Pros (8): Once again, the interaction between the villains in the beginning, in the awesome setting of the winners' mansion (from Duncan and Scott's toast, to Scott, Jo, and Duncan discussing strategy, etc. ); the constant dumping on Lightning (from his vomitting, to Heather hitting him in the head with a shovel, to him being knocked into the moat of crabs...HILARIOUS); the brief return of the Boat of Losers; the return of awesome interaction between Heather and Alejandro, including the mini-plot of Alejandro's legs being asleep (which was definitely a new tactic that, although the same low-down nature of such has been seen by others in the past, is a new style for Alejandro); the continued conflict between Heather and Jo, culminating in that hilarious confrontation with Jo's foot getting crushed and Heather being knocked into the moat of crabs as well; the entire scene with the booby traps immediately after the commercial break, where practically EVERYONE got hit somehow; the dumping on Courtney, similarly to the dumping on Lightning, to compensate for her obnoxious behavior (getting hit in the butt and knocked into the pit, Gwen accidentally knocking the trash bag onto her face); the introduction of Mike's new evil personality, The Malevolent One (aside from the fact that the new personality itself is a total B-A-D-A-$-$, the entire scene leading up to it, within Mike's mind, was also really cool)
Cons (4): Sierra still being as obnoxious and Cody-obsessed as ever (she's still not doing anything to establish herself as an individual, Cody-free character); Courtney still being as obnoxious and immature as ever (case-in-point, the scene between her and Zoey, where Zoey came up with the plan, Courtney repeated it with different wording, and then when someone else pointed out that it was exactly what Zoey said, Courtney still took half-credit for it. Seriously? How immature and bratty can you get?); the dumping on Sam throughout the episode (unlike Lightning and Courtney, you actually feel more sorry for Sam than you do for the other two. That, and the fact that most of the dumping on him wasn't as well-timed or just plain funny as it was for the other two; especially the jellyfish bit and the mosquito bit. They were definitely creative and painful, but still just not quite as all-out funny. Although I will say that the bit with him having pure white skin at the beginning was pretty funny and a great way to toy around with the animation. Had they kept him that way for a bit longer, it would've been funnier); the effective retcon of the possible friendship between Duncan and Jo established by their brief, but touching, moment in the previous episode, when Duncan commented in the confessional that Jo's "annoying" (there goes that possible friendship)
Main aspect (Pros): In this episode, it's a clear toss-up for me between two different aspects. The first, once again, is the elimination. In all honesty, it was the second time in a row (and the first time the series has done so with two back-to-back eliminations) that the elimination shocked me. As much as I hate Lightning (he's my second least-favorite contestant this season, behind Courtney), and as much as I predicted that he definitely would not make it to the end (along with 5 others, those 6 all being the former finalists in this season), I honestly didn't think he'd go this early. Although I believed he would be one of the first two villains to go (since Duncan and Gwen have to stay for the Love Triangle drama, Alejandro and Heather have to stay for their relationship's development, and Scott for a number of reasons I've outlined before), I honestly thought Jo would go first before him. So once it came down to the bottom two between him and Jo, it was a genuine shock to see Jo survive. For the first time ever since Heather's elimination in TDA, it was the moment of the elimination that shocked me (rather than the bottom two in Dawn's elimination, or Lindsay's elimination in the last episode; with these two, I knew who was gone the moment the bottom two was declared). And, of course, his elimination itself, especially the fact that it was so early, all made his pompousness in this episode much more tolerable knowing that he would at least pay for it. But the second aspect is something more minor, but still worth noting in my opinion: We're seeing a transition in Scott. I loved how, in the scene between him, Duncan, Jo, and Gwen around the dinner table, he openly suggested throwing the challenge to get rid of Lightning in case he had the Invincibility Statue. For the first time, he makes it clear that he wants to throw challenges. But when Jo and Duncan point out the obvious reward they'd be sacrificing (which wasn't present in TDR), even Scott has to admit that now, it's a terrible strategy that comes at too high a cost. And, subsequently, he is actually a team player throughout this episode. When he finally does have his own villainous moment, it's not an attempt at throwing the challenge for his own team, but instead, sabotaging the other team. Unfortunately, the moment didn't last long and was ultimately unsuccessful, but it was still a nice, clever transition in one of our favorite villains in the series. Plus, the gag with the bees chasing him was also pretty funny.
So overall, my main thoughts on this episode can best be summarized by this sentence: This...is what the premiere should have been. This episode was full of much more interaction between the old and the new contestants, even if the core interactions were still the same (Courtney and Gwen, Jo and Lightning, etc.) The scene with all the booby-traps was gold, and unlike the repetitive and boring nature of the cliff-diving in the previous episode, this one was repetitive, but still funny due to the timing and the variety of the traps. It was nice to finally get a look inside the hotel and see how vast and majestic it is, as well as all the luxuries they enjoy from the butler, to the meals, to the massages. Above all else, I think it gave us a new look at not just one, but two TDR characters. Mike, of course, does have an evil personality after all. After all this time, the rumors are true. And MAN: For all the build-up to something that may have not even been true, the debut of this new evil Mike was so worth it. Just one line, one shot of the new Mike, and it was all we needed. And perfect timing, too. Because even though, as I said before, Courtney was promising to be the only interesting thing about the Hamsters, this episode proved that Courtney still being Courtney wouldn't be enough. I mean, after all, how much brattiness, obnoxiousness, and immaturity can you take from such a fish-out-of-water/villain-on-a-heroes'-team before it starts to get really old? Fortunately, evil Mike is looking VERY promising indeed. And the other, of course, is Scott, as he transitions from his usual, very questionable strategy to one that makes much more sense...all the while still being an awesome villain.
So, with 10 Pros against 4 Cons, this episode has almost single-handedly restored some of my confidence in this season, with the continued old vs. new interaction, the debut of Evil Mike, and the transition of Scott. This episode is an 8/10.