Telly Vision Review - Epsiode 7

By Amanda Jones

February 18, 2003

So, we’re told that the way this is going to work is that Evan will tell the woman he’s chosen about his real life, and then that he will wait for her in the ballroom to see if she will accept his ring. And then, of course, there’s the promised, much-touted twist.

Whatever. Can we just get on with it, please? I’m not going to even pretend that I’m so outraged by Fox that I’m boycotting this episode, but I must say that I’m disappointed in the way that this has been dragged out. Like the rest of you, I saw the trailers for the show which promised me that we’d get six weeks of Joe Millionaire. I signed on for just that. Fox is now saying that all along they’d planned on having this thing drag out the extra week, and that our outrage is… well, outrageous. They’re lying to us, and that’s mind-boggling, apparently, to some viewers. I can’t see why that might be. A network that puts drivel like this on the air (Yeah, I admit it: I watch drivel. So do you. Get the hell over yourself, Jimmy High-and-Mighty.) is obviously willing to lie to their viewers about just about anything. Really, you can’t begrudge them wanting to drag this out as long as they possibly could. This little experiment in (absolutely delicious) complete and total dishonesty has been a ratings cow for Fox. Advertising revenue is what drives networks and allows them to continue operation. This may have been an experiment in hellish chicanery, but people watched. I watched. You watched. And we both want more (I’ve had just about enough of you, Kelly Moral-Indignation; just admit it already). A simple fact: The excess ad revenue from the extra “filler” episodes of the show will allow Fox to produce next season’s affront to Michael Righteous. One can only hope that they’ll stoop to new lows in the truly ungodly, providing us with equally fabulous snark fodder on the next go-around. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s Fox. Nothing is sacred. I can’t wait.

My absence last week, then, was not a function of anger, but of lack of material. What did you want me to say? “We got to see slurp again”? That would have been the shortest column ever, and while you might have presented, we’re not advertising whores like Fox. We’d rather give you quality than quantity here at the Trades. Without further ado, then, I endeavor in the following space to give you quality. Well, as much quality as can be had when writing about this sort of thing. I’m sure you understand.

At the breakfast table, Sarah and Zora sit across from each other, barely speaking. Sarah tells us that Zora is so naïve, so trusting. “She accepts everything at face value,” which Sarah intimates is an unfavorable quality, and goes on to ask if Zora has just fallen off the turnip truck. Sarah tells us then that it’s her game, she’s in charge, and that Evan is all hers. If Evan’s looking for self-confidence in his prospective mate, Sarah’s sure got this thing sewn up.

Zora says that breakfast was uncomfortable with just the two of them sitting there. If Evan is looking for Captain Obvious, Zora’s the right girl for that job.

In preparation for the big day, Zora sprays her hair with Aqua Net (Zora! Please! My ozone layer!!!). Sarah appears to use hand cream on her shoes. (Writer's note: Could this actually work??)

How kind of Fox not to make us wait anymore. Before I’ve even had a chance to bitch once about excess commercials, before I’ve even opened my first beer, Paul summons Zora to the grand salon, then fetches Evan.

Evan and Zora kindly get out of the way for the viewing audience that they’re both nervous. What a damn shocker. Zora sits quietly while Evan fumbles for words. He tells her that his “journey” with her has been like a rollercoaster ride. She was sending him mixed signals the whole time. (I have to say here that I thought Zora was toast at this point, but I couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing. While I was pulling for her all along to be the chosen one, I felt that she may not have been able to get over the deception – and that would have been fair. In the interest of good TV, on the other hand, I wanted Sarah to be chosen because I wanted to see her reaction to the lack of cash. I was rooting for both women at the same time, and this while knowing that rooting for them was actually rooting against them. I was all in a mess.) Evan tells Zora that he’s always felt at ease around her (obviously, he felt a ease enough to flub his story in Paris, we’re thinking evilly at home), and that she has a passion about life and makes that known. We can see Zora steeling herself for a letdown here, and we allow our minds to wander to foot- bondage Sarah and her possible reaction to Evan’s admissions to her… but we’re allowed to run with that for a moment. Evan says to Zora, “I’ve chosen you.”

Zora’s reaction is not as joyous as one might expect. They don’t even do us the favor of playing Disney music or showing bluebirds dancing around her head. I’m disappointed. I have no material here.

