The Tester 3 – Episode 4 Recap: Baby Tooth Bites It

TheTester3Episode4

It’s safe to say that the producers of The Tester watch a fair amount of reality television—how else to explain the sometimes devious, sometimes dopey challenges that have carried us through 20 episodes and counting? It’s also safe to say that some of the contestants clearly don’t, or they’d know better than to mess with Suzkaiden, who is to this show what Courtney the Model is to this season’s “The Bachelor”—a master of Machiavellian misdirection who causes every female contestant to spontaneously commit reality-TV hara-kiri.

Case in point is this calculated post-production tweet from Kwajamonster, sent a few hours before the broadcast of this week’s episode: “#1 reason I hate Suzkaiden. From her YouTube channel: ‘I entered the tester through my agency in New York.’ She’s fake pic.twitter.com/46iW3zqX”

Okay, so Suz is more publicity-hungry dervish than Hopeful Sony Employee Who’ll Someday Own Her Own Studio. In other news, Call of Duty: Black Ops is popular and water is wet. Protest and backstab all you want, kids. While she may not end up winning—at least not in the Charlie Sheen sense–the spunky Dominican’s destined to be among the final three. Bank it.

Synopsis: This week’s challenge is pretty inspired, even if it’s also a big wet kiss to Capcom’s forthcoming Street Fighter X Tekken hybrid. After dividing into teams of four, the kids have to develop characters and backstories, then choreograph kickin’ fight scenes that get augmented with fiery special effects the seven-year-old in all of us would have killed for back in our playground days. While some players show unexpected creativity and dramatic depth, two unfortunates prove they won’t be rocking the boards at the local community theater anytime soon. Or wearing their badges around The Tester compound, either.

Dopey reality-show trope: The bait-and-switch mind trick. After making the team leader position about as attractive as being the feminist outreach specialist for Chris Brown in the previous two episodes, the producers confound the cast by making it the lone path to immunity. And the lone chance to play a cool videogame for about five minutes. In a shocking ironic twist, the player who wins the advantage, in well-it-seems-true underdog fashion, is the one who ends up getting whacked.

Jaw-dropping quote: “In this competition, the gloves are now off.”—Meredith Molinari, at the end of the episode.

This melodramatic Captain Obvious-ism sits in a perpetual tie with the other meaningless understatement that crops up 7-10 times in each Tester season: Some variation of, “If I don’t win this challenge, I’m going to be on the chopping block.” Dude, if the gloves weren’t off the second you stepped on the set, you’re probably just window dressing.

We’re also gonna give a “hey, sister!” shout out to Suzkaiden, but not for her cringe-inducing orgasmic comment when she finds out the guest judge is Capcom’s resident combat guy, Seth Killian. We prefer this tasty piece of wackdoodle: “This was my moment to bust this guy’s ass in a magical, beautiful way.” I plan to work it into my daily office conversation as much as possible.

OK, not bad, actually: In every Tester season, you can look at certain contestants and have a reaction along the lines of, “No. Just no.” flash into your head. (Think Barmy and Matr1x from seasons one and two, respectively.) Season Three’s Dr. No has been ninjanomyx, who manages to embody every terrible stereotype about gamers—he’s a sleazy, smack-talking potato sack who still lives in his mom’s basement. While his in-episode interviews have painted him as a cross between gaming’s version of Yogi Berra and a pithy nighttime DJ, his lack of anything resembling physical fitness has made him a dead weight in at least two challenges. Including this one, where he shockingly runs out of breath trying to utter the first sentences of his character monologue. By rights, he should have been gone weeks ago, and probably would have been had the show’s female contingent not been so intent on catty self-destruction.

This contest of creativity is his long-overdue Waterloo. Watching him try to explain his convoluted and nonsensical character backstory to the baffled judges plays out like the second coming of Dan Quayle—just like Bush the senior’s malaprop-riddled vice president, ninjanomyx can’t fathom that a string of mix-mastered catchphrases does not a coherent argument make. I don’t think Quayle ever had the misplaced mojo to say, “It makes me want to pwn ass, because I know how to fight. Period.” Perhaps if he had, Bill Clinton would never have been our president.

Leader in the Clubhouse: Skyd1ddy and akilleezmight absolutely ace this episode, distinguishing themselves for the first time as creative forces—a skill that, even if it’s not likely to come in that handy when they’re checking pre-programmed character animations for the 5,000th time, clearly impresses the judges.

On the Precipice: It’s still krystipryde. For the second week in a row, she turns in a capable but average performance that avoids the judges’ crosshairs only because other contestants self-combusted. Counting on that to keep happening as the numbers dwindle makes as much sense as counting on Project X to make the Academy’s best-picture list next year. Girlfriend needs to step it up and shine. RealityPalez, meanwhile, suffers his first team defeat. And next week’s challenge is—you guessed it–physical-based. Can’t see the Blades of Chaos falling on his neck just yet, but it might be time for a Kratos-sized dose of judges’ ire.

Next week: It wouldn’t be The Tester if the blindfolds didn’t come out at some point. This time, the sight-deprived contestants have to comb the beach for God of War-themed objects, then match them up with their teammates. No word yet as to whether Poseidon’s eyeballs and Mercury’s amputated legs made the cut. Please?

Image credit: Tester-Season 3-Episode 4 – Creative Crossover

About the Author

Aaron R. Conklin has been writing about games and games culture for more than 15 years. A former contributor to Computer Games Magazine and Massive Magazine, his writing has appeared on IGN.com and in newspapers and alt-weeklies across the country. Conklin's an unapologetic Minnesota sports fan living in Madison, Wisconsin, home of the Midwest's most underrated gaming vibe.