The Empire Strikes Back
The Apprentice: Martha Stewart: Episode 12

No monkey business! Previously, Ryan went down with style as he acted like a fool and drank his way through what seemed like an entire refridgerator of beer. While in the previous episode it seemed like Marcela was a victim of Ryan's self-destruction, in the recap of this episode, there was a previously unseen confessional where Marcela wasn't really bothered by the fact that their video wasn't directed to the target audience of Song Airlines. Ryan and Marcela were both dismissed and now the Final Three are Dawna, Bethenny, and Jim. I'm not really sure how we get to this point and neither does Martha, I suspect. Nor is she pleased by her Final Three, judging from how she called the Apprenti on her show "unsuitable". Between the rumors of boycott from the Apprenti in the live finale to the fact that Martha will be hiring someone as an Apprenti from a bunch of people that she has dismissed in Fortune as incompetent nincompoops (ooh, awkward), the finale may be more exciting than this rather neither-here-nor-there episode filled with awkward voiceovers.

Evening at the Loft. The clock ticks as Dawna and Bethenny wait for either Marcela or Ryan to walk in through the door. Bethenny suggests that they go to bed like Jim already has but Dawna really wants to see who will come back from the conference room. So they wait and wait... way past midnight, prompting those ladies to speculate as to what could be taking place in the conference room for so long. When Jim wakes up, he tells Bethenny and Dawna that nobody is coming back from the conference room, prompting Dawna to think that he's right and Bethenny to squawk in excitement to the camera. Deciding that Jim is right, both women excitedly run off to bed, although how they will sleep knowing that they are in the Final Three probably one week ahead of their expectation, I have no idea. Then again, Jim seems to be sleeping well - and I must say that he looks quite fine in his pajama bottoms and sleeveless tank top - but he's Jim.

Morning. The phone rings and Bethenny picks it up. Why, it's Martha! Martha is calling a little earlier than usual - which explains why Bethenny is speaking inbetween yawns - because she wants them to meet her at her Connecticut studio where she promises that the three Apprenti will have a "long and interesting" day indeed. She also tells them to dress in their business suits. Bethenny puts down the phone and calls to the others in this comical quivery-manner, "Ma-aa-aartha ca-aaa-aaalled!" In the Connecticut studio, while the Apprenti walk in, Martha is telling her four henchmen to be tough on them. When the three Apprenti walk in, Martha praises the Apprenti for having combined successes as Project Managers of 6-1, although this is the kind of praise that really has no value or meaning apart from sounding impressive until you think about it and go, "Hey, that makes no sense!", and tells them that they have proven to be "exceptional leaders". It must be killing Martha inside to say those things to Bethenny and Jim. Martha now introduces her four henchmen as Susan Lyne, which those three have already met and know is the President and CEO of MSLO, Jonathan Chernes the Senior Vice President of Retail Merchandizing, Gael Towey the Chief Creative Officer, and Margaret Roach whose librarian marm looks seem appropriate enough for her position as Editor Director of MSLO Publications. In short, four key players in the various departments of MSLO have congregated here at Martha's order to interview the three Apprenti. Martha will meet them along with Charles and Alexis at the end of the day and one of the Apprenti will be sent home.

As the three leave, Jim actually pauses to grin like a buffoon and mouths hi to Martha while he is already out the door. What's surprising is that Martha actually smiles back at Jim and that it's actually a real smile and not the forced smile that Martha sometimes puts on in this show. She actually likes Jim, fancy that. Maybe she sees him as an amusing performing monkey. Jim tells the camera that apart from the day he married his wife, this day would be the most important day of his life.

And... now the three Apprenti are in the MSLO HQ for the interviews. Let me get this straight: they headed over to Connecticut to see Martha and then they moved back to New York for the interviews? These people must have plenty of time to kill. Like a roulette wheel, the three Apprenti will be interviewed simultaneously, Tim by Jonathan Chernes, Dawna by Margaret Roach, and Bethenny by Gail Towey. Once their interviews are completed, they will move on to the next person. The interviews are conducted in adjoining rooms with transparent walls so the Apprenti can see each other being interviewed. Jim can't recall Jonathan's last name, which may not be a smart thing. Jonathan asks Jim why he wants this job at MSLO and Jim says that he needs more... well, whatever he's going to say will only be known between him, Jonathan, and the idiot who edits this episode because the show now jumps to Dawna telling Gael that she was in the winning team nine out of eleven times, won three times as Project Manager, and she knows how to boss people around while having focus when implementing ideas. Gael asks Dawna where Dawna thinks her skills will best be suited for in MSLO and Dawna thinks that she's best suited to work in the media division. Dawna tells the camera that she hates to say it but she thinks she's more professional than both Jim and Bethenny and therefore she can "hit the ground running" while the other two won't.

