March 3, 2011

Reality Rundown: More Like Russell CANTZ

The Amazing Race: Unfinished BusinessThe Biggest Loser
Survivor: Redemption IslandTop Chef All-Stars

The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business - Picking up where we left off last week, the 1st leg of the race is still on its way. All the teams are well on their way to the next clue (a giant anchor which has a sign-up sheet for chartered flights), except the Cowboys who can't figure out the flag decoding. Mike and Mel are lagging a little, mainly because Mel is kinda old and his body isn't into this race. On the ferry back to land, Mel is exhausted and sickly and Mike cries. 1st flight: Kisha/Jen, Zev/Justin, Jaime/Cara, Margie/Luke, Mel/Mike and Kent/Vyxsin. 2nd flight: the Globetrotters, Amanda/Kris, Ron/Christina, and Gary/Mallory and the Cowboys (which editing made us believe they'd miss it).

The racers arrive at Broken Hill Airport to drive to the Living Desert for the Detour. They can choose between creating a ground mosaic and dancing on it or create aboriginal territorial markers by spitting the paint into stencils. No one wants to really be humiliated by watching them spit on TV, so everything opts for the mosaics, making it pretty chaotic. Kris and Amanda can't choose since they have the U-Turn, which forces them to complete both tasks. Highlight of the episode is Kent nonstop saying "I need you to get me some children!" for their dance (the kids were unnecessary). Zev/Justin are the first to finish, getting a clue to find the home of the Magpies (a football club and hopefully where Tanya Turner is hiding out).

While teams anticipate a soccer, I mean football task, instead they have to dress as kangaroos, hopping through a mining town, finding streets named after periodic table of elements. So while opting out of spitting humiliation is an another, hopping around in a kangaroo suit in unavoidable. Zev and Justin check in as team #1, the 2nd week in a row where I'm surprised who is in the lead. But unfinished business remains as-is for Amanda and Kris who, thanks to their U-Turn much like their first go-round, are eliminated from the race.

The Biggest Loser - As the black team lets it sink in that 2 players are gone, Alison brings the red team in for an announcement: they're going home for two weeks. Everyone is excited because I guess they forget most people tank the first time home. Also, they will all compete in a 5k when they return to the ranch, so let's hope they don't screw around too much.

Everyone returns home to cheers and tears. The magic is short-lived as some go back to work (Courtney at her "family ice cream shop" AKA Dairy Queen) and others get mentally psyched out by delicious foods. Arthur and his recently eliminated dad keep on training, and discuss dad's substance abuse problems of the past. Austin's 21st birthday is while he's home and he doesn't want to be a party pooper at the bowling alley. Talk about will power: he resists the beer, french fries, and all the junk even though his friends are kinda like "have one!" Shitty friends torturing him with delicious cheesecake. Working out at home proves troublesome for some, like Hannah who lives in the boroughs on New York City, having to take the train into town to get a good distance going. No one seems to really falter and realizes the new life on their hands as they get skinnier and healthier.

Two weeks apparently flies by and the losers are back on the ranch and ready for their 5k (on treadmills). Each loser will run 5k all alone and they will pick trainers again in order of how they finish the challenge. Uhhh why? Everyone will pick the same, right? 7 to Bob/Jillian, 7 to Cara/Brett (I honestly forgot his name). Basically the only wild card is Jen, who was traded to red by Arthur and hellbent on getting Bob/Jillian back; if she can get them back, the teams could definitely get shaken up. Jen does in fact finish in the top 7, so someone from the original red team will soon be rockin' a black shirt. Sarah, whose mom went home last week, puts little effort and leaves the game in everyone else's hands, which is pathetic. Eventually Sarah takes the game into her hands and actually tries, though it's probably easy to beat Arthur. We aren't getting the verdict on the teams until the weigh-in. Aw boo-urns waiting.

Wait, weigh-in is a mere second away! Samantha Jean Brady informs the trainers of this week's twist. The teams are basically the same before, except for the obvious swap of Jen back to Bob/Jillian and therefore a person from black going to red. That unlucky person is Arthur, after Sarah chose to stay with Bob and Jillian, and now he is a dead man walking should red team lose the weigh-in. Arthur comes out in his new red shirt sobbing, which is such a downer, and Bob/Jillian assure him it'll be fine. Arthur doesn't feel the same.

