Takin' On 'The Challenge: All Stars': "Catch a Falling Star"

This episode was excellent if only for two reasons: we get a break from Kam versus Cara Maria and another vital break from the Nicole and Laurel love thing. Much needed. 

Plus, it was a week for trivia, and who doesn't like the trivia daily challenges? 

But before T.J.'s favorite day begins, we get Nicole admiring her picture on the wall and going so far as to kiss it. It's comedy, but Nicole's complaining about being unable to see her tattoos is why she's become the one we all love to be annoyed by. Well, and her accent. Jesus fucking Christ, that accent. Apparently, it's heavily rumored that it's not genuine. Why anyone would want to sound that horrible, I wouldn't know as I type in my Southern drawl. 

On the flip side, a brief conversation between Ryan and Adam about aging and sobriety highlights what The Challenge: All Stars should be able to tap into to be a distinct version of the series rather than just another Challenge to air with the main show is filming again. Adam and Ryan determine that they both thought that they were less smart than they believed they were as young men. I'm always giving the editors credit, but this would've been a grand opportunity to highlight some of their wilder antics in seasons of yore. 

Then it's trivia, which was a little varied, and dare I point out: unfair! (Come on. Asking someone to spell "mission" while others have to spell "Reykjavik" is larger gap than what's between Nicole's ears.) The fairness of the game is worth questioning, but not the structure: Four pairs stand on beams, answer questions about this season and more, and three wrong answers gets the pair thrown into space to land in the water.

As the teams pick their own pairs, Leroy makes the sagacious choice of picking Berkeley graduate Veronica. It saves Leroy's star as Veronica helps get them the win as the other pairs fly off the thirty-foot stage and into the water below. (Leroy's bits about graduating high school and spelling his first name and last name is why we love him.) The sudden pull to the water happens in rounds to finalize the middle group, who'll be voting for two men to go to elimination. That middle crew of voters is Ace, Cara Maria, Derek, Tina, Jay, and Nicole. They have to pick between Brad, Adam, Steve, and Ryan to throw into the pit, and it's of note that Steve has a star. 

The competitors don't bicker for this round as much as share joy and the moment of ick from Ace. What the hell, Ace? You thought of that weird, mixed-metaphor bit of storytelling for a while to get it right only to baffle me. I appreciate that Ace does get a moment later in a confessional to admit that his anti-Alice Munro narrative is done because he assumes Brad wants to go in. It leads to Brad making the most angry-Brad faces we get of the season, but we all know something's not there. It's not clicking for Brad this season. In fact, the fourth season of The Challenge: All Stars could be a former champ's worst performance in a season when it comes to Brad. 

The votes are in with the only real conflict coming from Tina, who, rather than create tension makes it into laughs (and reminds me of why she's on the show). Ace has inner turmoil over voting for Adam or Ryan, but he finally lands on Adam. Perhaps they pity Ryan for a sore shoulder from the trivia "dive," that he's newly sober, or both. Instead, it's Brad versus Adam in the return of the video controller game that looks pretty fun to play despite being hard as shit to remember for any of the players. 

When it comes down to it, Adam employs the turtle's rule against the hare and knows that slow and steady wins the race. Adam takes care to go back and forth as many times he needs to plug in the cheat code correctly, and he takes a victory over Brad and a star away from Ace, who did nothing to earn it in the first place. 

What's left is Derek complaining about Ace not putting up a fight for it, but what is Ace to do? Any complaining goes nowhere. Taking it on the chin is respectable. Derek does raise the question on how aggressive you have to be to win The Challenge? Is Ace too laid back? The man certainly sleeps on any couch available although he doesn't recall their colors. 

Someone who is aggressive about keeping her star: Cara Maria. That's bound to ruffle feathers. 


  • Kudos to Ryan for getting sober and maintaining it in a Challenge house. While not as difficult as in days past, it's still great for him. 
  • I believe this was my first time to find out that Brad is a teacher! Can you imagine walking into class only to find it's Brad? Pretty dope!
  • Brad's problems at home he alludes to in this episode is a breakup which happened two weeks before the season began filming. It affected him; you could see it. 
  • Ace claims that he doesn't vote Ryan in because Ryan would throw him snacks from a room above? What the hell was Ace talking about there? Even more bizarre than his knights and gods and trophies story. 
  • Next week promises to bring some intensity. It's a strong women's season and that promises to heat way up. 
Blaine Duncan
Blaine Duncan
Editor-In-Chief, Host of Taking It Down