Swimming Against The Tide
The Apprentice: Martha Stewart: Episode 7

No monkey business! Previously, Jim became the Project Manager of Primates-R-Us upon Martha's "suggestion" and actually led that team to victory. Of course, the task was to bring in some celebrities for a charity auction so the whims of the people bidding in the auction played a large role in determining which team brought in more money. Therefore, it was hard to evaluate Jim's effectiveness as a Project Manager. On the other team, the more introverted Matchsticks Marcela and David unsurprisingly found themselves in the hot seat. In the end, Martha sent David walking because she felt that he was all in all too inexperienced to work for her in an executive position. Another week down, what's in store for the Apprenti now?

Credits. Wow, it looks like Jim, Bethenny, and Marcela are the last three original Matchsticks standing. Who would have expected it, huh?

Night. Ryan, Amanda, and Dawna are talking about Marcela and David in the conference room. They discuss among themselves about how hard they were towards Marcela in there and Ryan said that he didn't "pull any punches". I have to think really hard to remember just how nasty these three were in the conference room since I don't recall these people being particularly venomous. Maybe much of the conference room's more confrontational moments are left on the cutting room floor? Anyway, these three assume that Marcela, if she comes walking back in, will have guns blazing and plenty of ax to grind with these three. Do they think that Marcela is that stupid? Such an attitude will only give them definite ammunition to get her dismissed on the grounds of not being a team player. These three think that they are so much better than Marcela and I am reminded of how smug Ryan and Amanda were during the Westin suite challenge when they thought they could come up with something crappy but Matchstick will only do worse. Really, it's hard to root for Ryan the Golden Boy when he knows what a Golden Boy he is. Anyway, Marcela comes back into the Loft and tell the three that she's willing to put everything behind her and work with them again. Ryan and Amanda nod as if Marcela is some slow student finally coming to Do The Right Thing. Dawna gives a condescending confessional about how Marcela is willing to put everything aside and work with them again for some victory. Marcela smiles and looks downwards, her eyelashes fluttering in what I'd like to believe is some "Please, bitches, we'll play it your way... until I get the job!" gesture.

Elsewhere, Sarah, obviously elected the new Project Manager for Primates-R-Us, has a chit-chat session with Carrie on the couch. Carrie pledges to bring a laptop with her tomorrow so that she can help Sarah keep up with timelines, appointments, et cetera. Sarah voices over that there is no one here that she trusts more than Carrie. Famous last words, those. Carrie goes on to tell Sarah about the importance of delegation (as in "Delegate nothing to me because I'm your best friend!") and adds that she always believes in making her bosses look good. Oh, so now she's letting Sarah pretend to be her boss, how sweet of her. Carrie promises Sarah that she has Sarah's back. Carrie then tells the camera about how "ultimately" the blondes are "running the show" which she feels is most appropriate given that Martha Stewart is also a blonde. Knowing Martha, she'd be very picky when it comes to natural blondes versus peroxide blondes so I know these ladies know where they stand when it comes to Martha. Back to those two, Sarah whispers to Carrie that she is so excited and Carrie answers in a voice that can't be any more drier that she knows how Sarah is feeling. Sarah seems to be more excited about having Carrie as her second-in-command than Carrie, if Carrie's voice or the way her eyes drift around the room while talking to Sarah is any indication, which makes me wonder whether Sarah pushed Carrie into this position and Carrie couldn't find a way to say no to Sarah. I'd expect Carrie to be a little more enthusiastic about Sarah in charge if she's hankering to be the second-in-common in this particular episode.

Morning. Leslie answers the phone. It's Julia, of course, and she lets Leslie know that Martha is busy, probably at house arrest again, heh, so the Apprenti have to head on down to the office of one Peter Arnell at 1:30 pm. Peter and his two buddies have a staged scene about wanting something done in a couple of days when the Apprenti walk in. Peter tells them that he will get Martha on the phone. Oh look, Martha's actually traveling! I wonder how the editors get all those bullets flying past the window erased from film along with all those police sirens and that voice blasting from the helicopter loudspeaker telling Martha to get out of the vehicle and put her hands in the air. Martha introduces Peter as her good friend and explains that Peter makes a lot of money helping companies market and publicize their lines of products. In short, Peter's all about branding. This week's task involves branding. The teams will be responsible for creating a "mobile billboard" to publicize Tide-to-Go, some instant stain remover pen. They are to set up a live-action advertisement at the back of a 24-foot truck. Peter and his associates will judge which team has the most "innovative" live-action advertisement that generates the most "buzz" and the losers will of course meet Martha in the conference room. Oh, and the Apprenti don't have to worry about grunt work because they will have access to a construction crew, a designer crew, and any other help they may need in the task. With that, the Apprenti are dismissed.

