Welcome to the Home Stretch! I can’t believe I’m missing both Wes and Abe, because at least they had the power to rouse my ire. But instead, we get these mofos. Team Blackface, an embarrassment to cult members everywhere. Team Gramps-n-Mom, who signed up for The Challenge: Battle of Attrition. Team Bitchnanas, who I’m really ashamed I liked for a few minutes. Team Crappy Diem, who are stabby-making. And Team Doombar, who prove you can be mediocre and someone will still feel threatened by you.
Last week, a puffy-with-hangover Team Crappy Diem heard us talking in ‘Gasmland about how they should go screw themselves. So this week, they take steps toward doing so, by putting Paula and Dunbar, arguably the least threatening team, into The Dome. Their reasons? Untrustworthiness. I guess because Johnny and Mark can be trusted to screw them over twice as hard if crossed? For all Diem’s posturing, maybe she is actually a huge wuss who chooses to let the cool kids get their way all the time ‘cause she’s used to it, or it’s easier, or she fears a fate worse than her current situation if she upsets the cosmic balance. Or maybe Paula and Dunbar are scarier in person.
Anyway, it would probably not suck at all to stay here.
Team Crappy Diem sits in their Dome-pickin’ chairs. TJ brings Ty and Emily, last week’s loosahs, to the front and asks CT and Diem who they’re throwing in and why. Diem explains that they talked to the other teams. Some thought Johnny and Camila should go in, others thought Paula and Dunbar should. At this point, no one thought to mention that Mark and Robin could use some Dome action to help them gain everyone’s respect or something.
To be honest, says Diem, she and CT are trying to get to the end. So she thought—she catches herself—they thought that the best team to throw in would be Paula and Dunbar. Best team to get their asses kicked, yeah. I guess that’s a type of strategy. Pick a team that is likely to get sent home so they can’t effect revenge later. As I mentioned, I would have put in Johnny and Camila. They and Team Tymily have had stronger showings in regular challenges than Paula and Dunbar, who had a single win with the non-physical trivia challenge and weren’t even close any other time. One of those strong teams going home would likely give CT and Diem better chances in the final.
Nothing says “clearly invested in this decision” like CT’s body language right here.
Dunbar and Paula take their places up front, and Dunbar tells CT and Diem that they’re screwed in the next challenge. He already assumes he’s going home, but he wants to make it clear that whatever loyalty Team Crappy Diem is trying to show to Teams Johnny and Mark will not be returned. Emily thinks it’s ironic how Paula and Dunbar threw them into The Dome a half-dozen rounds ago to avoid the very thing that’s happening now.
Ty and Paula lounge on the diddlin’ couch. Ty wants to know what he’s gotta do to get with her. So I guess they haven’t done the deed then? They slept together but didn’t sleep together? Aww, how… wasteful. Dunbar ambles in and Paula assures him there is no magic Ty can work on her–he’s trying to get in her head but she’s got this.
Not cuter than $75K? Possibly cuter than $7,500? Er, what about $750?
Dome. TJ recaps the past five minutes of the show, calling CT and Diem’s choice “one of the dumbest moves he’s ever seen in a challenge.” One out of how many, I wonder? Still, it’s cute to see TJ take a stand. Diem rebuts in interview that that’s just, like, his opinion, man. And she gets the crazy eyes and rolls her head a little.
It bears noting that Diem’s brain revises TJ’s words to “thee worst move in Challenge history.”
The challenge is called Haul Ass or something. Team members, first guy vs guy, then girl vs girl, have to run back and forth down a narrow hallway marked off by hay-bale walls and bring five balls to their goal from the opposite end of said hallway, one by one. There might be some contact, and if so,
so much the better so be it. The guys suit up in helmets and mouth guards. Dunbar gets his game face on.
Running back and forth happens. Diem the Crazy Lady screeeams annoyingly throughout. Ty resists giving Dunbar the full body-check until they’re taking their very last balls to the goals. Dunbar, like Abe when he lost to Ty, still has fight left at the end, and he’s bummed he can’t use it. Possibly both he and Abe should have tried harder.
Paula vs Emily. Paula never really has a chance, as far as I can see. The end. G’bye guys. She’s choked up in the interview. I think she’s crying ‘cause her boobs hurt, but I might be projecting.
