LAST EDITED ON 06-30-04 AT 07:16 PM (EST)
Tag! I’m it! (Why do I always have to be it? Why can’t someone else be it for a change? And who made the rule which says if I’m it, the entire playing field is a safe zone?)
Previously on Outback Jack: MTW wrote that one. It should still be around here somewhere, and I’m much more certain that you can find it than I am of my ability to hide the link behind a well-constructed piece of HTML. I can just barely boldface and italicize words: I can’t redirect. I’m a high-maintenance straight text user stranded in the Internet’s Outback. And you thought I’d be going in with no sympathy for the contestants. And you’re absolutely right, but it doesn’t mean I don’t understand their situation.
We’re going to rejoin Jack and his merry band of Avon representatives by the banks of Elimination River, where we previously lost Summer, Jillian, Laura, and Natasha to the enemy forces of You Made Me Laugh And That Makes My Bristles All Uneven, You Came A Long Way To Earn Those Frequent Crier Miles, and Bugs! Eeeuuuw, Bugs! That leaves eight floatation-vest-and-hard-hat wearing women for four canoes, or in the final analysis, eight suitcases for one river.
Several DAWs are about to be sent down the river with a good chance of losing their paddles. We came so close… Roll opening credits.
The show starts with a quick zoom across the obstacle course. It looks like Elimination River would rank somewhere around the rougher portions of the Delaware for traversing difficulty: a good number of rocks and some fairly active rapids. Jack, the expert outdoorsman with the high-maintenance stubble -- what, you thought that perfect level of shadow was natural? That’s got to be six hours a day. Of course he understands the girls: they probably buy their makeup mirrors from the same company – is having no problems steering down the halfway-calm section near the launch point. He even has time for his first confessional-tell, which is ‘Now that we’re down to eight, I’m getting to learn a lot more about the girls’ character and personalities. Which is, y’know, what it’s all about.’ Oh. So that’s what it’s all about. I thought it was watching a group of high-maintenance women completely disintegrate as the protective layers of skin cream wore away. Who knew?
And what does this river help us learn about the ladies? For starters, we just found out that they’re all very religious. The cries of ‘Oh my God!’ are going up from all sides as the women thank their creator for the natural wonders of the Outback, the perfection of Jack’s stubble, and humbly ask they be left alive to enjoy both for at least one more episode. While Jack is fine with the initial currents, our contestants are having somewhat more difficulty – in part because if the kanji symbol for ‘trouble’ is two women under one roof, the one for ‘capsize’ is going to be two DAWs in one canoe. Steering? Propulsion? Coordination and cooperation? All very fine ideas which will now be sacrificed on the twin altars of Incompetence and Comedy.
Your canoe pairings are:
1. Mary & Cortney.
2. Natalie & Maria.
3. Adrienne & Harmonie.
4. Marissa & Shannon
Mary is c-t completely out of her element and would never, ever do this if it wasn’t for Jack, the television cameras, the air time, and the promise of hosting a show on GSN in six months. Her natural element is ‘the mall’, which may explain why her canoe keeps heading for the riverbank. If she reaches land, an outlet store is sure to follow. Right?
Cortney c-t feels that Jack is going to be looking for the woman who does the best job of adjusting to the Outback, which is unfortunately going to include the concepts of ‘turn left’, ‘stay upright in the canoe’, ‘don’t ram into every other boat on the river’, and ‘please stop screaming, you’re blowing out my eardrums’. Cortney has a very good grasp on the initial game, but her execution still needs some work.
Marissa’s just a little nervous about what’s going to happen on the trip down the river – oh, and while she’s on the subject, why do they have hard hats on? Well, Marissa, while we know your skull was thick enough to keep out good advice on sun exposure, proper hydration, and signing up for this sort of show in the first place, the producers were kind of worried about impacts with rocks and paying for more than one medivac per series – rapids!
All pretense of steering the canoes vanishes as the women enter a frenzy of religious devotion. Neither divine nor production invention occurs, though, and the canoes start to ram into the rocks, each other, Jack’s canoe, and a very thick strip of beef jerky that happened to be floating in the water for no apparent reason.
