The Challenge 36

Episode 12 Recap – Big Betrayal

Joseph Hadaway recaps all the latest action.

Photo: MTV

Another episode of The Challenge: Kaoh Rong, another medical evacuation, as Nam is removed due to a back injury. The evacuation follows a shocking double elimination which sees the eliminations of the two ‘weakest’ men in the competition, Devin and Josh, as two of the more seasoned veterans receive Golden Skulls.

However, the real drama occurs when CT decides to steal Kam as a partner, betraying both Kyle and Big T.

Everybody Hates The Goof

The episode begins by immediately resolving the previous episode’s cliffhanger. The security breach turns out to be a double elimination. The Double Agents (CT & Big T) will select two teams to go into elimination against the two teams who received the most votes (Devin & Gabby and Josh & Nany).

This “security breach” twist was blatantly created to get rid of Josh; it is either funny or unfair. The first rule of The Challenge is now officially, “Don’t use The Challenge as your backup show behind Big Brother 22.” At least Double Agents has consistently been okay-to-good the entire season, a quality level that Big Brother could only aspire to reach.

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Photo: MTV

As the Double Agent, CT is allowed to pick the elimination matchups and selects to take on ‘The Goof’ himself. After TJ says that Nam and Cory are immune as ‘Rogue Agents’, CT lets Devin pick between Leroy, Fessy, and Darrell. Despite the episode framing it as Devin having a chance, these three men have a cumulative 21 elimination wins, and Devin is Devin. Devin elects to compete against Darrell, as TJ reveals the elimination as ‘Dead Ringer’ with an added tangram puzzle.

Despite Devin’s strength in puzzles, both Devin and Darrell struggle, with Darrell eventually finding the solution and winning. In the second elimination, CT finishes the tangram in six seconds before Josh retrieves all the pieces.

Like Only A Real Father Would

After I mention that CT and Big T are the most rootable team in The Challenge history, CT decides to take Kam as his new partner, betraying Big T. And CT inadvertently rubs it into Big T’s face, as she promises to target CT in every future elimination.

After this, Kyle, Nam, Cory, Gabby, Nany, Big T are without partners. Kyle selects to partner with Nany, Cory chooses Gabby, leaving Nam and Big T together.

This “infiltration” is a reminder of the strength of the partner-swapping element of this format. Considering that there are only two rounds left before the final, jockeying for a strong finals partner becomes more important than ever.

However, CT leaving Big T is disappointing. Big T is the heart of the season, and CT betraying the paternal relationship he had with her stings as a viewer of the show. CT’s arc going into the season was the spurred father re-evaluating his priorities to focus on his kids, and, thematically, both his gloating and his decision betray that. Kam summarizes it perfectly in confessional, “It’s not that he picked me, it’s how he picked me.”

The Challenge 36
Photo: MTV

A-Nam-ther Cliffhanger

Nam then wakes up with a broken back and goes to the hospital as the cast visits a hot spring. CT spends the rest of the episode trying to repair his relationship with Big T. They blow up at each other, removing any positive goodwill CT has in the house.

The contestants are woken up in the middle of the night to begin the next challenge. Nam is then officially removed from the game, making Big T the “Rogue Agent” and immune from elimination, but unable to get a Golden Skull. The next challenge begins as the episode ends; each team will be chained in the middle of a jail cell and will need to complete a series of torture-inspired tasks to escape.

Prediction/Power Rankings

With thirteen contestants remaining, I think it would be easy enough to do power rankings of the remaining contestants:

13. Big T – It sucks to put her here, but I can’t see Big T beating anybody in elimination to get her Golden Skull.

12. Cory – I think Cory would struggle to earn his Golden Skull against any of the remaining men. I also don’t think he would do that well in a final.

11. Gabby – While I could see Gabby winning against Nany, she would likely pick Fessy as a partner, who I don’t think has a chance in the final.

10. Nany – Like Gabby, I think Nany would pick Fessy as her partner, but Nany gets a slight bump due to her experience in both finals and eliminations.

9. Aneesa – Aneesa is somebody who the other girls think they could beat for a chance to earn their Golden Skull or swap partners, which I think puts a target on her back. Furthermore, she’s also dead-set on having Fessy as a partner, which I think will end up hurting her in the end.

8. Fessy – I cannot see Fessy winning a final. Due to COVID restrictions, the finale is 100% going to be in Iceland. Finals in the snow are known for having bigger men gas out towards the end of it, with the most famous example being CT on Battle of the Exes.

7. Kyle – Kyle has been to a lot of finals where he has put up okay performances. However, I think Kyle can’t risk going into an elimination for a chance to get a better partner. If he lucks himself to get Kam or Kaycee as a partner, I think he has a good chance of winning.

6. CT – CT has a strong partner and an improving record in finals. However, all of his final wins are in hot locations, and I’m not sure if CT is fit enough to win a cold final.

5. Amber – I think Amber is the third-best girl remaining in the game, and Amber/Darrell are the partnership that’s the most likely to stay intact until the finale. In that situation, Amber and Darrell would be the strong dark horse candidate to win the final.

4. Darrell – Like Amber, Amber/Darrell would be a partnership that I could see potentially win a final. I think Darrell is more likely to end up with Kaycee or Kam than Amber is to end up with Leroy or CT, hence this placement.

3. Leroy – Due to this being his final season, I think the production team is trying very hard to give Kam or Leroy the win. Kaycee and Leroy are probably the best pair remaining and would likely win the final if nothing changes.

2. Kaycee – Kaycee and Leroy are probably the pair with the best chance of winning the final. Kaycee is higher than Leroy because if Kaycee runs with somebody else in the finale, I still think she could win.

1. Kam – If Kam is in the final with either CT, Darrell, Kyle, or Leroy as her partner, I’m pretty sure she wins. Her only real competition on the girls’ side is Kaycee, and her partner would most likely be Leroy, which is a win for Kam anyway.

Written by

Joseph Hadaway

Joseph Holopainen-Hadaway is an Australian/Finnish/Filipino (long story) business graduate, who currently lives in London despite studying a law degree in Sydney (longer story). A life-long reality-tv fan with hot takes on everything from Santas in the Barn to Beauty and the Geek Australia, he has been a superfan of The Challenge and Survivor for nearly a decade. You can follow him on @josephhadaway on Twitter or @ilosttheway on Instagram.

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