Schwing!

"Temptation Island," Episode 3: When you're a "fantasy single," smoke gets in your eyes -- and sand gets in your bikini!


Salon Staff
January 25, 2001 11:06PM (UTC)

Wait -- wasn't there a full moon last week?

Yeah, we get it. The moon is always full on Temptation Island.

People get crazy when the moon is full. And when wispy nighttime clouds float by it while jungle drums play? Forget it. People go nuts.

Nuts, we tell you.

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Sure, the girlfriends are a little shellshocked from their harrowing fire-lit encounter with host Mark "Remember, you chose to be here" Walberg. You would be, too, if you had to tell him all your feelings.

The man actually pirouettes in the credit sequence. ("Here ... schwing! ... on Temptation Island!") He looks like a refugee from "Up With People."

"I felt horrible," says Mandy, speaking after the bonfire, from beneath the cluster of quivering turnips on her head. "If we hadn't had these guys to come back to, it would have been a complete nightmare."

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The camera cuts away before her smile has time to really blossom. Mandy is what they used to call a minx, but what they now call a skank.

Actually, that's not fair. We blame the producers. These characters have no motivation. They're stuck in a weak second act with no clearly defined goals. What do they want? What's in their way? Where's the old "I don't care how many maggots are hatching in the suppurating pores on my legs, I want my million dollars" "Survivor" spirit?

It's certainly not here ... schwing! ... on "Temptation Island."

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You will recall our four couples: skanky Mandy with darling bald Billy; Ytossie and the Taheed, who hate each other with a fulminating passion and have dedicated their lives to revenge; dour, unfathomable Valerie and searching, pretty-boy Kaya; cringing, emotionally abused Shannon and malevolent creepizoid Andy.

In this, our third episode, the couples are separated by gender and are still at the mercy of a dozen or so members of the opposite sex, or "fantasy singles," as they are called. We think of them more as "singles for a reason."

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We begin with a shot of the four girls screaming as they jump into the pool with their glistening man-friends, who are armed and ready to provide solace in times of need. It's like a scene in a war movie, when the soldiers hit the brothel to relax after a long day of killing foreigners in the name of freedom, mom and a pastry.

"I'm in heaven right now," says Mandy as she is carried hut-ward by a hulking slab of a man. "But tomorrow I'm going to hell!"

(It's true. We've been there. She's in it.)

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The next morning, Shannon takes a pensive walk down the pier to retrieve a video missive from her love-dog, Andy. Andy says he has a quick 60-second clip to give her a quick "hi."

And it is quick. He uses the other 49 seconds to tell her he had "a really fun date yesterday with a really fun gal."

On the other side of the island, Andy is watching Shannon's video, in which she asks him "not to focus on one [woman]."

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"I think he's capable of really going for it," Shannon says.

Andy "senses a little bit of nervousness on her part," and plans to "spread himself thin" and have fun with "plenty of ladies."

Too bad there aren't any on the island.

In his video, Kaya encourages Valerie to have a good time. He's a having a good time. Damn it, they agreed they'd have a good time!

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But Valerie is troubled. She tells Kaya that she's thinking about him and she misses him. A single, salty tear runs down Kaya's face.

Ah, to be young and in love on a game show where the game is unclear no matter how long the explanatory credit sequence.

Mandy squeals like pig on fire as she opens the box from her beloved, Billy (who is in for some fun tonight!).

But Mandy has the attention span of a dog in a field of turds. Sure, it's fun to sniff Billy right now, but when she turns her head, Billy disappears!

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In her video to Billy, Mandy weeps. "But not because I'm having a horrible time," she says. "I've actually met some great people. We cry together, we laugh together."

Billy squeezes his head. We've noticed he's been doing that a lot lately. Billy has very deep feelings and we fear he may one day unleash them like Travis Bickle.

By "cry together," of course, Mandy means frolic in the pool and kiss. Semantics.

Ytossie isn't surprised, meanwhile, that Taheed doesn't have a message for her. "It's not in his character," she says. "He wants me to be as stressed as possible. He wants me to wonder and worry."

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Taheed expects no better from Ytossie. "It's in her vindictive nature not to give me one."