Bethenny is telling Margaret that she is a natural foods chef and that is her third career. Bethenny is asked by Margaret what she thinks MSLO's "brand" is and Bethenny answers, "I mean, clean, and I don't know, it's what I love... I mean, I love that! I just love that - it's my favorite!" Margaret doesn't look impressed. She looks like a schoolteacher who's hard to please as she takes down notes. Bethenny tells the camera that she has never participated in a corporate interview until now - that explains her cleavage-baring "business" suit, I suppose - but she's being herself (her cleavage chimes in to say that Bethenny is trying to say that she is actually very "creative"). Having never been to business school and such, she thinks that she is at a disadvantage compared to Dawna. Still, to Gael now, Bethenny says that she is passionate, she can lead people, and therefore she can adapt into the corporate world without difficulty.

Music of buffoonery plays when Jim talks to Susan, which of course gives away the fact that Jim won't make the cut after this stage. Thanks, editors! Susan asks Jim whether there is anything he regrets during the "job interview" that is this show. Both Jim and Susan know what she wants him to say, and whether he actually says anything or not, I am not told because the next scene is Susan writing down in her notepad, "No regrets. Mistakes - get too excited." "Don't forget the script" is conveniently kept out of the camera view. Susan brings up Jim's blabbing about his so-called strategy at the Four Seasons dinner a few episodes back, which she says "disturbed" her "a lot". Susan thinks that it isn't very nice of Jim to treat the whole competition as a game instead of a serious job interview where he is supposed to do his best to shine. The thing is, this competition is a game - it's a TV show, for heaven's sake. Still, Jim's mistake is openly letting Martha, Susan, and others who treat this show like it's a serious interview know that he is just playing a game. MSLO can't hire Jim in any way if they want to keep their reputation as a sober and proper business. Then again, Jim is obviously planning to be a TV star as much as, if not more than, he wants to work for Martha so I don't think he gives a damn about this interview.

Questions fly at the Apprenti, including my favorite, what they have learned from Martha Stewart in these twelve weeks. I don't think an answer about realizing how house arrest can severely crimp one's social life will fly. Jim tells Jonathan, "Five years from now, I see myself flourishing in this company as a great oak, you know? I mean, I feel I'm a sapling now. I feel I need to be schooled and watered and..." Dawna tells someone that she may not be very creative but she can incorporate ideas due to her corporate background. Bethenny tells someone that she tends to jump straight into things but she likes the challenge. Or something. Jim tells someone that he doesn't care about being accepted as he cares only about "achieving" some "height" that he doesn't think he has achieved. He now tells Jonathan that he uses his concepts to "seek beauty" and "pull truth" from what he sees. Jonathan is like, huh. He must not hang around arty-farty types too often because Jim is babbling exactly like a stereotypical artistic type, going on about being "abstract", to which Jonathan hilariously cuts in to say, "I don't what that means." Jim, on full speed ahead, tells Jonathan that he is the worst candidate to work for MSLO apart from the other candidates because this is, in his opinion, an "easy job". Is he trying to tell Jonathan that he is overqualified for this job? Jonathan's truncated chuckles are not those of a man amused. He tells Jim that he has no more time for Jim and shakes the man's hand goodbye.

Martha with Charles and Alexis meet the four MSLO executives in the conference room. She thanks them for their time and effort in interviewing the three Apprenti - as if they have any choice in the matter, really - and goes on to say that she appreciates their advice and judgment. Margaret has this inscrutable expression her face like she's trying not to go to the washroom while Susan bops her head to every word Martha says. I never knew that executive folks can be this funny. Martha wants to know what the four think of Dawna. Susan thinks that Dawna is "almost the whole package" but she isn't sure whether Dawna is capable of doing anything that can surprise them. Maybe that is a way of saying that Dawna will be a capable employee but not an especially dynamic one with new ideas or strategies. Gael thinks that there is something "pat" about Dawna's responses to her questions. Jonathan however thinks that Dawna is well-spoken and professional while Margaret says that she is "very impressed" with Dawna.

At the Loft, Dawna tells Bethenny that she is impatient to know the results. As they pack their stuff in anticipation of the conference room dismissal, Jim says that he faced some rapid-fire questions in the interviews and he was caught off-guard at times, but he feels that he somehow turned things around and he is still confident that he's in the running. "I'm the guy that Martha Stewart is going to want," he declares to the camera. Okay, fair enough, but I don't think she wants him as an executive officer in MSLO, heh. As they get ready to leave the door, Jim says something about slaughter in the conference room.

