LAST EDITED ON 08-13-04 AT 11:34 AM (EST)
Australia has always had a problem with the arrival of non-native lifeforms. From the original plan to send English convicts, outcasts, and transportees to the continent where they wouldn't bother Victorian England in the slightest (and the people who'd been living there for millennia? Let the Crown know when they had some pounds in their pockets to bribe with) to the ecological near-disaster resulting from some unsung genius deciding to introduce rabbits to an environment that had never seen them before, had no natural controls on the species, and couldn't figure out a double-back zig-zag jump, humanity has been shunting unwanted specimens to the smallest continent for centuries. But the species is intelligent. The species can learn. And the television-producing branch of the homid family (lotsa recessives) did not contaminate the fragile ecology with thousands of destructive invaders.
Instead, they sent twelve.
This was not an improvement.
Seven episodes ago, a dozen high-maintenance women were thrown out of a plane (unfortunately, parachutes were involved) and into the middle of Australia's Outback, there to meet, greet, and ultimately snare one of the acclimated locals. However, since the sudden presence of sixteen hundred cans of hairspray represented just a minor hazard to the environment, that native was told to gradually thin out the herd, sending them back to their actress/model lives in a city with no remaining ozone to worry about, until he finally got down to one final woman -- at which point, he would have to sign a contract swearing to leave the country if they ever decided to breed. (They have not forgotten the rabbits.)
But that was seven episodes (four by MTW, whose personal finale is still around here somewhere) and ten women ago. We're down to Natalie, who has been steering through the Outback using sonar -- at this point, I think the shrieks are just intended to bounce off nearby objects -- and Marissa, who is threatening to take over the crocodile's eon-old position as Australia's most deadly predator. That failure to identify the male two weeks ago? That wasn't an accident or lack of care. That was intentional. The more bad IDs she provides to the ranchers, the less her rivals will reproduce...
Who will win Jack's heart? Who will be bundled into a 'Danger: Ecosystem Hazard' box and shipped back to the States in an unpressurized cargo hold? Who will remember any of this four months from now?
A. No idea.
B. No idea.
C. Nobody. Roll opening credits.
We rejoin Jack and his 'We weren't trying for any sort of personality contrast, honest' Final Two in a hot air balloon, being kept aloft by the occasional burst from a high-powered burner and the flames which regularly emit from Natalie's mouth. (As TBS doesn't employ TAR camera operators, we also have the option to play a quick round of 'spot the person actually operating the burner'. There's no Outback Jack drinking game, but each appearance has got to be good for one shot.) The old-fashioned basket flier is traveling high above the Outback, giving the trio a look at some of the most beautiful natural lands in the world --
(Pause. Move TV and VCR into bathroom. Arrange screen to face tub. Get waterproof notebook and pen. Turn on cold water. Get in tub. Prepare to stay there for the entire summary, which already looks like it's going to make Survivor's coverage of the landscape look sick. Pressing Play.)
'I can't believe this is it,' Jack admits in confessional-tell. 'This is the final leg of the adventure.' (For the last time, Rupert Boneham, white courtesy phone.) 'It seems like just yesterday that I was being introduced to twelve beautiful women, and now these two girls have a place in my heart.' Yes, Jack. For Marissa, that would be the major aorta, where she's been blocking off the blood flow to your brain for the last seven weeks.
'It's very emotional', Jack c-t finishes as the camera moves to show Natalie gazing out over the gorgeous landscape.
'This is amazing. It really is,' Natalie gushes in c-t as the camera stays on the backdrop of the plains.
(Pause. Leave tub. Go to freezer. Get ice cube. Drop ice cube down back. Return to tub. Pressing Play.)
Marissa c-t admits to Natalie being her competitor, bestowing an honor she didn't grant to ten other women -- but feels that in the end, it's going to be Jack and her. More flames appear to leap up into the balloon, although this may have just been a burst of particularly hot air.
