First off, let me start off this review with a mini-rant. This episode’s title has got to be the most unnecessarily longest, most ridiculously warped episode title I’ve ever seen. What was wrong with “Up Up and Away”? It was short, concise, conveyed the main theme of the episode, and was a nice play on the classic phrase. Shorter titles are what we need this season, considering that we’ve had plenty of episodes with ridiculously long titles already. But “Up, Up And Away In My Pitiful Balloon”? Really? Really? It’s a blatant overuse of capital letters, unnecessarily extends an already perfect title, and the content itself has little to do with the episode itself! Pitiful Balloon. Really? The only Balloon is Jo’s, and that’s barely in the episode to begin with. It’s not focused on nearly as much as some of the other vehicles, and it’s the FIRST of the contestants’ vehicles to be destroyed. So…WTF?!
OK, rant over. NOW we can start from the beginning.
Here we go with an interrupted recap once again. But, surprisingly enough, this is the first time we’ve actually seen a joke about torturing interns besides Dakota. It was nice to see that old staple return again after so long. And, also, we see yet ANOTHER Chris and numbers fail: He says it’s the final four, when it’s the final FIVE. Idiot.
For the first time since Truth or Laser Shark, we open up with Scott being relentlessly pursued through the forest by a monster. Only this time, he manages to own the monster himself rather than just run away. Some more epic Scott vs. Fang.
The entrance of the blimp had EPIC written all over it, and definitely set up the overall episode to be just the same: EPIC. I also had a gut feeling that both the words “blimp” and “zeppelin” would be used, with the latter being used by Cameron in one of his scholarly rants. Sure enough, that was the case.
From one epic moment to the next, we’re introduced to the one character we all probably would’ve wanted to see cameo: Heather. At long last. And FINALLY. Her hair’s back. It’s about time.
…And then she gets tortured. Nice.
I personally thought that it was a little tacky for Chris to suddenly whip out the money like that. It just seemed…too obvious. Like, this is kind of hard to describe, but I feel that this was a rushed and poorly-executed setup for the real meat of the episode (which I’ll get to later).
I’m seeing a clear transition in Zoey, starting with the scene where she drools over the money. First, she displays a level of single-mindedness in her greed over the money. Then she just suddenly pushes Scott down, then asks if it’s OK with him if she beats him. Then she admits to LIKING her sudden bursts of evil in the confessional, calling it “liberating.” This is a very weird and sudden character transition, and although I don’t think I’ll like it too much, I just hope that this finally convinces SOME of those naysayers that she’s not a total “Mary Sue,” or at least not anymore.
From one sudden storyline to the next, we see a sudden revival of the Cameron and Jo conflict, now turning into a one-sided/forced alliance. Clearly, this minute and a half following Heather’s cameo is the setup for all the major stories in the episode, although it was done in a very rushed and sloppy manner.
It was pretty nice to see that compilation of confessionals in rapid succession like that (even if it was interrupted and killed at the end by Lightning’s stupidity). Reminds me of I Triple Dog Dare You!
Twice. Twice now in the SAME episode. I swear, if I hear “McLean-Brand This” or “McLean-Brand That” one more time, I’m going to lose it.
That was definitely one of the most enjoyable Cameron scenes to date. In between Cameron spouting off his usual facts and crunching some numbers, we see a clear conflict developing in a fight, between Jo and Lightning…over…Cameron. Never expected THAT to happen. But this adds on to the Cameron/Jo story established earlier, and makes it a tad more interesting.
I’m not sure what to call this situation that befell Zoey. I guess it’s not right to call it godplaying…more like accidentally godplaying, or God dropping a godplaying scenario on an unsuspecting anti-godplayer. But either way, it was a crummy scene that failed to be funny, as Zoey’s rambling in between discoveries was not only not funny, but was also OOC. She’s definitely changing in this episode, and not for the better.
As if the Zoey scene was bad, the Lightning scene was worse. Just emphasizes his stupidity even more. Not just in the fact that he so loudly proclaimed what he was hiding, why he was hiding it, and WHERE he was hiding it, but that it took him so long to realize that he had just stumbled upon parts for his own machine. Fail.
It was yet another trainwreck of a scene consisting of smaller scenes in between the moment that hot-air balloon came into play. We just saw three totally original creations by Zoey, Lightning, and Scott, then get slapped with a total rip-off and rehash of Cody and Sierra’s hot-air mobile from World Tour. Nice.
Among all of these grievances, Cameron is having some amazing scenes in this episode. Going right from a Cameron-fail with the shovel on the pile of junk to a total Cameron win:
“A 747 engine! Eureka squared!”
The moment that engine turned on and Jo started getting sucked in, I was repeatedly praying: “Please let her get sucked in to a gory, bloody, Die Hard 2-style death! Please let her get sucked in to a gory, bloody, Die Hard 2-style death! Please let her get sucked in to a gory, bloody, Die Hard 2-style death!” Then Cameron speeds off and spares her. Dangit.
