Reality Bites: Average Joe: Hawaii - Episode 9
by Rachel Jaffe
Published: March 2, 2004
Here it is! We've reached the finale of Average Joe: Hawaii! Time to find out Larissa's decision -- and the secret from Larissa's past.
The episode began (aside from obligatory season recap) with Larissa in the hangar, at decision time -- "0 Hours To Final Decision." On one side was the Plane to Paradise. On the other side was the Bus Back to Bozoville. In the middle was Larissa, wearing the Tablecloth of Temptation.
We heard a little bit of reflection from Larissa on the choice she was about to make -- and then wham, bam, we're sent back in time ("Three Days Earlier") to get caught up on the last hometown dates with Gil and Brian! Holy cow, it's just like my long lost and lamented Fastlane, except the guys aren't as pretty, the cars aren't as fast, and there aren't any guns. (Unless that's the final twist ...? Nah.)
At Home With Gil
Last week, Larissa went to Jim's hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona (and then gave him the boot). The next home date was with Gil in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Larissa was excited about the chance to get to know Gil better, and Gil said that he was more likely to be himself and let loose in his home environment.
And it was definitely a Gil-esque date. First thing they did was go on an airboat ride. Then he ushered Larissa around the construction site he'd been working on, where he showed her how to do some "mud work." Certainly competence in a guy is attractive, and it was interesting hearing Gil talk about the construction biz. But Larissa was concerned about their geographical distance. Gil said that reputation is important in the construction industry, so it made sense for him to stay in the Fort Lauderdale area. What would happen if they wanted to continue a relationship, Larissa wondered.
Later, Gil and Larissa went for a ride on a cigarette boat (a first for both of them). After this, their second boat ride of the night, Larissa and Gil went to the Vizcaya museum and gardens. There, she presented him with a blue Saint Christopher's medal -- "it reminds me of the ocean, and it reminds me of your eyes." Gil said, without looking at Larissa, "Thank you very much. I will wear this (pause while he tried to figure out if he should say "always" or not) -- and remember you (guess he decided against it) -- remember this (yeah, definitely decided against it). It was very thoughtful. Thank you very much."
Later, they had dinner, and Larissa decided, with the night coming to an end, that it was time they did some serious talking. "What would you hope would happen out of this?" she asked him. In what is destined to be a classic moment in Average Joe history, Gil, without batting an eye, responded immediately and in a more animated tone than I've ever heard from him, with, "Oh, I'd be, you know, of course an actor." Larissa froze, but managed to eke out an "umm-hmmmm." Gil continued by saying, "Because it's just the coolest thing in the world. You get to actually be someone else." "Mmm-hmmm."
Larissa asked him, basically, if that was realistic -- would he be able to do that in front of cameras? Gil owned as how maybe not, since he was so nervous all the time. But Larissa wondered if maybe Gil had been acting this whole time. She obviously had been asking in hopes of hearing that he wanted a relationship, and was shocked that he'd given such a blatantly media-ho answer. Larissa lamented opening herself up to Gil and leaving herself vulnerable to being hurt. Gil, for his part, wasn't sure how to make the transition to reality. He told Larissa that, as far as he could assess, she was a real person. She told him with a smile that she was actually a mechanical robot. (The twist!?!) They laughed. (Nope, not that either.)
At the end of the night, Gil thanked Larissa for coming to his home town -- "Fort Lauder-daudey." Larissa reflected in interview, "Today has run the gamut of emotions. And -- I love to be with Gil. On the other hand, there's this side of him which hasn't been fulfilled, which scares me half to death, that I don't know if he'll ever be able to express himself emotionally in the way that I would like to hear, and I think most women need to be reassured every now and then.
At Home With Brian
For the grand finale of home dates, Larissa joined Brian in his beloved Boston. Larissa met him wearing an adorable tangerine-colored t-shirt that just made me feel good about this date. In interview, she blah-blahed about wanting Brian to "make [her] feel more like a woman" and wanting to "see him be more of a man, in a sense," but since she was wearing a boring blue tank top in the interview, I ignored her comments.
First off for the date was (again!) a boat -- but this time a big ol' sailing sort of ship. On it, Brian explained that Boston wasn't a flashy city. Larissa asked him what he meant, and he explained that Bostonians are "not flashy people. You know? It's all about substance." Larissa remarked afterwards that she thought "there was a little subtext there. Basically, Brian was telling me about himself when he talked about Bostonians." Ah, she's a quick one. Who else would have picked up on that subtext?
On the ship, Brian pulled up a lobster trap with two lobsters in them. He suggested to Larissa that they name them. "The big one's going to be Jimmy, and the smaller one -- but still very muscular -- is going to be Gil." Ha! Brian, makin' with the snark, but in a good-humored way. After a quick discussion, he and Larissa decided to let the lobsters go free. "We'll let them go down there. They can shave each other's chests down on the ocean floor," Brian told Larissa, "and hopefully there's plenty of protein power down there, and they can go work out." More snark! Ha! Brian, no wonder she kept you around. Larissa remarked in voiceover, "I think the lobsters were very symbolic, giving them the names of Jim and Gil for Brian, and sending them overboard, and it kind of relaxed the situation." Honestly, no subtext escapes this woman, no matter how broad.