The Primates walk into their "workroom" - is that in Peter's office? - where they sit down and start talking. Jim tries to take over the meeting by standing decisively in front of the table and talk about using fresh foods in their pitch. Maybe he's thinking about those detergent commercials on TV where some loser spills ketchup over a lady's blouse and asks her to take it off so that he can demonstrate using Detergent Brand X to wash off the stain? Don't try this at home, boys, you'll get a smack in the head if you asks a woman you don't know very well to remove her blouse in front of a camcorder. Sarah talks about having a crowd but what she intends to say is never made clear when the show then cuts to Bethenny yammering about coffee cups having "Tide-to-Go" on them. Sarah is probably talking for me when she tells Bethenny that they are not on the same wavelength because she's thinking of getting acrobats and "something like that" for their mobile billboard. Here Charles walks in and unlike Alexis, he seems to be intent on taking notes to use against the Primates in the conference room.

Jim, looking miffed because he's not the center of attention, nonetheless says the right thing when he places a few Tide-to-Go pens on the table and tells Sarah to focus on the product. Then comes a very obvious voiceover where Sarah says that she is not concerned about the product at that point. I have a hunch that she must have said that in a confessional and the editors think that it is more dramatic to give me this impression that Sarah answers in that manner to Jim. Oh well, the editors could have done things in a less sloppy manner at least. Jim talks about the need to make the product visible and to let people try out the Tide-to-Go pens for themselves. Sarah however cuts him off and tells him to think "visually" while she wants Bethenny and Howie to think about "Manhattan". Think Manhattan? Hmm, when I think of Manhattan, I think of Spiderman. Is that what Sarah wants? I suppose that Jim's behavior makes Sarah forget that Jim is an advertisement executive in real life and he has worked for a long time in the advertisement field because when Jim talks in this meeting, it's like a changed Jim - a Jim that speaks in a confident manner that shows how much he knows what he is talking about. I also notice that Sarah never says anything about Carrie's part in this brainstorming session. Maybe Carrie's job is to hold up the script so that Sarah can read it aloud to the others in this meeting. Sarah now wants everyone to brainstorm "quietly". Cue blooper music as the clock ticks by while the Primates scrunch up their faces and wait for great ideas to come over them. Hey, nobody likes my Spiderman idea? Carrie insists to the camera that "silent brainstorming" is a great concept because "real genius" happens when there is brainstorming or something like that. Charles says that ideas are important but he is becoming worried about the timeframe since the hours pass by without any concrete ideas coming together for the Primates. There is a scene of Jim walking up and down before an easel but all that is on the paper put up on the easel is Jim's drawing of the tip of the Tide-to-Go pen, heh. This scene is a mirror to the original Matchsticks' folly in the Westin suite task when Leslie led the Matchsticks through a six-hour brainstorming session. It seems that horrendous time-management isn't exclusive to the Matchsticks.

Martha's Moral of the Week time. Martha talks about the importance of branding but the message somehow morphs into an advertisement for Martha Stewart as she talks about how her name is synonymous with quality that you and I can trust. It's okay, Martha, I have all the household stuff I need, I'm just here for the TV show.

Over at the Matchstick workroom, Dawna is the Project Manager and she repeats needlessly what the teams are charged with doing to the camera. Marcela offers an idea that seems to comprise a reenactment of stain-removal with her, pressed face-down against a billboard, as the stain and she turning around representing the stain removal process. Maybe it will become clearer if it's made into a cartoon. Dawna diplomatically says that the idea seems nice but they need a "great idea". Ryan has one - he suggests that they make a blouse with... with what, only these people and the editors will know because the editors bleep out the word. Ryan thinks that it is a very funny idea though while the ladies don't seem too amused. Dawna once more shoots down the idea, again showing her diplomatic chops as she tells everyone to not think in a "pornographic" manner. Hmmm, maybe Ryan's idea is having a blouse inspired by Monica Lewinsky's famous dress? Or maybe it's something more harmless like a wet blouse to show off the headlights. Either way, I hope Ryan is just trying to be funny because I don't think the people the Tide-to-Go pen is marketed to will appreciate seeing giant headlights in billboards or learning that the Tide-to-Go is really handy to have at hand when one heads off to an illicit sexual rendezvous.

Ryan then proves that he's not just a good-natured pretty face when he suggests a boxing ring featuring a superhero who can "knock out stains" like the Tide-to-Go pen. It's not the most creative idea around since I've seen at least six different superheroes in the last two hours of TV-watching created for detergents, mosquito coils, insecticides, and even toilet cleaners, but in advertising, originality isn't as important as effectiveness. The Matchsticks love the idea. Of course, that means Ryan is going to be the superhero in question, Tide-to-Go Joe. At that point, Alexis shyly walks in and it's very obvious how different she is in demeanor compared to Charles. She says that she is thinking of not walking in on the meeting. I hope she's just teasing because she's supposed to be listening in on the Matchsticks on this show! Oh, and she's channeling Carrie Fisher big time with her haircut and her jacket. The Primates then proceed to get an illustrator to help them create the design for Tide-to-Go Joe, which is basically the pen with a smiley face on the cap, arms (and boxing gloves), and legs.

