On 'The Challenge,' It's Goodbye To Good Vibes & The Rise Of Nany

- The Challenge -
On 'The Challenge,' It's Goodbye To Good Vibes & The Rise Of Nany

So here we are, Episode 5 of The Challenge SL&A and we’re coming off the back of some very good elimination drama. We return to the house after the explosive victory of Amber B and Hughie, and Emanuel is mourning his dearly departed Michele.

Tori does some obligatory comforting of our tatted friend but this might just be her laying some groundwork for potential future hookups. On both the after show and Twitter, Single Tori’s lustful gaze has been a hot topic: she was cuddled up with Kelz, apparently harbored a little crush on the boo’ed up Ed, and now she seems to have designs on Emanuel. As I’ve said, I’m really hoping for a villain arc out of Tori, so I’m here manifesting these potential hookups, speaking them into existence with the hope that they lead to backstabbing or otherwise loathsome behavior.


Amber and Josh briefly talk about the fallout of the Great Big Brother Explosion of Episode 4 and what this means for the game going forward. Josh explains that he is 100% done with the Big Brother alliance, unless… Fessy apologizes? Seems like a low bar for Fess to crawl over to earn back his dog’s undying loyalty but I’m sure he’ll make a mess of it somehow. Kaycee and Fessy still can’t understand why Josh put his own position in the game on the line for Amber, and honestly I don’t either.

The way this game is set up, you don’t have to maneuver in constant unison with your partner to get by, so why are you bothering? Whatever. Josh loves to talk out his feelings so that’s what they do, in what Tori aptly dubs a real Notebook moment.

Fessy defends his actions to a few Vets, explaining that by riding so hard for Amber, Josh is really the one that put their alliance in jeopardy, but the situation is just nebulous. It’s hard to know if Josh really was lied to or if he just misunderstood, since he does say in his talking head that he knew Amber getting thrown in was a possibility and failed to warn her. It really feels like Fessy and Josh come away from every conversation they have with wildly different understandings of what was agreed on, which is no way to run an alliance but an excellent way to keep a show interesting.

This house is not all poorly-managed alliances and betrayals, though: it’s also a love shack. Berna and Nelson share a sandwich (peak intimacy), Devin brings Princess Kyle a drink (#DyleForever), and Logan and Big T get cuter by the second. They do some fake fighting which is the kind of middle-school level flirting technique I’d put right up there with “oh wow look how much bigger your hands are than mine (~*uwu*~ ) and I love to see it. Aneesa is sick of the Challenge Crushes all over the house but I don’t mind a bit of Love Island-style grafting.

Firmly not feeling the love is Emy, our Manic Pixie Warrior Princess. She (accurately) assesses that nobody gives a fuck about her or her new partner Gabo, and that their creation as a Rookie/Rookie duo was no coincidence. Though Gabo seems to understand the position they’re in, Emy is deeply negative, and he is a man in search of Good Vibes and Good Vibes only.

In fact, he treats us to my new favorite life philosophy. “I have two moods: Good Vibes and Gladiator,” and it's a phrase I hope he trademarks and merchandises immediately. I want a t shirt, a bumper sticker, and a pillow with that cross-stitched onto it as soon as possible.

Gabo laments the loss of Nany, who is finally getting the credit she deserves as a highly-desirable partner. She’s strong in challenges, politically well-connected, and also just like… nice to work with?? It’s so nice to see Nany get this much respect in recent seasons after so much heartbreak in her earlier Challenge career.

ANYWAY, we have a daily challenge to do and today it’s Mindfield (do you get it, because MINDS?!). Each partner begins at their “Detonation Station” and they have to race back and forth, in opposite directions, to collect various puzzle pieces one and a time. Oh there are also walls to climb and mud to crawl through, because why not? The final piece of their puzzle is in a safe, which they can only open by completing a math problem. When they’ve got all their pieces, they have to complete the puzzle and set off a bomb because if this season has taught us one thing it’s that Bombs = Spies. Okay.

Honestly this looks like a nightmare version of the already dreaded pacer test combined with a Tough Mudder run. It’s seemingly one of the most physically grueling challenges to date – and without a body of water or suspended rig in sight! What will Hughie have to cry about?! A mud-phobia, perhaps?

Right out the gate, it’s clear these Survivor folks are built different. Emanuel and Berna take early leads, crawling through the mud and clearing walls like they’ve been doing it forever. Eventually though, our challengers are hit with the great equalizer: Math. As always happens in situations where the players are confronted with arithmetic, the competition is suddenly much tighter as it takes most teams multiple attempts to open their safe.

In the end, CT’s puzzle skills make up for the time they lost while Berna wracked her Circus-educated brain for the rules of PEMDAS, and they win the challenge. Gabo, having performed especially badly, tries explaining to a distraught Emy that his “mind couldn’t work” but she is not all that sympathetic to his plight, our girl is pressed.

In the challenge, Aneesa took a nasty fall off the top of the climbing wall and dislocated her shoulder, so she’s medically unfit to continue and going home. She exchanges tearful goodbyes with BFF Tori and partner Logan, who already knows this puts a target on his back.

