Reality Bites: Average Joe: Hawaii - Episode 3
by Rachel Jaffe
Published: January 20, 2004
They're making the Average Joes work for their dates this season! Last week, the Joes had to put on exhibition boxing matches for Larissa. This week, they had to participate in a mini-triathlon (or, as the Joes liked to call it, a guy-athlon), where they had to swim, then bike, then run.
All the guys eagerly plunged into the water, hoping for some reward with Larissa at the end, but not all made it through the race. Boston Brian was first out, citing "Perfect Storm" conditions in the water and requesting a rescue. I scoffed at his exaggerated characterization of the water, but he made it up to me by announcing, with his inimitable pronunciation, "I-yan-man, I-yam not." Second out was Thomas, who tired out near Larissa. Hey, if you're going to poop out, you might as well do it where the lady can give you a hand up.
The main competition was between Mike and Tony. I put my money on Tony right from the beginning, because he has a pretty muscular body, but Mike was tenacious and held the lead, winning with a time of 9:52. After dropping the "J-bomb" on Larissa last week by bringing up his Christianity, he felt a lot of pressure to try to win private time with her (the most likely prize). Tony had to settle for a disappointing second place with 12:12. Fredo was third at 17:20, Other Brian (yeah, there's another Brian on the show -- I keep forgetting about him too) came in fourth with 21:53, and Sean surprised Larissa by hanging in there and puffing in fifth with 25:38.
But Daaaaaaa-vid Daskal? What of David Daskal, you ask? David had neither learned how to swim nor to ride a bike before this point in time. Supported by a life vest, he gamely kicked and paddled in the water, refusing to give up. He finally finished the water portion of the race after 31 minutes and 53 seconds, refusing to give up. It was determined that it would be too dangerous for him to do the bike portion of the race, so he was disqualified at that point. Larissa gave him props for his tenacity, as do I, and if he knew going into the water that the bike leg would disqualify him, I give him double props for working so hard at the swimming portion knowing that he couldn't win.
Larissa was very touched by the effort that all the guys went through ("Just to see them go out there and give it their all was probably the most flattering thing I've seen a group of eight guys do for me," and for once I'm not even gonna quibble about how many other times has she had a group of eight guys do anything for her), and doggone it, so was I. It was a lot more fun to watch than the boxing, and I have a soft spot for underdogs who try so hard. Even the guys who couldn't finish the race worked as hard as they could and really put forth a great effort.
But blah-blah-blah even though we're all winners here, there can be only one Grand Winnah, and that was Mike. And yes, indeed, he won a private date with Larissa. Larissa also was able to award a date to the guy who never gave up, even though he came in last. David swelled up at these words, but she gave the medal to Sean (I assume because David was disqualified). Sean was glad to get a private date -- but wished his medal didn't say "Last Place." ("It couldn't have said something better, you know, like 'Braveheart'?") I was happy at the results -- I like Sean and wanted to see more of him, and seeing a date with Michael would be more interesting than a redux of last week's date with Tony.
One-on-One Date #1: Michael
Michael's date with Larissa started with parasailing, in a double harness. Now, I've done parasailing in Hawaii, and it is a blast. Unfortunately, when you're not actually doing it, it makes for a little boring visuals to watch. "Oh, look, there they are, up in the air." "Yup, still up there." But even if their movements were restricted, their conversation was wide-ranging. Michael opened up about his "rough background," according to Larissa, and we heard him tell her that he'd been a drug addict back in '94 (he thinks -- cue obligatory joke about drug use and memory loss).
After the parasailing, Michael and Larissa went for a picnic. Michael admitted in interview that he was starting to develop some strong feelings for Larissa. "It's scary on the one hand, and it's -- I mean, it feels pretty good on the other to start stepping out in that direction, after being out of the game for so long." "So long" is apparently a year, because Larissa asked him about it. He explained that he'd been hurt by his last girlfriend, and Larissa felt pangs for the guys that she's broken up with in the past.
Michael, however, was ready to move on, and smoothly segued from talking about not dating for a year to "something else I haven't done for a year" by asking Larissa for a kiss (turning what could have been a liability into an asset). She complied, and in an even smoother segue he followed that up by saying, "I kind of forgot how to do that. I think I might need another." After the second kiss, he wisely wrapped up his flirtation before it got awkward by saying, "Okay, I think I remember now." Very nicely done, Mike!
Larissa remarked in voiceover that she was amazed by the changes she'd seen in Mike in the past few days. On the other hand, the fact that she had seen so many changes in him made her a little nervous, as well.
One-on-One Date #2: Sean
Because Sean is a chef, he decided to play to his strength by cooking for Larissa for his date. "You can't win a girl's heart by cooking," he remarked, "but you can definitely get an in." Larissa said that she enjoyed the start of their date as well, as they cooked together. When it came to grilling the dinner, Larissa said she noticed that he got hot, and Sean said he worried about that at the time, that he was the fat guy sweating. But he continued to stay the course, and they seemed to enjoy the dinner.
