Episode 8 (2/16): Not Living in a Material World
We are nearing the end of the tour. With only five contestants remaining, it is getting harder and harder to say goodbye. Why do I feel a creeping sense of dread this week? Iím pretty sure Iím not going to like the result. Thatís why.
Leaving Las Vegas
The review of last weekís show focuses on the budding feud between Jessica and Nilyne. Doesnít Nilyne know that this is Jessicaís show to lose? If not, Iím sure Jessica will be happy to tell her. We see Jessica prod Nilyne by telling her she thought Nilyne was going to be in the spotlight last episode. Nilyne confesses that it is her goal to knock Jessica off.
We flash back to Eddieís elimination. As he stands on the tarmac by himself, the remaining contestants emerge from the limo and hug Eddie on their way to the jet. Once they get settled in the plane, everyone congratulates Akil on his survival. Jessica tells Akil that heís a more well-rounded artist than Eddie. I glare at Foreshadowing. Akil confesses that he finds it strange that a guy like Bucky (Matthew) is still around. Akil thinks Matthew defies all expectations of a hip hop competition. Jessica attempts to give a toast on the plane saying, despite if I win or I lose Iíve never experienced things like this before. Nilyne gripes that thatís not a toast.
When the plane lands and the contestants are on their way to Hollywood, Deltrice starts giggling. Now that there are only five of them, the contestants easily fit into an SUV. Missy tells us that LA is the last stop on the tour. This is where the final winner will be decided. The SUV pulls up to a mansion. The contestants appear suitably impressed. They discover a letter on the door from Missy. She tells them that it is now or never.
Jessica has dreamed of having a mansion just like the one where they are staying. The most important thing to her about the competition isnít the $100,000. Instead, itís the recording contract and the future career. She bizarrely is shown rolling around on a bed with a basketball.
The mansion has a nice pool surrounded by torches. Akil feels like The Last Emperor and is mightily impressed by the sheets on his bed. Deltrice seems to be a little overwhelmed by the size of the place. Matthew states the obvious by saying that Deltrice and Jessica have really formed a bond. He tells us that sometimes he thinks the two of them donít see Nilyne as competition. He thinks Nilyne feels that too. Nilyne calls Deltrice into the pool. She says the last few days there has been a little tension; especially, between her and Jessica. Jessica calls Nilyne out. Matthew says that the three remaining women have strong personalities. However, he thinks they manage to joke their way out of confrontations. We then see them do just that.
Nilyne enters a huge mission style dining room where she discovers a platter oí money on the table. Missy tells us that creating an image and a look can sometimes help skyrocket a career. Therefore, she has decided to make the road challenge a limo trip to the ultra trendy shops of Melrose. She wishes the contestants good luck in creating a new look. She feels itís very important as an artist to express your own sense of style. She has given each of the contestants $500 to shop. When informed of this, the three remaining female contestants squeal and jump about. Once the SUV drops them off on Melrose, Nilyne quickly abandons everyone else saying, ďI donít have time for you alls.Ē She lets them know that she will show them what she can do with $500 and an hour.
As the contestants shop, we hear Matthew singing. Jessica chooses a light blue Adidas warm up suit which looks eerily like the navy blue Adidas warm up suit I wore in 1980 when I played junior tennis. I guess some looks are timeless. In the end, Jessica manages to spend a total of $352. Nilyne really gets in the spirit and blows $490. The Trading Spaces designers would be proud. Deltrice runs through $411. Matthew proves that although heís buried his lust, he hasnít taken a vow of poverty by spending $479. Akil proves to be the least adept at conspicuous consumption by spending a mere $249. He then tells us that heís never spent that much money on clothes in his entire life.
We cut to Mona meeting with two professional image consultants, Emil and Terrell at the mansion. Mona explains to them that Missy gave the kids some money and sent them down to Melrose earlier to shop. Mona wants Emil and Terrell to consult with the contestants and suggest outrageous wardrobes. As Emil says, she wants them to flip the script. The goal behind the challenge is to see who sticks to their guns and who gives in.
Dress You Up
Akil meets with Emil and Terrell first. At this point we finally learn something about his qualifications. Emil is the Editorial Director of Vibe magazine as well as an image consultant. Terrell is his assistant. Mona tells Akil that it is an opportunity for him to get the benefit of their experience. Emil closes in for the kill telling Akil that he could see Akilís soccer jersey, light blue warm up jacket and black pants on 50 kids on Melrose.
