When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it's longer than any hour. Relatively speaking, I need to knock this engine off course. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Contestant Eric apparently put to good use his down time between NBC reality shows by rabidly studying Bartlett’s Quotations, or one of those 10-day MBA courses. In the past two weeks Eric has managed to quote Einstein, Jesus, and I think, Casey Jones. Which leads me to wonder if his final quote of this series will be courtesy of Woody Allen: Take the Money and Run.
Nonetheless, as the show opens this week, the men are feeling the pressure of being the final five in the house. Vic immediately steals my heart at breakfast, calling the host’s morning appearance the arrival of “The Black Angel of Death, Jordan.”
So the Black Angel beckons the men poolside for a challenge. This week, four men will take part in two double dates, with the fifth staying home at the mansion. The men are instructed to stand on a platform over the pool, with a large metal pole suspended just above their heads. When the platform is removed, they must hang on to the pole as long as possible. The winner of this event gets to choose the person who is excluded from the dates.
there is one thing I forgot
I invited a very special guest
to watch the competition
As testosterone levels rise perceptibly at this announcement, Erin appears. Wade, having enjoyed the first and only one-on-one date with Erin at the Hollywood Bowl last week, realizes he must win this event in order to spend more time with Erin. As always, Wade overstates the obvious, “Anytime you can’t spend time with Erin and someone else is getting to, you’re not helped in any way.”
Wade has been hanging around Jordan too much. If he reappears on FLOM3 as host, I am definitely turning over recapping duties to some other unsuspecting dweeb.
When the platform is removed, the contestants hang on miserably, but are each unwilling to be the first to let go. When Greg gives in first to the pain of hanging around, Vic and Eric follow closely behind. Despite his bravado, Wade falls next, leaving Chad to pick the ‘looser’ of the competition.
On the first date, Erin is looking forward to spending more intimate time with Chad and Vic. A limo takes the trio to a ranch, and upon spotting an array of livestock, the men are initially sure they will be forced into a bull riding competition.
But no. They have a nice dinner on an expansive deck overlooking the corrals. Vic feels awkward. “There was definitely a time on the date, when Chad and Erin were connecting. I wanted to let them have their time cause I didn’t want to be third wheel.”
Just as in a comedy club, you must never, ever get up to go to the bathroom during a set, Vic commits the fatal error, and disappears to the men’s room. Erin says she is glad, because it gives her more time to spend with Chad.
Erin takes Chad to the pool for alone time, and uses the opportunity to ask him difficult questions. In response to her questions, Chad tells Erin he saw this as a once in a lifetime opportunity and a chance to grow personally.
Chad, while seemingly having doubts about Erin in his confessionals, changes his tune radically when they kiss and terms the experience ‘amazing.’
Vic, who must have taken reading material to the bathroom, finally returns and spots the pair kissing. Although disturbed, Vic finally gets a chance at one-on-one time with Erin. But says, “No way in hell was I going to try to kiss her after she had kissed Chad.”
Erin thinks Vic is ‘so cute,’ and thinks he puts her at ease. Vic is concerned about keeping the money secret. He says not being totally honest with Erin is like not telling your best friend that his girlfriend is cheating. Ah, blessed youth. Idealism over money.
That evening the men relax around the pool while again discussing their chances for survival. Vic, annoyed that Chad and Erin kissed ( I suddenly feel like I am recapping a soap here) plays coy and tells the men that “Chad’s got it locked” and makes insinuations about the afternoon without ever saying anything concrete.
All of Vic’s non-confessionals serve, at least, to cause Eric concern about Chad. “I need to knock this engine off course.”
For the next double date, Erin arrives and peers through the mansion’s glass doors in time to see Eric and Greg coming down the stairs.
The producers bring out Erin’s cue cards again, and she proclaims that the moment brought her right back to when she and Paige came rushing down those very stairs to meet Rob.
In what was apparently a very long limo ride to their destination, the producers clip together a montage of Eric talking …yadda, yadda .. which leads us to believe that Eric monopolizes all conversation while poor Greg simply stares into space.
Okay, did I mention that I was quietly rooting for Eric? And yet now we’re back to baseball metaphors as Eric confesses: “The great thing about going on this date with Greg is that with him I can control the conversation.” Strike one.
