The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2 recap: Paulie digs his own grave in the final
After last week’s elimination knocked Nany out of the game, we’ve officially made it to the final on The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2 — despite the concerning imbalance of the number of players on each team. Team U.K. is small but mighty, with CT, Jordan, Tori, Rogan, and Dee. Team U.S. is bigger but with much bigger liabilities, with Zach, Leroy, Paulie, Cara Maria, Kam, Ninja, and Ashley. But finals are notorious for being incredibly unpredictable, with athletes at the peak of their game quitting as their bodies give out and layups showing more determination than you ever imagined them having, so who knows how this season is going to end. When it began, it looked like a sure thing for Team U.S. They had so many champions and more seasoned veterans compared to the mostly rookie Team U.K., plus they were just the all-around better athletes. But thanks to, as Zach says, “two egotistical maniacs and their loyal followers,” Team U.S. screwed themselves and got rid of all of their best players week after week. Now it’s really a toss-up, making this final more exciting than I thought it would be back at the start of the season.
And since we’re at the final, I’m forgoing our usual recap structure and getting straight to the action. TJ is calling the War of the Worlds 2 final the longest and most brutal ever, and considering how last season’s final held that title, I don’t doubt that we’re going to see someone gas out and quit. Will it be a champ, or will one of the layups earn their derogatory nickname? Probably both! What I’m really hoping happens is a purge midway through the final that screws over some of these annoying jerks that feel like they “deserve” this win. No one deserves anything on The Challenge, you have to earn every single title you win!
Right off the bat, we learn that this final is held in two stages. And stage 2 only has room for four players on each team, so my wish is already coming true. There’s a purge coming! The only question is: Who is going to get purged out, and who will make it to the end? So enough stalling, let’s get to it!
The first stage of the final is a race through the jungle, with each team carrying a large gurney holding a relic and a 20-pound sandbag for each teammate stacked on top. They must complete the four-mile route four times, for a total of 16 miles. For every lap, there’s a checkpoint with a task/puzzle/etc. that they must complete before moving on. Already Team U.K. is at an advantage with less weight on their gurney since they have fewer people, especially since there can be no more than four people carrying the gurney at any time and players can only be swapped out at the checkpoints.
The race begins with little to no drama. The bamboo gurney hurts their shoulders, it’s heavy, it’s hot, the miles are long. But both teams keep the same pace and arrive at the first checkpoint, which is essentially launching coconuts into a basket. Team U.K. gets to the checkpoint first, lands the first coconut, and finishes the checkpoint first. But Team U.S. is not far behind.
It’s interesting to see that Dee doesn’t carry the gurney for the first and second lap. If the teams vote for who goes on to stage 2, she won’t be making it to the final four for Team U.K. If it’s not a vote, I have no idea how the four players will be chosen — if it’s based on performance in the final, she’s not pulling ahead in that regard either.
Team U.K. gets to the second checkpoint first, with little to no drama aside from Team U.S. trying to pass them and failing to stay ahead. They also keep dropping their sandbags and arguing with each other while Team U.K. is keeping a tight ship. The second checkpoint is a math question that everyone on the team must answer correctly before moving on. Team U.S. finally arrives at the checkpoint, and Zach is actually the first person from either team to answer his problem correctly. Tori is the first from Team U.K. to answer right. Cara starts to meltdown and cry when she can’t figure out her question. It’s when she starts squealing that she “can’t” do it that I have officially had enough of her horrible attitude. Some champ she is! Paulie starts screaming at her and it’s just annoying to watch. She finally gets it right before Rogan and Dee, so Team U.S. gets their first lead. But with Ninja and Cara failing at carrying the gurney, Team U.S. is struggling, and Paulie knows it’s his fault for bringing his alliance of weaker players to the final. He forces his team to put the gurney down to give himself a rest since the other team members literally aren’t carrying their weight. That’s what you get for bringing poor performers to the final with you!
While Paulie continues to yell and gas out, Team U.K. catches up to Team U.S. Paulie tries to be petty and block Team U.K. from passing them but Dee throws her arm up and pushes the Team U.S. gurney out of the way. It’s actually badass to see her forcing her way in like that, giving CT the chance to choo-choo his way in and push Team U.S. into the bushes. Paulie makes his team take yet another break, and his talking head interview is all about how he has “completely exhausted” himself. And then he makes them take another break, dropping all the weight off the gurney instead of just putting it down. It’s only the third lap, dude! That’s not a great sign.
