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One of The Challenge's biggest charms (out of its thousand thousand charms) is how ramshackle its titular challenges can be. Whereas Survivor employs a baker's dozen genius puzzle masters and hundreds of hunky Australian carpenters who spend upwards of three months building a single maze, it sometimes feels like The Challenge's competitions were brainstormed in about four minutes and assembled in ten. "Uh, we've got a bunch of straps, maybe the players can just sort of, uh, dangle for a while?" "Sounds great. But will it look interesting on camera?" "Have them do it in their underwear." "Done. Somebody wheel in T.J."

The Challenge does not need fancy equipment nor genius puzzles and that is because the entire SERIES is genius. Take this week's competition in the video above. It is legit just nylon straps and unmentionables and it is GOOD TV.

This was another fantastic episode in a truly great season (so far), if only because the underwear-only "big sadistic sex swing" at its core wasn't even the best part about it. No, the best part may have been the gang's impromptu funeral for Devyn's wig, Tamara. (Devyn's fake histrionics alone made me laugh very hard.) Again, part of the entertainment value in these people being longtime friends outside of the show is how easy it is for them to slip into comedy bits even when they're experiencing hellish stress. There's really no vibe like it on any other reality show.

Or maybe the episode's best plotline was The Ballad of Nany and Cohutta. It would take an epic poem to truly relay all the beauty and pain contained in this lurid tale of heartache, but the gist was that Nany loves bad boys, struggled to resist the charms of good-guy Cohutta by straight-up fucking Johnny in the next room while Cohutta slept, and then Nany was driven crazy with regret after Cohutta didn't seem to mind too much. (Though he did clarify that "'If you were 30% less pretty than you are right now I'd never put up with this shit.") Tennessee Williams himself couldn't have written a more complicated odyssey of the heart, nor ever dreamed of such thick Southern accents.

The final duels yielded no surprises but were undeniably thrilling. Cohutta drew the kill-card against Preston, and seeing as Cohutta could probably fit in Preston's front pocket it seemed like their brute-strength bell ringing contest was pretty evenly matched! Alas, it wasn't. Cohutta's just too scrappy. Bye, Preston! