Emily: “You’re a little scared, in my opinion…”
Paula: “She is correct! …Yes ma’am! Have you seen you?”
So the contestants this season are really dropping like flies. After last week, when Vinny and Sarah were sent home for Vinny’s sexual harassment, a fluke injury to Dustin when he tripped on some stairs ended up sending him and his partner, Heather, home before last night’s first commercial break. Battle of the Exes is rapidly turning into a battle of attrition.
Dustin and Heather’s departure left only nine teams for last night’s challenge, and man was last night’s challenge lame. I can only assume MTV’s producers wanted an extra week off or something, because “Mental Connection” was obviously put together in under ten minutes: Players were asked questions and, when they got one wrong, they were flung from a catapult into a river. It was just a really dangerous* trivia game.
*And “dangerous” is not meant lightly here. Almost every player was writhing in pain after being tossed into the water, and Aneesa even needed an ambulance. All for something which was, of course, totally extraneous to the competition itself…
I have no problem with trivia games themselves, and I can conceive of a very entertaining challenge that consists of asking the players very basic questions—like the spelling bee challenge in The Duel II—involving memory or common knowledge. The problem with this one was that it was really just a hodgepodge of pop culture, challenge history, spelling, and basic knowledge. One question involved what color shirts Nate and Priscilla wore before they were sent home; another asks who Brad Pitt’s first wife was; Paula has to spell “calculator.” In other words, it’s not about rewarding one skill—it’s just the randomness of whatever question you happened to get asked.
Abram, for example, is eliminated on his first question for not who the father of Britney Spears’ kids are,* which I don’t really fault him for not knowing. Paula, on the other hand, who performs the best of anyone, thinks John Wilkes Booth shot President Kennedy**, but she and Dunbar end up winning.
*He guessed “Aaron Drake,” which is actually a really good guess. That totally sounds like the name of someone Britney Spears would date.
**I love the way TJ Lavin asked this question: “Who do most people think shot John F. Kennedy?” Way to stoke the conspiracy theorists out there, MTV…
Two teams end up getting every question wrong, leaving Leroy/Naomi and Abram/Cara Maria to fight it out for last place and a trip to the Dome. Leroy and Naomi still can’t get anything right, sending them into the Dome for the second week in a row… and, even worse, leading to a stern scolding from TJ Lavin to pick it up.
As the new Power Couple, Dunbar/Paula face an important question: What should the strategy be for sending teams into the Dome? Should you send in strong teams, and potentially eliminate a threat? Or should you send in weak teams, and avoid making enemies of a future Power Couple? Dunbar/Paula are caught between sending in Abram/Cara Maria, the team that did the worst in the challenge, or Ty/Emily, who pose a threat to them. They opt for the latter, with Paula reasoning that Emily too strong of a girl to keep around.
Of course, what makes the decision even tougher is that teams don’t know what the elimination challenge will be ahead of time. Will it be one that essentially comes down to which pair has the best individual player? Or will it be one that forces cooperation, and rewards the team with the strongest weak link? If it’s the former, then Leroy would probably be favored against any guy, so you should send in whichever team has the best female. If it’s the latter, though, then Naomi is likely going to cost Leroy, and you should probably send in a weak team, who won’t come back looking for revenge.
The elimination challenge—“Banded Together”—rewards cooperation: The pairs are connected via a rubber band, which is tied to a pole on one end of the Dome. They have to reach a pole on the other end, while the band gets more taut as they get closer. Naomi can only pull against minimal resistance from the band, and so Leroy has to wait for her to get across before he even starts.
Ty and Emily, on the other hand, go more or less in tandem until the very end, when the band seems to get almost unbearably tight. Ty seems determined to prove he is not actually weaker than his female partner—which, based on Cutthroat, everyone seems to think is the case—and he reaches the pole first. This is actually not a very good strategy, since the last person to reach the pole faces the greatest resistance from the band, and should therefore be the strongest player. Emily, though, climbs on Ty’s back, and pulls herself by Ty’s neck towards the pole, grabbing it before Naomi reaches even the halfway point. Leroy is gracious in defeat, refusing, once again, to blame his inferior partner for his loss. We’ll be sad to see him go…
But now it’s time to give ranks:
Even when rookies perform well, they still seem cursed…
I’m really going to miss Leroy. Can’t we keep him around? Pair him with one of the girls who was needlessly sent him because of a partner! I don’t care if they’re not exes; I just want Leroy to keep playing.
8) Tyrie/Jasmie (+2): I continue to be amazed that these two are still in the game.
7) Aneesa/Rachel (+2): In addition to their lack of a male player, Aneesa is now recovering from an injury…
6) Abram/Cara Maria (-4): Communication issues are starting to creep into their relationship, and Abram is not known for his stoic handling of emotion.
5) C.T./Diem (—): Didn’t hear much from them last night, but I liked that C.T. couldn’t remember the answer to a question about a season he was on.
4) Ty/Emily (+2): Emily is a beast, but I fear that Ty’s insecurity will be this team’s undoing.
3) Dunbar/Paula (+4): It does not surprise me that Paula won a mental challenge, even if she doesn’t know who shot JFK.
2) Mark/Robin (+2): Mark knew that a female fox is called a “vixen” which is one of the questions I didn’t get myself.
1) Johnny/Camila (—): The king (and queen) stay the king (and queen).