Ladies, nothing is so bad that you can’t give the band of your sports bra a good downward yank.
Dunbar says the obligatory ending nice stuff, and he sounds like he actually means it. TJ bids everyone a glib farewell. Paula kisses Ty goodbye and tells him to win and take her out to dinner. She promises that her old ass will be back in many future Challenges.
Clue text! Tomorrow’s challenge will blow, even more than they expect.
Johnny and Camila lie in bed and make the point that they can’t lose the next day. Foreshadowing licks some salt off that little hollow under its thumb.
In the living room, the other cast members try and get into Robin’s head, specifically, per Emily, what shirt and pants she likes? She blocks their advances. She’s given them/the viewers nine seasons of her life, and that’s all they get. Then she plays the choked-up mom card, and I feel for her because I’m a hormonal sap.
Runway! Why hasn’t there been a memorable fighter pilot movie made since Top Gun, so people can stop referencing stupid Tom Cruise and I can stop being reminded of him?
Highway to the shamed & blown
TJ gets off a plane and half-narrates, half-adds in a voice-over later that they have to run back and forth past these blowing jet engines and get all this drugstore picnic gear, some of which I think I own, because Mr. Tube’s got a weakness for $5 dishware that says WOW! on the price tag in yellow.
So the competitors need to take the picnic stuff from one side of the plane to the other without any of it going flying through the air toward Haiti and/or them going flying after it. Well, that’s going to happen anyway, but they need to minimize and mitigate it. Then they have to get their crash-test dummy “guests,” with helmets and wetsuits and limbs and heads that will fall off, and put them at the picnic. Then they have to grab a parachute and run to the finish line, which would be cake except they’re running directly into the jets, a mildly sadistic move on the part of the producers. I guess it’s good they don’t have to pull the plane like in World’s Strongest Man. Winning couple gets to go home on the plane. Losing couple gets dropped out of the plane into the lagoon. Not really, but why not go all the way with the sadism? Diem has taken her evil marker and drawn the MedGift tattoo on the other girls’ arms. Apparently, this has kryptonitic powers.
Diem and CT pick the order, with Johnny and Camila going first. Camila is pissed. She wasn’t expecting this, since she never put them in first. Her indignance at this whole challenge is way out of proportion.
Imagine it being challenging!
And ohhh, they are good guinea pigs. Even the mighty Bananas gets blown off course and off his feet by those jets. The onlooking competitors try to stifle their laughter. Camila first grabs a lawn chair and a big pink inflatable pool noodle and tries to carry them at once. Fail. She says their strategy is to try a bunch of things (particularly things that would make no sense if they took even a minute to think about them). She brings both items back to the starting point when they’re blown away, rather than going diagonally toward the finish line and avoiding the jets for a few feet. Johnny says the jets make it hard to breathe, which I guess interferes with logical thinking too. Am I expecting too much from these people? Maybe so.
They do deliver in the area of awesome falls.
Camila’s stuff blows into the tall grass, and she cries about going in after it ‘cause the grass is as tall as she is. They dub in some of Diem’s screaming “Go go go go go!” from the earlier Dome challenge, ‘cause it wasn’t awful enough sounding the first time around.
Johnny does the lion’s share of the work, bringing the major furniture and managing to hold on to most of the stuff he brings. Camila brings a dish or two, destroys a raft, and falls down a lot. When they try to run toward the jets, she actually gets blown backward and pulls him backward. It’s good I stopped liking her last episode, or this crap might really upset me. Their 20 minutes is up before they reach the finish line, and she cries in her goggles. He exhibits great restraint in not giving her something to cry about.
Mark and Robin come up with the strategy of staying low and crawling to avoid the jets where they’re the strongest. See, Johnny and Camila? That’s how it’s done. Observe the situation and analyze it, ya brainless brutes. Mark and Robin don’t do an awesome job, but they make a respectable showing. Mark interviews that it’s going great, as it always is when Robin’s not crying. He’s even able to get multiple items across at once, sort of guarding them with his body and rolling over on them to keep them from being blown out of his hands. They dub in Diem yelling the exact same thing as last time.
Human gir-raft sandwich in 3… 2…
They make it to about a foot from the finish line. Robin realizes during the interview that it was like being in a hurricane, wind-speed-wise. Living in Florida, she worries about being in a hurricane and having no home. Mark can’t believe that now she’s crying. I bet she’s picturing the way the stupid news media always loves to show baby toys being blown away by the torrential winds, Elmos getting impaled and the like.
