“I’ve never wrestled in oil. I’m excited to do it.”—Chet
This season of the Challenge is harder than any other to recap, for the simple reason that I still have no idea who these people are. Frank? Robb-with-two-Bs? Knight? These guys sound like a forgotten ‘90s boy band.
Luckily for me, though, the teams have made it easier for me by falling into nice, neat alliances already. Surprisingly, the dominant alliance is led by the rookies: San Diego, New Orleans, Cancun, and Las Vegas have teamed up, and those four teams had a majority of the players going into last night’s challenge. The team does have some vets, like Alton, Trishelle, and CJ, but it’s mostly rookies, and the leader/most-vocal-member appears to be Frank.
This left teams like Brooklyn, Fresh Meat, and Austin on the outside looking in. In last night’s challenge, they were literally on the outside looking in: The challenge had teams oil wrestle against each other two at a time. The winner got a piece of puzzle needed that needed to be completed to finish the challenge, as well as the right to select the next competitors. But it only took the Rookie Alliance a few matches to realize that they could all simply lose intentionally to one another until each had collected the required pieces. Since the winner chose the next competitors, they simply wouldn’t choose any non-Alliance members until they had all finished.
This made for a rather uneventful challenge, as it was mostly a series of forfeited matches. TJ was appalled. Even after the Rookie Alliance finished—with San Diego emerging as Power Team—the Vet Alliance of Fresh Meat, Austin, and Brooklyn was ready to do the same thing.
The only flaw in this plan was St. Thomas, the only non-aligned team in the game. That team wasn’t throwing any matches, and they collected three of the four puzzle pieces before the Vet Alliance got a chance to win any. Luckily for the vets, though, Camila pulled out a win over Marie, and the Vet Alliance was able to collect all their pieces…
…Almost. The only flaw in this game of oil-wrestling-musical-chairs was that the last team to reach its fourth piece had to do so against a non-Alliance team (since all the other allied teams were done)—this meant wrestling for real. Austin drew the short straw for the Vets, and Danny had to wrestle Trey. Despite a size advantage, Danny could only manage a draw, meaning Melinda had to go against Laura. Laura eked out a win, sending Austin into the Arena for the second time in a row.
San Diego, the Power Team, had to choose Austin’s opponent, and the choice came down to St. Thomas and Fresh Meat. San Diego offered St. Thomas a chance to join the Rookie Alliance, but Trey seemed resistant. It was pretty clearly about pride for Trey—not wanting to submit to another person’s alliance—because joining the alliance is the only reasonable move for St. Thomas. Staying unaligned is death trap.
Despite Trey’s reticence, San Diego still elected to send Fresh Meat into the Arena. This was a smart move: Better to weaken the other alliance and hope St. Thomas wises up than get petty about Trey’s pride. It also set up a rematch of last week’s Arena, with Austin going against Fresh Meat.
With two wrinkles: First, the Physical challenge is out of play until the other three categories of elimination challenge—Endurance, Mental, Strategy—have been used. San Diego chose Endurance. Also, Fresh Meat couldn’t agree on who to send into the Arena, ignoring the obvious option of sending in the two players who didn’t go last week.* The Power Team got to select for them, and chose Easy and Camila.
*This is part of the problem with having only four players on a team: It’s too few to vote, so the only option is to have players volunteer. And what incentive does Brandon have to volunteer, since he knows San Diego is probably going to pick Easy over him?
The elimination game had the two teams stand on either side of a fence, with balls suspended from cables above them. The job was to throw the balls over the fence and whichever team had the fewest balls on its side after five minutes won. It wasn’t so much an Endurance challenge as a Height challenge, as being able to block the fence was a huge advantage for Easy. Fresh Meat won, eliminating Austin for good. Danny and Melinda will be missed, for the simple reason that they were two players I could name before last night…
Ready, aim, rank:
Eliminated: Danny & Melinda (Austin)
Before they went, of course, Danny and Melinda got to play marriage counselor to Knight and Jemmye, which was fun to watch.
7) Fresh Meat (Eric/Brandon/Camila/Cara Maria) (-2): This team is already at each other’s throats, already making enemies, and has already been sent to the Arena twice. Not a good start…
6) St. Thomas (Robb/Trey/Laura/Marie) (+1): Trey’s teammates seemed to recognize that they need to make nice with the Rookie Alliance. It’s the only sensible choice.
5) Brooklyn (Chet/JD/Sarah/Lacy) (-1): This team is on the weaker alliance, and doesn’t have a strong competitor to rely on.
4) New Orleans (Preston/Knight/Jemmye/McKenzie) (+2): Knight and Jemmye are the new Danny and Melinda? Yay…
3) Cancun (CJ/Derek/Jasmine/Jonna) (-2): Tough call knocking last week’s Power Team down, but they don’t look like the leaders of their alliance.
2) Las Vegas (Alton/Dustin/Trishelle/Nany) (—): They aren’t leaders either, but they have Alton.
1) San Diego (Frank/Zach/Ashley/Sam) (+2): The Power Team and the heads of the Rookie Alliance…