The balloon continues to glide over the Outback, I start to run low on ice cubes, and Natalie c-t wishes for them, citing fear of the burner. The flame being produced is hot, and she's just a little worried about her hairspray's residue igniting. Marissa's apparently thinking about the same thing, as she's now cowering against the edges of the basket every time the burner ignites. 'Hope your hair doesn't fry off!' Natalie c-t laughs, demonstrating the sense of humor that Jack claims is keeping her around, not to mention taking over the title of official on-site basher from Maria. She's really come far, don't you think?
Finally, the balloon sets down as well as they ever do -- a bumpy touch-and-go-and-try-it-again landing, assisted by Jack grabbing onto the branches of the few available trees and the women using pinpoint sound blasts to clear out the area after each bump -- and the trio heads for the last camp of the series, which is -- oh, no... It's on a beach overlooking Elimination Sea. A pristine beach, with beautiful natural rock formations, sand that (according to Marissa's c-t) is as fine as baby powder, and a perfect view of the thousand shades of blue which make up the West Indian Ocean. And I am now out of ice.
'It is the most gorgeous beach I've ever seen,' Marissa c-ts. Words can describe how much I hate Marissa right now: just not ones I can use in public without someone dropping a restraining order in my mailbox.
We get a good luck at the camp itself -- open-side tents with the occasional bamboo folding screen to provide a privacy block -- and the camera continues to roam around the beach as Natalie declares the setting to be the most romantic she's ever seen. Jack shows the women around the camp, everyone starts to unpack, I pre-emptively retain a lawyer and, just to add insult to injury, the sun glints off the water.
(Pause. As said many moons ago for Adam's desert scrublands mansion: I don't want the bachelor, I don't care about the bachelor, I want the scenery... The summary moves to the front of the air conditioner, sent to 55F, high blast, and with no drying before approaching it. Pressing Play.)
'The only thing that would make this better,' Natalie c-t considers, 'is if Marissa was twenty thousand miles away.' No, the only thing that would make this better is if you, she, and he were all somewhere in the Marquesas being eaten alive by little black specks and I was on the (censored) beach!
The producers must have picked up on my breaking point from three thousand miles away, because the camera quickly moves to show something I have absolutely no interest in: Marissa in a bikini, moving into the water. Jack has c-t promised to give both women a clean slate for the final days -- remember that Thorazine? Turns out it was an overdose -- and there's nothing quite like a little ocean dip to wash the sins away, as demonstrated when he pushes Marissa into the water.
Natalie changes into a suit and heads out to join them -- but she's barely reached them when Marissa toe-feels out a sharp stone on the ocean floor and then steps on it, opening up a cut. Once again, Jack's got wounded, and it's time for the Protector Of The Pampered to carry his charge out of the water and start on medical treatment. This has gotten to the point where Natalie's picked up on it, and she now c-t thinks this is Marissa's strategy: get hurt or sick, then draw in all the attention while she's getting better. Of course, that assumes Marissa tried for the sunstroke. And deliberately rammed her foot onto the rock when she saw Natalie coming. And is completely enjoying being carried out of the water in Jack's arms -- okay, one out of three. I told you Natalie had come a long way.
'She's not being very tough about it,' Natalie c-t declares.
...read that sentence again. Natalie -- I repeat, Natalie -- has just called another woman on the carpet on charges of lack of fortitude in the face of personal injury. And to further prove her transformation (possibly into a boy, as noted a few episodes ago), as Jack attends to her rival by firelight, she openly tells Marissa that it's a good thing the other woman didn't make contact with her unshaven legs, as the hairs would have produced some really bad cuts. Long way? Twenty-one thousand miles.
Sunset, sunrise, swiftly goes the editing, and we move to the next morning, where our trio gets a nasty reminder regarding beach weather: when you're right on the ocean, you get to deal with the ocean winds. In this case, that means something which isn't exactly baby power whipping off the beach and into their eyes, ears, hair, every part of the external anatomy which the above three didn't cover, plus a few that probably shouldn't be mentioned here. 'These winds on the beach are so powerful that I thought I was gonna be Dorothy and go flying to Kansas!' Natalie c-t reverses -- remember, she's starting in Oz. While Natalie has yet to do her imitation of a glider and the ocean water completely failed to melt Marissa, the winds are strong enough to blow over the bamboo screens and send some of the lighter furnishings -- and furniture -- flying across the beach. Jack scrambles to recover what he can while the women try to get the sand out of their eyes. The tent roofs are billowing wildly, but they manage to stay stable. Naturally, no farmhouses land on Marissa. It's the sort of thing that generally only happens once.
