A Ridiculous Display
The Apprentice: Martha Stewart: Episode 10
Previously, Marcela was the Project Manager of Matchstick, which led Ryan and Amanda to decide that Marcela was a weak leader who didn't want to do things their way (and therefore she was weak and undeserving, et cetera), so they might as well sit back and let her take the fall. Unfortunately, Martha, instead of sending Marcela home, asked Amanda and Ryan instead why they sat back and let their leader fail. Oh, dear, they were so busted, those two. Try as they sputtered and whimpered to Martha, in the end, Amanda, who defied Marcela more openly and who also stupidly admitted to Martha that she couldn't respect her own Project Manager, was send packing. Marcela managed to skirt through again. This week, it's three versus three. Who will be sent home at the end of this episode?
Oh, and in Martha's recap of the previous episode, she actually manages to insert a very blatant advertisement for the Tassimo Hot Beverage System. I sincerely hope Tassimo gets what they paid for in the previous episode because otherwise, someone from Tassimo may end up without a job at the end of the week, the poor dear.
Evening at the Loft. Jim is telling Dawna of what the world is like according to Jim. He tells Dawna about the "nice long talk" he had with "the dear girl" Marcela before she went down to see Martha. "I was literally telling her verbatim what to say!" he says in his typical cartoonish manner to Dawna. Dawna tries to ask about what Marcela has to say about herself but Jim just says not much before going on to talk about how Marcela isn't a threat to the Primates. He clarifies to Dawna that he didn't talk to Marcela just for "that reason" but doesn't explain why, adding that he'd rather have Marcela against him at the end rather than Amanda. Dawna sighs quietly under her breath as she sits down to eat the bowl of cereal that she has prepared for herself.
To the camera, Jim introduces this guy that I've never heard before, Sun Tsao, who, according to Jim, told Jim that "everyone observes the victory but no one observes the strategy that provided the victory." Okay. I love the shirt Jim is wearing but I think he needs to brush up on his reading a little bit more. Still, at least the quote seems right, if nothing else does, I suppose. Jim adds that he has a strategy to victory for his team and for himself. Back to the Loft, he scoffs that perhaps Marcela "could" become Martha's Apprentice but asks Dawna rhetorically of the chances of that happening. Meanwhile, Dawna just goes while she eats her snack, "Right... right... right!" I think she's only half-listening to Jim, heh. Jim makes this face as if he's trying to look adorable so that Dawna will say something once he's run out of breath, and Dawna tells him that her strategy is different from his. She'd like to test herself against the best and the strongest so that should she win, she will feel that her victory is well-won. To the camera, Dawna says that Jim may be cocky and confident from all appearances, but she thinks that he is a very insecure man inside. I don't know. An insecure man will never have the balls to play the cartoon villain on a TV show. I guess in the end it all boils down to what people think of this show. If you think that Jim is breaking some unwritten rules of fair conduct and sportsmanship in this show, then yes, Jim is a bad, bad boy. But if you think that Jim is playing the best he can within the rules set down by the game, then he's alright, he's just playing the game differently from Dawna. To me, there's no right or wrong in what either one of them is doing. In fact, at the point this scene takes place, I like Jim and I'm starting to warm up to Dawna, who proves that she can get down and work with the Primates very well once the culture shock wears off, and both of them are polar opposites but not necessarily in the right or in the wrong.
Jim scoffs at Dawna's philosophy and says, "Anyway, that's just fruit for thought." Really, he says "fruit" instead of "food". Dawna continues to the camera that Jim's strategy of intimidating his opponents while helping the weaker opponents in the "boardroom" (oops, wrong show, Dawna) only makes her more determined to be "stronger". As Jim bends down to get his chicken from the oven, he tells Dawna that no one remembers how you win, only that you "won". Dawna yawns behind her hand. Later, the door opens. Marcela and Ryan walk back in. The sight of Marcela causes Bethenny to scream in joy. She actually runs up to Marcela and jumps on that poor woman, wrapping her arms and legs around Marcela like an overexcited howler monkey until Marcela collapses onto the floor. Jim and Ryan share a more discreet embrace, although it's a full-body hug like Bethenny and Marcela's more animated embrace. These people are getting along so well, aren't they? Jim whispers to Ryan, "So you got rid of her after all!" Bethenny squeals at Marcela after overhearing Jim, "So Amanda's gone?" Marcela nods and Bethenny squeals some more in delight as she lies on her back and kicks the air. I don't think Amanda endeared herself much to Jim and Bethenny while they were all living together in the Loft. I wonder why, hmm. Dawna just runs her fingers through the back of her head and goes, "Wow!" Okay, so there's at least one person in the Loft who is sorry to see Amanda go.
Marcela tells the camera in an unconvincing manner that she underestimated herself back in the conference room and "obviously" it is not her time to go so she will keep "fighting". As the Apprenti sit around for chit-chat, Jim tells Marcela while the others look on, "You gotta lotta strength and I think Martha sees that too, and I think that's good. Good for you, Marcela. Way to defend yourself! Good for you! God bless!" Marcela just holds her bottle of beer (labelled blurred out by the editors) tighter. Jim clinks his own bottle against Marcela's, Dawn goes "Wow!" again as she rolls up her eyes, and Jim congratulates himself to the camera. "Jim is a mastermind of this game! Jim is the master! And there is no denying it," he cackles to the camera. He says that Marcela is "along for the ride" at this point of the game. Back at the Loft, Marcela drinks and stares unhappily to the distance. I don't think she is as confident of herself as she told the camera earlier.
Morning. The phone rings and Leslie picks up the call. Oh, it's Martha! Martha tells her to inform the Apprenti to show up at Martha's Turkey Hill Road so that they can all see her garden - Leslie goes, "Oh my God!" like the fake toady that she is - and be introduced to their next task. Leslie, at this point, goes, "Oh! Perfect!" Huh? It's "perfect" because they will be getting their next task? Memo to Leslie: dial down the tongue-sphincter action, honey, it's becoming too obvious to everyone watching the show. Leslie puts down the phone and turns to Bethenny who is putting some no-doubt organic jam onto some bread, telling Bethenny, "We're going to Turkey Hill!" Bethenny has this hilarious wide-eyed tight-oval-mouth expression that has to be seen to be believed. Between her wonderfully plastic facial expressions and Jim's, I think they are both made from the same clay that spawned those delightful MTV Celebrity Deathmatch clay figures.
