Episode 2 of Challenge All Stars S2 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 2nd episode.
10 Derrick’s Outfit
Steve making fun of Derrick’s Cabana Wear outfit was so fucking funny. Most people have an extreme respect for Derrick as a friend and human being, so watching Steve clown his attire when he’s the man in power had me dying laughing. It was a clear sign that Steve had not been on the show in 18 years, and it made for great Reality TV. Even better, Steve’s comment led to production screening other people for their thoughts on Derrick’s Tropical Vacation Suit, and man, Tina went straight for the neck, while Kendal gently swept the leg with the set-up that she bought the same clothes for her toddlers. I love Derrick, but he got Twitter Roasted in real-time.
This moment encapsulated the Challenge’s ability to be unserious and completely serious simultaneously, and it was brilliant. Steve’s comments ultimately played a small part in him getting nominated, it actually struck a chord with Derrick where even he was asking Jodi if something was wrong with his outfit, and then the peanut gallery chipped in their jokes. Excellence.
9 Derrick & Jodi’s Nominations
Kicking off this episode, Derrick and Jodi had to make important choices in deciding who to nominate. They ask Ayanna & Nehemiah who they want. Since Ayanna does not have any significant pre-existing connections, she was okay with facing anyone, which didn’t make Jodi’s job any easier. Whereas Nehemiah, who had a lot of connections, immediately pinpointed Ryan as Nehemiah had eliminated him in the past, and Derek Chavez (likely due to Derek’s size and a lack of relationship between the two). Which honestly put Derrick in a tough spot because he was probably going to put in Steve and Derek anyway and was asking as a means to shift the blame onto Nehemiah.
Derrick was able to get some blood on Nehemiah’s hands with the Cancun Squad (Jonna & Jasmine) and Ryan, so in part, he did succeed a bit, though not as much as I think he believes. They also threw up Leah and Casey, which were the most chalk-moves; you throw in the person with the least connections and the person who did not 100% complete the daily challenge (and will likely survive the vote). Among all the chaos, don’t underscore the fact that Casey took the nomination much harder than Jodi & Derrick probably expected; as a pro, though, she didn’t show it on her face.
8 Nehemiah Wants To Be a Main Character
I’m going to call it as I see it; throughout Nehemiah’s Challenge career, he has been a secondary or tertiary character. Nehemiah has always been a great addition to the show. He moves to the beat of his own drum and is historically one of the most underrated competitors in the franchise’s history. Yet, he’s never been an A-level guy, and he’s lived somewhat in the shadow of his best friend (Wes) or his foes (Kenny & Evan). Nehemiah is quite clearly tired of playing second fiddle and being underrated. He wants to be a Top Dog. Once Nehemiah knows he is going into elimination, he gets to politicking and rallies a crew to give him Derek Chavez in elimination. You can strategically play the Challenge actively or passively, and for a long time, Nehemiah’s been a zen-guy who takes on whatever comes to him, except now he is taking the bull by the horns.
7 The Voting Ceremony
Derek took home 10 of the 15 votes shown in the episode (they didn’t show Tina’s votes), and you could tell that Derrick & Jodi were shocked by the result. Nehemiah got in front of the vote, and he decided if Derrick would throw a wild card in against him; instead, let’s try and make an ally in that wild card and choose the other option. There was a moment between Ryan and Nehemiah that got a little heated. Ryan was upset his name got thrown out due to perceived weakness. Nehemiah noted that he’d beaten Ryan in an elimination before. Hence, he knows he can do it again.
Leah received 12 out of 15 votes, and she learned immediately that social connections are one of the most crucial parts of the game.
6 Profanity is a Massive Plus
A little fuck goes a long way.
5 Prom Night
One of the main reasons All-Stars resonates with long-time fans is that the cast makes a real effort to make the most of their experience on the show. Their Prom Night looked like genuine fun, and it made me wish I was there with them. When I watch the main seasons of the show, generally, everything seems so contrived, loud, and I can never tell whether Josh Martinez is covered in sweat or his own tears.
