The Challenge Double Agents: Why The Gold Skull Twist Needs To Go. What’s Next?

The negatives of the Gold Skull Twist hit its peak last week when MTV had to reduce the episode duration from 90 minutes to 60 minutes due to lack of content. Regardless of the daily challenge outcome, everyone knew which two players were going into elimination since they were the only females eligible without a Skull. The episode had no real politics, no drama, and the daily challenge (that was impressively designed) was only symbolic, meaning all that mattered for the already abbreviated episode was the elimination itself. Total Madness hit a similar standstill last season. If not for the partner swap twist, Double Agents would likely be as bad if not worse than Total Madness. I have to give MTV credit for trying to shake things up; it’s just abundantly clear that the Skulls are leading to boring gameplay. Rather than play the game, players are forced to volunteer themselves for elimination in hopes of getting a skull, and those who already have one would prefer to let them try because they are already safe.

The Skull twist was an overreaction by MTV production. They tried to blame their bad formatting on War of the Worlds 2 on the players, hailing the Skull Twist as them saving the day, when in reality, it had led to three poorly formatted seasons. MTV must retire or completely rework this Skull twist. Looking forward, as a fan of this show, there are simple formatting choices that would reinvigorate life on the show and keep fans engaged. Often, during Double Agents, the episodes are unbalanced, where even when they can fill 90 minutes’ worth of content, it feels as though you only need to watch the last 20 minutes or the first 20. The Challenge I fell in love with had me engaged and interested for the entire episode. Let’s figure out how we can get back to that.

Last Place Goes Directly Into Elimination

Last week, TJ grilled players for not trying their hardest during the eating challenge. Yet, I can’t blame them because most already had their skulls and knew who was going into elimination. On seasons like Exes 1 and Exes 2, all the daily challenges are great to watch because you have players battling for first place and attempting to stay out of last place. Whereas on Double Agents/Total Madness, you could come in dead last in every daily challenge and still be in a great spot. Kyle did not earn his way into a single tribunal on Total Madness, waited till the end, got to face the weakest player left in the game (Josh) for his elimination, went to the final, and came in second place! I like Kyle, but man, now more than ever, you can mostly exist and slide on by as long as you can pull out one elimination win.

Automatically sending challengers into eliminations for last-places finishes is a simple solution to players not giving their all.

Bring Back Relics/Grenades

The relic on War of the Worlds 1 was an ingenious choice by production. It makes less sense on a season like Total Madness/Double Agents where they switch up the male and female elimination days randomly. The grenade from Vendettas makes more sense. However, the advantages of a grenade should get altered. It should be simple advantages such as being able to go last in a daily challenge, picking their opponent if it is a 1 v 1 game (similar to the semi-truck wrestling from episode 3 of Double Agents), or sitting an opposing player out of the daily challenge. You should also be able to use the grenades whenever throughout the season, rather than immediately after. On Vendettas, Kam got burned by her own grenade since she used it on someone who got put on her team for the daily challenge.

Grenades are a simple twist that can create drama and rivalries throughout the house. I can only imagine the conniption CT would have if a player sat him out of one of the final daily challenges.

Individual Bank Accounts

Individual and Team Bank accounts are always awesome. Again, you want players to actually give their all in the daily challenges on a show called The Fucking Challenge. Keeping the Ruins style of having players win each other’s money in the form of eliminations is one of my all-time favorite twists. Watching Cohutta rake up 18 grand at one point while his male teammates have only 2 grand in their accounts was awesome. Darrell seeing Cohutta as an 18k dollar bounty and volunteering to face him in elimination (also in exchange that he would not go into elimination again) is even more epic.

With the overall prize pool being a million dollars every season now, you could disperse 500k throughout the season in daily challenges/elimination and then other 500k in the Final itself. In a world where someone has 50–100k in their individual account going into the final, you might see a CT or Kam volunteer, not for a skull, but to take someone’s money.

No More House Votes

House votes are ridiculous. They enable floaters and give too much power to players for existing. We are seeing it currently with the Big Brother alliance. Kudos to the Big Brother alliance for taking advantage of the house vote using their power within numbers gameplay, but when you have Josh and Fessy acting like they are outplaying people strategically when they are playing the most basic game, imaginable is completely off-putting to fans. Kaycee does deserve credit for being a fantastic strategist. She is the only player to vote the right way every single time this season; even when her alliance wants to act emotionally, she stays logical and keeps her finger on the game’s pulse.

In individual/paired seasons, players should go into an elimination based on a Tribunal Vote, a Duel Call-Out, finishing in last place, or the Power Team sending you in.

More Three Player Eliminations

Three player eliminations were introduced on Invasion of the Champions and were used once again on War of the Worlds 1. Sprinkling them in more spruce things up. Some fans wanted the Security Breach after Lolo’s removal from the game to be a three-way elimination; instead, we got a double elimination.

I would welcome them making 3 player eliminations the standard for a season as the twist — “The Challenge Triple Agents.” Theoretically, you could have the last-place finisher go into elimination, have a house vote to send someone in, and have the daily challenge winners be the power vote to put the third individual/pair into elimination. If MTV wanted to continue the awful Skull twist, an interesting concept would be to have three-person eliminations where 1 player wins a skull, the second-place finisher gets to remain in the game, and the loser gets eliminated. However, to be abundantly clear, THEY SHOULD GET RID OF THE SKULL TWIST.

Multi-Colored Jerseys

I know this isn’t a format thing, but watching everyone compete in the same jerseys gets tiring, especially when you have zoomed out camera shots in daily challenges. Like cheering for my favorite sports teams, I used to like spotting out my favorite based on their jersey. Please give us some neon green, teal blue, purple, pink, and yellow jerseys again!

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Allan Aguirre

Allan Aguirre

26 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.