Pros (8): Scott (once again, he was hilarious; from getting tortured on Boney Island and during the challenge, from his confessional fearing the bunnies, to him running across the bridge...and yes, him and Courtney. <3); the Scott bird (I mean, come on...it's a f***ing Scott bird. XD); the episode's setting (I mean, seriously; yes, it's cartoony, ridiculous, and unrealistic...but fluffy, cute animals becoming evil and giant, monstrous animals becoming tame...priceless); Heather (her being nice was hilariously terrifying, even though I had a feeling she was faking it. And sure enough, not only was she faking it, but she was faking it for a reason. Brilliant, Heather. Brilliant.); Sierra getting tortured (from the three birds attacking her, to her commenting that the bird was using morse code, to her reaction to Cameron's fate; THAT was actually funny); Gwen (once again, she was building up to be a serious, dramatic character. But for the first time in a long time, I can safely say that she kicked MAJOR a$$. From saving Courtney's life, to defying the overwhelming taunts from her teammates just to go her own way...and then her handling of Duncan. I'll get to that later); Zoey (yes, I know people here on the Wiki just love to hate her, but I think she actually played a decent role in this episode with her constant questioning of "Mike"); the continued Scott/Courtney interaction (seriously, it's escalating now - Courtney missing him, fearing for his well-being, Scott calling her babe, her sighing despondently when he left for Boney Island again...wonderful)
Cons (3): The "elimination" (
GOSHDA**IT I F***ING HATE THESE F***ING TEAMSWAPS/FAKE ELIMINATIONS SONUVAB****...why did it have to happen this way? Why to Cameron? Why at all? The teams were even five to five, now they're six to four? Are you kidding? My only guess is this is an excuse to send Cameron home within the next few episodes while still allowing the Heroes a victory); Duncan (like, seriously? He's being incredibly stupid at this point, openly expressing his desire for Courtney again right in front of his girlfriend? Gwen's right: Tiny brain, Duncan.); Courtney continuing to doubt Gwen in such an immature way (she kissed your boyfriend? Huh. SHE SAVED YOUR LIFE, GIRL; GET THE F*** OVER IT. -__-)
Main Aspect (Neither): Once again, the Main Aspect - or Aspects, in this case - is neither a Pro nor a Con. And, once again, it's a perfect toss-up. First, obviously, the handling of the Duncan/Gwen relationship. My favorite relationship ever in the series. It's gone now.
WHY?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I'll admit, I can definitely understand why people were cheering for Gwen to do it, since Duncan's obviously acting like such a jerk in front of her...but to be honest, I'm surprised Duncan didn't act first. She complains about him caring more about Courtney than her...and yet wasn't she kinda doing the same thing in earlier episodes? She was too worried about acting lovey-dovey with Duncan in front of Courtney, and even pushed him off a cliff when he asked for a kiss...yes, I can understand her being sensitive towards Courtney, but come on. Rejecting his offer for a kiss? Something that simple? And yet she turns around and gets mad at him for caring more about Courtney? I mean, maybe it's because it's far more possible for Duncan's reasoning to be romantic, obviously, than Gwen's reasoning...but for it to end this way, with Gwen just being the one who totally exploded, while Duncan handled her similar snubbing so calmly...it's just...ugh. Poorly-handled breakup, writers. Even if we all saw it coming at some point in the season, still poorly handled. Especially for a couple that was built up and at the centerpiece of such a massive story. The second aspect is The Malevolent One. For the first time, he truly dominates the episode. Yes, he still has a bad-a$$ voice, a bad-a$$ laugh, and some bad-a$$ one-liners...but did he still really do anything? He broke someone's valuables once again (this time Cameron's glasses), he deliberately separated the team by pulling Cameron away from Sierra and Zoey...he tossed Cameron down a hill...he was about to knock Zoey off a cliff...he sent a psychotic bird after Duncan...all for what purpose? Sabotaging his own team? Um, OK? I mean, breaking people's stuff in order to mess with them one by one is one thing...it breaks down their sanity (as evident by Sierra), and makes them individually vulnerable for elimination. Sabotaging your own team in the challenge, though...I mean, I know Scott did the exact same thing in TDR, but he did it so well. And he never executed it in an over-the-top, overly-dramatic manner, he just did it, and bam; he was done. TMO is SO built up over the last few episodes with his brief moments and dark, seemingly-foreshadowing one-liners...and then he doesn't deliver when the payoff finally arrives. So much hype for a villain who's not even that fantastic. I mean, I still like him...but I'm not sure what his plan is. Although the one thing I take away from his appearance this time around is his ability to almost seamlessly imitate Mike, in hairdo and voice. That could seriously be an awesome plot device of keeping the viewers guessing as to whether or not it's actually Mike or TMO...except those small dark circles under his eyes give it away. Oh well.
SO...overall thoughts...I guess, like Evil Dread, this episode can best be summarized in one statement: Sh** went down. I mean, SERIOUSLY. Sh**. Went. DOWN. Duncan/Gwen's breakup, TMO's total takeover of Mike, Zoey finally beginning to realize what's up with Mike, Courtney/Scott finally blooming...and above all else, the challenge was INCREDIBLE. It wasn't necessarily all-out with the torture (and when it was, with characters like Scott and Sierra, it was funny as sh**), and despite the challenge being a VERY simple one (nothing more than a footrace), it was the setting itself that made the episode...running through the forest in the dead of night, knowing that the animals are extraordinarily vicious, and half of the contestants with raw meat tied to them...it kept my on the edge of my seat the entire time. Scenes like the bridge sequence were so well-done and so well-paced that you really didn't know what was gonna happen. It was almost like the action scene out of an old Saturday matinee serial, in the intensity, the drama, the elements of danger and suspense...this was an exciting episode, something we haven't seen in a long time. This was the first episode where the original 2-minute preview actually got me excited for it, and in the end, it payed off just as I thought it would. The only gripes I have with this episode are running gags from previous episodes (Sierra, Courtney, etc.), and the one thing new about this episode that I didn't like (the "elimination") is a fairly minuscule details that I'm ultimately willing to forgive.
Every season has its golden episode, and this was TDAS's golden episode. With 8 Pros and 3 Cons, this episode is a solid 10/10.