Race to the Altar Ep. 4 Recap: Susan and Coyt-Us Interruptus?
Race to the Altar Ep. 4 Recap 8/23/03: Susan and Coyt-Us Interruptus?
Welcome to the first episode of Race to the Altar at a new night and time. For those of you who don’t know, Saturday night is like the redheaded stepchild of network time slots, where shows programmers don’t really want to acknowledge anymore go to fade quietly into obscurity (not so much Prime Time anymore, as “Past-Its-Prime Time”). Although the move doesn’t exactly bode well for the future of the series, that doesn’t mean we’re alone here and can’t still have fun (in fact, I think was one of the most thrilling episodes yet)! So if you’re here with me for the recap, let me hear you say, “HEY!” *Crickets chirp in response*
Here’s a look at our remaining couples: winless wonders Grace & Robert, daring doctors Carolyn & Ethan, rising contenders Tonya & Andree, hearsay makebates Cindy & Chris, and competitive juggernauts Susan & Coyt.
Wake Up and Smell the Resentment
It’s morning at the Venetian, and there’s a pipin’ hot pot of resentment brewing for breakfast. Grab yourself a mug, there’s plenty for everyone: there’s resentment between the fiancés, resentment between teams, resentment between recappers who usually cherish having weekends free but are now stuck writing on the holy day of rest and the time slot swapping network execs they’d like to coldcock (not that I, um, know anything about that)…
The show opens with Coyt and Susan bickering vociferously about things like trust, drinking, communication, etc. In a moment of self-reflexive contemplation rare for Reality TV participants, Coyt shares an interesting bit of insight on what it’s like to be in front of the lens 24/7: “You kind of forget that the cameras are there and even if you know they’re there, there’s only so long that you can really suppress who you are and what you’re thinking…and even the dynamics of your relationship.” This plays over a montage sequence of all the couples caught in candid moments in their rooms: Robert wrestles with Grace on top of the bed, who scolds him when he tries to untie her bikini top; Ethan pins Carolyn down on the sofa in what I can only guess is an episode of flatulence, based on her comments that he is “stinky” and “just polluted” (?!) and should “Get away from me”; Andree attempts to coax Tonya, who’s curled up on the floor, to come to him; and Cindy, lying in bed, tells Chris to turn off all the lights in the suite, to which he snottily replies that “It’s a lot of work…easy for you just sitting there.” Work to turn off some lights, Chris? I suggest he try working in a coal mine sometime, but then we wouldn’t want Mr. Milquetoast to ruin his shoes. The sequence, however, sheds a warmly humanizing light on the couples. They could be any average couple, loving for the most part but prone to ticking each other off from time to time, especially when stress levels are high.
And the stress levels have been climbing with every episode. The couples gather together to play cards and decompress as they await the coming physical challenge. Tonya talks about how the dwindling number of couples increases the pressure to win challenges, while Carolyn speculates that the couple most at risk for elimination this week is Susan & Coyt because their ability to win challenges has made “a lot of couples see them as a real threat.” Susan & Coyt are not oblivious to the growing resentment of their wins--Susan herself expresses the fear that if she and Coyt do not become a Power Couple, they will be “the first pick to go home.”
Get Your Game On
The couples are in a van, psyching themselves up as they are driven to the location for the evening’s big challenge. Cindy says they caught a glimpse of the “intimidating” set-up for the stunt on the way up. All along the way, Andree attempts to pep-talk avowed “wuss” and severely acrophobic Tonya into calming down for the event. “You’re always talking about your faith, here it is right here,” he says. In a masterful act of deflection, Tonya asks “Can we focus on Robert? Robert’s scared too.” Robert turns away from them in embarrassment, and I’d almost feel sorry for him if I could only stop laughing for a second long enough.
