May 8, 2001
Here Comes da "Judge"
When we last left the kids, Syrus had James by the throat and was giving him a good shake. Satisfying, oui? Non! This altercation was the result of a paintball tournament, for heaven's sake. Strangling someone because of anything having to do with paintball is just sad. Paintball is sad. There, I said it, darlings, and I feel so much better.
Also, the guys were yelling so loudly and so incoherently that I couldn't make out a single word of what they were saying to one another. It came out just, "woof woof woof," like when my little dog Scooter sees a dog across the street (or a cat or a kid or a duck or a piece of trash blowing across the yard). And like my dog Scooter, the barks may be earsplitting, but there's little to back them up. With little ado, Kameelah waltzes right in there and sends each boy to his corner. Not a peep more is heard that afternoon. We now know who is in charge, dearies.
Both teams broke the rules about not shooting the opponent once they had reached the target, so no one gets the prize. This sends the Road Rulers on an even more treacherous downward emotional spiral. Susie trots out her "bitter list" (Number one is "We suck at everything."). Laterrian is the best adjusted of the whole team, and even he threatens to pee all over the hotel room. If he can't have the ten grand, he'll claim the hotel as his territory.
If you think that the teams can just move on from here to bigger and better things, you don't know your Bunim-Murray productions, mes cheris. The next challenge is in New York City, where the kids will have to present their cases in the "court" of ""Judge" Mills Lane, armed with videotape evidence. However, even "Judge" Lane's oily assistant admits that the video is "not conclusive" for either team, so the best argument will decide the winner of the dough.
Well, all I have to say to that is "bon chance." These kids argue about as well as my dog Scooter can whistle "Yankee Doodle" (which is not so great). The judicial system has hit a new low, my friends! Or, it would, if everyone was participating. James, that bulldog of tenacity when it comes to winning, wants to bow out of the whole challenge. "It's just money," he mewls.
This may come as a shocker to those of you who have witnessed James' haranguing and pouting and otherwise antisocial version of sportsmanship. It seems that James was so traumatized by that dark day on the paintball field that he can't bear the thought of re-living it. Sacre bleu, he sounds like a shell-shocked war veteran, with his talks of "wounds" and "shame" and "infection." Emily concurs with James' wish not to accept the courtroom hearing, and the entire Road Rules team decides to stick together in doing nothing.
The Real Worlders are simply flabbergasted at this turn of events. What had started as something "light and fun" (Rebecca's terms) or "a f***ing game show" (Jamie's) has morphed into "The Deer Hunter." For his part, Syrus feels that the shooting and barking and butt-kicking were all part of the day's entertainment; "They need to give up their silver spoons and come down to the real world. Damn Road Rulers," he huffs. Dan takes this golden opportunity to make fun of Emily's uncharacteristic timidity and poesy.
Not even the Road Rules team is entirely comfortable with this turn of events. Laterrian can't stop watching the video or taking notes. Evidently, losing was harder on him than he wants to admit. In the wink of his sparkling, beady eye, Christian magically appears on Laterrian's shoulder and reminds him of the "team decision." It's a choice between ten thousand dollars and team loyalty; we know the die is cast when Laterrian calls his teammates "supposed friends." Ouch.
On the day of the trial, "Judge" Lane's assistant gives the Road Rulers one more chance to join in the fun, but they, with the exception of Laterrian, are content to sit outside the courtroom and play cards. Laterrian looks so lost and small by himself on the stand, and even the mob of Real Worlders are nervous. "Judge" Mills Lane, who has some sort of trailer park People's Court type program, likes to fancy himself the big dog on the block (again, like my dog Scooter); when he states, "I'm right because I'm final," I wondered if he has that embroidered on a throw pillow or something.
Rebecca starts to present her team's case, but makes a big mess of it. It doesn't help that she's interrupted at every turn by gallows witticisms and shrill drawlings of the magistrate. She keeps her sunny disposition intact, but has not an ounce of logic to her credit. Poor Laterrian is blinded by "Judge" Lane's shiny bald pate and distressed by his repeated insistence that "I've sentenced people to death!" Nevertheless, Laterrian is able to present a solution that earns a commendation from the crusty old justice.
The opening arguments are also the closing arguments in this trial, since the Road Rulers' boycott strategy prevented any questioning of witnesses. So, Hizzoner goes back into his secret chamber to play Pac-Man (probably sentencing the little ghosts to death), and the kids are left to await his "Judge"ment. Eventually, "Judge" Mills Lane awards the ten grand to the Real World team, simply because they all showed up. Laterrian gets praise and a "small token of esteem" (a tooth from a hanged convict? Scalp wax?) from the "Judge," because his argument had merit, even if he didn't have the support of his colleagues.
Laterrian has earned the respect of a loudmouthed television "Judge" and his Extreme Challenge rivals. But what about his teammates? As soon as Laterrian leaves the courtroom, Michelle congratulates Laterrian, "I heard you did really well in there," and then proceeds to scold him for "ditching his team." James stalks away from Laterrian with a dark cloud over his head. It must be frustrating to be on a team that lame.
Ok, I'd better take my dog Scooter out for a pee now. She's been bugging me all night.
Who's Topless: In the hallowed halls of law, everyone keeps his shirt on.
Who Cries? Do flashbacks count? We don't see any real-time weeping, but both James and Emily admit to being driven to tears by the whole paintball debacle.
Best Quote: "I have a hard time having fun when I'm bawling my eyes out," explains Emily.
Most Annoying: He wants to win, he doesn't want to win. Which is it, James? Either way, you're annoying.
Next Week: Could it be? C'est fini!