With Charles and Alexis standing silently at the sideline like new statuettes in her garden, Martha enacts a staged scene with three corporate-looking people where she explains her obscenely beautiful garden as being modeled after Monet's garden in Giverny, France. I want that garden so much until I think of the work needed to maintain the garden and decide that my own measly grass patch isn't so bad after all. The Apprenti show up and "Good morning!" is exchanged all around. Martha welcomes the Apprenti to "paradise" - oh, be quiet, Martha, I'm already stewing with envy - introduces her guests as Doug Osterhoff and Margaret Brooks, two of GM's top marketing executives, as well as Renee Maguire, the co-chair of Buick's dealer marketing advisory board. They will be the judges on the Apprenti's next task: to create and launch an "innovative launch display in a showroom to highlight and promote Buick's new Lucerne". Unless Martha is planning to start her own line of cars with Buick, this episode is pure product placement with no pretense of even being relevant to MSLO and I don't like that at all. Oh well. Each team is given a showroom at a dealership, an office space at the nearby McCann-Erickson agency, and - here Jim wags his eyebrows in a most unbecoming manner that reminds me of the villain the the Disney cartoon Aladdin - $65,000 seed money to use. Doug, Marge, and Renee will judge which team has the best showroom launch display. In an obvious voiceover, Martha then explains that she has to leave town for business - hmm, money-laundering, perhaps? - so she'll leave the Apprenti for now. Charles or Doug, I can't really make out, then tells the Apprenti to "start" their "engines". Haw, haw, funny... not. Martha wishes them luck and tells them to put as much work into their showroom as she puts into her garden. Those poor gardeners of hers, they never get the credit they deserve. Martha has better be careful or they will start cutting off the roses.
Brainstorming begins for the Matchsticks during the trip to their office space at McCann-Erickson. Leslie, the Project Manager for the Matchsticks, announces that "people" like "clever things". Ryan, seated beside her, agrees. Marcela, in the seat behind those two, puts her chin on the back of the partition separating her from Ryan and Leslie and does her best imitation of a bobble-headed doll. Leslie wants their presentation to be "simple but clever". Maybe she can start by shoving Lucernes into people's front lawn and telling them that they need to buy at least six of them. Leslie tells the camera, "I really wanted a victory! I've slowly started asserting myself and now just the gloves are off and let's just go for it because I just don't have time for nonsense any more." I guess she'll now spend three instead of six hours brainstorming with her team mates? Ryan comes up with a tagline: "It's that nice." The camera gives a close-up of his face as he speaks and I never noticed how oval his head is until now. He looks like Bert with more hair. Does that make Jim his Ernie? Ryan explains his idea: a family of five will dine at a table in five-star restaurant, with the fifth member of the family being the Lucerne. Ryan even wants a napkin on the Lucerne's lap. Good luck with that, buddy, with only $65,000 for the computer-generated effects in the video presentation. Ryan says that the Lucerne is so nice that everyone will love to have it to dinner. Marcela laughs in disbelief but to the camera she says that Ryan's idea is "so awesome". She's only saying that because she has no idea of her own, I suspect.
Leslie doesn't look too pleased and Ryan notices that, saying that Leslie is looking at him like he's "crazy". Leslie asks for more ideas, saying that they should try and gather many instead of trying to focus on one idea. Uh oh, that was how she led the original Matchstick to ruin during her previous Project Manager stint. Ryan's face is immediately black. He tells the camera that Leslie is "stubborn" and that "when good ideas come out, she often shuts them down without really thinking about them." What, Leslie is stubborn because she refuses to think that his idea is a good one? Ryan's getting rather too big for his britches, isn't he? Leslie tells the other two to "let's just get all the basics", whatever that means. Ryan continues his bitchfest to the camera, saying that Leslie's stubbornness gets "in the way of good business strategy (read: Ryan's ideas) and business plan (read: Ryan's ideas - HOW DARE YOU THINK THEY ARE NOT BRILLIANT!)". Back to Leslie and Ryan in the vehicle, Ryan magnanimously says that his idea is "clever, not genius, but clever". Leslie is skeptical. "I like it!" Ryan says, as if that is all the validation he needs for his plan's "cleverness". "I really like it," he says. Whatever, Ryan. What-freaking-ever.
Sure, I have seen some ads where the car is portrayed as a close member of the family. Mercedes has a beautiful advertisement which portrays how their cars have served families long and well. But these ads don't feature a car at a dining table. I am not saying that a car can't be creatively shown to be at a dining table but the Matchsticks should remember that they have a very short period of time to get their display in order and they don't have that much money to get dazzling special effects to make the whole "the Lucerne is joining the family for dinner" scenario come to life. It can be done, of that I have no doubt, but not with the time and the resources Matchstick has at the moment. Ryan is thinking way too big there.
In contrast to Leslie's "clever but simple" plan (of which Ryan's idea certainly isn't), Dawna is telling the other two Primates as they travel to their own office space that they need to come up with something "big, absolutely wow". Jim promises her, "We'll find it." It is quite telling that Dawna is seated at the back while Jim and Bethenny are seated in front so that Dawna can address the two of them simultaneously while making sure that neither Jim nor Bethenny will feel lost in the back and not being part of the team, unlike Leslie and Ryan sitting in front while relegating Marcela to the back, thus shutting out Marcela from conversations unless she takes the initiative to speak up. Dawna tells the camera that she is the Project Manager again for Primates-R-Us and she is excited that this might be her third win as a Project Manager. At this late stage of the game, a perfect 3-0 record would give her a tremendous advantage.
