7-19-04 Recap-"Happy Trails, Everett"
Welcome back to the latest episode of Joe Schmo 2. We first join our little troupe as they sit around the pool discussing Grandfather-gate. Tim, in particular, thinks that it’s hysterical that Ingrid fooled them all, because she seemed to be so innocent. Amanda, on the other hand, believes Ingrid is a victim of Austin’s inability to account for more than one grandfather. They are still debating her guilt or innocence when Austin and Piper show up. They are greeted warmly and Eleanor mentions to Austin (in front of Tim) that he’ll have to bring her coupon book of love when they have their alone time. As Austin assures her that he will, Derek arrives with some news. He tells them that Ingrid was actually telling the truth and that Austin has asked the producers that she be reinstated in the game.
Derek’s lines are usually so over-the-top, that I often wonder how the Schmos can believe he’s real. I think I’ve finally figured it out. My belief is that he is so consistent with his corny, unbelievable persona, that they can’t imagine that anyone could have written a character so poorly. He’s too fake to be fake. He illustrates this point by making Amanda cringe with an odd comment about “The Lion King” when Ingrid runs out to join them again. Then, before the Schmos suspect Derek of having some sense, he quickly adds that he’s glad that Ingrid’s grandfather is dead and that she’s back in the game. He then mutters an embarrassed apology as Tim and Amanda regard him with the same look one might give a crazy homeless man. Probably harmless, but they aren’t getting too close.
After Derek informs them of the impending Pearl Necklace Ceremony and departs, the group lounges around the deck. They are all wearing matching workout outfits with the girls in red, midriff-baring tops and the men in blue muscle shirts. As they appear to wait for new instructions, they hear another plane overhead. This time, the banner reads: “Did you get my first banner?”
Tim is immediately disturbed by what he perceives to be another bizarre stunt by the love-crazed Bryce. While he looks as if he’s ready to get the FBI on the case, the others laugh about possible ways to answer such a banner. Amanda suggests that they all lie down on the ground and spell it out. Tim says he’s willing to participate as long as the letters that they spell out are a big, “F” and “U”.
Time To Pumpercize!
Derek soon returns with an armload of odd-looking contraptions and we find out why the contestants are decked out in workout clothing. As a spoof of product placement in Reality TV, the group is told that they will be filming an infomercial for the Pumpercize Thigh and Bun Blaster. He pulls out one of Pumpercizers and they learn quickly that the equipment is just as awkward as its unwieldy name. The guests quickly set to work trying to understand how to use the Pumpercizer (which appears to be a bar with stirrups attached with bungee cords) and find themselves wrestling with it both its name and its intended use. Cammy makes sure to note that it has stirrups, “just like at the doctor’s office”. As they attempt to use the bar, we are treated to a comical montage of bungee cords snapping as if on cue and pieces of this “quality equipment” flying hither and yon. No one can remember what the thing is called and they all mangle the moniker one way or another. However, Tim’s “Piper Pumper” was a name that would have done Freud proud.
As the “infomercial” seems to be winding down, Ingrid pulls Tim aside to accomplish her task for the day. She is supposed to leak the “Porked and Beans” story to him. I don’t know how poor Ingrid got to be the Porn-tidings fairy, but if I were her, I’d ask them to get a little more creative with my assignments. However, she takes spreading the porn-tidings seriously and begins whispering the sordid tale to Tim. Seeing the unadulterated joy spread over Tim’s face when he hears of Cammy’s porn past is heartbreaking. When he finds out the truth one day, I suspect that the fact he’s a victim of an elaborate practical joke will pale in comparison to the fact that the porn story was fabricated. Still in ignorant bliss for the time being, he jumps around excitedly, wanting to get his hands on a copy of that tape.
The Falcon Cries Foul
After the infomercial debacle, the guests are gathered on the patio. As Derek explains the glove on his hand and the “smell of raw meat in the air” signify that it is time for another Falcon Twist. Montecore decides to cooperate this time, swooping down in a beautiful arc while avoiding parting anyone’s hair for once. Derek is clearly unimpressed with Montecore’s effort and plops him unceremoniously on the perch so he can read the twist. After he’s had a chance to look over it, Derek assures the group that this is indeed a shocking revelation. He discloses that Austin and Piper have been keeping a secret from them all. Apparently, just six months prior, they had been a couple.