And with everyone's dealing with a minor natural disaster, it's a perfect time to segue into a major one. Cue JD.
The host comes onto the beach -- no warding attempts: by this time, they're convinced that nothing works -- briefly congratulates the Final Two, noting their brave leap of faith with parachute attendant however-many-weeks-this-thing-was-filming-ago, then makes his usual play for the top of the Stress Index. This is the end of the road. Jack's final decision is just over the horizon -- for the definition of 'just' which reads as 'two days from now'. Both women will receive one full day and a bonus evening alone with Jack on one last date, as well as an option to buy into the time-share after the end of the show. This is going to be their last chance to make an impression on Jack. Snipers are hiding among the rocks and if Marissa tries to get into his tent after dark again, they will shoot. They have been warned. Oh, and by the way, Marissa's going first. And the date starts now.
Natalie semi-morosely wishes them a good time, and a seaplane touches down in the shallows. Jack and Marissa head for it as Marissa gets off a c-t. 'I'm confident that Jack is mine, and by the time this date is over, he won't even remember that Natalie exists.' So on top of everything else, she's found the Thorazine.
As proof that all reality TV producers know each other and the entire circle has yet to forgive me for those Playing It Straight spoofs, the camera alternates between showing the plane taking a tour of the western Australian coastline and showing Natalie deciding to prove that safety is the most important thing on her mind by draping herself over Jack seatbelt-style. (so, so cold...) Jack c-t admits that he and Marissa have a physical connection -- good thing, too: everyone watching was clueless --, but he's not sure that's enough. This final date is for getting one last look at her mental and emotional aspects -- at least, the ones that don't include throwing food, raw cheekiness, and the occasional attempt at food poisoning.
After passing over a pod of dolphins (it was a joke, I swear, what's next, a visit to a koala ranch?), the plane touches down in a secluded cove. Jack and Marissa don snorkels and flippers, then go off for a swimming tour of the area, propelling themselves through the water while holding hands. (This breaks the enchantment of the dolphin pod, and I get to raise the AC temperature by three degrees.) Jack shows off the local fish, takes Marissa around a few coral reefs (somewhere in Texas, a man named Colby gets sued by the Australian government for giving everyone an idea, and isn't sure why), and scares off both a stingray and a large burly man with a thick beard and mop of curly hair who happened to be sling-spear fishing in the area for no apparent reason. All the tourism is tiring Marissa out, so she takes a ride on Jack's back for a while, still looking absolutely nothing like a hagfish, honest.
Of course, there's one thing Marissa is never too tired to do, and given the threatened sniper rifles, this is the time and place to start it. She and Jack start one of their patented soma communication sessions in the water and the air conditioning finally gets turned off, along with about half of the viewing audience. The flirting continues on the beach as Marissa adjusts Jack's bathing suit at the back and front (in that order) before engaging in a mutual feeding session over lunch, leading to the following exchange.
Jack: 'Thanks, love.'
Marissa: 'You're welcome, bloke.'
Jack c-t notes Marissa's cheekiness, but says he loves her taking little nips at him. Thank goodness the producers decided to edit something out.
Marissa sits on Jack's lap, and the producers, sensing my breaking point fast approaching again, cut away to Natalie, doing the mandatory dating show 'What can they be doing out there that I don't want to admit to myself?' deathwatch on the beach, dearly hoping that Jack and Marissa aren't making a connection. (I could say something here about that being why the camera cut away, but I'm hanging by a thread after that last summary.)
Jack c-t feels that the romance of the date was worth all the problems involved in the show up to that point – what did he take, 3000ccs? – and it's not over yet. The seaplane returns, and after a quick pause to clean up the lunch site, donate the uneaten shrimp to starving Forever Eden contestants, and change into something more suitable for an evening on the beach, they're flown up the coast to a waiting pillow nest, complete with firelight and small-scale nuclear weapons. Jack sips at his glass of radioactivite death and spends the evening watching the stars with Marissa.
