At long last, The Real World: Austin finally came to an end Tuesday night, and because we’ve been such troopers all season long, the kids decided to throw in one last idiotic fight for old times sake. Say what you will about this cast, but at least this finale didn’t end on a whimper. It was more like a rage-filled, fist-swinging, dumb-spewing free-for-all that will only serve to tighten the resolve lawmakers have for keeping the drinking age 21. And yet, despite all the chaos, this final episode still seemed somewhat bland. I attribute that, like many of the shortcomings of this season, to the continued fascination the producers have with Danny and Melinda, who served as the bookends of this half-hour. No one cares about these two, much in the same way that no one cared about Alton and Irulan, Landon and Shavonda, or pretty much any other Real World couple (actually, I somewhat enjoyed Colin and Amaya, but that’s because they were ridiculous). So anyway, let’s take one last gasp of air and finish this bad boy off.The show began where the season began: atop Mt. Bonnell. Yes, in a rare departure from their normal cuddle zone on the bed, Danny and Melinda ascended the steps to this Austin landmark, and amazingly, Danny did not try to punch a tree for looking at his girl the wrong way. Apparently Melinda had actually done some internet research on Mt. Bonnell, and according to her ace sleuthing, she found out that if you walk down the mountain steps once, you’ll fall in love; if you walk down them twice, you’ll get engaged; and if you walk down three times, it’s inevitable that you’ll be married. Yes, nothing like a staircase-based love affair. In other news, Melinda has announced that she will be walking Danny down the stairs every single day for the next three months. You gotta figure she’ll at least book his love for the next three hundred years.
When they finally reached the top of the mountain, we saw a flashback to that time when they first met in the very same place. Ah, the good old days. That innocent, less annoying period that I like to call “Episode One.” Back then, this season was brimming with potential. This would be the big rebound from Philly. I mean, in that premiere alone there was fighting, drunkenness, girl-on-girl action. Alas, it was all a slow decline from that point on, leading us to now where we can barely stand to watch these kids on screen. I don’t know if Austin has been the worst season, but it’s certainly the most disappointing.
But anyhoo, back to the mountain. The happy couple took a few pics on their disposable camera, and then we learned the big news: Melinda was gonna go back to Boston with Danny for his birthday and then get an apartment and “be all cute.” And by “cute” she meant “BORING AND ANNOYING.”
Back at the mansion, cardboard boxes adorned the living room as the roomies began packing up. Thank god. Get the hell out of here already. Of course, as is the tradition with these final episodes, the kids all gathered ’round to reminisce about the memories, with Wes, Johanna, and Rachel taking a nostalgic shine to that first fateful night. “Tonight we can make it all better,” Johanna promised, “I won’t make out with anyone, and you won’t get into any fights.” Hmmm… That doesn’t sound ominous at all…
Oooh, packing from the perspective of the box. Artistic!
That evening, the whole gang went out to party — even Lacey who took a break from her normal activity: gossiping about every single piece of minutia to her boyfriend Ryan. Well, seems like a nice, joyful way to end the season: everyone back together, having fun, not a shred of drama in sight. No siree. Just good times. That is, until that bitch Wren showed up. Yes, that’s right. WREN. You all remember her as the apple of Wes’s glazed-over-eye — the girl who wouldn’t put out for Wes until her dignity yielded to her catty jealousy of Johanna. Well, she suddenly transformed from sweet idiot to vicious, seething idiot as she full-on attacked Wes with a verbal assault. To put it simply, she wanted him to “F–K OFF!!!” Yes, Wren was pissed for no apparent reason. Could it have been that Wes was presently grinding on five or six different, unfortunate girls? Or was she simply channeling self-loathing based on the realization that she had had sex with a stumpy man-troll? Could have been both, but probably more of the latter.
“You’re nothing Wes. You’re NOTHING!” she yelled. Later, she elaborated, “Your roommates come up to me and tell me that you’re telling lies and that they don’t even believe them.” Still didn’t really make much sense to me, but at least now we’ve got something to work with. Plus, she then told Wes he was “this big” which I’ll interpret was an attack on his penis size (even if it was more of a character judgment). Okay, I’ll just cut to the chase. Basically, Wren was ticked off because apparently her sexual encounter with the third kind was supposed to be a quiet, intimate affair — a secret, if you will — and having one of the roomies fling it in her face hurt and embarrassed her. Poor Wren. Who would have thought her bedroom activities with a REALITY STAR would ever wind up out in the open?
Anyway, Wes further explained the situation: “I hooked up with Wren, and it was a big secret. I confided in a couple of roommates what happened and told them it was a big secret.” And by “confided,” he meant bragged about the whole thing like a jackass. Yes, those of you who have not yet purged the memory of last week’s episode from your brain may remember that Wes had said something along the lines of, “How long do you think it will take for me to have sex with Wren? Because I ALREADY DID!!!” So as you can tell, it was most certainly a big secret. You know, the type that you keep between you and AMERICA.
