Race to the Altar Recap 8/13/03: Close Calls and Near Mrs.
Race to the Altar 8/13/03: Close Calls and Near Mrs.
Remaining couples: Grace & Robert, Susan & Coyt, Caroline & Ethan, Cindy & Chris, Tonya & Andree, April & Vinny
The Party’s Over
This week’s episode opens in Caroline & Ethan’s room, where a berobed Ethan (the hotel better watch out for that robe, considering how much “Roberto Venetian” seems to enjoy wearing it) sits at breakfast with Caroline, and while munching despondently on a muffin, laments the untimely departure of Andy & Becca. “It’s gonna suck, man, I’m gonna miss ‘em,” Ethan says, ripping his muffin apart, in symbolic echo if his rended heart. “I’m going to miss talking to Becka,” Caroline concurs (and yes, they actually misspelled Becca in the telecast “subtitles” adding the insult of not caring enough to spell the reject’s name correctly to the injury of elimination). Ethan says that now that Becca & Andy are gone, it will be “different”, “not as much fun”, and now more of a “game”. What did Ethan think? That they were there to sing Kumbaya together around the campfire and make macaroni art? It’s reality TV, not summer camp, and competition, not cooperation, is the order of the day.
With Friends Like These…
Apparently Coyt & Susan’s new best friends are the C+C Gossip Factory. Bright and early in the morning, instead of eating Honey Smacks, the new buddies are busy talking smack: such as Coyt hypothesizing that Robert & Grace might skate all the way through to the finals, by simply not being perceived as a threat, as Cindy & Chris lie on the bed nodding their heads in agreement like bobble-head dolls. Susan states “The only couple that I really, really, really trust is Cindy and Chris, and they’re not even in a commitment with us.” Well, if last week’s show taught us anything, Cindy & Chris are better off that way, since people in commitments with Susan & Coyt seem to get stabbed in the back. Coyt declares unctuously to Cindy & Chris, “There’s certain people that you just sort of inherently trust and like, and you guys are that for us.” The smarmy factor is magnified by the fact that Coyt says this while he’s in own his “Roberto Venetian” robe, sitting at the foot of the bed where Chris & Cindy are lying in boxers and negligee, respectively (not so that you think Cindy’s topless in boxers and Chris is donning a little pink satin number). I’m saying it looks disturbingly like Coyt’s trying to set up a three-way, or in an insidious way, set his own sort of tacit commitment with Chris and Cindy. Either prospect is sleazy. Meanwhile, Susan contemplates the issue of commitments, saying “We have to sit down and evaluate what could happen to us if we stick to that.” Oblivious doesn’t begin to describe…for her to ponder this issue now is like the engineer of the Titanic rethinking his design as the boat goes down.
Fountains of Whine
It’s 11am and the couples are all trotted out to the front of the Venetian for an interesting segment, which is not even one of the official challenges. It’s time for Wedding Décor selection! And because nothing gets the blood pumping like picking china, Colin Cowie, “wedding designer to the stars” (in case you missed it the first 50 times they told you) shows up for another 3 seconds, to assist comely host Lisa Dergan in introducing the variously colored and themed tables he designed for all the couples (such as blue-toned, romantic red, an informal beach theme, traditional white wedding). The couples are asked to each go and sit at the table of their dreams, but ay there’s the rub: there is a plate missing from each table. In order to win the table of their dreams, the groom must find the missing plate, which is at the bottom of the fountain at the front of the Venetian. The couples still seem slightly bemused, even after Lisa yells go, but soon enough the men are off and running to the fountain at streetside, where a handful of clueless tourists appear briefly alarmed by the onslaught of crazed men rushing into the water (wonder what color the National Homeland Security threatmometer was that day).
Guess who fails first and flagrantly in today’s mission? Who else but chronically pathetic Robert, who not only trips over the fountain’s edge and ends up falling headlong into the water, but also falls on top of and cuts his hands on the very gold plate that he and Grace needed to win their preferred table. Worse yet, at one point, Robert holds up said plate, but inscrutably he puts it down only for Vinny the Vulture to come in and swoop up. “Why did you let it go?” Grace demands of Robert, who responds only with a lame shrug. Vinny initially had the silver plate that Coyt & Susan wanted, and there is some funny footage of Coyt running around the fountain to chase it down. Vinny confesses in a later interview the mean-spirited but still amusing regret that he did not throw it as far as he could.
