I have terrible news. For the first time all season, there was no yelling, drunkenness, or combination of both on tonight’s Real World/Road Rules Challenge. Yes, it was the rare “All Sober, All Normal” episode, and not even the presence of a rickshaw could jar these reality superstars into a shouting match. That’s not to say that there was any sort of level-headedness going on. No, far from it. There was still our weekly fill of petty quarrels, vicious backstabbing, and blatant phoniness. C’mon. Just because the decibel level goes down doesn’t mean the IQ goes up.Yelling or no yelling, we knew we’d be in for a treat when the episode began on the chronically blotched face of Beth, a.k.a. Osama Beth Laden. I’ve always found her to be an intriguing character. Her cast mates perpetually hate her, and she manages to stick her fingers into any crack and bust it wide open for maximum drama. And yet, I’ve never truly despised her the way I have Veronica or Tina. Nevertheless, I was intrigued to know what mischief Beth would be up to tonight. “My reputation kind of precedes me, but this time around, I’m like minding my own business and trying to stay out of trouble,” she said ominously. Yeah, we’ll see how long that lasts.
Elsewhere in the House of Fools, a T-Mobile Sidekick rang, and as Alton read the clue, we then caught a glimpse of the ever-shaggy MJ, whose hair was looking poofier (READ: dumber) than usual. Plus, now there was an unsightly goatee to match it. With all the makeover shows on basic cable these days, can’t one of them attack this guy? Please, just a little “Queer Eye for the MY EYES ARE BURNING JUST LOOKING AT YOU Guy?”
Meanwhile, we checked in with Veteran captain Ruthie who expressed nervousness about a potentially looming Gauntlet. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We get it. Same scene every other week. Anyway, the girls surmised that the challenge might have to do with running (what clued them in? The fact that they were going to a track and field stadium?) “Oh my God! I want to run because I will smoke them. That’s what I do best,” Beth announced. This then led to Montana talking trash about Beth in an interview and then a gritty flashback to season one of the Challenge (back when it was more like alterna-Road Rules). Turns out Montana and Beth have never really gotten along since that first season. “Beth is exactly the same as she was ten years ago. You would think that over the process of ten years, there would be a little bit of personal growth,” Montana complained. Another thing you’d expect over the process of ten years: you not still doing the Challenge! (I complain, and yet, every time one of these people skips a challenge, I raise holy hell. Sorry guys, it’s a no-win situation. We’re TV viewers. We’re needy, passionate, and illogical. Just like you.) Anyway, Montana then added, “There’s been no growth with Beth, except for in the thighs.” Z-Z-Z-ZING! Wow, Montana getting the claws out. Of course, with all the focus on Beth, people have forgotten what a trouble-maker Montana was in her prime. Sure, she has this whole veneer of maturity and sophistication, but if there’s anything the Real World/Road Rules Challenge is good for, it’s reverting these people into their high school selves. Don’t think we’re not onto you, Montana (and by all means, please keep stirring the pot).
Anyway, the teams arrived at the big stadium for their challenge, and lo and behold, they faced a pair of rickshaws (or chariots, as Mark Long later called them). For this week’s big showdown, the teams had to transport all their members around the track. But since only two people could fit in the ‘shaw, this meant multiple trips and multiple drivers (or runners, really). The details aren’t important — as always. Here’s what is: because the Veterans had more people, the team had to sit out two members, who in turn would be ineligible for the Gauntlet, should the Vets lose.
Well, who would get to sit out? Julie had an idea: “Weight is an obvious thing. Syrus maybe we should consider — just ’cause you’re heavy.” Hey Syrus, YOU’RE FAT! Why can’t you have giant muscles and a twelve-pack? Just put a paper bag over your head and walk away in shame! Nevertheless, Syrus was benched due to his weight, and guess what? Beth volunteered to sit out as well. But wait! Isn’t she a great runner? Wasn’t that what she was saying? Montana was sure to bring that point up loud and proud, with the implication being that Beth was trying to sneak out of the Gauntlet. “Whatever, Montana. I’m the heaviest one,” Beth replied. Not many girls would admit that on these types of shows. Had to sort of respect that. But wait a second. How the hell could she be heavier than Aneesa? Maybe she was trying to sneak out after all!
