- The Challenge -Devin Walker Might Really Gaslight His Way To A Final
After a snoozy few weeks of Emerald domination, chaos returned to the Challenge SL&A this week. Team Green was finally infiltrated by our freckled demon Amanda last episode, condemning Tori to serve her time on Ruby Cell, and killing Devin’s dream of a smoooooth run to his very first final, which thankfully, shook things up enough for him to emerge as the slimeball he is.
Though honestly, I’m not sure why this was so explosive. I fully expected the still-stacked Emerald team to continue to crush the dailies, and for Tori to start laying groundwork on a plan to re-infiltrate her original team. A few weeks back the team had come up with a little strategy for how to get the original band back together if anything goes sideways:
1. Secure a win (sure, easy)
2. Vote their lost player into elimination so they have their choice of opponent
3. Win elimination and return to the loving arms of Emerald Cell
So yeah, I expected to see some Devin/Tori chat about next moves, but since it’s a guy’s elimination week, this mostly fell by the wayside. Tori could just ride Ruby’s losing wave for a week without incident, Emerald could win and pick off Nelson or Logan, Sapphire could continue to do whatever it is they're doing while everybody’s still too scared to upset CT. Cool.
But instead, we get strategy shifts and gaslighting and tears and fights. Thank you, MTV.
So okay, Ruby and Sapphire actually make their first strategically sound move... ever. For the first time since teams were introduced, the perennial losers decide to actually WORK TOGETHER to take down Emerald, an idea that absolutely should have been thought of way sooner.
You’d think CT could have pulled this plan off a few weeks back when both teams were way less depleted, but maybe we’ll chalk it up to Male Egos getting in the way (am not sure I could really see Cory handing Sapphire a win, even if it was to his benefit).
For whatever reason, they finally see the writing on the wall: Emerald still has SIX players ranging from pretty good (Devin) to Top Tier (Kaycee) and the only real way to take ‘em down will be to form an unholy union against them.
This week’s Challenge allows for just that, with all three teams playing at once to steal 20 sticks of dynamite from the others, kinda hall-brawling through narrow corridors to do it. Ruby and Sapphire conspire to do all their thieving from Emerald, to not totally wreck each other when given the chance, and to finally FINALLY win something.
So okay, yes, a plan is in place. A good plan, even! It’s still almost fall apart when Kyle is just snakey for the sake of it. At some point in the challenge Kyle steals from Sapphire, very very not the plan. He plays dumb and acts like he misunderstood directions, but it’s clear that Kyle is just not a dude anybody can really rely on. He doesn’t trust CT with Agency Power, so he was trying to pull Ruby ahead once Emerald seemed out of striking distance.
Does it work? Of course not. Sapphire still takes home the first ever Non-Emerald Team Win, and Kyle becomes a pariah among both teams. He basically guarantees he’ll end up in the Lair by pissing off Sapphire, which he HAD to see as a possible downside of his plan? This is the second time this season that Kyle has fucked up a cross-team alliance like this, and both times he’s played dumb... but have we considered that maybe he actually IS dumb? Like, not in a “I can’t tell blue from green way” but in an “I completely lack foresight” way? Just a theory.
Anyway, Sapphire is finally the winner, Emerald are shitting bricks, and Ruby is so used to being on the chopping block I’m not sure they care anymore. A perfect storm brews and the psychological warfare begins.
Not being safe from elimination has Devin on edge and acting out.
He comes hard at Tori for not supporting an Emerald win (what?) because it’s a guy’s elimination week, guilting her hard about not prioritizing the safety of the Green Boys. Now, I get that if her plan was 100% to return to Emerald, it would be in her best interests to keep that team happy and intact, but she also is FULLY ON ANOTHER TEAM NOW so... can you really fault her for playing to win? For the foreseeable future, this is her team, and though the Ruby squad feels unsalvageable it’s not unreasonable for her to not want her situation to worsen.
I DO think Tori should be prioritizing getting herself on a better team, but she shouldn’t be expected to HAND Emerald wins in the meantime. Devin goes in on her for not protecting Emerald, calling her selfish and a bad friend. (They’re friends?)
It’s gaslight-y and petty and panicked, and I hate that it works. Tori is distraught, and tearfully begs Kyle not to pick Devin for elimination if he’s voted in. It’s honestly hard to watch, and even Kyle is annoyed at his bestie’s manipulative behavior this season.
At deliberation, Devin peddles this same sob story, talking about how he’s supported everyone in the house (what? how?) and how HURT he’ll be if he ends up in elimination. Um, okay?
In the end, Kyle is the vote and Josh is the opponent he chooses - which also somehow comes as a complete shock to them. Why do Devin and the Emerald team in general think everybody OWES THEM an easy ride? It’s a weird kind of entitlement you usually only see in early episodes from seasoned Veterans scrambling to stay out of elimination and it’s infuriating.
It feels like Devin considers himself as a finalist to be a foregone conclusion, and that everybody should just be doing what they can to support that end, including leaving the Emerald team untouched. He’s playing a truly remarkable political game this season that has kept him out of elimination and on a strong team but damn I HATE that it’s working so well.
In the end, Kyle sends Josh home and infiltrates the Sapphire team, which is a shockingly smart move: CT can’t throw him in if they’re teammates. Devin lives to whine another day, Josh cries his final tears of the season, and I can’t wait to see how this Tori/Devin carries into next week when girls are up for elimination. I hope she stands up to him for this bullying behavior, partially for the good of women everywhere, and partially because it will make for excellent TV.
- What, even, is a friend in the Challenge house? This episode way overused the term and I'm not sure any of them know what it means. Devin referred to Tori as his best friend? Kyle and CT argued over whether or not they even WERE friends? Reminds me of Love Island, where people are in love after 10 days but don’t become boyfriend and girlfriend for another 3 weeks.
- If I were Kyle, being called stupid by Nelson would be enough to shame me into performing better. I love Nelly T but, come on.
- So we're just really not gonna acknowledge the Ashley thing at all? The Twitterverse is alive with the reason for her departure, so I get why they are not getting into details but it's weird to not see the house react to such a huge player leaving the game.
- Josh saying he'd rather be called down to elimination than voted because his Anger will help his performance is hilarious to me, but then again Josh is always a constant source of this kind of ice cold take.
- Kyle being good at eliminations always seems like such a surprise, even though I am very aware of his impressive record. He just talks so much shit it seems impossible that he could actually back it up with physical performance.
- If Tori ends up in elimination next week, I hope she infiltrates Sapphire. With her, Emy, CT and (eyeroll) Kyle, that’s actually a pretty decent team that I wouldn’t mind rooting for.