The Challenge Episode 8: Tick Tock

We have reached the meat of this season of The Challenge. T.J. Lavin has been telling the contestants they need to get off their asses and get a red skull, and this week he really emphasized that point by sending two guys home in Purgatory. Time is not a flat circle on Total Madness, but rather a river furiously rushing towards a waterfall.

Jordan goes for broke, ends up broken by Fessy

You gotta hand it to Jordan; once Tori was eliminated, he went straight into “nut up or shut up” mode. He did exactly what Jenna did, and made it known that he was either earning a red skull and giving himself a reason to stay, or taking it home.

Unfortunately for Jordan, he ran into a burgeoning beast in Fessy. The rookie — a 2-time FCS All-American at tight end — has already stood out for his physical appearance alone, but this week he made his name known with a resounding Purgatory victory over 3-time champ Jordan. All due credit to the vet, as he appeared to separate his shoulder during the first round of Pole Wrestling (a Challenge CLASSIC), but still fought until the end.

Fessy didn’t underestimate Jordan (something that still happens way too much), and he sent out a warning shot to the rest of the cast. It should be fun to see how far he can go, especially after his proclamation that while he understood people would vote for him, he was coming for anyone who said his name. Now he has a red skull to go along with his hit list.

Fucking Bananas

Love him or hate him, Bananas makes for good TV, and the Challenge is just better when he’s on.

During this week’s mission — which I must say was classic Challenge: a fairly simple mental task (in this case memorizing a color pattern, like the old Simon game if you remember that) with a not-at-all demanding physical distraction (a room filled with bubbles… seriously) that just mindfucks the competitors for some reason — Bananas found a way to work around the rules of the game without cheating.

After one trip into the bubble room, Bananas noticed that he could see the reflection of the light pattern from the area outside the room where competitors put together their puzzle answers. So, while everyone was trying to figure out why in the hell Bananas was standing around, he was solving the puzzle.

While that wasn’t enough to win (Wes had the fastest time for the guys), something even bigger happened: Wes and Bananas finally showed a bit of their hand when Wes picked Bananas to round out the tribunal (Mattie was the women’s winner). It was a huge shock to the cast, and certainly started to shine some light on their secret alliance. We’ll see how this changes the game going forward for the rest of the house.


However, neither man volunteered for Purgatory, and instead left that honor to the aforementioned Jordan, as well as a blindsided Bear. Bear would be pitted against Nelson, who had a hell of a week.

During the mission, Nelson was in the bubble room for so long the rest of the cast had time to crack about a million jokes at his expense. During confessional, he claimed that his strategy — and I use that word in the loosest of ways — was to memorize the last five colors of the pattern, and rely on the rest of the members in his heat for the first 10. It did not work.

Then, back in the bunker, he pleaded his case for the girls (namely Anesa and Kailah) to abstain from saying his name. During nominations, Kyle rightly pointed out that Nelson has made “don’t say my name and I won’t say yours” promises with about half the damn house. Nelson tried to defend himself by saying these were weekly alliances. It did not work.

Thus, Nelson met Bear in Pole Wrestling, and sent him packing with a quickness. Nelson won 2-0, and laid out why he’s so frustrating to watch. He’s got all the tools for Challenge greatness… except for the brains. If he could ever play the game with a level head, he could win it all. Nelson is the king of shooting himself in the foot, so it remains to be seen if this win is a game changer or a mirage.

Either way, Nelson and Fessy join Rogan, Jenna, Jenny and Dee in the red skull club, and membership spots seem to be on the short side.



One of the most tortuous things about long term Challenge viewing is the angst of the wrong competitors getting the wrong eliminations at the wrong time. Jordan has annoyed me this season, but he is one of the all time greats, and went into maybe the only Purgatory where his disability was a serious disadvantage. It makes you wonder about how cruel production can be, in how they select which games to use on which days. Jordan is a franchise guy, but he ran up against THE franchise guys making a big move. My money would’ve been on Jordan against Nelson or Bear, but Fessy…that’s a large dude. Side note: bonus points for anyone who can find footage of Fessy playing at Bryant-Denny during his UTC days. Jordan is just tough, wily. You gotta respect that. He still gave it a last go despite separating his collarbone from his A.C. joint. I’ve never done that, but I have to imagine I wouldn’t want to wrestle Fessy 20 seconds after it happened. As much as the outcome annoyed me, watching Bananas and Wes play Roman Emperors in the Coliseum was a lot of fun. As was Bananas’ gamesmanship in the daily. Wes choosing this double elimination week to tip his hand to the house about that alliance is telling. The grizzled vets, the OGs, as Jordan called them, know when to take their shots. And Wes never even considered putting the crosshairs on stupid Josh, who now also has beef with Swaggy? Josh is just an odd guy, isn’t he? The montage of Nelson making promises to everyone in the house was excellently done by the editors. He’s really gone insane. In a 90 minute program that ended with a D1 football player destroying another man’s shoulder, the daily competition was a classic throwback to MTV’s Club La Vela days, complete with dramatic shots of foam being sprayed. I love this show. Prayers up for Big T.


I still recall Real World vs Road Rules. Things have changed. That’s the story of life that chaos is the only constant. Except for Wes. Wes is going to be a dick. Just as soon as I’m over being annoyed at him for helping Dee, who should’ve never won in Purgatory for not knowing the order of the seasons of the game she’s playing, Wes turns around and votes in an excellent competitor in Jordan. And look, Jordan’s no angel. He’s whined and bitched after losses, but beyond that, what has he done? He’s been chill and he’s been aggressive; aggressive where it matters: on the field of play. But now he’s gone. And so is Bear. Bear, who provided as much entertainment as any contestant this season with his brazen bedroom antics. Both of these guys are done for the season and both are thanks to Wes. Bananas is still a fascinating figure to me, but Wes is a problem. He emits a toxicity that makes him villainous and not in a way that’s fun for the show (but is totally fun for the show). Jordan hurting his shoulder, trying again and again to hold the bar, getting defeated but returning to see the end, crying as he knows he represents the disabled. It was a great episode for him, albeit short. Instead, we get Nelson. Nelson, who is dumb as shit, promises everyone he’ll help, and passes some fairly misogonystic shit around the room like it’s butter for the rolls at a family dinner. Nelson should lose and lose badly. Fessy has proven himself. Maybe he will take out Nelson. And poor Corey, caught in the middle of it all. This was a great episode. 

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