Challenge vet Johnny Bananas is out – a fact that Devin reminds us of right when the episode starts. After squaring off against Bananas in a literal lights out elimination Devin sends Johnny packing. With such a big personality gone there is a black-hole-sized power void left behind that needs filling and Devin fancies himself just the guy to fill it. I get how MTV shows work – particularly the Challenge _ I’ve watched this show religiously for like 15 years. We need each cast member to play a certain role and with Sarah out the competition for good (courtesy of Bananas) Devin is now the resident “schemer” of the show. The only problem is that Devin isn’t very smart. Like not even a little bit smart. He’s like the Devin Nunes of the Challenge; he’s an idiot who thinks he’s playing 3D chess when he’s actually playing checkers. Devin ain’t outmaneuvering anyone.
Another result of Johnny being gone is that Leroy finds himself on an island without an ally. Poor Leroy. I love this dude because every opportunity he has to do the wrong thing he ends up taking the high road. And each and every challenge some combination of bizarre circumstances combine to force Lee out sooner than expected. This just proves that you usually have to play dirty if you want to be in the money at the end of the show. Speaking of dirty, Big Brother’s Natalie also finds herself without a powerful ally now that Johnny is gone. Her strategy of cozying up to Johnny seems to have backfired. She’s playing the no one should put me in the elimination match because I have powerful friends game but that game only works when you have powerful friends. Is this how she handled her stint on Big Brother? My guess is she starts hanging around Zach and Tony…
After a brief mention that it is Nicole’s birthday we are ready for today’s challenge. HI TJ! Has TJ Lavin been the host of the Challenge longer than Jeff Probst has been the host of Survivor? I feel like TJ’s retirement coffers have been absolutely stuffed courtesy of MTV/Viacom. Dude has been on this show so long and he still seems like he’s enjoying himself. He’s part of the challenge family and I’ll be devastated when he eventually leaves. Remember Dave Mira? That was rough. Who is going to replace Lavin when he finally hangs up his beanie? Only two candidates come to mind: 1. The Miz. 2. Johnny Moseley. The Miz is probably way too famous to come back and host the Challenge now, but he has been known to do a special here and there. He’s like the record setting high school QB – he’s sort of obligated to come back every now and then and let us know how he’s doing. As for Moseley, he’s hosted the Challenge before – 3 times actually. If, and when, he does come back to the Challenge I need him to come back with the intensity I saw during the big air competitions at the Pyeonchang Olympics. OHhhhhHHH MAaaanNNn! DID YOU SEE THAT GNARLY DOUBLE BACK GAINER MCTWIST?! THAT WAS…OH MAN THAT WAS SICK! WHOA. We need that Moseley.
Anyway for today’s challenge TJ explains that the cast will have to run across a beach, move pallets and stack them to form a tower where one team member can raise the Spanish flag and declare victory. Seems straight forward enough. Since Devin-not-Nunes won the last elimination he gets a coveted grenade. Grenades are a new mechanic introduced on this season of the Challenge that allow the owner of a grenade to fuck with the rest of the competitors during the day’s challenge. Devin, grenade in-hand, chooses to pick the teams for the Challenge. He’s definitely looking to stack the odds in his favor by making his team the super team while at the same time putting the people he most wants to see in an elimination event on the worst team. Since we are about mid-way through the season at this point there aren’t enough people left to form 3 equal teams of 5 so the worst team only gets 4 people. If you remember nothing else please remember that Devin made these teams:
- Too Big to Fail team: Devin, Kam, Nelson, Kailah and Brad
- Weak team destined to lose: Leroy, Jemmye, Kyle (“I’m not smart”), and Cara Maria.
- Leftovers/Actual Super Team: Nicole, Natalie, Zach, Tony, and Britni
This is Devin pulling the strings all by himself. THIS IS HIS PLAN. Oh, and TJ mentions that tonight’s elimination is a double-elimination so that means potentially 2 people are going home tonight. Why the hell would anyone looking to save their own skin not put Zach and Tony on their team if you have the option? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING DEVIN! You released your ultra-top secret memo and nothing happened. America is laughing in your face now – you deserve to lose. You’re going to lose.
