March 27, 2001
Long ago, when Emily visited Christian in the tree stump he calls home, they were involved in some sort of accident with a magic wheelbarrow driven by a troll. Or, they were run off the road by a tractor trailer, something like that. Both kids suffered serious injuries; Christian still has two metal plates in his jaw from the accident. The psychic scars have been more troublesome for the Scandihoovian, however, and he hasn't been able to leave the trauma behind.
So what does this piece of ancient history have to do with tightrope walking, mes amis? This, dearies, is we call the classic reality television set-up: memories of traumatic past event magically heal after a silly stunt and cash prizes. In last week's challenge, Emily overcame her brutal rejection by the high school cheerleading squad. Now Christian must work through his brush with death by brushing with death once again!
The cast members arrive at some sort of warehouse in order to learn Tightrope Walking 101 from a shrill, peevish little man named Jay Cochrane. Understandably, the kids feel some trepidation about walking on a tightrope 100 feet above a concrete floor, but Jay is not about to offer them any comfort. Instead, he immediately tells them, "I have my doubts about any of youNot so easy, is it?" Now that's motivational!
Jay is not only chock full of bon mots, he also likes to dangle the threat of death right in the kids' sweaty, cherubic, little faces. As James falters on the practice rope, Jay commands, "Stiffen up! 'Cause when that concrete hits you tomorrow, you're certainly going to stiffen up." He also regales his protegees with the entertaining tale of his tightrope walking accident, the one that made him a paraplegic for four years. With his clipped, high-pitched delivery, unreasonable expectations and impatience, Jay Cochrane reminds me of a tall, blond, tightrope-walking version of Yoda.
Everyone is visibly nervous about the challenge, but wee Christian seems to be the most shaken up. Suddenly, the number one word in his vocabulary is "harness." As in, "We wear a harness, right?" and "I won't do it without a harness." The lad is harness-mad, sweeties! And Jay is not about to admit that anything so panty-waisted as a harness exists in his universe. But, Jay, if he's looking to see 12 little bloody smears on the concrete, is bound to be disappointed. Even Bunim-Murray wouldn't film 12 kids plunging to their deaths.
After a day of practice, the kids visit Six Flags Great Adventure and get a good gander at the 10 story drop from the tightrope. There's no net, but there is a safety line and a bungee cord- harnesses aplenty for Christian. The two teams feel marginally better about this event, but not much. Jamie is one exception, however; he's practically drooling. "No one has ever bungeed off a high wire before!"
If you ever wanted to see former cast members of "Road Rules" and "Real World" hurtling from great heights, the next few minutes of this episode will satiate you. The majority of the kids don't even make it to the first 50 point flag. Jamie does, and Kameelah gets two flags, for 100 points. However, she misses the second safety line, and gets stuck within arm's reach of the other end. Kameelah doesn't want to jump, but she can't go forward either. She ends up jumping, too, but only after a mini-nervous breakdown.
The Road Rules team hasn't won any flags yet, and it's up to Christian to cross the wire and pick up 200 points, if they want the victory. In a plot twist worthy of "The Mighty Ducks," Christian experiences a revelation complete with backlit views of the tightrope, flashbacks of Jay's snippiness and choral singing. He then proceeds to walk the entire tightrope and secure the Road Rules victory. Real Worlder Julie, however, has her own hypothesis for his success, "I think he's some sort of leprechaun!" You see, darlings, I'm not alone in my views on Christian!
Now that Christian has conquered that particular demon, he can go back and work through his car accident trauma. He can also play with the Dreamcast he won as this week's MVP, if that makes him feel better, too. We leave the two teams are only one game away from a tie.
Who's Topless: Just imagine the sweaty armpit stains! All the kids keep their tops on for this event.
Who Cries? Kameelah contemplates her mortality and bawls like a baby.
Best Quote: "This is Mickey Mouse. Wait 'til you meet Donald Duck," quips the tyrannical tight rope guru Jay, appropos of nothing.
Most Annoying: Even though I love the idea of someone giving the Bunim-Murray Musketeers a hard time, it doesn't work if the taskmaster, in this case Jay Cochrane, is even more annoying than the kids.
Coming Soon: Susie craps out.