Sunday, September 12, 2010

Season 1, Episode 2

Cars and golf and laughter, oh my!


Previously on The Best Damn Show In The Universe: Some stuff, but the "previously on..." segment wasn't on my copy of the episode, and I'm too damn lazy to go back and check when there's a perfectly non-stupid recap of the episode for you to read. (Well, mostly non-stupid.) (Well, partially non-stupid.) (Well...)

Credits. Wow, Josephine almost looks tolerable when she's muted.

Day 3. The teams have journeyed halfway across Tasmania to the town of Ross, which has a big, old-looking church, with a tower and everything. Grant reminds us that James was just eliminated, and that the contestants (walking through the town in slow-motion, as you do when you're in Tasmania) are now contemplating their own mortality, at least in terms of the game. So, naturally, the next challenge will be a high-speed car race around town. Grant tells us that "the race will be along the lines of the Tasmanian Targa Rally." Luckily, while they were down at the police station helping Ben with his speeding fine yesterday, the production crew took advantage of the opportunity to get the roads closed for the challenge.

Grant welcomes the nine remaining players, and tells them to split into three trios, each with "a navigator and two mechanics". Because it's just not hard enough to tell them to divide into three navigators and six mechanics. As the women giggle, one of the men (Rocky, I think) works out that three groups of three makes nine people all up. He's right, you know. As they continue working out how to divide themselves, Grant informs us that this is going to be "a ten thousand dollar relay race against the clock". There are three weird looking cars being used for the race: two from the sixties, and one from the late-nineties. As it turns out, Patrick, Bev, and Linda are the navigators, while everyone else gets to be a mechanic. The three navigators will take a car each, and must complete two laps of the race course. An old guy who looks like Colonel Sanders explains how they'll be using "a set of notes" to get around the course, because you just can't trust your own eyesight, apparently. The drivers have been told to do sweet fuck-all if they're not being directed properly, which makes a nice change from the usual "You Are Ballast" tasks you'd normally get in such a situation. Patrick reiterates to Linda that she has to keep talking. Somehow, I doubt that will be a problem.

The six mechanics -- Josephine and Jan; Rocky and Alan; and Ben and Abby -- will each have to change one of the back wheels when their driver finishes their first lap. Rocky turns out to be the only one who's ever used a trolley jack before, and as such is next seen running down a road for no reason. As the girls try and work out how to use the jack, and as Rocky squats in the middle of the road, Grant tells us that "success in this challenge" will depend on whether they've put the right people in the right roles. Of course, Josephine whines about thinking she'll be completely useless because she doesn't have a car and doesn't drive. Also, she doesn't navigate. I think she'll be completely useless because she IS completely useless. (And: You're not actually navigating, you're just following a set of instructions. If you can't read a set of instructions, go audition for Big Brother instead, and quit wasting our time.)

Patrick's navigating first, and Jan and Josephine will be changing the tyres during the mandatory Pit Stop. Rocky, Patrick, Jan, and Josephine all think the girls should have been one of the later pairs, so that they could see what they had to do. Because, you know, women can't do anything without being shown how first. Like, say, having children. (One wonders what they thought the other nostril was for.) The second car will be guided by Bev, with Rocky and Alan as the Pit Crew. Bev tells everybody she can follow maps, even though she "may not be technical". Linda will be in the last car, while Ben and Abby change its tyres. Grant seems to make special effort to make us notice that Abby is the lightest person in the entire cast. Apparently, they'll learn whether they fucked up in just 35 minutes.

Standing in front of the three cars, as though he's a grid girl, Grant tells everyone once more that the challenge is worth ten grand, and mentions the time limit to them again. Colonel Sanders counts them down, and we are off. Patrick decides to complement his loud directions with some hand movements. You know, I always used to say this show needed more performance art, and then that stupid Underwater Charades game came up, and ruined the concept for me. Grrrr. Grant voices over that the course is three kilometres long, and that they'll have to get "average lap times of three and a half minutes". So, just a teensy bit over 50 kilometres per hour, really, even though Grant seems to think they'll be going at over 140. Patrick's driver seems to be annoyed with how fast he's giving the directions, needing them to be repeated. Grant also adds that the mechanics will only have "four-and-a-half minutes" to change their wheels. His estimates works out to 34-and-a-half minutes in total, so it's nice to see the producers gave them thirty seconds in which to fuck up.

Patrick's first lap takes him eighteen seconds less that Grant thinks it should have. But Jan and Josephine suck as the Pit Crew. Jan at least manages to get her wheel off of the car pretty quickly, as Patrick patiently asks the driver "what else [he'd] do on a Tuesday". Hee! Patrick is one of those people who would sound boring if you were reading about him (how am I making him sound, by the way?), but in real life he seems to be a funny, funny guy. Josephine gets her wheel off, and Jan orders her to "take the one between [Jan's] knees". Huh. What a shame Ben wasn't the one who said that. Grant tells us that putting the replacement wheels on this particular car is going to be hard, because the bolts don't stick out. While Jan sucks it up and deals, Josephine whines that her arms aren't strong enough to lift up the tyre. Jan tells her to use her head, like that's going to be more capable of lifting the tyre up and into the right position than her hands are. Jan gets hers done very quickly, it seems, and goes over to hold the tyre up for Josephine to "put the bolt in". Yes, that's right, Josephine has successfuly managed to whine her way down from "change this tyre" to "put this bolt in". Patrick tells the driver he "strongly suggest[s]" that a nut-tightening will be in order after the challenge is over. Patrick seriously owes me a new keyboard, as well as a glass of Diet Coke. (Fine, it was real Coke, but don't tell the boyfriend, okay?) The extra time Josephine has taken them up to nine minutes and ten seconds, a full minute and ten "behind schedule". Grant assumes that the only place they can make up the time will be in Patrick's second lap. Which is probably fair enough, given that Bev will be the next navigator. He goes, and Jan tries to hug the incompetence out of Josephine. Patrick navigates.

Ben checks to make sure Bev knows what she's doing, and that she can't stop off for a quick game of bingo on the way around.

We learn that the "lap record" is two minutes twenty-six, and that Patrick's second lap took a touch over three minutes. It's not good, but at least they're only about fifty seconds over time at the moment. Bev leaves and Grant tries to convince us that Bev will need to be an even better navigator than Patrick was. Naturally, his voice over finishes just in time for her to fuck up her directions. Soon after, she manages to get them lost. Great map-reader she is. Grant tells us that -- gasp! -- her wrong turn is wasting time.

Commercials. Why am I using a printout to solve an electronic Rubik's cube on my computer? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Or not at all?

Bev is still lost. Her actual directions to the driver to get back onto the right path are, and I quote, "we have to go back". Because, you know, that's so helpful. So the driver reverses slowly down the street. Heh. It turns out that, by the time Bev gets the car back on the course, she's only lost about fifty seconds all up, so it's not as bad as Grant seems to be trying to make it sound. It's still pretty poor, all things considered, but it's not an absolute catastrophe. Yet. Bev eventually somehow flukes her way onto the right track, and her driver speeds off, having to do a donut in an intersection because her navigation skills are that horrible.

With many thanks to the show's editors for not having to put us through the entire rest of the lap, we soon see her arriving back for the wheel change. Rocky and Alan are doing the change. Meanwhile, the driver asks Bev how it was, and she says it was "confusing". Probably should have paid more attention, then. Apparently, these wheels are "much easier to change" than the ones on the first car, which sort of makes you wonder why the only person with any experience is working on this set. Mole! They manage to make up a little bit of time on the change, but they're still almost a minute and a half behind where they should be. So, you know. Go team! She's off again, while Josephine hugs Rocky because he was so much less sucky at the task than she was. Grant tells us Bev's first lap took her "five minutes and twelve seconds" to complete, but the second one is "over a minute quicker". And she's back already. I don't think she got so damn lost this time around.

Linda's off and racing, so to speak, and she, Ben, and Abby have got about ten minutes to get two laps and a wheel change done -- which might be tough, considering it's two minutes faster than even the first group. Abby looks nervous. Flashbacks remind us that Patrick was a good navigator, while Alan and Rocky were good roadies; but do not remind us that Bev and Josephine sucked. Grant tells us everything the final threesome does has to be faster than anything the first two groups had done. It's a good thing Ben's in this group, then, because if anyone in this group knows all about speeding, it's him. Linda has the fastest car, but she's still got to be close to perfect at giving the directions in order for it to be an advantage for them. Just between you and me, I suspect it's not a coincidence that they saved the fastest car for last. Linda's doing a pretty good job navigating, as far as I can tell. Her first lap took three minutes and two seconds, which is the fastest lap so far. Abby and Ben seem to not be doing particularly well with the tyres, causing Jan to order Abby to "use [her] shoulder and [her] forehead". What is it with Jan trying to find other uses for heads? Just because the show is one big mindgame, that doesn't mean you have to use your head for everything. While Linda waits for the mechanics to finish, she snarks that there's "no pressure" to do well on the last lap. Heh. I like Linda. Shame about everything else that's happened since. And just like that, they're done. Linda's got to do her final lap in two and a half minutes to win the ten thousand dollars.

Commercials. Oh, my God. That's who Jan reminds me of: Denise Drysdale!

Linda is having no issues with the navigation at all, and she even manages to do so well the driver gets to a speed of 153 kilometres per hour, thirteen more than Grant had predicted. See what I mean? Ben's in this group, and it's going faster than anyone seems to think it should. Grant implies that fucking up while she's going this fast will result in an unscheduled Pit Stop in a bloody mess on the road. It's perfectly natural, therefore, for Linda to tell the driver to "run over the cameraman" if he needs to. It only took her 2 minutes and 29 seconds to finish the lap -- three seconds less than the course record. Awesome.

After Linda stops and everyone's all sorted out, Grant tells us that "it was close, it was very close", but that they've managed to win the money. Rocky, Abby, Ben, and Jan share a group hug, while Alan watches on in the background. We learn in a voice over that the group won with eighteen seconds to spare, and that they've managed to win "three out of four challenges", and "a total of $25,000" for the kitty.

Night 3. Video Diaries. Ben thinks Bev is the Mole because she couldn't read a set of instructions. Bev tells us she's "going to have a totally miserable time" until everyone else forgets how badly she sucks at map-reading, and that they'll think she's the Mole in the meantime. But if she's not the Mole, wouldn't that work to her advantage? If everyone else thinks she's the Mole, they're not tracking down the real Mole, and Bev can catch some sabotage they miss. Alan is getting "the irrits" from Bev, because she's "incredibly annoying". I noticed. Thanks, Alan. Linda says something about the "psychological mindgames", but I can't figure out what it was because shewastalkingsofastitallsmooshedintooneword. Jan tells us that Bev is sometimes "sharp as a tack", and sometimes acts like she belongs in a nursing home. (She mentions Alzheimer's, but the basic point is the same, really.)

It's now Day 4, and the players have been magically teleported back to Launceston. They meet Grant at a bandstand or something, and he welcomes them, with a video camera in his hand. Before the group finds out why, he asks which of them "has never played golf before". Josephine sheepishly raises her hand, and Grant thanks her for volunteering, his opinion of "Oh my GOD, this is going to be a trainwreck" evident in his tone, before sending her back to the hotel. Heh.

For everyone else, the challenge is simple. Using the two gigantic video cameras provided (were they really that big back in 2000? REALLY?), they have to film a minute of people laughing, making sure to get both sound and vision recorded. Of course, because it's that simple, it's only going to be worth $5,000, but still. They can do whatever it takes to get the laughter, but they only have two hours to do it. Jan and Linda try to feed each other icecream in one group, while Bev runs around in some sort of shopping centre shaking bottles of water around and generally pestering the locals. As Grant voices over that this isn't actually the real task, Patrick records Bev and Abby dancing on the footpath. We learn over a bunch of assorted attempts at humour, looking about as awkward as Tom Williams's hosting style, that the real task will be to do exactly the same thing as they're doing at the moment -- except wiht one small catch. You see, when they try again this afternoon, teams have to hide the cameras they'll be using to record what's going on. Rocky tells us the task is "a snack", and that he "can make people laugh just by the way that [he] look[s]." Jan sits on some random lady and reveals that she has a sore backside because she was just riding a horse. Speaking of pains in the arse, Rocky offers some lady a shoeshine. Grant tells us that, although a lot of what they did was actually funny, some of it -- such as Rocky's shoeshine stuff and Jan wondering whether sitting on top of a washing machine will work the same way as a vibrator -- falls flatter than the Jackson Jive being pushed out of a skyscraper window. (Yep. That's how long it's been since I started writing this recap.) He contemplates what it is that makes people laugh, and this is already one of the most boring challenges I've ever had to recap, and we haven't even gotten to the actual challenge yet. Sigh.

Meanwhile, Josephine has been practicing for her challenge. She's got to finish the final hole at the Launceston Golf Club. Luckily, we have been spared seeing her whine her way around the first seventeen. The hole is a 350 metre Par 4, but Josephine will be allowed to take up to fifteen strokes to complete it, because she's just that bad. A golfer guy tells her that he's going to try and teach her enough of the technique so that she can finish the hole. Surprisingly enough, the first thing Josephine asks isn't, "Do I have to wear some ugly pants?" Unfortunately, it's even worse. She seriously has to ask what this strange and unfamiliar concept of a "hole" is. I wish I was joking. Josephine is very quickly moving up the List. Soon, she might just overtake Petrina. Grant tells us she's only getting an hour's practice with the golfer guy, whose name is apparently Bill. She looks like she's a somewhat decent golfer, once she figures out what she's supposed to do with the cute little ball-shaped thing and the long stick-like thing Bill seems like he wants to whack her over the head with.

Back at the bandstand, the remaining players return after their not-a-challenge challenge. Grant clarifies that only footage from unsuspecting schlubs will be allowed to be used in their minute of laughter, before silently walking off. Grant voices over that it's going to be harder and more embarrassing, because they can't use the camera as an excuse for looking like idiots, and are "quite exhausted from the morning's efforts". You know, if I had have known sitting on a washing machine consumed that much energy, I probably would have... let's just say I'd need a lifetime's supply of Powerade. He adds that some of the players might even try and cheat in order to win. Quelle surprise!

Commercials. Boy, it's hard to believe how long it's been since I wrote anything for this recap. No joke, everything before this point has been sitting on my laptop since about January. Clearly, I'm too lazy to even procrastinate by writing any more.

