You know, every reality show should involve people drinking in the woods. I know what you’re thinking: “Hey, that sounds way too much like my high school years, I watch reality TV for something LESS like real life.” And I hear what you’re saying. But you cannot deny that in this week’s Age of Love, sending the remaining women and Mark the Tennis Star out on a camping trip, equipped solely with a butane lighter and copious bottles of wine has produced glorious results, which I am about to recount for you in this recap. Be warned: the following contains nudity, drunkenness, crying, cussing, and fighting. It’s like one of my family reunions, only with prettier people and without any aunts crying about how they really should have inherited grandma’s china.
Last week, of course, the tear-duct-impaired Mary was sent packing, producing a very strong-woman-esque speech from her to the hapless Mark, in her only “go, girl!” moment of the series. Maria, of course, reneged once again on vows to the women that she was going to leave of her own accord.
I’m Only Making You Feel Bad For Your Own Good
So as we rejoin the action, the others are pretty upset with her, especially Jayanna. They’re back in the suite, having a drink – of course – and Maria is defending herself, claiming that one-on-one, Mark is “amazing.” Jayanna questions her and Maria says she can’t predict what might happen in the future, she can only say that right now she wants to stay. Jayanna is irritated, and calls Maria out on her fickleness. Maria, getting defensive, says she’s all for allowing a man to grow and evolve. Right, because that happens SO much in a few weeks of a reality show. Jayanna says privately that Maria “makes my blood boil.”
The next morning, Jayanna decides for some reason that she should take a motherly role to the two remaining 20-something girls (who, for those playing along at home, include the lovelorn Amanda and the flighty, child-like Megan). Informing us that “nobody takes my guy away from me,” Jayanna launches into a lecture about how it doesn’t make any sense to claim one is “in love” with someone in such a short period of time, and how the younger women should be careful and make sure they’re really getting what they need from Mark. She also tells them not to believe that he’s giving them anything he’s not giving everyone else. Amanda says to us that she recognizes Jayanna’s motives here and that she can make up her mind for herself. Megan says she gets lectures at school and “I don’t need it from some older woman.” That’s just funny in several different ways.
You Know A Show Is Really Low-Budget When You Have To Take Your Own TP
Mark C shows up, and I’m surprised the women even remember who he is. He asks if they’re rested, and they ask why nervously. He says they’ve had VIP treatment, but it’s going to change -- they’re going camping. Maria looks delighted. Jayanna says it’s her kind of trip. Mark C. says “Mark will be taking you to the great outdoors,” like it’s one place. “The Great Outdoors, conveniently located five miles outside Los Angeles.” One person won’t come back, which Amanda finds scary.
Mark tells them an RV is outside waiting. Cut to outside, where that’s the biggest RV I’ve ever seen. It’s, like, rock-band-tour-bus RV sized. Mark waits in it while the women pack. Maria says camping is totally her thing and she sees this as a way to invite Mark to open up more. Amanda is reassuring Megan, who says she has “maybe even a negative number camping experience” that it will be fun. Megan is afraid of bugs, it appears. And herein lies our lesson for the day – take your kids freakin’ camping, folks. Don’t let them grow up to be gormless wussies the minute they set foot off pavement.
Oh, and the older women are secretly packing toilet paper. Right, like the producers are really going to force them to pee in the woods.
Jayanna says she knows Mark “is blown away by what he’s seen so far” of herself and thinks this will just be better. Wow, she really has no self-esteem problems, does she? Amanda hopes this trip will provide an opportunity for Jen and Jayanna to say in front of Mark all the mean things they’ve been saying to the young girls. I’m not sure, actually, what Jen’s done to them that’s mean, but I can see how they’re hoping Jayanna shows her true self. Did I mention I don’t really like Jayanna?
“Roughing It” Means Boxed Wine
The RV that Ate Manhattan arrives in the Outdoors. Mark treats us to a rehash of his deep opinions of each woman: Megan is bubbly and funny, he loves Jayanna’s vibe, he loves the way Amanda looks at him, there’s “something there” between him and Maria, and Jen is great.
