The Coffee Achievers
The Apprentice: Martha Stewart: Episode 9
Previously, Primates-R-Us under the leadership of Bethenny sold nearly two times as many QVC junk as Matchstick but because Matchstick priced its junk higher, Matchstick won. The result was a bizarre and totally what-on-earth conference room session where the Primates was said to be lousy salespeople. When, you know, they sold nearly two times as many junk as Matchstick. I still can't believe it either, I know. Howie wasn't really into the task all the while so in the end Martha decided that he just wasn't worth keeping around. It's now down to Jim, Dawna, and Bethenny versus Ryan, Marcela, Amanda, and Leslie in this episode. What will happen in the episode tonight?
The show opens with the Matchsticks at the Loft listening to Dawna as Dawna relates what happened in the conference room right until Martha let Dawna return to the Loft. Dawna is describing the conference room as "horrible" and goes on to talk about how she's really not that kind of person to "talk bad" about people so that they get fired. She's just being caring, after all, when she suggested a few episodes ago that Marcela needed to be "watched" because she loved her salad dressings to be green - what a freak, that Marcela! - just like she told Bethenny in her face that Bethenny's management style sucks. To the camera, Dawna is even a little tearful as she hopes that she hasn't hurt Bethenny too much. She obviously does not know Bethenny well, does she? I have a hunch that Bethenny may cry if Dawna says some really nasty things to her, but Bethenny won't roll over and die just because of that. She'll probably tear two fistfuls of hair from Dawna's head instead.
Speaking of her, she and Jim at that moment walk back into the Loft. Amanda and Ryan are especially perplexed that Howie was dismissed. Ryan has this gloomy expression on his face because he and Howie are supposed to be best friends and all that. He's also wearing shades because he doesn't want people to see that he is crying. Oh, Ryan, it's okay, metrosexuals are supposed to be in touch with their finer feelings. Dawna runs to hug Bethenny, still tearful - maybe she genuinely believes that she has hurt Bethenny after all, hmm - and Bethenny reassures her that everything is fine between the two of them.
Amanda, meanwhile, wonders to the camera how Jim can still be here. The camera cuts to Jim holding a bottle of beer and looking like he's already drunk. She now doesn't know what Martha wants in an Apprentice, she tells the camera. Gosh, I have no idea how Jim can stir such deep soul-searching efforts from the likes of Amanda. What are these people thinking? That Martha would dismiss Jim just because they don't like him? That may happen on Donald Trump's show, where Apprenti are regularly booted as social scapegoats, but Martha makes it clear that she doesn't do things like Donald. Dawn was booted after Martha gave her a chance and Dawn didn't seize that chance, not because Dawn was not popular or she didn't fit in with her team members. Amanda is missing the big picture: yes, I know Jim may not be the most popular guy around, but he has not done anything worth being dismissed for since that Asian vinaigrette fiasco. He has, in fact, stepped up to the plate and helped his team more than once since then. He doesn't provide Martha with any reason to dismiss him. That's why he's here, period.
Back to Amanda, she tells the others - out of the earshot of Jim and Bethenny, of course, because she's so polite that way - that she thinks that Martha won't like her because Martha apparently likes Jim. If this isn't an equivalent to a small girl screaming that the world hates her because she doesn't get her way, I don't know what is. Amanda decides that she will "screw up" the next day just to test her theory. Marcela, the veteran of many conference room sessions, is surprised at how foolhardy Amanda is being when it comes to being in the conference room. Amanda doesn't care because she clearly thinks herself invulnerable so she's really going to test how far she can go the next day, I suppose. Just because Jim is still here and Amanda is driven to... um, make a statement, perhaps, like Gandhi starving as a protest against the colonization of India by the British. Amanda will slack off to tell Martha that it is wrong to keep Jim instead of Amanda's perfect and intelligent buddies! Martha will be so sorry that Amanda is a completely crazy woman who has delusions of grandeur about herself!
Finally, morning comes, where the camera shows the Apprenti doing their morning exercise rituals. Bethenny is doing some yoga-like steps where she tries to smell her belly button while she is lying down, by the way. The phone rings and Marcela, just out from the shower probably since she has a towel wrapped around her, listens as Julia tells her to get the Apprenti to wait at the living room for Martha's video session to come on. I think Leslie has pilfered Shawn's wardrobe. The Apprenti get into their most formal outfits before gathering at the living room, except for Ryan who is convinced that Martha really can't see him through the screen so all he'll do is to slip into some T-shirt, shorts, and slippers. After a staged scene with Martha choosing colors for some drapes, Martha turns to tell the Apprenti that she is sorry that she can't be with them but she has a "deadline". Oh no, it's that house arrest thing again. Martha will be in a bad mood because of this, oh dear. Martha is in her full-blown QVC superstar mode as she flogs her love for coffee and tea and her thrill that Tassimo has come up with this machine called the Tassimo Hot Beverage System that allows people to just open satchels of pre-made tea or coffee powder and pour them into the Hot Beverage System to get hopefully delicious cups of tea or coffee. Each team is given $40,000 seed money to set up a store and sell as many of these machines as they can. The team to bring in the highest "gross sales" will win. Perhaps there is some rule set down to prevent this from happening, but the first thing that comes into my head after listening to Martha's instructions is to use the $40,000 to buy up all the Hot Beverage Systems if I was in any of those two teams.
