“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: Note to self: Never piss off Cat Cora.
DEANNA NGUYEN, Streaming Editor: Poor Andy!
ANDREW COLE, Internet Editor: Another episode where one of my favorite people gets cut. Why “Stars on Mars,” why must you hurt me like this week after week?
STEPHEN: Things started going well for Cat — and poorly for Andy — pretty much right away in this episode. Somehow, she got archrivals Lance Armstrong and Ariel Winter to both nominate her for base commander.
SHARI: It was surprising to see them agree on something!
STEPHEN: Ariel was once again angling for the “mission specialist” role, of course. Anything to stay out of the field!
SHARI: Beyond wanting the safety of the mission specialist position, I think Ariel just knows where her strengths are: bossing people around on an intercom. She is better used giving instructions than being in the field.
ANDREW: We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though. What about the election? Porsha was the other celebronaut who clearly wanted the job.
SHARI: Unfortunately for her, only two people agreed with her.
DEANNA: Porsha made it clear in previous episodes that she didn’t do alliances, so I think that hurt her at this moment. Sucks, but this is when the character development kicks in.
STEPHEN: I expected more strategy from Porsha, to be honest! If you see the two major factions agree on the same candidate, that probably means it’s not a good time for your first run for office.
ANDREW: I saw that you dropped her in our power rankings because of that.
SHARI: She was not a good sport about it, either: “That's not fair. Y'all stupid.” Insults — that'll get them on your side, Porsha!
DEANNA: Why did Marshawn leave the room in the middle of voting only to come back and say he voted for Lance? Did he need to check in with someone behind the scenes to make sure he’s voting for the right person?
SHARI: I think he left because he was trying to abstain from voting. Then they forced him to return and he threw a protest vote on Lance.
STEPHEN: I loved Marshawn voting for Lance. Way to throw away your vote on a third party, Marshawn!
SHARI: Marshawn learned nothing from the 2016 election.
ANDREW: Have we covered all of the candidates?
SHARI: No, one person voted for Paul Pierce. Who the heck was that? Paul himself?
DEANNA: Oh, 100 percent.
ANDREW: I wish they would do a “Survivor”-style reveal of everyone’s votes. It seems like a great moment to see where allegiances lie and get a direct head count. This whole, write it down on scraps of paper and tally it in front of everyone, just takes the drama away from it.
STEPHEN: That would be good! Anything to add a little drama. This one didn’t have much — it wasn’t a blowout, but we got our expected winner, Cat Cora.
SHARI: I had to chuckle when Cat immediately named Lance mission specialist and then Ariel just as immediately told her she didn't need to do that yet. I know what you were doing, Ariel.
DEANNA: I don’t see Cat vibing with any of the younger crewmates, so I wasn't at all surprised that she chose Lance over Ariel.
STEPHEN: Cat did take that opportunity to sweat the two of them for a little longer. Lance appeared to have to convince Cat in the end, though she didn’t seem all that hard to sway.
DEANNA: They had a bonding session, which I guess was sort of sweet. It’s nice seeing old people still making friendships. But when Lance is one of those people …
ANDREW: I like how Cat says she’s “not here for drama,” then she runs directly to the person who is brimming with the most drama around.
STEPHEN: At any rate, that’s our setup: We have Cat as the leader and Lance as the mission specialist. That brings us to this week’s emergency mission, which seemed especially bland to me. It was something about solar panels; I don’t know, I was too bored to care.
SHARI: Allow me to explain, Stephen: A series of solar flares were interfering with the electronics. They needed to repair the solar panels before another flare brought dangerous radiation. That involved replacing the damaged cables and connecting them to the transformer. Just when they thought they successfully completed the mission, the reason why the theme was “trust” became clear: A second solar flare hit, elevating the radiation on “Mars.” To protect them, the celebronauts' helmets lost their transparency and they had to get back to the hab together before the radiation became “life-threatening” — without being able to see where they were going.
DEANNA: Leave it to Shari, Context Queen!
SHARI: I'm really just a TV nerd.
ANDREW: It seems like those cables should be shielded from solar flares …
STEPHEN: Once again, one wonders if this is what Mars would really be like.
DEANNA: The first part of the mission was pretty simple.