‘It was pandemonium on the water’, Jack c-t informs us. ‘The girls were showing no coordination whatsoever.’ It’s really a question of cross-linking the skills, Jack. If you told them the paddles were makeup applicators and they had to apply just the right amount of color to the river, they’d be fine. But no – you had to tell them to steer the canoe. And so they’re revolving in the currents, hitting the large tree roots sticking out from the bank, inspiring Geico to target the canoe insurance market, and sending up a series of screeches which are going to confuse Australia’s native birds for weeks. At this very moment, there are ten unhappy ostriches standing at the bank of that river, wondering where their future mates went – and there goes the first paddle! One of the contestants is now down the river without a paddle! We’re getting closer!
It turns out that Adrienne and Harmonie are sharing a canoe because Adrienne managed to convince her travel companion that she knew what she was doing. Adrienne has serious river skills for a girl from the city. She can identify a river nine times out of ten, and the tenth time, she only confuses it with a creek, which is a natural mistake, really. What she has trouble identifying is the riverbank, which is why she keeps steering their canoe into it. And in those rare moments when they’re actually in the river flow, she somehow manages to get them facing the opposite way.
Jack c-t notes that with those two in the same canoe, ‘there was no harmony’ – oooh, pun! – and goes on to say ‘I can’t honestly tell you what was going through their mind, paddling full speed at a tree trunk.’ Do you think that means Jack’s realized most of the women are sharing one mind instead of one mindset – waitaminit – watch out for that tree!
Too late. Georgia and Georgette Of The Outback Jungle plow into the roots and capsize, which means that the next thing to go through their mind is very nearly the third branch from the left. Jack has to go rescue them. Again.
Come to think of it, I’d better watch that again. That could be a Major Foreshadowing Moment. The tree could have major symbolism or something like that. Yes, this could definitely be a landmark clue for the rest of the series. In fact, I’d better go over it at least four times, just to make sure I’ve got all the nuances.
Okay, I think I’ve got the details and an image to get me through the year. Moving on…
Harmonie loses her paddle during the impact, and openly wonders if that matters at all. No, that’s okay: don’t worry about it. The way you two were going, it can’t possibly make any difference. Besides, it just brings us a little closer to that elusive goal.
Marissa c-t advises Adrienne and Harmonie to try hiking, because canoeing just ain’t for them. This is not the pot calling the kettle black because the pot would need a crucial degree of self-awareness that Marissa doesn’t quite have yet. Maybe a little water will wash it into her system.
Cortney and Mary actually started out strong (translation: they summoned the extra two ostriches), but are now getting into trouble with a close pass by the bank. There’s no tree trunks this time, but there are long blades of grass hitting their faces. Mary, terrified of having her makeup scraped off by an unqualified party, instinctively jerks away from the grass – and overbalances the canoe, tipping it over and sending them into the river. (Close inspection of the freeze-frame showed a small rainbow of cosmetics streaming away from their impact point.) Cortney takes it well, but Mary starts screaming for someone to rescue her from the horrible river before she melts away completely, clawing her way onto the upside-down canoe to cling desperately to the hull. Outback Dorothy just uses his silver paddles to say ‘There’s no place like downriver’ and heads right past them, looking bemused.
Maria c-t admits that once they figured out how to steer the canoes -- shot of Maria lying back at the rear of her canoe, steering it in that inimitable Mr. Danger fashion -– hey, summary cross-thread! -- their troubles were over. And of course, she was wrong. There’s worse than blades of grass and tree trunks out there. There’s the things that like to live between blades of grass and tree trunks. Those would be spiders.
Did you think our contestants would be such girly-girls that they’d be afraid of a few harmless spiders? Did you actually read the first summary?
But for one of those very rare moments, let’s be fair here. Australia is home to the deadliest arachnid species on the planet. Six of the eight most poisonous types reside in the Outback, and what cures exist tend to make you wish they didn’t. The spiderwebs spun between blades and branches really are best avoided, and the women have a real reason to worry beyond getting bits of web and webspinners stuck in their hair.
Of course, being able to actually steer the canoe away from the riverbanks would eliminate the problem. Right, Maria?
