Welcome to the end of the line for Temptation Island 2. Yep, this is it. The “Ho-Down” is over. The tempters and temptresses have already been given the big “Heave-Ho,” and now all that’s left is Final Bonfire (not to be confused with Mars Bonfire, who wrote Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild” and coined the term “heavy metal”), where the couples decide whether they want to stay together after three weeks of temptation. The drama builds as we await their decisions ….
Hey, wait a minute! This is just day 21? And there have been 12 episodes? That means that each episode covered only a day and three-quarters. . . No wonder there have been so many dead spots along the way! But the biggest dead spots of all are in the brains of some of the couples (and perhaps their consciences, if they have any), and so let’s jump into the bonfire one last time….
I. Kelley & Mark
Wannabe Marky Mark sits alone by the fire, which is under a hut. Perhaps he’s sitting alone because his loud purple shirt scared everyone away? Nope. He’s waiting for Kelley to join him, which she does. Apparently the women come out first so Wannabe MM can collect a perfunctory hug from them without their boyfriends around, because he doesn’t ask Kelley anything except whether she’s ready for Mark to come out.
We have no explanation of why the new couple is going first. Perhaps the producers think that no one really cares whether these two stay together. If that's the rationale, then they’re wrong. After all, who would want to see some poor innocent (well, maybe not so innocent, seeing how fast Kelley gave it up for Ali after the first date) young woman stuck with Mark for even one more day?
Wannabe MM tells the two of them that this isn’t a dialogue, but two monologues – first one speaks, then the other, and Mark will go first. At the end of each monologue, the speaker has to say whether he or she wants the relationship to continue.
Mark launches into a wandering meditation, starting with his final dinner with Kelley before they split for the show, when he was convinced that their relationship was solid. After all, Kelley was in love with Mark, and Mark was in love with himself, so everything was cool, right? Mark describes this as “I had a lot of security.” No reference to Kelley or to them as a couple, just “I had a lot of security.” Hey, if security is your #1 concern, Mark, why didn’t you just date someone from Pinkerton? But it seems like what he really means is that he was certain that Kelley was securely under his thumb.
Mark now shows his sensitive side (such as it is) and starts weeping as he describes his reaction to seeing Kelley in bed with New Age Tommy in a bonfire video. But through his tears, he moves on to what he really wants to talk about: this “one chick” he met. Where, in the coop? Buck-buck-buck-BWACK! Mark wants to be sure that Kelley knows who this beauty is, so that Kelley can be as impressed with his scoring with Donna as he is … but she doesn’t know. “She was the one with the cowboy hat on,” he says with moist eyes. Kelley still doesn’t know. “She’s a model in L.A.,” Mark says, now crying again, perhaps because he just realized that an L.A. model would never have anything to do with a bozo like himself unless he had enough Benjamins to take her on the shopping spree of her dreams along Rodeo Drive.
Mark proceeds to tell Kelley words that every woman dreams of hearing from her boyfriend, describing how wonderful another woman is, how much she has going for her, and how she has lots of things that Kelley lacks. Ooh, how sweet. He tells Kelley that he and this superbabe had a good time together but didn’t have sex, because he was thinking of Kelley. Mark says that he and Debbie just cuddled. Yeah, and when the baby comes along in nine months, it’ll be a virgin birth.
Then comes the first classic line of the night: “I learned that even though you were lacking some things, I’d rather be with you.” Yep, that sentiment should make its way into Valentine's Day cards for next year. “To my dearest wife . . . Even though you are lacking some things, I’d rather be with you.” We could market a whole series of them. “I’m glad you’re mine for now, because no one else would have me … so far.” “I don’t love you, but I can tolerate you more than anyone else I know.” Better yet, the card could be pre-packaged with a list of divorce lawyers in the area.
Kelley cries when Mark says these words. Is she crying because she was touched or because she just realized that this was one of the premier put-downs in the history of reality TV?
We’ll find out, because it’s now Kelley’s turn. She says she was very afraid when she came in, because it was the first time in her life that she was ever alone. So THAT’s why she goes out with Mark! Now we know! She says that New Age Tommy was nice to her, but she kept thinking of Mark. Makes sense, since New Age Tommy likes to prey on vulnerable women the same way her b/f does. But then she says that she really made a connection with Ali, who made her feel like she wasn’t just a sex object and that she shouldn’t feel as worthless as she does with Mark. Kelley went on about how Ali treated her like a lady and she let him, even though she didn’t sleep with him. Another denial about as credible as Bill Clinton’s “I never had sex with that woman – Miss Lewinsky.” (“Well, see, it only counts as having sex if you both have orgasms at the same time, and I had mine first,” or something like that).