The Primates move aside to their own corner for their pow-wow session. Dawna thinks that there are only three of them left so each of them must not slack off. Not slacking off is a very important matter in this episode, after all. Jim is the Project Manager for this task and, as he tells the camera, he will be squaring off against Marcela who is once again the Project Manager for Matchstick. He is confident that he will triumph again just like he did the last time they were both Project Managers for that celebrity auction task. Dawna surfs the Web on the laptop and comes up with this company called Lime Public Relations which apparently specializes in helping "pop-up retail shops" spread the good word around. Apparently Lime has worked with big names like Target in the past. Dawna tells the camera that she thinks that getting their services to help them out with everything from setting up the store to promoting their efforts will be a good idea, especially when she thinks that the three of them may not be able to do enough on their own. Bethenny wonders whether Lime has any experience in promoting coffee and Dawna correctly tells her that Lime will help them spread the word even if they are selling beetle dung. Still, all Bethenny is asking in her own way is for Dawna to check up on the credentials of this company so she's not being impossible here. As we shall soon see, it wouldn't hurt to check whether Lime can actually deliver for the amount of money it charges its clients.
Over at Matchsticks' side of the world, the show cuts straight into the middle of a terse and passive-aggressive Ryan giving Marcela a look of pure disdain when she tells him to make up some sort of list and he snaps at her that his PC hasn't loaded up. Marcela pauses to ask him what his problem is. I don't know what is going here but the consensus seems to be that Ryan and Amanda are not happy with Marcela. So soon, even when they have not even started with their task yet? Amanda tells the camera that she wants to "defer" to Marcela but she is not "comfortable" in doing so. Tell me something I don't know. She didn't want to defer to Ryan either in the previous episode. I don't know why she lets Marcela be the Project Manager if she doesn't want to even try to respect Marcela. Likewise, I don't know what Ryan is trying to do. I can only conclude from Ryan's smugness where the "other team" is concerned that he displayed in the Westin suite and his condescending attitude towards Marcela during the salad dressing task that he really didn't think much of Marcela like the rest of the "other team" (Jim, Bethenny). Also, the last time Marcela led this team resulted in ugly accusations from Ryan, Leslie, Dawna, and Amanda. So my question here is: why let Marcela be the Project Manager? Did she force them to let her be the Project Manager? I can't imagine that these people will cave in if Marcela demands to lead them. I can only conclude that these people are setting Marcela up for the fall because they don't think that she is one of them. Hey, these people have displayed enough sense of self-entitlement and superiority complex in the first five minutes of this episode alone!
Marcela isn't completely stupid like Ryan and Amanda assume her to be so she asks them whether they are completely with her in this task because she senses some "attitude" coming from them. Ryan acts like he can't believe that she can question his attitude and blows her off like she's a complete moron to even ask him that question. Poor Marcela worries to the camera that she's being set up for failure. She may be a weak leader, but I'm starting to wonder whether she is really that weak or it's just a case of dominant personalities steamrolling over her and she really doesn't know how to fight back. Still, she asked them very nicely whether they are with her, they said that they are, and I don't think that she can do anything more without taking out a whip and beating those two into shape.
Dawna now goes off to an appointment with Lime. Jim and Bethenny don't look too pleased with her going and come to think of it, I suspect that they don't like the idea at all and Dawna just steamrollers the idea over them. That's not a bad thing to do, mind you, because this is a strategy that her old team has used several times in the past to win. Dawna tells the camera that Bethenny and Jim are very tight so should the three of them end up in the conference room, those two will be working together to bring her down. Dawna, that smart woman, thinks that the best course of action for her right now is to not go into the conference room at all. But after Dawna has left, Jim tells the camera that Dawna is behaving in a shady manner, not wanting Jim to tag along with her to meet the Lime people. He calls Dawna a "rogue member". He implies that Dawna is acting on her own and frankly, with the confusing editing in this episode, I don't know what to think. I did not see Dawna setting up an appointment with Lime behind Jim's back, if that is what he is implying, and I didn't see Jim telling Dawna not to go without him. This episode is so confusing. Back to the Loft, Jim complains to Bethenny about Dawna and Bethenny does her eye-rolling exaggerated-shrugging "I agree with you - dramatically!" repertoire.
Martha's Moral of the Week time. Martha talks about the importance of having passion and drive for one's work and suggests that it will be a good idea to avoid describing one's work as, er, "work". Posing in her garden, she says that she doesn't say that she "works" in the garden, for example, instead saying that she is going to, er, "garden". Attaching the word "work" to your work turns it into a chore, she thinks, and people's attitude changes "drastically" if they take Martha's advice and describe their work in "non-work" terms. Thanks, Martha! On a serious note, isn't her advice of the week more substantial than Donald Trump's? And yet they cancel Martha and keep Donald going until 2070. I tell you, bad TV shows will plague the world forever while good ones die unlamented.