Team U.K. gets to the third checkpoint with the biggest lead we’ve seen yet on this final. But that means nothing since it’s everyone’s most hated (and my favorite!) challenge — the dreaded eating challenge. Let’s see some projectile vomiting! Dead scorpions and live, wiggling, fat grub worms are on the menu, and I am so ready to see some puking. It’s a weird thing but for some reason, I love watching these idiots puke their guts out in the middle of a final when they’re already dehydrated and dying. The things they make these people eat is absolutely disgusting. Some seasons they get off easy with a big bowl of mayo and a plate of donuts. But usually, it’s like this season where they eat some of the grossest things imaginable and I love every second of it. There’s a million dollars on the line — what would you eat for that prize?
For Team U.K., CT and Tori each shoot a coconut into a basket, meaning they don’t have to eat anything (boo!). Rogan chokes down his helping of bugs like it’s nothing. Jordan struggles a bit while Tori shouts at a heaving Dee that the scorpion is “just a f—ing chicken nugget” so she needs to scarf it down and I am living for this. But she sucks it down like a true champ and Team U.K. completes their checkpoint with no vomiting. Impressive, but I’m disappointed. At least there’s no way Team U.S. is going to be this anticlimactic with the eating!
When Team U.S. gets to the eating checkpoint, their bamboo gurney is already collapsing from all the extra weight and everyone is struggling, so this is not going to go well. I’m dry heaving just looking at these fat grub worms trying to escape the shot glass. The people who have to eat on Team U.S. are Ashley, Zach (who kills the grub worm by poking it repeatedly before eating it), Leroy, Kam, Cara (who immediately starts to whine), and Paulie. Zach is the first one to heave and he doesn’t let me down — the sound of him yacking is as dramatic as possible. Thanks, bro! Meanwhile, Ashley is going on about how the “scorpion tastes good” and that sounds pretty on par for her.
But all of a sudden, Team U.K. gets stopped by TJ in the woods. He reminds them how they were warned that the rules state clearly that they can’t mess with the other team’s gurney. TJ tells CT that he “clearly manhandled” Team U.S.’ gurney after the second checkpoint (when they aggressively passed by pushing them into a bush). Team U.K. gets a 10-minute penalty as a result, giving Team U.S. time to catch up (if they can).
They shouldn’t worry though — Cara still hasn’t finished eating. She pukes up the worm and it’s still moving — I should be loving that but it’s a pretty sad scene, which tells you everything you need to know about how I feel about Cara this season. When she finally finishes, they decide to carry all the weight bags separately because their gurney is falling apart, but I thought that was against the rules? They take the chance anyway, but Paulie’s body is just shutting down. Leroy couldn’t be more disappointed after how Paulie maneuvered this whole season to get to the final with this specific team. I couldn’t agree with Leroy more! Paulie just hurt himself by not having a stronger team with him in the final. He’s gassing out because he tried to do too much to pick up the slack of his weaker alliance.
Zach starts losing it, screaming at Paulie, “You wondered why I wanted to f—ing keep strong players on this team, well now you f—ing know!” He’s not wrong, Paulie. You made your bed, and now you have to lay in it. At this point, it’s basically just Leroy and Zach carrying this team while Paulie trails behind like a wide-eyed, braindead idiot, with the women just carrying some of the sandbags off to the side. At one point he tells Cara he can’t even see anything and then he just collapses while she tries to massage out his cramps. But it’s clear: he’s done. As much as he keeps saying that he’s “not quitting,” he can’t possibly continue like this. This is only the first stage!
Team U.S. leaves Paulie behind, making Cara abandon him despite wanting to stay behind. He tries to get up and follow them but keeps staggering around like he’s drunk. He collapses again, and at this point I’m wondering why medical isn’t stepping in to stop him. He’s pushing himself to the point of death. I admire that he doesn’t want to give up and quit, but his body has. He was not prepared for this. Other people on Team U.S. were, but he got them all eliminated. Now he’s paying the ultimate price. How’s that for your legacy, Paulie?
The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2 finale continues Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on MTV.