Takin' on Double Agents - Don't be skurred

Last week was an outstanding opening episode, delivering multiple twists, a new format, and an elimination of the top-earner in Challenge history, Ashley "Millionaire" Mitchell. This week the political landscape started coming into clearer focus, in what was a spectacular episode.

A good, old fashioned sabotage daily saw the teams swim in some cold-ass water (just ask Mechie, who suffered a medical DQ when he couldn't handle the swim... not a good look for his future prospects) to a boat, retrieve a block of ice, and then swim it back to shore. Once on shore, the teams had to break open the blocks to get "kill pills," which they could then insert into another team's tower. When a team's tower was filled up with three pills, they were eliminated. Last team standing wins.

If you're scared, say you're scared

You know, I thought the concept of the skulls would make people realize that playing passively isn't going to cut it anymore, but here we are. I hate to agree with Devin, of all people, but he was 100% right when he called out the rest of the house for playing a scared game when he noticed not a single pill had been placed into Fessy/Aneesa's tower, who in turn cruised to their second straight victory. TJ also gave the cast a little bit of shit afterwards, because remember kids: nothing gets by our eagle-eyed host.

(Side note: Devin also made me laugh when he told Kyle he couldn't understand anything his partner, Nicole, said. Understandable, because a fast-talking Boston accent might as well be a foreign language.)

Later, Kyle showed why Devin was 100% right: in a confessional, he claimed he would tell Fessy he was voting one way, but then vote another because it's a secret vote. Of course, Kyle doesn't possess the knowledge that not only does the winning team get to see which team was chosen by the house, but which cast members voted for them. I will never understand why people just don't play to win, it's always the simplest, safest game. Even funnier, after Kyle ends up choosing Big T/Joseph (on Big T's behalf, as she wants a new partner), he STILL tells Fessy and some people he voted for Wes/Natalie. Insert facepalm here.

Deliberation Confrontation

During the house deliberation, rookie Joseph gets a bit cocky and claims he wants not only to go in and earn his gold skull, but he wants to do it against Wes. This is where the shit show starts. As Joseph calls out Wes, he claims it is because Wes is a Challenge great, and he wants to take out the best (noble). Thing is, Joseph doesn't outright volunteer to go in, leaving it up to the rest of the house (Natalie rightfully calls him out for this).

Then, Wes starts bragging about his greatness, as he is wont to do, and his bank account. Darrell then gives us the quote of the episode in confessional, when he says he knows Wes isn't rich because "Real ballers don't tell everyone how much they're balling." Preach, Darrell, preach. During Wes' soliloquy, you could just about hear the eyes rolling in the room, and the Challenge "great" (I personally think Wes is the most overrated person in the show's history, his presence is truly grating to me) continued to paint a massive target on his back. However, Wes would not see the elimination this week. The house did indeed pick Joseph/Big T; and much to Wes' delight, as he went on and on about his power in the house growing during a classic Wes confessional.

When it came time for Fessy and Aneesa to volunteer or pick another team, Fessy yet again chickened out (there's that scared game again), and they voted in Kyle/Nany, due to Kyle's lies. This proved to be an enormous mistake by Fessy, because the elimination was tailor-made for a monster like him. In an event similar to the classic "pole wrestling" elimination, Kyle and Joseph had to wrestle a metal ring from the other, and place it around one of three poles on their end. Kyle won the first heat by basically picking Joseph up off the ground, and then took the second heat fairly easily (CT is absolutely right when he says people underestimate Kyle). Joseph, for his part, admitted afterwards he wasn't physically ready just yet. I'm not sure we'll see him in future seasons, but I'd interested to see if he actually bulked up any.

After Kyle finished puking up his lunch, things got really spicy. In a shocking move, Kyle dumped Nany and chose Killa Kam as his new partner (a solid choice), leaving Josh without a partner. TJ then informed Josh he was compromised, and as such got to choose between the newly partner-less Nany or Big T. Josh picked Nany, which isn't a surprise as the two are good friends. That left Big T to join up with CT, in a massive upgrade for her.

