Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Cutthroat, Week 2 Power Rankings

“Mandi seeks the warm embrace that only Chet can offer”—Chet

“Their whole strategy on this thing—it’s like someone in a mental institution came up with it. And then I realize that Abe came up with it, so that’s not too far off.” —Johnny

Ah, the inevitable Challenge hookups. Last night saw two on the rise, one of which would flourish by the end while the other would be stifled. First, there was Mandi and Chet. Although Mandi insisted that she usually is not attracted to guys who wear pink shirts and coke-bottle glasses, she enjoys spending time with the charming Chet, and even called him her hero when he killed a bee for her.

She only liked him more after Chet came to her defense against Laurel, who started calling Mandi a slut for allegedly hooking up with Chet. Of course, Laurel is just being a bitch—there’s no way that the strictly Mormon Chet, who on Real World: Brooklyn claimed to have never seen a woman naked, would have sex with Mandi after knowing her for like a week—but it was chivalrous of Chet to come to Mandi’s defense anyway. Laurel claimed she was trying to “push Mandi to her breaking point,”* but I’m sure it was just leftover animosity from Fresh Meat II, when those two didn’t get along.

*This is a common excuse on the Challenge. People say, “I’m just trying to get in her head” or “I’m just trying to wear him down mentally” as if that’s an excuse for acting like a dick.

The second relationship is between Cara Maria and Abram. Though we got some hints of their relationship last week, this was the first real glimpse we saw of them in crisis. The crisis came during the challenge, which involved trying to get four steins from one end of a course to another while suspended upside-down from a harness. The teams with 10 players, Red and Gray, had to sit two people out, and rather than elect to sit its two weakest players (like any normal team would do) Gray chose to sit Abram, arguably its best player, in order to shout words of encouragement to the team.

Abram maintained that he was needed on the sideline to implement his strategy…which would have been okay if the strategy was at all well-concocted or effective. It turned out that harnesses were not long enough to swing two people at once, and that they were not effectively passing the steins back and forth, meaning that they ultimately failed to get any steins over in the allotted time. Meanwhile, the Red team managed only one stein, while Blue got all four, sending Red and Gray into the Gulag.

Forced to vote for teammates put a strain on both relationships. Mandi, as a rookie* who hadn’t yet been to the Gulag (unlike Camila), had a big target on her back. Even chivalrous Chet felt the need to vote for her, if only to prove to his team that he was not “emotionally attached.” Then, in an act of cowardice, he couldn’t work up the nerve to admit his vote to Mandi. For the guys, the Red team voted for Brandon again, in a move even TJ Lavin found perplexing.

*I found myself in a debate last night over whether or not Mandi was technically a rookie. I maintain that, since this is her first mission as a non-Fresh Meat, she is, but if that seems unfair, then let’s just say “non-veteran.”

On the other side, Abram, who had devised the poor strategy and sat out, volunteered to go in, but his teammates rightly didn’t want to vote in their best guy this early. Instead, they voted in JD, who is both gay and a rookie, two things that don’t help in the Challenge. On the girls side, though, Gray felt that Cara Maria had performed worse than Shauvon, who sat out the whole challenge. Given the secret ballots, there was little Abram could do to protect Cara Maria, meaning the two lovestruck girls, Cara Maria and Mandi, would face each other in the Gulag.

Unfortunately, the Gulag event lacked a lot of suspense, as it was a game that was clearly designed so that the bigger competitor would win. The two players were strapped together in a harness, and each one had to work toward one of two barrels on opposite sides. Brandon and Cara Maria, the two bigger competitors, easily pulled their opponents across and won.

And one, two, three o’clock, four o’clock, rank:

Eliminated: J.D. (Gray) Mandi (Red)

I was kind of sad to see Mandi go. She’s really grown on me ever since berating Wes last season.

Guys in Danger: Brandon (Red), Eric (Blue), Luke (Gray)

Brad said that Brandon was probably going to go in again, which I really don’t understand. It seems obvious to me that Brandon is a better player than Dunbar and probably Chet as well.

Girls in Danger: Melinda (Red), Katie (Blue), Shauvon (Gray)

I cannot believe that anyone on Gray seriously thinks Cara Maria is a weaker player than Shauvon.

