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The Rebel Billionaire - Episode 9 Summary

'To Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth' By Swami
Original Airdate: December 28, 2004

Last time on Rebel, Candida was canned and everybody was mad at everybody else. Or didn’t trust them. Or both. Which is obviously still the case

The show opens with our six remaining billionaire-wannabees meeting with Branson on his fancy yacht the ‘Never Say Never’, which is pulled up to his pricey seaside house, which is located on flashy Fisher Island, which is in a high rent area of Miami. Can we say “high class” everyone? They’re drinking bubbly (again).

The wannabees task this week is to devise a 30-second TV ad for Virgin Galactic. (Or as Richard calls it, a “30-second advert.”) This week there are three stupid random teams instead of two stupid random teams. Richard divides them up himself, first pairing Erica with Nicole, then Sara with Shawn and Heather with Gabe. Nobody is very happy about their partner. Erica complains that she is not really part of Ericole and wishes people could see her independently. Gabe thinks Heather is a lying bitch. Heather is sick of being on the same team as Gabe. Etc., etc.

Anyway, in three years Boeing will deliver 5 spacecraft to Virgin Enterprises at which time Branson will inaugurate commercial space travel. Each team has 48 hours, a budget of $4,000.00 dollars and an actual production company at their disposal to create an ad for Virgin Galactic. The losing team members—both of them—will be tarmaced. Everyone is in shock. A double elimination!?!

At this point in the TV show there is a whole bunch of cutting back and forth between the three teams as they brainstorm and create their ad, but that doesn’t work well in a linear summary so I’ll just take ‘em one team at a time.

Team Shawn/Sara decide they need a “catch phrase”, something to capture the interest and imagination of people on the street. What they come up with is Pigs in Space! Virgins in Space! Shawn finds the whole concept of space virgins risky, edgy and exciting. (Mentally, I write dialog between Dr. Strangepork, Miss Piggy and Evil Hogthrob. Piiiiigs in Spaaaaaace! “Hiiiii-ya!!!” Okay. Enough of that.)

Having come up with this brilliant plan, the S/S team heads out into the streets of Miami to get actual footage of actual man-in-the-street-type people actually saying pigs “virgins in space!!!” Their problems are many. It is raining cats and watermelon. The wind is blowing sideways. A hurricane is coming. Shawn has bad hair. Finally Sara decides to offer up cold, hard cash ($20) and they get a few people to play along. Giddy with excitement they head back to the studio to assemble their final product.

Team Heather/Gabe are also searching for themes. Gabe thinks space travel is profound and epic, an event much too serious for casual rock ‘n’ roll excitement. Heather wants to sit inside the studio and make a spot entirely from stock footage. Gabe buys this idea—and besides it’s raining cats & watermelon! What kind of idiots would go out into the rain?

So they talk-talk-talk-talk-talk with their production people. Heather is seriously worried that the “bikini models” will beat them in the challenge. She promises to kill herself if this happens. (Sitting in my lazyboy, I yell “Yes!!! Go Ericole!!!”) Eventually, they decide to make Richard cry because he’s a sentimental old fool or something.

Team Ericole decide they want to do something flashy and sexy, something with “hot stewardesses”. Nicole suggests “forget the mile high club! Get ready for the hundred mile high club!!!” She wiggles her eyebrows at Erica. I suddenly wonder if I have been missing all kinds of interpersonal dynamics here and Nikki actually has the hots for her team mate. However, I was born without gay-dar so I really can’t say even though I just did.

Ericole meet with their production company and tell them they want to do a “cheeky, campy, sexy” thing, and they have no problem at all wearing tin foil bikinis. They come up with something I call “Bride of Hal”. Remember the sentient yet insane computer in 2001—A Space Odyssey? The one who kept killing astronauts and spacing them? Well, Nicole puts on a tin foil space-girl outfit and becomes an on-camera robot, just the kind of bride Hal would want. And in a touching tribute to yet another classic movie she wears a strange wig that is the exact opposite of the one Elsa Lanchester wore in “Bride of Frankenstein”. Nikki’s wig curls down around her face instead of soaring high above it. But she adopts Elsa’s mannerisms

All three teams are sure they will win. They meet with Richard to review the commercials.

Team Heather/Gabe go first. It looks pretty good to me, except for the last 2 seconds when they show a token quick-cut of Sir Richard Branson looking oh-so sexy and everything—but then blip out his trademark phrase “you only live once” and his picture does an awkward little hop while his lips move and all we hear is static. Way to impress an eccentric egomaniac, guys! Also? If you want to make him cry this is not the good way.

