wonder about how they’re going to get home without Jack to lead them.
(Quick pause while the summary writer checks the TV listings for the coming week just to make sure MTW isn’t going to be summarizing Donner Party Australia: The Ultimate Reality Show. Sadly, it’s still Outback Jack. Pushing Play…)
Jack emerges. The women stop trying to tenderize Mary and switch to buttering up Cortney, encouraging her to go first because she so obviously wants to make the leap. (Well, now we know who the majority considers to be the biggest threat after Marissa.) Cortney gives in to the peer pressure, accepts a few farewell hugs, and makes her jump. Typically for this kind of show, she not only survives, but immediately starts talking about how great the experience was, trying to lure someone with worse luck into following her.
Natalie says that nothing in the adventure (Rupert Boneham, white courtesy phone) has threatened her as much as the cliff jump -- at least now that Marissa’s temporarily gone – but makes the leap anyway, and comes up feeling very proud of herself for having gone through with it. Everyone else just feels slightly disappointed that she came up.
Adrienne really isn’t sure about this, and does the ‘two steps forward, two steps back’ dance three times, stopping at the edge of the cliff and retreating over and over and over before finally committing to the leap. It only takes her a few seconds to commit to surfacing.
Mary also has to gather the nerve to make the jump – but while her collection of stupidity-fighting energy only requires a quiet moment of meditation, her ‘I am about to do something immensely stupid’ routine needs a little motion behind it. As such, she wriggles, shakes, shimmies, and generally works the cliff and all within sight of it until she’s gathered enough stares to continue, then goes for her swim. (Of course, in c-t, she claims the human solar collector dance was just to let everyone know that she was about to jump, because no one would have ever figured that out on their own. ‘Ting!’) And upon emerging, she promptly c-t announces that she ‘felt like an action star.’ (sigh) Great. They’re gonna move Mary to NBC…
Maria doesn’t feel all that nervous about the jump after having gone through the skydiving, but apparently forgot that a fast impact with water is slightly different from a controlled landing on the ground. While she gets through it just fine (I know, I know…), her bikini suffers, with the upper half getting pushed above its coverage area and the lower half getting – well – pushed into its coverage area. Mary subsequently c-t informs us that it was a great experience. No cold showers occur anywhere in the world. (Who ever heard of a wedgie fetish?)
Well, the women have all made the jump. There’s a picnic spread waiting for them on the shore, which gives them the chance to enjoy a good meal while competing for Jack’s attention. They haven’t changed out of their bathing suits: see ‘competing for Jack’s attention’ above. And, after taking the plunge, they’re feeling good about themselves, their place in the world, and their chances of winning Jack’s heart.
In other words, they’re happy. Cue JD.
Sure enough, the host interrupts the picnic lunch. More warding gestures fly, but the women still haven’t figured out the right spell, and he manages the approach without so much as a fizzle from the weak shields. (Maybe Mary should have gone ‘Ting!’)
‘I’m glad you had a chance to freshen up after your camel ride,’ JD tells them, ‘because you’re about to have some friends dropping by.’ He points to the absolute top of the cliff. Five people in dark outfits are vaguely visible. The women’s eyes open wide with shock.
‘Meet your new competition,’ JD smugly announces as five women toss ropes over the cliff, hook arms and legs around those ropes, and then begin rappelling down the rock face, war whooping in a way that indicates either a complete gung-ho devotion to the activity or that the placement of the ropes around their lower body was just a little bit off.
‘Cliffhangers!’ Mary breathes. Only if those ropes are way off, Mary.
Jack, who had no idea the G.I. Janes were coming, watches in shock as the new women touch down at the base of the cliff. A scary green computer font that probably isn’t meant to remind us of impending attack announces that the fresh faces in black spandex and dark sunglasses are ‘The Competition’, and then provides the following information about the first one:
Occupation: Professional Volleyball Player
Reason For Being Here: To win Jack and kick high-maintenance butt while giving Cortney some competition in the ‘is that really how you spell it?’ department.
