Previous Episode: Excess Baggage Season One – Breakthrough Experience #4
So far, these contestants have crushed grapes, have ridden cross-country and have gone for a stunt-plane ride that wasn’t so smooth. What else could the Hunter Valley possibly throw at them? I have a feeling a little bit more!
We begin the episode with calm music at sunrise, and a few hovering hot air balloons. It all looks very tranquil.
Kate Ceberano cracks out a doozie here. ‘Some of our contestants talk a lot of hot air when it comes to this competition, but for today’s endurance challenge, they’re going to get it out once and for all’.
They will all pair up into teams of four and drag a fully inflated hot air balloon along a 150m course. At the end, they have to bring the balloon down to the ground, deflate it and put it away.
They will then get into their own pairings to burst some balloons with some darts. The first pair to burst all of their balloons wins.
This competition will challenge their skill, stamina and patience. The day before the challenge, we find out who will be paired with whom. They do this by popping balloons with numbers in them. The two teams who match numbers will be paired together.
The teams are the green team and the grey team, the yellow team and the blue team, the pink team with the red team and the purple team with the orange team (again!).
Opinion point: What do you think about the purple and orange team being forced to be worked together challenge in, challenge out?
Early the next day, the balloons are filled and it is a magnificent sight seeing those hot air balloons caressing the horizon. The contestants rock up early in the morning and are amazed to see the size of the balloons!
Kate is standing with Christian to talk about the challenge. The contestants are pumped for the challenge and some seem to have a few game plans based on their strengths. Christian explains what Kate told us at the start of the episode. I always thought that the way Kate introduces challenges directly to the viewers as soon as the episode starts seemed a bit corny. I would have preferred it if she just explained to the contestants what they’d be doing, and left the viewers to find out what’s going on at the same time.
The winner of the challenge will be given eight points. The loser will still get one point.
With that, the challenge begins.
The pulling looks hard, but the green and grey team seems to be doing well with a bit of a rhythm going. They’ve all tied knots in their rope to make it easier to grab onto.
The orange and purple team are going well, but Ajay can’t seem to grab the rope due to her height (or lack thereof), instead being made to run straight for the bag. Darryn calls her useless despite not being on her team.
Lisa thinks they should have had Darryn in the balloon and that they should have let it go forever!
Opinion point: Thoughts on the challenge?
After the break, the challenge continues. The contestants are still trying to drag their balloons to the finishing line. The orange and purple team are right ahead, but the pink and red team are trying to close the gap. A slight change in position for Darryn and Lisa helps them plough past the green and grey team who are facing troubles- John has been flung to the ground by the rope!
The yellow and blue team seem to be in second place, desperate to beat the unstoppable purple and orange team.
The purple and orange team finish first with yellow and blue in second place. It’s still anyone’s game.
Darryn thinks Lisa has come into her own this challenge, as their team and the grey and green team finish at the same time.
Now, it’s time for the contestants to pack the hot air balloon. They need to get the hot air balloon down and the red and pink team seem to have it down pat. Soon enough, all teams have their balloons down and it is so funny to see some of these contestants, notably Brant and Darryn, get consumed by the massive balloon.
The purple and orange team are still in front, but the red and pink team aint far behind in second place.
Getting the balloon deflated is hard, and at one point, Brant threatens to kill Ben.
Christian and Kate think the pink and red team are the only team who have got it together.
Opinion point: Who would have the biggest advantage in a challenge like this?
After the break, Kate and Christian’s opinion changes as Lisa and Darryn begin to argue about how to fold the balloon.
Now, it is the blue and yellow team that are showing us how it’s done!
The purple and orange team are just stuffing the balloon in their bag, which could prove problematic as the balloon is designed to be folded.
The green and grey team are going well, but Brant and John are getting heated, which could prove a bit confronting to Ben, especially when John and Brant begin play fighting with each other. Christian tries to get them in line.
Back to the red team, and Darryn is now inside the balloon! How the hell did he get in there?
In a cutaway, Darryn seems to have lost his voice. How did that happen I wonder?!
The purple and orange team are still trying to cram the pillow in the bag and Lana is getting annoyed that Matt keeps saying ‘stop for a second’ while he does something. She finds it to be a bit of a waste of resources.
