The Apprentice: Martha Stewart: Episode 3
Previously, Martha Stewart wasn't amused when the Matchstick couldn't get their act together to sell more flowers than the Primates-R-Us people. Jim and Dawn had a feud going and Ryan and Howie had a thing going. Ultimately, Chuckie had a nervous breakdown trying to deal with his Matchstick team mates and Martha found this apparent lack of willpower on Chuckie's part the most offensive reason of all. Goodbye Chuckie. They booted you the moment you finally spoke more than two lines per episode. Here, have a tulip on me while the credit rolls.
Evening. The Apprenti are having dinner as they wait for the survivors of the latest conference room to come back and join them. In a scene that is clearly put in out of sequence, we have now David, who it seems has been appointed the new Project Manager already, calls a pajama party/pow-wow session with Shawn, Bethenny, and Marcella. Saying that Jim and Dawn are most likely to return to them "unless something drastic happens" (like Jim and Dawn jumping onto the table to start line-dancing). Bethenny is going "Yah! Yah!" like the useless parrot that she is. David tells the camera that it is embarrassing for Matchstick to lose in two consecutive tasks. To the other two, he says that they have to pull their act together. "It's disgusting! It's embarrassing! It's shameful!" David says that Dawn has been at the center of conflict. Marcela says that for Matchstick to succeed, Dawn has to go. I'm really puzzled here because unless the editors are not showing me some important things, Dawn doesn't seem like the troublemaker the Matchsticks are making her out to be. If you ask me, Jim is the troublemaker who slows the team down unnecessarily with his antics. But I guess the Matchsticks decide that Dawn is the better scapegoat than Jim, kinda like stupid kids who are so afraid of the bully that they pretend that he's one of them while deluding themselves into thinking that if they target their frustrations on a certain member, the problems they have will go away.
Sure enough, Jim walks in to dead silence in the Loft. When Dawn walks in after him, Shawn and David exchange an ugly look. "I wanna throw up," comes Bethenny's voice-over, which may or may not be unfairly put in by the editors just to emphasize the target on Dawn's back. Which is to say, she may be saying that she wanted to throw up in a different context and the editors put her saying that in this scene because Bethenny is clearly eating as she "says" this. Or maybe she really did say that. I don't know. As if Bethenny isn't annoying enough already, really.
Dawn unpacks her luggage. She tells the camera that she knows that her team mates don't like her and "have it out" for her but she knows that you sometimes have to work with people who don't like you and vice-versa. For the next task, she'll keep quiet and only speak when she's spoken to. Meanwhile, Jim talks to his wife over the phone, of course knowing that the cameras on him all the time, where she tells him about her "false alarm" - Jim's wife is expecting their child any time now - and he tells her to do her thing while he'll do his thing. He then tells the camera about how important it is that he is on this show for his wife. Who is he trying to fool? "I'm behaving like an ass on TV for the sake of my wife!" doesn't work as a line, surely?
The next morning, the phone in the Loft rings and Carrie quickly answers it while a few other women hang around behind her to listen. Martha, posing before a white horse in her spanky-clean stable, asks Carrie what the Apprenti are doing. Carrie tells her that the Apprenti are "mostly sleeping". Martha deliciously goes for the kill by feigning delight and then saying in her best voice designed to make the person at the other end feel really low that she has been up and working since dawn. Then again, anyone who tells her prospective employer that she and the others have been sleeping like pigs on a workday deserves to burn a little. Martha tells her that she has to attend a photoshoot today - she's parading the latest in prison dungarees, I hear - so she'd like the Apprenti to meet her at the ninth floor of the office. Not for the photoshoot, of course, but for the briefing down of their upcoming task.
