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Finally, at five, the streak was broken. To be honest, I’m kind of relieved that this recap wasn’t interrupted in any way.

The moment I saw that bird, I knew some radioactive/mutated monster joke would come in. Sure enough, I was right. That right there is the newest cliché of the series, folks.

At long last, the merge is here. Things just got a whole lot interesting. Usually, there’s some major opening scene of interaction/development before Chris actually gets to announcing the merge, but this time around, it cuts right to the chase. A bit abrupt, but I liked that.

“From now on, it’s every man, woman, and Cameron for himself!” I’m not even gonna comment.

The moment he declared that he had a built a monument to himself, I knew that he would call it “Mount Chrismore.” Score another point for me.

I must say, though, the entire opening scene featured Chris at his best in many ways. Obviously, he’s full of himself with the new Mount Chrismore. Then, he’s doing what he does best by torturing the campers with the destruction of their stuff, followed by a brief bit of ego with yet another “McLean-Brand this” added in there. And then, at the end of the scene, he gets hurt. All three things that we love the most about Chris combined into one, and it worked pretty well.

So far, Jo has actually been pretty decent in the episode. Venting her strategy in the confessional and acting like a true strategist and antagonist rather than just an anti-hero. She’s improving somewhat, but not dramatically.

The Mike/Scott interaction was pretty well done. It sets up for the next big plot of the season (Scott knowing about Mike’s MPD) with plenty of wit thrown in there and a good sample of each of their respective brands of humor (Cameron’s line of “strict aspiring Dr./Patient confidentiality” and Scott calling Cameron “bubbles”).

Great. I knew it was bound to happen eventually. Arguably the most overrated member of the original cast, Duncan, returns. Chris even clearly states that he did it just to give Duncan more camera time, which is totally breaking the fourth wall in more ways than one. Let’s just hope that this isn’t overkill. But that’s like hoping you won’t get burned if you stick your hand in a fire.

After more than half a season of Chef being nearly silent, we not only hear him speak again, but we’re set up for another major Chef-related plotline: The fact that the final six must go into Chef’s kitchen to retrieve their keys. This has been done once before; let’s see if the second verse is as good as the first.

And the Mike/Scott conflict that was initially revealed in the previous episode just got a whole lot bigger with Scott’s revelation. The plot thickens…again. And also, in my honest opinion, that was Chester’s best moment right there.

The first revelation of the cockroach – when it attacked Jo – actually made me laugh. Then it happened to Cameron. Then Mike. Then Zoey. Then Mike again. It became a running gag throughout the one scene that was done just right, so that, even though each moment was pretty much the same, it was still so sudden and funny that it never got old. And beyond that, the scene was perfectly alternating between the cockroach gag and the Scott/Mike/Zoey plotline, which got better and better with every bantering moment between Scott and Mike.

“Pleasure doing blackmail with ya!” Love it.

Although the kitchen scene didn’t feature Chef in it while they were searching, it still resulted in some of the best Chris/Chef banter yet, culminating in another definitive joke about the frenemy relationship between Chris and Chef. However, there was still hope for Chef in this episode when it was revealed that they had to steal the go-karts. However, unfortunately, it more or less wasn’t Chef himself. Hiring an army of laser squirrels to do the dirty work just didn’t seem like Chef, but it was still funny enough to make up for it.

Cameron’s line about the nuts was priceless. That was definitely one of the bolder jokes of the season, and even of the whole series. And that’s followed up by torture to my two least favorite remaining contestants, and Chef. And THAT was followed up by the ultimate torture for the two of them, with Chef laughing his most epic laugh in seasons.

It was surprising to see Zoey do so well in a challenge after being just mediocre for so long. It shows that she’s much more competent than we all thought, and that she may be a force to be reckoned with in solo challenges.

Through torturing my other least favorite, Jo gains more respect with me. I absolutely loved the way she hung Lightning out to dry, followed by yet another epic laugh. And Lightning only fails even harder by throwing Scott under the bus.

It was obvious enough that the dead Chris talking weirdly on the GPS wasn’t normal, but I mostly thought that it was just Chris messing around. Then it was revealed to be Chef, followed by an epic and ominous line, and yet another amazing laugh. If THIS fails to meet my expectations, then nothing can.

The earlier bit where Cameron failed at tagging something quickly turned into an epic win when it was finally revealed what he was drawing. A priceless moment combining a historical reference with a rare moment of Cameron’s ego. Leave it to Jo to ruin it.

And finally, after a whole episode building up the Scott/Mike/Zoey plotline, it culminates in an epic three-way confrontation, with Scott at his best (bringing out Vito and tricking him with a mention of Anne Maria) and worst (hitting Zoey with a paint can), and the moment that would surely destroy the Mike/Zoey relationship for good. This is all gonna come crashing down by the end of the episode now; no two ways around it.

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear that smells like…TESTOSTERONE! No!”

“Take that coach! Sha-baaam!”