As expected, this turned into a squabble-fest amongst the girls that threatened to go on interminably until Ruthie finally said, “Guys, this is deunifying our team!” And I’m pretty sure Ruthie just deunified the English language. Anyway, Montana quietly complained to us that Beth was less concerned about the team and more concerned about saving her butt. Uh, it is a competition. Beth, meanwhile, felt that Montana was just trying to nab one of the coveted Gauntlet exemption spots. I really couldn’t tell who was manipulative and who was sincere, but I didn’t really care. As long as plenty of cat fights ensued, I’d be happy.
After a disgusting shot of Aneesa’s nipples popping through her shirt, we then headed to commercial break, and when we returned, the Veteran captains assembled and made the executive decision that with Beth’s running skills, she should participate and Montana should sit out. Needless to say, Beth was not happy. “The way she manipulates, I’m really pissed right now,” she balked. Whatever. Just create chaos like you’re supposed to.
Well, the rickshaw race began, and at first the rookies fell behind thanks to Kina’s poor running skills. However, any lead Veteran David had created against her quickly vanished once Robin took the helm. The girl could barely muster a light trot, no thanks to all that smoking (and the extra ballast found in her bosom). As Robin strained with the rickshaw, Mr. Incredible himself (Alton) took over for Kina and within seconds had zipped by Robin. Eventually, Beth took over the rickshaw, and believe it or not, she performed admirably. In fact, she was pretty damn good. But even with the rookies struggling with Jillian tugging the rickshaw, the vets just couldn’t close the gap. In the final stretch, MJ took over for his team, but wait! Here comes Mark Long and his aerodynamically shaped faux-hawk! Maybe he could win this for his team! Oh, who am I kidding? The guy is like 89 years old. Let’s call this a day.
Sure enough, the Rookies won, causing veteran David to complain, “We had a mission where the girls played their power politics, and it really distracted our whole team today.” Not really. It’s not Beth’s fault that Robin was dying of black lung on the track. Moments later, Montana then explained that she didn’t want to sit out for the Gauntlet exemption. No, really! She didn’t! “I just didn’t want Beth to have it because she just sucks at being a person.” Oh, that’s it. Of course.
Well, Kina claimed her $1,000 gift certificate for Best Buy, which led to the precipice of product placement obnoxiousness as she said, “I’m so excited. What am I going to buy?” I really thought I’d have to listen to a litany of Best Buy plugs for the next ten minutes, but thankfully, we cut away just in time. Now if you excuse me, I have to go answer my new T-Mobile Sidekick II.
Anyway, the Veterans all gathered in that random cramped den to deliberate as to who would face Ruthie in the Gauntlet. At first, everything seemed peaceful. All the girls were quiet and restrained, not wanting to cast the first stone. Of course, Beth’s never one to let any stone go uncast, so she happily piped up and said, “I kicked ass, and I have proven my position on this team, and now we have the weakest girl sitting out today, and its’ a shame.” That’s right, Montana. That was directed at you.
“Like, that’s just not fair. I haven’t called you out at all. Like, just don’t do it,” Montana replied angrily. Yeah, Beth! Montana hasn’t called you out at all… to your face at least. (Fashback: “I just didn’t want Beth to have it because she just sucks at being a person.”) With chaos threatening to overtake the proceedings, Julie then spoke up to offer some guidance. “When we vote today,” she said, “you guys, please just everyone vote honest in their heart. Just look at who you want to be next to in the end mission when you know it’s going to be crazy.” Translation: don’t feel obligated to base this on today’s performance. Translation again: do you really want to share this prize with Beth at the finish line? Translation yet again: vote Beth in. Funny how that “vote honest in your heart” thing really isn’t as friendly as it sounds.
