''Joe Millionaire''

Check, Please

''Joe Millionaire'' gets a fairy-tale ending -- Evan chooses nice girl Zora over bondage girl Sarah, the ''twist'' is a big ole check, and they all live happily ever after... or at least until next week's ''reunion'' special, says Caroline Kepnes

Evan Marriott, Joe Millionaire | WIN-WIN SITUATION Evan and Zora came out $500,000 richer, at the very least
WIN-WIN SITUATION Evan and Zora came out $500,000 richer, at the very least

It's a fairy-tale ending

Love may have prevailed in the second to last installment of the never-ending ''Joe Millionaire,'' but money didn't exactly lose. We all know that the big twist was the check to ''Evan and Zora'' for $1 million, but the bigger twist is that -- can you believe it? -- they seemed really sweet on each other!

We were wrong, we admit it. But come on, who could've guessed that Evan actually had an insightful thought in his head? (''I think Sarah was more into Joe Millionaire than Evan Marriott''?!?! Where'd that come from?) And that Fox would be responsible for a show that really did have a fairy-tale ending? Wow. Really. But instead of waxing poetic about Evan and Zora and their million dollar smiles, let's look point-by-point at the mind-boggling hour and a half of confusion that preceded them.

1. Evan's one-on-one confessions
You don't change the rules of the game in the last inning. When last we saw the ''Millionaire'' bunch, Evan, Zora, and Sarah all appeared to be sitting in the same room. Fox turned ''Joe'' into a circa-1970s dating show in the final two hours. After weeks of presenting the girls as contestants in a rat race, the producers suddenly play up feelings and dignity and stuff as if they felt some latent guilt about all the lies. Lame.

2. ''The Twist''
Much as we all adore a happy ending, the money did kind of murk up the waters. Now, this really WAS a great experience for them both, since Zora will have more than $189 in her account and Evan doesn't have to feel guilty about having lied, since he inadvertently got the girl some bank. Come next Monday, who will really care how they feel about each other? Because lets face it. When you find out the Millionaire was lying at the same time as you find out you won, you're mixed up. But when you get a half million bucks, you are? Just. Plain. Happy. And that, my friends, is a cop-out for a show that claims to be about a dilemma.

3. Really now, that twist?
Anything could have happened. Melissa could have told Sarah she knew the entire time, like some mercenary mole in waiting. Zora could have had a hissy fit at the producers. So many superior twists were floating around. Some from self-described ''insiders'' -- Zora is actually rich! -- and some from EW.com readers -- Sarah actually likes girls! -- that the actual twist was sweet, sure, but a bit of a letdown.

4. The madonna/whore video biographies
Sarah shops at boutiques and stares into random vistas -- not even sunsets, mind you. Zora helps elderly people cross the street. Sarah would do anything to pay off her college loans and frequently runs into freaks with ''lewd offers.'' The mayor of Smalltown, America, adores Zora, as do small children. Sarah smokes cigarettes. Zora kisses white horses. Well, that explains everything, right?

5. Wildly insecure blondes
At least Melissa Mercenary got her act together and stopped herself from jumping for jealous joy when she found out that Sarah got the boot. She could teach a thing or two to Dana, Homecoming Queen/Princess of Modesty who said, ''I don't think Evan was intimidated by my beauty.'' Girl, the dude lives in L.A. -- get over yourself! And then there's Heidi, who tells America that she wears the pants, even though her boyfriend doesn't know it. Oh Heidi, are you moving out of the apartment you two share right this second? Or perhaps you are busy grinding a pole in search of your next suitor.

6. The sock
When Sarah and Melissa were having their fake friend bondage, um, bonding, session, Sarah tried to whisper. Alas, those crazy newfangled cameras with their recording devices caught her, sort of. By kissing the sock, was she trying to imply that she kissed a sock-like part of Evan's body? Or was she only regretting having kissed Evan on the mouth? Well, as Allison might say, all the forced intrigue is kind of like continental breakfast (i.e. ''horse%^&$''). Still, it does kinda hit the spot.

7. What's up with Fox?
After all the sleaze, the glares, the tacky dresses, ''Joe'' comes out smelling like a Grimms fairy tale rose. Zora and Evan seemed to feel like a weight had been lifted off their shoulders as they danced in their private prom. And whether they ever see each other again? never mind, we'll always have Paris.

Originally posted Feb 14, 2003