Challenge #1: Leap of Faith (or, Get Your Lame On)
That evening, the couples are assembled at the top of a 12 story parking garage next to the Palms, high above the glimmering cityscape of Vegas. Lisa Dergan greets them looking centerfold-sexy as usual, in a tight black halter top, but the challenge tonight is not for the guys to keep their eyes off her boobage, but to run off the corner of the building harnessed to a large, rotating, L-shaped scaffold and toss as many giant gold rings as they can to their fiancées, who stand on a platform suspended above the ground. The couples each get one minute to perform the challenge, and whoever completes the most successful tosses becomes Power Couple #1. As with all TV stunts, however, there is an additional catch. The couples must complete least 5 successful ring tosses, otherwise the platform will drop out from beneath the ladies and they will plunge deliriously down to the street below (on a bungee, of course).
First up is Robert & Grace. A frightened Grace repeatedly tells Robert that they have to get 5 rings. She catches the first 2, but she drops the next 2. They manage to find time to bicker in the midst of the challenge, with Robert yelling, “Do you wanna fall?” and a Grace’s cries of encouragement morphing into shouts of anger. She catches a third ring, but fumbles one more, and the time runs out, leaving pretty little Grace to plummet down a full twelve stories with her hands clamped over her face. If lame was the game, Grace & Robert would have a lock on it by now.
Next comes Andree and Tonya, who seemed okay with the stunt, until they got to the top if the building. Andre assures her that she will be safe, to which she says she doesn’t want to drop. “I thought you had faith that I was gonna get you 5 rings. See, you doubt me now,” Andree says, frustrated, “That’s where the problems are gonna come into play.” So the Leap of Faith goes from literal to deeply symbolic, as the moments pass and Tonya keeps saying “I can’t do it” and “I don’t want to.” Andree promises her at least 5 rings (and there’s something in his voice that gives me no doubt that he would), but despite his assurances, Tonya starts crying, and pleads for him not to make her do it, to which he replies that he won’t force her to do it, but will be sorely pissed if she doesn’t. I feel bad for Tonya, who is so clearly terrified, and I feel bad for Andree, who is so confident and reassuring and whom we know wouldn’t let her down, but I feel worst for the poor stunt/safety guy behind Tonya, to whom she’s holding on for dear life. They’re gonna need the jaws of life to un-clamp her from his arm. She vacillates between willing to do it, and not willing to do it for what seems like 5 million years (probably longer for the poor safety guy), but ultimately refuses and inches her way off the platform to go sob alone in the parking lot, leaving behind a very pissed Andree, and a probably very bruised safety guy.
Carolyn & Ethan say that walking up to the platform, they knew this would be their winning event. They do a pretty good job, and become the first couple to get 5 rings, and Carolyn avoids having to fall. They’re followed immediately after by Cindy & Chris, who are using the Susan & Coyt “I Love You” strategy to get them through the game. Chris, despite the fact that he runs like a girl, does pretty well for his part and Cindy does not drop a single one, giving them the lead with 6 complete tosses. “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” Carolyn laments after watching their brief lead so quickly erased.
Finally, it’s time for Susan & Coyt to take the Leap of Faith. Susan misses the first toss, which she says made her heart sink and prepare to take a fall; however, both she and Coyt recover quickly, and go on to catch the next 6 rings, putting them in a tie with Cindy & Chris.
Lisa informs the two couples that the tiebreaker entails them to do the stunt again, this time with the positions of the men and women to reversed, and after 60 seconds, the platform will drop no matter what. Susan & Coyt are up first. It looks considerably harder for Susan to build enough momentum running to leap off the building, and Coyt fumbles her first toss but keeps his cool. He catches the second, but her third and fourth tosses come up short. Everyone watches in breathless anticipation as Susan completes a successful second pass to Coyt. She is about to attempt one more, but the buzzer sounds out, and Coyt yells out “I love you!” arms in the air, just before plunging down into Bungee-ville. Susan appears disappointed in her performance.
