Well, this is it, folks – the last episode of what appears to be the last season of Average Joe. Will Anna pick Rocky, the cute and nimble-tongued wannabe actor whose clichéd conversation wouldn’t even merit an honorable mention in the Bulwer-Lytton contest? Or will she choose Nathan, the shy bespectacled one whose new hot looks got him resurrected from elimination, and whose deep thoughts and heartfelt kisses won him the title of final Joe? Given that in the past incarnations of this show, the Joes have lost every time, and this one is subtitled “The Joes Strike Back,” well, I just can’t imagine which way it’s going to go.
In the last episode, Anna took two hunks and three Joes to Tahiti. Nathan, whom she’d eliminated back when he had bad teeth and unflattering hair, has had a trim and some dental work and now is a cutie, so she picked him out of the four made-over Joes to return to the show and go island-frolicking with her. She then cut Hunk Josh, who cried, Average Josh – which surprised everyone – because the little hottie was too grateful, and Arthur, who learned from the show that he’s ready to get back in the swing of dating after his divorce.
That left us with Rocky, with whom Anna shares an entirely physical connection, and Nathan, whose sweet and intelligent but self-conscious attitude both attracts and worries Anna.
We see a few scenes of Rocky and Nathan describing their life dreams in terms designed to demonstrate the contrast between them: Rocky wants to be a snazzy actor, Nathan wants the house with the white picket fence, the kidlets, all that jazz.
And what does Anna want? Well, conveniently for “filling up 40 minutes of filler” purposes, she claims to not know. She has enormous passion for Rocky, but enjoys Nathan’s ability to actually carry on a conversation. How to choose between such equally important things?
By asking yo’ mama, obviously. Because TV dating should be fun for the whole family. The producers have brought in Anna’s mother, Halina, who is little and cute as a pierogie. Halina will meet both men and advise Anna.
Some Discomfort in the Talking with the Two-Bit Manchild
Oddly, they’ve decided to hold these meetings in the exact same spots in which her daughter made out with both men the night before. So Rocky trots obediently to the waterfall, where Halina surprises him. There,
led carefully by producer suggestionsspontaneously, Rocky reminisces about his steamy snog with Anna under the waterfall while Halina looks around obliviously and asks if he’s cold.
Mom, naturally, wants to know all about Rocky – what he does, what he wants, his past relationships, his feelings for Anna, his own family, etc. Rocky, the poor thing, is a bit flummoxed by having a girl’s mother thrust upon him by surprise like this. Normally, he says, “you have 45 minutes to an hour of getting ready, looking in the mirror” to prepare. Had he told Halina this – that he primps for an hour and, presumably, practices conversations in the mirror – she probably would have known everything she needed to.
However, of course, we have long minutes to fill between commercial breaks, so Rocky keeps that to himself. He instead offers up that he wants to be an actor and not work a day in his life. Mom’s eyebrows lift. I’m thinking she’s one of the many people who don’t really consider it “work” unless you sweat. And even if she’s not, I think the prevailing sentiment Rocky is sending is that he’s averse to work of any kind. My mama wouldn’t think highly of that either.
Halina tells us that Rocky doesn’t seem very interested in her, that he’s not asking her questions about herself. I’m guessing she’s seeing this as a regular get-to-know-you conversation, while he’s interpreting it as an interview. Or an audition.
Either way, the whole thing’s going badly. Rocky’s slipping into his usual silences, staring off into the distance manfully, and poor Halina’s having a hard time keeping up a conversation. “There is some discomfort in this talking,” she says.
But things manage to get even more uncomfortable. In what again MUST just be a spontaneous question she thought up entirely by herself, Halina asks Rocky if he’s ever been unfaithful to a girlfriend. (She tells us his prettiness makes her nervous about such things.) Ladies and gentlemen, we have a direct hit! Rocky admits that yes, he has been, he knows that’s a bad thing but that his relationships in the past were shallow and he wasn’t a man. As opposed to now, presumably. Halina is underwhelmed.
When You’re Good to Mama, Mama’s Good To You
In keeping with the producers’ intention to make these encounters as uncomfortable as possible, Nathan’s turn with Anna’s mom takes place on the same jet ski that he rode with Anna. Really, doesn’t every man want to cling on to the waist of the diminutive mother of the girl he made out with, minutes after meeting said mother? I mean, that’s obviously happily-ever-after right there.