As Matchstick shows up at their shop and realize that they are getting just an empty store with no furniture or anything, Marcela tells the camera unnecessarily what her team has to do with the retail space. She also reminds everyone that the last time she went against Jim as Project Manager, she lost. She says that there is no way that she will lose to Jim again. What makes her so sure of that, I wonder? Back at the store, Marcela thinks that they have to have pastries to bring in people. Amanda complains to the camera that Marcela thinks "in food", probably too much, because Amanda thinks that Marcela ends up overlooking the coffee machines in favor of pastries. She's just nitpicking, that silly cow, because coffee and pastries go very well together and... well, as a way of bringing in people to the store, that's not a bad idea at all. Marcela asks Leslie to follow her as they both take a look about the neighborhood, leaving Ryan and Amanda, suddenly good buddies this week, to complain that Marcela wants them to find a pastry chef so that they can all sell pastries instead of coffee. Firstly, Marcela never says anything about selling those pastries so these two are being complete assholes at the moment. Secondly, when they complain about Marcela leaving them with no directions or focus, they conveniently forget that Marcela told them to focus on getting a pastry chef to cook up something to bring the customers into the store. Isn't that a plan? A focus? A direction? Ryan and Amanda complaining about Marcela having no plan is, to me, them actually complaining that they don't like Marcela's plan and they don't want to do anything because they are big spoiled brats who think that they are too good to take orders from someone that they deem their inferior. It's a good thing that I never cozy up to Amanda and Ryan because their "sudden jerk behavior", to me, isn't so sudden as much as a gradual build-up of their delusions of self-entitlement.
Alone with Leslie, Marcela asks Leslie whether she should have come up with some "marketing plan" first - like what, pushing Tassimo machines into the hands of the customers? - before bringing in a pastry chef. Isn't "using pastries to reel in people" a marketing plan, or does Marcela need to use a Powerpoint program to show off pie charts and line graphs before her plan qualifies as a "marketing plan"? Leslie tells Marcela that they should just stick to a course of action. So to Marcela, it's pastries like she wanted earlier. However, Amanda and Ryan both decide that they should override Marcela's order and look for a "celebrity" instead of Marcela's "celebrity chef". Poor celebrity chefs everywhere, they get no respect from everyone. Amanda thinks that they should get a celebrity with a "following" to get people into their store. Yes, I'm sure plenty of A-list celebrities are dying to get involved in store openings. That will definitely boost their profile! Maybe Amanda will even call up People to take pictures of Ashley Olsen eating a huge slice of pie. Ryan calls up an agent that offers him the services of has-beens including Mary Tyler Moore and Paul Shaffer. When Marcela returns to the store with Leslie, she is understandably not happy that Ryan and Amanda have ignored her directions to get a celebrity pastry chef. She even asks Amanda whether Amanda has a better plan and Amanda tells Marcela coldly that she doesn't want to take over Marcela's job as Project Manager. Marcela tries to explain that she is not asking Amanda to but Amanda just responds that she doesn't want to step on Marcela's toes before pretending to check and arrange the Tassimo boxes. Poor Marcela can only lament that she can't do everything alone.
The agent Ryan is talking to offers Ryan the services of Vinnie Pastore who is popular for his role as Big Pussy on The Sopranos. Now, we have all seen how Ryan can run away with a tasteless idea, such as his famous bleeped blouse suggestion for the Tide-to-Go task. It is reasonable at first to assume that he refers to Vinnie Pastore as "Big Pussy" when he asks Marcela about what she thinks because he assumes that more people will know Big Pussy compared to Vinnie Pastore. Marcela, however, must not be a fan of The Sopranos because she looks like she wants to faint in horror when she hears Ryan mentioning the P word. But when Ryan starts asking aloud to nobody in particular whether they like Big Pussy, emphasizing the word "pussy" again and again, it's clear that he's deliberately goading Marcela. He won't even look at her in the eyes when he is asking her about Big Pussy. Marcela repeats to the camera about Ryan wanting her to hire Big Pussy. She can't even say the P word. Personally, I don't understand how Big Pussy will do a better job than a celebrity chef apart from giving people opportunity to start jokes about his name.
Ryan's Golden Boy image is tarnished further when, as he keeps deflecting Marcela about the celebrity chef, Alexis and Charles drop by. In front of the two henchmen of Martha, Marcela asks Ryan about the pastry chef, which proves that no matter how dense she may be as a leader, Marcela is smart enough to make sure that Martha will know that she has tried when it comes to Ryan. Ryan simply says, again without looking at her in the face, that he has tried and there is nobody available. Is that right? After weakly reassuring Charles that the Matchsticks will think of a Plan B, Marcela grabs the phone and the next thing I know - and more importantly, the next thing Alexis and Charles know - she has a celebrity chef all ready to go. Oh, Ryan. The least he can do is to wear only tight underwear while he's being a jerk. He's very handsome in this episode, by the way, with his tight-fitting business shirts and pants, but it seems that Ryan becomes more handsome only when he's being a jerk. Although that may be my problem, not Ryan's, and let's stop the TMI right here and now, shall we? Moving on then. Marcela tells the camera that fine, if she has to do this task on her own, she will. And good for her, I say!