See, that Cameron/Jo confessional would’ve worked if they hadn’t kept it zoomed in on Cameron’s face the whole time until the very end. How many times now have we seen this with a confessional, where it’s zoomed in on the person’s face as if to shout “SOMETHING’S WRONG WITH THIS CONFESSIONAL, GET READY!” Hmm, once. Twice. Three times. This is getting way too predictable.
For the second time now, we see a scene where it just doesn’t make any sense, and is clearly thrown in there just to build up to what Heather does. There’s no reason for her to still be around. Chris specifically said she was brought in just to demonstrate the challenge. It’s just like with Bridgette in Backstabbers Ahoy! And she didn’t stick around for the rest of the episode like a cling-on. So, what gives? I mean, I don’t care how epic Heather’s cameo is. This is still just…pointless and poorly-written.
The Scott/Zoey scene was epic, though. In the midst of Scott’s obvious parody of Icarus, the banter resulting in some propeller hijinks was actually funnier than you’d think. Scott’s barely two feet away from getting sucked to his death, then walks off, walks back with a metal bar and a look that says “Winning,” and owns Zoey. Priceless.
Finally, the meat of the episode comes in. Although, once again, I have to cry foul on this: Heather was standing RIGHT IN FRONT OF CHEF, with the statuette held up so high and threateningly over Chris’s head…It…just…BLARGH.
At least Chris’s back-to-back jokes about his stubble and where he got the blimp was a nice comeback.
And…as if to create a sandwich with a gold nugget in the middle and two slices of mud for the bread, we’re hit with yet ANOTHER plothole. Why were all of Chris’s Gemmie Awards on the blimp in the first place? I guess I can understand why the million dollar case was onboard, since he whipped it out (again, illogically) earlier in the episode, but why keep all of his trophies in a blimp that he just bought? Wouldn’t he keep those in his mansion? Was he, like, planning to move into the blimp? What gives?!
And thus, we enter into the first truly overkilled cameo since Lindsay: Heather is no longer just a sideshow or part of the challenge, she IS the challenge. I guess I don’t mind that so much because it’s Heather, but still…There has to be limits to the cameos. Couple that with yet another ridiculous hybrid creature born out of this radioactivity gag, and we’re going into the episode’s climax with low expectations and a high anger level.
As if the writing just couldn’t get any worse, we’re faced with a stupid line from Scott. On top of calling himself “The Scott-Meister,” he claims that Zoey tried to vote him off. Um…OK, they only attended one elimination ceremony together in which Zoey could vote for Scott, and that was in The Treasure Island of Dr. McLean, where it was clearly established that she voted WITH Scott, not against him, and they both voted for Dakota. In the last episode, Scott was the only one who voted. So…
…W. T. F?!
OK, I’m pretty sure Heather’s laugh hasn’t always sounded that lame. W. T. F?!
Although, despite all of these WTF moments I’ve been building up, I have to admit that the episode picks up pretty sharply from that moment on, starting with Lightning accidentally hitting Cameron’s engine. From there on out, the scene is a nonstop, fast-paced thrill ride of physical comedy, intense action, and hilarious banter between the contestants. It was also good to see the Cameron/Jo/Lightning plotline build up to its EPIC climax, with Cameron betraying Jo at long last with a clever trick that we could’ve never seen coming. Devious, Cameron. Devious. It was in that final scene between the three where, at long last, finally, I found myself rooting for Lightning over Jo, and his “dollar store” line was also pretty good.
And, finally, just as one storyline for this episode comes to a close, another one follows suit. Zoey’s character transition takes full effect when she suddenly becomes…Vengeful Zoey. Taking control of a pack of mutant goats and ordering them to attack Scott. Out with the old Zoey, in with the new. There’s definitely no going back now, and I personally might move her down in my rankings if she continues on like this. And, to top it all off, we see the end of the episode’s running gag of Scott and Fang.
Did anyone else watching that honestly believe that Heather was really giving up to a moron like Lightning? I didn’t think so. Let’s face it: We ALL saw that hit coming five miles away…and that one…and that one.
And thus, we’re led into what has been built up for 19 minutes as the episode’s EPIC climax: A fight between Heather and the eventual winner of the challenge, Lightning.
Um, I’m pretty sure most fights don’t end after 13 seconds, and feature not a single punch or hit being exchanged. I don’t care if it’s a fight between a guy and a girl, I still expect some epicness. Even the Zeke/Heather fight in the World Tour finale was better than this. And then it’s ended by a third party: Cameron crashing into the blimp. Not quite the outcome I expected. And to top it all off, just when we were finally reassured that Heather was safe and back to normal following the chaos of the third season’s finale, we see her suddenly go into the ocean and never return…for the SECOND TIME. Is she dead? Is she alive? Here we go again.
This was probably the best bottom two in the season so far. Lightning and Jo are obviously the two biggest threats left in the game at this point, and were the two vying for Cameron’s loyalty the most, so it was a bottom two that genuinely had ME wondering which of them would go. Jo, for treating Cameron like dirt and betraying Lightning, or Lightning, for failing the challenge so hard when he was so close, and…just for being Lightning?