Team Sara/Shawn’s advert is actually quite nice. The production studio came through and assembled a cute little piece, ending with actual footage of Galactic One (or whatever that space plane that finally made 3 flights and won the million bucks this summer was called. Branson was a big funder for that event, I think.)

Then we see team Ericole’s ‘Bride of Hal’ thing. “Hello, and welcome to the hundred mile high club,” Nikki says on camera The ad is beautifully put together and produced but Nikki is just not the stuff of which spokesmodels are made. She looks like a robot. She sounds like a robot. I have no idea why they have her on camera instead of Erica who, with actual modeling experience, probably would have come off as sincere and sexy. If I were a guy I would not go into the plane’s lavatory with the Bride of Hal for fear of being ‘spaced’ or worse. Ever notice what big teeth Nicole has?

All three teams sit down with Branson as he reviews and judges their ads. Then in a “shocking twist” (they actually said that right on the air—“shocking twist”) Branson refuses to select a winner, telling them they have to judge themselves. He gives them 30 minutes to decide and walks out.

Ericole is stunned. Everybody hates them and they know it. Gamely, everyone talks about casting aside their feelings and just voting on the best production, as if that were even remotely possible at this point. Eventually Sara gets them to just vote and get it over with.

Back on the tarmac our teams line up to face Sir Richard and judgment. Their next challenge (this show is really starting to move along now) is to film additional footage for their commercials while actually in space! Everyone gasps and Heather prepares to faint. Well not actually and really in space. They are going to take off in a specially outfitted plane that can simulate zero gravity. But first one team will have to be eliminated. Only four people will get to make the zero G leg of the trip.

This? is no-brainer! There is no way that Team Ericole can survive. Confidently, I leave for a visit to the bathroom. While I’m gone Branson gives Team Ericole the bad news. They’re toast. Team Sara/Shawn have won the first part of the challenge, with Team Heather/Gabe coming in second.

Then, as I hurry back, Branson blows off Nicole, leans into Erica and whispers into her ear “I know you are really keen to work for me in the future, so I have a favor to ask.” Turns out, Branson has to be somewhere else soon and the zero-G plane is taking off late because of bad weather. So he asks Erica to stand in for him on the plane ride, and judge the two teams!!! (We never actually do find out what the favor is. I suspect it involves Branson, Erica, those two stewardesses who are always hanging around, and kinky sex—but I could be wrong here.)

Needless to say, all are stunned. Heather looks like she is shitting tacks while she processes the presence of dead Erica. But hey, whatever Branson wants Branson gets so they all suck it up and pretend to be friends again. The plane takes off.

I? A long-time Sci-Fi geek? Am totally jealous! The plane soars to 32,000 feet then dives—producing the zero gravity effect. The wannabees all do somersaults and flips that the flying Hamm brothers would envy. The Skater’s Waltz plays in the background as lead-footed humans soar like peregrines. Such fun! Each team decides what they want to do for their commercial footage.

Team Sara/Shawn go first. They have decided that Sara will attempt to rip off Shawn’s clothes and have sex with him, only because of the whole zero-G thing she will be unsuccessful. Thus explaining why there are virgins in space. I know it’s lame but hey—they will be the first Americans to join the Hundred Mile High Club!

The plane dives. Sara and Shawn roll around in mid-air. And? Sara is the most pathetic seducer ever filmed! Has she never seen a porno movie? The woman is supposed to slide out of all her clothes, pout a little and finger herself before trying to remove the guys clothing! In the Sara & Shawn Show nobody gets the least little bit naked or the least bit laid. I am totally unaroused!

Heather and Gabe are up next, but before they can start filming the Zero-G plane hits major turbulence. People are thrown around the plane. Bumps and bruises are formed. Barf bags appear, and everyone demonstrates why this plane’s official nickname is “The Vomit Comet”. Yes, many people vomit. Copiously. Especially Heather.

Heather also has a fit, a panic attack, palpitations, hallucinations and a crying jag. She is worried that her head will explode. She is worried that she will have a stroke. She barfs. She sweats. She fans herself. And she requests that the plane be brought down immediately!

Gabriel is stunned because they haven’t yet filmed any footage to add to their commercial. And just before they left on the Zero-G Branson said that only two people would leave Miami with him! What a revolting development for old Gabe! First he gets teamed with Heather and her “little pissy lies”, then Heather totally wimps out and will likely drag him down in her wake! Desperately, he tries to film at least something.

The show ends with Heather sobbing and crying “this is horrid!” as the plane starts back down to Miami.

Next week the two losers of this fiasco will be tarmaced and the remaining two people will continue on to Branson’s private Caribbean island where one winner will be picked.

I thought there were two more episodes?

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