In my last The Challenge: Battle of the Seasons weekly rankings column, I went all retro-running diary because the action of the episode was just too much to effectively account for any other way. This week’s episode may have even pushed the scale of awesomeness a few steps higher (the weekly challenge and especially the night time drama raised these stakes), so until something changes (and with the final challenge coming up later this month), I am going to keep rocking the retro-running diary until it loses its potency. As established last week, the times are EST on the night the original episode aired, so feel free to follow along while viewing for the first time or while re-watching.
THE WEEK 10 RETRO-RUNNING DIARY (power rankings to follow)
10:00 – In the scenes from last week, the creepy chill MTV announcer voice reminds us of “one of the biggest arenas in Challenge” history. Don’t worry creepy chill MTV announcer voice, we won’t forget the epic duel between CJ and Zach anytime soon.
10:01 – The episode begins with the image of a cat licking itself. No, for real.
10:01 – Team San Diego does a group workout session and then plays a little game of “say something positive, say something negative” (still in the R & D phase at Milton Bradley). Sam’s negative comment to Ashley is that she is “way too positive.” Zach doesn’t like how he and Frank have old animosity toward one another. In a solution just shy of miracle status, harmony has returned to the San Diego shores (cue creepy chill MTV announcer voice: “For now…”)
10:02 – It’s time for the challenge clue delivery from some new product placed c-list company’s mobile device! This time, the Battle of the Seasons contestants pretend to be sleeping at a slumber party when Frank brings the electronic correspondence delivered news. The clue is always some low quality pun about having to wear bathing suits while “getting to know” your teammates, but the clue delivery scene appears to be contrived by production (I will have to check with Derrick about this) and has become more silly as the years go by. Can someone give me some Intel on this?
10:02 – TJ, rocking the hatless look two weeks in a row (his wife must have been involved somehow), tells us that today’s challenge is called “Abandon Ship,” named after what KellyAnne and Johanna did pre-filming when they found out ex-boyfriend Wes was going to be on Battle of the Seasons. (Did you every wonder why Lacey represented Team Austin? Or why was Fresh Meat such a strange late addition to the premiere? Wes is apparently kryptonite to his past lovers. It’s too bad because Real World: Sydney’s Isaac would have been an interesting addition to a house with Frank already in it.)
10:04 – Team Las Vegas is represented by “water people” and Alton thinks it is therefore going to be a “fun, lean challenge” for them. How ironic this is.
10:04 – Sarah, thankfully, reminds us that JD trains dolphins, so the required 25 foot dive for a player from each team to retrieve buoys (less horrifying 15, 10, and 5 foot dives as well) is a point of confidence for Brooklyn. Sarah, you had me at “JD trains dolphins.”
10:04 – Let’s just say that TJ’s hair (thank you Turkish wind gusts) is pretty close to awesome.
10:05 – Twenty-five foot dives begin! In succession, Derek, Dustin, JD, and Sam rock this (Honestly, I am quite impressed). Poor Robb struggles and struggles and struggles. He’s “actually kind of panicking.”
10:06 – Fear not Robb! You have a panic partner! Enter, Trishelle!
10:06 – Teams San Diego, Cancun (Jonna and Derek by their lonesome), and Brooklyn (way to dominate the five foot dive, Devyn!) finish the four dives and are onto the boat race phase of the Challenge. Robb and Trishelle are still panicking and their teammates are none too pleased. In Robb and Trishelle’s defense, under water pressure can be hard. It is time to go to commercial.
10:07 – Jersey Shore is down to its final four episodes ever. Even though I hopped out of the tanning bed several seasons ago, but with this realization and some Hurricane Sandy relief initiatives, is it wrong to admit that I am feeling a bit nostalgic?
10:11 – Back in the water, Trishelle’s outright panic leads Alton to take matters into his own hands and he dives for the ten foot buoy, accruing a five minute time penalty in the process. Dustin is not pleased with Trishelle.
10:12 – Meanwhile, in St. Thomas land, Marie impressively beasts the 25 and 10 foot buoys. Marie may talk a big game, but she is seriously walking the walk.
