Should you ever find yourself stranded on a desert island with me, you’d be in luck. I was sent to sleepaway camp when I was only six years old and back then we learned real shit, like how to forage through the forest for sustenance and build fires. (Years later, I’d also learn at camp how to give a killer blowjob, but that’s really a tale for another day.) Anyway, I can collect you a leaf filled with berries that probably won’t kill you and then strip birch bark into kindling to keep us warm as we wait for either actual help or for the leader of The Others to arrive. And while we recline beside that roaring fire, I can take your mind off stressful things – you know, like forever solitude – by quoting entire movies. I am well aware that, in civilization, this quality of mine may not be deemed so adorable, but on a barren beach where there’s no Netflix? My friend, I will be like a God. Included in my personal repertoire is the full John Hughes collection. I can give you all of Caddyshack. I can Triple Lindy into Back to School, call you “Twin” after performing Overboard, and recite all of Pulp Fiction – and not just Ezekiel 25:17; I’m not some amateur. But should you find yourself still feeling blue due to concerns about imminent starvation, I will calm those nerves by launching into Clue. I will play all the characters. I’ll hold a petrified starfish by one of its spiked points and pretend it’s a knife to perform the part where Wadsworth explains how the cook was murdered. Clue is guaranteed to elicit at least a giggle while we huddle beneath palm fronds whispering comforting affirmations to one another about how it all could be worse because at least now we will never have to buy coconut water and, though we may never see electricity or good porn again, at least we are not stuck in that psychologically-haunted villa in Hawaii with anyone from Ex On the Beach.
It’s not just a Would You Rather situation that has me contemplating Clue and Ex On the Beach, though for the record, I’d rather watch Clue in Latin while doing CrossFit naked inside of a sweat lodge built by someone Trump forgot to pay than ever come face to face in real life with any contestant from Ex On the Beach. Still, the movie has been flitting into my mind lately as I watch this show. Part of it is that the sight of people who crave reality stardom more than things like education and dignity causes flames to heave around the sides of my face, but I’m also starting to wonder about the hidden places yet to be discovered in that Hawaiian mini mansion. Just like the secret passageway that led from the conservatory to the lounge in Clue, there’s gotta be another location besides the Shack of Secrets still to come, right? Certainly in the coming weeks, someone will stumble into the Attic of Atrocities or the Terrace of Terrors and come face to face with the person who once stood her up at the prom. It’s unlikely, but could there maybe be a Cellar of Self-Awareness where one person will shriek, “Fuck this shit! Let’s be better! I hereby swear that I will never again pull a fellow woman across the lobby of a hotel by her weave just because she hooked up with a man I was never going to end up with in the first place! Who’s with me?” That mental picture warms whatever is left of my corroded heart, but I think it’s far more probable that the last place left for these people to discover will be Anywhere Angela Might Turn Up and one will know she has arrived there by the angry spittle that hits you in the face as a greeting when the location’s namesake screams bloody murder because the man she decided she owned chose to willfully suck tequila directly out of another woman’s sphincter. Are these not problems we all face?
Last week’s episode ended in fury. Chris wouldn’t agree to vote out Cory’s ex because he was more invested in getting rid of one of his own exes and such duplicity was too much for several of these people to accept. The shouting began and rose in decibel. Words like “loyalty” and “respect” were tossed about, as though those words mean anything in this sort of producer-contrived scenario. It all ended with Tor’i storming off and Angela raging like the sort of psychopath who was taught from an early age that her feelings are the only feelings that matter. Tonight’s episode picks right back up with “the most explosive elimination ceremony ever,” and that would be pretty auspicious sounding if there hadn’t only been one ceremony before this one. In any event, I find myself slightly impressed that Angela is reserving the majority of her rage for Tor’i instead of Faith because it’s not like Faith is the person who fucked her on night one. I have no idea if this is simply Angela’s initial reaction and she will later attempt to use a rusty butter knife to slice off Faith’s tongue so the girl can never again lick shots off her man or make that idiotic bird sound that one person in the world once swore was adorable. (And should that rusty butter knife still have a groove or two left in the blade, I hope Angela finds that one person and exacts her revenge on him as well.) As Angela announces that Tor’i is dead to her, Tor’i is inside complaining to Cory that nobody there kept his secret. You are being filmed 24 hours a day, Tor’i. Time to annihilate any illusion that remains in your mind that anything that happens there will not be seen by your fucking grandmother and by mine too. Both Heaven and Hell get basic cable, right?