Once again, the players have two hours to record a minute of people laughing. Bev's camerawork is all over the place as she records Ben standing on the edge of a fountain while arguing with Abby. For some reason, Ben is wearing a bra. Because when you like to speed, everything goes flying everywhere, and he would like to keep his pecs still for once. Rocky also makes an even bigger nuisance of himself than usual.

Over at Launceston Zoo, Jan, Linda and Alan make like monkeys while Patrick records. Real monkeys watch on in abject horror. There seems to be a decent amount of laughter recorded, actually. Grant tells us that because all the players are wearing their own microphone, recording the sound of laughter won't be a problem, but they've still got to make sure people can't see the camera recording them. Linda seems to think that because she's wearing the microphone, she has to be near the camera. Which she doesn't. She continues that Alan's got to be actually recording what's going on in order for it to count towards their minute of filmed laughter, and she's entirely right on that count, even if she's not very good at explaining it.

Bev is trying to hide in order to catch some decent footage, by standing right in the middle of the town square. Unsurprisingly, one of the people being recorded notices and waves to her, making the entire bit pointless. Way to hide yourself and the camera, Bev. (Still, who the hell waves to a camera recording someone else's holiday? Damn Tasmanians, apparently.)

Slow motion shots designed to fool said Tasmanians into thinking the contestants are all completely lethargic accompany a Grant voiceover in which he pretty much says "Comedy is hard work". Well, yeah. Have you noticed how long it's been since I last posted a recap? And really: All about me, let's be honest. But the narration is also a cheap segue into an argument between Linda and Alan about where Jan should be standing. And by "argument", it's really just Linda mouthing off, complete with token bleeps and everything. Alan toddles off to tell Jan exactly what Linda just told him. Yeah, he's not whipped by a woman he just met four days ago at ALL.

Elsewhere, Rocky is trying to have a discussion with Abby and Ben, but it's pretty much impossible to tell what he's saying beneath all the fucktacular bleeping. I think it's some problem with the camera not being aimed in the general direction of the person laughing. Grant intones that the challenge is almost half finished, and they only have a few loose shots of feet and zoo enclosures to show for it. He says plenty of laughter has been recorded, but only scarce amounts of it have actually been seen. (This is the same problem Australia's Funniest Home Videos has with trying to gain credibility.) Linda calls someone a "shocking cameraman". Ironically, she's on the one reality show with excellent production values, so I'm not sure what she's on about. Let's see if her next remark helps clear us up. "When I say look at the monkeys, I mean the fricking humans." Well, nice to see she's giving clear directions. Alan tells us he's got the camera set on "very wide", and isn't actually doing anything else other than waiting for people to laugh. Linda decides that just because the cameras are (supposed to be) hidden this time, they can't be idiots. I'm not entirely sure how the two things are mutually exclusive, to be honest. And what happens if someone being recorded waves at the show's actual cameras instead of one of the ones the contestants are using?

Over a shot of what appears to be Ben's ass in some rather poorly-fitting jeans, Grant tells us that she's recorded only a few seconds of people actually laughing. (But she does get a bonus for being the first person in history to record actual vision of a fart.) Their group -- Abby, Ben, Bev, and Rocky -- have trouble working out how much footage they actually need to get, given they've got to split a minute of footage between two pairs. I think that's their first problem -- in a task like this, it's not "do the bare minimum, assuming everyone else pulls their weight", it's "do as much as you can, so you don't have to rely on the others so much". Especially when there's a fucking Mole around.

In the other group, Alan and Linda both think they've only got about fifteen seconds. Yeah, this one doesn't look like they're going to win. Oh, well. Soon, Patrick is outright asking for laughter just to get a few seconds more. Grant says it's allowed... until Patrick decides to point out where the hidden camera is. Sigh. Naturally, Alan manages to record this, but can't record any laughter. Hmmm. Back with the other other team, Rocky's doing the same thing, but gets caught by the show's cameras themselves. What is it with these people and thinking they can be on a television show without being recorded by cameras? Idiots. And the sad thing is Bev still can't capture so much as a stifled snort.

The Dramatic Tinkling Of Impending Foreboding kicks in, as Grant tells us they all pretty much quit after about two hours, but won't find out the results until later on. But first... Golf!

A few clumsy closeups of golfballs being hit passes for "she now knows how to play golf" exposition. Good thing there's a Grant voiceover to belabor the point. He once again tells us her challenge is to complete the final hole, a 350 metre Par 4. For the first time, we leant that the 15 strokes she could be allotted to complete the hole will be earned by the other members of the team, by answering quiz questions. Yay! I love trivia! (Except for this new guy we had at the pub tivia night I go to every week last Thursday. Such a douche. Frankly, we would have left, but we still had prize vouchers to spend. But anyway...) Grant explains that the questions are on five different subjects: Tennis, the environment, psychology, sex, and fitness. I'm thinking it's a good thing Josephine's playing golf instead of answering any of these. Josephine and her unfascinating fascinator must decide who will answer each question, as well as how many strokes she will earn if the question is answered correctly. The implication Grant makes here is that she can put all fifteen strokes to one question, but as you'll soon see, she was clearly forced to split them so that one was worth one stroke, one was worth two, and so on. He claims this is a test of how well she knows everyone. Does she know that Linda plays tennis, or that Rocky is a fitness junkie? Or that Abby's a psychology student? Or that Alan's job deals with the environment? Or that all eight of the others were conceived through the act of mating? Decisions, decisions. If only she had a few minutes to mull it over...

Commercials. How nice to see Julia Gillard sitting in the crowd for the Bulldogs/Swans semi-final. If only she had somewhere else to be. (Perhaps at an NRL game instead, to show the New South Welsh powerbrokers that she's not out of touch with what three random union heavies nobody even likes think?) (Although... does anyone actually still care about the NRL, given everything that's happened over the past few years?)

Grant welcomes everyone "back", even though they've never been in the room they're currently in before, and points out that they've rather "cryptically" called the next challenge "Golf". Yeah, you laugh, but there's now a whole bunch of different interpretations of what to do with balls and woods. (It's a shame Tiger only slept with 17 cheap hookers, because Elin would make 18 women, meaning he just missed out on the 19th hole.) It's worth $10,000.

The first question is the tennis one, and she's given it to Ben, who only gets one stroke. With this much over-compensating, that might be all he really needs. The question involves the Poo's (other) nickname, and not surprisingly Ben gets it right. Yawn. And now for the one swing she earned... which misses the ball completely. Heh. Alan gets the environment question for three strokes: "The weather report gives a southern oscillation index. What are the common names for it's two ranges?" Dude, thank God she gave this to the right person. Imagine the frustration if she gave it to, say, Bev. But he still doesn't know, thinking it's "isobars and pressure zones", when the answer is actually El Nino and La Nina. No stroke for you. Abby gets the Psychology question for four strokes, so I don't think Josephine actually did too badly when splitting up the questions. The question's all about how Freud developed the concept of ego, and if there's one psychological construct all reality contestants should know all about? That was it. Good thing she got it right. That could have been really embarrassing. Josephine gets to take four strokes, and prays that she can just get it off the tee. Funny, yes, but also Josephine, so *slowclap*. She takes the first stroke fine, but then misses again, before shanking it into the nearby rough. I'm rather impressed she can go so off-target in such a small distance. Her final stroke goes so well she's now only 190 metres away from the whole, with a maximum of seven strokes left. For five strokes, let's talk about sex, baby. The entire group titters when they learn it's going to Rocky. The question is actually repeated from when the same challenge turned up on the Belgian version (in fact, most challenges this season are from it), which might explain the unusual phrasing a little. "You can divide the human race into men and women. Only one is able to bear children. Which one?" I don't know whether he actually needed to pause for as long as seen here, or whether he was just stalling for misplaced "comedy effect", but either way it doesn't look good. Still, he does thankfully get it right. With two decent shots, yet another air swing, and two shots so bad she might as well have been using a DVD case as a putter, she manages to get the ball only about five metres away, but on the edge of the rough behind the green. She now only has two more strokes left to earn, and she'll only get them if Jan knows her fitness. It's a pretty tough question, though certainly not on the level of Alan's -- give the Latin name for one of the muscles in the human back. What, "ass" isn't descriptive enough? She tosses up between trapezius and trapezium, eventually deciding that Eveything In Latin Ends In "-Us". Good thing she did. Her first hit at least lands on the green, but unfortunately rolls wayyyy too far. Perhaps she would have been better off putting from where she was? Her final shot is worth ten grand, just in case you thought there was random mid-afternoon inflation on game shows, and... misses the hole completely, coming to rest back out on the rough. Wish I could say I was surprised.

Grant offers his fake sympathy, before congratulating them on the laughter challenge. He says there was a great deal of laughter recorded. However, between Rocky and Patrick breaking the rules (helpfully illustrated with flashbacks of the same footage I've already recapped once), and Alan and Bev taking ridiculously bad footage (again with the requisite repetition), they only managed to capture 43 seconds of syncable sound. So, you know, no money here either. Clearly, though it is certainly very pleasant to look at, Launceston is not the hotbed of prosperity it tries to claim to be. It's like Sydney but without Kochie or Grant Denyer. (Ergo, thousands of times more tolerable.)

The irritating tinkling kicks in again, as we learn courtesy of Grant that someone's getting the boot tonight. Ooooh, I hope it's whoever chose that damn elimination sound effect they used. But instead of finding out immediately, it's video diary time. Jan sits in front of a fireplace to tell us that the possibility she might be forced to fuck off makes her feel sick. If only I cared enough about any of these people yet to offer sympathy hugs. The only people I'm really even close to liking at this point are Patrick and Abby, who you pretty much can't not love as soon as you see her. The rest of this group range from "eh" (Jan, Alan) to "are you STILL here?" (Rocky, Josephine) in my mind. It's rather unfortunate, but does at least mean I'm likely to be happy with the end result of this episode. (I am of course going on the assumption that watching this ten years later means the result has changed somewhat. SPOILER!)

Commercials. Ew, Jonah Hill is writing a 21 Jump Street movie. Was he even alive when the show was on? Does he know the show actually had a modicum of class?

Look, I'm bored, and all these video diaries are the same. Let's go through them as quickly as I can. Rocky wants someone else to get knocked out instead of him. Ben thinks he's "more of a fighter than that". Quick, someone cue up Eye Of The Tiger! Linda thinks people are finally realising it's a game, while Patrick tells us it's been a game since before the players arrived. Josephine talks about exiting with dignity, while her hair looks like a hen's night guest at the "Fine, just one more body shot off this stripper's chest, and then we'll leave" portion of the evening. Oh, irony. How I love thee.

We rejoin the entire group at what Grant calls one player's "Last Supper". One wonders whether he'd have made that connection if there wasn't a Judas in the group, but whatever. He also informs us that surviving the elimination will be "bittersweet", though I suspect the ratio of bitter to sweet varies from player to player. On the other hand, the Mole will be to the very end, so they can be both bitter and sweet about the whole thing. Abby thanks everybody for the supporting words, and... awwww. She's definitely more sweet than bitter. Patrick find it "incredible" that Abby "can drink so much and remain vertical". Hee! Jan also gets a cheer, but it's not entirely clear regarding why. I don't think "virtuousity" counts as an actual reason, considering my spell-checker doesn't count it as an actual word, but... you know. Jan seems like a nice lady, so she probably deserves the praise. If only they could come up with a reason for it.

Grant walks into the dining room wearing a grape shirt and some glasses, because nobody in history has ever looked dumb while wearing glasses. Except for Jan Brady. He's there to tell them that it's time to take the quiz. As usual, there are twenty questions. This time, we mostly see the options rather than the questions, but they seem to basically be of the usual boring "What colour eyes does the Mole have?" type this week, so I don't blame them.

Jan thinks Bev would be a fantastic actress if it was her. Presumably, the end of that sentence ("...but it can't be because she's so damn obvious") was edited out. She remarks that Bev is often somewhere between "astute" and "dementia". I know it's no laughing matter and all that, but I really miss the days when dementia could be a punchline. (Yep, political correctness has made the List.) Ben thinks it's either Jan or Patrick, but doesn't know which. Abby thinks Jan is on her "top one" list of suspects (heh), but is still unsure about Josephine, as is Alan, who has decided his main suspect is Rocky. Josephine is so unsure she basically names everybody except herself. Even Grant probably would have gotten a mention had we kept listening. (But more importantly, I am wondering what possible question could have had the choices of Metal, Leather, Other, and None.)

Gazebo Of Impending Doom. We've moved outside for the elimination this week, and the nine players are all crammed onto picnic benches. Heh. Grant congratulates them for winning less than half of the money that was on offer for this episode, giving them a total of $25,000 in the kitty. He does not mock them by pointing out that they could have had twice as much. I blame Bev. And now... someone's getting booted. Yay! Ben is first, and safe. What is it that makes Grant hate capitalisation so much? He's like k.d. lang, if only she was awesome and not a one-trick pony. Abby is also fine. Yay! Patrick is not, unfortunately. Sniff. Still, they managed to correct the problem with the sound effect from last week, so now it does actually start at the right time. One point, producers. Patrick leaves remarkably quickly, and sad music decides to try and make shots of everybody looking bored take on a different tone. It doesn't quite work as much as the producers would have hoped, I don't think. As he gets in the Losermobile, Patrick wishes Grant "good luck". Heh. He's going to need it, dealing with Rocky and Josephine and Ben and Bev. Patrick says it's been great, and is driven off. Doesn't even get a schmaltzy set of final words. This is the way reality shows should be. Stop filling time with "we're so sad we lost" speeches, and start showing us exactly why they lost. Just a suggestion.

End credits. Hmm? Was I supposed to be making a joke here? I was too busy playing the air guitar. (Even then, I have approximately zero talent.)

Next week: I don't know.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Season 1, Episode 1

In which we realise for the first time just how great reality TV can be.


Since it's now almost ten years since the debut season of The Mole aired, I thought I'd make some celebratory anniversary recaps for said premiere season. I'll do this for the future seasons as well, with the exception of that already-recapped season four episode. Hopefully by 2015, when the final season is officially due to be mocked for its woeful inadequacy -- not that I won't be doing it plenty in the meantime -- it will have made its way onto Youtube or some such somewhere, because I don't have a copy of it, and can't be arsed downloading a torrent for something that crappy.

