The Challenge: Double Agents recap: Team Cheekbones makes a (dumb) power move
Which player was eliminated from episode 6, "From Theresa With Love?"
When Natalie left the game on the last episode of The Challenge: Double Agents, it opened up a power vacuum for the female players. And this week, Theresa tried to fill it. But did she make the right move, or did she expose her entire game too early in the season? Let's get to recappin'!
While Devin's elated about losing Tori as his partner and Fessy is not as thrilled about having Aneesa back as his partner, Theresa is trying to play both sides of the house by working with the rookie girls and vets. Playing the middle is a tough road if you want to make it all the way to the end, and Nany, Kam, and Lolo are already not okay with Theresa's "dirty" gameplay. They decide they can't trust her after she didn't give Aneesa a heads up that she'd be going against Tori in last week's elimination, despite the fact that everyone is saying that "Theresa is Aneesa's No. 1." In this game, Theresa is Theresa's No. 1.
The next morning, Lolo confronts Theresa about not saying anything to Aneesa before the elimination, and Theresa makes the wildest facial expressions (see above!) while saying that her loyalty just means not saying someone's name and she doesn't have to prove anything to anyone. It's not a great defense. Things get heated, and Lolo's real attitude starts to show a little bit. Anyone who watched the Olympian compete on Champs vs. Pros knows she's been doing a great job hiding her explosive personality on Double Agents. Is this the episode her facade will finally slip? Theresa knows that's a very likely possibility, so she takes extra care not to get emotional while talking with Lolo.
But while game is being talked in one part of the kitchen, real-life talk is happening in another. Lio opens up to Nany about how coming on this show is triggering for him because when he was a teenager, he stayed in a group home, and that experience was traumatizing for him. He feels a little freaked out by how similar waking up in the Challenge house feels to waking up in the group home.
Ultimately Lio decides that it's best for him to go home to his family, and he lets his tearful partner Gabby know. They hug before he leaves, and Gabby thanks him for being such a good friend to her in the house. Usually, when players voluntarily leave the game early, TJ really lets it be known how much he hates quitters. But due to the circumstances, he supports Lio's decision 100 percent "because the No. 1 priority is not competing, not winning; it's your health." He tells the remaining players, "Talk to each other, be there for each other. Your health is more important than The Challenge." And in a talking head interview, Kam says she respects Lio's decision, "especially coming from a Black man because normally in our community, mental health is not talked about."
With Lio gone, Gabby is now partnered up with Devin, and things return to business as usual. But I'm really going to miss Lio's presence (even with the little screen time he had) because he brought such an authentic, grounded vibe to the house. He seemed like a good influence on this show.
The Challenge: Smuggle Run
After a very awkward product placement announcement by TJ (at least it's not Burger King this time!), he reveals that teams will begin by picking up a very heavy, awkward capsule and carrying it while running a "very grueling five mile race" with checkpoints along the way. Winners will become Double Agents and will also get a "special boost" back at headquarters from the protein company sponsoring the challenge, along with $3,000 each. Not too shabby!
Challenge analysis: This is essentially a mini-final, which will separate the real players from the so-called lay-ups. You can't hide from a mini-final that's all endurance and strength with puzzles along the way.
Challenge winners: Jay and Theresa, who I'm officially dubbing Team Cheekbones.
Right at the start, Big T and CT are already walking, and despite their win last week, CT admits that while everyone loves Big T, she's more of an anchor to him than a threat to anyone else. As much as we all love Team Big CT, he's not wrong. And this challenge will highlight why — she doesn't have what it takes to win a final, and he needs to be partnered with someone who can. Pretty soon, Jay and Theresa fall in last place with Darrell and Amber B. in first. Meanwhile, Lolo is struggling to hold the capsule due to her shoulder surgery and keeps complaining that it hurts. Kaycee and Leroy soon take the lead, but surprisingly, Theresa and Jay pick up their pace and take first. What's more interesting is what's happening at the back of the pack, as Lolo and Nam get further and further behind and can't stop arguing with each other.
