As the famous line from legendary professional wrestling announcer Jim Ross goes: “Business is about to pick up.”
After last night’s episode, all of the guys’ gold skulls have now been claimed. The current holders are Kyle, Devin, Fessy, Leroy, and… Josh. Yes, you read that right, Josh. Yes, that Josh.
Every Challenge fan’s favorite punching bag outlasted Mechie in the elimination, earning that last free gold skull. Now, this doesn’t mean he is in the final yet, because Cory, CT, Darrell, and Nam are still in the game without skulls and they might have the opportunity to steal a skull from someone. I use “might” there because if the current holders can play the politics right, they could pit skull-less guys against each other in elimination. That’s something to keep an eye on.
About that elimination, though: it was a thoroughly embarrassing display on both ends. The game was the same as the one that saw Aneesa eliminate Tori earlier in the season, albeit with a slide puzzle added in the beginning.
Mechie, my dude: have you never in all of your years on Earth encountered a slide puzzle? This man never even got the chance to pull the ball cart or throw them through the wall, because he couldn’t finish the fucking puzzle. The puzzle was the fucking skull logo, too!
Josh didn’t do much better, honestly. Despite finishing the puzzle rather quickly, Josh struggled to throw the balls through the wall. I mean, it looked like he’s never thrown anything in his life. Dude was getting no velocity, and hitting the damn frames instead of the huge windows. And when he did hit a window, they didn’t break because he was aiming at the wrong windows despite the puzzle telling him exactly which windows to break.
Nevertheless, Josh is now the owner of a gold skull. Somehow, though, I don’t think that’s the last time we see him in an elimination this season.
The race to the final
This week’s daily challenge was great: 5 competitors, a mud pit, and some physicality. The goal was to find a Challenge “relic” (the metal X thing we’ve seen in eliminations) the shallow, murky water hole, then race to the exit with it in tow, avoiding the other four competitors.
The first heat saw Kam win after Lolo initially found the relic, then got gang tackled for her troubles, lost it to Nany, who then in turn got smothered and blindly threw the relic right to Kam, who easily raced to the exit.
The second heat saw Nam pull off a slick move, where he found the relic but pretended to keep searching on his hands and knees as he slowly moved towards the exit. As soon as he saw an opening, he sprinted past a diving Fessy to win the heat. Finally, Nam steps up and flashes some of that potential we all think he has.
Theresa tried the same move in the third heat, but got spotted right away by the people who weren’t even playing. Someone made a reference to her terrible poker face, and they weren’t lying. As soon as Theresa found it, she started grinning like the Grinch. She was almost immediately swarmed by the other four women, with the relic eventually falling to Gabby who raced to victory.
The fourth heat saw wily vet CT take the win, pulling a similar move to Nam, but with a twist. CT finds it with his feet, and proceeds to shuffle about “searching” for the relic. Kam suspects him from the viewing area, and alerts Leroy. Somehow, CT kept the relic hidden while Leroy literally crawled over and checked his feet. Then, after proclaiming “ah it’s just a fucking rock” he grabs the relic and sprints to an uncontested victory.
Things got really good after that, as TJ announced there would be a second round pitting Kam vs. Gabby and Nam vs. CT in a modified pole wrestling challenge. KAm very easily defeated Gabby, to no one’s surprise.
The CT vs. Nam heat was like watching a nature doc on the Serengeti where a lion approaches a watering hole and gets jumped by a huge crocodile. In this case, Nam is the lion and CT is the croc. CT just used all of this gerth and weight to basically pin Nam down, wear him out and take the relic from him. If I were in that house, this would’ve terrified me. This was CT firing a very loud warning shot to the house that he is still a force. May the gods have mercy on whoever has to meet him in an elimination to fight for their gold skull.
We weren’t done with the challenge, however. TJ informed our winners that their teammates would join the fray, pitting Kam against Big T and Kyle against CT. The twist here is that both teammates have to win the round to win the challenge. Despite Kyle damn near crying at the prospect of wrestling CT, CT admits there was no way in hell Big T was ever going to wrestle the relic away from Kam. CT, not wanting to waste his time and energy going round after round against Kyle, puts on a little show before basically letting Kyle win, giving Kyle and Kam the overall win.
Nut up or shut up
We have absolutely come to the part of the season where big moves will be made. The episode started with Kam and Leroy plotting out a strategy going forward following Leory’s elimination victory. What they decide is that they will wait until there is a female rogue agent to throw Theresa into elimination. That has now happened after Josh sent Mechie home, making Amber M a rogue agent. Theresa’s days appear to be numbered if the right people find themselves in power.
One interesting scene saw the group of Devin, Kyle, Leroy, Mechie and Cory making a rough plan to get Fessy and/or Josh into the elimination to steal their gold skulls. Later, in the bubble bar, Kyle started a movement to get Aneesa and Fessy into elimination. He made a point to talk to Amber M, knowing that she and Mechie were likely to be the house vote.
