Amber B and Fessy strut into the Challenge house like they have somehow impressed us all with their lack luster attempts at television. I just read an article about how MTV is getting backlash for casting Big Brother cast members on The Challenge and how they are simply dull as tombs. I agree. Between MTV editing out hook ups and interpersonal relationships this season coupled with the general lack of drama, I for one am ready for some fresh meat. Nany and Kyle seem to agree with me as they discuss how happy they are that they are not paired with Big Brother people anymore. Not necessarily happy to be paired together, but they agree their former partnerships with Amber B and Fessy were like being paired with a cement block in a swimming competition. Kam comes over to join their celebration and Kyle tries to make it seem like they have an alliance with Kam and Leroy but ever classy Kam just keeps it moving. Kyle is nervous since a guys elimination day is certainly coming up and he knows the other gentleman will be trying to go up against him in the final elimination.
In a more cozy corner of the house, Kam and Leroy get to hot tubbing and start discussing how it is Leroy’s last season. They have big plans to start their life together once this season wraps and I could not be more excited for them. I also love that Kam brings light to the fact that this may be the most diverse final that has ever been run in Challenge history. With past seasons available on Netflix it has become all the most clear just how diversity has been needed both on this network and on this show in general. MTV play The Bangles Eternal Flame which again could no be more perfect as these two share a moment of gratitude in an otherwise hectic existence.
At 5:30am the next morning, we are treated to a visit by the one, the only, TJ Lavin in pure night vision. He wakes the challengers up and they fuss like a group of teenagers who want 5 more minutes of sleep before heading off to school. TJ tells the Challengers that he needs one person from each team to come with him, save CT who is this week’s rogue agent. CT is thrilled to go back to bed, Amber B starts to see why no one who has been partnered with Fessy has been satisfied with that partnership, Kyle complains, and Leroy volunteers himself as he states he no longer experiences fear. Looks like all the guys are going with TJ, leaving CT back at the house with allllll the women, a fate he seems fine with.
TJ welcomes the remaining challengers and lets them know their partners have been lowered into a frozen volcano. They will each need to find their partners and bring them to safety. Now I am not sure what dangers they are facing here as the Thrihnukagigur volcano located near Reykjavik is a dormant volcano which last erupted 4,000 years ago, but it does not seem TJ is sharing that information with the Challengers. If you do happen to make it to Iceland, National Geographic featured a tour highlighting this volcano which includes a hike across the tectonic plates, a ride down into the volcano, and plenty of time to explore and take pictures. Highly recommend. Anyway, back to the Challenge who are about to experience their own volcano spelunking mission, Escape the Volcano. Each of the female challengers will race 5 miles across the frozen Icelandic tundra reaching various mental checkpoints along the way that must be completed in order to proceed. When they reach the mouth of the volcano they will then descend 500 feet into the volcano, have to find their partner then race together back to the start. At that point they will need to solve a puzzle, and whoever completes this final like mission the fastest, will become this week’s Double Agents.
Nany, Amber B, Kam and Kaycee all start running together, interested in keeping pace so they do not gas out too early in this marathon challenge. The first checkpoint features several lock boxes with math problems on the top, signifying the answer will be the code to get into the lock box. Nany solves her equation first and races off, barely putting her gloves back on. Kaycee finishes next as Amber B continues to struggle. Cut to Kam who reaches checkpoint 2, I barely even saw her at checkpoint 1, once again Kam is KILLING IT! Amber B on the other hand appears incapable of doing her math equation and there is a part of me that loves the idea of a self-righteous Fessy remaining the sole player chained up as the other teams make their way to the finish line.
The male players are all chained up together at the bottom of the volcano, worrying about the location of their female counterparts. Leroy seems to be stressing about a possible volcanic eruption so I imagine the anxiety must be intense. Kam makes it to the top of the volcano first and calls down to her partner Cory as she is lowered into the volcano. Leroy appears just as excited as Cory that his girl was the first to make it to the volcano checkpoint. Kam updates the guys on their female partners progress as she is being lowered down into the volcano, but wastes no time unlocking Cory upon her arrival and they rush out of the volcano together. Nany makes it to the volcano next, singing her own praises that this is her 10th challenge and it is fine with others underestimating her because that is when she performs her best. Nany unlocks Kyle and they make their way out of the volcano just as Kaycee appears to make her way to the top of the volcano. Fessy continues to complain about his lot in the challenge because he only cares about himself and Leroy BEGS Kaycee to go faster so he does not have to listen to these garbage complaints a moment longer.
On the frozen Icelandic tundra, we see the challengers racing to the finish line. Kam is encouraging Cory as they are way ahead of the others, essentially specs in the distance. Kyle is in the lead of the remaining challengers with his partner Nany behind him, Leroy and Kaycee running together just behind the pair. They actually are able to speed ahead of Nany, who I had previously thought was a runner, but perhaps regular training can only take you so far. Kam and Cory reach their puzzle and get to placing the Tetris like piece on their provided board. Kween Kam solves the puzzle bringing her and Cory into the winners circle, and Cory FINALLY can experience some joy on this Challenge! Kyle and Nany come in second, Leroy and Kaycee come in third and Fessy remains in the volcano, where he belongs. I would love to find out Amber B is some kind of mathematician and threw the daily on purpose but I suppose TJ throwing shade to Fessy and Amber B as they walk up to the Challenge sign will have to do for today.