Over at Lime, Dawna is talking with a man and a woman who look like stereotypical ad people (dressed contrivedly in black with hairstyle and affected voices as accessories). She wants the Lime crew to set up the store display and spread the word around (which is to say, she wants them to do everything). Those two Lime folks pretend to be merely considering Primates-R-Us until Dawna mentions that she'd be willing to spend $30,000. They are Dawna's, signed, sealed, and delivered. Jim and Bethenny, at this moment, are surveying their store. Bethenny explains to the camera that the building is messy and filthy but she's sure that they can fix up the place in no time. As they begin to clean up the place, Dawna calls Jim to tell him of her meeting with Lime. Jim tells her not to make any decisions as they haven't discussed how much they should spend on Lime yet but Dawna quickly informs Jim that she has plonked down $30,000 for Lime. Jim is understandably not happy that Dawna has done this without his approval. These original Primates sure love to act against the orders of their Project Managers, don't they? Bethenny, who is listening and is filled in on the gaps by Jim's whispering to her, tells Jim to let Dawna be. Or more specifically, "Let it be on her head." Many people out there call Bethenny "deceitful" because of this scene but they also conveniently forget that Dawna shouldn't be making decisions without consulting the rest of her team mates and especially the Project Manager. Of course, these are the same people who still defend Ryan because he's cute and he's hot and therefore he's "talented and with integrity", these people's online-speak for "I wish he'd marry me!", so there you go. Jim tells the camera and to Bethenny that he is not happy because Dawna acted without consulting him. He says that Dawna is undermining his position as a Project Manager. He's right. Bethenny tells him that it won't matter because the Primates are going to win in this task. She's right.
As night falls, the Matchsticks are making good progress in cleaning up and decorating their store. Leslie is, I think, defending Marcela's plan because she is telling the others that plans won't matter if they can't get people to come into the store. Amanda, however, complains that they have no marketing plan. Marcela tries to tell her that the pastry chef is part of the marketing plan (the other part is probably "And then we sell as hard as we can to the people who come into the store") and Amanda asks Marcela how the pastry chef is going to get people to come into the store. Um, free food? Free food made by a chef who specializes in gourmet pastries? If I'm nearby, I'd come into the store, definitely. Is Amanda being deliberately argumentative or is she really that obtuse? Maybe she should make a pencil for herself, since she needs to be as sharp as possible. Marcela asks Amanda again whether Amanda has any better plans. Amanda again says that she doesn't. Marcela comes as close to losing her temper on this show by telling Amanda off and saying that Amanda could have approached her any time of the day with her ideas. Amanda responds by announcing that she's going to be busy stacking the Tassimo boxes at this moment and selling the Tassimo machines as hard as she can tomorrow. The unspoken implication here is that Amanda will get the job done despite Marcela's stupidity. All that passive-aggressive showboating on Amanda's part is wasted, however, because she has no plan of her own and she can't complain that Marcela is ignoring some Big Bright Plan of hers, so she comes off as a very irritating motormouth twit who complains for the sake of complaining. To the camera, Amanda may as well take a marker pen and write on her forehead that she is a delusional bitter bitch when she huffs about this supposedly grand leadership skills of her and Ryan, "Why should we lead by proxy when she stands around and does nothing?" That attempt at rhetorical question will be more impressive if she and Ryan have demonstrated that they have done more in this episode other than undermining Marcela at every turn.
The next day arrives and Matchstick opens its doors to rows and rows of people eager for free pastries. Marcela instructs some temps that they have hired (and of course, to the audience) on how to demonstrate the function of the Tassimo machine. There are talks of using prepackaged powders that come with barcodes that the machine will read and prepare the beverage accordingly but I'm sure anyone interested in learning more about the Tassimo machine know where to go for more information. Marcela tells the camera that her plan works because people are coming into the store in crowds and the store has a "street party" atmosphere. Leslie tells the camera with her fake smile and all that everything about the store looks beautiful and professional. Look, Charles and Alexis are here too! However, Marcela soon notices that people are eating but nobody is buying any Tassimo machines. The answer to that perplexing dilemma may be seen in Ryan and Amanda walking half-heartedly around the place. At one point, Amanda actually stops her lifeless sales pitch to a customer to tell him to just go eat more pastries if that's what he wants. If she wants to make a point about Marcela's apparently stupid plan, she should consider that she will get her point across better if she proves that she can sell Tassimo machines despite Marcela's apparently heinous and stupid plan. Seriously! Alexis comments to Charles that something seems to be "strange" about Matchstick. Maybe she's talking about Amanda's amazing ability to rotate her head three-sixty. Marcela tells the camera that they eventually drop the price of the Tassimo machines from the suggested retail price of $299 to $199 but still nobody is buying. $299, hmm? That explains it. It will hard to convince people who want free food to drop $299 for a Tassimo machine. A $299 toy isn't what I'd call impulse purchase on the part of most people on the street. Amanda and Ryan are annoyed at the slow sales. Maybe it will sell better if they, you know, work harder at selling instead of playing waiters at the store. It's not a hard concept. Marcela makes a few sales on her own, or so it seems, as her team mates apparently leave her to flounder and sink alone.