Jonathan tells Martha that he finds Bethenny "very high energy, almost manic" but she is the only one that he can picture working in any division within MSLO and fitting in nicely. Susan likes Bethenny's entrepreneur spirit but worries that she may not have the attention span to work for MSLO as Bethenny seems to be the type to "flit" through things. Martha says that she was like Bethenny when she was younger and hey, look where she is today. Susan quickly agrees with Martha. Margaret likes Bethenny "scrappiness". And now Martha asks about Jim. Oh boy, this will be good. Charles is already smirking in anticipation. Susan brings up Jim's dinner conversation with her and Charles and mentions how much he "stopped" her "cold" with his "unattractive strategy". Jonathan says that he didn't understand a word Jim said to him, heh. He says that Jim mentioned that he was a sapling to be nurtured and Jonathan feels that none of them have time to nurture Jim in any way. As Susan chuckles loudly, Jonathan mentions dubiously that Jim may be talented and creative but he doesn't feel comfortable having Jim by his side at a meeting. Aw, come on. One look at Jim acting like a monkey on the meeting table and the Japanese will love MSLO and sign any contract MSLO throws their way! Both Susan and Gael tell Martha pretty much that Jim is a hard fit to MSLO and it will take a lot of their time and energy to make sure that Jim behaves himself. Martha thanks the four again for their time and effort. Charles and Alexis chime in their thanks as well to remind me that they are still on the show.

Now the three Apprenti are invited by Julia to enter the conference room. Once they are seated, Martha reminds them that only two can move on. She starts by reviewing some of the glowing quotes given to Bethenny and Dawna. Basically Dawna is told by Martha that she needs to be more "surprising" and Bethenny less manic. Martha tells Jim, who must see the writing on the wall the moment Martha singles him out last, that Jim may have too many surprises for MSLO. Martha talks about Jim treating the competition as a game and Jim tries to justify his actions by saying that life itself is a game. He then goes on about playing the game as what he sees and who he is in such an incoherent manner - I believe "war" is mentioned as well - that he comes off even more loony than he already is. Martha's badly dubbed voiceover comes on to tell Jim, "While I like someone having a creative spark, you're a loose cannon and you've managed to alienate a lot of your teammates." Then the actual Martha in the conference room tells Jim, "And I think that your experience, your level of management skills, and understanding of the Martha Stewart content and brand just isn't thorough enough. Jim, many of the things you do might be perceived as a liability or disruptive." Then comes the dubbing: "And here at MSLO, I cannot tolerate that sort of behavior. You've played it your way, and now I'll play it my way: the game's over, Jim, you're outta here!" Jim blinks while Dawna and Bethenny look at him like they're enjoying his public gutting but trying not to show it on TV.

Man, I'm so annoyed. Jim has been the penultimate villain in this season and they can't even show his confrontation with Martha without dubbing over her actual words with scripted lines rerecorded in some studio! The dubbing is also so obvious that it's like adding insult to the injury. Does Burnetto think that I am stupid or something not to notice the badly added dubbing? Jim shakes Martha's hand, saying that the experience has been wonderful for me, and leaves the conference room. I think Julia likes Jim too when she smiles while he says goodbye to her. Jim leaves to Martha's voiceover reading aloud her letter to him:

"Dear Jim, I know you surprised yourself in this competition. I am proud that you went from a badly-losing team to one of the final three. You certainly surprised many people finally allowing your creativity to shine and your lack of focus to diminish. You succeeded where many thought you might fail. My best wishes to your patient family, they will be happy to have you home. I hope to see you and hear from you in the future. Martha Stewart."

While the use of the word "patient" may or may not be a dig at Jim, the rest of the letter confirms what I suspect: Martha really, really likes Jim, not as an employee but as an amusing member of her court. The court jester, perhaps. Back at the conference room, Martha must have choked down her vomit as she congratulates Bethenny and Dawna for being "the best of the best". She tells them to pick three Apprenti to be "employees" on their team for their final task once they're back at the Loft and are fully rested.