The teams in front get to the first checkpoint, which involves pushing their capsule through a wall and using it to climb over to the other side. Kyle and Kam and Cory and Ashley are the first two teams to complete it. Aneesa and Fessy are dead last. The second checkpoint is a sudoku-type of puzzle, and Ashley and Cory take the lead by finishing it first, thanks to Ashley's puzzle master skills. Theresa and Jay finish second, and since Cory and Ashley went the wrong way, Theresa and Jay actually pass them for first place.
Kam and Kyle are the first team to time out on the puzzle, with Josh and Nany, Kaycee and Leroy, and Darrell and Amber B. not far behind. Everyone else times out and leaves, and Aneesa blames herself for being in last place. But I don't see Fessy solving the puzzle either! They finally do solve the puzzle, and while they were one of the only teams to finish it, they're still in last place. Fessy tries to push Aneesa to go faster, but she doesn't see the need to hurry because it's not actually the final. She feels safe enough to get last place since they both have their gold skulls, which is interesting because she literally was just voted into elimination by the house last week. I wouldn't feel so confident if I was her...
With the finish line in sight, Cory and Ashley start to run to try and pass Jay and Theresa for first place. But Jay and Theresa cross first, cementing their win. Cory and Ashley get second, Kam and Kyle get third, Josh and Nany get fourth. Then it's Kaycee and Leroy, Darrell and Amber B., Lolo and Nam (arguing about walking vs. running across the finish line as they cross it), Gabby and Devin, Mechie and Amber M., CT and Big T, and then Fessy and Aneesa in last place.
While congratulating Theresa and Jay as the challenge winners, TJ reveals that the protein sponsor is doubling their prize money for a grand total of $6,000 each, plus a muscle foam roller and theragun. That's a hefty reward! Cory and Ashley are visibly upset at losing that money by just 10 seconds. And everyone's worried about Team Cheekbones having power because no one really knows who they're actually aligned with.
Back at the house, Ashley tries to talk with Theresa about who she's going to vote for and Theresa promises her that she's fine. And Lolo and Nam have a couples counseling session, talking about how the challenge went for them, all while wearing matching outfits. Nam's feelings get hurt by what Lolo says about their partnership. And I'm not sure if Lolo starts to cry or hyperventilates by the way she's talking, but ultimately she gets up and walks out on Nam, effectively ending the conversation.
At Club COVID that night, Nany thinks that Theresa is going to campaign for her to be the house vote, and then Theresa will go into elimination against her since she's won against Nany in the past. Meanwhile, Fessy hasn't stopped trying to flirt with Gabby and is confident that "it's only a matter of time before we both let our guards down, get comfortable with each other, and really get to know each other." She does not agree. She says this, directly to his face: "This prick is arrogant as s---." But she does say that "his game is definitely improving," so his No. 2 choice after Tori may actually happen. Ew.
The next day, Team Cheekbones have a Double Agents meeting and decide not to go for their own gold skulls since they'll probably just be thrown into elimination again (and again) in the future and could risk losing it now. Instead, they want to target strong teams like Cory and Ashley, who were close to winning over them in the daily challenge. But didn't Theresa just promise Ashley that she's safe? Yikes. She immediately starts campaigning for Ashley to be the house vote, which at one point, Ashley literally walks in on! Theresa does her best to pretend she wasn't just gunning for Ashley but Ashley's "Paranoid Pam" instincts kick in. She knows her name is on the chopping block and it's time to get to work.
While Kam tries to kick things off by asking if anyone wants to go into elimination, Nany points out that Jay and Theresa have made it clear who they want the house vote to be, and everyone knows it. Leroy says he's not voting for Ashley, letting Ashley know it really is her name being thrown around. Ashley then lets loose an amazing speech for why the house shouldn't vote her in, and it's a thing of beauty. Her reasons are as follows: it might not be a girl's day, Theresa could decide she doesn't want to go in herself and throw in anyone else against Ashley instead and you do not want to go against Ashley, partners switch every week and Ashley is proven to do great in finals so the guys should want to keep her around if they can be paired with her. It's a defense that shows both the females and males why voting her in wouldn't be good for their game. But did it work?
