Senior Editor
The Ultimate Surfer

Malia smash! Image: Instagram/The Ultimate Surfer

The Inertia

When I sat down on the couch last night for the second-to-last episode of The Ultimate Surfer, I thought I knew what to expect. I thought I’d figured the show out. I thought that it wasn’t the surfing I cared about. I thought I cared about the personal dramas within the show. Anastasia hates everyone except Malia? Do tell! Malia hates Tia? Oooh, tell me more! Malia also hates Brianna? Go on! Alas, I was to be disappointed. I do not know what I like best about the show anymore. That’s not to say I don’t like it — it’s just to say that now I have two things to be interested in, which really throws a wrench in my previous recaps, like this one, which I called “So Many Faces In So Many Butts!

See, before this episode, the surfing felt secondary. The challenges felt like the spine of the show. The women talking shit about each other was the ribcage. The surfing part… that was more like a leg. Not the whole leg, mind you. Maybe a calf and a foot. The show needs it to stand up on its own, but it could’ve been a show without it. A legless torso of a show, but a show nonetheless. It was simply reality television, based more around the characters than what the characters were actually doing on a wave. And then came last night’s episode. The surfing took the pole position!

Filipe Toledo showed up, pterygium-filled eyes yellowed like an alcoholic’s, squinting at the leftover contestants. Koa Smith stared back, as did Zeke Lau, Kai Barger, Tia Blanco, Malia Ward, and Brianna Cope. Toledo, who missed out on a world championship the same day the show aired, was there to tell them how to do airs. They tried to do airs. Filipe watched and gave advice about doing airs. “You should go for it,” he advised. The contestants decided they would go for it, because apparently they hadn’t been going for it already.

Then the football guy who I apparently should know showed up and threw a football to Joe Turpel, who sat backwards on the back of a Jet Ski. He caught it and everyone celebrated. I wondered whether Joe caught it on the first try, but I doubted it. The surfers were going to do vaguely football-related things, which Football Guy called a “surfing combine.” Because he’s a football guy!

It was a relatively simple task — paddle to a few floating things, duck dive under them, paddle to a dock, put on a wetsuit, then paddle around a few more things. Perhaps this is because I grew up surfing in cold water, but I was not aware that putting on a wetsuit was one of the hardest things in surfing. It is, though. Did you know that? The competitors struggled mightily, grunting and groaning and falling over themselves. Koa got his on first and paddled around the things fastest, but he did not put his foot all the way through his wetsuit leg and Football Guy informed him that he was disqualified. Zeke laughed a little too loud, I thought. Vindictive. Laughing at, not laughing with. Koa smiled and looked sad at the same time.

Then the women had to duck dive the things and put the wetsuits on and paddle around the other things. Malia, who has the cute big eyed innocent kitten look dialed, bared her kitten fangs and smashed into the other women like Football Guy used to do when he played football. Smashed! Watch her smash.

It seemed unfair that she should be allowed to do that, but Tia and Brianna teamed up and squashed her out, which was satisfying to see. But Malia gritted her teeth and put on a wetsuit faster than Brianna, a sure sign that she is the better surfer. Tia paddled around the things first, then Malia did, then Brianna also did. Extra waves were divvied out for the upcoming air contest.

The upcoming air contest was no longer upcoming. It was now. There was much more falling this time around, because airs are almost impossible unless you’re Filipe Toledo and are willing to spend so much time in the water your pterygiums require daily feedings. It was mostly falling, really. I think everyone fell, although I missed a few because I couldn’t wait for a commercial break to pee and I forgot that I could pause the show. Malia fell the most, so she went home. Kai fell the most too, so he also went home. Which leaves Koa Smith, Zeke Lau, Tia Blanco, and Brianna Cope for next week’s OMG FINAL EPISODE. I’m excited for the surfing. And maybe, just maybe, there will be some more drama. But now that Malia and Anastasia are gone, I fear I will have to rely solely on the surfing. Which, judging by the surfing in last night’s episode, is alright with me.

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