Despite being exchanged between two of my least faves, both lines were totally hilarious, and the way Lightning sang that “sha-bam” made it his most epic “sha-“ moment yet.

I loved the Zoey/Cameron moment, followed by another Cameron win (spraying the pi sign into the totem pole).

I never thought I’d see Scott display true brawn, but he sure did when he knocked Vito out like that. The moment I saw that club, I was shocked, and then ecstatic to see Vito get what he deserves. This is then followed by one of the most unusual, most pivotal, and most epic unrealistic/breaking-of-the-fourth-wall moments in Total Drama history: Mike defeating his other personalities in his subconscious. But on a very peculiar side note, I’m reaching out to all readers of this blog: Did anyone else notice that little Mike silhouette appear over his left shoulder right after he said “This brain is under new management”?

Eh. Whatever. Moving on.

I know that several others (CD) are going to be overjoyed at this news, but I must admit that Lightning’s defiling of Chris’s face was probably his most epic moment yet. And, in consolation for me, he’s infuriated with the knowledge that he won’t be voting someone off after all. So it works out for all of us.

And just when I thought the number of least faves being good couldn’t get any better; the moment Duncan destroyed Mount Chrismore, my respect for him went up a few notches. And this episode is certainly the best episode yet in the “epic laughs” department.

And finally, the elimination ceremony. Once again, it is Scott who controls the elimination. However, unlike the previous ceremony, it was ultimately too obvious who he would choose. Sure enough, it was Mike. And, in true Total Drama style, he was eliminated right before he could kiss the girl. Classic.

So, overall, this episode was clearly dominated by one overarching plot: Scott, Mike, and Zoey. But, surprisingly enough, it wasn’t overkilled. Not only was it an enjoyable plot, but it was repeatedly alternating back and forth between other minor plots (Jo and Lightning, and Chef getting revenge for his stuff being touched) and running gags (the cockroach bit and Cameron’s graffiti win). It was an enjoyable plot that made the episode. And, of course, the elimination of Mike closes the book on so many major plotlines of this season, which Mike was at the center of: His relationship with Zoey, his love triangle with him, Zoey, and Anne Maria, his conflict with Scott, his friendship with Cameron, and, of course, his MPD. But it was done in such a way that most of these plotlines were ultimately resolved by the end of the episode in a manner that wasn’t rushed. While some of these (the love triangle) had already technically ended, most of them were developed at a casual pace and resolved within this episode. Despite Mike being one of my top faves, in the end, I was satisfied with his place in the competition and how surprisingly well he handled his elimination (not as well as Brick, but still pretty good). And even though none of the others are nearly as interesting as Mike, I still expect that we’ll see some good stories and development from the final five in the future, and this also gives some of the more minor plots (such as Jo/Lightning, Cameron/Scott, and Zoey/Scott) a chance to step into the spotlight.

Also, this episode featured a true first for me: I found myself genuinely enjoying every single contestant left in the game. Whether it was Scott at his best (blackmailing and eliminating Mike, hindering Zoey, and taunting Cameron), Cameron being Cameron, Zoey being surprisingly good at the challenge, Jo torturing and betraying Lightning, Lightning with his one-liners and brief funny moments (in which, for the first time ever, I did not laugh at out of sympathy due to them being so pathetic, but I laughed because they were actually hilarious), or Mike finally overcoming his personalities and settling his relationship with Zoey once and for all, I found that every single character had a great or funny moment, or did/said something memorable in this episode, and it was impossible to find any one character who was overkilled, under-focused, or just plain silent/in-the-background.

The cameo, despite featuring one of the most overrated and overkilled characters of the previous cast, was actually really good. Yet another one that sets up to be overkill but isn’t, like Gwen. He was barely even referred to in the episode, and didn’t appear until the very end. And when he did appear, I actually enjoyed his moment rather than gagged at it. Another score for the good cameos.

This episode also featured Chef at his absolute best. At long last, after eight episodes of no speaking at all, or maybe just having one or two lines, he finally dominates an episode with that brand of tough humor, sensitivity to what’s his, and his frustration with the way Chris treats him and his form of payback. The title of the episode definitely lived up to its expectations; this was a rare Chef episode.

My main thoughts toward this episode was that it was perhaps the biggest and best episode yet in terms of resolving storylines, which, once again, was done just right so that it didn’t seem too fast or awkward. The challenge, although fast-paced and enjoyable in its own right, surprisingly, wasn’t the main reason this episode was so fun to watch. It was the stories, the development, the interaction, and the resolutions. It wasn’t the kind of episode that you’re crazy about because of the action or the physical comedy, like Backstabbers Ahoy or A Mine Is a Terrible Thing to Waste. But rather, this episode’s brilliance is a much more subtle and meaningful kind. The true appreciation for the episode is at the end, when you look back and see what was ended here rather than what’s happening right at that particular moment. Perhaps the amount of focus/screentime wasn’t evenly divided for every single plot like it was in Finders Creepers, but it was still done well enough so that each plot got its fair share of development and focus. 10/10.

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