“CordCutting.com Watches” is a recurring feature in which the CordCutting.com staff watches and reacts to a streaming show or a movie.
SHARI WEISS, Editor: I predicted that some of you, cough Stephen and Andrew cough, would hate this episode. What did you actually think?
STEPHEN LOVELY, Editor-in-Chief: You predicted correctly. This episode had entirely too much robot dog in it.
ANDREW COLE, Internet Editor: This whole show has gone to the dogs.
DEANNA NGUYEN, Streaming Editor: The RADDOGs are growing on me.
ANDREW: I can’t take any more B-roll shots of RADDOG walking around. It’s just too much.
SHARI: At least they didn't show it pooping nuts and bolts again.
DEANNA: I enjoyed looking at the RADDOGs more than the mess that was this episode.
STEPHEN: I can’t support your stance on the RADDOGs, but I do agree that this episode was rough. Where should we start?
SHARI: Cat was spoiling Marshawn and Paul with custom egg orders to ingratiate herself with them.
ANDREW: Ah, yes, the often-rumored and elusive egg treaty. I’m not going to lie; I am a sucker for a poached egg, or maybe some Hollandaise sauce on an eggs Benedict.
DEANNA: Who needs Cat when you have one of those sweet egg cooking machines?
STEPHEN: Don’t forget about Paul and Marshawn eating potato chips with ketchup and mustard.
DEANNA: I find it funny that they’re experimenting with their food while Cat is cracking eggs on the side (though she didn’t make a good show of it despite being an Iron Chef).
STEPHEN: Imagine the delight on the editors’ faces when they found that clip of Cat dropping the eggshell into the pan. They must have been thrilled.
SHARI: Paul felt “ready” to be base commander and Cat was all for nominating him — provided she'd get to be his mission specialist. Paul pointed out that he was the only one left who had yet to be mission commander. I think that was for good reason. I can't think of practically anything I'd trust Paul to do for me. Props to Tinashe for questioning his capabilities.
DEANNA: Tinashe questioning Paul was what I would’ve done too. It was a pity vote to make him base commander. He brought nothing else to the table.
STEPHEN: I've been saying all along that not having been base commander yet is an advantage! Everyone is too busy trying to look chill to argue against a fresh face. Except for Ariel, of course.
ANDREW: Ariel was too timid. You have to come in there guns blazing if you want to rile people up and get them on your side, politics aside.
SHARI: Paul won the vote 3-2.
STEPHEN: I'm dying to know which strategy-impaired member of Team Tinashe defected to vote for Paul. Cora and Marshawn obviously voted for Paul, but which idiot voted against their own alliance?
DEANNA: Yeah, I was wondering who could’ve voted for Paul.
SHARI: When they were outside the hab for their chores, Tinashe told Ariel she voted for her … but was she telling the truth?
STEPHEN: I can't believe they were out there building a dog run for a robot dog, by the way. Stupidest chore yet.
DEANNA: They spent a ton of money on it; they had to keep using it for the show.
DEANNA: Anyway, I know Tinashe is in it to win it but I don’t see her being dishonest.
ANDREW: Adam and Tinashe probably voted for Ariel, leaving Porsha as the person pulling the strings for Paul at the end of the day.
DEANNA: Yeah, I have a feeling Porsha voted for Paul.
ANDREW: Sneaky, sneaky!
STEPHEN: Stupid, stupid! Team Jock was in shambles! Literally all Team Tinashe had to do was elect one of their own as base commander and boot either Cat or Paul. Rinse and repeat a couple of times, and they all sail into the finals.
But no! Instead, some idiot votes for Paul, Paul taps his ally Cat Cora as mission specialist, and suddenly all Paul and Cat have to do is pull Marshawn back into the hab after the challenge. This would’ve ensured a 3-1 jock majority in the expulsion vote, which would also NOT EVEN MATTER because all three of the bottom three would be members of Team Tinashe. So Team Jock could vote off any of those three and go into next week with a 3-3 tie. Whole new ball game.
DEANNA: There were a lot of remarks from Paul and Marshawn that Porsha was “playing the game” so maybe she was trying to get on Paul’s good side.
SHARI: Or maybe — and this could be giving Porsha too much credit — she voted for Paul to be base commander, thinking he would fail and be eliminated, and getting one more person out of her way.
STEPHEN: That seems much more convoluted than just voting him out the usual way! But, OK, I’ll agree with you this much: Once Paul was elected, Team Tinashe’s best remaining option was to throw the emergency challenge and try to boot Paul. I don’t agree that they had some galaxy brain strategy to get him elected on purpose, but I absolutely agree that they had to fail the mission. That would put Paul back on the chopping block and unable to vote. Cat would be able to put two other Team Tinashe members in the bottom three, but that would still leave a 2-2 split in the hab, so Tinashe’s crew could have a shot at ejecting Paul.
