The Challenge: Double Agents Episode 4 Recap

The Challenge is unique because the same roster of players tends to return year after year. Challengers establish long-standing bonds and rivalries that impact the strategic decisions made in any given season. That is what made Nelson's decision last season to throw himself into elimination in place of Cory so dramatic. It was a choice rooted deeply in the bonds a friendship forges over time. A kinship solidified at this moment that let the house know these two will always have each other's back.

While Nelson and Cory will forever stay loyal to one another, not all friendships can withstand the allure of winning The Challenge. This week, poor Nelly "00" T learned the hard way that allies can turn into rivals if the opportunity arises and that some friendships are worth $1 million.

Strange Bedfellows

As the house returned from the previous elimination, Tori is reeling from Devin's decision to take her as a partner. They don't like each other, and Tori would love to find a way out from her strange bedfellows situation.

One Challenger who might be interested in sliding into that partnership DM is Fessy, who expresses he has had a crush on Tori every since he met her. Of course, Tori is (well, was at the time of filming) engaged to Challenge vet Jordan Wisely. While Tori is working with Aneesa and Fessy, her loyalty lies with Aneesa, not Fessy, and she has shown little interest in reciprocating the feelings towards him.

In the end, Fessy moves on to Gabby, knowing Tori is off the market, and he doesn't want to be that guy who tries to ruin a relationship. I bet Nelson wishes he would have the same approach with his friends. None of this matters by the end of the episode anyway, as Fessy made, let's just say, some interesting strategic choices this week that may have ended any chances he could have had with Tori.

Meanwhile, Tori's new partner, Devin, continues to make a stir in the house. After a blow-up with Josh last week, Devin finds himself at the center of another argument, this time with Amber M.

While having a moving heart to heart with Big T (more on that in a second), Devin gets frustrated that Amber M is in the room and tells her to leave. During a confessional, Devin owns that he doesn't like Amber, seeing her as someone who uses the guys to get what she wants. Amber isn't one to be intimidated, though, as she sticks up for herself when Devin essentially tells her she is useless. Give Amber credit here, Devin may have wounded her pride, but she wasn't going to let him push her around. Devin plays a psychological game, and it only works if you let it work.

The next morning, Nelson confronts Devin about the argument. Nelson remains relatively calm throughout this conversation with a groggy Devin, even as he instructs Nelson to take his negative energy elsewhere. It isn't a good look for Devin. He may have a gold skull already, but that doesn't make him immune from elimination. There are plenty of people in the house who think he is a lay-up, and his constant bickering with everyone is only giving them more ammunition to throw him back into The Crater.

Before jumping into the daily, let's talk about Big T for a second. I don't think any player this season has seen their stock rise quite like Big T. She isn't a physical threat, but she has proven to be adept strategically, and her confessionals are always on point. Her conversation this week, revealing she grew up in an adopted home, was incredibly moving. Big T continues to ingratiate herself with her castmates and the audience. She may not win this game, but Big T is the type of likable character the show can help build around for future seasons.

Drone Control

The daily this week is called Drone Control. Each team received a drone and a VR headset. One teammate will fly the drone while the other uses the headset to direct them. The goal is for teams to reach a code wall in a lava tunnel, memorize the code, return the drone to their station, and decipher the code from memory. The fastest team to complete the mission becomes the double agents.

Before the daily can get started, TJ announces Liv was sent home after being declared medically unfit to compete. Mechie is now a rogue agent and will sit out the mission. After watching the daily, though, I don't think he missed out here. There isn't much drama to this one.

Only one team completes the mission, while everyone else managed to crashed their drones, much to TJ Lavin's delight. Few things are more joyous in the world than watching the esteemed host ridicule the challengers for failing epically on missions. TJ was brilliant during this segment, proving again he is deserving of the Emmy nomination that has long alluded him.

Instead of detailing each match up since, you know, everyone did pretty terribly, here are some of the best highlights.

  • In response to Nelson claiming TJ sucks after DQ'ing them, the host responded, "I don't know if I suck, but I know you guys suck at this."

  • After calling TJ out for laughing at him, Leroy's subsequent confessional about how he doesn't want to play anymore is vintage Leroy humor.

  • Lolo's intense communication style is next level. TJ could not help but laugh at how terrible she is truly is at conveying directions.

  • After the last group crashed their drones in relatively quick order, TJ got one more dig in as he told the teams, "that was the opposite of good" and "I really appreciate you giving it your all."

The only team to finish the daily mission is Tori and Devin. That's right, the dysfunctional duo who don't know how to communicate in the real world managed to pull off a victory in a challenge requiring outstanding communication skills. After getting on the same page for the daily mission, only time will tell whether the duo can do the same for the nominations.

