“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: We have to start by talking about the near-disaster that almost happened. I don't mean on “Stars on Mars.” I mean with me. My DVR (yes, I still have one of those) did not record the new episode. Were the Martian gods conspiring against me this week? Thank goodness FOX came to my rescue — I finally realized I could watch on the network's website.
DEANNA NGUYEN, Streaming Editor: I only watch on FOX.com unless for some reason they decide not to let me watch the newest episode, in which case I hop on over to good ole DIRECTV.
STEPHEN: This is a very CordCutting.com conversation we’re having. I’m an antenna TV guy myself.
ANDREW: We should probably talk about the show. Should we start with the Marshawn Lynch-Lance Armstrong feud?
SHARI: First time we see Marshawn this episode, he's giving Lance the finger. Or I'm assuming that's what he was doing, as it was blurred out.
DEANNA:I noticed that too and I was like, it’s not because of any hand tattoos, right? Because they do that for Korean reality TV shows — tattoo = taboo.
SHARI: Oh, you're teaching me something new, Deanna! Thank you!
STEPHEN: I think they’d only do that on American TV if there was a swear word or something in the tattoo — which I suppose is possible. I didn’t research Marshawn’s tattoos ahead of this conversation.
DEANNA: Marshawn’s beef with everyone doesn’t have any merit, like, why are you so upset about one small thing? It’s honestly surprising because he started off as this comedic relief and now he’s the one who instigates unnecessary drama.
STEPHEN: Marshawn's beef seems super fake even by the standards of reality TV. That's not to say that it won't have an impact on the show; it's just to say that I think he's full of it. Totally fictitious drama.
SHARI: I think the notion that Marshawn is capable of cooking up a fake feud is giving him too much credit. And it’s not fake to Lance! He said he thought he and Marshawn would be “friends forever.” Poor Lance. Not.
DEANNA: When Lance said that, I snorted. Like you’re a grown-a** man and you’re sad because you thought the guy who’s in a competition reality TV show with you would stay as your BFFL until the very end? But you have no issues bullying and showing obvious disdain for Ariel?
STEPHEN: Well, I don’t know if those things are mutually exclusive. The popular kids showed obvious disdain for me in high school, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t have friends. Quite the opposite, really.
ANDREW: Speaking of friends, how about Cat Cora name-dropping Oprah?
SHARI: Let's be clear: Oprah didn't call Cat because she wanted Cat to join her hangout with Harry and Meghan. No, she wanted Cat to cook for Harry and Meghan. That's not the brag you think it is, Cat. You were part of the help.
ANDREW: “Hold up Harry, I know an Iron Chef who can come through.” — Oprah, probably.
STEPHEN: I love Lance's take on the queen, by the way. He's absolutely right. Caring about the queen as an American is undignified.
SHARI: Stephen, let the woman rest in peace.
STEPHEN: Can’t do it. Too patriotic.
ANDREW: We now call to order this meeting of the House Un-American Activities Committee…
STEPHEN: If McCarthyism had actually been about royalists, this country would be a much cooler place.
DEANNA: Speaking of systems of government…
SHARI: Yes! After her failed attempt at winning base commander last episode, Porsha vowed to try again, but “play it not so on the nose this time.”
DEANNA: Love that she was like, “You all can campaign for me. I’m just chilling.”
STEPHEN: She also debuted a special bra for the occasion.
ANDREW: “Base commander bra” is a vibe. It’s not the bra itself, but it’s the power imbued to the bra that gives you base commander energy. Side note: maybe there is a product deal here for the “Stars on Mars” online gift shop.
STEPHEN: You want to buy the bra? You could always write to Porsha and ask nicely.
SHARI: Porsha was delighted to finally ascend to the throne, but Lance said in a confessional that she was “playing all sides.” Uh, isn't that the game?
ANDREW: I don’t think these people know what a game is sometimes. I will leverage all my powers (mental, physical, social) to win at Monopoly.
DEANNA: Wait — physical?
SHARI: So the first thing they had to do under Porsha's reign was… have a mental health day. They had two choices: play football outside the hab or have a spa session inside the hab. I guess Cat's spa supplies came in handy.