Bethenny tells Dawna that they need to come up with a "sentence or something" that can be used as a tagline. She suggests, "Driven by elegance." She thinks that it's a good line because, as she tells Dawna, "It insinuated that you are elegant." Bethenny tells the camera that she really likes her idea and adds that the biggest mistake a team can do is to spend too long "stressing over ideas". "Pick something and go with it!" she says. Oh, she's definitely talking from experience there. Isn't that right, Leslie? Notice that she's not like Ryan talking about how her Project Manager was a loser for not going for her ideas, oops, "good business strategy and business plan". She says that she likes her idea and stresses that her team need to act fast, which isn't the same as Ryan's "Pick my ideas or you will all lose, damn it!" yammerings. I just want to point this out because I don't think Bethenny gets the credit she deserves from people watching this show when she deserves to be given credit. Back to the show, Dawna says that she likes the idea and Bethenny quickly turns to look at her, saying in disbelief, "You do?" She's like some little girl happy that she has finally done something to meet her dearest mother's approval. Dawna allows that "so far" that's the best tagline they have. Bethenny nods and resumes brainstorming. No black moods and spoilsport-like hissyfits there.
When they arrive at their dealership showroom, the Primates get to examine the Lucerne. Both Jim and Bethenny announce that they like the car while Dawna nods with a dazed expression on her face. She explains to the camera that she feels excited about seeing the Lucerne but she also feels worried because she realizes that they have a "huge room" to fill with their display. "It's going to be a big task," she says. Meanwhile, Jim has gotten down to crouch and stare at the front of the Lucerne. "I love the front," he says, "It's very - brrr! - aaarrr, predator-esque! You know, it's ruff! Ruff!" He then proceeds to growl at the car - "Nnnnnn-nyah nyah nyah!" before gnashing his teeth at the car. Dawna watches him from the corner of her eyes while she pretends to jot down some notes in her notebook, maybe stepping closer to the exit just in case. "It's tactile! I like it," says Jim as he stands up. Oh, he's so funny. The sight of him on all fours barking like a dog at the car is simultaneously hilarious and begging for someone to put on a dog collar on Jim and spank him for being a bad, bad, bad boy. Can someone photoshop Jim being spanked by Wendy Pepper of the first season of Project Runway in that manner?
Martha's Moral of the Week time. This one is vague and discontinuous, no doubt because the episode, on the whole, has nothing to do whatsoever with anything Martha Stewart does. Martha talks about having a strong opinion about your own ideas, you shouldn't second guess yourself. This, bizarrely, leads to a scene of Martha serving roasted rhubarbs for her guests. Martha says that we should never look for trends to follow, we should develop trends instead.
At the Matchstick showroom, Ryan gets a call from Leslie, who is back at the office. Leslie asks Ryan to get her the measurements of the platform, the walls, and the ceiling "right now". I don't know whether he actually follows through with that. Instead, I see him wincing as Leslie is still talking and puts down the phone. See a pattern here? Last week he ignores Marcela and this week he shuts down Leslie because these Project Managers fail to fall over themselves to praise his brilliance. I then see him telling the camera that he has this idea of filming a commercial to go with their presentation so he gets a video production team to come and help him film it. Ryan gives directions and watches as these folks come up with a clip where, as Ryan describes it, a car arrives at a "nice Italian restaurant", modeled after the showroom, and parks itself at a dessert table, just like how the Lucerne is set up in the showroom. He takes the crew to a restaurant where they get close-ups of tables. Ryan says that he feels good about the task and adds that he has held up his end of the "bargain" and get the video shot. Obviously this confessional is made after the end of the task. Ryan cheesily tries a pun, saying that all they need now is to "put a bow on the top" and "that will be a wrap".
Back at the Primates' office space, Jim is demonstrating... uh, something about "three-way thrusts, vertical thrusts, and two horizontal thrusts" about car (sorry, I am pretty bad at car terminology) to the construction crew by erecting pencils over a piece of white paper. He's on a roll. Then again, he's an ad-man and presentations of products should be what he is good at. Dawna tells the camera that they have brought in some experts to help them set up the boardroom and all the Primates need to do is to given them a plan on paper for them to "build from scratch". By the way, the bald vaguely-Chinese bespectacled guy among the crew looks eeriely like the son of a friend of mine, a Hong Kong lad who went to the US to finish his studies in architecture. It couldn't be... could it? Anyway, Bethenny, as confused as I am, asks Jim about the plans Jim is drawing on the notepad. The camera zooms to one of the experts looking bored. Jim and Bethenny get into this completely confusing exchange - he is mumbling inaudibly and she is babbling about "thrusts" - that threatens to turn ugly when Jim starts asking Bethenny snidely whether he needs to explain everything to her. "That won't take long," he tells her sarcastically. Bethenny says he doesn't have to and adds that he can do whatever he wants to do. To the camera, Bethenny says that she and Jim are like a married couple that "sometimes fight and make up and then fight and then make up..." What can I say? Thrust is very important in a relationship, you know, vertically, horizontally, although maybe not three-way. Back to Bethenny, she tells the camera that she just wants to work with Dawna and be professional so she doesn't know why Jim is snapping at her for. Because he's jealous?
Bethenny, fed up with Jim, announces that she's going to the prop house. Jim quickly asks her, "You're going by yourself?" Oh, he definitely doesn't thrust her. She tells him that she doesn't want to go with him. Those two start arguing again in that confusing manner where they are talking over each other about completely different things. The poor construction crew try to pretend not to hear anything while Dawna looks increasingly exasperated at those two that she is apparently babysitting. As Dawna talks extra-loudly to the guy seated beside her in the way people tend to do in order to cover up any embarrassing scene that the guest may be witness to, Bethenny stands up and noticeably sniffs a little. And Jim, despite what he says about not caring what Bethenny wants to do, keeps casting her sidelong glances when he thinks that she is not looking. Seriously, these two are already married as far as their interactions go. Dawna tells the camera that she is worried that the people they have hired won't work professionally when they see that the Primates (read: Jim and Bethenny) aren't behaving professionally. She has a good point that, which is why I can see her as the winner. As Dawna tries to talk about plans, she can hear Bethenny and Jim arguing from the room next door. Bethenny is taking Jim to task for not explaining what he was going on about back there to her, arguing that on her part she explains everything she has done to Jim. Jim keeps repeating to her face that she is wrong. Jim tells the camera that Bethenny is ridiculous to "even challenge" him on the matter because Bethenny "sucks" at doing anything that is conceptual. That isn't what Bethenny is arguing with him about but... oh, forget it. Dawna comes out to tell those two to calm down and "not do this", causing Jim to protest that he's being the bad guy again while Bethenny is some "wounded soldier". If the shoe fits, my dear. Dawna tells him that they worked "so well" together the last time - I guess she never heard the part where Jim called her a rogue member - and they need to win this time. Jim agrees and walks away, to the prop house maybe, while Bethenny follows Dawna back into the office. I have to hand it to Dawna: she manages those two very well without antagonizing any of them.