Well, having been sufficiently bitched out by Wren, Wes knew there was only one way to handle the situation: redirect his guilt into a rage-filled witch hunt. The bowl-cutted one stormed out of the bar in search of Rachel and Johanna (his prime suspects!), and while Danny tried to calm him down, not even the power of a slightly askew, knitted, short-brimmed hat could do anything in this situation. At the house, Wes confronted Johanna — who inexplicably had “I (heart) Rachel” written across her chest — but she had no idea why Wes was flipping out. Then Rachel walked in with a steamy brat in her hand, and uh oh, this was gonna get bad. After all, we all know what happens if you get Rachel mad when she’s trying to eat (must I remind you of the great Nehemiah/fajita debacle of August 30th?).
Acting sort of like the shorter, goofier, and dumber version of Chazz Palminteri in The Usual Suspects, Wes announced that he knew what Rachel had said to Wren. Of course, since what she had said to Wren was probably so slight and forgettable, Rachel had no idea what Wes was talking about, and simply asked, “Why you acting like you’re PMSing?” And in case we were wondering, Melinda then piped up to say that Wes was in fact on her Midol. No, I don’t understand it either.
Having had enough of this silliness, Rachel simply left the room, at which point Danny nodded and said, “It’s obviously Rachel. Without a doubt, it’s obviously her.” WELL! Then it’s settled! The knitted-cap has reached a verdict!
Remember when these hats were cool… two years ago? And on Usher, not Danny?
Wes then told us, “What Rachel did was a mistake. She needs to learn that you do not do something like that to a friend or someone that she calls a brother.” And Wes clearly is the authority on how to treat a friend. Hey, remember that time last week when he slapped Rachel? Yeah, that was an awesome display of friendship.
Anyway, Wes continued to pester Rachel, who probably should have just taken the high road and ignored him, but instead, she went the Real World road and snapped, “Wren’s a nice girl; so f*ck off, bitch!” I didn’t really know what she meant by that, but I welcomed it. In response, Wes let out some of his finest WesLogic: “All right, FINE! In private, I f*cked Wren off-camera. Now you bring it up on camera. It’s not f*cking off-camera anymore if you bring it up, you stupid [beeeeeep]!!” Hey genius, the only one who’s bringing it up on camera is you. Or was you, I should say (cough, bragging last week, cough).
As the tensions escalated, Johanna and Danny tried to run interference by pulling the two feuding cast mates away from each other, but by then, a full-scale shouting match had broken out. Sounds like chaos, better check in with gossip central! Sure enough, there was Lacey on the phone with Ryan, giving the play-by-play through the fish tank. She was trying to play it cool, but you just know that on the inside she was screaming, “YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!”
Well, just when the situation couldn’t get any more ridiculous, in marched a drunk Nehemiah who had no idea what was going on, but decided to start yelling and cursing nonetheless. Keep in mind that at this point he was still out on bail for drunkenly punching the owner of “Best Wurst Bratwurst” — home of Rachel’s aforementioned brat. Anyway, with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb officially reunited, this fight escalated to pure insanity, but for some reason, we cut to the grainy Lacey cam and had to watch the action unfold all blurry and indistinct through the fishtank. Where the hell were the camera crews? WE WANT TO SEE THE FIGHT!!
Eventually, the cameras went charging back into the room (maybe the battery packs had died or something) where we found Danny wrestling Rachel onto the couch, Wes holding his hands behind his back, and Nehemiah still shouting and wanting to fight. Melinda tried to stop the fallen film student, but he shoved her away violently, bellowing to Rachel, “I’LL KILL YOU!”
Literally, Nehemiah just protested, “She threatened me!” In case you didn’t notice, Neh, you’re the guy wearing the muscle T. Aren’t you supposed to be like, I don’t know, tough?
“Nehemiah, stop it PLEASE!” cried Melinda, but it was of no use. Eventually, things somehow simmered down (an effect I like to call “sobriety”), and the fighting parties separated. Melinda and Rachel bawled themselves to the front door and then sat outside for more incomprehensible sobbing. And let me tell you something: when it comes to incomprehensible sobbing, no one beats Rachel. Moments later in an interview, Melinda then told us, “Two guys should not gang up on one girl.” True, but what if the guys were short, dumb, and incredibly insecure? Is it all right then? Hmmm… Probably not.
Meanwhile, inside, Wes expressed his frustration with the proper amount of Kindergarten clarity. “I HATE HER!!” he whined, adding, “She casually mentioned that I was bragging about my sexual conquests with Wren, who, by the way, I banged. I HATE HER!!!” And to prove just how much he hated Rachel, Wes then threw a glass against the wall, shattering it like so many dreams he once had of living happily ever after with his beloved Wren. It’s okay, man. Let it all out. Throw that shit against the wall. That’ll teach that glass not to betray you!
Out on the street, Johanna tried to talk some sense into Rachel. “Stop crying! Get yourself together! You look like a f*cking idiot!” she scolded, and after a few more sniffles and protests, Rachel finally replied, “Johanna, I can’t take it. Johanna, I’d rather sleep in the street.” Insert tasteless homeless veteran joke here. Yeah, that’s right — I just made fun of someone’s tragic plight. You got a problem with that? Well maybe you should throw a glass against the wall!!
