The Challenge: Total Madness recap: A noble sacrifice and the miracle we needed
It's been a rough go for The Challenge: Total Madness. After MTV cut ties with Dee due to her racially insensitive tweets, the resulting hatchet job the producers took with editing her out of every single scene has been frustrating to watch. But finally, someone managed to knock Dee out of the game, and right before the final. It was the miracle we all needed. So how did it happen?
After Kyle and Bayleigh got red skulls last week, everyone now has one and is eligible for the final. But there is still another elimination left to go, so people are scrambling to make sure they don't get sent in one this close to the finish line. Bananas and Kyle are making deals. Cory is still talking about how he has people back home depending on him to win the money (yes, we know). Nelson is feeling inspired to run a little bit longer than 30 minutes on the treadmill. Everyone's feeling the stress in different ways.
But before they can all compete for that million-dollar prize... they've got another daily challenge to win (or lose).
The Challenge: Crash Course
TJ drops the bomb that this is another double elimination, with one man and one woman going home. So this challenge is extremely important because (and I know I've been saying this for the past few weeks now, but this time I really mean it) it's definitely the last elimination before the final.
Played as individuals, 10 players start standing on top of very tall barrels as one player drives a stunt car as fast as they can, racing towards the barrels. The driver then pulls the emergency brake and crashes into the barrels, "creating as much devastation as they can." TJ wants to see barrels flying because if there is a tie between whoever knocked down the most barrels, then whoever's flew the farthest will win.
Degree of physical difficulty: N/A. There's no physical component to this.
Degree of mental difficulty: Low? There really isn't much of a mental component to this challenge either, it just requires great driving skills. And aim, I guess. Bananas puts it perfectly, this is a game of "car bowling" that will determine all their fates this season. Kind of shady to have a challenge like that instead of a grueling relay right before the final since it boils down to a lot of luck instead of athletic skill.
Potential for drama: High. This is the perfect opportunity for people to team up and target the biggest threats in the game right before the final (a.k.a. Fessy and Jenny, who consistently win daily challenges).
Winner: Bananas and Kaycee.
Rogan gets 18 barrels; Kaycee gets 18. Bananas goes next and knocks down a whopping 25. A very impressive showing that's going to be hard to beat. Kyle says before his turn that there are no weak guys left in the house, before pausing and wondering out loud if he's the weakest... which makes his performance even more perfect: he cuts the wheel too soon and the car comes to a screeching halt about 15 feet in front of all the barrels. He gets zero, leaving everyone laughing hysterically at his massive failure. His own father is a stunt driver! Jenny goes next and gets 12, Dee (in the most screen time she's gotten in a month and it's through a car windshield) gets only six, Melissa gets 12, Cory gets 21, Nelson also gets zero (Cory did warn us all that he's a terrible driver!), prompting TJ to deliver his trademark cackle. Fessy gets 21; Bayleigh gets 18. There's no question who won for the guys, but it's down to a tie for the women with Bayleigh and Kacyee. Kaycee wins because she knocked her barrels further than Bayleigh.
Tribunal: Bananas and Kaycee discuss who to bring in with them. Kaycee wants to pick her ally Fessy, but Bananas convinces her to pick Kyle instead by promising that Fessy won't be voted in by the house. But with Fessy as the biggest threat for the guys, he's totally lying, right? Bananas already played this manipulation game once before this season and it did not work out for Melissa.
Back at the house, Fessy is already trying to make a deal with Bananas and Kyle to not pick him to even be interrogated. He's sweating, and for good reason. Bananas is not to be trusted, especially if you're his biggest threat! And then Jenny comes into the room and she, Melissa, and Fessy start whispering with Bananas and Kyle about how they're going to make Rogan the house vote, and then Rogan comes into the room and everyone gets super awkward. And then Jenny promises Nelson she's not saying his name or Cory's name, trying to do damage control after screwing over Cory twice this season.
Nelson immediately goes to Rogan and Cory and tells them what Jenny and Melissa are planning since they're worried about being thrown in for the female elimination. Rogan makes a comment about how Jenny tried politicking for the first time and failed before making some rude comment about how she can't keep her mouth shut. Ugh. Why does it always have to come back to an insult about a woman's physical appearance with this dude?
Rogan kicks off nominations by making a speech about how after last season, he didn't see a single elimination and felt like a "p---y," so this season he vowed to face things head-on. He says he's not a "p---y," he's a competitor, so he offers himself up as the house vote. But... he was just warned he was going to be the house vote... so this isn't a brave, honorable move. He's just pretending like it is because he has no choice!
