Episode 8 Recap - "R-E-S-P-E-C-T"
Well hello there. Thought I wasn't going to write one this week, didn't you? Well, let me tell you fine people something: even after a workweek that makes The Manhattan Project look like a walk in the park with ice cream and puppy dogs, I wouldn't let you down. Not when it comes to something important like submarines, saltwater smooches and stellar superstar sendoffs! I have my priorities, folks. And you all get to read about them.
”No Honey, You Really ARE Interesting!”
We begin this week amid promises of “The most shocking twist yet!” Hmm, more shocking than explosions and – gasp! - makeup?? My goodness. After a 7 minute review of last week’s show, we start with a contest designed to show how well the remaining men have listened to Larissa thus far. While sitting atop jetskis, Larissa would ask them each 4 questions. For each question they answered correctly, they got to proceed to a close green buoy. If they answered incorrectly, they had to make their way to a farther red buoy. The guy with the fastest time around all four markers wins a date that evening, and proves that when he’s around Larissa he’s doing more than thinking “Dude, my friends are TOTALLY going to see me kiss this hot chick on t.v.” All four guys miss the questions about her sign and where she placed in the Miss America pageant, but it’s Fredo who finally breaks the streak with his correct answer of “Pickle” for the name of one of Larissa’s pet guinea pigs. He quickly follows that up with another right answer of “Nine months”, in reference to the length of Larissa’s last relationship. Brian gets it correct as well. So here we are, barely 15 minutes into the episode, and we’ve already learned so much. Fredo, who wins the date, learns that he only has to listen half the time to be a winner. Larissa learns that people plain don’t care what she has to say about the minutiae of her life. And we’ve all learned that Larissa has terrible taste in pet names, and Jim is consistently incapable of answering even the simplest of questions, a trend that becomes disturbingly clear as the show goes on. Fredo is pleased about having won the competition, as “the last time we were together, it…it just wasn’t long enough.” Not something most men would admit to on national television, but okay. Perhaps Fredo has partaken in one of the many herbal offers that flood my email inbox daily. Oh, he meant the length of the date? Okay, fine, but that’s not as funny as the idea of him furiously wading through a sea of spam, trying to find the epinion on “Dr. Cho’s all-natural male enhancement agent – used in China for millennia!”
They’re Not Old Money
The beginning of the date consists of Larissa and Fredo hitting the country club for a day of golf and tennis. They were both terrible at each, but they were able to laugh at themselves, making it look, to me, like one of the most enjoyable private dates she’s had. Also, I can relate, because I once went to a driving range with a boyfriend, and I couldn’t hit that stupid ball to save my friggin’ life. I ultimately picked it up and threw it in frustration. I was told in no uncertain terms that such an act was not considered appropriate, and perhaps I’d be happier with one of the less genteel sports, such as stock car racing or professional wrestling. Pffft. Like I’d be interested in professional wrestling. After The Ultimate Warrior moved on to greener pastures, my heart was irreparably broken, and I swore it off for good. And also, it’s fake. But this isn’t about me, OR the Ultimate Warrior. For once. As far as Larissa and Fredo, they cap off their day of messing up the sports of the rich with a side by side couples massage. It looks very relaxing, and they talk about what a mega-superduper-awesome-wickedbad relationship they’re building. Ain’t foreshadowing grand? Later, they drink wine while watching the ocean. I have to wonder, is everything in Hawaii done while watching the ocean? Do Hawaiians do their taxes…while watching the ocean? Clean their gutters… while watching the ocean? Walk their dogs, buy their groceries, diaper their children…all while watching the ocean? Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful. It’s a lovely view, and it must be nice to have it available on demand as Hawaiians apparently do. But my GOD – can the people on this show be anywhere near the ocean and not specifically mention it? Clearly not. Okay, sorry. Tangent over. So….yeah, they’re drinking wine while watching the ocean. Fredo makes the mistake of calling Larissa indecisive, and that becomes an issue. She bitches that he’s “challenging” her, and wants to know what he means by it. Larissa is obviously one of those chicks who hones in with laser ferocity on every perceived injustice, and beats it into the ground, until she gets an answer that pleases her. Trust me, we can smell our own. Fredo backtracks a little bit, and she decides she likes how he has the courage to confront her with his questions. Overanalytical much? They make cute little small talk about where they’d live if they end up with each other. Fredo drops the terrible bomb that they’d end up next door to his mom in Cleveland, basically insuring that not only will Larissa not choose him, but NO woman will. His mom might be a very nice woman, I have no reason to believe otherwise, but no woman in their right mind is going to agree to that. Smooth move, Fredo. After the date, Fredo makes some noise about how Larissa is a good girl, and he likes that she takes things slowly and isn’t out there making out with every guy she sees. Can this even be considered foreshadowing? That word implies some level of subtlety. This is more like we’re being beat over the head with submarines and treachery.
