'The Challenge' Recap: Best Moments From '350,000 Dollar Pyramid'
Wrecked By The Wall
Last week’s cliffhanger left viewers wondering which competitors would be sent packing right before the final competitions. Four of the baddest, scariest players were about to face off in Wrecking Wall. The first face off was between Leroy and CT. As two of the most evenly matched players, in size and strength, it really could have been anyone’s game. However, CT has made a name for himself on this show for bashing in heads. Compared to that, what’s one measly wall? CT punched holes into the drywall like it’s something his fists naturally do all the time. If only Leroy spent as much time practicing punching things as CT, he may have had a fighting chance. Alas, his strategy of going into the draw every time ultimately lead to his demise.
The other face off of the night was between the former best friends turned bitter enemies. Poor Cara Maria never did stand a chance, did she? As if having a broken hand wasn’t bad enough, going up against the undefeated challenge beast that is Laurel was the final nail in the coffin. Not only was Laurel playing with perfectly rested, unbroken bones, she’s a couple feet taller than Cara Maria. All she had to do was punch a few holes in the wall and then reach up to ring the bell.
“It’s no friendship. It’s no feelings,” Laurel says of the competition. But as soon as it’s over, she grabs Cara Maria to apologize. It may be too little, too late, as Cara Maria doesn’t believe their friendship will ever be the same. Honestly, if you’re willing to ruin your friendship over a dumb reality show, then maybe you shouldn’t be friends in the first place. Cara Maria played a hard game (and was the only player to play in every type of elimination) but she leaves looking like a bit of a poor sport.
TJ announces to the final 8 competitors that they will be heading to the Andes Mountains. (Zach mentions that he doesn’t even know where that is. “Chile,” Laurel quickly tells him.) One of the best parts of the final episodes of any season of The Challenge is when they show parts of the new country. The imagery of the Chilean volcano emitting smoke was one of the highlights of the episode, especially as the challengers watched it in awe from their new digs.
Getting to the location change on a challenge is a momentous occasion for any challenger. Theresa and Nany danced in celebration at their first time making it this far, while newbie Johnny (who was called Johnny Portland a bunch of time in this episode—did they always call him this?) couldn’t believe his luck. He went into 7 draws and managed to never pull a kill card. That’s some great rookie luck.
The Final Competitors
In the new Chilean home, the players think about their road to getting here. Laurel has been in 7 eliminations in her Challenge career and won every one of them. However, she’s haunted by her second place curse. Every single Challenge she’s been on, she’s been so close to the first place prize, only to lose in the last moments. If there’s any challenge she should win, it’s the one where being a lone wolf is a positive thing.
Nany bemoans the fact that all her friends (and Cohutta) are gone. It’s a strange statement, since she’s been seemingly closest to Theresa and Laurel these past few episodes. She also whines to Bananas that Laurel has been acting like she deserves to win. To be fair to Laurel, she’s practically the only worthwhile female competitor left, so she’s not wrong.
In the best show of sportsmanship all season, the remaining 4 guys get together in the hot tub to wish each other luck in the final. It’s too bad we can’t see the women do something similar. Characters like Bananas and CT can hate each other in the game, but when it comes down to it, it’s just a job to these guys. Maybe if the female players saw it this way, we’d have more competitors like Laurel and Emily and less who just come to party.
Draw by Fate
Although most of the remaining competitiors seem to believe that they’ve made it to the final, TJ has some bad news for them. They all have to participate in the draw once more. Before every other draw, the competitors had the chance to win their way to safety. With this new twist, their entire fates are up to chance. It’s by far the worst twist in the whole season because there’s no strategy to it. Before they could win, play the odds, or politick their way out of an elimination.
Zach and Johnny both manage to draw blank cards. Johnny’s draw luck got him to the finals with very little effort. CT and Bananas, the biggest rivals of the season (let’s just forget Jordan’s try-hard rivalry exists) were always fated to end up in an elimination together. They both have bitter challenge histories against each other. CT once humiliated Bananas in a challenge that he wasn’t even participating in by eliminating him right before the finale. Bananas eliminated CT right before the end of Rivals 1. They’ve spent much of their Challenge careers trying to ensure that they both aren’t at the end together.
For the women, Laurel and Theresa are sent into the elimination. Devyn and Nany both managed to never draw a kill card or see an elimination. Luck has really worked wonders for so many of the players this season. Ever since Theresa botched her coup against Laurel, it seemed like the two were bound to fight, but it seems like sweet justice that it’s right before the finale. Also, it’s it a weird coincidence that both Laurel and CT are in two eliminations in one episode?
The competition consists of 3 puzzles. Oof. Nothing like giving puzzles to people who have been running, lifting weights, and hardcore physical training for months right before the finale.
The battle between Laurel and Theresa is brutal. Theresa spends too much time fuddling over the first tanagram and sobbing in frustration. Laurel flies through the first puzzles with ease, but is stuck on the numbers puzzle while Theresa still tries to shove the pieces together in the first one. Eventually, Theresa manages to catch up. She thinks she has the answer to the final puzzle, but it’s wrong and the waste of time allows Laurel to finish more carefully. Laurel becomes the last girl to make it to the end. Theresa tries to congratulate her, but Laurel is too busy jumping up and down, yelling, and congratulating herself to care.
The CT and Bananas fight is much more brutal. CT is known for his puzzle prowess. He previously beat Bananas in a puzzle-heavy final in Rivals 2. Meanwhile, Bananas has been moaning about being “puzzle cursed” for weeks. However, the Ghost of Puzzles Past guides Bananas to an easy victory, sending the wildebeest home to nurture his creepy beard.
TJ tells the final group, as he does every year, that this will be the most brutal final of all time. From the preview that doesn’t seem too far off base. Unfortunately, for the competitors, they won’t be competing alone. They’ll be paired up with the opposite sex throughout the challenge. This is mostly terrible for the men, as they will each have to be paired up with Devyn at some point. They’ve joked throughout the episode that she probably won’t see the finish line, but now that means neither will one of them. The flaw in letting the girls take an easy opposition to the end is that it directly hurts the guys.
It’s a lucky break that they get to switch partners for every stop. For the first part the pairs will be Johnny/Nany, Devyn/Zach, and Bananas/Laurel. The second part will have Johnny/Laurel, Devyn/Bananas, and Zach/Nany. The last part will have Johnny/Devyn, Laurel/Zach, and Bananas/Nany. It’s unclear how this will work. If one team is thirty minutes behind another, does that mean that the team who got there first has to wait for their new partner? What a convoluted way to end a pretty cool season premise.
The first part is a kayaking race. Bananas loudly complains that he wishes he got Devyn for the first part, since all she would have to do is sit in a kayak. This seems unnecessarily cruel to say right before they set off, but at the same time it must be frustrating to know that your fate is up to a random competitor who just shows up to snark.
Unsurprisingly, the only team to have real trouble with the kayak is Zach and Devyn. They lose the current and end up rowing in circles. Zach uses all of his willpower not to yell at him, which is great character development since he made Sam’s life a living hell on Battle of the Seasons. Their kayak eventually tips over. Devyn is rescued by a raft, but the episode ends with Zach drowning. Okay, so Zach probably/definitely doesn’t die in the next episode, but it’s a terrifying cliffhanger nonetheless.