So much screaming, so little time…
The contestants learn to not-steer their canoes from the limbo position and manage to pass under most of the webs, despite Natalie’s declaration that the spiders were actually face-sized and could have bitten through the canoe hulls at any time – no, not at any time, Natalie, only when it was funny – but the spiders aren’t the last of the river’s hazards. There’s still The Drop. This is a two-foot high waterfall cascading over a row of rocks, creating rapids on both ends and an abrupt change in the canoe’s position. (For those of you who think this should be easy to deal with, just get in your car, find a two-foot high curb, and run your vehicle over it. Let me know how you do.)
Adrienne worriedly c-t declares that she doesn’t want to swim and she doesn’t want to float. That leaves ‘capsize’, so she and Harmonie go over The Drop and into Elimination River. Again.
Harmonie c-t decides to hang up her vest and oar: no more canoeing for her, ever again. Thanks a lot, Harmonie. Now how are the conservationists supposed to lure ostriches in?
The next canoe goes over (and I do mean over), depositing Maria and Natalie into the water. Natalie c-t feels the water burning her eyes, her face, her precious, precious broomstick which she borrowed from Marissa. Well, now we know they’re in Oz.
Next canoe, next flip, next shot of an oar making its lonely way down the river – closely followed by Marissa, who, while having the melting problem beat for the moment, can’t seem to fight against the current. Jack knows Elimination River like the lower left quadrant of his stubble: there’s a steep drop up ahead, and Marissa could get hurt going over it. So, with the women watching in awe, it’s time for Outback Jack to once again take on his role as Protector Of The Pampered and swim after her, eventually returning with Marissa clinging to his back with great devotion. It doesn’t look anything like a hagfish hanging off a dolphin at all. Really.
With Marissa saved (Shannon apparently managed to reach the bank on her own) and the other women towed in their uprighted canoes by Tugboat Jack, the rapids portion of our story comes to an end with the only fatality being Jack’s energy level. A weary c-t admission tells us that ‘I need four pairs of eyes for these girls’ – bikini overload: it happens – and while saving them from rapids, tall grass, bugs, sun exposure, tangled mosquito nets, and the shakes produced by the sudden absence of cell phone radiation is his job, it is one that requires enough effort to power the Sydney Opera House for a week. As such, he announces that with daylight fading, they’re going to move over land for a while and head to their next camp – right after he deals with Marissa’s screeched request to head downstream and get the still-traveling luggage back.
Mary openly wishes for a blow drier as the land trek begins. Don’t worry, Mary. You’re on a reality dating show. The hot air is coming.
Night falls during the unseen hike, and the group reaches a shallow creek in the dark, or at least as dark as it gets with the camp lights on the other side of the water, the television lights all around them, the odd glow from a camera diode… Jack identifies this as perfect crocodile nesting ground, especially as a certain other Australian has taught the species to be anything but camera shy. As such, he’ll lead the crossing, and anything that wants to get to the women will have to get through him first. And since we’re dealing with crocodiles, feel free to take that literally.
The crossing begins – please note that Jack walks through the water, not on it: he’s had a long day and his powers are just about spent – and despite numerous camera shots of crocs, the ladies jumping and screaming every time they hear a splash or feel something brush past a leg, and the constant threat of other Outback wildlife coming across them, ends without incident, mostly because the native crocodiles were feasting on the ostriches the group just called in. Even so, splashing a hundred feet through shallow water was stressful enough for Marissa to immediately request a nuclear weapon upon reaching shore. The producers, ever helpful, provide Australian beer.
Cortney leads a toast to overturned canoes, and we fade to the next morning and the cry of the not-quite-native-yet wildlife: Natalie, who’s just discovered that her shirt is covered with the blood of the bugs she smashed during the night. Right. Sure. Bug blood. That’s her story and she’s sticking to it. Or rather, it’s sticking to her.
However, this no longer bothers all of the contestants. Cortney c-t feels she’s made an incredible adjustment to the Outback. ‘I don’t even notice the bugs when they fall in my hair anymore, and I usually let them stay there.’ Cortney, Ethan. Ethan, Cortney.