Angela then proceeds to react exactly as you’d expect: by announcing that she will retaliate by fucking Derrick in front of Tor’i. This announcement causes expressions of both utter panic and pure relief to pass over Derrick’s face. The panic is because Angela is a walking human horror show. The relief is because he thinks he will finally get laid in that villa. We will be forced to return to this situation later – and we know there will be casualties – but first we have to see which ex is getting voted off. It comes down to Chelsko and Alicia. If I were either of them, I would begin begging to be the one sent away. I would promise those voters riches beyond their wildest imaginations. I would swear to bring them soup after their next rounds of plastic surgery. I would offer to drive to the home of the person each one hates the very most in the whole wide world and then proceed to pee on the front stoops of all of their enemies. I would even appeal to Romeo by insisting that if he procures me a getaway ship, I will hunt down the stylist who put him in the shirt he’s wearing that closely resembles all my fever dreams combined and force that stylist to publicly apologize as long as I was the one selected to leave that house filled with crazy people who appear to have no sense of humor and no desire to see themselves for what they are: reality TV participants who will sell whatever is left of their souls to keep gigs like this one lined up. The girls don’t make such offers and the vote comes back as a tie. It will now be up to the exes to vote out one of their own – and their vote also comes back in a tie, so the rule is that both Chelsko and Alicia get the old heave-ho. I’d feel badly for them, but they actually have the gumption to look disappointed and I cannot summon up legitimate emotions for people who refuse to recognize sheer fucking luck when they see it.
Once those two float back into the sea, the announcer’s voice pops up. In as smarmy a tone as possible, he says that hopefully things will calm down now, as though any person working on this show would get hired for another season if anything actually proceeded calmly. Luckily, all their jobs seem secure because Tor’i immediately swears to Angela that he never had any interest in his ass-sucking partner. To prove it, he turns to Faith and announces he’s not interested in her in the slightest. Since the editors on this show know what they’re doing, we quickly get a flashback of Tor’i telling Faith exactly the opposite. Does Faith laugh at Tor’i for being such a wuss? No, dear readers, she does not. She instead stalks after Tor’i and announces, “If I wanted you, I could have you on your knees, bitch!” so if we have learned anything, it’s that Tor’i has a type and that type is Vulgar Psychopath. But people can be multifaceted! We soon find out that Angela is not only a Vulgar Psychopath; she is also The Retaliation Queen Who Sidles Up to Pathetic Morons. She enters the confessional room where Derrick sits and her appearance causes him to look thrilled and I think I speak for all of us when I suggest that we should take turns attending the murder trial that will eventually transpire because of the fallout from this coupling. I’ll take the first shift. I appreciate a good opening argument.
Derrick is either too desperate or too stupid to see this as a straight up example of revenge and they start kissing immediately because neither one is a master at forming sentences that aren’t composed of pure insults. Meanwhile, everyone else seems to be intermittingly bursting into tears because of the uncoupling of Angela and Tor’i. Chris is borderline catatonic that two people who met a few days ago and bonded mostly because of how nicely their genitals fit together have parted and I really hope the guy was drugged because if this is his actual reaction, he needs to be removed from that house and placed in therapy. I’ll visit him on my way home from the courthouse.
At a certain point, Derrick realizes that maybe Angela’s kisses aren’t due to her having a “Eureka!” moment about them being soul mates, so he decides he’ll keep his distance from her…while they live in the same house…as they film a show he came on precisely to see her. This shit cannot possibly end well. As for the other couples, Chase believes his dreams of true intimacy cannot be realized if he’s with a girl who parties as much as Skyler. Um, Chase? Those dreams of yours will never be realized as long as you pretend your best chances of finding real love will occur via a reality show. Skyler is disappointed to hear that Chase is sort of eliminating her from his future just because she’s not frequently lucid, but she refuses to remain sober for longer intervals to win this guy’s heart and normally I’d ask her to rethink her priorities, but this is Chase-from-The-Bachelorette we’re dealing with here, so down the fucking hatch, honey.
The next afternoon flags appear on the horizon and summoned to the beach are Victoria, Taylor, and Tor’i. And if you’re thinking the arrival of another of Tor’i’s exes will be the thing that will finally cause Angela’s head to spin completely around like that sweet misunderstood child in The Exorcist, I suggest you apply to be a reality producer immediately. We all know the exes who haven’t yet appeared are holed up somewhere and they are released like hounds in accordance to the crazy within the house. This is strategy, people. “This house has it out for us,” says Cory – and my first response to his statement was this very mature thought: “No fucking duh, moron. You signed up for an MTV reality show. In what crevice of your mind did you honestly believe the goal of those behind the scenes would be your everlasting joy?” But that reaction seems harsh, so I’ll just share that my second reaction was to stare at the screen blankly and remind myself that we’ll probably be at war soon so none of this will end up mattering anyway.