Let the pallet-stacking begin! Even though the weak team only has 4 players they seem to be keeping pace with the other 2 teams. During the competition Kyle admits that his fitness routine of drinking too much and loafing around the house has not prepared him for such a strenuous challenge but he’s making it work as best he can. Him and Leroy end up pulling more than their fair share of the load – they have to compensate for Jemmye – Jemmye always looks like she is just about to throw in the towel. Why does she keep coming on these shows? Everyone know if she makes it to a final she’s going to roll over. She’s going to be the new Vanessa; mark my words.
When the whistle blows it shouldn’t be a surprise that Zach, Tony, Britni, Nicole and Natalie easily beat the other two teams. What is a surprise is that the team Devin picked for himself, what should have been the safest place for him, ends up losing to a team that has 1 less person. This is an endurance-based challenge. Let that sink in for a moment. Ready? Good. Devin should teach a master class on how to royally fuck things up but present yourself as being extremely talented and successful. Did he go to the now defunct Trump University to learn these skills? How does this happen? Nelson figured out why they lost – they used the wrong strategy: muscles. See, the thing about muscles is that over time they don’t work so good when performing the same action over and over again so you actually want to have a strategy to conserve energy when you’re…I don’t know…RUNNING IN FUCKING SAND?!
So now Devin’s team has to cannibalize their own team and throw 2 members into the elimination challenge. Amazingly Devin’s team doesn’t throw Devin into the elimination even though he is without a doubt the most deserving person to go into the elimination. He’s the captain that got into the Titanic’s lifeboat dressed as a woman. Throw him in! Instead they pick Kam and Brad. Sigh. Kam gets picked because she’s a rookie. This is not the first time Kam has been thrown in for being a rookie and it probably won’t be the last. Kam could be the new Laurel. Brad gets thrown in because Brad is in a relationship with Britni and the house wants to split them up. The only thing more common than throwing a rookie into an elimination is splitting a couple up via elimination. Rule number 1 of reality TV competitions – no showmances! The heart is always your enemy. Brad, you know this. You’ve been here before but somehow you ignored this lesson so here you find yourself facing another elimination. Come on bro, get a clue.
The other two players going into the elimination will be decided by the Troika. The Troika is another new device developed by the mad scientists at MTV where 3 players from the winning team are selected to form a tribunal of sorts. Being in the Troika has one advantage – you’re safe from elimination that night. But it also has a cost – the Troika’s job is to select the players who will be going into the elimination that evening. This puts a big ol’ target on your back so you might be safe tonight but tomorrow is a whole different story. Zach, Tony and Melissa (I knew she would do this!) form the Troika after ensuring Britni that she’s safe and promise to not put her in the elimination match. The Troika begin their deliberation over who to send into the elimination and it doesn’t take long to determine that they are going to fuck over Britni. Duh. Also Nelson is going in because no one likes Nelson. His Challenge photo alone is reason enough to send the dude in each and every elimination until he goes home.
Like TJ said, tonight’s elimination is a double elimination so there’s at least two people going home tonight between Brad, Britni, Kam and Nelson. Like a kitten with a ball of yarn TJ toys with us. TJ says he’s going to take it easy on the players after such a brutal challenge earlier in the day – psych! Of course he’s not stepping off the gas. TJ only has one speed – elimination. So what will it take to stay in the competition? Not much, you just have to beat…THE CHAMPIONS! In walks Laurel, Darrell, Frank and Ashley read to bust some ass. Now I’ll give you that neither Frank nor Ashley are really champions but hey – CT is probably busy being a dad. On the other hand Darrell and Laurel are not be fucked with. Darrell has not only won the challenge 5 times, he’s now a boxer. Instead of aging gracefully into retirement Darrell may actually be in better shape than when first appeared on the Challenge back in 1992. As for Laurel – well she made a name for herself as a rookie continually going into eliminations and continually sending Challenge veterans home, one after another. She’s an absolute beast. She’s not losing. To decide who is playing who we flip a coin. Laurel will face Britni, Frank is up against Brad, Darrell versus Nelson, and Laurel will square up against Britni. Bye Britn, you ded.
