This season is different from the first two, isn’t it? Before, on nearly every task, the primary question was ‘How can they pull this off?’ So far this year, it’s been ‘How can they screw this up?’ Treating throwing stuff into boxes as a brilliant promotional idea. Not bothering to actually get involved in the management process. Playing guitars at bad (read: all) moments. Forgetting to take the plastic wrap off mattresses. Never bothering to clean the carpets. Almost quitting. Actually quitting. A show that’s supposed to be about creating business success has turned into a showcase of ‘Who’s got the least embarrassing mistakes?’ And it’s just been getting worse every week, so that by the time it got to me – I don’t even want to think about what it’ll mean if it escalates again…
But realistically – how much worse could it get?
Yes, I know I’m never supposed to say that out loud. So: previously on The Litany Of Failure: after a brief pause for our latest Osten, the minicorps were sent to Nescafe, which is worth 96,000,000,000 more than Donald and there’s absolutely nothing he can do about it, to come up with a promotion for a new Taster’s Choice brand, which for me is like saying ‘Do you like your raw sewage caffeinated or uncaffeinated’? Networth twisted that into ‘Would you like your sewage hot or cold?’ and held a public debate on the subject, which drew a decent audience because people will stand around and listen to anything if there’s a chance of getting ten thousand dollars at the end of it. Magna almost went with a ‘European models of the world serving European sewage of the world thanks to American chunks of waste material’ until someone managed to sedate Michael, leading to his spending the rest of the episode in a sulking coma that only vaguely resembled his typical night at a singles bar after being rejected by All Women Of The World, Everywhere, Current, Future, And, In Case He Takes The Last Out, Dead. Instead, they spent most of their budget on an event planner before they actually had an event to plan, which would qualify any of then for a job with Enron if it still existed, and wound up with a lot of balloons powered by a loan of Chris’ permanent excess of hot air. This sent them to the Boardroom, where Danny, in a desperate attempt to save his guitar from the Last Incinerator Ride, spent most of a decade arguing that the word ‘exempt’ actually translated to ‘but only if you say so, Mr. Trump, sir’. However, despite Michael’s unquestioned ability to be a bigger drag on his team than the collective contracts of the New York Knicks, Donald remained on his medication, refused to revise his dictionary, and sent Guitarzan out onto the street, where he was last seen being rhythmically beaten to death by the judges of American Idol, all of whom knew where he was heading next and weren’t about to take that kind of chance.
Which corporation paid out the big bucks for a one-hour commercial? Which team members will completely destroy their chances of being hired for anything other than a burger flipper at BK? (Excepting Todd, who’s on mop duty and will stay there until he learns how to handle more responsibility.) Will our narrators continue to coast on the strength of their confessionals? And what unspeakable idiot will be fired this week?
Donald, that’s your cue. Roll opening credits.
Night in New York City, and with Stephanie, Danny, and Michael still in the boardroom, the surviving members of Magna are chatting with Networth about what went on before they left. Angie’s stunned by the group’s decision to haul Michael into the firing pool. In the first confessional-tell of the episode, she points out that ‘exempt’ means ‘exempt’. (Also ‘is’ means ‘is’, spades bear a distinct resemblance to spades, and she did not have sexual relations with that man.) Magna’s consensual delusion is going to mean nothing in the Boardroom, and Danny has likely doomed himself, which at least gets those annoying guitar riffs out of the suite. Angie is not impressed by Magna’s collective intelligence. They may be college graduates and degree holders and lawyers and such, but it doesn’t mean a thing for their debating ability. This is probably a good thing. We’ve already seen a master debater on this series and the flashbacks haven’t gone away yet.
Erin displays her law school-trained argument capabilities with ‘Exemption, shmaxemption. It doesn’t mean (censored)!’ Of course, this is coming from someone who also firmly believes ‘Towel rack, wardrobe choices!’, so you really have to consider the source.
‘If it was up to me,’ Erin says in c-t, not wanting us to leave the source just yet, ‘Michael would be fired. Everyone in the suite knows he’s a lazy piece of carp, and I think Donald Trump’s going to say ‘Exemption isn’t for those who abuse it’, and he’s going to fire Michael.’ This is taken directly from Erin’s upcoming book of legal strategies, entitled It’s Not A Crime If You Had Good Intentions, a June release from Hopeless DAW Publishing and #156,128,983,234,863,138 on Amazon’s sale rankings. (The vanity people insisted she buy a copy.)
This, of course, is the cue for Michael and Stephanie to walk back into the suite. Erin’s jacket disintegrates in shock.
‘I’m back,’ Michael notes in the exact same tones of a condemned man with a twenty-four hour stay of execution to get his cell cleaned up in. ‘How are you guys?’ The answer to that one is ‘not well’, as he tries to sit down among his teammates, who are instantly repelled by the aura of death.
‘I was very upset when Michael came through that door,’ Bren c-ts. ‘Michael has zero tact, zero integrity, zero character.’ (As opposed to Bren, who has zero chance of winning the job.) ‘And it was like the dad in me awoke and said ‘Okay, I’ve got to discipline.’’
Magna makes a quick search of the suite, but all of the handcuffs and whips were removed when She Who Must Not Be Hired left. The only thing left to work with is an old-fashioned tongue-lashing, and Bren goes to work. Michael did nothing during the task. He sat around on his All-Star Survivor (in this case, that would be Tina) and watched the others work. He rode his exemption as if it was a Pony Express leg and it didn’t matter if the thing dropped dead right after he passed his stay of execution off to the next victim. He was useless. Worthless. Pointless. And they’d like Verna back. Now.
Michael tries to say something on his own behalf, but Bren’s on a roll. Michael didn’t give a damn about the rest of Magna. (Well, duh. No one on either team cares about anyone else on their team except as bodies to stand in the firing line before them.) Michael didn’t give a damn about Donald. (High treason!) No one stood up for Michael in the Boardroom. Either he straightens up and flies right, acts like a man, and takes every bullet from here until he dies and ten seconds after that, or Bren is going to use his primary skill as a Southern lawyer and go duck hunting, with Michael known as ‘the duck.’
Oddly, Michael does not repeat his attitude towards being challenged from the prior task, so Bren is at no risk of being stuffed into a locker this week. (Besides, Michael knew he could take Danny. Bren is more of a question mark.) Instead, he apologizes and promises to be a good little decoy from now on. Half of Magna sneaks off to an isolated corner of the suite and tries to turn the ’24 hours’ on the stay document into ’24 seconds’. This doesn’t work, but does give them valuable practice for any future role in Donald’s organization.
‘Everyone needs to be readjusted,’ Michael declares in c-t, selling his fake redemption for all it’s worth – absolutely nothing. ‘Maybe this is my readjustment phase!’ Certainly is. Let me just get this screwdriver in under your left eye and give your brain a couple of twists…
Alex registers his c-t existence with ‘Michael has delayed his execution. He has not been pardoned.’ This is very perceptive of Alex and probably means he’s on a direct track for the final six. It also makes it sound like Michael’s going to be fired this week, which means Michael’s storyline is just starting to roll and he’s completely safe until the end of the hour. Besides, it’s not fair to fire someone who’s just had a frontal lobotomy.
‘The guillotine’s going to drop right on his neck,’ Alex concludes in c-t delusion – apparently Alex believes in the zero-miss theory of execution, because we’ve all seen Michael’s neck – and we move to the next morning, where a very sleepy Tana answers the phone and is told to have both teams gather in front of their TV at 8:00 a.m: Donald will be speaking to them (plausibly) live at that time. It’s nothing personal: it’s just that he was allergic to the shower mold on Erin’s last outfit.