After that bit of insight, they all tramp down a dirt path until they arrive at a campsite where someone’s already erected a tent and delivered wine. Wussies! I think to myself. But then the girls do start putting up tents – probably coached in elaborate sign language by show producers behind the cameras – so that’s good. I say if you’re going to camp, CAMP. Work for it. Otherwise you might as well have stayed in the city.
Mark, whose camping experience does seem to be somewhat limited, announces that he’ll show them how to start a fire. He begins by asking, in all seriousness, “Is it with this thing?” while holding up … some sort of cylinder I don’t even recognize. Shots of Mark attempting to light this on fire are interspersed with shots of Jayanna cooing that he’s so rugged and manly. In the end, the cylinder sort of poofs and Mark asks if his eyebrows are still there. So much for rugged outdoor know-how.
Somehow a campfire does magically become lit, and Mark leads Maria off on a walk to “collect firewood.” Is that what the kids are calling it these days? Maria says this is a good opportunity to finish talking about anything they didn’t say at the last elimination ceremony. They settle into the crook of a tree and she explains to Mark that she’d intended to go home because she still didn’t feel he really wanted to get to know her. He says he didn’t realize he wasn’t really opening up. Maria tells him she loves who he is. They make out. He tells us she has a great spiritual vibe, and then tells her they’d better find some actual wood to take back to the campsite.
But the second they arrive back, Jen comes up and leads Mark off into a tent. Knowing that an elimination is coming up, she wants to make sure she says everything she wanted to say. So she tells him he’s wonderful. They agree that they’re attracted to each other, and they, too, kiss. She feels reassured.
The Most Serious Game of Truth or Dare EVER
As the evening wears on, everyone begins drinking a lot, and they decide to start playing games. Truth or Dare is the game – a good choice for a reality show. There’s no way it can not provide drama. Jayanna, for example, is dared to do “the penguin” which involves dropping her pants to her ankles and attempting to run. Far from being embarrassed, Jayanna is delighted with an opportunity to show off what she believes to be a very nice butt. She steps off a bit and then drops her drawers, yelling “Oh yeah, you want it?” like the classy lady she is. Then she does the penguin run for a bit. Maria says Jayanna gets major props for that, as Maria would not want to moon the group in that way.
It’s then Mark’s turn, and he chooses dare. He, too, is told to perform “the penguin.” Imaginative lot, aren’t they? Mark begins to refuse but Jayanna screams “Screw you!” which seems to surprise him. Nevertheless, he goes off towards the trees and bares his “very, very, very white behind,” according to Amanda. He shakes it around a bit, and Maria rates his butt at a 9. I’m not sure what holds it back from being a 10, and since it’s blurred out by the fuzzy blob, I cannot form an opinion of my own.
Next is Maria’s turn, and she chooses truth. Mark asks if she’s turned on by him. Instead of just saying “yes” like any sensible person, she turns it into this big touchy-feely moment in which she straddles him, puts his hand to her heart and hers to his, and stares into his eyes and says very seriously that when it’s like this, that turns her on. Jayanna tells us it was all in this “loving, hippy kind of way, it was bizarre.” And while it’s going on, the other girls are trying not to laugh out loud and Jayanna is making puke faces. This all riles up Maria, who starts yelling that they claim they want to empower women but then they laugh at women. Does anyone else see the irony in a woman who is on a reality dating show competing for the affections of one man lecturing other women about female empowerment? At any rate, Maria is especially angry at Jen. “Stop laughing at women, Jen!” she screams. “This is not a game, this is truth!” The others say that actually, it is indeed a game, in case Maria forgot the “dare” part. But there’s no stopping Maria, who says, “I take life seriously, excuse the *bleep* out of me.” Jen asks why Maria is so defensive, but is upset by Maria’s attacks and walks off away from the campsite. God, I can’t stand weepy emotional drunks like Maria, they’re so hard to placate. Why can’t everybody be a happy, friendly drunk? It’s much more fun that way.
