Double Agents - All Hail Queen Big T, Long May She Reign

After a couple of down episodes, The Challenge returned to form last night with a stellar show - obviously inspired by the Crimson Tide's big week both on the gridiron and the hardwood.

We started off by picking up the pieces of Fessy's heel turn from last week. Cory made it well known to Fessy he was number one on his hit list, and I think the next great Challenge rivalry was born. Josh also inserted himself into the scene via his patented cry-yelling because Josh is gonna Josh.

Living on the edge

What a great daily challenge we got this episode. Anytime you can put these folks on a ledge and have their partner responsible for them staying on said ledge, it's a good time.

First things first though, before the event started, TJ let everyone know that Natalie was no longer eligible to play due to "personal matters" - the very sad and unfortunate story can be seen here, and all of our good vibes and well wishes go out to her.

TJ then informed everyone he had to trigger a security breach, due to us now having lost three female competitors due to non-competitive reasons, and that Cory would be given a new partner. Before we get there, let's go back to the first episode recap:

Natalie beat Ashley, sending the two time champ home — for now, anyway. You never know with The Challenge, and the whole spy theme totally leaves room for some chicanery.

Well, who else but Ashley "Millionaire" Mitchell steps out of the black SUV to return to the game, to a partner she has plenty of history with, no less. The weirdest part? Everyone was fucking cheering! Why?!? Not only is a two-time champ coming back to the game, but a two-time champ that y'all ganged up on and voted into elimination on the FIRST DAMN DAY. Even Ashley herself said later in the episode that she was rooting for Big T/CT in the daily after she and Cory lost because "I think they're my only friends in the house."

To recap: a former two-time champ who was blindsided in the first elimination because of Kam's pettiness is now back, and with a strong partner who himself is on the warpath. Cory and Ashley are immediately placed into the favorites category.

As for the daily, it came down to Big T/CT and Jay/Theresa (shoutout to Jay for nearly winning a challenge which was tailor made for the big, strong guys), with CT and Big-uh, I mean Queen Big T coming out on top.

Bend the knee

This then leads to two major happenings: the first being her majesty making her own damn VIP section in the bubble bar, complete with private security, and having everyone come kiss the ring and plead their case over wine and giggles. I really hope the Queen stays in our reality TV lives for a long time.

The second major development was Tori sticking her whole damn foot in her mouth by once again walking around telling anyone who'd listen that she wanted an "easy win" in the elimination over on of the rookie girls - specifically Amber M (side note: did not even know there were two Ambers. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing for Amber B). Well, Queen Big T took umbrage to this, and an alliance of rookie gals formed with the express intent of getting rid of Tori and breaking up the Tori/Aneesa alliance.

Mission accomplished for the ladies. Despite a big push by Tori/Aneesa to get a rookie in, the house voted for the team of Aneesa and Leroy. When it came time, CT and Queen Big T picked Tori/Devin. Of note: Lolo made an offer to her highness that if she liked the look of the elimination, she'd ask for her chance at a gold skull in return for a future favor to the crown. Let's remember that one going forward.

The elimination wasn't even particularly close, either. The two friends had to pull a cart of "bombs" down a short track, flip it over spilling out the bombs (medicine balls), and then throwing the bombs at a board until they knocked out the 13 breakable squares. Aneesa got her cart turned over in an instance. By the time Tori flipped it (after a whole lotta crying and bitching about how it was "impossible"), Aneesa had knocked out 10 squares. Tori did mount a bit of a comeback, but the lead was too big and Aneesa got the gold skull (and is now the only female with one, with Natalie's going back into the pool), while Tori got an easy trip back home.

The lesson? Never cross the kingdom of Big T. Hopefully this humbles Tori a bit, because as good as a competitor as she is, she's still just another in the long list of competitors who have never won a Challenge.

Back to the future

As for the post elimination shuffling, it was a laugh riot. Aneesa picked Fessy in just a wonderful power move. She knows Fessy doesn't want her, but she also knows he has a gold skull and needs to win some daily challenges to insure he keeps said skull. That'll keep her safe, even if we know he'll ditch her again if he gets the chance. Fessy, for some reason, tried to act happy, fooling absolutely no one.

That left Kaycee with a choice, and she chose her original partner Leroy, who was ecstatic about that news.

This leaves Devin as our rogue agent for the time being, and boy was he in rare form this episode. He spent the entire time shitting on Tori and even voted for himself/Tori in the house vote. Time will tell if Devin has learned enough from his mentor Wes to keep his gold skull and get to the final.

Looking ahead

We have now said goodbye to seven competitors: Tori, Natalie, Wes, Liv, Nicole, Nelson, and Joseph.

On the other end, only four people have earned gold skulls: Aneesa, Kyle, Devin and Fessy.

It's hard to do any type of rankings due to the nature of this season's partner-swapping format, but it's hard not to see the potential of the newly formed rookie alliance. CT and Queen Big T certainly have to be counted among the favorites, as one of the few teams with both a strong political and physical game. Jay and Theresa need to get some recognition, as well, after this week's strong performance. And, as mentioned, Cory now gets a strong partner in Ashley, who immediately puts him into an alliance with the crown.

One big thing to pay attention to in the immediate future: there are only six gold skulls left, but four of those are for the ladies. This could mean next week will be another girls elimination day. Will the Queen's alliance go after Aneesa and finish that group off? Will they go after a strong competitor like Lolo or Kam? On the guys side, can Fessy avoid seeing elimination again? He's got the biggest target on his back, by far, and doesn't have the numbers to stay safe.

We have hit the full speed ahead portion of the season, so buckle up and get ready for the fireworks.

Blaine Duncan
Blaine Duncan
Editor-In-Chief, Host of Taking It Down
TD Wood
TD Wood
Editor and host of Takin' On Sports
Adam Morrow
Adam Morrow