By Sydney Bucksbaum
April 15, 2020 at 09:30 PM EDT
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The Challenge

S35 E3
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  • TV Show
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You never know what's going to happen on The Challenge, especially when it comes to T.J.'s twists. And that lesson couldn't have been more clear in this week's episode, "A Hard Jay's Night." Not only did everyone continue to underestimate impressive rookie Jay, but it ended up costing one of the biggest Challenge legends the entire season. Which champion was sent home by this year's "layup?" Let's recap the shocking turn of events.

As seasoned vets continue to strategize on how best to handle the red skull twist, Dee has her eyes on the rookie with a red skull, Jay. She's interested in him now that she's seen what he can do, plus she wants to do anything that will piss off Rogan, so she's flirting hardcore. But Jay knows the consequences of getting in the middle of the Dee/Rogan mess, which adds to the case for making him this season's rookie of the year. Meanwhile, Aneesa is judging Swaggy C and Bayleigh for a blanket they had made with their faces on it, and Bananas is going off on how Ashley always plays a "masterful" political game, telling people what they want to hear and switching alliances for her own gain. He says she's a lot smarter than she seems. Of course, Ashley overhears this and starts crying to Jenny, saying that Bananas is telling people she's "a bad person." Bananas walks in on the discussion, and they end up yelling at each other while CT calls Bananas "rotten" for making her cry and calling her an "alliance jumper." She storms off and Jenny whispers to Bananas that she loves Ashley but she doesn't trust her. The drama!

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The Challenge: Decode and Detonate

Played as individuals, this week's challenge is all about "stamina, memory, and blowing s--- up," according to T.J. Each player has a coded message board, and there are two decoding stations at the top of a giant hill. Players have to run to each station and get the key to the code, run back down, and solve the puzzle. The first two to solve their puzzles will move to the detonator and blow up two big trucks and form the Tribunal.

Degree of physical difficulty: Moderate. Depending on how bad someone's memory is, they might have to run up and down the hills many times, so endurance is key.

Degree of mental difficulty: Moderate. There isn't much "puzzle" solving, just memory. Hopefully other players took a page out of Jenny's book and practiced memory skills in the off-season!

Potential for drama: High. Now that the players know they can put themselves into elimination if they're in the Tribunal, the stakes are even higher.

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Winner: CT and Bayleigh.

All the players approach the challenge with different strategies. CT gives names to each of the symbols, Jordan wants to do as many symbols as possible in each trip up the hill, and Fessy tries doing three symbols at a time. Fessy and Jordan are the first to reach each puzzle key, and everyone realizes that each key has only half of the symbols, so if the symbol they're trying to decode is on the wrong key, they have to do even more running. Swaggy and CT are the first to call out for a check, but Swaggy is wrong and CT is right. CT blows up a truck and walks away slowly, knowing he's secured his chance to earn a red skull. Bayleigh is the next to call for a check after peeping Jenny's board and seeing the same symbol she needs, and she gets it right. She blows up her truck, and I'm officially impressed that she and Swaggy, both rookies, have each earned a spot in the Tribunal in two of the first three challenges. They're definitely ones to watch this season.

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Tribunal: CT and Bayleigh immediately butt heads over who to choose as their third Tribunal member. She obviously wants it to be Swaggy to protect him from getting thrown into elimination, knowing that CT is probably going to go in and he won't have a shot against him. CT wants another girl in the Tribunal so he can vote himself in without any competition, but agrees to pick Swaggy since Swaggy essentially says he won't fight CT for the spot in Purgatory. It also shines a light on Swaggy and Bayleigh and will show the rest of the house if they can be trusted since CT made this deal with them in front of everyone.

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Nominations

While everyone thinks Jay is going to be nominated again for the guy's elimination this week, Ashley decides to put some heat on Bananas out of revenge for his "propaganda tour" against her. She gets some of the other girls to "burn" their votes on him too. Kailah overhears this and goes to Cory and Nelson to let them know what's brewing. They get excited about potentially being able to flip the situation, but they make a mistake — they go to Wes to try and get him on their side, not knowing about Wes and Bananas' secret "unholy alliance." So now Wes has a choice to make: betray Bananas and get the chance to eliminate his longstanding rival again, or stick to his shaky new alliance and potentially blow the secret wide open.

At nominations, Bananas starts by voting for Jay and Jay throws a vote back to Bananas. Dee then votes for Bananas because she thinks Jay is "cute" and she wants "to get to know him more," and that rocks the boat. More people vote for Bananas, including Ashley, Fessy, and Nelson. Jordan votes for himself, Jenna tries to burn a vote on Nelson (?) which then prompts Josh, Nany, and Kaycee to vote for Nelson too. Nelson then blows up Kailah's spot, saying she told him that she was voting for Bananas, but she starts yelling at him for being an "idiot" because she was just being nice and filling him in on what she heard. She then votes for Nelson and Cory backs her up by confirming she never said she was voting for Bananas herself. This is getting messy! Aneesa says she can't vote for Bananas or Jay so she votes for Jordan. Big T votes for Bananas because she said she would, and she thought he wouldn't mind (he does). Wes then votes for Jay, lying that he's "done the numbers" and the move makes sense for his "possum" game. Bananas fake kisses him because he's so shocked that Wes didn't take the chance to stab him in the back. In his talking head interview, Wes says it feels "creepy" that he's enjoying himself around Bananas. Is their uneasy, unholy alliance going to lead to ... an actual friendship?! This might be the craziest thing to happen on this show.

