We happily interrupt your Ridiculousness marathon to bring you a recap of the brand new episode of The Challenge. Seriously, does MTV have any other programming it can highlight? Maybe sprinkle in a few episodes of Catfish or Teen Mom for a change. Or, I don't know, maybe show a few reruns of The Challenge.
Then again, an hour and a half of television is hard to fit on a schedule. I am starting to question if MTV should go back to the hour-long format for The Challenge. After a strong start to the season, the show has leveled off. In particular, the last few weeks have felt like we see a lot going on in the house without much actually happening.
Don't get me wrong. By Challenge standards, this has been a fun season to consume. I just hope the gameplay picks up over the next few weeks.
Anyways. Time is quickly running out for the female side of the house to earn a gold skull. After Kaycee's victory last week, only two are left and fewer opportunities to get one with each passing week.
The women of the house are starting to feel the pressure. Amber B thinks she may have missed her only opportunity last week. Lolo sees a gold skull as a golden ticket out of her relationship with Nam. Other competitors like Gabby and Nany desperately want their shot at earning a place in the final.
The only problem for Gabby is that her partner is Devin. As one of the gold skull holders, Devin would like to avoid the Crater at all costs. If he had his way, Devin would send Josh in to face CT. He feels wronged by the Big Brother alliance and is willing to do whatever it takes to get Josh out.
Black Sand Opps
The daily mission is Black Sand Opps. Teams will race to unearth ten puzzle pieces buried throughout a beach containing 100 lit torches. If the challengers come across another team's puzzle piece, they can choose to reveal its location or rebury it. The first team to successfully recover all ten puzzle pieces and finish the puzzle wins.
Devin and Gabby manage to squeak out a surprising victory in Black Sand Opps. Unsurprisingly, the Big Brother alliance all worked together to find their puzzle pieces because they don't want Devin to win.
Josh and Nany are the first to collect all of their pieces but struggle with the puzzle. Several teams, including Devin and Gabby, manage to catch up and pass them in the process.
While I imagine other teams used a similar strategy, Gabby and Devin are the only ones that detail how they split the puzzle up between the two of them. Gabby memorized the top while Devin memorized the bottom. The strategy paid off, leading to the second daily mission victory of the season for Devin.
As Devin and Gabby celebrate, explosions go off in the background. Why are there explosives? I don't know. Maybe the producers had some of that Burger King money burning a hole in their pocket after last week after last week.
Either way, the only question remaining is if Devin and Gabby can get on the same page about elimination.
Drunk with Power
Devin is the type of player that's drunk with power when he has none. He is almost insufferable when he is in a position to make decisions.
After a win during the daily mission, Devin is feeling the energy. In his not-so-humble opinion, the house should do what he wants since he is the double agent, quickly moving to let everyone know they will be voting in Josh or suffer the consequences.
But what incentive does the house have to go along with his plan? Yeah, Devin can threaten to throw them into the Crater, but the Big Brother alliance controls the vote. They are not going to turn on one of their numbers to give Devin what he wants. Especially not when he is going around telling the Big Brother alliance they suck.
Then, he doesn't even follow through with his threats to nominate those who don't listen to him. It's all empty promises that further push him down the social ladder in the game.
Devin doesn't seem able to connect those dots, though. He attempts to strong-arm the house but has no muscle to back up his threats. His tactics this week were the equivalent of bringing a knife to a gunfight.
The only person Devin seems to control is Gabby, who he convinces to skip out on a chance to win an easy gold skull. Yes, they get into a heated argument about her going in, but she ultimately gives in to his wishes of avoiding the Crater. It's a small win that protects him now but brings little longer-term value to his game. With next week almost certainly a guy's elimination, Devin could be in real trouble.
The house ends up voting in Cory and Amber. Everyone believes it is a female elimination day, so voting for Amber M gives the women the best shot at returning. It's the smart play considering no one knows what Devin will do.
On the Rocks
Outside of Devin and Gabby, Lolo and Nam took center stage in the drama department this week.
And things are rocky between them.
The foundation of their relationship has slowly crumbled for weeks now. A lack of communication continues to cause tension between the powerhouse duo, finally reaching a breaking point.
The two athletes got into an argument about not working well together. Lolo needs Nam to meet her in the middle. Nam feels Lolo is too intense. Both are extremely stubborn and unwilling to work out their issues. Kayce awkwardly watches on with a modicum of glee as their partnership swiftly devolves into anarchy.
At deliberation, a tearful Lolo asks the house to vote her in so she could split from Nam. You can tell everyone feels bad for her, but no one is willing to give her a chance at a gold skull.
One of my chief complaints about Total Madness was the willingness of the house to let challengers pick when they wanted to go into elimination and giving them the opportunity. That isn't happening here, much to the dismay of Lolo.
In the end, she is too big a threat to win an elimination and the final. The house isn't going to give her a free skull. The reality is, her only hope is winning a daily mission, and her inability to communicate with Nam prevents them from winning week in and week out.
As the competitors walk up to the Crater, they see it will be a hall brawl. The Challenge classic returns after Fessy beat Nelson in the same elimination earlier this season.
Like the other repeat eliminations this season, hall brawl was slightly altered from its first use. Two competitors will run towards each other, colliding in the center of a long hall. As an additional wrinkle, each player must retrieve a ball from their opponent's side and return it to theirs. The first to do this three times wins.
Considering the men have already competed in hall brawl, this seemingly confirms we are heading towards a female elimination. For Gabby, this is the perfect opportunity to go down and beat an easy competitor like Amber M.
TJ calls her out, indicating she and Amber are the same level of gnarly. I am not quite sure what that means, but I think TJ should get his own weekly column on MTV.com detailing his gnarly rankings for each episode.
For Gabby, this is a terrible decision that only benefits Devin. On top of it, she blindsides Amber B and Darrell by throwing them in. I cannot think of a worse outcome for her game than what transpired.
Once the hall brawl started, Gabby quickly began to regret her decision. Predictably, Amber B destroys Amber M, shutting her out three balls to none. After her dominating performance, Amber B has to decide if she wants to switch partners. Before TJ can even finish his sentence, though, she exclaims Darrell is her ride or die.
For Cory, he is now the rogue agent. The next elimination will determine his new partner, the sixth of this season. I don't even know how that is possible. But if Amber B's reaction is any indication, the women may try avoiding Cory like the plague.
I have always enjoyed Devin as a competitor, but his strategy is far too often the equivalent of empty calories: full of energy with little to no substance behind it.
He spent the week threatening everyone to throw Josh in as the house vote. But when push came to shove, he lacked the political capital necessary to get Josh voted in. Then, he didn't even follow through on his promise to nominate those with gold skulls if they didn't do his bidding.
Devin should be spending his time rebuilding relationships with the power alliance. Instead, he continues to alienate himself from the rest of the house. With no more gold skulls left for the men, I don't know how much longer Devin can last in the game. The Big Brother alliance has every incentive to throw Devin into each male elimination until he loses.
As for Gabby, it was a misstep not going into the Crater. She would have easily beaten Amber M and could have switched partners. Now, she is stuck with Devin, at least for the foreseeable future, and her prospects of earning a gold skull do not look great.
A successful stint as double agents can make or break your game. For Devin and Gabby, it may be game over after this week.