Absolutely no one here fell for that.
Okay, he starts the evening watching the stars with Marissa. You can guess where it went from there. You'll pretty much have to guess, because the camera cut to the fire in a hurry.
A quick c-t from Jack regarding his never having felt so comfortable with Marissa and that it's changed everything -- if you've still got your official foreshadowing sheet, you may want to see if it'll fit in the garbage disposal -- and the happy couple returns to camp, where Natalie is still awake: she’s sitting on her bed and putting in eyedrops. In what’s either a classic case of displacement activity, side effects from the eyedrops, or one last shot at making Jack question something about Marissa, she compliments her rival’s blouse, tells Marissa she looks sexy in it, and then pats her on the rear. Marissa c-t feels that sharing a bed with Jack and Natalie is very awkward at this point (They’re. Sitting. On. It. If you have any complaints, call the Hayes office.), but what could Jack do: go to bed without saying goodnight to Natalie?
Apparently not, as he gives each woman a quick kiss before heading off to his tent and a quick Thought Of The Night before turning in. Namely: tomorrow is Natalie’s last chance. She kept her emotions under wraps for most of the show, unlike Marissa’s twenty-four hour semaphore dance of ‘I like you! I really like you! And I’m not just saying that to get more air time!’ While she’s been opening up a little lately, she has only one day left to get the last locks off. And after Marissa did the Dance Of The Twenty-Six Letters earlier in the evening, Natalie had better not fumble with the keys.
But emotional turmoil is going to have to take a back seat to – and manifest in – the physical variety. It’s the next morning, and Natalie just found a pimple in the mirror. No, not Marissa: she’s sitting on the bed behind Natalie and doesn’t quite have the angle. It’s an honest-to-goodness stress zit on her chin, and Natalie’s date is already off to a great start – which doesn’t get much better when Jack, seeing Natalie engrossed in her reflection, sneaks up behind the mirror and jumps out at her, triggering a full constellation on her lower back.
Jack c-t feels that Natalie’s the funniest girl he’s ever met – he may not have considered that it’s unintentional – and adds ‘She compliments the person I am, and she lets me be the little boy I sometimes need to be.’ Which paraphrases out to ‘In my spare time, I like to run around in long underwear and a cape! Hold on, Lois! I’m coming to save you!’ Jack’s already said that he’s looking for a partner he can take care of, and, judging from the sheer number of times he’s had to rescue Natalie from the Outback, the outlet-free world, and occasionally herself, he could easily be looking at a lifetime of commitment – although it does mean a lot more people are going to perish in supervillain attacks.
The show only had enough money in the travel budget for one seaplane, so Jack gives Natalie a piggyback ride down to a pair of waiting ATVs, and they start driving down the beach. Natalie turns out to be surprisingly adept at steering the ATV – the bull catchers seem to have left a lasting impression – although she’s a little too amused by the horn, which turns out to be far too squeaky and weak for that kind of ride: every honk sends her into a giggle fit, and she’s doing most of the honking. (Again: the funniest girl he’s ever met. Just wait until he sees her go up against a standard keyboard arrangement.) This doesn’t last long, as Natalie decides the point of the date is to be as close to Jack as possible for the duration, and abandons her ATV to sit behind Jack on his, with her arms wrapped around his waist. It’s not so much a safety precaution as his making sure she can’t reach the horn again.
Some show-off stunt driving, several miles of beautiful beach, and a vastly increased electric bill later, they arrive at another piece of scenery: several shallow tidal pools separated by rock formations. Jack starts to c-t about how Natalie needs emotional support and he would be happy to be the one who provides it, but I can’t provide an exact quote because no matter how many times I rewound the tape, I couldn’t understand him over the phone recording reading off super-saver fares to Western Australia. There was a bit of hugging and some very light kissing (as opposed to Marissa’s dental exams) going on, though, so I’m pretty sure it was emotionally significant for the fifteen seconds of screen time it occupied.