Everyone goes back to the displays, where Colin Cowie appears briefly before disappearing again. Presumably he is so busy designing weddings for stars that he can never stay onscreen for more than a nanosecond. Really, Lisa Dergan’s nipples have gotten more airtime than this man. “We end up with the beach plate, could our luck be any worse?” Grace says, exasperated. Yeah, it can; you could be stuck with a loser for a husband your entire life. The only other couple that ends up with a table they don’t like (a dramatic purple brocade affair) are Chris & Cindy.
Cindy is sore at Chris for not putting any effort into the game—he refused to dive into the fountain because he didn’t want to ruin his shoes—and remains so for the rest of the day. Back in their room, over angrily masticated sandwiches, the two remain in full-bicker-mode. Cindy chides Chris for his vanity, saying that if it had been the other way around (say, she resisted going in because of her hair) he’d have been on her case too. She certainly doesn’t care how she looks on TV, otherwise she wouldn’t be talking with her mouth grotesquely contorted with chewed up sandwich. There’s a reason that etiquette dictates not to talk with your mouth full, and evidently Cindy had certainly not learned that yet. Their argument gets so heated that Chris gets up and leaves the table, and Cindy eloquently parries his defenses with “Shut up! Shut up. Shut up. SHUT UP.” She concludes their vicious verbal brawl with “I’m probably not the right woman for you then!”
Challenge #1: High Stakes Blackjack
Now we’re talking Vegas, Baby. The couples stride into the casino dressed to the nines in nice suits and stunning cocktail dresses for tonight’s first challenge: High Stakes Blackjack. The couples are each given $10,000 of real money to bet (table minimum $500)—and keep should they win. Of course the winning couple will also be Power Couple #1. I guess they’re counting this as the physical challenge for tonight because it will surely put one’s cardio-pulmonary and nervous systems to the test.
Tonya & Andree, Grace & Robert each express the awe they felt at having so much money laid in front of them. Vinny is excited to hear that the challenge involves gambling, because according to him he has a lot of expertise in the area, and feels this gives him and April a good shot at Power Couple this week. Vinny also expresses the fact that Coyt & Susan have won three major challenges, and he feels this is “a chance to steal one from them”.
Right off the bat, Coyt & Susan throw out a huge bet of $4000. Throughout the game, Vinny & April are watching Coyt & Susan like hawks. Coyt & Susan lose the hand, which Vinny literally applauds, effectively making it clear that Vinny & April are out for Coyt & Susan’s blood this time around. Coyt laughs off the loss, though Susan appears unamused, presumably because Coyt had told her to stay on a 14. Caroline & Ethan, despite not knowing how to play blackjack (in expert Vinny’s opinion, at least) won early with some impossibly lucky hands. Grace & Robert profess their lack of knowledge of the game (surprise, surprise).
Through 10 hands, the tallies are (in order of winnings): April & Vinny ($10,800), Coyt & Susan ($7800), Andree & Tonya ($5500), Ethan & Carolyn ($4500), Chris & Cindy ($4400), and last and pretty much always least, Grace & Robert ($3900). The hands are shown in quickie-montage punctuated with shots of Lisa Dergan (in a disappointingly opaque bodice) with her index finger in her mouth in what passes for anxiety but is really a subliminal reenactment of what she probably had to do to get this host gig in the first place. After this, Vinny confesses that the only couple he had been concerned with at all were Coyt & Susan. Tonya says that they noticed Vinny & April were ahead, and had tried to scope out Coyt & Susan’s stack of chips, except Susan kept them well-hidden behind her hands.
By the twentieth and last hand, all the couples seem pretty wound up. Both Vinny and Coyt are trying to see how each others’ chips stack up. Vinny puts $1500 up for bet with 19, and Coyt $500 with 18. From out of nowhere Cindy and Chris throw a $5000 bet in, and on the last bet, they double up and go all in with 18. The dealer has only 17, and Cindy and Chris are flush with joy. Chris even leans into Cindy and says, “We did it, baby, Power Couple #1.”
The dealer counts out the final chip tallies: Ethan & Carolyn have $100, Grace & Robert $1050, Andree & Tonya $2400. Chris & Cindy start embracing as if in triumph, as the dealer counts out a whopping $17,000 in winnings. April frowns at the $14,300 they’re counted as having. And finally, the total for Susan & Coyt…$18,000, and the Lakers of RttA have done it again.