After a brief pause to allow Maria to break a shower pump and Harmonie to summon in the croc’s breakfast, Jack leads the women to a nearby farm. His friend Sharon resides there, and he thinks she can give his charges a taste of the local flavor. (Namely, chicken feathers and donkey snot, both of which are readily available on Sharon’s holdings.) He also wants them to get an idea for what Outback women are like.
Sharon, a rough, tough, and semi-buff local, immediately provides the first practical point: Outback women are direct. After they sit down to breakfast and Jack is put safely out of the way, her first subtitle-assisted question to the group is ‘So, who’s got the hots for him?’ This turns out to be all of the contestants and about half the production crew.
Mary admits that she’s never felt so safe with a man, because she knows that if an animal came at her, Jack would kill it for her. Mary appears to be making plans for a Hollywood career.
Sharon tells the women that the female:male ratio in the Outback is normally on a 1:10 scale, getting their complete attention – but that the downside of this overwhelming majority is a lack of social skills. It’ll be up to the women to do the work in that area. Also, food is a very big thing to an Outback male, because while they can dream about beautiful women all day, what they actually stand a chance of coming home to is a hot meal. Harmonie c-t feels this indicates a very traditional role for the Outback female, as in ‘Me Tarzan, You put this end of chain on wrist and other end on stove’ and admits that she’s in trouble with anything that involves cooking, because she can’t even boil water, not even after thinking about falling in it several times and considering the revenge factor. Not that wilderness culinary skills are going to come up or anything.
Jack joins the group and announces that he’ll gladly eat whatever’s put in front of him. Maria immediately jumps up and gets him a full plate, and since the chicken feathers and donkey snot are a few more feet away, it turns out to be full of food, good for a bunch of brownie points which are in turn redeemable for one more episode’s worth of air time. The rest of the women accept their memorial faceful of donkey snot, wave goodbye, and head off on the next stage of the hike.
This takes them to the banks of a shallow creek, where they meet another one of Jack’s friends – one that, as Maria notes, they ‘weren’t too happy to see.’ The ladies are bright enough to solve the host=trouble equation, and immediately know that the appearance of JD by the banks of Plum Full Of Danger, Danger, Danger! Creek (which Adrienne identifies as a river) heralds bad news for them.
In this case, the formula is slightly changed: host=trouble=dinner. Four of the women will win a dinner with Jack – but they’ll have to catch it first. The little creek is full of big fish, and whatever they catch, they’re eating. The one who catches the most fish gets to stay with Jack after dinner for a shared dessert, a bit of conversation, and what the producers dearly hope will be an Actual Faux Romantic Moment: she also gets to pick the three other women who’ll be sharing in the dinner. (Natalie c-t announces that she doesn’t shoot game and she doesn’t fish. Whining is still well within her skill cluster.) Whoever she doesn’t pick won’t have to feel left out of the process, because they’ll be cleaning, gutting, and cooking the fish. This is kind of like letting your Grand Vizier be your head chef and food taster – ‘No, my lord, no poison in this little bit around the edge’ – but those are the rules. When a contestant gets a fish, it goes in the basket and the contestant goes back in the water. There’s an unspecified time limit, and there will be no appeals when it runs out.
And how are they going to catch these fish, you ask? Throw boomerangs at them? Don’t be silly: that’s playing to stereotype. Jack’s going to demonstrate the proper method for you. He wades into the creek, carefully reaches down into the water, puts his thumb into the mouth of a fifteen-pounder, presses down, and then lifts the fish out of the water.
No rods. No reels. No hooks. Not even sticks, strings, and worms. The contestants are going to be catching fish by hand.
(Anyone still think LCS is the funniest show in this time slot? Anyone?)
Really, all they have to do is reach into the water, find some dangerous Australian wildlife with a good, big mouth, and then cast it onto shore to flop and die. The mere existence of Jerri on dry land proves this can be done. The technique sounds tricky, but it’s mostly a matter of sneaking up on the fish. You move very slowly, disturb the water as little as possible – in fact, standing still with one hand underwater and waiting for the fish to get near would help – make very little noise so as not to scare the targets, and stay focused. Really, how hard could this be?
