Television

The Challenge, episode 4: Ashley vs. the House

The champions are falling, my friends. Last week, Challenge legend and defending champion CT was upset in Purgatory by rookie Jay, ending his competition. This week, two-time champ Ashley let her emotions get the best of her, and they got her sent home after an elimination loss to another champ, Dee.

It is no secret that Ashley is an emotional person. Sometimes, those emotions can benefit her and fuel her to victory. When they don’t? It usually results in a fiery crash of an exit. This week we got the latter, via a chain of events only the Challenge can produce.

Bear has set his sights on Kailah. He pesters her despite her rejections and proclamations that she is in a relationship (a sure sign she will makeout with Bear at some point this season). This week, Bear decides to spray one room of cast members with a fire extinguisher in an attempt to win her heart via… um, laughter, I guess?

Anyway, Ashley happened to be in this room. She was not pleased. She cussed a lot. So did some of the other people in the room. Words were exchanged. At some point, Ashley got positioned behind Bear, and decided to return some of the fire extinguisher chemicals via spit. For some reason, Mattie — who had formed a tenuous alliance with Ashley earlier in the episode — took umbrage with this and got in Ashley’s face. Nany then got in Mattie’s face. There was yelling. At some point, Ashley said something about the chemicals tasting nasty or such, and Mattie said something like “not the worst thing you’ve had in your mouth.” Ashley responded by calling Mattie out for her DUI. Mattie got angry and the “that’s too far” crowd came out.

Here’s where I call bullshit and say that Ashley gets unfairly persecuted at times. Sure, she does plenty of self harm, basically her every slip-up on the Challenge is self-inflicted. But she also catches a lot of grief she shouldn’t. People hate her for not splitting the money with Hunter, but few talk about what a horrible person and teammate Hunter was to her. Here, people get mad because Ashley allegedly stepped over the line with her comments about Mattie’s arrest. But no one got mad when Mattie essentially called Ashley a whore and slut-shamed her. Again, I call bullshit. You can call the personal stuff off-limits, that’s cool, but you have to apply that rule both ways. Or you can let everyone get out their verbal jabs, laugh it off and call it a day. Whichever you decide, keep it consistent.

Anyway, this mess puts a target on Ashley. She doesn’t win the weekly challenge, and gets voted in. She loses to Dee in the Purgatory elimination, through little fault of her own, really. The game involved shattering flower pots to find the correct puzzle pieces. Dee had better luck finding the right pieces, and with a little help from Wes in the crowd, got the puzzle right and sent Ashley packing. So it goes on The Challenge.

However, Smashley left us with a parting gift: before leaving, she told everyone she loved them, cried a little, made amends and so on and so forth. Then, before she walks out, the tears dry up and she shouts, “Bananas, quit playing this game with Wes and get his bitch ass out.” And I’ll be damned if that didn’t get a little smile from Bananas, and an admittance via confessional that the idea of burning Wes tempts him.

T.J. Lavin is a sadist, and it’s wonderful

One of the things I love most about this show is host T.J. Lavin. He’s been the face of the show for almost 20 seasons, now, and has earned his appreciation through his wit and his zero-tolerance policy on quitters. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone with a negative opinion on him.

He means a lot to the cast, too. In 2010, Lavin was involved in a nasty BMX crash that landed him in a medically-induced coma. When the next season of The Challenge started, no one knew who the host would be. Lavin made a triumphant return in one of the more earnestly emotional moments in the show’s history.

But what I love most about T.J. is his sadistic side. He loves inflicting pain on the cast members via the challenges and eliminations. Their pain is his fuel and his lifeforce. This week’s event put competitors in cold-as-fuck water, and he enjoyed every second of their misery.

Confessional

Blaine

Ashley acts like the drunk girl at the bar who won’t stop breathing her nasty Fireball smog into your face while you’re trying to listen to the band you came to see. I’m glad she’s gone. Dee is not my favorite, but she brings intrigue. As for the episode as a whole, it seemed pedestrian most of the way. I suppose a non-CT Challenge is just the reality we have to live in. Thanks, Obama. But having a mission where two competitors just chop ice and throw it in the water? I dunno. Seems like the producers just needed to give folks something to do, and it caused for a five-person tribunal, which played out as overkill. Lastly: I thought I liked Kyle, but he was a dick about CT leaving, Tori is becoming a favorite of mine, and I’m still a die-hard Melissa stan.

Adam

I wasn’t sure anything could have topped last week. And it didn’t. But that’s okay! This is a marathon. The demise of Ashley was clear from her actions last episode, and I loved that Bananas ended up in power to see it through. Whatever the outcome of that elimination, he won. Not bad for an old man. He’s in control and playing a clean game so far. Ashley, on the other hand, really burned every bridge possible this week, before somehow mustering up one of the better post elimination loss speeches in recent memory. But she also literally spit in someone’s face 24 hours beforehand. And that someone is a person I’ve come to really enjoy on the show: Bear. He is as close as we’ll get to a Gallagher brother on this program, and I love it. Other notables this week include Dee, who is so, so bad at this game, and has come to it with an annoying amount of swagger and entitlement this season. I was surprised Wes bailed her out. And how about that daily? One of my favorite Challenge traditions is iffy planning by production leading to a hospital visit for a contestant, only to have TJ say “Alright, next team!” as soon as the ambulance pulls away. Note on who breezed through the frigid water that took out muscle man Nelson and shriveled the wills of countless others: Jay.

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