Episode 2 (6/13): The Art and Biology of Being Egotistical
Episode 2 (6/13): The Art and Biology of Being Egotistical
Welcome back for the second episode of The Scholar. Last week onetvslave produced a wonderful and timely recap. This week you are stuck with a very late, grumpy and not feeling the least bit funny me. It’s kind of like the difference between U2 singing, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” in their prime and Barry Manilow singing “Weekend in New England.” Deal with it people.
I find this show refreshing although I wish they would ask the kids harder questions. You know the questions are too easy if I know all the answers. Other than that, the format seems to be fairly refreshing. No one is eliminated until we get to the finals where five of the kids will participate and those five will all go home with at least $50,000. My only complaint other than the questions is that it is hard to poke fun at nine deserving achievers who appear to be fairly nice and even somewhat humble. Thank god for Davis.
The M & M Girls
After a reminder of what the show is all about and who the participants are, we are welcomed back to the USC campus where the competition is taking place. A relaxed Melissa who last week was the first to secure a spot in the finals is sitting on the floor in a bedroom talking to Milana. Melissa explains that if she was team captain, she would definitely go into ultimate leadership mode. Melissa is determined to lead her team to the finish line in the specified time. On one side of a split screen, Milana is saying that both she and Melissa came to the experience so amazed and so happy to meet each other. She assures us that there is going to be no competitive malicious spirit. Milana could never see that in regard to Melissa. Melissa tells us that there are a lot of things that go into the decisions she makes. Melissa is trying to think into the future. Foreshadowing or no foreshadowing that is the question?
Next, we get Scot on one side of a split screen commenting on the other scholars. He tells us that Milana and Melissa are very close. This doesn’t come as much of a shock given the footage we’ve just seen. Scot also observes that Davis is trying to get as close to Liz as he can and that Alyssa and Max are inseparable. Scot then says that he definitely thinks he’s a loner. Ah, the home school stereotype rearing its head. Scot is focused on his education and will do whatever it takes to get it including working five jobs.
We cut to Davis telling us that he’s determined and shocking Scot by nonchalantly saying that between his two parents he thinks they probably make $140,000 per year. Scot looks like someone has told him they have cured cancer. Brainiac that he is all that Scot can muster is “What?!?” Amari also looks completely shocked. Davis lamely tries to back peddle by explaining that hardly any of it is in savings because of all the things they have to pay for including the two cars and his brother’s private school tuition. Scot then embarks on a survey of the house to discover if he’s the only one whose parents make less than $50,000 per year. Max admits that his parents make a little bit. Jeremy explains that he doesn’t qualify for much in the way of financial aid because his parents have worked hard to scrape their way up to middle class, and it feels like he’s now being punished for it. Jeremy says that he’s not rich enough to pay for an elite college but not poor enough so that money is thrown at him. Scot, clearly still in shock, says that if he wins this he’ll make more in 5 to 10 minutes than his dad’s made in three years. He then continues with the “W” word theme and closes with, “Wow!”
We get a video tour of Scot’s life. He is from New Freedom, Pennsylvania where he is strolling down the street. Scot’s Mom tells us that he’s always been very independent and never wanted anyone to do anything for him. That’s why he has been home schooled. His mother says that Scot taught himself algebra. Scot’s dad talks about how he became very focused on schoolwork when he turned 13 and that he wanted to chart his own course. Scot echoes his parents. He talks about how he began doing more homework, studied more, and really got into taekwondo. Scot’s dad is clearly proud and mentions his tremendous work ethic and the fact that he got 1580 on his SATs. Scot says that he always grew up knowing that if he wanted something, he needed to rely on himself not on anyone else. Scot is determined to figure out how to go to college somehow.
Following Scot’s video, Amari tells us the contestants are headed to the Captain’s Quiz. Gerald is feeling a little nervous but vows not to let the pressure get to him.
After the contestants file into the room, Rob Nelson, Stanford J.D. (ie man who finished law school but didn’t pass the bar exam), tells the contestants that today’s winners will be the two captains for the team competition. The challenge this time is art. Scot is confident because it’s something he’s studied and not a lot of the others have. Rob explains that the contestants will have five minutes to match ten great artists and ten of their works. In the event of a tie, the fastest time wins. Max confesses that art history is not his bag. Rob announces that when the contestants finish their answers, they should hit the button on their podium which will stop the clock. Rob then turns over the lists of artists and paintings.