Meanwhile, Marissa is going through her own c-t control-freakout about not knowing what’s going on. In very rough paraphrase, ‘This is driving me nuts! I’ve really fallen for Jack, yes I have, get that snoop from the parent dating show away from me, and Natalie could be saying something to him right now! She could be showing off something! She could be bashing him on the back of the skull with a handy rock and erasing all his memory of me! And that was my plan for her! I knew I’d been talking in my sleep the last couple of nights!’
Back at the tidal pools, Natalie and Jack are settling down to a pillow-nest picnic lunch, featuring Natalie’s favorite food in the whole wide world: Brie. Natalie loves Brie. She loves it so much that we’re treated to a sequence of her eating Brie, nibbling at Brie, swallowing large chunks of Brie, knocking Brie off her fork, and generally giving the same kind of skills demonstration on the Brie that Marissa gave in more direct circumstances with Jack’s lips. Or, as Natalie c-t put it, ‘I was the Brie whore!’ There’s probably a commercial endorsement in there somewhere.
(Side note: after the picnic ended, Jack and Natalie lay back on the pillows and just relaxed in the sun for a while. This was not the all-out backseat session of Jack and Marissa. They just lay next to each other, with Natalie lazily stroking Jack’s stomach while Jack shielded Natalie’s eyes from the sun. They looked like a couple that had been married for years: utterly comfortable with the quiet moment and each other. This may have been added by the editing team just to make us think Natalie has a chance, but it’s still one of the most sincerely romantic moments I’ve ever seen on a reality show – and thus goes into the ‘unbashable’ category. Which means that we just about got one in every episode. Has this series been exceptionally weird or what?)
The date continues with a two-passenger kayak ride through the warm waters. Natalie wears a heavy lifejacket, sits in the front, and watches the scenery go by. (You wouldn’t believe what these people want for airfare even with five months notice.) Jack sits in the back and does all the paddling while wearing no lifejacket, because Jack, as Natalie c-t notes, is invincible. Jack doesn’t have to worry about sharks. Or crocodiles. Or direct meteor strikes. Drowning, yes, because I asked around and it turns out the big guy in the blue suit needs to breathe, but you know how it is: a few bullets bounce off your torso and the overconfidence sets in a few minutes later.
Still, we get through the water portion of the date without anyone needing to save him, and it’s back to the rocks for dinner: a formal, candlelit table for two, with no lap-sitting possible without major shifting of position first. Unlike Marissa’s flirt-fest, the camera doesn’t linger here too long: just a few quick shots of the meal, Natalie telling Jack that she can’t make herself do something she really doesn’t want to do (which falls under Cortney’s previous category of ‘and my remaining out here should be the greatest compliment you’ve ever received in your life’) and c-t noting how nice it is that she and Jack can just lie back in the provided pillow-nest after dinner and be at peace with each other. Which means that after a surprisingly short amount of screen time, the date is over with no real Marissa imitations having taken place, and they head back to camp.
Now. Let’s review.
Marissa: Seaplane, semi-formal lunch, snorkel-diving trip through coral fields, nighttime pillow nest, whole lotta necking et. all going on.
Natalie: ATVs, tidal pools, pillow-nest picnic lunch, kayaking, formal dinner followed by nighttime pillow-nest, occasional hugs and quick kisses.
Not that any of that is foreshadowing or anything.
We return to find Marissa brooding in front of the fire, looking irritated. (A freeze-frame on the fire showed what may have been a failed attempt at a voodoo doll blazing merrily away.) However, Jack and Natalie’s return quickly perks her up into the fakest smile to hit reality TV since the six-finger alliance congratulated Jase on his narrow escape from nomination – and cues the interrogation. Did Natalie have a good time? (Big smile) Doesn’t she just look really tired, almost as if she’d been making out with someone for hours on end, which is certainly a state of exhaustion the Inquisition is familiar with? (Bigger smile.) Doesn’t Natalie just look – trashed? (The corners of the lips start to split.) And then, just to top it off, a quick near-falsetto of ‘Princess! It’s time to go to bed!’ (This would normally be the point in the show where Jack got in a quick c-t about Marissa’s cheek, but Natalie’s still trying to fill Maria’s heels and takes the assignment.)