Over at the Matchstick camp, Leslie has also hired some professionals over the phone. These folks charge "two hundred dollars" by the hour and there is a "five hundred dollar minimum" charge. Leslie quickly agrees with that rate and tells this woman at the other end of the line to "let's go". Leslie explains to the camera that she calls up a "PR specialist" to discuss the concept and "try to narrow it down to make it more clear and more tangible". What can be more tangible than a big-ass Lucerne parked at the dining table, my dear? So this woman tells Leslie to add the following text to their ad: "You enjoy the best and have just about everything. Someone who can take you anywhere you want to go... fast." Sheesh, is that PR specialist for real? That sounds like the text for some sleazy personal ad. Marcela watches silently as Leslie happily takes the so-called PR specialist's advice to heart. Leslie says that she feels comfortable with that advice because that PR specialist is an expert. Hey, for five hundred bucks I'd be an expert too. Call me, Leslie! Leslie adds that she now feels much better about the concept and now they can "strengthen it along the way". Marcela and Leslie now go to the editing space where they work with this guy named Frederick. Leslie explains to the camera,"I basically started dictating... well, I basically produced the video." Ryan is there in the editing office too and naturally he is not happy when Leslie explains to him about the PR agent's recommendations of the changes needed in the commercial. Ryan rubs his face wearily - oh yeah, he doesn't take to anyone not following his ideas or decisions well - as Leslie explains pretty much that the Lucerne is no longer driving to the restaurant but instead into Leslie's big-ass mouth. Or something. Leslie also changes the tagline to "Those who enjoy the luxury of choice... choose Buick's new Lucerne." Oh Leslie, she should've called me for advice. I'd even make it rhyme and it'd only be for $200. Ryan predictably complains to the camera about what an ass Leslie's plan is compared to his brilliant plan. "It doesn't make any sense!" says Mr I Wanna Dine With My Lucerne. He doesn't understand how they can have a car at the dinner table in the showroom without the car going to dinner in the commercial. He has a point there. He should have charged $500 for his advice to get Leslie to listen to him. Ryan says that Leslie is making a bad decision. Back at the editing office, Ryan fiddles with the the most top button of his shirt - take it off, take it off! - while Marcela sits cross-legged on the chair as the two of them listen to Leslie assuring them that the new plan is "beautiful". Ryan shakes his head and looks murderous even as he just tells Leslie that everything is "alright".
"Thrust turns here, into that.. here, boom! There's thrust! Lightning! Everything!" says Jim the next morning as he surveys the Primates' showroom. That sounds exciting. I must read more magazines on cars. Dawna explains to the camera that they have staggered the work on their showroom, with the fabrications coming in first to put the display together and the printers following up later to put up the signs, et cetera. But their fabricators are late, causing work to come to a standstill. Dawna calls up the fabricators, explaining that the lighting crew and all have arrived but work can't start until the fabricators have done their thing. The fabricators stall for time - they are called fabricators after all - and Dawna calmly but sternly tells them that work cannot be delayed. The fabricators promise to show up as soon as they can.
As they wait, Bethenny and Jim have a hilarious discussion where they are both talking like they're aliens from another planet. I think she tells him, "You couldn't really gotten crazy with thrust structure! And it ain't gross!" (Sorry, I have no close captioning here.) He answers, "Tacky!" She then complains that the ceiling isn't "that high". "The ceiling is all level," he mumbles, not even looking at her face. Instead, he deliberately sits straight and looks straight ahead. Bethenny looks straight ahead as well while they are conducting this strange exchange. Jim tells the camera that he and Bethenny fight often but she, "like it or not", "looks" to him for a "certain amount of strength". That's so much like him to say such a thing and he knows it too, I bet.
But those two bond once more and make up again when Bethenny smiles and nods to Jim while Jim tells her about how Dawna wants to win very badly and she knows that if they lose, she's gone. Bethenny chuckles and says, "You think so?" Jim, oblivious to the sarcasm in her voice, says that Dawna is their biggest threat. Dawna walks outside, watching the crew at work on her way to get them some coffee. Bethenny says that Jim wants the strong to go so that he can be "neck-to-neck" with the weak at the end. She however doesn't waste her energy thinking too much about "that part of it". If she does, she'll start to wonder why Jim isn't trying to get her to go. Jim chuckles to Bethenny and says that should they lose, it doesn't matter whose fault it is that they lose because they would heap all the blame on Dawna. That's bad, I know, but you see, Jim may talk about blaming Dawna but he actually puts in effort to help his team win instead of standing back and hoping that they all lose so that Dawna will be dismissed, unlike our Golden Boy Ryan in the previous episode. And besides, everyone blames somebody else in the conference room unless their name is Chuckie so what Jim is saying about blaming Dawna isn't so heinous or unsportsmanly as the show is trying to drive home into the audience's mind. To the camera, Jim reiterates that Dawna is his greatest threat in this game. He's right, I can't disagree with him there. Jim is trying to downplay Dawna's contribution to the task when Dawna unknowingly interrupts them when she returns with the coffee to ask about the fabricators. Jim quickly tells her that they have spoken to "Mark's people". Right on cue, the fabricators show up. Dawna tells the camera that she knows that Jim will try and target Dawna if they lose in this task but she's not trying to dwell too much on that. She'd rather think about winning the task because that's the only way she is not going into the conference room. Yup, I'm liking her every minute into this show. Back at the dealership showroom, Dawna asks the other two to start a team cheer with her just to make herself feel a little better.
And then, the fabricators finally get busy. "At about, I don't know, a quarter to seven, so...," says Jim to the camera. And then it's all Jim working alongside the fabricators, Dawna giving orders, and Bethenny, um, helping somehow. Yeah, they have their fingers ready to point and blame but at the end of the day, they all work their hearts out and, to me, that says the most about this team. Dawna sums up the day by saying that she, as Project Manager, has responsibilities to "fight fires" like she has been doing all day. Everything is coming together nicely and Bethenny announces aloud, "This is so cool, I'm dying! I love it! Love it!"
