Hello, hello again, my friends! Welcome back to The Benefactor! It seems as though it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you all here, and that’s because . . . it has. What can I say? If there’s anything we’ve learned from our tenure together watching this show, it’s that you can’t take our time together for granted. Who knows when everything might get cut short? If this is the case, we shouldn’t hold anything back. We should speak our minds, follow our hearts, and set the artist free. Which, in the penultimate Benefactor recap, is exactly what I intend to do.
We catch up with the final five in the mansion, much as we often do. In the last episode, the contestants had to divide themselves in teams of two, leaving an odd person out. Linda and Spencer hooked up like the good buddies they are, leaving “Team Beautiful”—Tiffaney, Femia, and Dominic—to decide their own fate with the conveniently packaged help of Jenga. Dominic fell on the bad side of ol’ probability, so to what fate is he doomed?
Defying the Laws of Physics: Something for Nothing
With so many questions hanging in the air, Mark arrives to bring everyone up to speed. “The two teams have clearly been chosen,” he points out, and Dominic is the odd man out. Mark looks Dominic straight in the eye and solemnly speaks the dreaded words. “Dominic, you’re leaving.”
Dominic looks crushed, Femia and Tiffaney look politely sad, and Linda adopts a stoic face of neutrality while she jumps, nay, leaps for joy on the inside. “I’m glad to see Dominic leave, because he's such a strong competitor,” she enlightens us. Wrong! You’re glad he’s gone because you hate him, for no apparent reason.
But wait, my lovelies! It’s not just that simple. Dominic is, indeed, leaving, but he’s not going home! It’s a twist! Jaws drop all around when Mark informs the contestants that they have not only assured Dominic a place in the final three—but given him a trip to Cancun, Mexico for a day with his best bud and a thousand bucks to burn. “Sometimes,” says Mark, “The best deals are the ones you don’t make.” Linda tosses aside her façade of good sportsmanship and rants on and on about this turn of events. But I’m not listening; no I’m not.
Oh No, They’re All Going to Fail!
So, as Dominic and his buddy Chris get ready for their short-notice rock star vacation, it’s time to get the particulars on the latest test for success, which will determine the next pair to be going home. “This test,” says Mark, “is about giving of yourself. I want you to perform random acts of kindness and bring smiles to faces of Dallas’s people.” Gadzooks . . . he wants them to not be self-centered for a moment. Oh, and they will also have no money for the task. Yikes!
With that, the clock begins ticking, and the teams hop to planning. Spencer and Linda throw out ideas, such as setting up a karaoke stand in the middle of the city. Um, yeah. That’s going to bring smiles to people’s faces? The only karaoke that’s ever made me happy was in Japan, and I have a feeling that was purely from the novelty associated with a Tokyo man’s rendition of the Sex Pistols. Thankfully, they finally decide to go with the much less absurd idea of running about in blow-up sumo costumes, pretending that they’re just married. What a minute. . . .
Elsewhere, Tiffaney and Femia are taking a more orthodox approach and decide to head to the bus station, chat with some of the less fortunate and homeless people, and hand out food, which they can gather from the kitchen in the mansion. They figure that this takes the focus off themselves for a while and is doing a favor to people in need. What’s not to smile about with an idea like that?
Cuba Libre, Ningúno Hielo
Miles and miles away, Dominic and Chris are determined to tear the roof off the mother, sucker, in beautiful Cancun. The beautiful sand! The beautiful water! The beautiful women! The beautiful drinks! Whatever. It’s not as good as FortCon I can already tell you. But it’s not all fun and games south of the border, my friends. No. Mark has set up a series of personality tests to see if Dominic is truly as he appears, or if it’s just an act.
While the duo heads to the beach in search of some peaceful R & R, a little boy selling wares shows up, right on cue. “¡Pérdon, señor! ¿Chicolet? Two pesos.” Aww, so cute. How could you resist that? Dominic wants to buy some and help the little muchacho out, but he hasn’t any money on his person. Not wishing him to go empty-handed, Dominic offers to trade him his favorite, lucky necklace—his most prized possession. The kid is thrilled, and it seems that Dominic has aced the first test.
I Love Bad Puns
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, both teams are suited up and ready to go make people smile. Ha! Suited up! Get it? Suit . . . sumo costume? No . . . ? Sorry, folks, this is tough. And it’s not very accurate, either, as Linda and Spencer haven’t gotten the sumo suits on yet. It’s a struggle of epic proportions (A ha ha!) to get into the suits and fit into the back of the car, and they must pause and strategize on how to make it happen.
Tiffaney and Femia, on the other hand, have made it into the car and are psyched and ready to go. But they, too, have a slight problem, and that problem is direction. Where are we!? Tiffaney, though she lives in Dallas, cannot seem to direct the driver downtown. They end up on the side of the freeway somewhere, and there is anxiety. I clutched the couch arm in worry. Not.
Linda and Spencer have better fortunes, as they have somehow squeezed into the car (is this a kind of magic?) and have commenced in their mission to make people smile. And smile, they do! As the faux-happy newlyweds run down the street, people laugh, smile, wave, and honk their horns in amusement. One random guy tackles Linda, which I assume is a gesture of goodwill since she’s well-padded in the suit. Nevertheless, she probably beat the living daylights out of him off-camera in retribution. Spence certainly didn’t strain himself to defend his “wife.” Thanks, honey.
