During The Challenge USA 2’s 11th episode, Chanelle observed that the best game might be one that involves hanging back.
Chanelle contrasted “a very proactive game” in Survivor to what she thinks works in The Challenge: “I think it’s maybe better sometimes to do less: protect your allies, protect yourself, and get to the end.”
That’s probably smart game play, and it is what ended up happening during The Challenge season one. But it also makes for boring, predictable television.
This season, neither the alliance of Survivor women nor the alliance of Challenge vets are really going after each other any more.
The element of randomness added by the hopper in season two has at least kept the episodes interesting, even if the predictable eventually happens, which it sure did on the 11th episode.
I identify with Michaela’s frustration over this, saying she didn’t want to “play stupid” like last episode. “If we don’t nominate Tori, no one else will,” Michaela told us.
But Cory refused to nominate Tori, and for some reason, when men don’t budget,
That left the players perceived to be weakest physically, Cassidy and Tyler, to be nominated, and Tyler went home.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. First: OILY BODIES.
The challenge, which gave the episode its title, “Slippery Business,” was, T.J. claimed, inspired by the tradition of oil wrestling in the Mediterranean. (This season was filmed in Croatia; oil wrestling seems to be most-popular in Turkey and Greece.)
The short version is that we were treated to slow motion footage of hot dummies pouring oil all over their bodies before stepping onto a circular mat and rubbing all over each other.
“This is the best part of The Challenge for me so far,” Michele said.
When the men competed, Chris told us he wanted to “use some of these guys’ big muscles against them,” but instead they all ganged up on him, and then Tyler.
Fessy stood around for most of this, watching. I don’t blame him. Fessy did push Josh and Cory toward the edge until Josh was eliminated. But despite not fighting, Fessy still lost to Cory in the final round.
The women had the same basic approach, eventually leading to a Michaela win.
Josh compared the women fighting to “hyenas,” perhaps hoping we’d be impressed he knows a three-syllable word. At least he wasn’t saying “for my own personal game.”
Slow-motion oiled-up bodies aside, this challenge is interesting because it’s an individual challenge, but with the possibility of pairings and groupings to target people. (I’d like to see something like this earlier to see who would be targeted.)
But in general, I’m not a fan of fighting as amateur sport here, mostly because of how hard it is to judge. Who’s to say if a hand to a face is allowed or a foul? How do the producers judge when it’s so hard to see anything? Why am I asking questions about fairness on The Challenge?
Michaela and Cory earned immunity and the ability to nominate two players. Before Michaela went into deliberations, both Desi and Chanelle were less-than-thrilled about Michaela’s plan to target Tori—because they’d more likely than not be thrown in with her, and also the Survivor players agreed to not nominate Tori twice.
These are all sound arguments, as were the rebuttal questions Michaela asked Cory when he just flatly refused to nominate his ally Tori. “What value is that to anyone?” she asked. “You’re not thinking in terms of genuine probability,” she told Cory.
Cory was thinking of “trying to build my own crew,” he told us, which was Tori and the Survivor women who aren’t Cassidy.
They settled, as mentioned, on Tyler and Cassidy, the least-controversial choices.
The rest of the house cast votes for Tori 3, Chanelle 1, and Chris 6. That revealed Michele betrayed her Survivor allies, casting a vote for Chris in order to try to keep a weaker competitor, Cassidy, around for the end.
Essentially, Michaela and Michele want the same thing—easier final competition—but are approaching it in very different ways.
The randomly selected name was Chris’s, and he and Tyler played “Barrel Tag.” It was a simple game of tag, but moving across the playing field on two oil drums. After two rounds, one for each player to be “it,” the fastest it to catch their target won.
The final results: Chris 1:20, and Tyler 1:52. Yes, Chris won yet again. He’s certainly building a stronger resume here than on Survivor!