The Amber, Josh, Fessy Fight Is Pure Chaotic Evil On 'The Challenge'

- The Challenge -
The Amber, Josh, Fessy Fight Is Pure Chaotic Evil On 'The Challenge'

So here we are at Episode 6 of The Challenge SL&A, or should I say, Episode 5.5, since this week’s installation is only half as long as usual and we didn't get an elimination?! What is this pacing?! I guess I should just be grateful we got a third of the way through a season before being hit with a cliffhanger – remember Dirty 30, when almost every episode ended before the elimination? Anyway, for a short episode, there’s actually a ton to cover so let’s get into it.

We’re back at the house after Logan’s elimination win against our favorite Hungarian Himbo, and spirits are relatively high. Even Emy, who is now partnered with Hughie after Logan’s Nany grab, seems to have reached the acceptance stage of grieving her Rookie position in the house. Emy’s underdog status has even endeared her to CT, with whom she’s developed an adorable semi-mentorship dynamic. She even dubs him her Challenge Uncle, a stark reminder that the age spread of this group is actually wild and CT is technically old enough to be her dad (19 years older, to be exact).

Despite being taken under the wing of a certified Challenge Legend, Emy remains in a precarious position. She feels a bit like an outsider in the house outside of her connections with Emanuel and CT, a feeling that is only compounded by her ever-changing partner situation. She fully expects to be the house vote as half of the last remaining Rookie/Rookie team, but is not the emotional wreck we’ve seen in previous episodes. Is it growth or is it desensitization, we’ll never know.

The next morning we finally get some set up for the Big Brother Blow Out promised in the trailer. Josh and Esther are having a deep and meaningful over breakfast about Fessy’s selfish gameplay, and we also learn that these two are kind of... vibing?

As a lover of drama above all things, I am SO pleased to learn of this budding closeness between Esther and her partner’s current rival, even though I zero percent understand it. Josh?? Really?? In any case, Esther hopes Josh and Fessy can talk through their conflict and resolve things, a sentiment echoed by Amanda, of all people!

In bed, Amanda gives Fessy some shockingly sound advice suggesting he listen to what Josh has to say and apologize for hurting him. With her reputation for being combative, explosive, and a possible incarnation of the devil himself, Amanda is the last person I expected to push Fessy to take responsibility for his actions, but here we are! She even hits him with the hard truth that if he feels like he’s always the one apologizing maybe it’s because he’s the problem. We usually have to wait for the post-reunion Twitter wars for this kind of insight!

Okay so yeah, women shepherding their male romantic partners through an interpersonal conflict is not exactly big news, but it is probably the most cogent and thoughtful version of that I’ve seen on this show in a while. Amanda speaks with surprising insight about Josh not feeling heard, Esther reminds Josh of the realities of the game, and if I hadn’t seen a fight break out in the trailer I'd almost think the Big Brother Boyz are headed for a reconciliation.

ANYWAY, more important than feuds, more important than anything, is this: Nany and Kaycee are going on their First Official Date. In the Challenge house. Surrounded by the rest of the cast. On national television. How romantic!

Now we know these two have had chemistry since their first season together, and that they are currently very much dating, but up to this point we’ve only caught frustratingly brief glimpses into their budding romance. Kaycee arranges a surprise date for Nany, complete with flowers, champagne, and... conversation about the Big Brother Alliance.

They talk about the wild events between Fessy and Josh, how Kaycee’s caught in the middle, and how lucky they are to have each other in this game (and in life!!) It's corny and cute and VERY Love Island of them and yeah, I'm into it. KayNa forever.

Not to be outdone, Josh and Esther steal a moment to absolutely suckkkkk faceeeeee in the bedroom! I really didn’t see this coming and apparently neither did Esther, who when asked what she likes about Josh says, “Honestly, I don’t know.” Esther, you were Valedictorian of your law school class! You passed the bar! If you don’t know, WHO DOES?

Okay, enough interpersonal drama, this is a game so let’s do game stuff! This week’s challenge is called Turning Agents and it is... boring. Basically, each team is strapped to the hood of a car that is doing donuts, whipping them around as they try to open locked boxes using combinations derived from codes on stationary tankers on each end of the track.

While I’m sure this was intense and thrilling and probably nausea-inducing to participate in, it’s just not all that visually exciting. They don’t even look particularly cool strapped to the hoods of these speeding cars! Very low Dom Toretto vibes, if any.

Anyway, the challenge is pretty uneventful. CT notes that he and Berna might lack the communications skills of other teams. Amber fears what a Fessy win could mean for her, Hughie and Emy blow their only chance at avoiding elimination.

In the end, Team Festher and Joshley put up strong performances, but it’s Kaycee and Emanuel who win the day. While I like both these players and am happy to see them win, this is... I don’t know what this is.