The Least Interesting Man On The Planet
The next day, Larissa and Gil go on a private date (that they’re not even pretending to make the guys work for at this point, they’re just handing out like candy corn on Halloween), to a private beach. There is SUCH a discrepancy between the tone of the dates she goes on with the AJ’s and the ones she goes on with the hunks. Not a discrepancy borne from her own reactions to the guys, but in the way the dates themselves are set up. The dates with the hunks are all about romance and seduction, whereas the dates with the AJ’s are more activity-driven. It’s weird. Anyway, she and Gil are hanging out on a beach (overlooking the ocean, duh!), and she tries to draw him out. He still feels a bit out of sorts in the camera-rich environment, and she isn’t sure if this means he doesn’t like her. After securing a deep kiss, hopefully she got the validation she obviously so desperately needs. The two find an inclined stream, and decide to treat it as a personal water slide. Um, I’m sorry, but that’s just dangerous. Do you guys remember when the slip-n-slides first came out? I was so sure that was going to be the best toy in creation. It looked amazingly fun. My best friend got one, and I was there at her house for the inaugural slip and/or slide. You know what? It was a terrible, awful toy. The water wasn’t enough to lube the mat up for the whole experience, and unless you have perfectly manicured grounds that have no lumps or hills or rocks or sticks, you bruise the hell out of yourself. It was such a letdown. So when Larissa is all “Let’s slide down this stream!”, I just shook my head, knowing it wouldn’t end well. Afterwards, they made out in a lagoon for a while, and then went to a private cabin where Gil was going to cook dinner for the two of them. As he cooked, Larissa grilled him about his previous girlfriend. She noted how he started sweating, and I was transported back in time to when she made the same comment about Sean while he cooked. Hey Larissa? They are COOKING. In a kitchen. In Hawaii. Shut UP! Anyway, I don’t think Gil really said anything definitive, but then I don’t know that he’s made a completely declarative sentence on this show yet. After eating, they move on…to the bedroom. Do you see what I mean about the difference in the activities? Fredo gets a freaking golf cart and a nine iron, and Gil gets a private beach and a bed. Yeah, that’s fair. It began to rain, and they make out some more. He says that “the rain was definitely a sign I should kiss Larissa again.” Or, you know, it’s a sign that the water vapor in the air has reached its breaking point, but whatever. It’s a shame that when he finally said something definitive it was wrong. They linger in bed for a while, but nothing noteworthy really happens.