Martha, Alexis, and Charles ponder over copies of Martha Stewart Weddings magazines in a room set for a wedding dinner. Martha says that she hopes that these magazines will be adequate research material for the teams to start on. Charles hopes that the teams will do adequate research in the first place. Martha says that she is sure that this task she has in mind will sound simple but it will actually "knock them dead". She then gives a truly evil chuckle that has to be heard to be believed. The Apprenti walk in to join them and Martha gives them some background about the lucrative wedding industry (it better be, given how expensive everything related to the industry is, duh) as well as how Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has its own share of the wedding industry pie. That's one reason why I'm loving this show so far, by the way: unlike the dumb product-placement tasks that have nothing to do whatsoever with Donald Trump's actual businesses on the other show - Burger King, anyone? - Martha Stewart actually takes the time to explain how each task is related closely to her business. This and Martha's attitude make the show feel like a genuine job interview where only the most qualified will succeed, which is what The Apprentice is supposed to be in the first place. Back to Martha, she tells the Apprenti that each Team will have to design and bake a wedding cake (not by themselves, of course, since they have access to "professional" bakers to do the grunt work for them), which they will then display and try to sell at the Michael C Fina bridal fair. Martha sternly tells Matchstick that she hopes not to see them at the conference room again. If she sounds like a stern but concerned teacher, Shawn sounds like an obnoxious teacher's pet as she chirps to Martha, "Our guarantee it will not be!" Oh, and Martha tells Alexis to bring her a slice from each cake. Alexis smiles tightly. Then again, she always smiles tightly.
Howie is the Project Manager for the Primates and he tells the camera that his ass is on the line this time if his team doesn't win. We see the Primates actually look up Martha Stewart's website for examples and illustrations of bestselling wedding cakes, which makes perfect sense if you're going to win and suck up to Martha in the process. Howie says that the cake should appeal to as many people as possible. Carrie thinks that it's great to have a cake that is, let's see, square in the bottom tier, octagonal in the middle tier, and round in the upper tier. That seems like something beamed down from a UFO for Michael Jackson to celebrate the birth of his latest kid. Now the Primates decide to go to the Yahoo! webpage to look up locations of places like fairs and stores that will give them more of an idea of what makes a bestselling wedding cake. Sarah says that she, Ryan, and Jennifer decide to check out the New York Wedding Center Incorporated which Howie found in that search session but alas, they realize that the Center is located in Chinatown and deals with Chinese weddings. Jennifer says that this is not what they are looking for. Those three flee the building as a Chinese gong chimes in the background for the sake of those people who are unfamiliar with Chinese culture. Burnetto, after all, is always out to enlighten his audience about cultural diversity and tolerance.
It's time for Martha's Moral of the Week, where she addresses her staff in what seems like a seminar that they cannot fake anything on their show and alienate their audience that way. Since this scene is as staged as the hairgrowth on Donald Trump's head, the paradoxical nature of this scene is too hilarious for words. Oh, and we must be flexible and adapt in our plans while remaining true to ourselves. Alrighty-then.
Over at Matchstick, David is handing over everything about research to Shawn, apparently because he doesn't know anything about weddings and therefore it's best to let the women handle the task. Because women, after all, are born with everything there is to know about weddings inside their heads. David says that his job as a Project Manager means that he has to delegate duties among the team members. Therefore, Bethenny and Marcela, being chefs, are responsible for the baking while Dawn will help these women. Shawn, Jim, and he will do research on the computer. How nice, some women slave in the kitchen while he carries out the tiring responsibility of surfing the Web. Shawn decides to ditch Martha Stewart Weddings for the designs of Sylvia Weinstock. As she explains it, Sylvia designs "highest-end most specialty cakes" that sell for "tens of thousands of dollars" and she says that the people visiting a Michael C Fina establishment will definitely want this kind of cakes. That makes sense, I tell you, because someone will walk into Michael C Fina and pay sixty thousand dollars for some stupid cake designed by Matchstick.
The proof that Shawn is seriously out of touch with reality is when she talks to Sylvia over the phone and does not bat an eyelid when Sylvia tells them that cupcakes (the Matchsticks' initial proposal) are out because people don't like peeling off papers while cakes with "pink icing on the outside" are "in" and when Shawn relays this Very Important Information by phone to Marcela, Bethenny, and Dawn with utmost gravity. Shawn also has a moment of gruesome flirtation with Sylvia where she playfully complains that Sylvia is no help when Shawn tells her that she wants Sylvia to make her wedding cake when she finally finds a man and Sylvia tells her that Sylvia can only provide the cake but not the man. The problem with Shawn is that she comes off as really, really fake even if she's actually being sincere and I cringe every time she struts before the camera talking like she owns the stage. Some people have the confidence as well as the ability to induce their audience to have faith in their field of expertise - like Martha to her audience, I suppose - while others, like Shawn, have only the confidence but not the charisma that inspires goodwill and trust in others. In short, Shawn is a bleeding newscaster whom we all know are reading off the teleprompter.
