Episode 14 is in the books and I decided to focus on the 10 Biggest moments/takeaways from the fourteenth episode. Since you’re Challenge fans reading this, I figure you likely have watched the episode already. These will be integral storylines that the fourteenth episode focused on. I’ll breakdown why they matter for the season:
10 Weird Daily Challenge
You can tell MTV created this daily challenge so far in advance that by the time they got to it this season, they never expected the number of guys/girls on each team to be so unbalanced. Allowing Jordan to swim three times against the US females was unfair. Allowing Jordan to swim three times against anyone is kind of unfair. There was so much wrong with this daily challenge that I have no idea why they didn’t decide to create a different daily challenge last minute.
I was very impressed by Tori in this daily challenge and felt terrible for Leroy and Nany when it came to their fall.
9 Cara sort of killed it
Cara was much slower than Jordan. However, compared to the swimming purge from the previous week, she did an admirable job. Cara takes a lot of shit for being a weak swimmer, and I think overall, she does a solid job when she is by herself. It is when she has to keep pace with a partner that she seems to struggle more.
By clinching a spot in the final, Cara is now the first person to become a 9x Challenge Finalist. She tied Bananas for the record last season and is now in the lead. Cara has also made the final in five consecutive appearances, becoming the first female to do so, and the second competitor to do so (Kenny made it to 6 straight finals). If she wins, she will tie Veronica and Evelyn for the most wins by a female with 3. Though Ashley would also tie them as well as they are on the same team.
8 Jordan and Tori finally get to breathe
After being the top two competitors in the game throughout this season, Jordan and Tori finally accomplished their goal of making the final together. By killing the last daily challenge, they made it inexcusable for CT to put Tori in the final elimination. Also, Tori is a 2x finalist in 3 appearances, which is impressive considering her partner in the season she did not make the final was Derrick Henry. Does anyone else find it crazy that Tori has only done three full seasons? It feels as though she has been on consistently. Then again, she did appear on two spinoff seasons, AYTO second chances, Fear Factor, and was a mercenary on Vendettas. So she’s appeared on eight competition shows since her AYTO season.
Jordan has made his fourth career final in five appearances and could become the first person to 3 peat wins since Derrick on the Ruins. Winning three challenge appearances in a row in the modern era is bonkers.
7 CT steps up
I hope that fans of the show do not suddenly champion CT as this mastermind whose ultimate goal was to cut the throat of Team USA after the final daily challenge. CT fully intended to put Tori into the elimination, but she performed too well for CT to argue against simple logic. If CT were making a big brain move, he would have voted for Cara or Ashley instead of Ninja. They are much more vital players to Team USA’s success and would be assets if they flipped sides.
Nonetheless, I am so happy CT finally made a move that was a positive for his team. I was afraid he was going to pull a Full Mooney.
6 Leroy is in the final
Not everyone can be the captain of a team, and Leroy understands that. All he wants is a seat at the table, and that is what he is getting. Leroy is a final where all you have to do is beat one other team. He will never have a better shot at winning. It has been a wild ride for Leroy, as this is his fourth final appearance in eleven seasons. There have only been two challengers who did not win by their fourth finals appearance. They are Jenn Grijalva and CT. CT would go on to win in his fifth final appearance, and Jenn never saw another final, and never became a Champion.
There is a small sample size for someone in this territory. Leroy pulling out the win would also be the latest someone has ever won for the first time. CT won in his 9th appearance, while Cara, Sarah, Paula, and Brad all won for the first time in their 8th appearances.
5 Paulie and his dumb sunglasses
Nothing was funnier than the fact that Paulie wore sunglasses indoors to take them off when talking to Rogan specifically. Paulie is such a camera whore sometimes. If Rogan is making fun of how ridiculously corny you are, then you have some issues. Regardless, I am happy Paulie has been able to make a final where he captained a dominant alliance alongside Cara and Kam.