The Primates are still "quiet brainstorming" when 12:30 pm rolls by. Jim is drawing Tide-to-Go pens on the easel. Carrie is working on her laptop. Finally, Sarah takes a moment to leave the workroom. It's amusing how Bethenny quickly comes to life the moment Sarah leaves. She tells Howie that they need to do something quickly because time is running out. Howie tells the camera in a picturesque confessional with the skyline behind him that the Primates have "no ideas, no entertainment, and nothing locked up" so someone has to "step up to take action" and that will be him and Bethenny. These two are seen calling up all kinds of street performers like acrobats to put on what Bethenny describes over the phone as a "spectacle on a truck in the middle of Manhattan". At that moment Sarah walks in and acts as if she's with them on the idea all along, saying, "Yes, the biggest buzz is what I'm talking about!" Carrie pauses in her surfing of the Web to show the others some acrobats who advertise online. However, Jim tells the camera that they still don't have a "sole concept" and he believes that they could still have a "fiasco" in their hands. Back at the workroom, he tells Sarah that they are all going in different directions but they are not showing the product "at all". "Are you aware of that?" he asks Sarah. Let me say that he is not using a condescending or mocking tone like the Jim in previous episodes: he is actually quite reasonable and sober here. "Yes!" Sarah tells him impatiently.

At 1:00 pm, Sarah has Bethenny and Howie making a visit to a "prop house" to get ideas for their upcoming Cirque du Soleil show. Carrie announces that she needs "receipts for everything" and Howie's "Okay, and what else?" is adorably condescending. Bethenny asks why she and Howie are going to the prop house. Good question. Sarah explains to the camera that she sends those two in order to get some ideas since she thinks that they are not doing a good job on their own with coming up with ideas. In their vehicle, Howie and Bethenny agree that Sarah is letting them all run amok without a direction or a focus. At the prop house, Howie tries to make a joke, "Love them! Love them! Love them! Gotta give them props!" Bethenny makes a weak chuckle only because Howie turns to look at her expectantly. Howie spots a pair of red boxing gloves and comes up with a tagline with "it knocks out stains". Bethenny likes that idea so Howie calls up Sarah. Maybe it's Howie telling Sarah that the tagline is "it knocks out stains and cheap shit", but Sarah looks at Carrie after telling Carrie about Howie's "boxing gloves", Carrie shakes her head, and Sarah shoots down the idea. Howie tells the camera that his idea has something to do with putting on the boxing gloves and knocking out stains but Sarah shoots it down. In the end, he and Bethenny have no idea at all so they decide to go with the idea of "No idea". Heh. And since when does Howie look so much like Breckin Meyer's older brother? Back at the prop house, Bethenny tells Howie as they both pack up their things before returning to the workroom that they are going to be "so screwed" because they have no organized plan and that Sarah is crazy if she expects them to think of everything. Howie goes, "Right! Right! Right!"

2:25 pm. Jim is making good progress with the graphic artists when it comes to creating the billboard for their advertisement. Sarah takes credit for this, saying that it is "amazing" how Jim can actually do work when she puts him in a corner and tells him what to do. Yes, Sarah is so clever, ohmigosh! Sarah and Carrie however are more concerned with balancing the accounts for this task as they know where their priorities are. "Where is the calculator?" Sarah sings. Jim, in exasperation, tells them that it is late. Sarah just nods and continues itemizing aloud their expenditure as she works on the accounts. Carrie, looking bored out of her mind, merely stares at the laptop as she starts working on an Excel sheet for their task budget. Jim tells the camera that he has no idea what those two ladies are doing. He animatedly tells the camera that it makes no sense what they are doing because they are just "spinning on their wheels as usual" getting "a whole lot of nothing done". Back at the workroom, Jim sighs as he plays with a sheet of discarded taglines for Tide-to-Go. He points out that Carrie is "just typing things up", doing "busywork" that gets her nowhere, Sarah's management is in the toilet, and Carrie is just "putting another nail on Sarah's coffin". How like Jim to sum up perfectly the dynamics between Sarah and Carrie! I like this smart and evil version of Jim. Can he be like this for the rest of the season?

In happier news, the Matchsticks have nearly everything set up at the back of their truck. The billboard looks lovely. It's now time for Ryan to try on the truly ugly orange spandex bodysuit accessorized with blue tighties. Everyone, including the men working on setting up the billboard at the back of the truck, laughs when Ryan good-naturedly jumps around and clowns in his ugly suit. He is such a good sport about it that he is a joy to watch, really. Maybe someone should give him a TV show where he gets to wear a sexier costume as he plays superhero. Maybe a padded one, come to think of it, because I swear that poor Ryan has no package even when the camera gives me a glimpse of his side profile while he is running around in that suit. I know, I know, I should just focus on my intellectual admiration of Ryan the Golden Boy here. Yeah, yeah, I agree that he is smart and he is handsome but unfortunately, I draw a line at the lack of a package. Maybe it's cold? Don't worry, I still like Ryan. He can borrow my lipstick if he wants.

