“Leroy and his gang of girls are so caught up in burning votes to skate by that they burn themselves. I mean, it’s classic!” —C.T.
So that was interesting. I’ve been complaining about the stupid voting structure of Rivals II all season long, but it finally paid off in last night’s episode, thanks to the contestants’ stupidity. I knew I should have trusted MTV—nobody ever lost money betting on the inability of Challenge contestants to strategize.
The seeds were planted early in the episode, as we saw the flourishing love story of Leroy and Theresa. I like Leroy, and frankly, Theresa seems like a real upgrade from Jemmye, who Leroy was doting on for most of last week’s episode, so I was happy for him. Wes, on the other hand, was not happy for him. Wes and Theresa, of course, hooked up back on Fresh Meat II, and Wes didn’t like Leroy going after his “seconds”* or the fact that the did it on the bunk right above him.
*Of course, anyone who remembers the circumstances of that hookup had a nice moment of dramatic irony there: Theresa only moved on to Wes after Kenny turned her down.
Wes has always been a little baby who fancies himself a modern Machiavelli, so naturally his first reaction was to try to scheme to get Leroy sent home: He told Diem that Leroy would vote for her, so she better throw him into the Jungle first. But Wes couldn’t sell that story to any other teams, and his plan likely would have stalled there, EXCEPT…
On the other side of the spectrum, Zach was getting fed up with the show. His sister just had a baby, and he was (understandably) disappointed to have missed that. But his reaction was decidedly un-uncle-like—he complained about his stomach ache and threw a tantrum at the cameras for “getting in [his] face.” This is a reality show, Zach. What did you expect?
His tantrum continued going into the challenge, Frog Smash. Teams had to run across a balance beam while the other teams swung at them on swings perpendicular to that beam. It was actually a cool challenge, except for the weird strategizing that went on during in. The girls all refused to swing at Jasmine/Theresa, giving them a win after being sent into the Jungle last week, thus breaking the Emily/Paula winning streak.
Similarly, the guys did the same thing for C.T./Wes. Why? I don’t really know. There seemed to be some talk of not “pissing off” certain teams, but I don’t know what that would even matter—it’s not like the guys vote for the guys anyway this season. And since today was a male Jungle, it won’t affect the order next week either. Sometimes I don’t think even the players know why they strategize the way they do.
But Zach did not appreciate these cheese-eating surrender monkeys—especially after he and Trey got knocked off the beam almost immediately. He thought Knight/Preston might do worse, but Johnny refused to swing at them, meaning Zach/Trey finished in last and got sent into the Jungle.
It’s worth pointing that, even if Johnny had swung at them, it’s unlikely Knight/Preston would have finished worse than Zach/Trey. But Zach was already mad and looking for someone to blame, so he lashed out at Johnny and asked the girls to vote in Johnny/Frank.
This should have made things very easy on the girls. They could have just voted in Johnny/Frank and claimed they were only doing Zach’s bidding. But since none of the girls wanted to take responsibility, they all tried to “burn” votes on teams they thought were safe. Theresa was the first to vote, and she voted for Leroy/Ty precisely because she thought they were safe.* Nany/Jonna did the same.
*Of course, the question remains: Even if you were going to burn a vote, why burn it on the guy you are sleeping with? Couldn’t she have voted for another safe team?
But Diem, who can do math, realized this left an opening. Once she voted for Leroy/Ty, they were assured of going into the Jungle, even though two out of their three votes were just “burns.” As she put it, “Why should I fix your mistake?” The guys, meanwhile, just laughed at the girls’ inability to vote correctly.*
*Leroy was not laughing for obvious reasons.
Theresa felt terrible and Leroy, to his credit, didn’t hold it against her (what a cool guy…), but they still had to go to the Jungle. The elimination challenge—Breaking on Through—was a race where teams had to break through four different locked doors. Since the pairs had to alternate who broke which door, it seemed to favor Leroy/Ty, who had two big guys, over Zach/Trey, who had one big guy and a little guy. But Leroy struggled using a bolt-cutter, and Zach/Trey pulled out to an early lead. Leroy/Ty caught up, but couldn’t pass them, and Zach/Trey appeared to win. EXCEPT…
Cameras showed that, although Trey was supposed to break through the first door, it was actually Zach who kicked the door in. Since this broke the rule about alternating doors, Zach/Trey were sent home, letting Leroy/Ty fight another day, and letting Theresa make up with her man.
But now these are the rankings I wish I didn’t need…
A big fall for the team I had at #2 the last two weeks. Oh well, I never said I was perfect.
11) Cooke/Cara Maria (+1): It’s hard to see how this team ever gets out of last place given how disliked they are.
10) Knight/Preston (+1): Just not finishing in last was a big coup for this team.
9) Camila/Jemmye (—): They finished a close second in the challenge, but Jemmye is still a weakness.
8) Leroy/Ty (-1): They lucked out to avoid being eliminated, but the good news is they probably aren’t heading back to the Jungle soon.
7) Jasmine/Theresa (+3): I don’t know how much credit to give them for a win they didn’t really earn, but they did technically unseat Emily/Paula.
6) C.T./Wes (+2): Another team moving up based on an unearned win.
5) Jonna/Nany (+1): If anything, Nany deserved more blame than Theresa for screwing up the vote, since she voted second.
4) Johnny/Frank (—): I wonder how much the girls’ refusal to vote in this team was due to fear of/loyalty to Johnny.
3) Aneesa/Diem (—): Diem’s vote against Leroy would have been shrewd, if it weren’t based on complete bullshit that Wes fed to her.
2) Marlon/Jordan (+3): The last two weeks have seen a huge bump for this pair of rookies.
1) Emily/Paula (—): I don’t expect them to lose again.