A couple of quick c-ts later (Natalie knowing she’ll throw up if she has to gut anything, Marissa is going to push her way through, and Adrienne, who’s never fished before, really needing the time alone with Jack), we get to find out. The women don rubber gloves – the better not to get bitten with, the worse for keeping a grip with slippery rubber and even more slippery fish – and head for the creek.
The technique used is just as simple as the one described earlier. To wit, the technique employed by the women is ‘Splash around a lot. Scream every time you touch a fish, get near a fish, see a fish, or think someone else has seen a fish. Splash around some more. If you actually touch a fish, shriek and drop it. If you get it out of the water, shriek louder and throw it away from you.’ And, just for today, y’all can have Big Brother.
Mary soon figures out the scream-and-leap technique isn’t working and switches to tackle. Not bait and tackle. Football tackles. Every time she sees a fish, she dives forward and tries to fall on it. This doesn’t work particularly well, but it does prove just how much of a gentleman Jack really is, as he somehow manages to not die laughing at the sight.
Maria, deciding Mary has the right idea combined with the wrong position, tries to kick fish out of the water. This also doesn’t work particularly well, although she does manage to get some of the droplets about twenty yards downfield.
Marissa leaves football behind and decides to try wrestling. Everybody. She elbows her way through the pack, lets her knees do the talking on occasion, and basically shoves her way into position to reach any fish she sees – then gets into the top position and demonstrates a variety of holds before triumphantly emerging from the water with a good-sized catch pressed tightly across her torso. (Cortney c-t notes that if Marissa is chasing Jack the same way she’s chasing the fish, then she’s doing a good job of it. Just in case you needed a reminder that Spike and TBS are owned by the same company.)
Harmonie is the next to get one in her basket, and Maria’s kicks finally managed to stun one, placing her a close third. Adrienne could have actually used Maria’s technique: hers is still extremely lively, trashing itself out of her hands as she tries to get it to the basket – but luckily, it lands on shore and can’t flip itself into the water before she gets her hands on it again. Four-way tie, one fish each.
Jack can’t c-t believe that the women are actually getting fish out of the creek, and the fish aren’t ready to commit to the idea either: Maria loses one from the hand-dangle carry grip Jack had originally demonstrated, and Natalie has one thrash its way out of her arms as its tail gives her something to remember it by.
Marissa adds shoulders to her repertoire, earning a 10-day contract with the Detroit Pistons and her second fish. Adrienne, using a growing mastery of the original technique, comes in right behind her. Two-way tie, two fish each, and everyone’s starting to notice Marissa’s Joints Of Doom, with Adrienne getting openly elbowed and Maria having her foot stepped on.
But in most sports, if you’re busy fighting the other players, you’re not using that time to score points – so with eight seconds left on the undisclosed clock, Adrienne gets her third fish out of the water and into the proper basket, leaving Marissa to fume as she learns she won’t be receiving a ring. ‘Black Barbie goes to the Outback!’ Adrienne c-t laughs. (Quick, someone copyright that design before Mattel sees it!) She then picks Cortney, Natalie, and Shannon to join her at dinner, saving the world from shots of vomit-covered fish and, as usual, completely annoying the four people she didn’t choose.
Mary c-t declares herself an animal lover (as long as they’re not biting her, touching her, looking at her funny) and says it means she can’t gut the fish, then openly tells the others that she can’t cook. No one looks surprised.
Marissa’s c-t is simple: she feels that since she came in second, she should have been in the dinner party – but obviously, Adrienne can tell that she and Jack have a connection, and doesn’t want to risk their having any time together. No, Marissa, what Adrienne saw was a bony elbow, coming in from the left.
In fact, everyone’s noticed Marissa’s Flying Body Parts Of Fury: she’s the central topic back at camp (with Marissa cooling her feet in the river during the talk). Cortney c-t feels Marissa took the competition to the next level – MTW, isn’t that a check mark on your list? – and Adrienne feels Marissa was stealing her fish. Uh-huh. Y’know, I played through that part of the tape a few times and I still haven’t seen her name on them, girlfriends.
Marissa just wants to get to know Jack better, and she’s willing to do anything it takes to reach her goal. ‘If any woman gets in my way, I’m just gonna push on through.’ The movement that follows this statement is similar to a coroner using a rib spreader. Uh-oh.
