We were left with a cliffhanger last week, and this episode wasted little time getting to business. This week we saw new alliances form, said goodbye to another rookie, and Josh made it through the episode without embarrassing himself. Good job all around, y’all.
Question 1: We now know what the twist teased at the end of last week’s episode is: the contestants have split into three different “cells” comprised of six individuals (3 men, 3 women): emerald, sapphire and ruby. After elimination, the winner gets to choose to either remain with their cell, or steal a spot in one of the other two cells. How does the twist change your outlook going forward?
TD: First, I really like the twist. We were all certain it’d be an individual game (which it probably will be come final time), but this is a pretty good curveball. It also harkens back to the older challenges that began with three teams, something that I kind of miss. I also like that they kept the infiltration twist for the elimination winner, that’ll keep the drama level high.
Blaine: I love the twists and turns of the show, one of the best aspects it has going. I was as happy as Kyle to find out the extra part of being able to join another cell. By the way, Kyle was on fire in confessionals. It’s no wonder the producers keep him coming back every year. All of these surprises do make me ponder: since the players always attribute the decisions to T.J., how much of it is really in his hands versus the producers? Are they just coached to blame him?
Adam: To piggyback off of Blaine’s inclusion of TJ here, when they were at the elimination and he told Priscilla “Your opponent will now be decided by…” and let it hang, I had a few glorious seconds imagining TJ deciding the match-ups. But yeah, picking your own competition and then having the choice to infiltrate is fine, too. I am into the team angle, and I love how it was revealed to the players as part of the daily. Big teams introduce a new dynamic (an old school one, as TD noted), and I’m here for it.
Question 2: The Agency now has to choose one person to go into the Lair, and that person gets to choose their opponent. Priscilla went big and chose Ashley, but the two-time champ won fairly easily and chose to remain with her cell. Do you think she’ll remain a target, or is this a boost that’ll push her to the final?
TD: While it definitely seemed to motivate Ashley — especially given the fact one of her teammates is her best friend Amanda — I think the target on her is too big. She mentioned it herself after her Lair win: she’s the only female still in the game that’s won a final, and we also saw Tori and Nany (among others) mention that they do not want her in the final. I don’t think Ashley has seen her last elimination this season.
Blaine: The other players will be out to get Ashley, but I believe she bought herself a few weeks respite. I’m no fan of the players not in elimination helping someone below in the Lair, but I was impressed by how many of them wanted Ashley to return versus the affable Priscilla. And hats off to Priscilla for playing a strong, if not angering, game throughout her stay.
Adam: I loved seeing Priscilla shoot her shot multiple times, and she got the rare endorsement from TJ on her way out: he’s positive they’ll see her again. I hope that’s true. Ashley showed why she is dangerous in this game. She is physically far stronger than she appears (she made ripping tires out of sand look casual), and deciphered that memory game in about two seconds, as expected. This elimination mimicked a final more than most, and I’m sure reminded the other women that they stand a much better chance with Ashley gone. But now she has the protection of a team, and I like their odds of winning dailies and staying safe in clutch moments.
Question 3: That rest-of-season tease looked intense, any bold predictions or something you’d like to see?
TD: As dysfunctional as the ruby team is so far, at least one member will make the final — probably Kyle or Cory. And they’ll do so by winning an elimination and ditching their cell.
Blaine: I want to see Kyle, whom I love but can see rubbing everyone the wrong way, finally come toe-to-toe versus Cory. I think Cory’s fine; he’s never bothered me at all. But Kyle is a fan favorite, right?
Adam: Kyle is clearly out to leave Team Ruby, but it’ll take some stones to throw himself into elimination to make it happen. That’s some School of Jordan stuff. My main prediction is me being angry that they picked the bluest shade of emerald possible.