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Squid games leave squid juice squirting on Tough As Nails

Squid games leave squid juice squirting on Tough As Nails
Phil Keoghan talks to Tough As Nails season 4's competitors (Photo by Cliff Lipson/CBS)

Somehow, Tough As Nails season 4 is already halfway through the competition, as Phil Keoghan said at the start of episode 5.

This show moves fast! At the end of tonight’s episode, it was the halfway point: five more episodes will follow.

Still, there’s been enough time for the teams to really bond (Lauren referred to “this little family that we created”) and to really miss their families.

Six people in blue and six people in orange stand on a dock with boat cranes overhead, while Phil Keoghan stands between them, gesturing
Phil Keoghan tells the Tough As Nails season 4 teams about their squid boat team challenge (Photo by Cliff Lipson/CBS)

Dirty Hands and Savage Crew were tied at two each going into the team competition, so one thing was clear: that was going to change.

That challenge was working on a squid boat. But not with squid! There better be squid. Phil can’t say squid unless there will be squid! (Update: There was squid, later.)

Their task seemed simple: piling 200 hundred fathom of net on a boat. Maybe since just piling net wasn’t enough, the producers added another component: carry some heavy shit to a truck, like a container of buoys and a 2000-pound container of lead.

For the first part, they had to organize a net as it was pulled over by a machine: coiling buoys, folding net, making sure everything fell in the right place as it was moved by a crane.

Renee turned her shifting of the net into a dance, singing “to the land, to the sea, to the land, to the sea” while moving her hands from one side to another. I look forward to seeing people do this dance on TikTok, also set to Lady GaGa’s “Bloody Wednesday.”

Savage Crew had to stop their net because they had buoy-stacking issues; Dirty Hands, however, asked their captain to speed up the net. Shade!

People wearing orange shirts and life preservers hold massive rope nets lined with buoys
Savage Crew team members Jake Cope, Larron Ables, Renèe Kolar, Laura Bernotas, Mister Frost, and Ilima Shim pile fishing net on a boat during the Tough As Nails 4 episode 5 team challenge (Photo Cliff Lipson/CBS)

While Dirty Hands was behind getting to the midway point, they pulled ahead. They loaded the first two containers onto the truck without unloading them, but couldn’t do that with the 2,000 pounds of lead line. That allowed Savage Crew to catch up.

There was a fascinating overhead shot of the two approaches: Dirty Hands laying out all the line on the pavement, Savage Crew using an assembly line to get all their rope directly onto their trailer. Savage Crew’s speed meant they basically caught up, and became a race to the finish.

Dirty Hands still won, giving Beth redemption from her last loss as crew leader. Back then, she took responsibility; this time, she said, “I can’t take credit for this. It was my team.” What is it with this show and people always being so generous and kind to each other?

“There is something special waiting for you all on the dock,” Phil said: care packages from home. Jeff Probst popped out of the water and started screaming LOVE GIVE ME SOME LOVE PLEASE OH GOD. Oh wait, that was just my nightmare. Seriously: it was nice to see the contestants share what they’d received and stories about their friends and family without having that moment narrated for us.

Tough As Nails’ individual challenge had the contestants take 300-pound blocks of ice and smash it into small pieces. The winner would receive $5,000. Yes, the individual challenge money is increasing. Yay! More CBS money to Tough As Nails cast!

Larron realized he could slide his ice, and everyone followed suit; there was no need to use the ice tongs. That’s what I always think when I see an ice bucket with tongs. I just grab ice with my fingers, or dump the ice and slide it across the table into my glass.

In some great challenge design, the total weight that each player needed to smash was displayed on a digital display, and then decreased as their ice cubes landed in the container.

Each player had to do three times their own body weight. I understand why strength-based reality TV challenges use that for fairness, but I’m not quite clear on why that was necessary here. The ice they had to move was all the exact same size. Maybe the idea was that bigger bodies would have an easier time moving and smashing? That two bigger guys ended up in the bottom seemed to suggest the weight was a disadvantage—or maybe they were just bad at it.

Jorge won the individual challenge, and Ellery came in a close second after gathering ice cubes from the ground. Ilima was third, Beth fourth, and Laura fifth.

That ultimately left Jake and Sergio in overtime. “Quite frankly, to see the two giants here on Tough As Nails go head to head against each other is going to be something to watch,” Phil said, and they were both like, yeah, right, sure, ugh.

For overtime, the squid finally showed up! Jake and Sergio had to pack squid into boxes.

First, they made the boxes, stapling them together with a massive stapler that I kept being scared would staple one of their hands. Then, they had to scoop 40 pounds of squid into it, pack ice on top, and cover the box. Oh, and they had to do that 25 times: 1,000 pounds of squid in this game.

The squid were extremely slimy—so slimy that the cardboard box Phil demonstrated with looked like it was lubed up, and the sound editors gave us plenty of squishy sounds.

“Squid juice squirting all over the floor,” Phil said, and I’d like that as my ringtone.

It was all very squishy and slimy, though this challenge had nothing on the slime eels episode of season two, which was basically like the sky snotted all over the contestants.

While Sergio was building boxes faster, he spilled a box, and then Jake pulled ahead—and won—thanks to his bigger, heavier scoops of slimy, squirting squid. Spectacular!

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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Thursday 2nd of February 2023

Yeah that individual comp was TOTALLY UNFAIR, when u saw the Lightest guy Win & the heaviest ines lose. SUPER DISAPPOINTED with the show for that Unfairness!


Friday 27th of January 2023

I'm liking the show almost as much as Survivor and The Amazing Race. My favorites are Larron and Jorge. I think Jorge had an advantage in the ice smashing competition. He's smaller than the other guys but he's obviously strong. Go Larron! Go Jorge!


Thursday 26th of January 2023

I feel like we're getting more personality from Phil this season. I'm all for it; he's funny! I also really like that the prize money keeps increasing for the individual competitions. And I still have nightmares about the eel challenge, GROSS!