Dawna and Bethenny discover a bottle of chilled champagne waiting for them at the Loft as well as a photo album filled with a professional black-and-white shot and a candid photo taken during a task for each Apprenti that has been dismissed. It's amusing how those two women want to drink as much as possible before they launch into the show's contrived "Ooh, let's remember these losers and act like we love them!" tribute thingie. They must need all the strength they need to go through the pretense. Bethenny tells the camera that she would probably never be friends with Dawna in real life (remember, she thinks that Dawna isn't one of the "cool kids" at school) so this show is full of surprises and that's a good thing. They drink to the next few days ("Corporate and creative - still representing!") before opening the album and faux-cooing and faux-aahing over everyone. Marcela, by the way, looks utterly striking in her professional photo. Bethenny says that she loves Chuckie even if she won't pick him because she fears that he will have a nervous breakdown while Dawna thinks that Amanda and her will be good friends after this show. Boy, I can drink to that. Bethenny says that she has never worked with Amanda and Dawna says enigmatically, "That's interesting!" Both women think that Jim is a nice guy, only he has plenty of growing-up to do.

They end up choosing names with Bethenny allowing Dawna going first. She picks her good friend Amanda, Sarah, and Howie because she thinks that these people will fully support her and will work their "asses off" for her. Bethenny tries to think of people who will do the same for her and realizes that because she has been to so many conference rooms, she has antagonized many of the dismissed Apprenti. "Dawna's been here with people that she won with, so they didn't ever have to get in a war together. What am I going to bring back? Sarah, who I called a liar? Carrie, I basically sent home. I've been in there a lot. Who am I going to bring back?" she wonders to the camera. She narrows the choices of potential employees who won't deliberately sabotage her to Jim, Marcela, and Chuckie. But she won't pick Chuckie and she won't pick Marcela as well for some reason, which I feel is a mistake because Marcela may not be a leader but she is a very good follower. So in the end she has to settle for "weird choices": Ryan, Jim, and Carrie. Dawna can't believe that Bethenny chose Carrie who hates Bethenny but Bethenny thinks that Carrie will work hard to win a task even if she's working for Bethenny. That's some impressive leap of logic she has going there. I'm impressed. Bethenny tells the camera that "once again" she is the underdog. Dawna tells Bethenny back at the Loft that they will just have to see whether Bethenny's selection will turn out to work against her or for her.

Morning. Bethenny and Dawna meet up with Martha, Charles, and Alexis in the conference room where they learn that Bethenny will be charged with overseeing and managing Apple & Eve Presents The Big Apple Circus, where proceeds will go to the Boys & Girls Club of America, while Dawna will run the Liz Claiborne Fashion Show and Charity Benefit where the proceeds will go to the charity for victims of domestic violence, Safe Horizon. Their selected employees will be called to wait for Dawna and Bethenny downstairs and a chauffeur-driven Mercedes Maybach will take Dawna and Bethenny around town. As usual, Charles and Alexis will look around and sniff with disdain at the incompetence of mortals in general and Martha hopes to attend the events. That is, if they end up taking place at all, as we shall soon see.

"There she is!" Jim says in the back seat of the "Employees Only" car when he spots Bethenny emerge from the doors of the MSLO office. Ryan, beside Jim, rolls up the window. Carrie is the driver and she has the most putrid expression ever on her face as she scowls at Bethenny who just squeals in excitement and hops into her Mercedes Maybach without saying a word to her employees. Carrie complains to the camera that Bethenny ignores them and they have to blindly follow her car without knowing where they are supposed to go. Dawna on the other hand takes the time and trouble to say hi and catch up with Sarah, Howie, and Amanda, all who seem genuinely happy to see her, before telling them that they have to work at making sure that the Liz Claiborne Fashion Show and Charity Benefit actually takes place. Amanda tells the camera that she respects Dawna and will love to see Dawna win this. Eeuw, just when I've forgotten how annoying her voice is, too. Dawna tells her team and to the camera that her team is the best. She hasn't seen Amanda and Howie in action yet.

And now, let's witness another example of slipshod editing plaguing this episode. First, we see the vehicles take off. Then we see Jim calling up Bethenny and Bethenny telling her team through the phone what they will be doing and such. The thing is, I can clearly see that the vehicles are still outside the MSLO building as this conversation takes place, which means that either Bethenny calls Jim or vice-versa the moment Bethenny gets into her vehicle. The editors however want me to believe that Bethenny only tells her team what they are getting into when Jim calls her up once they are on the road. I don't know what the point of this kind of editing is but they could have done it in a way that isn't so careless and shoddy, right? Bethenny tells the camera that she needs to prove to the corporate naysayers that she can manage a team. Okay, I'll see how that turns out. Meanwhile, Carrie is complaining that she wants to be chauffeured as well. Jim tells Carrie that they can't be spoiled brats. Carrie agrees but is about to protest when Jim tells her that they have to help Bethenny win. Wow, Jim really wants to see Bethenny win. That's some heart in him after all! Ryan, meanwhile, examines his nails. Maybe he's thinking of the color he should paint them with. Carrie is not impressed with Jim's convinction, saying that Bethenny's his girl but certainly not hers. Jim says that Bethenny need to win for all the "bad kids" out there. He must be talking about some "creatives versus the world who doesn't understand them" thingie. As Carrie and Jim argue about how Bethenny may need Jim but Jim (and Carrie) certainly doesn't need her, Ryan crosses his legs and looks bored out of his wits. Just like things are between Bethenny and Carrie, I don't think there is any love lost between him and Bethenny.