Pass The Fugu And Some A-1
The next morning, Brian is up. Because there’s a pattern they need to follow, the two go to Hilo and grab some sushi. No private cabins and beds for Brian, no sir. Brian, a guy after my own heart, gives the sushi a shot, but would rather be at a steakhouse. I have a theory. Very few people truly like sushi. I think the vast majority of the people who eat it – especially young people – just want to look sophisticated. Not you guys, if any of you reading this are big sushi fanatics. Just, you know, those other people. I had a friend once yell at me for having not tried sushi. Okay, fine. I’m a gastronomically adventurous type. We went to the sushi place, and I figured okay, give me the works. The salmon…not horrible. The tuna…better than, say, being made to eat from the cat box with a Clamato chaser. But then we tried the urchin. Oh dear God, the urchin. There are nights I wake from a sound sleep, screaming and gagging, as the phantom taste of urchin chases me like a culinary Freddy Krueger. So for Brian to put on his happy face and swallow the soft, unknown lumps on his plate…well, let’s just say that “Dude, my friends are TOTALLY going to see me kissing this hot chick on t.v.” must go pretty far. They followed up the sushi with a trip to the botanical gardens, where they talk about Brian’s fear of commitment. A feeling of dread is beginning to gnaw at the edges of my brain, because I’m starting to piece together what the editors are doing here. They’re painting Brian as the “I’ve never said ‘I love you’” guy, so that we can be blown away when he says it to Larissa next week. Oh dear God, let me be wrong. I’m not wrong, but I’d like to be. Boo hiss. Afterwards, they went for a ride on a double-hull canoe and then back to her place for some more conversation. The side of her skirt blows up to expose a big bruise on her leg. Ha! Did I tell her that the stream waterslide was a bad idea? Yes. Yes I did. She comes clean a little bit about her actions with the other guys, and talks about her past relationship. She’s opening up to him, and tells the camera how Brian is different because he listens when she talks. Except that he doesn’t, as evidenced by the competition at the beginning of the show, but whatever. They kiss for a while, and Brian likes his chances at winning this thing.
It Was No Crimson Tide, And Fredo’s No Denzel
And now we’re up to Jim’s private date. Or, shall we say, his not-so-private date. Let the eye-rolling commence. Larissa and Jim are playing castaway this evening, and are stranded on a beach with nothing more than their wits, each other…and a strategically positioned crate, full of food and fire-starting utensils. But, you know, other than that, they just had their wits and each other. Thank God for that crate.
The big “twist” this week is that while Larissa and Jim have their alone time on the beach, Fredo is going to be on a submarine, watching their every move through a periscope. Evidently some light bulbs went off over producers heads when Fredo talked about what a sweet, chaste girl Larissa is, and what kind of reality show would this be if we couldn’t watch as a man’s innocent assumptions are crushed into a fine cynical powder? Fredo apparently has no idea that he’s going on a spy mission, and just thinks the sub ride is cool. How bizarre is the world of television when you don’t even bat an eye when approached to go ride in a submarine? If someone came to my door right now and said “Hey, it’s your lucky day! Two tickets for an underwater adventure, right here in my hot little hand!”, I’d be all “Yeah, you’re really going to have to leave now.” But maybe I’m just the strange one. So Fredo is saying things like “Mark 0-5-7, down bubble”, Larissa and Jim are cooking, and I’m trying to keep my dinner down. Larissa tries to get Jim to actually speak for a change, asking him inane questions like “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” (Which, incidentally, he can’t answer, because he’s dumber than a chipped brick, but she justifies this by calling him a free spirit. Yes. A very stupid free spirit.), but they end up just kissing instead. She talks a bit about how she feels like she’s in a Ralph Lauren commercial when she’s with Jim. Better than a Hooked on Phonics commercial, I suppose. They keep talking, but I tuned out. I honestly can’t tolerate stupidity of that magnitude. Besides, we have exciting things to focus on, like Fredo’s imminent heartbreak! Yay! Oh, and as a side note, when my boyfriend happened to wander into the room during all of this, he said “Why do they have him in a Star Trek uniform?” I was cracking up as I replied that, sadly, that was just Fredo’s own personal outfit. He was right, though. All it needed was a tricorder, or whatever the hell that triangular thing on their shirts is. But I digress.
As Larissa becomes increasingly more aware that Jim has no redeeming qualities outside of the physical, they move into the ocean for some waterlogged kissing. They’re blissfully unaware that Fredo’s sub of doom is moving ever closer, and that he’s being handed a monitor on which he’ll watch their every move. They kiss, he flips. They grope, he shakes his head in disgust. She moans, he says that Jim is no pilot but rather a waiter at Chili’s (hilarious!). It’s good stuff. Fredo is shocked and appalled, and thought Larissa “had a better head” than to do this. Suffice it to say that Fredo is pissed. He makes a lot of “They can have each other!” noises, and says that he’ll make someone else very happy someday. I don’t dispute that, but Fredo? Don’t bring up living next door to your mother right off the bat, okay? Thanks. Larissa, completely oblivious to the whole situation, talks about how Jim is the perfect ideal specimen, blah blah blah. Am I the only one who thinks that each of his features look overgrown, as if he’s been exposed to a serious radiation leak, turning him in to…I don’t know, super-big-facial-feature guy? He just LOOKS dopey. Blah. He doesn’t do it for me at all. For his part, Jim’s take on the date was something like “Spam tastes good!” I’m not entirely sure, as I stopped listening to him.