Somewhere in this drama, Mark says something about this glimpse into how the women behave when they’re not around him. But it’s rather lost in Maria’s rant. Anyway, Mark goes after Jen. She’s crying, and says Maria really hurt her. Back at camp, the remaining women are arguing over who’s in the wrong here. Jayanna claims she had to kick the others to stop laughing, to which I say, bullcrap, because we saw her face during Maria’s free-love moment. Megan says Jayanna was acting like a 15 year old. Amanda says to everyone that Jayanna is on her soapbox and wants to lecture and when she’s done she’s done, she doesn’t want to hear what others have to say. That’s a pretty accurate assessment, actually.
At Mark’s urging, Jen returns to the camp and apologizes to Maria. They hug. Jen tells us she wasn’t being disrespectful, though. Maria says she’s sorry for getting upset. Mark says privately that if Maria is that emotional all the time it might be too much for him. Jayanna says now that Maria showed herself, she doesn’t see her being there much longer.
Wine: Truth Serum and Desperation Enhancer, All In One Bottle
Mark takes Megan off for a walk. She asks if he’s going to pick a girl to sleep in his tent. He says no, and that she’s tipsy. Which she definitely is. Isn’t she underage? In a confessional shot later (in daylight) Megan tell us this walk was nice, but a bit blurry. She actually doesn’t remember much. Let’s refresh her memory – she likes the tree they sit in, and likes having a guy wrap himself around her. Mark asks how she feels about him, knowing that when someone’s tipsy, the truth comes out. She tells him she doesn’t know, which surprises him. Mark says he feels rather bad if he let go someone who felt more for him, and kept Megan. She says he’s seeing women the age of her mom. She doesn’t remember much, though. So I guess if he cuts her because she admitted to not really knowing how she feels, she’ll be clueless as to why. And indeed, Markis wondering if he should keep someone who isn’t sure about him. Back at the camp, he tells Megan she’s cut off. She asks why, and then asks why they didn’t take the light with them? He reminds her that they did. Megan is clearly drunk and staggering. Jayanna says Megan is too young and embarrassing.
Mark next takes Jayanna off for a walk. Amanda’s irked by now, having had no alone time with him. She’s second guessing herself, and weeps to Maria, crying about how his kiss and everything felt so special, and then when she learned it was happening with everyone else, she felt silly and naive. She cries that she doesn’t want to do this anymore.
Mark and Jayanna’s walk leads them to an area draped in strings of lights. Mark says he saved this special date for Jayanna, and it is indeed a very romantic scene. Jayanna tells us she loves Mark one-on-one. They wind up canoodling in a hammock, where for some reason Jayanna decides to tell Mark that she “worries” about the younger girls and how they have crushes on him and how she worries about them being infatuated, since she thinks it’s totally immature and bizarre to think yourself in love in this scenario. Mark is pretty quiet during this.
Meanwhile, Amanda is getting more and more worked up waiting for Mark to come back. She decides to go look for them, wrapped in a sleeping bag. We see a shot of a wolf, which is laughable – like they’re anywhere near a wolf! They’re probably in a city park somewhere. At any rate, Amanda, can’t find them. I have no idea how she managed to miss the one area of forest that’s lit up like a Christmas tree, but whatever. She comes back to camp and decides to wait for Mark in HIS tent.
By the time Mark and Jayanna return, everyone else has gone to sleep. Jayanna is angling for an overnight invitation, claiming to us that it would “just make sense that after that, we would wind up in his tent together to share more quality time.” Gosh, she’s a predator, that one. Mark tries to kiss her goodnight, but she tries one more time for an invite, saying she thought they weren’t going to bed tonight. He notes that everyone else has, and finally escapes into his own tent without her.
Mark’s surprise at finding Amanda asleep there, though, is audible, and Jayanna, still outside, hears it. She claims to be shocked to hear Amanda’s voice in Mark’s tent asking where he was. “It sounded like a jealous wife,” Jayanna says. “It’s a little cheeky and it’s a little presumptuous and I would never do it.”
In the tent, Amanda tells Mark she feels naïve, trusting him and having people tell her it’s silly and that she can’t trust her feelings because everyone feels the same way and that he tells everyone the same thing. He calls her “babe” and asks who told her that. She says Jayanna. It’s all a little too “Daddy, the bad woman hurt me” for me, but whatever. He assures her he’s there to find someone special. Amanda tells us she’s confused.
