For the fourth second-last The Challenge episode in a row, Kaycee breaks her leg while hiking in the Icelandic Mountains but elects to keep going despite it. However, with a mid-final elimination coming up, Kaycee’s determination will likely be for naught, with elimination for her and Fessy on the horizon.
On the other side, Amber B, who I called the wildcard of the final, reveals herself to be the ace in the hole, dominating the long-distance running portions, giving both her and CT a massive lead.
While this episode was surprisingly one of my favourites of the season, owing in large part due to the course design, it is hard to write about people just running around the Icelandic landscape. So, for this recap, I will cover this episode and my general thoughts on The Challenge: All-Stars, which is currently airing on Paramount Plus.
Like all definitely-planned-out-to-be-two-episodes-far-in-advance-and-not-forced-to-get-an-extra-episode-in-last-minute episodes of The Challenge, this episode begins with an unnecessary 20-minute club scene. All that these scenes do is establish the main arc of the episode, which, this time, is the downfall of Fessy.
Fessy has been the antagonist of this season, which has probably been my biggest problem with it. Fessy, while on paper being the perfect Challenge villain, has none of the charisma but all of the assholery. Fessy isn’t somebody you love to hate; he’s just somebody you hate.
The cast is then brought to the Icelandic mountains to start their final. I’ve commented on how beautiful the locations this season have looked, but the light hitting the snow-capped volcanic mountains is on another level. The contestants running a final in the middle of a hurricane makes the setting even more unique.
After running for four miles, CT & Amber take a narrow lead over Kaycee & Fessy, while Nany drags Leroy down to last place. The first checkpoint is a redo of the first challenge of the season, which Amber B wins, giving her the ability to swap teams, which she refuses.
This frustrates Fessy as he yells at Kaycee to go faster when hiking up the volcanic hills, leading them to retake the lead, only for Kaycee to fall over and break her leg over that hill. Fessy does not console his partner as the medics come in and sulks to himself in the corner.
In traditional Challenge subtlety, “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush plays to Fessy sulking as Kaycee cries in pain—a song simultaneously about partners being unable to empathize with each other and literally running up hills.
However, the final stops for nobody as the remaining three teams head to the next checkpoint, where they are required to ingest a lamb’s head, a pig snout, ram’s testicles, and a liter of blood. All of Nany, Kam, and Cory use the tactical chundering strategy mastered by many during freshers’ week to get through the plate, as Kaycee decides to finish the final.
Kaycee hobbles her way to the checkpoint, eating all of the food single-handedly, while Fessy refuses to participate with the knowledge that he’s lost anyway. The episode ends with CT & Amber being the first to complete the eating task and given the ability to sabotage another team before they can continue.
Thoughts on The Challenge: All-Stars
At this point, I’ve seen two episodes of The Challenge: All-Stars, but I will keep clear of spoilers for my general thoughts.
I think my feelings about this season are best summarized by Ashley Mitchell, who tweeted, “So entertainers make better tv than athletes, who could’ve seen this coming.”
The Real World/Road Rules Challenge started as an opportunity for people to watch through the lens of a thinly veiled competition. Old school challenges ranged from goofy to fun, with the competition mostly serving as a catalyst for drama. However, over the years, the show has changed to put the competition front and center.
Early Real World/Road Rules Challenges are littered with some of the most colourful characters in reality tv history, many of which are on All-Stars. Still, this season does highlight how comparatively dull the modern-day cast is.
However, my main issue with this season so far is that I’m not sure if the show is willing to go back to being non-athletic at all. At this point, challenges on this season could have all featured on the main show without standing out as being unathletically demanding. While I don’t mind the athleticism, this could quickly become problematic when half of the cast are middle-aged librarians in the midwest.
I think to some degree, I would prefer an old-school style season, where competitions were goofy, and 40% of the cast ended up splitting a $60,000 jackpot. This show feels more like a middle-aged edition of The Challenge than a reunion season of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge.
Despite this, I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far. It’s nice to see icons, not just to The Challenge, but to reality tv as a whole back on tv (or, I guess, the internet) again, and I hope this show gets more seasons. If not, to finally get Coral back on a Challenge.