We jump over to join Tiffaney and Femia, who, with the help of modern technology and asking for directions, have finally found their destination. They immediately set to work, handing out their care packages of food and chatting with the extremely happy individuals. The ladies find the task heartwarming and fulfilling, and the people receiving their attention are clearly very grateful and thrilled to have some company.
Otro Ronda, Por Favor
Let’s not forget about Dominic and Chris’ wild Cancun adventure! The pair’s next stop is dinner at a fancy restaurant, where we learn that Mark has placed yet another clever mole . . . er . . . test of character. A couple has just finished eating, but lo and behold, have forgotten all their money! Dominic jumps right on it and lends them some cash. Test #2, complete. He later continues the party by crowd-surfing over to a bar’s water slide, which dumps him right into the sea. FortCon was still better.
Workin’ for the Weekend . . . Or Not
After a hard day’s work, the contestants wake up fairly early the next morning and decide to squeeze in some more random acts (of kindness and otherwise) before Mark’s deadline. Femia decides that they should head uptown this time and suggests the possibility of handing out flowers. Tiffaney would probably heartily agree, but she says nothing . . . because she’s asleep on the floor.
Now, I’d love to make some snarky joke about not working right here, but this recap is so late that really, it would be nearly hypocritical. So I’ll just resort to self-deprecation and do as little actual work as possible. Kind of like my local ABC station manager.
As sleeping beauty lays a-slumbering, Linda and Spencer are up and about, plotting their next moves. Spencer says that, while they made a lot of people smile yesterday, perhaps they should take a more traditional approach today so they can cover all the bases. Linda likes the sound of that, so they set out and visit a nursing home to talk with some of the residents and, hopefully, brighten their day. They get straight to task once there; Linda begins chatting and serving breakfast, while Spencer engages in an intense checkers game against a woman named Daisy. It supposedly ended in a draw, but I bet Daisy just bopped Spence over the head with a cane.
Tiffaney, in the meantime, is frustrating Femia to no end, but finally rubs the sleep out of her eyes long enough to go hand out flowers. They assumedly find “uptown” with no problems (perhaps Tiff, the Dallas native, is more familiar with this area), and set to work handing out gladiolas.
Friendship? Meh, Expendable.
At the end of the day, Mark gathers the four contestants for elimination time. A team will be cut, based on their performances in the task. “I’m looking for something that if I told my friend about what they did, he’d say ‘wow,’” says Mark. Everyone sits down and watches a video review of the teams in action, and afterwards, the teams are invited to critique their opponent’s tactics. Ah, nothing like some good old-fashioned ragging.
Femia does most of the talking for “Team Beautiful” and accuses Linda and Spencer of being unoriginal and focusing too much on themselves rather than the people they were helping. Linda retorts for “Team Bean,” rambling that she grew up in an underprivileged neighborhood and that Tiffaney and Femia exploited the people “in the ghetto.” Femia bounces back in defense of their strategy, but Linda keeps repeating “By going to the ghetto?” over and over a la broken record. Whatever she might lack in quality for her ideas, I suppose she makes up quantity.
Mark, who has been silent up to this point, steps in before the gloves are thrown down, and admits that both sides did some very creative things with their tasks, and he enjoyed watching them both. Because of this, he thinks it’s time to kick it up a notch. *Bam!* Rather than cut an entire team, he’s going to cut one member from each team . . . with no twists to save them this time! To decide the survivors, the teammates will now face off against one another—explaining why Mark should pick them over their teammate. Mark explains in confessional that to be successful, you have to be able to accept and give constructive criticism.
Linda steps up first and hassles Spencer for not stepping up to the plate when critiquing Team Beautiful’s performance. She also claims in confessional that her back hurts from carrying him through the competition. Hmm. Interesting notion since Spence seems to have come up with many of ideas throughout the game. Spence merely says that Linda plays too much to her own strengths and doesn’t focus on the whole picture.
Femia is next and expresses her irritation with Tiffaney’s seeming lack of drive. Sleeping on the floor? Getting lost all the time? With oversights like these, she argues, you can’t want the million dollars bad enough. Tiffaney is shocked to hear these accusations, and stammers that Femia is a great person, and if Tiff herself couldn’t win, she’d want Mark to give the million dollars to Femia. Whoa . . . how harsh! Except, not. Tiff seems like a sweet girl, but if you can’t think of any criticisms about a person when called to do so, perhaps it’s time to retire from reality TV competitions.
Hammer to Fall
With that, Mark has heard enough to determine who to cut. He was looking for someone willing to pull out all the stops, step up to the plate, turn up the heat, and all those other tired clichés. Tiffaney and Spencer . . . you’re going home. The music of sadness plays and hugs are exchanged. Spencer says he’s disappointed to be so close, yet so far away . . . away . . . away. A teary Tiffaney says that this has been the hardest week of her life, and she’s just crushed. Hmm. If this is the hardest week of your life, I’m rethinking the idea of your retiring from reality TV competitions. Quite the opposite, in fact.
And so, as the sands through the hourglass, so is this show slipping away. Dominic returns from his mini-vacation loaded with cheesy tourist stuff, and seeing his final two competitors, proclaims . . . “What’s going on?”
And there you have it. Some things never change! And, my friends, I promise that I will not change either, and you can count on me to stay with you to the bitter end. I hope to see you back next week to watch the big three in action for the dramatic finale! Who will soar to the heights of victory? Who will fall to the depths of defeat? Who has been lying the whole time? Why do liars get the nice TVs? Stay tuned to find all these answers and more!
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