The Challenge All Stars 2 Episode 9 Recap & 5 Biggest Takeaways

Allan Aguirre
7 min readJan 7, 2022

Episode 9 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 5 Biggest moments/takeaways from the 9th episode.

5 Save The Palace

I tried to write this Recap late Wednesday Night. After I wrote my first sentence, I procrastinated by making a video editing in “Save the Palace” into a scene from the movie Easy A. Then I went to sleep with no recap written.

Seriously though, Challenge All-Stars is fun and enjoyable to watch — I don’t need ten takeaways to analyze an excellent, straightforward episode of television. Let’s jump straight into the meat (Daily Challenge, Voting, Elimination, and Next Week’s Final).

4 Much in the Clutch

Nehemiah and Melinda went into the final daily challenge without needing to win because they had the lifeshield. Still, they went guns blazing, knowing a win would give them the power to make a big move, and they ended up being the only team capable of completing the mission. The three power duos crumbled in crunch-time, from MJ running out of time to Darrell being unable to unlock his final box to Brad ripping his boxes off to force a DQ.

I saw some people saying Production rigged/tampered with the locks for this daily challenge so Melinda & Nehemiah would win to ensure the most drama possible for the last elimination. Do I believe MTV would rig something for drama? Absolutely, nothing is out of the question, and after Cohutta’s abrupt and non-sensical DQ to further the storyline between the King’s Palace and the rest of the house, why shouldn’t we be suspicious? At the same time, in a challenge where you needed to untie knots and have a more delicate touch, the people who crushed it were the women, and the ones who didn’t were the brutish men. The only thing this daily challenge was proof of to me is that Nehemiah has tiny little baby hands perfect for feeding ants. Congrats to him and Melinda for pulling out such a key win. Shout-out to Ayanna & Teck for not coming in last as well.

3 Voting, Nominations, and Back Pain

It was obvious that MJ/Jonna & Darrell/Janelle would be the nominations. The only question mark among all of this was Janelle’s back injury and whether or not it would pull her from the game and whether she would talk about it at the voting ceremony. If Nehemiah & Melinda knew Janelle had a severe injury, they’d likely toss in MJ/Jonna in because then they would’ve been perceived as the stronger team. Instead, they operated on the simple fact you don’t want to see Darrell in a final and voted him in.

The scene between Darrell and Janelle where she contemplates quitting was disappointing as it felt like Darrell was putting himself first rather than focusing on her injury. Then again, life-changing money is on the line. To Darrell, he knows even if Janelle has a hurt back, he can get her to the finish line of a Challenge victory, and he’s literally physically carried partners in multiple Finals now. Watching Darrell open the letters from his family before the elimination showed why he wants Janelle to push through because you don’t get chances to win that much money for your family every day. It’s critical to note, Darrell knows winning the Challenge is something he’s fantastic at, and it’s been a formative part of who he is as a human; while Janelle came back after all these years and would love to win, but the Challenge isn’t what defines her in any way. Still, you can see their bond as she continues to play with the injury, knowing it is for her teammate, friend, and brother.

2 Smash House

I’m a simple man. I love watching people break shit, and when you can do it in a high-stakes format that mixes raw physicality with a cardio and strategy element makes for a perfect elimination. Once again, Brad and Jodi proved to be a physically strong duo lacking any sense or strategy. Darrell and Janelle played the elimination with efficiency — Janelle staying on her knees to not expend too much energy and not further injure her back was ingenuous. Meanwhile, Brad and Jodi were the physical embodiment of putting a square block through a circular hole. Darrell and Janelle took the win playing both smart and hard, his first elimination win in the All-Stars seasons and her first elimination win ever.

It’s a crushing loss for Jodi, she put up a stellar season with multiple comp wins, and it’s the first time she’s lost since Inferno 2. Brad’s loss continues a trend where he’s the guy who is terrific as an underdog, yet the moment he gets a lead or is favored, he squanders it.

1 Projecting The Final

Let’s rank these teams going in.

4th Teck & Ayanna — Unless the Final consists of mostly stand-up comedy, I don’t see this chaotic duo pulling out the win. They’re the least fit physically and chemistry-wise; they don’t work together all too well. Both are hilarious, though, and each performed admirably this season.

3rd Nehemiah & Melinda — I think Nehemiah and Melinda have the most chemistry out of any pair, and both have an intense desire to win and prove themselves. Physically they are solid, and mentally, they aren’t strongest, but they also aren’t incapable when it comes to puzzles, memorization, and math. What they lack is Final experience; Nehemiah’s lone final was under 4 miles in total, and Melinda’s never been to one. Do they know what will get thrown at them, and will they be able to pace themselves properly? That’s a massive question to which we’ll find out the answer next week.

2ne Jonna & MJ — The duo has undeniable chemistry, and with them both being parents, they have a hunger to win. They also won the mini-final this season. We saw Jonna be the #1 girl last season in worse shape, with no final experience and much less confidence — I like her chances much more this time around. The question mark is MJ. MJ’s lone Challenge Final was the Gauntlet 2, which ended up just being one eating portion due to its weird and unique formatting. It’s funny that I have to question the physical ability of a 6'4 former collegiate wide receiver. That in itself explains the weirdness of the Challenge. Something else I have to question is the fact MJ has not had much of an edit this season; his winning would be a small surprise. Then again, Amber B didn’t have much of a winner’s edit on Double Agents.

1st Darrell & Janelle — Darrell’s track record in Finals is impeccable. He’s won 5 out of 6, and his loss only was a 2nd Place Finish against a superhuman in Yes Duffy last season. This time around, there is no Yes, so we should bank on Darrell winning, right? Well… Janelle’s back injury feels like a ticking time bomb, and it’s already affected her. God, I hope things don’t end badly for them. The story of them being long-time friends who knew each other before being on Reality TV and them winning all these years later would be dope as fuck. Could Janelle’s back-injury be a long editing play towards her pulling off the gutsiest win in show history? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.



Allan Aguirre

27 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.