The Challenge: Cutthroat Episode 8 “Back With A Vengeance”

I would have bet cold hard cash after seeing the previous episode of (deep breath) The Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Cutthroat which ran not last week but the previous week, that this week’s was going to end with a To Be Continued. Not only are they low on players, starting with five on each team this episode, which significantly lowers the amount of drama (in theory, but we’ll get to that soon enough), but also they teased that this episode would finally see the reveal of CT and Tina as characters dressed in black. Well, unfortunately, I was right about the TBC, but way off on the drama which took up more of the episode than either the challenge or the portion of the Gulag we saw and was, frankly both more interesting and annoying. Let’s deal with the drama first.

The episode really focused on Gray’s Laurel and Sarah and their utter stupidity and vindictiveness. If you haven’t been paying much attention or, like me, had trouble remembering some of the details thanks to there not being a new episode last week, Laurel thinks that her teammate Cara Maria is worthless even though they’ve been performing at about the same level. Laurel thinks that CM is worthless and is only still around because she has a thing going with Abe. As Abe has stated several times and says once again in this episode to his teammates Cara Maria and Luke, he knowsLaurel’s a good competitor, but he just hasn’t seen her live up to the hype. Sarah has glommed onto Laurel. I think this is because she’s still in love with Kenny and Laurel was Kenny’s partner on the previous Challenge, plus Laurel thinks she’s playing the game like Kenny, but instead she’s being a bitch to everyone, nice to one person who holds no sway and is not performing up to her potential. Oh, she also has a tendency to be a real bitch and just go off and people who have done and said nothing to her. She’s kind of a female Ty. Okay, enough catching up. Last episode, Laurel got voted into the Gulag by her team and she won, knocking out Red’s Camilla who got sent in and won a number of times before that and was, without a doubt their strongest remaining female. Instead of seeing her win as a way of proving herself to her team, Laurel’s now fueled by anger and revenge instead of the real reason they’re all there: TO WIN MONEY. Over and over Laurel says she doesn’t want to share money with Cara Maria and has basically become obsessed with it. Sarah has jumped on this bandwagon because, aside from the reasons I mentioned above, she also doesn’t want to get sent home. With Laurel hating CM and the rest of her team disliking Laurel for being loud and awful, that leaves her in the clear, especially with only one challenge left after this one before the finale. So, these two tactical geniuses decide they’re going to throw the challenge, thinking, somehow that they will be able to throw it but still outperform Cara Maria. If that makes sense to any logical person, I’d love you to explain it to me. I’m also not sure where they think the magical third vote for CM would come from. She’s certainly not going to vote for herself, neither is Abe. They think they can sway Luke, but he and Cara Maria are pretty tight. The girls also go on about not wanting to share money with their nemesis, but the teams win $20,000 every challenge they win and throwing a challenge would take that much out of their bank account. Abe walks into the room while they’re scheming (yes, they were having this conversation while sharing a blanky on a couch in the main room of the house). He says he’s keeping an eye on them. The other bit of drama comes from Red and revolves around Tori and Brad. Do note that Tori has mostly coasted through this season, not really performing well and not having her name voted much because she’s Brad’s wife. Also, some-friggin-how, Paula is still around. Man, they’re so lucky they had Camilla around to throw in for so long. Brad reveals this episode that he actually wanted to go into the Gulag earlier on in the season, but Tori told him not to. Brad’s playing the game super careful basically because he wants to keep things okay with his wife after the game is over because marriage generally lasts longer than a Challenge, just ask Melinda (ouch, low blow). There’s lots of awkward bickering between them but it gets far more interesting and infuriating after the challenge. Oh, real quick, the night before the challenge, Derrick had a dream that Tyler sent him home in the Gulag. That will be interesting later on, though not for the obvious reason. The challenge was called High Ball and it’s somewhat hard to describe. Luckily there’s pictures. See, two people have to hold that metal contraption which is, as TJ Lavin mentioned, shaped kind of like a martini glass, while a third has to throw a ball on the flat top part. Once the ball is on the top part, the two players have to walk the contraption up the hill without dropping the ball and then sink the ball in a large basket. Before the challenge began, both Laurel and Sarah talked about throwing it. Abe didn’t say anything about being on to them, but he immediately paired himself with Laurel as carriers. So, after all that big talk about throwing the challenge, once she’s in the moment, Laurel says she’s too much of a competitor, can’t throw it and wants to win. The game kicks off and all the teams have a hard time just getting the ball on the top part, forget about taking steps. Then, some of the pairs started getting into a groove, but none moreso than Laurel and Abe who scored the first basket. Derrick and Johnny got one themselves, so it seemed like there might actually be some competition. Not so. Gray kept racking up points. Meanwhile, Johnny and Derrick, had a a good method, but kept rushing and dropping balls. Red wasn’t an issue whatsoever, they might as well not have even shown up. Gray wound up getting four baskets just before the 90 minute timeframe was up. So, big time celebration right? Well, kind of. Abe was super happy, but Laurel yelled at him for throwing her into the Gulag with Sarah chiming in too like a bully’s crony. Good sportsmanship. She acted the same way at the victory dinner and wouldn’t even speak to Abe. The end of this story for this episode is that Laurel’s still all butt-hurt and brings up the idea of throwing the next (last) challenge to Sarah who seems enthusiastic about the idea. Hey, ladies, there’s no way Luke is going to vote for his GOOD FRIEND Cara Maria. These broads make my head hurt with their stupidity and they’re really just making things worse and worse for themselves when it comes to future Challenges. Who’s every going to trust them again? Get ready to get thrown in every time until you lose. Also, Gray has twice as much money in their accounts as the other teams, so don’t worry about the money, worry about winning. Enough of them, let’s get back to the losers. In a surprise move both teams had people offering themselves up to the Gulag for both men and women. For Blue it’s Johnny (I was shocked) and Theresa (probably would have been voted in anyway). Over on Red Tyler threw himself in, later explaining to Abe that his team is so afraid of everything and that he wants to show them they don’t have to be such pansies (my word, not his). Almost as shocking as Johnny’s self offering was Tori’s. Brad confirmed with her that she in fact wanted him to vote for her and she said yes. So those wound up being the people voted in, unanimous on all counts. This is when things get frustrating on Red because Tori basically tells Brad she’s not a good runner, has no stamina and doesn’t want him to lose because of her which means she wants to quit like a punkass. The worst part is that, at least as far as we’re shown, she never tells Brad what she’s going to do. Actually, that’s not the worst part, that would be the fact that she could have lied down and died in an earlier episode to save a better player like Camilla, this making her team more viable and helping to ensure that her husband would make more money in the finale. I get that she wanted to stick around to be a voice of positivity for Brad, but this reeks of poor game playing. She clearly just wanted a free vacation with her hubby where she could travel, stay protected, have some fun and not do any work.