Look closely at that. Normally, openly revealing a woman’s age and weight is like going to a gay pride parade wearing a Bush/Cheney ’04 T-shirt: there are less involved ways to commit suicide, but you won’t find many more painful. This new arrival has consented to have two of her most personal statistics displayed on cable systems around the world. This can mean only one thing: she’s a fitness buff who’s extremely proud of her body mass and the ways she puts it to use. And we just saw her semi-expertly rappelling down a cliff. Gee, do you think that could mean anything for the abilities of the other four new arrivals?
Occupation: Extreme Sports Athlete
Reason For Being Here: To show Jack what being a real woman is all about, as opposed to being a girly-girl, or a lady, or an overgrown teenager, or whatever it is that Mary and Natalie are supposed to be.
Reason For Being Here: Because she’s a stuntwoman. No other reason. She just got the casting call from her agent six hours ago, it’s a short-term role, and they didn’t see any need to provide her character with long-term motivation. But she’s very glad her cameo during Joe Schmo 2’s blackball ceremony actually led to something.
Reason For Being Here: To steal their man. And the food. Plus they have all that jewelry that can be pawned, and the receipts are an ocean away. And who knows how much Jack can be ransomed for? Women all over America and Australia would give up their bank accounts if they received a piece of his stubble in the mail with the promise of an entire cheek later. Talk about your financial opportunities! (So who said this show didn’t have a cash prize waiting at the end?)
Occupation: Personal trainer
Reason For Being Here: To show that city girls just can’t survive in the Outback. Fortunately, there’s absolutely no room for weapons in that spandex. Then again, she did bring her own rope…
‘Are you guys kidding me?’ Mary asks. No, they’re not. The new arrivals are rough, tough, buff, and have absolutely no idea where the nearest Bloomingdale’s is. They have nothing whatsoever in common with the remaining original contestants. They have a casting call for the Average Jane twist bus scheduled for three months from today. They are here to completely ruin the collective day, hopes, and dreams of the Original Five while giving Jack still more people to fret over and doubletalk to.
In other words, they’re the twist. Y’know, even for JD, this is a little sadistic.
‘We’re all nice and comfy with Jack,’ Mary c-t continues, ‘and now he has to deal with completely different girls that he’s never met before.’ No Ting! follows this statement.
Maria can’t c-t figure why the new arrivals are here, but Adrienne has actually been listening to what JD says, unlike most of us, and knows they’ve come to compete. Mary protests that they can’t let The Competition have Jack! Well, let’s see. Their collective weight is 730 lbs. Your collective weight is – well, you’d better hope it doesn’t come down to a tug of war.
Adrienne c-t calls the whole thing a joke, noting that the new arrivals look like ‘Charlie’s Angels wanna-bes’, then openly tells them to ‘Get the hell out of here!’ Marissa has already left, so nothing happens.
Cortney c-t observes that ‘All the girls were big and mean and looked like a spate of bodyguards – not Jack’s girlfriends.’ Well, maybe – but Cortney, you have to remember – Marissa is coming back.
Everyone shakes hands – Natalie nearly loses the use of her right hand to a too-firm grip – and we start to get dueling confessionals. Angela likes Jack’s look and feels he’s an outdoors type, so Angela may be able to follow JD’s statements better than Maria can. Jennifer also appreciates Jack’s appearance, even if he is a bit tiny for her. Mary, on the c-t defensive, thinks Jack wants women with curves, not ones with muscles who ‘look like Hercules.’ Mary uses up so much strength forcing this hoped-truth out that she can’t bring herself to produce a Ting! afterwards.
(In one of those rare moments of fairness, I have to point out that the new arrivals, while visibly fit, do not have professional bodybuilder somas with bulging veins, definition where most people don’t even have concepts, and coverage of, at most, six square inches of skin. They’re just attractive women in good physical condition. Mary can hope whatever she wants, but there are a lot of males and females in the world who would see the new arrivals as an ideal physical type, and no one ever said ‘dangerous curves ahead’ had to refer to the torso. Fairness over. We now return you to your regularly scheduled mauling, already in progress.)