Well, sure enough, the team voted Beth into the Gauntlet, and just when it seemed like this was a clever move to dispose of the Veterans’s biggest instigators, fate intervened. TJ spun the wheel of Gauntlet fortune, ultimately landing on “Challenger’s Choice.” Uh oh. Beth has all the power. Danger, Ruthie, danger! Well, Beth opted for the “Reverse Tug of War,” which immediately had Ruthie panicked. “It’s like 2,000 lbs. against two,” Ruthie fretted. Hmmm… the producers are setting up her failure… which means she’s clearly going to win. Further cementing this was Beth who happily talked so much smack that her failure was all but a foregone conclusion. Oh, you showed your hand too early, MTV! Can’t outsmart us!
Anyway, the teams trudged out to the Gauntlet, and just as the event was about to get underway, there was suddenly panic that Beth might forfeit, à la Cameran and Jisela (kind of) prior, and you know just how much TJ hates that!
“My team obviously doesn’t want me, and I don’t want to be a part of some negativity,” Beth complained. Hey, I wonder if she’s going to have hors d’oeuvres at her pity party.
Well, with hints of another lame female Gauntlet in the air, TJ made a preemptive strike, warning, “You can’t quit on this. This is the Gauntlet, okay? C’mon.” Yeah, man. It’s the GAUNTLET — the hallowed test of man’s will and determination! Luckily, even though Beth quit the Inferno 2 (right? I’m a little rusty), she was out for vengeance now, and it showed. No quitters here. The Reverse Tug of War began, and while Beth seemed to have the advantage first, Ruthie’s smart strategy of staying low seemed to be working. Believe it or not, for the first time all season, I was actually excited during the Gauntlet. Of course, it helped that the producers slowed down the action and then cut back and forth between the girls until I was ready to pull my hair out.
Ruthie really wants a drink.
Just when I thought Ruthie had this in the can, Beth suddenly reached out and grabbed her flag, thus toppling the odds-on favorite and surely sending her team into a tailspin. What? But all the misdirection indicated that Ruthie would surely win! Does this mean that there was misdirection on the misdirection? Wow. Well, whatever. Beth won, and honestly, I thought it was awesome. Hahahaha — cosmic justice.
Sorry Ruthie. You put up a good fight, and hey, you still have your fans, like Alton who called out, “Hey Ruthie, that was the best I’ve ever seen, girl.” Well, um, not really. Otherwise she would have won, but whatever. Details schmetails!
“No one contemplated Ruthie going home,” Timmy then lamented. Well, then maybe you shouldn’t have sent Beth into the Gauntlet after she’d just proven herself to be surprisingly athletic!
Of course, since Beth is oh-so-classy, she then went off on her team in an interview, ultimately summing up her tirade of hubris by declaring, “There is nobody on my team that can beat me. So good luck, LADIES!!!” I imagine this was the build up to her eventual fall, but man, how funny would it be if this team could not get rid of Beth?
Later, Montana approached Beth and congratulated her victory, saying she really didn’t want to fight and that this was all nonsense. “You know, I like you,” Montana said, clearly forgetting the time she said “There’s been no growth with Beth, except for in the thighs” or “she just sucks at being a person.” Nevertheless, Beth politely shook Montana’s hand, and as her nemesis walked away, Beth then turned to the camera and made the vomit gesture. Long live phony bitches.
As the episode wrapped up, everyone said goodbye to Ruthie and her staph-infection tattoo, and then Beth moved into her new corner of the captain’s bedroom. “I hope she doesn’t get on a power trip,” Derrick said. Yeah, because you would know nothing about THAT! With Beth laughing maniacally on her new bed, this could mean only one thing: more cat fights. Crossing our fingers!
What did you think? Did you want Ruthie or Beth to win? And who did you agree with: Montana or Beth?