Challenge Total Madness Episode 14 Recap: Ten Biggest Takeaways
Episode 14 is in the books. You probably have some thoughts, so let’s compare. Instead of giving a simple summary, I decided to focus on the 10 Biggest moments/takeaways from the fourteenth episode. These will be integral storylines that the fourteenth episode focused on, and I’ll breakdown why they matter for the season.
10 The Daily Challenge
This type of daily challenge would have been far more effective earlier in the season when there were more people to target, more people desperate for Red Skulls, and less willingness to cut deals so quickly and would have made the competition a muscular endurance/strength event.
Fessy, Cory, Josh, and Nelson were smart to team up on Kyle/Rogan/Bananas in a concerted fashion made absolute sense. It’s puzzling that the opposing side did not team up in the same way, although, Bananas and Rogan knew they wouldn’t be going into elimination, so they couldn’t care less. It was a bit difficult to decipher what was going on in the women’s rounds. If I had to guess, Jenny, Melissa, and Dee teamed up, Kaycee and Aneesa teamed up, and Bayleigh was a wild card. Dee took a ton of weight because she is a social pariah, Kaycee and Aneesa’s got theirs stacked up, and Bayleigh got a healthy amount of weight in her bucket. I was impressed by how long Melissa stuck around with Jenny despite having much more weight and being pregnant.
9 Cory, Jenny, Fessy, Josh Debacle
When Fessy made a deal with Josh, it very much sounded like Fessy said that he and Cory would pick Josh for elimination with the Tribunal pick. It did not come off that way to Josh, as he thought they would pick him as the 3rd member of the tribunal. Considering Cory and Fessy were doing significantly better than Josh in the challenge, it is crazy for Josh to think that was the deal. Likewise, it’s ridiculous that Jenny didn’t pick Cory for that third tribunal spot when Cory did help her twice this season after she promised to pay him back.
Kudos to Josh for establishing a relationship with Jenny, where she was able to get him in the tribunal. I do think Cory deserved to be upset with Fessy, and Fessy should have taken more blame at the moment, rather than deflect to Jenny. When looking at the game, this easily could have been an opportunity to put Bananas in against Kyle had Cory and Fessy both been in the tribunal. They never said that out loud, and maybe that’s why Jenny wanted Josh to protect Kyle and Bananas, and also, to put Aneesa in elimination as that is what the boys wanted.
8 Nelson actually said intelligent stuff this week
It’s weird that in the last two weeks that Nelson is becoming likable again. Maybe not completely likable, but the guy has been honest and making solid points as of late. While everyone in the house is trashing Aneesa’s ability in a final and tip-toeing around the fact that she’s likely going into the next elimination, Nelson tells her flat out that she needs to get to politicking or it will be another season where she gets eliminated right before the final.
One of the funniest moments from the episode is when Nelson got nominated by his alliance member Fessy for elimination, he said, “I know I’m a loser, but make me feel like a winner.”
7 Fessy is Focused on Winning
I’d argue the biggest winner of the Dee fiasco has been Fessy. The guy has had more confessionals the last three weeks than he has the entire season combined. Watching him talk to Cory candidly about how much it hurt him not to make the NFL was a vulnerable moment that I found endearing. It makes you understand why competing on the Challenge is the next best thing for many people.
Fessy mentioned that football helped him blend in more as he was a nine-year-old Muslim boy when 9/11 occurred. Nowadays, Fessy’s social media feed is inundated with fans thirsting over the tall, dark, and handsome man who could get almost any girl he wants (already has a smoking hot GF), and is the athlete people wish they could be. Yet, we don’t think about the young boy whose life was likely difficult at times, simply because of how he and his family looked. I’m cheering for the guy to win. The fact he displayed mutual respect to Aneesa by not voting for her this week when everyone is against her was commendable. ‘
6 Stalling For Time
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It truly felt like MTV was trying their hardest to fill the episode with enough content to last 90 minutes. It seemed like Fessy and Cory had the same conversation about three or four times, they dragged the daily challenge for as long it could go, and so on. I like 90-minute episodes, but considering everyone knew who would be in the elimination before the daily challenge, this week’s episode could have been 60 minutes, and I wouldn’t have complained.
