It was hard to really immerse myself in the drama of this week’s episode considering that most of it revolves around Jay, a person who seemingly has no ties to anyone besides Theresa but everyone hates for “betraying” them. At the start of the episode, Cory says he thought Jay was his friend before he threw him into the Crater, but this is the first time we’ve seen them speak this entire season. Leroy’s also upset with Jay for voting in Kam because they “sleep in the same room”? Amd Kyle is mad because he could’ve got sent home, which is an inevitable part of the game and technically what Jay should be doing as his opponent! Whether it’s bad storytelling by the producers or competitors being overly dramatic, the emotional stakes in this scenario just don’t feel real!
Two people who have actual history in this fallout are Leroy and Theresa, who previously hooked up and ran a final together on Battle of the Exes II. It would’ve been a lot more interesting to see those two go at it. But for some reason, Leroy won’t address what went down at the Crater with Theresa, even though she takes full responsibility for it. It rubbed me the wrong way watching him completely dismiss her. Can a woman get some credit for her own scheming?
The next morning, Theresa talks to CT about who should be the house vote and throws out Darrell’s name. This is strange because she claims she’s looking out for Jay this entire episode, but Darrell would so obviously kick his ass in an elimination. CT’s down with this plan. Meanwhile, Cory and Fessy, who have the only fascinating interpersonal drama so far this season, are trying to mend their “friendship.” Fessy basically blames his perceived arrogance on the fact that he’s introverted and doesn’t know how to talk to people. This doesn’t explain roughing up Nelson in a Hall Brawl and sending him home, but Cory says he’s willing to take baby steps with Fessy to make things right. At this point, I said “No, Cory, NO!” out loud in my home. I appreciate the amount of grace Cory exhibits, which is uncharacteristic of a lot of men on this show, but make up with Fessy after the competition. I, too, would be confused by a man who flew all the way to L.A. for my second child’s gender reveal and, later on, backstabbed me, but let’s figure this out once we get back home!
Next, we’re on to this week’s mission, which feels the most old school out of everything we’ve seen so far, simply because it involves the competitors being violently deposited into open water. In “Aerial Takedown,” the players have to hold onto a giant bag of cargo being flown over freezing water by a helicopter and try to knock their opponents off. The team with the longest combined time holding onto the cargo wins. I love that everyone seems genuinely excited and/or terrified. If The Challenge went back to shooting in warm locations where getting hypothermia wasn’t a concern, we’d have missions like this every week!
The first woman’s heat is Kam, Kaycee, Aneesa, Nany, and Big T. Of course, everyone pushes Aneesa off first, probably because they assume she wouldn’t be able to hold on anyway. Big T falls next, then Kam. Nany and Kaycee are left, Kaycee basically flings Nany off the cargo with one hand the way you would shoo a fly and wins her round. Next, it’s the first guys’ heat with Darrell, Nam, Fessy, Kyle, and Devin. They’re all beating their chests and jumping up and down like Tarzan until the helicopter picks them up, and nobody moves. Darrell doesn’t want to fall into the water. Devin knows he’ll be the first man down if he starts pushing the bigger guys. And Fessy, Kyle, and Nam don’t move because nobody else is moving, so they’re all disqualified. Should men be allowed on this show?
Before the next women’s heat, Theresa makes the mistake of trying to politick with the girls. She vaguely repeats over and over to Lolo, Amber M., and Amber B. that “you don’t always have to win.” She ultimately wants to stay on the longest to save Jay, but the girls interpret this as her simply wanting them to lose, particularly Amber B., who’s especially offended by her proposition. The last heat comes down to those two. This is the first time Amber B. has really shown what she’s made of physically, and she turns out to be pretty fierce. But Theresa comes out victorious. The last group of guys is Jay, Leroy, Josh, Mechie, and CT. Jay and Leroy are the only people steadily going at it while everyone else just hangs on and Mechie falls into the water, which gets them all DQ’d.
Before TJ reveals the results, he tells the group “if you’re a woman, you did great today.” (I plan to write on a Post-It note and stick to my bathroom mirror). Then he scolds the men, who he pointedly calls “boys,” for not even trying. Kyle says disappointing TJ is like disappointing your dad. Leroy and Kaycee are announced the winners, with Theresa and Jay behind them by one second. At this point, Jay sees the Crater AND his suitcase flash before his eyes.
