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During Tough As Nails, I worried someone would get sliced in half. Then came the ladder.

During Tough As Nails, I worried someone would get sliced in half. Then came the ladder.
Sergio Robles during the team challenge of Tough As Nails season 4, episode 6. (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS)

I’m not a fan of the glorification of the phrase “Rise and Grind,” which that gave Tough As Nails season 4, episode 6 its title. (I don’t love the phrase because hustle culture is toxic bullshit.)

But the title came from the first challenge, which had the teams literally grinding through walls of shipping containers, sending sparks flying and then massive metal pieces flying through the air on hooks.

They were at Crate Modular, a company that converts shipping containers into cool buildings, and had to each cut out windows from two containers, one of which also had to be marked.

Savage Crew was behind 2-3, so in the van they got a pep talk from Jake (“If we don’t win today, we are screwed”) and Mister (“Just fight hard until your guts come out”). Go team go! Interestingly, Jake’s team has figured out that when he gets moody or short with them during a challenge, they can just yell right back at him.

Two people wearing orange shirts hold sparking cutters to a container with an X painted on it
Mister Frost and Jake Cope slice open a cargo container on Tough As Nails season 4, episode 6. (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS)

Aly was Dirty Hands’ crew boss, telling her team, “I really think I’ve grown enough and “I know y’all have my back so I feel very comfortable.” But her teammate Sergio stabbed her in the back. Okay, not really, but when she split her team up, he immediately suggested the opposite, saying Jorge should not be cutting but instead work on measuring.

Aly accepted that, which turned out to be a bad idea; Jorge was one of the few who could use the cutters without causing them to immediately shatter. Each team only had 100, and Savage Crew ended up using every one of theirs.

As Phil Keoghan warned the contestants about how sharp and dangerous those panels were, I grew increasingly terrified someone would get sliced in half as they sliced the final bit from the panel, or as it flopped around on the hook moving through the warehouse.

The contestants were wearing their team colors, but also had on matching long sleeves, pants, gloves, and helmets. I assume all of that safety gear was like the full-body version of the gloves chefs wear while chopping things.

Thankfully, nothing went wrong. The scary accident happened during the individual competition.

Phil Keoghan gives a thumbs up while wearing a hard hat
Tough As Nails 4 host Phil Keoghan on episode 6 “Rise and Grind.” (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS)

For that, the remaining eight contestants paired up, and had to shrink wrap a tiny house made from a shipping container. I’ve always wondered how boats and other large things are shrink wrapped, and now I know: large pieces are placed on the object, cut down to size, and then melted together.

While cutting a sheet of plastic, Beth sliced her thumb with a box cutter, but that wasn’t the scariest moment.

Working with Mister, Ellery climbed a ladder to hand him a sheet of plastic. Then the ladder tipped, leaving Ellery dangling from the roof, holding on with just one hand. Then he fell.

Thankfully, he popped up almost instantly. “I’m good, I’m good, I’m good,” he said.

In an interview later, he said, “Firemen are not supposed to be falling off ladders, but it does happen.” He laughed and added, “scared a lot of people, but I came out unscathed.” That was fortunate!

Jake and Ilima finished first, winning $3,000 each, while Jorge and Beth went to overtime. Beth was crushed, but because she felt like she’d let Jorge down! “He had faith in me,” she said, pointing out that he picked her as his teammate. “That’s why I’m disappointed.”

The individual overtime challenge was essentially the return of one of my favorite Tough As Nails challenges: putting together pipes, or as Phil put it, “pressurized piping puzzle.”

It’s a fascinating puzzle that requires both planning and attention to detail. In this version, Beth and Jorge had to weave 29 feet of copper pipe through framing, cutting the pipes and soldering them together. The first to connect their pipes and fill a glass of water won.

Beth was a little ahead, but they were both working on their last piece at the same time, soldering their last connection at the same time. “Please let me get this soldered in place faster than Jorge,” Beth said. But she did not.

The glass of water Jorge delivered to Phil Keoghan looked, for some reason, like a chocolate milkshake, and the cast started chanting “drink it!” to Phil Keoghan.

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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 itโ€™s made and what it means.

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Monday 6th of February 2023

All I can say is, "Whew!" Thankfully, handsome Jorge survived the elimination.