Takin' on 'The Challenge: All Stars': A Sky Full of Stars and You Won't Break My Soul

Next to college football, there is little else we at The Alabama Take love more than The Challenge. Each weekend, we'll discuss the happenings of the Wednesday episode of The Challenge: All Stars on Paramount+. This week, the streaming service debuted two episodes to begin the fourth season of the spin-off series.

When it comes to The Challenge: All Stars, age hovers over the first episode, "A Sky Full of Stars," but not as a specter; instead, it's more like radiation that lingers long after the detonation of an atomic blast. This could last for weeks. Each time a season of All Stars begins, I ask: who's in shape enough to do this? Will there be one or more who is just too old? And with this specific season, there's Kam, who comes in a mere eight months after having a baby and still pumping breast milk. None of these factors makes winning impossible, but it has to make it harder. But what else will having children do to a person? They'll make your ass come out of retirement! Just ask Leroy, who's back in order to make some money now that he and Kam have a baby. 

Casting went deep into the history of The Challenge: from Tyri to Brandon, from Veronica to Flora. (Remember Flora!?! She's fifty-one now!) And there's even Jay, who's really only known for not being able to drink one of T.J.'s infamous gross drinks. Does that make him an All Star? I suppose?

For the first daily misison, um, challenge, it's probably no surprise that Cara Maria dominates. But from there, it's more interesting. It's a challenge that's a lot about running up and down a hill and a little about determining how pegs fit into a hole as each of the competitors were given their own row of ten apple crates each with pegs for a one specific star to fit. Those stars were in a bin at the bottom of the hill, and they could only check one at a time. Plus, the heat was a factor as Jasmine had to lay in the shade for a while to catch her breath and everyone else was downing bottles of water. 

Still, it was a pleasant surprise to a couple of the older challengers getting into the top four: Adam and Brandon both do well, despite their maturity. And with Kefla getting a top four finish for the men's side, the cliche of age being a number rings more true. Plus, Kefla's tears of joy was a great moment for anyone, especially those of us who are a bit longer in the tooth these days. 

It was important to win a top four slot for the men and women's side. It guarantees a star, and it takes the heat off of voting for the elimination. Those in the bottom the the daily competition are up for getting the votes. The larger middle group make the decision. Which two will it be? It's a men's week, but there's always a twist: stars can be stolen unless you win the daily, and you need a star in order to make the final this season. 

The two men who get voted in are Steve, Mr. Hand Model, and Tyri, who grumbles it's more about relationships than performance. It's a fair point that it's early, so what else do they have to count on other than relationships? Steve bests Tyri in the elimination, though, with a wise moment of trickery. They were tasked to gather up ten balls with stars on them in some muddy water. Tyri took the upper hand early, but Steve got back into it quickly. For the last ball, he played dumb even up until getting out of the water to put the ball into the container. And that earns Steve a star by way of stealing it from Brandon. 

The second episode is less entertaining. The daily of having teams of three or four spin around a van suspended in the air while listening to a "radio station" for clues was good enough with Jay, Tony, Laurel, and Nicole winning, despite Laurel wanting zero -- and I do mean zero -- to do with Nicole. (Can't blame her, but why date Nicole in the first place? She's annoying af.)

The rest of the episode? The sparks weren't there. Instead, it's Ayanna taking up most of the episode as she pontificates for forty-five minutes -- apples included! -- on whom she will vote for. Or won't? Or may vote for? Who the hell knows. (The unedited version, if truly at that length, has to be something to see.) Thank god Leroy made an attempt to shut her up. Alas, it didn't help matters.

Ayanna is the worst this season, and I don't know how long I can take her. Sure, Tina does bully Averey a little about taking her star, but it's Ayanna who takes it all to a new level. She lies, manipulates, controls, and then plays the victim. She's an energy vampire, but way less funnier than Colin Robinson. Also, Ayanna, learn the term "gaslighting." It's not what you think it is.

It all leads to Tina and Janelle getting voted into elimination. Which then leads to Janelle leaving before the elimination. Yep. She packs her bags and says goodbye for the season with what felt like little fanfare. See what Ayanna will do to a person? I'm not so sure I could last a week with her, but I'm still a viewer and want my bang for my buck in the form of a competition. 

So in the sand, Laurel and Nicole are offered to come down to elimination in order to win a star, but they both decline. Oh boy! T.J. is about to pull a wild card now! No. He doesn't. He allows Tina to win by forfeit and take Averey's star as promised.

That's it?! T.J.! Where's your guts, man?! Get one of the other losers down there! Eliminate Tina yourself! Do something

And I don't blame Laurel and Nicole. It's really early and those stars are going to come and go a few times. Now's not the time to have everyone trying to throw you down the ladder. Wait it out, and get your star later. Timing will be crucial. 

Overall, the second of the two premier episodes was a bust. When someone's left in the sand, you want T.J. to make that bold decision. We'll have to wait. 


  • I would've assumed Leroy would've come in stronger in the first competition, but I suppose that dad life can wear a man down. Time to get in shape, Leroy! I'm pulling for you!
  • Got to love all of the callbacks, especially the Road Rules Winnebago and Adam still calling it a "mission."
  • We've said it in this column before, but I appreciate the era-appropriate song choices. Takes me back! 
  • The producers think I care about Laurel and Nicole way more than I do. At least they're open about their prodding this season as they ask both of them multiple times to comment on the other. 
  • Jay, Asaf, Fessy, Michelle, Ayanna, Berna -- what's your ranking of assholes of The Challenge
Blaine Duncan
Blaine Duncan
Editor-In-Chief, Host of Taking It Down