“I’m like you, only a bald, black guy who’s much older.” —Alton
Finally, an episode about people I can keep track of…
The first two episodes of Battle of the Seasons were dominated by the turmoil and machinations of people who I’ve never seen before. As such, it’s been hard to get invested in the season. Last night, though, was the best episode yet, thanks to the return of some classic storylines.
First, there were the odd love stories. Every season seems to have a confusing pairing, and this one already has two: Eric and Devyn, and Alton and Sarah. Of course, with every new relationship come allegations that the relationship is clouding someone’s judgment. Here it was Trishelle accusing Alton of protecting Sarah, to the detriment of Las Vegas’ alliance with San Diego, Cancun, and New Orleans.
Now, Trishelle had a point: Once Vegas won Power Team, Alton did advocate sending New Orleans into the Arena, and not Brooklyn. He even said he didn’t want to be in an alliance at all. But, in defense of Alton, this has always been the way he’s played the game. He’s very much in Landon/Abram/Ruthie camp, of people who eschew alliances in favor of sheer physical domination. Unlike most players, Alton could probably do just fine without aligning with anyone. It’s also worth pointing out that Trishelle’s animus toward Sarah seemed to be based totally on things she’d “heard” and “been warned about” regarding Sarah’s manipulative tendencies. Having watched Sarah on all her seasons, I have seen little to no evidence of such tendencies, and she and Alton just seem to genuinely like each other.*
*Chet, though, joked about “whoring Sarah out.” It was pretty funny, but Sarah didn’t appreciate it.
Of course, not everyone feels the way Alton does, and not everyone can dominate challenge the way he can, so his team was right to vote against him. Thus, despite Brooklyn’s superior performance in the challenge, they were sent into the Arena against Fresh Meat.
Fresh Meat, meanwhile, has become the laughingstock of the Challenge. For the second time in three weeks, Eric disqualified his team by falling into the water. Then, for the second week in a row, the team couldn’t decide among themselves who to send into the Arena. At first, Cara Maria volunteered herself, but then she backed out, which is kind of becoming her thing. And although Brandon hasn’t been in the Arena yet, he (justifiably) felt Eric should have volunteered after his DQ. Vegas, though, chose Cara Maria and Brandon anyway.
On the other side, Sarah and Chet volunteered easily. Sarah seemed to want to prove wrong those who called her “manipulative”—Trishelle even called Sarah selfish and insisted Sarah would never volunteer*—and Chet seemed to want to defend Sarah’s honor.
*After Sarah volunteered, the camera cut to Trishelle looking away. Nice editing, MTV.
This Arena game was Strategy, and it was probably the best yet: First, the teams had ten minutes to arrange a rope in knots around a jungle-gym style dome. Then, each team would try to untie the other team’s knots, and whoever finished first would win. It involved strategy in setting knots the other team couldn’t untie, but it also involved endurance, since carrying dozens of feet of heavy rope is actually quite taxing.
Sarah and Chet seemed to communicate better, which may have helped them pull out the victory. Of course, it could have also been dumb luck—it’s hard for me to conceptualize making strategic knots.
Anyway, it’s ranking time:
Eliminated: Brandon & Cara Maria (Fresh Meat)
Brandon has really never ended up on a decent team. Too bad, he seems nice.
7) Fresh Meat (Eric/Camila) (—): It’s hard for me to see a scenario in which Fresh Meat doesn’t get sent to the Arena next week. It’s also hard for me to see them winning.
6) St. Thomas (Robb/Trey/Laura/Marie) (—): Still at the bottom of the pecking order without an alliance.
5) New Orleans (Preston/Knight/Jemmye/McKenzie) (-1): Alton calling them out shows their vulnerability.
4) Brooklyn (Chet/JD/Sarah/Devyn) (+1): Winning an Arena will probably make teams think twice about challenging them again.
3) Las Vegas (Alton/Dustin/Nany/Trishelle) (-1): Internal discord drops them a spot, though it was nice to see Trishelle admit she was wrong.
2) Cancun (CJ/Derek/Jasmine/Jonna) (+1): A strong showing in the challenge, and a solid spot in the alliance…
1) San Diego (Frank/Zach/Ashley/Sam) (—): Still seems like these rookies are in the driver’s seat.