HOT TAKE: The Challenge Recap – Help Me Rhonda

Kyle tell us he doesn’t remember what happened last week and I’ll be honest, I don’t either. After a quick recap we see Natalie who is just a mess. Mascara is running down her face as she during a tearful confessional with Nelson about how awful she feels that she betrayed him in last week’s votes. Come on girl. I know Nelson ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer but even he can sniff this one out. He tells her it’s cool after the apology but to the audience he says he’ll keep her thinking he’s her ally till he doesn’t need her. Has Natalie actually convinced herself that she’s mended the damage between her and Nelly? Is she really that dense or does she know the walls are closing in and she’s just treading water?

leroy
Leroy sums up his swimming technique

Speaking of water – today’s challenge involves Leroy’s favorite obstacle – WATER! Poor Leroy. Any veteran who has watched enough of the Challenge knows that any challenge involving water is basically a death sentence for Leroy. Dude just can’t swim. I remember one season where Leroy came onto the challenge and proudly told everyone he practiced swimming in-between seasons and was now so much better at swimming. But he wasn’t. He graduated from a doggie paddle but that’s about it. Poor guy. TJ tells everyone that for today’s challenge they will have 2 teams that will need to swim across a stunning Spanish spring (seriously this place is gorgeous. I can only imagine how many #fitgirls have instagrammed themselves here) to an area where there are floating balls. They will then need to grab a ball and swim underwater with the ball and place the ball in a net. The nets are fastened to a treasure chest that will eventually rise off the bottom of the spring once enough balls have been secured. The chest will then rise allowing the team to swim with the chest back to the shore and declare victory. Seems easy enough unless you’re Leroy. Or Cara Maria. She also sucks at swimming stuff.

Brad and Killa Kam won last week’s elimination so each has a grenade that they need to toss. Kam is up first and she decides she is going to add time to Cara Maria – Cara Maria (and her team) will start with a minute penalty. Kam has made it abundantly clear that she is gunning for Cara Maria at this point and might just have cemented a new vendetta with this latest stunt. Brad’s and his grenade are next but before he pulls the pin he asks TJ a logistics question: If he chooses to add time to someone he could still potentially end up on the team with penalties, right? Clever girl, Brad. TJ tells him, yes, that is definitely a possibility since the troika will be picking this week’s teams. Brad essentially barters his way on to the troika’s (Tony, Zach and Natalie) team and chooses to penalize Kyle by not allowing him to compete. MY MAN! Such a power move! Brad may be a bit older than most of the competitors but my dude has not lost a step strategically. The whole time this is happening Kam’s face just sinks, as do her chances of winning this challenge. She knows that both Cara Maria and Kyle will be on her team so she’s essentially used the grenade on herself. Whoopsie Daisy!

kam
Some girls have all the luck

Sure enough Kam is placed on the all can’t with team with Cara Maria, Kyle, Leroy, Nelson, Kailah. This is not good. As for the troika? They’ve got Brad, Tony, Zach, Natalie, Nicole, Jemmye and Devin- all strong swimmers. Side note: I actually think swimming might be the only thing Jemmye is good at other than stirring the pot for other people and inflating arguments. With the teams decided we are off and team troika is up first. Practically before the competition has even started they finish with a commendable time of 15:03. Their effort and teamwork looked seamless. Watching this you just knew that there was not a chance in hell that the other team would be able to compete – no less do it in under 14:03 because of Cara’s penalty. They all can’t swim, save Kyle, who isn’t even allowed to compete. At least he gets to keep his gorgeous flow dry? Sorry bud, you fucked.
Cara jumps into the water and swims out to the balls where…she struggles, mightily. Apparently all that CrossFit doesn’t help when it comes to pushing a buoyant ball under water because Cara can’t manage to do more than break the surface of the spring. After a futile minute of trying to dive with the ball she gives up and swims back to the shore. Kam is up next and basically drowns. Maybe it was the adrenaline coursing through her veins that convinced her she knew how to swim but girl does not know how to swim. I’m not joking when I say she almost drowns – the standby rescue crew has to come over and grab her after watching her head slip below water, mid-flail. Ooof. And that about sums up team-can’t swim’s effort. Kailah jumps in and also fails and by then it’s too late, time has expired. I don’t think they got a single ball in the net. Ouch.

Victorious, Tony, Zach and Brad somehow convince the rest of their team that they need to be in the new troika because Tony and Zach picked the teams and Brad used his grenade. Okay, that seems fair-ish but the thing is that it’s a girl elimination and whoever is in the troika is safe from elimination. There’s 3 girls on the winning team and none of them really protest the guys forming the troika. SIGH. Come on ladies, don’t let Zach push you around! Did you not hear that Burger King is providing today’s troika with the royal treatment?! I bet it’s like a mayonnaise bath followed by chicken fry massage. Don’t sleep on BK, ladies! Natalie, Jemmye and Nicole are placated with assurances from the troika that none of them will be considered for elimination. Oh dear – this is not smart. Devin is openly giggling about this. He knows what is going to happen – stop trusting these men ladies! They leave their fate to the guys and also will dine on zero Burger King this evening save nothing for the royal treatment. Bad form, Peter!

burger king
What the fuck is the royal treatment?