Now the three women in the kitchen "discuss" the shape of the cake. "Discuss", that is, as in "Do What Bethenny Tells You". Bethenny decides that oval is "in". Dawn thinks that a more typical round shape will do very nicely. Bethenny announces that it's decided then, the cake will be oval. Dawn starts to do what seems like an impromptu striptease to the camera, making me wonder whether it's really true all those Nerd Girls Gone Wild urban legends. Luckily, she's just changing into a chef outfit. Marcela tells the camera that the cake will be oval and there will be several tiers of oval layers, each one wrapped in pink ribbons. I hope the ribbons are edible. If not, won't that be as troublesome as those paper wrappings on Shawn's cupcakes? Their chef does a mock-up of the cake where the tiers are placed "off-center". The arrangement makes the cake look like a baby's boot but Marcela likes it. Dawn tells the camera that she doesn't think that it is wise to make their cake so "high-end" to the point that they can only target the cake towards a very narrow market. No one will listen to her though so there's nothing she can do.
Here's where Shawn and the rest misses the point, if you ask me: Sylvia Weinstock's cakes sell for so much because of her reputation among her clientele of Oprah Winfrey and Jackie Kennedy types. These people will pay so much money for a Sylvia Weinstock cake but these same people will never pay for the same cake if the cake is designed and baked by Shawn the Wannabe. Just like how some people will pay so much for an ordinary pair of underpants made special by the Calvin Klein name on the waistband but they will balk at the idea of paying the same price for the same pair of underpants but with Matchstick on the waistband instead of Calvin Klein. This isn't Marketing 101, this is simple common sense. If you want to sell something when you have no reputation to fall back on, sell something that many people will want to buy because people who have lots of money will go for something with a brand name that will make them feel like they're among some elite crowd.
Shawn, high on her power trip now that David is giving her free rein to do as she pleases, eats power bars like they'll somehow make her smarter and giggles like a witch to David and Jim. Charles comes in to check in on them and she tells him that she is so confident that Matchstick will win. "We're on the road to greatness! If we don't win this one, you have my word you can fire me personally," she tells him. Charles tells the camera that it is not wise to say such a thing because who knows, it can come back to bite Shawn in the butt. The scene ends with Shawn laughing hysterically.
Over at the Primates-R-Us baking facility, Howie is looking pretty fine in his apron. Here is where things get confusing because the editing cuts in and out erratically without much coherence. All I can get is that Howie expects Sarah, Ryan, and Jennifer to come back with a cake stand and he gets annoyed when they don't. When Sarah tells Howie that he has sent them to a Chinese wedding center, Howie snarls that he didn't. Apparently, those three left on their own accord to check out that place without him telling her to. She tries to get some words in but he keeps pointing at her furiously and calls her a liar again and again at the top of his voice. I don't find Howie too scary like some people do at this point. Maybe I'm just weird but Howie instead sets off my admittedly unreliable gaydar off in that scene. Maybe it's the way he points his finger at Sarah or the way he says the word "liar", heh. I don't know how they go from cake stands to liars but at the end of the day, Dawna manages to calm everyone down. Sarah and Howie end up apologizing to each other and hugging like two best girlfriends after a silly spat. Alas, I never get to see how Howie makes it up to Ryan. I bet it's something sweeter than a kiss on the cheek and a hug. Oh, I get it! Maybe that's why Howie is angry - he is jealous that Sarah has somehow gotten under Ryan's skin or something?
Alexis pops into the kitchen - luckily for Howie - after his temper has cooled down. She is wearing this evening gown that shows some cleavage. I have never imagined that I would ever write down a sentence that has "Alexis" and "cleavage" in it. Anyway, she is actually quite shy around the Primates and it is they who encourage her tentative "Are you going to win?" small-talk into becoming a reminisce about growing up as Martha Stewart's daughter. It's not a nice sunny story, by the way, because Alexis apparently once tried to bake her mother a birthday cake as a child and Martha screamed at Alexis for messing up the kitchen. Alexis however admits that she can be as much a perfectionist as her mother and apparently she always cleaned Martha's closet as a child just to show her mother that she could be neater than her. The Primates laugh nervously at her story. Howie, meanwhile, catches his reflection in the mirrored table surface and says, "Is it me or am I getting better-looking as the day goes on?" Alexis gives a pointed eyeroll at this. If she contributes very little to the show, Alexis' eyerolls however give this show some extra spice!
