The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies recap: A rookie (finally) destroys the veteran alliance
It may have taken eight full episodes — basically the entire first half of season 37 — but a rookie finally made some moves on The Challenge: Spies, Lies, and Allies and used what little fleeting power she had to destroy the veteran alliance that's had a vice grip on the game so far. So by the end of this week's episode, there are no more rookie-rookie pairs for the vets to target. And we all know what that means! But I'm getting ahead of myself — the veteran war is going to begin next week. What happened this week?
At this point, all the veterans can't stop laughing about how wild it is that the rookies haven't figured out a way to outmaneuver the vet alliance. Things are going so well that all the vets think they're basically invincible as long as everyone keeps making rookie-rookie pairs to pick off. And while some rookies like Jeremiah, Priscilla, and Bettina finally see the writing on the wall, the only thing that can help any of them is if rookies get any power, like Berna and Hughie winning the daily.
Meanwhile, Berna is still feeling betrayed by Emy stealing CT as her partner. And since Nelson is still hooking up with Berna, he's the only one feeling bad for her. When he asks Emy why she didn't at least warn Berna beforehand, Emy lies again and says she didn't tell anyone her plan — and I love the quick cut to Devin watching silently since he knows this is another lie. He then starts to create some chaos, revealing to Nelson that Berna voted for Devin because he was sitting next to her when she locked in her vote. That pisses off Amber even more since she's Devin's partner and now knows for real that Berna is coming for her.
The vibe is very different around the house the next day as Big T, Tori, and Bettina skinny dip in broad daylight in the glass-walled pool for everyone to see. And Emanuel is enjoying the show a little more than everyone else since he's now interested in Tori. He moved on real fast from Michele, huh?
The Challenge: Dive Bomb
Played in three randomly selected heats, teams have to collect puzzle pieces that are anchored underwater, using water jets to propel them as deep as they need to go (so there's not that much actual swimming involved). Once they've gathered their pieces, one team member uses the jet to get to TJ's yacht anchored offshore to retrieve the key that unlocks the box onshore containing the rest of their puzzle pieces. The team to solve the puzzle and set off their detonation station fastest, wins. I'm excited for this daily because it's more like what a leg of the final will be rather than some silly stunt that ends up being boring to watch — a.k.a. The Challenge: Fast and Furious.
The first heat is: Big T/Jeremiah, Tori/Ed, Kyle/Amanda, and Amber/Devin. Devin and Ed are the first two back with pieces while Big T and Kyle take a little longer. Tori and Amber are neck-and-neck for first place, back with their pieces while Jeremiah struggles, not understanding that his pieces are anchored underwater. He just hilariously jets around for a while in circles. Ed and Devin make it to the yacht, and Ed gets his key just slightly before Devin. Kyle and Amanda eventually make it to the puzzle too while Big T struggles to hoist herself up the rope to grab her key on the yacht. She finally comes back to let Jeremiah try and get the key, which wastes a ton of time for their team. It's not a good showing for either of them but I worried Jeremiah is going to blame Big T.
Meanwhile the other three teams work on the puzzle and Amanda wins for this comment: "I know Devin's a puzzle champ but I'm basically praying that Kyle has some brains behind that Botox." SAVAGE. I cannot stop laughing because Kyle immediately says this is Amanda's area of expertise and he won't be any help. Big T and Jeremiah finally get their key and join the puzzle race, but it's too late because Devin lives up to his reputation and solves the puzzle first, winning the heat.
The next heat is: Ashley/Josh, Nelson/Priscilla, and Berna/Hughie. And shockingly, Berna and Hughie take an early lead, which starts to make the vets watching very nervous — especially since Josh struggles to find his first puzzle piece. Berna easily gets her key before any other team starts to get theirs, and they start on the puzzle first. Eventually all the teams get to the puzzle and it's a real race. Ashley starts feeling the pressure to win because, like Devin, her reputation as a puzzle queen precedes her — but again, like Devin, she lives up to her legacy and solves the puzzle first, narrowly beating Berna and Hughie and sealing their fate as the house vote.
The final heat is: CT/Emy, Kaycee/Emanuel, Nany/Logan, and Cory/Bettina. Even though the heats were randomly chosen, this one is absolutely stacked, and I don't disagree with Cory: the winner of this daily is more than likely coming from this round. The beginning of the heat goes pretty quickly but then Nany starts to falter and can't stop messing with her goggles, losing precious time. CT and Emanuel are pretty close to each other getting their keys, but Kaycee and Emanuel take a small lead at the puzzle. Everyone's expecting CT to beast the puzzle (just like what they expected from Devin and Ashley) but Bettina and Cory call for a check first — however, they're extremely wrong. TJ even laughs a little when he says they're "not even close." Eventually CT lives up to his puzzle reputation and solves it, winning the final heat.
I've got to say, I am not surprised at the outcome of each heat. CT, Ashley, and Devin are some of the best puzzlers to ever come on The Challenge and today they proved they've all still got that puzzle spark. But who was the fastest out of the three top teams? That would be "Uncle" CT and Emy, immediately paying off on her risky move of going into elimination last week to choose her dream partner. Bitter Berna just mutters, "Great job, CT." And CT is already showing his positive influence on Emy, cutting off any emotional crying she was about to let loose. He's teaching her how to be a good sport! Berna definitely didn't learn any of that from her time with CT since she's staring daggers at her partner Hughie for congratulating Emy on her win. Bitter, bitter Berna.