At the Primates-R-Us side of the world, Carrie barely stifles a yawn as she assures Sarah that Sarah is doing good. Carrie tells the camera that she believes that Sarah has done the best that she can - which isn't a glowing compliment if you think about it - and adds that sometimes "inspiration doesn't come until the 24th hour". Yes, kinda like someone watching the iceberg comes nearer and nearer until at the last minute the brain kicks into action and tells you to run for your life. As Carrie stares at a distance while Sarah happily babbles about who-knows-what to her, Carrie's voiceover says that she thinks that the Primates can still pull off a victory because "ultimately" they have everything they need to win this task. What is that "everything", exactly, I wonder? Meanwhile, Howie and Jim are coming in with the things they need to set up their truck. Jim tells Howie as they hoist a plank while carrying tools and paint cans to calm down because they are "going to make it work". I love it when Howie and Jim can forget their past disagreements and bond over the lousy blondes in charge. Howie wants Jim to know that there is no leadership in order for both men to be "on the same page". It looks like the conference room strategizing and passing-the-blame have already begun. Oh, and Jim drops a bag onto the floor. There is no significant follow-up to this scene so I don't know why the camera chooses to zoom in on the bag.

Howie later bitches to Carrie about how hiring street performers is not the same thing as having a strategy. As she starts rummaging through the vehicle for something, Carrie snootily tells him that "you guys" therefore have to make a strategy if there is none. She realizes how bad she comes off as, I think, because she quickly adds that "they" (as opposed to her initial "you guys") can take what they have and make the best out of it. It's noteworthy that even Carrie knows that the team is in dire need of a focus or a plan but she doesn't say anything to Sarah, instead choosing to encourage Sarah in her doddering management. Howie voices over that Carrie gets on his nerves because she always "consistently" takes the role of an accountant but other than that, she is "pretty much useless". He says that he is very unhappy about the way the task is being handled and I can't say I blame him. Anyway, Howie leaves Carrie since he is going nowhere by talking to her. Carrie then reveals what she is looking for all over the place when she calls Sarah and asks whether Sarah has her blue pen. Jim says that there is a pen stuck behind Carrie's ear and Carrie says that it's a green pen. Oh.

Later, Jim tells Bethenny that all they have is a billboard so things are not good. Bethenny agrees. Jim tells her that it's okay because they can do everything themselves. Indeed, Bethenny is seen discussing the specifications of the billboard with the construction crew, Jim and Howie are seen working alongside the crew in the making of the billboard, and Sarah is seen going bra-less under her tight blouse, it seems to be indeed very cold out there if you know what I mean, and she plays around with a basketball when she's not looking around and telling people that they are doing "excellent".

I know what the editors are trying to tell me about Sarah and since I know so little about her prior to this episode, I'm willing to accept that she is a lousy team leader. Come to think of it, she is one of the worst team leaders I've ever seen on The Apprentice. I'm confused about Carrie though. Past episodes have shown me that Carrie has quite a bossy streak in her such as when she volunteered to get involved in choosing wallpapers for that stupid Westin suite task. This doesn't gel with Howie's previous statement that Carrie is "consistently being an accountant". The editing of Carrie isn't consistent, which is why her comeuppance in this episode isn't as satisfying to watch as it could have been if Carrie's personality is shown more consistently so far in the season. There are too many gaps in Carrie's storyarc. The best I can do is to assume that Carrie decides that she can do what she wants because Sarah is her friend and therefore she is safe in the conference room. In this episode, Carrie is trying to play the game that Jennifer perfected in the second season of Donald Trump's show and the game that Marshawn is trying to play in this season of that show. Like Jennifer, Carrie does what she has to do and that's it. In the meantime, she'll find fault with her team mates and deliberately watches as they hang themselves with their mistakes. Jennifer rightfully lost in the second season because she didn't really do anything other than to stay under the radar and, if she was asked to, point fingers at her team mates. While Kelly wasn't the ideal winner, at least he stepped up to lead and to do things, which was far more than what one could say for that backstabbing opportunist Jennifer. Here, Carrie is happily letting Sarah hang herself while she herself just stands back and holds back a yawn. Like Martha would say, that is not a good thing in more ways than one.