Over at the Matchstick bakery, Marcela adds some finishing touch to what is, to me, a hideous pink baby boot while Jim disconnects his cell phone and announces that his wife has just given birth. Everyone else, even Dawn, goes "Whoo!" and "Congratulations!" while Jim acts as like the proudest father in the world. Of course, his extra swagger is all for the camera. He tells the camera about how he is on this show for his wife and his family, yadda yadda yadda. Oh, it will be so funny if he doesn't win. His wife can therefore say to her friends and family members, "Jim behaves like a complete jerk on TV for my sake. For me! He was like that for me!"
The Primates also finish their work on the cake. Everyone is happy as the Primates work to put finishing touches to the cake. Someone's hand hovers over a checklist pinned on a wall where there is one line that goes "Sleeping... NEVER!" Is that Ryan? Is he writing about him and Howie?
Unlike the Primates who, it seems, all work together on the cake, David has sent the others back to the Loft, leaving only Marcela to work all night while he... er, keeps watch, I suppose, since he already said earlier that he doesn't know much about baking cakes. David invites the others to come over to the bakery to see the cake (and to help them take the cake to the Michael C Fina store) and promises that the cake will be too beautiful for words. The others show up and sure enough, all but Shawn are thrilled at what, to me, is still an ugly pink baby boot. I really question the decision of making the cake in such a strong vivid color because I understand that brides can get particular about cakes that may clash with the color of their dresses. Shawn, however, conveniently forgets that the cake is made according to her suggestions and says dryly to Marcela, "Well, it is what it is!" She then sniffs when Marcela points out icily that every other Matchstick loves the cake. Shawn points a finger at the cake and calls it cheesy. "I don't like this cake! It's got a hot pink bow! It's oval!" she says to Marcela, who then complains to the camera that she stayed up all night and baked (which she insists she's okay with) and here comes Shawn whining and complaining (which she isn't okay with). May I point out that it was about at this point of the show last night that Shawn was complaining about working so hard only to have people coming in and complain? Heh.
Jim and Bethenny then carry the heavy and ugly cake to the van waiting outside. Suspenseful music plays as they hope the cake won't fall and I scream for the cake to fall. Any idiot who doesn't know that wedding cakes are assembled on location instead of being carried around fully assembled deserves to have a cake splattered all over the pavement. Still, there's almost satisfying pay-off in Dawn's very obvious "Fuck!" when Bethenny accidentally presses her hand onto the cake while she tries to regain her balance after carrying the cake into the van. Luckily, they can use this damaged portion for samples that they hand out to visitors for tasting purposes. The Primates are also carrying their cake fully assembled, although unlike the Matchsticks who apparently decide to forgo a box altogether, the Primates put their rather ordinary but still more beautiful cake into a box. The other Primates urge Howie, who is driving, to go slow. "I just don't want you to slam on the brakes and have the cake go flying," Ryan says to Howie. Go slow, Howie, because Ryan doesn't like it when you slam too hard on the brakes and your cake goes flying before Ryan is even out of the door, okay? "What am I, a schmuck on wheels?" asks Howie as he points out that other vehicles are overtaking the Matchstick van. He knows what to do, Ryan is in good hands, so all is well. Right?
The two teams set up their cake in separate sections in the Michael C Fina store. The stage is set. It's now time for action.
Over at "Matchstick Cake Designs", a "superbly up-and-coming cake design company" according to Shawn, David reveals that Dawn is doing the accounting while Jim, Bethenny, and Shawn handle the sales pitch. Marcela sits by the sidelines, which is fair enough to David as she had been up all night working on the cake. Don't ask me what David is doing. Maybe he brings the sales team coffee. No matter how hard the sales team urge visitors to buy, they have no takers. They receive though comparisons of that ugly cake to a cruise ship and a boot. Jim offers people who walk past big slices to sample and the camera zooms in on a slice that is abandoned on a chair with only a nibble taken from it. I don't think the taste of the cake is better than its appearance, oh dear. Maybe Marcela should have just colored the cake blood-red and get the others to try to sell it to Anne Rice's more psychotic fans. A woman who looks like she may be interested in the cake asks whether the cake comes in a different color or shape, which is a stupid question if you ask me because it sounds like she's looking for a different cake altogether. Shawn tells this woman in an insolent and condenscending manner that aspects of the cake, right down to the pink ribbons, is "non-negotiable". Way to go, Shawn, in killing all interest in the cake. Shawn complains to the camera that the words coming out from her mouth are pathetic. She's right, although probably not in the way she hopes to be. Shawn says that she feels like a used-car salesman. If that's the case, she's a tragically awful used-car salesperson.