20. Camila (Red, -4): It’s between Camila and Melinda for the weakest girl on Red now. While Camila has already won a Gulag, Melinda IS more attractive…

19. Emily (Blue, -1): Katie is the weakest player on her team, but she’s also a veteran. Emily, though, doesn’t have many friends in the game.

18. Chet (Red, N/A): I don’t know why he’s ahead of Brandon on the pecking order, but for some reason he seems to be.

17. Ayiiia (Gray, -3): She falls a few spots because her team doesn’t look nearly as good as it did last week.

16. Ty (Blue, N/A): He performed well, so I put Eric ahead of him on the “Guys in Danger” lit, but Ty is still a rookie.

15. Luke (Gray, -4): Other than Abram, who voted for himself, and J.D., who went home, Luke was the only guy on Gray to get Gulag votes.

14. Tyler (Red, +3): I still really don’t like Tyler, and his team is bad. But he might be the second-most powerful guy on his team right now.

13. Cara Maria (Gray, -4): I think her win bought her some time, but she still has to prove herself as a player.

12. Theresa (Blue, N/A): Like Tyler, she seems unjustifiably powerful on her team right now.

11. Dan (Gray, —): Realizing that Abram is really the only strong guy on Gray made me realize that that team is probably not as invincible as I originally thought.

10. Jenn (Blue, N/A): On the other hand, I think Blue is probably a lot stronger than I expected. These are probably fairly even teams.

9. Vinny (Gray, -1): It seems like he’s second to Abram on the Gray male depth chart.

8. Dunbar (Red, -1): Dunbar is already getting votes for the Gulag, which indicates people are starting to catch on to the fact that he’s not very good.

7. Sarah (Gray, -1): Like most of Gray’s team, her ranking suffers because her team is less impressive.

6. Johnny (Blue, +4): He seems like he’s firmly the leader of Blue right now…

5. Derrick (Blue, —): ….but I still think Derrick is safer because he doesn’t make enemies.

4. Brad (Red, -1): Making Brandon an enemy by sending him to the Gulag twice may hurt the Red team, and Brad, in the long run.

3. Paula (Red, +1): Paula seems to be getting a lot respect on her team. For now, at least.

2. Abram (Gray, -1): He loses the #1 spot for his terrible strategizing and his decision to sit out. At the same time, if that doesn’t get him sent to the Gulag, what will?

1. Laurel (Gray, +1): I’m not sure, but this may be the first time we’ve had a female #1 on the rankings. Take that, glass ceiling!

7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Sal on October 14, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    Please allow me to add some of my own commentary.

    -Its to bad Brandon isn’t more of an explosive person. As I watched him get voted in for the 2nd time than destroy his opponent for a 2nd time I kept waiting for when he would flip out. The secret ballot system is so self-serving to the veterns in power. They can basically vote any person in and justify it by saying 1) you’re a rookie or 2) you have to prove yourself to the team. In Brandon’s case he has proven himself but will never on his own be able to become more than a sacraficial lamb. His fate is decided for him by the challenge veterns no matter how unfair it is the veterns keep sending him into the Gulag till he inevitably loses. In my eyes when faced with that monumentally difficult and exceeeding unfair challenge the only choice he has is just to flip out on his team at some point. Unfortunately due to his calm demeeanor and ‘rookie’ status I doubt we seem him go crazy however much he deserves to.

    -The men’s Gulag this week was an example of all the things wrong with the challenge. The ‘duel’ (2 men enter man leave hand-to-hand battle) is by far more entertaining than an exile (checkpoint race) or gauntlet (2 competitors racing to complete the same challenge) but leads to tremendous mismatches. Brandon vs Derek and Brandon vs JD were over before they ever started based on Bradon’s pure size advantage. We all knew going in that JD and Derek had extremely limited chances for the upset. This is the same way that Easy-E makes it so far into the challenges. Despite limited athletic abilities no person ever wants to go up against his size in a 1 on 1 duel.

    -How is Tyler more protected than Brandon, Dunbar and Chet? He is obviously smaller in size and a proven challenge loser yet Red team would rather depart with Brandon than he. This vexes me greatly.

    -I think we can say goodbye to Mandi after this challenge. She hasn’t shown an engaging personality despite having plently of limelight at Wes’s previous partner, she isn’t a train wreck (a la Katie & Shauvon) nor is is she to be taken as a serious competitor.