Previously in The History Of Competitive Reality Shows: A few Dutch shows, and the original Belgian version of this, but nothing in the English language. Literally.

Disclaimer: The episodes I used for these recaps were repeats, and as such have been edited slightly from their original broadcast. Sigh. Don't they know you can't mess with perfection?

It's nighttime. From in front of a church or some such, one Grant Bowler (you may remember him from Ugly Betty and Lost and a bunch of other awesome things, but not from the final season of this show, and he's very happy about that) tells us in a hushed voice that "this is the report of a journey taken by ten Australians. Ten people, five men and five women, set out for an unknown destination. Many of them would not arrive. Most of them would be eliminated. Of the three that would make it to the end, one would walk away with nothing, one would win a great deal of money, and one would be revealed as a traitor, a saboteur. One of these ten people is The Mole." While he's speaking, a graphic tells us that it's Day 18 and he's in Port Arthur, which ruins the whole "unknown destination" bit, but does at least remind us that Channel Seven were once competent enough to wait for the season to finish filming before chucking it on television.

Commercials, for some reason (stupid Prime). If you can show me any village that contains both a cowboy and a headdress-wearing Indian, let alone construction workers, sailors, soldiers, and a "leatherman", I will eat all six hats.

We return to find an Ansett Australia plane taxiing around in what looks to me like it's Melbourne Airport. God, this show is old. I bet they had CC's and or Aeroplane Jelly on that plane. (Seriously, what happened to CC's? They used to be everywhere in the late 90's. Samboy, too.) Over Grant's next voiceover, we see the ten people arriving and each reading some letter from the production people. "Nine of the ten people were selected from the hundreds who answered a newspaper ad." Isn't it amazing that they were able to get such a great cast out of a simple newspaper ad, compared to all the wacky selection methods Big Brother used to get their annual onslaught of himbos and bimbos? And wow! Linda's holding an Amazing Race clue envelope, over a year before the first season was even filmed! "The tenth person, the Mole, was hired by us as a double agent. The contestants don't yet know there's a Mole amongst them, and they don't yet know each other, but they very soon will."

Just pause for a second here. He's actually right about this -- Australia was the first country outside of Belgium to make this show, so this actually probably would be completely new to them. (And given that we probably all know how this season ended at this point, though I'm at least going to try and keep it a little bit secret, because this isn't Petrina, I find it hilarious that Jan's shown over the "there's a Mole amongst them" bit.)

Anyway, "in the coming days they'll work together to complete a series of challenges." Thanks to the editors for only using challenges that are actually in this episode so as to not give anything away. You'd be surprised what usually gets spoiled through stuff like this. "Every challenge they succeed in will earn money for the group's kitty." That's gonna be one pampered cat by the end of this. "To succeed in the challenges, they'll have to trust each other, yet one of them is their enemy." Dun-dun-DUN!

Credits. I'm not going to actually get a chance to introduce everyone anywhere else, so here goes: Rocky is a 39 year old ad exec. And if you don't believe him, he even has the Token Douchebag Shades to prove it. Linda would have trouble getting people to believe she's only 28, given she already looks like she's in her mid-40s. Guess being a full-time famewhore will do that to you. Beverley is your token Old Person, and she's a homestay interviewer. Jan is 40, and is essentially a teacher's aide. James is a computer programmer, and also has the Top Gun Shades Of Douchebagginess. Patrick is a winery manager who again looks pretty old but really isn't. He's only 48. Alan's 11 years younger, and an environmental officer. Emphasis on the "mental", I think. Abby is a cheerful 18-year-old student, who manages to look pretty without looking like a whore, unlike most students today. (Oh, I went there. I went there, took photos, and came back already.) Josephine is an aromatherapy consultant, and was probably inhaling something a little unorthodox if she thought she'd be the most popular person here. Our final player, Ben, is a hotel manager. Between you and me, I suspect Ben might be a bit of a wanker. Just a hunch.

The players are now seated together in a bus, not even filling up three full rows of seats between them. Al Gore would have a fit if he saw this. A graphic tells us that it's still Day 1, and we're still in Melbourne. Thanks, graphic! Grant voices over that even though they're all happy now, the mood is about to change. Suddenly, the television turns on, all ready to release a plague of black balloons upon the world, and Grant appears. That's not changing the mood, that's just making the women horny! He greets them, a couple of the contestants talking back to him (as you do). Since I'm going to have to recap this every season, I'm giving you the skinniest version I possibly can here: 18 days. Challenges. Success earns money. Can win more than $200,000. (This, of course, was back in the days when it was considered a big deal if someone won a holiday to Ballarat on The Price Is Right, and as such is a huge incentive to not fuck up.) (Also, Ballarat rocks.) There's a Mole. People get eliminated.

While Jan tries to figure out whether the identity of the Mole changes from week to week (heh), Rocky asks who the Mole is. Right, like that'll work. I thought I left all the stupid gameplay behind with Australian Survivor. Ben points out that figuring out the identity of the Mole "is a bit of a guessing game". What he says in entirely correct, of course, at least in the beginning, but the way he says it just makes me think he didn't even know what he was saying when he said it. As you'll soon learn, this is not particularly surprising coming from him.

The bus arrives at a hangar, which Grant tells us is at Essendon Airport. Patrick acts like getting out of the bus is the end of the world. Abby laughs nervously, because what else are you going to do when confronted with a guy like that? I like Abby already.

Grant gets out of his own vehicle, and neglects to introduce himself, or to answer any of the team's questions. It's time for the very first challenge, which is going to be worth ten thousand bucks. All they have to do is fly to Tasmania, and "land before the plane does". I would have quit at the exact moment I figured out he was saying the word "Tasmania", but that's why I'm not a contestant on this show. And also because I was nine years old when this was filmed. (Feelin' old yet?) Grant doesn't explain anything else about the challenge, but does tell the players that there are people in the hangar who will help them. And then he leaves for Tasmania. Why, we have no idea.

Cut to Josephine being thrown out of a plane. Unfortunately, the plane is still on the ground, but it's nice to see that I'm not the only one who dislikes her. Grant tells us about the actual task over shots of everyone putting on their harnesses. Two things: Firstly, it's a tandem skydive, and all ten of them have to do it in order to win. Secondly, I never need to see crotch close-ups of Alan putting his harness on again, thank you very much.

Grant fills us in on who's flying where in the four planes. In the first plane are Abby, Linda, and Patrick. James, Alan, and Beverley are in the second plane. The third plane consists of Josephine and no other players, because they're all sick of her already. She tells her instructor that she doesn't even like small planes. Good thing she won't be staying in one, then. The other people - Jan, Ben, and Rocky - are in the final plane.

Josephine is still whining to her instructor about how she probably won't remember all the instructions she's been told. She says she's more afraid of that than dying. Well, she is blonde. Linda calls the flight to Tasmania "a one-way ticket to hell". One point for Linda. Abby looks nervous, and somebody talks as though they're on helium. Probably Josephine, connected through the radio.

It turns out that Launceston (WhoreBoy shoutout!) is only an hour away from Melbourne, which on the one hand is not nearly far enough away for my tastes, but on the other is a decent choice, given the alternative was probably New Zealand. Turns out that Abby, Linda, and Patrick were all sane enough to have never jumped out of a plane before. Until now, that is. Patrick jumps, and the Percussiony Music Of Near-Amazingness kicks in. Abby jumps. Linda's instructor gives us the thumbs-up as they jump.

We learn that the planes are leaving ten minutes apart, and that the people on the second flight already think Jan is the Mole. Grant reminds us that if anyone bails, the team loses, and everyone else has jumped for nothing. The catch here, of course, is that nobody will find out who else jumped until everybody lands. Linda lands first, squealing that she wants her mum. Her mum wants peace and quiet, is what she wants. Abby lies on the ground in an awkward position, with a big grin on her face, and tells Grant that is "was nothing like [she] expected". Double entendre alert! Woop woop woop!

Second plane. Alan's done it before, Bev wants to, but James doesn't. Drama!

At the landing zone, Linda tells Grant that James was "looking a bit white". Well, yes, he doesn't look particularly black, aside from his clothing, so I'll give her that, I suppose. Patrick begins to fill in the rest of the colour spectrum, telling us that he looked "a bit green, at one stage". Grant, for some reason, is wearing a t-shirt, a ski vest, and a crappy hat, which I officially dub Ye Olde Bowler Hat. (GROAN.)

Bev jumps, helping Abby to win a bet against Patrick. James jumps. Alan jumps. Wow, that was an exciting debate about James jumping. Grant reminds us that six have jumped, but because six does not equal ten outside of a nonsensical Mensa-devised test, they haven't won the money yet.

Josephine is still freaking out.

Alan and Bev land, and Patrick decides to interview Bev so Grant doesn't have to. Or something.

I feel sorry for Josephine's instructor. And their pilot. And the cameraguy. And the sound guy. And any stowaways on that plane. Grant reminds us that because there's only one winner, Josephine's probably doing all this so someone else can win money. Heh.

On the ground, everyone else watches.

Josephine checks to make sure she's attached to the parachute or something, and her instructor tells her that they're going to attach themselves now. It seems almost as though she just foiled his ingenious plan. After a brief interlude in which we discover that the players on the ground think she'll jump, we return to find her having to be comforted about remembering everything. When asked if she's going to jump, she says nothing. The instructor repeats the question, and she snaps "Yes!" at him several times just so he could get the message. It's like, "Of course I'm ready, but if you can't read my mind, then I'm not going to waste the extra energy trying to put my thoughts into speech!" Shut up, Josephine.

Josephine jumps, whining all the way to the edge of the plane.

On the ground, people think she's excited to jump. Clearly, they've never met her before this day. Again, another decent thing about this show compared to American reality shows, in which people either meet up through pageants (TAR 5), or went to high school together (TAR 12), or frequent the same LA day spa (Survivor Micronesia). Go, competent casting!

Josephine lands on her legs, but her instructor remains standing. Blunt metaphor alert, woop woop woop! Josephine moans that it was the scariest moment of her life. Whatever.

The final plane is ready to go. Rocky's done it before, but neither of the others have. Bev tells us that Rocky and Ben are going to be pushing Jan out. Kind of hard to imagine, given that she's on the far side of the plane and they'd have to pull, but that's not important right now.

We don't get to see any of these three actually jump, because we're too busy counting the jumpers from the ground. All three jump.

On the way down, the skydiving cameraman (where do they find those guys, anyway?) reaches out and shakes Rocky's hand. Then, he starts playing Eye Of The Tiger on his air guitar.

After they land, Grant tells them that the team won. And just like that, the Mole has a 100% failure rate. Even the crew want to get involved in the happiness. (Remember when it was okay for the crew to break the fourth wall on reality shows, because it meant we could tell the shots weren't faked? Damn you, Survivor.)

Commercials. Crap. I lost the game.

We return to see Rocky, Patrick, Abby, Jan, and Ben driving. Grant tells us that these five are going to their hotel, but everyone else will be completing the next challenge before they arrive. On the roadside, Grant and the Bowler Hat tell the players that it's going to be worth five grand. He wants these five - James, Bev, Alan, Linda, and Josephine - to grab all the luggage out of their vehicle. Ew. I hate this challenge, and they do it every single fucking season.

We cut to the hotel, where everyone else is walking in. Jan rants to the camera about how it's hard explaining to people what you're doing when you don't know. She would suck on Thank God You're Here. Abby has the most perfect tone of voice possible when she responds to Jan shutting her trap for a second with "I just want a coffee". Three points, Abby. I get the feeling I'm going to wind up thinking that Jan is just like Josephine, except competent.

Back on the roadside, Grant hoists a couple of empty backpacks out of the crew car. He tells everyone that it's time to "make things a little more economical". But the bus was already empty enough! Why would you bother with this? As the players begin the task, Grant voices over: They have to repack their luggage into a small backpack each. Whatever doesn't fit gets sent home. But apparently, there's another twist to this challenge. Figures. There always is.

Hotel. Under absolutely no pressure from the producers, I'm sure, the players relaxing there are discussing who they think the Mole could be. Everyone else seems to be taking this whole "OMG!MOLEZ!!1!" situation seriously, but Ben quite clearly is taking the piss as he asks Jan every possible question he can think of. We learn that Jan doesn't have an agent but would love one, which is apparently not what she told the group before. Famewhore!

Outside, the repackers finish their repacking. But the challenge isn't over yet. Now, it's their turn to repack everyone else's stuff. Intrigue! Suspicion! Cheap laughs!

Suddenly, Grant and the Bowler Hat have magically teleported back to the hotel. Grant, all dressed up for a fishing trip with his great uncle Cyrus, finds out that everyone else is happy after they won the money. I suspect the only reason he got this answer is because Josephine is in the other group. Grant tells them of the prize money and holds up another empty bag as an example. He then gets to the meat of this task -- the others are repacking their crap, and anything they leave out of the backpack will be sent home. Each of these five has to accurately name one item that wasn't packed.

Simple, right?

Ben doesn't seem to think so, because he tries to explain about how he has two bags with him. Grant shows exactly why he pwns the frigging universe by shutting him down even before he gets the rest of his question out, reiterating the concept of "a small backpack like the one I just showed you and am still holding" to him. Jan has a bemused expression on her face as she confirms that the other people got to see all their clothes. Would have been funny if they weren't able to see it. "Where the hell is my other tube sock?!" "They were tube socks? I thought they were arm-warmers!"

As we return outside, Grant takes the opportunity to tell us how the Mole could fuck it up. Turns out they can either pack stuff that makes no sense, or guess stuff that makes no sense. Thanks, Grant! (No, really. Chesty McBogan would have explained this three times to make sure we understood.)

Inside, Rocky claims that "they've taken our dignity". And his extra-small condoms.

Linda finds a stash of chocolate in someone's bags. Wonder how they got that through security at the airport? Inside, we learn that they were Rocky's. Figures. He complains that they won't get to eat any of them, because they'll all be heading back to Sydney. Linda's also found two large tubs of muscle-growth tablets. Again, probably Rocky's. Even Josephine is laughing, that's how stupid this is.

Abby is pissed. Ben asks how bad it could be that the others are ransacking their stuff. Jan points out that it could be "lots bad", and it's here that we learn exactly how bad the Victorian education system was back then. Sadly, "lots bad" would be downright verbose by today's standards. Ben asks why, and he obviously wasn't the person in this room who packed an item we see seconds later, which appears to be a silver vibrator.

