By Elaine James
Sunday′s episode of THE MESSENGERS caught the contestants by surprise. On their way to the studio with nothing on their plate for that day but a photo shoot, the contestants are shocked by being involved in a "car crash" that drastically changed their lives. Some lost their sight and others lost the use of their legs for the day.
Four contestants are temporarily blinded with adhesive eye patches and dark glasses before David Bigoney, a blind person and their guide for the day, handed them walking sticks and lead them on a journey into the darkness. Starting at L.A.′s Union Station, David showed them how to navigate crowded public spaces, escalators and station platforms.
The contestants learn what it means to have to rely on the kindness of strangers to help them, and fully trusting them. After each individual successfully bought a ticket on their own, the group embarked on a train ride, only to find that at their next destination, they need to cross their first busy city street. When Angelica and Cornelious get separated from the group, they are faced with the fear of not finding their way back. With the help of a subway worker, they are reunited with their fellow blind contestants.
The remaining four contestants are wheelchair-bound and put in the care of Jeremy Newman, a paraplegic who takes them to the marketplace to run some typical daily errands. It becomes apparent that maneuvering in areas that are not wheelchair friendly can be quite tricky, especially when trying to go down a flight of stairs. Grocery shopping turns into a daylong task. Even using the public restrooms, proved to be very difficult and took Darryl 45 minutes to accomplish, claiming that he came out of the staff a new man.
At the end of the day, both sets of contestants had a better understanding of how difficult it is to be independent when daily life can at times require assistance, even from apathetic citizens. That is when they received the next speech topic of "Perseverance."
Panelists Richard Greene and Bobby Schuller were not as impressed with this round of speeches, claiming that they lacked enthusiasm and that the contestants were starting to get worn out. They encouraged them to keep digging deep to bring themselves out in their speeches.
With the least amount of votes, Zahava "Z" Zaidoff, a spiritual guide from Carlsbad, California was sent home. Her lack of energy during her generic "everyone is handicapped" speech wasn′t enough to touch the studio audience.
The foundation of each episode, airing Sundays at 10:00 p.m. EST, is a field trip designed to give the speakers a profound learning experience - the opportunity to live life by walking in someone else′s shoes. In subsequent episodes, field trips will range from the participants spending the day in a children′s hospital, to sharing in a powerful moment of forgiveness between a man convicted of vehicular homicide and the deceased mother. At the end of each trip, the group is given the speaking topics and will appear before a studio audience. At the conclusion of the series, one speaker will be crowned "The Messenger" and will be awarded a publishing deal and the opportunity to host their own TLC special.