SHARI: I'm going to need a diagram.
STEPHEN: You know what, let’s just talk about the emergency challenge.
SHARI: So the mission revolved around the new RADDOG, the “intruder” from last week's episode that they named “Plutoto” because “Pluto” wasn't cute enough for Porsha.
ANDREW: Look, I know one dog who thinks the name “Pluto” is just fine. No need to add nonsensical syllables to make it any better.
DEANNA: They were going for “Toto” from “The Wizard of Oz”!
STEPHEN: Good name. Bad (fake) dog.
DEANNA: Plutoto is adorable; what are you guys talking about?
SHARI: Anyway, the gist of the mission is this: Plutoto wandered away from the hab and fell down a Martian hole. The celebs have to go find it and rescue it.
STEPHEN: How'd they lose the dog right after Tinashe and Ariel built the dog run? Did they forget to put the dog in?
SHARI: All we saw was them measuring and putting a single stake in the ground. Not too secure!
STEPHEN: I don't know if this qualifies as an emergency. Forget that dog.
ANDREW: For once, I’m with Cat on this one. They can just buy a new one.
SHARI: Or maybe Cat can get a … cat?
DEANNA: I’m going to go against the crowd and say I’m on Team RADDOG. It’s making the crewmates’ lives a living hell and I love to see that.
SHARI: I can't take the sight of injured animals! Even if they're robots!
STEPHEN: If they’re robots, then they’re not animals!
SHARI: Paul and Cat had to direct the crew to Plutoto's last known location, a distance that Cat estimated was 10 miles away from the hab. Paul's directions seemed to leave a lot to be desired. They only had about five minutes left when they got to the crater.
ANDREW: I think Paul and Cat were using Apple Maps to find the lost RADDOG. That’s the only explanation for how they can get so lost on a trip that has like two turns.
DEANNA: It was like a family road trip. No one agrees that the direction they’re going is the right one.
SHARI: With the help of a flare light dropped into the cave by Tinashe, Adam, Porsha and Ariel needed to locate Plutoto. Adam was like a man on a mission, literally and figuratively, in that cave.
DEANNA: Adam really put everything into that run into the cave. He was giving main character energy in that shot.
SHARI: Meanwhile, Ariel fell over but swore she was “perfectly fine.” Have we counted how many times people have faceplanted so far? It's approximately 9,680,672,191,745 times, right?
DEANNA: Not as bad as Cat eating dirt a couple of episodes ago.
STEPHEN: Ah, memories.
SHARI: They located the flare and Plutoto with roughly 20 seconds to go. And somehow that was enough to be successful? They didn't need to get the faux pooch out of the cave before time ran out? They didn't have to get back to the hab before time ran out? That was it? Darn it, I wanted to see them (OK, Paul) fail. It really looked like it was going to happen.
ANDREW: Where is the internal sabotage? Paul and Cat did a horrible job giving directions and leading the mission. They told themselves they “crushed it” at the end. How delusional…
They should've staged an uprising and figured out a way to vote Paul or Cat out.
DEANNA: There’s not enough rebellion, IMO.
STEPHEN: Another unforced error. Team Tinashe spent this episode in the Goldilocks Zone of incompetence: Too stupid to vote correctly, slightly too good to flunk the mission, and therefore juuuust right for getting their dumb butts eliminated. Idiots!
SHARI: Deep breaths, Stephen.
STEPHEN: Oh, I’m just getting started. Because now we are at the moment in the episode where I truly lost it. To recap: Team Tinashe had a voter defect to anoint Paul Pierce as base commander, Paul chose Cat as mission specialist, and all the Tinashe-ites in the field stupidly succeeded, meaning Paul and Cat are both safe. Now Paul and Cat can simply pull Marshawn back into the hab and enjoy a can’t-lose bottom three comprising 100% Tinashe loyalists.
So what do Paul and Cat do? THEY PUT MARSHAWN IN THE BOTTOM THREE. This is, against all odds, the single most breathtakingly incompetent thing done in the episode. It is worse than anything Team Tinashe did. I was forced to consider the possibility that neither Cat Cora nor Paul Pierce can count to three.
SHARI: Stephen, I'm starting to worry about your mental health. I'm also starting to think the players themselves just didn't see things along these Team Jock vs. Team Tinashe lines as you do.
DEANNA: Remember what Porsha said early on in the show? She doesn’t do alliances! Still love her though.
