The Grizzly Bear Is Here
FINALCUT: #12 Bear v #9 Wes
Perhaps it was just the culmination of events that led to the final scenes of episode three, but it felt like a true standout 90 minutes. War of the Worlds II is smart enough to give players two real options to betray their team: either voting someone from your squad into elimination, or jumping ship to the opposing team after winning an elimination. We got to see our first betrayal in this episode —a beautiful plan credited to Josh but, in actuality, a true scheme of the always-vicious Laurel.
The Americans, fresh off another victory ( controversial as it was) seemed to have a big-picture plan on who would face Bear in the Proving Ground. After allowing Big Brother goober Josh take the role as Speaker for the week, it was decided that the US would throw in the Brits’ best player, widely considered to be Theo. Doubts started to creep in as the American team began questioning Josh after he was non-committal on who he was going to nominate. Things got even more complicated as Wes revealed his intention of ousting Josh as soon as they didn’t need him as a number - exposing this plan to a large constituent, including a fake-sleeping and fellow Tribunal Member Laurel.
Moments later, Laurel approached Josh with the plan: vote in Wes. Josh could barely contain himself, and operation treason was underway.
There are a few problems here, and despite the outcome, they still exist for both Josh and Laurel. For starters, they fired the first shots. So far, two American victories have led to two all-UK eliminations. This didn’t stop a whole lot of apparent distrust and ego floating around the US side. Whether Josh and Laurel’s plan worked or not doesn’t really matter when it comes right down to it, other than the fact Josh seemingly beat Wes to the punch.
What is reality - it’s sure easy to put a target on the backs of the first traitors. If things don’t go so well for the Americans in the following weeks, it would be very simple to nominate one of Laurel or Josh with the simple explanation that they did not do what was best for the team. This, of course, is all despite the fact Wes has already been caught and called out for working with the enemy, and has really been a bit of a black sheep for the American team this season. If they were going to betray any American, they definitely chose the best one. While Wes traditionally makes deals with anyone not named Bananas, he really didn’t have an army or even an apparent number one (as he did with Hunter last season), meaning that even though Josh and Laurel committed treason, they didn’t really blow up anyone’s game except Wes.
Big picture: I loved this move. Sure, it doesn’t hurt that it took out a player that I have always had a distaste for (he’ll never redeem himself in my eyes after intentionally sabotaging his team during eliminations back in the day because he came into a season untrustworthy and a target - and also when he and Evelyn gloated for the entire Fresh Meat season while eagerly attempted to eliminate Mr. Beautiful, Kenny Santucci & then-rookie Laurel—which didn’t work, spoiler alert), but regardless, I love a great blindside and a classic David v Goliath story.
It also doesn’t hurt that I find Bear to be the breath of life this show desperately needs. While Turbo is a fantastic new competitor, and the crop of players is still fun and fresh, there hasn’t been a more exciting, funny, annoying yet charismatic player to walk into this house since, well…who knows? He gives absolutely zero fucks, has no problem calling out any and every person in the house and, let us not forget, he’s actually trained in between shows.
So, the move was made. Laurel called out Wes, Josh made it official. And we saw Bear all but manhandle the Challenge vet that held one of the most untouchable elimination records in history.
It certainly didn’t hurt that Wes had literally zero thought about competing when he walked into the Proving Ground. To be honest, I was surprised he wasn’t wearing slippers. Wes looked unprepared and completely caught off guard, adding to the list of small advantages Bear had on the vet.
I had moved Wes down a bit in my rankings over the last couple weeks, mainly for social reasons. His deals with the UK had come to light, and Jordan’s skepticism wasn’t doing Wes any favors. I think it’s safe to say Bear moves up this week. Coming into tonight, I think many took him for the scrawny-yet-scrappy loudmouth he was last season, but also as someone that would never run his own team, no less the entire show. While I still think Bear has a ways to go before being a cornerstone player, he made massive strides toward being a feared competitor. He called out Wes tonight and got his way, and this move will be talked about for seasons to come.
US|Jordan [Tier1] - There isn’t a more interesting player in this game right now than Jordan. He is coming in with the attitude that he is the best, and the resume to back it up. He showed up on Dirty XXX and won nearly half a million dollars with a big win, and proclaimed himself to be retired shortly thereafter. Four seasons later, we have Jordan back and seemingly better than ever. In a game full of cross-fitters and glamour muscles, Jordan is a true athlete with an absolute need to be the best. If Jordan doesn’t win this show (or at the very least, make the final), it will be a failure and a total shock.
US|Turbo [Tier1] - Turbo comes in in the same grouping as Jordan and Paulie, with the same overall style. Turbo is a natural-born athlete, with that undying need to win whatever he participates in —never more apparent than the fact he won Survivor: Turkey twice as well as coming to the Challenge and being crowned champion during his first season. Do we really see Turbo being eliminated at any given point?