Susan and Coyt have achieved a four-peat and are again Power Couple #1. At home, my jaw is on the ground in stunned silence, as my husband cheers happily (he loves Susan & Coyt) and as polarized as we are on the issue, you have to admire this couple’s amazing ability to work together as a winning team. Meanwhile, back on the TV screen, Susan, near tears, clasps her hands together and Miss Southern Baptist looks as if she’s thanking the Lord for his assistance, as Coyt stands behind her and smiles expansively (as if to thank Mephistopheles for his assistance). Everyone else, even those who are trying desperately to mask their true feelings behind a congratulatory facade, looks as if—well, let’s put it this way, if looks could kill, Coyt & Susan would be USDA prime ground round. Vinny, especially, appears as if he’d like to take a baseball bat to Coyt’s cranium. “I’m pissed,” Mr. Blackjack Expert says, “I didn’t play the way I normally do…and it screwed us in the end.” Nice bedtime story, but excuses get you no further than the distance of a fart, especially in Lost Wages, Nevada.
As if everyone didn’t hate them enough, Coyt & Susan are shown skipping happily back to their suite, saying, “Can you believe we just won $18,000?” Susan says that the money will be used to pay off debts, such as those from credit cards and school. This is cut with footage of the other fed-up contestants, like Robert whining ineffectually, “I’m sick of them winning, I swear. I’m sorry, they just pissed me off.” Vinny, Robert, Grace, and April are all commiserating in one of the suites. Grace yells “We suck,” probably the truest statement I’ve heard this whole series. Robert hypothesizes that the couples Coyt & Susan would have to eliminate next would be their biggest competitors: Cindy & Chris, followed by Tonya & Andree. Vinny, clearly devastated by the blackjack loss, frets over the next challenge and says he feels like they’re “screwed”.
Grace Under Pressure
That evening the couples are given free time to relax, and they all go to the Stratosphere, home of the world’s highest thrill rides, over 50 stories above the glittering lights of Las Vegas. There are happy shots of everyone on the roller coaster and big shot, and everyone is finally relaxed and having a blast…everyone, that is, except for Grace & Robert, who are arguing outside on the deck because Robert refused to go on the roller coaster with her. “Can you do one thing [expletive] right? Can you?” Grace is fed up and bleeping the sorry son-of-a-beeyotch out, while he lamely explains that he “doesn’t have the stomach for stuff like that.” Their conversation is so expletive-heavy, I actually can’t quite tell exactly what’s been said, although I gather that Grace is accusing Robert of being a critter in the feline family.
But wait, there’s more! The couples relocate to the Ghostbar, where Grace and Robert spend the remainder of their night apart from each other as everyone else cuddles and dances together. Back at the Venetian, in horribly close-up shot that makes it appear as if his ears are going to eclipse the earth, Robert declares, “I don’t want to marry this Grace, the Grace that you were today. I go from wanting to marry her to like 50/50. I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes.” Grace rolls her eyes before saying, “That’s a good note to end on.” To end a marriage on, maybe! Yeesh.
I Love the Smell of Desperation in the Morning
After the commercial break, Grace & Robert are seen back together again in the morning, much calmer, and saying that in relationships, little things can always blow up. Caroline & Ethan state that “commitment or no commitment, friendship or no friendships” they’d really like to win a challenge. Vinny & April fear elimination, and also declare an intense desire to win, with Vinny saying “I want to be a power couple, that’s how much I’m tasting this, that I want to get in this game.”
Challenge #2: What If?
The couple are at the Skinpool at the Palms, a hip bar and lounge where you can dabble your feet in the cool water of the shallow foot pool while you sit at a cocktail table. Lisa Dergan reappears looking like a pneumatic Daisy Mae in little blonde pigtails, a bandanna bandeau, and the girls are all in bikini tops—this about all you’ll get in terms of excitement, as today’s relationship game is more NewlywedGame-esque Q&A.
If your fiancée saw you glance at pretty woman in public would she…
A. Laugh it off, B. Get upset, C. Does not apply because you don’t look at other women.
Coyt & Susan match with B, as do Andree & Tonya, and Grace & Robert. “She gets upset from everything,” Robert says, which for a split second seems to terrify everyone, until Grace & Robert both laugh and smooch. Vinny & April match with A, like Caroline & Ethan. Cindy & Chris are the only couple who don’t get a match, and it’s not clear what the hell Cindy’s answer was.