4:15 am. The Primates are finally calling it a day and they are making lots of coffee because they won't be sleeping much as they have to hit the streets in a few hours. Sarah announces that she has an "idea". The product is called Tide-to-Go, she says, and the billboard focuses on the word "Go". She thinks, therefore, "Go with it!" is a good tagline. Because there will be people juggling with "it", moving "it", and dancing with "it" - I'm just quoting her, okay? - so the idea is "movement". Howie rightfully tells the camera that this isn't a plan and Sarah is like "the blind leading the blind". He says that things are getting worse by the minute. Yes it is - Sarah is telling the others back at the Loft some of her ideas for taglines. These include: "See it to go, pen, it goes with you. Come on folks, see it to go pen!" I don't know what to say.

Next day is here and both teams hit the streets with their mobile billboards. Ryan says that this is his first time driving in New York City. Bethenny is leading the truck in a separate vehicle to their destination but she doesn't know where to go and Jim is giving her directions. That's not the most reassuring combo, I know. The Primates manage to locate their designated parking spot and get down to business. Amanda acts like as the loopy fruitcake but as we've seen in the past, Amanda has no qualms about acting cheesy and corny in situations that many of us will cringe in embarrassment at doing so she's the right person for the job. Ryan and Marcela walk around in their outfits - Marcela is in a red bodysuit because she's going to be a ketchup stain. He jokes that he looks like a freak while she looks like a ballerina. Dawna explains to the camera that their concept is "Tide on the go fights stain!" She is in charge of the sample booth where she does a good job in demonstrating how the pen works and getting people to take one as a free sample. Ryan takes over the mic from Amanda and asks people whether they have spilled on themselves like he does. Spill coffee, people, and listen to Dawna: don't think pornographic! Dawna explains what I can see on TV: people are attracted to the truck because of Tide-to-Go Joe (especially because Ryan looks the way he does, I suspect, stupid suit notwithstanding) and are drawn successfully into learning more about the Tide-to-Go pens. Marcela first topples some random nobody named "Bill" - the ketchup stain wins, geddit? - and then Tide-to-Go Joe shows up to faux-topple Marcela the ketchup stain down! "I'm not a fighter but I'll fight the stains to the death!" announces Tide-to-Go Joe. Oh dear, a stained dress does seem like a handy thing to have when it comes to Tide-to-Go Joe, doesn't it? Dawna says that the team worked together to come up with this and she is happy with how things are. She hopes to be the first Project Manager with two successes under her belt. Peter Arnell and his cohorts look impressed with the Matchsticks' efforts.

The Primates, on the other hand, are hilarious. Forget trainwrecks, these guys are golden when it comes to creating the circus of all circuses. Pandemonium erupts as the acrobats jump around the truck doing their own thing with no discernible rhyme or reason while at the back of the truck Bethenny, Jim, and Sarah act like lunatics. Bethenny and Sarah are chanting, "Time! Time! For Tide-to-Go! It's time for Tide-to-Go! Woooooooh!" I don't know about anyone else but it seems to me like they're being possessed by some demon called Tide and they are praying for this Tide to go away. Bethenny tries to add some spice to the tuneless chanting by shaking her hips at the audience. Jim in the meantime beatboxes and raps - terribly. The show cuts in scenes of people closing their ears and making faces as they flee the scene. Peter looks appalled when he comes to look at what the Primates are doing. Bethenny shudders as she tells the camera that she is doing stupid things at the back of the truck because they have no idea and therefore they are all just "desperate". Sarah however believes that the Primates can still win. She's such a charming optimist, she should be one of those people that they send to Mars on a test shuttle mission.

Martha manages to avoid the cops and shows up at Peter's office later that day to hear Peter's verdict. After the Apprenti file in, Peter says that Matchstick was excellent in their task as they manage to engage an audience in an effective manner and get them interested in the product. He actually goes as far as to say that Matchstick "hit it out of the ballpark". He however has nothing nice to say about the Primates' effort. Unlike previous guest judges who always insisted that both teams were nearly equally good in their efforts, Peter says bluntly that he is "completely and totally underwhelmed" by the Primates exorcism street show and says that he would be dropped by his client if his client happens to see the Primates' mobile billboard effort. "I mean, it was the most pathetic display from a communication program ever. It was almost damaging to whoever saw it today," he tells Martha. Only Sarah seems stunned to hear this, by the way, while her other team mates have "See, see, I knew it!" expressions on their faces. Martha wants Peter to confirm whether the Primates' effort was a failure. "Yeah, it was actually a waste of my time to go over there," says Peter. Oh no, poor Sarah. Her heart must be breaking. Martha tells the Primates that they have an appointment with her in the conference room. Meanwhile, the Matchsticks have earned their reward: breakfast with Martha at her Bedford home. Oh well, at least this time they'll get to eat something more than just desserts in an expensive hotel, I suppose. Martha also invites Peter to join them for breakfast and Peter demurs, saying that he may just do that.