Random Thoughts

I love the new format, it makes for such great television. The episode started off by finishing last week's cliffhanger, Natalie's decision on her partner and what CT's status as a rogue agent meant for him. TJ let CT know that as a rogue agent, he would not be able to compete in the daily challenge (which the wily vet used as an opportunity to do some scouting), and he would get his new partner after the next elimination (as stated above, this ended up being Big T). Natalie chose to stay with Wes, which is a smart move for now... I think. It's a good idea to partner with a vet, because even if Natalie is a Survivor legend, she's still a rookie on this show, and it's a different ballgame. That said, Wes has such a gigantic target on his back, Natalie might get herself caught up in some crossfire.

Lolo and Nam have a high school-ish romance developing, and I certainly agree with whoever said "think about their kids!" I mean, Nam is a damn boulder of a human being, and Lolo is an Olympian. Those kids would be genetic freaks (nod to the OG genetic freak, Scott Steiner... holla if ya hear me). Lolo saying "I need my bible" made me laugh.

Due to rona restrictions, the cast obviously can't go out on the town. MTV instead gave them this weird little bubble bar, and it's great. I want to go to the bubble bar.

Nany claimed in a confessional that she was ecstatic about Josh being her new partner, and she may well be, but she seemed kind of upset in the moment. Which was surprising, because she spent a good chunk of the episode telling anyone who would listen that she wanted to ditch Kyle.


How successful can CT be with Big T? That's my biggest question going into the next few weeks. Big T stuck around last season until she drunkenly injured her foot and if I'm being forthright, I don't know much about her beyond last season. How good is she? She doesn't seem to have the build or stamina that some of the other female competitors have on the show. And love him or hate him (I lean a bit towards the latter), keeping Wes around makes for good television. I'm glad that he wasn't thrown into the elimination again, though it could've been an entertaining twist as it was a ladies' elimination this week. I admired Kyle's toughness, which gets overlooked. Lest we forget: he did finish second last season. Kyle handled Joseph quickly and used his anger not only to dominate elimination but also to tell Fessy to shut up. I was reminded of that final from last season when Kyle talked Fessy's head off in the late-night cold and snow. Beyond taking up some lusty screen time, Nam hasn't been the focus of any challenges and obviously hasn't been put into elimination; the man looks intimidating from his size alone -- just ask Jay. No surprise here if he and Lolo become a bigger storyline concerning competitions going forward. This looks like an excellent season. Why can't we just binge it?

Because, Blaine, this show is our weekly medicine. A Wednesday shot of joy! And what a joy this season has been so far. It appeared that Kam and Leroy could run the game through its early stages, but boy was that theory dismantled immediately. And I'm glad, because Kam's righteous anger about not getting picked by CT was a little much. The loose federation of could-be alliances has unofficially chosen Fessy and Aneesa to do the dirty work, but that doesn't mean they all want the same things. This was confirmed during a very silly daily challenge. I'm all for making them swim in freezing water and a few medical DQs, but the "kill pill" didn't make for great television or competition until the very last minute. Big T and Joseph (Jacob?) ushered in a new angle of this season's political game: the partner ditch. Joseph didn't get to take on Wes, but he did get Wes to remind the audience why so many of us hated him for so long. Before he'd mellowed into the nice guy with specks of grey in his beard. He didn't talk about his monster truck, but he got damn close. But, credit where it's due, Wes has been working out for this season. Gotta think he'd have destroyed Joseph. Instead that honor went to KYLE. Kyle is the hero of this program. Kyle wears incredible white turtlenecks under white blazers for his confessionals. Kyle scares us all when we see him puking in season trailers and someone yells "it's blood!" and you are worried KYLE might medically DQ during an elimination, but no. Kyle may have just been hungover, and Kyle harnessed that haggard energy to kick Joseph's ass and call out Fessy. He's Kyle! And he's right, because Fessy did play a very scared game this week. Josh getting Kam stolen was hilarious, and a stroke of genius by our Hero Kyle. Nany being happy about Josh sums up Nany's gameplay as of late. CT will turn Big T into a monster soon. He is the ultimate Challenge partner. The Ts are here to run the world. Kyle can come in 2nd for a 3rd time. Notably absent this episode: Tori and Theresa. This usually bodes well for them long term.

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