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Melissa then votes for Jay after being influenced by Wes' vote, and even Cory is swayed to change his vote from Bananas to Jay because he rightly guesses that Wes and Bananas are working together. The votes come down to Jay, but Bananas and Ashley continue fighting anyway. Even after Bananas walks off, Ashley keeps yelling and says she doesn't "give a f---" about being voted in next.

The players are then treated to their first night out, getting a glimpse of the real world outside of the bunker for the first, non-challenge time, and they take the opportunity to get dressed up in crazy costumes. Bananas and Wes talk over drinks about how Wes' vote for Jay sealed the deal on their alliance. They were both not totally trusting each other before, but now they are. Their alliance is "Challenge official." Meanwhile, Dee finally makes her move on Jay and they make out in the middle of the bar. Rogan is clearly upset but says Jay is going home tomorrow because he's going to get "f---ed up" by either him or CT so it doesn't matter. Back at the bunker, he moves his blanket and pillow to another room so he doesn't sleep under Dee's bed, but she tries to convince him to come back. He finally admits he didn't like seeing her kiss Jay and they keep fighting while Jay goes to sleep happy, knowing that Rogan's having a bad night. And Dee says that she "loves and respects Rogan" as a friend so she doesn't want to upset him anymore and decides to back off from Jay for the time being. At one point, she also calls Rogan her "ride or die." Um, excuse me? How do we unsubscribe from this Dee/Rogan s--- show?!

Rogan then approaches CT to ask him to vote him into elimination. He wants to take out Jay himself, even if the Purgatory elimination is a climbing wall. But CT knows this might be his only shot to go into Purgatory himself. The Tribunal then picks Nelson, Rogan, and Bear to be interrogated, with the agreement that CT gets first choice on going into elimination himself.

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Purgatory elimination

Walking into Purgatory, no one can tell what the elimination is going to be. But that doesn't stop CT from throwing himself in against Jay. Jay, an admitted Challenge superfan, is excited to go up against one of the "biggest Challenge legends" ever that he grew up watching. But everyone else knows that this could get ugly — going against CT is going to be tough.

Elimination challenge: Take Shelter. Using all the debris piled in Purgatory, like cinderblocks and rope and wooden crates, each player will barricade their opponent's concrete bunker. They will then trade places and attempt to break into the bunker the other person just barricaded. The first person to be able to open the door all the way and turn on the light inside wins.

Degree of physical difficulty: Moderate. Some of the debris is heavy, and CT is a master at knots.

Degree of mental difficulty: High. The outcome all depends on the strategy used to barricade the bunkers. If you don't choose the right debris at the right time, your opponent can easily win.

Potential for drama: High. If Jay takes out CT, it would certainly shake things up in the game. If CT wins, he's basically guaranteed a spot in the final since he likely won't get thrown into another elimination in the future.

Winner: In a shocking turn of events, Jay beats CT!

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Jay immediately goes for the heavy rocks to barricade CT's bunker, while CT, the knot master, uses ropes and chains to make some really tough knots. When Jay does move on to the chains, he picks the smallest one first, which everyone believes CT will rip right through immediately. He then goes back to heavy cinderblocks, hoping to tire CT out before he can even get to the chain. CT moves on to giant boulders, moving them in front of all the chains and ropes. When they swap places to untangle all the barricades, Jay struggles with lifting the heavy boulders while CT blows through all the debris in seconds, tossing crates and blocks and rocks and sandbags aside like it's nothing. He then breaks cinderblocks — with his bare hands! — to avoid having to untangle the rope knots going through them. It's smart as hell and everyone thinks this is over. But CT starts to gas out, and as he tries to open up his door, the chain won't let it open all the way and Jay gets his door open first. He lights up his bunker, beating out one of the best Challenge champs in the process. After it ends, Jay tells CT that this is one of his dreams, and CT hilariously responds, "Don't make it weird, bro." As CT limps out of Purgatory, he promises that next time he comes back, he'll be stronger. It's time for a "tune-up." We definitely haven't seen the last of CT on The Challenge, and it sounds like he's motivated to train and come back better than ever. 

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Challenger of the week: Once again it's Jay. He earned his second skull and is still the only guy qualified to run the final. He also, as a rookie, took out one of the most intimidating, best elimination players ever and never showed any fear. He was actually excited about it! That's the kind of attitude you love to see on this show. Will his performance change opinion about him in the house moving forward? Or will he have to keep fighting his way through eliminations to stay in the game due to relationship drama (i.e. Dee/Rogan and Bananas/Jay's ex Morgan)?

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