Previously on Outback Jack: MTW wrote that one. It should still be around here somewhere, and I’m much more certain that you can find it than I am of my ability to hide the link behind a well-constructed piece of HTML. I can just barely boldface and italicize words: I can’t redirect. I’m a high-maintenance straight text user stranded in the Internet’s Outback. And you thought I’d be going in with no sympathy for the contestants. And you’re absolutely right, but it doesn’t mean I don’t understand their situation.
We’re going to rejoin Jack and his merry band of Avon representatives by the banks of Elimination River, where we previously lost Summer, Jillian, Laura, and Natasha to the enemy forces of You Made Me Laugh And That Makes My Bristles All Uneven, You Came A Long Way To Earn Those Frequent Crier Miles, and Bugs! Eeeuuuw, Bugs! That leaves eight floatation-vest-and-hard-hat wearing women for four canoes, or in the final analysis, eight suitcases for one river.
Several DAWs are about to be sent down the river with a good chance of losing their paddles. We came so close… Roll opening credits.
The show starts with a quick zoom across the obstacle course. It looks like Elimination River would rank somewhere around the rougher portions of the Delaware for traversing difficulty: a good number of rocks and some fairly active rapids. Jack, the expert outdoorsman with the high-maintenance stubble -- what, you thought that perfect level of shadow was natural? That’s got to be six hours a day. Of course he understands the girls: they probably buy their makeup mirrors from the same company – is having no problems steering down the halfway-calm section near the launch point. He even has time for his first confessional-tell, which is ‘Now that we’re down to eight, I’m getting to learn a lot more about the girls’ character and personalities. Which is, y’know, what it’s all about.’ Oh. So that’s what it’s all about. I thought it was watching a group of high-maintenance women completely disintegrate as the protective layers of skin cream wore away. Who knew?
And what does this river help us learn about the ladies? For starters, we just found out that they’re all very religious. The cries of ‘Oh my God!’ are going up from all sides as the women thank their creator for the natural wonders of the Outback, the perfection of Jack’s stubble, and humbly ask they be left alive to enjoy both for at least one more episode. While Jack is fine with the initial currents, our contestants are having somewhat more difficulty – in part because if the kanji symbol for ‘trouble’ is two women under one roof, the one for ‘capsize’ is going to be two DAWs in one canoe. Steering? Propulsion? Coordination and cooperation? All very fine ideas which will now be sacrificed on the twin altars of Incompetence and Comedy.
Mary is c-t completely out of her element and would never, ever do this if it wasn’t for Jack, the television cameras, the air time, and the promise of hosting a show on GSN in six months. Her natural element is ‘the mall’, which may explain why her canoe keeps heading for the riverbank. If she reaches land, an outlet store is sure to follow. Right?
Cortney c-t feels that Jack is going to be looking for the woman who does the best job of adjusting to the Outback, which is unfortunately going to include the concepts of ‘turn left’, ‘stay upright in the canoe’, ‘don’t ram into every other boat on the river’, and ‘please stop screaming, you’re blowing out my eardrums’. Cortney has a very good grasp on the initial game, but her execution still needs some work.
Marissa’s just a little nervous about what’s going to happen on the trip down the river – oh, and while she’s on the subject, why do they have hard hats on? Well, Marissa, while we know your skull was thick enough to keep out good advice on sun exposure, proper hydration, and signing up for this sort of show in the first place, the producers were kind of worried about impacts with rocks and paying for more than one medivac per series – rapids!
All pretense of steering the canoes vanishes as the women enter a frenzy of religious devotion. Neither divine nor production invention occurs, though, and the canoes start to ram into the rocks, each other, Jack’s canoe, and a very thick strip of beef jerky that happened to be floating in the water for no apparent reason.
‘It was pandemonium on the water’, Jack c-t informs us. ‘The girls were showing no coordination whatsoever.’ It’s really a question of cross-linking the skills, Jack. If you told them the paddles were makeup applicators and they had to apply just the right amount of color to the river, they’d be fine. But no – you had to tell them to steer the canoe. And so they’re revolving in the currents, hitting the large tree roots sticking out from the bank, inspiring Geico to target the canoe insurance market, and sending up a series of screeches which are going to confuse Australia’s native birds for weeks. At this very moment, there are ten unhappy ostriches standing at the bank of that river, wondering where their future mates went – and there goes the first paddle! One of the contestants is now down the river without a paddle! We’re getting closer!
It turns out that Adrienne and Harmonie are sharing a canoe because Adrienne managed to convince her travel companion that she knew what she was doing. Adrienne has serious river skills for a girl from the city. She can identify a river nine times out of ten, and the tenth time, she only confuses it with a creek, which is a natural mistake, really. What she has trouble identifying is the riverbank, which is why she keeps steering their canoe into it. And in those rare moments when they’re actually in the river flow, she somehow manages to get them facing the opposite way.
Jack c-t notes that with those two in the same canoe, ‘there was no harmony’ – oooh, pun! – and goes on to say ‘I can’t honestly tell you what was going through their mind, paddling full speed at a tree trunk.’ Do you think that means Jack’s realized most of the women are sharing one mind instead of one mindset – waitaminit – watch out for that tree!
Too late. Georgia and Georgette Of The Outback Jungle plow into the roots and capsize, which means that the next thing to go through their mind is very nearly the third branch from the left. Jack has to go rescue them. Again.
Come to think of it, I’d better watch that again. That could be a Major Foreshadowing Moment. The tree could have major symbolism or something like that. Yes, this could definitely be a landmark clue for the rest of the series. In fact, I’d better go over it at least four times, just to make sure I’ve got all the nuances.