The Challenge: World Championship recap: The outsiders take control of the game
It's every The Challenge veteran's worst nightmare: the outsiders not in the majority alliance have banded together to take control of the game early on in World Championship. And thanks to some quick political maneuvering, we got see an elimination matchup for the ages this week. Let's recap!
Now that we're down to 10 teams, the competition is getting fiercer. KellyAnne and Tristan are making their first true promise to Jodi and Benja, as the two teams who have been targeted over and over are finally teaming up in the hopes of putting that target on other teams for once. They plan to play into the cracks forming on Team US. Speaking of those cracks ... Tori and Danny's partnership is at an all-time low since they can never agree on how to vote. She complains about their "s--- show" of a team to Justine while Bananas hides in the closet to eavesdrop, and Danny is feeling equally as defeated. As for exes Theo and Kaz, Amber leads them in a couples therapy session to try and form a new friendship, which is going surprisingly well! The juxtaposition between Theo and Kaz being on the same season vs. Jordan and Tori last season is staggering.
The Challenge: Tunnel Time
I'm not too excited about this week's challenge, since the legends have the day off and the global MVPs are the only ones competing. On one side, no more hiding behind their partners — the MVPs have to step up now. But on the other side, I hate how the legends have no say in how this challenge, and ultimately their own fate, will play out. But here we go!
Played two at a time, the MVPs will race through dark tunnels to free their locked-up legend partners, counting all the flags on the walls to form a numerical value above ground. Once players use those numbers to solve the equation that unlocks their partner's chains, their time stops. The fastest teams to complete the race wins. The slowest team to finish (or to time out after 45 minutes) heads straight into elimination.
The first round is Theo and Sarah vs. Benja and Jodi, and Sarah and Benja decide to work together in the tunnels to count up all the flags. Benja surfaces before Sarah, but Sarah unlocks Theo first. Benja realizes his combination is wrong and starts to panic, and ultimately he times out. In round two, Tori and Danny compete against Kaycee and Ben, and Danny and Ben also make a tentative truce to work together but neither of them trust the other to not sabotage each other. Ben frees Kaycee first, with Danny and Tori finishing right behind them. This whole "working together in the tunnels" strategy is not fun to watch.
Justine and Bananas compete against Darrell and Kiki next, with Kiki beating Justine. Emily and Yes compete against Tristan and KellyAnne next, with Yes yelling out the answers to the equation like a human calculator, giving them the advantage to beat Tristan and KellyAnne. The next round is Kaz and Jordan vs. Troy and Amber, who work together but make a mistake when counting the flags on their first trip. They both head back into the tunnels with 10 minutes left, and Troy and Amber finish first while Kaz struggles with the math. She ultimately times out and Jordan yells "f--- off" as TJ blows the horn. Yikes.
TJ announces Sarah and Theo and Emily and Yes were the top two teams, with Emily and Yes beating them by over a minute thanks to Yes' incredible math skills. As for the losers, the team with the least amount of correct numbers at the end is Kaz and Jordan, sending them straight into elimination. Danny's happy about that, but his partner Tori is not enthused to possibly lose one of her biggest allies. Emily and Yes are ready to throw in another strong team to make sure a powerful threat is guaranteed to go home. I'm always excited to see what Jordan does in an elimination, but the fact that he's going into this one through no fault of his own is a tough pill to swallow.
Back at the house, all of Team US meets to try to get on the same page and make another uneasy alliance. They all say the words to each other, but there's some real hate and distrust among this motley crew, coming from all sides, so it's just hilarious lip service at this point. Tori floats the idea of nominating Jodi/Benja and Darrell/Kiki to force Yes and Emily to save their fellow Team Australia people and automatically send in Jodi/Benja by default. Tori tries to convince KellyAnne to join in on that plan, but KellyAnne doesn't like that at all. She's done being told what to do and having no power in this game. As a result, she tries to convince Kaycee to mutiny from Team US and attempt another stalemate. And once she crunches the numbers, she realizes if she pulls in every other team to vote the same, they can take back control from the Team US voting block. So she gets to work spreading her own gameplan around the house. And you know what? She pulls it off!
Danny kicks off the vote by nominating Benja/Jodi and Darrell/Kiki, and the rest of Team US falls in line. Tristan announces his vote is for Sarah/Theo and Bananas/Justine, shocking Team US. Then the rest of the teams vote the same, until it becomes clear that if Ben and Kaycee stick with Team US, the vote will be a stalemate. That freaks them out, because the last stalemate vote resulted in them going into elimination. Spooked by what happened last time, they become turncoats and vote for Sarah/Theo and Tristan/KellyAnne, making it official: Sarah/Theo and Bananas/Justine get the most votes.
Upstairs in the Hall of Fame, Emily and Kaz are speechless while Jordan and Yes just laugh at how things have turned out. That night, the cast goes out to a bar and half of them celebrate turning the game on its head while Team US sulks in the corner. Talk about a total 180 from how this season has been playing out this whole time! KellyAnne deserves that dance party. You go, girl.
Emily and Yes reveal they're throwing in Justine and Bananas due to Emily and Sarah's new friendship, so we've got ourselves the third elimination face-off in Challenge history between Bananas and Jordan! Plus, Justine and Kaz are very similarly built in their skill levels. This is the matchup of the season, and I honestly don't know who's going to come out on top. It could go either way.
The elimination, "Lock, Stack, and Barrel," is all strength and endurance as teams race to stack giant, heavy barrels in the correct order from an answer key. Since both teams are evenly matched, it's going to come down to the tiny details — which is what tanked Bananas' game last season in the final.
The teams are neck-and-neck until Jordan realizes one of his barrels has a tiny detail wrong. He fixes it right away and keeps on going. It all comes down to the last barrel, and Justine and Bananas call for a check first. But they've got something wrong — it was the same mistake that Jordan already corrected on his own side earlier in the elimination! That gives Jordan and Kaz the time to fix their last barrel (with the help of KellyAnne and Tristan shouting on the sidelines, and Troy who doesn't alert Bananas to what his mistake is) and finish first. Bananas and Justine are shocked to learn after the horn blows that their Argentinian sun was frowning instead of smiling, and that a ton of teams on the sideline knew it and didn't tell them. For once, the sidelines didn't interfere with the outcome of the elimination.
Once again, attention to detail on a puzzle is what sends Bananas home without an eighth win. He clearly hasn't learned from his mistake on Ride or Dies. But in looking at his overall Challenge career, I don't doubt that these two losses in a row are going to change his strategy moving forward. He's the king of evolving his game, and this loss is clearly hitting him hard. Meanwhile, Jordan's psyched to finally beat Bananas in an elimination, and Kaz's first elimination ends in a win as they head back into the house. Not bad!
Some unsettling news to end this week's episode: Ben and Tristan both make comments about how they've been feeling sick and they know something is wrong with their bodies. They don't want anyone else to know though, because that could paint a target on their back. Amber is starting to feel unwell too, although I think we all know what she has isn't contagious. Something tells me we're about to see a lot more medical DQs soon...
The Challenge: World Championship debuts new episodes Wednesdays on Paramount+.
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