JD explains the rules. Since the original five have been through skydiving, catching fish with their bare hands, canoeing, and experienced the joys of snake petting, he figures they’ve never been in better shape in their lives, baring the toned-up muscles that come from fighting their way through the mall every Christmas. And the new arrivals are here to test that new-found strength. They’ll spend the night in camp with Jack and the originals, and come morning, there’s going to be a test of strength, speed, and skill. If the originals win, all of the new arrivals pack up and go home on the spot. If they lose, one of their own will be dismissed by Jack, and one of the new arrivals will replace her.
Natalie immediately c-t feels that the originals are going to get their butts kicked. This is the single most intelligent thing Natalie has said during the entire series. Apparently the Outback experience really is helping her. Or maybe Natalie’s normal intellect has just found a new home, because Jack says ‘I’ve taught these girls a trick or two: I’m sure they’ll give you a run for their money.’ Which happens to be the sweetest thing anyone has said during the entire series. Also the stupidest.
The following deathless exchange takes place:
Jennifer: ‘We like competition.’
Adrienne: ‘We don’t like competition.’
Maria: ‘We like shopping.’
This is enough to drop Jack even further into c-t delusion, where he continues to insist that his girls have come a long way, he’s protective of them, and the new tough chicks are going to have to go through everything the originals went through if they want to earn his trust. This is the second sweetest thing anyone has said during the entire series. The delusional stupidity factor may be off the charts.
And after a couple of quick mood shots of spiderwebs and army ants, we head off to camp, with Adrienne c-t feeling the newcomers sized the originals up, found them weak, and decided that any competition would be hilarious. We have now met our foreshadowing allotment for the episode.
Mary c-t believes the newcomers must spend five hours a day in the gym, and admits she only goes to the gym three times a week for half an hour each time, because she doesn’t want to look like a man. There isn’t much that can be done with this statement in the way of snarkiness, but it’s such a glorious Maryism that it had to be included here.
All the women pick their way along the trail – actually, the camera makes a point of showing Team Spandex moving confidently across a river rock trail while the Mall Maulers have to consider every step before planting their feet – and eventually arrive at Generic Outback Camp #4, where the usual facilities are waiting. The new arrivals wonder if they have time to work out. The originals wonder if there’s any way they can manage a pedicure and foot massage. Jack continues to c-t insist that his girls have come a long way and, if they really give it their all, stand a chance of winning tomorrow’s competition. The same medical team which treated Marissa in the first episode swarms into the camp, grabs Jack, drags him off to the nearest medical facility (which happens to be the same one which treated Jim in the first TAR5 episode, so it’s really fast), and gives him medications for sunstroke, brain parasites, exhaustion, overexposure to bikinis, and finish by injecting a huge dose of Thorazine to calm the delusions down. They then return him to camp before the women or cameras have a chance to notice his absence. And after all that, Jack still believes in his original five. (sigh) Incurable optimism kills.
As it turns out, the new arrivals won’t have quite the same facilities as the originals. They’ll be sleeping in tiny one-woman tents (set up in a flash during a dazzling display of camera montage angles) and get to enjoy much better showers, thanks to their ability to work the pump at something over one complete circuit per minute. Cortney’s response to this incredible display of competence is ‘The Nineties called. They want their spandex back.’
And happily for Jack, when all else fails, there’s always shock therapy, provided by the screeches of panicked originals, which are capable of breaking glass and shattering illusions with only 150 decibels. Apparently there’s a Jumping Jack – a beetle about the size of an Australian penny – in the big tent, and the women are screaming, jumping up and down, waving their arms in an attempt to scare it away, and would happily climb up on the chair if there was one available. The new arrivals, finding a similar visitor on their sleeping pad, gently escort it back onto the ground while declaring it cute.
Jack realizes he may have to reconsider the personal advancement of his team. The sound people realize they may have to turn down the pickup level. The beetles swear to never approach the psycho tent again. And everyone goes to dinner, where the new women arrive dressed in basic, fashionable, mostly-black outfits that do a good job of showing off just how fit they really are, and the originals decide to appear in cutting-edge attire that shows off – well – everything else.