Ty and Emily go next. Ty learns the hard way that the great width of the lawn chairs is enough for the wind to catch, spin him in a circle, and throw him to the ground. The sound editors want us to believe that Diem yells “Go!” about 25 times during this. Shut up, fake Diem dub. Around halfway through, Ty and Emily opt to start sliding things along the ground, and in the case of the dummies, to stop-drop-roll with them, which works quite nicely. They’re the first team to cross the finish line. Yeah, they’re not threatening at all. “That’s how you do it,” says CT. Have they played three different songs that all sound like Soundgarden?
You know you’re at an MTV party when the guests get treated like this.
So CT and Diem, with the wisdom of those who screwed up before, finish handily. CT even stacks the plastic chairs and tables for maximum carrying efficiency. Johnny remarks that this is CT’s bread and butter: running into brick walls, jet engines, and other objects/forces that may or may not be a match for his hard head.
This is probably much more emblematic of a CT-Diem marriage than the last challenge.
So CT and Diem are the Power Couple; Johnny and Camila are the loosahs. Camila is still mad at CT and Diem for putting them in first. Them’s the breaks, kiddo. CT and Diem take the jet home, and Diem is giddy. They quaff their celebratory wine, and the beg-a-thon begins anew. Emily approaches Diem in the bedroom with that voice the ladies use when they’re trying to hide how fake they’re being. Emily compliments Diem on her gameplay and strategery.
Camila is still bellyaching. Johnny cautions her to be cordial.
Take your pick, Johnny. The pissing or the moaning.
Robin joins Emily and Diem to say that, you know, Diem’s gotta do what she’s gotta do, but she’s been away from her son so long and check out her bravely fighting back tears. Sigh. I’m no longer feeling sappy toward her and would prefer she go eat some cheesy eggs somewhere. Emily notes that the challenge is not a death sentence.
And if Diem were awesome, she would have been like, “I’m glad to hear you say that, Em! So you’re ok with going in then?” Just for fun.
Celebratory dinner, in which Diem admits that Emily and Ty have the ability to get rid of Johnny and Camila. Which would have been cool if it happened at the beginning of the show, but I’m over that, too. Buuut, notes Diem, Robin and Mark sure have been coasting…
On the patio, Ty compliments Diem and CT on rising above their respective personal challenges/tragedies. He notes that he and Emily are fighters too, what with going to The Dome every other challenge. Mark tells the camera he has bullshitted his way through 17 years (!?!) of challenges and he’s going to give the
most useless phony greatest speech ever. He tries to sell CT and Diem on his version of the facts, which includes never having made moves against CT or Diem (because he’s never had any power, but he leaves that out). CT asks Mark, if his team had won this time, would he have then made moves against CT and Diem? Mark stutters and defaults to his “we’re a weaker team and you’d rather go against us in the final.” CT points this out. Mark misses his point and thinks CT’s saying Mark thinks he and Diem are weak. Sigh. CT admits he’d prefer not to go against Emily and Ty in the final. But Robin and Mark “haven’t really done anything.” Robin remains intensely verklempt. She gives her final statement, says she loves them, shakes their hands, and makes her exit.
TJ Time. Who will go into The Dome to face Johnny and Camila?
Sometimes you eat the baar, and sometimes, the baar… well, he eats you.
“MarkandRobin,” mumbles CT. Mark and Robin pretend to be stoked about this. Emily stifles a gleeful squeal. TJ notes this whole elimination thing is new to Mark’s veteran ass, which is nuts if it’s true. Maybe that body looks even better up close and people get confused?
Before they end, Johnny and Mark strip down to their skivvies and do their warrior pose.
So the two teams that know they’re in the final make nicey-nicey by the pool and look cute and give hi-fives and stuff. The two Dome teams stay in the house and do various things to psych themselves up and/or out. Camila tells the camera those bitches better watch out if she comes back. Mark does his stretches and promises the camera this is his last challenge. Oh, like the past five months have been my last issue of Rolling Stone. Ways Mark Long and print media are similar…. Go!
And Robin takes it like a champ.
The Dome awaits, sandily, ominously.
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