Total Eclipse of the Heart: The Seventh Episode of More to Love

By | September 9, 2009

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Last week: I had an hilarious nightmare about dancing with Luke Conley and Kate Harding battling MeMe Roth Beat-It style, and the wonderfully talented Fillyjonk saw fit to illustrate it for us all, which you can see in all its furrowed-brow glory here (I am particularly impressed with how well she’s captured Luke; it’s the hair, I think). Also, Luke met some of the laydeez families with awkward and knee-slapping results that should have surprised no one.

Turn around, bright eyes! We begin this week’s episode having been magically whisked away to Hawaii. What, no shots of Luke and the laydeez being forced to buy a second seat for their flab on the airplane? No confessionals of flying-related fat pain? Psshhht, that’s not reality. Hawaii, at least, is beautiful and oh yes, I would like to go lie on that beach right there, yes that one, with a fruity drink please, now, without the hassle of flying whilst fat. No? Fuck. I am still in my living room. I guess More to Love’s Fat Travel Magic only works for those contracted to be on the show.

Luke lingers on a beach taking abnormally deep breaths and voiceovering about how like totally intense this whole experience is, like shyeah. A hundred years ago, when I was in film school, this would have been an object lesson in “show, don’t tell.” Luke standing on a beach sucking in air like an errant whale whilst in voiceover he tells us how intense this is not really showing us anything aside from Luke’s lung capacity and the real prospect that he is, indeed, full of hot air. Is Luke deeply moved? He may very well be, and he may just be the kind of guy who’s not very expressive. That or he truly is a lump of animatronic wax and the climax of the final episode will be when they open his casing to reveal a chimpanzee sittting inside pulling the levers. Now THAT would be a fucking FINALE.

Luke finally gets off Deep-Breathing Beach and reunites with the laydeez at a luau, where they proceed to chow down. For all my endless bitching about this show, seeing people unselfconsciously eating on television is so refreshingly normal, even though the context is clearly the implication that fatties do nothing but gorge themselves on food all day long. Unfortunately, the meal is followed by dancing, and Luke does that same horrifying butt-shaking dance he did at the fat prom. I had hoped, however feebly, that we’d seen the last of Luke’s ass-dance, but no such luck. Luke then breaks the news that this luau is their final group date. Mandy is especially stoked, pumping her fists and twirling. Damn, y’all, this show might actually finish its entire run! But not before taking us on some of the most boring fucking dates ever to be committed to digital media.

Date the first is with Malissa. Friends, I haven’t mentioned this before, but it’s particularly apparent right now so I have to say something: if there was a fat-anatomy encyclopedia, Malissa would illustrate the entry for Rack of Doom. Like, I don’t find Malissa attractive at all, but her massive bosoms are wildly distracting, and this is not helped by her penchant for low-cut tops. I ain’t telling her to cover up — I’d never do that — but they are hypnotic and foreign to a tinyboobed woman as myself. I can’t believe we haven’t seen a big CENSORED blob over her chest once yet, when so many of her tops are visiting the outskirts of Nippleville. This must be what double-sided tape is for.

Malissa and Luke are having their date at some kind of seaquarium deal. Think Sea World, but Hawaiian. There are penguins, there are seals, there are dolphins. When one seal licks another, Malissa makes a comment about them “making out” and Luke, like Pavlov’s dog hearing the sound of the bell, immediately goes in for the latch. They disengage long enough to watch some animals perform, and then as the “surprise” they swim with some dolphins. Malissa says the words “riding the dolphin” like four times and I laugh uncontrollably every time, because I am 12.