The Primates have some drama of their own too. Jim is not happy when the Lime crew messes up their sign. It says "Tassimo Café" when Jim wanted "Tassimo Hot Beverage System". Because it's Jim, it's easy to forget that he's once again right in being upset. They are trying to sell a Tassimo machine, not to open a coffee shop called Tassimo. I think part of the problem with Matchstick is that they emphasize free food too much to the point that people in the store overlook the Tassimo machines that are on sale. In this case, Jim is right in wanting the Tassimo machines to be in the forefront of attention. Bethenny calms him down by saying that there is nothing they can do while Dawna pretends that there is nothing wrong at all with the sign. I have a hunch that she's the one who told Lime to put "Tassimo Café" on the sign. To the camera, Jim grumbles that they have spent $30,000 on Lime and he's on to them to make sure that he gets his $30,000 worth of services. Okay, it's not his money, that $30,000, but he has a point there. He is then seen telling the Lime crew not to make their "chesty girls" wear Tassimo coffee cup costumes. Let those "skinny guys" wear them instead.
I know many overweight women, the same ones who blindly love Ryan and the rest of the original Primates, are upset with Jim about this scene but come on! Let's be real here: chesty girls in advertisement serve one role only - to show their chests. People want to see chesty girls because of their chests. I'm speaking as a woman, mind you, so don't send me emails accusing me of being some lecherous man just because I'm not blind to the realities of advertising and I'm not so devoid of perspective that I expect Jim to be politically correct. Say it with me, people: advertisements have chesty girls because men like to see chesty girls. Is that a nice thing? Perhaps not. But does it work, using chesty girls in advertisements to spread the word about a product? Yes.
Meanwhile, Bethenny thinks that the Lime crew aren't doing enough to spread the word and get customers coming. Indeed, it looks like the Lime crew are loitering around eating the catered food and chit-chatting instead of doing the work that their bosses are paid $30,000 for. Bethenny marches out of the store and straight to them. Within no time, she has them whipped into shape and running around the streets like the good taskmistress that she is. Bethenny even tells them to make sure that they remember to pitch the Tassimo machines to the customer along with free pastries. Yes, Amanda, the Primates are using the same technique as Marcela, go figure, only the Primates have an advantage because they have a sales team that works. Really, go figure. The Tassimo machines really start moving when the Primates slash the price of the Tassimo machine down to $169. Oh boy, I wonder how those folks at Tassimo feel after they paid all that money for product placement on this show only to have the show telling everybody that those machines are overpriced at $299. Charles and Alexis drop by where they are surprised at the activity of the Primates, especially after the lackadaisal attitude of, er, some Matchsticks. Charles says, "They have a salesman's desperate look... I mean, Jim always looks desperate." Jim tells the camera that the Primates are going to move as many Tassimo machines as possible in order to produce a "respectable showing" against Matchstick. Sheesh, didn't he learn from the previous task? It's a good thing that the Primates are selling their Tassimo machines at $169 each compared to Matchsticks' $199 because if they lower the price any more, they may very well end up with a repeat of their previous defeat. Martha did say that it's the dollar that counts in the end, not the number of units sold.
Conference room time. Martha waits with Charles and Alexis as the Apprenti file in. Martha notes that this is the second round of the Jim versus Marcela deathmatch and asks each of the Project Managers how their day has been. Marcela talks vaguely about having problems and attempting to overcome them while Jim rasps hoarsely that he thinks the Primates did respectably against Matchstick. Martha has a good chuckle over Jim's losing his voice. Martha asks her henchmen for the progress report on these two teams. Charles reports that Matchstick sold nine Tassimo machines which brings in a total of $1,891 for Tassimo. I think the nine Tassimo machines are sold at various points between the lowering of the Tassimo machine price from $299 to $199 (if it's lowered further to $169, I have only Charles' word for it), which explains the amount $1,891. Alexis reports that the Primates sold 36 Tassimo machines to give Tassimo a gross revenue of $6,621. Martha reports that the Primates-R-Us won by $4,730. Of course, if we take into account the $30,000 they spent on Lime, the Primates would have won hilariously by a net loss of about $24,379 so there's a good reason as to why Martha specifically mentioned that teams will be judged on gross revenue before the start of the task. At this point, Charles says that the Matchsticks lost because they lacked the "fire and passion" of the Primates. Amanda demonstrates how wrong Charles is by passionately rolling her eyes. Martha announces that the Primates' reward is a chance to ride on a private jet and visit Martha's house in Bar Harbor, Maine with Alexis as the tour guide.
