The Challenge: All Stars 3 recap: Heavy hitters leave in the first 2 episodes
Warning: This article contains spoilers about the first two episodes of The Challenge: All Stars 3, now streaming on Paramount+.
Well, folks, we're baaack — after a short hiatus, The Challenge: All Stars has returned with another crop of OG competitors. But in season 3, the competition has never been higher, because there's a new twist: everyone on All Stars 3 had to have made at least one final in their past appearances. They really said legends only this time around! And since Paramount+ gifted us with not one but two episodes on premiere day, we've got a lot of ground to cover, so let's just get right into it, shall we?
Queen Veronica is the first to arrive to the house in Panama, and as the only three-time female champ and one of the best political players the game has ever seen, I'm ready to see her finally take on All Stars. She and Tina have a devious little giggle as they walk inside, knowing no one wants to see them in the game. By the way, we're like 30 seconds in and I'm already impressed by what feels like a vastly improved production budget. Everything looks glossy and beautiful with sweeping camera angels and close ups. All Stars 3 looks amazing!
Plus the cast is absolutely stacked. This is one of the best lineups we've seen yet from a Challenge, from old school heavy hitters like two-time champ Roni to newer physical beasts like Jordan, this is some fierce competition. Wes comes in ready to cause trouble, and I love the montage that plays as everyone s--- talks him while he just laughs. Meanwhile Tyler's back after healing from his many injuries Laterrian gave him on All Stars 2 (yeah, that Pole Wrestle was even more brutal than it looked onscreen), and all three previous All Stars winners — Yes, Jonna, and MJ — pull up to the house together as the last ones to arrive. What an entrance!
Elsewhere in the welcome party, both Nia and Jordan are ready to redeem their past mistakes on the show by showing how much they've grown and matured. Just seeing them talking about this together is incredibly powerful considering their very rocky past — Nia was kicked off her last season for sexually assaulting Jordan, while Jordan acted racist towards Nia on their Real World season. And now they're best friends and each other's closest allies in the house. Times really have changed.
The next morning, everything is peaceful in the house … except for Wes, who's running on the treadmill while ominous music plays over a montage of other Challenge competitors once again talking s--- about him. Both Wes and the producers are really leaning in to the whole "Wes is this season's villain," huh? It's hilarious, don't get me wrong. I love it, but I can't help but wonder what it's setting up.
The Challenge: Tunnel Vision
TJ reveals this is once again an individual game, with the top male and female taking the top prize of $500,000. And the first daily, played in two rounds, is a memory game — competitors have to look through tiny tunnels in a giant wall to memorize the complex pattern behind it. The first man and woman to run back and duplicate the pattern exactly on their board first win and are safe from elimination. The last man and woman to finish go straight into elimination. Easy enough!
The guys go first, and some are pretty cutthroat about getting their face in front of the tunnels and blocking other guys from seeing through it. Meanwhile Tyler is just waiting his turn patiently, hand on his hip like he's got all the time in the world. Some urgency is required here, Tyler!
Wes is the first to call for a check but it's not correct, and then a whole slew of guys call for a check but aren't right: Yes, Brad, Jordan, Derrick, Tyler, and MJ. Then Wes calls for another check, and he's actually got it right. Yes is the second one to finish and he's not mad about it at all because he doesn't want the responsibilities that come with being first place. Then it's MJ, Darrell, Nehemiah, Jordan, Derrick, Laterrian, Brad, and Mark. The race for last place is between Tyler and Syrus, with Tyler pulling out the win and sending Syrus into elimination.
For the women's heat, the ladies are a lot more well-mannered than the guys were. They're letting each other in to see through the tunnels, making space for each other, apologizing to each other. It's really nice, but I'm ready to see some cutthroat action! Sylvia is the first to call for a check, and she's actually right! Plus she did it in half the time that Wes did it. This is an amazing comeback performance from Sylvia. Then it's KellyAnne, Veronica, Melinda, Kailah, Jemmye, Jonna, Roni, and then Nia. The race for last is between Kendal, Tina, and Cynthia, with Kendal finishing first and then Tina finishing, sending Cynthia into elimination.
But Wes and Sylvia aren't the only ones with power — it turns out that this season, the top three men and the top three women of each challenge form The Authority, and that group of six will nominate one man and one woman to go against the challenge losers in elimination. That means Yes, MJ, KellyAnne, and Veronica have an equal say as Wes and Sylvia. However, only Wes and Sylvia have the power to sabotage any player at the next challenge, which could have a really big impact on this season … especially if Wes is in control of it.
