Mark opens up by saying that the final 3 contestants have passed all his tests for success, but he had one more test to give them. He needed to get to know them better, so he would be visiting their houses. We go to Linda first, headed to Boston. Mark says that Linda needs the money for herself, that her mother has trouble financially, and she’s said she needs the million to help her mother out. Mark first meets Linda’s fiance, Dan, and they talk. They are then swept to Linda’s mom’s apartment, and Linda says that she thinks that Mark enjoyed the time there, and she knows her mother did. Mark says that he knew Linda grew up in poverty, and he saw that her mother had a small apartment, so he could see where she was coming from.
And then the ball drops. They head into a very suburban area, very nice houses, Mark is expecting to head into a less expensive part of town. But they keep going further, and the houses keep getting nicer. Then they get to the water, and they pull up to Linda’s house, and he says “no way is this living in poverty.” Linda was very nervous about Mark seeing where she lived, and as well she should have been. Mark says “Linda had no idea I’d be coming to visit, she was fearstruck.” He points out all the nice things in her house, like the big-screen TV. He says “Linda played the game, she tried to play me, and she was busted and blew her chances in a big way.”
But it gets better. On the car ride back to the airport, Linda’s friend slips out that “Linda is such an internet geek.” Linda responds with “So how ’bout those Red Sox.” Mark is furious. “I was pissed.” quotes Mark. “It took everything I had not to cut her on the spot.” Everything she had said was a complete lie. We are treated to flashbacks of Linda pretending to have computer-phobia. Honestly, I hadn’t liked Linda before, but this dropped her down on my list and earned her the title of “Reality Scumbag.” We aren’t even treated to what Dominic and Femia’s homes were like, as Mark says that Dominic and Femia were just like he thought they were, and his mind had been made up.
Back at the house, it was obvious. Linda was cut. Mark said that he wanted to rip into her, but he didn’t. Linda said after losing that “I made a mistake taking him home”, and her solution was “Maybe I should have taken him to someone else’s house.” Yeah, that’s very good Linda. And then she has the gall to say “Femia is a poser, I can see right through her.” Um, hello, Miss Poverty. You’re the one that was made to look like a complete ass on public television because you said you were poor and your mother needed help, but you have a big-screen TV in your living room. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Back with the final 2, Mark tells Dominic and Femia that he doesn’t have to do the math for them. To the cameras, Mark says that Dominic had had the luck at all the right times, and had passed all tests so far. Femia is the competitor that just keeps getting stronger. Their final test, or so he says, is that they will have one minute to tell him why they should have the million dollars. And that will determine who wins the game. Femia says that “if Dominic wins, it will be Mark rewarding him for stupidity.” Dominic says “Femia, you’ve met your match, bring it on girl.” Mark wants them to be sweating bullets before they answer. It’s a neck and neck decision, and that’s what he wanted it to be at the end.
Femia is the first to give her spiel. She told him “I knew you knew that we were stars, I wanted to shine in a situation that I couldn’t control.” She adapted like a chameleon, and she wasn’t playing in a game against 15 other players, she was in a game against herself. She wanted to think outside the box, and she knew she was a strong person, but she needed to work strong with other people. To me, her speech sounded contrived and like she had written it out on note cards beforehand. But eh. Mark tells her that he’s sorry, but she is not the million-dollar winner. Femia is dejected, and says “I gave it my best shot, but it didn’t work out.”
Dominic’s turn. He says he brought the rock star attitude, he rocked the house and he rocked Mark, and they had had a great time everywhere they went. They had gotten to know each other, and Dominic hoped he could remain friends with Mark outside the game. It was the best time of his life, and he had brought the rock star to Mark. There were lots of “Dude”s spread out through his speech, and he didn’t go the entire minute. But I still thought he was more natural than Femia. Mark, of course, also tells Dominc that he didn’t win the million.