A Starry Night I Claude Monet
B Ballet Dancers II Henri Matisse
C The Scream III Pierre Auguste Renoir
D Jazz Icarus IV Pablo Picasso
E Boating on the Seine V Vincent Van Gogh
F The Persistence of Memory VI Edgar Degas
G The Last Supper VII Michelangelo
H Guernica VIII Salvador Dali
I Water Lilies IX Edward Munch
J The Creation of Adam X Leonardo Da Vinci
While we watch the contestants compete, we hear voiceovers from Gerald and Liz. Gerald says that timed tests are not his thing. Liz hopes that the fact that her parents are into art will help her. Apparently she believes in the osmosis theory of learning.
We see the following answers:
A Starry Night
D Jazz Icarus
G The Last Supper
B Ballet Dancers
E Boating on the Seine
Just to be a geek, the rest of the answers are:
C The Scream
F Persistence of Memory
I Water Lilies
J The Creation of Adam
The contestants hit the buttons one by one. Just before we go to commercial, Rob tells them that one of them got a perfect score.
We’ve Got Spirit, Yes We Do!
When we come back, the ten contestants are noticeably tense. Rob let’s them know that the one who got the perfect score also had the fastest time. He then reveals that Melissa, the only one with a spot in the finals so far, was the winner. She will be one of the team captains. Melissa seems genuinely shocked and pleased. Rob tells Scot that he had the next fastest time but Liz got more correct answers so Liz is the other captain.
In a confessional, Liz reveals that she was totally stressed when she learned that the subject was art history. She is very excited that she did that well. Apparently the osmosis method does work.
Rob reminds the scholars that the captain of the winning team automatically advances to the Showdown Challenge with a shot at the finals and a chance to win a $50,000 scholarship courtesy of Walmart. Rob informs Melissa that if her team wins she gets to appoint someone else to go to the finals since she is already in.
Amari tells us that Melissa wins and she’s already going to the finals and then she gets a perfect score on the quiz. Amari seems a little bit intimidated. She also says that she knows a lot of people have their money on Melissa. Rob reminds everyone that the Scholarship Committee will be watching and picking two other candidates to go to the Showdown. He sends them off by telling the scholars that he’ll see them at Heritage Hall and that today’s Team Competition will be a blast.
Melissa appears to be gaining confidence. She says that she may have already gained a spot but she wants as many opportunities as possible. The more opportunities for the Scholarship Committee to see her do well the better.
The scholars march into the Heritage Hall gym. Rob tells them that this challenge is all about school spirit. He introduces the scholars to Lori who is the advisor and coach of the USC Song and Yell Team. She’ll also be the judge for the Team Challenge.
There is a men’s volleyball game at seven that evening. The challenge is to get the most students on campus to show up for the game. In addition, the teams are going to have to perform a three minute routine before the game. The winning team is going to be the one that has the most students show up and that Lori decides has done the best job.
Alyssa is psyched. She tells the camera that she dances and sings and is just pretty much a spirit person. Scot, on the other hand, is apprehensive. He says he was really up for another intellectual challenge. As far as he’s concerned, bring on the books, bring on the intellectual stuff. He doesn’t want to have to cheer.
Rob explains that he is going to give each team a set of pennants, either red or gold. He is also going to give the teams campus cards with $500 on them that they can spend however they want as long as they spend the money on campus.
Gerald says that school spirit is one of the big things he did in his high school. He was the school mascot and was very passionate about it. We then segue to Gerald’s video. We see Gerald in Commerce, Texas dressing as a giant tiger for his mascot job. He has a lot of goals and a lot of things he feels like he needs to accomplish. Gerald is convinced he needs to leave his small town to accomplish his goals. Gerald is one of the only two black people in his grade who are in any AP classes. Gerald says that some of the teachers see a black student in advance placement classes and think oh he doesn’t need to be here. I am appalled and check my calendar to see what year this is. Just to nail down that we have a long way to go, Gerald recounts his first day of school. He sat in the first row like he always does. The teacher told him that maybe he’d be more comfortable here and sat him in the back row. Gerald, being the determined guy he is, says that he showed him throughout the year that that’s not him. I would have just punched the teacher. You go Gerald.
Gerald wants to succeed so he can do things for his mother. He recognizes that she’s been pushing him and giving up things for him. Gerald’s goal is to buy his mother a house because he’s never lived in one. Gerald’s mother looks tired as she busts him when he tries to cut his prayer short before digging into a sandwich. He puts down his dinner and adds to the prayer. Gerald’s mother offers her own prayer asking God to watch over her baby and saying she knows he’ll do great.