Alan realises that someone brought a spatula. Just in case there was an emergency barbecue-cleaning challenge.

Rocky explains that he thinks they might have missed all his undies. Which they didn't because Alan is now holding a very skimpy men's G-string. Grant, now back with everyone else, does not appear to point out that Alan is holding them back to front.

As they finish, Josephine claims she would kill someone if they did it to her. Quick, someone get Kyle and Jackie O to rifle through her things!

Grant explains to these five about the guessing game bit.

In the hotel, Grant goes to find out what everyone thinks was taken away. Patrick thinks they got rid of a smaller backpack. Abby thinks someone turfed her black slip-ons. (I, of course, misheard the word "slip-ons" the first time she said it. Sigh.) Rocky has trouble explaining the protein shake he thinks is missing. Ben's lost a pair of boat shoes, which are "um... tan?" in colour. Jan is hoping they took her gold dressing gown. Grant tells them that he has a record of everything taken, on the brick of a video camera he has in his non-backpack carrying hand. He's going to go outside and check, because he can't stomach being around these people for very long. Good thing he left the show when he did, then.

Commercials. Honk ten years ago if you're a time traveller.

Grant returns and gets straight down to business, without any of this Tom Williams-esque crap about re-explaining the challenge. Love you too, Grant. I'm lazy, and this isn't very interesting, so let's just tell you that they won, and skip forward. God, even Petrina managed to keep some money out right from the beginning. The repackers enter the hotel, Josephine now wearing Alan's akubra for some reason, and learn that they won.

We learn for the first time, almost twenty minutes into the episode, that the contestants must make nightly video diary entries. Rocky steals the first confessional in the show's history away from any of the nine more worthy people, reminding us of the last challenge and of how he feels "violated". Clearly, he has never watched an episode of Oz. Linda apologises to her mother for doing the one thing she was told not to do -- skydiving. Obviously, her mother doesn't care if she dies, just as long as she doesn't leave the plane before it lands! Josephine whines like a nervous twelve-year-old who's upset that her dad won't let her leave the house in that outfit, young lady, and as long as you live under this roof you have to live by my rules! Abby goes through her list of Mole suspects -- Jan, James, Bev, and Patrick, in that order. Bev tells us that it could be Abby, because she seems so innocent, and has had training in her background (which the show does not yet deem to tell us is in psychology). James tries to explain that it'll be something very subtle which slips them up. Oh, for the love of criminy. This isn't an Agatha Christie book, this is a game show!

Over dinner, Grant tells us that everyone learned that Patrick no longer has any shirts, because of Bev. Why couldn't she have taken Ben's bag? (At least she didn't have Rocky, who would probably walk around naked given the chance.) Bev explains that the shirts got lost in the rush, which does make a sort of sense, and Patrick takes it in good humour, pointing out that his one white shirt, which he's wearing, might not be so white in a week's time. Heh. One point for Patrick.

Before the players go to bed, they were apparently each taken aside and asked which of their teammates should be given a very early wake-up call. Alan and Linda vote for Linda. Jan and Ben vote for Abby. Rocky and James vote for themselves. Patrick and the three remaining girls all vote for Patrick. We don't find out why anybody votes for who they do.

At 3:07am in the morning, Grant wakes Patrick up. Wow, that is early. So early, in fact, that Patrick doesn't have anything else to talk about, and asks what the weather's like. Grant sounds like Hannibal Lecter as he explains that he's being woken up for a challenge. Thank God he explained that, because otherwise this scene would have had some weird homoerotic undertones that I'm not sure even I want to explore. And usually I love slash. Outside, on a cold, cold Launceston footpath, Patrick is blindfolded and driven away. We learn that he's being taken hostage. Sigh. At least we get my two least favourite recurring challenges over in the first episode this time. Obviously, the blindfold is so he can't see what's going on (or possibly to help him catch some extra shut-eye), but he also hasn't been told what's going on yet, either.

45 minutes and some unnecessary shots of lights taken through the car windows later, Patrick arrives at this season's Dungeon Of Deadly Doomedness, which is some sort of white manor. Inside, Grant guides him into his cell and removes the blindfold, Chesty-ising that he can see again. Just, you know, in case he hadn't noticed by all the things flashing before his eyes that don't fit under the oft-seen category of "his life". Apparently, Patrick gets three beds to sleep on, and not a whole lot else. Grant tells him that he'll be given a phone in the morning, and that he has to answer it. It is not stated one way or the other whether his answer will be "Yes, I would be interested in purchasing a Foxtel subscription", but I suspect that wouldn't have been his answer anyway, because this was filmed back in the days when free-to-air TV networks were still displaying a modicum of competence. After Grant leaves, Patrick gives the middle bed to his hat and stretches out in the farthest one, apparently not caring that his legs stretch out way beyond the edge of the beds.

Morning. The other nine players are busy having a big breakfast at the hotel. Patrick consumes his bread and water, snarking that they had better find him soon, or Grant's not going to have any gonads left. (Okay, he doesn't actually say that last part. But you know he was thinking it.) Ben eventually asks the others if they've noticed a big, Patrick-sized blank space in the big, Patrick-sized empty seat. They haven't, but that's because Josephine's the only one who would look directly at the empty seat, and... well, it's Josephine. 'Nuff said.

We learn from Grant that the players at the hotel found some maps with their breakfast. (The maps provide 100% of their Recommended Daily Intake of Mappitude, but considerably less sugar, fat, and flavour.) Someone points out Tamar River Cruises, but fucked if I can be bothered rewinding for a piece of information that small this late at night, and Abby points out that the hotel is marked on one of the maps. That's convenient. Less impressive is the close-up we get proving that the hotel has indeed been marked on the map by some poor schlub in production with a black marker.

In their orange and black Land Rovers, the nine non-hostage players pile out and walk over to Grant. Grant has ditched the Bowler Hat and has instead grabbed some sunnies that make him look like a long-lost member of the Warne family. Tom Williams can expect an abusive text message any minute now. Grant confirms that Patrick has quite obviously disappeared from the face of the earth. And... again. It's Tasmania. What do you expect to happen? For some reason, Jan is holding three large bottles of lemonade or something, and Abby has turned her short shirt into a cheerleading uniform of some kind.

Grant wants the nine non-vanished players to divide into three groups of three. We don't get to see who's in which group, but we do learn that each group will be given a phone, which they can use to contact each other -- and to contact Patrick. It's ten in the morning right now, and the groups have until midday to free Patrick, but they still don't know where he is. One group will travel by helicopter, one by boat, and one will have to drive themselves. Boy, that's like giving one group truffles, one group caviar, and one group a toasted cheese sandwich, isn't it?

Commercials, apparently. Which: Surely this couldn't have been a commercial break the first time around, right?

We learn for the first time that Patrick has been taken 45 minutes away from the hotel, so there's not a lot of wiggle room for the team to fuck up on this particular challenge. As it turns out, this means Patrick could be anywhere within sixty kilometres from Launceston -- an area of ten thousand square kilometres. What is it with Australian reality shows trying to convince us that boats can reach areas far away from water? It's bad enough when it's Australian Survivor, it's even worse when it's a show I like.

Anyway, the only clues the team will be getting, aside from their maps and instructions, are whatever Patrick can see from the window of his holding chamber. There's some water, because, as it turns out, this isn't Australian Survivor after all, as well as a big tree, and supposedly a couple of radio towers obscured from view by said tree. On my little three-inch-wide downloaded video, I can only make out one of them, but thankfully they get a spotlight graphic to reveal them for us.

Patrick's phone rings, as I notice it looks like a shoe because it's so thick. It's Linda calling him from the helicopter, and Patrick tells her that he's somewhere on the coast, even though he thought he was on the Midlands Highway. It'd probably be much harder to keep someone held hostage like this on a busy highway anyway. Not that I've tried or anything.

In the boat, Abby, Rocky, and Bev seem to have a broken phone, and they can't get a connection to anyone else. Does this mean Telstra is the Mole? It wouldn't surprise me.

Patrick is still talking to Linda. He tells them he thinks he's in "a three-storey house", and Linda incredulously asks whether he wants to be saved or not. Heh. Patrick's reply is nothing more than a cheerful "Get off your arse, girl", and misogynistic though that may be, it was also damn funny. DAMN funny.

The boat trio still suck with their phone. The car team -- James, Ben, and Josephine -- have managed to get in touch with the helicopter. At some point, Patrick must have told Linda that there were two roundabouts, and that he travelled for "about an hour and a half", because this is the information she and Jan communicate back to James. The car drives along incredibly fast -- you can barely even look in shop windows at the speed they're going -- and Josephine and James tell Ben to slow down. Fine. One point for James. And (ugh) Josephine.

Grant is also being driven somewhere, and voices over that the teams are going to need one more little thing to rescue Patrick. Is it "a clue"? Because most of these people don't have one. He calls Patrick, and asks whether Patrick has "found the blue envelope". Patrick has no idea what he's talking about, and... like, he's locked in a small room with not much to do. How has he not even bothered looking yet? It's a good thing they didn't lock him up in the Hitchcock Hotel. He'd never escape! Grant stresses that he needs to find the blue envelope, and hangs up. If I haven't said it enough already, Grant is awesome. You just know that if Chesty was involved, he'd have explained what was inside the envelope, why he needed it, and what he could do with it.

A chopper flies over the car team, stopped on the side of the road to look at their map, and Ben decides to stare at it, because he totally has attention deficit oh shiny. They ask a lady for directions, and she quite logically asks them where they're going. I'd say the more important question is where she came from, considering the chopper shot showed them on an empty stretch of road. Ben artfully dodges both questions.

Patrick finds the blue envelope, underneath one of the very thin-looking mattresses. If it was me? I would have stacked those three mattresses on top of each other on the floor, and slept on them instead, especially given the slattedness of the beds, but that's another reason why I'm not a contestant on this show. Inside the blue envelope is a hot pink piece of paper, because the producers are that colour-blind, apparently. The paper reads "Your rescuers have three keys between them. Only one key will unlock your prison." Patrick immediately calls the chopper, and cottons onto the fact that he's going to need all three of the groups to reach him to be guaranteed of winning. Right on cue, Abby wants to sunbake in the non-moving boat, and Bev asks if anyone needs sunscreen for the arms. Because she's OLD. Got it, show. Move on. Meanwhile, Patrick finally notices the radio towers and tells Linda about them. Linda soon works out that Patrick "has to be" in Georgetown.

In the car, James asks the person he's on the phone to to "talk up", because he's been deafened by Josephine's shrieky voice already. As soon as he repeats the word Georgetown, Josephine reaches for the folded-up map and starts looking. Was she really hoping to find Patrick without having to use a map? Did she think he was going to be in the middle of the road? Because it might have been a bit hard for the boat people to get to.

Patrick can hear the chopper all of a sudden, but takes a second to see them. He begins giving the chopper pilot exact directions so that they're flying directly at his cell, because he is just that awesome. He explains that he's stuck looking out from a skylight, helping to narrow down the search even more, but not helping enough to stop Linda from asking if he can see her wave. Linda sees Patrick's skylight-window thing, and tells him that they're going to need to find the "entrance to the town", so they can tell the car and the boat where they're going. I'm not sure what she's thinking, really. Since the boat will probably come in from the water, only "three hundred metres" away, it's pointless trying to figure that out yet, and it'd be easier to, say, land the helicopter, walk to the intersection next to the house, and direct the car group to that intersection, no?

The boat group is still doing nothing, hoping that that will make their phone work. Suddenly, Rocky accuses Abby of hiding an extra phone battery inside her pants. Abby is understandably appalled by his indictment. I have to think that if Abby was going to put batteries anywhere near the inside of her pants, they wouldn't have let this show on the air in the first place. Shut up, Rocky. The car people are heading in the right direction, at least according to Josephine (so, obviously, a second opinion will be necessary). Bev hassles Abby to put the damn battery in the phone. As she does, the phone begins ringing almost immediately. Grant voices over that the boat group has been doing fuckall to find Patrick for over an hour, and now only have 38 minutes to get to Patrick if they want any chance of winning this task. Abby finally gets the Georgetown information. Meanwhile, the plane group have decided to throw a message in a bottle overboard in an attempt to get the same information across to them. As they see the boat, Bev repeats the word helicopter like it's the only one she knows. Eventually, the chopper gets low enough and close enough that Linda can try throwing her rubbish at the boat, but they miss it and have to turn back. Way to save time, guys.

The phone rings at the same time they get the bottle, making the entire thing pointless. Abby reads the message anyway, and tells their boat driver to follow the chopper. Grant hopefully and helpfully informs us that there's 24 minutes to find Patrick, but they've still got to get all three groups together, get to Georgetown, find all the keys, and release him. Will they make it? WILL THEY?

Commercials. Is it wrong to imply that the American media calling Australia "racist" over the Jackson Jive skit is like the pot calling the kettle black? Because... really. Before you go waving words like that around, you'd better make DAMN sure you're not treating minorities (like, say, Muslims, or your assorted native peoples) like shit. We're one of the most accepting, most multicultural countries on the planet. You? Just alienated one of the only allies who stood by you through the Bush presidency. Sure, the routine was offensive. But to call the entire country racist? Fuck off.

To answer our little cliffhanger, they won't be doing it without a fine. Grant tells us, while police horns blare, that Ben has failed to stop for a police car. The "camera car", of course, has stopped, and the policeman, who looks a little like the construction worker from the Village People, doesn't seem to understand that it's hard to keep track of the contestants if they drive off. Meanwhile, said idiots are asking for directions again. Never mind that they have a map, and appear to be in the right town. I'd blame it on Josephine navigating, but she's the one getting the directions, which makes it even more depressing.

The chopper and boat teams meet up on the beach, and Alan, who has been missing from this entire challenge up until now, reminds the boat team that they need to find their key. Ben is speeding again, but Alan and the boat team seem to be taking their sweet-ass time searching for their keys. As Alan takes apart the chopper's back seat, and Rocky does the same in the boat, Grant voices over that there's only thirteen minutes left. Good thing Ben's speeding, then. It might be the only chance of a team getting to Patrick on time at this rate. Both Rocky and Alan find their keys soon afterwards. The car pulls up next to the beach, sound guy right in the middle of the camera shot, and Abby and Linda explain what they have to do. That sound guy gets in the shot again, just before they find it. Everyone runs to the manor, where Grant tries to stall them by asking if they have the keys. They do, and they have to use all three of the keys to find the right one. Everyone rushes upstairs to Patrick's cell, where he's busy trying to impersonate a duck or something. They find him, and Grant tells them that "the good news is that you've won". We do not yet get to hear what the bad news is.