Some psychologists believe that people seek out partners who will punish them in the manner to which they are accustomed. If this is true, Ytossie and Taheed are made for each other. Soon, they'll have a chance to return to the privacy of their own brig. But not this week ... schwing! ... on Temptation Island.

Next up, power dating! Once again the singles will trot out their goods for the couples. This time, though, the partners will watch as their mates select their dates.

Carla/Pinky (Carla-Pinky?), the "funky girl from Seattle," sits across from Andy.

"Sugar!" he says.

"Hi, I'm Carla," she says.

"No, you're not," he replies. You wanna know what you are? You are just eye-candy."

Is it just us, or is Andy trying really, really hard to look like he does this sort of thing all the time? Something tells us Andy hadn't had much luck with "the ladies" in general before Shannon came along. In fact, we're starting to suspect that if Andy ever cheated on Shannon, she'd have to arrange the play date for him.

The couples turn to the burning questions of the day. "Which one of us do you like best?" asks Billy, who is feeling insecure. "What do you think is your best attribute?" asks Valerie, who is conducting a poll.

"Do you think that you can be in love with someone and still hook up with someone else?" he asks his banned blond.

"Definitely," she says and he rests his teeth on his lower lip, smiling his lizardly smile.

Ytossie, Shannon and Mandy pick the same guy: the malnourished "Ivy League graduate," Tom, who by the way is 27 and still relies on the old "Ivy League graduate" handle to get girls, which is a sure sign of protracted parental-basement dwelling. Tom is then called upon to choose among them. Valerie scowls while Shannon squints in abject terror. He picks Ytossie, a shrewd political move. Remember, Tom is an "Ivy League graduate!"

Valerie's first choice and Mandy's second choice are the same. Matt must now pick between them. Matt chooses Valerie. This leaves Mandy with Johnny and Shannon with Charlie.

Does any of this mean anything to you? That's OK. It means nothing to us. There are way too many people on this show, and not that many episodes left. We'll never get them straight. Who will stay together? Who will be torn apart? Who is that guy again?

These and other questions are ignored, here ... here ... schwing! ... . on Temptation Island.

Andy seethes quietly as he watches Charlie approach his girl. He himself has chosen Carla-slash-Pinky. Carla-slash responds by jumping in the pool.

"That is why I'm going out with her," he bellows, so vehemently we think he'll rupture an artery. "That girl is guaranteed fun!"

Guaranteed fun then flings its arms around Andy. "Neat," Shannon says, observing.

Billy gets Vanessa, his first choice.

"What surprises me," says Mandy, "is how affectionate he's been with these girls in front of me." Mandy takes Billy the tiniest bit for granted, we think.

Kaya gets Heather, the backup singer.

"Lucky girl," drawls Valerie straight from the nose.

"What was that, Valerie?" asks Walberg, afraid he missed something bitchy.

"Lucky girl. Have your day," she says. "'Cause it'll be your only day."

What now? "Twister II?" No, it's Taheed's date.

Lisa-slash-Alabama, the cross-eyed scamp, comes flying at him with all the force of a Holstein caught in a cyclone. She wraps her legs around his torso as Ytossie sticks out her tongue and sneers, "I have a better-looking blond."

And now, the couples go on their "date challenge." The challenge? Getting through another day with a "fantasy single." Here are highlights:

Of his first date with Carla-slash-Pinky, Andy says, "Screw the looks, pick the chick you're going to have the best time with." So we guess that means the eye-candy comment was insincere.

Ytossie wishes she "had a chance with Tom."

Taheed selected Lisa for the date because he loves her personality. (Cut to Lisa jumping up and down and yelling "Right on!")

Kaya chose Heather: She was "a little different from the other girls."

Mandy hits another spa with Johnny. They get naked and have their bodies painted to resemble either a cast member from the Broadway production of "The Lion King" or Tony the Tiger. They look grrr-eat!

Mandy says, "I didn't ever think I could date a tall guy because you'd always have to reach up and kiss him, so we'll see."

Billy gone! Ruff! Mmmm -- Good smell!