US|Paulie [Tier1] - The third member of the power-three. Paulie, if you can forgive his cocky attitude and gag-worthy relationship with Cara, is nothing less than a cutthroat competitor. And, as noted above, Paulie is a true athlete. In the US, a professional soccer player doesn’t quite hold the same weight as a professional basketball, football or baseball player…but Paulie was the former and he’s the real deal. The Challenge used to be full of the Real World and Road Rules cast members that seemed to be the most athletic (well, usually), but it’s safe to say most of them were not true athletes. Now, the Challenge is picking the cream of the crop when it comes to reality TV and other worlds…and people like Paulie are members of that group of players that bring the competition level up a few pegs.
UK|Theo [Tier2] - And here is another. Theo might be considered a tier down from the top three, but not by much. We watched him finish War of the Worlds and finish second, and might be closer to being in tier 1 than tier 2, but for now I’m keeping him down a notch until we see him in an elimination. I think it will be interesting to see Theo in a headbanger with the likes of the tier 1 men or some of the bulkier guys like CT, Zach or Rogan. When it comes to running a final, I think Theo is someone you want on your side, not against you. My gut tells me to rank him lower based simply on the fact he is the Americans number one target, and I think Theo is going to see an elimination sooner than later.
UK|CT [Tier2] - How does one even rank CT? He’s a Challenge legend, certainly. He’s proven to be very effective not only in his older years, but also when he looks out of shape (hint: he looks out of shape). He’s the type of player that could get sent home next week and I wouldn’t be surprised, or could be right in the thick of another final and it wouldn’t make me bat an eye. I feel it’s odd that we still see ‘old CT’ pop up, when I feel his maturity should finally be an asset —and what’s weird is…sometimes it is. Ugh, I have a headache trying to work it out. Again, the ultimate enigma. CT. You figure it out.
UK|Kyle [Tier2] - I can say it over and over…Kyle was carried to a final in his first season, and couldn’t be less interested. Since then, he’s taken this whole Challenge thing (and getting into shape) very seriously. Kyle is much bigger than you’d think, and with some muscle on him, he actually becomes quite a threat. What he doesn’t have an ounce of is athleticism, and I think that might kill him against some of these better competitors. It’ll also be interesting to see if he ever gets a chance to jump ship, seeing as how he figures to be one of the best chances to do so.
US|Bananas [Tier2] - It’s no secret: Bananas has a terrible elimination record. Bananas hasn’t won any prize money since 29 with the whole Sarah incident (I refuse to say since he ‘stole’ her money, seeing as how he didn’t). Is it a curse? I’m gonna say no, since curses aren’t real. What is real is the fact that he won a Michael Jordan-ian amount of championships in a very short time period - and hence became enemy number one. I’ve also pointed out in my defense of Bananas that the game has changed around him. He has gone from protected and feared to the guy every newbie wants to call out in order to make a name for themselves. And in this game, the more times you step into elimination, the worse your odds are of winning the show. This could be the sleeper season for Bananas - he’s no longer Public Enemy #1, and when eyes are not on Johnny, he is able to make moves.
UK|Bear [Tier3] - I feel as though Bear has taken Paulie’s place as the cast member that gets the most hate. That’s okay. I think we watched some prime Bear tonight —from calling out Wes in front of TJ &the entire house to moments later absolutely manhandling him in the Proving Ground. Last season, Bear was a bit undersized, out-gunned physically and seemed to be there more for story and drama than competition. This season —things have changed. Bear looks ripped. He spent the entire offseason on Instagram training and learning to fight—something that seems to have followed him to the Challenge house. I want to move him higher…
US|Zach [Tier3] - After a streak of fantastic showings (starting with Champs v and what should have been a Vendettas win) Zach fell into a couple seasons of bad decision-making. A fiery partnership with Amanda essentially cost him in what appeared to be his most dominant season, and it’s sort of been a struggle since then. Being on the outs with Bananas puts him in a weird spot socially —in fact we haven’t even seen where Zach aligns this season, and it’s hard to even make an educated guess. If he truly switched loyalties to Wes (which I doubt), he’s gone. I’d love to see Zach get back to form and win another season, but I find it hard to see it this year unless he decides to jump ship and run the Brits. But is that even a possibility?
UK|Joss [Tier3] - The next two on my list definitely have each other’s back - and they have former relationships with Kayleigh & Dee that could give these guys some seriously important numbers. We’ve seen Joss excel in his time on the show, it’s time Rogan shows what he is made of —and that could be what makes or breaks this duo.
UK|Rogan [Tier3] - See above.
UK|Idris [Tier4] - True, we saw Idris win the very first elimination of the season. We’ve heard he is a fighter (literally). However, his opponent didn’t put up a killer fight and Idris hasn’t exactly been a social butterfly. Unless he makes himself an important number in an alliance, he will he picked off within weeks.
US|Leroy [Tier4] - If Leroy truly is here to play his own game, he might be able to make a new name for himself. Until that day, he is just a pawn in Johnny’s army. That will find him some success, but the odds of winning the show playing that role are slim and none.
US|Josh [Tier4] - Really disliked Josh on BB, but enjoyed him last season. I couldn’t be more impressed with his move last week (and really, it was Laurel), and I give him tons of props. That move will also put a target on his back, and give the Americans a reason to throw him in repeatedly —whether they respected the move or not.
US|Cara Maria [Tier1]