10:13 – The juxtaposition of San Diego’s sea of tranquility in a commanding lead and Las Vegas’ already penalty ridden team implosion directed at resident delinquent Trishelle is further proof of just how quick of a sea change can occur in The Challenge. If team unity and consistent togetherness amount to anything, Team Brooklyn and the remaining Team Cancun deserve to ultimately win.
10:14 – San Diego wins the race and celebrates their first place finish with a cuddle fest in the raft. Simultaneously, Marie and Robb have difficult relationship talks while learning their paddling technique. Rough.
10:15 – Team Vegas finishes the race in fourth place, but Alton and Dustin are not through with Trishelle and have a discussion about her womanhood. Alton tells Dustin to “get enlightened.” The team interview and contentious back and forth between Dustin and Trishelle is an exercise in disharmony and futility. Things are not going to end well for these two.
10:16 – A demoralized Robb and Marie reach shore, arena bound. In the interview, Robb declares that he “can’t dive down 25 feet” because “he smokes too many cigarettes.” (Yes, Robb! An opportunity to quit!) Marie’s silent, icey frown says it all.
10:18 – Alton tries to act as team mediator and facilitates apologies between Dustin and Trishelle. The conversation goes nowhere as they continue to butt heads. As Dustin says, “Not everything is rainbows and butterflies.” There is a dispute about whether Trishelle is going in. One thing that the Bunim/Murray brain trust always excel at is foreshadowing within an episode. Let’s hope I am mistaken.
10:23 – TJ lets San Diego know that they “killed it” in the challenge. Right back at you, Sir Lavin.
10:23 – Zach represents San Diego’s arena participation decision and says an under the radar, crafty, and humorous comment. He preambles the inevitable Team Las Vegas choice with the information that San Diego really wanted to go in, but that “Frank needed a rest” from the arena. Well played, Zach. Well played.
10:24 – It’s a night of alcohol consumption and the excrement is about to hit the motorized, circular cooling machine.
10:24 – Derek (particularly and uncharacteristically rowdy tonight) and Nany have a dispute about how close they are as friends. Oh boy. This is not going to go well.
10:25 – Frank somehow takes offense at nothing (we have seen some of this before, Monsieur Sweeney) and goes off at Nany. Nany, not one for restraint while intoxicated, matches Frank’s ante raise.
10:25 – Marie invites herself to the party because she doesn’t care about Derek, but she cares about Nany (one thing Marie will have is the back of one of her girlfriends, Swifty learned this quite often when he messed with LaToya in St. Thomas). Robb tries to keep her back, but “two people are getting in [Nany’s] face right now!” In the cleaned up (and she did it nicely) interview, Marie: “Right now, in the way that everyone’s ganging up on Nany, I don’t really care about our alliance. I care about defending my friend who needs my help right now.” You go, girl. Zach is entertained, full well knowing that “step in to keep Frank from attacking multiple people time” will be soon be his responsibility.
10:26 – Derek and Nany continue their battle royale about the quality of their friendship (does it really matter?). Credit to the peacekeeping team of Chet, Robb, Sam, Marie, and Trishelle. Interesting side note: Where are Devyn, Alton, and Sarah during all of this? If the answer is asleep, I want some of that REM cycle in my nightly routine.
10:26 – Somehow, the camera man misses Derek pushing Robb (as he attempts to restrain Derek) over some patio furniture. This is a clutch miss, camera man, and our loss.
10:26 – Marie does not miss this incident and is “not going to sit here and let [Derek} push [her] man” so she decides to body slam Derek who dominos into Sam who falls into a pile of plant pots. Chet goes to check on Sam and determines that Frank should “get your girl” out of the pots (a classic and underrated moment of Chet brilliance). Thank goodness for the commercial to sort this all out.
10:31 – We’re back. Chet does a play-by-play of the individual battles. (I give him credit for keeping up with all the iterations. Also, is he, as a member of Team Brooklyn, on babysitting duty shift and is this an official job? What happens on the night’s when JD is on call? Do they have paramedics on hand?) He appropriately ends his recap with the wise question of “where the hell am I?”
10:31 – Sam is actually hurt and wants to share her thoughts with Marie whose Derek body slam inadvertently knocked Sam over into a patch of plant pots. Marie is as pugnacious as ever. It takes the full force of the seven foot tall Robb and Frank (now calm) to hold her back from “killing” Sam. Frank’s take (it takes one to know one): “I absolutely love Marie. I see a lot of myself in Marie, but Marie is an idiot sometimes.” Frank lets Marie know that poor Sam “has nothing to do” with any of this.