Anyway, Rachel finally returned to the house (where a quietly observant Lacey greeted her — it’s all going in to the Ryan Report) and then called up her boyfriend Erik to vent. Normally, I hate the Erik/Rachel babble, but at least this time it was somewhat informative. We learned what really happened between her and Nehemiah, and I’ll just tell you this: it still doesn’t make any sense. Apparently, when Nehemiah saw that there was fighting, he instinctually began calling Rachel a whore, and finally, after enough of this, Rachel retorted that at least she didn’t go to jail. Oooh. Nice. Well, Nehemiah’s comeback was that “at least I didn’t go to Iraq and claim I did stuff when I really didn’t do anything at all.” Hmmm… kind of a low blow. And an uninformed blow too. And, in the grand scheme of things, just a poor insult in general. Hey, remember when Nehemiah was supposed to be the cool one? The rational one? I wonder what happened? Oh, that’s right. He began hanging out with Wes. It all makes sense now.
Rachel finds out her cotton candy ice cream was accidentally returned to sender.
Well, the phone call ended with Rachel declaring that she’d never speak to Nehemiah again, which was all nice and naive and stuff (spoiler alert: they’ve talked. I seen it with mine own eyes!), but then we moved into the other bedroom and found the real victims of this fight: Danny and Melinda. Yes, the lovebirds curled up together on the bed and cuddled, thanking each other for helping them get through this mad, mad house. Oh, such innocent love! To think that it was almost crushed by these wanton barbarians! It would have been a true loss for humanity. But as long as they have each other, they got the world spinnin’ right in their hands. Baby, Mel and Danny, they gotta be the luckiest dreamers who never quit dreamin’!
The next morning, it was time to ship out, which was pretty cool because a) we didn’t have to sit through some lame apology scene, and b) it made for one of the most awkward goodbye episodes ever. Rachel headed out first and didn’t even bother to say anything to Wes and Nehemiah. Ouch! Cold! Awesome! But don’t worry. Wes was fine with it. “Rachel basically defied my friendship with her last night,” he said. Well, it’s a good thing that he rationally approached her about the whole situation to find out if maybe he had misinterpreted anything along the way. You know, because friends give each other the benefit of the doubt. Especially when one of them is black-out drunk. But seriously, Rachel defied the friendship.
Wes continued with his idiocy: “I knew she made a mistake. I called her out on it, and I got her back. I made her feel bad.” Is that what you do to people who make mistakes? Kind of feels, um, what’s the word I’m looking for? Ah yes. IMMATURE.
Next to leave was Nehemiah, but he wasn’t really leaving, on account of his court date. You know, for punching out the hot dog guy. What a legacy, Neh. He was followed by Lacey who had a surprise visitor: Ryan! Yay! Reunited! Lacey then suddenly ran upstairs, got on the phone, and called Ryan up to say, “Oh my god. You will never believe this gossip. This is crazy. You are downstairs. I just saw you! You’re picking me up! Isn’t that wild?”
Anyway, Lacey departed, and up next was Wes, who explained to us, “I am no longer part of a group called the seven strangers. I am part of a group called–” The Crappy Haircut Victims of America? The Dumb Alcoholic Men Who Attack Women Club? The Federation of Men Who Look Like Lacey? Actually no. It was some lame line about seven people who’ve shared a rich and wonderful experience and blah blah blah — he was gone.
After the Wes left the building, we were down to just Danny, Melinda, and Johanna, and we all knew what this was leading to: the long goodbye between lovers. So let’s not put this off any longer. Get out of here, Joey. Now everyone grab your barfbags. We are about to commence on a path of sappy, boring love. Yes, with only the two lovahs left in the house, there was little else to do except nostalgically remember all those great memories. You know, like that time everyone partied in the hot tub. Or that time Danny and Melinda made out in the shower. Or that time when… sorry, I fell asleep. Where was I? Oh look! They’re at the airport! With knitted, brimmed cap in full poseur effect, Danny guided Melinda to her departure gate, and then the two cried and cried, and in interviews, they reiterated how much they loved each other. Yeah, yeah. This was all fine and good, but c’mon. You already told us you were moving in together in like three days. Must we see all this sentimentality? JUST END!
A rare appearance of the Melinda promise ring!
Well, Melinda finally sobbed her way down the jetway, and we faded to black once and for all. Next week, we’ve got the reunion show, and based on the early previews, it looks like everyone bashes Lacey for talking smack (like they haven’t? I knew she’d be the outcast! Better late than never!), but more interestingly, it looks like Nehemiah might win back some much-needed cool points for attacking Danny. And by the way, lovely Mystic Tan, Danny. The new teeth look wonderful also. Did anyone see those things? Should make for one last surge of snark before this season is completely and totally dunzo.
“My new teeth are wicked awesome!”
What did you think of the finale? How about the season? And what about the big fight? How culpable was Wes and how culpable was Rachel?