I did find it weird that Paulie said that it would be hard to find a 3 season stretch as impressive as him if he wins. I mean, Wes went 8–1 in eliminations, won the first individual season ever, and made two finals. Darrell Taylor and Jamie Murray won their first three seasons in a row each. Emily Schromm made three finals, won one season, and racked up a 5–0 elimination record. Hell, if Paulie doesn’t win this season, his resume is a 3–3 elimination record with two finals appearances. Cara’s stats for her first three season was a 3–1 elimination record with two finals appearance. So his girlfriend, who most people thought of as just a horse girl, had a better three seasons stretch, then Paulie’s all-time streak. He’s got to stop talking up his ass when google is available. Apple TV just put most of the seasons on their app; he should watch some seasons back.
4 Zach seems like he’s watching the show in real-time
The Challenge gets filmed and edited months in advanced for us to watch and consume. We can see the game entirely differently from the outside and can see many aspects that the players cannot at the moment. However, it feels as though Zach was watching the episodes back in real-time when doing his confessionals. While Cara is hyping her female alliance (which is fantastic by the way), Zach is noting the potential flaws of their team and the strengths of Team UK in his confessional.
It’s hilarious to watch Zach watch the game unfold. He seems to get thoroughly entertained as it goes on week by week. Zach hates being on his team, but he did not care enough to volunteer for elimination to switch sides or to shake the boat, really. He has now made his fourth final in nine appearances. Had Zach gotten one of his wins in later seasons, I think we would view him higher as a competitor. I will note: watch out for Zach throwing the final. He is known for making side deals; he hates Paulie, Cara, Ninja, and Ashley. And his best friends in the game are CT, Jordan, and Tori. I will not be shocked if he cuts a hush-hush deal with them.
3 What the hell was the point of the secret elimination?
I understand not having the elimination in the Proving Grounds because this elimination involved endurance and puzzle skills… I can’t fathom why they needed to be this extra. I’m guessing MTV wanted to raise the stakes of this final elimination, but I feel as though not having a crowd to cheer for Ashley or Nany, lessened the stakes. It made Nany’s loss more anticlimactic. The elimination was extra.
2 Ashley is the Puzzle Queen
Did anyone else find it hysterical that Ashley was outraged that she got voted into elimination? For starters, Ashley was the first person to turn on the Paulie/Cara alliance when she voted in Ninja to save herself from elimination. She was the first one to crumble and then fell back onto the Cara/Paulie side once Laurel lost the elimination.
She did kill the elimination. Ashley now holds a career 3–2 elimination record with three finals in 6 appearances. A fun fact is every season that Ashley has won; she also won an elimination. On Invasion, she won her first career elimination right before the final. When Ashley banged Jamie in the shower on the first episode of Rivals 3, I never expected her to potentially become the all-time female wins leader within only a few years.
1 The Nany Navy has sunk
I hate that I love Nany so much. It’s almost like being a fan of [Insert Sports Team Name]. You watch them and care about them and convince yourself this will finally be the season they put it all together and get the win. And then they lose right before the final and rip your heart.
Nany got assisted by Ashley getting lost during their elimination, and she still lost. Her elimination record is now 3–9, and it is hard to argue that she’s not a lousy competitor when you look at that record. You can make arguments that Alton threw the elimination on Battle of the Seasons and that Nany didn’t want to hurt her cousin on Rivals, or that tape elimination from WOTW 1 was bogus, but at the end of the day, her record is 3–9. If she was like 5–7, we could make arguments as to the game being rigged against her, and her having bad luck, but 3–9 is inexcusable. I love Nany and will always love the vibe she brings to the show. However, it’s time to admit she might suck as a competitor, and her run on Free Agents was simply an outlier rather than an indicator of who she is as a competitor.
It is a tough pill to swallow. Fortunately, I’ll make sure to spit out before I do because I know I’m going to convince myself that’s she is going to win Season 35.