Everyone knows how this is gonna come out, right? Let’s see, we have a boyfriend who wants to talk about what his girlfriend lacks, and a girlfriend who says that she’s now convinced that she deserves better treatment than she’s been getting. Kelley tells Mark that she can’t settle for his shtick any more: “I have dreams and wants and needs.” This comes as a shock to Mark, who never realized that Kelley had anything above her neck except for lips. Then Kelley really starts bawling … and she screams out that she can’t stay in Tampa. Uh, Kelly, there are plenty of people like Mark in the rest of the country too. She finishes in complete tears with the most sensible thing she has said since joining the show, “I can’t stay in this relationship.”
FINALLY! A couple FINALLY breaks up! Mark is so P.O.ed by what he apparently sees as a public humiliation that he throws her a crumpled Kleenex and storms off. Bye, Mark! Don’t wanna see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya!
II. Shannon & John
Wannabe Marky Mark gets the perfunctory hug from Shannon and then starts talking to her. It’s a strange moment. “It’s not my intention to push your buttons, but it is my intention to ask you some questions that may not be easy to answer.” Hmm, like “why did you come on this show in the first place”? But actually, Wannabe MM is lying. It really IS his intention to push her buttons. Since it’s obvious that John and Shannon are going to stay together, after John blew off Nayla last time with a hug so distant that Nayla had to wonder what she did wrong, Wannabe MM wants to see if he can get Shannon all upset before John comes out. He starts harassing her about trying to get John’s attention at poolside and then tells her that he intercepted all of her junior-high-special mash notes.
Well, at least that’s what I think he meant after I translated his ramblings into English. Here is a sample of his actual comments: “For you, it may just have been fun campfire stuff, but also it might have given you solace to be able to go to bed at night thinking John knew you loved him, and that it might have had some bearing on what is.” . . . There was an old Led Zeppelin song called “What Is and What Should Never Be.” “What Is” is Mark Walberg being an awful host. “What Should Never Be” is Mark Walberg getting another job that involves speaking without the use of cue cards.
Shannon’s face gets scrunched up, but she holds back her tears. Wannabe MM doesn’t like this; he’s shot his wad and he wants his big emotional payoff, so a little prompting is in order.
Wannabe MM: “Are you OK right now?” Shannon: “A little vulnerable.” Wannabe MM: “Is that a foreign feeling to you? It’s OK not to be a rock.”
Ever the student of psychology, Wannabe MM tells Shannon that vulnerability is a symptom of being scared to death. At this, Shannon finally starts crying, because she’s clearly scared to death – scared to death of being stranded at bonfire listening to more of this pop psychology blather. That, of course, is the producers’ cue to bring in John, who stops dead when he sees Shannon turn away from him and look down, crying. John should be used to seeing Shannon acting like a lunatic, but he apparently wasn’t expecting it now.
Shannon gets to start. She babbles about how she met great people when she came to the resort but then there were so many negative things going on that she hated it. Yeah, the biggest negative being that other people were having fun, something that Shannon is pathologically unable to experience. John starts crying while listening, so it resembles the death scene from Love Story right about now, except that there isn’t anyone remotely good-looking in sight. (By the way, did you all know that Oliver, the male lead in Love Story, was modeled on Harvard alum Tommy Lee Jones? At least, everything except for the dysfunctional relationship with the pain-in-the ass father – that part was modeled on Jones’ roommate, Al Gore Jr. (ex-VP of the US), and his father, also a Tennessee senator and an all-around SOB).
Shannon blithers on about how sorry she is for having taken John for granted and for erecting emotional walls between them and for judging him by the standards of her past and for looking for a man with more money to take care of her and for chopping off his manhood with an axe and putting it in a Mason jar in the living room and for murdering the Lindbergh baby and for sleeping with Osama bin Laden and for being born in general. Then she starts weeping about how much she cherishes John and her love for him has become stronger, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Wow, she made Queen Genevieve look stable!
John tells Shannon that at the first bonfire, he saw her doing shots at a bar surrounded by several guys, and he got really upset. What? Is there some secret bartender code here that real-life bartender John knows but we don’t? Let’s see: woman at bar doing shots, surrounded by guys . . . equals . . . what? A woman of slim virtue, available for pickup? Maybe this is John’s secret to successful dating.