‘If these newcomers come into our camp and start marking their territory with Jack,’ Mary c-t declares, ‘they’re not going to get anywhere, because our territory is already marked.’ Isn’t it usually men who get into that sort of contest?
Dinner topics include bugs, shrieking, the difficulty of staying fashionable in the Outback, the high amusement of Team Spandex at all of the preceding, Jack’s diminished confidence in the ability of the originals to survive a physical contest, a growing dislike between the two groups, and the quality of the nuclear weapons they have all once again been provided with. When will people learn not to serve Australian beer in tense situations?
But somehow, the fights are kept verbal and subtle – and morning finds the Mall Maulers more united than any group of dating show contestants since – well, since the Originals vs. the Newcomers on Average Joe 1. They are determined to protect every one of their five spots. They honestly feel they can beat Team Spandex in a fair fight. They are prepared to be generous in victory, with Adrienne c-t offering to do everyone’s makeup. They are completely out of their minds, and the medical team is out of Thorazine. Even Natalie c-t feels that even though they’re smaller and weaker, their superior teamwork, love for each other, and fashion sense (currently attired, across the board, in outback camouflage) will carry them through. Oh, and working out too much makes your skin hard, and everyone knows having soft skin is vital to winning this sort of competition. And all this self-delusional and burgeoning insanity still leaves a little time for a bashing.
Natalie, referring to Team Spandex: ‘What do you call it when your body gets like that?’
Mary: ‘Pre-op.’ (Someone make a note: Mary is now on the Survivor 9 summary request list. I think there’s some real talent there.)
Cortney pulls out all the stops and accessorizes for the challenge – ‘They may have muscles, but I have Tiffany’s’ – and c-t adds ‘The prissy girls still want to be competitive, we just want to do it in pretty outfits and cute makeup.’ (Soundtrack derails.) ‘And that’s okay!’
Meri-De c-t announces ‘We’re going to kick some high-maintenance butt tonight. These girls have never worked out a day in their life.’ (pauses) ‘Besides lifting a purse.’ …uh-oh. Sorry, Meri-De, but do you have any idea just how much stuff is inside a high-maintenance woman’s purse? Makeup, cell phones, at least twenty credit cards, checkbook, emergency jewelry, little black books, larger pink books, spare outfit with boots… each of these women hefts forty pounds onto their shoulders for six hours a day, every day of their lives! Suddenly, this is starting to look like an actual contest.
Finally, everyone’s ready, and the groups hike off to the challenge area as an oddly familiar style of music plays… y’know, I think I’ve heard this music somewhere else… it’s almost soothing – transporting – I could almost think that instead of working on a summary for a little show that perhaps three people are going to be interested in reading, I was actually trying to compose something for…
…the Morgan tribe comes into the challenge area, and Jack takes a moment to greet Jeff ProDst before heading for his neutral observation mat. The Outcasts step onto their own mat and await Jiffie’s orders.
Jeff’s first duty is to remind them that this is a lot like the original Outcast competition, except for the Outcast tribe never having been on the show until their dramatic entrance (which really makes them the OutCasted), having no knowledge of anything that went on before their arrival, and starting with the automatic luxury items of strength, speed, and size. If the Morgans can win, they’ll keep their tribe intact and send the Outcasts home in deep disgrace, where they can try to explain to all their gym buddies how the Morgans, with their luxury items of fashion accessories, makeup, and high-decibel sound managed to beat them. But if they lose, Jack (who always has immunity) will have to vote one of the Morgans out, then vote one of the Outcasts in to take their place. And do they really want to be in the same category as the original Morgans, the prissy failures of the Pearl Islands? No, they do not. They have something to prove. Something major. Something life-changing. Something that only a show as great as Survivor would even attempt to capture, no matter what those lesser latecomers might try to convince you of…
As always, everyone waits patiently until Jeff remembers to take a breath.
