The Challenge: Free Agents Episode 5 Recap
The fifth episode of The Challenge: Free Agents doesn’t waste any time. Within a minute after the opening sequence, we’re already watching this week’s challenge take place. As a format, Free Agents is turning out to be everything I ever wanted it to be – fast paced, ruthless, and skill-based. Political deliberation and drama still take up a sizeable chunk of screen time, but of The Challenge seasons I’ve seen, this is the one that spends the most time actually dealing with, well, challenges. This is an especially great treat, since the challenges on Free Agents have been so delightfully difficult for our intrepid contestants.
Their fifth challenge, “piggyback,” has the house split itself into two teams of 10, which are selected by captains. They are then tasked with crossing from one platform to another using ten ropes. The trick is that you can’t just swing across in order, instead, the first person has to stay on their rope and act as a human bridge for the next contestant, who has to stay on the second rope and act as a human bridge for the third person, and so on and so forth. Once the contestants have filled the ropes, the first person can then begin to cross to the other side. The teams:
The teams split heavily along lines of experience, with Camila drafting most of the established veterans and Johnny scooping up most of the younger talent. It somehow feels fitting then that Johnny’s team is selected to go first – a big disadvantage in a two-team challenge. They get cranking pretty quickly, but predictably, Devyn isn’t able to hold herself up for very long. After confiding in us that she “doesn’t do pull ups” she plummets into the water below, almost taking Leroy with her.
Jessica is the next casualty, slowly slipping down the rope and stretching her body between three ropes in a vain hope that her teammates will save her. Laurel (who is on the other team, watching from the sideline) starts trying to coach Leroy on how to save her, but is silenced by CT. Laurel has gone soft. Good thing she’s still the strongest girl in the house, so she can back up such counterproductive benevolence.
In a truly embarrassing display Swift falls next. His hands slip down to the base of the rope and he hangs there for a brief time, flailing his legs and desperately trying to pull himself up enough to plant his feet. He fails, of course, and brings Johnny’s team their third disqualified player. Soon after Theresa joins her fallen comrades in the drink. In Isaac’s words, Johnny’s team is “dropping like flies.”
But then, a ray of hope. Zach manages to complete the course, setting himself safely on the second platform. He is soon followed by Cara Maria and Johnny. Jonna falls in the scramble, leaving only Jordan and Leroy left on the ropes. Leroy manages to swing across and complete the course, but Jordan slips, is unable to recover, and falls into the water JUST before reaching the other platform. It continues his rather unimpressive run this season, but I do have to say, all these challenges really seem like they would be difficult to do with ONLY ONE HAND. Still, there’s no score-handicap in the challenge. DQ’d is DQ’d, and Johnny’s team ends its run with only four of its ten players across.
Camila’s team is feeling pretty confident entering the challenge. Since they’re going second they’ve had time to formulate a system, and come out of the gate rapid fire, getting their team spread amongst the ropes in seemingly no time at all. However, despite their superior strategy, the cracks in their team start to show. Aneesa, who I will say once again is too old to be considered a good competitor, finds her feet slipping from under her, and Nany falls simultaneously, knocking two members out of the competition.
And then dear viewers, we were treated to something truly special: another episode of the hit new series, The Redemption of Preston. Preston’s feet slip off of the rope, an event that has been a death sentence for every other contestant. Don’t tell Preston the odds though, because he sheds his gloves, grabs the rope, and pulls himself back up into a decent position. I believe in miracles.
Then, just after Preston saves himself, when I don’t think things can get much better, Bananas arms give out, and he is saved only by the grace of CT. This salvation is short lived though, because it takes him almost no time to fall again, this time almost dragging Preston into the water with him. We actually get to watch Preston, the man who is always picked last, tell Bananas, an established Challenge champion, that he needs to give up or he’ll fuck things up even worse than they are. Everyone is excited to see Bananas fall. It’s the most celebrated fall of either team.
Cohutta is the first player on Camila’s team to make it across, followed closely by Laurel. Unfortunately for them, the streak stops there, and none other than team captain Camila is the next to fall. This blow sounds the death knell, as CT and Jasmine lose their grips in quick succession. This leaves Camila’s team with only three members across – and only one remaining on the ropes: Preston.
The remaining three team members manage to pull Preston across, leaving the tally of surviving players at four on each team. Unfortunately, footage reveals that Preston did not touch the last two ropes with both hands, a stated rule that results in his disqualification. Team Johnny wins, meaning Cara Maria will finally be out of the draw.
This challenge is a disturbing portent of things to come on the challenge. We watched Aneesa, Bananas, CT, and Camila all fail in this challenge. These are the core veterans, and players who, prior to the show, I would have identified as among the strongest competitors on The Challenge. However, it appears that age is catching up with them. I believe that a shift in the balance of power within The Challenge is imminent, as plenty of younger competitors continue to perform admirably.