The happy Matchsticks pretend that breakfast with Martha is the only dream of theirs that they have cherished all their lives (although I honestly don't think Marcela is pretending). It is all smiles for everyone as they sit in their vehicle and enjoy the scenery as they are driven to Martha's home. Meanwhile, Martha works at preparing the waffles and adding cream to the cappuccinos. I suspect that she probably have everything catered though. Anyway, soon everyone is seated at the table where Martha presides at the head - are you expecting anything less? - and they eat. Or rather, they eat and then answer Martha when she asks them how everything tastes. Sometimes I wonder whether Martha can conduct a non-interrogative conversation with another person. Then look who shows up but Peter, who playfully sneaks up to Martha and covers her eyes before asking her to guess who has come for breakfast. Peter takes a seat and they all talk about what a wonderful job Matchstick did, Martha adding that the Matchsticks should be proud indeed because Peter doesn't give compliments lightly. She should know, of course, since she is Peter's best friend and all that. Martha then asks Marcela whether she can have Marcela's sugar bun. Some people say that Martha said this because let's face it, she has been to prison and sometimes habits picked up in prisons can linger on. Others say that she is just being a greedy grubby woman. Me, I'm an optimist in that I'd like to believe that she notices that Marcela is being left out of conversations among the others and asking Marcela for that bun is Martha's way of telling the others that Martha at least notices and cares enough about Marcela to talk to her. Marcela seems overjoyed in a way that can't be faked. The way her eyes light up in her confessional and the way she smiles in rapture when she says that Martha Stewart wanted a piece of her sugar bun - ahem - and she can't believe that she's sharing such an "intimate experience" - ahem - with Martha - Marcela seems to glow in a way that seems genuine unlike Leslie and her tight insincere Mary Kay salesperson smiles.

Back at the Loft, the finger-pointing session begins with vengeance. Sarah tells Carrie that the team completely "missed the boat" in the task and she suspects that it will come down to what Martha finds more important: Sarah's performance on this task or Sarah's overall performance. Carrie tells the camera that she has told Sarah that she will "stand behind" Sarah and help her in every way possible but in the conference room Sarah is on her own. Carrie, with a rather evil expression on her face, says that she is not going for fight for Sarah in the conference room. But to Sarah's face, Carrie assures Sarah that Carrie will "rally" right behind Sarah. Carrie tells the camera that she did the accounts and everything she had to do "perfectly" in her position as Sarah's "right hand man" but she is worried that she can go home too. Nobody is safe in the conference room, she says.

To Howie and Bethenny, Sarah says that those two have not come back from the prop house with a "concept" so I suppose she is blaming them for the team's failure. What is the brainstorming session for, then? Bethenny says that it is not her responsibility, neither is it Howie's, to go to the prop house and come back with the first stupid concept they can come up with. Sarah says that she was hoping that those two would "see something" in the prop house. Well, Howie did. Remember the boxing gloves, Sarah? Bethenny tells the camera that Sarah is a "little girl" who is "very clueless" at that moment. She thinks that Sarah is unable to make any decision or to "pick a lane". "Sarah was paralyzed!" she concludes somewhat dramatically. Later, Howie and Jim meet for drinks at the rooftop and they naturally talk about the blonde duo. Jim asks Howie for his thoughts. Howie says that Sarah is so weak as a Project Manager that she can't even manage five people. Jim agrees but also mocks Carrie for saying that Sarah reminded Carrie of herself some eight years ago. Sarah thinks that Carrie is like her dog, Jim adds, and says that if Sarah is smart, she'd go after Carrie but Jim thinks that Sarah is so intimidated by Carrie that she just "froze". Oh, Jim puts his legs on the table if you want an excuse to hate him in this episode. Jim is being quite well-behaved in this episode, a part of me is disappointed by that. Back to those two, Howie agrees with Jim. These two men are so agreeable with each other, it warms my heart to see them like thus, I tell you. Jim tells the camera that Carrie hides in her shell. "She's an accountant, she's a secretary, she's a bean counter, and this is not what Martha Stewart is looking for," Jim tells Howie who of course grunts his agreement. "This is a debacle," concludes Jim to Howie, "Deee-baaaah-cle!"

Sarah tells Carrie that she is not worried about the upcoming conference room session because she knows that she is one of the strongest members of Primates-R-Us. Since when? How? Says who? Never mind, from what I've seen of Sarah, I should have known better than to ask. She says to the camera that she's going into the conference room with a "very positive attitude" because she thinks that she isn't personally responsible for the task's failure and she isn't the weakest because she and Jim worked harder than everyone else. Really? Since when? How? I... oh, never mind.

