Fifth one going, fifth one going. Apparently, this will be the pattern for the rest of the season. Those of you who have been keeping up with my reviews, you probably know what I’m talking about.
The episode opens up with great jokes from each team; Cameron for the Maggots and Lightning torture for the Rats. The moment I saw that hat, I instantly knew where Mike was going. There’s also some further development with the Mike/Cameron friendship, now revealing Mike’s part of the deal in exchange for Cameron’s help: Convince Zoey to be the swing vote against Scott. Now the plot thickens.
I did, however, notice that it took an unusually long amount of time for Dakota to speak, considering that she just came back and all. And now she’s definitely the new Heather, for a very different reason. Poor girl. At least there’s a great reference to the Sam/Dakota plotline again. And then, out of nowhere, before our very eyes, a terrible, unbelievable, devastating horror: Dakota starts mutating, growing taller and getting short, spiky, green hair. I think I know where THIS is going. At least Cameron’s rebuttal was a good joke.
The plot thickens even further with the revelation of the immunity idol being found, even though it’s already obvious who’s found it. But, in a curveball that’s anything but cliché, we see yet another new friendship form: Dakota and Zoey. One-sided? Yes. But funny? Yes.
And, within two seconds, there’s yet ANOTHER new interaction: Mike vs. Scott. The moment Mike shoved Scott into the water, BAM! The hatred was there, and this is already looking to be an epic conflict.
A Kraken attacking the Rats? I’m pretty sure that’s another reference to Total Drama Comeback, am I right?
And there’s some more hilarious interaction between Scott and Fang, resulting in a clash between two mutants, with Dakota winning. Nice. And then Cameron comes in and, in yet another epic moment featuring him at his absolute highest and taking control of the team, wins the first half of the challenge for the Maggots single-handedly.
And then, just like that, we see what was originally a tight alliance and unusual friendship turn into a bitter rivalry. A clash between the two strongest and most egotistical contestants left. Who will win?
Cameo number five: Gwen. For the second time, the original contestant’s cameo is used as the center point of the challenge. Just like Lindsay, this is clearly overkill, even if seeing her reaction to being buried alive again was hilarious.
And then, just as Dakota starts talking like a simian, we see the true ugliness of the transformation. Even as a die-hard Ezekiel fan, I can safely say that I’m glad Ezekiel’s the way he is now. Compared to this, he’s more normal than Agent Smith.
Poor Gwen. Is Sam, like, the new Owen now?
“Smells like home.” Good old Scott and his redneck upbringing. And then, following such a good joke, we see a rather quick conglomerate of Scott’s character at his best. First, helping the rival team to win by drawing an arrow in the ground pointing in the right direction. Then, just as quickly as he tries to ruin his team, he works to form a stronger alliance by saving Zoey from Dakota and using his silver tongue on her. Priceless. Heather-esque. Brilliant.
Enter the swamp scene, and enter more overkill of the radioactive elements of the season. Not as nearly dramatic as it was in Runaway Model, but still not as subtle as I’d prefer.
So far, this episode has probably featured the most amount of Lightning torture yet, from the first rude awakening by Jo, to being strangled by a Kraken and beaten senseless with a sign (by Jo), and then attacked by alligators. His girly scream is hilarious, too.
And then, just as Scott resumes his old tricks and further hinders his team, he clashes with yet another new enemy for the first time: Cameron. We see the ultimate clash between Scott’s wit and Cameron’s brain, and it’s epic.
AUGH! VITO! …Oh. Thank God Cameron showed up. But that little slip was just enough to solidify Mike and Cameron’s friendship verses Scott and Zoey’s friendship. There’s a very clear divide on the Maggots now, and Dakota just might be the swing vote between it all. Assuming that she lives through the episode.
And, just like that, the challenge is won and Gwen is (quite literally) tossed aside. To be completely honest, I’m surprised at how little she was in the episode, heard from, or interacted with the new cast. Despite being the center point of the whole second part of the challenge, she wasn’t nearly as overkilled as I thought she would be, like Lindsay was. So I was, in the end, quite pleased that she wasn’t as focused on. But her moments of panic and disgust with Sam were quite hilarious, and I enjoyed all of them.