Adrienne and her chosen companions wash up, brush their teeth, and get ready for dinner. The other four head down to the designated gutting zone. (It should be noted here that Mary chose to wear a hot pink and white top, denim short-shorts with a pink lip imprint on the left buttock, hot pink sandals, and a little matching purse to this culinary event. So she can’t cook and I think we have to put a large question mark next to ‘dress practically’.) Jack comes by to make Ted Allen proud, demonstrating the proper disemboweling procedure for the slightly-less-than-awestruck chefs, then asking them if they’ve got the idea.
No one says a word. Everyone looks vaguely nauseated. Maria c-t swears off sushi forever. And Jack goes off to get ready for dinner anyway.
The women look at each other. No one has any real idea what to do. There’s a knife, and a fish, and the two are supposed to interact somewhere along the way. Beyond that, they’re in trouble. Not as much trouble as the five people who have to eat their results, but trouble nonetheless.
Eventually, Marissa confesses to knowing the rib-spreading technique and adapts it to the fish, starting the cleaning process and ordering the others to do the same. Maria, who doesn’t like being ordered by people who aren’t her friends, channels her anger into a strange direction and proposes naming the dead fish. And eventually, they get their first fillet. (If you have this episode recorded or decide to watch a rerun/DVD viewing, do not freeze-frame on the fillet.) And then part of a second emerges – and that’s all. After a quick argument, the group decides that their results, while probably nowhere near enough for four people, are all the winners deserve. Marissa throws a mutilated piscine corpse back into the water while declaring ‘You want more fish, Adrienne? Eat this!’
Anyone within a three-continent radius can pick up on Marissa’s hostility, and this definitely includes Jack, who notes the killer looks coming from the overall gutting group as a rowboat makes its way towards dinner, which will be held in a made-over treehouse rejected from an early Tribal Council set. Marissa muses on how wonderful it would be if the boat sank (leaving Jack alive while the others were eaten by the crocs, of course), and the group date gets underway.
Over dinner, Jack tells the women they inspire him. Natalie rightfully wonders how, especially in her own case, and is told Jack didn’t believe the women would be able to do the things they’ve accomplished so far. (For Natalie, read ‘Resisting the urge to quit during every waking second. Oh, and breathing steadily.’) Natalie admits that they’ve come a long way. That’s right, Natalie: it’s a very long way from the States to Australia. Good work!
Jack leads a toast to Adrienne, noting her excellent work during the competition which ‘put me to shame’. Everyone drinks to Jack’s Abo guilt.
Cortney investigates Sharon’s information, asking Jack if it’s true that Outback men like to be served, wined, dined, and given kingship over the castle. Jack admits that it is true – but it doesn’t apply to him, because ‘all I do is wait on you girls hand and foot.’ (And hair, and makeup, and luggage…) Shannon feels that how it should be – warning! Warning! High-maintenance women in area! – and Jack agrees, as long as love comes back from the other direction. (And as soon as Visa changes their name to ‘Love’ and puts it on every bill, that’ll be a guarantee.) Natalie c-t feels you can’t want anything more from a man than someone who gives you everything (and pays for it, too). What a catch!
Shannon’s not comfortable with the group date: she’s not used to being the pursuer, and she’s also doesn’t like putting her emotions out in the open. Okay, we’ve just pinned the first elimination. Anyone want to try for the second?
Kookaburra laughter startles the group for a moment, and startlement turns to near-panic when they realize the chefs are on the way. The near-evil laughter continues as all four of the rejected contestants come into the treehouse. Mary tries to tell everyone how hard she worked (on choosing her outfit for the day), and a very brief shot of the results are shown. It’s recognizably fish. It’s been cut into small pieces. There’s a few speckles of spicing on it. But Team Tapeworm leaves the treehouse openly hoping the dinner party chokes on their efforts (minus Jack, who will of course give himself the Heimlich as the others turn blue), and for some strange reason, we’re never shown anyone eating any of the fish. Wonder why?