If once you’re married, you woke her at 3am to make love, would she…
A. Say no, B. Say yes, or C. First say no, then yes after talking her into it
Matches: April & Vinny with A, Cindy & Chris with B, Robert & Grace with A, Ethan & Caroline with B, and Coyt & Susan with C. Andree & Tonya don’t match, putting Susan & Coyt, April & Vinny in the lead with two correct answers each.
If her mother criticized you behind your back, what would she do?
A. Let her talk then tell you everything she said, B. Let her talk and say nothing, C. Tell her to stop criticizing you.
What’s dicier than a mother-in-law question? April & Vinny don’t get a match, and launch into a mini-bicker-session over it—she says she would never tell him if her mother criticized him. Cindy & Chris match with C, Grace & Robert match with B, Ethan & Caroline match with C, and Susan & Coyt match with C, Tony & Andree with A. Because of April & Vinny’s mismatch, Susan & Coyt are now in the lead with three correct answers.
If you wanted to loan $500 to a friend, would she…
A. Want to talk to friend first, B. Say no way, C. Say, yeah, of course
Matches: Cindy & Chris with C, Caroline & Ethan with C, Tonya & Andree with A, April & Vinny with A. Grace & Robert strike out again with A/B, Susan & Coyt gets no love with A/B. Grace & Robert are the only couple without 3 correct answers, so they are in last place.
If you called your fiancée and asked her to put on something sexy would she…
A. Put on lingerie, B. Wear a sexy dress, C. Wear nothing but a smile
Grace & Robert finally match with A, as do Coyt & Susan with C, Tonya & Andree with B, Cindy & Chris with B. Caroline & Ethan mismatch and overshare when he answers C and she answers B (he informs us that she sleeps naked, doesn’t wear underwear, and is always nude). Vinny answers C, and April says, stone-cold, “I am not wearing a smile right now.” This leaves Coyt & Susan, Tonya & Andree, and Cindy & Chris as the only couples with 4 answers right.
If she accidentally put a small scratch on your car, would she…
A. Tell you immediately, B. Sugarcoat it, then tell you, C. Not tell you at all.
Coyt & Susan disagree with A/B, but Tonya & Andree get a match with A. So do Cindy & Chris, creating a tie for first place.
The tiebreaker question is, if you took the phone behind closed doors and didn’t tell her whom you were talking to, would she…
A. Interrupt to ask who it was, B. Never ask, or C. Let you finish and then ask
Tonya & Andree match with A, but Chris and Cindy do not, leaving Tonya & Andree as Power Couple 2 for this week. Tonya & Andree comment that they really needed to win a challenge, if just to reassure themselves that they are here and in the game, competing.
Say Goodbye to Your Little Friends
Tonya & Andree join Coyt & Susan in the deliberation room for the first time. They all seem to agree on Grace & Robert as posing no threat (cut to Robert’s delusional theorizing that they might get cut because others might fear them “rallying in the end”—please, hold back your snickers). April & Vinny are pointed out as being strong competitors, because, as Coyt put it, “I don’t know if that’s the New York in them, but they have heart and they have will.” (Cut to Vinny saying, “I’d like to get rip-roaring drunk so if they vote me off I can go: BAH, I DON’T CARE!”)
Everyone gathers at the Altar, where Lisa asks the requisite questions. Andree gives a refreshing answer to the question of how it feels to be a Power Couple: “It feels good…a lot more secure” though they also express the pressure of having to get rid of someone. They are fairly straightforward with their answers, unlike some other couples (nudge, nudge) that, in the past, laced their speeches with florid justifications that sound insincere. Vinny is asked about the effect the game has had on his relationship with April, and he mentions that it has indeed been a strain, citing their disagreements during the relationship game.
Finally, it’s time for the invitations, in order of preference: Cindy & Chris, Grace & Robert, and lastly, Caroline & Ethan. April & Vinny have been eliminated, and Vinny looks like he’s been expecting this for a long time coming. Lisa tells the departing couple that they’ve had a great attitude about everything the whole time, and April says that they realized that “Us” was the most important thing, and that they had a new perspective on their relationship.
The goodbyes this week are much less venomous. Vinny gives Coyt & Susan credit for playing the game well. “They knew the whole time we were gunning for them and believe me, I was.” TangerineJoy will be pleased to see that the somber epitaph has returned, informing us that “Vinny and April will be married on September 6th, 2003”.
Questions? Comments? Wonder where you can get your own “Roberto Venetian” robe (it’s all the rage!)? Email me at snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com. When I finish up arguing with my husband over Susan & Coyt, I promise to get back to you.