Well, last week Uncle Michael became the eighth member of the family to be eliminated from contention for the million dollars. Or, as his son Anthony would say, the eighth person casted out. Or as he puts it this week, “I’m with the boys here in the kitchen.” It would seem that Uncle Michael has forgotten about “the girls” in the kitchen.
Everyone’s favorite uncle wastes no time taking control of the outcasts. (Sorry Melinda, I know how much that term annoys you.) Outcasts outcasts outcasts. At the breakfast table, Uncle Michael reveals for the first time that it had always been his intention to split the money evenly. The looks around the table from Jill, Maria, and Rob make it plain that nobody is buying this load of hooey.
UM continues, trying to get the family to discuss the idea of getting back into the game, and that the person that gets back in should share the money. The role of “King of the Breakfast Table” will no longer be played by Cousin Robert. Instead, when the credits role, you’ll find his name next to “Man with Coffee Cup.” He tells Uncle Michael that he’ll give it some thought (MwCC is a speaking part.) The new King replies “I want it to be more than food for thought so you can think about it” (which is sort of what you do with food for thought, right?), “I’d like an answer maybe before we go to the next…” Next what, UM? Don’t leave us hanging like that. Next Elimination Contest? Next bachelor party at the Badda Bing? What?
Well, it turns out to be the next Elimination Contest. But we don’t know if he got his answer, or if the rest of the, ahem, outcasts, don’t give him an answer. Before the contest, he does have a discussion with Jill and Maria, but his thoughts on sharing have a bit. Remember his “plan all along” had been to share equally. Well, now he tells them “I think sharing is a good thing, I’m just not saying how much.” Here’s a quarter, now run along and get me back in the game.
Before we head off to the first Elimination Contest, Anthony says “We have to prevent an outsider from winning. I’d like to see Ed win.” Outsiders? Careful Anthony, I think Johnny and Ponyboy might kick your ass if you keep talking like that.
Mindless Over Matter
Ah, I nearly forgot to tell you. Last week was the final Fantasy Contest. From here on out, it’s just Elimination. Sort of the Lightning Round of “The Family”, if you will. The family is loaded into limos and driven to the next EC.
George Hamilton, looking as bon vivantish as ever (yes, I know it’s not a word, I’m using creative license or something – move along), welcomes the group to the biggest EC yet. The outcasts (man I hope Melinda is reading this) move to the side as he explains the rules to Ed, Dawn Marie, and Mike. The final three are wearing blue, red, and yellow shirts and black pants. For some reason their shirts remind me of “Battle of the Network Stars.” Those of you old enough to remember that show will know what I’m talking about. Those of you that are too young to remember, act like you do or I’m going to feel really, really old.
Each contestant will climb a narrow tower. Each tower has three platforms; one at twenty-five feet, one at fifty feet, and one at one hundred feet. The platforms are smaller than your standard Welcome matt, and the tower is about as wide as a ladder. They will have five minutes to reach a platform, where they must spend one minute before moving to the next platform. The first two contestants off their tower will go before the Secret Board of Trustees, or as Cousin Mike calls them, the “B.O.T.” They are each equipped with a helmet and a harness, so there is no danger of them falling to their death. Pity.
Mike tells us “Dawn wasn’t expect to get too high up; she’s afraid of heights, afraid of water, afraid of everything.” They haven’t even started climbing, and the foreshadowing is ruining it for us.
George sounds the whistle/horn/siren which signals the contestants to start climbing. Dawn let’s out a dramatic “Oh my God!” before even reaching the first platform at twenty-five feet. She tells us I felt my body going into a panic.” All three reach the first platform. Surprisingly, Ed appears to be shaking slightly. Aunt Donna asks “Why is his pole shaking so much?” to which Uncle Michael replies “Because he's shaking, nimrod.” Okay, he didn’t say “nimrod”, but I’ll bet he was thinking it.
The horn sounds and it’s time for them to climb to the next level. To everyone’s surprise, Dawn Marie reaches the platform first. As Mike gathers himself on the tiny space, Anthony yells up “Plenty of room up there, baby!” to which Mike fires back “Why don’t you come up here with me?” Ed tells us “I think I started to close my eyes.” And we’re shown him doing exactly that. It’s not looking good for Cousin Ed. DM tells us she was thinking “Shape up, forget about your fears, and just to this.” Then on the tower, she says “Mind over matter.” That’s the spirit, DM, I think you can do that. BTW, what’s the smallest piece of matter – is there something a little smaller than an electron? We don’t want Dawn setting the bar too high. The horn sounds, and it’s time to move on up.