Picnic time. Luke confessions he’s “having the time of my life here with Malissa, but if my relationship with Malissa’s going to go to the next step, it has to go from just enjoying each other’s company, to being vulnerable with each other.” A-ha, yhere we have the delicate line between Fuck Buddy and Life Partner. Tread carefully, Luke! On the picnic blanket together, Luke tells Malissa he’s taking a risk here too, and opening himself up, and he literally gets a blank smile from Malissa. There are moments when their dates play out like scenes cut from Mannequin (which was, full disclosure, one of my very favorite movies as a preteen, so shut up). Luke clears his throat awkwardly and then asks her how she sees them together in “real life”. Malissa’s smooth response? “I don’t know.” She’s trying to imagine it. Um. Luke then says, rightly so, that any relationship after the show isn’t going to be all helicoptering to vineyards for lunch and buckets of champagne and “riding the dolphin”. Malissa tries give him the answer he wants–oh all that stuff doesn’t matter to me, silly!–but Luke confessions that he is dubious. He states that their dinner tonight is probably going to make or break Malissa in the competition, as Luke is starting to wonder whether Malissa’s actually in this because she wants a relationship with him, or because she just wants to “win” the competition. Insight, from Luke? What? Did somebody put something in my drink? Clip below.

They seem to be at a Japanese steakhouse for dinner, but nobody’s cooking. Luke confessions he wants some “straight answers” from Malissa, and when they sit down to talk, Malissa acknowledges this is their “last” solo date and so she ought to be saying everything she’s wanted to say to him. Except once they are together, “but then we get like lost and staring into each other’s eyes and everything and it’s just like I forget everything, I forget what I need to say, or whatever.” I’m starting to wonder if all of Luke’s and Malissa’s dates really have been as content-free as they’ve been portrayed. Luke responds, “Okay, so I’ll look over here, and you just start telling me what you want to say.” Malissa laughs and says he’s so funny! Hee!

Suddenly things get sort of odd when Luke asks Malissa, more or less in code, about his being the only fat guy she’s ever dated. It starts off pretty relaxed but when Luke presses, Malissa gets a little abrupt and basically goes AND WHAT? I think she means it to be reassuring but it reads to me as unexpectedly defensive. Or possibly Malissa’s just not in a place where this is something she wants to acknowledge or talk about. At any rate, she’s very resistant to the subject, and we see a side of her that’s more than just girlish giggling and blank staring. She tells Luke not to worry about it, that it’s not an issue, but it sure seems like it could be. Malissa finally says of Luke’s size, “It suits you, it’s you,” which is actually a tiny encapsulation of like 99% of size acceptance activism, so at least we have that moment. Luke claims that he’s worried about his feeeeelings and being rejected and he’s worried that Malissa is going to break his fragile clockwork heart. Luke’s feeling all vulnerable and shit, which is a welcome change from the usual insecurity and self-doubt we’ve exclusively been getting from the laydeez for the past several weeks. Yes, now we see that all fat people have fat pain, some of them just hide it longer. Malissa, still trying to reassure him, says, “Really, I’m like, Luke? Is mine.” Like she’s got this ish SEWN UP, y’all. Enough, can we now get someone out here to drop some chicken and shrimp on that hibachi table and start throwing vegetables around? I love the thing they do where they toss a piece of food up in the air and catch it in their chef hat. Clip below.

Luke tells Malissa that he hopes she doesn’t mind, but he’s asked them to bring “dessert” back to “his place.” I am deeply concerned that the dessert in question is not the kind you eat. Shudder. Malissa, like all fatties, is blinded by the promise of sweets and off they go to Luke’s hotel room. They start on the couch–this show loves to suggest the asses of all fat people are magnetically drawn to the nearest couch, doesn’t it?–and kiss a bit, and then self-consciously move to the bed, which is strewn with rose petals. Seriously. Fucking rose petals. Listen carefully, and off camera, you can hear a producer instruct: NO PRESSURE, BUT IF YOU’D LIKE TO DRY HUMP A LITTLE–I MEAN STUFF WE CAN SHOW ON NETWORK TV–THAT’D BE GREAT. I MEAN WHATEVER YOU’RE COMFORTABLE WITH. (Husband: “Are there like, robot cameras or something?” Me: “No.” Husband: “There’s a CAMERA GUY in there with them?” Me: “And probably a sound guy too.” Husband: “That is fucked up.” Me: “Oh no, it’s totally glamorous and romantic and the sure path to true love!”) They make out a bit, and Malissa observes that Luke seems distracted. Luke tells her that given his crazy “physical attraction” to her (for the record, I am so sick of all these code words for “throbbing erection”), he’s worried that she has the greatest potential to break his heart. Malissa smiles at this in a really satisfied way. Cue music: And we can build this dream together! Standing strong forever! Nothing’s gonna stop us now! More noisy-smacky making out. Luke confessions that “I really feel close to Malissa at this point, it’s going to be difficult to put that out of my mind,” for his other dates. We fade out to edited-together sex-groans from the two of them. Booooooring. Nothing less than the sound of a whip cracking and Luke squealing like a pig would interest me in this pairing at this point.