Anyway, John then goes on to tell Shannon about Nayla and how they developed feelings for each other. In particular, he tells her, Nayla was feeling his … hand, yeah, hand, that’s the ticket. Shannon looks unhappy. Everyone else understands. He says that Nayla is Shannon. What a horrible thing to say about this nice young woman! No, Nayla is NOT Shannon --- Nayla’s not psychotic.
Does John still have enough of his manhood left to get away? No. He then whips out … a letter that Shannon wrote to him just before the show, telling her that it’s just like his letters from ex-girlfriends that she found one day. “Letters don’t last forever,” he says, which is intended to reassure Shannon that he’s still not carrying a flame for any of his exes --- but would remind a woman of normal intelligence (e.g., a woman who isn’t Shannon) that he’ll probably be saying that about HER letters someday. Anyway, John tells Shannon that he read her letter every day, which triggers her to really start crying. John closes with “I want to be with you like you wouldn’t believe.” They hug. Shannon tells him that she was scared and she loves him so much. Wannabe MM tells them that their journey is over, adieu. Yawn. Next couple.
III. Catherine & Edmundo
Catherine comes out and does the mandatory hug. Mark calls her “Miss Catherine.” She says that she’s afraid that what she’s going to say will hurt Edmundo. Hooray! Maybe she’s going to stand up for herself at last.
Edmundo joins her, and we get the first clue about his feelings when Catherine smiles at him and he looks off to the side. Edmundo gets to start, and he immediately tells Catherine that the experience was different than he thought it would be. Right – after all, isn’t this the guy who said he thought the show would be all about him? He tells his girlfriend that he met someone (Hilary) who was really nice and pretty and had a lot of “qualities.” Uh, is that a new euphemism for saying that she was easy?
Edmundo then tells Catherine that he and Hilary shared intimate moments and that he got “lost” in them. Guess he finally realized that the bathroom scene was taped. Even gullible little Catherine appears to understand what that means: “I was unfaithful.” This appears to be a line that only men can use, since it doesn’t seem to work as well for a woman: “Honey, I didn’t really do anything with that other guy except get lost in an intimate moment. Uh, I don’t know how I got pregnant. I was too lost to remember anything.”
Oh, and Edmundo also tells Catherine that this is the first feeling of romance he’s had other than with her. He must know that Catherine bought Rossi’s BS lines, so she’ll probably buy this BS too. We’ve seen that this guy is randier than a rooster in a henhouse, but Catherine still looks like she’s falling for most of it. And then, in a classic evasion technique well known to philanderers the world over, Eddie turns on Catherine, saying that when Brian came back on the show, he saw her give Brian her “f-ck me eyes” that he thought were “reserved” for him. Classic – the show’s #1 philanderer complains about the way his girlfriend looked at another guy. Will it work?
Edmundo isn’t done yet, because he has a message to deliver to Catherine – the same kind of message that Mark just delivered to Kelley. He talks about Linda, in particular how things between them “fell into place” … and he didn’t appear to be talking about anything falling into places above the waist, with the possible exception of mouths and tongues. Catherine reacts to this news just about the way you’d imagine. Eddie tells her that he has feelings for Linda he doesn’t want to leave behind on the island. “Whether it remains on a friendship level or a higher level” he can’t say, because it would be cheating himself to limit what might happen; he wants to “explore Linda” … or at least some of her body parts … after they return. Sounds as if he and Linda are about to head off to a tantric class. But … the best part comes last – Edmundo tells Catherine that he loves her … or at least some of her body parts too …
And then comes the second great speech of the night, Edmundo’s “final decision” on his relationship with Catherine: “I think that if my love for you is true, then I would be willing to give us a chance. My final decision is basically to work things out with you, but keep in mind that I understand you might not accept what I’m saying to you, that you might not want me to explore this other situation that I’ve been encountered with.” In other words, Catherine, I want to have you to come home to, but I also want complete freedom to fool around with any woman who strikes my fancy, and I may ditch you at a moment’s notice, OK? Yeah, man! Go for it, Edmundo! What a romantic!
