Challenge Invasion Final Episode 1: Ashley (The Brain) vs Nicole (The Brawn)

I detailed how the female champ was doing on episode 1 of the final , so here I am to talk about the 2 underdogs, Ashley and Nicole.

These two players got to the final through alternative methods. Ashley with her friend Amanda, led the big house alliance of friends, they kept the numbers throughout the game, and they were always atop the chain of command in their group. They let all the dead-weight be shed from their group until they absolutely had to earn it, in the “bloodbath”. While Nicole decided to not hardcore politic, and simply win immunity on all the underdog elimination days.

We often like to view players through their physical aspects, their bulging muscles, their speed, etc. Mental and social games are the most underrated portions of the Challenge, the problem is that it is often hard to quantify how much it matters objectively. If you’re looking at this trio, Nicole and Camila should be the flat out favorites, but Ashley after the first 1.5 days looks to be in first place. It shows that in this competition, as long you’re an average athlete who is able to strengthen the other facets of your own game, you’re a bigger threat than the more impressive physical specimen.

Day 1: Ashley partnered with Nelson, Nicole partnered with Cory

They pair up based on the alliances they have been working with all season. Amanda and Hunter are gone, so Nelson and Ashley link up with each other for the first time. Nicole has rotated partners, and with the absence of Jenna, she takes her spot as Cory’s partner.

On the swim we see Cory and Nelson flailing, Nelson doing especially poorly as he gets caught by the current. Cory and Nicole are the second team to make it to the shore, while Ashley waits a good long while for Nelson to get there.

They hit the puzzle, and at that point Nicole’s swimming no longer mattered. Neither she nor Cory were able to figure the puzzle at all. They also had trouble with simple division. She could not figure out that 29/3 was 9 and 2/3’s, while even when the production team told them they timed out and it was 27 triangles, she could not do 27/3 = 9. How could someone be so into body building and gains, yet not be to do simple math like that? There’s so much time they put into weighing their protein and adjusting their caloric intake, that you would think it would carry over? Right….?

Ashley finishes the puzzle real quick, and immediately figures out it needs to be a multiple of 3. Nelson gets lucky to have Ashley, they head to their kayak with the key as they trail CT/Camila. In the end game, they finish the puzzle a couple minutes behind the Champs, and Ashley is super excited. Rightfully so, she is very happy to have beaten Nicole and be close behind Camila despite her being viewed as the clear 3rd favorite.

At night in the shelter, TJ comes over to give them a time buster event where first place gets to add 5 minutes to person of their choice. Nicole and Cory use their brawn and win this event. Cory picks CT, as he is in first place, and the most experienced person in this final, while Nicole makes the dumb choice of Ashley. She went personal instead of strategic, she’s playing the game with the idea that her physicality will win her the game. Nicole almost got eliminated by Amanda for this reason. So you would think Nicole would now play more strategically, but that it is not happening. She has been a disappointment as a competitor, even with making the final on her first season.

Day 2: Ashley partnered with CT, Nicole partnered with Nelson

Nelson and Nicole set the athletic pace, going very quickly, while the other two groups pace themselves. They have to eat plates of pond snails, horse urine capsules, silkworms, and crickets. Silkworms and crickets are not that bad, people actually eat those. What grosses me out is the horse urine, and pond snails (raw pond snails, not escargot).

Nicole/Nelson finish first and race out towards the second event, a giant tight ascending rope walk with smaller ropes up top to grasp onto to help balance lift yourself up. You need incredible core strength, as well as the ability to lift more than your own body weight.

This is where Nicole’s strength comes in, she does admirably holding herself up and occasionally supporting Nelson. He is a beast in this scenario, but there are short moments where the girl has to take on half the weight of the male on them. Ashley struggles with this as CT weighs close to 235 lbs and is not in peak CT shape. She cannot support his weight as she must focus on holding herself up. They decide to take the time max time and move on in order to not tire themselves out.

At the third event, Nicole takes the questionable choice of taking her shoes off before she goes into the water. Do you want wet shoes when running? No. Is it easier to walk on the water with shoes? Yes. Are you unsure of what could be on the floor of the Thai swampy water? Yes, wearing shoes would make it so much safer. Are you wasting time taking off your shoes and then putting them back on? Definitely. She thinks she is being smart, but she continues to waste time in a final where time means urgency. It is not a finish line, it is a time game.

Ashley and CT get the third event done. At the fourth event, it is a puzzle where Nelson and Nicole struggle with the instructions, but Nicole continues to yell at Nelson, who is weirdly doing the puzzle correctly. Biggest surprise of the day. Ashley knows how to do the puzzle from the get-go, and they pass over Nelson/Nicole, though they still have the max time penalty on them from the tight rope event. It’s not 30 minutes added to their total time, they get the max time of 30 minutes. There has been a lot of confusion online about this.

The episode ends and Ashley looks to currently be in first place, where it is a toss up between Nicole and Camila for second.

Can’t wait to see how this ends. My betting money is on Ashley, Nicole is playing a bad game, and Camila is the one you have to look out for, she’s been killing the final, except for when it comes to working with a partner. Usually during these finals they have one big portion at the end that is solely individual.



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Allan Aguirre

26 years old. I blog about MTV's the Challenge and will dabble into other subjects occasionally. Follow me on Twitter for the occasional bad joke.