It’s Cindy & Chris’s turn to go, and again it appears much harder for Cindy build momentum running while trussed up on the scaffold than it did for Chris (although his running still looks way girlier). Nevertheless, they make the first toss, though the second falls short. However, Chris manages to catch the next two right before time runs out and he himself takes the bungee plunge. With 3 rings, Cindy & Chris have narrowly beat out Coyt & Susan to become Power Couple #1. They are totally thrilled, especially having been so close several times, and look the happiest they’ve been all series-long.
Conversely, Susan & Coyt appear fairly disappointed. Robert declares, via voice-over, that when Susan & Coyt lost the challenge, he and Grace were really happy. “Everyone else wanted what we wanted,” Robert says in a post-challenge interview looking the happiest he’s ever been all series-long, “And that was for Susan & Coyt to lose.”
Get Your Blame On
Back at the Venetian, post-challenge resentment between Tonya and Andree continues to percolate. “She’s probably upset that I was upset with her,” Andree explains, though Tonya says that if they are eliminated as a result of her not attempting the challenge, she’ll feel guilty. Andree feels that by refusing to take the Leap of Faith, it has been a test of her faith in him, and the result is not positive. They keep their distance and sleep apart for the night.
Meanwhile, night-vision cams capture Cindy & Chris laughing like hyenas in their suite and jumping for joy on their beds. They profess the feeling that there really aren’t any commitments left among the 5 remaining couples. Chris asks Cindy: “Are you more proud of Tonya not going than us winning?” which totally sucks, considering how highly Tonya seemed to have thought of St. Cindy in past episodes.
Ethan, Coyt & Susan are apparently attempting to spy on Cindy & Chris, or at least figure out what room they’re in, as Ethan appears to listen at the door. Ethan confesses that he feels uncertainty, because Chris & Cindy have no solid commitments with anyone and are therefore capable of anything at this point. Coyt declares to Ethan that he’s going to continue to trust the other couples, although in private he shows more vulnerability when he asks Susan if she thinks Cindy & Chris would vote them off. Susan answers that she doesn’t think they would, but she also doesn’t think they “can be too confident” about anything at this point.
Get Your Shame On
Another beautiful morning at the Venetian, and Coyt warns Susan that they have to do well at today’s mental challenge. He also feels like he is not getting enough support from her, and “being a realist and being a pessimist are not the same thing,” which gets a major eye-roll from the queen of eye-rolls, Susan. Susan admits that they are both “down on themselves” for their less-stellar-than-usual performances.
The couples are transported to the spa at Green Valley Ranch for some much-needed R & R (and also to get in some good T&A, i.e. shots of the contestants in their swimsuits). Who knew that the cute pool girls were there not only to serve frosty poolside beverages, but also to make for frosty poolside relations between warring fiances? One of said pool girls slathers lotion on Andree’s muscular back, pissing off an already-tender Tonya who remarks “He’s going to be divorced before he’s even married,” and gazes at them with a face that, if looks could kill, would burn through all the SPF to roast their hearts to a charred crisp. If she’s mad about this, let’s hope nobody tells her about the happy finish with the masseuse! Andree is quoted as saying that their relationship has already been previously fraught with issues of trust.
Challenge #2: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace (or Questions Guaranteed to Start a Fight)
Lisa Dergan interrupts the couples’ massages (okay, happy finishes averted) for this week’s round of potentially humiliating questions that pass for the relationship game. The first three questions were posed to the ladies…
Question #1: What is the attractive quality his ex had that he wishes you possessed?
Grace says butt, but gets no match with Robert who mumbles something that sounds like he’s clearing phlegm from his throat that I still can’t figure out. Carolyn guesses “big boobs” with a laugh, but a kindly Ethan answered height. Tonya says boobs, and this time gets a match with Andree. Susan says that Coyt’s ex “didn’t get angry fast” however his response had been straight hair. Cindy goes for the popular response bigger breasts but strikes out with Chris who in fact wish that Cindy would be a little “wild” like his ex was. Cindy seems none to happy with this wish.