Goodnight kisses and hugs, and then it’s c-t time.
Jack: ‘There is a lot lying on me, and my gut, my heart, my soul will help me make the right choice.’ First off, what’s been on top of you for most of the series is Marissa, and you could have gotten out of that just by asking for the sniper a few episodes earlier. Second – do you have any idea what happened to the last reality show male who trusted his gut?
Natalie: ‘I’m not going to sleep tonight. I’m crazy about Jack, and I don’t know what I’ll do if he doesn’t pick me.’ Don’t worry about it, Natalie: through the miracle of editing, we’ll both know in about seven minutes.
Marissa: ‘Obviously Jack has a really big decision tomorrow. I hope he’s thinking about me. Just me.’ Wow. So that’s what an unspoken ‘or else’ sounds like…
And – morning. Decision time. The big reveal. Filler.
Natalie wakes up realizing that this is the last time she’s ever going to see any of this – shot of a shorts-clad Jack heading into the shower. No, not a lick of foreshadowing going on here – but at least she’ll finally know what’s really going through Jack’s head. We already know. It’s called ‘Marissa’s tongue.’
Jack’s stressed about making the decision. Natalie and Marissa are stressed about the results of that decision. It’s just another miserable morning on the most beautiful beach to ever make me pause in mid-summary and run out to buy an ice machine. Cue JD.
At this point, no one even has the strength to remember that the host showing up is a bad thing, and the women sit on their hands as JD comes in with the last bit of news: Jack will be at his tent, you’ll each have a few minutes to speak with him alone just like you do before every elimination, Natalie’s going first, and if he sees Marissa trying to weave a lock of his hair into one of the pieces of broken bamboo, he’s going to be very, very upset.
The arguments for being the Last High-Maintenance Woman Primping, in moderate paraphrase:
Natalie: You make me laugh and I’m not sure it’s intentional, I like being around you, I wasn’t expecting to fall for you this hard, I just want you to know how I feel and where I stand, and as long as you know that, I’ll have no regrets. A brief kiss and small hug, and that’s it – although we’re once again at the point where the foreshadowing has to be cut apart and stacked in the corner, and it’s starting to kill the acoustics. Natalie’s still not sure how Jack feels, as he wasn’t giving anything away during their talk and Marissa’s still got the semaphore flags, and she honestly doesn’t know if she’s going home or not. Poor, poor Natalie… it’s the end of the series, you’re going home no matter what happens…
Marissa: I’ve learned a lot from you (Jack breaks in to say that he’s learned more from the women than he ever could have taught them, and you can read that any way you like), I couldn’t have made it through this without all your support and care, plus I’ve got some bug bites here that you might want to treat, and you’re a good man: opposites attract.
Jack speaks to Marissa a little more than he did Natalie: he’s surprised at how hard the process is been, and had come in thinking the whole thing ‘would be easy for a bloke like me.’ He’d never expected to reach this point feeling this way. (An earlier c-t had him understanding the stress the day was putting on the Final Two, but knowing that he had to stay the course.) Marissa tells him to follow his heart (right down the leash she’s tied to it and slightly to the left), and the private talks end with Marissa having almost the same problem as Natalie: she thinks she has Jack’s heart, but she doesn’t know what’s in his head right now, and feels his mind may be playing tricks on him. If the voices in your head told you to regulate the dosage once…
Natalie wants Jack, but doesn’t know if he’ll choose her.
Marissa wants Jack, and thinks his picking Natalie would tear her up inside.
I want the two-week package with parasailing lessons and optional tour of the tidal pools. Jack, they can have.
The women return to their tent, where Natalie freshens up a little while wishing for a better mirror. This one has a small problem with dimensional breaches into realms of torment, as seen when JD steps out from behind it to give out the final dose of pain allowed by his contract. They’re going to the beach. Now. Each of them will have a private space in which to see Jack, and they’ll find out his final decision. No arguing. No debates. No tap-backs. This Is It.