10:32 – There is an amazing JD sighting as Frank and Nany decide to meet down at the cabana for a chat. JD, beer in hand, unassumingly walks by like nothing is going on. Oh, how I yearn for the carefree existence of a dolphin trainer.
10:32 – The cabana chat lasts for a hot three-seconds before blowing up. Mediator Trishelle is helplessly left alone. Frank decides to berate low and makes some comment about Nany’s sister injecting heroin too much. Nany, holding four beer cans (check, I am not making this up), will not stand for a family member’s inclusion in Frank’s verbal tomfoolery. Fight escalation, GO!
10:33 – Dustin comes to Nany’s defense and Frank hits back with some gay porn past insults. Trishelle, wisdom fueled: “Oh my god, yes, Dustin did gay porn. Like get over it.” The fight continues. Cut to Devyn (she apparently woke up) who is understandably unsure about exactly what is going on.
10:34 – Frank, like a Roman gladiator from the a balcony above the pool (Dustin and Nany are down below): “I. Will. Bury. You. Both.” Dustin and Nany egg him on. All Frank “sees right now is red and it’s blood” and comes down to attack. Alton (his Spidey sense for soulmate Dustin being in trouble is a working power) tries to peace make. Dustin snaps, (“Hey Catholic school boy, you want to get straight, bitch? Come and get some.”), whacks Alton in the face (not on purpose and slightly comedic, watching back) and then push/shoves Frank’s head (the memorable moment from last week’s preview). Stuff is going down and we still have 36 minutes left.
10:35 – A commercial promotion for next week’s Teen Mom 2 about Janelle forgiving her mom for not bailing her out of jail while her baby son cries in the background somehow calms me down.
10:37 – I have never desired a longer commercial break. Back in the action, there is an actual fight and the cooler heads of Robb, Zach, Alton, Trishelle, Chet, and even Nany prevail. Zach pleads with Frank to step back using first the tactic of repeating the phrase “the team” and then forces Frank to “go through” him. Zach, this one scene may be a serious rankings boost and Frank and Zach, I am beginning to believe in the possibilities of your friendship. Frank decides to “wash his hands clean” of the “dirty scum that got under his fingernails” that is the “entire fucking Vegas team.”
10:37 – Meanwhile, in another fantastic male friendship manifestation, Alton lets Dustin know that he took it too far. Alton about Frank: “He’s a little pig and you chose to get in to the dirt with him…and clean him up, in the mud?” Well, done Alton 2.0. Alton and Dustin then have a conversation about which of a peacock and a flamingo is a more apt description for Nany. Yes, this happened.
10:38 – Alton admits in his interview that “after babysitting these kids” he has had “one of the worst times in paradise, ever.” Are you a paradise frequenter, Alton? If so, how do I get on that train?
10:39 – Back to the game game (and a sunny, morning after the storm at that), Trishelle wants Dustin to go in with her because she fears that Alton is still on his “I want to go home” kick. The conversation does not go well and creates a line between Trishelle and the boys. Not for nothing, but I feel like Nany is often the victim in the these circumstances.
10:41 – Albeit less than accurate, Trishelle has this line of the night about Alton and Dustin: “The only thing consistent about those two is that they are consistently crazy.” Nany knows that Trishelle is sometimes not a team player and looks at her, wondering if she is going to step up or not.
10:42 – Arena time! Marie steps down to the stage for Team St. Thomas. TJ says she is “looking as mean as ever.” Marie, loses her game face, and cracks a killer smile. These TJ moments of greatness are what sets him apart from all the other competition show hosts. TJ Lavin, I salute you.
10:42 – The commercial cliffhanger surrounds Trishelle’s “will she or won’t she” decision to volunteer herself to go in. In her interview, she says she is going to leave it up to San Diego because she fears having to compete with Alton and the potential that he will throw the challenge. Things are not looking good for Team Vegas.
10:43 – The only thing I love more than Ricky Rubio on the basketball court (please get well soon, senôr) is this Ricky Rubio commercial. Foot Locker’s ad agency deserves some kind of award.
