“Adam, please do not do what I think you’re doing….” —C.T.
The perfect ending for Rivals would have been for Adam/C.T.—the pair with the most history and the most animosity of any in the house—to finally come together to defeat all the teams that had been looking to send them home all season long, with Adam finally admitting that he and C.T. were friends as they walked off into the sunset with their $100,000 prize.
Alas, that was not to be. And it looked so good for them: The final elimination challenge emphasized speed, Adam’s biggest strength, and finally allowed C.T. to tackle people—his own biggest strength. Yet it was Adam’s repeated misunderstanding of the rules that doomed them. Each player had to carry five balls from one end of a half-pipe to another while his partner ran in the opposite direction. The two half-pipes intersected in the middle, allowing for the possibility of collisions in the middle. Collisions weren’t really a problem for Adam, but he twice picked up C.T.’s ball and carried it back, which was explicitly forbidden, meaning he had to take two extra trips.*
*Tyler made the same mistake at first, but Johnny alerted him to it immediately and Tyler didn’t screw it up again. Adam made the same mistake at least twice.
In order to keep his team in the game, C.T. needed to “put [his] hands on people”—in one brilliant move, he managed to level both Johnny and Tyler, allowing Adam to make up some time. C.T. and Johnny both completed their racks with their respective partners needing one more ball. It was so close that Adam and Tyler actually met in the middle. Both were obviously tired, stumbling to complete the race. C.T. came charging to the rescue, knocking Tyler to the ground and then attempting to carry Adam—since he wasn’t allowed to carry Adam’s ball—to the finish line. It was very Samwise Gamgee of him.
Still, it wasn’t enough. It probably would have been smarter for C.T. to spend his time tackling Tyler and preventing him from completing his course. This would have given Adam the time to get the ball to the other side himself. The loss was hard to take, but Adam and C.T. took it gracefully. Adam immediately blamed himself, but C.T. tried to cheer him up. Jenn and Laurel were each disappointed to say goodbye to their beaus (Laurel took it a lot harder than Jenn), but as Adam and C.T. walked off they seemed one step closer to burying the hatchet.
The rest of the episode was pretty uneventful. Wes and Cara Maria got into an argument. Wes defended pouring soda on her:
Cara Maria: “You poured an entire bottle of cola on me and you’re saying I’m immature?”
Tyler and Jenn got food-poisoning on the morning of the final challenge. Against the advice of the doctor, Tyler insisted on finishing.
With only ten minutes left in the episode, we got our first glimpses of the final challenge. We didn’t see much, just the initial kayaking leg, but it was enough to see that Jenn/Mandi will need a miracle to win.
And now let’s move on to other predictions:
3) Jenn/Mandi: Jenn’s ability to make it to the end without accomplishing anything is somewhat impressive. Her diplomatic skills might be the best in the game. With that said, her and Mandi’s inability to navigate the kayak did not surprise me at all. Heck, Jenn was already talking about quitting…
2) Cara Mara/Laurel: As I said last week, I really want these two to win—this season has been kind of defined by Laurel and Cara Maria trying to bond. With that said, Laurel has a history of underperforming in final challenges. Endurance is not her strongest attribute and she may need to rely on Cara Maria more than she realizes.
1) Evelyn/Paula: Paula finally getting her first challenge win would be a nice touch, but she and Evelyn have been on autopilot since they beat Aneesa/Robin in Week 1. There has been so little tension between them that I often forget they’re on the show. Plus, Evelyn has always been dominant on the challenges that it’d be really boring for her to win again.
3) Kenny/Wes: Wes keeps yammering about how Kenny has been holding him back and sucking this season, but the truth is Wes hasn’t been much better. And his performances in the last few seasons should not inspire confidence. He lost to Cohutta in Ruins and he got burned by Mandi (Mandi!) in Exile during Fresh Meat II. This is really a team of two weak links.
2) Leroy/Michael: If there is one defining aspect of MTV final challenges, it’s that you are only as strong as your weakest link. While Leroy is probably the best competitor, now that C.T. is gone, I’m not sure Mike will be able to handle what looks to be an epic final challenge. Nevertheless, I’ll be rooting for these two crazy kids.
1) Johnny/Tyler: They bonded. They won three challenges. They beat C.T. And as of the end of last night’s episode, they were in first place. Even if Tyler has a bit of food poisoning, these two have to be the favorites. Like Evelyn/Paula, they are the boring pick, but they are the most likely to win.