Jim tells the camera that at first he is puzzled by Bethenny choosing Carrie, who certainly isn't jumping with joy at seeing Bethenny again, and Ryan, whom Bethenny has never worked with, to be on her team. But then he realizes that Bethenny has no friends on this show. Back at the employees-only car, Jim tells Carrie that they have to help Bethenny organize while Ryan looks like he's seriously considering breaking the glass window and climbing out. Carrie is wearing this dress where she is in serious danger of pulling a Damita Jo on everyone as she smiles thinly while Jim tells her that she, being the "organizational timeline person", should help Bethenny out with the schedules and all. Accordingly, Carrie snarls to the camera that she and Bethenny parted ways the last time around with plenty of bad vibes between them. She knows that Bethenny is hoping that she won't hold a grudge against Bethenny. "That's a huge risk for her assume!" she says. Back to the car, Carrie is saying that she has never seen Bethenny lead anyone and Jim assures her that Bethenny is a good leader. Better than Carrie anyway, that's for sure. "Alright, Fearless Leader!" Carrie says sarcastically when they reach wherever it is that is their destination and looks for a parking space. They meet up with Jim Roper, the manager, at the Big Apple Circus HQ where he briefs them on the "Circus-to-Go" program. Bethenny tells the camera that she has to deal with of "all the acrobats, and lighting, and sound, and rigging, and staging, and a VIP party". "And I have to manage all commitments to all of the sponsors - Apple and Eve juices, Pringles - plus do a program and five hundred other moving parts." She thinks that it is so "ironic" that she has to deal with a circus within a circus. Boy, she has no idea, does she, what Martha meant by "organizing" an event if she's already complaining about basically organizing an event? What does she expect? To the others, she tells Jim and Carrie to deal with the graphic designers while she and Ryan will somehow make sure that there is a full dress rehearsal some time the next day. She thinks that what they have to do is insane and tells them that everyone has to do everything. Ryan goes absently, "Right! Right! Right!" while Carrie scowls and thinks of driving the heel of her stilettos into Bethenny's skull.

Let's see what the happy Dawna's Angels are doing. They meet up at the Liz Claiborne HQ where Dawna asks whether everyone is comfortable with Sarah and her handling the event management while Howie and Amanda handle the runway aspect of the event. Amanda goes, "Sure! Sure!" Howie, however, looks as bored as Ryan. They obviously hate being parted just when they are catching up on lost time in whatever sequester spot they were shacked up at after they were dismissed. The reason Dawna is so diplomatic though can be deduced when Alexis and Charles are seen to be in the same room as the Dawna's Angels. Dawna explains to the camera the reasons behind her delegation of duties: Howie runs a fashion company so Dawna assumes that he will be at home handling that aspect of this task while Dawna rather naively trusts Amanda to get everything done. She will focus on lighting, music, choreography, VIP reception, and more. Like Bethenny, she is overwhelmed at the sheer number of tasks she has to get involved in. As they leave to check out the venue, things seem to be looking good for these people.

Back to Bethenny's Battalion. Ryan and Bethenny show up at the venue, the Crobar, which Bethenny describes as a "mega Manhattan nightclub". The club looks pretty cool, its interior shaped like a beer keg or something to my eyes. Bethenny speaks to the event coordinator who tells her that Bethenny needs to give orders and all because she won't do anything without instructions from Bethenny. There goes Bethenny's hope for finding someone who can tell her where to begin in this task! The event coordinator rather patronizingly tells her and Ryan to follow her as she takes them on a tour of the Crobar. As Charles and Alexis watch, Bethenny asks the woman of the maximum capacity of the club. Ryan yawns behind his hand. To the camera, he says that he doesn't think much of Bethenny's decision-making skills. "Maybe she has a masterplan. She certainly went farther than I did so she may know something that I don't," says Ryan. Golden Boy here should be more careful when dealing with jealousy: it makes him slur and he looks stupid with that baseball cap on his head. Bethenny realizes that she doesn't know what more to ask from the events coordinator so she takes her leave.