Over at the Matchstick dealership showroom, Leslie watches and winces when one of the construction crew guy drills a hole into a plank. Concentrate on his biceps, Leslie, not in the drilling. Ryan and one of the construction crew guys place a rectangular and thick piece of plank at a prominent section of the showroom, the plank being the table where a lucky Lucerne will be dining on dessert at. Ryan tells the guy that the car will be there, before indulging in a passive-aggressive hissyfit by telling the guy, "Depending on what she wants to do." Yucks. To the camera, Ryan gives yet another whiny confessional about how Leslie didn't want to follow his idea, wah wah wah, she's in "no man's land". "She was never really sure where she wanted to go," he says, "what ideas were the right ideas and the wrong ideas..." Translation: Ryan's idea is the right idea, BITCH! Leslie asks the crew to make the "width of the table" a little bit "deeper". Everyone looks confused and Ryan deliberately stands aside and glances at his watch. He tells the camera that they had to act fast so he told "Bob" to just stack "platforms" to make a table-like structure and throw linens over them. "It wasn't ideal but it was better than what we had," he says. Wait, what did they have earlier? I'd like to know.
Later, Marcela rings up Leslie to let her know that Marcela has "no control" over the situation at her end so Marcela has no idea when the carpets will arrive at the showroom. Leslie insists that she needs the carpets "immediately". Marcela snorts in disgust. She explains to the camera that she has to "piece things together" for the team, of which her responsibility apparently includes picking up carpeting, picking the props, and "tying up loose ends". Marcela cuts in on Leslie's insistence that she wants the carpets now by saying decisively in a very un-Marcela manner that Marcela is sorry but she cannot get the carpets delivered in time. She looks very listless and defeated in this episode and I wonder whether she has given up. Leslie tells the camera that Marcela is dead weight. "I love her, but I need innovation. I need people... I needed another Leslie on my team. I really did!" she says. In short, Leslie needs more telephone operators to call up PR agents all over the place. Leslie, in the meantime, helps unload some furniture from the van and says, "I love to wear Armani and carry furniture! It's the way it goes!" Um, okay. Enjoy the moment then. Ryan once again whines to the camera about Leslie "lost sight of the big picture which is just the showroom" - LESLIE DIDN'T LIKE MY IDEA, WAH WAH WAH - and Leslie isn't sure what to do - LESLIE DIDN'T FOLLOW MY IDEA! Leslie observes the linen on the "table" and notes that the colors don't match. Still, it will do as, according to Leslie, "only a woman would know". That means two members of the GM judging panel will know. As will Martha Stewart. Oh, Leslie. Ryan, of course, agrees with Leslie. He'll just complain to the boss when everything crumbles to pieces because LESLIE DIDN'T LIKE MY IDEA SO SHE IS A STINKY LOSER!
Back to the Primates. Jim, in his suit and tie and all, gets on all fours to dust the carpet with his bare hands. I don't think an insecure man will do that on TV, only a desperate one. The carpet leads to the Lucerne placed on a revolving circular dais. This is like a very typical car showroom. Bethenny is sure that the judges will love it while Dawna seems unable to believe that they have actually set up the display. The GM judges along with Charles and Alexis show up later. Dawna wisely does not let Jim speak, instead alternating presentation duties between herself and Bethenny as they introduce their audience to the finer aspects of their display. Introducing their tagline "Driven by elegance", Dawna points out that they want the audience to grasp the sense of elegance of the Lucerne so they have blown-up artistic photos of the Lucerne hanging on the walls around the car like a display in an art gallery. Bethenny continues by explaining that they plan the display all around the Lucerne so that people can appreciate its sleek and elegant design while feeling like they're in an art gallery. Dawna tells the camera that Bethenny impressed her with her ideas and her presentation. The judges look somewhat impressed and they take their leave after thanking the Primates for their time and efforts.
On to the Matchstick's showroom where the judges, Charles, and Alexis step into a dimly-lit showroom. The lights flash on to reveal the Lucerne parked beside a very ugly rectangular big-ass table set up to look like a dining table. It looks like a dinner table prepared by someone who wants to dump the Lucerne for being too fat and eating too much. Funny music plays when Leslie starts her presentation which is rambling, fake, and boasts a bewildering tagline, "No valets necessary." Cheap cars don't need valets - is that what Leslie is trying to say? Leslie's presentation is either rambling and disjointed or it's edited to be such, but even so, the gist of the presentation is laughably insipid. Leslie babbles on and on about "special relationships" with cars. I've seen some creepy websites about those "special relationships" alright and I don't want to be reminded of them, thanks. Marcela thinks that Leslie is nervous and therefore she just rambles on and on. Charles stares at his watch. Right on cue, Leslie presents their commercial, which is again about special relationships with cars. The commercial looks bewildering too from how little I get to see of it - a car moving around just like that that creepy Radiohead video of Karma Police, only the day is sunnier and there is no crazy man running for his life from the car. Ryan of course once more complains to the camera about how sucky the video. I get it, dude. Leslie sucks because she didn't see you as a genius. When the presentation is finally over, Renee whispers a relieved "Okay!", as in "Okay, this is over - thank God!", that is. The judges stand around uncomfortably until they awkwardly take their leave. Leslie however thinks that they are going to "hit this clear out of the park" and credits herself for "single-handedly" helping her team win. I don't know whether to laugh at her bravado or to admire her for it.
Martha boards her private plane while talking into her phone. Is she running away to Switzerland? No, it turns out that she is making her way back to her MSLO office. She pretends to be happy and perky all about it. "Oh goody!" she pipes up as she boards her plane when her pilot tells her that the "storm" is gone. Hmm, I wonder about that storm. Is it... nah, never mind. Back at the MSLO office, the Apprenti file in and wait before the three GM judges. Margaret operates the phone to "get Martha on the phone". After some silly talk about how she is about to take off but she just has to hear about the teams' performance because she is "soooo interested, you can't imagine!". Yes, Martha, I really can't imagine it. Martha asks about the showroom displays. Doug says that the Matchstick display is confusing, especially with that car positioned by a table. Here, Martha chuckles the same way most people would when they hear that a neighbor is taking dinner with his Lucerne. "It's a little confusing" is their verdict of Matchstick's display. On the other hand, they love Primates-R-Us' display. The display "took" their breath away", says Margaret, and they love how the Lucerne is the main focus of the display. I think what she means is that people don't look at the Matchsticks' display and wonder immediately what a car is doing at a table. Margaret announces that the presentation is so elegant that Primates-R-Us is the "clear winner". They will build a kit to replicate the display to be set up in their 2,700 dealerships all over the country.