Here’s where things got really interesting. Normally, when the double agents go to see who the house voted for, we get to see not only the result but who voted for the unlucky couple. We didn’t see that this week, as the producers instead chose to wait until elimination to tell us that Mechie and Amber M got voted in.
One big development was Amber B choosing to align herself with the Big Brother crew and vote for Amber M, who she had previously had a friendship with. I really want to know if she was the deciding vote, and I’ll bet Amber M does, too. Amber M was rightfully cautious of throwing in with Kyle — the Ambers have solid Challenge intuition for rookies; but Amber B did slip up a bit when she divulged her plan to Kyle, who then promptly called her out on her mistake during his confessional, saying he would absolutely use it against her. He and Kam had a good laugh about that one. Kam then announced her intentions to try and throw Theresa up against a strong female in the next women’s elimination.
Sage advice from the old man
Early in the episode, Nam and Lolo continued their slow split, having a minor argument over strategy. CT popped his head in to give them the ol’ “get your shit together” speech, telling them to “just go win one goddamn daily.” He’s right, of course, if those two physical specimen’s could just focus and win a daily, they could flip the game on its head.
What Lolo really needs is for someone to give her advice on how to check those emotions. She nearly lost it on Nam during that discussion, and during the daily Aneesa choked her, leading to an outburst from the Olympian.
Now, Aneesa earned a telling off, for certain. You have to check Aneesa on that shit, because she is a vet and will absolutely take liberties where she can. But Lolo just needed to call her on her bullshit and move along. Instead, it became a whole shouting match and emotional outburst from Lolo. She is scarily similar to Ashley in that regard, but her physical tools dwarf those of the two-time champ’s. Lolo should be doing a lot better, but her emotional outbursts will cost her if she can’t control them.
A Lolo/Theresa elimination next week would not surprise me in the least.
As said above, all five gold skulls for the guys have been claimed. The holders are Kyle, Devin, Fessy, Josh and Leroy. CT, Cory, Darrell and Nam remain in the game sans skulls. Winning the daily is now paramount if you’re a guy.
On the girls’ side, Aneesa and Kam are the only holders of gold skulls. Amber B, Amber M, Big T, Gabby, Kaycee, Lolo, Nany, and Theresa remain in the game without skulls. There are three free gold skulls for the ladies, meaning they have a little bit more wiggle room than the guys. However, I wouldn’t feel safe if I were them. As I said last week, do not be surprised if we see a double elimination or purge challenge to thin out those numbers in the coming episodes.
As Kyle astutely referenced, Tall Amber was doing one thing while Other Amber was doing another. And did y’all know there is someone named Gabby on this program? Everything points to an arrival at that sweet time where big alliances are tested for the first time. As Bananas loves to point out about Wes’ general strategy, you can’t promise everything to everyone and deliver to the end of a season. TD highlighted the inklings of a new group: Devin and Kyle talking game with Leroy and Cory. If that contingent can work together moving forward, and maybe get Darrell involved, that takes swing votes away from Big Brother and sets up a potentially intriguing final stretch. Thank God the daily was exciting, because everything else was not (except for the brief hope I had that the third round would feature ringers; in a non-pandemic season, an appearance by Derrick and Laurel would have been incredible). And I don’t mean that it was a bad episode. Quite the opposite: it was a safe exploration of fracturing alliances and partnerships, where no heavy hitters took on real damage. Except Lolo’s poor neck (it was fair play, Aneesa). Sorry, Mechie. CT and Big T continue to teeter on the edge, and I was surprised to see CT let his emotions get the best of him during the daily, even though big picture I think this is a good thing. I’m not sure they could have insured that daily with Prime CT. Nam would have drowned. Old Man CT will need that edge, as he and the pool of sharks circle closer around the dudes holding Gold Skulls. Congrats on the most underwhelming elimination win I’ve ever seen, Josh. Nothing says overcoming life’s hurdles like TJ laughing at you and a crowd of people drooling over a layup Skull. Who will get to do the honors? The ladies side still has a lot to shake out, due to the high rate of attrition this season. How production handles eliminations from here on out will be interesting, and I am expecting surprises.
Was I the only one that caught CT’s hint that he’s planning on more seasons as he referenced this one as a rebuilding year? That’s promising as hell. On the opposite end of that spectrum, TJ seemed to allude to Mechie not being competitive enough to come back, unlike TJ’s deservedly respectful goodbye to Jay last week. Without being too much of an echo of my comrades above, I’ll say that that particular elimination of throwing the medicine balls at the board must go. It’s resulted in this season’s two worst eliminations (the first being Tori vs. Aneesa). To wrap here, I also want y’all to put some respect on my name.