Degradation, scandal and hatred

"Temptation Island," Episode 4: It's just another day in paradise!


Salon Staff
February 1, 2001 9:06PM (UTC)

Last week on "Temptation Island," sensi-host Marky Walberg got the four couples whipped up into a foamy jealous lather. He put it this way: "Billy became witness to his worst fears."

Those worst fears included having to watch, up close and personally, footage of Johnny, the studly young poet, having his nipples thoroughly investigated by the tongue of Billy's girlfriend, Mandy.

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Johnny, nothing if not a gentleman, returned the favor (on camera as well, of course) by courteously ridding Mandy's bellybutton of all traces of the tequila Johnny had spilled there.

So this week, Billy kinda wants "things to be even."

The show picks up where it left off, with Billy, in payback mode, entering the forbidden cabin of the forbidding Vanessa. But -- this is weird -- when they cut to the interior, the other three guys (vacuous Kaya, nasty Andy and screwed-up Taheed) are there drinking with a bunch of girls! Weren't they just at the bar saying something about cowboys and rodeos?

How did they get there so fast?

Vanessa is either a big fan of Madonna's newest video or an avid George W. Bush supporter. Inside the cabin, she is decked out in all her cow-ho glory. She has temporarily lost the hat; for this casual evening in with friends, she has selected a nothin'-but-fringe red bikini top and hot pants.

Soon, Billy is gyrating in front of her and whipping off his clothes.

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Sure, he looks like an idiot, but it also made us reflect that no one has really figured out this male stripping thing yet. We're not saying it can't work -- it's a strong idea in theory -- but the "writhing python" school of titillation doesn't really capture the essence of male sexuality.

Maybe it's the too-fast music that's always played, which always seems to lead to the even more upsetting "Look at me, I'm a piston" technique. Girls just aren't as interested in engines and stuff as guys are. Watching Billy now is a little like eating a burger at the Hard Rock Cafe. You wind up with cramps from unconsciously eating to the beat.

Still, there has to be a way.

We'll think about it later.

In any case, Vanessa is flattered by the attention. She is "google-doll-eyed" over Billy.

(Isn't it fun to mock people who don't speak the language?)

But Billy, as always, is grappling with his conscience. That's just the way Billy is. Even when he's grappling with his fly, he's grappling with his conscience. Poor Billy.

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"Your hormones are telling you to take her back and try to hook up with her," he says. "And your brain is saying stop, stop, stop."

It's just like a Supremes song, this battle between Billy's brain and his -- bottom. Billy's brain always wins, he says, but "it just takes time to get over it."

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A new day dawns.

Time for our emotionally buffeted couples to exchange some videos.

Cut to Mandy's cabana. She wakes up "bothered" after having seen Billy's naughty dance. Oh, but out she dashes! Giggling and running and squealing to get Billy's message.

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He confesses that he couldn't watch the video of her and Johnny mistaking each other for a Popsicle and a shot glass, but that he loves her very much and trusts her judgment.

"I knew Billy wouldn't understand!" Mandy sniffs.

Kaya then watches the video from Valerie. She says her first few days on the island were hard, especially after she saw him on a date with that Playboy model/physician lady.

"She should have known that I'm letting my mind explore all the possibilities here," Kaya says.

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Sometimes we think Kaya's on the wrong side of the island. Other times, we think he's just trying to improve his chances of seeing his gleaming muscles splashed across the Times Square billboard. Right now, we think he just doesn't love his girlfriend anymore but can't figure out how tell her.

Wait, we know! How about fooling around with someone else on TV?

Kaya's shirt sleeves have been savagely ripped off at the shoulders, grr! In his video message to Valerie, he mumbles, "I just want you to know you're in my head every day and it's all good and have fun."

Valerie interprets his monotone and guilty, furtive eyes as "everything [she] wanted to hear and more."

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Is Shannon under some sort of spell? Does Andy owe her a lot of money? Why does she contort her face into that pained grimace every time she sees him?

"Hey, baby," he says on his video message. "I had a great date with Carla yesterday. I'm spreading myself thin, not spending too much time with one girl. I know you'd rather have me hook up with five girls than five times with one."

That's exactly what she wanted! And just in time for Valentine's Day!

The thing is, Andy and Shannon really, really hate each other -- but it's a polite, insidious, repressed hatred. It's an Episcopalian sort of hatred. It's OK to hate somebody, but not to get worked up over it. So Andy suffuses every interaction with Shannon with the veiled threat of his imminent, explosive sex spree and Shannon punishes him by smiling and crinkling her sad eyes and acting like his mother and never dumping his sorry ass.

