The Challenge: Bloodlines recap: Blood Brothers
Last week Bananas promised to light the fuse on The Challenge‘s great love triangle, and this week he let the whole bomb go off, breaking down the last remaining alliance (Thomas/Stephen, Abram/Mike, Cara Maria/Jamie) in the house. “If this thing goes the way we expect it to go, this has the ability to be hands down the most strategic, evil move in Challenge history,” he tells the camera. And while that may not be true (remember when Julie tried to “kill” Veronica?), his actions unleash Abram’s dark side.
Vince becomes the messenger and sidles up to Abram, letting him in on the Cara-Thomas secret. The cameras don’t show how he starts the conversation, but they catch Vince telling Abram, “Everyone in the house has seen it. They just don’t have the f—ing backbone to tell you. It wasn’t flirting. If it was my girlfriend, I would want to f—ing know.” Abram asks for details, if Vince saw anything, and basically, what the hell happened. “I’m not just going to jump ship on the person I live with,” he says. Abram can immediately see Vince and Bananas’ plan, but it still shakes him.
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“That’s my turf and you should f— off,” he says in an interview. (I should note, he continues to say possessive statements like this, which give Cara’s confession in the final moments of the ep a harrowing underlying meaning. I’ll get to that bit soon.)
Abram confronts Cara, who’s hanging out with Aneesa, Thomas, and Stephen. “Vince says you hooked up with Tom,” he says. “These are pretty broad accusations for someone I live with and trust completely.”
Cara and Tom deny the claims, and Abram lets his temper out of its cage a bit: “I would kill you,” he tells Tom. Cara pulls Abram aside to tell him what really happened, in her words: “Massages and egg sandwiches.”
Whether or not that’s the whole truth, Abram loses it, spiraling into the crazy Abram we met way back in his Road Rules fight with Adam. “Rather than me trying to kill him, you’re going to vote for him to go into elimination,” he tells Cara. The whole conversation has icky controlling undertones, which Cara addresses in her confessional. “I don’t like being strong-armed into making a decision.” She vows to just keep him happy while he’s there because “I can’t deal with us when we’re not on the same page.”
So many real-life relationships have come out of The Challenge — sup, Brad and Tori — but whenever one is featured on-camera it’s like getting an inside peek into someone’s underwear drawer. Clearly there are cracks and deep, fundamental issues between these two people who live together and share a life back home. These moments are the ones that feel intrusive and creepy, reminding us the politicking on The Challenge (and any reality show, for that matter) can have real-life consequences. “Would you rather him find out six months from now?” Bananas says after Abram freaks out on the bus in the next scene. And he would have found out, just as we all have, that Cara and Tom got close.
Back in this week’s challenge, the teams are suspended in mid-air, asked to jump from rope to rope between hanging platforms. The red team wins again, and on the blue team Mike — Abram’s brother and bloodline — volunteers heartily to go into the pit.
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When the red team deliberates, Thomas jumps at the chance to send Jamie in, but the rest of the team — including Cara and Abram — send Stephen to battle. Bananas got his wish (their alliance is broken) and Abram got his (to inadvertently compete against Tom). The whole situation is a screwed up pissing contest for Cara’s affection, and no one comes out looking like a champ.
But in the pit, The Challenge team has set up one of the coolest competitions in recent memory. Stephen and Mike must break down an entire mock living room — couches, tables, TVs, framed photos of Challenge casts and T.J. Lavin — into tiny pieces that fit through a hole in the wall.
NEXT: A discomforting scene
Abram loses his mind pumping Mike up so much that his nose begins to bleed. With blood smeared all over his face, he jumps up and down, knocking heads with his brother, who turns into a destroyer and sends Stephen and Tom home with barely a fighting chance.
The cast returns to the house, Abram and Bananas both pleased with themselves, but the cameras catch a dark moment of vulnerability when Cara confides to her cousin Jamie.
“I just don’t want to be with him anymore,” she tells him while they sit in his top bunk bed. “I don’t! I was gonna leave him when I got home from this. We’ve broken up so many times. It’s just an unhealthy relationship. Like … I’m so glad I have you. God I wish he never came.”
Again, it’s a reminder that their relationship goes well beyond The Challenge. For a moment, Cara’s not a reality show contestant… she’s a woman confiding in her cousin about her boyfriend and her messed up relationship. The scene is the kind reality producers may dream of catching, but seeing it on TV, splayed out like diary pages is discomforting. Minutes before we’d seen Abram smeared with blood, vowing to kill. How are we as viewers supposed to feel? Do we fear for Cara and the cast’s safety? I honestly do.
The Bloodline Rankings, below.
1. Cara Maria and Jamie
I too am thankful Jamie is there — for Cara’s sake — but as the season continues on, and we now know how she really feels about her relationship, continuing to watch it unfold will be fairly awful.
2. Abram and Michael
Mike did get a chance to prove himself this week, and like Cara said when she saw the pit, “This is made for Mike. He has the same blood as Abram.”
3. Bananas and Vince
They lit the fire and watched the house explode.
4. Thomas and Stephen
6. Jenna and Brianna
Thank you for introducing us to the phrase “noodly arms,” Jenna.
7, 8, 9. KellyAnne and Anthony & Aneesa and Rianna & Cory and Mitch
Were they even in this episode?
How do you feel about what went down this week?