Later that night, the players throw a jungle-themed party since they're, you know, in the middle of the jungle. Very creative! Tyler makes a grand entrance as his drag alter ego Tundra, and then the game talk starts. Cynthia doesn't want to call anyone out as her preferred opponent, and Sylvia starts to get nervous at how she has to name a name. Tyler knows, as the second to last place guy, he's on the chopping block, so he starts politicking hard. The next morning, Jordan starts to worry that, since he doesn't know that many cast members, he might also be in trouble.
The Authority gets together and MJ immediately tries to nominate Jordan because he doesn't want to run a final against such a strong player, but Yes says that's exactly what he wants — Yes is all about running against the best of the best. Wes suspiciously stays quiet while the conversation turns to the women, but then Wes speaks up and says MJ's idea isn't terrible, but right now they should focus on the bottom because they can "hide" behind that reasoning very easily. While Veronica has a hard time throwing her best ally Tina in, and a lot of people there like Tyler, they all agree that it's the best call for all their games to not make waves. I think that's going to work for everyone except for Veronica, because Tina will absolutely not handle this with grace.
Veronica and Sylvia try to explain how it happened to Tina, but she doesn't care. At this point, she considers this to be the first punch thrown by Veronica so she's free to do anything in the game now. Meanwhile Tyler is feeling very hurt by all his friends who voted him in. I don't blame him at all.
Elimination challenge: Crawl Brawl. We've seen a variation of this one on Bloodlines, where players crawl through a steel cage and have to pass each other (either with contact or without), but this time, they have to bring sandbags with them and dig their way through a sand blockage, making it harder than just a simple crawl.
The women go first, and Tina gets an early lead. She eventually laps Cynthia but Cynthia doesn't give up. Even though she keeps fighting, Tina rings the bell and sends Cynthia home. For the men's round, Tyler and Syrus keep the same pace but then Tyler has issues with a carabiner on the first round, giving Syrus a small lead that he carries all the way through to the end, eliminating Tyler. I'm bummed that Cynthia and Tyler are out so quickly, but at least it was pretty even throughout the whole thing.
After Cynthia and Tyler leave, TJ announces one more twist: every time someone eliminates a player, they get another star on their jersey, so now Tina and Syrus each have two. That means they'll get some kind of power in the game … but we have no idea what that means.
At the start of episode 2, the big talk of the house is this new sabotage power and who Wes and Sylvia are going to use it on. Meanwhile Mark video chats with his mom back home, and reveals she's fighting stage four cancer and that's giving him all the motivation he needs to compete as hard as he can this season, because he's doing it all for her. It's rare to see Mark get this emotional, and it once again reminds me of why I love All Stars so much, because it gives us a deeper look into who all these OGs really are outside of the game. And Melinda's ankle still isn't feeling 100 percent normal after rolling it a few times during the All Stars 2 final, and she's worried that it's going to affect her game. Injuries are like the kiss of death on The Challenge, so she has every right to be worried.
The Challenge: Out of Reach
Suspending high over the water, players must swing themselves back and forth to get enough momentum to kick a key into the water. After retrieving the key, players will swim it up to the shore, unlock their box of puzzle pieces, and solve the puzzle. If players can't knock down their key, they'll get dropped anyway and continue on to the puzzle, but with a major time penalty. Fastest man and woman win and get the power to sabotage at the next challenge, and the three fastest men and women form The Authority. The slowest man and woman go straight into elimination against whoever The Authority nominates.
For this challenge, Wes and Sylvia have to choose one man and woman to get a full minute delay before they can start on the puzzle. Sylvia announces she wants to play fair and sabotage the top player below her from the first challenge since they voted the second from the bottom into elimination, so that means KellyAnne gets sabotaged. Meanwhile Wes gleefully sabotages Jordan because he knows that's his biggest threat in the game.
In the first men's heat, though he may be the shortest guy on the cast, Derrick is the first to kick his key down. Jordan is second, then Nehemiah and Mark. After Jordan waits his minute delay, he starts on the puzzle, while Laterrian and Wes continue swinging in the background. They cannot get their keys! And even with the sabotage, Jordan is still the first to finish his puzzle, winning the challenge while Wes is still swinging. Now that's some beautiful karma. Nehemiah and Mark finish next, then Derrick finishes as Laterrian and Wes both get dropped with a 20-minute time penalty and continue to the puzzle. Wes finishes it quickly, and Laterrian finally gets his done.