The black team, all dominated by independent women, have a great week on the scale with every member of the team having double digit losses. Though if they were home for 2 weeks I guess this would make sense at about 5-ish lbs a week so it's actually normal to see big numbers. After the amazing 5.62% loss of the black team, the red team has to lose over 120lbs to win the weigh-in. Things start greating when Rulon loses 17lbs but when Ken and Moses only lose 5lbs, well that's a big clunker. Then Moses' daughter Kaylee loses 1lb. Arthur is the last to weigh-in and has a good shot at immunity on his team if he can lose 18lbs, if not, the red team will definitely vote him off. Beep beep beep beep, Arthur loses 16lbs and the tears start but are quickly halted because 16lbs is still good considering he used to be 600lbs. Jillian screams at Arthur to fight, fight to stay here because they've all been fighting for him to stick around. Bob implores the losers to forget about the game and remember this is someone's life, that alliances could dictate this man's chance at being healthy.

In the elimination room, despite the pleas to keep Arthur around that he needs it most, they still vote Arthur off.

Survivor: Redemption Island - Matt arrives at Redemption Island, surprising Francesqua who assumed it would be Phillip. They receive a clue the next morning to meet at an arena for their duel. But it won't be to blind eyes: each team will send 2 people (chosen by stone draw) to go to Redemption Island who will serve as witnesses. Ometepe has Andrea and Ashley going, while Zapatera is Steve and David. I won't lie, I didn't love this twist: I prefer the idea that no one still in the game would have an idea about what happened at Redemption Island. The challenge is to use long self-constructed sticks to retrieve keys to undo padlocks: winner stays on Redemption Island, loser is out of the game for good. Francesca takes an early lead, but around key 3 her stick isn't working out so great. Matt spends more time focusing on the stick and begins to catch up. Ah, tense! It's head-to-head, so tense, and Matt retrieves his third key and begins to open his locks. Matt wins the first duel and Francesca aka Franquesca is eliminated for good, tossing her buff into the fire.

Ometepe is so excited the plan went through at Tribal council to blindside Matt and flush out Christina's idol. An alliance is made between Rob, Phillip, Grant, Natalie and Ashley. Upon learning that Matt is pissed about being voted off, Rob approaches Andrea to make some amends, or really save face, though Andrea doesn't really buy it.

At Zapatera, the witness twist actually matters, as Steve and David tell Russell that Francesca won the duel and sent Matt home. The plan is to make Russell feel like he'll run Redemption Island too, but get a reality check when someone who could actually beat him is still there. Troll man still continues his quest for the immunity idol. Stephanie points out that if they can't find a real idol, make everyone believe there's a fake one by being protective of her bag. Craft project! Russell's horrible inside begins to come to the outside, as his underarms grow these weird puss lesion thingies. It's gross. His tribe is tired of him and his "harem" and know it's goal #1 to eliminate Russell. Steve suggests throwing the challenge and which is a tough call, so they made a signal: thumbs up means "let's throw this shit and drown the troll in the river."

The immunity challenge is the return of the awesome water wheel where 3 contestants are strapped and spun around through water, having to swallow it up and spit it out into a bucket to drop a ball into a slide puzzle. Reward is also on the line too with comfort items like chairs, pillows, tarp and a lantern. Zapatera makes the choice to throw it, which is not something older lady Julie is happy about. Rob rocks the puzzle, while David does an obvious job of throwing it. Ometepe wins their first challenge and finally gets a night off from Tribal Council. Now comes the big thing: can Zapatera get rid of the plague that is Russell Hantz?

Back at the winning camp, everyone begins to frantically search for the newest hidden immunity idol. Rob finds the clue in the fabric of the chair Phillip is sitting in, so moves him away and retrieves the clue. The hunt is on, but Rob is keeping his clue a secret.

Zapatera is ready for their plan to split the votes between Russell and Stephanie in case either has the idol. Russell is pissed that the challenge was thrown and strategizes with Stephanie to pull another person to their side: enter Julie aka Shambo 2, sans mullet, or "old lady" as Russell calls her. Stephanie pulls Julie aside, tells her she has the idol, and Julie likes her chances since Russell has been to the end before. Stephanie calls this the "biggest blindside ever" because she is dumb and clearly has never seen true epic blindsides that this show has produced. But if Russell stays, it would be a huge sign of, what's the word? Um.. apocalypse.