Alexis is hovering at the Primates-R-Us display section, snapping shots of the ordinary but prettier cake with her digital camera. Ryan is seated at the table with two people who reveal that they met through the Web. Not to be mean or anything, but if you look at these two sweet people, you can tell straight away that they need the Web in order to socialize. They want to get married and therefore they ask Ryan how much the cake would cost since they expect 120 guests at the wedding. They probably invited all the forum members of their Geek Love website. Ryan explains that a slice costs six dollars so all in all the cake will cost $720. The young lady gasps at the price but the young man shrugs and says sure, he'll take it. After all, his extra-sophisticated supercomputer at home (capable of streaming all 4,964 porn channels from all over the world simultaneously at the speed of light) probably costs ten times that amount. The bride is thrilled. The camera zooms in on the lovely couple's hand-holding and even Ryan looks teary-eyed as he probably wonders in his heart whether he and Howie will ever be that sweet ten years down the road. Ryan says that he feels good selling this sweet couple their cake - although he isn't that good to offer a discount, I notice - and romantic muzak swells in the background because there's nothing more romantic in this world than paying through your nose for a stupid wedding cake that probably tastes awful. I never had a wedding cake, by the way, because being Chinese, hubby and I had to foot instead thousands and thousands of dollars to throw a long and tedious wedding dinner where people get drunk and give long, long speeches incoherently, but really, thanks for asking. Thank goodness the karaoke machine wasn't invented yet at that time. Back to the happy Primates, Amanda and Sarah hug Ryan. Ryan walks up to Howie and says, "I sold you a cake!" And then they hug as Howie kisses Ryan on the cheek. Swoon. Howie has taken it slow, hit the brakes gently, and now Ryan has sold Howie a cake. Cakes are flying and love is in the air, ring the bells, somebody!
Meanwhile, Bethenny watches all this celebration, although she obviously doesn't appreciate manlove because instead of offering to buy a $720 stupid cake for Ryan and Howie, she stomps back to the Matchsticks to announce that the Primates have sold a cake. Proving that sometimes it is better not to know how the competition is doing and just do your best and hope for better, this announcement spurs Bethenny into a genuinely crazed outburst of frenzied activity, where she shoves a slice of cake, grits her teeth, snarls through her teeth, and all but yells at the poor dear lady to eat cake. She tells the poor Chinese lady that she is not pressuring her at all when it's obvious to all that Bethenny really wants to shove the cake against the woman's face while tackling her to the ground and screaming, "Give me your money, bitch!" The woman quickly flees to her hubby-to-be's side, where he is seen whispering into her ear as they both look at Bethenny and grin insolently. I have a hunch that he's comparing Bethenny to that crazy chain-smoking panda that they have seen in some zoo while visiting her parents in China. David prays for a victory. Bethenny prays that the couple will buy the cake. So will they buy the cake or not?
Cut to the conference room, where Martha, Alexis, and Charles sit and look grave while the Apprenti file in. First, Martha congratulates Jim for the birth of his kid and Jim basks in the limelight. He's been quite well-behaved in this episode, that annoying yet so amusing rascal, but that's probably because someone else on his team is even more obnoxious than him in this episode. Martha has a slice of each team's cake before her and now she takes a bite from each take. She says that both cakes taste homemade, which is apparently a good thing. Although if you ask me, if I paid $720 for a cake and it tastes like something I can make at home instead of, well, whatever $720 tastes like, I'd probably strangle the baker with my own hands. Martha then looks at the snapshots of both cakes that Alexis had taken. She likes the color of the Primates' cake but her face only becomes tighter as she tries to come up with something nice to say about the Matchstick's "Oh Look, I Fondant Up Again!" cake. "Oh, so you had pink, pink ribbons. What shape is that? It looks so... set off to the side!" is the best she can do.
