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I bet someone over at Fox was really hoping that this pair would take the bait and the ex-Marine would go all crazy on the Frenchman for being, well…French. Luckily these folks didn’t follow that carrot, but they do continue down the path started last week: one side is on a quest for cleanliness and the other is on a mission for emotion.

Whip it real good.

Stella, our retired Marine, has had a lousy night’s sleep. She had to deal with a leaping crazy man chopping a spider into tiny pieces and a bathroom that was less than ideal. She wakes up and groggily heads to the kitchen only to find a dead mouse trapped under a glass baking dish. The camel’s back has broken, and Stella convenes a family meeting. She says that this crazy living has got to stop and the house needs to be thoroughly cleaned. She privately says Francois needs to cut out acting like a nutbag and do some work around the house. At first, Francois is what Tom Cruise and I would call “glib,” but later on in a private interview, he says he doesn’t like being a slave to the house, so he doesn’t like to clean. But he also says he’s fallen under Stella’s spell so he will act like a good slave and clean the house.

As much as Stella tries to whip that family into ship shape, Lisa is working on bringing out the emotional side of Jim. It’s an odd scene—Jim is sitting on the top of the jungle gym/slide thing in his back yard, and Lisa is mindlessly wandering around the yard. She voices over that she knew she’d have a tough time with the military aspect of Jim’s life but she’s grown to like him and see he’s more than just another Marines dude. She broaches the subject of making puppets again with him—she seems to think that making puppets would be the cure to any and all emotional ills. (What the hell, send her over to the Middle East and let’s give it a go. Can’t hurt to try, right?) She sidles up to the puppet making by asking Jim what kind of tools he has because she wants to do the project with Breanna. He’s cool with that, because Bre likes crafts, but when she suggests he participate as well, he balks. Lisa says she sees a hurt little boy inside Jim and wants to try to draw him out.

Saving the pooch’s privates.

Cleaning day has arrived, and Stella has planned on deeply cleaning the whole house—she wants to rid the abode of all the dead bugs, the live bugs, and mice carcasses. She finds dried up dog poop, and tells Francois to clean it up, but he’s more interested in poking it with a pen. We then see Francois jumping around, acting his weird self, cleaning all manner of things. He’s got enough energy to power a small town, but his cleaning technique is less than refined. Finally, it is time for the coup de grace: washing the dog. Stella, Francois, and son Theo get the dog in the tub. Stella, barely able to stand the dog stench, directs the guys in cleaning the dog, who seriously wants out of that tub. They finally get the dog soaped up, and the dog calms down, and almost seems to enjoy it. Or maybe she enjoys mocking the people who are scrubbing her up. Stella barks orders, and Francois says it’s like being in a war zone, like he’s in Viet Nam operating on a GI to save his life. Stella then demands that Theo clean the dog’s privates with a washcloth. Francois does not like the idea of his son touching the dog like that, but relents. Then, in what could be one of the most disgusting scenes, Francois washes his face with the same washcloth that Theo used to clean the dog’s backside. Disgusting, sure, but nevertheless it was quite hilarious.

Puppet Master

Lisa and Breanna have obviously been to the craft supply store. They’ve got colored modeling clay and some Styrofoam balls to make their puppets. Lisa helps Bre start her puppet while Jim does some dishes, and, after a while, Bre asks Jim to join them. Jim says in the interview segment that he wouldn’t normally do puppet making, but he’ll do anything to make his daughter happy so he went along. He ended up making a crazy guy puppet with a hooked nose, teeth that he pulled out of some stash of maybe Halloween stuff he had in his garage, and punk hair. The puppet was really cute and funny. Lisa was surprised at how much Jim enjoyed himself and she thought they really had a breakthrough on his emotional level. Of course, this all supports her theory that puppets are the key to world peace. Maybe W’s plan to send more troops to Iraq should be revised to send 20,000 puppet makers to Iraq. That’s a lot of modeling clay and Styrofoam.

The road to hell and bad puppetry are paved with good intentions.

After a hard day of cleaning, Francois decides everyone should go out for dinner. His goal is to find out what makes Stella tick. So, he starts out asking her why she joined the Marines, which is a fair enough question. She tells him that her dad committed suicide when she was five and her mom never really recovered, so she had a really hard time when she was little. She eventually moved in with her older sister, who was married to a Marine, so after high school, she enrolled in the Marines too. She said she had a lot of anger at her father for a long time, but has let go of the anger and just pain is left. Francois privately says he is amazed at this story and he finally sees that Stella is a survivor of a tremendous tragedy that she did not deserve. He decides he wants to show her a vision of paradise and that she can evolve her life into happiness.