Question #2: How many times did your fiancé say he thinks about sex every day?
Carolyn goes with 100, but is one digit away from a match with Ethan’s answer, which is 1000. Tonya inscrutably answers zero, which is obviously horribly, terribly wrong. Susan matches with Coyt with a clean 100, while Cindy also says 100, but Chris answers a rather meager 10. Grace says the number 13, which proves unlucky; Robert says he would have answered 13 but wrote down 20, and Lisa laughingly corrects him, saying the answer he put down was 10. What the heck has Robert been smoking?
Question #3: Of all your friends, who does your fiancé think is the hottest?
Tonya blows it when she answers Tasha; Andree actually answered Nokia (Tonya is friends with a phone?). Susan says that she thinks the prettiest of her friends is Carrie, but proving that what men think is hot and what women think are pretty can be two different things entirely, Coyt says Leah. Cindy says Melinda, but Chris answered Ruth, and they squabble because Ruth is actually her cousin. Grace & Robert finally match with Kesha, and Carolyn and Ethan strike out with Kelly and Julie, respectively.
After the first round, the three couples tied for the lead with one correct answer each are: Andree & Tonya, Susan & Coyt, and Robert & Grace. Round two begins with questions for the guys.
Question #4: What was the name of the last guy she kissed before you were engaged?
The best man, maybe? Susan & Coyt match with her last boyfriend Noel. Chris can’t remember any names and so takes a stab into thin air with Michael or Mike; Cindy doesn’t even know a Mike (her answer was Ray). Robert says Jose, but Grace said Victor. Carolyn and Ethan match with Greg. Andree answers Chuck, and Tonya is appalled because that’s her friend. Lisa said that Tonya’s answer was Stacy…that I guess can also be a guy’s name, but still can’t keep dirty minds from thinking of girl-on-girl action.
Question #5: What percentage of the time did she say you listen to her?
Chris said zero (which in my mind is grounds for slapping the mo-fo), Cindy said 50%. Robert said 100%, but Grace said 90%. Ethan said 100%, while Carolyn said 90%. Tonya & Andree match with a 50%. Coyt answers 50% while Susan says she wrote down 75%, a wrong answer that puts them in a tie with Tonya & Andree for the lead.
Question #6: Which guy, still in this game, does your fiancée think has the best body?
Now this answer, you think, would have to be a gimme—c’mon folks, it’s clearly Andree, which everyone answers and matches except for Andree, of course, who says Chris when Tonya answered Ethan (who looks pretty happy that somebody picked his body in brief a reaction shot). And Coyt answers Ethan also (grounds for slapping), and her breath Susan swears “Damnit, Coyt.” “You don’t like all the huge muscles on him,” Coyt says, in what seems like wishful thinking coming from his Twizzler-like physique. “I’ve never said that I didn’t like that,” Susan protests, and I think, amen to that, sister.
This leaves a 4-way tie for Power Couple #2: Andree & Tonya, Coyt & Susan, Robert & Grace, and Ethan & Carolyn. The only couple not left in the running are Cindy & Chris, who are already a Power Couple anyway.
Sudden Death Tiebreaker, Question #7: Which woman was most bummed out when you were engaged?
Carolyn & Ethan, Tonya & Andree both match…Then, stunningly Coyt who blows it with a wrong answer and proclaims himself an idiot, costing him & Susan the game and immunity for the week! Less surprisingly, Robert is wrong when he answers that the woman most bummed by his engagement to Grace was Grace’s mother! Gosh, I wonder why.
Tiebreaker, Question #8: What is the one thing he wishes you would stop wasting money on?
Carolyn answers clothes, but Ethan had said make-up, leaving it up to Tonya & Andree, who match with clothes and become a Power Couple again.
