Congratulations! As of 10:30 PM Monday night, the eponymous Fresh Meat of The Real World/Road Rules Challenge officially graduated to sophomore status. Yes, the show wrapped up its triumphant season of bag-schlepping as one winning team finally grabbed the grand prize of $250,000. With only three squads left, it was a toss up as to who would win. Okay, it really wasn’t. It was obvious who would dominate this final challenge, and that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t have been able to stomach any other result. However, in the interest of not spoiling this most intense of outcomes, I won’t say who won here in this opening paragraph. Instead, I’ll pass the time talking about something else: a horrendous TV show I saw yesterday. It was called The 200 Pound Tumor, and it was on the Discovery Health Network. It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen, not including Wes’s cocky face. Hmmm… I’m veering towards nausea. I better get to the recap.This week’s finale started off with all the teams nervously preparing for the next day’s mission. I’m sure the producers probably wanted us to wonder who would win the big prize, but honestly, at that moment I was more concerned with what had happened to Darrell’s head. It looked like he was recovering from a lobotomy. Either that or someone had cruelly extinguished a cigar on his forehead.
Nevertheless, the gang all gathered around the table and eagerly read their last clue: “Congratulations on making it to the end. Your final challenge is tomorrow.” I’m not sure if that really qualifies as a clue as much as light plaudits followed by general directions. Whatever the semantics may be, the gang was psyched for their final mission. Wes and Casey were particularly confident in their chances of winning, thanks to all their victories in Exile. “Hopefully we’re going to be able to use that as a catalyst to go into the final mission with enough confidence,” Wes said, unsurprisingly misusing the word “catalyst.” Of course, anyone who’s seen just a glimpse of this season could tell you that Wes and Casey haven’t won the Exiles thanks to their perfect blend of brains and brawn. It’s more like they just benefited from other teams’s stupid mistakes (ie. forgetting flags over and over and over again).
Wasting no time (except to show Darrell sipping from a giant water bottle — or jug, really), the show then headed down to the sandy beaches of Australia where the final challenge awaited. A smiley TJ Lavin revealed that teams would be participating in what was essentially a super-sized Exile course — a ten mile foot race, to be exact. Along the way, there would be several checkpoints as well as two of those nefarious puzzles. Unlike the Exile puzzles, however, there were some unique rules attached. Each team would have three chances to correctly solve the puzzles. At the first one, a correct answer on the first try meant that a team could advance to the next checkpoint without adding any weight. A correct answer after the second try meant they’d have to haul twenty-five pounds total. Third try was fifty pounds, and a total failure to solve the puzzle would result in a hundred pound burden. Things changed around on the second puzzle. A correct answer on the first attempt meant that teams could remove a hundred pounds. Second attempt meant losing fifty, third was twenty five, and failure meant removing nothing. So basically, the key was to answer the first puzzle on the first try. That way, the second puzzle would be rendered useless. This all sounded very convoluted, but I did like it and kind of wished this was how the puzzles in Exile operated all along (in case you were wondering how I really felt about that issue. And I’m sure you did).
Oh, and one more thing. Teammates would be tethered together with a six-foot line, another nifty touch that would have been nice throughout the season. Actually, you know what would be the best? If teammates had to be tethered at all times. Kind of like that failed dating show, Chains of Love. Next season… next season…
Anyway, as the teams prepared to commence this beast of a challenge, Wes feared that his long suffering partner Casey might not rise to the occasion. “She’s just too young, immature, and stupid to realize how much is on the line right now,” he said, erroneously implying that he on the other hand was not young, immature, and stupid.
Elsewhere in this suckfest, Tina and Kenny bickered about the daunting path ahead of them, with Tina being particularly pessimistic about their chances at success. If only this challenge featured a prominent “buzzard voice” component…
Well, after the commercial break, TJ Lavin finally let the teams loose on this course, and unsurprisingly, Tina and Kenny continued to yell at each other over pretty much anything. “You’re not even sweating!” Kenny yelled; although, as far as I could see, Tina was covered in a shiny film of perspiration. Kind of like the time she found out Krispy Kreme opened up down the block from her. Mini zing!
Anyway, the teams all trotted across the beach until they reached checkpoint one which commanded them to… RUN THROUGH THE SURF! How very intense!!! What might come next? X-TREME Sandcastle building? Well, everyone managed to plod through the water without much of a problem; although, Casey did flail around as if she were navigating through a jellyfish minefield. Oh, how I would have loved to see Wes step on a Portuguese Man O’ War. I would say stingray too, but, well, stingray jokes are apparently verboten in pop culture for about a week or so.
At checkpoint two, the teams encountered the first puzzle which involved moving pegs on a board. Everyone messed up their first two attempts, but in a nice development, Aviv managed to get it right on try #3, which meant she and Darrell only needed to haul around fifty pounds on their backs. Wes, Casey, Tina and Kenny, however, completely failed — shocker! — and so they were saddled with the unenviable task of dragging a hundred pounds across the beach.
