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September 25, 2019 at 10:30 PM EDT
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Karma won out, and Laurel was sent home after betraying her team last week on The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2, meaning that no one, not even arguably the strongest female competitor, is safe this season. And that realization is changing the entire game only four episodes in. My initial fears that this season would be boring to watch have been assuaged!

This week’s episode picks up, of course, immediately after Ninja’s now-iconic win over Laurel. Both Wes and Laurel played “messy games,” according to Leroy, and Bananas is next on the chopping block if the current trend keeps on keeping on. He’s feeling the heat, especially since Team U.S. is still pissed about him throwing last week’s challenge. So Bananas’ strategy is to make sure anyone aligned with Paulie (a.k.a. the person leading the charge to get Bananas out) will say anyone else’s name for their team’s speaker if they win the next challenge.

He starts with Josh, who has a real friendship with Paulie outside the house, and Josh decides the best course of action is to nominate himself as speaker with Zach and Tori in the Tribunal. And of course, Josh immediately tells Paulie, who straight-up refuses. It turns into a tennis match of arguing between Bananas and Paulie, each trying to manipulate Josh, who eventually blows up (shocking turn of events there). At one point, Bananas even yells, “I am The Challenge!” Which, ew. But the whole situation ends with Josh agreeing to nominate Paulie as speaker after he promises not to throw anyone from Team U.S. in. Sounds like the right call for everyone involved. Cara Maria is not pleased, though. She doesn’t like seeing her boyfriend Paulie working with Bananas.

The Challenge: Hooked

In what TJ promises will be “so sick,” Challengers will be given a giant hook and will race off a platform in a “leap of faith” and attempt to hook onto a zipline. Then, players will ride the zipline as far as they can until they fall into the water. Next, they have to swim around a buoy and on towards a boat. When they hit the boat, their time stops. All players’ times will be added up and the team with the fastest total time wins. Everyone’s run will count, so it’s not just about who has the quickest player.

Degree of physical difficulty: High. Not only do they have to jump far, but those hooks also have to connect with the zipline perfectly. Otherwise, they’ll fall into the water and have to swim an extremely far distance. That means players who are not strong swimmers really have to make it onto the zipline.

Degree of mental difficulty: N/A. This is all physical. But there is a degree of mental game at play here with players needing to get over a fear of heights and really jump for that zipline.

Potential for drama: Medium. This is all going to come down to individual times, so whoever is slowest could ruin things for his/her team. Plus, it’s a guy elimination week.

Winner: With only 1 minute and 17 seconds separating the two teams, Team U.S. got things back on track and took home the win.

So how did everyone do individually? The fastest times were: Team U.K. rookie Jenny and Team U.S. vet Jordan. While she kills it on the hook/zipline part, Ninja completely biffs it on the swimming portion, leading Zach to wonder if she’s throwing the challenge. Is she really just that bad at swimming? Idris misses the zipline. Jordan’s carabiner doesn’t detach when he tries to swim, but he makes up for it with some incredibly fast moves in the water. Cara misses the hook; Nicole freaks out and hesitates on the jump at first — but still ends up beating Cara anyway. Paulie beats Joss in their individual matchup because Joss was tightening his carabiner instead of loosening it at first. Ashley hooks her zipline while Dee misses it, and Ashley beats her. Rogan actually beats Turbo in one of the more shocking heats! Turns out Turbo can’t swim long distances? We’ve officially found a weakness in the Terminator, people! Bananas smokes Theo in their heat. Georgia misses her zipline but still beats Nany by making up for lost time with her swimming. Josh beats Kyle, Tori beats Kayleigh, Zach beats CT, Kam beats Esther, and Bear beats Leroy.

Tribunal: As previously agreed upon, Paulie is nominated as speaker, but he picks Cara and Jordan for Tribunal instead of Zach and Tori. Hmmm. His deviation from the previously agreed upon plan immediately makes me suspicious that he’s not going to stick to his promise of throwing in someone from Team U.K. Zach puts it best: they just handed a loaded gun to a loose canon.

At nominations, Theo kicks things off with a seven-minute monologue about why they should vote in Rogan, but Rogan counters with the facts: he just beat Turbo, a.k.a. the reigning Challenge champ. Theo doesn’t really have a leg to stand on here. It ends up biting him in the ass, as the votes send in Theo. It’s not a smart move at all to throw in one of their best players when they keep losing the challenges. Their only win so far was a result of Team U.S. literally throwing a challenge, so they can’t afford to lose one of their best players. Kyle and CT should have spoken up more to prevent this vote from going down the way it did but it’s too late now.