The Immunity Challenge is the classic multi-part obstacle course. In the first stage, they’ll have to climb over a two-story pile of hay bales, either using the rope to assist themselves or scrambling across as best they can. Stage two brings a fallen tree trunk: the tribes will have to dig their way under it and pass through the tunnel, which has already been started for them to save on production time. In the next leg, we get the return of an old favorite: the breakthrough wooden obstacle grid, although only one tribe has the raw strength to actually push through it, and the other will have to try and wriggle through. Stage four is pretty simple: up a ladder, across a short cargo net, and down a rope. But the last stage is the return of no one’s favorite: the balance beam, where anyone who falls off has to go back and try it again until they get across. And the tribes will have to run the course as a team: no new sections may be started until everyone’s finished the old one, and neither tribe can claim victory until all five members are across the finish line.
Since the tribes are at even strength, only Jack will be sitting out the Challenge. Everyone else takes their starting marks, loosens up (the Outcasts do a formal stretch, while the Morgans wriggle a lot), demonstrates their tribal war cry, and waits for Jiffie’s signal.
Jeff drops his arm – and they’re off for the hay bales! Amazingly, Adrienne proves to be faster than anyone on the Outcasts, and makes it to the top of the bales first, briefly turning around to help two others over before scooting down to the bottom. This proves to be a mistake, as Mary and Natalie (easily the least athletic) are having trouble on the other side, and hold up the entire group’s advancement with their slowed attempts to clear the obstacle. The Outcasts may have been behind Adrienne as a whole, but they’re catching up to the tribe quickly enough, and are the first to move on to the second stage –
-- where they’re immediately in trouble. In the most blink-worthy design of a Challenge course since Darrah got her skinny arm into the water tube, the starter hole dug under the log is just large enough to let a small woman through without too much extra digging around the sides. No one on the Outcasts is a particularly small woman. They can’t just push through: they have to do some excavation first, or they’ll never fit into the hole in the first place. All the Morgans need to do is exhale hard and scramble – and once they’ve got Adrienne on the other side helping to pull her tribemates through, the rest is easy. The Morgans have their five clear and heading for the breakthrough while the Outcasts are struggling with their fourth, and Jack jumps up and down in delight, looking oddly like Natalie until he lands again.
The Morgans can’t quite continue their success in the next stage, however (honestly, when could any tribe named Morgan keep up success?): while they’re going over, under, and through the breakthrough poles, the Outcasts use their superior balance to just walk on top of the obstacle. Mogo-Mogo, watching from the sidelines some six thousand miles away, screams in protest – but Jeff rules this tactic to be perfectly legal, and the tribes hit the fourth obstacle dead-even.
The cargo net looked like the easiest challenge going in, but it doesn’t quite work out that way. While Adrienne is the first one through (and has been the first one through every stage so far), the Outcasts have the faster overall speed through the ropes, and Natalie actually stumbles at one point, costing the Morgans a few seconds. It’s not that much of a loss, though, and the Outcasts reach the balance beam about eight seconds ahead of the Morgans –
-- and naturally, that’s where it all falls apart.
Remember the river rocks crossing from earlier in the episode? Guess what? That was MB’s patented foreshadowing moment. Once again, the Outcasts move confidently along the treacherous path, while the Morgans pick their way along, stumble, fall off, and have to go back to start. All five Outcasts are across and starting their sprint for the finish line in the time it takes for one Morgan to cross and the second to falter. Repeatedly. Catching up is impossible. Winning is out of their reach. And the Outcasts take the prize. For the second time in Survivor history, unwanted, unnecessary contestants have stormed into the game to force out a surviving player, someone that had been doing well, and take their place while the audience sat and fumed…
…what was I saying?
Wow. The tape’s really far along. I guess the producers must have decided to just cut out most of the challenge, since the results were so obvious ahead of time. Sure enough, there’s Team Spandex, celebrating at the finish line. Oh, well. I’m sure the originals did their best. There really should have been more to it than just a balance beam, though.