Emil shows him a brown mariachi outfit complete with huge sombrero. He attempts to sway Akil by telling him that you see similar outfits on the runways in Milan. The only place Iíve seen a costume like this is in chain restaurants when a band is playing ďHappy Birthday.Ē Akil comes out of the dressing room in the get up looking frankly ridunkulous. When Emil and Terrell pull out a chunky silver cross to complete the outfit, Akil rebels. He flat out tells them that he has to be himself. He might consider a Jewish star with a black fist in it. Emil and Terrell ask him if heíd be up for a Hassidic ghetto look. At this point, Akil bursts out laughing and tells them that they are killing him.
Jessica is the next
victimerr to receive a consultation. She comes into the room dressed in her warm ups and explains that sheís more of a sporty type athletic person but is also from the Ďhood and wants to represent her people. She feels comfortable in her Adidas get up. Emil turns on the charm. He tells Jessica that heís heard her music and thinks she has a beautiful voice. He says that he feels inspired by her. He wants her to try something different and that she should show herself to be a powerful, strong African woman. When she goes into the dressing room, the two guys almost blow it by giggling. Emil has to hush Terrell. They manage to pull it together before Jessica emerges wearing a traditional African dress. Unfortunately, all I can think of at that moment is the Simpsons episode where Homer wears a mumu while attempting to eat himself into a disability. But, I digress. Jessica fails the test and lets herself be talked into keeping the dress. She tells Emil and Terrell that she can see the look from an Afro centric point of view.
Matthew surrenders before Terrell and Emil even begin to use their twisted logic. He tells them that heís up for whatever. He makes the mistake of trusting them because they are professionals. Terrell and Emil tell him that his present look is very Justin. If by Justin they mean preppy, I agree. Matthew says that the one thing he doesnít do is super big. Needless to say, Terrell and Emil put Matthew in a humungous pink polo shirt which Matthew calls a dress. Given that it hits lower on his thighs than half of Nilyneís outfits, it is hard to disagree with him.
Nilyne proudly declares that her look is very high end with something people can relate to. Emil deadpans to her that she likes the hoochie look. Nilyne does not take the comment kindly. This is the point at which your recapper burst out laughing. Nilyne emerges from the dressing room wearing an enormous pink tutu with pink sequined boxing boots. I kid you not. Emil and Terrell are really getting into their roles now. They tell Nilyne that they could do little dolls of her like that and that it would be great. Nilyne confesses after meekly leaving the room in her pink glory that it was a massacre and sheís a princess now.
Deltrice is the last to receive her fake over. She shows up wearing a knit cap and a shirt that looks like a Twister board. Emil and Terrell dress her up in a pair of pink sweat pants and a Playboy bunny top complete with bow tie, ears and a tail. Deltrice whines that she likes to have a little bit of an edge but she likes to be sassy but classy. She confesses to the camera that she wonders if Emil had a drink before he came to the mansion. She also says she doesnít have a goofy enough song for the outfit. Nonetheless, she leaves the room wearing the get up.
Mona calls all the contestants down. The moment they see each other, they all realize that theyíve been had. There is a lot of hilarity and as Matthew says, relief that they werenít the only one who fell for it. Nilyne acknowledges that Akil was the only one who didnít. Mona imparts the challenge lesson that everything needs to come from them.
The contestants, no longer in ridiculous costume, pile in the SUV and are driven to the Great Western Forum. Mona tells them that they are going to meet a friend of Missy who has always been able to stay true to who they are no matter what the public has said. The friend has always managed to entertain while maintaining integrity. The contestants are all on edge waiting to see who will show up. When Nilyne realizes it is Madonna, she goes all fan girly.
Crazy for You
When we come back from commercial, Nilyne is still flapping her arms in excitement and Jessica falls to the ground. Everyone appears star struck. The women all hug Madonna while the guys politely shake her hand. Missy tells us that Madonna is an icon and that Missy has learned a lot from her. Missy thinks that if anyone can impart wisdom to the contestants, itís Madonna.
Madonna sits down with the contestants and asks them what they want to know. The contestants pepper her with questions like ďHow long have you been prepping for this tour?Ē and ďWhatís the recipe for success for you?Ē Madonna basically tells them that long term success is hard work and that she has no time for herself. She says that you arenít the owner of your talent but the manager. If you manage it wisely, you will always have it. If not, it will disappear. Madonna tells the contestants that it was nice meeting them all and that they need to be sure they are doing this for the right reasons. The contestants get a photo shoot with Madonna. Madonna leaves after telling Mona to be sure to tell Missy she loves her.
Afterwards, Nilyne gushes about the experience. Jessica tells us that she knows there are girls like her all over the place. They are a little more aggressive and may be misunderstood. Jessica again says that sheís here to represent. At this point, Iím not sure whether sheís representing people who formerly had recording contracts or people from rough childhoods. Akil tells us that he wasnít sure what was happening after the Madonna session. The SUV took the contestants to some crazy spotlight place. It turns out itís a Missy concert. We finally get to see the dancers in action. One of them does a move with her booty thatís just not natural. Matthew has a problem with the overt sexuality of some of the hand motions and gyrations of the male dancers. He says that he experiences sexual feelings and temptations like everyone else but he doesnít advertise it. Iím not sure whether Matthew is having a hard time keeping his lust buried or whether heís confused about his own sexuality.