10:45 – And, Nany volunteers herself to go in! Nooooooooooo (the reaction that Dustin and I share)! Dustin is justifiably furious because Trishelle deserved to go in and he doesn’t want to see his little Vegas sister Nany potentially go home (let alone have to toil alone with Trishelle back at the base camp). All he can do now is stare at Trishelle in disgust.
10:45 – Robb is feeling “really, really confident” because “truth be told” the last time he lost something was his “virginity.” You have to love Robb.
10:46 – Such props to Nany on this one. She volunteered herself in because she was not going to stand idle and let San Diego make a decision on the fate of her team. Poor Dustin (I would be the same way, brother on this one) cannot get over the fact that what was supposed to happen (Trishelle going in) did not. He and Trishelle have a little verbal fight (she says she will never speak to him again). My take: I think Trishelle feels bad about this, but is unwilling to admit it. I think Dustin does not provide the safest forum for this to happen, so the cycle of iffy communication continues.
10:48 – Round 1 (2 out of 3) of the Balls Out Endurance game goes 14-11 in favor of Robb and Marie. They came to play! Nany questions Alton’s full investment in winning (not an unreasonable thought about the former Challenge legend’s motivation in Turkey). Dustin, too, is not “seeing that hustle spirit” and he does not “want to be left here with Trishelle.”
10:49 – Round 2 goes 13-12 to Alton and Nany. This has turned out to be a second straight, down to the wire arena. Advantage this season of The Challenge. Marie and Robb are not shaken at all and unified anew.
10:50 – Marie: “If I can take out two of the strongest competitors that means that I am one of the strongest competitors.” No argument, there.
10:55 – Zach lets Robb and Marie know that they “freakin’ did it!” by beating Alton and Nany 13-12 in the final round. Credit to Marie and Robb for their perseverance in this arena and throughout this game (especially in their ability to reunify so quickly after the shipwreck that was the “Abandon Ship” challenge).
10:55 – Alton: “I am a little shocked. For me, losing is a new experience.” Yes, it is, old friend. Although your total reputation may have taken a hit, I hope that in a few years the glory that was Alton 1.0 will be your enduring legacy.
10:56 – Dustin is visibly and understandably shaken. He is losing Alton, a brother and very close friend, and Nany, his little sister, support, and best chance he had at winning the whole thing. They are both concerned about how Dustin will manage being alone with Trishelle. Nany: “Don’t kill her. You guys gotta make it to the finals.” Alton: “Forgive her bro.” Dustin: “Never.”
10:57 – Nany: “If I have proved anything to anyone, I proved to myself that I am a good competitor, and I deserved to be here this entire time.” Speak the truth, Nany. If anyone has risen up in the actual and metaphoric Challenge power rankings, it is Nany. She overcame beaucoup de drama (internal and external) and managed to go out with the utmost dignity and as an honorable fighter. When (not if) she returns in the future, I would want her on my team.
10:57 – Alton: “I met a brother. Dustin, we are going to be friends forever dude.” I applaud this seemingly, beautiful friendship.
10:57 – Frank, in a bout of uncontrollable irony, is “so so so so” excited that Nany and Alton are going home so that he can finally “live in peace now” in a drama free house.
10:58 – Dustin will not let this Trishelle thing go, asking her to “live,” “remember this forever,” and “have nightmares.” TJ: “I thought I’ve seen some uncomfortable teams in my life, but Dustin and Trishelle, that’s a pretty uncomfortable team.” Preach, TJ. Preach.
10:58 – Dustin is in a cloud of despair and wants to go home. Chet and Sarah try to step in and help the situation, facilitating a conversation between Dustin and Trishelle. JD does nothing.
10:59 – Fade to black on the potential of Dustin quitting…after last week’s arena battle between Zach and CJ, I expected this week to have a fair degree of momentum lowering, but instead, the stakes have been raised yet again. The Challenge is bringing it this fall and I cannot wait for next Wednesday night.
Five teams are left (three now have two players) and one (Las Vegas) is in complete shambles. At this point, especially with a resurgent St. Thomas in the arena, it is anyone’s game…let’s shakeout a particularly movement heavy rankings…
WEEKLY CHALLENGE INDIVIDUAL POWER RANKINGS
NOTE: the rankings will be based on an un-Hollinger/sabermetrics method known as “My experience and observations” (See: Marc Stein’s great NBA weekly power rankings). Weight will be given to how well teams and individuals do on competitions, in the social game, and whether he or she is a “good competitor.”