The next day, Luke confessions that the night before he aired out all his concerns to Malissa and is now satisfied that she’s in this competition for him and not just for the humilation and/or personal growth. That’s our Luke, an ace judge of character! Luke says he’s basically decided Malissa’s the one for him… at least until the next pretty girl comes into view. Oh, it’s Tali! Hi Tali. There is hugging and kissing immediately. Luke confessions that Tali “was in the Navy in Israel” so he’s real excited about going sailing with her. But in one of this show’s few moments of true comedy, it turns out Tali is actually terrified of water and the ocean. “I was in the Navy, but I’m not an ocean fan. My job was like, in a bunker,” Tali tells Luke. I don’t know why, but this cracks me up. In confession, she goes further and states that water is her “biggest fear” and that she hasn’t been in the ocean since she was twelve. Oh man, poor Tali.

Tali’s also still unhappy about being in a swimsuit, AGAIN. BUT she’s in it to win it and is going to be brave, and both wear the fucking swimsuit and deal with being on the fucking ocean. Go, Tali, go! You are growing, girl! To her credit, Tali is trying really hard to fake it and though she keeps saying “it’s great!” as she looks out over the water while the boat motors along, she’s shaking with nerves. Luke tells her the plan was for them to go snorkling, ostensibly (and kindly) leaving her an out to put the kabosh on that idea. Luke confessions that if he’d known about Tali’s fear, he would have planned a different date for them, but I don’t for a single moment believe that Luke plans these dates on his own without massive input from the producers, so I am skeptical. Meanwhile, at the snorkling suggestion, Tali almost loses it completely. She’s terrified. But, she’s set on doing it, and with Luke’s help she manages to get in the water and eventually let go of the ladder to swim together. Luke is actually pretty kind-hearted and supportive during this whole thing and it’s admirable and likeable. Tali is super proud of herself for doing it, and this is a sweet moment of accomplishment. How swell would it have been, if only this show had more moments like this. Clip below.

Tali and Luke reunite for dinner. Tali confessions that today she faced her biggest fear, and that Luke was there for her “110 percent”. At dinner, Tali expresses her gratitude to Luke for helping her. Tali, in spite of her insecurity and jealousy, is probably the most Like a Grown Up of the final three, and easily the most intelligent, if our carefully-edited views of the remaining laydeez are to be relied upon. Dinner brings us an unexpectedly genuine moment in which Tali tells Luke she’s trying to hang in and not think about the possibility that Luke is falling for someone else. Then she catches herself and says, “I mean, I don’t know, you’ve never said that you’re falling for me.” There’s a pause and Tali looks away, maybe fishing for reassurance, maybe just embarrassed, and Luke says, “Look at me,” and when she does there’s another pause. And then Luke says to Tali, as believably as may be possible for him, “I am falling for you,” and what’s that? What’s that feeling, in my chest? Is it… my heart? Is that cold dead rock of a withered organ gently stirring? And then they kiss and I’m not even grossed out by it (probably because it is not the NOISY SMACKING that Malissa favors, but still). How rarely have we seen kissing that came at an appropriate moment and not just jammed into every encounter at awkward intervals! An uplifting tale of overcoming a phobia, and then a possibly-genuine moment of romantic connection, all on one date! I may have just joined Team Tali. (My husband, for his part, asserts that Tali is the most interesting and challenging of the three and thus would make the best wife. Aww, good boy.)