Nope. When Team Cheekbones enter the Chamber to see who the compromised agents are, they're revealed to be Cory and Ashley. They were voted for by Gabby, Devin, CT, Big T, Nam, Lolo, Mechie, Amber M., and Kaycee. It's the first vote that wasn't a major landslide, so things are getting messy because of everyone's burn votes. Theresa wants to vote in Nany and Josh against them because they now know everyone who lied to them about voting the way they wanted. But another option she raises is Kam and Kyle, and Jay says he'll do whatever Theresa wants. They both promise to keep this information secret.
But Theresa goes right to Kam and tells her everything, saying that if it's a headbanger, she'd want to see Kam go against Ashley so she'd get her skull. She also gives Kam the option to tell her if she doesn't want it when she sees the elimination setup. Is Theresa trying to make a deal with Kam, or is she just proactively doing damage control for what's about to happen? Meanwhile, Jay is sticking to his promise and not letting Cory know he's compromised, even though they're friends outside of the game. "I'm doing stupid moves right now, and I can feel it," Jay says in his talking head interview.
At the Crater, TJ reveals Ashley and Cory as the compromised agents, and they're shocked. "So everyone lied to us," Ashley tells Cory as they walk down. They're pissed. And Kam doesn't see a clear headbanger setup in the Crater, so she's thinking she won't get called down. But Theresa says that in order to pick when you go down, you have to win, and Team Cheekbones votes in Kam and Kyle anyway. This officially pisses off Kyle, since Jay had previously promised to give him a heads up if he was being sent in. But Kam and Kyle didn't vote for Ashley and Cory like they told Jay and Theresa they would. And Ashley keeps yelling at everyone that their burn votes are what sent her in, so it's all just messy, messy, messy! Even TJ gets in on the mess, playing a prank on everyone by faking like this is a male elimination when it's — no shocker here based on the numbers — a female elimination week. TJ's got jokes!
Elimination challenge: Dead Ringer. Players start on "these tall-ass podiums," according to TJ, and swing back and forth, gaining enough momentum until they can hook a ring on their post. If they drop a ring, they must wait until all their rings have been used until they can pick it up again. First player to do this six times, wins.
Elimination analysis: This is another new one, and it will require a lot of patience amidst absolute chaos. Players will have to adapt to the weird circumstances because this is not something you can practice for. Most importantly, they can not panic, which is something Ashley always struggles with. Meanwhile "Killa Kam" is fantastic in eliminations (never forget how she beat two mercenaries in her first two eliminations her rookie season!) and adapts quickly under pressure. Her elimination record is impressive.
Winner: Killa Kam.
It takes a bit for both of them to get into a rhythm, but Kam finally gets momentum and hooks her first two rings in a row while Ashley continues to struggle. Ashley throws a ring and misses completely but eventually hooks one. Kam gets her third and fourth easily while Ashley shouts that she can't even get her ring off her belt. Ashley finally gets her second but drops another before getting her third. Kam gets her fifth and quickly gets her last one, securing her win and sending Ashley home for a second time this season.
Meanwhile, Jay is kicking himself for making such a dumb move in blindsiding basically all his friends, and Ashley starts yelling at Kam to make sure to get Theresa out next. Cory then calls out Jay for lying straight to his face, and Kyle doesn't see how getting Ashley out of the game was worth it for Team Cheekbones if it meant pissing off Leroy, Kam, Kyle, and Cory as collateral damage. But now Kam has a gold skull and she decides to stay with Kyle as her partner — making them Mr. and Mrs. Killa. That makes Cory a rogue agent without a partner for now, which is something he's getting used to this season!
Challenger of the week: Killa Kam for keeping her immaculate elimination record going strong.