The Beast on the Stairs
Hi, everyone! Welcome back to Celebrity Mole Playhouse, where we pick apart the madcap shenanigans of our quartet of I’m-sure-I-know-them-from-somewhere “celebrities.” We’re finally down to the last “thumbprint episode,” where one of the contestants gets escorted to the Loser’s Limo after seeing red. From here on out, the players’ roles are clear: the Mole continues to try to fool the viewing audience while the final two players, who already know who the Mole is by this point, try to slip ground-up sleeping pills into the other player’s drink. Anything for the upper hand when it comes to a celebrity scrum for $151,000.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a look at the episode itself. As per The Mole Handbook Section 1.3.2 (Rules Governing the Use of the Ugly-Cam), the show opens with all the remaining players taking their turn at spewing some meaningless “insights” into the camera. Apparently, most of them didn’t get the memo about using their Ugly-Cam time to restate fundamental rules of the game like everyone else. No, these guys want to discuss the departure of Corbin Bernsen the week before. Now I can forgive Frederique for making mention of Mr. Bernsen, but the other three all appear to have been born and raised in America. Haven’t they learned the lesson yet that the guy is a loser and not worthy of discussion? Sheesh, what does it take, people?!
Anyway, the first game takes place on a beautiful beach on the Big Island (according to the helpful text at the bottom of the screen). And, after three weeks of pretty solid game choices, the show’s producers finally suffer a misstep with a standard tee-hee-let’s-flip-flop-traditional-gender-roles stinker. Ahmad tells the boys they have to do a hula dance for half an hour. He even hands the pair a grass skirt and a coconut bra to wear, just to bludgeon everyone watching at home with the notion that hula dancing is a female activity. Why he didn’t paint mustaches on the ladies and hand them a pile of porn magazines, I have no idea.
Instead, they are squeezed into wetsuits and given surfing lessons. And here’s the setup: if each of the women can stand up on their board and ride a wave for just five seconds, the team wins $20,000, provided the men remember to keep dancing the entire time. Sounds easy, right? But wait! Nobody told the guys they’d have to hear a ukulele-accompanied rendition of The Official Mole Song of Insanity, “Tiny Bubbles.” How diabolical! Regular Mole viewers well remember Big Al’s descent into madness at the hands of Don Ho last season. Surely two lowly celebrities can fare no better in the face of such sinister music, right? We’ll see.
While Michael and Erik engage in a modified “Changin’ a Light Bulb” hula, Kathy cranks up her best Bill the Clumsy Mole impersonation. For no reason at all, she just rolls upside-down in the water waiting for the next wave. Mole. Frederique, meanwhile, struggles with a wave or two before getting the hang of it and executing not one but two lengthy rides, including one ten-second masterpiece. Back to Kathy, who is now complaining about sweat in her eye and a mildly scraped ankle. Her physical ailments are too much for her, and she withdraws from the game after ten minutes of dedicated whining. Mole.
Although the team does not win $20,000, Ahmad offers Erik a chance to garner $10K more for the group by outlasting Frederique’s record of a ten-second ride on a surfboard. When he asks Erik how long he could stay up, the shrewd young man sizes up the surf and offers a conservative estimate of “nearly a minute.” I will admit that I know nothing about surfing, but it seems to me that in order to stay up for a minute, he would need to complete the last few seconds of his run in the parking lot of the Big Island Chuck E. Cheese. Maybe he was anticipating a giant earthquake-spawned tsunami that would kill the other contestants. Whatever his initial reasons, he was finally able to dicker himself down to a mere twenty seconds, which, of course, he was unable to execute. He lasted eleven seconds before dashing himself on the rocks close to shore. Net increase to pot: $0.