Don’t Hate, Deliberate
Andree says that their relationship game victory helped restore the faith that was lost between Tonya and him after the physical challenge. Carolyn thinks that her & Ethan’s commitment with Tonya & Andree is more secure than Susan & Coyt’s, so while she feels confident that they won’t be voted off, she feels that strategically it would be advantageous of Tonya & Andree to nix Susan & Coyt, and wouldn’t surprise her if they did it. Robert says that while he was “bummed” that he & Grace lost the relationship game. “But when I found out that Susan & Coyt lost, I was happy,” Robert adds, breaking out into a diaboliacal grin. Coyt admonishes Susan because it’s the first time they’ve lost a challenge with their immunity at stake.
Power couples Tonya & Andree, Cindy & Chris report to the Deliberation Room to decide the fates of their fellow Altar Racers. At long last, the winning streak of the previously indomitable Susan & Coyt has been effectively interrupted. Could this mean the end of their stay in Paradise…FOREVER? [Oops, sorry, wrong show] Or will Tonya & Andree prove to be the bigger couple and honor their commitment, despite its conspicuous flouting in the hands of Susan & Coyt when they ousted Andy & Becca two weeks ago?
The tension in the air is thick. Ethan says he’s nervous, no matter what. Robert can hardly contain his glee that Susan and Coyt are not in the deliberation room this time around. He proclaims firmly that he believes Susan & Coyt will be the ones voted off tonight, because if Cindy, Chris, Tonya & Andree are motivated to win, then that would be the best call. “They have to, no doubt, eliminate Susan & Coyt,” Robert says. Susan says that she will off be nervous, especially if their names are not the first ones called out.
You are the Weakest Link, Buh-Bye
Everyone appears at the now-familiar Altar for the somber Elimination Ceremony. Lisa delays the inevitable with some questions for the folks: Cindy responds with the usual BS about how “horrible” it is to be Power Couple, Susan admits that it is not so fun to be on the ugly end of the deliberation stick without any say in the matter, and Lisa congratulates Tonya & Andree on their comeback from Tonya’s Leap of Faith Freak Out. He says, very touchingly, that he was proud of Tonya’s coming through on the mental challenge, and proud of “Us, as a couple.” Awww…
Then the ominous music kicks in, and we learn that the first couple invited back is Carolyn & Ethan, leaving only polar opposite teams Grace & Robert (who’s wearing the biggest sh*t-eating grin on his face) and Susan & Coyt (sans smirk). It’s a breathless cliffhanger to go to commercial on, but then we’re back and Lisa reveals that the Power Couples have decided to invite back…SUSAN & COYT!
Lisa asks Grace & Robert if they saw this coming, and Grace says that they feared this every week. Lisa congratulates them for making it so far, and Grace replies, “I think we did well.” Was she watching the same show I was? The couples all give them a warm farewell, and I actually feel sad to see this young couple go.
Ye Olde Back & White Deliberation Room Flashback reveals that Cindy & Chris said explicitly to Tonya & Andree that they would hate to see Susan & Coyt voted off so suddenly. They feel they owe it to Susan & Coyt to invite them back at least one more time for having “kept us all around” so long. It seems like a pretty classy move for both them, and Tonya & Andree. And finally, the dark horse team that is Grace & Robert is sent to the glue factory to put them, and us, out of misery at last.
In an odd and bitter coda at the end of the episode, Robert confesses that he was initially rooting against Susan & Coyt because their constant winning made him “sick.” And yet, after tonight, the knowledge that Chris & Cindy, and Andree & Tonya voted them off makes him even “sicker”--and he is now rooting for Susan & Coyt to win. Huh? Whatever. Anyway, they’re planning to get married sometime in 2004.
The scenes from the next show the pressure getting higher as it gets down to the Final Four. There’s more scaffolding, more dancing, more griping, oiled-up Chippendales dancers, and more (you know you want it) Colin Cowie! And of course, what’s a Reality show without a “dramatic twist that no one sees coming”?
Don’t forget, starting next week Race to the Altar will be on Saturdays at 9pm Eastern/Pacific time (8pm Central/Mountain). Send any questions, comments, or monetary donations to snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com.