STEPHEN: I enjoyed Cat constantly telling Andy to shut up during the mission. “CLEAR THE LINE!” Some much-needed drama for a relatively boring mission.
SHARI: I'm going to be hearing Cat demanding “clear the line” in my nightmares.
DEANNA: Next time someone keeps blabbering, I’m going to use that.
ANDREW: Uh, oh. I feel targeted!
STEPHEN: Andrew, the line.
DEANNA: Please clear the line, Andrew.
SHARI: When they were walking back to the hab unable to see where they were going, they looked like drunk toddlers.
DEANNA: It was hilariously cute! The panicked “I can’t see!”
ANDREW: Here’s the thing: They literally had guidelines to bring them all back to one central location. Why in the hell did they have to navigate them to a random location in the middle of the wires? Just say, “Hey, that cord you just plugged in? Follow it back to the panel and meet up there.” Done.
STEPHEN: Oh my God, you’re right.
SHARI: Logical geniuses like you aren't allowed on Mars, Andrew.
ANDREW: I’m just saying, it would’ve worked better than Lance’s instructions.
DEANNA: I will say I loved that bit when Marshawn got a little pissed off at Lance for walking him into the rover. He’s like, “You had one job!”
SHARI: It ended up being a very close call. They made it back into the airlock with literally seconds to spare — nine, to be exact.
STEPHEN: They love to say dire things on this show. This time it was Paul saying that if they didn’t make it back to the hab, “they’re all dead.” Even in the world of the show, that doesn’t seem like it would be the case. They can’t eliminate everyone except for Lance and Cat.
SHARI: Imagine if this turned into a show where it was just Lance and Cat living on faux Mars.
STEPHEN: Sounds pretty watchable, to be honest.
DEANNA: Hard pass from me.
STEPHEN: I really do have beef with the show for its lack of consequences. Why does the challenge matter? If they succeed, they eliminate someone. If they fail, they still eliminate one person. The only thing that the mission affects is who is eligible for elimination!
DEANNA: I’ve been saying this for weeks! It’s so low stakes. And it’s obviously not fair when some people are set up for failure.
SHARI: I agree with you that there's little risk involved. The stakes are fairly low. But I guess since the premise is to ultimately find the “brightest star in the galaxy” based on mission performance, the missions are a necessity.
STEPHEN: But there’s not really any actual incentive to evaluate eliminations based on who is “mission critical,” because the team’s success or failure doesn’t really have any impact on individual players. They could just ignore the missions entirely and just play this like a bare-bones version of “Survivor!”
SHARI: True. We know the elimination decisions aren't really coming down to who was or wasn't “mission critical.” It's just about who's popular and who's pissed off who.
STEPHEN: It feels like there’s another (better?) show lurking just beneath the surface here — one that ditches the game-show stuff and instead takes the premise of “could stars survive on Mars?” a little more seriously. What if they had just made a bunch of C-listers stay in the hab for, like, six months, and subjected them to genuinely miserable conditions? That would’ve been a great show.
ANDREW: Yeah, and what if we replace Shatner with Billy the Puppet from the “Saw” franchise? Now we’re talking …
SHARI: Maybe we should talk about the show that actually exists.
DEANNA: Stephen, please clear the line.
SHARI: Our bottom three this episode were Adam Rippon, Andy Richter, and Paul Pierce. And I think Paul should’ve been the one to go.
DEANNA: Yeah, I was extremely disappointed that Paul wasn’t eliminated. The only interesting thing he has contributed so far is the viral video controversy with the strippers.
STEPHEN: Yes! Are you guys familiar with Paul’s wild Instagram Live scandal?
DEANNA: No! I had no idea he got fired from ESPN over a video of him with strippers.
SHARI: You know, I like to consider myself well-versed in media scandals, but I was not familiar with that one! But it gave me another reason to dislike him.
DEANNA: But like Tinashe said, it doesn’t sound like it was that bad. I don’t know what the protocols are for protecting an athlete’s image but at least he wasn’t caught with drugs.
STEPHEN: Weeeell, he actually was smoking a big blunt at one point in the livestream.
ANDREW: Actions have consequences, Deanna! We’re talking about the illustrious ESPN here. They have very, very high standards when it comes to their talking heads.
