We start off the episode in the same place we left the last episode…..Heather having a nervous breakdown. Heather says that she’s afraid she’s going to have a heart attack, and Gabriel takes on the responsibility of filming and shooting the commercial. The plane hits turbulence while Heather is strapped in, and she loses it and says that the plane has to go down. Erica is comforting her, and says in a confessional that while it hurt what Heather said to her, it’s not going to stop her from helping her get better. Gabriel is concerned that Heather’s meltdown will affect their performance in Richard’s eyes. After the plane lands, Shawn says that “it’s a bummer, but we’re not going to turn our back on someone about to melt down.” Gabriel says that he’s seen Erica’s softer side and he wishes he’d seen it before.
Branson meets up with Erica to discuss what happened. He views Gabriel and Heather’s commercial, and wonders where Heather is. Erica tells him she got sick and had to take the plane down. (Notice, this is the first time Heather ever had to do a really physical challenge, besides the jumping one over the valley way back when. If she had ever been in one of those tough elimination challenges, I think she would have never made it to the final four.) Sir Richard views Sara and Shawn’s commercial, and doesn’t look too happy about it. He says that both aren’t what he was hoping for, and he has a tough decision to make.
Branson meets the foursome at the airplane. One team is about to be eliminated. He tells Heather that she is ambitious and determined, but zero gravity got the best of her. He says that Gabriel didn’t stand out at first, but he noticed three things about him: focus during stressful situations, he held the respect of the group, and he was the greatest friend to everybody. He says to Sara that they had tea together on top of a balloon, and he’s seen her overcome personal fears. He tells Shawn that he was surprised by him with each challenge, and that he’s a creative leader and fearless. In the end, he hands them all the tickets, and it’s Shawn and Sara that are getting on the plane and going to the final 2. Gabriel says he’s glad to have made the final four, and it was a great adventure. Heather thanks Richard for taking a mom on the trip, and she was delighted to have this opportunity.
Branson says that it’s now down to two. Shawn, in a confessional, says that things have started with mystery, and it is ending with mystery. They travel to Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson’s private resort. Shawn says that it’s an amazing island and the fact that Richard owns all of it is crazy. He had never seen Richard so excited about anything, and you could tell that this was his home. Branson says that this is a great place to decide who wins the ultimate prize. Sara claims that “this is something to aspire to, owning your own island.” Shawn, Sara, and Sir Richard watch a few wakeboarders out on the surf, and Branson tells them to pay attention very closely. Hmmm, is that a hint, I wonder? Sir Richard then tells them they have to prepare a three minute speech to convince him and some special guests that you can follow in his footsteps. Shawn is excited, he says that this is a speech of a lifetime, he doesn’t know where to begin since everything’s riding on this speech. Sara simply says in a confessional “May the best woman win.”
Branson now states that he thinks that both Shawn and Sara have what it takes to run the Virgin empire. We then take a look at the audition tapes of both Shawn and Sara. Sara says that she is in charge of Spanx, a panty-hose company, but covering women’s butts is not her life ambition. She did stand-up comedy for a while, and in her house sometimes she just likes to go down and dance by herself. In Shawn’s videotape, he tells that he’s the CEO of LoveSac. (On a side note, while I was Christmas shopping a while back, I found that the mall near me has a LoveSac store. I was excited and giddy and went inside to look around, and durn if those things aren’t comfortable.) He also says that he’s a Mormon, but he’s the type of Mormon where other Mormons don’t know if he’s on the wagon, and non-Mormons think he’s just a regular guy. (Another side note: He’s just like me! A Mormon with style!) He says that controlled chaos is his management style.
Branson is very impressed with how far the two have come since the beginning. And suddenly, the world turns topsy-turvy as we enter…bum bum buuuuuuum….THE RECAP ZONE. The first flashbacks we see are Shawn nearly leaving because of his rudeness to the taxi driver that was actually Richard, while Sara was being kind and nice to the driver. Then the balloon trip is briefly mentioned, with Sara’s perseverance and beating out Tim and her fear of heights. Sara was again put to the test by leading the men’s team in Hong Kong, and while their team did well, Branson notes that while Sara wouldn’t lose a challenge after that, the men’s team wouldn’t win a challenge after that.
Branson then notes that the differences between the two became more evident with each challenge. Sara was an affable competitor that was focused on winning. Shawn, however, enjoyed the challenges for what they were. In Africa, he hung out with and got to know the people they were trying to help, and it’s imperative to know and understand the people you’re working for. There is a flash-forward (??) to 3 months after the teams came through Africa, and we get to see that the little town has a water pump, egg-laying chicken farms, and a field of crops planted. The men lost that challenge, and the women went on a white-water rapid reward with Sir Richard, where the boat tipped over and several of the women (including Sara) nearly drowned. Sara says that “she should have known that a reward with Richard wouldn’t be a nap in a spa.”
Some more never-before seen footage: we now know that Shawn instigated the infamous fight between Steve and Jessica. In the car over, Shawn got the group in the car to think it would be funny to push Steve’s buttons and have Michael and Jessica flirt. Of course, Steve spazzed on Jessica and Shawn said that he was seeking entertainment, but they never got to the fun part. In the next challenge, the one having to do with publicity stunts, both of the final two did a horrible job. Sara’s weakness was that she wasn’t able to communicate her ideas to her peers. Shawn’s weakness was that during brainstorming he loses perspective, there is a fine line between striving for the impossible and just being silly. Branson says that the men “obliterated that line” as names such as David Beckham and George W. Bush are tossed around as guest referees, and no press at all shows up for their event. Shawn and Michael both fail the elimination challenge, and yet Shawn’s inventiveness pulls him through as his slogan is much more interesting and catchy than Michael’s.
We’re back in recent time, and Branson is having dinner with Sara and Shawn. Sara says that she’s a leader, but she’s taken a backseat in most of the challenges. When asked, both say that Gabriel is probably the best friend they made out of all of the people. Sir Richard then notes that he was spying on them three times. The first was the taxi driver, and they knew about that one. The second one, Shawn caught on to, and he was a hippie-looking dude at the concert. The third one neither knew, and it was an old woman in Morocco.
We then continue our flashback, and Branson narrates that Shawn’s firebrands of brilliance were mixed with moments of disaster, as we see him being a klutz and spilling paint in their hotel room in the Moroccan challenge. Branson says that when they worked with Nikki and Erica, Sara weathered the storm and avoided infighting, while Shawn let his creativity do the talking. And both Sara and Shawn stood up for Candida against Nicole and Erica.
It’s the next morning, and Shawn and Sara walk into the room where they’ll be giving their speech, and they see…..all 14 of the eliminated contestants. Oh my goodness. Sara and Shawn are shocked and…….it’s time for the end of the episode!
Next week: There’s Sara, the blonde who quietly earned an undefeated record in tasks. Then there’s Shawn, the over-the-top Mormon who’s antics may have ruffled some feathers. (Hey, I’m just quoting the deep-voiced announcer here, it’s not my idea.) We are told again and again that the finale will be twist-filled, and then we see that maybe, just maybe…..the entire game could be decided on a flip of a coin…..
After the first two episodes, I thought that, you know, it looks like Shawn and Sara are getting the sparkly editing. And hey look, they are the final two. Both got very positive edits…until this “recap” episode. While Sara was edited as straight-laced, quiet, and non-ruffling, Shawn was edited as more of……a rebel. And hey, look at the title of this show. Well, you know who I’m picking to win it all. I’m firstname.lastname@example.org, and all comments are welcome. See you at the finale!