Tuesday night’s (April 11) “The Challenge: Invasion” reminded us of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” — specifically, the now-infamous episode in which Oprah gave her audience the ultimate surprise, yelling to everyone, “You get a car! And you get a car! And YOU get a car!”
Except here, it was host TJ Lavin saying “You go home! And you go home! And you go home!” MTV was not kidding when they said this episode would be a “bloodbath.” The fat has been cut — and best/worst of all, there’s still one more contestant going home before the final elimination round.
It all starts with a no-winner challenge. Split into groups of men and women, the Underdogs had to to finish a Sudoku puzzle. The last one to finish immediately goes home, the three left standing all head to the Fortress for elimination. If you’ve been wondering why there hasn’t been a Drive challenge yet this season, watching all these contestants try to finish a Sudoku puzzle gives you all the reasons why.
Hunter can’t even explain the rules to camera, which makes sense because he just stands there, staring at the board in utter confusion. He’s either waiting for a miracle to happen, in which all the numbered sandbags magically find their correct spot, or for somebody to come help him. Neither will happen. Hunter is all brawn and no brains. None.
To his side we find Nelson, complaining that he needs to “take some math classes” — which is funny, considering solving a Sudoku puzzle involves no math whatsoever. The numbers could be pictures and it would still be just as difficult. There’s no adding, subtracting or multiplying involved — so if that’s what Nelson is doing as he stares at the puzzle board, he’s not going to be solving anything either. This could be a stalemate.
“Today was pitiful,” TJ says, speaking everyone’s thoughts. Nelson finally figures out the puzzle — but poor, poor Hunter! He couldn’t move the pieces around enough to even ask for a puzzle check. And so, he is the first Underdog to exit during this ongoing bloodbath.
For the Underdog women, it’s Jenna that’s sent packing, and it’s not an easy farewell. The Barbie Beast has never not made it to the finals. After having to deal with cheating ex-boyfriend Zach returning to the show, we really wanted to see her get sweet revenge by winning the “Challenge” title this season. But while she’s a fierce and strong competitor, solving puzzles, as for many, will forever be her Achilles heel.
But the bloodbath is far from over. Everyone left standing must now enter the Fortress to earn the spot to stay.
The women are on deck first: Amanda, Ashley, and Nicole are all tied together with ropes and must use their body strength against one another to ring the bell outside the circle. The three girls push as hard as they can, and after an hour — this really is a brutal test of their endurance — tears are running down their faces. They are all in so much pain — but no one is giving up. And if this challenge is ever going to end, someone has to figure out a different strategy to get to that bell.
With a shift of direction, and a stroke of luck, Ashley is the first to ring the bell. Amanda is taken out, sent home by Nicole in the next round. It’s an ugly battle to watch, and you can tell the men are seeing this all go down with a sinking feeling… But when they take their positions in the center of the Fortress and TJ rings the start buzzer, the first round is over in about 30 seconds. After seeing the women sweat out their blood and tears during this challenge for over an hour, and then Nelson rings the bell so easily, it’s obvious something’s up.
Turns out, Nelson and real-life homie Cory had a plan to take out Shane… But Nelson clearly backed out of said plan in order to secure himself the win. He played his friend dirty, and Cory is pissed. Underdog superstar Shane, however, sees this betrayal as an opportunity to seal a win without even having to play the second round. Shane dramatically goes on and on about what a scumbag Nelson is, how he’s always been the most untrustworthy person in the house…
And like a mouse booking it toward a block of cheese, Cory takes the bait. Each of Shane’s comments works like a dagger to Cory’s heart and before you know it, Cory and Nelson are going at it.
By “Challenge” rules, fighting outside of competition is not allowed — but there are no explicit definitions as to what forces MTV to send contestant home. We’ve seen a girl punch another roommate on “The Real World” and neither were forced to pack their bags until yet another fight broke between the two. But last season on “The Challenge,” both Camila and Tony were forced to leave after a mere verbal altercation. So, while none of this make sense from the edit we see, and without any firm precedent, it’s unclear whether Cory or Nelson, or both, will be thrown out after this scuffle.
Which means we’re all just going to have to wait until next week to see if Shane’s master plan worked out after all.
“The Challenge:Invasion” airs on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.