7/19/04 Recap-"The Trail of Tears"
Welcome to the show that has captured the hearts of America. I don’t remember this syrupy display netting any of my internal organs during its run, but the narrator (who sounds as if he should be announcing NASCAR) seems certain of it. It is possible that I’ve just not watched closely enough for the heart-napping to occur, however. I’ve actually only followed sporadically this season, but this episode fell into an unavoidable Writer’s Void and I was left as the only one with a recording of it. So, before we begin, I apologize for the tardiness and my slight ignorance of the subject matter. Rest assured that the informed, timely and very talented Lucy will be back with you for the finale.
Keep to the Mouth of That Gift Horse
It’s Sunday afternoon and Marty, his daughters, and the remaining ladies are enjoying a day of racing at the beautiful Santa Anita racetrack, home of the famous Seabiscuit. Marty, who looks like a Ken doll gone to seed, notes that betting on horses is one of his favorite things to do. Hopefully he means this in a “fun thing to do a couple times a year” kind of way and not a “honey, I lost our deed to a guy named Frankie” kind of way. Regardless, the women seem happy to share in his “hobby” and we get a quick reminder of which ladies are left standing.
In an embarrassing comparison between the women and horses, we learn that the "field” has been narrowed to Suzanne, Stacy, and Marilyn. Suzanne says that she is really starting to feel the competition from the other two women, Stacy says she’s willing to “bet” that the girls pick her, and Marilyn insists that she will “cross the finish line first”. As the race they are watching during this contrived scene finishes, the music swells ominously as the camera cuts to the scoreboard.
As the Scoreboard of Doom lights up with “Who Wants to Marry My Dad,” the track announcer explains over the intercom system what is going to transpire. The women must place their bets on horses in the upcoming race. If their horse fails to win the race, they will have a bad fact revealed about them by an ex-boyfriend. Suzanne admits to be nervous that the horse she picks could affect her future with Marty. I don’t know why she would be worried. Surely a foundation built over a few hours spent alone during the filming of a reality TV show couldn’t be rocked by a simple revelation from an old flame. I guess I’m just a romantic.
The ladies pick their horses for the next race and we are told the numbers and names, but it really doesn’t matter because they all lose anyway. The only one I found vaguely amusing was that Stacy chose the horse, “Really Suspect”. Since that’s basically the first thought I had when heard her speak, it seemed an apt choice. As I said, however, none of the horses win and all of the women leave the stands and walk down to the track to have their bad facts revealed.
Meeting the women is Frank Olivares, the winning jockey. Now, conspiracy theorists take note. As I mentioned in the beginning, this was supposed to have taken place on a Sunday afternoon. However, the claiming race where Olivares edged out Memo House and Really Suspect for the win (on Houston Astro) actually took place on a Wednesday at Santa Anita Park. Interesting. No matter what day of the week, the women probably wouldn’t have faired much better, as Olivares hands them an envelope which states: “Shame on you. Since none of you were smart enough to bet on me, we have a little surprise for you. Good luck.”
As the sound of bandito music from an old Western plays, Marilyn turns toward the paddocks and her mouth drops open in horror. Apparently the title “Ex-boyfriend Stakes” at the beginning of the sequence wasn’t obvious enough, because she and the other girls look genuinely shocked at the sight of their ex-boyfriends riding out in jockey silks. Which, by the way, look silly enough on four foot tall jockeys. I can’t believe these six-foot-tall men agreed to it. Stacy begins to mutter, “I’m going to kill you, I’m so going to kill you,” as they approach. With her severe-looking face and mercilessly plucked eyebrows, she looks as if she could make good on such a threat. I don’t think you screw with Stacy.
Suzanne is up first and introduces her ex-boyfriend, Jeff. The daughters interrupt quickly to lay out the only rule for the encounter. The women are not allowed to say a word unless they are directly asked a question. Jeff reveals the shocking news that the talkative Suzanne, well, talks. A lot. The daughters giggle at this obvious tidbit and thank Jeff for his information. Jeff just looks happy to be talking to the daughters and grins merrily as he leaves.
