Read last week’s recap here.
In Episode 4: Jordan and Liam went to jail for sucking, so Jade and Ellie replaced them in training. The Browomans cooked up an “authentic Roman meal” that sadly did not involve dormice — a missed opportunity. Summer left her teens behind. In the end, the emperor (Eric Bana until proven otherwise) banished Tian, at which point I remembered that he was still there. Whoops.
British Flatmate (BF) is home but has promised our mutual friend, Vegan Linguist, that she’ll wait for them to watch the episode together. So, as a good friend who keeps her promises, she won’t watch, except while she’s folding her laundry, since she can’t help that I have the television on. And for a little bit after she’s done, as a break. And until the end of the episode, since by that point she’s watched almost all of it already. Now would you look at that.
As I mentioned at the end of my last recap, Episode 5 — which I’m watching totally alone — introduces even newer recruits: Chet (“Maybe it’s pronounced Shay,” BF suggests, while not watching) and Helen. Chet (not pronounced Shay, it turns out) is 80% tattoo and Helen doesn’t know what her own job is called (“I’m a…is it an inflictor?” “An influencer,” Chet supplies). She also has blue hair, like every feminist ever. Except that the first thing she does upon arrival is pick a fight with Nicola, which isn’t very feminist. Apparently Helen and Nicola have an old beef! “I felt like a troll just walked in,” Nicola says.
I have to admit that I don’t fully understand why Helen and Nicola hate each other (hell, we’re never told how they know each other). It has something to do with hair: Nicola went to get braids after Helen got dreadlocks, which, Helen says, makes Nicola a copycat. This should have been easily resolvable by pointing out that Nicola is black and Helen, well, isn’t, so Helen shouldn’t be appropriating braids or dreadlocks in the first place. Bad feminist! Bad!
“Talking of fried meat,” the narrator, says (Brandon and Nicola were just grumbling that all Chet and Helen do is drink champagne and eat chicken nuggets from McDonald’s), “Doctore is sizzling away in the Colosseum, waiting to drill the lads.” Again with the objectification of Doctore! This just goes to show that a man still can’t be judged by anything except his looks in this world. Also, “waiting to drill the lads”? You’re making this too easy.
This is a nice segue into the moment we’ve all been waiting for. That’s right — Bromans tries S&M, and not just Doctore’s jeering (“First of all, Liam, you okay to train today? Or should I bring Ellie in?”). The Bromans are shackled to one another in pairs: Brandon-Jordan, Liam-Glenn, Callum-Dino, Tom-Chet. Doctore decides that Jordan and Chet are being too cocky, so as punishment he makes them make the other Bromans do push-ups (??). Then we see the return of the second-rate fitness center, where they use rope whips and shit.
Afterwards, they return to where the Browomans are, shackles on. Dino complains about Chet: “Just coming in, swinging his fucking dick about.” Callum agrees — “Just put his dick on the table, hasn’t he mate?” — with hand gestures and sound effects, which upsets BF. “I’ve seen things,” she sobs.
Dominus summons the Browomans for whatever inane activity they have to do today. “I bring grave news,” he announces. “Very nice,” Nicola says. “No,” Dominus has to clarify, “grave is bad.” The grave news is that Eric Bana is bored and demands that the ladies put on a show about their time here so far. (From today’s soundtrack: Flo Rida’s “I Don’t Like It, I Love It.”) Helen and Rhiannon will sing, Jade and Nicola will act, Summer and Ellie will do an interpretive dance, Cherelle and Rachel will clown (??).
The Browomans get to work. “I think it could be a quite emotional piece,” Ellie says, then bends over as Summer makes obscene thrusting motions behind her. “I can’t sing, but I’m really good at making beans on toast,” Helen offers. (And that, my friends, is what we call in Ancient Roman a non sequitur.)
