“I am furious. I should be swinging the fish.” —Marie
We’re more than halfway through this season of the Challenge now, and it’s officially clear who the villain is: Alton. It’s certainly a surprise to me, and anyone else who remembers Alton from his days of dominance on The Gauntlet II and The Inferno III, but it’s hard to defend him after last night’s episode.
In at least his partial defense, there comes a time for every veteran player when he is outnumbered by rookies who don’t know or like him, and often the vets don’t know how to handle this. Alton clearly resents the “children” in the house with him this season, and some of that is certainly justified based on their treatment of him and his team, but his response was equally childish. At the beginning of last night’s episode, for example, he denied the whole cast the opportunity to go to the beach because he didn’t feel like it.
This only further alienated Team Vegas from the dominant Rookie Alliance, lead by Frank and CJ, and put pressure on Vegas to win the challenge. Last night’s challenge was the “Insane Games,” a series of little challenges that gradually eliminated teams. The first stage was a chariot race, in which one team member had to pull his teammates. This was a perfect challenge for New Orleans, who now have only two players, but Knight fell early and couldn’t completely recover. Alton got off to a strong start pulling Vegas, showing shades of his former self, but he got tired before the finish line and fell as well. Luckily for everyone else, Brooklyn’s performance was abysmal, and they were clearly in last place.
The next stage was an egg toss, with the twist that one teammate had to catch the eggs in a dog collar on his or her head. I’m not sure there was any real strategy to this one, but Cancun, who had won the first stage, won again, while St. Thomas was eliminated. From there the teams went to Ear Pull, where two players had a string tied to both of their ears which they had to pull off using only their heads. Again, not much strategy here. But Vegas and New Orleans ended up winning, setting up a joust between the two teams for Power Team. Neither Knight nor Alton could knock the other off his chariot, so it came down to Trishelle against Jemmye. Since Trishelle has such a high center of gravity, she never could really steady herself on the chariot, and fell off relatively easily.
This was big for Vegas, as it essentially meant the difference between them winning Power Team and getting the chance to shake up the Rookie Alliance and them going into the Arena. With New Orleans winning, the Rookie Alliance maintained its stranglehold on the Power Team title.
The loser of the challenge would be determined by a Loser’s Bracket between St. Thomas and Brooklyn. The challenge was… well, they ended up swinging dead fish at each other to knock themselves off a platform. Trey knocked Chet off first, but the women still had to go. St. Thomas had some inner turmoil as they tried to figure out whether Marie or Laura should represent their team. Laura felt like it was her turn to contribute, but Marie insisted she was stronger. It devolved into an argument about how much strength has to do with swinging a 15-lb. fish. I would guess probably a lot. Laura won out, and she was an embarrassment. She couldn’t even hold on to her fish, and lost to Sarah. The tie-breaker was a rematch of the girls, and Laura performed only marginally better (she didn’t drop the fish this time), meaning St. Thomas was going to its first Arena.
Now, Las Vegas’ fate was probably already sealed, considering the animosity between that team and the rookies, but Alton went so far as to ask to be sent to the Arena. At first I thought he was doing this to prove himself and send some people who didn’t like home. But actually he just admitted that he wanted out of the game. When he told his teammates about this, they were, unsurprisingly, displeased. Alton didn’t even seem to understand why they might be upset with his decision to sabotage their team.
Nany and Trishelle, not wanting to go into the Arena with a partner who wants to forfeit, tried to convince Dustin to volunteer instead of Alton. Shockingly, he agreed. The other teams use this opportunity to talk more trash to Alton for not going in like he said he would—Zach, who’s actually so big that he makes Alton look tiny, even knocked Alton’s hat off. I thought they would come to blows, but no punches were thrown.
The Arena challenge was Strategy, the same one Cara Maria and Brandon lost on in Week 3: The pairs—Dustin/Nany for Vegas, Trey/Laura for St. Thomas—had to make knots around a dome for ten minutes, then try to untangle the knots the other team had just made. In the first stage, it looked like St. Thomas was killing it: Trey and Laura communicated much better and tied more knots than Dustin and Nany.
But it seems like the conventional wisdom might be wrong about this challenge, as Trey and Laura were completely winded by the time they were trying to untie the Vegas knots. Dustin and Nany finished first, sending Trey and Laura home, and keeping Team Vegas intact… for now.
Boo! Trick or treat… or rank:
Eliminated: Trey & Laura (St. Thomas)
In the end, it wasn’t even poor politics that sent this team’s first two home. Just a bad challenge performance.
6) St. Thomas (Robb/Marie) (-3): Having two players is a disadvantage, but it at least seems like St. Thomas kept its two best players.
5) Las Vegas (Alton/Dustin/Trishelle/Nany) (-1): At this point, Alton is like a ticking time bomb.
4) Brooklyn (Chet/JD/Sarah/Devyn) (+1): Not a particularly inspiring challenge, but they did manage to avoid the Arena for the first time since Week 2.
3) New Orleans (Knight/Jemmye) (+3): They proved me wrong and won Power Team, but they have only two players.
2) San Diego (Frank/Zach/Sam/Ashley) (-1): Why didn’t Zach pull his team’s chariot? He seemed like the logical choice.
1) Cancun (CJ/Derek/Jasmine/Jonna) (+1): They didn’t win the challenge, but they had probably the most impressive performance.