Josh Wolk
May 25, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

After four weeks of doing more before 8 a.m. than the Big Brother cast did all day, two recruits on Fox’s madcap military series Boot Camp are left to compete for the $500,000 prize. During ”The Gauntlet,” finalists Wolf and Whitlow score points by completing challenges and earning votes from the discharged cadets — and after part 1 last week, it’s still anybody’s war game. With the finale on May 23, here is EW’s analysis of the last two grappling grunts.

RECRUIT Jen Whitlow

BRUTE STRENGTH Trailing three missions to one, she’s slowly disintegrating from 47 hours without sleep. Whitlow described herself as feeling ”giddish”; is she also going crazoid?

RAPPORT WITH DRILL INSTRUCTORS The hoarse foursome gave her props (”She could have quit at any time, but she chose not to,” says DI Taylor), but is DI McSweeney still sore about that whole stolen-mint incident from two weeks ago? His retsin-fueled rant — ”I knew I’d find my mint, Whitlow!” — was like an after-dinner kick in the head.

POTENTIAL JURY SUPPORT She may benefit from bossy Wolf’s rampant unlikability, but her constant scheming and early alliance with him could make it a wash. Plus, discharged cadet Shawn Yaney’s vote is unpredictable, since the balloon sculptor may be taking advice from his inflatable poodle, Timmy.

WHY SHE MIGHT WIN If Whitlow can take the next three competitions by channeling the DI’s mantra — ”Pain is just weakness leaving the body” — that, plus the fact that she’s not as annoying as Wolf, could land her the necessary four votes.

WHY SHE MIGHT NOT At this point, she’d be lucky to win a breathing contest.

RECRUIT Ryan Wolf

BRUTE STRENGTH As this cocky competitor endlessly reminds the camera, he still has power, wits, and endurance to spare; while Whitlow dragged through the wall-descending memory contest, he go-gettingly exclaimed, ”I love rappelling!” The only possible obstacle will be if the drill instructors schedule a modesty competition.

RAPPORT WITH DRILL INSTRUCTORS The DIs acknowledge his strength but seem weary of his ego, having already mocked him for his unsolicited, shirtless beefcake poses.

POTENTIAL JURY SUPPORT He’s so arrogant that he’s begging for the boot…but then again, so was Richard Hatch. Plus, Wolf appears to have won over the lunkheaded recruit David Thomson, who could deliver both a valuable swing vote and the undying respect of Mr. Lemon, who is a stuffed lemon, sir!

WHY HE MIGHT WIN With three more victories, all he’ll need is one vote from the jury and he’ll be able to hire DI Rosenbum to scrub his latrine.

WHY HE MIGHT NOT Wolf’s former troopmates would probably rather do 4,000 push-ups than help Wolf’s ego — and his wallet

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