Challenge Vendettas: Did Devin peak?
He did it! He really fucking did it!. Since his debut on Rivals 3, Devin has been hellbent on targeting Bananas and eliminating his enemy, whether it be through political manipulation or head to head in elimination. Devin got there with a little of both this time around. He convinced Kailah and Tony to vote in Bananas, and proceeded to beat him in a puzzle/memory based elimination to send Bananas home and have him finish 8th out of 14 people. Bananas lost to someone who he considered a complete lay-up and was so confident in himself that he did not even pack his bags.
Now, I know some will probably comeback with, “Well, Bananas would have beaten Devin in almost any other type of elimination”. That’s true, but you could make that argument for a plethora of other competitors as well. Nobody mentions that Derrick and Leroy conveniently never get puzzle eliminations (Derrick did on the Duel 1) or how Bananas beat CT in a puzzle on Free Agents when he would have lost to CT in every other elimination that season. This same argument can be applied all throughout Challenge history, at the end of the day, a win is a win.
Even fans saying they wished the Challenge was like the “old days”, many older seasons had much simpler puzzle based eliminations: The Gauntlet, The Duel, and The Gauntlet 3. Yet, they are not scrutinized as such. Do not list Bananas complain about the puzzle evening them up. Bananas has played for thirteen years, has made the show his entire life, and has had to puzzle for sixteen seasons. If Bananas is not practicing puzzles at least half as much as he works out, then he is not trying hard enough. This is his day job and he did not even finish in the top half of male competitors.
Back to Devin. Where does he go now that he has won? Devin became the King of AYTO after being the face of Are You The One Season 3 and winning AYTO Second Chances. His success has not yet transitioned to the Challenge despite his charismatic personality. However, he has now has done what Cory has been unable to do since starting their actual rivalry, and that is eliminate Bananas. All he has ever wanted to do is show that he can he can compete, politically, mentally and physically. Now that he has done it, can he figure out his next steps?
One of my favorite competition tropes is the competitor who works hard to achieve a goal, and then once its achieved, they do not know what do with themselves. Wes and Evelyn were so used to playing from behind that they did not know what to do when they had the numbers on Fresh Meat 2. Same goes for Diem’s decision making on multiple seasons. Other good examples are Tyrion Lannister on Season 7 of Game of Thrones, Rick Grimes during the whole Alexandria run of the Walking Dead, and We Believe Golden State Warriors in 2007.
Having power is difficult, even if it might not seem like it. Obviously, you would rather always have power, but in the Challenge power changes from week to week, and you always have to make the most of it.
What are his next steps?
In the immediate future, the Grenade should be the most important thing on Devin’s mind. It would be really funny for Devin to use the Grenade on Tony (who has been the strongest player in the game so far), after Tony gave Devin the great ally last week, or on the best player left in the game (Zach). Except he can’t use the Grenade on the previous weeks’ Troika. He can’t use it on Brad or Nelson because he is aligned with them and needs their numbers to against Zach/Tony/Kyle/Leroy.
Devin says his plan is to fuck over Leroy, which makes sense as he is the only person Devin has no ties with. But, Leroy has not won a single challenge this season and does not have a great history when it comes to daily missions. Leroy is by no means bad — he only plays to not finish in last usually.
What would be a better plan for Devin? USE the Grenade on Cara Maria. Cara is the strongest girl left in the house and she is not happy that you eliminated one of the guys she was aligned with. On top of that, Kailah helped get Bananas in the elimination ring, so paying his debt back would help all the other girls left in the house. Having the girls on side is becoming increasingly crucial for Devin’s game, especially now that there is such a small group left in the house. With only fourteen people left in the game, a single person’s vote is now worth twice as much as when the game started. And next week it will be worth even more.
The Long Game
As you can see by the trailers for next week, it is a double elimination week and the Heavy Hitter Mercenary group of Frank, Darrell, Ashley, and Laurel are coming to smash some heads.
Devin needs to push all his chips in this week to get the strongest players into elimination, and to get his best friends or himself into the Troika. By using the Grenade to pick the teams, Devin has the best chance to stack the odds in his favor.
Did Devin peak?
It is hard to tell. MTV will definitely not allow him to compete in another non-physical elimination this season. However, he should be able to avoid the next elimination by using his Grenade. At that point, there will only be five-seven guys left in the game with the final in reach. Devin needs to pull out all the stops to break into the final. If he gets there, he should be the smartest guy left in the group, and has shown heart when it comes to long-distance running competitions. He finished strong in the season’s first Purge and won AYTO Second Chances’ final. Devin will not set the pace, however, he can kill the mental stuff to make up for time.
Devin could win and he could be the next eliminated. At the end of the day, his season is a success, and anything more this season is straight gravy.