Atarus is away for the holidays, so this week I’m afraid you’re stuck with me. And I have to kick things off by apologizing for the lateness of the recap. Sometimes family descends upon us during the festive season and gobbles up our television time. Anyway, on with the show!
As we join the final six this week, they are at Fisher Beach in Miami, Florida. Branson splits the group into three teams of two; Erica and Nicole, Shawn and Sara, and Heather and Gabe. Erica isn’t pleased about working with Nicole again, and Gabe would rather be with a different partner as well. Seems that Shawn and Sara are the only ones happy with this grouping.
Their task this week is to make a 30-second advertisement for Virgin Galactic, a new chapter in the Virgin Airways empire. Branson is excited when he speaks of space travel for the average person, becoming a reality within the next few years. The teams will have $4000 and 48 hours to create their ads.
Shawn and Sara come up with the catch-phrase “Virgins in Space”. They plan to get sound bites from people on the street and put them together to create an ad that’s a bit risky, but attention-getting.
Heather tells us that this challenge is right up her alley since she creates videos for a living. She says that if she’s beaten by Erica and Nicole, she’s not only going to have to quit her job, but she’ll have to kill herself as well. She and Gabe decide to try and appeal to Branson’s softer, emotional side with their ad.
Erica and Nicole decide to take a familiar path once again. What would make a client want to fly Virgin Galactic? Why, a sexy flight attendant of course! Forget the Mile-High Club; now we’re headed for the Hundred-Mile-High Club! The girls are giddy with this nugget of inspiration.
Shawn and Sara pitch their idea to the production guy, and he’s relieved that he’s not going to have to build a cheesy spaceship or something. This is, of course, the perfect segue way to the Brunette’s cheesy stewardess costume and mock first-class cabin. They get props from the production team for a well-planned ad though, as they’ve drawn each scene out and given thought to everything from their lines to their costume.
Gabe and Heather present their plan to production, and Heather expresses concern that they’re not actually going to be filming anything – the plan is to use stock footage of space travel to come up with a moving and inspiring ad. They even plan to use Branson himself, because “you can’t have a Virgin ad without him”. Gabe says that he wants to make Branson cry with their creation. Heather just doesn’t want to lose to the ‘bikini models’, who she claims are the bane of her existence.
Shawn and Sara head out to the streets of Miami to get footage for their advert. As luck would have it, it’s raining cats and dogs outside, and they’re trying to catch the morning rush hour crowd. Even by offering passers-by $20 for their time, they don’t seem to be having much luck. Of course the weather clears up eventually and they end up with some great footage.
Meanwhile, Nicole is gussied up as a futuristic flight attendant and Erica is having a lot of fun directing her in the commercial.
Both Heather and Gabe, and Shawn and Sara have some difficulties in the editing room. They can’t seem to agree on exactly how their ads should run. But everything works out for everyone, and at the end of the final day they are all pleased and confident with their final products.
It’s time for Sir Richard to view the ads, and everyone gathers together. First up are Heather and Gabe, and although their ad is pretty good, it’s rather mechanical and Discovery-channelish. They’ve used footage from the first moonwalk, along with a dramatic voiceover and a clip of Branson winking at the end. Branson himself laughs at his own image, but seems underwhelmed with the ad. So much for pulling on his heart-strings.
Next comes the ad from Shawn and Sara. It’s quirky and fun, with comments from the people on the street they had filmed, gasping at the idea of virgins in space. The real catchy line is “it will be everyone’s first time”. Shawn explains that the ad is in the style of Virgin, and that they took a risk by making it somewhat risqué.
Finally, Erica and Nicole’s ad is shown. I have to admit that I liked it quite a bit, even if it wasn’t really brand-specific or what Branson was looking for. It looked like an old-school, cheesy vision of what high-tech will be one day. And of course Nicole’s stewardess outfit was shiny and extremely low-cut.
Branson explains that he has chosen what he thinks are the two best adverts, but in a twist he’s going to let the group decide amongst themselves which one is the worst. Erica and Nicole immediately realize that this will have nothing to do with the videos – the other two teams will base their comments on past actions and the friction between them.
Not ones to sit back and wait for the axe to fall, however, Erica and Nicole tell Heather that their video isn’t original because they only used stock footage, and Shawn and Sara’s video had bad lighting. Heather cranks up the “nice” act and sweetly tells Erica and Nicole that their video is good, but she sees it as something from a Disney theme park rather than a television commercial. The bickering continues until they all decide to just write down their thoughts and leave it at that.
Branson returns to the room and collects the slips of paper with each teams’ choices on them. He quickly looks them over and asks if everyone voted without prejudice. They all say they did indeed, but you have to wonder how honest that was on everyone’s parts. Branson says that he will take their comments and votes into consideration.