At Tribal Council, shocker, everything is about Russell. The players worry he is playing the same game as he always does. While I hate anyone aligned with Russell, Stephanie does understand it's important to win, have numbers, and eventually they will all stab each other in the back. The tribe insists they didn't throw the challenge. Stephanie, who I want to like cause she's smart, won't shut up defending Russell. The votes are cast and it becomes a tie-race between Russell (or RESSELL as one person writes who is beyond amazing) and Ralph, until more votes for Stephanie pop up: three way tie! So Stephanie, Russell and Ralph can't vote and everyone else re-votes. The re-vote makes my night when Russell is voted out of the game, but now he stands one last chance with Redemption Island. Let's hope the challenge is related to being nice for a long amount of time.

Top Chef All-Stars - Padma surprises the cheftestants in their home and she immediately can't tolerate being in this shithole and asks them to meet her on the roof. On the roof, the chefs have the Quickfire which is to head on over to Ellis Island and they will cook on the boat using the food available there, like chips, nachos, ramen, etc and only the time of the ride to prepare. Richard apparently has military MREs with him so opts to finally use that. Useful packing I guess? Richard makes a banh mi sandwich (nom nom nom). Tiffany makes nachos and popcorn with pineapples and mangos and Mike makes bread soup with hot dog buns but tries to make it sound awesome. Carla makes an orange and papaya salad, while Antonia makes a grilled cheese with apples and raisins. The winner of the Quickfire is Carla (yesssss- hootie hoo)!

The Elimination Challenge, inspired by Ellis Island, is to create a perfect dish representing their ancestry. A genealogist pulled together their family trees to give each chef an idea of their family history and then some special guests to help them with the genealogy report: their family! The cheftestants read their family trees and talk what food to make. Eventhough Tom Coliccio hates okra, Tiffany is going for it. Carla is going for Southern food again, despite her previous misfire, and Mike and Antonia are long-distance relatives. Oh god, emancipate yourself. Kisses, hugs, and lots of love later, the chefs head home. The next morning the chefs get into a Toyota Highlander, which they learn is the prize for the challenge winner. It'll probably get recalled in a week.

It's the final dinner in New York before the final 4 travel to wherever. The table is full of judges and their loved ones, and they discuss the cheftestants growing up but do not show Mike Isabella's humiliating childhood/teen photos. Mike makes potato gnocchi with a pork ragu, a staple of his grandmother. Antonia's dish is braised veal over risotto, a dish she imagines she would cook for her husband back in old Italian days. Tiffany has braised short ribs with mustard greens with pig feet and okra and it makes her mom very happy, but also is okra that satisfies an okra-hating Tom. Richard's meal, a mix of his Irish/British culture, is potatoes, corn, pickled glass warts, short ribs, and bone marrow. Sorry, was he planning to give the dog something to munch on? Carla is last to serve her food and presents the table with braised pork shoulder with grits and cheddar biscuits.

The cheftestants cheer in the stew room before being called in to the judges' table for the toughest decision yet. Carla's biscuits were beautiful and the broth has a "roundness" to it. Carla even used liquid nitrogen to make her grits, showing some range and willingness to experiment. Richard's puree of corn was reminiscent of mashed potatoes and all the flavors blended well together. Antonia is given kudos for the risotto and the veal shank was perfect. Tiffany converted Tom to an okra fan, with a rich slime rather than a slimey slime. Mike made great gnocchi with a rich but not overpowering flavor; his mom's advice paid off and she said the gnocchi was just like the ones his grandmother made. The winner of the challenge is Antonia and she is on a potential steady track to victory... in the Bahamas! Mike is next selected to head to the final 4, and then Padma totally psychs out Richard to make him think he's out (he's not, he's in). Despite an amazing meal, someone has to pack their knives and that someone is... no one. PSYCH OUT. They're both in, it was too tough. You sonsofbitches had me terrified.



Photo Credits: BravoTV.com, CBS.com, NBC.com

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