Chet: Because you brag about it.
“Sam, you’re not Jesus carrying the cross.” —Frank
The Challenge is back, after a week off for MTV to celebrate Halloween. The layoff seemed to have reset the narrative—whereas I just declared Alton to be this season’s villain, this week’s episode brought a new one into focus: Frank.
Frank was the one who started fighting with Alton in the last episode, and this week he was pulling apart his own team. The problems started in the challenge: Logged Out was kind of a mini-final, consisting of checkpoints and a puzzle. The teams climbed a mountain and passed three checkpoints. The first showed the puzzle’s solution, the second contained the puzzle pieces, and the third was where the solution had to be reassembled.
The biggest challenge for the teams was that the puzzles contained nine pieces, too many for teams of four—or, in some cases, two—to carry at once. So each team needed several trips to carry its heavy puzzle pieces up the mountain.
For some teams, this exposed their camaraderie: Derek on Cancun carried Jasmine down the mountain for a while. For other teams, it exposed some strengths: Sarah realized that Brooklyn could save time by assembling some of the puzzle before carrying it up to the next checkpoint. But for San Diego, it tore the team apart. Sam struggled carrying her pieces and was clearly a weak link. Not helping matters, though, was the verbal abuse heaved at her by her teammates Frank and Zach.
At this point in Challenge history, it’s pretty clear that berating your teammate is not a good plan. Sam (understandably) did not react well, and even verged on petulance, throwing her pieces down and pushing Frank. Even when San Diego finally got all its pieces up the mountain, their fighting kept them from successfully putting the puzzle together.
Of course, San Diego wasn’t alone in that: Almost every team eventually needed to go back to the first checkpoint to rememorize the puzzle. Only Brooklyn, with Sarah and her unique strategy, avoided this pitfall, helping them to secure Power Team for the first time. San Diego, meanwhile, finished last of the four-person teams.
St. Thomas and New Orleans, though, were at a severe disadvantage with only two players each, and ended up fighting each other for last place. New Orleans, just one episode removed from a surprise challenge win, finished last, going into the Arena.
This represented a huge moment for Brooklyn. Finally Power Team, and with one member of the Rookie Alliance already heading into the Arena, Brooklyn could guarantee that its alliance was safe, and the opposition two players weaker. Brooklyn opted to exploit San Diego’s turmoil by throwing them in against New Orleans.
At this point, Frank, who had been the most abusive toward Sam in the challenge, sunk even lower: Though he apparently had struck an earlier deal with Zach whereby he agreed to volunteer for the Mental Arena challenge, now he reneged on it. His reason was obvious, and he didn’t even bother hiding it: After Sam volunteered to go in for her poor challenge performance, Frank didn’t want to go in and risk losing with her. Frank and Zach ultimately left the decision to the Power Team, who chose Zach.
Now, I’m not sure Zach was the right choice, given Brooklyn’s stated preference for San Diego losing. After all, the team knew from its earlier appearance that the Mental game tasked the guy with pulling himself headfirst into a water tank, something which relies mainly on strength, despite the challenge’s name. Though Zach struggled with the challenge, and actually needed to be talked through it by Sam, his strength ultimately carried them to victory.
Of course, it may have worked out well for Brooklyn, since now the Rookie Alliance is down to only two teams, one of which is in disarray.
Now re-elect the rankings!
Eliminated: Knight & Jemmye (New Orleans)
And thus ends the saga of their relationship…
5) St. Thomas (Robb/Marie) (+1): This challenge shows how rough it is to have only two players.
4) San Diego (Frank/Zach/Sam/Ashley) (-2): The team’s at war with itself, so it finally drops from the top two.
3) Las Vegas (Alton/Dustin/Trishelle/Nany) (+2): Brooklyn’s win helped take some of the heat off them.
2) Brooklyn (Chet/JD/Devyn/Sarah) (+2): The Power Team gets consideration for the #1 spot, but it’s too early to give it to them.
1) Cancun (CJ/Derek/Jonna/Jasmine) (—): Their alliance is slightly weaker, but the team itself has shown any vulnerability. Also, CJ took that prank in stride…