Episode 6 (2/2): The Bus Stops Here
Welcome back a little late to the tour. The bus, or at least your recapper, got stuck in the Methow Valley of Central Washington where hip hop and internet access are both scarce. Not that Iím really complaining. It was beautiful. Without further ado, letís get on with the show.
All Funked Up
After a review of Melissaís whiff at her third strike in a row, the episode opens with a sense of dťjŗ vu. Nilyene is talking about how the remaining contestants are some funky people. They stink; literally. People are still going two to three days between showers and wearing the same clothes two days in a row.
Nic says that last night he was convinced that if Melissa had stayed after three straight times in the spotlight, something would have been wrong. He then explains that Missy is just really brutal. If she expects something and she doesnít get it, your life on the bus is on the line. Ouch! You didnít have to use the right cross Foreshadowing. A simple tap on the shoulder would have sufficed.
Steve shows up wearing a natty sweat suit to deliver welcome news. Everyone needs to pack their bags because they are kissing the bus goodbye. The contestants are going to the airport to catch a plane to Las Vegas. Matthew is surprisingly excited about visiting Sin City for a man who buried his lust last episode.
After a Missy Elliott music video transition, we see the remaining contestants in a limo oohing and awing about the lights and glitz of Vegas. Matthew pops up through the skylight and waves his arms in the air. Eddie is surprised that Vegas in person looks just like on television. Someone cracks a joke about the fact that they are probably sleeping at the Holiday Inn.
We then get a close up of the Palms. Missy confesses that she decided it was time to reward the remaining contestants and show them how to live like a superstar. Their suite at the Palms comes complete with a pool table, a plasma screen tv, and a Jacuzzi. As Matthew tells us, everything is really nice and the suite is the highlight of the trip. Eddie jumps with glee on a bed. Jessica thinks the suite is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen in her life. As she explains, she doesnít see things like this every day and there is no one rich in her family she can go visit.
After examining the musical selections in the suite, Matthew decides to tease Jessica by telling her that they have NSync for her. For the first time I can remember, Jessica busts out laughing. Matthew kids her a little more, saying ďThat is a pretty tight album though.Ē He just seems like a genuinely nice guy who gets along with everyone and everything. Well, everything but his lust.
Eddie decides to pop open a bottle of champagne to celebrate ďthe Great Eight.Ē Apparently, Missy didnít think they needed the complete superstar experience because whatever the champagne is, itís not Cristal.
The next morning, Mona shows up for an impromptu visit. Yeah, right. The camera pans the suite to show just how much fun was had the evening before. There are crumpled towels and dishes covered with food strewn about and a pair of cowboy boots askew on the floor. Mona goes into a bedroom where Nic, Eddie and Marcus are sitting on their respective beds. She tells them that she wants to spend some time with them and asks them if thatís okay. As if they could say no. One of them decides to suck up to Mona by saying, ďYour smile lights up the room.Ē Mona, in her best stern mother voice, tells them thatís nice but you need to clean up the plates; they are disgusting.
Missy confesses to us that she knows the remaining contestants are talented, but fame comes with a price. She needs to know if they can take criticism, so she asked Mona to gather them up so they could reflect on their own weaknesses.
We then cut to the contestants and Mona sitting around. They arenít exactly singing Kumbaya. Mona explains to the contestants that she was hoping she could spend some time kicking it with them and talking about things that arenít so great. She asks them if they can handle it. First up for criticism is Matthew. Eddie enthusiastically chimes right in telling Matthew that he shouldnít play the role of the white boy who can dance. He then makes the inevitable Justin Timberlake reference. Matthew takes the criticism relatively well and admits that he would have done an album just like Justin.
Marcus is next. Nilyne tells Marcus that his vocal skills are phenomenal, but she zeros in on his weight. As someone who isnít exactly svelte, this is a sensitive subject. Matthew is the most tactful of the contestants telling Marcus that Missy wants to see you move around to the up tempo numbers. Marcus shrugs the healthy eating tips off saying he hears it all the time at home.
Deltrice is lucky number three. Nic tells her that her snappy comebacks sometimes rub people the wrong way. Rest assured Nic. Deltriceís comebacks are much less annoying than your towel. Eddie also talks about her snappy ass attitude. Deltrice essentially says talk to the hand. She takes pride in being emotional and isnít about to change.
Mona brings up Akilís name. Eddie tells him that he needs to quit praising people all the time and be more aggressive. Akil is not a happy camper. He sees nothing wrong with being accommodating. Someone forgot to give Akil the manual that explains that all superstars must be difficult and demanding.
Mona moves on to Eddie. Matthew jumps in and tells Eddie that he could be a little more polite. He tells Eddie that Eddie is demanding and in his best 1950s stereotypical housewife voice, Matthew says that ďAll he wants is a please or a thank you sometimes.Ē
It is Nilyneís turn next. Jessica says that Nilyne could be a little more confident and put herself out there more, and if she doesnít feel like sheís strong enough, she should just go home. Not too surprisingly, Nilyne is pissed.
