The Challenge: Double Agents recap: Messy Fessy
Who was eliminated in season 36, episode 4, "Duplicity?"
You thought the last episode of The Challenge: Double Agents was messy?! Fessy was like, "Nah, hold my beer." In this week's episode, he managed to piss off everyone in his own alliance, and most of the people in the house in one fell swoop. And he gave one of the dirtiest Hall Brawl performances I've ever seen in the history of The Challenge ... even though he's always said Hall Brawl was the elimination that's made for him. Who would have thought the quietest, most boring player from last season would end up being the messiest player this season?! Let's break it all down, shall we?
Before Fessy takes the crown for most dramatic player of the week, Devin sure gives him a run for his money. He's feeling like "the king of the world" after his elimination win against Wes and forcing his main "frenemy" Tori to be his partner, but Tori is already planning to change partners as soon as she can. And Fessy is ... getting, ahem, really close with Tori. Hmmm. At the time of filming, Tori was still engaged to Jordan (they are no longer together because no Challenge love story is ever safe). But Cory says Fessy's always been attracted to Tori, and he's starting to worry that they're working together behind everyone's backs. Could it actually be more though? Are the rumors about Tori and Fessy's real life, ah... connection, true? Yikes. Just ... yikes.
There's a sweet moment when Devin asks Big T about her nickname, and she opens up about how when she was 2 years old, her brother died and her mom got cervical cancer. In Malawi culture, adoption doesn't exist so her mom gave her as a "gift" to her aunt in the U.K. And talking about losing both her mother and father at such a young age then inspired Devin to open up about losing his dad and how it almost broke him. But since we really can't have nice things, the conversation turns ridiculous when Devin just starts attacking Amber M. out of nowhere for sitting on the couch with them all during that emotional talk, and he tries to make her leave for no reason other than he thinks she's a "snake." Thankfully she stands up for herself because this was totally unnecessary bullying, so he leaves instead. Why did that even need to happen?
The next morning, Amber M. tells Nelson what happened and he immediately confronts Devin, who is still sleeping, to force him to apologize. He says Amber M. is crying about it, which... she absolutely wasn't. The camera cuts to Amber M., who is calmly eating in the kitchen, once again proving how the editors are doing the absolute most this season. And after this whole debacle, Devin now decides to target Nelson and Amber M. for elimination.
The Challenge: Drone Control
But first, we've got a pretty lame challenge! In underground lava tunnels, players must navigate drones down a dark, rocky cave and memorize a secret code through the drone's camera. One teammate will fly the drone while the other views what the drone sees and communicates where their teammate needs to fly it. Once the team enters in the right code, their time will be stopped, and the team with the fastest time wins. It's a fine idea in theory, but it ends up being one of the most anticlimactic, passive daily challenges ever.
Challenge analysis: If the challenge worked, it would have required a lot of clear communication between teammates and staying calm under pressure. But most importantly, if you can't fly a drone, you're f---ed. And since these are all athletes/reality show stars, drone flying isn't a skill that any of them have, so it failed spectacularly.
Before the challenge starts, TJ announces that Liv is not medically cleared to continue this season, so she's already gone. Her partner Mechie, however, is now a rogue agent and will get to continue in the game. I'm loving how this season's structure finally figured out how to stop punishing innocent players after their partners get sent home for medical reasons. Normally they'd get sent home too, which was always so heartbreaking to see since it was no one's fault. So while Mechie won't get to compete in this daily challenge, the next elimination will determine his new partner and he's safe for one more week.
Challenge winners: Tori and Devin... but only because they were the only team who successfully completed it.
The first heat is Nelson/Amber M. and Kyle/Kam. Kyle and Kam's drone doesn't even take off at first, which is hilarious. And Nelson's isn't moving at all... until he crashes it right into the ceiling. And keeps crashing it into the walls and ground and ceiling. The same thing happens with Kyle and Kam. TJ finally puts both teams out of their misery and laughs while calling both missions a failure. Next up is Josh/Nany and Darrell/Amber B. These two teams aren't doing any better, so TJ calls them both a failure again. Will any teams be able to complete this mission? TJ doesn't think so; he just mumbles "Jesus" while laughing as the two teams walk out of the tunnel.
Next up is Jay/Theresa and Lio/Gabby, and it only takes both teams 30 seconds to crash into walls and kill their drones. TJ is having the time of his life talking s--- to all the teams, which should make this an instant classic. But it's kind of boring how no one can figure this out. And it's not like trivia where their failures are entertaining. Here, they're just standing around while little drones fly into walls.
