The contestants fight for a spot in the finals by brutalizing an '80s power ballad

By Kristen Baldwin
Updated September 04, 2012 at 05:04 AM EDT
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We’re almost to the finish line, rose lovers, and somehow it seems that the Padmates have suddenly all developed Stockholm Syndrome: As the episode begins, everyone’s still gathered in the driveway, and they’re giving their full attention to Chris — who just hours ago was still the most hated man in the house — as he gives an inspiring pep talk. “I think we’re going to have a hell of a time with the final challenge,” he tells the troops, all of whom (minus Blakeley) listen raptly, “and regardless of how it ends up, it’s going to be an unbelievable experience that only very lucky and privileged people get to experience.” Well, that’s one way to describe this gang, though personally I would have gone with needy and damaged.

The next day, Harrison strides in wearing a blue button down with… are those zipper pockets? Hard to say. Anyhow, he informs the Padmates that the winners of the next competition will not get a rose, but they will have “a lot of power”: They’ll decide which couple will be leaving Bachelor Pad… FOREVER. (And this time, he might be right; I would be amazed if ABC greenlights season four based on these ratings.) Harrison leads the gang outside, where they all gaze up in bedfuddlement and wonder at… dangling seats over the pool! But this is no boring endurance competition — instead, one half of each couple has to sit on the hanging seats, while the other has to answer Bachelor/Bachelor Pad related trivia questions. For each wrong answer, one rope holding up the seat will be cut… and eventually, the only thing separating the seated partner from a chlorine-drenched game-death is a metal bar they can only hang onto with their hands. Everyone clear? Let’s get to it!

Each team decides who’ll take the chair and who’ll face Team Bachelor Pad‘s litany of trivia questions and much to Nick’s chagrin, Rachel wants him to use his brain, not his giant biceps. He’s joined by Sarah, Jaclyn and Blakeley… which shows you that most teams took the opposite strategy. Of course the questions start out easy (Q: “Which girl was first into her bikini on Bachelor Pad?” A: Donna, duh!) , but before long ropes are a’snappin, with Tony taking the most punishment due to Blakeley’s wrong answers. Soon he’s just hanging from the bar, while Chris is relaxing comfortably with three ropes intact. “Sarah’s TV watching is definitely paying off,” he says admiringly.

First Tony falls, then Rachel, and Ed is not far behind, meaning Chris and his side-mouth-talking sweetie are winners yet again. Who will they boot? It seems like the obvious choice is Blakeley and Tony — at the very least, we know it’s not Rachel and Tony, since the Tonight on Bachelor Pad promos show blondie weeping copious tears over some as-yet-unknown drama. Before Chris and Sarah pull the trigger, the Padmates are allowed to make a plea from their perch on the chopping block — and they all talk directly to Chris. Nick reminds him that they used to be in the same alliance; while Tony points out that he was there for Chris when “times got tough.” Plus, he needs the money in order to make his son “proud.” Oh sir, I think that ship has sailed.

NEXT: What’s your price for flight?

Before announcing their decision, Chris — drunk with power and still just a straight-up douchebag — scolds everyone on the block. Ed “hurt” him by going against him in a previous vote; he can’t even fathom how Nick and Rachel are still there; and it’s been an “emotional roller-coaster” with Blakeley. In the end, though, Beady Eyes and Side Mouth make the obvious choice and send Tony and Blakeley home, causing the latter to break into in heart-wrenching sobs. In the Reject Limo, Tony assures Blakeley that she was a fantastic partner, and that even though he isn’t bringing his son any money, he will bring him home some love. “That’s what I do better than anything else, is love him,” he explains. (I think that statement might be a bit more believable if it wasn’t spoken while riding in a limo rented by a reality TV franchise that Tony has now appeared on twice… but let’s not quibble.)

After the drama filled morning, quiet settles on the Pad with the afternoon sun. While Jaclyn is hoping Team Bachelor Pad will provide the remaining contestants with a “nice little reward” after enduring two eliminations in 24 hours, Harrison’s arrival indicates that it isn’t going to happen. “Your next competition… actually starts right now!” he declares, telling the gang to head to the limo waiting in the driveway. It must have been a long drive, because it’s dark by the time the Padmates arrive at the Palladium, where Night Ranger is in the midst of performing their hit power ballad “Sister Christian.” I think you know where this is going: The final three couples will have to sing the ’80s classic in front of a live audience, and Night Ranger themselves are going to be the judges. “Do you think they can do it?” singer Jack Blades asks Harrison once the Padmates are gone. “No — they’re terrible,” he replies with an evil grin. God I love you, Harrison.