Rob asks Melissa and Liz if they are ready to pick teams. Melissa goes first and picks Milana. No big shocker there. Liz picks Gerald. Melissa then picks Scot, Liz chooses Davis, Melissa names Alyssa, Liz grabs Amari, and Melissa chooses Max. Poor Jeremy is the last scholar and goes to Liz by default. Jeremy admits that he feels sad. He acknowledges that he was the last one chosen and was in fact not even chosen. He says he was the extra guy forced to be on the team since each has to have five.
Rob reminds the scholars that in addition to the winning team captain, the Scholarship Committee will choose two of the contestants to compete for $50,000 and a spot in the finals. Shawn who is part of the Committee says that when he chooses applicants, he puts an emphasis on school spirit. Rob reveals one more incentive to win the team competition. The members of the winning team will each receive a $2,000 gift certificate from Walmart to buy whatever they want to deck out their dorm rooms. Rob then reminds the scholars that they only have a few hours so they better get busy.
Melissa’s red team hustles out. Scot points out that the only way attendance is being counted is through the flags. Therefore, they don’t need to give every single one out. They just need to make sure that the people they give them to attend. Marquesa is observing the discussion between the red team.
We cut over to Liz’s gold team where Jeremy comes up with the idea to number the flags the students will bring to the game so that the flags are like raffle tickets. He thinks that they could raffle off a sweatshirt. Davis suggests that instead they spend $400 and leave $100 on their card which they can raffle off. Gerald says that Jeremy came up with the idea and the entire team loved it. It’s something interesting to pull people in. The gold team then goes to shop at the campus store.
Gerald promises the camera that he’ll be entirely different this competition. At the campus store, Davis decides to buy himself a skirt. Once he tries it on, he says, “It’s a little bit offensive.” I can’t disagree, but I’d kill for legs like his. The gold team decides to split up which Liz agrees to. Peter is observing Amari and Gerald in one room doing choreography. The other three members of the team are out trying to recruit students to come to the game. As Peter observes, there is almost no communication among the team members. At one point, Davis inelegantly vaults over a bench in his skirt to try to sweet talk two coeds into showing up for the game. Peter seems to be amused while watching.
Meanwhile, the red team is in the gym together trying to come up with a routine. Melissa admits that the gold team is making them nervous. She is almost sure the gold team is going to win the pennant part of the competition so she is just trying to make sure her team gets their routine down. Max tries to teach a clearly uncomfortable Scot how to dance. Max states the obvious when he says, “White boy didn’t have too much rhythm.” An overly intense Milana freaks Scot out. Melissa begins to realize that Milana’s perfectionism is not working to her team’s advantage. She tells us that Milana is making it hard for the team to accomplish the things they need to. Milana’s intensity is too much and Scot is starting to crumble under the pressure. Peter who has been watching this all develop remarks that Melissa, Milana, and Alyssa together is very challenging. It is an opportunity for three creative people to collaborate. Instead, the fangs are coming out.
When the red team hits the campus, there are 58 minutes left in the challenge. Initially, they have not much luck getting people to come to the game. Shawn remarks that it is definitely a tough challenge trying to get the entire campus to turn out for the game when it is raining. Scot says that they aren’t accomplishing much when they are at a dining hall because not many people are coming in and out since it is not dinner time
Max tells us that he came up with a great strategy. Instead of going out and seeking people, the red team sits outside of the doors to the gym waiting for people who are already planning to go to the game to show up. When they did show, the red team handed them their flags. Max also turns on the charm flirting with a couple of girls and talking them into coming to the game. As he says, sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
The gold team tries to recruit people to attend by offering a chance at a $100 gift card if they show up with a yellow flag. Liz feels good about her team’s chances because they have already given out most of their flags and they have a solid routine.
Scot has decided to commit himself to the challenge just as completely as he does everything in his life. As he is smearing red paint on his face and arms, he declares that it is just like Jackass. The dumbest thing you could do is put on permanent paint.
Shawn who has been observing the red team states that Scot has definitely been surprising him the most. Shawn admits to having some preconceived notions abut how a home schooled kid would interact with kids who were more traditionally schooled. Shawn is impressed with how Scot is pulling through. Scot tells us that if the red team wins, it will definitely be worth it.
Meanwhile, the gold team is trying to give away the rest of their flags with the lure of the $100 gift card raffle. The only problem is that Davis suddenly realizes he can’t find the card.