As for the losers, they need to nominate someone to go immediately into the elimination round by voting on the teammate they deem most deserving. Right away it seems like Cara will be the unlucky one but then Kailah’s name gets thrown into the mix and suddenly it’s a draw. Oh shit! TJ warns them that if all they vote and reach a stalemate once more that the troika will decide who goes into elimination. Another round of voting produces the same results and it’s now up to Tony, Zach and Brad to decide who will face elimination. What’s that expression? No good deed goes unpunished? Well Kam, for all her effort with the grenade and now battling her way out of elimination 2 times in 2 weeks, is going into elimination for a third consecutive time. Oh, the joys of being a rookie on the Challenge. Congratulations Kam – you just played yourself.

Back at the house the troika must now determine three potential opponents for Kam to face off against. It takes roughly 15 seconds before Tony and Zach suggest turning on Natalie and throwing her into the mix despite their promises to her that no such thing would happen. She’s a rookie, she is playing everyone by cozying up to the strongest players that will have her – girl got caught. Tony laments that this will be the second time he’s lied to someone’s face (RIP Bananas) about their status in the house, but I mean, this is also coming from a guy who has major infidelity issues. I think its par for the course for old Tony-Bologna and despite Tony trying to be a better guy – a leopard don’t change his spots, ya know? I think Tony is cool with this and probably won’t think twice about betraying Natalie unless he has to deal with an immediate personal consequence. He’s already been labeled a liar, a philanderer and a drunk. How much of a reputation does he have to protect at this point? The troika rightly decides to avoid any other conflicts and just throw Cara Maria and Kailah into contention since they each received votes to go in already.

Cut to the inquisition and we see tonight’s feast has been furnished by the king himself! You want a whopper? Done. BK Chicken club with a side of fries? BOOM, it’s there! I don’t know any other food items BK serves because BK is disgusting and I don’t eat there. Kudos to those that do but this meal would be instant diarrhea for me. Suspiciously I don’t anyone enjoying their sandwiches during this scene…but the fries are admittedly good so those are cool to snack on. As 6 people share a limited amount of fries Kailah and Natalie have a row about why the other girl should be going into the elimination. Kailah figures the troika may not realize Natalie is just sponging off the strongest competitor she can find and informs them of this fact. Dammit Kailah, they know this girl. It’s pretty fucking obvious. They only thing you’ve done with this little rant is paint a big old target on your back for next time. Nice work. All 3 of these girls are legitimately concerned that a match up against Kam will send them home. They’re right. Killa Kam is a beast, especially when she’s heated (and water isn’t involved), and she is super heated about going in again. Yikes.

Natalie
Natalie’s strategy doesn’t work on people not named Bananas

Tonight’s elimination, TJ says, is called Spanish torture. The contestants will walk across two wires that they are attached to from one end of the ring to the other and ring a bell. First one to ding the bell wins. Now that we know what we are doing we just need to know who will be doing it against Kam. Natalie clearly did not stop to purchase a bus ticket before tonight’s elimination because she is thrown right under it. Tony, Zach and Brad all turn on her and tell her that because she is a rookie it’s time for her to prove her worth. WHAMMY! Natalie, who has made a living hiding in other contestants’ shadows, is exposed and has to go up against Kam in order to prolong her stay in Spain. Not good. Natalie gives us a little speech about how she used to be a gymnast and this event is well-suited for her skillset but we know this is a classic Challenge misdirection. Anytime anyone on the show boasts of a skill before displaying that skill it usually foreshadows disaster. Sure enough – it spells disaster. Natalie gets off to a good start versus Kam but suddenly loses her footing and begins to panic. This gives the HMS Kam-Coming-for-Your-Ass enough time to gather steam and eventually pass Natalie. Kam rings the bell first and Natalie exits stage left. Overall did I like Natalie as fresh fodder for the Challenge? Mostly yes. I think she learned some valuable lessons for her first go-around and I think we’ll see her back with an improved game on future Challenges.

With Natalie vanquished Kam is riding high. She’s officially put the other girls in the house on notice that she, much like Laurel, is not to be fucked with. When you take a shot at the queen you best not miss because you won’t get another one. I went into this season pretty indifferent to Kam overall but now? I’m a super fan. TJ is too, and congratulates her for putting another opponent into the ground. But the celebration is short-lived because TJ has another twist up his sleeve – he needs to dump 2 more contestants, 1 guy and 1 girl, before they jet off to the Czech Republic for their next challenge. OH SHIT! No challenge, no troika, nothing. Put up or shut up time – TJ’s favorite part of every challenge.

So how will our beloved remaining contestants punch their ticket to the Czech Republic? Easy. All they need to do is run a mile uphill, zip line across a huge gap, repel down the side of a bridge and run some more. Think of it like a jr. final. Each guy and girl with the slowest time will set sail for America. Since this all happens towards the end of the episode we end not knowing who will be sent home. Each cast member gives us a semi-stirring speech about why they are there so we can validate our attachments to them as they run the course. I’m all in on Kam, Brad and Leroy at this point. Especially Leroy. Not because he can’t swim but because he wants to use the prize money to open a group home with his adopted parents for kids. OMG WHAT? Is Leroy actually real life Randall Pearson from This is Us??? I’m really hoping they all make it to the end.

What were your hot takes on tonight’s episode? Who do you want to make it to the Czech Republic? Should Natalie have been back-stabbed like that? Will Leroy ever learn to swim?

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