And then there’s the issue of the cash. Evan tells Zora that before she decides whether she should accept his proposal to continue on in their relationship, there’s something else she should know. He notes that she’s had a problem deciding whether or not she should trust him, and that what he’s about to tell her will allow her to know him better as a person (translation: will indicate to her that she should not trust him at all). “I don’t have fifty million dollars,” he says. “I don’t have fifty thousand dollars.” Then he adds, as though he’s making sure this is all fine with Zora, “Okay?” What the hell is she supposed to say? “Uh, no, it’s not okay. Please go find fifty mill and come back and see me”? I swear I rewound three times to ensure I’d heard him right. “Okay?” Yeah, sure, Evan. It’s fine with us. Evan continues on to tell Zora that he wanted to find somebody who liked him for him… and this is where I get confused. He wanted to find someone who liked him for him, so he freaking lied about having a gross fortune? That makes perfect sense to me. Again, we at home are forced to wonder just how stupid this man is. Actually, no. That’s not it. We at home have just been given concrete proof of how stupid this man is. It’s no shocker. This is not, decidedly, our promised twist. Zora doesn’t react, at all, as Evan asks her to come to the ballroom tonight to give him her answer. We see one shot of a sideward glance from Zora as Evan walks away after saying that simply he hopes that she can forgive him for lying to her, and then it’s pretty much over. The reveal is almost complete. she can forgive him for lying to her. Smart. Very smart. Don’t give her a chance to freak out. That wouldn’t be good TV.

And now it’s Sarah’s turn. Sarah, too, is summoned to the salon by Paul, and then Evan is again fetched. Evan tells Sarah that he has two things to tell her. The time they’ve spent together has been really “neat.” If I were Sarah, I’d have known as soon as the word “neat” was uttered that I was a goner. Sarah blinks. Evan says that he felt a connection early on (could it have been the slurp?), and thus wanted to bring her along this far in the “journey.” We at home think idly about the fact that what he’s really saying here is “I wanted to screw you until the last possible moment, so I dragged you along for the – ahem—ride.” Evan then drops the bomb: He did not inherit fifty million dollars, he’s a heavy equipment operator. For a construction company, he quickly clarifies, as though Sarah might not understand what a “heavy equipment operator is.” He tells her that this experiment hasn’t been difficult from the sense of getting to know the girls (especially Sarah -- slurp), but that it has been from the standpoint of having to keep the story up. Sarah interrupts him to ask -- with so much guile that I think we might soon see her photo (or at least a photo of her foot) in the dictionary next to the word “disingenuous” – “But did you feel that that was something that I was” (long pause) “concerned with?” In response, he says simply: “I haven’t chosen you.” I am crazy with glee about how he’s smacked her down without being overtly cruel. I would be impressed with his succinct kiss-off were it not for the fact that he’s too dim to realize he’s made it so blithely. Screw you, foot bondage lady; perhaps he likes turnips. Sarah sits alone in the salon after Evan’s departure, striking pensive pose after pensive pose, while he voices over that Sarah was interested in Joe Millionaire, and that he’s Evan Marriott.

And me? I’m still sitting here waiting for my damn twist.

Paul comes upstairs to tell the departing Sarah that he’s brought someone to help her pack. Imagine our surprise when we see the recently eliminated Melissa stroll up. On their way out to cigarette confessional (has Sarah been smoking alone since Melissa left? Why do we not see this?), Melissa says to Sarah, “I heard you got eliminated." “Yeah, just now,” Sarah replies. Once outside, the newly vindicated Melissa asks, “Well, what did he say?” Sarah’s immediate response is: “He said he didn’t inherit fifty million dollars.” This is par for the course. Had Sarah been interested in “continuing the journey” with Evan, she might have given a different gut reply. No, though, this is to her the most pertinent part of her whole dismissal. She doesn’t seem to much care that she’s lost the guy; only that she’s lost the cash. Melissa’s on the same page she is: “Did you ask him if the necklaces were real?” she quips, and both laugh. “Money doesn’t make you suave,” Melissa righteously tells us in voiceover as the camera captures her trashily taking a drag of a cigarette and then squinting as her own exhaled smoke gets in her eyes. “Money does not give you charm and class and all those things.”

Sarah talks to us at home: “I don’t know if a lot of men would really want to get on TV and present themselves as one way and then say, oh, by the way, actually, I’m kind of a big loser, I don’t have any money. It takes some nerve.” Your writer talks to Sarah from home: “I don’t know if a lot of women would really want to go on TV and essentially sleep with a man simply because he purports to be wealthy beyond reason. It takes some nerve.” What Sarah has said is that Evan’s a big loser simply because he doesn’t have any money, and what I’m saying, quite simply, is that Sarah is a lying whore. Melissa and Sarah chitchat while Sarah packs more, sans cigarettes now, about why Evan didn’t choose Sarah. Melissa tells Sarah that Evan didn’t really give her a reason why she’d been eliminated, either. Sarah attempts to talk to Melissa without the cameras hearing, and wonders if it’s because of “what happened that night" – “do you think that made me look stupid?” Melissa tells her no, and reiterates that when asked if she’s sure. Sarah tells her that she’s pissed, and then asks Melissa how MoJo was, if she was pissed. Melissa gossipily (yes, I made it up) tells Sarah that she found out what the MoJo’s gift was (the poem, and the puzzle of herself that read, “I choose you”). Sarah says stealthily to Melissa that that’s way worse than her having kissed him. Melissa agrees (but we must remember that this is the woman who told Mojo that she looked great in her ridiculous hat). Sarah says, “Thank god that was all off camera,” and we at home again call up our italicized slurp to stress what a tramp we think Sarah is. How mad was Sarah, one must wonder, when she saw the televised events? I don’t pretend to know what actually happened that night behind the wall, but I do know what I was intended to glean from the subtitles. Either way, whether Sarah tramped it up mightily or whether the producers just made it seem that way, our impression of her is such that her final statement regarding her time in France makes us laugh: “I would like to think that us enjoying our time together was not a part of the act.” I think it would have been obvious, Sarah, if he’d been faking his enjoyment.