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It's so creepy and sinister, we wish the whole show were about them.

Shannon's message to Andy (why do all these people keep saying "Hi, it's me" on video? It's video!): "I don't really have much to say to you. I decided to continue your closed-door policy. I had enough with the preview of your date to last me for a while."

Andy says he's "intrigued."

He says, "Maybe she's having such a good time that she's not focused on me."

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Next, Taheed and Ytossie, who have the distinction of being the island's most dysfunctional couple, continue their open range war, fervently belittling each other, when --

Hey! What's the executive producer doing on the island?

The couples aren't supposed to see each other -- so why is Ytossie suddenly, soberly greeting Taheed at the entrance to a cabana?

Inside, the couple is sat down in front of a producer, introduced as Chris, and a "Temptation Island" myrmidon or two.

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"Close the door," Chris says ominously.

"Some information has come up that is problematic," Chris informs the couple. A microphone boom looms overhead like a huge prying caterpillar.

Taheed and Ytossie have an infant son together. They are so busted. Sure, you've known it for weeks, but what was Fox going to do, reshoot all the master scenes?

"We now know that you guys have a child together," says Chris, "and I think that's a very dangerous scenario for this show. I have to think about my responsibility as a producer, Fox's responsibility as a broadcast network --"

Um, we're not following you, Chris.

"It was never our intent to put the mother and father of a child into a situation where they'd be tempted to potentially fracture that relationship."

Isn't "I Want a Divorce" in development now?

Chris then offers them "another suite at another location" to talk about what they are going through and see if there's an opportunity "to mend fences with the new perspectives that [you] now have."

We suppose the "new perspective" would include the knowledge that their relationship had just been declared too screwed up even for the Fox network. That's gotta be something to think about.

Fox, you'll be relieved to know, will be checking in with the couple to make sure they're OK.

Fox, the exploitative family network.

Later, reflecting on Ytossie and Taheed's situation, Valerie says that by staying with the wrong person you are preventing the right person from entering your life.

Kaya and Andy give Taheed some relationship advice. We're not sure, but we think Taheed should perhaps seek out other role models.

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Everybody gathers around the pool for the next dating assignment or whatever, and Walberg tells the couples he has "a really fun day" planned for them.

The "really fun day" consists of a triple date. "The way we're gonna select dates," hosty-host says, "is something we call 'peer dating.'"

He means "peer procuring." Shannon and Mandy will pick two choices for Valerie, and then Valerie will select the guy she prefers to take on the date, etc.

The girls pick John, the special-ed teacher, for Valerie; Tom, the "Ivy League graduate" for Mandy; and Dano, the motocross racer, for Shannon.

Andy tells Dano to "enjoy."

The boys pick LaWonna, the teen crisis counselor, for Kaya; Megan, the teacher all the boys pant over, for Billy; and Venus for Andy.

Actually -- and we don't mean to dwell, but we're just fascinated by evil -- what happens is Kaya and Billy suggest Vanessa or Venus for Andy. At which point Andy yells out, "Venus, have you been on a date yet?"

Venus, miffed at the question, snarls, "No."

"That's the one!" he declares.

Shannon somehow thought this a fabulously magnanimous gesture. "Andy just keeps getting better and better! His selfless rationale just made me want to go over there and jump him!"

Is Shannon on crack island?

Shannon smiles at Andy lovingly. His flickery tongue darts out of his mouth and across his reptilian lips.

We're beyond feeling sorry for Shannon. As long as she and Andy are together, she'll at least curtail his freedom to breed.

So, the dates:

Mandy talks about how Tom "tempts the boundaries" and lets her "blossom to him" at her own pace. Shannon likes Tom, too.

All the boys like Megan. She's Billy's date, but Andy says, "If I could write down all the things [I] want in a girl and have her given to [me] -- it's Megan."

He's not happy with his date: "Venus is boring."

"I like Megan, too," Kaya says, "but I'm blocked." On the first show, the couples were all allowed to ban their mates from hanging out with one of the predatory singles.

There's tension between Kaya and Andy over Megan, however, and it's nice to see Andy suffer.

"Nobody owns anybody," Kaya later explains to LaWonna, as so many dumb but horny New Agers have done before him, unknowingly providing evidence of heretofore unseen similarities between the New Age and the Nietzschean. "There's not really such a thing as a boyfriend or girlfriend in a perfect place."

LaWonna looks at him sideways and nods wordlessly, trying not to laugh.