Larissa hit Brian with the acid test -- would he ever leave Boston? He told her he really loved the city, but he could leave, if their relationship advanced. Larissa was surprised to hear that he'd be willing to leave to follow his heart, after he's had a box around his heart for so long.
Back at port, Brian took Larissa to "the most famous museum in Boston," which sounded like a smart move, considering she's an artist. However, it turns out that the museum was Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox! Larissa admitted she'd been thinking of a different type of museum, but she gamely (ha!) went with the flow and asked Brian who his favorite player was. Brian said Tim Wakefield, citing Wakefield's love of the team, the city, and the fans.
And heavens-to-Betsy, who shows up but Tim Wakefield himself? Big ol' set-up, but Brian seems genuinely excited. In interview, Larissa remarked that it's really fun to see Brian get so excited. Tim conversed with the happy couple, and he and Brian exchanged some buddy-buddy talk about women and romance. "She's making me romantic!" Brian exclaimed. Tim reassured him it was okay to feel that way. Tim wished them luck, and gave them Red Sox shirts. In the background, the big screen displayed the words "The Red Sox welcome Brian and Larissa to Fenway Park."
And out there, on the field, Brian told Larissa, "I am not as good-looking on your arm as Gil, but I want you to know that I'm always going to be there for you. Always." He followed that up with, "I think you're so amazing. There's only a select few things in this world worth fighting for, and I think you're one of them." And then he laid on the smoochies. Reflecting back, he said, "I fell in love on center field at Fenway Park."
But they couldn't spend all day at Fenway Park. So next they went across the street to a bar -- where they were greeted by four of Brian's friends. Brian gloried in being with Larissa in front of his friends. I was a little uncomfortable with this, in sort of the same way that I was last season when Adam showed off Melana to his friends. But because I'm really rooting for Brian now, I'll make the distinction that Adam was treating Melana like a trophy, and for Brian it's more about showing off the relationship, because he's happy about it. "I was very proud to be in love with Larissa around my friends."
To finish up the evening, Larissa and Brian went to the Boston Harbor Hotel, and had dinner in the pavilion. It was lovely, with candles and flowers, and Larissa looked truly gorgeous in a strapless dress. She remarked in voiceover, "Tonight was very romantic. You know, I've been on other dates with the other guys, obviously, eating dinner in beautiful settings. But there was something about the energy that was different." Brian was very psyched about how the day had gone. And he was forthright with Larissa. He told her, "You've taught me a lot, including -- I have all these emotions that I've had inside. Love is one of them. But I'll save a few words for a private moment. I'd like to say something to you in private." Larissa said afterwards that his emotion, and his desire to say those words to her, made her feel "amazing." She felt like that night "he knew what he was doing. He knew what he wanted this time."
D-time. Time for Larissa to make her decision. "On the one hand, you want to be physically attracted to somebody. You want to have that passion," Larissa mused. "But you also want to have somebody that has depth, and has a great personality, and has a good heart." Both guys headed to the hangar in separate limos.
Last season, the first limo to arrive was Hunk Jason's, which typically would mean that he wasn't the one selected (since usually the last one to arrive is the chosen one). However, last season faked us out, because Melana elected to keep Jason and then went on to reject Adam.
This season, the first limo to arrive was Hunk Gil's. I was convinced that the producers weren't going to pull the same fake-out twice in a row. Besides, who could resist Brian's affections at this point in time?
Gil walked up to Larissa, and she said, "Gil, you intrigue me. I know that I have feelings for you. Strong feelings. But sometimes I question whether you're ready to take it to the next level. So I hope you understand that there's only one thing I can do, and that's to trust my instinct. And my instinct tells me ... that you're the one for me. And I want you to fly away with me tonight. And I want to see if we can make this fantasy a reality."
Holy cow! A double-fake-out from the producers! And she chose Gil? Nothing Gil? Actor-wannabe Gil? She rejected Brian of the sparkling eyes?
"I don't know what to say. I'm so happy," Gil said woodenly. (Keep the construction job, dude.) In interview, Larissa explained that Gil was the one because she was always thinking of him and being reminded of him on other dates. And the fact that he was so guarded was intriguing to her, and made him seem "real" to her.
What a disaster! And she keeps using one of my favorite words -- "intriguing." That's just wrong.