The elimination itself is more medieval torture device than challenge. With a rope connecting the contestants back-to-back each will run around a circle and cross a platform to ring a bell on the opposite side. The rope is only long enough for 1 contestant to successfully ring their bell so you’re forced to drag your opponent backwards and further away from their own bell. It’s like reverse tug of war, sorta. We lead off with Brad and Frank. The whistle blows and Brad bolts towards the platform – where he easily disposes of Frank. This was no contest and no amount of editing is going to make it seem that way. Frank should not have been a champion. MTV, do better!
Next up we have Kam versus Ashley and we see a similar contest. Ashley is absolutely no match for Kam. Kam is physically bigger and stronger than Ashley. Ashley, despite her appearance, plays a more cerebral game. Physicality ain’t her thing. It doesn’t take long for Kam to drag her back far enough to reach her bell. DING! Kam is safe, again. The play to put Kam into the elimination is a Devin level fuck up because she has now twice-over proven she is here to compete. Killa Kam is coming y’all! With the 2 gimme matches over it’s time for the main event. We start with Nelson and Darrell. TJ blows the whistle and they’re off – Sisyphus meet rock. Nelson may not be the smartest competitor but he can always rely on brute force to get him out of a jam and it’s on full display against Darrell. Nelson sounds like he’s in labor, moaning and groaning making these guttural noises (think dude at the gym attempting a new max deadlift), but he doesn’t move. He can’t get to his bell but Darrell can’t either. They stay there, locked in gladiatorial combat for over 20 minutes before TJ demands blood. They reset and TJ blows the whistle once more. Even with the reset we get the same result. Darrell and Nelson are too evenly matched and we watch them struggle for an additional 40 minutes before TJ, empty-handed, calls it a draw. Nelson has survived hurricane Durrell.
Our last match is between Laurel and Britni. Britni talks a good game about how she is going to beat Laurel…and no one believes her. Laurel has absolutely nothing at stake in this competition except to remind her now-ex, Nicole, that she is a bad bitch and Nicole fucked up and Laurel is totes fine without Nicole. Shit. That’s a way better motivator than money. Britni’s screwed more than she was before. After TJ blows the whistle they’re off and it doesn’t take too much effort for Laurel to ring the bell and eliminate Britni. Britni is not back. Britni is going home. Immediately after losing she starts running her mouth about how she’s coming back and when she does Zach, Tony and Natalie are all gonna pay…blah, blah, bah. No chance. Britni is not a threat. Britni will never be a threat. Britni, say goodbye to Brad and go home.
Britni makes her exit and Laurel makes her way towards Nicole. They share an embrace and for a moment I start to think something might wonderful might happen. The challenge and This is Us share a timeslot on Tuesday evenings so maybe some of that Pearson magic is carrying over to the Challenge? Well if it did Nicole kills it because Nicole opens her big fat mouth and tells Laurel that if she really loved her than Laurel would have tried harder to make it work. NICE. It’s always good to blame the person you love for your own shortcomings, smdh. Nicole, you’re such a bro, bro. This line has never made anyone feel guilty about anything ever.
So the Teej promised us a double elimination but instead we only saw Britni leave. I’m okay with this but I was hoping for more carnage on this episode – I want the carnage I was promised! It looks like I will have to wait till next week to see how much longer Devin survives. Speaking of survival, will Nelson’s muscles hold out till the final? Can Leroy finally get a chance at glory? Will Tony drink too much and fuck everything up like he always does? Most importantly, will Kyle remember that Cara Maria’s name is Cara Maria and not Cara Marie? Tuesday seems so far away.