This date involves a polo club, where each change into riding outfits. The major benefit of this date seems to be that we get to see Erin in clothing that normal humans wear: a polo top and casual jeans.
Erin and Eric spend some one-on-one time together. In spite of what I just said, suddently I am beginning to hope that Eric gets eliminated in the next episode as I am weary of the mental dexterity required to type these next paragraphs containing references to Eric and Erin without error.
Anyhoo, Erin and Eric look very chummy on this date. Erin confesses that she is smitten with Eric. Which, since I thought I was rooting for the underdog all along, surprises me. Erin tosses a number of hardball questions at Eric, designed to help her better determine his motives.
Erin displays the first hint of weakness we’ve seen so far when she confesses that the guy she is most attracted to is also the riskiest. Finally the pair engages in the second kiss of the series. Eric terms theirs the best first kiss ever. Still, Erin thinks Eric would probably take the money over her.
Somehow, the trio gets a lesson in polo playing. Greg may or may not have had some one-on-one time with Erin. I have no idea. We do see Greg saying “I don’t ever think about the money.” Well no, Greg. You make a nice salary on your own, don’t you? That big $40,000 a year annuity really only amounts to one of those baby carrots on an appetizer tray for you, doesn’t it, sugah?
Greg has been such a persona non-gratis in this series that I am beginning to suspect him the winner. Of Greg, Erin only says that he is taking this all too seriously, and she thinks he is oblivious to the fact that they have no connection. Whoa. (Where I live, we have actual stop signs that say this. Don’t laugh). Erin, I really have no idea where you are going with this. You want a man who is older. You want a man who is successful. You know about the million-dollar bounty on your head. And yet you have some actual expectation of Greg to keep things “fun and light” ?
For all her proclamations about her own experiences with Rob, you’d think she would have some clue. Oh heck. I am not even going to waste my word count by heckling Erin. I give up.
After the date, Eric and Greg return to the house where Eric smiles like the proverbial cat that swallowed a canary. When Eric is coy and spouts the ‘gentlemen don’t kiss and tell,” line, Chad terms Eric conniving and ‘weasely” and says there is just something ‘off’ about him.
Eric proclaims that his plan in all this is to not be seen as a threat by the other guys. Oh. That’s nice, Eric. I swear I saw you give a little winky-wink along with the ‘kiss and tell’ line. Here’s a little contribution from the Brooding Bumpkin: “W” (what-ever!).
That evening, Jordan arrives to tell the men that one of them will get a romantic date alone with Erin that evening.
This could secure your fate
Erin will pick one to join her
You have 30 minutes to get ready
While Wade thinks the experience is rather like playing Russian Roulette, Erin arrives to give us yet another flashback to For Love or Money 1. “I want to tell them I’ve been in their spot before. I’ve been where they are now.”
An aside: You know, it’s almost fun to watch Erin play this role. She has fit into the producer’s plans so nicely, been willing to give them these gratuitous flashbacks to the earlier series, and I really believed she thought she would come through this series unscathed. But we will get back to that later.
Erin picks Eric. Once again, I must stumble over N’s and C’s as I tell you about their romantic date at the mansion under a gazebo. Erin again confesses that she is smitten with Eric, while noticing that Eric is more nervous than usual.
Nervous or manipulative? On the dinner date, Eric innocently asks how she feels about the other men:
Erin thinks Wade is an all around good guy for whom everything in life has gone his way. Eric chimes in like a doorbell, “Ah yes, character is defined by adversity.”
With Vic, Erin says he reminds her very much of her guy friends, while she finds Chad ‘very hard to read.” Eric, who recently read a book on mirroring, says, “You too?” Greg is again persona non-gratis, which bodes well in his favor.
Eric tells Erin that she is amazing, and that she has an aura about her. Aura seems a strange term for Eric in particular to use, but we won’t go there this recap.
By mutual agreement, their date moves to the hot tub. Eric must go upstairs to change into (some gawdawful) swim trunks and thoughtfully stops by the salon to check on the morale of the other men.
Wade is delighted by Eric’s thoughtfulness, and Chad thinks Eric is completely above board and has only one agenda and one face. Okay, that was extreme sarcasm, but four shows in, I am running out of better literary devices.