Marilyn introduces Mike, her ex-boyfriend. Mike seems a bit bitter and says that Marilyn is high maintenance. This doesn’t seem to be shocking information either, as the brunette is a stunner, which requires some maintenance in the later years. He then leaves them with the final thought that Marilyn has also dated several people on the same day before. Oddly enough, the daughters don’t ask Marilyn to explain this accusation (which could possibly have a reasonable explanation) and instead move on to Stacy.
The dour Stacey briskly introduces Stewart, a good-looking young man, as her ex-boyfriend. Stewart begins his slaughter of Stacey’s character by telling the assembled crowd that one of the things that freaked him out about Stacey was that she passed gas frequently and would blame it on the pets. Now, I’m no Stacey fan, but I don’t think there would be a jury of women in the world that wouldn’t let her off scott free had she decided to end Stewart right there. If the look she gave him had carried physical punch, she would have done just that. However, Stewart managed to survive long enough to tell the crowd that Stacy also loved to get her dates to pay for expensive bottles of wine ($200-$500) whenever they took her out. Stacy breaks the “no-talking” rule and vehemently decries Stewart as a cad, but interestingly enough, does not dispute his claims. Her layered makeup cracking under the pressure, I fear Stacy will start disintegrating before our eyes ala the Wicked Witch of the West, but they mercifully cut away.
Let’s Hope Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti Aren’t On the Menu
Monday morning (if we can believe that it is Monday) rolls around and Marty and the women gather round the kitchen table for breakfast. I’m not sure if it’s his expressionless, botox-injected face or his shifty, awkward mannerisms, but something bothers me about Marty. His every word seems to drip the false sincerity of a serial killer. The women apparently dig on his creepy vibe, however, and giggle at his every utterance. They all light up when he announces that he has arranged for private dates with all three of them. Two of them have their hopes momentarily dashed, however, when he asks Suzanne to accompany him on the first date. He casually mentions that they may or may not come back that night to which Stacy snaps, “We’ll come looking for you if you don’t.”
On Suzanne’s date, Marty takes the blonde on a “romantic” bike ride through the countryside to a vineyard where they stomp on grapes together. With the elegance of a sixth-grader at his first dance, Marty kisses Suzanne after surprising her with a violinist. Apparently swept away, Suzanne says that if Marty were to propose she’d say yes.
Stacy was taken on a climb through the snowy mountains on some sort of ski-like contraptions. Forgive my lack of knowledge in the way of winter sports. It might have been a cross-country skiing thing, I don’t know. I’m from the south. We don’t go tromping around in the snow if we can help it, much less uphill on a date. In fact, Marty’s “dates” seem way too much work for this girl. As soon as he told me we’d be bicycling or climbing mountains, I’d be on my cell phone hailing a cab. Stacy takes a reasonable approach to being stuck with such a ludicrous man and watches him chop firewood as she relaxes on the porch demanding a “great big fire”. Later on, they snuggle by the fire that Marty presumably built and whisper cringe-inducing sweet nothings to one another.
Marilyn’s date was a little more laid back. She had told him she hadn’t been to the beach since she was a little girl, so they went on a beach date. They snuggled on the cliffs while Marty kissed her as well. Then they are shown horseback riding along the water’s edge. Marilyn said she was imagining their wedding on the cliffs of that beach. I’m speechless that a woman that seems to have as much going for her as Marilyn thinks the best she can do is be sampled along with two other women by an unctuous contestant on a dating show.
Dating the Daughters
Brooke explains that since the final decision is up to her and her two sisters, they decided to take the ladies out for dates of their own. First, they take Marilyn to a Honky-tonk. This would have sent me screaming for the door even if the bachelor was Tom Cruise, but Marilyn seems excited. Her enthusiasm fades, however as an envelope arrives at the table. They learn that Marilyn and Brooke must compete on the mechanical bull for possession of a bad fact about Marilyn.
I’ll just say right now that the bull competition was, in fact, bull. I rewound several times to compare the two “rides” and unsurprisingly, Marilyn was set up to fail. While Brooke was given several gentle rocks to get her bearings, Marilyn was immediately whipped around at full speed and was quickly thrown from the bull, losing the chance to destroy the bad fact. The big secret turns out to be that Marilyn once got married and divorced on the same weekend. The girls are horrified and Marilyn blames her youth. She explains that as soon as she realized her mistake, she “undid” it, but the girls are unimpressed.