You Could Have Pretended To Care, Bitchy Lady
The next night is elimination time. As Larissa joins the men, she notices that Fredo is missing. Brian hands Larissa a note that Fredo left for her, which basically just says that he’s leaving. I underwent a completely alien experience during this, as I, for the first time, felt some respect for a reality show contestant. Good for Fredo! He walked out on the prom queen. Word! I just wish the note hadn’t been as flowery and sweet as it was, and had used the word “jezebel” and “hussy” a bit more liberally. Or “whore”. Larissa got one last dig in on Fredo, though, because she basically just shrugged it off, saying “Oh well, I was going to eliminate him tonight anyway.” In what universe is Jim considered a better catch than Fredo? Outside of his ridiculous hair and evident mama’s boy qualities, he’s a decent guy. Jim, on the other hand, has a ridiculously large face and a ridiculously small intellect. I can’t be the only one thinking this, can I? Please say no. Because there’s no need to eliminate anyone tonight, Larissa tells the guys she’ll be having hometown dates with all three who are left. It’s their last night in Hawaii, Brian makes a speech, Larissa makes a speech, and a group hug ensues.
All Of A Sudden I’m Craving Pepperoni
Normally the show would end now. I wish the show would’ve ended now. Dear GOD, why couldn’t the show be ending now? Sigh. But this is an extra-special, extra-long AJII, so we’re treated to the first of the hometown dates. Larissa takes off to Scottsdale, Arizona to spend some time with Jim in his natural setting. They go for a bike ride, and then cool down the way all of us do – by rock climbing. They rappelled down the side of a cliff, and Larissa got to see Jim without his shirt on. Even his nipples are disproportionately large, but eh…maybe she likes that. After they prove their physical prowess, Larissa tries to engage him in casual conversation. He fails miserably. He is quite literally incapable of answering simple questions in any sort of interesting way. They head back to his place, and Larissa makes a lot of snide remarks about Jim’s bachelor pad. She also says that his dog smells. Oh shut up. He’s a dog. He looks healthy and happy, and I’m sorry he doesn’t smell like friggin’ potpourri. Jim takes her out for a romantic dinner at an expensive restaurant, but his stock has already crashed. He makes a comment about how he doesn’t read books, and Larissa starts to figure out that there’s nothing between them other than her physical attraction to him. He was her symbol of hot, steamy romance, but doesn’t stand up to the scrutiny of day to day life, and she’s done with him.
In a very odd and confusing bit of editing, we fast-forward four days to the final elimination ceremony. I had NO idea what was going on at this point, because I was like “Wait, what? Is this the last show? Are we going to be spared the other hometown dates? Am I watching the finale and not even realizing it?!?!” Sadly, no. Damnable NBC. As Jim approaches Larissa in the middle of an airplane hangar, she eliminates him. She cries a little, he’s disappointed, and I still don’t know what the hell is happening. I was looking at the clock, thinking there’s only 7 minutes left, and how are they going to work this all in? But no, after he leaves, we find that next week – the REAL finale – we’ll watch Larissa’s date with Brian in Boston and Gil in Ft. Lauderdale. I’m still shaking my head over the way they chose to edit that. I guess they didn’t want to devote any time to Jim next week if we all assumed she was done with him, but still, very very strange.
Right. So anyway, tune in next week, so we can all bid the show adieu together. Oh, and just in case the finale wasn’t incentive enough, Larissa has a secret. Remember what I said about how they keep trying to one-up the twists? Yeah, they’re doing that again. Yawn.