Luke then asks Tali if she’d like to go back to his room, and she inquires, hilariously, “Are… we… going?” with a sideways glance at the sound guy probably sitting under the table right now, as though she’s asking if they’re going to get some real alone time, as opposed to alone-time-with-a-camera-crew-taping-the-whole-thing. I think Luke’s caught off guard because he’s all “uh yeah, I want to show you my room.” BECAUSE WE CAN’T TALK ABOUT THE CAMERAS, FOLKS. THE CAMERAS AREN’T THERE. Tali says, “Fun! I didn’t bring my jammies, though.” And in this moment I FALL IN LOVE WITH TALI. She said “jammies”! Come here Tali, I want to hug you. Clip below, showing the possibly-sweet moment through to “jammies”.

The two of them sack out on the floor beside the jacuzzi tub and drink champagne. Tali says, “We always toast to More to Love, but tonight I want to toast to one love.” Yeah, let’s get together and feeeel alllllriiiiight. They get into the tub eventually–in swimwear–and kiss some more and Luke gives Tali a foot rub. Then, SHOCKER, he asks Tali to stay the night. OHHHHH SHIT Y’ALL. THERE IS GOING TO BE MAYBE FAT SEX. TO SOME DEGREE. POSSIBLY. Tali says yes, and then confessions that she’s “not going to even think about what I do or don’t do, I’ll just go for it.” Luke, unsheath your sword and prepare for battle! Luke confessions about Tali’s gorgeousness, again, and I wonder if he’s just got no vocabulary for describing his feelings for a laydee without referring to her appearance. I want to believe that Luke has more depth but he sure ain’t making it easy.

There’s got to be a morning after, even in Hawaii, but we get no details on how they solved Tali’s jammies quandry, nor on Luke and Tali’s evening of maybe-passion. Luke’s meeting Mandy for their final date, and he confesses that Mandy’s been “at the top of his list” which is baffling to both me and the husband. Not that I dislike Mandy, I’m just surprised to hear this; while Mandy does hit all the right insecurity/neediness points for Luke, she lacks the BOW-WOKACHICKA-BOW factor he’s also seemed to prefer. They’re going for an ATV ride, which looks like a lot of fun. They drive around for awhile and enjoy nature on their screaming pollution-spewing machines and get covered in dirt. Yay! Luke wants to get past Mandy’s guardedness and unravel her secrets, and what better time to do this than over lunch. Luke asks if she has any concerns, and Mandy says, “How can you make a really sound decision inside of this situation?” Luke responds, “You think it’s possible for me to make a mistake?” Dare she doubt Luke’s omniscience? To the gallows! Mandy responds, “I think mistake is a strong word,” but suggests that it’s always possible there are aspects of people you can’t really get to know, given the limits of this weird-ass scenario. Oooh, criticizing the genre! Mandy cannot be allowed to survive now, even if it means a producer has to take her out into the woods and shoot her.

Later, Luke and Mandy meet up to catch a limo for the evening portion of their date. Mandy tells Luke she likes his “white suit”, but it’s not actually a suit. Luke is wearing a white sportcoat, which in and of itself is not a fashion crime so long as you don’t mind looking like Tom Wolfe, but it’s overly long, and as a result instead he looks like a doctor.

Dr. Luke confessions that Mandy’s “having a hard time keeping it together and focusing on me” when they’re together, WHICH CANNOT STAND. LUKE’S LAYDEE MUST BE THINKING ONLY OF HIM AT ALL TIMES. Rather, Luke says Mandy’s overly concerned with her competition. He wants her to relaaaaaaax, man. Cut to Mandy confessioning that she’s nervous! She likes Luke a lot! Gee! They hang out on a boat and chat about the ATVs from earlier and being covered in dirt and Mandy confessions that Luke is “very calm” so she’s trying to tone it down a bit. Luke asks Mandy if she thought on the first night they met that she’d be here in Hawaii with him right now, and she says she had no idea. Luke says, “Yeah, there’s been a lot of nice moments between us,” which seems to be a cue for Mandy to kiss him. Like a good little soldier, Mandy complies.