Francois’ method for such a demonstration is to put on a puppet show. Now, I don’t know about you, but puppet shows to me are some puppets being moved around and they act out a story, maybe voiced by someone off stage or behind a curtain, or very high up like a marionette. Francois’ approach is far different. He first hands Stella some pretty flowers, which she loves, and then he asks her to come in to another room because he’s got something to show her. Based on what I know of Francois, that last statement would give me pause. Stella does follow him in to the other room where he proceeds to put on the show of her life. He picks up a different puppet for each character, but then puts them down. He’s mainly using a pointer, indicating which puppet he’s talking about. Then he make a grand statement at the end about finding happiness, while pointing at a painting. The guy’s aim is admirable, but his presentation skills are lacking. Stella appreciates what he’s trying to do and thanks him.

These candles are killing me.

It’s time for the wives to write their disbursement letters. Have you all noticed that each and every time, whether it be indoors, out of doors, in the toilet, on the roof, in a swimming pool, whatever, the wives always have a candle burning when they write these letters? I know they’ve got to do the wax thing for the seal, but couldn’t they just get those sealing waxes with the wick in them? In any event, Stella and Lisa sit down to write their letters then tell the families that it is time to leave.

Lisa says she wouldn’t normally hang out with Jim and the military type, but she’s learned to appreciate him and will miss him and Breanna. Jim also says that Lisa is a good woman and he’ll miss her. Stella similarly says that she’s come to appreciate Francois’ zaniness and abundant energy. She even poses with him in a picture styled in an homage to American Gothic, suitably re-titled Franco American Gothic, in which Francois is dressed in his beret and typical French attire, and she has a beret on and holds the big baker’s paddle thingamajig that pushes bread in an oven.

These people are too polite.

Eventually the moms depart in taxis and meet up at yet another large house with a little table and two chairs in a big, otherwise empty, room. Stella is anxious to meet Lisa and wants to bring up the housekeeping issues, which she does. She first says that she had a great time and the family is awesome, and Francois is full of energy, but the house was dirty and the accommodations were less than stellar. Lisa says she’s sorry for that, but she’s the major income provider and has to do the bulk of the cleaning, and some things don’t get done. Stella says she tried to whip Francois into shape on that issue, and Lisa seems kind of pleased at that notion.

Lisa then says she anticipated having problems with Jim because of the military issues, saying that she didn’t like the guns and didn’t like glorifying violence and war. But she goes on to say that Jim, despite having issues opening up emotionally, really came out of his shell when they made puppets and suggests that Stella continue to encourage him to be more feeling. Stella says she loves her husband and will always encourage him. She then says that she’s happy and sad that this journey has come to an end. At the uttering of this sentence, Chris Harrison jumps out from the curtains with a couple of roses and some champagne.

Cash distribution is always an issue/Please, someone, pass the tissue.

Lisa arrives home to big hugs from her family. Stella also gets hugs and a cake and roses (Chris Harrison must have stopped off there first). Both moms are thrilled to be home, but Stella cries more with joy. Finally, it’s time for the disbursement report.

Stella has divided the money for Lisa’s family in a very lovely letter thusly: $10,000 for the kids’ college fund (whether it was $10K each or $10K total was a bit fuzzy); $1,000 for a bed and breakfast getaway for Francois and Lisa, $9,000 for fixing up the house; $10,000 for the puppet studio; and $9,000 for expanding the bakery. Despite Fox’s promo the contrary, they are thrilled with this result. Lisa summarizes her experience as reaffirming her love for her unique family.

Lisa divvied up the money for Stella’s family via poetry. And poorly written poetry at that—no consistent rhyme scheme, meter or mode. She’s as bad at poetry as Francois is at puppetry. This is how it shook out: $3,000 for Jim to use on his boat and boating accessories; $5,000 to Breanna to experience life; $5,000 to Breanna to travel the world (now remember, Breanna is 10 years old); $10,000 for natural/organic foods, $20,000 to fix up the basement, and $6,000 for a dinner table and fancy plates. They aren’t all that thrilled with this distribution. Stella thinks that much money for Breanna is inappropriate. She also says she’s got a beautiful table so she doesn’t get the last item. On the other hand, I kept seeing them eat off of paper plates with plastic forks so maybe she wanted them to order some nice Quimper faience. Jim is outdone with the idea of spending $10,000 on organic foods, when he’s prefer a steak. Jim needs to wise up because steak can be “organic” in the food sense, and is definitely organic in the Organic Chemistry sense. But, like Lisa, Stella concludes that she is very blessed and really appreciates her family.

Tune in next week when the infamous God Warrior is back. It will probably take all my restraint not to hop in the car, drive 45 minutes, and slap that woman into next week. If no recap is posted, I’m likely in jail for assault and will jail house post for bail money.