1 (2) Chet (Team Brooklyn) – After a long wait, Chet has stuck around long enough near the top to finally have earned his first place ranking (his consistency has to be applauded). A stalwart rowing performance and humor laden peacekeeping showing provided the final push. Congrats.
2 (3) Zach (Team San Diego) – Zach had a great episode, excelling as Frank’s bodyguard, as a player in “still in need of development” games, as the arena selection decision master, and as Team St. Thomas’ biggest fan.
3 (1) Dustin (Team Las Vegas) – Dustin spent much of the episode (much of it justified), falling apart. The loss of Nany, Alton, and a trust in Trishelle were individually crushing, but all put together, devastating. I have a feeling Mr. Zito will be able to recover next week.
4 (7) Frank (Team San Diego) – Frank did erroneously provoke several altercations, but he also walked away when Zach stepped in. His Team San Diego “Abandon Ship” domination also amounts for a strong rise this week.
5 (5) Robb (Team St. Thomas) – I was torn on Robb this week. On one hand, his challenge performance was a challenge in itself, but his arena win was (over Alton and Nany!) very impressive. Ultimately, no movement in the rankings was justified.
6 (6) JD (Team Brooklyn) – JD’s 25 foot dive was the beginning move in a very respectable second place finish in “Abandon Ship” for Team Brooklyn. His uninvolved, metaphorical wallpapering at house fights did not allow any ranking rise this time.
7 (8) Derek (Team Cancun) – Yes, Derek and Jonna were commendable in the challenge, but his role in the night’s extracurricular festivities was unnecessary. He should know better.
ELIMINATED: Alton (Team Las Vegas) – Alton, admittedly, had a difficult time on this challenge (most likely his last). Like twilight comebacks of other legendary athletes (Jordan on the Wizards, as mentioned in this space before), I hope we forget these ending impressions and remember all the previous good times. Alton, thank you for going out like a pro. Your final image on this challenge was one of the warrior you have always been. May your next paradise trip be a better one.
1 (1) Sarah (Team Brooklyn) – An under the radar week for this close to dethrone-proof leader of women is only a good thing at this stage. Her ability to stay out of the nighttime house rumble (Sarah – Please tell me how you were able to do it) may be her most incredible feat yet (Really, were you sleeping and if so, how do you do it? Amazing).
2 (4) Marie (Team St. Thomas) – If someone had told me this summer that I was going to write a weekly The Challenge power rankings column and that in week 10 I would have no trouble placing Marie second on the women’s rankings, the struggle to believe them would have been real. Marie – you have earned this placement (awesome work all around this week, unintentional Sam/plant meet-up notwithstanding) and have had to overcome so much to get here. Seriously fantastic work.
3 (6) Ashley (Team San Diego) – Ashley again excels at being a genuine and kind person (and is even criticized for being too nice) and is a beast at challenges. Her always patient presence with her teammates (and especially with pseudo cuddle buddy CJ gone) is an asset to San Diego’s success.
4 (5) Devyn (Team Brooklyn) – A low key week for Devyn (it was inevitable after last week’s real hair reveal), but her athletic showings seem to be getting better and better. Bare in mind, Devyn came in to The Challenge a clothing shopper aficionado out of the mall when it came to being a worthy competitor. She has come a long way.
5 (8) Jonna (Team Cancun) – Jonna is back in the mix (her “Abandon Ship” twosome appearance killed it), but now she needs to find a way to keep Derek away from late night drama (a tall order if the preview for next week is any indication).
6 (7) Sam (Team San Diego) – Poor Sam. Marie pushed Derek into her and she fell on some plant pots. Often the recipient of the wrath of teammates, this was an unexpected low.
7 (3) Trishelle (Team Las Vegas) – Trishelle had a very difficult week (tough diving experience in the challenge, didn’t step up in the arena, the disintegration of her team) and it is largely because of her decisions. It is in her best interest to come clean, take some responsibility (Dustin may be more stubborn than than she is) and recognize that her partner is one of the best male competitors in the game and the road to winning $250,000.