Catherine clearly doesn’t understand what Edmundo just said to her, because if she did, Lorena Bobbitt would have a new cellmate shortly. As she’s trying to figure it out, her face runs through a range of expressions that would make any actor proud, from mad to furious to puzzled to … happy? Yep, she smiles. Nope, she didn’t understand it. Her turn.
Catherine tells Edmundo that she was devastated when she saw Edmundo’s sex tapes at bonfire, but even though he disappointed her, she protected her thoughts of him from what she was seeing. However, she did get to meet three guys, who opened her eyes (apparently during their efforts to open other parts of her). She says that her experience was more about emotional bonds, not physical. Sure, she wasn't at all interested in Brian because of his Size 14. In fact, she didn’t have sex with Brian ... but she would refuse both a DNA test for semen and a polygraph. Finally, she tells Edmundo that she is no longer that “naïve girl” that he expected. She says that she wants them to apply what they’ve learned to their relationship. Then she shows that she wasn’t completely baffled by Edmundo’s BS: “I don’t expect you to pursue other people!” Edmundo’s jaw drops. Catherine says that she knows that, as a couple, they can “blow other people away.” Catherine, blowing people away is not the kind of blowing that your b/f is interested in; just ask Hilary and Linda.
The music gets syrupy, indicating that we’ve reached agreement on staying together. Ah, but have we? Edmundo has said that he’d stay with Catherine only if he could have Linda too. Catherine has said that she wants to stay with Edmundo only if he doesn’t pursue other people. Do we have a contract? Any lawyer watching this show could answer that question – NO! In legalese, Edmundo has made an offer which Catherine does not accept. She has responded with a counteroffer. Legally, a counteroffer is a rejection of the original offer coupled with a new offer.
Edmundo may not be a lawyer, but he shares some traits with them (for example, f#@king people over). He knows what he wants, and it ain’t monogamy. It’s clear to him that there isn’t a deal here, even if it isn’t clear to the producers, and he doesn’t know what to do about it, since negotiation isn’t supposed to be a part of the Final Bonfire. So they both just sit there endlessly. Finally, Catherine breaks the silence, at which point Edmundo tries to reinstate his initial offer without rejecting Catherine’s counteroffer. He says that it’s not that easy emotionally to leave behind what happened. Well, Eddie, since it was all videotaped, I’m sure that there will be other ways that it’s hard to leave it behind as well. Catherine still doesn’t understand that Edmundo doesn’t want to pick things up on her terms, and she tells him that she won’t hold whatever he did against him. Edmundo isn’t going anywhere until Catherine understands that he wants to be the meat in a bimbo sandwich … but Wannabe Marky Mark begins to worry if Catherine will ever understand, even if the show gives her the rest of the hour, and so he blows them off, telling them that it’s time for them to leave. “Good,” says Edmundo … but for some reason the camera stays on Wannabe MM, who looks puzzled. Perhaps he was the one who didn’t understand what was happening?
IV. Nikkole & Tomjerk
Time for the last couple. Nikkole does something MM didn’t expect – she asks him how HE’s doing. Whoops, she took him out of his prepared banality, and he proves conclusively that he has no ability to improvise, as he babbles about being in “this bonfire place.” Then, since he clearly wasn’t programmed to do more (I’m sure the next generation of robots will be more advanced), he asks if she is ready to talk to Tomjerk, the man of 1000 personalities, each worse than the one before. She curtly says yes, and out he comes.
Wannabe MM tells Tomjerk to go first. For this bonfire, Tomjerk has adopted his Tomfool personality. Tomfool asks whether it really matters who goes first. Apparently he is having trouble forming coherent thoughts. But that’s normal for him, so he still has to start.
Tomfool starts out saying that Nikkole probably saw video of him making out, but it was all just physical for him. Uh, Tomfool, “just physical” describes about 50% of all the couples in this world at any given moment. But, like Edmundo, Tomfool has decided that the best defense is a good offense. He tells her that he saw a video of Nikkole with FDNY Tommy on top of her and “tonguing down.” Nikkole looks disgusted as Tomfool keeps whining about it. He says stupidly that he figures whatever he did isn’t as extreme as what he saw Nikkole doing. He also says that he figures Nikkole had an emotional relationship with FDNY Tommy, unlike his with Blue Eyeshadow Girl. Tomfool, you’re probably right about that one, because you have to have emotions (other than “I’m going to hold my breath until I turn blue” temper tantrums) before you can have an emotional relationship, so we know you didn’t have one.