Here, it becomes clear why the Primates' display is better in the eyes of the GM folks: it is easily reproducible, which is good, and it is exactly like a car dealership display that won't confuse anyone. It doesn't require someone to grasp a concept and watch a video to understand the theme of the display. Sure, the Matchsticks' display is arguably more creative while the Primates' display is safe, but when it comes to advertising, creativity has to be balanced by usability and a concept easily grasped by the target audience. The Primates emphasized the elegance of the car, the finer aspects of its design, and how people want to get into the Lucerne and drive around feeling like a member of the Onassis clan. That is why their display is better than Matchsticks'. It's never about innovation and creativity, of which the Matchsticks' display have little of both in the first place.
Back to the show, Dawna breathes a sigh of relief and Martha congratulates the Primates over the phone. Martha explains that the Primates' reward would be dinner with Charles and Susan Lyne, the CEO of MSLO, in one of Martha's favorite restaurant the Four Seasons. Well, at least this time they aren't just eating dessert. Martha reminds the Primates that these two are the future bosses of one of them so they should try to make a good impression with Susan.
Evening at the Four Seasons. Susan makes some small talk with Charles as they wait for the Primates to show up. Charles explains to Susan that she will be meeting Jim, Bethenny, and Dawna, taking care to let Susan know that Dawna has won in all of her three stints as Project Manager. "They all work incredibly hard," he tells her. Susan wants to know what Charles think of those three so Charles offers the following: "Bethenny is all about the thing Martha loves, Jim has this tremendous amount of energy, and Dawna, I think, is someone who has potential as a real manager." Translation: his son once dated Bethenny, Jim is over-the-top and probably has rabies, and Dawna is going to win. Oh, here are the Primates, dressed in their finest. Dawna gushes to the camera about how excited she is to meet Susan, because you don't, after all, meet the CEO every day. Charles introduces Susan as someone who worked on Village Voice and founded the entertainment magazine Premiere before coming onboard to MSLO.
After they have all taken their seats, Susan asks them what they find about the so-called job interview that is their "biggest surprise". Jim offers that he doesn't know how "mentally tough" he can be until he "came here". He then goes on about how he's the "supervillain" and how he's really good at being the bad guy. Susan politely listens and nods just like how very well-mannered women do when they are confronted by someone they don't know what to make of. Since when is Jim this great supervillain anyway? His big plan to kick out Dawn failed miserably and I don't see any of his other so-called strategy (if there is any) coming to fruition on the show. Jim is all bark and no bite when it comes to his so-called supervillainy. Jim rambles about how he used the Loft in a "not entirely scrupulous" manner - what, did he snort some coke in the bathroom or something? - and offended people but it is all strategy to him. He is just taking advantage of situations, he says. Susan, meanwhile exchanges a glance at Charles. Dawna comes in to announce that she is not like Jim the same way a rat on a sinking ship tells everyone that he has first dips on the lifeboat. "Jim would rather see himself at the end with having the weakest person so that he has a better chance of winning but my strategy is...," she starts to say but Jim interrupts her to say something that I can't entirely catch because the show then jumps straight to Dawna's confessional. Dawna thinks that Jim isn't wise to bring up his "strategy" and how he is just playing a game because Dawna feels that this isn't something that Susan and Charles want to hear. Back at the Four Seasons, Bethenny explains to the politely-listening Susan and Charles that different people have different approaches (read: "I'm not with him, Susan and Charles, let me make this clear!") and Jim reiterates that this whole competition is indeed a game. He then goes on and on about this "angle". Again, the show jumps straight to Jim's confessional so I don't know what this "angle" is. Jim says that this competition is a game and people who disagree while playing the game are liars. Fine, he says that one can call the competition a "business". "The business of winning," he says.
This is what I think Jim is trying to tell Susan and Charles at the Four Seasons restaurant. Sure, it is unwise to talk about how cutthroat you are to a prospective boss of the company but this isn't a typical real life situation. Jim has to find a way to justify his behavior throughout the competition and now is a good time as any, especially when Susan and Charles are with him. I believe, by telling them that all he did was just for strategy and the game, Jim is hoping to be seen as someone cunning instead of an out-of-control lunatic. It's most likely damage control on Jim's part. Back to the restaurant, the camera zooms away as Jim, clearly relishing his role as the villain, announces to the others, "Oh, we're all feeling good. I hate you bastards but I'll kill you all later!" Ooh, I like his sense of humor.
Back at the Loft in the next evening, Ryan and Marcela are on the roof, dressed casually and with lips loosened by alcohol, and complaining about Leslie. Or rather, Marcela is nodding wearily as Ryan goes on and on about how Leslie, as Project Manager, is responsible for the execution of the botched project. Marcela says that it will be very dishonest for Leslie not to take "full accountability" of the loss. Downstairs, Leslie and Bethenny are talking as those two enjoy a brief moment of peace over coffee and cakes. Bethenny thinks that it will be harmless to ask Leslie who Leslie thinks should go home but oh boy, Leslie quickly unloads everything onto poor Bethenny, like how Ryan's idea isn't good in the first place and how Marcela did nothing during the task. Upstairs, Ryan tells Marcela that the changes to the video will come up in the conference room and naturally that is all Leslie's fault. Marcela agrees, saying that the video has nothing to do with their presentation. I don't know - even if the video has a car going to an Italian restaurant for dinner, it's still about a car going to the restaurant for dinner. The judges never even ask about the theme - they are flat-out confused by the theme and they don't like it. I don't think a well-shot video will make any difference. Both Marcela and Ryan (who is now molesting an umbrella) agree that it was a really bad idea to make changes to their video so late into the task. Downstairs, Leslie is moaning that Ryan and Marcela didn't step up in that task. Leslie tells the camera that "clearly" the Matchsticks' weakness was the lack of a creative idea rather than the execution or "initiation". With a straight face, she insists that there was never any internal struggles within the team during that task. I guess Leslie isn't good at reading Ryan's six hundred gloomy and thunderous I hate you, I love my idea, SO I HATE YOU SO, SO MUCH expressions throughout the task. Back to Leslie and Bethenny, Bethenny is now trying to keep her eyes open as Leslie drones on and on about Ryan won two tasks as Project Manager because of Leslie. Apparently Leslie's covert shoving of the Rosemary Lime Vinaigrette into shopping carts is misunderstood and underappreciated, the poor dear. Leslie can arguably be said to deliver the QVC task victory to Ryan though. "Hello! Reality!" Leslie says as she starts to dip into incoherent babbles. She chuckles, clearly expecting Bethenny to join her. Bethenny just looks bored out of her wits and silently stares at Leslie through half-closed eyes. Leslie self-consciously shuts up with a "huh-huh-huh... huh... huh... ... oops."