The Primates are so happy, really - cue eye-rolling of Amanda-like proportions on my part here - as they board the plane and later look around Martha's house, which is thankfully free of stuffed fish. Maybe Martha collects a different kind of thing in each house. I wonder what she keeps in this particular house, hmm. Alexis shows them around, not really saying much, and let's just say she's as good a tour guide as she is Martha's henchman on this show. At one point she tells the Primates that she is often alone here when she was growing up but she liked being alone. Oh, Alexis. One of these days she's going to record a country album, I can feel it. Jim gives an insincere confessional about how glad every Primate is to get acquainted with Alexis while "walking inside Martha's mind" although I have a suspicion that knowing Alexis well and thinking like Martha may be two mutually exclusive things. The Primates move on from the house to a boat ride where they and Alexis get to drink and eat lobster sandwiches. Bethenny gushes that Alexis made those lobster sandwiches herself (oh, really?) and she is considerate enough to remember that Bethenny eats only organic stuff so Alexis made Bethenny a special vegetarian sandwich. I hope whoever really made those sandwiches, be they Alexis or her personal assistant, didn't deliberately slather the bread of Bethenny's sandwich with pig lard as some petty payback on the extra work Bethenny's dietary habit caused this person. At the end of the day, Jim is apparently so touched that he will tell his grandchildren of this day of his with Alexis Stewart. Hopefully it will be a nicer story than Bridges of Madison County.
Back at the Loft, Marcela weeps as she packs for the conference room and, possibly, her trip home. She sob to the camera, "Why am I going to fight to stay here if I'm going home? I just want to cook for the woman. You know, I just want to work at the magazine or at the TV show. I wanna... I don't know, maybe this whole thing was just not for me. I'm not cut out for this type of competition. It's so cutthroat! It's so not me! I'm a chef. I'm a mom. This is... this is not me!" I agree that Marcela won't cut it as an executive at MSLO but I can't help but to be touched by her apparently earnest passion to just work for Martha. Marcela's admiration of Martha Stewart seems really genuine, as is her ambition to work in any capacity for Martha. Of all the Apprenti here that are said to be shunted here when they couldn't make the cut for Donald's show, Marcela seems to be one of them that actually wanted to be on this show instead of Donald's. However, even if Marcela isn't good enough to be the Apprentice that Martha may be looking for, I hate to see her leave like this, broken and defeated. Outside, Dawna is listening as Amanda and Ryan bitch and moan about Marcela. Dawna quickly identifies Marcela's problem when she says that someone like Marcela must find it intimidating to lead Amanda, Leslie, and Ryan around. Ryan once more brings up the fact that Marcela is just a chef and nothing more. One of these days, I hope Bethenny kicks his ass real good on behalf of chefs everywhere.
Later that day, Ryan is donning his shirt, his puny dark nipples pointing right at Jim as Jim asks Ryan whether those you-know-who people are going to "crucify" Marcela. Jim misses Ryan's come-hither look and poor Ryan has to pull on his shirt or he'll risk getting a cold. Call me weird but I think I find Ryan more handsome when he's clothed. Those tiny nipples give me the creeps - they are like beady shark eyes on a completely hairless and very pale expanse of skin. Ryan says that he intends to "lead" Marcela down "the road" of Marcela's dismissal. When he puts it that way, I'm sure Marcela would be flattered. Jim tells the camera that he knows what it means to be scapegoated - ahem, I don't think so, Jim - so he thinks that what Ryan and the rest are doing to Marcela is "just plain wrong". As wrong as what he tried to do to Dawn? Jim really should respect his audience, especially the three people out there including me that find him most entertaining to watch, and just admit in his confessionals that he wants to keep Marcela around because he finds her a weak competitor.
Jim sits down beside Marcela as she sits on the floor and pack. How long does it take for her to pack anyway, oh my goodness? She's stuffing what seems like endless lengths of colorful scarves into her bag. Whatever his motives may be, his whispered prep talk is what Marcela needs to hear, especially when he makes plenty of valid points. Jim tells Marcela to point out to Martha that it was Marcela's idea that brought all those people into the store and nail Ryan and Amanda especially for failing to sell after all of Marcela's efforts in pulling in the crowds. He tells Marcela to take Ryan and Amanda to task in the conference room for thinking that they can coast while letting Marcela take the fall. Marcela smiles weakly at Jim and whispers back that she likes him after that moment, heh. To the camera, Marcela says that her conversation with Jim helps her realize that she wasn't completely useless in the task and now she intends to make Martha see what she can "bring to the table". Poor Marcela must be so browbeaten by Ryan and Amanda in this task that it takes Jim to give her self-esteem a boost. Jim may be doing that for his own selfish reasons but Marcela really needs to hear what Jim has to say, so in the end, Jim becomes Marcela's knight in somewhat shining armor by design. Wow.
