Harken, gentle readers, and I will tell you a tale of abiding love and beauty, dark deception and intrigue, and harrowing adversity and endurance. Vestem virumque cano. This is the story of episode eight of America's Most Smartest Model.
This chapter continues the heroic epic of the competition to win the glory and reward of being crowned the nations' most intelligent model. The contestants include, among others, two arch-rivals: comely Brett Novek and determined VJ Logan. Brett has used his inherent qualities of love and charisma to charm the judges and become one of the top contenders while VJ has relied on his raw talent and ambition to push himself into the upper echelon.
At the close of the previous chapter, virtuous Brett was faced with a terrible moral dilemma. VJ's sworn enemy in the game, Andre Birleanu (the Bizarro World's grotesquely imperfect copy of Borat), had conspired with Brett's AMSMBFF Jeff Pickel in a harebrained scheme to form an alliance to reverse the ascendancy of VJ and bring him low. The impetuous Pickel asked Brett what he thought about the plan. Brett wavered, torn between being true to his personal integrity or to being loyal to Pickel, his showmo mate. Unsure of what to do, he expressed his confusion and displeasure to Pickel saying, "I don't know what to think of you, bro." Finally, rather than risk losing the affection of his most favored friend, he reluctantly agreed to join the star-crossed relationship with the malevolent Andre. The three plotters added Pickel's secret friend Aussie Rachel to the group and the coterie was complete.
Episode eight begins with the conspirators lounging by the pool, reveling in their imagined future victory. Like all close-knit alliances on reality shows where there is but a single winner, they successfully suspended disbelief enough to somehow enjoy the thought of all four of them winning together. It is here that we first see Pickel take the extra step from only complaining about people to using a term like "pick off". Following his lead, Brett exclaims the most cursed words in reality TV: "Final four!" If only Brett had known me before the start of the show and if he called me and said, "Hey, you watch a lot of reality TV. Hypothetically, if I should ever be on a reality competition show, and if I should find myself in some kind of alliance, should I ever gloat about my group being the final set of contestants?" My response would have been "Yes, but only if you absolutely want to make sure that it won't really happen." I would then have gone on to teach him the entire theory of reality show karma and saved him from the pain that was yet to come.
Unfortunately for Brett, no one warned him about dancing with the devil either. The Dark Prince, who sometimes appears in the form of a Russian/Romanian model, wants to use people to do his bidding and to encourage them to become evil enough to condemn themselves as well. Brett and Pickel naively let Andre's hatred of VJ to lure them to turn from working to win as the model with the most talent, the most integrity and the best sportsmanship, to being Andre's willing pawns in a decidedly uncharacteristic attempt to spoil someone else's opportunity to win. Can you feel the aura of bad karma starting to hover over our dynamic duo?
The models found running shoes and tank tops and realized that the next Edge Challenge will somehow be physical. The accompanying notice indicated there would be a grueling test of bodies and minds with the models in teams of two. VJ surprisingly asked Andre to be his teammate, explaining in the post-interview that he thought it would be a good opportunity to get to know him. VJ clearly never misses a trick, capturing good karma for his willingness to make nice with his enemy. On the other hand, Brett and Pickel met with Aussie Rachel and Andre in the bathroom and talked about smashing VJ. If you are keeping track of net karma, you would realize that the episode might just as well have ended right there. Brett and Pickel didn't stand a chance from that moment on.
The challenge was for one member of the team to answer correctly as many trivia questions as they could in one minute, and then after that, have the other team member run on a treadmill with a setting related to the number of correct responses. The one with the most correct answers would get the lowest setting. Brett and Pickel were a team, Andre and Rachel another, and VJ and Angela the remaining one. In the question segment, Angela and Rachel tied with most correct answers and Pickel had the least. He was unable to name a water fowl, presumably preferring only land ones (see last week).
VJ and Andre started running on their treadmills with a setting of 6 while Brett started at a 9. After five minutes, Pickel thought Brett should consider stopping to prevent overexertion. He convinced Brett to stop by asking him coyly, "Do you want me to pull it?" Brett (having waited for this for seven episodes) agreed to stop and said pleadingly, "Pull it."
Staying on their treadmills, Andre and VJ settled in for the long run (pun intended). As time went on, the settings increased. VJ was firm on winning for America while Andre declared that he felt "Soviet!" (History reminder for Andre: the Soviets were obliterated. Time to pick a different role model.) This reenactment of the Cold War played out to its expected end and VJ, All-American Boy, beat the commie. VJ saluted his conquered foe and then he and Angela discovered that their Edge would be a changing room close to the runway for a runway show. It didn't sound that important to the alliance so it didn't worry them too much.
An added twist came a little later when VJ found out that he needed to share the Edge with one of the four losing models. The obvious pick was Rachel since she was currently the weakest player and would most likely not benefit from the advantage. Rachel was glad to get it. Other than allying with Pickel because of her off-camera friendship with him, Rachel would have allied with anyone - Andre, VJ, last week's donkey - whatever would have kept her from being on the bottom.
The Callback Challenge is covered in part 2.
- Mary Alice Stephenson for President and Ben Stein for Vice-President. Ben would bring some needed intelligence to Washington and Mary Alice could easily stand toe-to-toe with other world leaders. Mary Alice to Hugo Chavez: "I don't think you're smart enough and you're definitely not model enough to be President-for-life of Venezuela."
- This bad blood between Brett, Pickel, and VJ is making it a lot less likely that my fantasy will come true of seeing them doing a remake of Madonna's Cherish video as the three mermen. I had planned to be out there on a boat with a man-size fish net. Fortunately, they are all bigger than the limit so I wouldn't have had to release any of them back into the water.
In depth coverage and photos of -> America's Most Smartest Model.