Bev waves to her video diary, and begins blabbering about how this is so much fun and blah blah blibbedy-blah. Thankfully, Grant interrupts soon afterwards, reminding us what the reason for the video diaries is, before Bev tells us that she was pissing "one person" off because she was "too cheerful in the mornings". Firstly, she's only had one morning with them, and secondly, she's lucky that's the only reason she's pissing people off. Linda is that one person, apparently, and she thinks Bev is acting stupid. James and his hat tell us what the organisational structure of the car team was. He seems to be under the impression that not only did we not get to see Josephine doing the navigation (barely, but still), but that we didn't get to see the car team at all. I don't even like Josephine (you may have noticed), but even so, shut up, James. Rocky seems to think the Mole had something to do with their phone not working. Abby does not blame people for suspecting her, and seems happy that they might. Just between you and me, she's not doing a good job of being the Mole if she is. Especially since, at this point in the episode, the Mole hasn't managed to keep a single cent out of the kitty. Bev also tells us that she's now a suspect, just in case she wasn't before. Patrick still thinks Bev is the Mole, even though he has nothing to go on except her trying to deflect suspicion away from herself after the phone battery deal. Abby considers Patrick, then gives us a perfect pregnant pause before coming up with " annoying!" Hee! James thinks Alan could be the Mole, but doesn't want him to be, because he likes him.

Grant voices over over the end of James's video diary that Ben is down at the police station, dealing with his whole not-pulling-over thing. As Ben walks down towards a questioning room of some kind to explain himself, we fade to black. Later, back in front of the camera, the cop tells Ben that his "manner of driving's not tolerated here", as though it would be back in Sydney. A subtle dig at New South Wales? Go Tasmanian cop! Outside the police station, Ben tells a waiting Grant (who really would have felt at home inside) that it's his "first rap across the knuckles for a while". Ben gives a half-arsed explanation of what happened while he was driving, and Grant asks whether the ticket he's holding means Ben broke the law. Ben proudly confirms that it does. Grant points out that even if he's a contestant on a reality show, he's not exempt from that pesky "no profiting from crime" law, and so he has to take away the $10,000 the team earned in the hostage challenge. As you do. Ben thanks the camera crew for the second time in a minute or so, and I get the feeling he's trying to blame the camera guys for what happened. In which case, shut up, Ben. It's not their fault you're a twit.

An hour later, Ben enters the hotel where everyone else is being kept, and explains what happened. Even Josephine -- part of his team in the challenge -- does not appear to know, which surprises me. Then I remember that it's Josephine, and the status quo is restored. Ben's final words in this scene are "feel free to throw something at me". If only he were stripping, and then that something might not be a brick.

Commercials. Isn't it telling when the only decent thing that anyone's said about Couples Retreat amounts to "at least I can admire the scenery"?

Wow, old computer. Grant voices over that it's time for the questionnaire. For some reason, we are shown that one of the contestants is not familiar with the highly complex act of double-clicking. Grant tells us that "there are twenty questions about the identity Mole, and what he or she has been doing over the past couple of days." Obviously, since the Mole has done fuckall this episode unless it's Ben, the questions we see revolve around things like whether the Mole is married, and what their star sign is. You know, the important stuff. As always, the person with the worst result will "be leaving tonight". Grant does tell us the procedure for tiebreakers, in that whoever takes the longest amount of time to suck gets the boot, which makes me think there was a tie in this episode we weren't told about otherwise. Linda thinks it might be Bev or Josephine. James thinks Bev is either too "schizy" to be the Mole, or else she could give Grant some acting lessons. Patrick thinks it's Rocky, Abby, or Bev. Jan interviews that she wants to stay to the end, but if she had to be eliminated, she doesn't want to be the first person out. Who exactly does want to be known as the Guy Who Was Good Enough To Get Cast But Not Good Enough To Last Two Episodes? We cut somewhat foreshadowingly to James, who tells us Josephine has been whining because she thinks it's her. Josephine tells us she's expecting to be eliminated at some point. Good. I suppose that means I won't have to recap her being surprised if and/or when she does.

Room Of Impending Doom. Grant tells them that the Mystical Computer of Questionnaire Taking knows the results, and that they've managed to earn $15,000 between them (out of a possible $25,000, remember), but that someone isn't going to be able to help the group win any more. One at a time, Grant is going to type to contestant names into the computer, and then the monitor facing the teams will change color. If it's green, they stay; if it's red, they go. Just like bullfighting. There will be "no time for goodbyes". Harsh, but fair. Alan is first. Green screen. He looks like he's going to cry. Rocky does not show any emotion when he gets his green screen. Josephine, name spelled without the capital letter for some reason, is the next to be saved. Since she's the first person to get a close-up of her name being typed in, can I once again state -- as I did in the Australian Survivor recaps -- that Comic Sans MS is possibly the worst font you can choose when you're trying to give off the impression of anything except "doo doo doo-dee-doo-doo doo-doo doo-doo"? Patrick is safe. Jan is too, and is visibly relieved. She really doesn't want to go back to her actual job right away, you know! James gets the red screen and is eliminated. I wish they would have found a sound effect that didn't give away the red screen before it happened. They had five seasons to find something better, and this is the one thing they never got right. Shame, really. (Admittedly, they got a hell of a lot wrong with the last two seasons, but this is pretty much the only thing that sucked about the first three. And, yes, I'm still bitter about it, ten years after the show began. Shut up.)

It turns out that there really isn’t time for goodbyes at all, and James actually does leave straight away. The group looks sad, as though Grant just ran over their favourite puppy. Outside, Grant has to point the car out to James, who manages to walk past it somehow. Not noticing little things like that is probably what got him eliminated. Grant, ever the professional, thanks him for playing, but tunes out as he prattles on about how he never thought he could skydive. Grant wishes James a safe trip, and he is driven away. Grant points out that since James was eliminated, he's obviously not the Mole. Remember when "eliminated contestants" and "the Mole" were mutually exclusive? Petrina sure doesn't.

End credits. I miss the electric guitar theme. It's really one of the best TV themes I've ever heard. (Here, the Australian Survivor Irish jig raises its middle finger in my direction.)

So, there you have it. A season premiere in which we learned nothing about the contestants' backstories, outside of the opening credits, and yet were still able to develop feelings for and against them. See, The Amazing Race? It is possible to make people care about contestants who don't have hooks like "He's a dwarf/deaf/a hippie/Miss USA/a twin/a recovering drug addict!" (It's also possible, as Australian Survivor demonstrated in one of its many moments of underrated kickassiness, to edit people three-dimensionally, with both good and bad characteristics throughout. Just... you know, in case you want to start trying again.)

Season 4, Episode 1

In which we learn all over again that Petrina is the Mole. Oh, was that meant to be some sort of secret? Because the producers didn't know.


Previously on The Mole: Pre-Recorded And Lovin' It!: Tasmania. Victoria. Queensland. Skydiving. The Targa Rally. Sarah Island. Paintball. Nude portraits. Vic, the Hobart Town Crier. Melbourne, woo! PYRO. A fugitive with a hostage mannequin. Sovereign Hill. Spending all night guarding a bowl. The Hitchcock Hotel. Teaching each other to fly. Jumping out of helicopters. Trap shooting. Fake electric shocks. The Weakest Link. Tickle-Me-Elmo. Baby photos. Ann-Maree's gleeful murder. Bikes and scooters. Diamond thieves. Platypuses without tails. Saltwater crocodiles. It Had To Be You. Thirty-eight contestants. $323,000 in earned cash. A host who probably isn't just looking for an excuse to strap on a nasal Bogan accent and remove his shirt at the next available opportunity, Tom Williams. Ahem.

Ew. Orange. I don't like these new graphics that ask us who The Mole is. I mean, it's not like the producers are going to stick in a very obvious clue in the first episode to help us or anything. And we really don't need a reminder of which damn show we decided to watch. We run along a courtyard-y thing to see Grant "Australian Fast" Bowler, facing a pool but swivelling his head around to talk to us. As he always does, he tells us about the casting process. Three months ago. Newspaper ads. One wonders if that casting process would give them a higher success rate than all the open casting calls and whatnot the American reality shows use. It certainly seems like it would get people who know what the damn show is about, CoughSurvivorAmazingRaceCough. And really? Comparing people like Jan and Shane and Crystal-Rose to people like Rupert and Mirna and Cirie? No competition. We win, hands down. (Admittedly, the drab cast of Australian Survivor could beat those people, but whatever.) After "thousands of responses", they got cut down to just nine normal people, and one person to be the Mole. If you don't know what the Mole's job is, perhaps this isn't the recap for you, but here goes: The Mole has to fuck up and stop the team winning money, without being caught. The other contestants have to figure out who the Mole is. Whoever knows the most about the Mole by the end of the season wins money. How much? Well, that depends on how much the team fucks up. So, who is The Mole? Well, I'll give you a hint that's about as hard to find as the producer-placed one in this episode: Her name starts with P and rhymes with Katrina.

Credits. Okay, your show shoots in New Caledonia, but doesn't go there until the second episode. So why do you have spoilery shots of most of the contestants here, when you've still got an elimination to go before you head there? Sigh.

Hey, it's a plane. We didn't just get bought out by The Amazing Race, did we? Grant tells us that the contestants' "journey" (blecch) will take them to New Caledonia, which appears to be some "tropical paradise" out with all those other islands Survivor uses, and which is "soon to be tainted by betrayal". The challenges (which Grant deems "assignments") will "force the contestants to confront their fears", provided their fears involve dangling from the underside of a helicopter and wearing old-style diving helmets. Relax, not at the same time. That's ridiculous and unrelated to anything about New Caledonia or espionage, and it's exactly why The Amazing Race will be using it next season. But "someone is betraying them, and even in paradise, there'll be no escaping the treachery and sabotage from the Mole". Well, that's good to know, Grant.

And all this New Caledonia tourist claptrap is irrelevant, because everyone's going to be starting on a cold and rainy day in Sydney. You know, I've been to Sydney and hated it, so I have to love them for pointing out that Sydney decidedly isn't anything even approaching paradise. One point for the producers, even though it would have been two if they had used Adelaide. There's a lot of traffic in Sydney on this particular morning, and two pairs of feet get close ups. A redheaded woman in an ugly Colin-Baker-as-Doctor-Who raincoat, Alison walks through the streets to a corner, where she waits and waits until we see Nathan walk over. Nathan? Is HOT. Just getting that out there. (Even though he does have a touch of the Ben Cousins.)

Screeching train brakes introduce us to Central Railway Station. You can tell this wasn't filmed in Melbourne, because our trains don't have working brakes anymore. Anyway, older lady Kris walks down the platform carrying her bags with her hands, which can't possibly be effective. She's helping Alison in increasing the proportion of redheads on reality TV... partially, at least. A second older person, who will turn out to be Greg, also walks down the platform. Greg appears to know who Kris is. Is he the Mole? Of course not, because his name doesn't rhyme with Katrina. Kris appears oddly chipper for what looks to be early morning.

Out on the harbour, that hideous bridge is barely visible through the fog, which is good. Unless you're driving, I suppose. A ferry arrives at the Taronga Zoo ferry terminal. Nikki, a generic blonde chick, and Cam, a cute blonde guy, meet up there. Their introduction looks hilariously staged. (Speaking of staged, Eurovision's on in the background as I write this. Shut up, German singer's pants.)

You just know any Seven show using exterior shots in Sydney is going to wind up on Martin Place eventually, so let's just get that over and done with, before they wind up invading that other show that's eerily reminiscent of The Mole, but without any of the things which made it fun to watch. Stace has dreads. Josh does not. Both are doomed to suck.

In some park I really should try identifying but am too lazy to bother checking (Hyde Park?), the last pair meets. They are Shaun, a guy who really has no business being on this particular reality show, and Petrina (ding ding ding!). Petrina is very short. Like... well, a mole, if I'm being honest.

As an electronic clock at Central Station ticks over to 7:30, we smash-cut to an airport, where Grant stands in the cover of a skydiving plane. It's probably not important.

Suddenly, a pay phone rings. Alison and Hot Nathan look perplexed, possibly thinking that pay phones only ever ring in shows and movies about spies. They quickly realise what show they're on, and decide to answer it, which is good, because their first assignment starts now. Grant split-screens his way in to tell Hot Nathan that there's a safe outside Town Hall with instructions inside. If they can open it in three minutes, they get the first $1000 of the show. Easy, right? Well, you'd think so, but they have to work out the combination to open it themselves. It doesn't help that Hot Nathan takes three seconds to hang up the phone. As Hot Nathan explains what's happening to Alison, she split-screens telling us what was going on. You just know that if this was The Biggest Loser, you'd get Grant explaining it, then Hot Nathan explaining it to Alison, then Alison telling us what's happening, then Hot Nathan telling us that he told Alison, and Alison telling us that Hot Nathan told her. Followed by a commercial break and the same thing all over again. Anyway, there's a piece of paper taped to a billboard, with the words "solve the puzzle, crack the safe" on it. How... necessary. And it's nice to see someone has some experience using Microsoft Publisher. Apparently more than the production assistant who needed the words "TOWN HALL" printed on it in giant caps to know where they had to take it. This puzzle is behind some Perspex inside one of those triangular Crime Stoppers billboards (heh), and is simple by comparison to what the others are going to get:

PHONE = 74663
MOLE = ????

