October 19, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

”The Real World”: Rachel tortures her Army buddy

Those Real World kids sure have commitment issues, don’t they? As if the clothes-on-again, clothes-off-again saga of Danny and Melinda weren’t enough, this week Rachel played Will She or Won’t She? when her almost fiancé, Erik, flew in from New York to visit and, as she promised, ”get treated to so much lovin!” (While we’re on the topic of visits, I’m stepping in while your usual Real World correspondent, Annie Barrett, is on vacation.)

Too bad for Erik the only lovin’ Rachel was givin’ was to her dog, Reese, who Erik brought along with him, much to Wes’s dismay. Unfortunately, Rachel didn’t fall for it when Wes said, ”I’m allergic to white-haired dogs.” Nobody was laughing later when little Reesie was squeezing off chocolate surprises on the bathroom carpet. Luckily, size-specific Mel had the only close encounter, telling us, ”I don’t care how small a turd is, I don’t want to step in it.” Note to Rachel: Leaving dog unattended in strange house — bad. Using dog as four-legged shield to avoid any kind of contact with Erik — good. I think.

Speaking of Erik, you really had to feel for the guy. I hope he at least had some frequent-flier miles saved up, considering how chaste his Austin stop turned out to be. After taking care of a poorly potty-trained dog for five months, he deserved some conjugal rights. No dice, E to the K. Rachel was already saying, ”I really feel like he’s my brother,” by the first commercial break. For someone who has so many self-esteem issues, Rachel knows how to kick a guy when he’s down.

Thank goodness Viper, er, Lacey’s around. Now, who here thinks Lacey really meant well by comforting Erik? Hello? I think I heard someone in the back. Oh, no wait, that was coming from the other room. I forgot there are no doors in this house. Lacey made Erik’s blues (and I’m sure they were definitely blue) all better by simply doing what she does best: bad-mouthing Rachel. After last week’s ep, where Lacey was finally exposed — thanks to a barrage of out-of-sequence clips — as a blatant backstabber, you’d think she’d want to stay out of the others’ business. But she just couldn’t keep her mouth shut.

That said, Lacey did make some good points. No, she wasn’t quite ”goin’ all Dr. Phil” on anybody’s ass like Wes, but her comments were pretty insightful. Rachel’s desire to take a break from Erik probably ”doesn’t make sense,” and he probably does deserve better.

Wes and Nehemiah were less helpful. Their idea of throwing Erik a ”groupie party” (”It’ll be like Vaginafest!” said Wes) and trying to pass him off as a reality-show producer might not have been what he needed — but it sure was fun. It was great to see all the groupies again. Groupie No. 1 was there! So was Groupie No. 2! Even No. 3 made it out to R-Bar!

But, much like his furry travel partner, Erik went home to his owner with his tail between his legs. No groupies for him that night. Sigh. Rachel has mad power over Erik. But even she must realize she’s being a tad selfish when she says, ”I don’t want to risk losing the nicest guy I’ve ever met just because the sparks aren’t there.” Well, Rachel, in all fairness, I don’t think Erik wants to walk your dog around the park for the next two months while you’re making out with the bartender at the Dizzy Rooster. Lacey would agree with me, as long as she doesn’t know you’re listening.

At least Melindanny are showing signs of progress. I’m pretty sure I even heard Danny mumble something about marrying her. Too bad he was drunk. I got five bucks says he’s back to screaming at her about needing space by next week. Anyway, with Mel at his side, Danny finally went to the police station to press charges against the guy who broke his face a few months back. It probably helped that the cops had a video recording of Joe Frazier’s right cross. Word is the dude faces up to 20 years in prison or a $500,000 fine. Ouch. ”I hope he gets both!” Melinda exclaimed. Did I say five bucks? Make it ten.

What do you think? Will Danny regret pressing charges? Will Rachel go back to Erik? Should he take her back?

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