Tomfool goes on to say that he knows Nikkole is a good person and that he doesn’t want to break up this way, but he thinks it would be in their best interest to have some time apart. They didn’t have to go on this show to find that out – it was obvious in the introductory tape!
Nikkole’s turn. She weeped a little through Tommy’s vote to break up, and she continues to weep a little now. In her opinion, the issue between them when they came to TIT was whether to get married. In fact, she reminds Tomfool that she had given him an ultimatum about getting married, which she now says she shouldn’t have done. No joke. Married? I would have guessed that their issue was whether to get counseling or to just kill each other first and save the bucks.
Nikkole says that, had Tomfool just sent her a video message to show he cared, she would have felt very differently about everything that followed. But, after opening her box from Tomfool and not finding a tape, she (fill in your own punchline here. Go on. I set it up for you.). Like Kelley, she now realizes that she deserves better treatment than to be taken for granted. She says that they’re both good people (at this, her nose starts growing), but that they’re not good together. She also opts to break up. They walk off crying, and then they stop and hug. And then … apparently they don’t realize that they are still miked and on film, and so Fox sneaks in one more stolen shot.
Nikkole tells Tomjerk that the video she saw of him was “really bad”; she saw him in bed … and then he reached over to get a condom; she says that he picked up something that crinkled. Uh, Nikkole, remember who it was who claimed to hear the crinkling: psycho Shannon? Perhaps you should learn how to think for yourself? Tomjerk retaliates by telling her that he saw her spread-eagled on the bed with “some guy” kissing her, and at least she didn’t see video of him on top of some girl (note that he cleverly didn’t say that such video didn’t exist). Nikkole, getting irritated, replied, “No, you just had your face in a girl’s crotch!” They fight over this … “Duck Season!” “Rabbit Season!” “Duck Season!” “Rabbit Season!” “Duck Season! Shoot!”
Then Tomjerk gives up and utters the most memorable line said in two seasons of this show in his attempt to defend himself: “But at least it was in public!” All around the world, cheating spouses slap their heads in amazement that such a simple defense had eluded them for so long. Your wife’s best friend sees you in a restaurant with your hand underneath some cutie’s skirt? Your husband tells you that someone at work saw you in the back seat of a car with the local tennis pro? No sweat! “Honey, so what? At least it was in public!” What a concept. No more skulking around; why don’t we do it in the road, with a full TV crew watching us? Ah, if only Bill Clinton had known, he could have spared America from an impeachment trial! “My fellow Americans, this is Monica. I love her thong. If you happen to be taking a tour of the White House and see us engaged in intimate behavior, just remember this – at least it was in public.”
Tomjerk makes one try to bail himself out, demanding that Nikkole tell him about her hookup. “No, I don’t have to tell you about anything,” she says – and with that, the yin and yang of TIT is clearly visible to all. Should sex be public or private? TIT and Tomjerk say public, and everything will be OK. Nikkole and most of America say private. That explains the low ratings . . . and, on that note, TIT peacefully expires.
One last thing, though – the producers want us to know that Edmundo and Catherine decided to “end their three-year relationship” that night. And now you know one of the main things that lawyers do – we come in and clean up the messes left by parties who THINK that they had an agreement but never really did. If there is a TI3 (aka TIT-EE), maybe a lawyer could host Final Bonfire, because we would have enjoyed seeing Catherine’s reaction when she figures out that she’s supposed to be one of Edmundo’s slices of bread, and probably only the top slice! That Edmundo, always a charmer. I'll bet Catherine had some different thoughts that could also have been described by using the words "slice" and "Edmundo's" together in a sentence.
Oh, and the producers say that Nikkole and Tomjerk moved back in together after a two-month separation. But we know that they are currently separated, so the “reconciliation” didn’t take, no matter what the producers say. And John and Shannon “sequestered themselves in Shannon’s house for five passionate days.” I have a better idea for John and Shannon --- why don’t they just decide to have a Lennon-Ono style “bed in” without leaving the house for, oh, the next ten or twenty years? Finally, Kelley and Mark “remain friends,” although Mark’s best friend continues to be his ego.
Adios to the couples and the singles from TIT, who gave us the Valentine’s Day treat of three breakups and one sad, sad excuse for a happy couple. Thanks to all of you (and especially you, Hilary) for whoring yourselves on our behalf for 21 days. And you'll always have the tape, as well as the sexually-transmitted diseases, to remember these three weeks. At least it was in public!