Stacy’s date with the girls took place at a modified drag strip. As they watched the cars race one another, the daughters begged Stacy to try it with them, but she refused, saying she was too afraid. Nicole says they weren’t going to make her, but they quickly “happen” upon another envelope. Stacy learns that unless she beats the girls on the drag strip, a bad fact will be revealed. She gets strapped into the car and looks as if she’s about to pass out from fear. Incidentally, these “dragsters” are on rails with automatic braking systems, so I’m not sure what Stacy is afraid of, but whatever. I’m afraid of clowns, so who am I to judge? Anyway, Stacy loses and her bad fact is revealed. As she looks on sourly, the Nicole reads that Stacy tells men she’s not interested in that she’s a lesbian. The daughters feign shock at this revelation, but I find it hard to believe that the three women have never even heard of this avoidance tactic. It’s time-honored.
Suzanne gets to play roller hockey with the girls and they all seem to have a lot of fun. Suddenly a strange little man shows up with her bad fact envelope. The girls are given sixty pucks and told that they have to try to score against Suzanne as a goalie. If they score less than six times, they must give the envelope to Suzanne. When they begin, the girls are dismayed to discover that Suzanne is actually an apt goalie. So, they cheat. They all shoot their pucks at her at once until they’ve scored the required points. I’m starting to think there is no way that someone can keep their bad facts to themselves. Suzanne is no exception, and the girls learn that she once spent over $6,000 on a single shopping spree. As long as she was spending her own money, I’m not sure why this was a problem, but the women seem troubled.
Reunited at the house, the women have a cookout with Marty and his family. Everyone enjoys themselves around the pool and then Marty suggests they go inside for ice cream. Marty mutters that he feels like a kid when he eats ice cream in a voice that could just as easily be saying, “It puts the lotion on its skin.” We are saved from further uncomfortable Marty-speak by the ring of the fax machine. The daughters are told that they must pick the two least compatible women to “clean up” after lunch. Which we all know means “take a lie detector test”.
The women are sent upstairs while the girls discuss the issue with their father. Nicole asks Marty who he would choose and he names Marilyn and Suzanne. Nicole disagrees because she thinks Stacy is closing back up. As Marty defends his position, the girls become every parent’s worst nightmare right before his eyes. They tell him he has no say in the matter, that he made the choice to leave it up to him and it was now out of his hands. Marty is then sent to his room by his power-crazed daughters and they turn on one another. Nicole and Jennifer argue about who to choose and they end up letting Brooke decide.
Ultimately, Brooke decides on Stacy and Marilyn. Shocked by their decision, Marty says he couldn’t believe his daughters were going against him. Maybe he should have considered that possible scenario before giving them the green light to choose his bride. Anyway, the women tearfully head out to the pool where they find Pete, the Lie Detector Guy. They are taken into the pool house for their tests. I’ve indicated their answers with a :up for the truth and a :down for a lie.
Q-Are you falling in love with Pete?
Q-Can you see yourself married to our dad for more than a weekend?
Q-Do you think you are the better match than the other women?
Q-Will you be faithful?
Q-Would you make us dinner every Sunday night?
Q-Would you stay with our dad for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do you part?
A- I do :up
Q-Do you like Suzanne?
Q-Are you falling in love with my dad?
After the tests are completed, the family and the three women gather in the living room for the decision. The girls tearfully explain that they’ve developed feelings for all the women and find it difficult to send any of them home. Marty tells them he loves them no matter what they decide. Finally, they announce that Marilyn will be going home. Marilyn leaves gracefully, saying that the girls knew what was best for their father. She says goodbye to Marty at the door and says she’ll never forget him. When she says she left her heart in the house and will never be the same, I want to smack some sense into her.
Stacy and Suzanne cry as well but are grateful to be in the final two. In fact, everyone cries on this show. All the time. They both claim to love Marty and will be married to him soon. Which woman will be right? Watch next week’s finale or check out the wonderful recap that you’ll find here.
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