Okay, so a few funny bits before we get to the craziness of the Gulag. Remember me mentioning Derrick’s dream? Well, as it turns out, it’s not Derrick vs. Tyler, but Johnny vs. Tyler. I’m hoping it’s prophetic because I don’t like seeing Johnny win. Another humorous note is that after the voting, Johnny says there’s bad blood between him and Tyler because Tyler sent Johnny home in an end-of-episode challenge once and Johnny schemed to get Tyler sent home on another. Soon after Tyler’s talking to someone and says that everyone in the house hates Johnny, but he’s got no problem with him.

Chuckles aside, let’s get down to brass tacks. Our heroes and villains file into the Gulag, with the competitors in their battle garb. TJ Lavin announces that the game is Back Up Off Me, which we haven’t seen since the second episode. By the way, it’s so lame that they’re reusing Gulag challenges. Anyway, this one involves being tied back to back to each another, dragging the other person across a bunch of dirt and knocking over a barrel. Whoever does so wins. Pretty simple, really. But then TJ throws in the twist, saying that the challenge will still be the same, but they won’t be facing one another. That’s when two shadowy figures come out of the darkness like slashers and reveal themselves to be CT and Tina, two characters we’ve been waiting to see since the first friggin promos for this show were released. Cut to commercial. Back from the break (well played MTV) TJ reveals that the contestants will be facing off against these guys and that whoever does the best (either winning or lasting the longest) will go back to their team. TJ straight-up says that he thinks these two could take out all four challengers. Tori completely agrees as we can all see by the terrified look on her face. Seriously it looked like someone killed her puppy right in front of her and she just didn’t know how to respond. I wish MTV would have posted a picture of that instead of three freaking team shots (two of which I used for filler). Anyway, TJ flipped a coin with Red and Blue on both sides, whoever won got to choose whether they’d go first or not. The ladies had first call, Tori won the toss and had to look to Brad for her answer which was clearly: let Theresa go first. This girl has no business within four countries of a Challenge. Tyler won the toss for the guys and immediately voted for Johnny to go first, telling the camera that he didn’t have any strategy, but just wanted to delay a potentially brutal beating. I picture CT carrying him around like Chewbacca carried the dismantled C-3PO around Cloud City. We get a little bit of info from CT and Tina before the match. Tina just says that she’s not there for money or prizes, but for pride which I don’t entirely believe. CT says, and I quote, “I don’t even know what’s going on, they just let me out of my cage and I haven’t eaten yet.”

Of course, I was keeping my eye on the clock as this information was slowly given to us and just knew that the three most dreaded words in television were going to “grace” my screen, it was really just a matter of time. I thought they might end before the first Gulag challenge started, which was between Theresa and Tina. The missus and I both expected Tina to just carry Theresa over to her barrel, but that was not in the cards. It was a down and dirty fight with Theresa dragging Tina across the mud and kicking over her barrel, getting the victory. I didn’t catch how much time she did it in, but if Tori even competes, which I doubt, I don’t think she stands a chance. I give Theresa a lot of credit for not pooping her pants at the site of Tina like Tori did, though I’m guessing it’s because she had no idea who the elderstateswoman was. Then it was up to the first round of guys. We get a shot of Johnny and CT sitting back to back and then, bam, the words. To Be Continued. .

It’s hard to throw too much more commentary in here without knowing how this Gulag ends and without knowing how much of a role Tina and CT will play in the the last challenge and then the finale. I can’t imagine the producers would bring them in for just one episode. At one point, the missus hypothesized that the black clad newbies might actually take the places of whoever they defeated. That would have been rad, but it doesn’t look like that will be the case. I do hope they will be able to somehow compete in the finale and take some money from a few of these scrubs. We shall see. All I really care about is CT sending Johnny home. I will say that there’s no other show that I look forward to more than Cutthroat and I haven’t been this sucked in by a cliffhanger since Lost went off the air, so good on them and I probably need some help.



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