Fight On For Ol’ SC
We come back to the gold team crisis after a commercial. The team members and especially Davis are scrambling around frantically trying to find the lost card. Davis admits that they have a problem because he thinks he has indeed lost the card. Jeremy suggests that they just give away $100 cash instead. Someone then objects saying they’ve advertised the prize as a USC thing. Davis steps up and says I’m going to go get my wallet and replace the lost card. Davis may be cocky, but he does the right thing. As he explains, they promised the students they had a card to give out and his sense of responsibility required him to replace it.
At the game we see both colored pennants. Rob tells the teams that it is time for them to do their routines and asks them if they are pumped. Red is up first and apprehensive. Melissa reassures her team that they can do this. Red starts by tossing the items they bought at the school store into the audience. They then dance around and Scot really throws himself into it chanting, “USC, USC, USC!” Red has a lot of enthusiasm but their routine is free form.
Gerald tells us that they really didn’t have that many yellow flags in the audience and that the crowd was reacting favorably to the red team. Gerald knows that the gold team has to go out there and do the best they can. Gold starts out well with a lot of energy. Gerald is a large part of their impressive performance. Gold has a nicely coordinated routine. Gold finishes up with their gift card raffle and hands the card to the clearly delighted winner. Afterward, there is a group hug for gold.
In the locker room, it’s time for Lori to reveal which team won. Lori tells the teams that she loved both of their energy and enthusiasm. Lori clearly does not realize that she’s dealing with a bunch of driven achievers. Alyssa confesses that she just wanted to hear the final word from Lori. Alyssa did manage to restrain herself from yelling just tell us who won! Lori reveals that the pennant portion of the challenge wasn’t nearly as close as the footage we saw might make you think. There were 49 red and 16 yellow flags at the game. Lori says that the winner came down to the crowd reaction to the teams though. Red started out their routine by throwing the gifts into the crowd. That really got the students pumped up. Gold saved their raffle until last and didn’t get the crowd as excited. Red wins.
Rob tells the red team that all five get the $2,000 Walmart gift certificates. Melissa has until the next morning to decide who she’s going to choose to go to this week’s showdown in her place.
On the way back to the house, Gold discusses who Melissa will choose. The consensus is that her choice will be Milana because the two of them are close. They then discuss who the Scholarship Committee will choose to join Melissa’s choice. Gerald admits that he thinks he did a lot but also says that Shawn just doesn’t like him. Amari reminds us just how young these kids are. She’s upset because she feels like no one ever mentions her for anything. She feels like no one considers her competition.
Back at the house, Melissa is taking her task very seriously. She says that she has an idea of who she is going to choose as she enters the confessional room. Melissa sits in the confessional room pouring over pages of notes she has made to help her with the decision. In the end, all the notes do is confuse her more. She feels like everyone contributed to the team’s win. Melissa eventually decides to go see Francine, the scholars’ resident advisor. She explains the dilemma to Francine including the fact that Alyssa and Max are close so she’s a little afraid to pick one of them. Eventually, Melissa reaches a decision that she’ll reveal the next day. She hopes her decision doesn’t bite her in the ass.
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise <--- *said in best Gomer Pyle voice*
The next morning everyone gathers to hear Melissa’s choice. We hear Max's confession that he thinks Melissa will choose Milana. Melissa tells her team that there were times when she became frustrated and worried about her team winning the competition, and “she couldn’t not base her decision on that.” Whoa cut down on the negatives Melissa. Eventually, she reveals that she has chosen Max to compete in the showdown. Several jaws drop at that revelation including Davis’s. Melissa explains that they won the competition because of the number of pennants they handed out and Max contributed the most to that portion of the competition. Afterwards, Max is really excited. He felt like he had put out the most (not in that way people) and Melissa rewarded him. Don’t expect that to happen in the real world Max. Melissa tells us that Milana is a little upset by her decision and hopes Milana won’t stop talking to her. In the end, Melissa felt Max deserved to go to the showdown.
Next up are the interviews with the scholarship committee to determine which two of the eight scholars other than Melissa and Max will compete in the showdown. Milana seems to have decided to go with an in your face approach to the interviews. Peter questions Liz about why she didn’t feel the need to assert herself more as team captain. Liz responds that she didn’t think it would have worked as well with her team. Marquesa tells Liz that she wants to see her be more forceful. Shawn says to Gerald that he showed a lot of school spirit but then asks him how he is going to get people to come to a swim meet or a soccer match at a place like Sarah Lawrence or NYU. Gerald admits that the gold team’s strategies were a little off. Afterwards, Gerald seems most thrown by how easy it was for Shawn to make him doubt himself.
