The fourth episode of “The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies” aired on September 1 and the veteran alliance that was heavily discussed in previous weeks faced its biggest test yet this week. The network described the episode, titled “Messy,” as “A notoriously controversial player whose name rhymes with ‘messy’ stirs up some drama that threatens his alliance. Kyle and Devin’s tender bromance is put to the test during the ‘Undercover Comms’ mission. Absolute hell breaks loose during the ‘Down to the Wire’ elimination.”
Warning: This article contains spoilers for the fourth episode of “The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies” which aired on September 1 at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times.
The fourth episode saw several breaks in the veteran alliance as the challenge caused a rift between Devin Walker and Kyle Christie while Fessy Shafaat fired a shot at Amber Borzotra out of fear that she would target him if given a chance. Fessy’s move meant that he is going against not only the veteran truce but the Big Brother alliance and his close friend Josh Martinez. To make matters for Fessy worse, he was unsuccessful at getting rid of Amber, who came back from elimination with Hughie Maughan as the strong rookie team of Corey Lay and Michele Fitzgerald were sent home.
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A Series of Conversations at the Beginning of the Episode Set the Tone for the Final 15 Minutes
The show starts with several conversations that foreshadow the coming storm this episode, all relating to the veteran alliance and who should be targeted next. Fessy and Josh have a conversation about Amber and Fessy shares how badly he wants to go after her. At this point, Amber has never gone against Fessy, even on “Double Agents,” so Fessy is being quite paranoid and wants to strike first.
This is interesting because Amber is paired up with Josh, so he clearly thinks Amber is going to be able to do some damage despite her partner being his closest friend. Why hasn’t Fessy taken a preventative strike against Nelson Thomas, who he betrayed even worse on “Double Agents”? At this point, Fessy’s rationale against Amber seems a bit stretched.
It also comes on the heels of Tori Deal getting talked down from firing a shot at Tula “Big T” Fazakerley last week so needless to say, the veterans are getting antsy about their truce. Amber then has a conversation with Kaycee Clark about her place in the Big Brother alliance and it’s interesting to see how little Kaycee values Amber’s presence in the alliance.
Amid this, we also see Hughie training with CT Tamburello, one of the few glimpses we’ve had of the four-time champ so far this season. “I do think he’s underrated,” CT says in his interview in another hint of what’s to come later this episode. “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
In the last of these foreshadowing conversations, Devin and Kyle talk about their bromance, “Dyle,” and who they want to target first out of the veterans when the time comes. Many of these conversations are pretty predictable and while they move the story along, they’re not exactly riveting or telling viewers anything new.
The Mission Sees the Return of Strategy-Based Challenges That Make It Nearly Impossible for an Underdog Win
The mission this week, Undercover Comms, relies on teamwork but mostly comes down to strategy and alliances which doesn’t usually make for exciting challenges. The challenges are usually a place where underdog teams can show their strengths and earn a victory, keeping themselves safe and giving them power.
However, alliance-based missions like this one make it virtually impossible for these teams to win and buck the trend. Take Corey and Michele for example. They would have had to solve the entire puzzle that sends every team plunging into the water faster than all the other teams have to solve only the first step of the puzzle.
That makes the entire mission quite predictable and unfortunately, a bit boring, as it just comes down to which veteran wins power this week. Since it’s fairly obvious that Corey and Michele will be voted into the lair, it doesn’t leave much to fight for in the mission.
Kyle Is Falling Victim to His Self-Branding as a ‘Snake’ When the ‘Biggest Snake’ Appears to Be Fessy
The biggest drama to come out of the mission is Kyle’s major mistake in pulling Devin and Emy’s lever instead of Fessy and Esther’s. That sends all the vets in a frenzy discussing how much of a snake Kyle is and puts doubts in Devin’s mind about their friendship.
Josh even goes so far as to tell Nelson and Cory Wharton, “he’s burned every single one of us here.” While Kyle loves to talk about himself in self-deprecating ways and repeatedly claims to be an untrustworthy competitor, the truth is that he’s not really backstabbed any of his friends or alliance members in the past, so he might be hurting himself more than anything by pushing the narrative that he’s a snake.
It’s also interesting that Nelson and Cory are so quick to jump on the Kyle-is-a-snake train when Fessy, who orchestrated the most brutal betrayal of Nelson in many seasons on “Double Agents,” has by all appearances gotten off without reprisals this season. Why isn’t Nelson discussing getting revenge on Fessy instead of talking about Kyle’s untrustworthiness?
We then find out in one of the most dramatic elimination scenes in a while (TJ Lavin disagrees because he hilariously pulls out his phone and tunes out of the drama) that Fessy should be the one to keep an eye on as Amber calls him out for being the “biggest snake in the house right now.” It’s now two seasons in a row that Fessy has gone against the wishes of his alliance and friends to betray someone working with him so we’ll see what Nelson and Cory have to say about this one.
“If he does this move tonight,” Josh says in his confessional, “Big Brother, that whole alliance, I’m done. It’s over. So he better make the right move.” While Josh is known for being an emotional player and might be saying that in the heat of the moment, I’m hoping he sticks by his word because I think fans would love to see the “Big Brother” alliance fail and some new power dynamics emerge.
The Elimination Saw the Sad Departure of Corey & Michele But Was the Most Entertaining Part of the Episode
The last 15 minutes of the episode are packed with drama and twists which is a refreshing shift from the slow build at the start of the episode. First, there is the major blowup between Fessy and Josh and then the elimination itself, Down to the Wire, sees Hughie and Amber face off against Corey and Michele.
The trash-talking between Hughie and Corey is both funny and mind-blowing as they seem more focused on calling each other out than competing. Hughie is understandably upset that Corey said his name as the opponent he wants. Corey and Michele end up losing and it’s a shame because they’re both strong characters and have great personalities. Corey leaves on a powerful and emotional note as he expresses his regret at calling out Hughie and his behavior during and after the elimination. It’s safe to say that he’s won over many “Challenge” fans so hopefully, we see him and Michele back on the show in the future.
Hughie and Amber winning is also a great outcome, though, because Hughie is a messy and funny character who brings drama and has pulled out some strong performances despite his fear of heights. Amber’s return is exciting because it opens the door for a good revenge story against Fessy.
Fessy’s biggest fear at the beginning of the episode was that he didn’t rank very high on Amber’s list of allies. However, due to his preemptive strike against her, now he can be 100% sure she won’t have his back and will likely actively target him. He’s also managed to ensure that she has a new partner, Devin, and not his close friend Josh who might have helped keep Amber in check. Oh, and he’s alienated Josh and now who knows how many other vets won’t trust him.
“The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies” airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times on MTV.