“The Challenge: Battle of the Seasons” recap (1.12): Operation Desert Scorn

The final episode of The Challenge: Battle of the Seasons is upon us. This means that, regardless of the outcome, Sam will finally be liberated from Frank’s constant smack talk and general douchery, so she wins no matter what.

We start where we left off in Episode 11. Brooklyn, San Diego, and half of team Vegas jump out of planes and parachute into the Namib Desert. Then everyone is instructed to run to a checkpoint. Immediately, Zach and Frank start yelling at Sam to speed up, but Sam tires quickly.

“I am not an endurance runner,” she tells us. “Sorry.”

“Sam is running like a platypus at this point,” says Frank. “Seriously, what are you doing?”

Brooklyn’s Devyn also struggles, and she complains that she cannot feel her feet. Vegas passes San Diego briefly, but at the checkpoint, Vegas and San Diego are neck and neck.

Next is the Mind Field challenge. The teams must assemble numbered rocks that add up to 15 in each direction. Frank tells us that he is the smartest person in the entire cast, but he cannot perform under pressure. That’s like saying you’re the best player in the NBA, but you can’t pass, dribble or shoot during game time. Nice try, Frank. You basically said that you are useless.

As San Diego struggles to perform basic arithmetic, Vegas implodes, with Trishelle and Dustin tossing rocks around like five year olds. Brooklyn catches up and finishes the puzzle in record time, leaving the two former frontrunners breathing in their dust.

San Diego finishes next and boards a helicopter to the next challenge, which is a modified game of horseshoe. Players must throw a ring onto a hook. Each time there is a miss, a player must take a shot of warm camel’s milk. San Diego catches up to Brooklyn, because as a whole, San Diego is more physically fit. But since the actual smartest person in the cast, Sarah, is on team Brooklyn, Brooklyn finishes the challenge first.

Then San Diego pulls ahead again on the run. Despite San Diego being in the lead, Frank starts yelling at Sam again and forces her to run ahead of the other team members. Sam tells us that she is running, not walking, so she doesn’t understand what the problem is. Ashley recognizes that Frank – and Zach – are bullying Sam, but she says that on this particular day – where $250,000 is waiting at the end of the trail, Sam should just brush it off.

The next challenge requires the teams to build a contraption to carry eight heavy tires to the next checkpoint. Brainy Brooklyn finishes the challenge first, building a device that allows the tires to roll easily behind them. Seeing Brooklyn pull ahead, Frank and Zach decide to suck it up and carry the tires on their backs. The Frank/Zach mobile is a lot faster than the Brooklyn chariot of tires, and San Diego pulls ahead again.

At some point, Brooklyn realizes that they have been carrying an extra tire the entire time. “We’re supposed to be the smart team!” says an exasperated Devyn. As Brooklyn disassembles their device, Vegas passes them.

San Diego reaches the next leg of the challenge first, and much to Ashley’s dismay, all she sees is an expanse of dunes. Sam is also unimpressed.

“Can’t we do something that doesn’t have to do with running?” asks Sam, to no one in particular.

The final checkpoint of the day is a tent, where all team members but one must guard a camel all night. One person on each team can take turns napping. Sam on San Diego is elected to be the one who can sleep first, probably because Zach and Frank want to talk smack about her for a couple of hours. “You suck,” says Frank to Zach about Sam, as Sam snores by the fire. I don’t know how San Diego got as far as they did this season without someone on the team actually being strangled to death.

Since San Diego is in first place, they get a 10 minute head start in the morning. Actually, eleven minutes, because Devyn stepped out of the camel guarding boundary overnight, giving both San Diego and Vegas an extra minute lead. Vegas is in second, so they are allowed to start five minutes after San Diego. Then Brooklyn is finally allowed out of the gates.

The next challenge requires the teams to find words in a sea of words and use the next word over to decode the key to unlocking a lock. As usual, San Diego struggles in the mental challenges, because Frank is useless, and the other three rival him in the realm of uselessness. The eleven minute head start helps, though, and they manage to retain their lead.

On the way to the next challenge, Sam decides to tune out the rest of her teammates, who continue to berate her. “I’m over it,” she says, and mentally flips off the other three. As they curse and scream at her, Sam just trots through the run at her own merry pace, listening to the imaginary disco beats in her head, because at this point, honey badger don’t care. Honey badger don’t give a shit.

Vegas is trailing San Diego, and Brooklyn, hindered by an increasingly disinterested and fatigued Devyn, is still in third.

Again, even though San Diego is in the lead, this doesn’t stop Frank from continuing to treat Sam like dogshit. “Having Sam on your team is like having a 145 pound slab of fat stuck to your side. It’s like a tumor. It sucks,” says Frank, whose performance on the mental challenges thus far has been nonexistent – so why is this guy allowed to speak? Oh, because it is reality TV, where stupidity and narcissistic behavior is rewarded.

Finally, Frank shoves Sam into the sand, and oooh gurl. That is not OK.

“No man ever puts his hands on a woman. Yell, scream all you want, but don’t physically abuse me,” says Sam.

“Acting like that is not OK,” says a disgusted Ashley.

Earlier in the episode, Sam complained that she was sinking in the sand, and Zach replied that everyone was sinking. Can’t Frank just continue sinking and disappear?

Sam decides to set aside any conflicts until after the race. She says that the only thing on her mind is going home to her girlfriend – with money. In the last few hundred feet, San Diego pulls together – or rather, shuts their collective pieholes for a few seconds – and tumble into the final flag for the $250,000.

Says Ashley, “You can be very dysfunctional, but you can still win!”

After a few minutes, Frank has the audacity to tell Sam that the way he pushed her was worth it, but Sam has an ounce of self respect and returns his comment with stink eye.

“The things Frank and Zach said to me will be there forever, and the only thing on my mind is, ‘Fuck you,’” says Sam.

Frank at this point is given even more air time, and he tells everyone that he pretty much owned the house, as a montage of his meltdowns and jackassery scrolls across the screen. Third place finishers Brooklyn find it insulting that a team led by bullies and psychopaths has run off with the jackpot.

Says JD, “They were the most malicious people in the house, but unfortunately, the nice guys don’t always win.”

So what do you think? Did San Diego deserve to win? Was Brooklyn robbed? Should San Diego pitch in a portion of their winnings to commit Frank to a mental institution? What should Sam do with all her money?

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