This week on The Challenge, the house, led by Big T, teams up against best friends Tori and Aneesa, sending them into elimination together. Tori struggles in the physical portion, giving Aneesa the edge and eliminating Tori from the game. This makes Tori the first woman officially eliminated this season, as first boot Ashley is brought back due to Survivor champion Natalie being deemed medically unable to compete.
Let’s break it all down…
The episode begins with Cory and Josh confronting Tori and Fessy for their move to put Fessy up in the last elimination. This leads to a fight where Tori further isolates herself from the rest of the cast. Aneesa then consoles her friend and solidifies to the audience that she, Tori, and Theresa are the big veteran alliance this season and will protect each other from going into elimination.
Immediately after that, Big T is able to round up the female rookies, calling their alliance “The Itty Bitty Small Girl Committee,” and comes to her partner CT with a plan of putting Tori/Devin and Aneesa/Leroy up against each other in the next elimination.
Before we get to this week’s challenge, Natalie is removed from the season due to medical reasons. While not explained on the show itself, Natalie has since talked with Entertainment Weekly, where she details the reasons she left the show. Given that in the interview, Natalie said she asked MTV not to include the reason in the episode, I won’t go over it in this recap. But all of us at Inside Survivor would like to send our best wishes to Natalie at this time.
As this is now the third woman removed from the game due to medical reasons, Ashley “Millionaire” Mitchell, the first boot of the season, is invited back into the game. She returns to the tune of “Moneygrabber” by Fitz and the Tantrums, referencing her decision not to share the money on her previous season, Final Reckoning.
One thing that I’ve really enjoyed about this season is the 80s-throwback soundtrack. Everything on this season is very WarGames inspired, and the clarity of theming really is shining through, especially compared to Survivor’s recent rot of “vaguely tribal” art themes.
Once Ashley is back into the game, TJ pairs her with Cory (Natalie’s partner), and the challenge begins proper.
This episode’s challenge is “Agent Down,” an endurance challenge, which will be played in two heats. In each heat, one member of each pair needs to hang on to the edge of a platform while standing on a different platform. At any random point, the platform will drop, making it much harder to hold on. To prevent their partner from falling, the other half of each pair will need to pull up 200 meters of rope onto the platform—when done, they will be allowed to hold on to their partner. The pair that holds on the longest wins.
Jay is the first person to complete the rope pull. Nam and Leroy are able to complete the rope pull in time. And Devin decides to throw the challenge. However, most of the women are able to hold onto the ledge without much difficulty. This means that all of the men (or at least those trying to win) can start holding onto their partners, eventually ending with Jay and Theresa winning the first heat.
The second heat is overall a lot stronger than the first, with all but Cory completing the rope pull. But Fessy quickly drops, despite being the largest guy in the game. In true Big Brother fashion, Josh tries to cut a deal with CT as the final two guys in the heat, which, in true CT fashion, he refuses, leaving Big T and CT as the winners of the heat.
As it’s announced that Big T and CT beat Jay and Theresa by five seconds, Big T and CT prove why they are by far the fan favourites of the season, with their positive energies just radiating through the screen.
Big T creates a VIP section of The Challenge nightclub and asks for everybody to wait on her hand-and-foot, simultaneously charming and disarming her competition to take her as a non-threat.
Tori then targets Big T’s ally Amber M, expecting that the “strong” will stick together and vote a rookie girl into elimination. As Tori tries her hardest to antagonize the new rookies as much as possible, the show doesn’t try to hide the outcome at all, with roughly a third of the house getting confessionals just to say that they don’t like Tori.
This leaves Aneesa, Tori, and Fessy as the only three to follow Tori’s plan as they vote in Amber M & Meechie, while the rest of the house almost unanimously decides to vote in Aneesa & Leroy, with a few people choosing to throw their votes.
Untitled Eighth Film
At the Crater, Big T decides to finish her plan and nominate Devin and Tori to face Aneesa and Leroy at elimination. TJ then announces the second woman’s elimination round, as everybody was expecting, meaning that Tori and Aneesa will face each other in “Asset Destruction.”
In the most Survivor-y challenge to date, each person needs to pull a large crate full of volleyballs through the sand and then throw the volleyballs at a grid of 5×5 tiles. Of the 25 tiles, 13 of them are breakable. The first person to break all 13 tiles wins a Golden Skull, and the loser will be eliminated.
Aneesa is first to pull her crate to the finish as Tori struggles to tip hers, leading to Aneesa being able to knock-out 10 tiles before Tori can even knock-out one. While Tori manages to catch up to 11 tiles, Aneesa eventually smashes her 13th and earns a Golden Skull and her tenth all-time elimination win.
Afterward, Aneesa chooses to ditch her partner Leroy for her initial partner Fessy, which leaves Kaycee to re-partner with Leroy and making Devin the Rogue Agent for the next episode. This seems like an awful move for Aneesa, as while Aneesa and Fessy both have Golden Skulls, they are still the two outsiders of the house, and they could be an easy consensus vote.
Big T then celebrates everything going as planned, as Devin enjoys the immunity that being “Rogue” gives him. In her final words, Tori accuses production of using heavier balls in her crate than Aneesa’s and says that she’s happy to go home to her fiancé Jordan, which for people following the drama of Tori and Jordan’s breakup, know that not to be true.
While this was a satisfactory boot for the season’s villain of Tori, and Big T continues to be a joy to have on-screen, this episode felt relatively tensionless. There never seemed to be any believable opposition to Big T’s plan, and both challenges were relatively one-sided. However, as a whole, this season continues to deliver, and I really hope that this momentum keeps up and the strong cast continues to shine.