The Challenge, Episode 12: Pressure Mounting

Things get back to whatever passes for normal this week on The Challenge, as we get a full episode (we still got a card before the episode explaining the Dee situation, and she was barely in the episode at all).

It was a solid, albeit unspectacular, show. I've been fairly disappointed in the weekly challenges this season, but the purgatory eliminations have been pretty damn entertaining. This week saw the team of Fessy, Dee and Bayleigh win the event; the house give Cory the nod; and the tribunal select Swaggy C over Josh and Kyle to face Cory in purgatory, which Cory won in a close one.

Josh is still dumb

For fuck's sake, Josh.

Seriously, this kid blows me away every week with the dumb shit that spews from his mouth. He began this week by sincerely expecting Melissa to be okay with him after his double cross last week -- dude even asked if she wanted a hug -- and was taken aback when she didn't want anything to do with him. Then tells the confessional camera he was shocked that his actions had consequences. Seriously. He was surprised to find out that, in a game based on alliances and politicking, his backstabbing would have a domino effect.

Side note: the opening also gave us a classic Bananas moment when he told Melissa "I just can't believe Josh and Rogan would do something like that. Josh and Rogan are the big dicks." He follows that up by responding to Melissa saying "you made a pinky promise" by answering "would it make it better if I told you my fingers were crossed?" She, understanding Bananas is gonna Bananas, tells him to piss off. Fucking hilarious.

During nominations, Josh doesn't even try to make a case for himself as the house nominee for purgatory. He makes things even worse by trying to claim he's loyal, and Melissa rightly calls bullshit (even Kyle calls him a "floater") and completely tears him a new one, even using my new favorite Challenge trope: the small but fierce girl stands on top of a table to gain the high ground while chewing someone out (I believe both Ashley and Kailah pulled the maneuver earlier this season).

Later on Josh is dumbfounded when a tribunal featuring Fessy, Dee and Bayleigh vote Swaggy C into purgatory over him. Like, the tribunal is literally made up of Swaggy's wife, friend and ally. What else do you expect, man?

To top things off, after elimination T.J. once again warns the house that time is running out, and in confessional Josh says "this is the wake-up call I needed to get motivated." My man,

This dumb fucker is gonna screw around and win this thing, isn't he?

Not to be a dick, but...

Look, I understand that sometimes even the best laid plans go to waste, and that even though you may expect an oncoming hardship, the moment can still overwhelm you.

That said, I absolutely don't get the whole "crying on the phone because I miss my ______" crowd. It happens every season, someone misses their significant other/parent/kid/whatever so much that it brings them to one of those "I don't even know if I want to be here anymore" scenes with the dramatic piano music. But, like, you fucking knew you were gonna be gone. You've had time to come to terms with your separation.

This week it was Cory getting emotional because his 2 1/2-year-old daughter didn't seem interested in talking to him and was "mad" at him. Look, she's two, she'll forget you were gone like 3 hours after you get home. In the future she'll think it's the coolest thing ever her dad was off trying to win a bunch of money. Chill out.

You weirdos and your emotions.

The Alabama Take Challenge Championship Rankings

The time has come for the prestigious ATCC rankings! We’re getting dangerously close to the finals on this season of The Challenge, so let’s break down the contenders for the title.

14. Nany – Does her developing relationship with Kaycee spell for disaster? 

13. Melissa – I almost feel like she should be punished for trusting Bananas, but at the same time her reactions totally scream "yep, knew that was coming."

12. Bayleigh - I just don't see her making it long without Swaggy around; they seem to need each other.

11. Josh - Josh is a bumbling fool despite his good intentions on trying to win for his family and improve their situation.

10. Nelson* -- Less dumb than Josh, so Nelson ranks only one spot above him.

9. Kyle – Kyle has officially gone from "picking my spot" to "if I don't get a red skull now I'm fucked."

8. Aneesa* – Oh man, not a good look for Aneesa this week in the weekly. She lost a big lead in an event built around endurance, and as we all know the final is nothing but endurance.

7. Dee** – Who? 

6. Cory* – Cory had an injury scare, but came back strong to win a red skull in purgatory. Could this be the season he finally gets his win?

5. Kaycee* – She seems to somehow be everyone's friend and inspire fear all at once.

4. Fessy* – The rookie keeps looking stronger and stronger as the season progresses.

3. Rogan* – He seems to be in total control, right alongside Bananas.

2. Jenny* – Will she get challenged again? Who would be dumb enough? 

1. Bananas* – Absolute Ruler of the Bunker Universe. 

Notes: italics denotes a former Challenge winner; each * represents a red skull




I'm going to take a hard turn away from TD and his thoughts above. The father in me feels sympathy about having to leave a two-year-old daughter behind for work. (I have a two-and-a-half-year-old girl as well.) That sort of stuff works on you when you have a child of your own, and it made me want Cory to succeed so badly that I was on pins and needles during this week's Purgatory. Speaking of Purgatory, Swaggy, like always, looked and sounded nervous af before entering. What the hell did he even bring to the table as a competitor? He couldn't swim, he couldn't climb, he couldn't function in a harness. WTF? Also, if you have help in Purgatory from someone up top, that should be an automatic disqualification, much like the challenges themselves: last week, if you didn't gather all the flags yourself, it didn't count. Wes helped Dee earlier in the season get her first red skull -- which is bullshit -- and then Bayleigh made an unsuccessful attempt at annoyingly screaming down which buttons to push during elimination. That's a crock of shit. Three final things: the challenge itself looked brutal as I hate moving heavy things with all my being, Melissa getting heated was entertaining, and Bananas had the line of the week when he proclaimed that for someone to be called Swaggy, Swaggy really has no swag. Get 'em, Bananas!


The MVP of this episode was the editing team, who built a coherent 90 minute program and managed to give Dee just one line. And she was in the Tribunal! I have a feeling her villain arc would be running rampant right now. These late season episodes can either be high entertainment, or kind of slow. This one felt slow to me. The cast is whittled down, so if people aren't that entertaining, the show falls flat. The cameras can't just go see what brand of weird drama is being stirred up in another corner of the bunker. I felt for Cory. His arc has been something else-from house horn dog, to concerned dad. Well, I guess those two are at least a little related. Fessy finally got his due in the daily. The dude is probably the strongest guy in the house, and he let everyone know he can handle endurance just fine, too. I was impressed. I wanted Aneesa to beat Dee across that sled pull finish line so badly. Isn't that just her Challenge career in a nutshell? It's heartbreaking. Kyle appears to be the first of the Purgatory hesitant types to have wised up. Sure, Swaggy went in (and failed spectacularly, just like he did at every other physical challenge), but he was hesitant and seemed doomed from the start. Josh remains a total goof who can't seem to get what's happening around him. Like when Bananas expertly shifted all of Melissa's ire onto him. Bananas, what a genius. and Melissa, thank you for that spark of voting room drama that has been so missed. Maybe she's this episode's real MVP. 

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