Conference room time. Martha fires off by sadistically asking the Primates whether they agree with Peter Arnell that the team was a "complete and total failure". Howie mumbles his agreement. Martha asks Sarah what went wrong with the project, pointing out that Sarah is an event planner (oh dear) so she'll be very interested to hear Sarah's take on things. Sarah thinks that she made a "fatal mistake" by allowing the brainstorming session to go on for "way, way too long". Charles says that he knew that this team was sunk the moment he left the brainstorming session. He wants to know whose idea it is to carry out what he calls a "high-school talent contest". "Talent" has nothing to do with that debacle, let me just say. Bethenny tries to say that it was "nobody's idea", which Charles doesn't believe because he says that it has to someone's idea. Ideas, after all, don't grow on trees as this team learned the hard way in this episode. Bethenny says that she and Howie "secured" the services of the entertainers but they never really wanted to do it. She reiterates that the team doesn't have a plan. "And you came up on stage and embarrassed yourself," says Martha. Bethenny says, "Right." Still, Martha somewhat approves of her action, saying that anything would have been better than nothing.

Charles brings up Howie's boxing gloves idea. Howie tells Martha that what she knows is correct: Sarah shot down his idea. Martha thinks that Matchstick has been "a very unfocused group of people not coming up with ideas". Alexis nods her head here. Well, they have to show her in the conference room somehow. It's not that she is very quiet, mind you, as the extra footages on the Yahoo! site shows her speaking in the conference room. It's just that all her scenes end up on the cutting room floor. Martha asks Jim whether he thinks that leadership is the root of the problems with the team during the task. Jim agrees, saying that leadership from Sarah was lacking. Sarah shakes her head because Jim obviously didn't get the memo that Sarah was the strongest person on the show alongside Carrie. Bethenny says that the problem is because nobody "picked a lane". Martha points out that it wasn't just Sarah who couldn't pick a lane - nobody did! - and Bethenny agrees with her on that. Carrie chimes in to say that at some point they all have to "jump behind" someone and work with what they have. Alexis is puzzled, however, because there was no concept to work with in the first place! Heh.

Charles asks Jim how they didn't have a concept and why this situation could come about. Oh, and he wants to know whose fault this was. Jim answers in a roundabout way that nobody really knows what to do even at 4:00 am and in the end nobody really knows so it's a debacle. Sarah insists that at least "people were having fun". Charles asks her just who exactly were the ones having fun and she has no answer to that. Bethenny says that the team didn't "brand a product", they instead "did a promotion". This causes Charles to turn to her and asks her who she thinks should go home. Bethenny thinks that Sarah should go because she was a weak leader. Sarah insists that she is "one of the strongest people" seated in front of Martha and Charles (and Alexis too, I suppose). Charles asks Carrie whether she thinks that Sarah should go home. To give her credit, how little it's worth, Carrie doesn't fully twist in the knife into Sarah's back, saying that while Sarah didn't provide the leadership required (Sarah's face falls upon hearing this), Sarah isn't the weakest member of the team. Carrie points the finger at Bethenny, saying, "I haven't worked with Bethenny, specifically, as the teams were broken up. I haven't worked with her but I think she clearly provides criticism of other ideas without providing a solution." Bethenny forcefully denies this, shooting back that they haven't worked together and other people all say that Carrie didn't do anything. Carrie retorts that she worked hard because she did the accounts. Bethenny shrieks that she was at the prop house so Carrie shouldn't even try to accuse Bethenny of not working hard. Carrie tries to say that she never said that Bethenny didn't work hard and here Bethenny cuts in to say that Carrie didn't know anything about the task because she was too busy doing accounts in every task.

Martha ends the developing catfight by saying that this is what happens when a team experiences a "massive loss". She says that this loss is one of the worst failures of all the tasks so far, which seems fair. She points out that many things went wrong. "You made something really, really, really unbeautiful!" she says and tells them to wait for her in the reception room. Yes, all five of them. Donald Trump fired four people in the losing team in his show in the previous week so I wonder whether Martha will take it further and fire all five people in a team.

After presumably some chatter with Charles and Alexis that the show does not see fit to show me, Martha tells Julia to send the Matchsticks back into the conference room. Martha asks Sarah for the name of one person who did the best work on the team. Sarah says that she can't believe it but she thinks Jim is that person. Martha pauses for a moment in disbelief. "Really?" she asks Sarah as Charles begins to chuckle in that fake grating manner of his. Yes, Sarah means what she says so Jim gets to go back to the Loft. Charles asks Sarah who should go. Sarah says Howie. Charles asks for the reasons behind Sarah's opinion. Sarah says that every single person "here" has questioned Howie's contributions on "every task". Bethenny cuts in to say that she doesn't like Sarah's dishonesty because Bethenny never questions Howie's work ethics or contribution the way Sarah is implying. Sarah insisted that Bethenny and she had a conversation about Howie and Bethenny retorts that Sarah is lying and becoming "desperate". Turnaround is fair so Martha asks Howie who he thinks should go. He says Sarah and he is satisfied with Bethenny's contributions to the team.