Gil disappeared into the plane, and then the last limo pulled into the hangar. Brian walked up to Larissa, and she told him, "The last time that we saw each other, that night in the Boston Harbor, you moved me. You made me happy in a way that no other man has in a long, long time. It was in your beautiful words. It was in your kiss. And I always knew that you would treat me like a queen, and that night you did. But you deserve a woman who can look at you right now and say 'I love you, too.'" (Oh, my gosh, Brian's face is so tragic. As in the Simpsons episode, if you rewind, "you can actually pinpoint the second when his heart rips in half.") "Brian, I wish I was the one. My heart is telling me something else. The change that I've seen in you, and the trust that we have in each other -- and I hope that that trust can grow into a lifelong friendship, even though I know I'm going to hurt your feelings tonight. I think you're the most interesting person I have ever met, and I had an amazing time with you those nights. I'm going to miss you, Brian."
Brian finally manages to whisper a "Me, too." They hug, and then Brian says "Good-bye." That's it. And he leaves. It was not as collected and gracious as Adam's farewell last season, but under the circumstances, I can't fault Brian. He really seemed more emotionally invested in Larissa than Adam was with Melana, and what else was there to say?
Larissa seemed very upset at saying good-bye to Brian. "That has got to be the hardest thing that I've done this whole time. I want so badly to be able to feel for Brian what he feels for me. And -- you know, I guess it's better to do it now than to wait, six months from now, a year from now. I just -- I want so badly to feel that. I just -- I don't, right now." On the one hand, a part of me can actually sympathize. Sometimes you just don't feel it, even with every reason in the world, just like sometimes you feel it with no reason whatsoever. But on the other hand (my slapping hand), I'd like to give Larissa a wake-up upside her head. Six months? Anything could happen if she gave it a go for six months! Two months ago she'd never have thought she'd want to go on one date with Brian! Now she's thinking that she could have dated him for six months?
Back on the bus, Brian was depressed. "I've tasted the highest high that I've ever had in my life. Our date in Boston was the best day of my life. And now I'm at the lowest point right now. This is the lowest -- lowest of the lowest. ... I'm absolutely devastated. I really am. I fell for this girl, and, you know, she didn't have the same feelings for me, so that's -- that hurts. That really hurts. I just thought she was the most amazing thing, so I -- I'm kind of shocked, because I really thought the two of us had something really special, and right now I can't believe it's all over." But he did feel proud, rightly, that he'd made it so far. "There's a lot of great guys that she eliminated, and I'm proud that she kept me around."
One Final Twist (Of The Knife)
As Brian headed back on the bus, Gil and Larissa headed off to Cabo. For three days, they laughed and played. On the fourth day, Larissa finally revealed her secret: she used to date Fabio.
Gil took that hard, stalking away from Larissa. "I don't know how you react to something like this," Gil said in interview. "When I found out that Larissa had been with Fabio -- you know, I have a serious preconceived notion about Fabio. Who doesn't?" He added, "Any guy in the United States of America can feel with me on this one. He's on cheesy romance novels, with some cheesy pose, sitting there. It's beyond me."
Ummm, okay, Gil. It's her ex, after all.
Maybe if we hear from Gil again, it'll make sense. "Just -- all I have to do is say 'put yourself in my position.' That's all I have to say to anyone. 'Put yourself in mah position' (all at once he's got that Southern accent goin' on). What is it that irks you about it, is the same thing that irks me. Fabio. The more time I have to think about it, that whole thing keeps just regurgitatin'. I don't see how that can be any good. So, this has been a great experience, so let's just take it at that and be done with it."
My take? I like Fabio. I do. The guy worked hard to parlay his image into a cheesy little empire, and he always seemed to do it with grace and good humor. He's okay in my book.
If Gil were threatened because he hasn't done as much with his life, or because he doesn't have the personality and charisma and good humor that Fabio does, it would make sense. Sort of. (Because I'll say again, Fabio is the ex!) But somehow, I don't think that's what's going on.
So Gil drives off, and Larissa deals with the bitter irony that, after weeks of doing nothing but saying good-bye to guys, she now has been rejected herself.
Right up to the end, I was rooting for her to call Brian. Come on, you crazy kids, you can still make it work! He said he'd always be there for you!
But instead we heard Brian in voiceover. "It didn't pan out in the end as far as a relationship with Larissa, but Brian Worth, with no Rs, is going to walk out of here with his head held high. Very high.
"I'm a different person than when I started this, and that to me is priceless," he added, "and I have Larissa to thank for that. This is the beginning."
The beginning for Brian, but in two weeks, it's a second beginning for Adam Mesh, Brian's counterpart from the first season of Average Joe, as he chooses from a selection of women in Average Joe: Adam Returns. Sometimes the bus takes you home, but sometimes, if you stay on long enough, the bus comes back around again.
Average Joe: Adam Returns premieres Monday, March 15th, at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time, on NBC.
Previous Recaps at The Trades: Ep. 1 | Ep. 2 | Ep. 3 | Ep. 4 | Ep. 5 | Ep. 6 | Ep. 7 | Ep. 8
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