In the next heat, Big T/CT and Kaycee/Leroy fail, and Leroy knows that TJ laughing behind them is not a good sign. When the two new teams of Cory/Natalie and Tori/Devin attempt the mission, Cory and Natalie crash but Tori and Devin actually make it to the code! He starts memorizing and Tori successfully brings the drone back. He solves the code and completes the mission. Out of all the teams, who would have thought the teammates who hated each other the most would be the only ones to finish it?! They actually hug each other after. This is weird.
The final two teams to attempt the challenge are Aneesa/Fessy and Lolo/Nam, and no shocker here but they both crash. It's "the opposite of good," according to TJ. So obviously the winners are Tori and Devin, simply because they had no competition. What would have happened if Devin and Tori hadn't finished it?
Having Devin in a power position as a double agent with Tori immediately throws the house into chaos. Devin's ego grows a million times bigger than it already was after his elimination win. He now wants to target everyone who has wronged him as well as the Big Brother alliance, so that's basically half the house. Tori wants to use their new double agent power for her own benefit and go against Amber M. to get her gold skull because her move is always to go for the weakest girl player. Big T gets angry hearing Tori talking about "weak" players. But no one actually knows if this week is a guy or girl elimination so they don't know how to strategize.
At The Challenge's Club COVID, a.k.a. the bar they built for nights of partying during the pandemic, Fessy, Nelson, and Cory are feeling on top of the world with their "strongest alliance" in the house. And their dance moves are atrocious. But Tori and Devin have a secret meeting in the corner to lay out who they won't target (as a favor to each other) and who they actually want to target with the upcoming vote. Tori tells Devin that if she sees a Hall Brawl in the Crater, she automatically wants to go in herself. He absolutely does not, however, since he already has a skull and doesn't need to risk losing it if it turns out to be a guy elimination. Later that night she tells Josh everything about how Devin is trying to target him but she wants to go in herself, so she tries to convince him to make Amber M./Nelson the house vote for her.
Meanwhile, Fessy admits that it's "no secret" that he has a thing for Tori but he wouldn't "cross that line" because she "has a man back home." So instead he sets his sights on Gabby, who tells him he won't be getting in her bed tonight because he has no game. And then out of nowhere, Josh tries to threaten Jay about how he shouldn't become his enemy, even though Jay has been tight with Josh's alliance this whole time and never did anything to inspire this fight. What is Josh trying to do? He had a drunken embarrassing moment last episode. Doesn't he realize he's supposed to lay low this week? Big T calls Josh a hot mess; Jay says he's a big baby. Josh even tries to get Kaycee to make Jay the house vote right in front of him. She's not having it, of course, because again: Jay is in their alliance and hasn't made any moves against them. Just go to bed, dude.
But then the next morning, Josh keeps trying to convince people to vote for Jay anyway, so you can't even blame his one-track-minded stupidity on alcohol. No one in his alliance agrees, and he just. Won't. Give. It. Up. He's never been known for his social game or strategy skills (or really any skills, sorry not sorry!) but this is the worst he's ever been. Even his partner Nany is over this so she calls over Jay to talk it through, but Josh gets up immediately and walks away. At least she tried!
The house vote conversation kicks off with Nelson trying to convince everyone that because two girls got injured and sent home in the last week, it's obviously going to be a guy elimination this week to even things out. But a lot of players aren't going to assume anything because you never know what's coming in this game. Josh announces he's probably Devin's target but despite him trying to campaign privately to have Jay be the house vote, he says he's not going to call anyone out publicly. I just don't even know what he's trying to do anymore.
The compromised agents end up being Nelson/Amber M., and they were voted for by Gabby, Aneesa, CT, Big T, Nany, Kaycee, Amber B., Lolo, Nam, Natalie, Jay, and Theresa. When Tori and Devin see that classified intel, Tori says she wants to cut a deal with Josh/Nany to save them from this elimination in the hopes that they would show the same kindness back. But Devin points out they've both played this game long enough to know the only people they should play this season for is themselves and choose Nelson/Amber M.'s opponents wisely. Ultimately, Tori won't take that advice to heart.
Meanwhile, even though he doesn't know he's the house vote yet, Nelson is already starting to regret picking Amber M. as his partner. I don't even know why he thought she was a good idea to begin with? She's a rookie with no ties to anyone, plus she's the smallest girl in the house so she's an easy target. He's beginning to get the vibe that he's going into elimination.
