Takin' On 'The Challenge: All Stars': "Karma Maria"

First of all, Leroy should narrate all of the recaps from the last week. He's a blast to be on screen and talking. 

And wait, is that...Ace? He's on the show this season? Did anyone else know? There's a funny, albeit short, montage of "Aces in Places" where he's just laying around. Look, I relate. Were I ever cast for a season of The Challenge, I, too, would do a lot of lounging in various areas. You need the rest! I'm not so sure about the odd position he takes with his body on the ground and head on the couch, though. 

Shortly after, it's time for a daily challenge, and dare I say it was the best of the season thus far. The players picked pairs: Leroy and Kam chose to be partners for the first time this season. Then all competed in an advanced musical chairs in a stadium where T.J. would call the section, row, and seats for them to run and sit. Obviously, there were enough seats for everyone but one, which eliminated that pair until the second round. The winning four teams got a thirty second head start to find their token in the stadium seats, run back to the field, and begin the process of putting boxes on a scale until both sides of boxes are evenly distributed with weight. 

What made it a great challenge was that it was easy to keep up with the players, there was comedy, there was real competition from players jostling for a spot, and it was unlike recent dailies. The only misstep from production was what to do with the four winning pairs of the first round: perhaps they deserved either more than thirty seconds of a head start or immediately let them begin the boxes on the scales. It would've been a nice touch. Regardless, despite getting a head start, Kam and Leory wind up in the losing group along with Veronica, Jasmine, Tina, and Laurel for the girls and Steve, Kefla, Brad, and Derek for the guys. 

It's of note that T.J. yells out "Brad's out, shocker." T.J. has a soft spot for Brad, but Brad's been blowing it these last two weeks with mental mistakes. He's got the physicality, but he's going to have to focus to get better. Did we see some of this confusion bleed into his appearance on Battle for a New Champion where he seemed out of it? It's possible. It could also spell trouble for his chances at a final. 

Kefla suffered hamstring tightness that he could not shake, Derek could've won but Jasmine held him back, and Kam and Leroy are in jeopardy again as it turns out the week is a double elimination. (I love those!)

Back at the house, Kam campaigns to be in the elimination. She needs a star, but she has demands: keep Leroy out because he has a star and put Tina in for her to face. It seems like it may work until deliberations and voting begins. There, Cara Maria puts her foot down, tells Averey in particular how to vote, and rules the roost when it comes to this week's elimination. How to view it? Well, your milage may vary on Cara Maria. I like her well enough since she's a strong competitor and is entertaining to watch in daily challenges, eliminations, and final runs. Here, though, she's pushy. It's not unusual for her. She's never rude or threatening. She's playing the game. The players with her as the voters don't have to agree or vote the way she's demanding, but most do. And that's part of The Challenge

The results pit Steve and Kefla against one another first. These are two likable guys both on the show with others and for me as a viewer. I especially loved Kefla's return, and though he loses an elimination where Steve bested him by moving a heavy rope to one side of the pit, Kefla manages to make an excellent final point: you can come into the game, have positivity, avoid the bullshit, and play the game well. I hope he comes back for a lot more All Stars. 

The ladies had Kam in arms. Not only did she not get her wish of a chance of getting a star in elimination, but Cara, now her rival for this season, ran it all. It made for the first big and interesting twist this season. Jasmine and Veronica were set to face off, but Nicole had the opportunity to make a move and put herself in the elimination. She does just that. But not without some drama. Nicole first tells Jasmine to step out and keep her star safe. But when she gets into the pit, Veronica pulls some Jedi mind trick shit and somehow talks her way out of facing Nicole by convincing her that it isn't what Laurel wants. I've thoughts here: Nicole was very wise to take this elimination on. She can easily beat either of these women in anything. She knew it and took advantage of it. But what's up with T.J. allowing for the switcharoo? Perhaps because it adds to the tension, but often T.J. is much more firm about decisions. He's shocked, but he does make Jasmine come back down and the sly Veronica escape defeat. It all leads to an easy victory for Nicole. 

The results are that Steve politely takes Adam's star to give to Ace and Nicole wins the star from Jasmine. Kefla and Jasmine head out, and now we're past the halfway point of the season. Good stuff and the balance of surprise, drama, and competition equates to the most solid episode this season. 


  • Kefla going home is low-key heartbreaking. He's a solid dude. 
  • Ace's outfit is on point, T.J. Don't make fun!
  • That stadium had actual seats where you clearly had a place of your own instead of the cold (or hot!) flat, metal rows. Pay attention, Bryant-Denny! Lord!
  • Flora wasn't having Cara Maria's manipulations. Flora needs to take that to Kam and form a bond. 
  • That business in the sauna was both late as fuck and funny as hell. 
  • Was it the corniest moment ever in Challenge history where T.J. pretended to throw Nicole's change of wardrobe on her? That was so out of character for the show it jarred me!

Blaine Duncan
Blaine Duncan
Editor-In-Chief, Host of Taking It Down