STEPHEN: CordCutting.com standards and practices forbid us from going into too much detail here, but I really recommend reading about Paul’s scandalous livestream. I remember that he made a point of noting the Sabbath (this was a Friday night), saying, and I quote: “Shabbat is poppin’.” He seemed sincere about this. It was really a remarkable event.
DEANNA: Oh, well that explains it! They just decided not to add in those details in the episode. I wonder if the casting director purposely chose crewmates who had a controversial past. Obviously not all of them do but just so the showrunners can get people to talk online.
SHARI: That's like Celebrity Reality Show 101.
STEPHEN: Well, it’s that and the fact that he probably wouldn’t need “Stars on Mars” money if he was still cashing ESPN checks.
ANDREW: And he will keep earning “Stars on Mars” money, for now. Andy was the one kicked out.
SHARI: Andy sealed his fate by putting Cat in the bottom last episode. To be fair, when he did that, he didn't know Cat would be the next base commander. She got her revenge.
STEPHEN: Cat may just be too much of a hater, or at least too efficient of one. I was hoping to enjoy a couple of weeks of the Cat-Andy feud, but it’s already over.
DEANNA: Which is weak, in my opinion. People who eliminate their enemies early on have no backbone! Where’s the drive to defeat your enemies at the end, when everyone’s at their most competitive/strongest?
SHARI: I would argue she made a mistake. Even though she insisted this wasn't “personal” and was actually about “business and strategy,” now everyone knows what a fierce competitor she is. I think she put a target on her back.
DEANNA: “Fierce competitor” is putting it nicely, Shari. I agree with Stephen here and would call her a hater.
ANDREW: If Cat was a mixologist and not a chef, all she would be pouring is Haterade. She was fueled by spite electrolytes the whole episode.
SHARI: Sick burn, Andrew.
STEPHEN: So where does the elimination leave us? The Cat and Andy rivalry has clearly been resolved in Cat’s favor. Andy’s departure probably hurts Ariel more than it hurts Lance, but it was also interesting to see Lance keep Ariel out of the bottom three. He also didn’t push for Adam Rippon to be ejected, which is what I would’ve done if I were him.
DEANNA: I’m so excited for the return of Lance vs. Ariel. They might seem like they’re on good terms now but that’s because the Andy vs. Cat rivalry was at its peak in this episode.
SHARI: But is the jock contingent falling apart? At the end of the episode, Marshawn was pissed with Lance's poor guidance (“Lance had one job he didn't do — to not lead me into the damn rovers”) and said he wants him to “go.” I can't wait to see them fully turn against each other.
STEPHEN: I’m not reading too much into that. I think I still like Lance’s odds better than Ariel’s.
ANDREW: Ariel will fight every episode to be mission specialist from here on out, and it may be her way of staying in the game.
STEPHEN: Yeah, but she’s not going to pull that off every time. Ariel is bound to mess up a challenge one of these days and become the consensus pick for elimination. Maybe after she’s gone, Lance will finally get serious at taking down Adam.
DEANNA: That’s if she ever gets eliminated! She’s not going down without a fight, Stephen, no matter how much you want to see her break.
SHARI: From your mouth to God's ears, Deanna.
STEPHEN: Alright, folks, any final thoughts on this episode? Did we miss anything?
ANDREW: The toe thing.
STEPHEN: The toe thing?
DEANNA: Yeah, the toe thing!
STEPHEN: What was the toe thing?
SHARI: Marshawn said Porsha has an “attitude problem” but it had something to do with her second toe being longer than her first!!
ANDREW: He said, “I don't know about strategy, but if a woman's second toe is longer than her first toe, she's got attitude problems.” I thought that just meant you have Greek heritage.
DEANNA: That toe analogy caught me off guard. But we get it, Marshawn; you’re Lance’s biggest fanboy. Nothing else matters (unless it’s their toes).
SHARI: I couldn't understand why Marshawn was treating Porsha like the enemy all of a sudden. Is this like in elementary school when the boy tries to hide his crush on you by being mean to you??
ANDREW: My second toe is longer than the first. Do I have attitude problems?
SHARI: No comment.
STEPHEN: I somehow missed the whole toe thing, but I’m grateful that you guys caught me up. On that note, though, I think it’s time to tiptoe on toward next week. Until then: Please clear the line.