Reality Bites: Average Joe: Hawaii - Episode 2
by Rachel Jaffe
Published: January 13, 2004
Last week we stepped into a time warp, as once again a group of Average Joes met an unsuspecting Beauty Queen. And this week the time warp continues, as the second episode presents group dates following an activity with a celebrity guest athlete.
In Season 1, the celebrity guest athlete was Tony Gonzalez of the Kansas City Chiefs, and frankly his segment was so lame it wasn't even worth writing up. But proving that, while you can go back in time, you can't step in the same river twice, this season's celebrity guest athlete's appearance actually led to something significant.
The athlete was boxer Roy Jones, Jr. I'd never heard of him before, but many of the guys, especially Phuc, were excited to meet him. He gave the guys some basic boxing tips, and then they entered the ring for some match-ups in front of Larissa. No prizes, just for funsies. Many of them were fooling around, but some of them became pretty intense. The most "striking" (sorry, couldn't resist) was the match between Tim and Tony. Of course, we'd already seen Larissa feel a connection with Tony because he's an artist, as is she, so perhaps it's natural that she be concerned about seeing him get beaten up; she even phrased it as a match-up between the artist and the marine. But it wasn't just Larissa who was taken aback by the ferocity of Tim's attack on Tony. Ray separated the combatants, warning "no back of the head," and we were treated to several slow-mo repetitions of Tim's glove coming down on the back of Tony's head. When Larissa expressed her reservations to Tim about his actions, Tim explained that he was just doing what he had to do to win, and then wondered to the camera if she was getting the impression of him as a bruiser, which he felt was "180 degrees off from where I am." Several of the Joes also commented on Tim's actions, wondering if that might be a factor that would work against him.
Group Date #1: The Volcano
We soon were able to get a clue, because Tim was part of the first group to go on a group date with Larissa. He, David, Mike, and Thomas went on a helicopter ride over a volcano, and then walked on the slopes in order to get the "up-close-and-personal" view. Larissa also had a chance to get up-close-and-personal with the guys, by engaging in a few minutes of conversation with each one. After the group date, she was to choose one person to continue the date with.
Tim's boxing actions still weighed on Larissa's mind. When Tim pulled her aside for one-on-one talk, Larissa began by telling him that she'd been wanting to ask him something. "Yesterday when you were in the ring, I noticed you were really into it." She asked him about his marine background, and he explained that he'd done some training but wasn't in the part of the service that was all about "rrrr-rrrr, killing everything." While they ended their conversation with a hug, Tim again said in interview that he was concerned that she had an image of him as a brute.
During the conversation with Mike, Mike decided to be upfront that "Jesus comes first in my life." He noted that it's the one area in his life where he doesn't compromise. In interview, Mike said that he'd done a good job of pushing her away, and that he'd scared her with the faith thing. I think he was right, because her body language stiffened up as he talked, but I gotta give him props for being upfront about his religion. Thomas told Larissa about his breakdancing during their one-on-one, but as far as I can tell, he didn't demonstrate his skills. I'm not sure if that would have come off as cool or geeky, but considering that a lot of the conversation we heard was comparing her to Wonder Woman (hopefully he did not say to her, as he did in interview, that she was a lot prettier than Wonder Woman because she was there in person and an actual girl), I don't think it could have hurt.
David made the best use of his one-on-one time, by toning down his high energy style. Personally, I'm not sure about a guy who cries "a lot" (some is fine; a lot is ... well, a lot), but he did a good job of presenting another aspect of himself. And apparently it worked, because he was the one to continue the date with Larissa. They picnicked by the lava from the volcano, which provided the most amount of heat on the date. David gave it a good shot. He pulled out his "secret weapon" -- serenading Larissa with a song he wrote himself (no, not about Vienna, although his singing made me think wistfully of John from last season). And he took the initiative in giving her a kiss. Unfortunately for him, her response was similar to Melana's response to John last season (appreciative of the effort, but not overcome), and David's feeling of connection also echoed John's. Does that make his prospects similarly ill-fated?
Group Date #2: Snuba-ing
For the second group date, Larissa, Sean, Justin, Brian G., Bill, and Fredo went "snuba-ing", a combination of snorkeling and scuba diving. Bill was frankly apprehensive. Sean was eager, but Larissa noticed him as hovering near the surface and construed that as his being nervous (personally, I wonder if his weight made him more buoyant and thus led to difficulties in going further down in the water). She was impressed to see Fredo down in the lower water with her.