After the concert, Deltrice tells us that sheís feeling spoiled getting to talk to Madonna and see Missy in action. The SUV is taking them someplace but they have no idea where. It turns out that they are going to Teena Marieís Hollywood loft. The contestants emerge from a gated elevator into the loft where Teena, a lot of candles and her band are waiting. Teena is doing some scatting and there are five mike stands. She welcomes them to ďLady Tís Place.Ē
Missy tells us that she has been talking to Teena about a new way to test the contestants. Teena came up with the idea of giving them a pop quiz in songwriting. Teena breaks the news to the contestants. She tells them they are each going to get 16 bars to write their own verse. Each contestant has to come up with their own words. The concept is ďAll of you alls together. Harmony is a beautiful thing.Ē They each have an hour to write. Everyone looks anxious.
The contestants are frantically scribbling on a couch. Akil says that the performance challenge had an interesting little set up with Teena Marie. Matt then tells us that in addition to writing their own lyrics, they together had to come up with the second part of the hook and sing the hook with some harmony. After writing the hook, the contestants practice together.
Missy says that the remaining contestants are all unbelievable. Every single one has star quality. But, the harsh reality is that there can only be one winner. Missy thinks that the judges and she have to step up their game and make difficult decisions now.
Teena asks the contestants who are now assembled in front of the mikes if they are ready for the performance challenge as Dallas and Mona walk in. To my untrained ear, everyone does a really good job in the challenge but Jessicaís voice clearly blows the others away. After the performance, Mona tells the contestants that it was amazing. Dallas says that it was awesome. Mona thinks they have made it so much harder for the judges. Dallas jokingly threatens to quit rather than have to nominate two contestants for elimination. Akil feels like its ridiculous because they all did great. Umm, Akil, it is a competition.
The judges acknowledge that they are down to the cream of the crop. At this point, they have to start evaluating overall talent. They go through each of the contestants one by one. They feel that Deltrice has good vocal skills, but she tends to drift a bit. All they can say about Jessica is that sheís excellent and that you can hear her sincerity when she sings. Teena feels like Nilyne was weaker in this challenge than sheís been in the past. Dallas thinks Matthew has good tone. Mona criticizes his performance saying that she wants to see him loosen up. The challenge was about showing emotion and being in the moment and that was hard for him. We flash to the SUV. Deltrice tells Akil that it was fine being in the moment. Akil confesses to the others that he held back because he didnít want to get loose with it. He would have preferred to just jam with the band. I get worried for my gentle Akil. Teena tells us that she thought Akil was nervous. Dallas thought he did well. Mona was surprised he didnít use the beat box. We see Jessica say that she doesnít want the spotlight to hit her.
One More Chance
Steve lets the contestants into a room at the mansion where Mona awaits them. Everyone appears nervous. Mona congratulates them all on how well they have done. After the usual interminable wait, the spotlight lands on Akil and Matthew. Males are becoming an endangered species on this show. Mona sends the women to their rooms. Before they leave, Jessica, Nilyne, and Deltrice give Akil and Matthew hugs and kisses. Mona tells them that Missy is upstairs and wishes them luck after asking Matthew if this is his first time. I restrain myself from commenting on the line.
Missy enters the room and is apparently still recovering from her concert. Sheís got a scratchy throat and can barely talk. Missy asks Matthew why Akil should go. Heís not particularly comfortable tearing someone else down. In the end, he really pleads his own case. He tells Missy that he has energy, a personality, and a tremendous work ethic. Missy then queries Akil on why Matthew should go. Akil just canít do it. He talks about how great Matthew is and the fact that he has certain religious beliefs. Akil tells Missy that Matthew is incredible and has a lot of talent.
Missy and her dancers literally huddle up. Missy asks the dancers if they are sure. She then tells Akil and Matthew that they are both incredible. However, sheís decided to send Akil home.
Missy lets us know that Akil is really talented but heís lacking a break out quality. She sends Matthew back upstairs but tells him not to get too comfy. Akil doesnít appear to be too distressed. He says that heís still a star. Heís just not Missy Elliotís superstar. Matthew feels like this has been a journey of confidence for him. We see a little tribute to Akil with scenes from past episodes. Matthew tells us he thinks heís going to win. When he goes to join the girls, there are hugs all around.
Next week, Nilyne and Jessica are forced to work together and their feud boils over. Dallas helps the remaining four prepare for a performance before an unexpected audience.
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