Walking into the Crater, Tori is psyched to see a Hall Brawl set up in the sand. She's determined to go in if it's a girl elimination. And then we hear her whispering with Fessy about how Nelson's the compromised agent, and Fessy tells her he wants to go in if it's a guy elimination. But... isn't Nelson in Fessy's alliance? Since when are Tori and Fessy each other's No. 1 allies? Meanwhile, Nelson is having flashbacks to losing Hall Brawl before, and he's not too happy to see it again. But TJ brings Nelson and Amber M. down to the sand, and their fate is sealed as the compromised agents.
When it's time for Tori and Devin to vote for the other team going into elimination, Tori asks TJ for clarification on whether it's a girl or guy elimination. Of course, he doesn't tell her; he just vaguely says that as agents, they should always be ready for anything but expect nothing. So Devin whispers to Tori that they should pass on this elimination, promising to get her a skull later, and she actually agrees. What loyalty does she have to Devin to give up what could be her best option to get a skull just to potentially save him? They're not friends. They pretty much hate each other. She's hungry to compete in this specific elimination against this specific female competitor. But the fact that TJ doesn't give her a hard time about her decision makes it clear that this isn't a female elimination, so it ends up being the right decision for both of them.
For their actual vote, Tori says that she and Devin are looking out for friends and hopefully giving them a skull by voting them in against Nelson and Amber M., and Josh is shown getting ready to get called in, jumping up and down and mentally preparing because he thinks it's him. But Tori throws everyone for a loop when she votes for... Fessy and Aneesa instead. Josh literally says out loud, "What?!" Everyone knows Fessy and Nelson are allies, so Tori and Fessy are drawing the lines in the sand here. They're a new alliance, and it takes priority over everything else. Nelson hangs his head and says, "Oh s---, tonight is gonna be a bitch." Josh tries to convince Tori to send him down instead because he thinks he can take Nelson, but she refuses. Everyone is speechless. Aneesa is semi-okay with this because she thinks she has a shot at beating Amber M. due to size/strength/experience if it's a girl elimination. Devin then votes for Fessy and Aneesa, and Josh is pissed. TJ then announces it is a guy elimination, making Tori, Fessy, and Devin happy and everyone else upset.
Elimination challenge: Hall Brawl. Y'all know what it is!
Elimination analysis: The ultimate headbanger. Fessy thinks he has this in the bag and tries to do some mental gymnastics about how he's actually doing Josh a favor by taking this elimination from him, and Aneesa is upset that Fessy is making deals without even including her in the conversation. It's a selfish move but this is Fessy's best shot at getting a skull, even though he's exposing his shady game to everyone and screwing over his whole alliance in the process.
Winner: Fessy, obviously. But it's not really a win he should be proud of.
In the first round, Fessy and Nelson collide hard. Nelson goes under while Fessy lays on top of him, and they struggle for a while. Then it becomes clear that Fessy is playing dirty. Nelson tries to get up and Fessy just keeps slamming him down even though Fessy has a clear opportunity to get up and run for his button at the end. Fessy's holding Nelson down and even shoves his hand into Nelson's helmet at one point and rips off his face mask. Everyone watching on the sidelines is horrified at how Fessy is playing this. Fessy finally lets Nelson go and literally steps on him to run to his side while Nelson gets up and runs. Fessy gets his point just a split second before Nelson does. Before the second round starts, TJ tells Fessy "there's no more dirty play," which honestly says something if TJ has to call it out in an elimination like this. They collide hard again and Nelson holds onto Fessy's ankle, pushing back while they struggle. Fessy ultimately gets his second point and instead of hearing the crowd cheer for him, they actually yell at Nelson to hold his head high. It's clear who everyone was rooting for, and it wasn't Fessy.
Fessy tries to hug Nelson after and Nelson literally pushes him away. He says he's lost a friend tonight, and everyone cheers loudly for him as he walks out of the Crater. TJ's disdain for Fessy is clear when he tells Fessy "congratulations for beating your friend Nelson." And then for his decision on who his partner will be, Fessy makes a face at the idea of being partnered with Amber M., further cementing his status as a tool. He also makes some comment about how he's probably going to get stolen from Aneesa eventually (everyone cringes when he says that), so he decides to steal Kaycee from Leroy. So now Fessy has pissed off Josh, Nany, Cory, Nelson, Kaycee, Leroy, and Aneesa in one episode. Leroy then chooses Aneesa as his partner, which means Mechie is partnered with Amber M. That was... a lot.
Challenger of the week: Nelson for being put in an impossibly tough situation, getting blindsided by a person he thought was his friend, and withstanding Fessy's dirty tactics in Hall Brawl (check out what he told EW about all of that here). Pushing Fessy's hug away at the end was a beautiful moment. And the fact that the elimination was actually really close and Fessy could have lost despite all his big talk says a lot.