The gold bikinis are back for the show. (Even though, BF points out, women largely didn’t act in Rome.) Cherelle and Rachel go first. Their skit viciously mocks Chet and Helen, and — surprise, surprise — the real-life counterparts react with stony expressions. Dominus narrates Summer and Ellie’s interpretive dance, which contains the great line, “Jordan wanted to bang Jade like a hammer, but sure enough, he found himself locked up in the slammer.” Bromans is killing it with the poetry lately! Eric Bana must have agreed, because Summer and Ellie win the challenge.
This means they get to take their boys to Club Colosseum for wine (“Spartacus Shiraz”), cheese, and “traditional Roman breadsticks” (SHOT!). Ellie discerns that goat cheese is in the spread. “I didn’t know goats made cheese,” Glenn says, but doesn’t taste any because the odor alone is too much for him. “That smells like Dominus’ fucking asscrack!” he cries. (How does he know??)
Back at the palace, Chet and Helen are sitting on their bed and bitching about Nicola while Tom just…hangs there (the shackles have yet to go). I can’t do justice to this sight with words, so here’s a screenshot:
At the same time, at Club Colosseum, the winners are bitching about Chelen. “This is the biggest word I’ve ever used in my life,” Glenn says. Everyone awaits with baited breath the word he’s about to use. “[Chet]’s honestly like, a facade.” Not the way I would have used that word, but take what you can get.
(As all of this happens, lightening and thunder hint that a literal storm is coming just as a figurative storm is brewing! In case you were starting to think that things weren’t on-the-nose enough.)
Nicola decides to be the bigger person and suggest to Helen that they call a truce, her rationale being that they have different eyebrows. Helen retorts that she doesn’t want to clear the air. Nicola yells at Helen to shut up, and Helen grabs her hair (it’s all about hair with these two). The ensuing fight results in the first appearance of the Bromans security team:
Ah, time for some British trivia as the Bromans start fighting too. Callum calls Helen a “sket,” which I assumed was just a funny way of saying “Chet,” since I can’t understand the Bropeople’s various accents about a third of the time anyway. But no! BF says that “sket” is a nastier version of “skank.” (This is why I keep her around — that is, when she is around, which she’s currently not, because she promised not to watch.) So Callum was saying “Chet and sket.” (I find out later: Chet’s Twitter handle is actually @Chet_Sket.) This means that Callum and Chet start fighting, so security intervenes for the second time. Eric Bana removes Chelen from the palace while he decides what to do with them.
Even so, people are still talking about the drama the next morning. “I don’t think ancient Roman wives would have actually done that to each other,” Summer says. Glenn mumbles something about how “when gladiators went to war and stuff, there was no social media to wind them up.”
We’re back at the cesspit, which is bubbling for some reason. The Bromans, starting from one side of the water, have to collect sandbags from their respective girlfriends, who are standing in random order on the other side. Finally, they have to carry their girlfriends on their shoulders and ring a bell.
Tom is having trouble this time, which is worrying because the cardinal rule of Bromans is that Tom always wins. This gives Dino the chance to grab Cherelle (“Thigh Gap Cherelle,” as BF has taken to calling her, based purely on the previous four episodes and not this one, because she hasn’t seen it). Cherelle’s thigh gap leaves plenty of room for Dino’s neck, and they ring the bell first with Liam (!) a close second. Glenn is massively behind everybody else, so he gives up and starts knocking down the other contestants instead. You’d think that that’s cheating, but Doctore loves his “fighting spirit.”
And so, although Dino technically won, Doctore announces that he isn’t impressed with the performances. Because if Tom doesn’t win, nobody wins.
I suddenly remember that Chet and Helen weren’t at the challenge. They show up again at banishment, and are banished for their unseemly actions. But that’s not all! Brandon and Liam are also up for banishment, and of course the Bropeople overwhelmingly vote for Brandon because they like him better. I was wrong last week — they’re not going to keep Ellie around for the entertainment value, which is a shame because I have to keep watching.
So Liam, long-suffering Liam, escapes this show — if not the shackles of his abusive relationship — and can now pursue his true passion of writing poetry. His toga, his prison, is left on the ground, for Liam is finally, finally free.
Yung In Chae can’t believe that “influencer” is an actual job.