Back at the house, Milana has decided to ask Melissa directly about her comments when she announced that she had chosen Max. What then ensues is perhaps the most mature conversation I have ever heard on a reality show. How old are these kids? Melissa looks at Milana and says to her that when they were in the dance studio and Scot was getting frustrated, I felt our leadership skills were at odds. Milana says that she can understand that. In a confessional, Milana speculates that Melissa felt guilty in a way for not picking her. Milana is really glad she didn’t get picked because she would have second guessed why. Milana tells Melissa that she understands better after their talk. Milana adds to the camera that she’s making a conscious decision not to be competitive and that she won’t sacrifice her integrity to be the winner. Melissa and Milana wrap up their conversation with a big hug.
The Scholarship Committee has finished their interviews and is now deliberating. Peter says that Melissa did him a big favor by choosing Max because Max is who Peter would have chosen. Peter was particularly moved by Max’s efforts at teaching Scot to dance. Marquesa mentions that Alyssa seemed to take criticism well. Shawn brings up Scot. The other two Committee members quickly agree. Peter then states that Gerald is his dark horse. Gerald listened carefully and went about and did everything he was told. Shawn says that he agrees and wants to vote for Gerald but wants to be sure he’s doing it for the right reasons. Shawn is afraid he would be voting for Gerald because it is his only shot. Marquesa says that they are going to have to get Shawn some happy pills.
The Confident, the Cramming, and the Concerned
Francine posts the list on the house bulletin board. Scot quickly looks at the list and exclaims, “Oh damn!” He then yells for Gerald to get downstairs. Gerald can hardly believe it. He and Scot are the Committee’s two picks. As Shawn explains, he expects Gerald to do well because today’s subject is his favorite science subject, Biology. Max then gives a commentary on the sad state of American public education. Max wishes there was a biology teacher at his high school. However, the biology teacher quit and hasn’t been replaced. As a result, biology is not even offered. For the first time, Max is kind of nervous.
Gerald calls his mother and excitedly tells her that he made the showdown. Gerald is feeling good not only because he made the showdown and has a one in three shot at making the finals and winning a $50,000 scholarship. He’s also feeling good because he took biology his sophomore year and he remembers the majority of the information.
Meanwhile, Max is trying to teach himself a year’s worth of information in three hours. Scot confesses that when they announced the subject was biology his heart went kerplunk. He’s afraid that he’s going to make a fool out of himself and that everyone will think that’s that stupid home school kid who can’t figure out some simple concept of biology.
The Eighth Grade Science Test
Rob welcomes everyone to the admissions showdown and reminds them that a $50,000 scholarship and a place in the finals are at stake. Alyssa proves she is no psychic by predicting that Scot’s nervousness is going to take over and that he won’t do well.
Rob tells the three showdown participants that he will read each one a question. The first to miss a question will have to sit down with the other scholars who are not competing. Rob will keep asking questions until one of the final two misses and the other outlasts him. Rob will then ask the last participant one final question. If the last scholar standing gets that question right, he will win.
The questions and answers are:
Scot- The spinal cord and brain are two components of what system of the body?
Gerald-The human heart has how many chambers?
Max-Name the longest bone in the human body?
Scot-The liver, stomach, and intestines are all part of what system?
Gerald-If a vein carries blood to the heart, what does an artery do?
Max-Name the part of the body I’m referring to if I refer to the dermis and epidermis?
Incorrect. Max is out of the showdown.
Scot-While protein digestion begins in the stomach, carbohydrates begin to be digested earlier in what part of the body?
Gerald-Ligaments connect bones to bones. What connects muscles to bones?
Scot-The abbreviation RNA stands for what?
Correct! Scot wins.
Gerald gives Scot a big hug but is clearly disappointed. Scot can’t stop grinning and is almost inarticulate in his glee. Scot confesses that winning a $50,000 scholarship and making the finals was his goal. Max and Gerald are both determined to step up and win a future showdown. Scot says that a couple of months ago he was just a kid trying to figure out how to pay for college.
Next Week’s Drama
Relationships get complicated as Max finds himself attracted to Melissa despite his budding relationship with Alyssa and the scholars participate in a community service challenge.
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