Paranoia is King

As everyone gears up for the house vote, different strategies are floating in the air. No one is sure if it will be a male or female week, though most believe the elimination will feature men since medical issues forced both Nicole and Liv from the game.

As the double agents, Tori and Devin have competing interests when it comes to The Crater. Tori, after a conversation with Aneesa, wants to earn her skull if possible. Devin, who already has one, wants to stay far away from elimination by targeting Josh.

After a brief conversation between the two, Tori warns Josh that Devin wants to throw him in. Josh storms around the house campaigning for them to send in someone he can beat. Employing his usual chaotic tone, Josh confronts Jay about not trusting him. Kaycee tries to smooth things out between the two, but Josh's ability to logically reason lost out to his uncontrollable paranoia. Even as Jay was trying to get Josh to calm down and have a conversation, he storms off with his anger once again getting the best of him. Josh, for the love of all things good, please listen to Big T and drink some tea to calm down.

The house ultimately chooses Nelson and Amber to enter The Crater. The other team that received a decent number of votes was Theresa and Jay. Considering these were the two teams gaining the most traction in the house, it isn't surprising to see them here. It was a bit bewildering to see Kyle and Fessy vote for each other. There is a rivalry brewing between the two, and it feels like the show is setting up some confrontation down the line.

With nominees set, the double agents must now decide what to do. The only problem is, they can't seem to agree on who should go into elimination.

Fessy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Strategic Decision

As the teams arrive at The Crater, they see two walls set up parallel to one another and know that they are in for a hall brawl. Nelson, already uneasy about the elimination, doesn't want to see the hall brawl set up because it is the elimination that sent him home on Total Madness. You know, the one he volunteered for because of friendship. And now, it is the one where he will see another relationship tested.

The first order of business is to decide who will face Nelson and Amber. Despite pleading from Tori and Devin, TJ will not reveal if it is a guy or girl's day, claiming agents need to be ready for anything. After a few seconds of begging from Devin, Tori finally relents, deciding not to vote herself into The Crater. The duo instead sends down ... Anessa and Fessy?

Their decision is a shock to the house. While Aneesa indicates Tori is allowing her an opportunity to win a skull, it's clear that Fessy asked Tori to throw them in. Cory and Nelson feel utterly betrayed, with Cory choking back tears. Josh is also upset after he had a conversation with Fessy earlier in the day about wanting a chance to prove himself. Fessy feels no remorse when TJ reveals it is indeed a guy's elimination day, only making matters worse.

For Nelson, this is the worst-case scenario. Going up against someone Nelson trusted in an elimination he has lost in the past is a tough pill to swallow, but Nelson has heart and will not go down easy even if he is the underdog.

As TJ blows the horn for the first round, the two collide with a thud. Nelson gets low, digging his heels in the sand. Fessy is strong, but Nelson is putting up more of a fight than he ever anticipated. Frustrated, Fessy begins picking Nelson up and slamming him into the ground. Hall brawl is already physical enough, but dirty play like this is unwarranted. Between rounds, TJ even gives Fessy a warning about his actions. I think the shine on Fessy's stature as a physical threat is starting to wear. Nelson is a strong guy, but Fessy's definitive size advantage should lead to a relatively easy victory. Yet, he struggles to push Nelson around. After betraying his friends and underwhelming in The Crater, the house is starting to lose respect for Fessy.

Despite a strong showing from Nelson, Fessy wins the first round by the slimmest of margins. Round two tells a similar story, with Nelson putting up a fight before Fessy finally manages to get by him for the victory. Nelson is going home, while Fessy now has a coveted gold skull that qualifies him for the final.

It is striking to see the difference between Nelson and Fessy. Last season, Nelson made the ultimate sacrifice to give his friend Cory the best shot to win. Fessy was willing to throw a friendship away for his shot at winning. Worst of all, he didn't display any real empathy for his actions.

Of course, he had one more decision to make, and in true Fessy fashion, he burned one last bridge on the way out of The Crater. Given the opportunity to trade partners, Fessy swapped Aneesa for Kaycee. The Big Brother alliance purposely split up so the house wouldn't see them as easy targets. With his strategic actions so far this game and his decision to switch partners here, Fessy is giving everyone the reasoning they need to target him week in and week out. As Jay said, "every decision he made tonight was stupid."

Fessy's choices this week continue a trend of terrible strategic decisions he has made over the last few weeks. Fessy has maintained he will only ever enter elimination if it is a physical one but passed up the opportunity in week two to compete against Joseph. Looking back, Fessy may regret not making that decision now. If he had, he would still have a strong alliance behind him and a gold skull. Instead, he employed a scorched Earth strategy that burned almost everyone in the house.

Fessy is public enemy number one now. He may have his skull, but there is a good chance this won't be the only elimination he sees this season. And after an underwhelming performance, the house isn't as scared to take him anymore.

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