In another stroke of musical genius, Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up plays as Cory and Kam take their place as this week’s Double Agents. Cory is so grateful and thanks Kam for this win today. It is so refreshing to see someone who is happy to be there and grateful for their partner’s performance. In a less grateful corner of the house, the Big Brother alliance seems to think they are still in control of this game and try to figure out who to send into elimination. Kaycee tells Fessy if he ever decides to show up and compete, he should consider going into this week’s elimination against Kyle, and steal Kaycee from Leroy. Pause for jaws dropping everywhere. Kaycee wants to trade in Leroy? These two are the perfect storm and she wants to trade it in! Has she learned nothing from the countless partners Fessy has had who regret working with him? If that is the case I say go with Fessy and y’all can lose together. Very disappointed in Kaycee right now. Perhaps this will open up a chance for Leroy and Kam to run the final and win together proving love wins, yet again.
Leroy overhears Kaycee trying to throw him under the bus and in a stroke of genius takes back the game by calling out all the partnerships. He says Kyle does not want to be partnered with Nany, and Fessy does not want to be partnered with Amber B so really they should be the two to fight it out in elimination, not him. The side eye from CT is strong as Leroy also sits back and lets Fessy panic, Leroy quietly operating his own little barbershop from inside The Challenge house. It is a true testament to what value experience holds in this game as we watch the veterans take back control of the game from a group of newer players who thought they could come in and take over the show. The manipulation is masterful as Kam calls the guys out on their backstabbing behavior then goes to coddle Amber B in an effort to secure her vote the next day.
The veterans continue to politic and we see Leroy, CT, and Nany hatching a plan. Leroy is going to tell Kyle that if he votes with them for Fessy as the house vote, they will create a situation where Kam and Cory get into an argument in the crater and TJ sends them into elimination for this week. Kyle and Leroy shake hands that he will vote in Fessy this week since it means he will then be safe from having to go into the crater. I do have to say it literally looks like they woke him up in the middle of the night to tell him this, I would be surprised if he even knew what he was agreeing to.
At deliberation Fessy announces he is going to throw himself into elimination this week so no vote is needed. He also plans to steal Kaycee which is a message that is essentially lost as he is reading a letter aloud like some kind of 7th grade student council election assembly. Amber B cries because he essentially tells the whole cast that he does not feel like he can win with her as a partner. Fessy continues to be unsympathetic towards Amber B, or anyone who is not Fessy.
Kam and Cory find out in their deliberation booth that their plan worked and Fessy along with Amber B have been voted into elimination this week. Cory reveals he has been working overtime behind the scenes to keep Leroy safe. He wants to support his partner Kam, who just made a deal to blindside him into elimination, and keep her boyfriend safe. He also feels Leroy has played a clean game so far and he appreciates that. Kam starts to doubt her decision to send him into elimination and rethinks her loyalties. Leroy starts to question if making an agreement with Kyle was a good idea when Cory has been actively working to make sure Leroy remains safe.
The challengers make their way to the crater and we see that Hall Brawl is set up. Fessy has been BEGGING for this elimination round and seems stoked to go in. Fessy and Amber B are revealed as the house vote so make their way down to the crater floor. Cory votes for Nany and Kyle to go into the crater, to no one’s surprise. Kyle waits for Kam to hold up her end of their deal and walk down into the crater herself, throwing her partner Cory into elimination. Instead, she votes for Kyle and Nany because she does not want to blindside a loyal partner like Cory. Kyle realizes he has been blindsided by some folks he thought were friends and gives a sad speech before heading into Hall Brawl against Fessy.
In the first heat, Fessy runs straight into Kyle, bowls him over, then drags him along as he makes his way to his buzzer, Kyle grasping away at his ankles. Kyle realizes his finger is bent at an odd angle and I for one almost wish they did not show that. I can not unsee a finger bent at such an odd angle. Kyle insists he wants to continue with the elimination and the medics seem to try to snap his finger back into place which sounds unpleasant. TJ tells Kyle he is not medically cleared to compete and Kyle says his good byes. He walks out to Young Cannibals Suspicious Minds, saying he will continue to come back to The Challenge as long as he is able.
TJ congratulates Fessy then gives him the option to switch partners from Amber B, to Kyle’s partner Nany, or he can steal Kaycee from Leroy. Fessy, as previously promised, chooses to steal Kaycee from Leroy. Leroy is left to choose from Nany and Amber B for his new partnership, so he chooses to pick his friend and cast mate of 10 years from the Real World Las Vegas cast, Nany. CT gets paired with Amber B and I can’t say I am thrilled for either one of them. These are not the final pairs I saw going into this final but it is awesome to see some fresh faces and I think these new partnerships will give us fresh content to watch in the upcoming final. TJ announces that these are the final challengers and the final is coming up next. The Challengers celebrate as the remaining 8 of 30 challengers realize they are all going to this year’s final while Europe’s The Final Countdown plays us out of the episode.