While this episode is titled Skyfall, consequences would be a more apt description. Everyone has to answer for their sins at some point on The Challenge, and a messy game strategically will find players on the elimination floor more times than not. That is a lesson two challengers learned the hard way as the decisions made last week by Tori and Fessy immediately came back to hurt their games this week, though in very different ways. Let's dig in as we unpack the fallout.
Naturally, Cory confronted Fessy for tuning on Nelson last week, wanting to know why he chose to go into elimination against his friend. Cory doesn't understand the reasoning, especially since Nelson would never call either of them out. Josh eventually jumps into the argument, claiming Fessy stole his shot at winning a Gold Skull. Neither are happy with his actions, but Fessy couldn't care any less.
For the first time, Fessy detailed the thinking behind asking Tori to put him in, and it illuminates the lack of strategic thought he put into this decision. First, he tries to argue that he never actually said Nelson's name, a loophole he thought absolved him of any wrongdoing. Fessy then exclaimed that he was losing an ally either way and wanted to protect Josh. That's right, Fessy is the gallant hero, riding into battle to save his friend by betraying another. It's nonsensical reasoning with one's self to justify an action Fessy knows others see negatively. I have no problem with wanting to get your Gold Skull but own your move.
None of this matters to Josh, who feels betrayed by the actions of those whom he feels closest. On a side note, Josh didn't really want to go into elimination against Nelson. He spent the time leading up to the vote trying to cause a fight with Jay so the house would have ammunition to throw Jay in. Josh, much like the rest of the house, is looking for their easy meal ticket. It's not a bad strategy, but own that you want to go in against someone you perceive to be weaker.
Anyway, Fessy looks unremorseful and selfish in this argument. He has systematically alienated his allies and hasn't performed as well physically in the last few challenges, a trend that continued this week. Yes, he has a Gold Skull, but Fessy better win this season because he will have a hard time finding anyone willing to work with him in the future.
The daily mission this week was entitled Agent Down. The female partners began standing on the ledge of a platform suspended in the air. The male partner must pull 200 feet of rope up before they can hold onto their partner. At some point, TJ will press a button, releasing the ledge, forcing the female partner to hold themselves up on the platform until their male partner arrives. Played in two heats, the team that holds on the longest wins.
Before the mission can get started, TJ announces that Natalie will have to leave the game. Though the show provides few details for her withdrawal, Natalie has since revealed she was pregnant and suffered a miscarriage once returning home. That is heartbreaking news, and we wish Natalie and her family all the best. If you are looking for more information on her story, I highly recommend checking out the interview she did with Entertainment Weekly.
Unfortunately, Natalie is the third female competitor to be deactivated from the game without being eliminated. Drastic times call for drastic measures, and TJ announces he triggered a security breach, reactivating Ashley as an agent. She immediately joins Cory as his new partner, reuniting the Rivals III teammates.
Jay and Theresa pull out a win in the first heat. Aneesa and Tori are the first two out after Leroy drops Aneesa, and Devin, who was trying to lose, fails to get his rope pulled up all the way. Amber B manages to hang on after the ledge drops, but Darell is too slow getting to her, and she falls thrid. Lio and Gabby are the next team out after a strong effort from Lio. In the end, Jay's grip strength is too much for Nam, who drops Lolo.
CT and Big T manage to win heat two. Ashley and Cory are the first out after Cory struggled with the rope. Fessy and Kaycee drop next, another negative mark on his resume as a physical threat. Soon after, Mechie lets go of Amber M, and Kyle drops Kam. Finally, Josh loses his grip on Nany, leaving only CT and Big T on the platform.
After the two heats, TJ pulls the group together to reveal that CT and Big T held on longer than anyone, making them the new double agents. Most of the house seems overjoyed for Big T, who is ready to make a big move.
Revenge of the Rookies
For several weeks now, Tori has expressed a desire to go into an elimination for a chance to earn her Gold Skull. In doing so, she has displayed an arrogant attitude that has rubbed a lot of the house the wrong way as she has belittled many of the rookie girls, calling them weak.
Tori is playing a dangerous game. She doesn't have the numbers she thinks she does, and the rookie girls have a strong alliance that makes up a large chunk of the house vote. Unfortunately for her, Big T and Amber M - two prominent recipients of her rebukes- have already put into motion a plan targeting Tori.
Heading into the daily mission, the rookie girls all agreed to work together to throw the challenge to one of them. The winning team would nominate Tori for elimination, while the house would vote in Aneesa to separate the duo. Even Tori's partner Devin is in on the plan, which is why he didn't give it his all during the daily. Now that Big T is a double agent, she can officially enact her plan.
And what a glorious double agent Big T is. She is silly, fun, and duplicitous. She does get a little out of control, as CT pointed out, but Big T is clearly having the time of her life at the club as she transforms into the house queen with her fellow housemates lining up to kiss the ring. Well, not everyone. Tori takes her time with Big T to double down on her desire to compete against Amber M as a weaker female in the house. As the great liberator for the perceived weak, Big T doesn't like hearing this.
Despite a last-ditch effort from Tori to rally the votes for Amber M, she doesn't have the political capital to make it happen. Aneesa is the house vote, with a majority of the house voting for her.
With the first two parts of their scheme in full effect, all Big T has to do is send Tori into elimination to complete her plan. One potential wrinkle is Lolo, who CT agreed to give the nod to if Lolo felt she could win the elimination. Trust is a currency in the house and one of which CT has very little. It is a small move, but it builds some trust with Lolo.
Ultimately, Lolo decides to sit this one out, and the double agents vote in Tori to face Aneesa. The elimination this week is called Asset Destruction. Each player has a crate full of bombs across from them, which they must pull towards them until it tips over, releasing the bombs. Once this is complete, they will toss the bombs at a wall of targets. Only 13 of the 25 wall targets are breakable, so the first person to break all 13 wins the elimination and a coveted Gold Skull.
Aneesa jumps out to an early lead, tipping her crate over with relative ease. Tori, meanwhile, cannot seem to release her bombs. I like Tori, and it is hard to watch her struggle, but this is a humbling moment for someone telling others arrogantly that they have to earn their stripes. By the time Tori is finally able to tip her crate over, Aneesa has already hit ten targets.
With only the top targets left, Aneesa starts to slow down. Tori makes a valiant effort to catch up, managing to hit ten targets relatively quickly. The gap, though, proves to be too much as Aneesa hits her last three targets to win the Crater. Aneesa's performance should go a long way at quieting her doubters. While Tori struggled during the elimination, she is still a good competitor, so hopefully Aneesa gets some more respect moving forward.
As for Tori, her game came to an end. That is two unceremonious early exits for the challenger in back to back seasons. She has no one to blame but herself here, as she even admitted to playing a sloppy game. One can only hope her eventual return will feature a tighter strategy and more tactful conversational approach.
As for Aneesa, she now has to decide whether or not she wants to trade partners. Well, remember when we said Fessy's actions also gained him a spot on the elimination floor? That is because Aneesa chooses to swap Leroy with Fessy. Leroy and Kayce could not be any more excited. Fessy, on the other hand, struggles to contain his disappointment.
So here we are, right back where we started. Devin is left alone, a rogue agent. Leroy and Kayce are happily reunited. And Aneesa and Fessy, the only duo with two Gold Skulls, are back together only a week after Fessy chose to show his cards by switching partners. So Fessy's strategic choices last week look even worse as he has gained nothing other than a Gold Skull while burning bridges with several of his alliance members.