The Challenge: All Stars 2 recap: A new threat emerges
It's not often I find myself complaining about anything on The Challenge: All Stars. This spinoff is so fresh, so fun, and all-around just a great time — especially compared to how intense the main franchise has become. But last week's premiere ended on a frustrating cliffhanger where we didn't even get to see the first nominations let alone the first elimination, and since we only get 10 episodes for the entire season, we simply don't have time to mess around with these random half-episodes. Give us the full daily/nominations/elimination format for every episode!
Episode 2 thankfully picks right back up where we left off after the first daily challenge, as everyone starts speculating on who Derrick and Jodi will nominate for the elimination against Nehemiah and Ayanna. And even though Derrick and Jodi ask Ayanna who she'd want to go against, she says it doesn't matter to her. Got to love her confidence, she's not looking for an easy win! They ask Nehemiah instead, making it clear from the jump that they're not promising to give him who he asks for, and Nehemiah asks for Ryan because he's beaten him before on Gauntlet III. But Derrick and Jodi don't feel jazzed about that so they ask for a second option to consider, so Nehemiah throws out Derek's name.
As everyone gets ready for nominations, Steve makes fun of Derrick's decision to wear a matching neon Aztec print shirt and shorts. Derrick gets offended that Steve thought he was wearing it as "comical relief," because he actually really likes his outfit. And Teck likes it too, so that's all the validation Derrick needs. But a simple insult can carry weight in this game, because now Derrick wants to vote Steve in for making fun of his outfit because as "the new guy," he just gave Derrick a reason to vote him in. Derrick also decides to give Nehemiah half of his wish and so they nominate Derek as the second guy option. Derrick and Jodi also decide on Leah since she's not a big threat and not connected to anyone, and Casey as the second female since Leah would likely lose the house vote anyways.
Even though Derrick and Jodi hope that Steve loses the vote, just seeing Derek's name on the board infuriates Jonna and Jasmine. And Steve cannot believe he might go in because of a "nothing burger" comment he made about a shirt to an adult man. Meanwhile Nehemiah is pissed at Derrick for not giving him Ryan, even though Derrick made no promises and still gave him Derek. So now the Nehemiah-Derrick rivalry is real. Nehemiah's anger really came out of nowhere here, especially when he still got someone he asked for.
Derrick and Jodi then go to Derek and reveal to his whole room that they want Steve to lose the house vote and that Nehemiah wanted to go for Ryan. Meanwhile Nehemiah does everything in his power to get the house vote on Derek. His intensity is... a lot.
So I guess this season we're calling nominations "selection?" Not sure how I feel about that! Not wasting any time, Jonna immediately calls out Nehemiah for targeting Derek, and he exposes his own game by saying he wanted Ryan first and Derek second. He says he's treating this season like a business because he's always played with his heart on his sleeve and walked away with a broken heart and no money in his bank. But he's already pissed off all of Real World: Cancun and Ryan's allies, and so early on in the game too. He's making enemies! Jonna smartly starts the vote and votes for Steve and Leah, knowing that usually the first name thrown out is who everyone else piles on. But after Nehemiah made his wish known, Derek still gets the majority of the votes. And while Casey gets some votes, Leah gets the most.
But Ryan doesn't take this hit laying down and calls out Nehemiah for promising him before this season began that he'd never say his name. Nehemiah tries to justify it as a promise made before he knew what the game would be, but that doesn't matter when making an alliance! If you make a pregame alliance, that means you can't target that person in the very first vote. This is a huge rookie mistake and I can't believe how messy Nehemiah is starting this season.
After the vote, Leah's feeling annoyed that her lack of relationships landed her in the first elimination, but that should not be surprising at all. It doesn't matter how long you've been gone from the show. This still is and always has been a political game.
But enough negativity because it's time to party, old school prom style! Everyone dresses to the nines with hilarious props for the themed night, while Tyler brings out his "second cousin" Tundra, a.k.a. his drag persona, who has good intentions but is terrible with boundaries. And Leah and Ayanna bond over how no matter what happens in the elimination, as single mothers, they're rooting for each other. That's sweet!
As the night goes on, Jonna realizes something is wrong with Derek, and it's more than just elimination worries. He finally reveals that the day before he left for All Stars 2, he got a call and found out his sister took her own life. This is where my heart absolutely breaks because he's dealing with such a personal tragedy, and it's still so fresh. I cannot imagine what he's going through right now, let alone trying to hide it for the show, and then getting voted in to the first elimination?! That's just too much. But he says his sister was always his biggest fan when he was on the show and she'd want him to be here. So he wants to win for her. Are you crying? Because I suddenly just got something in my eyes...
After all four players run in with cool slow-mo entrances like they're WWE wrestlers, TJ announces that everyone is playing individually for eliminations. That means tonight it's Nehemiah vs. Derek and Ayanna vs. Leah.
Elimination challenge: Players must solve puzzles to unlock chains connected to three 300-lbs. coffins, drag them across the sand, and connect the chains to posts on the other side of the pit. This is both a mental and physical elimination, so it equals the playing field for everyone. That means this is anyone's game.
The first round is the guys, and Nehemiah gets an early lead solving the first puzzle, but he struggles with pulling the coffin through the sand. These things look heavy. Derek finally solves his first puzzle while Nehemiah starts to work on his second. But Derek shocks everyone with how well he pulls his coffin. As Nehemiah gets his second attached and works on his third, he begins to struggle with his final puzzle, giving Derek enough time to catch up. Nehemiah continues to get his puzzle wrong as Derek starts to work on it too. Nehemiah finally gets it right followed by Derek just a second later, so it's down a race of who can pull the coffin across the pit the fastest. After a close fight, Nehemiah pulls out the win. On the sidelines, Jonna and Jasmine break down in tears and Derek gets choked up talking about how proud his sister would be of him not giving up. I'm absolutely gutted seeing Derek go out like this, especially with his history of early eliminations. But he impressed the hell out of everyone with how he performed.
In the female round, Leah can't figure out how to work the carabiner and loses a ton of time. Meanwhile Ayanna gets her first puzzle right and drags the coffin through the sand like it weighs nothing, and my jaw is on the floor. Nehemiah could barely budge the coffins in little spurts, and she's practically lifting them up! All the women on the sidelines get real quiet seeing Ayanna perform, because she just shot to the top of the list of female threats this season. Ayanna gets her second puzzle right on the first try and beasts the second coffin while Leah finally figures out how to open the carabiner. But it's too late, because Ayanna gets to her last coffin while Leah can barely move her first one an inch. Without even breaking a sweat, shouting up a storm, Ayanna finishes the elimination in a flurry.
While Ayanna celebrates her win, she runs to Leah and helps her drag her coffin across the pit, finishing strong. It's one of the best displays of real sportsmanlike conduct I've ever seen on The Challenge, and it's a really emotional and powerful moment, but the music makes it so much cheesier than it should have been. Because based on how pretty much everyone was crying on the sidelines, this was a truly amazing sight to see and not corny at all in person. The editors really did everyone dirty with that needle drop.
And after Derek and Leah walk out, TJ reveals that by winning the elimination, Nehemiah and Ayanna now have a Life Shield which can save either themselves or a nominee from the next elimination. And while Ayanna doesn't seem to have any alliances, enemies, or grudges yet, Nehemiah is absolutely going to use his Life Shield to shake up the game next week. And we all know who's at the top of his hit list.
Challenger of the week: Ayanna for showing just how much of a threat she really is, even after all these years away. Put this woman in a final and I bet she makes it far.
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