They then move to an air mattress for makeout times. I hope somebody’s checked the weight capacity on that thing. Luke asks Mandy if she could see herself being married to him, and Mandy says, “Yes, I can see it.” She confesses she wants Luke to feel assured that if he asks her to marry him at the end, that she will say yes. Mandy then confesses, “I’m not scared of love, I’m scared of rejection,” which may be the most obvious thing anyone’s yet said on this whole show. Luke says in his own confession: “It was a really beautiful moment, we shared our hearts with each other and we shared some really passionate kisses, and what that kiss was saying to me is that she’s into me, and I was into it too.” As he says this, air-mattress-reclining Dr. Luke gazes salaciously at Mandy’s rack. I keep rewinding the DVR but am missing the beautiful moment. I guess you had to be there. Clip below, with noisy kissing.

Luke then asks Mandy if she’ll “stay out here with me tonight, to enjoy the stars” and Mandy says yes. I am not quite believing they’re going to have the sex on an Aerobed open to the outdoors, though that would be pretty awesome. Mandy confesses, “I am dead sure that this is the man I’m supposed to marry.” Mandy, Mandy, Mandy, you have sealed your fate with this outburst, darling. Never say you are dead sure about anything in this crazy world! Live like a carefree nomad, let the wind determine your direction, be wild and free like a fat stallion thundering majestically across the great vast prairies of life!

As their date winds down, Luke confessions that he’s going to have to make his toughest decision yet. Like every other decision so far. (In the meantime, I’ve decided if this show were happeneing in Archie comics, Malissa would be Veronica, Mandy would be Betty, and Tali would be the overly-exoticized foreign exchange student. Though I think of Luke more as a Reggie Mantle type than Archie himself. NO NO WAIT! LUKE IS TOTALLY MOOSE MASON!)

The next day, Luke/Moose is looking intensely out at the ocean again. He says he’s feeling light-headed. I’m frankly surprised if anyone on this show has any blood left, considering the amount of alcohol they seem to consume. He doesn’t want to break anyone’s heart, but he’ll do it anyway, though it “hurts me on the inside.” He says, “It’s tough to realize that a woman who at one point I thought could be my wife is not going to get a ring back today.” And already it’s ring-collection time. No more cocktail parties, kids! This is Serious Business from here on out. And here’s Emme to–OH MY GOD WHAT IS EMME WEARING. It’s like she just made a narrow escape from a guest-starring role on Dynasty and didn’t have time to change. LET US NOT SPEAK OF IT. I will just continue to think of Emme as a time-traveling life coach or something, a la Quantum Leap (Oh boy!), and be content with that explanation.

So who’s going to be the roasted pig at this luau? Luke tells the final three laydeez that this decision wasn’t easy, but somebody’s got to go on the spit. The last two laydeez standing will be going home with Luke to meet his family. Ring #1! Goes to! Tali! Thank god, I would not have had enough brutal words for Luke if he spent the night with her and then sent her home. Talk about not buying the cow. As we begin the interminable wait for the second ring-getter to be announced, Luke confesses that he’s anxious and worried about regretting his decision: “This is going to be a very tough goodbye, and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to handle it.” Luke mops his sweaty brow. And announces! Ring #2! Goes to! Malissa! Whaaaat? I’m sort of surprised. Even Malissa looks like she might shed a tear. Mandy doesn’t even make eye contact with Luke as he hugs her goodbye and walks her out. Clip below.

While the limo carries her away, we are treated to a special extended version of Mandy’s pain, while she cries for the loss of their hypothetical life together. Thanks, show! You bastards. “I don’t know why it happened… I just have to live with that.” Oh Mandy, once upon a time you were falling in love, now you’re only falling apart. Nothing you can do, a total eclipse of the heart.

Next week: in the final episode, the last two laydeez meet Luke’s family,and Luke makes his choice. Luke’s mom seems especially intriguing. CAN YOU STAND IT? Also I am seriously going to order Mannequin on DVD right now. Don’t judge me.

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