Halfway through this announcement, Montecore becomes disgusted with the whole affair and leaves. I start imagining that mutiny is just around the corner for the annoyed bird of prey. He appears to be especially indignant over his underappreciated swooping efforts. Oblivious to Montecore’s growing ire, the group discusses this new development. Tim reasons that they probably still love each other but aren’t in love anymore. He also notes that the information seemed to affect the women a little more than the men. Amanda says that knowing Austin dated someone seriously in the past is a little different from having the girl right there in front of her.
For the game of the day, the contestants are gathered inside the mansion, in a room with red velvet walls and a sexy gold loveseat. There are two large, blanket-covered lumps on the loveseat. Derek explains that the contestants must show their amorous sides to Austin and Piper and then pulls off the blankets to reveal life-sized doll representations of the two. The contestants must first “hit” on the dolls in front of the group and then Austin and Piper would choose the best simulation for private dates.
After setting the mood with a disco bulb, Derek encouraged T.J. to get started. T.J. wasted no time and quickly started sucking on the toes of the plastic Piper. Amanda and Tim took a more reasonable approach, “chatting up” their dolls with little groping. Tim commented that the whole thing felt pretty “gross”. Ingrid talked about how the “rise” and “fall” of communism made her hot and Gerald tried to explain to the Piper doll that the pressure she was under was bad for her skin. Tim decides at this point that he has nothing to fear from Gerald, as Piper would undoubtedly see him as a “girlfriend”.
The next two contestants, Cammy and Eleanor, took two starkly contrasting approaches. Cammy sat down between the Piper and Austin dolls and introduced the Piper doll as her friend, “Cassie” and said that sometimes Cassie likes to play games with her. At this point, the actress playing “Cammy” was supposed to pull the Piper doll over to the Austin doll for their “threesome”, but was unable to lift the hefty doll. So, she contents herself with making out with the Austin doll while “Cassie” looks on. Eleanor is the antithesis of Cammy, nervously calling the doll, “big boy” and muttering out painful thoughts about marriage and having kids. The always astute Tim comments that only a very talented actress could have pulled off such an act but that Eleanor was no actress, she was just being herself.
When asked to choose the person that they wanted for their private dates, Piper chooses Tim (again!) for being a gentleman. Austin explains that it’s only fair that he chooses the person who he’s spent the least amount of time with, so he names Amanda. Eleanor, who had been giddy with anticipation up to this point, immediately appears crestfallen. Austin asks her if she’s ok, and she begins to get emotional, saying that she’s fine and that she’s glad Amanda is getting her shot at alone time. She starts to cry unhappy tears and apologizes to the stricken Amanda (who, along with Tim, looks very uncomfortable), saying that she knows that Amanda is angry with her anyway for not helping Cammy complete her body shot task. Cammy bounces over to comfort Eleanor and uses the opportunity of being turned away from the Schmos to giggle gleefully at Eleanor’s performance.
Austin, trying to mend fences, pulls out Eleanor’s Coupon Book of Love and shows her that he still has it and is excited to use it with her. Eleanor calms down some and absently flips through the book as Austin tries to reassure her. Suddenly she notices that the first coupon (for a ten-minute massage) is missing. She questions Austin as to its whereabouts and soon Cammy confesses that he had actually used it with her on their date. At this point, Tim’s mouth produces a perfect “O” of surprise and he is clearly dumbfounded by Austin’s stupidity. As Eleanor becomes more and more hysterical that Austin would use her coupon with Cammy, Amanda begins to look physically ill. When the other guests crowd around to comfort the weepy Eleanor, Amanda takes the opportunity to escape.
Tim, always on point to let a beautiful woman cry on his shoulder, is shown talking to Eleanor as Gerald and T.J. do a spoof of a locker room interview out in the hall. They praise Eleanor as one of their “best players” and say that the turning point in the “game” was when she began to lose her mind. Interspersed with shots of Tim escorting Eleanor to her room, the two continue their commentary. T.J. said that it was a team effort, but that Eleanor was definitely on top of her game. The two decided that the “MVP” award would have to go to Cammy for her comment, “I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to use the coupon.”
We soon find out that Amanda has fled to the bathroom and that Ingrid is there comforting her. Amanda admits that the whole coupon fiasco would be funny if Eleanor wasn’t “genuinely” hurt by it. Soon, Eleanor herself shows up to tell Amanda that she’s alright and the three women head to the bedroom to continue their conversation. Eleanor says that she’s been wound up the whole game and that she has a habit of becoming attached to men too easily. Amanda is saddened that Eleanor feels she needs to chase men because she says that Eleanor is a great “catch” herself. Eleanor decides that she won’t be treated that way anymore and resolves to be stronger.
