This week’s episode wasn’t really all that eventful, but it did set the table for the stretch run of the season. Which is perfectly fine, because this week was trivia week! Not only is it TJ’s favorite daily of every season, but as a former trivia host myself (oh how I miss the days of Mr. Tuesday Night), I love to see these people struggle with some basic-ass trivia questions.
This year we got an added twist to the trivia game, a slight enough tweek to the game structure that made a lot of difference. Usually, trivia goes like this: players are on a platform above water, and when they answer wrong they get a strike that puts them one wrong answer closer to plummeting into said water. Last night, that core concept remained the same, but with the added element of a physical challenge. Players were positioned on a platform above water as per usual, but they had to also hold onto a bar above their head; and a wrong answer tilted the platform forward, testing out the contestants arm and core strength.
This added obstacle proved to be the downfall of numerous members of the house. In the end, Darrell won the first heat, and Nam won the second — something to pay attention to, by the way, as this is the second week in a row Nam has won a heat in the daily. He and Lolo also seemed to be back on the same page for the most part, so they are in prime position to make a late run if they can win themselves gold skulls.
Darrell took the overall win, decided by the number of correct answers and longest time on the platform. This meant that he and partner Amber B were the double agents for the week, and boy did that prove pivotal.
The best part of the daily, though? The return of the random giveaway from a sponsor! Darrell and Amber B got some ridiculous package from Burger King which included $5000 and status as a Whopper VIP, which I think means they get Burger King free the rest of their lives.
Part of the charm of the older season of The Challenge were the prizes given to the winners of every daily challenge. They ranged from gift cards to stereos to game systems to a BMW motorcycle (seriously). Not only was it a way for MTV to earn some advertising money, but it gave the players incentive to actually try and win. This is something I am 100% in favor of bringing back full time.
And that, Theresa, is how it’s actually done
A few weeks ago, Theresa and then partner Jay won a daily and pulled a big ol’ power move to eliminate Ashley. Problem was, they pissed off just about the entire house in doing so, and gave a strong female (Kam) a gold skull in the process.
A quick aside about Kam: I know much has been said here and discussed on Taking It Down by Adam and Blaine about Kam’s knack for holding grudges and how silly it can be in a game where subterfuge is a key ingredient. But, if you’re in the house, and Kam’s grudge-holding is common knowledge, why would you bother making a move that pisses her off? You don’t have to ally with her, but you don’t have to go to war with her either. Just a thought.
Anyway, this week Amber B went for the same type of power move and was about 10000% more successful than Theresa (Darrell was pretty much along for the ride knowing it would be a female elimination). Early in the episode, we saw a split forming between Amber B and friend Gabby, and it seemed for a second after her victory that Amber B would be throwing Gabby into elimination.
HOWEVER, as Adam has been alluding to all season, Nany swooped in and took the opportunity to take out long-time nemesis Theresa. At the bubble bar, she got in Amber B’s ear and suggested that they get the house to vote Theresa in so Amber B could throw in a strong competitor against her.
This is where Amber B played the move immensely better than Theresa. After her conversation with Nany, Amber B approached Kaycee and proposed that she take the nom and go and take out Theresa and get herself a gold skull. Kaycee agreed, and whooped Theresa’s ass in a tough elimination challenge.
So, Amber B got one strong female to take out another, without ruffling any feathers along the way. Kaycee agreed to go into the elimination, unlike when Theresa floated the idea to Kam, but Kam was hesitant and wanted final say. Once Theresa took that choice away from her, Kam was understandably pissed. I say it’s understandable, even in a game of back-stabbing, because everyone likes to keep their personal agency. In the end, Theresa gave two gold skulls to two of the strongest females in the house, got herself and her partner eliminated, and gained a rep as a snake that will certainly hamper her if she returns in future seasons. It’s not a bad idea to make a big move, but timing is everything and Theresa shot way too early.
Theresa’s partner, Cory, even said in a confessional he was rooting for his partner to lose so he could get away from “Toxic Theresa” — and if that doesn’t convince you Theresa’s gamble was a horribly miscalculated move, then you need to get your head checked.
Speaking of Cory and his partner trouble this season — he’s now seen all four partners, Tori, Natalie, Ashley and Theresa, leave the game this season — Aneesa had the joke of the episode when she cracked that you used to not want to get next to Cory because you might get pregnant, but now you want to stay away for fear of being sent home. Say what you will about Aneesa, but she is a legend and would be a riot to sit and watch this show with while she talks all kinds of shit.
Cory is now partnered up with Amber M, so we’ll see what becomes of her soon enough.
As we keep winding down to the end of the season, I’ll keep these updates coming so we know where everything stands.
Gold skull holders: Aneesa, Kam, Kaycee, Kyle, Devin, Fessy, Leroy, Josh.
Participants still alive but without a gold skull: Amber B, Amber M, Big T, CT, Cory, Darrell, Gabby, Lolo, Nam, Nany.
Two gold skulls remain unclaimed on the female side.
The Challenge feels as though it’s moving toward a season that has to pit Big Brother vs. Challengers. I suppose that is a large part of how it plays out anyway, so why make it official when you don’t have to do so? There are pros and cons to both sides of creating such a season. TD didn’t get into it above, so that opens the door for me to opine on what I think is one of the bigger story lines already, which is that Big T is an open liability for one of the strongest players in the game, CT. That is a damn shame. Big T is likable, but she’s no competitor, and CT only has a few more years left, I’m sure. It’ll be fascinating to see how the legend survives this, if he can at all. I was overjoyed to hear both Leroy and Darrell — in deliberation and confessional, respectively — break it down for the idiots who remain: if you want the chance at the money, you have to be in elimination at some point. Two final musings: Amber B was manipulated into the choices she made and Theresa’s exit felt a bit telegraphed if you follow her on Instagram: she has another baby due and the math wasn’t right for her to be on the show much longer. Oh well!
Trivia Week, or Nany’s Long Awaited Revenge. It was an episode of mild drama and high entertainment. I am with TD here, product placement is a proud Challenge tradition and it should be welcomed with open arms. Heck, I wish T-Mobile would reissue the Sidekick so that TJ could send messages to the house the night before challenges. Blinking lights and sirens just aren’t the same. Give me all of the mild excitement over free Burger King for life. Trivia on the show is another long standing source of joy, for TJ most of all. His maniacal laughter at the Challengers’ fear steals the show every time. I loved the extra physical wrinkle. It looked horrible, having to fight with your arms and core and legs while also answering questions and staring into 45 degree water. Just excellent stuff. Once the table was set and Theresa could be targeted, it was interesting to see Nany amplify the narrative that no one would want to see Theresa in a final. Really? Kaycee wouldn’t? Lolo? Kam? But they all bought it. And somehow convinced Kaycee to go in for the dirty work. I’m with Blaine, Darrell and Leroy were the voices of reason. No one seems to be playing a heads up game, except maybe Kaycee, who risked it against a strong opponent and is now sitting pretty. The womens’ skulls are looking a bit more untouchable than the mens’…bring on the second half!