Luckily for Nathan – or not – they finally get off the jet skis and return to the pool where he and Anna sat to chat and (finally) smooch the night before. Now, whereas Rocky was freaked by his mom-time, Nathan feels in his element. “Her mom is the one you’ve gotta schmooze,” he says. “I’m good with mothers.”
And he is. He explains that while he used to work with nuclear missiles, he didn’t support what they were used for, so he left that. They have a nice chat and Halina says he talks a lot, is outgoing and has a good heart. In other words, mom’s been won over. Score, Nathan.
She asks him about his fidelity in past relationships, and Nathan says that while he’s been cheated on twice, he’s never cheated himself. Aw. He also is great friends with his parents, and will go out for a drink or karaoke with his mother. Aw X 2. He even gets Halina to bring out baby pictures of Anna – heh, Rocky obviously didn’t warrant those – and Halina likes that he’s interested in their family.
Having met both men, she can’t wait to see Anna. She probably also can’t wait to tie her up and force her to marry Nathan right then and there.
Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon
We cut back to Anna, who doesn’t know her mother’s there. It’s just such a tough decision, she says, and the worst part – the worst! – is that she’s all alone while making it. This is Halina’s cue, and mom and daughter hug and cry and so on.
Conversation quickly turns to Anna’s men, and while Halina says she’ll respect Anna’s decision, it’s clear she’s in Nathan’s camp. She says Rocky is handsome, but was unfaithful to a girlfriend – something Anna didn’t know. Anna asks if they both truly like her, and Mom says yes. But she likes Nathan, he’s close to his parents.
Hopefully Halina got to say everything she wanted, because that’s the last we see of her.
Shut Up and Kiss Me
Both men get a last date before Anna makes her choice. Again Rocky goes first, and Anna gets right to the point, asking him about his infidelity. He’s probably regretting ever answering that question truthfully by now, although if he’d lied the producers probably had the ex-girlfriend waiting in the wings, ready to leap out and bust him.
This time Rocky says that low self-esteem led him to do stupid things. He’s tall and gorgeous and has low self-esteem? Well, it’s possible, I guess, but it’s the first time he’s mentioned anything approaching self-doubt. But he quickly promises never to cheat again, and Anna accepts it, and they move on to frolic in the surf.
Later it’s a date in a bungalow, complete with a bed. If this were The Bachelor, of course, we’d see a lot of shots of the bed, them looking at the bed, them lying on the bed, etc. Rocky and Anna, however, just perch at the foot of the bed.
Anna tells us she’d like to see Rocky as he is with other people, jokey and happy. But she probably doesn’t mind that with her, he turns on his smoldering side. “I am incredibly intruiged by you … I would be devastated if I didn’t have a future with you,” he intones, stroking her face in a way he probably practiced in the mirror. It works on Anna – they proceed to make out.
Rocky tells us that the passion they share is pretty gosh-darn intense, and it’s hard for him to believe she could have that with another man, i.e. Nathan. He sees Anna and Nathan as friends, but nothing more. What was that about low self-esteem earlier?
Later, Anna walks him back to his room – presumably – and after a long giggly goodbye, tells us that Nathan has to make her feel at least this good. From her voice, it’s clear that’s a lot to live up to.
“Nervous Cupcake” Would Be a Good Name for a Rock Band. Discuss.
But hey, it’s not a done deal yet. Nathan’s date does not involve surf-frolicking, but instead is a drive into the mountains in the back of a truck. Oooh, romantic. (Actually, having grown up in the south, I still consider that a not-atypical date.)
Nathan is nervous, and Anna can tell – he’s not being himself, and some awkward silences fall. Nathan, it seems, is a bit cowed by the specter of perfectly-proportioned Rocky, and says this is like David and Goliath. He doesn’t know if he can really put himself out there, and Anna tells us the date just isn’t flowing.
Things get a little better during a stop at a pineapple plantation, where they pluck a pineapple from the ground – which apparently is where pineapples grow, who knew? Nathan wants to take part of it back to put in frou-frou drinks later on.
They then hike up a hill to see a gorgeous view of the ocean below. Obviously, this is the perfect moment for a kiss. But poor Nathan has NO game. He starts spouting Khalil Gibran quotes about love. I mean, that’s sweet and all, but it’s clear Anna’s just waiting for him to shut up and kiss her. Finally, he does.
But it’s still not smooth sailing. They descend from the mountaintop to the beach, where Nathan reveals he doesn’t want to take off his shirt, still fearful of comparisons to the rock-hard Rocky. “I’m not quite the beefcake, I’m more like the cupcake,” Nathan says. Look, I adore this boy already, but I just want someone to shake him and tell him that confidence is ten times sexier than six-pack abs.