STEPHEN: I liked the bit where the “spa day” revived Lance's will to compete. Uh, temporarily, anyway.
SHARI: Lance is no longer a spa day virgin.
DEANNA: Anytime Ariel and Lance are in the same room together, the tension feels like it’ll snap at any minute. But good call on his part — I would not want to sweat profusely in a space suit while playing football. No thank you.
STEPHEN: After the recreational hour, things got political again.
SHARI: When Marshawn point-blank told Porsha, “We decided Paul is going to be the mission specialist,” I was — no joke — yelling at my screen, “Don't do it, Porsha!”
STEPHEN: Marshawn threatening to overthrow Porsha is more fake beef, but it's pretty fun, so I'll allow it.
DEANNA: I’m so glad she wasn’t persuaded and chose Tinashe as her mission specialist. Girl power!
STEPHEN: I noticed she waited until she learned what the mission was, though. Has it always been the case that they can wait to see what the mission is before choosing a specialist? Why has nobody taken that into account before Porsha?
DEANNA: Great point, Stephen. Maybe the rules changed and it was just so subtle that we didn’t notice before?
STEPHEN: Maybe! Anyway, this week’s mission had the celebs crawling around in vents hunting for an alien intruder. Question: Which trope did “Stars on Mars” do better, “2001: A Space Odyssey”-style rogue AI or “Alien”-style sci-fi horror?
ANDREW: I’m going to go with “neither.”
STEPHEN: I'm leaning the latter. Watching all the celebs crawl through the vents was pretty fun.
ANDREW: Marshawn was FAST!
DEANNA: I would’ve paid big money to see someone shoving other people away in the vents. This is survival, people! Play the part!
SHARI: If Paul wanted to get revenge, he could've thrown the mission so Porsha would've been up for elimination.
ANDREW: Paul was basically riding the bench this mission.
DEANNA: Correction: every mission.
STEPHEN: By the way, Deanna was talking just last week about how uninteresting the teams tend to be in these challenges. But Porsha finally did what the showrunners could not: She created a hilarious team of rivals by sticking Lance and Ariel together. Deanna, were you satisfied with the resulting fireworks?
DEANNA: YES! I’m so glad Porsha paired Lance and Ariel together. Great minds think alike.
SHARI: Everyone took note of the odd pairing right away, but I appreciated Porsha's comeback: “This is about adaptability. It's not about comfortability.” She had a point there.
STEPHEN: Oh, come on, no she didn’t. She was just stirring the pot and hoping they’d fight.
DEANNA: But rather than see them add more fuel to the flame, they ended up working in harmony together!
STEPHEN: Well, best-laid plans and all that.
ANDREW: Ariel and Lance definitely did better than some of the other celebs in this challenge.
STEPHEN: I was losing it at Cat facing down her recurring nemesis: screws. The poor woman simply cannot deal with a Phillips head.
DEANNA: Cat: *Immediately passes over the screwdriver* “Here, you do it!”
ANDREW: Like, really, didn’t they teach them righty tighty, lefty loosey? It looked like they were tightening the vent bolts rather than removing them.
SHARI: Who thought it would be a good idea to give her that kind of task again?!
STEPHEN: Anyway, despite Cat’s worst efforts, the crew pulled off the mission and found the intruder. And I have to say: I feel sick. I feel betrayed. I am livid. I cannot believe the stupid RADDOG is back.
ANDREW: The whole time I was saying to myself, “Please don’t be a RADDOG, please don’t be a RADDOG…” How much did they pay them for this sponsorship? I want to see the RADDOG quarterly numbers.
SHARI: Props to Andrew for calling it. I didn't have RADDOG on my radar. (See what I did there?)
DEANNA: I was really hoping it’d be a staff member dressed up in a ridiculous space monster getup and chasing the crewmates in the vents. That would’ve been so entertaining. Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed that it ended up being a RADDOG.
STEPHEN: I hate these cop dogs so g**damn much. Defund the robot dog police.
SHARI: Them's fighting words, Stephen!