Finally, after an episode centering around Sam with no lines, he finally awakens and sees his girlfriend for the first time since his elimination. And he’s freaked out, right?
Thinking that THAT is hot? His taste in girls is definitely questionable.
And finally, after only one win in the last seven episodes, the Rats win once more. Finally, this allows for some tension on the normally superior team, and, throughout the pre-elimination scene, the viewers are left genuinely wondering who’s gonna go. Is Zoey gonna fall for Scott’s charms and vote with him, or will her love for Mike prevail and convince her to vote for Scott? And even though Scott’s possession of the immunity idol is in the back of our minds, we still have no idea who he would use it on even if he receives the most votes. It just got a lot thicker and harder with Cameron accidentally revealing Mike’s MPD to Scott, as this hinted that he would use said idol on Mike due to his MPD being such a threat. Or would he use it on Cameron due to him being too smart and able to win challenges for his team on several occasions?
In the end, sure enough, Scott does receive the most votes. But, in an even bigger and more surprising twist, it’s revealed that Zoey DID, in fact, vote with Scott instead of against him and voted for Dakota. This is far better than simply avoiding an elimination due to Zoey betraying him. Now, with Dakota gone, there’s a perfectly even two-on-two split on the Maggots. This sets up for plenty of dramatic tension, as does the now very fragile alliance between Jo and Lightning.
So, overall, this episode continued what the previous one started, and introduced several brand new interactions, such as Mike/Scott and Zoey/Dakota. It also fully continued the plotlines established by the previous episode, including the Cameron vs. Scott issue, and also delved much deeper into the Jo/Lightning plotline and greatly improvied it. Rather than continuing it as a pointless, stupid, and one-sided interaction with one constantly forgetting the other’s gender (surprisingly enough, not once did Lightning refer to Jo as a dude in this episode), it all but changes it around by turning it into a rocky frenemy relationship, if not a total conflict stemming from a fight for power. But overall, those two were clearly a minor focus in the episode. Gwen’s cameo, set up to be overkill, was anything but and was funny the entire time. A pleasant moment of low expectations that are far exceeded.
Although it’s fair enough to say that the most focus was on the Maggots, it was genuinely hard to find any focus on one particular character, or even on any one interaction in particular. The furthering of the immunity idol subplot, Cameron/Scott, Zoey/Scott, and Mike/Cameron was big, as were the introductions to Zoey/Dakota and Mike/Scott, plus the brief resurrection and (hopefully) permanent end of Sam/Dakota, as well as Dakota’s horrid transformation and destruction. What took Ezekiel half a season took Dakota one episode. The death of the old Dakota was definitely the lowest point of the episode. But, surprisingly, it was all very evenly-divided, and that’s a good thing. Although the quality of each interaction and its focus may not have been as sharp and well-written as in the previous episode, it wasn’t nearly as bland as it was in Ice Ice Baby. Although we saw the return of a frenzy of mutants, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed most of those moments. The Kraken attackin’, Dakota fighting the alligators, and the smaller gators attacking Lightning all genuinely had me laughing rather than disgusted. But, overall, I felt that the overall challenge itself was kinda lacking in action and edge-of-your-seat moments that the previous one was rich on. This one was also simple, but even simpler, and just didn’t have the same level of danger and intensity as the previous episode’s challenge. I guess the even division of screentime/focus and fair quality of the episode’s interactions, both old and new, was enough to do that lack of action justice. The elimination, ultimately, was rather unexpected (mostly because of that 30-second-long pre-elimination scene), and was the perfect way to finally reveal the immunity idol after half a season of being built up. The episode also ends with one of the strongest and most well-set-up cliffhangers yet: A team that was on top of its game finally losing, and with a perfect divide between its four members. This is probably the first time in the series that I can recall an episode that not only continued plotlines foreshadowed by the previous episode, but also continued to foreshadow even more, brand new plotlines in the next episode. In the end, the destruction of Dakota and the lack of action in the overall challenge were the two major detriments to an otherwise good episode, so I give it a 9/10.