And the camera moves to the beach, where Natalie and Marissa are walking towards a pair of rock coves: they’re essentially going to be standing in the curves of a W, standing next to dishes of flowers. (The space is fairly private: they’re far enough back in the cove to be hidden to each other, and noise shouldn’t be a problem as long as Jack keeps his voice down and the screams of agony have flowers stuffed in them quickly.) They’re both wearing white dresses, both moving with carefully-edited care, and they’re both nervous, but that’s just because they wound up in the same color. (It’s actually an unusual look for our fashion divas: Marissa has a very simple summer dress on, while Natalie looks like she slipped into her mother’s nightgown by mistake.) They reach the coves, step in next to the flower bowls, hang on through a carefully edited sequence of their relationship with Jack that needs no summarizing because it’s all been done before, and wait.
Jack starts making his way down the beach, with a large boat visible to his right: the new couple will apparently be starting a new journey right after the choice is made. ‘Everything’s become crystal clear to me’, Jack c-ts. ‘I care deeply about both of these girls, but only one of them has captured my heart.’ And so he walks into one of the coves, reaches out to hold a hand, and for the last two times, it’s time to Follow The Flow Of Jack’s Conversation and hope it doesn’t lead him into a whirlpool.
‘From day one,’ he begins, ‘you caught my eye…’
The camera focuses on Marissa’s face.
Well, at least I don’t need to worry about cold showers anymore. I may never feel anything again.
Jack continues: he felt a connection with her (oh, here we go), she’s captured his heart and soul (and apparently no one’s handed over the ransom figure yet), you mean the world to me (and that’s about what it’s going to cost to get your soul back), I had doubts about your intentions before but your sincerity is clear now (and you try seeing things clearly without a soul), there can be only one (great, he’s already reading for his first Sci-Fi original picture), but –
He said ‘but’.
‘—but today, my decision is someone else.’
…he had one last bit of doubletalk left in him. Who’d have thought it?
Marissa’s eyes dip, and Jack tells her how strong she is, and that she’ll always have a place in his heart. They hug for a few seconds, and the following words softly come out.
Marissa: ‘I want you to be happy. Okay?’
Jack: ‘Eventually I will be.’ (smiles) ‘Okay?’
They part, and Jack heads around the middle bend of the W, leaving Marissa shellshocked: she honestly doesn’t understand how this decision happened, and it’s going to hit her hard when it finally sinks in. All over the country, thousands of people are having empathy pains with her. Of course, that may just be the aches from picking themselves up off the floor.
Jack enters Natalie’s cove, and gets a Typical Natalie Greeting.
Natalie: ‘Hey. How are you doin’?’
Jack: (smiling) ‘I’m good.’ And then: Princess, the journey with you slowly blossomed, I almost lost faith but I found the bigger picture of what you were about, you know how we make each other feel, you complete me – ‘and you know now – that you are the last girl who I would like to continue on this journey with me.’
Well, the sentence structure needs a little work, but you know where he’s going with it. After all, if Natalie could figure it out, give us one last memorial shriek to remember her by, and jump into his arms… well, then it should be pretty clear to everyone, including Marissa.
Jack points out the boat and walks Natalie down to it, moving past a stoic/catatonic Marissa who’s gone full-bore displacement by braiding flowers into her hair, swinging their clasped hands like a six-year old with a crush. ‘There’s a difference between the love that comes instantly and the love that grows over time,’ he c-ts us, ‘and my love for Natalie grows deeper and stronger with each passing moment.’ He scoops Natalie up in his arms and carries her out to the boat. ‘I feel damn lucky. We have the love that usually comes last – and to have it at the start…’
And you know – he did wind up with a bit of a ditz, and they’re a reality show couple: it may not last two months, and Maria’s probably let down about not catching that standby flight to cross the ocean and kick Jack’s flipping All-Star Survivor using all that WWE training she’s been getting – but right now, at this exact moment, watching the boat sail off – just now, mind you, not even five seconds from now – you can have every dating show in the history of reality TV, every last stinking twist-riddled one of them. I’m glad I got this one.
But you can’t have all the episodes of Survivor, because I’m still applying for it.
MTW, it’s been fun tagging with you. Peace, over and out.
(So what do you figure for Outback Jane? Eight months?)