Melissa and Sarah leave in a limo after some prompting from Paul. Melissa talks to the camera and says that the thing about Zora is that she doesn’t handle manipulation very well and that it’ll be interesting to see how she feels once she realizes she’s been lied to. Fox stalls. Zora walks in the woods. Evan stands shirtless in front of a mirror. Evan says that he really hopes she shows up tonight. Zora is shown packing after her walk in the woods. We’re supposed to wonder what’ll happen. More importantly, we’re supposed to care. Either way, we’re just waiting now for the twist.

Evan stands around waiting to see if Zora will show up, and she does. In a dress, in fact, that is a similarly unfortunate shade of blue as the dress she wore to the first ball. She grandiosely tells him that what attracted her to him was that he was genuine, down-to-earth, and honest. Against her better judgment, she trusted him, as he had asked her to do, and then he screwed her over, and shattered her trust in men on the whole by revealing that he never inherited the money. (Oh, wait. That’s your writer’s newly cynical outlook on relationships speaking. Sorry. We now return you to your regularly- scheduled “Joe Millionaire” recap.) Zora is grateful to him for allowing her to experience this “journey” (What’s the deal with this “journey” thing?? Are we going to DisneyLand or something?) with him. She has some regrets, but the good news is that she was really turned off by the fact that he had inherited the money. After spending a little bit of time with him and seeing his “wonderful qualities” (What, like his superior intellect?) she would like to continue the journey and see what happens. He’s pleased, and gives her a big hacking diamond -- which he places on her right hand rather than her left. They toast, in Zora’s words, “to the journey after France.”

Paul walks in to (finally!) deliver our twist. There’s some blah-blah-blah: Evan is to be congratulated for choosing a woman who truly knows the meaning of openness, generosity of spirit, and a real love for a simple and unfettered lifestyle. “True love is a great treasure, and with love in your hearts, all things are possible. Every fairy tale deserves a bit of magic,” Paul says, and then he delivers then a check, made out to the two of them, for a million dollars. Your writer’s new cynical side does the math: that’s five hundred grand for each of them; screw community property.

Zora tells us that it felt like it was happening in slow motion. Evan tells us that the producers were keeping “this massive secret” from him all the while he was keeping up the lie about the fifty million dollars. Their “massive secret” was by comparison so much smaller than Evan’s own lie that it’s tough to comprehend that he’s all that stunned by it. That is, until we remember that he’s as dumb as a pile of dirt.

Evan and Zora dance in the ballroom. Evan is in shock, and Zora kisses him, which shocks him even more. He tells her, “You’re five hundred thousand dollars richer. And you met me, for crying out loud.” Like it’s a damn contest in his mind as to which event is more attractive. “Hello, I’ll take the cash, please.”

Zora tells us in closing that “I do believe in fairy tales.” One’s forced to wonder what’ll happen next week, in “Joe Millionaire: the Aftermath.” I’ve heard reports that Evan’s been spotted about town with a new lady friend, and I can’t wait for confirmation. Actually, what it is that I can’t wait for is the story of the demise of the fairy tale that is Evan and Zora. I’ll be back then, with enough snark to choke a horse… and with more cynicism than should be allowed in one little column. I promise you. Until then, I slurp you fair adieu.

Jim's Take

Ok, after that incredibly excrutiating hour of recap last week, plus the first hour of tonight's show, I was about to blow my brains out. I never wanted to know any of these girls really. Let alone the ones that were only on 2 episodes. I also didn't need the recap to tell me what a bitch Heidi is. And that she and her boyfriend are now living together. But what the hey, she's "the most funnest girl" he knows. Ok, genius, whatever you say. As for the show, the twist sucked. And I mean sucked big time. That wasn't a twist, it's what was expected. A twist would have been Evan choosing Paul. Now THAT would be a twist. Either way, I'm pleased with the outcome. Zora deserves some happiness for all the happiness she brings to others. I sure hope everything works out for these two. Though, with $500k in her pocket, at least she won't have to use her oven for heat anymore. And why am I not surprised that the ending of the show was just good enough to draw me back for The Aftermath next week. Why? Well, I have to see if they stay together for crying out loud! Not sure if there will be a recap next week, but if there is, you can be sure I'll provide my thoughts. Until then, take care and God bless.

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