Marcela, Amanda, Ryan, and Leslie briefly endure Julia's "I know something that you don't" smile before they are allowed to enter the conference room. Martha begins by asking Marcela what Marcela feels were the reasons for the team's loss. Marcela acknowledges that as Project Manager, she has to bear the brunt of the responsibility. However, she also feels that she didn't receive adequate support from her team members. Here, Ryan looks like he can't believe what he is hearing. Simmer down, dude. The ego is showing and it's not pretty. Amanda stupidly admits that she wasn't supportive of Marcela but adds that it was Marcela's fault, not hers. Kinda like Amanda needing some really powerful leader to dominate her, I suppose, or she'll just go her own way as she pleases. She tells Martha that Marcela prioritized too much on food when the task wasn't about food. Charles says that he noticed that the Matchsticks weren't enthusiastic in their selling of the Tassimo machine. Alexis agrees, calling the Matchstick store "morose" and "dead". Like Alexis' childhood memories, perhaps? Ryan, sensing where the wind is blowing, now says that he is willing to take some of the blame, apparently because he thinks that it is "too easy" to blame the Project Manager. I wonder where he gets that blaming-the-Project-Manager idea from, hmm? Now he unctuously announces that maybe his team mates should be as enlightened as he is when it comes to accepting accountability. Yes, yes, Ryan wants to be the new Bill Rancic, I can see that. Shut up, dude.
Martha is not amused. She tells the others that they sat back and did nothing while Marcela flounders. Leslie, also sensing where the wind is blowing (and it's not towards the exit door that they are hoping Marcela would take), quickly says that she finds Marcela, a fellow Latina, an inspiration and she wants Marcela to succeed. Charles asks her who she thinks weren't supportive of Marcela and Leslie without hesitation mentions Ryan and Amanda. It's obvious by now that Martha, to my delight, is not going to fall for the lame tricks of Amanda and Ryan to nail Marcela to the wall. She gets the discussion to revolve around Marcela asking Amanda for input on ideas and Amanda not contributing any. Amanda lamely tries to lie her way through by saying that Marcela didn't pay attention to Amanda's many bright ideas. Marcela says quietly that she can't lead a team when the team members don't respect her. Again, Ryan and Amanda act as if they can't believe how Marcela can come to such a conclusion. It's on tape. Maybe the two of them can watch the video of this episode before talking a long walk on a short pier.
Now Martha asks Amanda what she wants to do in MSLO. It's a question that comes up on pretty much every conventional job interview and Martha has said many times that she treats this show as a job interview. It says a lot, therefore, that Amanda gives a rambling answer about her background in marketing and PR that has Martha answering incredulously, "But I thought you're an attorney!" Amanda then rambles on and on about how she likes to get her hands dirty in the garden, although what that has to do with Martha is beyond me. Amanda goes on, "The bottom line is people like to see people that are real. They don't want to see someone who's professional and polished all the time and never makes mistakes. They want to see people that say, 'I'm flawed.'" At this point, even Alexis looks horrified at the way Amanda is digging her own grave. Martha Stewart builds a career out of being the everywoman all-knowing domestic guru who is always perfectly groomed and well-versed in etiquette. Telling Martha that the world wants to see someone "flawed" or "real" is the same as telling Martha that her entire career is built on lies. Whether or not Amanda believes that, saying it to Martha's face is the epitome of stupidity. Martha, being who she is, doesn't roll up her eyes. Instead, she gives a perfectly disinterested "Okay!" as a response to Amanda and then asks Marcela what Marcela wants to do at MSLO. Marcela gives a passionate response about helping Martha open markets to the Latin-American market that, according to Marcela, adore her. Marcela humbly says that people have called her the "Mexican Martha Stewart" (yeah, I can't see it either) but she'd prefer to help the real Martha Stewart become that Mexican Martha Stewart. Martha actually looks interested in what Marcela has to say, a far cry from her reaction to Amanda's babblings about gardens and insincere ex-cons. She asks Marcela who Marcela will bring back with her to the conference room and Marcela picks Ryan and Amanda.
As Leslie flees back to the Loft, an angry Ryan confronts Marcela in the waiting area, saying that he can't believe that she dared to question his loyalty. Marcela asks him quietly whether he genuinely believes that he had the same energy in that task as he did in the previous tasks. Ryan insists that he does. Right, and I'm coming to shove a Whopper down Ryan's throat. Marcela turns away from him in disgust. Amanda, seated on one side of Marcela, and Ryan, seated on the other side, begin to dogpile Marcela, both saying that they can't believe the way Marcela is treating them. "Just because you couldn't organize a team doesn't mean we sabotaged you," Ryan has the temerity to say. I can see now why Marcela is so intimidated by these two. They just steamroller over someone as quiet as Marcela. Gosh, these two suck so, so much. Julia calls them back into the conference room shortly after, no doubt to Marcela's relief.
