The Challenge Is Really Milking The Three-Day Finale
But when it comes to puzzle checkpoints, who's really using their coconuts in Days 1 and 2 of the final?
I'd hoped The Challenge: Invasion would end with this episode, because these finals don't tend to be all that entertaining until everything's said and done and you can go back and armchair-quarterback them. This one's fairly interesting so far, if only because the production isn't telling us much about who's in the lead thanks to time penalties and partner reshuffles. If anyone's playing along at home and keeping better track of who's where in the individual standings, holler at me in the comments.
Numbers aside, here's what went down in Days 1 and 2: after everyone straggled onto the island to solve the puzzle, Cory and Nic struggled painfully to crack the code of triangle-counting (in their defense, my mind doesn't work that way either and I don't know that I'd have ever come up with it on my own), and eventually the exhausted on-site producer grumbled, "Just...just go." After TJ clocks them for their "terrible" performance, everyone's sent back to the Underdog shelter, which is trashed, for a "Time Buster" contest that will allow the winners of a coconut-milking time trial to slap a same-sex opponent with five extra minutes. Cory and Nicole beast it, and Cory wisely saddles CT with the five minutes. Nicole is a goddamned idiot some more and picks Ashley, then expects everyone to admire how forthright she is about their not being friends when literally the only sensical play here is to try to hobble Camila.
It's the honey-no-est, but Ashley chirps in a talking-head that she hopes the "Challenge gods" will give them lots of puzzles. Said gods do, but said gods also require a partner reassignment for Day 2, which pairs Ashley and CT, Nicole and Nelson, and smashbirds Cory and Camila, and it's this that may prove the undoing of Camila that Nicole should have tried to effect with the time penalty. Cory has a rough go of it with the nasty-food checkpoint; shuts down during a ropes course; and forces Camila to waste time handling him with kid gloves so he doesn't break completely. We end the episode on a site producer pointing out that they've resolved their stack of puzzle pieces on the wrong pole, with a corresponding TH meltdown from Camila that's pret-ty enjoyable for this #neverNakagawa party boss.
Are Nelson and Ashley fixing to back into their respective first places by virtue of not sucking as much or as damagingly as others? Guess we'll see. 'Til then, your rankings!
Camila's lofty interview pronouncements about how she carried their team on the first leg aside, CT's mostly fine, though the ropes course gets the best of him and Ashley and they end up having to take the maximum penalty as an energy-conservation move. Regardless of partner, though, he's determined and not complainy, getting through the food challenge without drama and making self-deprecating comments about his "fat ass" staying up on the rope. I'm not loving his chances ATM but as always, I'm loving him.
He's not the brightest sequin on the gown, but his very earnest "these ain't Gummi worms, at all" about the silkworms he's obliged to chug at the food checkpoint cracked me up for five minutes -- and he got that done, and he and Nicole nail the ropes course in a single try, the only team to even finish. If he can maintain composure and reel off a few more strong second-place finishes, he's got a legit shot at the big money.
Sweetly encourages Nelson during the swimming, and when Camila's defensive about Ashley's performance, crabbing that she and Nelson "shit the bed on the swim," Ashley doesn't go into the predicted tailspin. Does pretty well in the challenges themselves, though I could have done without some of the TH doubting of CT.
That she plummets from snotty "I don't think CT necessarily helped me?" TH about Day 1 to a full-on weeper TH about Day 2 is pretty satisfying. She's very impatient in THes about having to wait for Cory to finish and to handle him emotionally, but she too fails to spot the wording on the checkpoint clue that specifies the rightmost post. Bet she's not the only one wishing it were individual challenges.
The triangle-puzzle biff is one thing, but going after Ashley with the time penalty is just dumb. And she could have rationalized the decision as Ashley posing a legitimate threat -- but that wasn't the rationale. She just doesn't like Ashley. And she's going to like her even less when that decision bites her in the ass. She's solid on non-puzzle segments, and her sincerely shocked "Oh Cory, no!" when Cory boots on her foot during the food checkpoint is hilarious, but...girl needs to work on her strategery big-time.
Bad at the puzzles; bad at the food challenge; bad at keeping his head in the game when he and Camila fall behind, and while he's not listening to her solution suggestions, he's not making any of his own either. And, you know, he ralphed on Nicole's kicks.
Best Reaction Shot: Informed that everyone's headed back to the shelter, Nicole tries to set Teej on fire with her mind,
but Cory's one positive contribution this week is to pretend he's peeing when he parks a coconut on top of the water-collection tank:
Best Quote: "Cory vomited on my foot. I thought we were friends." - Nicole
Sickest Burn: "I guess you're here to make friends." - Ashley, to Nicole
Crimes Against Fashion: Chunder chunks on Nicole's shoes aside, none to report.
The Wrath Of Teej: His flatline-tired "All right, that's correct" when Nicole and Cory finally finish the second Day 1 puzzle is, for this season, as close as we're probably getting to wrath.