After dinner, Larissa invited Sean to the jacuzzi as a reward. Being the sole "big guy" left in the competition, Sean was a little self-conscious about being with her in his bathing suit. Larissa noticed that he was tense. "I'm sure he was checking me out, and I'm sure he was aware I was checking him out." She explained in voiceover, "It got a little awkward, and I was trying to make myself as available as I could to him, to make him feel comfortable." Sean explained to her in the jacuzzi that he didn't want to always be the fat, funny guy -- someday he wanted to just be the funny guy. Larissa apparently gave him some advice -- something that could be summed up with "it's as simple as that," which makes me suspicious of the advice. But she was really being very sensitive to his feelings, and since he was the one who apparently brought up the subject, I (again? this must be a record!) give her a pass.
It's too bad that the date had to go from dinner to the jacuzzi, though, because it really wasn't a great venue for Sean. He appeared to be very confident and friendly and outgoing in the times we've seen him before, but in the jacuzzi he was tense and stilted. I kept wanting to reach through the screen and physically rearrange him. Face her! Make eye contact! Turn your body towards her!
And for crying out loud, give her a peck good night, at least! "I don't know why Sean didn't kiss me. I think Sean didn't try to kiss me because he was too nervous," Larissa said in interview. "He, like, had every opportunity to just go for a kiss. And I could see it in his eyes. He wanted to do it, but he wasn't sure. He wasn't sure how I would react." And my gosh, but who would have expected the woman who stormed to the producers about how she couldn't possibly be physical with guys she wasn't attracted to to sound, well, at least receptive to a "fat guy" giving her a kiss? You've come a long way, baby! Sean, deservedly, was kicking himself for being possibly "the first Reality TV guy of all time to have not taken advantage of a kiss in the hot tub."
Who's Walking Out ... ?
On elimination night, the guys noticed a boat in the harbor. They speculated that it might be for a date, or that Larissa would be arriving from that boat for the party. But they spent only a little bit of time talking about the boat, because they were distracted by upcoming eliminations. All of the guys were nervous. As Tony said, with fewer people in the group, the odds of any one of them leaving was greater.
Both Brians made a plea to stay longer. (I made a plea to get rid of at least one of them -- preferably Other Brian, and Larissa did remark that he hasn't "sparkled" for her yet.) Ironically, both guys made a pitch along the lines of "I can't tout dramatic achievements or talents, but I'm a really good person." David gushed to her that she was "so perfect," which was a bit much, but I did like his calling her a "stellar superstar." Larissa remarked in interview that he was still a bit "out there" for a romantic relationship, but she did like him. (Yes, that's right, David, you are once again on the train leading towards Friendship Station.)
Larissa was in excellent form this evening, being warm and welcoming to all the guys, and seeming to be genuinely emotional at the thought of sending some of them home. It was very sweet.
And it was even sweeter when she read a note that announced that ... there would be no eliminations that night after all. Everyone cheered, the guys hugged one another, and Larissa brought out a champagne toast for all.
... and Who's Walking In?
Okay, I hate to ruin a happy ending, but I guess I have to.
While the guys were having their champagne toast, Larissa received another note, this time letting them know that "right now, everything is about to change."
And in walked Hunk Number One, Jim, who was the Decoy Hunk from the first episode. At first, David thought he was the captain of the ship they'd seen outside, but then realized that he wasn't. Sean figured that one Hunk was the twist. But then, as Other Brian remarked, "they started cloning each other." Hunk after Hunk arrived, all having been delivered by the mysterious boat outside.
The guys were shocked and dejected. Larissa was taken aback and bemused, but glowing. Tony said in voiceover, "As they came out, I just kind of looked down and got more down on myself. And then I looked over at her, and she had this huge smile on her face. And that was probably the toughest part of the night, to see how happy she was to see those guys."
Viewers, of course, were not surprised by this onslaught. In addition to the previews, we'd seen snippets of the guys all during the course of the episode. Plus, of course, we'd seen the arrival of the Hunks last season, although last time there were only three, who arrived when there were only three Average Joes. This time, it was eight Hunks, matching the eight Joes.
But numbers weren't the only difference from last season. The three previous Hunks had been, generally, affable guys. They didn't seem to have a lot going on upstairs, but they were a congenial crew. However, these guys were making with the snarky comments even before they arrived at the house.
"They should just pack up and go home now. They really should."
"Think of us as a torpedo in the water. They will not know what hit them."
"In jocks versus geeks, jocks always win. It's a completely unfair match-up. I'm athletic, I play a lot of sports, and I've got a feeling these guys don't have that anywhere near in their possibility."
"We're basically a giant wrecking ball, coming in to destroy."
Which Hunk said what? Who knows? Who cares? Right now, the Hunks are all an undifferentiated mass of ripped abs and rotten attitudes. I'll leave it to next week's episode to sort them all out.
Average Joe: Hawaii is on Mondays at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time, on NBC.
Previous Recaps at The Trades: Ep. 1 | Ep. 2
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