Finally, it’s time for dessert. After the other women leave, Jack feeds Adrienne a small piece of chocolate truffle which I can guarantee you Team Turmoil did not cook, and tells her that she’s special and easy to be with. Adrienne tells Jack that he has an amazing spirit. Marissa, who can’t let anyone have a moment to themselves, c-t interrupts to declare Adrienne isn’t competition in any department that doesn’t involve fish, because she has no connection with Jack.
Meanwhile, back in the treehouse, Adrienne and Jack connect at the lips.
Adrienne really likes Jack, and was touched and surprised by both the first kiss and the goodnight one which followed. Jack likes Adrienne, feeling that they click together: she’s very easygoing and ultimately, that just might be what he needs. Adrienne is not going anywhere for a while. Marissa dearly wants Adrienne to Go Away Right Now. Do you think there’s any chance of a confrontation before the series ends?
In fact, it’s probably coming real soon now, because the other women are not happy to see Jack and Adrienne return from their dessert date. Cortney was in the middle of telling them how Adrienne was asking mistimed questions over dinner – does Jack want children, can he see himself being married – and here comes the happy couple, with Adrienne giggling her way off the boat and holding hands with Jack all the way up to the group table. This escapes no one’s notice: several Looks Of Death shoot around the group, and Marissa immediately switches to c-t feeling Adrienne is all wrong for Jack because she’s not nurturing enough. And as Marissa clearly knows, keeping a spa’s profit margin on life support automatically qualifies you for ‘nurturing’.
‘Adrienne may think she’s ahead now,’ Marissa c-ts, ‘but the night is still young.’ D’you think that mosquito netting is bulletproof?
A quick chat around the fire during which Cortney starts to suspect the undisclosed kiss, and then Jack joins the women. They immediately announce that they’ve decided to sleep outside in a circle around the fire that night, with Jack in the center of the group. Jack immediately realizes this would put him in the middle of the fire, triggering laughter and merriment – and what better cue is there for JD to come and put a stop to it? The women yell at him to go away and make various signs of dismissal, some of which border on warding – but the spells don’t take, and JD steps into the firelight to make his announcement. There’s going to be another elimination tomorrow, with two more women going home. Each current contestant can have a few minutes alone with Jack to make their case. And if he sees any sign of anyone enjoying themselves for the rest of the evening, he’s going to be extremely upset, and it may become three women going home. Or even four. He’s not fussy.
The women’s arguments for staying, in rough paraphrase:
Maria: ‘I want to get to know you better. I feel like I’m doing things I haven’t done before. For example, I’ve never killed another woman and I have the feeling you’ll be keeping Marissa around, so I’m going to get plenty of chances. Plus, look at this tight pink top. I saw how you were looking at Mary earlier. I can learn!’
Natalie: ‘I can tell you have a big heart and I want to continue on this journey with you. Do you like how I memorized your catchphrase? It was that or ‘adventure with you’, and some of the girls are afraid that Rupert might attack in the night if you say that too often.’
Mary: (This is an exact quote.) ‘I want to get to know more about you! Like what’s your sign, what’s your favorite color…’
Harmonie: ‘I need more time with you. This hasn’t been very one-on-one. In fact, except for going into the water a lot, I haven’t really been in this episode at all. I’m in trouble, aren’t I?’
Marissa: ‘You know how I nearly died because I ignored what you said? I’m healing really well because of what you did afterwards. I think that shows the kind of relationship we can have. I do something dumb, you save me, over and over, through the years. By the way, is it true your real first name is Clark?’
Shannon: ‘I’m learning a lot about myself, I’m growing as a person, and in about six months, I might feel comfortable enough around you to let you see some of that. If this wasn’t a two-month run, I might have a chance.’
Adrienne: ‘I know the journey line, too. And besides, we kissed. If I hang around, we might get to do that again.’
Cortney: ‘They’ve made us jump out of planes, fall into rapids, and catch fish with our bare hands. And yet, I want to stay here. You’re the reason for that, and it should be the greatest compliment you’ve ever received in your life.’
And now it’s time for a reminder for Australia’s reality heritage: we get a Survivor-style shot of a snake slithering through the camp, and then – Marissa, who wasn’t about to let Adrienne get the only time alone with Jack before the elimination. She waited until all the other women were asleep, then went out to meet him under the black and white light of a night vision camera.