Back at the hotel, Nicole and Erica have a little chat with Shawn. They decide that it’s time to air everything out and let everyone know how they feel. Good plan, girls. If you’re the ones leaving it’s a wonderful idea to have everyone hate you and celebrate your loss. If by some miracle you’re sticking around, two enemies playing the game against you would be a huge plus as well. [/sarcasm]
Heather is confronted by the brunette bully brigade, and Nicole calls her ‘duplicitous’. Not since Ghandia’s branding of Ted in Survivor: Thailand as ‘disingenuous’ has a big word sounded so out of place. Heather defends herself, saying that she was being tactful. Nicole and Erica don’t care – a lie is a lie and Heather is two-faced. Erica says that Heather’s true colours are coming out, and Heather says that no one can see anyone’s true colours in a game such as this one. Irony, anyone?
After a brief confrontation with Gabe, Erica gets emotional and says that she’s been an outcast since day one. Hmm, I guess she’s already forgotten about Candida somehow. Anyway, she’s crying over the fact that she’s tried to be nice and now people are still attacking her for that very reason. Let me just say that I don’t think Erica’s such a bad person, she just has no idea of the effect her actions have on others.
Shawn and Heather rehash their conversations with the brunettes, and Shawn mentions that they’ve all complained to Branson about the girls. Interesting. He adds that he told them the other two teams might be sad when they leave, but there’s a chance they might be dancing on their graves instead.
It’s time to meet up with Sir Richard now, and he tells them that it is difficult to sell what they haven’t yet experienced. They’re going to be taking a ride a special plane that is used to train astronauts, where they will experience zero gravity. How cool! Sara doesn’t seem to agree – remember, she has a huge fear of heights. Heather doesn’t seem too sure either.
Branson informs them that only two teams will actually board the craft – one team will be left on the tarmac. Once aboard, the final two teams will have to shoot an additional 15 seconds to add to their commercials.
The three teams meet up on the tarmac, ready to find out who is leaving and who will board the zero gravity plane. Shawn and Sara’s video was voted the best, and Branson explains that although the branding was sketchy, the shot of Space Ship One impressed him. They get their tickets and board the aircraft.
Branson tells Heather and Gabe that their message was clear as a bell, but they missed the boat on the creativity side of things. Nikki and Erica nailed the creative bit, but their message was unclear. In advertising, Branson explains, clarity is key, so Heather and Gabe are staying in the game, sending the brunette bully brigade home.
Sir Richard hugs Nicole and thanks her, telling her that he needs to speak with Erica. He tells Erica that he can’t stick around for the flight, and asks her if she would stand in for him. As the final four pat themselves on the back onboard the plane, Erica boards and says “Hi guys, I’m back!” Jaws drop and the silence that ensues is deafening. Funny stuff. Branson explains what’s going on; that Erica will be judging them on what happens during their flight. They all look nervous, and Gabe points out that maybe Heather picked the wrong time to air her feelings to Erica. Uh, yeah.
Branson has one more trick up his sleeve – only one team will make it past Miami. The other team will be eliminated after this final phase to their challenge. Ouch.
The aircraft takes off, and they all appear to be excited. Everyone except Sara, that is. As the staff explain how they should prepare for zero gravity, Sara asks for confirmation several times, and tells the camera that she doesn’t understand how she won’t be dead by the end of this. Poor girl – I really feel badly for her.
The first time the plane hits zero gravity, everyone has fun flipping about, dancing, doing cartwheels and generally acting like drunk teenagers. As is the case with drunken kids, however, someone is usually sick. Heather sits down and gets some airsickness bags at the ready.
Sara and Shawn get set to record the rest of their ad, which they have decided will be of two people trying to ‘hook up’ in space. With the lack of gravity, this is pretty tough – providing them with another catch phrase, “no wonder there are virgins in space”.
Gabe and Heather are preparing to record their bit when the aircraft hits some major turbulence. Heather does not handle this well, and Erica tells her that she needs to go and sit down in a chair where she can be strapped in and try to calm down. Erica is really being nice and trying to help Heather, but of course it’s in the back of my mind that she might be trying to get Heather out of the running here.
Heather has a full-blown panic attack, worrying that her heartbeat is too fast. She might have a stroke or an aneurysm or a heart attack or something. Erica stays with her and comforts her as Gabe gets ready to shoot the extra footage himself.
Just as Gabe gets the cameras rolling, Heather cries out that she needs to have the plane land – right now. She’s had enough. How long would it take to land this thing, do you think? Probably longer than it would take to get Heather feeling better, but I guess that’s not the point.
Erica comes rushing through the cabin to tell Gabe that Heather needs to be on the ground, and … that’s it. The show is over and we’ll have to wait until next week to find out what happens.
In the clips though, the final location is Branson’s private island in the Caribbean, and we hear his voice telling the final two that they need to make “the speech of their life”.
It’s looking good for Sara to clean up here and take the game. Shawn is great and I think he has real talent and creativity, but Sara has shown time and time again that she has what it takes to lead a massive company. She’s faced her fears and stepped up to the plate week after week, and if she doesn’t win it I for one will be very disappointed.
Next week atarus will be back – hooray! In the meantime, if you have questions or comments about this recap, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Over and out!
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