At one hundred feet, Dawn is again the first one to the level. If she keeps this up, I’m going to have to stop ripping her so unmercifully, and where’s the fun in that? All three make it to the top of the tower, and the waiting game begins. At the forty-five minute mark, Cousin Ed bows out of the competition. “I was wobbling all over the place” he tells us. It suddenly strikes me that Ed does in fact possess a certain Weeble-like quality that I hadn’t picked up on previously.
The two remaining tower dwellers stand and wait for the other to blink. Dawn Marie starts singing “One little, two little, three little Indians…” and tells us “I was doing everything I could to distract time.” That struck me as funny, time is a pretty focused fellow and not easily distracted. “In my mind I wasn’t on a small plank. I was on a wide open space. – that’s what kept me focused.”
At one hour and forty-five minutes, DM reveals “My feet are burning.” I tried to warn her that choosing the Mojave Desert as her “wide open space” wasn’t a good idea, but when has she ever listened to me? Mike has a cramp. That can’t be a good thing.
Mike: “Dawn, I think I’m getting ready to go down.”
Mike: “I can’t stand here no more. You the girl, Dawn.” Nice of him to notice.
DM: “You got my back.”
DM: “You got my…I got your back.” Nobody turns a phrase like our Dawn Marie.
And so, at two hours and five minutes, Mike descends, making Dawn Marie the victor of the challenge.
DM: “I am so proud of myself, I really am.”
Rob: “I was amazingly proud of Dawn.”
Anthony: “I’ve never known Dawn to be such a strong person.”
Melinda: “She pushed herself beyond her limits.”
Wayner: “I am so amazingly proud of Dawn being such a strong person and pushing beyond her limits and stuff.” There. Never let it be said that I never complimented DM.
And so, cousins Ed and Mike are the names before the B.O.T. Jill the Stylist speaks up for Ed, describing a touching moment she had with him. We aren’t told exactly what transpired, but I hope it wasn’t romantic, because Social Secretary Ringo says that he had exactly the same moment with Mike a week earlier. He uses this as evidence in his continuing “We’re being manipulated” campaign against Ed. Andrew the butler points out that Ed appeared nervous on the tower today, appeared nervous in the straight jacket the week before, and believes he would have difficulty handling the pressure of controlling a million dollars. I wonder how Donald Trump would fair in those circumstances?
While the board is debating, Ed tells Mike and DM that he’s going to lay down because he has a “blasting” headache. Good thing Andrew doesn’t know about it.
The family gathers to hear the verdict. George, wearing a pink shirt for the third time in the series (somebody call Wardrobe and get Mr. Hamilton another shirt – now!) opens the envelope and with arched eyebrow announces that Ed has been eliminated. Pinky tells them “Tomorrow you will mett the board face to face. Get a good night’s sleep.”
The Notorious B.O.T.
It’s nearly time for the Board to reveal themselves to the family; a moment we’ve all been waiting for. Jill Swid tells us that her fear is that the family is going to feel betrayed.
The family gathered, George (you’ll be happy to know that Wardrobe got the call) tells them a little about the Board. “There are five of them. You’ve met them all.” Andrew opens a door and a parade of people they’ve met before streams into the room and take their seats. There’s Operaman. There’s the masseuse. There’s the only one I remember by name – Natalie Garcia, the personal trainer. Don’t go thinking I’m a perv or anything, I only remember her name because I received an email from someone asking me if I knew where he could find pictures of her on the internet. Sadly, I didn’t.
Finally, George asks the B.O.T. to reveal themselves, and one by one, they emerge from behind a curtain on either side of the room. In slow motion. To lengthen the moment. Because it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. And they want it to be as dramatic as possible. Did I already mention it’s the moment we’ve been waiting for? I only ask because they’re still moon-walking into the room. Even now. To lengthen the moment.
Someone from the family says “Oh my Gawd.” Dawn Marie looks terrified. Anthony looks pissed. Mike jumped up and hugged and thanked all of them for keeping him in the game. Well, except Anthony. He shook Anthony’s hand, telling him he knows he wouldn’t want a hug. I think butlers are greatly misunderstood creatures. I think that behind their stiff, formal demeanors, they just want someone to love them. I want all of you to get up from your keyboards right now. I want you to get up from your keyboards and desks, and I want you to walk to the intercom. I want you to walk to the intercom and buzz your butler. And when he arrives to answer your buzz, I want you to give him a big hug.
