Shasta in California, at the Catalina Terminal. Split screen. That crack B/M editing squad still dazzling me with the graphic wizardry. Stop it now, B/M editing staff! You're going to make it impossible for me to be satisfied with any other show in the future. You've really raised the bar. (As in, raised The Bar to number one on my list of things to do Monday nights.) So Janet Karl (I just made up that name, but it sounds close -- ooh, no, the Graphic of Stupid comes just in time to let me know that it is actually "Jann Carl" and she's indeed the new Mission Mayor), recognizable from her job as part of the hard-hitting journalist team on Entertainment Tonight, knocks on the Shasta door and introduces herself to the kids. "So, you guys ready for the final Face-Off?" asks Jann, the extra "N" in her name obviously giving her extra spunk. The kids listlessly answer, "Yeah." Man, even the kids themselves hate the show. I wonder who wants it to be over sooner, Kathryn or me. That a good question. So anyway, Kathryn floats (I actually missed not having the floaties last week) that they walk into the terminal (we see this) and find a little boy band praying. They wonder if it's the Backstreet Boys. No. As Jann waves a fart away with a manila folder, she introduces the kids as "O-Town." We get a four-shot of all the kids from B/M's show Making the Band -- Ashley, Erik, Trevor, and Jacob. ["I guess this was in the post-Ikaika, pre-Dan era." -- Wing Chun] Oh lord, do they look stupid. We hear an O-Town song that goes, "Baby I would. Baby I will...mmmbaby, I'll do that gladly. All that you need..." Alright, yo, I'm no Phil Spector, but that's a fucking hit! Buy your B/M stock right now, because that shit's going through the roof! So Ashley lies the camera, telling us that they are all big Road Rules fans and grew up watching the show. Laterrian then, in split-screen with Ashley smiling, tells us that they saw the O-Town-ers and thought that they were pretty boys and that the Road Rulers will easily beat the band. Over what looks like a worse buffet than the one I used to have to eat every month at my Godmother's rest home when I was little, James asks Ashley what the "O" in their name stands for. Ashley, who hits puberty any day now, explains that it stands for Orlando, where they all live. I thought it stood for "Oh, Jesus, turn that shit off right now!" James, who has only a few years on the boys but looks about thirty here with his future doughy-ness starting to rear its head, goes on to ask them if they're the next "Backstreet." Ashley explains that their pimp-daddy Svengali is the same lunatic who created the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync -- although he explains it a bit differently. James is smiling and obviously mocking the kids. Theo looks on, very interested in every word Ashley has to say.
JannTonight interrupts the kids (Jacob is awkwardly hugging some girl -- Holly is wearing a hat five feet across) and tells them that -- though she can't reveal exactly what the mission is -- it is "winner take all" and worth $12,000. The kids don't give a shit at this point, so B/M just inserts random shots of the kids reacting from earlier and/or later in the day, making it look as if they're all quite excited about the money. They all follow the anorexic Jann Carl outside and the O boyz explain that they needed six people to complete their team, so they brought in Shelli and Brooke, two friends. (Does the term, "Fruit Fly" mean anything to you? No? Okay, good. I don't want to get in trouble here.) Good thing they introduce these girls as they both seem to be brimming with personality -- (neither will really say a word for the entire episode.) Theo yodels, "I'm all about kicking some vocalist arse, here." The O-boys aren't yet used to his schtick so they think it's funny -- so young, so impressionable. Theo is standing on the railing of the boat and I can't help but think it would only take a small wave to knock him into the drink. Do they still make people walk the plank? Now's the time, kids. One of the O-Town boys -- the gay-looking one, (oh, that's not specific enough?) -- pipes up that our kids have the advantage because they've been working together already on missions for so long now. Little does he know the Road Rulers have coalesced into about a sharp a squad as the little white team the Harlem Globetrotters take around just to kick their asses. So we're on the boat going over to the mission and while our kids are no doubt giving each other the stink-eye and denying having had sex in restaurant bathrooms, the O-Town boys get into a huddle and babble about how they have to respect each other's opinions and how "being a band is gonna help [them] be a team." Oh man, those kids are going to make it! While 'N Sync is busy arguing over who gets to have the weird sideburns in the new video, these tykes still believe in the power of compromise and the integrity of their music -- oh man, are they headed for a big B/M-induced fall. We cut to Laterrian who is talking to Msaada. He's talking about the hypothetical of being offered a spot as the fifth O-Towner "even if [he] could sing." His answer is, "One-hundred percent, hell no." It's rather odd that B/M kept this O-Town dis in the episode, but then again we long ago established that these days they take about as much interest in the day-to-day creation of Road Rules as Bill Clinton does in his once beloved dog Buddy. (You know that, after that initial photo op, Buddy ended up on the menu of some Chinese restaurant in Georgetown.)
Graphic of Stupid. "Arriving Catalina Island." "The Music of My Earache." They get off the boat and spy two sailboats docked nearby. Theo jumps up and down, "Oh my God, look, dude, that's exactly what we're doing, dude. There's all of our stuff right there...Man, we're having, uh, like a catamaran race, yo." Do you think that, in the history of the English language, the sentence, "Man, we're having, uh, like a catamaran race, yo" as ever been spoken? I doubt it. Congratulations, Theo. You're a fucking linguistic Lewis and Clark. Shot of two l'il hot air balloons. Partridge Family bus driving up. Montage of the various kids on the bus. They follow Mayor Jann off the bus. She informs the kids that they're doing something called "Parabounce." She explains, using "he or she" over and over, that each of them will strap "herself" (stupid Jann Carl) into the balloon and jump off the cliff to the beach below. James goes floaty and explains that the kids have to parabounce one by one to the beach and then all run to their sailboat and start the catamaran, yo. Msaada floats, "please, let me do this" -- meaning "please B/M, give me at least a minute of screen time this episode and even though I know you hate me, can I do the fun balloon thing please please please." Laterrian floats, saying that losing to Tyson in a fight or Tiger Woods in a golf game would be one thing, "but losing to an eighteen-year-old boy-band member in a damn sailing competition...no. No. You have to be...you have to be joking." "You ready for the final face-off rules?" asks Jann Carl. She again gets about the same enthusiastic response as Gallagher does playing the King Solomon Home of the Aged in West L.A. She goes on to explain the bounce-then-sailboat-race once again, before Theo gets floaty on her ass. He asks, regarding the parabounce, "And what if we don't even go down at all? What if we just go off and disappear?" Jann reiterates the cash prize, and the kids are even less responsive than before. Jann Carl is fucking dying up there, yo. James jumps up and down, pretending to be excited. Laterrian frowns. So do I. An O-Towner and Msaada both float about how exciting and scary the balloon thing is. No excitement is mustered. B/M gives up. Commercial.