Hot Nathan also split-screens, to explain that it was a puzzle. I stand corrected about the Biggest Loser thing. Sorry. They work out pretty quickly that the answer is the numbers you'd use to type the word "Mole" on a phone keypad, but Hot Nathan really doesn't explain it very well. With 1:38 left on their clock, we go into yet another split-screen, this time telling us to solve the puzzle on the official website. You'd think the website people would know the answer to this. Hot Nathan and Alison try to work out the answer by using the numbers on the safe keypad. Okay, riddle me this: If they know it's Mole on a phone keypad, why don't they run back over to the pay phone they answered to get the right answer. That'd have the letters on it. (I overthink shows like this wayyyyyy too much. Sorry in advance.) Alison split-screens that Hot Nathan "was quite flustered" because of the time limit, and because she was making him stressed. Hot and flustered is a combination I like very much. Hot Nathan bobble-heads in a split-screen about how time is not a universal invariant. Except, you know, in easier-to-understand terms. The timer returns with twelve seconds left, and they make a last-ditch effort to get it open, which doesn't work. A shot from somewhere below their location shows them and the Crime Stoppers board, as Alison suggests that they smash it open. Hot Nathan correctly points out that it won't be possible. Especially not in the three seconds they have left. At the exact moment the clock hits zero, a monophonic ringtone of the show's theme music plays. How quaint! It's coming from on top of the Crime Stoppers board, and Alison retrieves the phone. Grant split-screens in to explain that they lost, and that the actual code is 6653, as opposed to the 5653 they tried. Stupid letter M. Be more five-y!

By the way, the numbers 6653 are some you'll definitely want to remember. Just a hint. (Oh, who cares, I'll probably remind you when they return anyway.)

Hot Nathan enters the code and opens the safe. Inside, there's another phone and a Palm Pilot. Hot Nathan asks Alison if she's ever used a Palm Pilot before, but manages to sound the least condescending I think I've ever heard a reality contestant be. I love him already. We get a close up of the Palm Pilot, but the combination of sun glare, the rain on the screen, and my little downloaded Youtube video being pretty poor quality means that I can't read most of it. The bottom paragraph, however, does read: "Your assignment is now over. There's a limousine waiting for you in the Town Hall carpark." So that's where your budget for this show is going. Limos for all!

The phone on the train station platform rings when Hot Nathan calls it, and Kris answers, sounding vaguely like a bad Queen impersonator. The monarch, not the band. Though she could probably do a passable Freddie Mercury, too. She does seem like that sort of person. Hot Nathan nervously reads the pre-prepared message from the Palm Pilot, which tells Kris and Greg that their puzzle is in the luggage room at the end of the platform. Same deal as the other puzzle, though: Three minutes for $1000. Kris grabs her bags and drags them with her as she runs, enthusiastically telling Greg what the deal is. Greg says he's coming, but takes some time hoisting his bag back up over his shoulders.

Hot Nathan and Alison read the ending of their message, and quickly find the limo, helpfully emblazoned with the The Mole logo.

Kris and Greg waddle off towards the locker room. Oh my God, I've been in this exact room. A few weeks before this show aired, in fact. Oddly enough, I seem to recall that the first time I even knew The Mole was coming back for this season was when I saw a billboard for it on the exact screen now used to present Kris and Greg their puzzle. Heh. The puzzle is difficult to explain without a picture, so:

Ladies and gentleman, welcome back to a little thing called Paint. Ironically for someone who likes this sort of show, I'm very lowtech.

They also get a "solve the puzzle to open the safe" message, but luckily do not get a "Locker Room!" addition to the poster. Greg appears to work it out instantly. Basically, you add the two middle numbers (15 and 14) together, then multiply that answer (29) by the bottom (10) to get the top (29 x 10 = 290). So, the safe opens like this: (51 + 49) x 11. Since 51 plus 49 is an even hundred, your answer is 100 x 11 = 1100. Simple. While we're still here, can I take a moment to point out how ugly and white Greg's sweater is? It's like Michael Jackson bred with Cliff Huxtable. And I know I'm too young to make that reference, but whatever. It was parodied on The Simpsons, and that's all that matters.

Anyway, they work it out after a brief brainfart, and open the safe. Woo! Kris is "shaking" when she keys in the code, and shrieking when it opens. She doesn't care about the Palm Pilot, as long as she has a mobile. With all this perkiness, there's a snowball's chance in The Fifth Season that she's the Mole. I'd lie and pretend there's a remote possibility she could be, but... it's not like anybody didn't know it was Petrina after a few episodes in. They old-fogey their way through calling the next pair...

...Which is Cute Cam and Nikki, who run immediately to the phone when they hear it ringing. Do you think everybody got told after Hot Nathan and Alison almost ignored it as a wrong number? Cute Cam answers the phone as we get a hidden camera shot from just above crotch height. Nikki crowds into the phone booth as well, and it's probably a good thing that camera is where it is. Kris slowly but perkily tells them their puzzle is on the ferry at the end of the dock. Cute Cam very quickly explains to Nikki while they grab their bags, then resumes wondering when Grant had a sex change. A couple of onlookers watch on wearily.

Kris and Greg get into their limo.

Cute Cam and Nikki also get the "solve the puzzle" memo. Their puzzle seems easy, but would probably take longer than three minutes to figure out even without the money and sabotage distracting them. All they have to do is figure out how many days the younger of them has been alive. Since Nikki's only 19, having been born in 1984, it's obviously her age they need. Nikki split-screens that Cute Cam immediately started using the waiting writing materials to figure out her age, while she just wanted to work out the code. Well, yes, dear, that IS what he's trying to do. Unless he's writing down a list of the reality shows he now qualifies for as a J-list celebrity. He might have to cross Dancing With The Stars off the list, now that he's too famous for it. And it's not like your trying to find more puzzles to do underneath the safe is exactly helping that much, Nikki. Techno thinking music plays, as Cute Cam asks again how old she is. She confuses him a little by saying she's only 18 years and 24 days, and he laughingly split-screens about her forgetting her age. You'll notice he doesn't mention anything about her being the Mole, possibly because he's not one of the three television-free monks in Nepal who didn't know it was Petrina. With 12 seconds left, they're still trying to work out all the leap years. This isn't good. Neither is Cute Cam calling 2002 a leap year. Right at the last second, she changes her age to back to 19, keeping the 24 days as well. Suddenly, the Monophonic Ringtone of Work Faster, Dammit plays, and Nikki retrieves the phone from behind a row of lifejackets. Grant split-screens in to deliver the bad news, still on the back of that plane, and to tell them the right answer is 6964. Which, by my count at least, is 19 years and 25 days, assuming she's telling the truth about her birthday. Perhaps the producers were counting the day she was actually born. (If they are, using the birthday she gave dates this challenge to the 26th of May, 2003, for the one-point-three-six of you playing along at home.) She explains to Cute Cam that they ran out of time, in case he thought Grant was calling halfway through to give them some help. Or something.

Cute Cam calls Stace and Josh from the moving ferry (no limo!), telling Josh about the safe at the newsstand across the road. Josh relays it to Stace as they walk over. The message here also has a "Solve The Puzzle" thingy. Here it is, complete with spaces where appropriate:

The Mole = 33 45
A Traitor - 1? ??

Another ad for the website pops up as Josh and Stace look at the puzzle. Stace reads from somewhere that the safe will lock after three attempts. Which I assume would mean that they couldn’t get the stuff out to call Shaun and Petrina if they fuck up, right? Josh split-screens that he's good at puzzles, but fucks up a lot. The website promo becomes pointless when you see his fingers type in the correct code -- 1101 -- on the keypad. How do you get that, I hear you ask? You assign each letter of the alphabet a number (A=1, B=2, and so on), and then add the numbers for the letters in each word together. So "The" is 33 (20 + 8 + 5 = 33), "Mole" is 45 (13 + 15 + 12 + 5 = 45), "A" is obviously 1, and "Traitor" is 101 (20 + 18 + 1 + 9 + 20 + 15 + 18). Stace is flummoxed, and split-screens as such. You know, you could spend all day whining about him not explaining the answer to you before he did it, or you could use the time to rule him off your list of suspects. Perhaps it's why she got eliminated. (Spoiler!)

Stace calls Petrina and tells them their safe is inside a limo at the Hyde Park fountain, but they have to solve the puzzle on the back of the phone box before they do it. Petrina runs around the other side to the puzzle, which they really should have seen by now, as Shaun ambles without any idea what's going on. Thanks for helping him, Petrina! Behind the phone box is one of those scrolling billboards, clearly working harder than Petrina is to hide her obvious sabotage. It scrolls over to reveal the fifth puzzle, another addition thing. Petrina and Shaun have to figure out four things - the year of Australia's federation, the number bingo callers refer to as "two fat ladies", the postcode for the Melbourne GPO, and the number of seconds in an hour. But they don't read quickly enough, and the billboard scrolls back to the other image, part of the show's logo. Well, okay, all of the logo, except for the "In Paradise" part. Because, really, Sydney ain't paradise. Petrina immediately works out that the year of Federation is 1901, and also conveniently knows that two fat ladies is 88. The billboard scrolls down again, and part of the problem here is that the message is on the bottom half of the poster, beneath the omnipresent instructions. I suppose the other part of the problem is that Petrina is here, Mole-ing it up. After a brief pause in which she probably works out what the actual postcode is -- 3001 -- Petrina confidently offers the answer 3000, before pointing out that the number of seconds in an hour is the same as the number of minutes in an hour multiplied by the number of seconds in one of these Earth minutes. Oh, fine, she actually says "sixty by sixty", but I need to boost the word count of this recap somehow. Plus, it's probably less confusing for Shaun, who... seems, at least from his appearance, like he's not exactly going to be passing an IQ test any time soon. Also not passing the test? Whoever came up with the idea to have 364,938 countries voting in the Eurovision final. Just declare the fish-lipped yelling Norwegian the winner already. Surprisingly, Shaun gives the correct answer of 3600 seconds rather quickly, suggesting there actually is something going on inside that head. Sorry. They run to the cab, with Shaun happy to get out of the rain, and Petrina happy to get away from the puzzle before he notices that she fucked up.

With about 1:45 left, they find the cab and get in, the puzzle split-screening in for no known reason. As soon as Shaun sits down, Petrina starts badgering him to add the numbers together, and begins doing it for him. You'll note that the limo is already moving, which might make it a little harder. I'm not sure how, but they seem to be trying however they can to not make it obvious that Petrina is the Mole. Perhaps this is some sort of counterbalance for THAT hint later on. Petrina split-screens that she was "pretty much driving it", and Shaun wasn't doing much. So, to recap, it's all Petrina's fault then if they lose. Also, isn't the chauffeur technically "driving it"? As you would expect from the Mole, the safe fails to open itself, and she wastes valuable time pressing random buttons and jiggling the handle. Because that sometimes works. With just ten seconds left, she finally comes to the startling revelation that they've fucked one of the answers up, but pretends to care about where she is, like it matters at this point. Or any point. Suddenly, the MRoWF,D begins annoying me again, and Petrina eventually retrieves it from its oh-so-hidden location on the side-table thingy. Grant split-screens in again, looking much cooler than Oprah Skype-ing in, and tells her that her time is up and that she sucks as a Mole. Except for that last part. The combination to their safe was 5590 (1901 + 88 + 3001 + 3600), which is only one away from their guess of 5589. Grant appears to have no time for incompetence, talking over Petrina's whining to tell her this. Love you too, Grant. Petrina opens the safe and shows the fake, 1960's-board-game-looking money, and Shaun suggests that they burn it. Oh, vandalism's your answer for everything. Petrina hands the Palm Pilot of Instructitude to Shaun, which is ridiculous because they don't actually need it for anything. It's just tells them that they're headed to the airport, and will be taking "flight Mole 007", which, amazingly, Petrina does not recognise as a James Bond reference. She really is the worst secret agent ever. Well, maybe she's a little better than Maxwell Smart. Barely.

Grant voices over a montage of the limos heading to the airport. Look, there's Nikki and Cute Cam, having somehow been magicked away from their ferry! And Hot Nathan and Alison! And Kris and Greg! He promises that after the break, they'll find out that it "won't be a conventional flight". Really? I was under the impression that skydiving planes were actually conventional flights. It's not like they have to skydive naked or anything. (But I think we can all agree that in some cases that would be a welcome twist. Others... not so much.)

Commercials! I'm really not sure how the UK decided that a song by Andrew Lloyd-Webber could win a contest most famous for ugly spandex and giving the world Abba. Or why it was even considered in the first place.

We return on a bunch of shots of limousines, and one shot of the airport sign. Is this really the sort of show where we need to be reminded of this fact? Is ANY show? For no reason, Hot Nathan asks Alison if she can hear any music. Grant rehashes that everyone is going to the airport, and adds that the team only earned $2000 out of the $5000 available for that first assignment. He wonders aloud whether one of the failures is Petrina's -- uh, The Mole's fault -- or whether she's "yet to strike", and I wonder whether it's even fair for the first piece of Mole sabotage to happen when only one of the nine real players has met her. Nikki joins in the rhetorical wondering, asking Cute Cam if there's any reason they stuck two blondes together. Cam snarks that they just look good together, and I'd totally mock him for thinking a 19-year-old looked good if I wasn't a 19-year-old who thought HE looked good. Cam split-screens that he couldn't be the Mole, because he's "never told a lie in [his] life". Except for that, obviously. Also, he's a firefighter from Blackburn, which not only do I pass through on my way to Uni (Bayswater represent!), but is also a really unfortunate name for a suburb where a firefighter lives. Nikki, a cheerleader from the comparatively-unmockable suburb of Avalon, is only here because she wants a good time. Couldn't she just go to Schoolies like the rest of us?

Kris tells Greg the puzzle they did was "nerve-wracking". It took them all of 45 seconds. That's not nerve-wracking, that's not nerve-wracking at all! Kris, a sales rep from Oyster Bay, asks us in a split-screen whether she looks like the Mole, and... I suppose if Alan from a few seasons ago put on a wig and a copious amount of drag make-up it could be a vaguely plausible assumption to make, but I don't think she does. Especially since her name isn't Petrina. Greg is a manager of some kind from the non-existent location of "Craigeburn" (sic), and also robotically confirms that he isn't the Mole. Seriously, you could get more emotion out of Jeanne Little's face than he provides in that little split-screen.

Stace tells Josh in their limo that they appear to be moving in a direction in their motorised vehicle. Imagine that. Stace, a masseuse and the only contestant this season from neither New South Wales nor Victoria, tells us she's too honest to be the Mole. Josh, whose job appears to be public relations, tells us he's not the Mole but wants to be, because he could play to the end. You know how else you can play to the end, Josh? Winning. And you get extra money too this way.

Petrina and Shaun are still whining about missing out of the money. Well, Petrina is, and she's going rather overboard about doing it. Petrina is from Petersham and claims she isn't the Mole. You lying liar who lies. Shaun's a security guard, also from a location that doesn’t exist in the spelling the graphics department provides, and it may surprise you to learn than he's only 21 years old. He also claims not to be the Mole. And it's really hard not to believe him, even if you're the one person outside of Nepal who doesn't know it's Petrina, which is part of the problem with this cast. Could you really buy Shaun as the Mole? Or Stace? Or Kris? Or Hot Nathan? So you're already down four suspects, even before you take into account The Most Incredibly Obvious Giveaway Hint In History.