The purple and orange team finish the bag-packing challenge first just before the yellow and blue team. They now split from their teams into their pairs for the final part of the challenge- bursting 10 balloons with blow darts.
They get success soon and it seems the blue team may win this.
The red and pink team seem as if they will be next to finish. Back to the blow darts and Dipper’s pipe doesn’t seem to work, slowing his team down.
Ajay reveals that she spent 15 years as a professional clown, and so she knows how to blow pop balloons. They get their balloons popped and win the eight points. Dipper and Lana get second place and seven points.
The grey and green team somehow finish their balloon packing before the red and pink team, progressing onto the balloon popping.
The blue team finish third and the yellow team finish fourth. Back at the balloon packing, Kate feels deflated herself after hearing the other contestants cheering over their success.
The green team finish fifth with the grey team finishing sixth.
The red and pink team finally finish their packing challenge and head into the final round. Darryn and Lisa manage seventh place, and feel great to be moving up from the usual last place. Lisa claims she ‘pulled hard and she blew hard’. Like Darryn, I too am wondering what she is talking about…!
The pink team therefore finish eighth, gaining one point.
We look at the scoreboard which has combined all scores from all challenges this week:
KEVIN & RENAE: 8
BRANT & JOHN: 8
AJAY & MATT: 8
DIPPER & LANA: 7
DARRYN & LISA: 5
CHRISTINE & NATHAN: 5
GABBY & BEN: 4
KATE & SARAH: 1
It seems no one really wants the purple team up the top, but Lisa I so happy to be in joint third place.
Kate & Sarah and Gabby & Ben are in last place and risk a place in elimination.
Opinion point: Any thoughts about those results?
Back at the ranch and the grey team are playing some tennis while other contestants play other types of sport; like golf.
The judges are now visiting each of the contestants. Joanna goes to visit Lana and Christine. She tells them that she specialises in women’s food. She asks them about her parents and she reveals that she still lives at home because she doesn’t want her parents to feel old and that she wants them to keep looking after her disabled sister. She breaks down when she thinks about her potentially troubled future. She doesn’t know what is going to happen with her sister.
She reveals that her parents don’t even know she feels this way.
Joanna asks her where she sees herself in five years time. Lana wants to be in her own place in a relationship and even maybe with a few kids. Don’t know why Christine was there!
We are then reminded about yesterday when Christian got annoyed that Nathan had skipped training again to speak to Dr. Tim. Christian tries to get to the bottom of this. He feels that he is only this way because he feels his weight stops people from physically attacking him. He breaks down when he reveals that he wants and feels he needs to be in the competition until the end.
Christian tells Nathan that he needs to be there for Christine and show Christine support as well to be a more successful group.
Opinion point: Will Nathan’s D&M with Christian help him train harder and support Christine more?
After the break, Kate & Sarah talk to Kate Ceberano about their common interest in singing. Kate Ceberano, a singer herself, gives them both advice.
Kate then discusses with Kate DeAraugo about her liposuction after winning Australian Idol in 2005. She breaks down as she recounts the horrible procedure. Kate Ceberano tells them both that their ‘gift (of singing) is more important than the rapping’.
And with that, the episode ends on quite a good note.
I think the balance of the episode was brilliant. We had the main part of the episode, which was the endurance challenge, and then a perfectly timed D&M session with some of the contestants. It gave the episode a brilliant story-telling feel, and it deeply exposed some of the contestants further.
Production, again still a bit shaky as is usually the case with this show, saw beautiful moments. Captures of the Hunter Valley sunrise behind the inflating balloons were beautiful and stunning. It really paints the region a good picture of itself. I think the episode should be proud of that.
I do feel as if Christian repeating the rules of the challenge was a bit repetitive, and Kate’s cold explanation at the start should have been left out. Then, maybe we would have seen more of the judge’s wonderful conversations with the contestants.
Production Values (visual and audio techniques, overall ‘bling’ of the show):4.5/5
‘Sell-out’ factor (Cross-promotion and product placement free?): 2/2
Entertainment Value (emotional feel, storyline, eventful?): 2.8/3
Courtney’s Verdict: 9.3/10