    -This style of challenge plays greatly into Johnny’s hands. He is a strong, not elite competitor, but a dastardly schemer. He is sure to assert himself as the leader of the blue, secure his spot on top of the depth chart, and convince his teammates to vote his way.

    -Theresea nees to be sent to a Gulag to 1) shut her up and 2) show to everybody else shes not nearly as strong a competitor as she thinks she is.

    -What was Abram thinking when he sat out the challenge? I know he worked great as a voice of the teamin the previous challenge but it makes nearly no sense to have him sit out instead of any girl. Later, he volunteered himself in. While extremely noble one has to question these 2 manuevers.

    -I’m really excited for when (not if) the Katie blowup happens. She is an extremely bad competitor and when she is justifiably voted in she is sure to evoke her “vetern status” against the “rookies and backstabbers” in a rage filled tantrum

    -I’m torn between who is the challenge favorite. This year features a mix of newer competitors and perennial losers (Brad, Dunbar, Paula Jenn). My original pick was Abram but he shown he is a bit of a loose cannon and has 3 guys (2 without JD) who are not strong. for the women, barring anythign unforseen I think Laurel walks into the challenge finals, especially with Sara on side.


    • Posted by John S on October 14, 2010 at 4:07 PM

      A couple general points to respond to your comments:

      1) I definitely agree with you on Brandon, both that sending him twice was unfair and that it was unjustified. It seems like Chet, Tyler, and Dunbar have all proved themselves less than Brandon on that team, so I don’t know why they keep sending him in. The problem, though, is that there’s not much Brandon can do, even if he were more “explosive.” The tweaks in the rules this time make Brandon’s options limited. Unlike Wes, a more “explosive” player, he can’t really throw challenges because the only way to ensure he stays out of the Gulag is for Red to win and get immunity. On the other hand, the secret ballots make forming alliances much more difficult because it’s hard to figure out who is voting for you and who might be open to joining your side. As a result, Brandon can only hope his team wises up before it’s too late.

      2) As for the Gulags themselves, you’re right that they’ve both come down to basic size advantages. Those can be great when it’s two guys of more or less equal size, but they’re really boring and unfair when it’s Brandon vs. Derek or JD. I’d much rather have more challenges like the one they had on the Ruins last year, that enabled Cohutta to beat the much bigger Wes since it involved speed, strength and agility.

      3) I actually think getting rid of Easy E this time should be much easier. In the Gauntlet, teammates faced each other in the elimination and nobody (understandably) wanted to go against the bigger Easy. In the Inferno and the Ruins, the opposing team selects its opponent, and nobody wanted to pick the bigger Easy. In this game though, Blue gets a chance to send him in against someone on another team, so they can theoretically send him in every time. If he wins, then great, you’ve send someone from another team home. If he loses, then great, you’ve lost your weakest player. It’s a win-win, unless you’re Easy.


  2. Posted by james Schneider on October 14, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    You’ve had Evelyn 1st. And the Blue team got all four steins. Anyways, Chet>Brandon…remember when he almost beat Wes?


    • Posted by John S on October 14, 2010 at 4:46 PM

      Evelyn was 1st, but only with a male partner, so this is the first time a female has been #1 all alone. But nice correction on the steins. It has been corrected


  3. Posted by Ashley on October 21, 2010 at 4:02 PM

    I was disgusted when I watched last night’s episode. Laurel is a heartless bitch. I felt like jumping through the screen and punching her in the face after the way she spoke to “Big Easy.” She has a disgusting mouth and acts like a 12 year old bully. I was very upset that nobody stepped in and stuck up for him and let Laurel know that her behavior is unnacceptable. I have no tolerance for people like her. I was so happy when she sucked it up in the challenge and literally fell on her face. By the way’re not even hot, so remember that next time you put people down for their physical appearance.


  4. […] Cara Maria may look overwhelmed a lot of the time, but she hasn’t yet cost Gray any challenges, and she’s already been to the Gulag once. Laurel hadn’t been there yet and, though she’s probably “proven herself” in other ways, […]


  5. […] Laurel. Now, nobody touted Laurel’s rise to power in Fresh Meat II more than I did—I even had her ahead of Abram for one week this season. But the fact is that she still hasn’t won* and, even worse, she is proving to be a terrible […]


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