When itís Jessica in the hot seat, Nic moves in to avenge his television girlfriend. He tells Jessica that although she talks about where sheís from all the time he doesnít hear that in her music. Nic thinks she needs to incorporate her background into her performances because she could help a lot of young women. Jessica confesses that she doesnít sing about her past because itís hard to cope with it.
Last, but certainly not least defective, is Nic. Jessica gives at least as good as she got from him. She tells him that itís a talent competition not a modeling competition and that sheíd love to hear what Nic has to say other than about girls. Nic then goes into ego overdrive. He informs Jessica that heís N-I-C and that is what people are buying. N-I-C is going to iron his clothes and put his swag on. Nicís speech is followed by one of those oops did I say that out loud moments by Jessica. She tells everyone that sheís going to be one of the last ones standing but sheís not going to be cocky or arrogant about it and make people hate her guts. Nicís and Nilyneís expressions were priceless.
Itís Not You, Itís Me
Matthew gives the final word on the session with Mona. He says that some of it was constructive criticism but some of it was laced with personal feelings. Matthew had to walk away at the end.
We cut to Nic and Nilyne sprawled out on a bed together. She tells him that he has a lot going for him but her feelings have made a drastic turn. She confesses to us that she had to fall back from Nic a bit because sheís not looking to get played out. Nic brings up the geographic undesirability of their relationship. I.e., sheís in Jersey and heís in Cali. He then makes the mistake of thinking heís in control of the relationship and his feelings. He tells us that heís not ready to settle down and that ďHer feelings were developing at a rate even she didnít anticipate.Ē Nilyne confesses to us that Nic tells her he cares about her and thatís cool, but sheíd rather just stay friends and nothing more.
Suddenly, itís night in Sin City. Missy tells us that itís time for the contestants to go head-to-head. For this competition, Missy has decided to add something. The winner will be exempt from the spotlight after this competition.
The contestants shuffle into a building with a boxing ring and line up next to the ring. Mona explains that Vegas is the town of championship fights. Instead of their fists, the contestants will be using their talents. The performance challenge will be to outdo one another one on one. They can rap, sing, dance, and do basically anything to knock their opponent out. Well not anything. Mona then tells them that like any prize fight there are judges. Out come the five contestants eliminated to date, Heather, Cori, Yelawolf, Frank B., and Melissa. Eddie confesses that people immediately went into defensive mode knowing favoritism would play a role.
Mona explains that the winner of each battle will stay in the ring and call in their next opponent until there is only one contestant left standing. Mona then tells them about the exemption, but reminds them that the judges will be watching and putting two of them up for elimination. In addition, they have the added pressure of Missy and the ubiquitous dancers watching ringside. To coach the contestants through the two round battles, Mona introduces WBO heavyweight champion, Lamon Brewster.
As Joe Rogan would say, Nilyne is lucky number one. The contestants are sent to a locker room to change into their fighting gear which turns out to be red or blue satin robes. Marcus confesses to us that battle rapping is kind of hard because even though itís a competition, the contestants are developing good relationships. Oof. Was that an uppercut to my jaw, Foreshadowing? In the locker room, Nic explains to Marcus that he and Nilyne have split up. Talking to Marcus, he still has the towel but seems to have lost a lot of the bravado. In fact, he sounds a little hurt.
When asked who she wants to battle in the ring, Nilyne says she wants to knock out N-I-C. Nic tells us that this is as real as it gets and that this is survival of the fittest. Before the battle begins, Lamon tells Nic and Nilyne to keep their microphones up at all times and no hitting below the belt unless you can back it up. Nic must have been distracted by his own reflection during this last instruction. Lamon then says to let it flow. Nilyne starts off by saying Nic wants to be LL and doing a funky little dance much to Missyís delight. Nic takes off the gloves, ignores the Marquis of Queensbury rules, and goes for an extremely personal attack about their relationship. Apparently he doesnít see Missyís less than amused look because he keeps it personal. Things get generally ugly between the two of them. At the end of the battle, everyone but Heather votes for Nilyne. Melissa and Cori were both appalled by Nicís performance.
Nilyne calls out Matthew next. Matthewís plan going in is to rap and be funny because the judges and Missy have already heard him sing and seen him dance. He wants to show them something else. This battle flows well and is much more in the spirit of the competition. Nilyne gets in a good blow calling Matthew, ďJustin Timberfake.Ē In the end though, Matthew wins a unanimous decision.
Lamon asks Matthew who he wants to battle next. He asks for Akil, the reluctant warrior. In keeping with his conciliatory personality, Akil doesnít like to battle. However, he feels confident against Matthew and decides to vault the ropes to reach the center of the ring. If it had been me, I would have tripped, fallen flat on my face, and broken my nose. Akil, however, lands safely and proceeds to win 5-0 after a good-spirited battle.
Akil wants to face Eddie next. As someone says, the real MCs are in the house. This was probably the best overall battle. Missy is clearly impressed. Much to my bewilderment, Eddie wins 4-1. Frank tells us that if Akil had just tightened up the first verse, he would have won. ĎKay.
Eddie calls out Deltrice. We see him confess that itís going to be hard as a rapper to beat a singer. His words prove to be prophetic. Deltrice whoops his ass 5-0 after a performance that clearly impressed both the judges and Missy.