ELIMINATED: Nany (Team Las Vegas) – Nany is really the victim in the Team Vegas implosion and could not have come out on the other side looking better than she does. With so many rookies on this challenge, it was a question as to who was going to separate themselves from the masses and Nany may have one of the most successful at doing so. (On an unrelated note, do you remember when Preston was in this game, because I momentarily forgot?)
FULL TEAM RANKINGS
Note: Team rankings are compiled by adding up the individual rankings and dividing by number of players remaining. Teams with the lowest total average ranking are ranked better than the highest (i.e. you want as few points as possible)
1 (2) TEAM BROOKLYN Average: 3, last week: 3.5
Sarah (1), Chet (1), JD (6), Devyn (4)
Can they win as foursome? They keep humming along as a foursome (even utilizing the talents of JD – this week deep sea diving and last week eating random things). While other teams have faced internal turmoil, Brooklyn has remained unified and strong. At this point in the game, it makes sense that they are ranked first.
What pairings can win? The same is true as last week: Sarah and Chet can still win The Challenge. Sarah could probably get JD to the finish line as well. I am not sure Devyn would be able to finish with either Chet or Sarah and will be better within a foursome. Additionally, Sarah and Chet have many ways of working together (this week rowing the boat and facilitating a conversation between Dustin and Trishelle to name a few) and this is only to their advantage if they make the finals.
2 (3) TEAM ST. THOMAS Average: 3.5, last week: 4.5
Robb (5), Marie (2), Eliminated: Laura, Trey
Can they win as a pair? Yes. Their arena showing (especially following such a demoralizing challenge) is very impressive. Marie and Robb are fighters and I think it helps that in this twosome, Marie’s stronger personality is given room to lead, whereas Robb’s reliable and protective tendencies will help keep Marie out of trouble. The previewed fight with Derek will be a barometer of just how resilient these two really are.
3 (4) TEAM SAN DIEGO Average: 4, last week: 6.75
Zach (2), Sam (7), Ashley (3), Frank (4)
Can they win as foursome? I think we can move last week’s “who knows” answer to this question to “sometimes” or “it depends on the week.” If San Diego can continue to have good weeks (at this point we know bad weeks will happen, but they may be able to hang on long enough to avoid them), they are going to be tough to beat in a final (Frank and Zach are just so uber-competitive and Ashley is a very strong women).
What pairings can win? Last week I wrote: Both guys could compete with Ashley against the other strong teams (Vegas, Sarah/Chet), but the Zach/Sam pairing seems to have a dynamic, winning quality (at least in arenas). This all remains true, but if San Diego can keep their foursome intact, this won’t even be an issue.
4 (1) TEAM LAS VEGAS Average: 5, last week: 2.5
Dustin (3), Trishelle (7), Eliminated: Nany, Alton
Can they win as a pair? Yes, I think so (despite the real relationship sever that occurred between these two this week). Both are super competitive (different manifestations), stubborn, prideful, and want to win the money. I think they can put their Humpty Dumpty of a team back together again in time to be a player in the finals.
5 (5) TEAM CANCUN Average: 6, last week: 8
Jonna (5), Derek (7), Eliminated: CJ, Jasmine
Can they win as a pair? Athletically, yes. Mentally, I am not sure. I have not liked what I have seen from Derek these past few weeks. He seems to be falling apart at the seems. I am not sure if they have a captain or have the right balance to steer this ship, although I wouldn’t count out Jonna just yet…
And finally, during the “NEXT ON THE CHALLENGE” preview, this is what I saw:
- Dustin and Trishelle are still around (I got you MTV editors, you tried to conceal them in the shot, but they are there.)
- Zach and Marie find the bus to be a great time to erupt at one another
- and Robb finally seems to want to confront Derek about this week’s pushing incident by tearing off his shirt and screaming at him.
We are approaching the home stretch! There are only a few episodes remaining (sadly), so do not miss a moment. Tune in at 10 PM on MTV for the next episode of The Challenge: Battle of the Seasons.
David Bloom can be reached on twitter at @davidbloom7. His weekly CHALLENGE POWER RANKINGS come out weekly on Derek Kosinski’s UltimateChallengeRadio.com. The Week 11 power rankings will be available sometime after December 6.