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Knot So Fast With Those Assumptions About Who's Going Into The Challenge's Final

And thanks to an episode 'packed' with whiny nostalgia and interminable rules-and-prizing monologues, who knows when we'll even get to said final.

Despite the editors' best efforts to drag it out with heroic slo-mo and a sad testicle on the soundtrack, CT has Darrell's number in the rope-knotting Fortress, tying his ropes too tightly for Darrell to solve and winning handily. I love CT, but it still sucks to see Darrell go -- not least because he's typically classy about it, immediately marching over to shake CT's hand.

Then Teej announces that all four remaining Underdogs will compete in the final. Cool! That means the final starts now, right? ...Wrong. First there's drinking; metric tonnes of self-pity from Nicole (misses Laurel) and Ashley (misses creating drama); a relocation to a private resort; and a well-meaning and sweet but verrrrry long interlude in which the final six take part in a traditional Thai ceremony meant to let go of the past and create good vibes for the future. It takes place on the anniversary of Diem Brown's death, though, so we spend a lot of talking-head time with CT and Camila and on flashbacks to Diem herself. That part's fine; I liked her. But you can't do that and oblige TJ to explain the rules of the final, and the prize money, at such laborious length, like, let's just get on with it.

And with a few minutes to go, we do: the teams are done with for the final (the Challengers will sometimes compete as shuffled-up pairs, and on their own at the very end), which will last three days and which Teej describes as the most grueling he's seen. First up: swim to a far-off island, solve a puzzle, get a key, row back, and solve another puzzle. We leave the kids with Cory bitching about how his partner, Nicole, sucks at swimming AND braingames while Nelson is busily drowning at the back of the pack...which is kind of the first sucky thing he does all episode?

How'd everyone do this week?

  1. CT
    I mean...

    I can't be the first to notice he kind of looks like thin hot Elvis sometimes, can I? He beasts the Fortress; he talks Ashley down by telling her to focus on the money (while wearing a raspberry-colored sleep mask on his head, hee); he is adorably still touched by Diem and inspired by having known her.

  2. Darrell
    He had a decent strategy to beat CT, actually -- making the web big and wrapping it around the bars, "'cause he's a big dude and hopefully he'll get tired" -- but unfortunately CT's to beat him was better. Disappointed to leave, but has perspective and is a gentleman.
  3. Nelson
    Okay, "not having nobody [you're sweet on in the game] makes you stronger" is kind of dumb, but at least he's trying to be a comforting friend to Nicole, and he's also really smart about how he steps to Ashley when she goes into her paranoid tailspin: "What's your point, that you're not the center of attention? ... Put all the cameras on Ashley. Are we done?"
    Preeeeetty much. I mean, "maybe he's not as dumb as he looks" is a low bar, but at least he clears it this week for once?
  4. Nicole
    Surprisingly emotional about Laurel's departure. Well set up to win if the majority of the puzzles happen early on.
  5. Camila
    No real objection, and she's sweetly sad about Diem, but her snotty tone in THes continues to annoy me and I hope she finishes last. And it's not her fault the illusion-top trend is back

    but she doesn't have to encourage it.

  6. Ashley
    Look, we've all fallen into the coming-off-the-drunk-high trough of late-night self-pity; most of us didn't have to do it on-camera. But as Nelson rightly noted, Ashley can't breathe if she's not doing it on-camera, and since everyone including Ashley knows it's not going to go anywhere, it's just tiresome.
  7. Cory
    "Darrell, you gotta do a lotta figuring out." Oh, word? ...Shut up, Cory.

MVP: Diem. [Viking salute]

LVP: Whatever associate marketing VP decided this is a "prize":

Best Reaction Shot: Between Fortress rounds, CT takes a pit stop in the rope hammock he made for Darrell to solve, and TJ is delighted by it.

Best Quote: "Dad'll still whip your ass." – CT's post-victory TH.

Sickest Burn: "How do you work as a manager at a strip club and you can't pop a bottle of champagne?" – Nicole re: Nelson.

Crimes Against Fashion:

The Wrath Of Teej: Admiring of everyone's accomplishments and sad to see Darrell out, but unwrathful.

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