Deltrice decides to take on Marcus next. Marcus tells us he was flattered to be one of the last contestants in the ring. Delmon admonishes Marcus that heís going against the peopleís champ ďso heís going to have to come correct, dog.Ē Marcus falls flat in the ring, tripping all over his tongue and his words. Deltrice pushes him around like heís a featherweight and once again prevails 5-0. Yelawolf confesses that he was surprised and that it was obvious Marcus had never done a freestyle battle before. Yes, yes it was.
There is only one opponent left for Deltrice to try to take down so Jessica comes out to take her on. Deltrice thinks Jessica is her biggest competition. I think there are a few other people she needs to worry about despite her successes in this performance challenge.
The Championship Fight
Jessica tells us that no one wanted to call her out because they knew I do my thing and Iím respected around here. Down, ego, down. Jessica enters the ring by rolling under the rope. This amuses Lamon. He says to Jessica that you are up against the peopleís champ, but you came here like Ali. Both Jessica and Deltrice mention money for the first time in the performance challenge. Itís still obvious that Jessica has a better voice, but Deltrice is better on her feet. There is clearly a lot of mutual respect. The two of them await the decision holding hands. Once again, Heather stands alone and votes for Jessica. Everyone else chooses Deltrice as the champ.
Jessica later says that Deltrice won fair and square and that she canít trip about it. Jessica clearly has a lot of respect for Deltrice. Deltrice feels good that her peers who doubted her had to eat their words.
The judges deliberate regarding which two contestants to nominate for elimination. Mona thought the contestants did a great job in general. All three judges were put off by Nicís performance. Dallas thought he was outside the game, Teena uses the word vulgar, and Mona says that this challenge showed Nicís weakness. The judges also agree that Akil and Matthew did well. They were surprised that Matthew didnít try to sing but relied on rhyming. Finally, we see the judges discussing Marcus. Unfortunately, they all thought his performance was weak. In the limo where the contestants are waiting, we see Deltrice running on about how things are getting tougher as the contest goes on.
The Dopes on the Ropes
The contestants are called back into the ring for the Spotlight Ceremony. The lights land on Marcus and Nic. Mona gives them the standard spiel that each will meet with Missy who will make the final decision regarding elimination. Nilyne says that the others had no clue who would come back because this was the second time in the spotlight for each.
Marcus goes back in the ring where Missy is waiting in a corner. Marcus says it sucks to be there. When Missy asks him what his excuse is this time, he says that he has no excuses. He tried to do his thing and freestyle. He also tells Missy that she knows he can sing and that he intends to stick to his guns. Marcus emphasizes that he doesnít want to go home but he knows it is Missyís decision.
Missy asks to get Nic in the ring. As heís coming to stand in front of her, Missy calls him Pretty Boy Floyd and Billy Dee Williams. Missy inquires of Nic why heís so angry. He says that heís not angry. Missy doesnít let him off the hook and tells him that heís just mad at women tonight. She scolds him about his battle style saying he was talking about all kinds of vulgar things, took it to the streets, and that it was obvious it was personal. Nic tries to justify his behavior. He says that in the ring he has to take it to the streets because heís a real MC. Missy gives him another chance asking him if he wasnít in the streets would he want his mother, sister, or daughter called that. Nic agrees with her and says thatís why I donít battle. One of Missyís singers actually talks and says that she thought what he did was completely inappropriate. Missy pounds her head against the wall again by telling Nic he should have dissed her by flowing over her not by attacking her personally. Nic proves he doesnít get it by saying to Missy, ďYou know how I am. I donít lose.Ē Watch the kidney punches, Foreshadowing.
As Marcus and Nic re-enter the ring to hear Missyís verdict, they are a study in contrasts. Marcus says that he always packs before the spotlight ceremony because he feels like he could be facing elimination. Nic, on the other hand, explains that he never packs because he knows heís not going home. Missy tells the two of them that sheís going to keep it short. After saying something nice to each of them, Missy delivers the knockout blow telling Marcus and Nic that they are both off the tour. Marcus is disappointed because he thought Missy was going to give him another chance. Nic demonstrates that heís still delusional, confidently stating that we shouldnít be surprised if Missy or Mona is hollering at him in the future.
Steve goes to the limo where the remainder of the contestants wait for the verdict. He tells them that itís just the six of them. The contestants, and especially Akil, seem to be stunned. Nilyne is pleased that Missy got rid of Nic after his performance. The remaining contestants arenít nearly in as much shock as Marcus and Nic, however. We cut back to them still standing in the ring looking like neither knows what to do next.
Viva Las Vegas
Next episode the tour stays in Las Vegas. The contestants try their luck at the tables. The remaining contestants will be their own judges. Friendships are jeopardized by money. Someone else loses their laminate.
Missy gives the final word explaining that there can only be one winner and that she chose to eliminate both Nic and Marcus at this juncture for different reasons. Nic she dumped because of the offensive nature of his lyrics. Marcus she got rid of because he didnít seem to be giving it his all. I wonder if she knew about his stepbrother at the time.
Remember to keep your hands up in the ring. Comments to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org