The next game is more of a series of simple exercises with exemption from execution as the grand prize. (Lot of “ex” words in that sentence, huh? I did that on purpose.) As an afterthought, some money for the pot is dangled at the end, but the real race is for the exemption. The contestants are blindfolded and driven to a secret location, where three rounds of dumbed-down celebrity-style brainteasers are played. The first round is a math game. Players get to work together in 2-person teams to figure out some rudimentary mathematical patterns. The team that solves two such puzzles first moves on to the next round. Kathy and Erik go first and race through the problems in a brisk two minutes, twenty-three seconds. Up next, Michael and Frederique haven’t even established the pattern of the first puzzle at the 2:23 mark, but they have apparently discussed every possible mathematical permutation of the three key numbers in that time except, of course, for the correct one. They finish in an absurd nine minutes and thirty-five seconds. But, to their credit, they did fashion some pretty fine excuses for their abysmal showing. Michael plays the cool kids’ “I hate math” card and skates through the round with no penalty. Frederique points to her Dutch heritage as the primary reason for her delay in solving the puzzles. I had forgotten that the official numbering system of the Netherlands is, of course, Roman numerals, not Arabic like the rest of the civilized world. If only the first four bubbles had said XV, XIV, X, and CCXC, it would’ve been smooth sailing into Round II.
Instead, it’s Kathy and Erik, who get to answer ten ridiculously easy multiple-choice questions. Again, the fastest one to correctly answer all ten questions advances. There’s really no reason in the world that either one of them should have missed any of the simple little analogy problems, but of course, they do, which is great for us because we can feel superior to an actual celebrity while we scream at the television that Marconi invented the radio. In truth, it seems that many of the questions were written just to ensure that our celebrities would have to say words like “cock” and “Uranus” on the air. If that’s all they were shooting for, they should’ve called me. I could have supplied them with several winners. Example: “Cat is to bob as mouse is to: A) fork, B) tractor, C) telephone, D) tit”. Snicker, snicker. At any rate, Erik manages to say “Uranus” three seconds faster than Kathy can say “cock,” and so he advances to the final round.
In the last round, the three losers get those freaky steady-cams strapped to their heads so we can get an eerily motionless and far too detailed view of their faces as they run around outside looking for Erik. For his part, Erik simply has to win a game of Memory to earn an exemption. Granted, he’s only a half-mile away from the searchers, but geez, if you’re going to just give him the exemption like that, why not completely dispense with the illusion that this will be challenging for Erik? Maybe have him play a quick game of Solitaire Slapjack instead. Well, anyway, if Erik somehow turns out to be the guy from Memento who can’t manufacture new memories, the searchers can add $20,000 to the pot. If he’s got comparable intelligence to a wild chimpanzee, though, they won’t, and he’ll be exempt from elimination in the next quiz.
Oh, what do you know? He clears the board almost instantaneously and nestles into the couch to await the arrival of the others. Michael takes the exhaustive search approach and enters every restaurant in a three-mile radius from the drop-off point. Kathy takes the Mole approach and walks slowly around, asking questions, before jumping into a car with the current world champion of slow driving. And Frederique takes the dead sprint approach, which almost works for her until she mounts the actual stairs of the target restaurant. The stairs, unfortunately, are occupied by the fearsome Beast, Guardian of the Top Floor. Because researchers are just minutes away from finalizing the cure for cancer on the second level of the Martini Yacht Club, the Beast takes it upon himself to intercept the dangerous Frederique. A skirmish ensues, in which the Beast nearly claims Frederique’s shirt as a keepsake for his selfless effort. The cameramen stops him, however, and our heroine finally pushes past. As she runs into the restaurant, Mole producers drive a stake into the Beast’s heart and vanquish him forever. He is nowhere to be seen when Kathy arrives moments later. Of course, the scuffle on the stairway disrupted everything in the second-floor research lab, and scientists are going to have to start from scratch again on the revolutionary cancer cure, but at least the other celebrities arrive in time to see Erik lounging on the furniture.
Following dinner and the Quiz, the finalists file into the Execution Chamber and race to claim the three rightmost chairs. Since the last two victims sat in the far left chair, this sort of superstitious effort is pretty savvy. Michael has been advised by his wife not to fight for a chair, so he politely accepts the Death Seat. Ahmad enters Michael’s name, and we see the very rare first-name red thumb! Good thing the condemned man was offered birthday cake earlier in the evening. He can eat it in the Loser Limo while pondering what went wrong.
Only two more weeks left. Plenty of time to waffle on your picks for the Mole and winner until you finally join me in the Mole=Kathy, Winner=Erik camp.
Until next time, may your Rock-Paper-Scissors opponent disqualify themselves with a blatantly illegal single finger.
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