Deciding that to continue with her critique is pointless, she now asks Charles and Alexis for progress reports. Charles points out that Primates-R-Us targets a mass market and manages to sell five cakes, therefore raking in $3,658. Alexis reports that Matchstick targets a select niche and manages to sell zero cakes. Yup, zero. "The business group is demolishing the so-called 'creative' group," Martha says. "This is really not a good thing!" It isn't? But it's so entertaining to watch Matchstick getting demolished! Anyway, Martha reveals that the Primates will get a special treat for winning this task: a visit to that exclusive dining place Jean-Georges (or so I hear, I've never heard of it until now) with New York's "most famous newlyweds". In case you're wondering, that's Donald Trump and his latest wife Melania. You're expecting Britney Spears and Kevin Federline? Charles manages to get a delicious dig on the Trump: "He's chosen a lot of wedding cakes."
I learn that Jean-Georges is in Trump's hotel when the Primates step out of their limo later that evening to prostrate themselves at the feet of Donald and Melania Trump. Ryan can't believe that he will be seeing Melania. Indeed, he stares at Melania creepily all night long as they have dessert - yes, dessert, not dinner, talk about cheap - that Melania must be wondering whether Ryan is hoping to be her latest toyboy on the side or something. Of course, what Ryan is really thinking is most likely something like this: "Bitch! I want that dress. I bet I look better in it. Howie will like me in that dress. I want that dress. That dress will look good on me. I have better curves that than rail-thin Melania. Oh gosh, look at her, she won't even eat dessert. Why is she staring at me? Does she think I'm some fat cow! Bitch!" Howie will be staring at Melania and thinking, "Don't step on the brakes too hard... don't go too fast... mind the cake... mind the cake... eat cake... want... cake... sweet... cake... yummy cake... SARAH'S A LIAR... Ryan-cake..." Melania is thinking, in an exotic accent naturally, "Will Evian make me fat?" Donald gets a phone call from Martha where she tells Donald to feed her Apprenti well and he tells her that she has a great-looking cast. Yeah, but none of them is an ex-stripper whose ex-boyfriend went on a murderous spree to purchase her services. Carrie pretends that it's "surreal" about how Martha and Donald would rather make fake small-talk with each other than to pay attention to the Apprenti. At least the dessert is delicious. I hope. Finally, Donald ends the call and pays attention to himself. Deciding that the Apprenti should pay homage to his yoooo-ge greatness, he asks them whether they want to work for him. They should, of course, because judging from Martha's attitude, she's looking for a genuine employee and not some figurehead pencil-pusher like Donald is.
Back at the Loft, the Matchsticks scramble to find a scapegoat. Shirtless Jim and shirtless David scheme as they pamper themselves before the bathroom mirror. Jim really isn't too easy on the eyes without anything covering his bare upper body if I may say so. As for David, is anyone expecting him to be some shirtless sex god? Anyway, Jim is telling David that someone has to take the fall for the cake. It shouldn't be David, he tells the man, unless David is the one who ordered the cake to be pink. Outside, Bethenny is telling Marcela that the cake being pink is going to be used against them by the others. Here, Marcela tells the camera, using her thickest Mexican accent for good measure, that she may be a chef but her field of expertise is Mexican food, not cakes. She says that she didn't even have a wedding cake at her own wedding. I personally wonder why Bethenny, who calls herself a chef of cookies and cakes for the health-conscious in real life, doesn't deal with the baking. Shawn tells the two women that many women came up to her at the Michael C Fina store and told her that they didn't like pink. Shawn says that she didn't like the cake herself. Bethenny gives her a murderous glare. To the camera, she correctly points out that Shawn seemed to have forgotten that it was her freaking suggestion in the first place to create a pink cake. Bethenny also correctly says that Shawn wasn't fully committed to the team when it comes to selling the cake.
David now tells Bethenny, Marcela, and Dawn that any one of them would be up in the conference room. Dawn asks him what she did this time to warrant her being up in the boardroom. "I don't think that you're ever going to be able to lead the rest of this team," says David, who have clearly lead Matchstick to greatness in this episode. Hey, wait a minute. Dawn tells the camera that it is pure rubbish that she is nominated again this week. She's right. She's the accountant. What did she do to contribute to the loss? Did she kick David and steal his lunchbox?