Conference room time. Leslie has this huge black fake flower on the left lapel of her pink blouse that she must have cribbed from Shawn, by the way. Martha is waiting in the conference room with Alexis and Charles. As the Matchsticks take a seat, Leslie winks to... oh, either Martha or Alexis, I guess. It's gross. Marcela gives an audible sigh of resignation as she takes her seat. With that, Martha fires off at Leslie, asking her why the team lost. Leslie says that the other team has a superior concept and connected better. The Primates' concept started well but didn't come together well at the end, she concedes. Martha plays the video taken of the showroom display and goes, "Oh, is that a bed?" when she sees the ugly table. Alexis dryly tells her that it's a table. "Oh, there's the table!" says Martha. She's so hilarious at times, I tell you. Charles says that their "have dinner with the car" may be a good idea "from the onset" but "clearly" the execution was a "disaster". Oh dear, there goes Leslie's hopes of pinning the cause of the problem onto the nature of the idea instead of the execution. Martha turns to Alexis and asks her whether the concept is "have dinner with your car" or "take your car to dinner", which, when I think of it, are indeed two different things. Alexis, shocked that her mother is asking her for an opinion, stammers and amusingly asks Martha to get the Matchsticks to explain it themselves. Ryan chimes up to admit that the idea is his but quickly explains that the initial concept was to portray the Lucerne as a close member of the family that the family takes the car into the restaurant with them instead of leaving it at the parking lot. This is before the maitre d' calls the men in white coats to drag the family into a padded cell, of course. Ryan says that everything comes together very well in his mind (of course, of course) but clearly, he says, the execution lost the "luster, if it was ever there" for many reasons.
Alexis says that she doesn't find the idea "that bad". She understands that Ryan's concept wants to accentuate how much we are supposed to like the car and how elegant the car is (you know, surrounded by Italian restaurant scenery and all that) but somehow the actual display misses the boat completely. Ryan of course agrees and thinks that the GM executives also failed to grasp the concept. Marcela nods. Leslie, knowing where all this discussion is heading towards, says that the whole "no valet necessary" concept was "good" and "clever" but she doesn't understand what it means. So why then did she go ahead and get her team to work around Ryan's idea? Her argument doesn't make sense to me. She's arguing that the idea was flawed, but as Project Manager, she agreed to carry out the idea. So what does that make her, if the idea was flawed? Charles, who is running this conference room today, tells Leslie that the entire display leaves "a lot to be desired". It isn't just the idea itself.
Martha now wants to know who made the video. Ryan again holds himself responsible for this. He explains what his initial idea of the video is and says that Leslie eventually changed everything at the last minute. Charles says that he didn't see that video. That's because Leslie changed everything, sheesh. Charles needs to pay more attention if he wants to speak more often. Marcela says that the video might have changed everything about their display. Charles then asks why changes have to be made to the video. Leslie gives this rambling monologue in which she uses a hundred words to say that the concept was clever in her opinion but she thought that changes had to be made to make it better. She also mentions working with her best buddy the PR agent on the video and how her best buddy agreed with her that the changes Leslie made were the best. Or something. Listening to Leslie makes my head throb with pain.
Martha points out that Leslie has lost both tasks in which she was Project Manager, ditto Marcela, while Ryan won the two tasks that he was Project Manager for. "This is kind of an odd situation here," says Martha. "Ryan, you're working with two... losers, basically," Martha says coldly, causing Marcela to look pained and Leslie to look shocked. Martha asks Ryan why he couldn't get his teammates to go along with his "good" idea. Hmm, how does one answer that kind of question? Remember, Jeff made sure that everyone followed his idea in the first episode and he was canned. David followed everyone's idea and he was reprimanded for it. How do you answer that kind of question, really? Martha tells Ryan that he should take ownership of his ideas that he believe in. I think she's trying to say that Ryan should have stood firm against Leslie when it comes to his idea, but at the same time I wonder how Martha expects Ryan to stop Leslie when Leslie wants to make changes no matter what he thinks of those changes.
Charles asks Ryan who Ryan thinks is at fault for the team's loss. Ryan accepts responsibility for the video but thinks that the execution of the concept is what killed them and he blames Leslie for that. Leslie goes, "Wow, that is so incorrect." Martha asks Marcela, who agrees with Ryan. Martha then asks Leslie, who blames Marcela. Marcela is surprised. Leslie tries to explain by saying that she loves Marcela (oh, cram it, old bag) but the difference between Ryan and Leslie (Leslie lumps herself and Ryan together on the same side) and Marcela is that... I'm sure you know where Leslie is heading towards. Marcela can't believe that Leslie is trying to blame her for the team's loss. Leslie talks about how Marcela didn't contribute. Charles wonders why Leslie, as Project Manager, didn't direct her to "do certain things" if Marcela really wasn't contributing. Leslie goes ahead to say that Marcela didn't bring any innovative ideas and how she and Ryan did everything while Marcela apparently wasted time online. Leslie hasn't answered Charles' question, if you are paying attention to her constant babbling in that unbearably fake and overly-rehearsed manner of hers. She just keeps talking like she has this big prepared speech in her head and she's not deviating from it no matter how hard Charles tries to take her out of her designated trail of thought. Marcela says that Leslie is lying and Leslie is therefore "so weak and so desperate". Hmm, did Bethenny give Marcela any prep talk before this conference room?
