Man, the penultimate episode of Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Cutthroat really got me worked up. I’d like to say I laughed and I cried, but really I just got nervous and angry. As you may or may not remember, the last episode ended on a cliffhanger. After revealing that instead of facing each other, the Gulagers would actually have to face off against black-clad vets CT and Tina. We saw Theresa actually drag Tina to her barrel in a little under 14 minutes and win and ended with CT and Johnny tied back to back with Johnny looking terrified and CT looking hungry. This episode picks up right there and boy was it a doozy. Once the horn blew, CT struggled for about a second and unlike everyone else we’ve seen play this game actually stood up and carried Johnny like a back pack across over to the barrel. But CT didn’t just knock the barrel over, he spun and fell, letting Johnny hit the barrel and cushion our winner’s fall. It. Was. Epic. And I’m not the only one who thinks that. The interview reactions and real life ones after the Gulag were over were priceless as everyone talked about how crazy of a moment that was. Did I mention that whole thing took 19 seconds?That left Tori to go up against Tina. Remember that Tori was basically talking about throwing the Gulag in the last episode and looked like she was about to poop herself when she heard she had to go up against Tina. Even with that in mind, Tori ALSO beat Tina, dragging her across the mud and knocking her barrel over, but in less time than it took Theresa so Tori came out with the unexpected victory. I wasn’t too happy with this outcome because Tori was practically quitting earlier that day and now came back with a win. She’s also super annoying and Brad has been a punk because of her all season (more on that in a bit). Also, I was hoping Tina would be a little more of a threat and clearly she wasn’t worth the wait. Meanwhile, Tyler had it pretty easy because he only had to outlast Johnny’s paltry 19 seconds, which he did. It even looked like he might have been able to put up a better fight, but they called the game once he surpassed Johnny. Fun fact courtesy of Tyler: Johnny has never won a Challenge that they’ve both been on. Very interesting. Also note that Blue now only has three people: Derrick, Emily and Jenn. Like I said, back at the house the initial talk (that we’re privy to) is all about how handily CT beat Johnny. All that’s put to a stop when Sarah busts in with a text about the next challenge which is, itself interrupted by Abe and Cara Maria jumping out to scare everyone dressed in face paint. Anyway, after the usual vague hint we get into the real conspiratorial shit. We start off with the three remaining Blue players talking about making a deal with Laurel and Sarah because Jenn knows they have a mad on for Cara Maria. Their idea is to team up with Gray to beat Red (who has five players: Brad, Tori, Paula, Dunbar and Tyler) and then arrange to have Blue win so Laurel and Sarah can scheme to throw CM into the Gulag. Blue’s looking for safety from the Gulag which is smart, but this really doesn’t help Gray unless you’re crazy and spiteful, which, luckily for Blue Sarah and Laurel are. Blue brings Sarah into their room and lays it down for them, she seems to be down with it and then tells Laurel who likes the idea. I’m sorry, I can’t help but say, once again, how stupid and vindictive of an idea this is. Not only does throwing a challenge lose you $20,000, but it also brings down the number of players on your team for the final, which is a complete mystery to everyone. They seem to be thinking that fewer people to get across the finish line will help them, but also that it will allow them a larger chunk of the winnings. But, here’s another way to think about it, not only are you throwing the 20K from the challenge away, but you might also be sacrificing your place in final. You’ll feel pretty damn stupid if you come in third in the finale with fewer good people on your team. I also mentioned earlier that this scheming will be seen by current and future Challengers which will paint these dimwits in a very poor light. You’re also sowing seeds of dissension and hatred WITHIN YOUR TEAM, THE PEOPLE WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO HELP YOU MAKE MONEY. And my final piece of outrage revolves around the fact that they’re assuming the final Gulag will follow the rules set up previously in the season, but that is almost never the case. Remember, this is the show that started off by making the last people to win a footrace the team captains who got to chose the teams. Anything can happen. Okay, I’m good for now, but I reserve the right to come back to this topic. All of which brings us to the actual challenge which is called Riot Act. You’ve basically got contestants wielding riot shields trying to knock