“Are you sure this isn’t racist?”—Emily, about to perform in blackface
Well, that was a really good episode of Battle of the Exes. At least, until MTV decided to cut it off before Ty and Emily’s Dome opponent was revealed—a classic move by Challenge producers in their most exciting episodes. Leading up to that, though, the episode had a nice duality, with the heartwarming story of C.T. and Diem, the challenge’s winners, contrasted with the depressing tale of Ty and Emily, its losers.
With shades of Breaking Bad, the episode began in medias res, showing scenes from the fallout Ty and Emily’s fight before flashing back to Two Days Earlier, when it was C.T. and Diem who were dealing with the fallout of a recent fight. Diem explained that, in the three days since the blowout featured in last week’s episode, she and C.T. have not spoken or even so much as looked at each other: When one of them enters a room, the other leaves.
Diem almost seemed content to leave it at this awkward armistice, but it was Ty, of all people, who told her that this wouldn’t really work. With a bit of sage advice, Ty told her that she should go to C.T. and explain what she was so upset about, and figure out where they both stand with each other. Ty then clarified that he didn’t want to be anywhere near them when this went down.
Taking Ty’s advice, Diem takes C.T. aside and they have a nice heart-to-heart. It was actually one of nicest, most mature conversations in Challenge history: C.T. apologized for how he acted on The Duel II; Diem apologized for not showing up when C.T.’s brother died; he apologized for his behavior the other night. At the end, the two seemed to have finally made some peace with one another.
They carried this newfound friendship into last night’s challenge, “Race to the Altar”—a wedding-themed relay race that eliminated the pairs in stages. The first stage involved changing into wedding apparel (a tux for the guys, a dress for the girls), climbing a wall, and digging in the sand to retrieve a garter belt. Though C.T. had trouble finding his bowtie for the tux, he made up for it in the digging stage, and he and Diem were right behind Johnny/Camila and Dunbar/Paula. Ty and Emily, on the other hand, weren’t so lucky. They were eliminated first, and thus sent into the Dome for the third time.
At the next stage of the race, the couples had to eat the top two tiers of a wedding cake. And allow me to just say: Eating challenges are great. You wouldn’t think they’d be—How interesting is it to watch people eat something?—but there’s something about the way they make something normally so enjoyable into something so painful for the contestants. C.T. and Diem were the first to finish their portions, while Johnny (who’s not really a sweets guy) and Camila were knocked out.
At the next stage, the couples had to change a tire—you know, typical wedding day stuff. Dunbar thought he’s done it first, but he didn’t tighten his lug nuts sufficiently. While he was tightening, C.T. and Diem found their misplaced wrench and finished first, with Dunbar and Paula behind them. In the last stage, the men had to carry their “brides” across the beach to the altar. Dunbar dropped Paula a couple times, and they somehow ended up in the ocean, while C.T. and Diem made it to the altar and he slid the phony ring onto her finger. It was a nice image, cementing their reconciliation.
Meanwhile, while C.T. and Diem were riding high, Ty and Emily were imploding. After a night out, when Ty and Paula—this season’s It couple—were particularly amorous, Emily and Camila returned to the house and decided to do an impersonation of the notoriously noisy (and handsy) couple. In a show of dedication to the role of Ty, Emily decided to do it in blackface, smearing chocolate across her face and donning Ty’s clothes.
Unfortunately, Emily and Camila badly misread the room. As soon as they came out for their performance, it was clear that nobody in the house found it funny, and a few, like Paula, were visibly offended. Ty was also upset, though he seemed more hurt than offended. Either way, he was soon packing and claiming that he wanted to go home.
Like C.T. and Diem’s fight last week, this fight seemed less like the result of excessive drinking and stupid decisions and more like the result of complicated feelings finding any trigger for bursting forward. In fairness to Emily, her motives were not at all racist (she claimed to have “never even heard of blackface,” a claim which, given her sheltered upbringing in what she calls “a religious cult,” is actually plausible) or malicious, and she was obviously sorry as soon as she realized how upset Ty was. In fairness to Ty, he wasn’t just overreacting to some racial insensitivity; he was experiencing a real sense of betrayal from the one person he thought he could trust in the house.
Ultimately the rest of the cast talked Ty into staying, and the next morning he accepted Emily’s apology. But it was clear that he wasn’t totally over it.
So by the time TJ Lavin came by to announce the Dome match up, Ty and Emily were both pretty spent emotionally. Meanwhile, C.T. and Diem had yet to decide on an opponent. C.T. wanted to send in Johnny/Camila: With only a few challenges remaining, he wants to make a move against a powerful team, and he doesn’t really trust Johnny. Diem, though, wants to send in Dunbar/Paula, even though they were the only team to promise not to throw C.T./Diem into a future Dome. This disconnect, of course, wasn’t personal, but illustrated how the guys and the girls are still playing different games: Diem admitted to feeling far more confident against Camila or Robin in a potential Dome. C.T., on the other hand, doesn’t really care who he faces.
Somehow, they made a decision, but we’ll have to wait until next week to find out what it was… Damn you, MTV!
And now, one rank to rule them all…
5) Ty/Emily (-2): No matter who they face, you can’t feel good about their mental state heading into the Dome.
4) Dunbar/Paula (+1): I don’t think they’re more likely to get sent into the Dome, but if they do, they’re more likely to lose.
3) Johnny/Camila (-2): C.T.’s logic really should win out, since Johnny/Camila are the biggest threat to C.T./Diem.
2) Mark/Robin (—): These two are probably safe, but C.T. doesn’t seem to trust Mark.
1) C.T./Diem (+3): It’s really nice to see C.T. in complete control for an episode…