In the first women's heat, Jonna is the first to get her key down. Again, the shortest person on the cast is the first one to kick it off, proving that size doesn't mean anything as long as you've got enough heart. KellyAnne gets hers next but has to wait a minute to start her puzzle. Jonna finishes her puzzle, and while KellyAnne continues to work, all the other women drop with a 20 minute time penalty. Sylvia gets her puzzle next, then Nia, then Melinda. KellyAnne starts to freak out and yell that she's giving up, and even with a ton of people trying to help her she still can't figure out the puzzle. Jemmye finishes hers before KellyAnne finally does, but at least KellyAnne doesn't have to have 20 minutes added to her time.
In the next guy's heat, MJ gets his key first and fast, then Syrus, Yes, and Brad. Yes gets his puzzle first, then Brad, then MJ, all while Darrell can't get his key down. He stops swinging because he's terrified of heights and his hands are starting to get raw from the ropes. Syrus gets his puzzle next, and Darrell finally falls with a 20-minute penalty, and eventually gets his puzzle.
In the final women's heat, Tina gets worried she's going to flip her swing over, which sounds impossible … until she does it immediately. She can't get herself upright and falls into the water, DQing herself and saving Jemmye from going into elimination. Kailah gets her key first, then Kendal, but Kendal gets her puzzle first. Roni and Veronica get dropped with a 20-minute penalty as Kailah finishes her puzzle. Roni gets hers next, and then Veronica finishes.
As for the results, obviously Tina is heading straight into elimination along with Laterrian for the guys. Yes and Kendal were the top two players, with Jordan, Jonna, Brad, and Kailah joining them in The Authority.
Back at the house, Wes knows he's in trouble after sabotaging Jordan so he's literally kissing Jordan's hand to try and smooth things over, but we'll see if that does anything. At the bar that night, Tina threatens Jonna, saying point blank that if either Veronica or Melinda get thrown in against her, then Jonna will become her enemy. It's forceful and not graceful politicking at all, and Jonna isn't happy about it. She actually considers throwing in Veronica or Melinda just to spite Tina. I love spicy champ Jonna!
When The Authority gets together, Kendal kicks off the conversation by saying Tina and Laterrian don't want to go against their friends, but Kailah shoots that down immediately because the losers don't have power here. She'd rather have everyone say who they want to save to see where the alliances lay. Everyone reveals their top two allies and Brad shocks Yes and Jordan by saying he wants to save Wes. Kailah then points out Wes, Nehemiah, and Melinda are all Real World: Austin roommates, so they'll have each other's backs before anyone else's. Kailah is really playing a strong political game right now and I am extremely impressed. Then Yes tries to target Wes despite Brad's save, and things get intense, but eventually it ends up being Melinda and Mark voted in.
That decision shocks pretty much the entire house, but now it's Tina vs. Melinda (what she tried to threaten Jonna against), and Laterrian vs. Mark. Even Wes can't believe he made it out unscathed, but he's certainly not complaining. He's just bragging instead. Shocking.
Nehemiah has to help Melinda down the stairs in the arena, so it's clear she's not ready for the elimination. She tells TJ she's not competing tonight because she realized she forced herself to return to The Challenge too soon after an injury, so Tina is safe, in a repeat of last season where Tina chose not to compete against Melinda. Only the men will compete tonight.
Elimination challenge: Lights Out. Both player will be tethered to a rotating bar and have to pull their way to shut off a beam of light. It's all endurance and strength, and with a matchup of Mark vs. Laterrian, this could be a long, grueling battle.
After a half hour of fighting, both men haven't moved an inch, but Mark finally starts to pull ahead. And after 45 minutes, Mark gets close to the button, but Laterrian digs into the sand and won't give up that last inch. When Laterrian starts to dry heave, the other players on the sidelines tell him to throw a hail mary and run in the opposite direction. It's a massive risk but he wasn't going to win otherwise, so he gives it a shot. But it gives Mark the slack he needed to hit the button and win.
So now that's twice that Mark has beat Laterrian in an All Stars elimination, and twice that Tina and Melinda have decided not to compete against each other. What a weirdly poetic night!
Challenger of the week: This one's a tie between Jonna, Kailah, and Sylvia for coming out the gate with impressive performances in the first two episodes. I'm really proud of all three women!
The Challenge: All Stars 3 debuts new episodes on Wednesdays on Paramount+.
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