ANDREW: Marshawn wasn’t the one eliminated in the end, though. Ariel was.
DEANNA: I just knew Marshawn wasn’t going home even though he gave one of the most unconvincing speeches I’ve ever heard.
SHARI: Instead, Ariel volunteered to go. Guys, I don’t think the producers are listening to us. NO. MORE. SELF-ELIMINATIONS. Please and thank you!
STEPHEN: We talked last week about how self-ejections are ruining the show. I don't have much to add to that other than the problem is only getting worse as the field narrows.
ANDREW: Was it a self-elimination? It kinda seemed like it was a preemptive move because she knew she wasn’t critical. Plus, come on, Marshawn’s speech was eloquent. No way he was going home.
SHARI: Marshawn's “speech,” as you called it, Andrew, was more like a series of grunts.
DEANNA: It was barely even a speech — dude barely spoke 10 words and was like, “Yeah, boom.” His constant snickering and jabs at Porsha rubbed me the wrong way and I just hate seeing bullies “win.”
STEPHEN: I don’t think Ariel’s fate was sealed. It shouldn’t have been, with a split electorate in the hab. The two representatives of Team Tinashe in there should’ve been pushing hard to eject Marshawn instead. Of course, given the performance level we witnessed in this episode, Ariel might have just realized that her team was too stupid to try to save her. So she just went ahead and proactively screwed them over by leaving.
DEANNA: People are just too ready to go home and no one’s telling them they need to stay. Meanwhile, some people have overstayed their welcome.
SHARI: Based on the mission, did Ariel deserve to go? Yes. But had she not proactively put that out there, who knows what ultimately would've been decided? I do give her credit for acknowledging her shortcomings and that she was the least mission-critical this go-round. Does that mean she was right to volunteer to leave? I don't know.
DEANNA: Ariel looked so done. And I think she knew as soon as she was going to be out in the field that she’d be in the bottom three.
STEPHEN: Earlier in the episode, Ariel gave a really incredible self-assessment: “I know everybody has weaknesses. Being in the field is mine.” I identify with this deeply. I, too, am pretty bad at doing stuff, and much better at not doing stuff.
SHARI: These are two self-extractions in a row, now. Could anyone have predicted that Ariel and Lance would self-extract back to back?!
ANDREW: Kinda. They were like two black holes that merged together. Once one went, the other couldn’t be far behind.
STEPHEN: It's very much in character for this show for its two most interesting characters — the always-feuding Lance Armstrong and Ariel Winter — to leave the show in back-to-back episodes, and to do so voluntarily, without any of the catharsis that would have come with booting either of them. Lance should have been screaming. Ariel should have been crying. Instead, they're politely bowing out like they're leaving a dinner party.
SHARI: They should forfeit their pay for the entire project if they quit. Or it just shouldn't be allowed, period, barring injury or something.
DEANNA: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of the self-eliminations either. But I can understand how ridiculous it’s gotten at this point in the game that they’re so tired of it and don’t want to stay.
STEPHEN: It’s been, like, 10 days!
SHARI: There were a lot of references to the “experiment starting to wind down.” Porsha referred to needing two more people to leave before she would want the immunity-providing position of mission specialist. So are there 12 episodes of this thing? Are we finally in the home stretch? They weren't kidding about life on Mars feeling like two years on Earth.
ANDREW: Finally! Now we get down to the nitty-gritty and “Survivor”-esque head-to-head eliminations.
SHARI: No more base commanders going forward, according to the preview! So no mission specialist either then, I assume.
DEANNA: Free for all!
SHARI: Also in the preview: The next mission is (another) rescue mission. Based on their reaction in the preview to whatever they set their sights on off-screen, I'm guessing they'll be reuniting with all the previously eliminated celebronauts who, for whatever reason, never made it back to Earth.
ANDREW: I hope it’s Shatner. While his prerecorded pieces have been great for guidance, I want him on the scene, eliminating people directly based on his years of faux space experience.
SHARI: Oh, I love that theory! Especially since this has been such an easy payday for him thus far. Make him do a little more work, please, even if, you know, the man is 92 years old.
DEANNA: Imagine if whoever they rescue ends up being like four more crewmates and it’ll just be rinse and repeat. Mars is forever.
STEPHEN: The “Stars on Mars” set is Celebrity Purgatory. It exists on a separate plane from Celebrity Heaven and Celebrity Hell. How long you spend there depends on how #canceled you were during your life as a celebrity. This is distinct from Celebrity Limbo, which is where you go if you die before you become a celebrity.
ANDREW: How long will we be here?
STEPHEN: A few weeks longer. See you guys next week.