Anyway, that’s not happening, so luckily for Nathan they just dip their feet in a little pool, rather than going all-out swimming. Anna’s probably disappointed she doesn’t get to show off her bikini, but oh well.
Anna tells us she can tell Nathan feels threatened, and it feels weird. Nathan says he wants to be confident, but sadly, confidence is not something you get just by wanting it.
This One Time, At Band Camp…
Like Rocky before him, Nathan’s date ends in a bungalow. Anna surprises him by bringing in that pineapple, which he’d thought was forgotten in the truck. I’m thinking he should have had less of the pineapple and more of the drinks he’s putting it in, because the poor thing is wound so tight he can hardly speak. Nathan says there are a lot of things he wants to tell Anna, but he can’t get the words out, he’s afraid.
Finally, however, the dam breaks. (thank heaven for tequila). Nathan spills his guts to Anna, telling her he was always the weird kid and still feels that way, and that he doesn’t want to push people away but can’t help it. Anna counters by telling him about HER childhood, one of curly hair and glasses. Now, she says, she loves to be different. Poor Nathan, doesn’t he realize *all* the good people were nerds and geeks in high school?
Anyway, for Nathan this is validation. “She told me it’s ok to be myself,” he says. He tells Anna he really likes her, and he wants to watch cheesy romantic indie flicks with her and walk down the sidewalk holding her hand, and what does she want?
As all women know, if you can’t match a romantic speech, just kiss the boy. That’s what Anna does. Nathan takes this as an answer – that what she wants is him. Watching him kiss, that’s what I want, too.
Rocky Gets To Show His “Tormented But Strong” Pose
Eventually, of course, Anna can only KEEP kissing one of these men. I mean, we’ve only got an hour show here. She’s really attracted to Rocky, she says – duh. “But then, it’s like, am I just a shallow person for picking the hot guy I like to kiss?” Anna asks. Well, a little bit.
Nathan says if he can do this, he can do anything, and either he or I – I didn’t make that clear in my notes – says that Rocky is just a series of soap opera clichés.
At this point, I missed a chunk of the action – or, rather, verbal agonizing -- due to my local station cutting in for a Triple Super-Special Doppler-Times-20 Much-Better-Than-The-Other-Stations’-Radar storm warning.
Before I eat my own head in frustration, though, we get back to the show, just in time for me to see Rocky walking down a long pier toward Anna. And from her face, I can totally tell he’s getting the ax. You don’t give puppy-dog eyes to men you’re going to see again. (Not unless you’re trying to get them to go get you some ice cream. I’m just sayin’.) Anna says she’s had a great time with him, and is so attracted to him, and loves being in his arms … BUT. It’s hard to make a choice, but buh-bye. Woot! The Joe wins! Nothing in this season’s title gave that away.
Rocky is confused. “I told her to follow her heart, and I guess she has,” he whimpers. Yes, that IS the trouble with giving people advice. They sometimes follow it.
He goes back to his little jeep, in which he looks down, with a soap-opera worthy dramatic pause, and begins bawling. He has his head down, however, likely to hide the fact that the sobs do not include tears. Fake tears comes next week in his acting class.
Will You Take Half Of This “Best Friends Forever” Necklace?
Rocky’s jeep is still there when Nathan pulls up in a sedan. He, too, makes the long walk down the pier. Anna says she’s learned so much about herself, and that once upon a time Nathan told her to be friends with someone before getting into a relationship with them. So she’s taking that advice, and wants to be his … friend. What? “I’m not promising you anything,” she says, but would like him to stick around and be her pal.
Nathan accepts this crumb, and says she “pierced my heart.” I really like this guy, and if he weren’t three years younger than me and a thousand miles to the south, I’d be on him like white on rice, and so I want for him better than just a promise of friendship. Although, I’m guessing that with Anna’s penchant for kissing, they’re at least starting from a “friends with benefits” level.
And They Lived Happily Ever After
And, that’s it, mostly. Except for a pretty funny closing montage of the key players in this season – we’re told that Anna and Nathan are taking it one day at a time, that Rocky is auditioning for “Days of Our Lives,” (which may or may not be true), that Carsonhole and his side-monkey Michael are reality TV’s favorite couple, and various other silly things about other cast members. We also see a few shots of Average Joes past, with “Thanks” scrawled across the top. I guess this means this franchise is closed, folks.
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