Checkpoint three then had the teams doing the military crawl under some ropes, and even though Darrell and Aviv had been in last place, their lighter load meant they were able to easily catch up and surpass the other two teams. Casey, on the other hand, struggled with the challenge and told us, “I’m not going to lie. I’m a girly girl. I like to sit at home and shop and put on makeup. That’s what I do.” Sadly, this completely shattered all my preconceived notions about her, which mainly consisted of her attending literary lectures, watching Masterpiece Theatre, and studying Proust.
Well, with Darrell and Aviv safely in the lead, we randomly saw a flashback sequence of the two’s greatest moments of the Challenge. Hey, there they were doing that one challenge. And there they were winning the pardon! And there they were hugging! Yay time filler!
Back in the final challenge, Darrell and Aviv then reached the fourth checkpoint, which required one teammate to carry the other. I think America was all the same page about this one: sucks for Kenny.
Somewhere amidst all this, Wes told us, “I really wanted to be here regardless of how pathetic Casey really is at this game.” Look, Wes, Casey may not be a great athlete, but thanks to her packing lightly, you’ve won all your Exiles; so you better be thanking her thrifty ass. Nevertheless, we then sat through a random Wes and Casey flashback montage, and when we returned to the challenge, we saw poor Kenny lugging Tina across the beach. This was a task that the human body was not build to endure. My back hurt just watching this. Somebody enroll this guy in World’s Strongest Man.
Sure enough, we then sat through a third and final flashback sequence of Tina and Kenny’s finest moments, and as we headed into commercial, the producers tried to mislead us into thinking this wouldn’t be a Darrell and Aviv blowout. “I think it’s still anyone’s game,” Casey told us. “As long as we get to those puzzles, I think we still have a shot at first place.” Yes, except you haven’t solved a puzzle all season long. Unless the second puzzle involves spelling the word “cat,” these two have no chance at mounting a comeback (and quite honestly, “cat” might be too difficult).
After the commercial, we arrived at the second puzzle which featured five boxes arranged like a Tetris figure. Teams had to move two sticks to create four equally sized boxes, and sure enough, Aviv managed to solve this brainteaser the first time around. This meant she and Darrell could drop all their weight. How anyone could catch up to them now was beyond me. All but cementing their lead were the performances of the two other teams who struggled to solve the puzzle. Tina and Kenny removed what looked like two random sticks, but as a result, all they were left with were two rectangles and two squares. Funny thing about rectangles and squares: they’re not the same size (although, technically, squares are rectangles, but you get what I’m saying). Sure enough, the two teams were unable to figure out this intensive challenge, and so they both had to trek onwards with all their weight (that’s one hundred pounds, in case you forgot).
Look! Four identical squares!
“We’ve kicked ass in all the Exiles, but yet we suck so bad,” Casey said of their showing. I guess that’s what happens when you’re forced to use your brain to excel. Anyway, Darrell and Aviv sped through checkpoint number six, which had them climbing up a mountainside, and unsurprisingly, when they reached the top, there was TJ waiting at the finish line. Our hopes and wishes had come true: Darrell and Aviv won! Honestly, as long as anyone but Wes had earned that money, I’d be happy. This was certainly a momentous occasion, as evidenced by Aviv who stoically noted, “We won.”
Is it me, or does Darrell look like he’s about to say “Hey HEY hey!”
Meanwhile, back on the warpath, the other two teams slaved away for second place. Day turned to night, and finally, Tina and Kenny arrived in front of TJ, who said, “That’s a strong second place, my friend.” Um, it’s night time. That’s not strong at all. They were like hours behind.
Coming in third place were Wes and Casey, who finally got to taste glorious defeat. With everyone standing around, our pacifist host tried to raise spirits by saying, “I just want to say there were no losers to day.” Except, you know, for the losers — of which there were four.
A bitter Wes sneered off his loss by barking at us, “Anyone who says congratulations for bronze can suck my dick.” He then added, “And so I invite all males with brown hair, blue eyes, and athletic builds to tell me congratulations for my bronze. Seriously, I really want you to tell me that. Oh, and if you’ve got dimples, I’d like that too.”
For her part, Tina begrudgingly commented, “I guess the best team really did win, but the better team got second.” That’s impossible. You can’t do better than the best. The best team IS the better team. Mind your semantics, woman!
We then sat through even more memories from the season as Kenny said, “There’s so many things on this Challenge that I never would have been able to do.” You know, like diving into water and crawling under ropes and grabbing onto a rotating crocodile. Life changing experiences!
But no Fresh Meat episode would be complete without some obligatory Wes bitching. “This game is not about fairness. It’s not about scores. It’s not about how good of a competitor you are. It’s about politics, and the fact is the Austin cast got screwed,” he complained, clearly not realizing that a) the Austin cast screwed itself when it clung together like a little clique or b) he was in the finals; so he really had nothing to complain about.
What did you think about this finale? And what about the season as a whole?