“CordCutting.com Watches” is a new recurring feature in which the CordCutting.com staff watches and reacts to a streaming show or a movie.
STEPHEN LOVELY, Editor-in-Chief: So, folks, what did we think of this one?
SHARI WEISS, Editor: I don't know if I'm relieved or disappointed that we didn't get the millionth round of Ariel vs. Lance in this episode.
DEANNA NGUYEN, Streaming Editor: This episode really shifted away from the Ariel vs. Lance rivalry. I was surprised that Ariel barely had any screen time.
ANDREW COLE, Internet Editor: We got a lot of Ronda instead. And then we lost her! You’ve finally done it, “Stars on Mars.” You’ve broken my heart.
SHARI: I'm going to be blunt: I'm annoyed. I'm annoyed that the “Previously on” for this episode basically gave away who would end up going home, and I'm annoyed that the preview for next week showed that Adam is in the bottom three. I want my “Stars on Mars” spoiler-free, please!
ANDREW: You all don’t skip the next week’s preview?
STEPHEN: Oh, you’ve absolutely got to watch the previews. They’re better than the actual show.
SHARI: I live for the previews! But this one went too far.
DEANNA: But, Shari, they’ve proven that not everything they show in the preview ends up making it in the final cut. Remember the Marshawn Lynch-Richard Sherman argument that we were excited about after the first episode? It never happened!
SHARI: I'm still angry about that, now that I think about it.
DEANNA: Give us the “Stars on Mars” Uncut Version!
STEPHEN: This episode felt like the uncut version to me. Nothing was happening! And I blame you people for willing this into being. You wanted your nice boring faves to have happy little times, and look at us now. A whole hour of reality TV without anyone screaming and crying. We will never get this hour of our lives back.
ANDREW: No drama, Stephen?! Kinda seemed like Cat is going to be on the warpath against lovable Andy.
STEPHEN: Yeah, in the last five minutes of the hour-long episode! I was really missing Evil Lance. He was borderline charming in this episode. It made me sick.
DEANNA: Lance charming? *barf emoji*
ANDREW: Lance has entered the silent phase of his stay. I didn’t mind it.
STEPHEN: Well, then, I suppose you were all glad that we got Base Commander Andy Richter as our leader for this episode.
SHARI: “I'm the base commander, bitch!” It was interesting how everyone immediately got on board with Andy being base commander — and how it almost bit Cat in the ass. She thought having Andy in that role would give her a “leg up.” It nearly gave her a one-way ticket back to Earth.
STEPHEN: Yeah, let’s get right into that. We had a sort of double-whammy mission this time around. First, they just send some folks out for supplies and force them to navigate without a compass. Frankly, I think it would’ve been more fun to see them try to navigate with a compass. I would have loved to have seen Paul Pierce and Cat Cora argue over how to orient a map or triangulate a position.
ANDREW: But, but, Mars doesn’t have a magnetic field … Don’t kill my immersion in this show, Stephen.
STEPHEN: Huh, I actually did not know that. Thank you, Andrew. Anyway, the little intro mission actually just serves to set up this week’s real emergency challenge, which sees our crew dealing with a “2001: A Space Odyssey”-style rogue onboard AI.
SHARI: It was kind of hilarious and nonsensical that the risk was that Andy and Adam would “die” if they were exposed to the Martian air when we've seen multiple eliminated contestants take off their helmets and expose themselves to that same air. And you know what? I'm pretty sure they're still alive.
DEANNA: *gasp* Does this mean we can live on Mars one day?
ANDREW: They set out for a HAL experience, but it was more of how I side-eye my Alexa-enabled ecobee thermostat when it randomly overhears me talking.
STEPHEN: There were three ways for the crew to beat the AI: We had Cat and Paul trying to unscrew some kind of control panel outside, the jocks trying to bike a certain distance on the exercise bike, and a few other people playing some kind of elaborate game of “name that tune.” It was, frankly, very stupid.
DEANNA: I think the biggest issue I have with these missions is how they’re splitting people up into teams and not really taking risks. It would’ve been fun to see the musicians/non-jocks do the electric bike part and the jocks do the “name that tune” challenge.
SHARI: What did the biking aspect have to do with intelligence, anyway?
STEPHEN: What did any of it have to do with intelligence?
SHARI: Well, the musical task seemed to require the most brain power, though Tinashe definitely had an advantage being a musician herself.
DEANNA: I did a corrupted AI-themed escape room and that felt more realistic and thrilling than this mission.
SHARI: Escape rooms scare me. I've never done it and don't think I will.
STEPHEN: Well, I don’t think we have time to unpack that, but thank you for trusting us with that, Shari.
ANDREW: We support you, Shari.
DEANNA: At least you don’t have to be stuck on Mars with C-listers.
STEPHEN: At any rate, the crew only needed one of the three tasks to be successful, and they cruised through with two: The cycling team and “name that tune” team finished at about the same time. The “name that tune” answer was, naturally, “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley.
ANDREW: Finally, one for the memers. They got Rick Rolled!
STEPHEN: I thought that was actually a really interesting moment, especially given what you said in this piece last month, Andrew.
ANDREW: Some of my finest work.
