Television

The Challenge: All Stars – What About Your Friends

It's the Big Easy show

It always feels a bit flimsy during confessionals of shows like The Challenge when you have a competitor who boldly predicts of his or her victory just before a game or elimination. You know someone’s got to lose. Surely there are times when they aren’t as confident as they always let on. I mean, I’d be scared shitless.

That belief, though, was the case when Big Easy describes to the camera that he and Jisela would win this week’s elimination against Nehemiah. Oh by the way, it’s the last elimination before the finals. And oh by the way, Nehemiah looks to be a physically fit specimen. And oh by the way, Nehemiah picks Kendal as a partner, a lady who has dominated all events this season.

But that’s getting a bit ahead.

Mark Long gets another victory

The Challenge: All Stars starts the week with Kendal and Mark returning to house with Mark wearing his homemade Godfather crown (of which I approve) after he and Kendal secured another day or two in the game. They successfully sent a fierce Laterrian and not-as-fierce Katie home. In case you didn’t know, Mark is a beast. I didn’t think he was going to perform as well as he has of late when I sat on my couch and ate potato chips to watch that first episode, an episode that still lingers in my mind on how poorly everyone performed swimming in the cold water and how I’m debating how much production scaled back the daily challenges to fit the ages and weariness of these seasoned (okay, old) players. But Mark has come through both in last week’s long-ass elimination of tug-of-war and this week’s daily challenge, Rig Cage Pass, which involves a lot of jumping on small beams in order to grab and then dunk four balls into a basket. Since it is an individual competition, the slowest two players instantly get put into elimination. Hence, Big Easy and Jisela heading down the Arena.

While the daily excites, the real heat begins when it’s over. It isn’t between Derrick and Mark, who were the top two and appear to get along just fine. Instead, it is largely Aneesa and Jisela. The gripe is similar to a lot of complaints made on seasons of The Challenge: Aneesa doesn’t vote the way Jisela thinks she should. Well, you know, it’s not Jisela’s vote to make. In deliberation and voting, Yes makes a compelling case for taking The Challenge day-by-day when it comes to whom he sees as friend or foe. That, to me, makes perfect sense. It is often going to come down to either voting against a friend or competing against that friend. Those relationships are a bit tenuous during the filming of the show, no? Yes.

What happens is that the votes go to Nehemiah, despite the “logic” that he’s been into elimination already and shouldn’t have to go again. That’s not in the rule book, though. It pisses Nehemiah off, rightfully so, particularly when you have the likes of Jemmye and Jonna not seeing the Arena at all. He takes a bit of his anger out on Big Easy in their customary night of drinking, and Big Easy reminds him that in their last meeting of elimination, he sent him home then, too. But that was years ago.

It wasn’t until TJ’s final air horn blast had sounded to signal Big Easy and Jisela’s win that I believed Big Easy’s proclamations and confidential bluster.

The elimination is one that had both ladies standing on their partners’ shoulders to remove rings connected by a chain all from a nine-foot-tall pole. From there, they use the rings and chain to create a ladder to climb upon and ring a bell. It’s not the most advanced bit of puzzlement, though it requires thinking, thinking that Jonna points out that Big Easy should be given more credit for having.

And just like that, Big Easy and Jisela eliminate two strong players, Nehemiah and Kendal.

It’s worth dissecting a few things. Jisela lands hard from standing on Big Easy’s shoulders and really doesn’t add much to the win after that, even looking ridiculous crawling around in the Arena as she claims to have hurt he knee. She will not last long in a final, which is an absolute shame as Kendal could’ve very well won the whole thing. A synonymous note could be said about Big Easy and Nehemiah, but now I have regained trust in the big man. If he wins this season, he will have knocked out some truly greats. The men’s side is still stacked as any season of The Challenge.

Lastly, no matter who wins as we head into the finals (already?!?), the best competitor this season is Jonna. That lady just had a baby come from her body seven months ago!! That’s a feat unto itself as any parent will confirm, but to leave a baby in order to shoot a season of The Challenge for half a mil? That’s on another level.

Darrell is still sneaking around and seems dangerous as hell and Jemmye is somehow still on the show and annoying as hell. With that, let’s hit up the finals of this short, eight-episode season, and hope that there’s a mini-elimination in the first five minutes of next week’s episode where Jemmye must go home.

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