Jack’s feeling depressed at the prospect of sending someone home, but he’s still proud of his girls – and he should be, because having already lost, they do not quit on the spot. They keep trying the balance beam until all five are across, and then sprint for the finish line as if they still had a chance to win. They, in fact, show a team spirit that few groups on any reality show have ever displayed, even going so far as to high-five the newcomers after they cross the finish line. ‘Look at how far we’ve come!’ Cortney crows as the originals gather in a huddle. ‘It doesn’t matter!’ And, just for today, y’all can have The Apprentice.
But someone still has to come in, and someone else has to leave – so JD puts Jack on the spot: choose the newcomer who’s going to stay, now. Jack still doesn’t want to do it, but he lost his chance to take the clearly-marked Adam Integrity Highway earlier in the show – so, after a brief pause and thank-you to Team Spandex for their time and trouble, he invites Meri-De to stay, c-t citing that she seemed to be the most genuine, no matter what that Balco investigation might say. Meri-De’s just happy for the chance to get to know Jack better.
The rest of Team Spandex leaves in a conveniently-timed helicopter, with Laura c-t admitting they learned some respect for the city girls – and then it’s time for the second part of the process: someone has to go home. And that means…
…look out! He’s going to doubletalk!
Gah. Jack’s patented technique of verbalizing on all sides of a process is the worst part of dealing with this show. Imagine him saying his wedding vows. ‘I love you dearly – but I’m not sure everyone here knew whether or not they should speak up during the proper portion, or just when to – because even though I feel a deep connection with you, I value their opinion, and they may have been too afraid to give it – plus one of your bridesmaids was really cute – although I do feel a tremendous amount of loyalty to you – I do – at least until JD tells me not to.’ As such, we’re going to do what we did last time and just note the general flow and amount of doubletalk for each contestant.
Cortney: You’ve come a long way since Day One, please stay. What? It’s not that I mind Cortney hanging around, I don’t want her to be hit with a meteor any more than any of the others, but where was the doubletalk? I was all braced and everything! Sheesh…
Adrienne: Many times you’ve led this group, seeing you come over the hay bales first was like seeing a horse come in first at the track, not that I think you look like a horse or that I’m a compulsive gambler or anything, won’t you continue to lead us? Still no doubletalk. Should I really be feeling let down right now? (And again, tell the reality historians to make a note: a non-Caucasian contestant on a dating show has survived to see Round Five. We are definitely into unknown territory here.)
Natalie: You’ve been great to be around, you’ve been yourself, that’s all I ever ask, continue on this journey with me? Okay, that’s it. Someone’s been coaching him.
(A couple of c-ts – Maria and Mary, paraphrase to ‘I don’t want to go’ and ‘I don’t think he wants to send anyone home’, break in here – but the interesting thing is what happens between them. Namely, Maria and Mary hugging each other tightly while waiting for Jack’s decision. Without Marissa (who wasn’t there to make friends – re-MTW-check) around for a while and with Team Spandex forcing the originals closer together, this group bonded. For a dating show, that’s highly weird – and perhaps just a little bit unbashable.)
Maria: You’ve made me laugh, we’ve shared an adventure (Rupert Boneham, white courtesy phone), please continue on this journey with me. Did I say coached? I meant replaced by a clone.
Mary (walking dead): You’re one of the most special people I’ve ever met, you can still smile even though you know you’re gone, don’t ever change. Mary tells him she had a great time (and in c-t, adds that she can now survive anywhere, but will never take any electronic product for granted ever again, promising to forever cherish her blowdryer and flatiron – Ting!), receives a group hug from every female contestant not named Meri-De – and it’s back to camp.
Night falls, and so does Meri-De’s stock with the originals. The group is basically ignoring her until she asks a direct question, and then provides only the shortest possible answer. Meri-De c-t protests that it’s not her fault the original group lost the challenge. True, Meri-De, but we’ve all seen how far people get when they try to blame JD. And you really don’t have much in common with the others. A little hammock talk finds her asking the group if they have any hobbies besides shopping, which puts Cortney in c-t admitting that A. she couldn’t think of any at the time, but she knows she has some and B. how dare Meri-De demean the noble sport of shopping! And now I know exactly whose elbow I took in Macy’s last winter.
