One of the things that keeps The Joe Schmo Show from becoming a mean-spirited exercise is the fact that, at any given moment, the whole thing could blow up in the production team’s faces. Even if Chase doesn’t catch on to the fakery, there are a still plenty of opportunities along the way for the joke to be on the show and not the Schmo. That’s what happens several times this week, with the results ranging from cringeworthy to hilarious.
First, though, the producers put Chase on the spot by shaking up his faith in his alliance. As Lavernius, who last week confessed his homosexuality to Chase, exercises and flies his kite while wearing his snug European Casual Pouch, Skylar tells Chase she’s got the hots for LV. At the same time, she thinks he’s into Chloe, who confirms that she thinks LV has been checking her out. Not the most articulate guy even at the best of times, Chase is reduced to stammering “like…uh…regardless of…y’know…” and so on, in a vain attempt at defusing the situation without giving away LV’s secret.
It quickly became clear last week that the producers weren’t expecting Chase to be the aggressive competitor he’s turned out to be, and as of this week’s immunity challenge, they still haven’t course-corrected for this error in judgment. The task entails handcuffing fugitives running around the compound, but the challenge only lasts long enough for Chase to split open his nose while wrestling a perp to the ground while the other contestants dogpile on top of him. Production is forced to take Chase to the hospital, risking interaction with the outside world that could bring the whole house of cards crashing down.
As it turns out, however, the external threats are nothing compared to keeping a lid on the people who are actively participating in the hoax. Allison crumbles under a little light question from Chase about her education history, eventually spouting nonsensically that she graduated from college at 14 and medical school at 18. Honestly, this wasn’t any kind of probing interrogation; this is the bare minimum of a cover story that all of the actors should have been able to commit to memory during preparation for the show. This kind of stunt is hard enough to pull off without the actors freezing in horror every time they’re asked a question. At least Ralph Garman fare a bit better when Chase peppers him with bounty hunting queries later in the show.
Chase doesn’t need stitches after all, but he is awarded immunity for shedding his blood during the challenge, which sounds like something Jeff Probst wishes he could get away with. (I didn’t mention it last week, but the gold-plated Kevlar immunity vest is a comedy gift that keeps on giving, particularly when Chase kneels down before Wanda to accept it.) The eviction ceremony comes surprisingly early in the episode, with Chase’s alliance once again prevailing as Chloe is eliminated. Three other contestants attract “votes,” which would seem to be an ideal spark for contrived conflict, but the matter quickly fizzles out. Perhaps everyone was still in shock over Chloe’s spirit animal bidding her farewell with a ceremonial stream of urine.
That leaves a few minutes for another excursion into the real world—this time a planned one. Jake Montrose receives permission to take the contestants along in his van on an “actual” bounty hunt, with Chase at the wheel. Chase is also the one Jake calls into the house once he gets into trouble trying to take down his skip, which makes me wonder how many times they can get away with singling him out from the rest of the contestants. Isn’t he going to wonder why he’s getting special treatment? But that’s part of the tightrope act that is The Joe Schmo Show: By its very nature, it has to center most of its activity around Chase, but it has to do so in such a way as to not raise too many red flags about the show’s authenticity. So far, so good.
- You asked for it, you got it. The Joe Schmo Show has indeed been added to our weekly coverage slate, thanks to your enthusiasm for the first episode review last week. The commenters have spoken.
- I assume the scene with Chase running from the van to the skip’s house was the cliffhanger for this episode. At least, that’s when Time Warner Cable decided the episode was over and my DVR cut off.
- “My beaver just peed.”
- “You were all playing grab-ass like a bunch of sailors at a hump-hump bar on leave!”