In retrospect, I am glad I didn't watch last week's episode. Having to review the conflict that unfolded would have tested the limits of my patience. Since I didn't have a copy of the show I turned to a writer from another entertainment website to get the lowdown. As he outlined the competitions and other events that took place I realized that from the very first installment, The Rebel Billionaire had been edited to build the foundation for the Soap Opera it dissolved into by Episode 8. For anyone who hasn't seen it or found another source for the review, I'll give you a brief summary: The players arrive in Japan where they are informed by RB that the teams will remain the same as in Morocco - Heather, Gabriel and Candida versus Shawn, Erica, Nicole and Sara. Any doubts I had concerning my "Survival of the Hippest" theory disappeared right there. Can you guess which team will win? The challenge was to create a five-minute presentation to introduce Virgin's new Upper Class Suites. The luxury accommodations include seats, which fold down into a comfortable bed. In a city, which pioneered the capsule hotel, this feature should be especially welcomed. Gabe and Erica are respective team leaders. Erica's team wins. Gabe chooses Candida to join him in the elimination challenge that takes place at the Virgin Annual Picnic, a little gathering of 30,000 of Sir Richards nearest and dearest. It involved crossing a wire at 100 feet between two platforms, which were 40 feet apart, dressed in silly costumes (why not?). Before the competition takes place a major conflict erupts, one that had been simmering for weeks. The source of all the tension has been the "Brunette Bully Brigade" or more specifically, Nicole, with Erica playing willing cheerleader to her campaign of conflict. The five remaining contestants come to the consensus that the situation must be addressed. At some point Shawn has a face-to-face confrontation with Nicole. Little of the actual argument is shown but I was able to discern Shawn's take on what went down from visiting his website while researching yesterday's article and, despite the fact that his view would be biased, at least I can safely assume that he stepped up to the plate when asked about his feelings regarding the conflict. Candida got an opportunity to air her grievances also and didn't allow the fight to incite a complete meltdown amongst the rivals. Heather on the other hand backs down when Nicole asks her directly if she harbored and ill-will, denying everything. After hearing the details of how Candida had been ostracized throughout the game and the additional pressures she faced due to the constant barrage of negativity, Gabriel regrets his decision to take her to the elimination. The cards have been dealt and they are able to complete the harrowing challenge, unaware that on the ground below, one of their fellow cast mates is chanting "Fall, fall". Since I didn't see it, I can't imagine how awful this scene must have played out. It makes me cringe. Even though they are able to successfully make the crossing on the second attempt in spite of gusting winds, one must be eliminated and Candida is left on the tarmac as the rest of the cast heads to Florida where they are told four will have a short trip home. I believe that before this last competition they were informed that if it was not accomplished BOTH would have been eliminated. The end is drawing near and Judgment Day is at hand. It was important to know that this drama played out last week in order to understand the upcoming events. I'm glad I wasn't required to be a ring-side commentator. I'll reserve my judgment for the actual game itself, not the petty nastiness that seemed to dominate the final weeks of the "big adventure". It's a shame that so much airtime was given to this and we missed out on so many other incredible sights and events that took a backseat to the unprofessional behavior among the contestants. Branson must have been aware of the growing disharmony and he played it for what it was worth. In the end the results will be the same. At least Candida had an opportunity to vindicate herself before leaving, but I am certain that's a small consolation. The biggest losers here were the viewers. We came for the promised innovative competitions and breath taking challenges. If we wanted the drama that appeals to the lowest common denominator we have plenty of arenas to choose from - and apparently much of the original audience did just that. The "Quest for the Best" became a footnote at the beginning. Now it's just a matter of watching my theory play out… If you haven't read my prediction on who wins it all and my theory of just how much the "fix is in" click here. Eleanor Meilinger writes for RTVC in an attempt to avoid doing any real work. Now that her daughters, Amanda and Melanie have joined her in this project they are starting to catch on! She may just have to finish that screenplay…moreless
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