Alex and Rob continue eating. "Is it any good, or is it yucky?" Amber asks. "I don't want to talk about it," Rob says. Mm-hmm. Brian and Greg and Meredith and Gretchen are converging on the task. They hop out of their cars, and Meredith and...headband guy take the task. Rob comments that four pounds is a lot of meat, while headband guy insists it isn't that much. Ron takes it for his team.
Rob is beginning to struggle. "I'm never going to be able to eat it all," he says to Amber. He then turns around and half-smiles at her, kind of sadly. She looks concerned. I think he really is beginning to believe that he's not going to be physically able to do it. Uchenna and Joyce then show up, and Uchenna takes the Roadblock. There is a certain amount of trash-talking among the guys currently doing the task, and they continue eating. Alex abruptly turns and extravagantly throws up on the ground. "Don't pay attention to him, baby," Amber says to Rob, who turns and faces the other direction. After a bit, though, he gets up and turns around to Amber. "What happens if I can't finish?" he asks. "What happens if you can't?" she repeats. And then she says, "Penalty." In an interview he has the luxury of doing after the fact when he knows how things worked out, Rob says, "I had to come up with a plan, and it had to be quick." He tells Amber at the barbecue, "I'm not going to sit here and suffer for three hours, like these people are." He tells us, "I didn't want to eat it, but I still wanted to stay in the race." Rob goes on to exposit that the penalty for not completing a Roadblock is that you have a four-hour penalty from the time that the next team arrives at the Roadblock. We watch as he gives up his food and says, "I quit."
You know, there were a few posts in the forums this week about the whole matter of quitting the Meatblock and what it means for the show and whatnot, and for me it all came down to how dumb I think volume-based eating challenges are in the first place. I can get behind facing down a legitimate fear in a mind-over-matter way, and I can similarly get at least moderately behind eating unfamiliar and initially "strange" food as a mind-over-matter enterprise. But this isn't really a mind-over-matter enterprise. It's literally a matter of eating until you get sick, and it seems like one of the major skills involved, at least for some of these people, is being able to get yourself to throw up so you can eat more. I cannot stress enough how little interest I have in seeing people challenged to eat until they get sick. Competitive eating is a whole world of freaky shit and hot-dog-scarfing and some Fox announcer saying "five thousand hard-boiled eggs" and all that, and to me, it's like watching a guy haul a pickup truck by the hooks through his nipples or whatever. Just because a thing is something that your body will rebel against doesn't actually make doing it an accomplishment or anything that's particularly enjoyable to watch. Competitive eating for volume as a campy spectacle I can tolerate. I can even eye its devotees with an odd combination of affection and puzzlement. But that doesn't make it a "triumph of the human spirit" situation. I hate these challenges so much, in short, that I wasn't attached to the completion of this one as anything to admire.
Ray and Deana get to the task, and in a moment that's just utterly...ACK!...he says to her, "This is you. We can't waste another Roadblock." Right. Because they're only competitive in the ones that he does, and so they can't "waste" one here. Such a jerkety-jerk-jerk-jerk. Ray and Deana's arrival starts the timer on Rob and Amber's penalty, which is helpfully shown down in the corner. Deana sits down with the tray of meat. She tells Ray she doesn't even think her stomach is big enough to hold the meat that she's being confronted with. We then listen in as Rob tells Amber, "We need to convince Deana to quit, because other people still haven't arrived yet." In other words, he doesn't want to be the only one who has to wait around for some long period of time. Rob interviews that the only way his plan was going to work was to convince other teams that it wasn't possible for them to complete the task. Indeed, Rob goes over to Ray and tells him that Deana won't finish the task, because he himself just quit. Ray asks, "What's the penalty?" and Rob explains it. Deana gets a free out when Rob admits that he quit, too, so she declares she can't do it and quits almost immediately. Rob boasts that his plan was essentially foolproof, because once he "hooked Ray and Deana," he was "guaranteed not to be eliminated." Not true, of course, but it is true that it locked in at least one other team that would (1) have to wait; and (2) have to wait longer than Rob did. Lynn asks Rob why he's quitting, and Rob says, "Can't be done, man." "Oh, Alex'll get it done for sure," Lynn says. Of course, Alex has already thrown up, so if the task were to eat the food without throwing it back up, which seems to me like it would at least have some point to it instead of being a big binge-and-purge thing, Alex wouldn't be able to do it either. Not everyone wants to eat and vomit for several hours and still wind up sick and dehydrated. I'm not prepared to stipulate that Alex has proved much about the wisdom of trying to complete this task.