These are the episodes we look for as fans. We get some house action, but we get down to action very quickly with the daily challenge, deliberation/nominations, and even get the eliminations without a to be continued! In our society that is so used to binge-watching, recording, and just plainly avoiding commercials, Challenge episodes that end in cliffhangers kill us. We just want to watch the show, and we never want to wait, especially after the months of off-season where we had just been living off of old seasons anyway.
Let’s get to the episode: we pick up where we left off of, Jenna is crying over Zach while he acts as his normal masculine self. From there we go to the daily challenge which is hard to describe with words, but easy to understand when you see it. The Underdogs and Champs get into co-ed pairs and go against each other one pair at a time where they will take spins on the big apparatus wheel. They have 3 minutes to get as many revolutions on the wheel apparatus as possible, whoever has more spins as a collective wins.
Nelson stupidly volunteers for him and Amanda to go first, but the gusto is at least a little bit admirable. They pick Bananas as the person they want to go up against first, so even though they are dumb, they are smart enough to go after Bananas. When the Challenge begins, Amanda and Nelson fall off almost immediately, this performance really showed the difference between veteran champions and newbie underdogs. Going up there, Bananas and Laurel immediately figured out what to do, while Nelson and Amanda just hurled themselves at the next beam ending in their quick plummet. In the end, Laurel goes down relatively quick, but ends up doing much better than any other girl who attempts the Challenge. What is clear is that height and length gives competitors a clear advantage.
Next to go is Shane/Sylvia and CT/Cara Maria, the girls are small with short arms, they quickly fall. Shane and CT as two old men look at each other and agree to go at a nice slow pace in unison. They time out and finish strong. CT calls it a nice “walk in the park”. They were followed up by Hunter/Ashley M and Darrell/Ashley K. This is the first time 30 feet over water for Darrell and Ashley in a very long time, only their second challenge in over five years. They were basically rookies again trying to figure out how to do the Challenge. Both Ashley’s fall on the first go and Ashley K gets hit so hard that she needs a trip to the hospital. Darrell and Hunter both fail and cling to the beam of the apparatus like they’re holding the edge of the building, Darrell falls off and looks up from the water to see Hunter recuperate himself and keep going. Hunter displays some beast level status as he is much shorter than the rest of the guys, but he bear crawls his way to the 3 minute mark.
The final champ pairing to go is Zach/Camila which is hilarious as there is more than a foot in terms of difference in height. They go against Dario/Nicole. Like the other girls, Nicole and Camila take a sudden fall into the water. Dario and Zach go at it for the next minute and a half in a super fast bear crawl motion, like hamsters on a wheel. After 2 minutes Dario finally falls off while Zach keeps going at a rapid pace until he almost falls off, but time is up and he is safe.
Before Cory/Jenna go up, TJ tells the Champs that they need to pick a pair to go again and their second trial would just add on more spins to their first attempt. Whoever finishes in 1st place individually for the guys and girls gets immunity and power to throw a teammate of the opposite sex into elimination. Bananas weasels his way into going again by convincing the champs team that him and Laurel is obviously the strongest “pair”. Cory does alright, Laurel does alright, and Bananas goes on for a whole 3 minutes. While up there on the wheel, Zach and CT realize immediately that they have been conned and played by the same guy that’s been doing it to them for years. At this point we have to stop calling the Underdogs dumb, because at the Champions are JUST AS DUMB heck, maybe dumber as they’ve been played by the biggest con man in Challenge history and yet they still think of themselves as the best.
After the Challenge it is announced the Champs win, no-brainer. Bananas has immunity and decides to toss his nemesis Cara Maria into the first elimination. Laurel chooses to throw in Zach after her being still salty from the Free Agents final where he almost held her back from winning. Zach is an idiot, he was the first person to agree with Banana’s idea that him and Laurel should go again, this led to Bananas winning immunity instead of him and getting him put in elimination. While there was a decent chance that CT might have won the immunity, Bananas not winning would have mattered more. The girls in the house do not like Bananas after all his backstabbing, so he most likely would have been voted in to face Zach, which is a much better match-up for Zach. In the end, Zach is an idiot who sealed his own fate by letting Bananas go in a second time. During the nomination deliberation, the guys vote in Ashley K, she’s essentially a rookie and the weakest champ. Hilariously, CT casts his vote for Camila, and the weird animosity between the two of them continues. For the guy vote, Camila votes in CT to return the favor, while Ashley votes for Darrell. Cara is torn as CT is her best male friend, and Darrell is her #2, she picks Darrell, and as a true vet, Darrell has no ill will, he understands it’s his time to show everyone why he is a 4 time champ.
We get to the elimination and the game is Pole Wrestle, possibly the most famous elimination Challenge history. A battle to the death with two people, four hands, and one stick. The goal is to be holding that stick in the end of it all. They show clips of some of the most famous games of pole wrestle, Wes v LeRoy(Exes 1), Nany v Theresa(Exes 2), and Wes v Derrick(Duel 1). What amazed me is that there are so many other great battles not shown: Ty v Abram(Exes 1), Susie v Kim(Ruins), Bananas v Mark(Exes 1), LeRoy v Bananas(Exes 2), Aneesa v Cara(Bloodlines).
This was Cara’s 3rd time playing Pole Wrestle ever, and considering she’s more yoked than ever before, Ashley K never had a chance. Ashley displayed heart and good strength, she wasn’t going to win, but played with good spirit and I would love to see her on again. For the guys round, it looked like a fair match-up, but Darrell used his brain, he took advantage of the ground, and demolished Zach. As much as I dislike Zach, I enjoyed how much respect he had for Darrell after the loss. When Zach loses he often blames external circumstances for his losses and does not show remorse for his decisions. Even with a recovering broken wrist(which was not mentioned), Zach displayed a level of honesty that was refreshing. I still hate his guts, but I do think he has gotten way too much hate in recent months by Challenge fans calling him overrated. He is overrated due to us as fans inflating his ego for a while, until we turned on him, like we turn on everyone. I think Zach deserves at least one more Challenge where we have no expectations of him, and just let him prove himself. He deserves that as a competitor.
For Cara, this was her 12th elimination win, and that puts her one win behind Wes for the most all time elimination wins. She will see a minimum of one more elimination this season, and could see two if she wants to make it to the final. If Cara is able to get to 14 elimination wins, defeat Laurel, and make her 5th final, then she is on the precipice of legend status. I already view her as a top 5 female challenge competitor all time, but she would put herself in the same discussion as Laurel/Emily/Evelyn. And while she is not on their levels completely, her accolades would cement her as a Challenge Legend.