opposite team members off of a raised square of dirt into a mud moat with women going against woman and men against men. Whichever team has the last remaining player on the dirt wins. If one team wins the men and another wins for the women, the two strongest people from each of the winning teams is chosen and have to go one on one to see who takes home the victory. The women are up first and it wasn’t particularly exciting. As it turned out this was the perfect challenge for Blue and Gray to work together against Red and that’s exactly what happened. Jenn and Emily from Blue and Laurel and Sarah from Gray immediately targeted Paula and Tori which resulted in Tori getting a bloody nose and FREAKING OUT (as did Brad, but I can relate, I’d be freaked out if something like that happened to the missus on our next reality show competition). Anyway, that just left Paula from Red and these geniuses decided the best way to get her was to attack from all sides which essentially squishes her, but doesn’t get her anywhere closer to the edge. Finally she gets knocked off leaving just Blue and Gray which immediately reveals that Laurel isn’t trying because she’s literally just standing there and watching. Abe starts yelling from the side that if she doesn’t start performing, she’s going in. I can’t quite see what Sarah’s doing at this moment, but she soon gets knocked off which leaves enemies Cara Maria and Laurel against Emily who’s actually a threat and free ride-enjoying Jenn. The missus said she could see Laurel’s insanely competitive nature warring with her insane hatred of CM and Abe. Competition won out and soon, CM and Laurel knocked first Emily and finally Jenn off the mound. The odd thing is that this breaking of the pitiful alliance is never mentioned again on the episode by Blue. The men were a different story because Red had the same number of players as Gray and Blue put together. Surprisingly Abe got knocked off first. The problem was that every time a non-Red got a Red close to the edge, another Red would swoop in and knock the non-Red off the mound. Surprisingly smart on their part. Luke was next off which left Derrick against Dunbar, Brad and Tyler. Man, D got pretty beat up (looked like he went through a dull woodchipper when we saw him later) and of course he lost, but he took Tyler with him which is pretty rad. Since Red won for men and Gray won for women, they had to choose their champions which wound up being Abe (who volunteered) and Brad who, frankly, hasn’t done anything this season. It was a hard fought battle, but at the end Abe basically just backed Brad up to the edge and then took his legs out before doing a flip into the mud himself. On the bus ride back to the house, Abe asks Laurel and Sarah if they tried to throw and Sarah will not answer. I’m not sure why Sarah has gotten so mouthy recently, though I’m guessing it’s because she slacked her way to the final, keeping Laurel as the figurehead of bitchiness on their team and not really having to do anything. At the victory dinner, Luke says very much the same thing to Sarah, which I thought was awesome. Anyway, on the bus, Laurel fires back at Abe that this might not be the best time to make her mad. Seriously? Isn’t that what you’ve been doing to the majority of your team? It’s been pretty obvious to everyone that Luke’s on Abe and CM’s side dummy. The Gray victory dinner is very tense and eventually leads to words between CM and Laurel at the table and again later by themselves. Laurel tells CM she doesn’t think she deserves to be there and that makes her nervous, also saying that she helped make CM money on the previous challenge. Remember, she was teamed with Abe on that challenge and was also planning to throw it. This is going to be a very interesting reunion episode. Anyway, nothing is resolved and the end result is that Laurel and Sarah are not making things nice for their team before the opportunity to make huge piles of money together. Meanwhile, Red and Blue don’t get a chance to deliberate and have to go right into voting. I need to rewind a bit actually. On the bus ride back, Paula saw Dunbar being chummy with Brad and Tori which set a warning flare off in her tiny, easily fooled brain. Apparently she thought she was going to be safe all the way through to the final, especially after Tori revealed that she didn’t really know if she wanted to be there. She confronts her teammates about this on the bus, but of course is an emotional mess and just comes off as crazy. So, when it comes to voting, things get all over the place for that team with everyone getting votes. For Blue, it’s obvious that Derrick, the last Blue man (hehe) will be going in so the real question is who will be the female? Turns out it’s Emily who has already gone into the Gulag and won while Jenn has done jack shit this whole time. She even volunteered