Dawna's Angels. Sarah's relentless optimism, which didn't help her when she was a Project Manager, is becoming very valuable as she seems to be very eager to help Dawna even if she's not going to benefit in any direct manner from this. She tells the camera that because she has a background in event planning, she is asked by Dawna to come along and meet the executives of their venue, Capitale. The event coordinator, James LaForce (real name is probably Jimmy Laloga), explains what will happen and who will come in from where and what should go where. Dawna, understandably, looks overwhelmed by everything and takes down notes furiously on her notepad. James isn't so amused though. "Dawna seems to have her nose sort of buried in her clipboard. I'm not getting a sense that she's got a very inspired vision for what this evening should be," he tells the camera. Oh please, bitch. Let's toss him right into the midst of an event that he has no firsthand familiarity with and see how he deals with everything! James talks and talks while Dawna keeps taking notes. She hopes to the camera that she has time to get everything done. She tells Sarah that they will have to brainstorm hard that night.

Meanwhile, the clueless twosome of Howie and Amanda are studying a flipbook of the available Liz Claiborne clothes that are available for use in the event. Amanda is passing judgment on these clothes and so far she's finding them frumpy and unappealing, oh dear. Amanda tells the camera that she has a very important responsibility here since if she fails in her task, the whole event will flop. She has this strange smile on her face that makes it hard for me to discern whether she wants the event to flop or not. The fact that she does may explain why, when Linda the Liz Claiborne creative director and Susan, a fashion designer, show up to tell them that the clothes around them are the ones they can pick from for the show, Amanda tells them while pointing to the dress in question, "Well, I tell you what. I think this right here to me seems a little bit frumpy, like, boring for a runway, because I don't know if I would ever in my life wear that." Oh. My. God. Susan gasps while the CD Linda closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. Howie tries to rescue Amanda by saying, "I mean, you gotta think of the Liz customer, though. Not that that's frumpy and boring, but..." He shuts up when he realizes that he's certainly not helping Amanda at all. As Amanda babbles about not being a fashion expert but wanting this to be that and that to be this, the CD Linda and Susan exchange bitchy glances. Howie says that they'll take six of this and six of that and so forth just to meet the required amount of clothes needed for the fashion show. The two Liz Claiborne women are waiting just for this opening and one of them says very sarcastically, "So, you're going to let numbers be the deciding factor? Or the strength of the looks?" Try saying that in your coldest and most scornful manner and that woman does it with twice the intensity. Howie and Amanda pause to think about that question while the buffoon soundtrack plays in the background.

At this point, I'm sure that neither Susan or the CD Linda are willing to help Amanda and Howie like they are supposed to, unless it's a request to pull out every strand of hair from the scalps of Howie and Amanda, so they gleefully stand there and watch as Amanda yammers and Howie stammers about how they are thinking that maybe the strength of the looks is important too. Howie tells the camera that he has a fashion company but he deals with the business end of things, not the designing aspect, so he's as lost as Amanda in this task. But he'll get things done, he says. The CD Linda tells Howie and Amanda that the models will be there "beginning tomorrow" so the clothes have to be ready by that time. They then take their leave and they can't run fast enough, I tell you. Howie and Amanda start trying to pick the designs they like. Hopefully the people attending the fashion show will get a laugh out of it, if nothing else.

Bethenny's Brigade. Bethenny meets Jennifer, a representative for the Boys & Girls Club of America, and learns from Jennifer that the BGCA usually raises a million dollars from their fundraising events. Bethenny tells the camera that she realizes then that she won't get that much money just by selling cotton candies. She believes that the event will go great - by magic, perhaps - so she will concentrate on fundraising. What on earth? Money is raised by the VIPs attending the Big Apple Circus who then writes big checks to keep the IRS happy. She's not going to open a phone book and start calling everyone inside, is she? Meanwhile, Carrie and Jim are working with the Big Apple Circus graphic designer in putting finishing touches to the brochure art. As maligned as Jim is in this show, he's very confident and he comes off as very knowledgeable in what he is doing in this scene, as does Carrie. As those two drive to the printers to get the brochures done, Carrie tells Jim, "I know I don't need to say this, but I'm just going to say it so I feel better. How do you think it makes me feel that I went before people that are clearly less qualified and worked less hard?" Jim rolls up his eyes, as he should, at Carrie's idiotic arrogance and bitterness while blithely says that he doesn't know. It sucks, he guesses. Carrie is now on a roll. "Now, at some point Bethenny has got to say, 'This is why you need to be on my side.' Like, she's gotta to justify to me why I have to be working for her, you know what I'm saying? She's gotta give me a reason to believe that she will not take credit for work I did." Jim agrees - yeah, yeah, yeah - while he quickly leaves the car once it stops. Carrie tells the camera that Bethenny should be very nervous and "shaking a little bit" because Carrie doesn't like working for someone who she thinks has stabbed her in the back. Oh dear, I don't think Carrie will appreciate knowing that I giggle at the sight of her Angry Evil Face. What's she going to do to Bethenny anyway? Force her to eat red meat? Back to her and Jim, as they walk to the printer's store, he puts his hand on her shoulder and says that she is such a "beautiful girl to hold such a grudge". As much as Jim likes Bethenny, I suspect that he's also enjoying Carrie's bitterness as much as I am.