After both had left, Mark said that there was no doubt in his mind who the winner was. He put their name in an envelope and sealed it. But now there was one more test, how they dealt with failure. It was the winner’s game to lose, and the loser’s game to win. Femia says that “she was suffocating, knowing I’d come so far” and that her best wasn’t good enough. Dominic states that “Femia had money, and he didn’t understand.” We are then treated to a shot of Femia looking at a card her boyfriend had given her, which said “I believe in you” and she instantly felt better. It just reminded her of how certain doors open and close, and this one had closed, it was time to move on to the open one.
Mark had now set up photo shoots and interviews for the two “losers.” The photographer asks Dominic if he won, and Dominic says “no…” Mark had instructed the photographer to put them into loser poses and call them “loser.” Nothing hurts more than being called a loser, says Cuban.
The interview is next. He has a friend of his doing the interview, and he knows his friend can sniff out the resentment if there is any. Dominic is first. He tells the interviewer that his heart broke, when you can taste the money but don’t get it, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. He says he didn’t get a vibe from Femia that she wanted to be friends with him, but it’d be cool if she did. When asked about Femia, he said that she was “overbearing, controlling, and when she talked everyone had to listen, or she’d talk over them.” But he conceded in that she was a very smart person. “To every gray cloud there’s a silver lining” is his interview’s end. We then go to Femia. She says she had plenty of shining moments. She didn’t want to say that Mark felt sorry for Dominic, but maybe that Mark saw that Dominic needed a little help. She says that “he’s a genuine and sincere person” and outside of the game he’s a very nice guy. When asked why she was so calm, she said there wasn’t a point to being mad, it was said and done, why bother?
Mark then brings Femia and Dominic back to the house for a “reunion” dinner. Both are thinking they’re going to congratulate the other. But there’s no reunion, only them and Mark, to see who REALLY won the million. Femia and Dominic arrive at the house. When Femia walks in, Dominic says “Congrats millionaire.” But it doesn’t register with Femia. She then hugs Dominic and says “Congratulations on winning.” Dominic looks confused. “What?” “You won.” “No, you won.” “No, you won.” “Wait……what?” We are then treated to several minutes of what Mark called a “comedy of errors” as Femia and Dominic try to figure out that neither actually had lost yet. Finally Femia gasps “We got played!” and Mark shows up. “You didn’t think the game was over? It’s not over until I say it’s over!”
After a few minutes of suspense-building, Mark asks both to stand up. He waves the envelope, saying “One of your names is IN THIS ENVELOPE.” He hands the envelope to Femia to open. She opens it….and sees her own name, and she nearly faints. Femia is the millionaire!
Femia says after that she swore Dominic’s name would be in the envelope. Mark says that “Femia won the million, her one-minute speech made my mouth drop.” It was her game to lose, and she had plenty of opportunities to bash Dominic, but she never did. He was expecting a tirade from her, as on many occassions she said she didn’t want to lose to Dominic, but she kept her cool and kept the high road. Mark invites her family into the house, and Femia hugs them all, while Dominic awkwardly stands to the side. Mark states that “Dominic will be going to college, and most of his financial worries will be taken care of, he is a good friend.” The shows ends with Femia talking with her family and boyfriend, and eventually the family and co. jump into Mark’s pool in celebration. WEEEE, WE HAVE A MILLION! LET’S RUIN OUR CLOTHES!
As the credits roll, we are treated to Dominic taking Mark to a hair salon in his home town. Mark gets red highlights in his hair, but he says “Never again.”
This concludes The Benefactor’s first season. Will there be a second? Will it be, perhaps, a bit longer? Hopefully! I’m liking this whole columnist thing though, because so far I’ve got my favorite finishing 1st (TAR, Chip and Kim) and 2nd (Dominic, here). So maybe I should write more columns, so my favorites will do better. Hey, it seems to be working in Vanuatu!
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org! And Dominic, if you ever want to do an interview, I’d love to send a few questions your way! Maybe I should poke around ABC for contact information….hmmm. Anyway, toodles!