herself. Ugh. Stupid rook. Over on Red, Tyler gets sent in again and so does Paula. Neither of these were very surprising as a viewer, but Paula is outraged because Dunbar wrote her a note saying that he’d had her back all the way through. She even says she thought she’d have a ride all the way in. Seriously? You’re on a team with a married couple one of which is your fellow surviving female. Do you not understand that two people coming home each with their own piece of the pie puts two pieces of pie into their shared bank account instead of one? Duh. After the voting we get bitch and moan time, but only from Red and Gray. Blue seems cool with their choices in life (maybe it’s because Emily thought she’d have a better chance of beating either of the Red women or Tina and would then return to her team while Jenn might not be able to do the same). On Red Paula continues to freak out on Dunbar, going so far as to actually post the note he wrote her on the refrigerator for all to read (which Derrick does) while Brad talks a good game upstairs to Dunbar and Tori about how she should have known this was a business trip. I feel bad for Paula getting screwed over again especially by yet another person she thought of as a friend (Dunbar claims he wrote the letter because she was being annoying which I doubt), but this girl is really stupid and needs to learn her lesson on one of these things. There’s also a moment of tension between Tyler and Brad where Tyler explains that he voted for Brad because Brad had yet to go in, but Brad gives Tyler shit for not volunteering to go up against Abe in the challenge. Really, Brad has played this whole game like a punk hiding behind his wife’s legs. He blamed her for him not throwing himself into the Gulag earlier, but I’m wondering if the whole Tori/Brad dynamic has been played up for the cameras. Tyler says that he’s not afraid to go into the Gulag like Brad is, which was pretty awesome and then tells the camera that he’s playing the game like a man and that his teammates are boys. Can’t disagree with that as neither Brad hasn’t really proven himself and Dunbar proved himself to be shady. Shouldn’t be surprising considering he was kind of a psycho on his RW season. There’s a few more tidbits from before the Gulag. Paula tells Emily that she should take it easy on her in the Gulag because Emily has more Challenges in her than Paula does. You’re not just whistling “Dixie” there, sister. But, like Emily says, it’s really just pathetic. We also get another moment of Laurel and Sarah bitching to each other when Abe walks in. Abe tells us in an interview that he’s actually happy having people on his team who think that other members don’t deserve to be there because he thinks it will make them compete harder. He throws in some jabs about making sure that CM doesn’t beat either of the schemers and also says he wouldn’t be surprised if he has to carry Sarah across the finish line. As if he wrote the scene himself, Abe walks away with the girls even more fired up. Well played. All of which brings us to a glimpse of what the final Gulag will be which is called Pole Me Over and sent Ty home on a stretcher. Fade to black.
I’m left with many questions, but also a few peeks at the finale. I’m pretty sure that part of the final challenge involves the teammates having to carry each other on medical-looking stretchers, but it also looks like a Gray female players gets rolled off on a stretcher with the medical guy we saw looking at Tori in this episode in the shot. I’m wondering if it’s Sarah because we also see her vomiting in the clip (thanks MTV). How beautifully karmic would it be if Sarah lost her team the final because she turned out to be an untested punk? Alas, that’s not the only question I’m left with, There’s more! Was Tori faking last episode with worrying about the finale? If so she certainly duped me. Lulling Paula into a false sense of security could have been a genius move, but I just don’t know if Tori’s that good of an actress. That would also take a lot of forethought on Brad and Tori’s part because there’s whole scenes of them worrying about whether she’ll compete in the Gulag or not and then she turned out to kill it. I’m also wondering if CT and Tina will return for the final Gulag. I freaking hope so. If the producers really teased them all season just for one episode, that’s pretty damn cheap. I’d also be completely down with them showing up in the final. Aside from that I’m just curious to see how these final teams work together. As the missus pointed out, Blue could end up being just Jenn which would make things interesting, especially because she hasn’t done much all season. While I’m sad to see the end of the one show I’ve been looking forward to all season, I’m also really excited to see what happens. I can’t believe this thing has only been 9 episodes so far!