4 Derek’s Reveal
My heart dropped listening to Derek’s reveal about his sister. I couldn’t imagine competing through the type of emotional duress he was under, and at the same time, I can relate. Sometimes you need a distraction when your heart is hurting, but you could see, his my mind was on her. I’m so grateful Jonna was there to see the pain before anyone else and was able to comfort him like a momma bear. Those two are family, so the fact that Derek could have a distraction while also being with someone who can be a bit of home was helpful.
When I interviewed Derek in 2017, he and I talked about the uphill battle gay males face on the Challenge where they get thrown into elimination early due to perceived weakness. In now 3 of his 4 appearances, Derek has gotten voted into that first elimination. The only season where Derek didn’t get voted in immediately was Battle of the Seasons 2021, where Team Cancun won the first challenge to guarantee his immunity. Watching him play with everything going on in his personal life and then dealing with this extra burden once again was rough. Derek is not weak physically, mentally, or emotionally. He is a great human being, and as a fellow LatinX male, I’m delighted for him to represent our culture on-screen.
3 Nehemiah vs. Derek
The male elimination was a great battle between two strong competitors. Nehemiah took an early 1–0 lead and technically was up 2–0 at one point, but Derek did not back down. If anything, Derek was pulling his coffins much quicker with greater efficiency. My question regarding this elimination was whether the men got told they could only pull the coffins from the rings they attached to their chains. That seemed like the least efficient/most rigorous way to complete the elimination.
What it ultimately came down to were the puzzles. In the end, Nehemiah took home a 3–2 to win with Derek right on his ass. Derek showed so much heart fighting so hard after falling behind and everything else going on. Sadly, it was the end of the road for him. As fans, the most painful part about All-Stars is getting people like Derek back in your life and then watching them get taken away immediately. Even though he lost, everyone walked away impressed by him as a competitor and a human. Nehemiah stays in the game and looks poised to be making some noise in the upcoming weeks.
2 Ayanna vs. Leah
Good lord, Ayanna put up a dominant performance in this elimination. She completed the puzzles with ease, and she dragged the coffins with such speed, power, and efficiency that it looked like a workout she practiced every day of her life. It is important to note that Ayanna played the elimination intelligently by pulling the coffin by the chain itself, rather than just the ring attached to the chains as the men were. By doing so, she was able to put the chain on her shoulder and push through using her entire body weight (a lot of legs and as a former sprinter, she has naturally powerful legs). It was one of the masterful elimination performances I’ve ever seen, and Ayanna had such a confidence and swagger to her that she had me doing push-ups in my bedroom (not even joking). The craziest part about Ayanna’s performance is that this was her first-ever elimination.
Leah’s performance was difficult to watch at first, primarily due to her struggling to clip her ring to the chain. It is heartbreaking to watch someone come back after all these years and see their game slip away slowly and then rapidly, especially as their opponent is thriving. Luckily, as we saw, it was not the end-all-be-all.
1 I Was Crying In The Club
I went from doing push-ups in my bedroom to biting on my pillow sobbing as I watched Ayanna help Leah through the rest of the elimination together. As two single moms taking on everything the world throws at them daily, they came back to this show with a purpose, and watching them unite over a shared bond and have a beautiful moment of sportsmanship, friendship, and motherhood was so visceral and real.
To be frank, I didn’t grow up with Leah or Ayanna, yet I felt a deeper connection to them watching their elimination than I have had with anything on the Challenge in a long time. So many of the characters these days are “Reality TV Personalities,” whereas Ayanna or Leah are two real people with actual personalities, stories, and lives, and God; it’s just a refreshing feeling. Fans can connect to Leah & Ayanna because maybe they are in the same boat as them, or perhaps you relate to them because you see your parents/sisters in them. Or possibly, you’re a human with a decent soul and can see two hard-working people giving their all. All I have to say is thank you to these two women for their beautiful display in this week’s episode.
Next week the show will ramp up with us likely going into a standard daily challenge/elimination format every episode.
Episode 1…I’d probably rate an 8.1 out of 10…The daily challenge dragged it down so harshly.
Episode 2…I think I’m giving it a 10 out of 10. I haven’t been that emotionally bombarded by an episode of Reality TV in a long time.