Jack c-t admits that he has some feelings for Marissa. In turn, Marissa c-t says that this is a game (MTW, another check for you) and if she wants alone time with Jack, she’s going to get it. She nuzzles his shoulder. She kisses him. He kisses back. Tongues become involved. The production staff cranks up a fast drumbeat. And there are no sounds of zippers in the night. I repeat: none. He’s Jack, not Joe. That trick only not works once. Besides, JD doesn’t materialize, so it presumably wasn’t fun for anyone.
Morning comes, and the women pack while they c-t.
Shannon doesn’t want to compete against people she’s made friends with. Shannon is so doomed.
Adrienne thinks Marissa does see her as competition, but in a very passive way, and that she’s being completely fake about it. And your first clue was…?
Marissa feels this isn’t about making friends. (MTW, is your card full yet?)
Jack just wishes he could eliminate himself to avoid this. That should be easy enough. All he has to do is get Marissa mad at him.
The group meets JD by the banks of Elimination River, where there’s a group of open-top cars: 4*4s called ‘bull catchers’ in the local tongue. Jack will get one to himself after the elimination, and the remaining six women will divide up the other three. But first – it’s time for Jack’s patented doubletalk. And my, can this man doubletalk. If any part of the show feels completely scripted, it’s his elimination/please stay speeches. Imagine Jack ordering a value meal at a fast food restaurant. ‘I’m glad I had so much time to sit in the drive-through line and consider my choice – but at the same time, I feel this gave me too much of a chance to consider taking my business to another restaurant – yet I’m here, and I’m hungry now – even though I do have some chips in this bag on the passenger seat – I’d like to have a medium Whopper.’ As such, I’m going to skim over the speeches themselves and just note the general amount of doubletalk going on for each contestant.
Cortney: Connection, doubletalk, please come on the journey. Actually, all this journey talk is starting to remind me of Joe.
Natalie: Princess, time is separating us, doubletalk, stay in the adventure. She promptly declares that she can last through anything the show throws at her. Except cleaning fish. And dealing with the lack of electricity. Oh, and there’s the whole walking issue…
Harmonie: Learned a lot about who you are inside, minimal doubletalk, apparently that’s not a good thing because you’re going to stand over by JD and wait for the bus back to the airport. Harmonie thinks Jack is looking for a partner and she had seen him as more of a friend. This is a reality dating show, Harmonie. In a word: duh.
Maria: I like you, doubletalk, doubletalk, journey? Maria’s up for continuing and heads over to the bull rangers. There’s definitely some sort of pattern developing here. Maybe MTW and I should be charting this and seeing if high doubletalk leads to next-episode eliminations…
Adrienne: A nasty-toned c-t from Marissa in which she hopes that Jack can see through Adrienne and decide that she doesn’t belong here, and then: Last night in the treehouse was special to me, no doubletalk, please stay. (Marissa’s sour expression here must be freeze-framed to be believed.) Reality show historians, make a note: a non-Caucasian contestant on a dating show has survived to see Round Three. Is this a first?
Marissa: We have a connection, we’re comfortable around each other, I feel so good I could use doubletalk starter words, but please stay on the adventure. Gee. Not one mention of their little walk. And he seemed so honest up until now.
Mary: Haven’t had a chance to connect, doubletalk, doubletalk, want to stay, double high five, single Mary-requested buttock five. That last group of words may never again be repeated in the history of this site.
Shannon (walking dead): I like you, you know I do, but you have a wall up and it’s so hard to tell if you like me, so I have to ask you to go, and I’m very sorry. (The hug that follows this is one of the most sincere expressions of mutual sorrow I’ve ever seen on a reality show, and as such, I declare it and Shannon’s confession that having been hurt before made it hard to be open and aggressive with Jack to be unbashable within the summary. This probably won’t happen again for a while. It certainly won’t happen with Shannon.)
Six women remain. There are four bull rangers. Jack knows how to drive a stick-shift, has handled a 4*4 before this, and knows exactly what he has to do next. The remaining contestants – well – let’s just say the ostriches may be following them for a few miles yet. They wanted a reality show: they got a massive change in migration patterns across the continent.
Peace, over and out – hey, MTW! Tag! You’re it!