When everyone goes out to the club that night, Berna and Hughie are already psyching themselves up to go into elimination and pick vet partners — and so is Jeremiah, who doesn't think Big T can help him win. None of this is shocking. What is a shocking development is that Amber tells Bettina she knows Jeremiah is going in, and instead of watching him compete with a rookie partner, she wants to go in with him to give him a better shot at winning. Plus, she wants to be the one to send Berna home. Amber is actually considering throwing herself in?! That's... noble, I guess? But it's such a useless risk for her. It's basically a rookie move since Amber's game is set up really nicely right now. She's got Devin as her partner who compliments her skills and balances her weaknesses, she's in the vet alliance, her enemy Berna is going in to the elimination, Fessy is gone… this is just not the right move.
Amber then gathers the only remaining former Big Brother alliance members Kaycee and Josh to proudly tell them her plan. And even though Josh tries to convince her not to do it — and even Kaycee tells her to sleep on it and decide tomorrow after thinking about it more — Amber says she's "90 percent" sure she's going to do it. She then starts bragging about how she's "the champ" and she's here "paying [her] taxes" and I don't know if she's drunk or just really cocky but it's not a good look!
Knowing that their fates are sealed, both Hughie and Berna make a little speech to the cast — Hughie about how he's always been straight up with everyone so he just wants them all to give him a fair shot, and Berna about how she's more mad at Emy for lying about planning to steal CT rather than the overall action of her stealing CT. And after crying about feeling sad about how Emy betrayed her, Berna then hypocritically tells Amber she doesn't want to hear any more about how Amber was betrayed. Okay… pot, meet kettle.
At least Amber sticks up for herself and it turns into a fight between Amber and Berna. Finally Priscilla ends it by revealing that Amber potentially wants to go into elimination herself. Priscilla explains in her talking head interview that she'll do anything to save herself from being thrown in. Smart move! This is the first time we're seeing anything game-related from Priscilla and I'm impressed. Finally Jeremiah says a short piece about wanting to prove himself in elimination and Emanuel threatens to "drink [Jeremiah's] blood" if he steals Kaycee as his new partner if he wins.
Then Ashley point blank lays out the vet ultimatum: Whoever the elimination winners pick as their new partners, it had better leave a new rookie-rookie pair for everyone to target next week. If they don't, the target will then be on whoever screws up the dynamic that's played out all season. All the cards are on the table now. And Priscilla is not a fan of Ashley's threat. But she says nothing and just files that away for later. So not only is Priscilla thinking strategically, she's also keeping her emotions in check for the sake of her game. Again, I am super impressed. She's been really under the radar this whole season so far and she's finally showing some potential.
When it's time to vote, Berna and Hughie are of course the compromised agents. After the vote, Hughie talks to Devin about how his motivation for wanting the prize money is because he wants to become a father, and it's both expensive and difficult to do so as a gay man. Hughie has really grown on me this season, but can he win another elimination?
At the Lair, CT and Emy give Jeremiah his wish to prove himself and send him in against Berna and Hughie. As for the female, Amber thankfully makes no moves to volunteer so CT and Emy vote in Priscilla instead. Either Amber finally saw reason on her own or her vet allies convinced her that volunteering is just dumb. But TJ mentions that once again we've got four rookies in the elimination, and the vet alliance continues to run this game.
Elimination challenge: Race to Escape. Teams will be bound together at their wrists back-to-back against a 30-foot pole, working together to climb up and use the blade at the top to cut themselves free. The first team to then zip line to the bottom, wins. This elimination looks awesome and could be anyone's game — while Berna has the upper hand with her circus training and strength, we haven't seen Hughie show any kind of agility yet. And both Jeremiah and Priscilla are untested in eliminations. And Nelson is hilariously rooting against his own partner Priscilla because he wants Berna back in the house. Ouch.
Priscilla and Jeremiah take an early lead because Hughie struggles with keeping his back to the pole — he keeps trying to turn around step on the rungs sideways. Meanwhile, Jeremiah and Priscilla are scaling this pole like they've been doing it for years. They reach the blade at the top while Berna keeps yelling and begging Hughie to climb faster — but his butt is apparently so big that it's pushing him off the pole and he can't keep himself up. It's a literal "disasster." He starts to panic, but he and Berna finally make it to their blade. It's too late though as Priscilla and Jeremiah cut through the last of their rope and zip line down, dancing it out on the bottom to celebrate their win.
The only people sad about the outcome of this elimination are obviously Berna, Hughie, and Nelson, while literally everyone else is psyched to see these two go. And now that Priscilla has some power, she's ready to get revenge on Ashley for her earlier threat. With a "Let's play!" directed at Ashley, she steals Josh as her new partner, effectively ending any chance at a new rookie-rookie pair being created. And then Jeremiah steals Tori from Ed. That leaves Nelson with Big T, and Ashley with Ed.
So with no rookie-rookie pairs left, the long-awaited veteran war has officially begun. But does this mean everyone is going to immediately target Priscilla for going against what they all wanted, effectively pulling Josh down with her? I guess we'll find out next week!
Challenger of the week: Priscilla, of course! She had the brains and balls to do what no other rookie has attempted so far. And now the real drama can start.
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