'Love in the Wild' eliminates two couples, determines final three pairs
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 08/04/2011
Love in the Wild eliminated two couples and determined its final three pairs during Wednesday night's sixth episode of the new NBC reality dating series, which features singles attempting to find love in the Costa Rican jungle.
Brandee Dillehay, a 25-year-old mental health specialist from Nashville, TN, and her partner Benjamin Hooker, a 27-year-old MBA graduate from Charleston, SC, were eliminated after Brandee decided she was not interested in staying with her existing partner Ben or pairing up with the only other remaining unselected male contestant Steele Dewald, a 24-year-old pro golfer from Scottsdale, AZ.
In addition, Steele and his partner Erica Scherle, a 24-year-old self-employed songwriter manager from Nashville, TN, were also ousted from the competition after Steele decided he had no desire to remain partnered with Erica -- an announcement that upset her because she felt otherwise -- and she in turn had no interest in pairing up with Ben.
"There's nothing Ben could have said that would have changed my mind. I gave him chance after chance. I think what I'll take away from this experience is that I deserve someone to treat me with respect, and I will settle for nothing less. No more settling for me," Brandee said after her elimination.
"My ego is definitely bruised. It was on-the-spot rejection. I think Steele's scared of commitment. I liked Steele. We had a blast together, but then again, I don't want to be here with someone who doesn't want to be here with me. There's so many different elements that I can take away from this, and I'm just excited to offer what I've learned here in a new relationship and start something new," Erica said following her ouster.
Love in the Wild's sixth episode began following the eliminations of Jess Debolt, a 24-year-old travel executive from San Francisco, CA, and Derek Leach, a 28-year-old medical sales representative from Venice, CA.
Love in the Wild host Darren McMullen then met with the remaining five single men and five single women who are looking for love while undertaking a series of adventurous activities in the hopes of winning luxurious rewards.
Darren explained that each man and woman who paired up during last week's episode at the season's fifth Couples' Choice Ceremony would remain partners for their sixth jungle adventure and later get the option to stay paired up or change partners based on the order they completed the adventure.
The couples were required to search for five stone-carved masks hidden in very different distant locations -- a boulder, a ficus tree, a pile of rocks, a waterfall, and a guava grove -- within Rancho Margot. They had to track the masks down and collect all five of them, covering a lot of ground by riding horses and sliding down river slides along the way. The couples blindly drew maps from a bag, which revealed one of the five destinations they must travel to first.
Steele and Erica were paired up to embark on Love in the Wild's sixth challenge together, while Ben and Brandee were teamed up.
Heather Pond, a 26-year-old public relations professional from Sonoma, CA, and Miles Haefner, a 28-year-old client services manager from Saint Louis Park, MN, were partners, while Samantha Woods, a 23-year-old wedding planner from Huntington Beach, CA, was ready to take on the next adventure with Mike Spiro, a 29-year-old commercial real estate broker from San Francisco, CA.
In addition, Skip Sullivan, a 30-year-old loan underwriter from Milton, MA, competed alongside Theresa Trujillo, a 24-year-old Hooters girl and real estate agent from San Jose, CA.
Ben and Brandee bickered through most of their adventure together, disappointing Brandee because she was hoping he would step up his game and improve from their "probation period," as she had labeled their current relationship. Ben liked Brandee and said he had trouble expressing his emotions to girls, but all Brandee saw him express was frustration, anger and competitiveness.
Mike and Samantha crossed the finish line in first place and carried all five masks with them, winning a night alone together at the posh Oasis resort, a ziplining activity across the jungle canopy, and a guaranteed switch of partners at the subsequent Couples' Choice elimination Ceremony -- securing immunity, according to Darren.
Following Mike and Samantha were Steele and Erica, Heather and Miles, Skip and Theresa, and finally Ben and Brandee.
While Mike and Samantha enjoyed their time at the Oasis and ziplining adventure, the rest of the couples spent time getting to know each other better in their less plush cabins, or bungalows.
Brandee, upset by how Ben had continuously yelled at her and treated her poorly throughout the previous challenge, said she was tired of Ben always apologizing for his mistakes without changing his actions.
Ben told the group Brandee was a "dead weight" laced with profanity during the challenge, and the way he spoke about her really surprised the other contestants. As time progressed, the couple got along worse. Ben labeled his comments "constant joking," but he really hurt Brandee -- who said she wanted to be with people who actually cared about her.
Meanwhile, Erica told Steele the first thing she was going to do when she got home was Facebook and call him. Steele said he connected with Erica but felt she was getting too serious too quickly for what he was ready for. He also began to worry that Erica felt more strongly for him than he did for her although he suggested his feelings were growing more everyday.
Darren announced the men would be given the option to stay with their own partners or switch and get to know someone else better first, because the women were given the ability to pick their partners for the adventure last week.
All the remaining couples' members were given the opportunity to decline a request to pair up with any castmate, except for Mike and Samantha because they had come in first place, but would risk elimination if not selected by another man or woman afterwards as the last man and woman without a match would be eliminated.
Mike and Samantha, Heather and Miles, and Skip and Theresa all opted to remain partners and continued to build strong connections.
However, Steele asked Brandee to be his partner in an attempt to leave Erica behind, but Brandee declined his offer. As a result, Steele was forced into the unmatched area. Following Steele's rejection of Erica, Erica still asked Steele to give their relationship another shot, but Steele chose not to accept the invitation.
Erica, forced into the unmatched zone, was then asked for partnership by Ben -- who decided to switch things up and stray from Brandee. Erica apparently had no interest in getting to know Ben, so she remained in the unmatched area and Ben joined her.
Brandee refused to stay with Ben, putting herself into the unmatched zone. She also declined to change her mind and ask Steele to become her new partner.
The four contestants were then left as the last two couples standing and departed the competition without having found Love in the Wild.
"I made the decision to pick Brandee basically because I just didn't want to take it further with Erica. Me and Erica were both getting attached to each other. I was definitely enjoying my time with her, but I've been in this situation before where I've kind of hurt girls. I didn't want to do that with Erica. This has been a very unique experience and I will cherish this for the rest of my life," Steele said after his elimination.
"I hope the best things for Brandee. She's going to be a great girl for some guy someday. To find love, I'm definitely going to have to change some things -- how I talk to people, the tone in which I talk to people -- because that's not a good thing, but I still leave with no regrets," Ben said following his ouster.