Back to the action. George tells Dawn and Mike that tonight, they will plead their case before the Board, and explain why they are the one that deserves the million dollars.
The family gathers out behind the mansion to discuss the discovery that their staff has been judging them all along. Jill tells us “I think a lot of people were really pissed off.” Anthony confirms her statement with “I think they should die tomorrow.” He then reveals to us that “I’m sure they were given things to judge people on, because it definitely couldn’t have been character, because I have one of the best personalities in the house.”
Back in the board room, Linda states “He’s an incorrigible punk.” In one of the best pieces of editing in the entire series, we see Anthony hitting on a young maid ironing.
He tells her “Oh, there is absolutely nooo reason you should be doing this with clothes on.” Anthony, there’s a difference between HAVING character and being a character.
Aunt Donna is clearly upset about the staff being the board. “They don’t know me or my family. I could care less what they think. I’m very hostile. They’re not fit to be the board. They don’t know what the hell they’re doing.” Who did she think the board was going to be – former New York Governor Mario Cuomo?
Less angry are Dawn Marie and Mike. Mike says he can’t believe it was the staff. What he means is “I can’t believe I was right this whole time.” DM says that she’s shocked, and “up a creek without a paddle.” If she’d known the staff was the board “I wouldn’t have been such a pain.” “I hope I didn’t offend anybody. Stupid me.” She tells us “I’can’t plead my case, this is me.” Up until now I was holding out some hope that DM’s behavior was an elaborate ruse to make everyone underestimate her. To hear this is really her is, well, spooky.
Uncle Michael is no dummy. He realizes that Mike has survived every time he’s gone before the board, and he knows Mike will probably win again. He tells Dawn Marie that out of the ten of them, including himself, he’d vote for DM to represent the family. Keep that in mind.” What he means is “Keep that in mind when it comes time to vote on who goes back into the game, and vote for me.” Very smooth, Uncle Michael.
And Then There Was Uno
At last it’s time to plead their cases. George takes Mike into the board room, and Anthony welcomes him. Mike humbly thanks all of them for keeping him in the game this far. He thanks them for all they have taught him, though he doesn’t really say what that is. He tells them that if he wins the million dollars, that his family is set. By family, he doesn’t mean the folks we’ve seen on this show. If the rest of the family heard this, they’d be really pissed off.
Dawn Marie pleads her case. “You know me well, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.” Ooh, can I tell her the answer? She starts crying “I wanted for once not to be somebody’s wife or somebody’s mother. I wanted to do something for me.” When my wife feels that way, she doesn’t leave me with the kids for a month; she gets a pedicure.
While the board discusses things, Jill tells us she wants Mike to win. Melinda was cheering for Mike. Aunt Donna and Uncle Manipulator want Dawn. “Mike would be a stranger controlling the money.” I’ll wager that if he wins, he’ll be more of a stranger to them than ever before. In fact, I’ll go so far as to predict that if he wins the money, one of the two senior members of the family will actually utter the phrase “He’s dead to me.”
Back to the board. They applaud Dawn’s gusto. “She’s a trooper.” They agree that they all took to Mike right away. Ringo believes DM is a better competitor, but Linda points out that “She has a long way to go emotionally.”
Dawn gripes about the time it’s taking for them to decide. She lays on the couch with a pillow over her head. Oh, the drama. It’s killing Dawn. It’s certainly killing me.
For this vote, George is joined by the board, who want to say a little something to the family before the results are read. Jill Swid thanks them for sharing their love. Linda says that it’s been her pleasure to know them. Franck says that he feels for the loser, it was not an easy decision, but he doesn’t tell us why. Ringo says that he’s learned the meaning of family, but he doesn’t say what that meaning is. Anthony says that he has served some of the wealthiest families in the world, but this family is greater in so many other areas. Of course, he doesn’t say what those areas are.
George reveals that my a 3-2 vote, Dawn Marie has been eliminated. The family will vote one member back into the contest to face Mike in the “most challenging elimination contest of all.” The vote will be secret, and they can’t vote for themselves.
Who will be voted back in? What will the elimination contest be? Who will win? Will they split the money? Will anyone still be in this forum by the time I post the final recap?
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