5 No More Joshin Around
An incredibly disappointing episode from Josh this week. Josh gets a ton of hate from people about his abilities as a player, so much so that you’d think he wouldn’t jump on the bus with other guys and trash Aneesa’s potential ability in a final. Especially crazy since Josh has never even been to a final. Not to mention, Josh had the choice between Melissa and Aneesa, and Melissa has viciously torn apart Josh with her words earlier in the season. Josh has made many emotional decisions, so making an objective “game move” seems arbitrary at this point.
His elimination performance was disappointing. It seemed as though Josh was only pulling the ropes through the car and not making knots that would be difficult to pull out. This is Josh’s fourth time getting eliminated in three seasons. He’s a much better player than his 0–3 elimination record. However, Josh feeling upset that he came close and lost at the end isn’t indicative of his performance this season. He lasted this long because you need a Red Skull to make the final, and Josh hadn’t been willing to go in up to this point. There was a massive opportunity for Josh to get a Red Skull as he could have volunteered to face Jay in Balls In.
I felt like Josh went out on War of the Worlds 2 on a high note, started strong for Total Madness, and then fell off harshly. I want to see Josh again, as you can tell, he does care about improving and making himself a better player. Not sure I want to see him on Season 36, maybe need a one or two-season break from Josh.
4 Kyle Snaked His Way To The End
Kyle won the lottery. Waiting till the end of the game to get your Red Skull is an obvious strategy. I was not a fan of Kyle playing with this strategy because even though staying out of elimination as long as possible technically keeps you safe, the opponents you’ll have to face in the final elimination will likely be very good competitors. Kyle got to go up against Josh, one of the three of four worst males on this cast. He now has a Red Skull and a decent path to the final.
He killed this elimination. When Kyle is motivated, he is a kick-ass competitor. The sad part is, he’s not always motivated. Kyle won an elimination and is hooking up with someone he can’t get pregnant, it’s an all around great season for him.
3 Aneesa Forever A Bridesmaid Never A Bride
I’ve been pretty harsh when writing about Aneesa over the years. The other players’ criticism of her is fair from the perspective that Aneesa hasn’t run a final in over a decade and doesn’t look to be in her prime shape. Yet, it’s striking that people who have never won or made a final are so critical of Aneesa. Kyle and Josh can’t solve puzzles and, for some reason, are burying Aneesa’s abilities.
Aneesa had a good season where she competed at an above-average level in the daily challenges, had a quality elimination win, and was close to beating Bayleigh this week. Aneesa plays a crucial role where she is almost like a video game boss that you need to overcome to establish yourself. In the last five years, Bayleigh and Kailah were able to prove themselves by beating Aneesa. Being able to beat Aneesa is almost like the threshold that decides whether you’re a good competitor. She is the first female to reach 10 elimination losses (career record is 9–10), and the second individual to do so (Johnny Bananas the first).
2 Bayleigh Has a Red Skull
She won a hard elimination against an Aneesa who desperately wanted the win. It’s hard for me to gauge how strong/athletic Bayleigh is. It’s not a question of whether she is good or not; we know she is good. It’d about whether she is “just good” or elite. She is tall, fit, and has performed pretty well in the daily challenges. What also helps her mystique is she carries herself with a level of importance that is intimidating. Bayleigh is a badass. It might be a fool’s gold as she hasn’t been tested to her limit yet.
From here on, I somewhat expect her and Melissa to see the next elimination against one another as they seem to be the players most on the outside. Bayleigh on the outside socially, and Melissa perceived as the weakest player.
1 The Actual Game Has Begun
Now that everyone has a Red Skull, the daily challenges will have immense importance as it is no longer a game of people throwing themselves in to be eligible for the final. Players like Johnny Bananas, Rogan, and Jenny have to play their best games’ because if they don’t, they are the most significant threats in a final and will get thrown in. The game gets split up into two sides for the male game: Bananas/Rogan/Kyle and Young Bucks 2.0 (Cory, Nelson, Fessy).
On the female side, Dee and Jenny will likely be gunning for one another because they know they are the biggest threats in the final. Kaycee and Bayleigh could be going after each other, and then Melissa needs to do her best at handling Vienna. All it took was 14 episodes, and now we have a competitive season.