"In a perfect place," Kaya expatiates, "we'd dance around. Whenever you want to leave, you leave; whenever you want to come, you come. It's all good. Everybody's happy that way."

In a perfect place, no one would ever say anything remotely like what he just said.

Later he adds, "I want to see who I am, what I want in a woman and which woman is the right one for me to spend my life with. I'm ready for the intensity to kick up several notches. I'm not going to leave this island with any regrets."

Welcome to "Euphemisms for Sex Island."

Shannon likes Tom and Mandy likes Tom. Although Tom's magnetic attributes remain mysterious, "in an atmosphere like this" (they're at a nightclub) he was "pretty much totally focused on Mandy."

Cut to the boys' nightclub -- Andy swings his legs around as if he's in the horse competition at the Evil Olympics and throws palsied punches in the air.

"I don't think I was really interested in dating Pansy Andy," Venus, our new favorite fantasy single, says later.

Billy says the only reason he wouldn't pursue Megan is the chemistry between him and Vanessa. "And besides, she's Andy's. He really likes her. So you know, he can have her."

And what does Megan think?

" ... "

We know what Mandy wants. Mandy hopes that when the opportunity to kiss Tom arises, he'll be able to put Billy out of his mind just like she can put Billy out of her mind.

We think he can probably put Billy out of his mind.

At bonfire, the guys decide to remove the blocks on the girls -- which means Kaya can finally date Megan!

The guys then get to watch the videos. This time, the videos are taken during "off hours" and may include any or all of the girls. The videos are called "Jacuzzi Jump," "Flesh Parade" and "Make Him Do Anything I Want."

The first video is of Sean flashing the girls, lo, those many weeks ago.

The second video shows Shannon in the jacuzzi with her arm around Sean, the masseur.

"Damn that guy!" Kaya says.

"Was Valerie in there?" asks Walberg.

"Just my babe," Andy replies. "That was allocated to me."

Later, Andy elaborates, "That friggin' masseuse is so arrogant in his nature."

(Isn't it fun to mock people who don't speak the language?)

At the girls' bonfire, Shannon and Valerie are nervous, but Mandy wants to see everything.

"I don't want to make you nervous, but I have a lot of business to take care of tonight," Walberg says. What -- he has other islands to visit?

The girls accept the removal of the blocks without much discussion, but Shannon is -- still -- sickened by the thought of having to watch Andy on tape.

Mandy wants to watch.

The first tape shows Kaya, Taheed and Andy talking about Mandy's tequila body-shot orgy from last week.

Valerie and Shannon don't understand.

Mandy explains, "Billy saw something bad I did on a date and there's a girl that he's interested in and he probably went over and -- (the show actually blurs her mouth here, since this is a family network, and may soon even be "faith-based") -- her brains out!"

"See," says Shannon from her little cave of denial, "this is bad."

"I know, but I just want to see!" Mandy snaps.

It's actually kind of interesting. Mandy, who knows that Billy loves her, really wants to see what happened -- because if he's doing something wrong, she'll know it's retaliatory. Shannon, who knows deep down that Andy doesn't love her, knows she doesn't want to see -- ever -- anything that Andy does when he's not with her. That way madness lies. Valerie -- who's not sure if Kaya loves her -- is not sure she wants to see.

"I wonder who's doing the striptease," Valerie says. "Andy," Shannon replies with utter, bitter certainty.

But of course it's Billy. The screen cuts to black when his shorts drop. No one expected that at all.

"He looked like trash," says Mandy, who is not the most self-aware person, after watching. "I don't think I've done anything trashy on TV. He looked like a whore."

Next, it's Valerie's turn to choose to watch a video, but Shannon is sure it'll be Andy.

It's called "Hammock Ride."

Andy is on a hammock with Megan, stroking her legs and talking about his -- bottom.

Shannon keeps smiling as she watches. "At least he was complimenting himself and not the girl," she says, looking on the bright side, a total fraud.

"What do you think?" asks Walberg.

Shannon, of course, blames anyone but Mandy instead of Andy.

"My whole goal was to have a good time. Now I have a visual that I have to think about, so it kind of pisses me off."

"Isn't that part of why you're here?" asks Walberg.

"It's somewhere I didn't want to go," Shannon says.

Later, Mandy starts to think about what happened, what Billy saw, what Billy did, what he's going to do now. She starts to panic.

"I'm telling you guys," Shannon says. "What you don't see can't hurt you."

But Mandy isn't dead inside like Shannon is. So later, she cries.

"God, I hate this!"

We know how she feels.

-- Carina Chocano

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