''Joe Millionaire''

Surreal Blonde

The best babe is gone! Even after a gladiator date and a hotel room rendezvous, Olinda didn't get a necklace. What's that about? asks Jennifer Armstrong

OLINDA, WE HARDLY KNEW YA The Swedish beauty was cut -- even after a killer date
Image credit: Joe Millionaire: Fox
OLINDA, WE HARDLY KNEW YA The Swedish beauty was cut -- even after a killer date

The best babe is gone!

As if the fact that there's no one to root for and no love at stake weren't enough to make us switch over to ''Average Joe'' on Mondays, here's one more reason: Olinda is gone. The hard-living, trash-talking Swedish bombshell had been providing most of the drama and, with her incessant talking, serving as de facto narrator of the show. But David elimated her from the mix. Something about not envisioning a future with her -- as if he has a chance with these other three.

Anyway, the two hours of awkward international dating and intramansion tension began with David's one-on-one date with Petra in Florence. The highlight was basically that he bought her a necklace. If you recall the Evan Marriott edition, this was around the time when he got to start buying his women stuff, like when one poor girl ended up with a bad painting of herself while others got clothes and jewelry. But on those Evan dates, the gifts were simply one more amusing detail; on David's lame dates, the thing the girl got is pretty much the whole story.

And even worse, only some dates got gifts, and it wasn't clear why. Giada got perfume; Olinda got $400 sunglasses. Kristyna got, well, a boat ride in the rain, which might explain her sullen silence during dinner. And Anique got merely a compliment -- ''I like your little braid, that's cool'' -- which she met with exactly the reaction it was worth -- ''I just did it on the toilet.'' (However, mad props to her for citing ''The A-Team'' as her inspiration for wanting to become a helicopter pilot.)

And Cat got shafted even worse than Kristyna and Anique. She had to sit in a grotto/cave/sauna thing and sweat with the guy for a while, then all she got was dinner -- sorry, ''supper,'' in David-speak -- and a lot of red wine. David gallantly toasted -- ''We are drinking for our first date like alone for sure'' -- then indulged her request to go for a walk, where she attacked him in the woods and finally got some smooching action. David must go cruise for chicks with ''Bachelor'' Bob to get some tips on scoring.

Far more interesting than the dates were the antics back at the house, where there was lots of cat-fighting -- literally. All anyone did was talk about how much they hated Cat. Or, more accurately, all anyone did was listen and nod in agreement while Olinda talked about how much she hated Cat. When they finally confronted Cat about her offensive behavior, ''Real World'' style, they railed about vague issues, like her ''rudeness.'' ''Yeah, maybe they misunderstand me sometimes,'' Cat explained. ''Maybe the other girls are a bit jealous or something.'' With that, she ran off to cry in bed alone.

Her suffering, however, was worth it (assuming that staying in this game is a positive thing): She stuck around through the first necklace ceremony, along with Petra, Olinda, and Anique. ''It's just hard,'' David told Paul. ''You never know if your decision's right. I guess it's kind of like life.'' Yes, David. ''The Next Joe Millionaire'' is EXACTLY like life.

For the next hour, David hit Rome with his three remaining babes and gift-buying funds. The women checked into a hotel and headed to the roof for a champagne cocktail hour, where Petra obsessed over the idea that a distant hot air balloon contained David and would bring him over in a grand gesture of... whatever. He wasn't in the balloon, and she looked dumb for thinking he was, but it's not like it's that implausible in the world of reality dating, which is all about grand romantic gestures compensating for the fact that one person is dating a dozen or two others at the same time. Come to think of it, reality dating is, as David said, kind of like life.

Again, the string of dates showed little genuine spark. By this stage in a the show, shouldn't people be having ''deep'' discussions about ''connections'' and ''chemistry'' and ''clicking''? None of that here, but he did buy Petra some bracelets and presented Anique with a toy helicopter (remember, she's the ''A-Team'' fan). And then, finally, a word we dating-show junkies could understand: ''intimate.'' As in David saying of Anique, ''We're becoming more intimate with each other.'' But this was a lie. ''Intimate'' is supposed to imply making out or having sex, and there was no such thing here. David actually meant emotional intimacy, and actually, there was little of that.

For real intimacy, he had to wait for dinner with Cat. And she showed she knew how to play this game, first dissing the competition -- ''You never have to buy me sunglasses for like 130 euros'' (a vast underestimation of Olinda's gift's true value) -- then playfully suggesting a post-dinner walk, just as she did before she kissed him last time. David, sharp as he is, caught on: ''C'mon, a guy ain't stupid. It's nighttime, we just got through eating supper. I know what this walk is gonna be about, right?'' Right. Not only did she hold his hand, she kissed him. And not only did she kiss him, but she snuck into his hotel suite in her lingerie later that night.

The next day, Olinda participated in a date that truly defies description. See, they both dressed up in skimpy leather gladiator costumes, and they fought each other amid some Roman ruins. They had these swords and... honestly, if you didn't see it, it's not worth reading about. But if someone ever offers to show you just three minutes of this ''Joe Millionaire'' season, and you get to choose those three minutes, choose this scene. David would. ''That was the best date,'' he said. ''Literally, I felt like a gladiator.'' Emboldened by that feeling, perhaps, or by his luck with Cat the previous night, he invited Olinda to his hotel room, where the camera suggestively cut away but kept audio rolling as Olinda said, ''Work those muscles, baby. Can you imagine? The other girls are going to hate me.''

And that makes her elimination in the next ceremony all the more baffling. I mean, Petra, really? A Cat-Olinda showdown at the end would have at least made things interesting. Then again, it's not over yet -- the preview scenes suggested one of the eliminated women would be returning. Could the producers have realized they have no show without Olinda, then pulled a ''Survivor'' and plotted her return? We can only hope.

Originally posted Nov 11, 2003