‘The Real World: St. Thomas’ Recap (Episode 11): “Should I Stay Or Should I Blow”
Trey’s girlfriend-juggling comes to a head. Oh, and in case the awkward, Clash-referencing wordplay of the title has you confused: Brandon gets in trouble for doing some blow.
We open on the nighttime jubilee of Carnival, which I had thought was supposed to be some kind of beautifully unhinged, kaleidoscopic celebration of Caribbean spirit and sexual vivacity but is, as it turns out, just a carnival. Still, the roommates seem to be having a ball, and are relatively tranquil re: their issues, as Trey wins Laura a silly giraffe doll at a carnie game, and Brandon confidently shoots Jäeger with Robb and some locals. The fun can’t last, though, and later, as Trey snuggles serenely with Laura, he gets a ring from his back-home-girl, the as-yet-unseen Chelsea. I had smugly assumed that I could interpret the substance of their low-key conversation from a few eps back as a pregnancy scare, but the other roommates—more deeply attuned to the frequencies of the human soul than I, it seems—seem to intuit that something bigger is going on. “I have Jen next week,” Chelsea says. Who? What? “Have?” Let us press on.
After Trey casually admits to recently sleeping with Laura, Chelsea laughs bitterly and insists their relationship is kaput, and I begin to have hope for the women in his orbit. Trey seems too exhausted to mount a manipulative counter-argument here, and I pray for the scene to be over. Of course, though, she immediately relents: “I really wish you were here.” Sniffling like a champ, Trey insists that she fly down for a visit and assures her, bravely against all evidence and logic, “It’s me and you.” He has the sense to immediately take Laura aside and break her heart, and when she walks off to cry in her closet, he refuses to leave her alone: “Will you stop? This is ridiculous.”
Meanwhile, we get a peek behind the curtain when we see the kids submitting to the random drug tests that are apparently a constituent of the Real World contract. I could now make an uneasy point about the striking dynamic of a program where the subjects are medically examined to ensure they aren’t occasionally puffing spliffs or whatever, while they are simultaneously encouraged and, it seems, provided with unlimited funds to consume alcohol every available moment of the day. But I won’t! Anyway, the point of this fourth-wall demolition is to swing the plot back around to Brandon’s troubles. “Is there a reason,” asks a disembodied producer God-voice, “why there might be coke in your system?” Brandon denies all, insisting it must be some trace left from his addict days months before. Dr. Marie isn’t buying it, though: “There is no drug that stays in your system for 90 days.”
Swift is worried about the possibility of losing his closest friend on the island, but he’s got bigger concerns at the moment: trying to keep Laura occupied as Chelsea’s visit looms. As he takes her to the salon, Trey checks his lady into a hotel within view of their house but far from Laura’s sight (because he respects her so much, see) and their tense, vague dialogue continues into the night as they wander Carnival. Trey: “You chose to stick around. You can’t just keep reaming me for that.” What? (The editors are clearly straining to render any of these scenes of hushed solemnity remotely watchable, as they inter-cut with a boring time-suck of a side story where Marie and LaToya wander annoyingly about the woods.) Chelsea seems a sensible sort, but who knows what kind of state her emotional instincts are in after years of Trey exposure. “No matter what,” she says, “you’re always going to be a part of my life.” This seems to lend credence to the theory that they secretly have a kid together or something—which I hope is true, and they’re not just wailing with po-faced self-importance about their infantile trust issues—although it’s just as likely one of those myopic, empty-headed platitudes of misbegotten “maturity”.
Anyway, they carry on like this for a while, as Brandon waits with hammer over head for the extensive lab test results of his drug test. He calls his pop back in hard-hittin’ Southie—who turns out to be incredibly sensitive and supportive—and insists, again, upon his innocence, but at the old man’s urging, he retreats to the confessional and admits to a indulging “a bump, if you could even call it a bump” the night before the test. In an interview with another faceless producer post-drug-positive-results, he says he doesn’t feel he deserves to stay on the island, and it’s hard not to get a little choked up on the pitiful guy’s behalf: “I had expectations to do the right thing. And I didn’t do the right thing.” As he promises to his dad afterward to take the hit like a man and “eat” his pride and anger—while wearing a Pantera shirt, no less—I genuinely regret that he will be absent for the, uh, remaining hour or so left in this season.
The roommates are devastated at their portly, tatted little pal’s fate and they plan a blowout goodbye night. Laura calls Trey to deliver the bad news and he warns that he’ll have to bring Chelsea along if he returns for the party. The stage is set for a hilariously awkward scene, and I’m glad Marie and Toya are as callously amused as I am, prepping some popcorn for the show. It does not disappoint; they sit around the porch table making the most excruciatingly forced small talk possible, and Chelsea pointedly follows Laura inside for a cringe-inducing tête-
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