Martha has had enough and tells Leslie that there are apparently many petty misgivings among the Matchsticks. Leslie concurs, being the bootlicker that she is. Leslie seems to be the kind of person who will go the moment Martha speaks to her, "Lick your boots, Martha? That's perfect! Should I dress up in a chicken suit and dance on the street? How wonderful!" Martha says that the initial idea may or may not have worked but the execution of the concept didn't work. Leslie insists that her honest answer is Marcela being the weakest link compared to her and Ryan and the "records" can prove that. Charles correctly points out the flaw in Leslie's rhetoric: Leslie has the same track record as Marcela, 0-2. Leslie nods and goes, "Right!" See what I mean about Leslie being this creepy corporate toady? Charles pronounces the task as a "disaster" and says that the whole situation is "a bit of a poser". Don't ask me what he means by that poser thing because I have honestly no idea. He then tells Martha that they have to think about this and Martha agrees. It's obnoxious that Charles seems to be the one running the show but I try to remember that Martha was supposedly out of town during this task and therefore it was reasonable that she relied more on Charles' opinions in this task? Maybe she hasn't even had time to review the tapes of the task. Yeah, yeah, I'm a Martha apologist, I know. Would you believe that I haven't seen any of her TV shows or read any of her books and magazines before this show? All I know of her is the propaganda against her in the media and... well, I think I like her after watching this show.
With the Apprenti waiting in the reception area, Martha says that she has a problem with Leslie because she talks too much. "Too much," says Alexis in agreement, "and says too little." Martha says that she needs thinkers - here she taps both sides of her head with both her index fingers - in MSLO. "You know, on the other hand," says Charles, "you know, Marcela doesn't seem to have a lot of backbone. Sometimes if you're shrinking violet, you'll actually disappear!" Charles is right but dang, I think he and Jim borrow quotes from the same philosopher. Sun Tsao, is that his name? Martha thinks that they shouldn't "belabor" this matter for too long and calls Julia to send the Matchsticks back in. Martha, after all, isn't like Donald Trump and she has actual business matters to look into. Julia's "You're fired! You're fired! But I'm hired! Hee-hee-hee!" smile is always present as that lady delivers Martha's message to the three Matchsticks.
Once everyone is seated, Martha tells Ryan that they are approaching closer to end of the season and she doesn't want to see weakness where there should be strength. Therefore, she doesn't want to see Ryan, whom she thinks has potential and a backbone, give in to "advice that may or may not be proper". But if Ryan does that, won't he be viewed like Amanda as someone incapable of being part of a team? Martha then calls Marcela on her slouching posture and tells her to sit up straighter and be stronger. Oh, she is dipping into both the literal and the figurative there in one sentence. Jim will be so proud of her. Marcela is apparently beyond caring at this point so she remains slouched in her seat. No matter, Martha has a bigger fish to fry. To Leslie, Martha says that Leslie talks a lot without saying "terribly much" and Martha needs people who can think for themselves. She tells Leslie that the folks at MSLO don't run around to get consultants or focus groups to tell them what to think about. Alexis makes her mother proud by announcing that MSLO started by telling and showing people what they like. Martha reminds her - and the audience - that MSLO are trendsetters. "We are the experts. We know what's going to sell. We know what people are going to read. We know what color these people would love. We know that, and we communicate that!" she declares. It's a good thing that she doesn't say that "we" know what people will want to watch on TV because that would be inviting a free-for-all slugfest when it comes to jokes about the cancellation of this show. Martha pretty much says that Leslie is all fluff and no substance. Charles asks Leslie how she allowed the showroom to look the way it did. Martha aggressively demands to know how a car could be invited to a table that looks like "that". I have to love how Martha finds more fault with the table arrangement than with the idea of a car coming to dinner. Charles wonders how Leslie failed to see how bad things are going and called for a time-out for the team to regroup and reconsider their options. Leslie looks more and more flustered and she is clearly biting her tongue as she is called by Martha and Charles a fluff-brained blabbermouth who is too devoted to listening to so-called experts that she failed to see how bad the situation was becoming with her team. But Charles is right, though. What's most amusing though is how Martha accuses Leslie of saying too many things to make a point when Charles rambles on and on in this particular conference room.
Martha lets Ryan stay because she feels that the problem was with the execution, not the idea. Between Marcela and Leslie, however, Martha says that she prefers to keep the "do-er" over the "talker" so she's sending Leslie packing. "I just have to tell you, Leslie, thank you but we just don't need you. Ah, uh, goodbye." Wow, that is just cold, what Martha said to Leslie just now. If she keeps going at this rate, I'll be Martha's biggest fan. Leslie shakes Martha's hand, thanks her for the opportunity, and takes her leave. Outside, Marcela and Ryan hug her before they go separate ways, Leslie out of the building and the other two back to the Loft. Julia watches them leave, her smile, as always, that of a secretive "See you next week... oh, that's right, you won't be here next week, but I'm still here, hee-hee-hee!" kind of bemusement. Charles tells Martha that this "interview" exposes the Apprenti for what they are and Leslie was exposed so Charles thinks that Martha made the right decision. Don't ask me, ask Sun Tsao. He'll explain everything and more. Martha says that Leslie will be better off with plenty of "other people", just not MSLO. Alexis pretends to look contemplative for the camera. It's now time for Martha to write a letter to Leslie:
"Dear Leslie, you almost made it to the last task. However, your skills will be put to better use in a marketing or consulting company, not MSLO. Focus on what you do best and I have no doubt you will continue to be successful. I wish you well, as does Charles, and we hope you travel safely. Good luck, Martha." There's a long pause before Martha remembers that she has a daughter named Alexis who is on the show with her. "PS," writes Martha, "Alexis sends her best also." Oh, Alexis. Oh, Alexis. Here, have a hunky cameraman or two. It's on the house.
Ryan and Marcela walk into the Loft looking like two people who have just received depressing news and the door closes behind them. We're getting close to the end-game, folks, and, for me, at least, a sad good-bye forever to Martha and this most enjoyable show.
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