At the club, Theresa confronts Amber B. for assuming that she wanted her to lose so she could come after Darrell. I’m glad to see Amber B. involved in something that isn’t giving cute confessional looks and narrating the weekly missions. She also seems very defensive of Darrell in a way that makes me wish Darrell wasn’t married with kids and that they were boning. They’re both annoyingly attractive. In another corner, Devin decides to poke at Fessy, who he feels is vulnerable now because of his lowered power ranking. Fessy, who’s basically a human sloth when he’s not competing, needs to be held back by security from beating Devin’s ass once they get back to the house. He puts on this INSANE blaccent and starts saying this like “‘cho ass don’t wanna see me down dere!” I feel like I’m in The Twilight Zone until Josh brings me back to reality by being his childish self and throwing water at Kyle, who’s been egging Devin on. At one point, he counts out loud to three with his fist balled up like the Arthur meme before pushing Kyle out of his face. Can we see some actual punches being thrown on this show? The bumping chests and getting pulled back by security just isn’t cutting it for me.
At the deliberation, Devin apologizes for starting the fight, which he immediately reveals isn’t genuine by asking everyone not to vote for him. Theresa calls out CT for spreading the rumor that she was thinking of throwing in Darrell, which did, in fact, happen. And she shouldn’t have discussed it to anyone besides Jay! CT says he was telling the truth, even though he left out the part where he agreed with Theresa. I don’t understand why Theresa doesn’t bring this up in front of everyone. Then Kam starts confronting her for trying to intimidate the girls into letting her win the challenge. I honestly don’t think it’s fun watching one person have to defend themselves against the entire house. Not that Theresa doesn’t deserve it for throwing Jay under the bus, but it’s hard to watch unless it’s someone who’s thoroughly awful. And Theresa is not. She just hasn’t been wise this season.
At the chamber, it’s revealed that Jay and Theresa are the house vote. Watching Leroy and Kaycee try to have a meaningful conversation about this is so funny, and I’m curious if these two have ever really talked outside of this room. Leroy weighs whether or not he should volunteer for elimination, and Kaycee says “yeah” 20 times. Leroy also brings up Nam as a possible person to throw in, considering he’s flown under the radar for so long. At the Crater, TJ tells the players that all the men who didn’t try at the weekly mission had their house votes revoked. For a split second, we’re supposed to believe that Jay might be off the hook, which would’ve been exciting because Jay doesn’t deserve any of this. But him and Theresa are still the overwhelming vote regardless. Ouch. AND Leroy volunteers for elimination. Yikes! Sorry, Jay.
Leroy is like the female Aneesa when it comes to eliminations, as in it’s the only place he routinely shines. When I saw they were playing Mission Fire Escape again, I knew he had a higher chance of beating Jay because, on top of being longer than him, he won this same elimination against Johnny “Bananas” in Battle of the Exes II. Jay may be more used to hanging from things as a rock climber, but having experience in something that requires you to move in an awkward, technical way is a huge advantage.
When Natalie and Ashley did this elimination on the first episode, the beams looked pretty short, and it felt like it took them ten minutes. In the guys’ case, the beams are three times as long, and the race was under a minute. The producers do a great job of making it feel like a marathon. Jay and Leroy are pretty much neck and neck the entire time until Leroy takes off like a bullet on his way back to the starting beam and wins. Watching Leroy win an elimination isn’t that exciting at this point because it’s what he’s known for. I’ll start jumping up and down when he finally wins the show. Also, Jay is a great competitor who happened to get a socially clumsy partner and doesn’t deserve to go home!
Now that Jay’s gone, Cory is Theresa’s new partner. Theresa says she’s worried about Cory because all his partners have left him and kind of gives him the cold shoulder when he comes down to the sand. Literally, none of Cory’s former partners leaving had anything to do with him, and Theresa should be grateful she’s attached to someone who people seem to like in the house. If anything, Theresa is putting a target on his back. Leroy decides to keep Kaycee because she’s honestly the best female partner anyone could have at this point in the game. And it doesn’t feel like anything’s truly shifted with Jay out of the competition.