Speaking of, Alison asks him which way the airport is, and it's not like he would know any more than you, given you were flown to Sydney and he wasn't. Brighton musician Alison? Says she isn't the Mole. I know, I was shocked too. Nathan is a stevedore, which I guess is like a matador, but only working with bulls named Steve, and is from Cronulla, which automatically costs him a few points. He wants free money. Nathan tells Alison that they "might not be going straight there", a logical assumption to make knowing the history of this show, and certainly suggesting that the contestants knew about the international travel beforehand. Which makes sense, because how awkward would it have been if they got to the airport for the flight out, and it turned out Nikki didn't have a passport? They'd have to stow her tiny body into the overhead compartment for three hours. But at least it would keep her away from those lecherous male flight attendants.

...Wait, they're usually WHAT? Oh, never mind. We might have to hide Hot Nathan instead. If he'll even fit. Maybe Cute Cam would.

The limousines pull up at the airport, and everybody gets out. As they introduce themselves to each other, and work out that Petrina is the Mole, Grant reminds us that Someone Is The Mole. We might need to start a drinking game for every time he says something ridiculously obvious. Sometimes, we might not even make it to the first commercial break. Petrina takes the time to try and avoid suspicion by telling us she "immediately" thought Josh could have been the Mole because of his wandering eyes. Josh definitely doesn't seem to be the type of guy I could get along with easily, but him as the Mole? No. Just... no. Perhaps she picks him to blame because when he goes around calling everyone "shifty", Petrina happens to be standing in the right position to be the first one called. One point for Josh. He also calls Cute Cam (I think) "shifty but telegenic", and that's another two points. One for being right, and one for managing to use "telegenic" in a sentence. And that concludes the portion of this show in which Josh earns points. Hot Nathan tells us that Greg "stood out a lot at the airport". I'll bet he did. (Okay, I'm done making fat jokes. At least until another opportunity arises.) Apparently, he didn't particularly want the others to know that much about him, and we get to see this in action as he roams around with the chattering group in the background. Everybody loads their backpacks onto a conveyor belt and gets tickets for the flight, as Grant superfluously exposits that nobody knows where they're flying to. Well, I would assume that at the very least Petrina knows, and it sounds like Hot Nathan may have figured something out. So, in short: Love ya, but shut up, Grant. Hot Nathan sets off the metal detector as he walks through it. Yeah, might have been a good idea to remove the crotch jewellery before you got to the airport.

Grant tells us that before the team flies, "there's another shock". They all have to represent Malta in Eurovision! (Malta wishes.) Grant's "shock" is really not that much of a shock at all -- two of them won't be flying. A staticky announcement comes over the PA calling for Greg and Shaun. Is there a weight limit for skydiving? Because that's the only reason I can think of for these two in particular to be singled out. Shaun confessionals that he was trying to get to know everyone else and find out who else thought Petrina was the Mole when he heard the announcement. When they get to the desk, a grand total of about ten steps away from where the group is sitting, the lady behind the counter gives them a phone. In news I'm sure you will be shocked to hear, it's Grant, split-screening in to explain that they'll be driving to the next location instead of flying. Greg tells Shaun the bad news, and they walk off. Greg split-screens to boringly tell us that "the remaining eight contestants" "virtually swamped" them, and that he had not been told what was happening, but correctly assumed that being driven away from the airport meant that they weren't about to fly anywhere. Of course. I mean, the car isn't exactly one of those flying space cars the Jetsons used in the far-off year of 2002.

The other eight people get their boarding passes. Whee! Cute Cam split-screens to tell us that even on the minibus to their plane, people were still trying to figure out who everyone else is, and thus somehow managed to avoid seeing "the big skydiving plane" right in front of them. Nathan is shocked. Shocked, I tell you! Nikki seems to be the first person to figure out that Mole Air isn't actually an official airline. The group notice Grant standing next to the plane, just as the poor guy has been doing all morning. Kris may or may not have fainted in her seat at the prospect of being asked to do something risky in a game all about espionage. She split-screens, whining about "all these hysterical people in the bus", as she tells said hysterical people that she's having a hot flush, before the split-screen takes over just in time for Kris to tell us skydiving is "[her] worst nightmare". Well, isn't that a happy little co-inky-dink?

The team assembles in front of Grant, who tells them of the current value in the kitty. Grant ominously intones that on today's flight, they'll "provide the takeoff", but the contestants will "be responsible for landing". Dun-dun-DUN!

After the commercials, people jump. Another surprise successfully ruined. Why do shows fell the need to pander to people who really can't keep their focus on a television show for the duration of a three-minute commercial break?

Commercials! A Crappy Song But A Great Video Clip: She's All I Ever Had, Ricky Martin.

Now kitted out in jumpsuits, far different from what they were wearing when they appeared to board the plane just before the commercials, the hot guys (and Josh) board their plane. Josh split-screens that "getting in the plane was pretty cool". If that's pretty cool, I can't wait to see what he thinks of the skydiving. He says he "kind of felt like, y'know, Top Gun". Which is helpful and all, given he sort of looks like an older, uglier version of Val Kilmer. What happened to his character again? Alison tells us that she thought Petrina "was about to cry or something". Kris adds that she "was watching the colour... drain... from... Petrina's face", and that Alison was also Casperising herself, but Kris was fine. Perhaps because she's already figured out that when Grant doesn't tell you that you all have to jump to win money, you don't have to. Petrina says she "so knew [she] wanted to jump, but this feeling in [her] heart was just, 'I don't know if I can'." Well, of course, dear, that's called trying to do your damn job as The Mole.

Grant tells us the eight skinniest contestants must decide whether or not to jump, a decision that's no doubt made easier by taking them up in the plane even if they have no intention of doing so. Petrina's altitude-affected voice tells everyone else she's always wanted to skydive. Grant voices over that they'll be jumping from about 4,000 metres -- that's 13,200 feet, to all you lazy, Metric-system-phobic Americans -- to their landing site, which is at some random hotel down in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. Hopefully they don't end up skewering themselves on the vase statue in the middle of the yard, or on any of the ubiquitous trees present.

Shaun voices over that they got instructions telling them to "come to a place called Milton Park", then split-screens to tell us that it was "a bit of a spin-out", before going on about how beautiful it is. We get it, guys, the hotel paid for this episode. We don't need it rubbed in our goddamn faces. (Actually, the producers of The Amazing Race Asia could do well to remember this too.) While he and Greg get out of the car and move to what looks like it's a balcony, Grant walks up. Oh, this can't be good. For them. For us, it's almost certainly going to be a helluva lot of fun. Grant explains how everyone else is up in the plane about to skydive, and that they don't know there's any money on the line. But they totally do, because everything happens for a reason on television. Except for maybe the killings of Maude Flanders, Alex Krycek, and Madge from Neighbours. But since nobody's actually getting murdered on this show, as far as I know, we can ignore them. So, since they supposedly don't know about the money, it's your job to earn it instead. Both Shaun and Greg fail to show the amount of surprise I'm sure the producers are expecting. All you have to do here is guess who will jump and who won't, based solely on what little information you gleaned from them at the airport. If you guess what someone does correctly, you win $1000. If you fuck it up, you lose $1000. Simple, right? Now, because you really don't know anybody well enough to do this properly, Grant hands over another Palm Pilot, this time with the names and photos of each of the other eight contestants.

The first person Grant shows is Nikki, whom Grant calls "Nicole". Greg immediately says she'll jump, because "she's very jumpable". Oh, blecch. There are no words. Greg is dead to me, the dirty old man. (And, unlike Knob from Australian Survivor, not in the literal way. Yet.) Shaun does not tell us his opinion on Nikki. Next up is Hot Nathan, and both agree that he'll jump, because, as Shaun says, "he looks like the type that'll give anything a go". Josh(ua), the Grant-appointed "spin-doctor", is also going to jump if Greg has anything to do with it, despite Shaun's reservations that "he seemed a bit... full of himself". Greg checks with Grant that the pair have to make a united decision, just in case you could earn money if only one of you guesses right, making a mockery of the entire exercise. Shut up, Greg. Grant confirms that they can't split their decision, so Greg sheepishly changes his mind, now thinking he'll chicken out. Wouldn't Josh being full of himself be a sign he'd be MORE likely to do it, so he can say that he has?

...Anyway, Stace'll jump, and so will Hot Cam. Alison, she of the windswept photo hair, will also jump, even though Shaun once again thinks she won't. Kris, looking more than a little like Betty White, definitely won't jump. Petrina will jump, according to the duo. Grant confirms that they think everyone except for Josh and Kris will jump.

Up on the plane, people sit around and wait to jump (or not). Grant voices over that everyone's about to be given a four-digit code before they jump, and I reach for the largest bottle of vodka I can find. Because here's where the season goes downhill, just like Tom Williams's reputation after he took over. ("Never." The answer to "When will it stop being funny to mock Tom Williams?" is "Never.")

Hot Nathan's number is 6284, but he tells us he was having trouble just remembering how to breathe. He jumps. $1000. Josh's number is 5674, and he also jumps. That grand Hot Nathan just won? Gone. Cute Cam's number is 2268. He jumps, and we're back in the black. Amidst some generic electric-guitar sounding music, Hot Nathan lands, almost losing his equilibrium in the process. Heh.

Stace's number is 7822. Stace jumps. Petrina tells us that she was trying to remember everyone else's number as they were told, because she's all for looking for a bad excuse to disguise her incompetence. Amidst all this, the number guy tells Alison hers is 2547. Nikki's number is 6455. She jumps, meaning that at this point, they've won $4000.

And then it happens. Petrina's number is 5636. Now, remember back to about twenty minutes ago. What was the solution to the first puzzle, with MOLE on the phone keypad? That's right, 6653. And why do you suppose Petrina got these numbers instead of the same code as everyone else? Because she's the MOLE. (No, really, everyone else got the first four letters of their name on a phone keypad. 6284 spells NATH, 5674 is JOSH, 2268 is CAM, plus the V for the first letter in his surname, 7822 is STAC, 2547 is ALIS, and 6455 is NIKK.) Petrina jumps. Great Mole she is. Can't even keep the money out of the kitty.

Kris edges her way to the... uh, edge... of the plane, split-screening to both badly impersonate Hannibal Lecter and to mock Air Force One. At least she's not taking a joyflight over New York for pictures, or enjoying some fava beans with a nice Chianti. Kris refuses to jump, which is good, because it earns them another grand. She walks back, losing the split-screen for a second, before it returns for her to tell us she "didn't know whether it was fear or a hot flush [she] was having".

The Skydiving Cameramen get some nice shots of the descent as everyone else goes down. Nikki lands, voicing over that she "felt like a bird". And she would also like to apologize to those people driving past in the convertible, because when you feel like a bird, it's apparently impossible to resist going the whole hog. When Alison lands, she gives an impromptu confessional in which she tells us that she "had [her] legs wrapped around his legs". I'll bet she did. Oh, and she also did the same thing with her arms, because she was nervous about her harness, but that isn't as funny.

Nikki, Alison, and Petrina pose for the cameras for no reason. At the same time, the three skydiving men walk up to the hotel, with Grant, Greg, and Shaun peering through the window like they're eight-year-olds watching the front lawn as their parents fight over who ran over the neighbour's cat. The guy skydivers (guydivers?) enter the room everyone else is in, and Grant helpfully reminds them that, as far as they know, their "little errand" was pointless and penniless. Josh pompously posits that "we were wondering about that", but you just know what he wants to say is "I was wondering about that". Grant explains the ins and outs of the betting assignment, which I really don't feel like explaining again, and asks the guydivers if they jumped. Cute Cam did, and Hot Nathan did, so they win $2000. But Shaun has to try and change history, telling Josh he stayed in the plane. Please. Like he would have gotten here as fast if he was still in the plane. Even Hot Nathan seems surprised by what they said, and Josh takes offence. Lesson: Never question Josh's manhood, whatever little of it there is. It costs them $1000, so they're back down to $1000. Grant points out that this result is "pitiful", but it's still a win. Have I mentioned how much Grant pwns the frigging universe yet, especially compared to Tom "Chesty McOckerSmarm" Williams? Because he totally does.

And here comes a segment that someone more lenient than myself might deem to call "fun", but I call "misogynistic". As it turns out, Grant thinks "the ladies packed a little heavy", and it's the mens' job to repack their luggage for them. Because no Mole season down here would be complete without the stupid luggage-repacking task nobody really likes that much. I just hope none of them brought a Tickle-Me-Elmo with them this time. We'll never hear the end of it. The guydivers seem shocked, especially Hot Nathan, which may or may not have helped with the rumours that went around about his... how do I put this... lack of experience with women's clothes and the lady-bits that go inside said clothes. Which I don't buy for a second. Not that I'd kick him out of bed or anything, because I totally wouldn't, but... he's not the sort of person I'd even consider as gay. At least, not until I bother checking what a stevedore actually is. And even then, he's from freaking Cronulla. I think they still burn people at the stake for being gay there. (Well, it's one way to make Hot Nathan even hotter, I suppose.) (And it's not like I can snark about someone else's suburb, given Bayswater is as bogan-filled as Frankston, but without the reputation.)

And back to whatever the hell it is I'm actually supposed to be writing about.

For every kilogram of crap they take out, the team wins $1000. Got it? Good. Because you've only got five minutes to do it in. After the break, we find out that the girls are going to watch them do it. Well, we really find out now, but I don't think it was intended to ruin the surprise like this. Speaking of surprising, Josh tries on Petrina's corset while they do it.

Commercials! The previous commercial break was brought to you by words beginning with capital letters.

The guys enter the Bedroom Of Overpacking Backpackers, and immediately set about unpacking stuff. Grant voices over that there's over 100 kilograms of stuff, so the team could conceivably win over $100,000. But then the women would have to walk around naked. I'm sure most of these guys won't have a problem with it, but some producer guy has probably told them not to let that happen. (Hilariously, at this point, Seven puts up a graphic on the bottom of a screen for an episode of Alias. Sometimes, the marketing people almost know what they're doing. This might be one of those rare times.)