Night. Amanda, Jim, and Ryan are already at the dining table when Howie shows up, maybe fresh from the shower. "There he is!" Ryan gleefully says as Jim giggles and fastens a button on his shirt. Howie opens a bottle of Heineken, which he then takes along with two cans of beer, and joins the others at the table. Amanda says that Dawna is going to be very angry at Howie if she knows that Howie is drinking. Howie says she won't and Jim agrees. "She's not going to know nothing," Jim says, "she's not gonna know anything until you wake up at six am with, like, vomit on your ear!" Ryan and Howie start howling with laughter at Jim's, um, wit. Dawna gets ready to go to bed so she takes a moment to wish the folks at the table good night. "I'll see you in the morning," she tells them. "No," answers Jim, again sending Howie and Ryan into fist-thumping-table fits of laughter. These men are so easily amused, aren't they? Howie assures Dawna that he will be fine in the morning and right now he is just "straightening up the table". He takes a napkin and wipes the table in demonstration, causing Ryan to nearly fall out of his chair in laughter.

Later that night, Dawna tells Amanda that she is "bummed" at Howie for having a second beer after finishing a bottle of wine. Laughter of Howie and Jim (Ryan is nowhere to be seen - maybe he's passed out under the table) can be heard echoing around the Loft like some horror movie special sound effect. As the volume of the Boys Will Be Boys show increases, Dawna starts to worry that it's not a good idea to bring Howie back and she will be very annoyed if Howie sabotages her chances at winning. Amanda assures Dawna that Howie will not embarrass himself. That's the cue for the show to cut to one of my favorite scenes from this episode: Howie making some funny faces and pulling his ears in what seems to be a George W Bush impersonation. He has the flushed face and big ears down pat, at the very least. Wait, Ryan's still with them - I can see the side of his head in the last scene before the show cuts away from the men.

While all this is happening in the Loft, Bethenny and Carrie have just finished collecting the brochures. Carrie is pretty much demanding to be praised when she tells Bethenny (as opposed to asking), "Does the brochure look good?" Bethenny says yes. In the awkward ride home where Bethanny is driving and Carrie is at the back. Carrie tells the camera that she deliberately arranged this trip so that she and Bethenny can talk. Uh, oh. In the car, Carrie wants to know how Bethenny can claim that every one of their team mates said that Carrie was the weakest in the last conference room that they had together. Oh boy, this can take all night. They then have this conversation where they talk around each other to the point that they go nowhere and end up with sullen faces all around. Bethenny wonders to the camera why Carrie just can't let things go. Carrie tells the camera that fine, she'll work for Bethenny but she won't endorse Bethenny in any way. I don't think anyone ever expects her to endorse Bethenny. I think people will actually be shocked if she does. Bethenny tells Carrie not to take things personally but Carrie insists that she does take things personally. Oh dear.

Morning. Howie is drunk and he has a hard time waking up early. Dawna manages to touch his mighty bare biceps, that lucky woman, as she tries to wake Howie up because they have to leave in thirty minutes. Howie tells the camera that it probably isn't the smartest thing to drink so much the night before since he now feels as if a truck has driven over his bed and backed over again six times. Howie yawns heavily several times as he, Amanda, and Dawna head on down to the Liz Claiborne HQ. At the HQ, the models are getting dolled up as Dawna survey the clothes chosen by Amanda and Howie for the runway. To her dismay, she finds that many of the clothes that she think will be good aren't chosen. She tells the camera that quick changes have to be made. To Amanda and Howie, she explains that she needs to make changes quickly before the Liz Claiborne execs show up and Amanda agrees to everything Dawna says. Amanda is really good at following orders from her friends, I see. It's only the rest of the world's population that she despises taking orders from. Howie is too hungover to do anything other than to massage his throbbing head. Oops, here are the Liz Claiborne execs. The CD Linda takes great pleasure in bitchily telling Amanda that she is expecting a call from Amanda, a call that Amanda never made. Amanda smoothly says that it's her fault alright. The CD Linda tells Amanda that she is expecting to see the finished clothes and all on the models. Amanda says that everything is already finished while Sarah looks on with bulging eyes and all, a look that screams "Amanda is lying!" to anyone who takes a look at her. Amanda leads the CD Linda away, all the way apologizing again for the missed call. Dawna tells the camera that she is disappointed with Amanda's performance so far and unhappy with the progress made but she can't do anything now.