At the BNO (Big Night Out) various Rookies try to figure out a strategy to keep themselves alive in the game. With Aneesa’s departure there’s a probable Guy Elimination looming, and both Logan and Gabo want to go into the Lair: Gabo so he can split from Emy, and Logan so he can regain some control over his precarious situation. Devin, CT & Kyle genuinely can’t believe their luck that the Rookies are now throwing themselves into elimination, without even making the Vet alliance do the work of conspiring against them.

In the cold light of the morning post-BNO, Kaycee and Josh finally have words about the BB Trainwreck. Josh feels like he put the alliance (inclusive of Amber) first, while Kaycee and Fessy betrayed that. Kaycee echoes Fessy’s earlier gripes: that given their oft-aired grievances against Amber, Josh’s allegiance to her is what screwed up their BB family.

In the end it seems like Josh was delusional about his pull with Fessy, and Kaycee wishes he wasn’t so naïve, but here we are. I was a little disappointed by the lukewarm altercation but when I saw the preview for next week’s episode, I could rest easy knowing this’ll get the proper blow-up it deserves.

In deliberation, CT takes the reins and just lays out the deal: two people want to go in, and The Agency have no plans to kick up shit where they don’t have to. If Gabo and Logan wanna volunteer for elimination, let’s vote that way, easy-kapeasy.

Because there’s some contractual obligation that there must be drama at deliberation, people find ways to fight anyway. Fessy pipes up for no reason at all to commend CT for playing such a straight-forward game, infuriating Amber, very recently spurned by Fessy’s own extremely sideways game. Hughie, scared that Gabo will win and steal Nany back, starts an ill-advised and honestly hard to follow attack on Gabo. He’s ranting that he doesn’t want Gabo to take Nany, because he wouldn’t do that to him even though he very much already did that to him?

His argument is that if Gabo had asked him nicely not to take Nany, he wouldn’t have done it, so since he’s asking Gabo not to steal her, he should reciprocate this purely hypothetical courtesy. Is there anything in this life as good and as groundless as reality TV logic? The histrionics seem to annoy basically the entire house but I hope at least these two fighting over her gases Nany up a bit. Hughie’s melodramatic performance doesn’t even really have anything to do with the vote, but he gets his yells in, and the house compromises Logan, as planned.

At the Lair, CT stays the course and throws in Gabo because he’s not Fessy, and in his old age he’s no longer in the business of making enemies for no reason. Berna rolls with CT, and we get the exact elimination we ordered. Is it particularly exciting to see two relatively drama-free rookies go against each other in the lair? No, but they can’t all be bangers.

Adding to the high yawn-factor of this elimination is that it’s got a puzzle element, Gabo’s kryptonite. The game is called Higher Assets, where the players have to scale a rope to see an answer key which will allow them to finish a puzzle. So lots of climbing, memorizing, and climbing again.

Gabo literally let’s out an “oh shit” as soon as he sees the puzzle board, so it seems like if he’s gonna win this thing it’ll be by being a lot faster at the climb than Logan. I will say this isn’t the blowout I expected. Logan has multiple incorrect checks before finally securing the win, so the game was a lot closer than I think anybody anticipated it would be.

So that’s it, Logan wins and Good Vibes Gabo is out. In a truly wonderful gag, just as Hughie is done letting out his sigh of relief that Gabo’s lost, Logan scoops up Nany! I am pleased with this as a big-time Nany fan, knowing that she does best in a supportive and semi-nurturing partner dynamic. Hughie gets punished for his theatrics, and Nany gets a partner I genuinely think could get her to a final. Team Logany all day babyyyyy.

The biggest loser in this challenge is Emy, who’s not only still in a Rookie pairing but is now partnered with Hughie whose social game is…uh…questionable at best. This promises to be an emotional powder keg of a team that I absolutely can’t wait to watch explode.

So that’s it! Another episode in the books. I eagerly anticipate the end of the Rookie/Rookie teams so we can start getting into real Vet drama, and it looks like that day is nearly upon us.

Stray Observations:

  • Logan says Big T is like an Octopus in bed, a description that somehow tells us nothing and everything about their sexual experience. I will be unpacking this comment for days, if not weeks.
  • Nany has a real soft spot for Gabo, which feels very much like her relationship with Turbo on War of the Worlds. In both cases, a jacked dude with a charming accent admired her expertise in the game after her long history of being underestimated, so yeah, I get it. She is so supportive and affirming and nobody deserves her! Nany forever.
  • More on our fallen Gabo: him soaking himself in cologne before his elimination and praying to his lord Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino does speak to a genuine love of Jersey Shore that I find incredibly endearing. Not a hint of irony on this guy.
  • I kind of can’t believe that while Amber struggled with the math problem there was no flashback to her lowest Double Agents moment, where she and Fessy literally timed out of a challenge because she never completes the math portion. Feels like the kind of thing MTV typically wouldn’t let you live down, like how they play the Johnny Backpack clip practically every time CT and Bananas share a scene.
  • I stand by my theory that Devin is the new Bananas! TJ’s joking around with him during challenges, he’s basically running the Vet side of the house… I mean… this is Banana Behavior.
  • Nobody has given a more honest answer to the “why do you want to win” question than Gabo: “I want to help my family so bad, and above that I want to buy sports cars, watches, and I just wanna party all day and all night.” Truly iconic, he will be missed.

Until next week!

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