The Tent-Crawl of Shame
The next morning, Amanda crawls out of his tent. Mark says he had a lot of fun last night, and \ tries to make pancakes. Maria asks if everyone was good and whether there were any crazy shenanigans. Amanda admits she went looking for Mark and Jayanna but couldn’t find them. Jayanna tells us if the others knew they weren’t chosen for that romantic walk, they’d be upset. It comes out that Amanda slept in Mark’s tent. Amanda says it’s private (to us) and she won’t talk about it. She and Mark both look uncomfortable and remain silent, even while the other women tease Mark loudly. Jayanna says it doesn’t bother her that Amanda slept in Mark’s tent, because Mark didn’t invite Amanda to be in his tent. The fact that he didn’t invite Amanda on the romantic walk is telling. Mark refuses to discuss it, and says they should break camp.
As they pack, Jen says she can only show who she is, and Mark pays attention to what’s going on, and Mark has been giving her what she needs to stay. Maria says last night Mark saw some things he probably shouldn’t have seen, she might have been too strong about the laughing. Megan says after her “wildness” it may be her going home. Amanda says Mark knows Jayanna is making her feel bad, so she wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Jayanna going home. Jayanna says Mark doesn’t like super-aggressive women, and since Amanda was somewhere she wasn’t invited, she thinks only herself and Jennifer are safe. Personally, I’d say Jen’s the ONLY one who didn’t show her ass, figuratively, in some way during this camping trip and she’s probably the only safe one.
So they’re all packed up, and waiting for elimination. Mark says this time he feels like there are some obvious choices. He asks Jen to join him for a walk. They go to some stone steps that clearly are not in real wilderness. Mark says incidents like the one with Maria the night before show what kind of woman Jen is, and presumably that’s a good kind of woman because he’d like Jen to stay. She agrees, and he tells her to take her bag to the RV and send him Amanda. Jen tells us she sees the possibility of real love with Mark and that he may be the guy for her.
She walks back through camp and delivers Amanda the summons, but says nothing else to the others, which I guess is what she’s supposed to do. Mark tells Amanda that the night in the tent felt very comfortable and he’d like for her to stay. Amanda says she’s crazy about Mark and anxious to get to know him better. She summons Maria on her way to the RV.
Mark tells Maria that she is who she is, and it’s so appealing. He feels he gets her more than the others, and wants her to stay. She agrees.
Megan’s up. Jayanna is nervous now, as she’s the last one and everyone else has had a poker face. Mark tells Megan she had a few too many drinks. She says tequila equals her being crazy. But, in defiance of all reason – because c’mon, folks, we can all see that while she’s a cute and fun girl, she’s too young for him -- Mark says he’d like to see more of her, and enjoys her being her. She comes back and Jayanna asks why she’s smiling. Megan says nothing but kisses her goodbye, which seems odd and fake to me – I thought they hated each other?
Without a summons, Jayanna stays where she is, and Mark comes down to her. He tells her that he heard things last night which hurt him, about how she has treated Amanda and the things she has said. He feels like she’s playing mental games in the house. Jayanna defends herself, saying she didn’t say things the way Amanda has described them, and that she just doesn’t want to see the younger girls get their hearts broken. She says she’s not playing games, she knows how she feels. Mark says he’s not interested in any game-playing, and that it hurts because he wanted her to be on that RV, but he feels she can’t stay. And I would just like to interject, awesome. She’s a beyatch and deserves to go.
Jayanna, left alone in the campsite, says she guesses she was “duped.” I’m not sure how. She says that knowing she gave Amanda “advice” and then having it used against her seems “desperate, so super-immature, and very sad.” I don’t think anyone who uses the term “super-“anything can throw stones.
Anyway, that’s it! Once Maria gets cut we’ll be completely bereft of drama, at least as long as Mark pays an iota of attention to Amanda to keep her happy. So I hope you enjoyed this drama-fest this week. I don’t know how next week can possibly live up to screaming, crying truth or dare.