The hot tub scene between Eric and Erin is so cheesy and replete with passionate kissing, flames and choir music, I am going to skip it and indulge in another aside. Did we not already know Eric was chosen for this date? We saw the previews of Erin kissing someone in a hot tub. Only Eric has hair that long and that embellished by sculpting products. The date leaves Eric saying he is mildly to moderately confident that he will still be around after tonight’s elimination. Stike two, buddy.
Speaking of eliminations – sounds like time for another appearance of the Black Angel of Death. (Vic! I love you man!)
Today, Jordan calls the men downstairs to tell them that one more will be eliminated tonight. Jordan offers them a chance to take control of their own destiny. Opening another cheesy prop box (which incidentally sold for $15.32 on eBay) Jordan removes a stack of cash totaling $10,000.
The men take their places behind one of five velvet-lined pedestals. Jordan instructs them to put on their blindfolds and remove their rings. The men will be given an opportunity to indicate their desire to leave the competition for cash by dropping their ring on the pedestal. If they do so, they will never, ever be able to see Erin again.
Of course, this is NBC’s reality TV never, never land, where ‘never’ translates into only a matter of weeks if ratings are favorable.
With a warning from Jordan that this is a ‘crucial decision’ (very similar, for examle, to giving up a kidney to a relative) he starts the offer at $10,000.
As a former eBay Queen and participant in a number of public auctions, I hear “start the offer at $10,000” and automatically think patience and a calm demeanor will lead to a bigger bounty. So I’m personally holding out for “10, 10, 10 gimmie 15. Fifteen. Gimme twenty. 20, 20, 20. Sold!”
And yet, we see a ring drop. Of course, in order to lend at least some element of surprise to this debacle, we do not know who opted out of the competition.
My daughter, who is inordinately good at shell games, declares Eric to be the ring-dropper. As the men remove their blindfolds, I am taken aback. Eric? (dear, sweet Eric) is your face wet? Were you crying? I am afraid the Brooding Bumpkin may be right as we head into the reverse elimination ceremony.
Jordan tells the men the producers were willing to go as high as $25,000 in the evening’s bidding. There will be no elimination tonight. Tonight, each man will walk down the stairs to meet with Erin. The man who took the bribe must confess as much to her, and explain his reasoning.
Later Erin meets with Jordan:
I have news.
Something that will come as a shock
Something that will change the game forever
We offered the men money
To leave game forever and forfeit their chance with you
Erin actually cries at this, which leads me back to my assertion that Erin really believed she was smart enough to play this game well, to toy with the writers and producers of the series, give them what they wanted, and yet walk away unscathed.
At the ceremony, Wade is the first to speak to Erin.
Wade: There is no amount of money that could buy me out of seeing you. I said no thanks to the cash.
Greg: There are a lot of people who hook up for monetary value. I am not one of them.
Eric: We've been given the opportunity to take money, to sell ourselves. Of course, I did not take the money. For what does it profit a man to gain the world and loose his soul?
By now, avid viewers of the series (and there are roughly nine) know that the next to last man on the stairs is the one to be eliminated. Who gets called down next?
The FORT pollsters got it right, with over 50% of the vote:
Vic: You have so many attributes that are impressive. Unfortunately, I think you have a stronger connection with some of the other men. I did not sell my soul. I chose to eliminate myself. I’d like to give you back the ring.
As Erin squinches up her eyes and says, “Can I ask how much?” He revealed that his price was $10,000. “I opted out right away. I wanted to do the right thing.” Whether revealing fact or issuing a comeuppance, Erin says, “I should tell you. You were not going to be eliminated tonight. I understand. But I am sad.”
Chad: Something about believing in fate.I think you are great. If they had offered a larger sum of money, I still wouldn’t have accepted.
So sweet Vic has departed the show. While I am discouraged at loosing my single greatest contributor to Jordan-jibes, the smile on Vic’s face as he drops the ring is priceless.
Next week on For Love or Money2: Rob returns to the scene of the previous crime. In previews we see Erin lean on Jordan’s shoulder and muttering “Holy *bleep*, ” obviously a term of great affection between the two.
Special news: Watch this forum tomorrow for the FORT’s official interview with Rob Campos, the bachelor from For Love or Money (One).
Note to Contestants: Okay. I know you are lurking out there. And if we can interview Rob, surely we can interview you. For information, email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org
Till next week.