Amanda brings out two models who look like they have only half their clothes on and sure enough, Amanda is apologizing to the CD now for the models not wearing their accessories. The CD scowls at the two models - really, she has that bitch face thing perfected to a tee - asks Amanda which of the two looks is she recommending to the CD. Dawna watches with a grimace on her face as Amanda tries to pretend that she knows all along which look she's going to recommend the CD. The CD takes great relish in driving home the knives. "What did you have in mind? Is it glamorous without being too edgy? Or too strange?" she asks Amanda sharply. She is such a bitch, this CD, it's fabulous to watch. Dawna says that she likes how the models look at that very moment and the CD noticeably rolls up her eyes in scorn. "I have some more questions," the CD says, her voice dripping with contempt in a way that only a few can ever master fully. I bow to her. She's truly a goddess in every way, that CD. Dawna tells the camera that bitch-faced CD has to be happy with the selection of clothes for the runway if Dawna wants any hope of winning this competition. Back to them, Amanda asks the CD want the CD wants to do. This is obviously what the CD wants to hear all along because her face actually looks quite pleased at having gained victory when she tells Amanda that "key changes" have to be made. The moral of the story is: don't piss off the Creative Director, maggots!

Bethenny's Brigade. Ryan and Bethenny show up at the Crobar where the first thing they do is to seat themselves at a corner and start making phone calls soliciting donations for the GBCA. She tells the camera that she intends to spend the whole day soliciting donations. So she does, apparently ignoring everything else. Ryan tells the camera that Bethenny forgets that their main task is to organize the Big Apple Circus, not getting money for the GBCA. Ryan asks Jim Roper whether there is anything "they" need to decide on and Jim Roper tells Ryan bluntly that Jim Roper and his crew will only carry out tasks that Bethenny or her employees give them. Jim tries to tell Bethenny that the juice boxes are here and they need to find a place for those boxes so that the kids will have something to drink, but Bethenny just turns away and continues making phone calls. "Right, I'll figure it out," Jim says, incredibly with no hint of irritation in his voice, as he moves away. As Ryan and Jim start unloading boxes and carts, unrolling banners, and generally doing all the work around the place, Jim says that there are so much to be done around the place but Bethenny is not doing anything. "Apple & Eve are spending tens of thousands of dollars," he says, referring to the juices sponsored by that company, "They want more than their juice bottles sitting around the table." Elsewhere, a flustered Carrie is told that the performers have arrived and someone has to tell them where to go and what to do. Carrie is like, "Huh? What do I do know?" In the background, Bethenny keeps making phone calls. Has she snapped and gone crazy? I can't imagine that she can just stay in her corner while everything around her descends into chaos.

Finally, Jim Roper shows up to confront Bethenny. He tells her that this Big Apple Circus is her event. His people - the crew and the performers - are just standing around the place doing nothing while she blabs on the phone and Jim Roper is not happy. Carrie gleefully tells the camera that if the dress rehearsal - the one that Bethenny called for the day before, if you recall - doesn't take place within the next thirty minutes, then there is no show the next day. "No show tomorrow means no job for Bethenny," she says with some relish. Jim Roper tells Bethenny that she needs to have a meeting with the crew and the performers, reminding her that these people are highly-paid professionals who are here to perform and therefore Bethenny needs to take charge of them and make sure that the show will take place. Jim tells the camera that they all have less than twenty-four hours left to put the show in order and at that moment, Bethenny's management style is "anti-management". Jim then takes out a rope that he has fashioned into a noose and proceeds to demonstrate what Bethenny is doing to herself by putting the noose around his neck. I adore this man. This is my favorite confessional of all time ever. Really, it's a shame that he doesn't try to be more competent on the show and more discreet in his "strategy" because he could have been a so much more compelling TV villain than the mere enjoyable and cartoonish hunky villain that he currently is. As Jim Roper continues to dress down Bethenny for her negligence and she looks around her in that dazed expression as if she finally realizes that there is an oncoming truck heading straight for her, the credits roll. We'll have to wait for the finale to know what we should know all along: Dawna is going to win this thing unless a miracle happens for Bethenny.

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