In addition to snuba-ing, there were one-on-one talks with the guys, of which we only saw the briefest of snippets. (The only one that really struck me was Bill saying that he thought he'd make it to the next round -- Bill, I'd say red (shirt) is likely to be your color tonight.) Because the conversations we saw were so brief, it's hard to know if it was because of his snuba-ing skills or their conversation, but Larissa chose Fredo to continue the date with. Regardless, she continued to be impressed with Fredo. She was surprised that he liked classical music instead of heavy metal, and also was interested in his charity that he was setting up to help kids. Larissa also was surprised at how much Fredo grew on her -- particularly remembering her reaction of "no chance" when Fredo got off the bus. She seemed very relaxed and comfortable conversing with him, and Fredo also seemed to enjoy the night. (He disappointed me, though, with his line about "if I can do it, anyone could do it" when it comes to an Average Joe making an extra effort and dating a model -- dude, there were four people in your group who couldn't do it, by the rules of the game, and the reason why any of you could is because of the set-up.)
Group Date #3: The Waterfall
On the third date, Larissa led Donato, Phuc, Brian W. (Boston Brian), Tony and Sam to a waterfall. She challenged the guys to race to the waterfall, and Tony won, giving him the privilege of the first one-on-one conversation (Sam came in second, and the other three guys never made it there). Larissa continued to be intrigued by Tony ("I think it's pretty cool that he puts artwork on his face," she remarked, referring to his unusual beard). Tony pressed his advantage by saying that he'd brought some of his artwork, as a lure for Larissa to pick him for the evening's solo date.
Several of the other guys fared less well in their one-on-one time. Sam was clearly uncomfortable talking to Larissa, and Larissa noticed that Phuc "was looking at everywhere except me." By contrast, Donato seemed relaxed and comfortable talking with Larissa. Brian, however, took the award for strangest conversational gambit: "I do have a question for you. If you had a wish on one hand, and a lump of crap in the other, what do you believe would come true?" This was some sort of a test for whether or not she was a positive person.
It came as no surprise when Larissa picked Tony to continue the date with. She actually invited him to come back to her place where they could compare etchings -- ummmm, artwork. After checking out Larissa's work at the house, Tony and Larissa decided to do portraits of each other. Of all the Average Joe dates we've seen, this one seemed to have the most heat. Of course, in creating the portraits, the two of them had to look at one another and really pay attention to one another. Afterwards, they went outside by the pool, and Larissa asked Tony for a kiss. They shared long, lingering liplocks, and I have to admit, there really seemed to be chemistry there.
After one last party, it was time for eliminations. Tonight, Larissa was to take the group from 14 down to 8. As it happens, Justin had to leave early because "he had an issue and had to leave the island on short notice," but Larissa still had to eliminate five guys from the group. The contrast between Larissa's warm, open demeanor at this party and her closed-off behavior at the initial one was immense, and she also seemed to be having a lot more of a struggle with this round of eliminations.
The first elimination was Tim. He handled it well, noting that there were a wide variety of guys there, both being eliminated and remaining in the game, and did not bring up the she-thinks-I'm-a-bruiser-but-I'm-not refrain.
No surprise on the next elimination -- it was Sam, who had never seem comfortable talking with Larissa. Poor guy -- he was even literally wearing the red shirt tonight.
The third elimination was Phuc. While I wouldn't have kept Phuc, I was surprised that Larissa let him go, because she really seemed to enjoy his sense of humor. He seemed quite taken aback and disheartened to be leaving.
The fourth elimination was Bill, our metaphorical red shirt. She told him that she hoped that they'd still be friends. Bill was fairly upbeat, but expressed surprise that he had to leave.
Larissa was very emotional when it came time for the fifth elimination -- Donato. She told him, "You're a really great guy and I'm probably going to regret this, because I think you're going to get a thousand love letters. And I just had a really great time with you." Donato was, surprisingly, the most bitter at leaving. "As far as I'm concerned, it's really a weight issue, and it just really goes to show how shallow people can be. When it's going to stop is either I find a girl who's not shallow, or I lose some weight. That's all there is to it." While I sympathize with his experiences, I have to wonder what would happen if he met a shallow girl who fell for Paul Sorvino-esque looks and a smile that could melt an iceberg? They may be rarer than those who fall for Brad Pitt eyes, but maybe Donato's national exposure will coax some out of the woodwork.
Now we're down to eight Average Joes, and the previews have shown eight Hunks on the way -- so look for them to land next week!
Average Joe: Hawaii is on Mondays at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time, on NBC.
Previous Recaps at The Trades: Ep. 1
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