Kaycee has managed to maintain a real opaqueness to her gameplay through multiple seasons, and i never feel like i have a great read on what her strategy is. Despite her association with Big Brother, she’s been reserved and not at all the shit-stirrer that Fessy is, and Emanuel’s only known allegiance is to Emy who will almost certainly be the house vote no matter what.

It’s really hard to speculate what exactly these two will do with their power as The Agency, and their conversations on the matter hardly clarify things. All we really hear them say is that they want Hughie and Emy to have a good shot at coming back from elimination, which could mean anything! All that really indicates is that they aren’t planning to throw in a huge elimination powerhouse like CT, but other than that... who knows?

Rightly, Rookie panic ripples throughout the house. Though there’s only one Double Rookie team left, the individual picks from the Agency mean any of the newbies who have avoided The Lair so far could soon be in trouble. Priscilla, Jeremiah, and Esther are all seen mentally preparing to be thrown in, and tensions are high.

At this episode’s BNO, we get a special “Challenge: Unplugged” performance from Emy of her now-released single, "Alien."

Dressed in a borrowed dress from the self-proclaimed Satan Sisters Ashley and Amanda, Emy sings her original song about feeling like an outsider to a room full of people that seem to really embrace her. She’s definitely not the typical Challenger, but she does seem to have wormed her way into the hearts of most of the house, though that’s definitely not enough to keep her out of elimination this week.

With drinks flowing and resentments smoldering, we get back into Big Brother drama. The resolution Amanda and Esther campaigned for between Fessy and Josh has not materialized, and Amber also hasn’t spoken to Fessy since the blow up. Now, I don’t know if it’s the edit or if she’s just shitty in an impossible-to-explain way that you just have to experience to believe, but people seem to absolutely LOATHE Amber!

Fessy and Kaycee have their problems with her, Esther and Berna talk their shit, and I just find all of it a little confusing? This is only her second season, and she hasn’t really dogged anyone enough for her approval rating to be this low among her castmates. I genuinely wonder if the Amber hate is an accumulation of many micro-annoyances that don’t make the episode cut, misplaced jealousy that she won her first ever challenge season, or something else all together. Is she just so beautiful that it physically hurts to look at her? Is that the issue? Are you mad that she can pull off Space Buns, a feat even more impressive to me than her Rookie-season win? I need answers!

While we don’t get a lot of clarity on WHY people hate Amber other than the vague accusation that she is “so fake”, we certainly get confirmation that they do. Back at the house, the Challengers are doing typical back-at-the-house things after a night out - talking shit and eating pizza. Amber had designs on a pepperoni pizza that has vanished, and Tori and Cory lie and tell her Fessy ate it for the sole purpose of starting a fight for their enjoyment. These two might have shit-stirred a little too close to the sun though, and this silly fight over pizza absolutely erupts.

Amber berates Fessy about The Great Blindside of Episode 4, while Fessy’s defense is that it couldn’t be a blindside because she had no reason to think she was safe. Esther jumps in to defend her partner and Tori, doubling down on the chaos she’s started, runs to the other room to drag blissfully unaware Josh into the fold. It seems like several folks in the house have heard Amber’s blindside sob story a few too many times but Esther is at her limit - she starts screaming that Amber knew she was going in, whether she’ll admit it or not, and eventually throws her drink in Amber’s face.

At this point Josh lets loose - bringing up not only this latest Fessy Messiness, but his history of being a dirty player, saying that once the Rookie fat is cut he’ll have a target on his back.

Fessy returns fire, talking about Josh’s lackluster (1-4) elimination performance and his overall uneventful challenge career. These two trade increasingly inarticulate barbs while production intervenes, but not before Fessy pushes Josh in his face and then...THAT’S IT! The episode ENDS!

No deliberation, no house vote, no elimination, no nothing! We have a physical altercation and a cliffhanger, which might not bode well for Fessy. MTV’s record is pretty inconsistent when it comes to removing folks from the game for getting physical, but rumor has it that Fessy will leave us next episode. This seems to be supported by an interview Josh gave on the debacle, where he says the situation is made worse by “what happened after the fight."

So, yeah! That’s it! Next week better be back to the full-length format because I want my eliminations!!

Stray Observations:

  • Ashley gives big Wine Aunt energy, an evolution of character that i really love for her.
  • Fessy’s argument that he shouldn’t apologize for being a dick because Amber should have known he’d be a dick is Olympic-level gaslighting.
  • The shadiness of the editors cutting Amber’s Main Character dancefloor montage with Berna and Esther’s brutal shit talking is grimey, but wonderful.
  • I really do have to do some deep diving on the Amber hate because even Big T, precious angel that she is, seems annoyed by the girl.
  • Cory gleefully welcoming Josh to the Amber/Fessy fight is pure chaotic evil, and his ear to ear grin while he watches (and encourages) the conflict is an indication of just how hard-up for entertainment they all must be in this house.

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