ANDREW: I cannot take more scenes with the RADDOGS. Unless they put freakin’ laser beams on their heads, I’m so over it.
DEANNA: There is no greater threat than AI dogs that can’t even bark.
SHARI: They do too bark! It sounds really weird, though.
STEPHEN: Shari, don’t defend the robot narc dogs.
SHARI: Fine! Then let’s talk about the elimination instead. Ariel and Lance put their differences aside to successfully work together. And how were they rewarded?
STEPHEN: With bottom-three status, of course!
DEANNA: Ariel, Lance, and Paul Pierce.
STEPHEN: After the mission, I figured we were looking at the departure of either Lance (for political reasons) or Cat (for “not being able to use a screwdriver” reasons). Once Cat was kept out of the bottom three, it seemed like the writing was on the wall. Lance must have seen it, too, because he suddenly volunteered to go home.
ANDREW: Maybe Lance realized that he was somewhat wrong about Ariel and that caused him to put the target on himself. Maybe.
SHARI: That is a generous reading, Andrew.
DEANNA: Or he’s just tired of the social warfare. He’s made several remarks about people playing sides and not being his BFFL.
SHARI: Poor baby.
STEPHEN: I think I’m with Shari in being skeptical of the “Lance learned a valuable lesson” theory.
SHARI: Ariel looked like she was going to burst into tears during the whole elimination process.
ANDREW: At least she didn’t go on a warpath immediately after about being in the bottom three…
DEANNA: She’s an empath. I know everyone says they’re serious about winning, but Ariel looks like she really does want to win and it sucks that she found herself in the bottom three. Girl isn’t gonna let that happen again.
SHARI: I really think she is most deserving of winning when all is said and done. No one has taken the game as seriously as she has. But as Lance has learned, likability matters on Mars. (And Earth, too.)
STEPHEN: I think everyone is taking it a little too seriously, to be honest. I think that’s part of why we’re seeing so many self-ejections — the celebs are competitive, and they’re desperate to look like they’re going out on their own terms. They’re trying to protect their pride and dignity. But what are we watching this for if not to see our C-listers sacrifice their pride and dignity? Let's be honest about the appeal of reality TV, here. I'm not watching that degenerate cyclist because I hope that he avoids humiliation. I am watching to see him receive humiliation and inflict it upon others.
SHARI: As much as I can't stand Lance, I didn't want Porsha to accept his resignation. And once again, I can't help but wonder how things would've gone down if the evacuated player wasn't someone who quit. Then who would've gone home?
DEANNA: Was there an instance where someone elected to eliminate themselves and the base commander didn’t eliminate them? Like, “I hear you, but no. You’re staying.”
SHARI: No, but we need that to happen.
STEPHEN: Instead, we got everyone agreeing to let Lance go and then pretending to be sad about it, for some reason.
DEANNA: I, for one, am thrilled.
SHARI: Cat's tears over losing her “ride or die” — whom she's spent, what, like four days with? — seemed genuine.
STEPHEN: Yeah, but Adam, Tinashe, and Ariel were completely full of it. They just oversaw the complete destruction of the Jock Caucus. They should be celebrating! All that’s left of the once-mighty anti-Ariel faction is Cat desperately trying to forge an alliance with Paul.
ANDREW: Cat’s game plan: move on to the next-weakest person on the whole show and try to form a top-level alliance. Yeah, we’ll see how that works out.
DEANNA: She’s avoiding the young’uns at all costs.
STEPHEN: By the way, I didn’t get the chance to bring this up earlier, but at one point while watching this episode I was on my phone during the commercials and one of those Samuel L. Jackson Capital One commercials came on. For a wild second, I thought the show was back on and that Samuel L. Jackson had shown up. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
SHARI: Imagine! “Ge these muthaf**kin' intruders out this muthaf**kin' hab!”
ANDREW: No, Shari, he would’ve said, “You are on this team, but we do not grant you the rank of base commander.”
SHARI: Confession: I don't know that quote.
STEPHEN: Yikes! Let’s call it a week so that Shari can go home and watch “Star Wars.” See you guys next week!