As they walk in, Ryan announces that he wants to say something to Martha. He then launches into this utterly obnoxious grandstanding of a crap-prick speech about how no one should ever question his loyalty and if anyone asks, he can give them a list of how he is some uber-team player. Martha, bless her, has this "Are you kidding me?" expression on her face. She tells the three of them to sit down. Ryan then says that it is Marcela who "shut down" during the task - right, because Marcela should have the sixth sense to know and do what they want for the good of team, especially when they have no substitute ideas of their own that don't involve Big Pussy - and Marcela weakly protests that this isn't true. Marcela, by the way, is very bad at defending herself despite claiming earlier that Jim had given her some determination to prove herself to Martha. She whispers instead of talking in a confident manner and she is slouched on her seat. She looks like a lost cat surrounded by big bulldogs. Martha halts the impending argument by saying that MSLO employees need to have passion and drive because there are so many things to do at MSLO - books, TV, magazines, et cetera - and so many opportunities to explore. Hey, after listening to Martha, I want to work at MSLO now too. I wonder whether Martha will let me on board. Charles follows up by saying that if they don't find "it" fun, then they shouldn't work at MSLO. The thing is, I doubt MSLO employees have to sell Tessimo machines at a store they have to set-up overnight or to sell wedding cakes that they designed themselves. Whatever, Charles.
Marcela admits to Charles that Ryan isn't the reason the team lost - I wonder what Marcela believes is the reason, hmmm - and she takes him along with her because unlike Leslie, he and Amanda gave her the most headaches during the task. Alexis pipes up to remind everyone that what Marcela said is true because, why, Amanda said early on in the conference room session that she doesn't respect Marcela. Amanda sputters that she respects Marcela "as a person" but not as a Project Manager. That is a stupid thing to say, as Amanda is essentially telling Martha that she doesn't play by rules if the Project Manager can't control her, but I don't think there is anything Amanda can say in her defense. She has dug her own grave the moment she arrogantly announces that she didn't and couldn't support her Project Manager in this task and every subsequent attempt by her to justify her position only pushes her deeper into that grave. Martha calls Amanda on being too "polite" when it comes to following Marcela's orders even if it leads the whole team to failure (read: Martha doesn't care for slackers who blindly follow and then point fingers) and Amanda defends herself by saying that she is only being "competitive". Try "backstabbing sourfaced hag", Amanda. Marcela defends herself by saying that she is someone who has "integrity" (eeuw, that word again) and doesn't backstab or play dirty corporate politics to advance herself. Maybe she thinks that she is being full of integrity by acting like a martyr and not using any of the bullet points Jim tried to coach her to say in his prep talk but by saying that she's better than Amanda and Ryan as a person, she is building a weak case for herself. "My feelings are hurt! I was sabotaged! I had no respect! And all I wanted to do is to cook for Martha Stewart! Boo-hoo-hoo!" isn't a strong argument in the conference room no matter how I look at it.
Martha calls the conference room session to an end. An obvious voice-over of hers is added in, where she tells Ryan that she admires him for his "sense of self and propriety" and she thinks that he is an "upright young man". Yeah, and an upright jerk in this episode as well, I must say. She however reprimands Ryan for sitting back and letting Marcela flounder. Martha tells Marcela that Marcela obviously needs to work at being more assertive and earning the respect of her team mates. And to Amanda, Martha says that Amanda had sensed "weakness" in Marcela, "didn't help the team in any way", and has proven not to be a team player. Because Martha thinks that being a team-player is a vital trait every MSLO employee should have, she is dismissing Amanda. Amanda looks like she can't believe what she has just heard but Martha is already on her feet with her hand extended towards Amanda. Poor Amanda can only thank Martha for the opportunity and make her undignified exit from the show. Marcela smiles tightly with relief. You know, I must take a cue from Martha. The next time I have unwanted guests, I'll just say goodbye and then stand up and give them my hand before they can say anything. I wonder whether that will get them to leave like Martha always gets her unwanted guests on this show to.
Charles tells Martha that she made the right choice and Alexis agrees. Charles says that it is "interesting" how, as the show progresses, "the cream rise to the top". I think I like Charles better if he should ever suck on that cigar and be quiet more often. Martha writes a letter to Amanda. It's one of her most adorably nastiest letters yet, filled with so many politely-worded backhanded compliments.
"Dear Amanda, you have certain talents that can be used in many ways. And you think that you should focus on those things that interest you: gardening, marketing, et cetera. I hope that you have as much passion for your garden as you expressed. It will bring you and your family much joy. It was a pleasure knowing you. Good luck, Martha Stewart."
Once more, Martha makes the right decision, although frankly I won't mind if she sends both Ryan and Amanda packing. While I am less than pleased with the editing of this episode that leaves too many questions unanswered - the main one being why Marcela is made the Project Manager in the first place - but at least there is sweet justice at the end when Martha fires Amanda for the correct reasons. It's too bad that people obviously prefers Donald Trump's brand of grandstanding instead of Martha's less dramatic but much more satisfying displays of good sense and acumen. I will miss this show when it is not renewed for a second season.
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