SHARI: They finished the mission, but we got some drama courtesy of Cat's reaction to being in the bottom three: “You guys were playing games in here, we were out there killing ourselves. Doesn't count for sh*t.”
ANDREW: Cat’s version of “killing ourselves” is her stumbling on a space rock.
STEPHEN: Cat’s being dramatic. She absolutely deserved to be in the bottom three. All she did during the challenge was to literally fall on her face.
SHARI: Cat point-blank told them, “I spent hours in the field risking my life for the team.” And she technically sorta did.
STEPHEN: She absolutely technically did not! If tripping over your own feet is mortal danger, then I have been living a daredevil’s life.
DEANNA: Cat ate sh*t and immediately thought that the world (Mars) was ending. Come on now.
STEPHEN: Should Cat even be blaming Andy for this? Mission Specialist Adam had a lot to do with choosing the bottom three.
DEANNA: I think Adam outsmarted Andy and made the latter doubt himself on who they should put in the bottom three.
ANDREW: It seemed to me that Adam protected his favorite players and shifted the blame to the people who were outside all day. Adam also proudly announced that he wasn’t a part of the elimination. Adam is playing the game, and he is playing it well. I see he has moved up in this week’s power rankings, and rightly so.
DEANNA: I think that response from Adam really shook Andy up because he thought they were in it together but no, this is a survival game and alliances have already been made. And I don’t think Andy anticipated how badly he muddied the waters between him and Cat.
SHARI: You guys are right. In letting Adam get his way with who should be in the bottom three, Andy created an enemy in Cat.
STEPHEN: I’m not sure I buy Cat Cora’s line that unscrewing screws was the toughest gig in this episode. Lance and co. were over there biking a marathon.
ANDREW: Honestly, they don’t have access to an electric screwdriver on Mars? Seems like the supply crew prioritized bacon and wings over the TRUE necessities.
SHARI: Too true, Andrew. Don't forget about the rosé. Apparently that's more essential than real equipment.
STEPHEN: Of course, in the end, Cat escaped elimination.
ANDREW: And given how pissed Cat was at the end of the episode, I can’t wait to see how breakfast is going to go in the next episode.
DEANNA: Cat says she’s competitive. Does that include sabotaging her enemies by giving them food poisoning?
SHARI: I didn't even think of that, Deanna! Or she could trash the remaining food (leaving a secret stash for herself, of course) and make everyone go back to surviving on the bare minimum. Starvation, that'll teach 'em!
As someone who can't stand Lance but likes both Andy and Cat, I'm excited to see them be the new Lance and Ariel. Bring on the bickering!
DEANNA: Something tells me Andy and Cat’s rivalry will make Lance vs. Ariel look really tame.
STEPHEN: I’m still more interested in Lance and Ariel. And speaking of that rivalry, the balance of power definitely shifted after this episode’s lamest moment: Ronda Rousey’s self-elimination.
SHARI: When the start-of-episode preview for this edition included the old clip of Ronda missing her daughter, I immediately thought, “Oh no. Are they teeing us up for her to self-eliminate this episode?”
STEPHEN: The self-eliminations are absolutely ruining this show. We’ve had six total ejection phases (one was a double) and literally half of them have featured self-ejections! Terrible.
DEANNA: Agreed. Like yes, it’s a mental game and it’s only natural people get homesick the longer they’re up in space, but that just makes eliminations not as high-stakes/serious.
SHARI: I was really disappointed by Ronda's decision. I thought she could've won it all. She said it herself: “Nobody knows their Mars sh*t better than me.” But her growing homesickness got in the way and “Earth [was] calling.”
STEPHEN: Oh, boo-hoo. Very pathetic that these celebs can’t handle a two-week sleepaway camp that they’re getting paid to attend. They shouldn’t even let the celebs quit. Make them play by the dang rules!
ANDREW: Man, you all are tough on Ronda with an 18-month-old at home. I agree, but sheesh, what will you say when I take paternity leave?
SHARI: Are you trying to tell us something, Andrew?
STEPHEN: We try to offer competitive benefits here at CordCutting.com, but I do think you should expect to be back at work by the time the kid is 18 months old. We have blogs to write.
DEANNA: I didn’t have any strong opinions on Ronda in the beginning but in the last few episodes, her charm really grew on me. So yeah, sad to see her go but I can understand wanting to be home with her baby.
ANDREW: I’m really going to miss the friendship between Ronda and Marshawn. You could tell they really enjoyed each other’s company.
SHARI: OK, Marshawn jumping into the airlock to hug Ronda goodbye was downright precious.
STEPHEN: You guys are soft. Me, I’m retroactively updating my opinion on Ronda: She does not have the reality TV sauce. That’s not necessarily a personal failing — I think I would be pretty boring on reality TV, too — but it’s a problem when you put yourself on my TV. Go home to your family, Ronda! Get out of my sight. We should’ve kept that “Bachelor” lady.
ANDREW: Look on the bright side: You got to keep Lance.
STEPHEN: Let’s hope next week’s episode is better than this. If I don’t see some screaming fights soon, I’ll be ready to self-eject myself from the “CordCutting.com Watches” hab.
SHARI: Don't be a quitter, Stephen! Then you'd be no better than the self-eliminating contestants you're criticizing!
STEPHEN: You’ve got me there. I guess I’ll see you next week.