In the Way Too Much Information department, Natalie tells Jack she feels like she’s turning into a boy. She urinates outdoors, doesn’t use toilet paper, and has taken only two showers since reaching the Outback. Thank you for sharing, Natalie. And if you’d shared all this before the elimination, Mary would probably still be here.
Jack feels Natalie has opened up more than any of the other women, his midnight encounter with Marissa included. Huh. So maybe the next twist is to bring in a group of five men…
Our bachelor is in a feeling mood, and the next thing he feels is that if he’s in this position, he should give Meri-De the same chance he’s given the originals. As such, he asks her to a dinner date so they can have a little time alone and learn about each other. Of course, all this does is annoy Natalie, who points out that she and Cortney haven’t had that kind of chance yet. (Yes, and the Average Janes are going to be really annoyed when you show up in a few months, so just live with it for now.) Cortney just doesn’t feel Meri-De is someone she can be emotionally open with, as she can with the originals. The producers immediately make plans to provide a de-bonding experience as soon as possible, as the show is on the verge of leaving the bounds of reality television altogether.
Jack likes Meri-De because she has a certain glow about her, plus her eyes just seem to say a lot. Meri-De likes what she’s seen of Jack so far, plus he doesn’t seem to mind that she’s a little taller than he is. They leave the dinner date and head back to camp with Meri-De saying ‘I’ll follow you’ and Jack replying with ‘Please do.’ This may or may not be foreshadowing, but remember we were already at quota.
Meri-De and Jack join the rest of the group at their dinner, where everyone can see the small connection between them – and it’s annoying the originals, with Cortney c-t declaring that Jack may see some backlash from his first choices if this trend continues. No one is having fun, with the possible exception of Meri-De. The majority of the group is at least moderately miserable and considerably ticked off. You normally wouldn’t consider this as a cue for JD to appear, but his definition of ‘happiness’ may have been shrinking over the last few shows.
The women have their normal reaction, including a new series of impassioned pleas to their supreme being, but JD notes the lack of channeling crosses and casually strolls into the camp to make his announcement. Since the women have been dealing with Jack’s world all this time and haven’t had any open nervous breakdowns, it’s time for Jack to deal with their world for a while. First thing in the morning, the group will board a plane and fly to Perth, Australia to stay in a four-star hotel. (The squeals coming from the originals at this news cannot be duplicated. And, come to think of it, probably shouldn’t be.) They’ll be taken around the city in a limo. (More squeals.) They can indulge in all the shopping they can stand, if not all the shopping Jack can stand, because ‘real men don’t shop’ – they just pay for the results. (Camera lenses start to crack.) Meri-De is thrilled to be going. No, really. She’s not just saying that. (The suspension of disbelief starts to crack.)
JD instructs them to get all of those good clothes ready, and heads out.
Well. This is good news, isn’t it? Jack will get to see all of his original women in their natural environment. They may even stop off at a health club to let Meri-De work out a little. The host came bearing good news! Who would have thought it?
Not me. The first rule of reality dating shows is ‘The host is here to hurt you. And he’ll enjoy it.’ There’s a catch here somewhere…
Morning comes, and Jack drives the women off to meet the plane, with Maria c-t thrilled for a chance to get her toes fixed and Adrienne looking forward to getting Jack in some designer jeans, maybe a manicure, clean him up a little, check his sizes against the Ken pack in Aisle Three, see about picking up that Black Barbie’s Dream House accessory…
JD is waiting at the plane, and he has – a little bad news! (Hah!) There’s only enough room on the plane for Jack, four women, the pilot, two camera operators, one sound technicians, three producers, and a koala they’re smuggling back to the States over the weekend. One of the women will have to be eliminated from the group on the spot. As in ‘now’.
Who will be cut loose so soon after the last elimination? How traumatized will Jack be by having to break another heart? Can the doubletalk return? Are you willing to wait until next week to find out, because that’s the end of the episode! (So there’s Mary’s cliffhanger!) MTW will have the name of the next woman to go home, the trip to the city, and possibly even the riotous return of Marissa. I just have to return this bat to the rack.
Peace, over and out – hey, MTW! Batter up!