Martha awaits the Matchsticks in the conference room along with Alexis and Charles. Although Alexis need not even be there, to be honest. The editors can just reuse a scene of her rolling up her eyes or giving pointed stares to nothing in general and nobody will even suspect anything. When the Matchsticks are seated, Martha wants to know why the Matchsticks come up with such a design. She points out that in the years Martha Stewart Living have been in publication, only one asymmetrical cake ever made the cover. She then holds up what looks like a cake made up of tiers of cupcakes - ooh, that's amusing, she must have known that the initial plan of Matchstick was to make cupcakes - and says that this is one good example of a wedding cake. Shawn exclaims that Sylvia Weinstock herself said that the wrappers of the cupcakes can be a nuisance. Martha looks surprised that no one in Matchstick seems to know that you can have cupcakes without the wrapper. Shawn is exactly the stupid person who will argue with Martha Stewart over wedding cakes. She wonders aloud why Sylvia would say such a thing to her, implying that Sylvia must have known things that Martha doesn't. This is a stupid way to behave before a prospective employer, as examplified by how Shawn has no answer to Martha's comeback when Martha says that with all due to respect to Sylvia, whom Martha says is very good at what she does, Martha has sold more cakes than Sylvia.
Jim laughs and says that the Matchsticks should have asked Martha for suggestions in the first place. Martha says that she is not trying to imply that (snort), what she means is that Sylvia caters to a very specific market. Martha now wants to know who the sales team are. Of course, they are Jim, Shawn, and Bethenny. Shawn complains to Martha that the sales team worked so hard but they have so little results to show. Martha's facial expression is polite yet distant when I would have rolled up my eyes, thinking, "As if I care." Jim says that the sales pitch is basically he asking what color the prospective customer wants and when the answer is never pink, he just goes, "Next!" Charles says dryly that he recommends changing the sales pitch the next time around. Alexis thinks that the sales team should have tried harder to change the prospective customers' minds, to make them appreciate the hideous pinkness of the stupid cake. Which is, of course, what a sales team should be doing in the first place. Shawn whines that it is really hard to do that, comparing her attempts to sell the cake to that of selling a swimsuit to a woman in a burkha. As an aside, I can safely tell you that this is an antiquated stereotype. I've seen many Middle-Eastern female tourists (wives of rich Arabic businessmen, no doubt) on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, dressed up in burkhas that leave only their eyes exposed, and they purchase naughty lingerie in expensive specialty stores here. I have a hunch that they will buy swimsuits without much hesitation. Martha isn't impressed by Shawn's bringing up the almighty burkha. She says that Shawn always have some reasons as to why Matchstick failed but ultimately, Matchstick lost and nothing could change that.
Charles just has to bring up Shawn's fighting words from early in this episode. Martha wonders why Shawn would say that they can fire her if Matchstick loses. Shawn says that in "her" business, there is a saying that goes, "Fake it 'til you make it". Apparently, that's what she is doing, only her argument is more convoluted, involving evocations of her apparent sense of humor, her bravado, and her "polite retraction" of what she has said earlier to Charles. Shawn is really digging her own grave here and I think she knows it when Martha tells her coldly that Shawn may insist that people on TV "fake it 'til they make it" but Martha has never come across such a saying in her business. Shawn, stupidly forgetting that Martha had been in the TV business far more longer than her, says with a condescending smile that she's talking about "television news". In case you're wondering, in real life Shawn was a CBS newsreader. No, I don't know if we can trust news from the CBS. Why don't you ask Shawn yourself?
Martha looks like she's really at the end of her patience with Shawn. Seriously, you have to watch this episode to appreciate how Martha can express a look of severe disgust while still maintaining a polite expression on her face. She turns to David and asks that idiot to name two people he will bring to the conference room with him. David names Dawn and Marcela. Wow, is it a coincidence that this pansy picked two of the quietest members of Matchstick to be his scapegoats?
Now, here is one more example as to why I adore this show. Normally, if this is Donald Trump's show, Dawn is as good as gone. Donald has a history of firing victims of their teammates' ganging-up without hesitation (think: Crazy Stacie from the second season). Martha, however, makes it clear that she won't allow such practises to take place on her show. She tells Alexis and Charles that she feels that there is something "not right" with David's nominations. The problem is a sales problem, she says, and that's that. She calls Julia and tells her to call back Bethenny, Jim, and Shawn. But first, she'll talk to David, Dawn, and Marcela first. The three sales team members are getting themselves comfortable when the phone rings. As they return to the Loft, Bethenny wonders what kind of "debate" that has to be going on in the conference room that requires their presence. Debate? I don't think Martha wants a debate as much as she has just given an executive decision, heh.