You know, just because Billy isn't that bright doesn't mean we can't like Billy. Compared to the others, Billy is a philosopher king. We mention this because soon Billy will be engaging in a little retaliatory coitus and we just want you to know we don't really blame Billy. We blame the network.

Cut to Pinky playing the guitar and singing, "Oh, Andy, you hot stud, I'm so happy." And he deserves every bit of it.

Kaya and Heather are shown briefly enjoying an uncomfortable silence over dinner. It is slowly dawning on us that Valerie agreed to come here ... to Temptation Island ... to help Kaya's modeling career. This means we can move on to people with bigger problems.

Mandy, for example, is hot for Johnny. Johnny is hot for Mandy. Billy is hot for Vanessa. Vanessa is hot for Billy -- here, on Temptation Island.

"I'm a little concerned," says Billy, brilliantly reducing modern love to its barest essence. "If you follow the progression from friends to confusion to who knows ... That's a little bit nerve-wracking."

"I don't know what's going to happen," says Mandy, who's been looking for it since her plane touched ground. "I'm very attracted to Johnny and that makes me really nervous and it's all of a sudden real."

Next thing you know he'll be lapping tequila out of her belly button as she licks strawberry juice off his nipple. But first, this:

Mark "Talk to me, guys" Walberg assembles the four boyfriends later that evening to tell them they won't be voting anyone off the island because Heather has decided to go home. With Nostradamus-like oracular precision, Taheed "predicts" imminent "hookups."

The girls then banish a guy named Keith, who apparently made no effort. "They're not my type," Keith says.

Finally, more date highlights: Taheed and Lisa sharing some intimate moments in a hammock, culminating with Lisa saying, "After tonight, Ytossie shouldn't be too happy at all. But I'm sorry."

The most gruesome of the dates features Johnny and Mandy doing Tequila body shots. Johnny preps his nipple with sugar and strawberry. Mandy, like many another girl on a first date before her, eventually leans over and does the deed.

Johnny reciprocates with some flamboyant belly-button-licking.

"He's such a deep, deep, deep person," Mandy insists later.

Reflects Johnny: "I wouldn't want anyone licking on my girlfriend, particularly the way" -- he pauses here for effect -- "I licked on her stomach."

On the girls' side, not much happens. Valerie and Shannon decline to look at their boyfriend's dates. "It's out of context," Valerie says coolly.

Shannon is more ruffled. "I already got a preview!" she warbles. "Would you want to see that?"

Ytossie and Mandy want to watch. It's punishment, we know.

Ytossie is getting back at Taheed for not loving her enough and Mandy is getting back at Billy for loving her after she's stopped loving him. That's the way it works, here, on ... schwing!

"Maybe they don't want to see what you did; maybe they don't want you to see what they did," Walberg is explaining to the boys shortly afterward. "Sit with that for a minute."

"Sit with this!" we half-expect Billy retort, cracking Walberg over the head with a coconut. But no such luck.

The tape of Ytossie's date with Ivy League Tom is pronounced tame, but Mandy's date with Johnny is a different story. Before the tape is even played, Billy is rubbing his head.

The poor boy soon finds himself faced with a close-up of Johnny's nipple, mid-slathering.

Billy exhales deeply and pushes the machine away. He says he doesn't want to watch the rest. Walberg insists on playing the rest of the tape, so Billy turns away and lets the others watch.

The other guys shake their heads in amazement as Mandy squeals, "Billy's going to kill me!" and bends over to put her tongue to work.

"I'd appreciate you being honest," Walberg says to a visibly nauseated Billy.

"I just don't need to see that."

Later, back at the bar and Walberg-free, Andy, Taheed and Kaya discuss Mandy's "double slap in the face" to Billy. At first, Taheed considers going over to beat Johnny up, but then they realize where they are and what they're doing and he wisely changes his mind.

"It's not his fault," Kaya says.

"Yeah," says Andy, "it's her fault."

Johnny, it's agreed, "is just doing his job."

And where's Billy in all of this?

"In Vanessa's room," Taheed says, and they laugh and laugh and slap each other five. "I hope so!"

Cut to Billy knocking on Vanessa's door.

Schwing!

(Carina Chocano)

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