Theo asks the Tribunal to throw in CT against him (because he thinks CT staying neutral so far this game means he doesn’t deserve to go to a final) or Idris or even Rogan, but especially CT or Idris. After Theo leaves, Jordan and Paulie discuss throwing in a strong Team U.K. player, but Cara stays suspiciously silent, leading Jordan (and myself) to wonder if she’s planning to throw in someone from Team U.S.

But first, it’s time for a night out! Let’s see how alcohol fuels these fires as both teams continue to unravel. After Rogan gives Dee a “sloppy” lap dance (and she puts a tip in his butt crack!), Ninja approaches Zach about his comments after her poor challenge performance. He decides to be the bigger person and apologize for the betterment of their team, which I honestly did not expect from Zach! Historically, he hasn’t proven to be the “bigger person” when it comes to making derogatory comments about females and their performance on this show. This was a really positive moment of growth for him … if he actually meant it and it wasn’t just to defuse potential drama. Jury’s still out on that one.

Meanwhile, Bananas, worried about the Proving Ground elimination vote from the Tribunal, makes a shocking statement: if he gets thrown in and wins against Theo, he’s going to be a turncoat and join Team U.K. Kyle loves that, predicting that he, CT, and Bananas would be “locked in to go to a final” if they were all on the same team. They would potentially have the votes! On the other side of the bar, Cara confirms my suspicions and tells Josh she’s voting for Bananas no matter what. Josh tries to convince her not to, which is incredibly hypocritical of him after doing the same thing with Wes earlier. But I do agree with him in this instance, so I just wish anyone else would have had this conversation with Cara to give it more power. She starts crying in the middle of the bar talking about everything Johnny’s “put her through” over the years and cites Bananas sabotaging his own team as her reason to throw him in. But isn’t that what she’s doing right now by throwing in yet another champion, potentially making her team lose one of their strong players?

The weirdest part, though, happens when Cara goes into a stairwell alone to presumably continue crying, but then turns to the camera, immediately stops crying … and smiles. Is she … faking tears while talking about Bananas?! That is diabolical and honestly not something we’ve ever seen from her. Maybe that’s why Paulie has a secret meeting with Jordan and Tori without Cara — he knows she’s playing an emotional game right now and he doesn’t want to hurt Team U.S. He promises he wants to do whatever it takes to make Team U.K. weaker and Team U.S. stronger. But that’s an incredibly vague statement that could go either way with voting for a Team U.K. person … or Bananas.

The Proving Ground elimination

Before arriving at the Proving Ground, Rogan starts stretching, warming up, and getting his head in the game, thinking he might get some votes. His suspicions prove correct, as Jordan votes for him. Cara votes for Bananas, saying he’s the U.K.’s strongest player. So it all comes down to Paulie. And while he fakes everyone out by calling out Rogan’s name, he follows it up with: “My vote’s for Johnny.” That is stone. Cold. And not a good look for Paulie after shaking Bananas’ hand earlier and promising not to throw in anyone from their team. Paulie, your name is definitely now on the chopping block for future eliminations. This was not smart, both for your team and for you!

Elimination challenge: Die for me. Players start off locked inside two tiny cages and must rock, roll, and tumble their cages across a racecourse, hitting land mines and matching numbered “detonator” balls on top of each land mine. Once they’re all matched, players must tumble to and land on the eighth and final land mine, detonating it. First person to detonate the eighth land mine wins.

Degree of physical difficulty: High. This one is mostly physical and will require players to not gas out early. It takes a lot of power to tumble those cages while inside of them, and there’s going to be a lot of distance to cover. Plus, Theo is about 6’5″ and those cages are tiny!

Degree of mental difficulty: Low. Players just have to keep focus and not match the wrong numbers. One wrong move could set them back minutes. And as Bananas says, Roman numerals are more confusing than regular numbers, especially in the heat of the moment.

Potential for drama: High. Once again, whoever wins this elimination is going to change the game. If Bananas wins, he’s already promised to join Team U.K. If he loses, Team U.S. loses another one of their strongest players, meaning that no matter what happens, Team U.S. will be down a strong player. Plus trust has never been lower on each team.

Winner: Theo! He actually gets an early lead but once Bananas gets the hang of rolling his cage, the two are quickly neck-and-neck. It seems as if Bananas gets the lead in the end, but TJ catches his mistake with swapping the sixth and seventh land mines, meaning he has to go back and fix them. All Theo has to do is just roll to the finish line, and he pulls off the win. Bananas leaves with a promise that we will “see this face again,” so he’s not retiring just yet. The curse still lives! And Theo chooses to stay with Team U.K.

Challenger of the week: Team U.K. rookie Jenny for absolutely smoking the challenge and beating everyone, both male and female, on each team! I predict great things for her Challenge future after this impressive showing.

The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2 airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on MTV.

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