Martha tells Matchstick that she, Alexis, and Charles have agreed that the problem with Matchstick is a sales problem, not a bakery problem. "And not Dawn's problem," she says, therefore telling Matchstick straight-up that she knows what they are trying to do to Dawn. Good for her! David has this tremendously stupid slack-jawed expression on his face that reflects the abscence of thinking that takes place in his brain throughout Martha's speech. Martha says that David is "young and inexperienced" - I love the way she makes that sound like an insult - and then points out that there is really no reason why Dawn should be in the boardroom. She and Dawn actually share a smile as Martha tells the Matchsticks that Dawn hasn't proven herself either way yet, which is to say, she hasn't stepped up but she hasn't brought the team crashing down in the same time. She then scolds the sales team for not making more effort to sell that cake.
But her target this time is Shawn. She says to Shawn, "But there was another thing that happened here tonight that bothered me and it was you, Shawn. You said two things that really bothered me. Tonight you said, 'Fake it 'til you make it,' and in my business there's just no faking it." Shawn apologizes and tries to explain that it's a TV thing where people not fully mastered in their field of expertise pretend that they are. Or something like that, I suppose, because Martha never allows her to finish her stumbling explanation. Martha cuts in with a curt although of course still polite if terse, "I've been on TV for twelve years. I've never said 'fake it 'til you make it'." And really, what can Shawn say to that? Martha once more brings up Shawn's flippant "fire me" challenge to Charles. "Well, remember, this is a job interview and you wouldn't say that to a potential employer," she tells Shawn. "And I think in business you should think before you speak and don't say things that you're really willing to retract so easily." Then comes a very obvious dubbed-in voiceover of Martha: "And being part of this awful sales team is the icing on the cake." Martha wishes Shawn good luck. Shawn thanks her. Martha then stands up and offers her hand, saying this time so that there will be no confusion, "But I'm going to have to say goodbye." Shawn says she understands Martha's decision and stands up to take her hand. She tries to shake Charles' hand too but Charles just clings on to his unlit cigar, forcing Shawn to clumsily and awkwardly pat David's shoulder instead. Martha banishes the remaining Matchsticks from her sight and sighs out, "Ai-yai-yai!"
Outside, the Matchsticks wait for the elevator to open. Jim actually put a comforting arm around Dawn, telling her that everything is okay. I bet that he will be her new best friend now that Martha has openly warned them not to bring in Dawn unless there's a really good reason to. Back in the conference room, Charles thinks that Shawn is never committed to being Martha's Apprentice. Martha agrees, saying that Shawn probably just wants to be some television personality. I honestly believe that Martha sees this show as an actual job interview and she is finally realizing that many people come onto this show just to be famous and not because they want a job in her company. She thinks that Shawn is young, inexperienced, and isn't entirely sure of what being a newscaster actually means. Charles and Alexis of course agree with her. So Martha pens Shawn a letter:
"Dear Shawn, tonight I know was difficult for you. You had a career on television. You can develop your talent in your medium very well. You look good, you speak well, and you certainly are talkative. The culture in MSLO is very complex and I want to stress again that what we do here has to be thorough through and through; beautiful from the inside out just like a wedding cake. You, as you build you career, will find this business lesson to be valid and true. Best of luck, Martha Stewart."
The elevator gate lifts open and the remaining Matchsticks walk sullenly back to the Loft, where they will have a nice cautionary tale to tell the Primates.
The trumpets blow and the show is done.
Yes, Martha vetos David's decision and this can be considered bending if not breaking the rule of the show where the Project Manager brings in two people and one of them will be dismissed. But is blind adherence to a rule the right thing to do when it's blatantly clear that following the rule means that a wrong could have been carried out? Sure, Martha could have fired David for being an idiot, but that means Bethenny, Jim, and Shawn would never hear from Martha herself that she doesn't tolerate childish and cliquish antics on her show. Besides, with Shawn talking about faking it, Martha has no choice but to dismiss Shawn. Martha's business relies very heavily on her audience's trust and faith in her. Shawn forces Martha to announce that Martha doesn't fake anything in her business. Martha is right in this instance: you don't say such things to a potential employer. Even if you really fake it, even if "it" is a polite smile as you deal with unpleasant colleagues and bosses, it is the height of idiocy to admit it to the boss. In this case, Martha has to make a stand as her reputation rests on the perception of the public of her. She can't be seen as someone who endorses a potential employee that fakes it until she makes it. The bottomline is this: Shawn is a moron and Martha Stewart absolutely rules on this show.
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