There comes the point in every season of The Challenge that the show's dynamic turns on its head.
That happened on The Challenge: All Stars Season 1 Episode 4, and I did not expect it to happen so soon.
The Life Saver twist was always going to come with some caveats, but it’s hard to believe they are as far-reaching as they actually are.
Mark was one of the pivotal people in the development of The Challenge: All Stars, so he knew he was opening up a can of worms by using the Life Saver, but he’s also more in touch with what the fans want than the other contestants.
We love the gameplay of old when people are thrown to the wolves when they least expect it.
His connection with both Katie and Beth burned bright, but it seems he’s much closer to Katie than I first realized, but in hindsight, he probably should have thought through using the power more thoroughly.
Mark learned a massive lesson by offering so many people safety, one that he will bring back with him in future seasons should Paramount+ pull the trigger on future seasons.
Arissa quickly blossomed into one of my favorite competitors, but I think she was too pure for what the show had to offer these days.
She wanted to play a clean, honest game that would push her to her limit, but when it got down to it, she couldn’t put aside the fact that Mark and some of the other contestants threw her into the elimination.
Mark was understandably livid with his decision, and while it gave us good TV, you could tell Arissa was unable to make sense of what she deemed a betrayal.
What would have elevated the surprise vote would have been to have TJ tell everyone to remain quiet and only utter the name of the person they wanted to vote for. Deliberating is fun, but when people have formed alliances, it would have landed much better if the contestants were not allowed to have some last-minute conversation about what to do.
The Challenge, as a whole, excels when the players are put on the spot, with the rug pulled from under them, and the elimination could have been so much more cutthroat had there been some genuine stakes.
In Mark’s defense, he has a history with both Katie and Beth, so saving one of them with the aim of not losing either of them was probably the best move for his game.
The vote did expose some new rivalries amongst some of the other players, which is a good thing for viewers at home.
Kendall’s killer performance during the daily competition should have made everyone scared of her. She’s already won an elimination and is dominating on a level that some of the female competitors could only dream of living up to.
Granted, she did get drunk on power on The Challenge: All Stars Season 1 Episode 3, but she’s also trying to navigate the politics of a game that has changed drastically over the years.
Jisella was one of my immediate favorites on the series, but she needs to master the art of not showing her cards. Her comments about Kendall being a captain heading into the daily were a bit much.
They did show that she had a group of people she would be loyal to until the end of the game, but now that makes her and those people a target.
Will that come back to haunt her? Well, this is a show in which everyone uses your every move against you when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, so yep, she’s in trouble.
Arissa walking away from the elimination, hurling f-bombs, and sticking her middle fingers up at people was not how I expected the final part of the episode to play out, but it might be one of the best in the history of the series.
The fact of the matter is that Katie deserved to be in the elimination. Yes, she’s worried about hitting her face again, but she literally jamp off the ledge, and TJ didn’t give her schtick for it.
TJ’s reaction to Arissa’s exit was iconic. He hates when people waste their spot in the game, but it was clear Arissa felt slighted by everyone who voted for her, as well as Mark.
We can probably rule her out of future seasons, but wouldn’t it have been fun to see her channel all of that rage into knocking Beth out of the competition?
My head spun when she asked TJ if she could box Beth. Like, what the heck? But it showed her passion and upset at the way everyone treated her.
With five episodes remaining, we must be getting some double or triple eliminations in the coming episodes. Then again, I wouldn’t put it past the producers purging five-person teams or something more sinister before we reach the finale.
The thing that continues to set this spinoff apart from the regular series is the pace of it all. Everything moves along so quickly that you don’t get time to absorb it.
For some shows, it works, and it’s working well for this one.
What are your thoughts on Queen Arissa’s memorable exit?
Do you think she blames Mark, or do you think she understood what happened was up to chance?
What are your thoughts on Jisela showing her cards so soon?
Hit the comments.
Catch new episodes of The Challenge: All Stars every Thursday only on Paramount+.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.