In the end, Jo is finally gone. To be completely honest, though, the reaction I expected was totally delayed longer than it should’ve been. Considering that this is Eva 2.0 who just got betrayed and kicked off, I expected a total explosion in true Eva-style. Yet she actually CONGRATULATES Cameron for betraying her? OOC, Jo. OOC.
And, of course, to finish it all off, the obvious is finally revealed to Lightning. DOI.
And that last line of Jo’s was just…plain…WTF. I mean, she’s openly saying “In your face, Lightning” when SHE was the one who just got kicked off? What does she have to boast to Lightning? Yes, Gwen said the same thing to Courtney when she lost in World Tour, but at least Gwen was able to claim victory over Courtney in one department. Lightning is still in the game, has Cameron’s loyalty, and has a one-in-four shot of winning, while Jo leaves with ZILCH. My guess it that it was either A) The writers’ sad and illogical attempt at parodying Gwen’s elimination in World Tour, or B) The line had something to do with the revelation to Lightning at long last that Jo was a girl. But still…what does that accomplish?
Overall, this episode had HUMONGOUS expectations, all set up by the epicness of Heather’s cameo, the context of her cameo, and what she attempts to do at her cameo. Even the challenge and plotlines of the episode itself were overshadowed by that cameo (which was definitely the most overkilled cameo of the season), and the cameo failed to deliver. It was built up to by a ton of illogical moments and gaping plotholes (the million being so randomly brought out, the pile of Gemmies in the blimp, and Heather still clinging on when she didn’t need to be around anymore). It built up to an epic climax with a fight to the end between Heather and whoever emerged as the winner of the challenge, but not only did Lightning barely put up a fight, but he didn’t even win! And the episode itself also severely lacked throughout the entire pre-challenge scene. The contestants wandering aimlessly through the junkyard, trying to find pieces to build a flying machine with, all of the banter and attempted hijinks between the contestants, and the overall dullness of the scene itself and what was happening was just so…so…mind-numbingly BORING. Most of the lines and attempted jokes were crap, there were some awkward pauses, a ton of OOC moments, and continuity irregularities (mostly Scott’s line about Zoey voting for him, which still bugs me so much).
In terms of the episode’s plotlines, I have to admit that they were all perfectly divided among each other in terms of screentime and focus, and all of them moved at a gradual pace so that none were rushed or overkilled. Scott was the only character who wasn’t really a big focus in the episode, and his running gag with Fang was…OK, at best. Not as entertaining as he’s been in the past, but it wasn’t ridiculous or stupid, and itt certainly wasn’t overkilled. The best plotline was the Cameron/Jo/Lightning alliance triangle, which, in and of itself, was good. Despite a sloppy set-up in the first scene, it moved on from there at a much more gradual and casual pace, building up to the ultimate conclusion with Cameron standing up for himself, defeating Jo, and winning the challenge. Cameron himself was also at his absolute best in this episode, whether he was doing what he does best (spouting off random facts, big words, and numbers), or serving as the center of the episode’s major plotline and rising up against all odds to claim a solo invincibility win, he was definitely golden in this episode. Zoey’s transition was the worst plot in the episode, featuring her being such a flip-floppity character bumbling in and out of OOC moments, spouting off boring and unfunny lines, and ultimately transforming into the polar opposite of who she was at the beginning of the season. I can understand that she needed some serious development outside of Mike (especially now that he’s gone), but this was NOT the direction I would’ve preferred.
There’s even this one extremely minor, but still seriously annoying, detail that got to me throughout the episode: I felt that a lot of sounds the characters made were just plain weird, forced, or out-of-place. Whether it was Heather’s lame laugh, Scott’s weird sound that he made as he was swimming away from Fang (rather than screaming, it sounded like an off-beat panting), Jo going “Waa!” as she was dragged off by Chef (which sounded unusually wrong and unfitting for Jo, especially in the middle of a rage fit), or Lightning almost sounding BORED as he gets beat over the head by Heather (when he kept trying to ask what that was for, or when he said that she was crazy, he sounded dull and bored as he said it, when it would’ve been far more appropriate for him to scream it out in anger), this episode definitely featured the worst voice-acting of any episode in the series, in my honest opinion. Really. It’s THAT bad.
So, overall, this episode was the biggest letdown of the season for me since Ice Ice Baby. However, I didn’t go into that episode with high expectations. Hearing all about the epicness of Heather’s cameo, I turned this episode on for the first time expecting 10/10 material. But there were just so many things wrong with this episode that it just wasn’t even funny. A stupid overextended title, continuity errors, crappy writing, horrible voice-acting, plotholes, and a cameo that failed to deliver. Miserably. The only redeeming qualities were: Cameron, Cameron/Lightning/Jo, and a genuinely suspenseful bottom two at the elimination ceremony. Congratulations, writers. After 9 kick-a$$ episodes in a row, you've finally managed to deliver an episode that will go under my "Oppose" section in my Rankings. 4/10.