Worst. Breakfast. EVER.

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Necessary?  Maybe.  Highly intriguing development?  For sure.  Diabolical?  Um…YEAH.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, what I speak of is none other than that God awful message Carl had to read at the breakfast table before John and Petey’s eggs even had an opportunity to get cold.  “Instant Elimination Match”.  If there were a taste that could have described the way the two of them must have felt after hearing that, it must have been like drinking orange juice right after brushing your teeth.  If a sound could describe it, the phrase “we need to talk” coming out of your girlfriend’s mouth comes to mind.  I could continue to go on and come up with a description for the remaining three senses I haven’t touched upon, but I won’t waste your time.  We’ve all got better things to concentrate on. 

For those who had their doubts about the significance of one’s position on that money list, I believe the gigantic thud you just heard was that theory falling flat on its face.  As we all witnessed last night, the competitors’ lack of money can have highly significant consequences (and not just when it comes to the half-stroke purchase option in the Elimination Challenges).  As the competition makes its final turn toward the home stretch, careless spending and poor performances will make for some VERY difficult days for those in the lower recesses of the money list.  Of course, given the events that transpired in the show’s second Elimination Challenge, this most certainly translates into some bad news for you David fans…but that’ll have to wait ‘till next week…I digress…

As detailed by yours truly in Week Four’s blog entry 'You Gotta Know When to Hold Em', these challenge ideas/show structures are planned out months before a single camera rolls on the first bit of drama inflicted by our fiendish challenge formats.  This Instant Elimination Challenge was a direct byproduct of adding the Playback Challenge into our series’ arsenal of twists and turns.  With the addition of former players thrown back into the competition mid series, the elimination numbers get thrown completely out of whack.  To explain, it’s now time for a little Big Break math lesson.  We get ten episodes in a season.  If we cast 11 competitors, and eliminate one per week, that leaves us with two for the finale.  It’s a pretty simple formula.  The problem is, once we have an episode where one competitor is added and none are subtracted, the numbers don’t work out any more.  Now you get into a situation like that stupid word problem we all had to answer on the SAT’s: “If two trains leave from different stations, one 40 miles away, the other 25 miles away…

The simple solution is to eliminate two in an episode to even out the numbers.  Although, for all you math wizards out there, I can hear you saying right at this moment; “but we’re still currently on track for a three-person finale…”  Well, you’re right.  We are.  Is that what will happen though?  Once again, I digress…

Eliminating two competitors in an episode isn’t unheard of in Big Break lore.  We spent the better part of an entire series (Big Break: Reunion) eliminating two per episode.  In Big Break Prince Edward Island, we eliminated two in the episode before the finale.  So, when trying to figure out a way to get rid of two competitors after the playback, we obviously knew we needed a double elimination somewhere.  But, how could we do it differently than we’ve done in the past?  Well, taking into account the overall structure of the series (the money list), adding in an educated guess as to what kind of state the money list would be in after the playback show, and factoring in the possibility of the extra half-stroke being purchased at times during the preceding episodes, the maniacal masterpiece rose like a phoenix from the ashes.  OK, so maybe that was just a tad dramatic, but I do believe one of us let loose a patented “Dr. Evil laugh” immediately after the idea hit the air.

The craziest part of all this was the anticipation, on the Producer’s part, leading up to this episode.  Knowing that this Instant Elimination was coming from the very beginning of filming, the second “Shank” started rolling that half-stroke purchase snowball down the hill, I could not wait to see who would aid in their own demise by essentially buying their way into this Instant Elimination Challenge.  And to be honest, one of the main reasons why we structured this challenge the way we did was to reinforce that there would, in fact, be some form of retribution for those who did decide to (some would say carelessly) spend thousands of dollars on an extra ½ shot advantage.  So, when John needlessly gave away half his stack in last week’s episode, you can understand the feeling as our evil plan came to fruition.  John, you’re an awesome dude and a super nice guy, but this made for damn good TV.

So, was the Instant Elimination necessary?  Well, aside from the essential task of knocking down the numbers of competitors, in my mind it was.  As Kent said last night, “I think everyone got too comfortable buying the half-shot.”

Was this a highly intriguing development?  In the competitors’ eyes, it sure was.  These guys, during the course of their stay on the show, basically live in a world that we’ve created for them.  What we say is the law, so if we say that one of the bottom-two on the money list will be eliminated first thing in the morning, all they can do is accept it.  Due to this Instant Elimination twist, they now know that really anything is possible at this point.

Was it diabolical?  Damn straight it was.