Charles asks Carrie whether there is a lot of accounting to be done. Oh, that sentence can be read in so many different ways, I tell you. Carrie inadvertently starts digging her own grave by saying that accounting is so easy - a "no brainer" - which is why she'd like everyone to know that she never hides behind accounting. Well, maybe she doesn't but she's pretty much told Martha and Charles that she did only "no-brainer" things in that task. When task contribution seems to be the hot topic in this conference room, that's not the wisest thing to do. Indeed, Martha starts to say that being an accountant of the team is not that serious a position and Carrie, without thinking, quickly agrees with her. Martha says that Carrie is Sarah's second-in-command on this "job". Carrie again quickly pipes up her agreement. She falls silent just as quickly though when Martha says that the "job" is a disaster. Martha tells the remaining four Matchsticks that this is a very serious job interview they are undertaking - which is why they are making salad dressings and playing dress-up games on the street - and that job which Martha never goes into details about is a "very important job". She'd like them to know that they are all failing miserably in the interview.

To Howie, Martha says that she'd like to give him another chance since he has a decent track record until this particular task. She'd give Bethenny the same reprieve since she believes that Bethenny gave her all to this task despite some dubious things she ended up doing at the back of the truck. "You have the kind of energy that a job takes," she tells Bethenny. So it's Sarah on the chopping block. Martha tells Sarah that Sarah just didn't get "it" when she allowed her team to get up there on the billboard without props, a plan, or a strategy. "It was a mess!" she says. Martha adds that Sarah's "leadership quality" was "very lacking". However, Martha also thinks that Carrie was a terrible second-in-command because she didn't help Sarah "in any way" on the task. As a result, Martha blames the both of them for the team's loss. "Neither one of you fit in," she tells the two, "Goodbye!" She then stands up and offers her hand graciously to the two of them. Sarah and Carrie thank her for the experience, whatever it's worth, and take their leave, actually holding hands on their way out of the building until they spot the camera on them. Why so shy, ladies?

Martha tells Charles that Carrie doesn't seem to take any responsibility for her team. Charles agrees, saying that Carrie "hides and seeks" - she hides when there is something to do but seeks Martha, Charles, and Alexis when she sees them around. In short, Carrie is a butt-kissing slouch. Martha also says that Sarah lacks the qualities to be a good leader. In short, all this has been a "painful process of elimination" and nothing at all to do with Burnetto's need to create a twist or the need to fire two people to fit in the schedule of this show, no indeed. Okay, Martha. Martha writes to Sarah:

"Dear Sarah, I think if you work on your leadership skills, you can have a very successful career. You're young, appealing, attractive, and smart. I look forward to hearing about your next steps in the world of business."

Don't forget Carrie, who gets a colder reception from Martha:

"Dear Carrie, it was a difficult decision to choose you over your teammates but I think both you and Sarah failed your team in leadership and also ideas. I wish you well and I hope that you focus on a career that uses your other considerable talents. Best wishes, Martha Stewart".

The lift door opens for Howie and Bethenny. They walk back to the Loft looking like they're the most miserable people in the world. Howie walks back inside first and Bethenny closes the door behind her. We're done for today.

Do I agree with Martha's decision? Absolutely. The editing is very inconsistent when it comes to Carrie but Carrie did fail Sarah in the worst way possible: she didn't rein in Sarah or tell Sarah that Sarah was hanging herself and the team with her long brainstorming session and ineffective methods of getting together Matchstick's act. Worse, Carrie was ready to throw Sarah to the wolves although she did try to get Bethenny dismissed instead of Sarah in the conference room. This was unpleasant gameplay on Carrie's part because she was trying to coast during the task and survive the conference room by being the one who didn't do anything and therefore didn't screw up and earn the attention of Martha in the conference room. I hated it when this kind of contestant such as Jennifer from the second season ended up going really far on Donald Trump's show and I'm glad that Martha saw right through Carrie's ploy in this conference room. As for Sarah, oh, she absolutely deserves the ax. She's worst than Marcela and David as Project Managers because she truly didn't seem to know what she wanted to do in her position!

Donald Trump fired four people in his show last week but I still didn't know why Mark and James were fired. Mark had to remain in the baseball cage because he had to man that baseball-shooting machine thingie, after all, and James did exactly what he wanted to do and was told to do: attract the crowds to the baseball cage. I don't know how these two men could have done things any other way. Did Donald expect them to abandon their posts to sell hockey gear to those kiddies who lined up to play baseball? Therefore, I feel that Donald fired Mark and James along with the more deserving losers Josh and Jennifer because these two men were disposable collateral damage in a ratings stunt. However, when Martha pulls the same stunt with Carrie and Sarah this week, it doesn't feel like a mere ratings gimmick: Sarah and Carrie both deserve to be dismissed and Martha's reasonings for her actions are once more right on the money. Therefore, while Martha's double dismissal may be less dramatic than Donald's quadruple firing last week, there's no doubt for me which The Apprentice still kicks more hiney. Martha's still the top dog for me!

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