For the female vote, Jenny kicks it off by voting for Dee after their earlier fight (which happened right as Dee started being cut from episodes, so we never actually saw how or if it got resolved), and Dee (who actually speaks!) puts her vote right back on Jenny. Melissa votes for Bayleigh, and Bayleigh votes for Melissa. So all four girls essentially burned their votes and put their fate in the guys' hands. Not a smart move! Fessy votes for Dee, Cory votes for Jenny, Nelson votes for Jenny, and before Rogan votes, he asks Jenny about her conversation with Nelson. She doesn't even try to lie but before she can get a word out about her plans with Bananas and Kyle, Rogan talks over her and says she doesn't have a mind of her own and she's just doing what she's being told. It's really frustrating to watch, especially after the car puzzle challenge when these same guys wouldn't let her talk at all. Rogan votes for Jenny, and since Bayleigh and Melissa don't change their votes (even after Jenny asks them to), she becomes the house vote.
Bananas and Kyle then tell Melissa it's basically her fault Jenny is the house vote, but she stands by her season-long alliance with both Jenny and Dee even though everyone in the house was telling her not to. Kyle then says if Jenny asks to go against Melissa in elimination, he's going to vote that way. That's pretty harsh. But Bananas thankfully takes the time to calmly explain the situation to Melissa, because even though she didn't intend the outcome of Jenny going in, that's what her burn vote did. Kyle was just unnecessarily mean about it.
But then the Tribunal makes some shocking choices and keeps both Melissa and Fessy safe from being voted into elimination. I was not expecting that! Instead, the female picks are Bayleigh and Dee, and the male picks are Cory and Nelson.
After some very civil interrogations, Nelson approaches Bananas and Kyle later and asks to be thrown in against Rogan, bringing up Cory's kids and his dedication to bringing the money home for his family. Bananas and Kyle are moved by how loyal of a friend Nelson is, but Bananas really wants Rogan sent home, so he's still thinking about how best to do that. He didn't agree to Nelson if you watch that scene carefully. Bananas is a pro at this. Will he still pick Cory?
Walking into Purgatory, everyone's psyched to see that it's finally Hall Brawl. That's absolutely going to influence who the Tribunal sends in against Rogan and Jenny. Now, I really wish Bananas went back on his deal with Fessy and put him in against Rogan because that would have been a great matchup.
For the women, Bananas votes for Dee, Kaycee votes for Dee, and Kyle votes for Dee, making it unanimous. For the men, Bananas and Kyle reveal what Nelson did for Cory, and they all unanimously vote for Nelson as Cory tries to hold in tears and gives him the strongest hug. Whether or not you root for Team Young Buck, you cannot deny this moment was amazing. I actually teared up! This season is doing crazy things to me, guys.
Elimination challenge: Hall Brawl. You don't need me to tell you how it's played!
Degree of physical difficulty: High. This is THE headbanger.
Degree of mental difficulty: N/A. Get some!
Potential for drama: High. This is the final elimination, and some heavy hitters are about to be knocked out of the competition right before the final. This is also the elimination that sent Jenny home when she went against Tori, so hopefully she's learned from her mistakes and can send Dee home so we don't have to suffer through a heavily edited final.
Winner: Jenny and Rogan.
In the first female round, Jenny absolutely steamrolls Dee. It's a brutal fight with Dee using dirty tactics, putting her hands in Jenny's face, and even taking off one of Jenny's shoes. But Jenny just keeps pushing her like an absolute freight train, and even picks up her shoe and uses it to ring the bell, getting the first point. In the second round, Jenny pushes Dee like it's nothing at all. It almost looks like Dee doesn't even try to stop her, it's that much of a done deal. Finally, Dee has been kicked out of the game. It took way longer than it should have, and the second half of this season suffered for it. If only Mattie had been able to eliminate Dee during their matchup weeks earlier, this whole mess would have been avoided. It's also clear that no one in the house is sad to see Dee go. As Dee walks out of the pit later, she doesn't get an exit interview, and it's the last we'll ever see of her in this franchise. Good riddance.
For the males, the first round looked like Nelson was going to win. After a brutal physical fight in the center, Nelson was closer to the end and should have just pushed Rogan off him and ran to his bell. But he continued to wrestle, and Rogan was able to pull him closer to the opposite end, giving Rogan the chance to run and hit his bell first. In the second round, Nelson again gets his chance to get a point when Rogan loses a shoe and then trips and falls, and all Nelson has to do is run for his bell. But Nelson trips not once but twice when he has a clear path to his bell, and Rogan hits his bell, winning both rounds. After Nelson's loss, Cory runs down to the pit to tell Nelson how much the money is going to mean to his family... but he has to win it first. And he's going against some tough competitors. Nelson gets cheers as he walks out of the pit for his noble sacrifice.
Challenger of the week: How could I award this honor to anyone other than Nelson?! I just wish his sacrifice ended with him securing his spot in the final. He was so close. He had it! What a bummer. But also what a noble way to go out.