Instead of heading to the beach, those beckoned are told to go to the waterfalls and the one who ascends from the depths is Cameron. He’s Taylor’s ex, but theirs is not a contentious history. They met on another reality show, hooked up for a few months, and were driven apart by Andre. What we learn immediately about Cameron is threefold:
1. He is voluntarily appearing on yet another MTV reality show.
2. He believes girls are drawn to him because of his very original qualities of being both tall and tan.
3. He can pose Zoolander-style upon command.
Cameron is the only ex to show up – Victoria was only brought along so she could drool and Tor’i was there to be momentarily emotionally tortured. Back at the house, Skyler takes one look at Cameron and is smitten and now this makes two guys she and Victoria are going to battle over while neither guy even breaks a sweat. Before they can brawl, Cameron takes Taylor aside. I will say this: Cameron is seriously cute. If I were given a lobotomy and woke up after the procedure in that house, he’d be the one I’d be into also, though I would insist that he grow out his scruff. Anyhoo, he just wants to ask about Taylor’s connection with Cory and she says she wants to see where things go and the entire thing is so pleasant, I thought I was watching another show. In other news, Derrick thinks he’s into Haley and Chris sees what’s happening so he very calmly asks Haley why she’s there. But then he calls her “Chelsko”, makes her cry, screams at her as she walks away, and, for good measure, accidentally calls her “Chelsko” three more times. And if you’re not thinking that somewhere Chelsko is staring at her television and breaking into song because she believes this proves Chris loves her the most, even though he orchestrated her removal from a fucking island, you have not been paying attention and that means I sort of envy you. The scene on this Terrace of Terrors – I knew we’d get there! – ends with Haley screaming that she wants to be sent home and slapping Chris across the face.
I’m just kidding. It’s not like anything truly gets resolved on this show. The series is literally built on the construct that something hasn’t been resolved in each of these peoples’ lives and closure should therefore exist on camera. Chris follows Haley around, calls her the wrong name again, and then cries because he wants to be with her. The tears work – bullshit vulnerability can be a very powerful thing – so these two are reunited for the moment and we can move back to the Victoria-Skyler issue. Victoria is pissed off because she called shotgun on Cameron and Skyler – a woman who owes her exactly nothing – doesn’t immediately fall back from her plan of also pursuing Cameron. I see Skyler’s point here, but this verbal back and forth is causing Cameron to not want to be with either one of them. He does think Faith is cute, but maybe he’s just attracted to the scent of alcohol still lingering in her ass crack.
The next morning begins with Chris declaring his love for Haley, Tor’i resolving to stay away from Faith and all of her crevices, and Skyler inviting Cameron to go visit the waterfall from which he emerged yesterday. She asks if he has his eye on anyone, and all he can muster is that Victoria talks a lot and that quality kind of sucks. He’s too nice to say it to her face, but he has zero interest in Skyler and they end this sad little discussion with a hug, though I suppose it’s a sign of his chivalry that he doesn’t just toss her into the waterfall and call it a day. And now that everything is pretty calm, a message arrives. Tor’i and Jasmine must head down to the Shack of Secrets. I watch this show closely – I’m paid to do such a thing – and even I have no idea what sort of connection these two share. They head down and are greeted with a puzzle to put together that will reveal what’s being hidden from them and once the extremely large pieces (puzzles are hard!) are assembled, a picture of Angela kissing Derrick in the confessional room is the finished product. Tor’i is hurt, but he knows it happened out of spite. Then he tells Jasmine that this guy is playing her and she needs to get rid of him. His string of logic is rather confusing to Jasmine who can’t quite understand why Tor’i is placing all the blame on Derrick instead of on Angela. As for me, I cannot quite understand why the two of them are not banding together in that subterranean Shack and looking for any sort of instrument that will allow them to start digging through the walls so they can tunnel their way to freedom.
It doesn’t take but a millisecond for Angela to make Tor’i's pain all about her, and it’s Cory who tells her that they both hurt each other and now her job is to rub the guy’s back and make him feel better. But back rubbing – or rubbing anywhere else – seems unnecessary because Tor’i has already forgiven his girlfriend of five days who already cheated on him after he already sort of cheated on her and once again we have a visual illustration of exactly the kind of relationship you should pray to the heavens that you never ever experience.
Also: Tor’i decides Derrick needs to be voted off the island.
Also: I’ve finally figured out who Skyler looks like! She is the spitting image of Erika from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills had Erika chosen to get a sleeve of tattoos and had she not landed one of the richest men in the hemisphere.
Realizing there’s a chance Tor’i won’t get his way and she might be the one eliminated, Skyler pulls Chase aside and asks him to keep her in spite of the fact that she can’t guarantee that she wants to work things out with him. When the voting commences, we see he wasn’t swayed by her lukewarm pitch; he votes for her to leave. And now it’s elimination ceremony time and Romeo is back – this time wearing a cheetah print which is (terrifyingly) a vast improvement – and it all comes down to Derrick and Skyler. By a landslide, Skyler is eliminated and she stalks away and hops on a turtle float to head back out towards the horizon. And since I’m so incredibly sweet, should she wash ashore on my desert island, I’ll perform a movie monologue to cheer her up. With all those tattoos, perhaps she’ll appreciate the opening scene of Memento.
Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York. She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle. Her Twitter is @nell_kalter