The contestants are shuttled off to their rehearsal spaces, where they meet with vocal coaches, all of whom have some connection to Glee. Rachel and Nick are the luckiest, because they get to work with New Directions’ long-suffering pianist. What follows is a vocal-exercises montage that sounds kind of like a CD of whale songs you might be forced to listen to at a new agey spa. “My voice sounds like a 13-year-old boy going through puberty,” admits Sarah. (“Oh come on — I never sounded that bad,” protests Peter Brady.)

The next morning the anxious Padmates continue practicing, much to the surrounding wildlife’s chagrin. (Kudos to Team Bachelor Pad for adding the footage of that lizard making a run for it — that was a nice touch.) By the time they arrive at the Palladium, dozens of fans have lined up to hear Z-list reality stars embarrass themselves. The teams doll themselves up in their best hair-metal gear (studded bracelets, sparkly bras, neon lycra, spiky wigs) and line up in front of the crowd. Rachel and Nick fall victim to the luck of the random draw and have to go first, and though they sound terrible, Nick’s cheesy enthusiasm — including an air guitar solo — energizes the crowd. Either that or they were screaming in pain.

NEXT: The underdogs FTW!

Ed, who scoffs at Nick and Rachel’s showmanship for being lackluster, goes next with Jaclyn, but they’re soon crashing and burning, as neither of them can remember more than three words of any lyric at any given time. Though the duo mumbles pleas to “start over” into their microphones, the band just keeps on playing and Ed and Jaclyn are forced to continue. They attempt to regain some momentum by dry humping on stage, but the horrified faces in the audience tell them their attempt is a miserable failure. So the extremely tone-deaf Chris and Sarah know all they have to do is be a wee bit better than Rachel and Nick and they can save themselves from elimination. Unfortunately for both of them, Chris keeps reading the lyrics from his arm, and is also suffering from Unexpectedly High Voice syndrome, while Sarah’s choreography is… troubling. “I can’t tell if Sarah is dancing, or if there’s something legitimately wrong with her,” deadpans Jaclyn, though I think Ed said it best: “Sarah looks like a monkey that was being electrocuted.”

Oddly enough, the guys from Night Ranger seem to LOVE it. But after a few scary minutes when it sounds like the band might give Chris and Sarah the win, they actually hand over the roses to Nick and Rachel. Now it’s up to the underdogs to decide which couple to take to the finale. Given that the Bachelor Pad winner is chosen by past contestants, it seems to make the most sense for Nick and Rachel to take a couple that no one likes… so it should be an easy choice, right? Wrong. Instead, they sit down with a pen and paper to work on a pro/con list. Maybe taking Chris and Sarah is a mistake because they’ve won so many competitions, and therefore people will think they deserve it. But maybe taking Ed and Jaclyn is a bad idea because everyone loves Ed and will vote for him over Nick.

Eventually, though, Nick ends the debate with a decree. “Chris and Sarah have caused more drama in the house,” he insists. “That’s enough for me to make a decision… Without a doubt, we’ll win this thing if we take Chris and Sarah.” The idea of giving her BFF Jaclyn the boot makes Rachel all teary-eyed, but Nick keeps pushing until eventually she just crumbles. As the couples line up for the rose ceremony, Jaclyn’s feeling very emotionally labile. “I will either be like the happiest person ever in the world, this is great… or I will like, ‘This whole competition was just ripped away from me, I just lost a best friend, this sucks, I hate my life.'”

Well honey, you should probably start designing your FML tattoo, because Nick just announced Chris and Sarah’s names. Jaclyn sobs for a few minutes and then dismisses Rachel with a cold, “It’s fine,” before letting loose in the Reject Limo. “She’s a piece of [bleep],” she barks. “She should be ashamed of herself… She’s dead to me.” If it’s any comfort, Jaclyn, after the vote Rachel feels like a real piece of [bleep], beating herself up in the confessional. “I feel like I made the wrong decision,” she moans, burying her face in her hands. She’s probably right — I mean, is anyone really going to vote for the Franken-partners when they could vote for a team that’s actually won challenges and made, as they say on Big Brother, “game moves”? Being liked isn’t necessarily all that matters.

So, rose lovers, what do you think? Did Rachel and Nick make the right choice? Will Jaclyn have forgiven Rachel by the time the finale airs? Will Lindzi and Kalon still be together? Is summer seriously over? How did that happen? Post your thoughts below! And be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s Bachelor Pad blog over on PopWatch. It’s almost over… and I’m relieved/sad enough to cry.

Episode Recaps

Bachelor Pad

Chris Harrison reassembles former rose-contenders for a second chance at reality fame, love, and televised skankiness
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