Back in the main room, Grant is standing next to a plasma screen, watching the action unfold. The girls walk in and realise what the men are doing. I think it's Stace who threatens to kill one of the guys, but I can't tell. If it is, it's possibly the most she gets to speak during the entire episode. We get to watch the girls watch the guys, and it's quite possibly the most boring television this show has ever produced. At least during Grant's tenure as host. Kris exhibits a brief moment of self-loathing when Cute Cam holds up a relatively small pair of undies.

Grant explains everything that's happening to the girls, and, after some more Boring Channel-Nine-Esque Television, sets about trying to figure out who's unpacking which luggage. It turns out Josh has Petrina's, which pisses Petrina off, because she's not even being given a chance to suck as The Mole. And why did she bring that blue tie-dyed dress, anyway? We get to see some more of Josh playing with Petrina's lingerie, as though we hadn't seen enough of it already. Stace snarks that their work was "fantastic", and that all she was gonna be left with was "the clothes that [she's] wearing, and three books". Either Alison or Nikki asks Grant how much they're allowed to take out, and Grant says there's no limit, and reluctantly adds that the girls won't be getting it back. Yeah, well, that's what he said last time, and look how many times Thao bought back her stupid Elmo doll.

Apparently, someone has a padded bra.

In the BOOB, Hot Nathan holds up a small-ish makeup bag (or whatever it is) and wonders whether it's necessary, before putting it back. Shaun split-screens that Hot Nathan had Kris's bag, and wasn't taking much out of it. Kris cackles upon seeing her frog pyjamas on the screen, and Shaun continues rabbiting on about why it's suspicious that Hot Nathan didn't want Kris to walk around in minimal clothing for the next three weeks. Because Shaun clearly does.

Grant tells the girls the time is almost up, as always trying to make an excuse to leave. Cam holds someone's G-string up to the camera. There are some things I really, really don't need to know about reality contestants, and that was one of them. Kris suddenly becomes aware that Hot Nathan is rifling through her underwear.

In the BOOB, Grant comes in and asks how everything went. Over a shot of Greg's ugly-jumpered arms placing a sock on a pile of red, white, and blue clothing, Greg tells us it went "perfect" (sic). In this season's first ridiculously snarky edit, Hot Nathan split-screens to tell us he was too busy trying not to touch Kris's knickers to get rid of much of her clothing. Cam confessionals that Nathan didn't take much out. God, not this again. Alison turns the tables on Cam, complaining that he didn't take enough out. Heh. She says he took a lot out, but it was all stuff which didn't weigh much, like "a fishnet t-shirt". I'm not sure I even want to know the deal with that one. Where was she expecting to get in some BDSM during this game? Is there something about Grant we don’t know?

Grant tells the guys that they'll weigh the removed stuff and bring back a total, but someone else will do it, because Grant himself will be too busy praying for their salvation. I'll be praying that next year's Eurovision is better. (Congratulations to the fish-lipped yelling Norwegian, by the way.)

Dinnertime! Josh condescendingly tells the girls that they took out whatever they could in five minutes, and that they should be thankful for it. Well, sure, women should ALWAYS be thankful when men ransack their belongings. Shut up, Josh. You'll notice that Petrina is the first to laugh at his statement. Because she's totally the Mole, and she's not thankful they took clothes out at all. Grant interrupts the conversation to ask what the girls were doing, which is stupid, because 1) he was there with them, 2) people would surely have had a chance to talk to each other by now, and 3) I thought he was supposed to be praying. On your knees, Grant!

...That didn't come out the way I intended it to. Moving on.

Anyway, Stace and Alison tell them in unison that they were watching, and Alison take the time to compliment Josh on his appearance in Petrina's boob tube. Kris leads a half-hearted cheer at Josh's expense, and Josh looks thoroughly embarrassed, as well he probably should. Grant breaks the news that they took out twenty-seven kilograms worth of stuff. So that's $27,000 for the kitty, which I believe makes the total prize money at this point $35,000.

And now, it's time for the fun part of this boring dinner. As you may remember, the seven people who jumped got told those four-digit codes before they did so. Well, now it's time to see how well they remembered them. As yet another split-screen shows the waiters bringing in safes, which for the love of God better have a good dessert inside to be worth going to all this effort for, Grant explains that each of the skydivers will get a chance to open their safe. If they enter the right code, they win $1000. Again, if you get it wrong, they take $1000 away. It's a decent idea, but the problem is that even though Kris won the team money by not jumping, she doesn't get the chance to do it here. Perhaps what they should have done is given everyone the numbers before they left the plane, but only the correctly guessed skydivers got a chance to do it. Then, if everyone gets in, all the others have a chance. Yeah, it's convoluted, but it seems as though the money they earned with Kris's prediction earlier is negated here, which is fucking stupid.

Anyway, onto the cases. Alison is first, and we are shown a split-screen flashback to the instructor guy giving her her number. Alison types in 2053, which is obviously wrong, given that not only does she not have any letters equal to zero on a phone keypad, but neither does anybody in existence. Stace opens hers easily. Go, Stace! Nikki also gets hers, and we're finally earning some money. But not for long, because Petrina is next. She types in 6336, which doesn't even come close to spelling anything. Not that 5636 did either, but... you know. Petrina overreacts to losing money. My God-Buddha-Allah-Ganesh, you'd think she'd be used to it after that first challenge. Hot Nathan split-screens that Petrina was whining all afternoon that she wasn't going to remember her number, and then she didn't; but he was more surprised by Josh, because he'd already figured out that Petrina was the Mole. Speaking of Josh, we have to wait until after the commercial break to find out what happened with him. Unless you're observant enough to notice that he pushes the numbers 5 and 8 here in this little bumper, even though there weren't any eights in his number. Way to ruin it, editors.

Commercials! I wonder if all the right-wing Christians in America would be pissed if I told them Jesus Christ was a Jew. I know Mel Gibson would be. (It's not blasphemy if it's technically accurate, right?)

Grant rehashes that because Petrina and Alison both fucked up their safe combinations, and Nikki and Stace both got it right, the last few minutes have been entirely pointless. But now it's the boys' turn, and you can guarantee we're gonna get a result one way or 'tother here. Josh had 5674, and both he and Shaun confessional that Josh thought he could do it, because he remembered the number on the way down. He obviously didn't remember it well enough, because 5824 sure as hell ain't right. Stace voices over that it was "very dodgy that Josh didn't open the safe", and split-screens that he should have been able to do it because of how quickly he did the first safe. She does realise that these are entirely different things, right? Because he could see what he needed to figure out the code for the first safe? Grant totally mocks him without mocking him, using that funny condescending voice he has to point out that the team's down $1000 now. Heh. Hot Nathan had 6284, and enters it correctly, but has trouble with the door for some reason. When he eventually does get it open, he looks deliriously pleased with himself. Cute Cam also enters his code, 2268, in correctly, and thus the group actually won some money out of the safes. Thank the world's assorted deities for that.

Grant points out that, even though the safes produced a paltry result, the team has earned themselves a total of $36,000 in this episode. Which is great for an episode, especially in this low-budget version, but when you consider that they could have won over $120,000? Not that stellar. He then explains that someone's getting the boot tonight. Ouch. Not even a full day in the game? That'd be a bitch. Even back in that second season with the sixteen hopefuls, they waited until the next morning to get rid of everyone. Grant explains how the elimination works, and I'm going to assume you all know how it works, so I'm not going to bother re-explaining it here. Besides, this is the fourth season of the show, and it'd look stupid if I explained it now but not in the first season's recaps, whenever I get around to them.

The Ominous Music Of Questionnaire-Taking plays in the background, still unchanged after three seasons. This time, however, the players use styluses on what appear to be flat-screen electronics plaques, complete with an on-screen keyboard.

Question 3 asks, "What sex is the Mole?", and the options are "Male", "Female", "Hermaphrodite", and "Wouldn't you like to know?". Except for those last two. The wording of Question 4 is blurry on my screen, but it appears to be asking for the Mole's safe combination. At this point, Grant confirms that the Mole knows all the answers and can get a high score. Well, sure, it’s not like the Mole would get themselves deliberately eliminated or anything. Shaun logs in just in time for us to get a glimpse of Question 1, asking where the Mole was during the "Arrival Game". Shaun tells us he thinks The Mole is Josh, and yet hits the little button for Hyde Park, which is where he and Petrina started. Speak of the Devil, she herself tells us that she couldn't believe that Greg and Shaun thought Josh wouldn't jump out of the plane. Hot Nathan bitches once more about how "Greg stood out a lot at the airport". I'll bet he did. (What? They recycled the quote, so I recycled my joke. Fair trade.) Kris tells us a bunch of the guys confused her into thinking that they were all the Mole, as we see Question 7 - Who sat on the Mole's right at dinner? Stace tells us Cam is "a bit of a wildcard", answering the same question about the safe combinations as we saw before, adding in her voice over that she's "pretty suspicious of everyone at this stage". Well, that'll help you win the game. She's jiggling a couple of rocks in her left hand as she completes the questionnaire. Cute Cam provides a voiceover about thinking it's Alison listing her failures, as we see the omnipresent "Who is the Mole?" question. It what may or may not have been deliberate, you might notice that Petrina's name is first on the list. But Cam picks Kris. Noooooooo! I'm not ready to lose half my eye-candy yet. Josh says he thought it was Cam, but has slowly changed his mind over the course of the last twelve hours or so. He continues rambling that he thinks the Mole is "a competent, intelligent person capable of deceiving". Firstly, the word is deception, Josh. Secondly, if that was meant to come across as a burn against Cute Cam? Shut up.

Grant interrupts that even though the players have their own ideas about who the Mole is, you can apparently hop into a time machine and enter some competition to guess who the hell Petrina is. Uh, I mean, "who the Mole is". But we all know it's Petrina, so there's no point in even trying to pretend there's a mystery about this. As you would expect from this particular TV network, the phone number contains a helluva lot of sevens. And the first four digits add up to seven. Is that some sort of hint that I'm too dumb to get the full meaning of?

...You know what? Fuck it. I already know it's Petrina. I don't need no stinking hints I don't understand.

After the break: The most shocking rose ceremony ever! Wait... wrong show. This one doesn't have any shocks at all.

Commercials! Is it a sign of the apocalypse that the fish-lipped yelling Norwegian Eurovision winner was actually wearing clothes that looked good on him?

It's time for the contestants to record their video diaries. You remember how these work, right? Every night, the contestants take a video camera into their room and record their thoughts, like it's a diary of some kind. On video. It's really a very imaginative title. While Nikki checks to make sure her hair looks good, Alison checks to make sure her video camera is turned on. It would help with the recording process. Cute Cam is "terrified" about the chance of going home tonight, because you just know the Bros down at the fire station are going to come up with some sort of bizarre hazing-style prank if he does. Petrina um's and ah's for a little while before eventually coming up with "I'm scared", because she is trying to get rid of any chance someone hasn't figured out she's the Mole. Shaun doesn't want to go home, because then he can't win any money. Stace holds up one of her magic rocks to the camera, explaining it's supposed to help give her wealth and courage and all that. Probably should have grabbed some rocks to help with her memory, then, shouldn't she? She calls them "magic juju". There... are other words I could (and should) use to describe using rocks as a strategy to win a game like this.

Bad moon rising.

The contestants enter the Room Of Impending Doom. It must be entirely coincidental that the women all sit in the front row with the men behind them, because this episode was already misogynistic enough. Sigh. Grant congratulates everyone for their efforts so far, but warns that one of the ten of them won't be getting a shiny ticket to New Caledonia. It's about time this show left the damn country. Shame they couldn't have picked somewhere farther away from Australia. Grant explains that he's going to choose the names at random, but you know and I know he'll be choosing them in an order predetermined for Dramatic Effect. Green screens are good, red screens are bad. You know, the same deal this show always has.

Kris is the first cab off the rank, and she's safe. Kris's eyes bug out when she sees the green screen, and it makes her look like an extra in Finding Nemo. Hee. Cute Cam is also safe. Petrina, of course, gets a green screen of her own. Grant calls out Nikki's name next, and at first she looks afraid. She looks petrified. She gets a green screen, allowing her to spend some more nights thinking how someone'll do her wrong. There's a couple of people edited out of this at some point, because when Grant goes to enter Stace's name, we see that there are only four names left on the screen -- Alison, Hot Nathan, Shaun, and Stace herself. Apparently, Greg's reaction wasn't interesting enough to make the episode. Try to look surprised. (You or Greg? I'll leave it up to you to decide. Either way, he needs to learn how to get along.) Stace gets the red screen, and immediately falls off her chair in surprise. Is it really that shocking? I mean, she thought it was suspicious that someone earned money for the team before. I'd say something about thinking she'd crumble, thinking she'd lay down and die (at least in the metaphorical sense), but I think her collapsing on the floor has just proven it. Grant wants her to, walk out the door, just turn around now, 'cause she's not welcome any more.

Grant walks Stace out to the car, as the group conversates. We return to smiling Stace as Kris voices over that "Stace was fascinating". Sure, that's one word to describe it. Apparently, Stace is one of the most fearless people Kris has ever met. I'm not really sure how you could tell that after one day, unless every person Kris has ever met would rather make scones and watch repeats of Sons & Daughters than skydive. (Insert your own Pat the Rat joke here.) Nikki and Alison both tell us that Stace was a very positive person. Shaun thinks it's ludicrous for someone so tiny to have such a big heart. He does know the expression is just a metaphor, right? Outside, Stace is pissed that her "magic juju" didn't work, and Grant points out that she "needed stronger magic". Grant wishes Stace a safe trip, and waits on the stairs as Stace drives off. See, Tom Williams? THAT is how you do it. Ignore your own opinion on something for a few seconds, keep your damn shirt on, and be supportive and respectful to people. It's really no wonder Grant is so much more popular than Smuggy McDipshit.

Grant reminds us that there are nine people left, as though we can't count.

Next week: The team loses money, and Nikki doesn't know or care where Greg lives. Everyone walks along a tightrope. There's a giant crossword puzzle, but it doesn't appear to be particularly hard. And in the most important piece of previewy goodness, Hot Nathan takes his shirt off.

The credits run alongside the preview, which, will a great idea, doesn't allow me to mock people involved with the show easily. Suffice to say, I'm still wondering why five people have to be credited as Challenge Producers when almost every challenge this season is a copy of something that didn't work somewhere else.