Shot Heard Round the Table
We next join the Schmos on their double date with Austin and Piper. The duo start tossing subtle jabs at each other, much to the dismay of the Schmos. As dinner continues, the sniping slowly escalates. Austin begins to claim that Piper is trying to be a drama queen as the Schmos desperately assert that the drama is in his head. Piper continues to look increasingly agitated until she suddenly insists that they go outside to talk.
Tim and Amanda laugh uncomfortably about their “alone” time while the Austin and Piper are shown having a quick meeting with the production staff in the parking lot. Rhett Reese advices the actors to claim that being on a Reality TV show is bringing out the worst in both of them and that they are considering pulling themselves out of it. Piper goes back inside and takes Tim outside with her to talk. He asks her why she’s so upset and she gives such vague, irrational answers that Tim is convinced wholeheartedly that he is witnessing an actual lover’s quarrel.
Piper and Austin talk with the Schmos about leaving the show because it just isn’t fun to be around each other. Amanda tells Austin it’s a game that they’ve all signed up for and that they need to make the best of it. Tim tells Piper to just have fun with it and be herself no matter what Austin is doing. Watching with the rest of the production staff, Rhett Reese is overcome with joy that his lab rats have kept themselves in their own cage. As the universal symbol of peace, the four do a round of shots together and all is well once again.
Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman (or a Falcon) Scorned
As the group gathers for the Pearl Necklace Ceremony, Amanda thanks them all for being such a friend to her since she’s been there. The group hugging begins but is interrupted by a production assistant. He has come to deliver the sad news that Everett the Frog has expired. It wasn’t Cammy’s continual pastry feeding that did it, either. Apparently, the disgruntled Montecore finally had enough and took his frustrations out on his coworker. Everett’s cage was found toppled over and Montecore was the chief suspect.
As the women crowd around Cammy to offer their condolences, Tim reminds them that it was just a frog. Ingrid admonishes him to be sensitive to Cammy. She says they need to take it seriously and Eleanor advises a ten second moment of silence. We are shown a candlelit image of the luckless Everett during this time with the dates of his short life. Or long life, as he was three. Which seems a long life for a frog to me, but I have to admit to a certain amount of ignorance on the subject. Tim also seems to be disinterested in the lifespan of frogs and struggles to maintain his composure as Eleanor extols Everett’s many frogly qualities and Ingrid calls for a prayer. His amusement quickly fades, however, when he considers what may happen when Bryce is informed of the mishap.
As the fervor dies down, the Pearl Necklace ceremony gets underway. As is customary, the four ladies offer final pleas for why Austin should keep them around. Ingrid offers that they’ve been through a lot together and is starting to feel like they have potential. Eleanor simply states that he should know how she feels about him by now. Amanda tells him she had a great time and that he should go with his gut, while Cammy says he’s much cuter than the doll and that she enjoyed the ten minute massage. Eleanor visibly bristles at this mention of Austin’s treachery, but says nothing.
Derek next asks Austin to give out necklaces to three of the women. Austin casually calls Eleanor to the front of the group and offers her the first necklace. Eleanor asks if she can say something first and the scene that transpires is one that Reality TV fans everywhere would love to happen for real on most of these dating shows. She says that since she arrived, Austin had promised her alone time and had gone back on that promise again and again. That the only alone time she got to spend was alone time with Eleanor. She explained that at first, she started to not like herself very much because of his continued dismissal of her. However, because of the friendships that she had made, she had learned that she was a funny, beautiful, vibrant woman that plenty of men would like to spend alone time with. She tells Austin that not only does she not accept the pearl necklace, but that he can take it and his “half-hearted locket and shove it up your a**”. She turns from the stunned Austin, triumphantly hugs the other contestants, and leaves.
After several confused moments, Derek suggests that perhaps the baffled Austin should continue the ceremony as if nothing had happened. Austin complies and calls up the three women individually for their necklaces. Regardless of the lack of suspense, the dramatic sweeping and cutaways continue as Cammy is finally called before Austin and given her pearls. Derek and the two singles depart, leaving the “contestants” to react to Eleanor’s outburst. Tim remarks that she probably took more away in the two minute speech than she would have if she would have found love. Amanda said she was very proud of Eleanor and thought she had grown. We are left to contemplate Derek’s final words, that the only thing you can be sure of on this show is that you can’t be sure of a thing.
Join me next week as Bryce returns to exact his revenge.
In lieu of flowers, the family of Everett requests email be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org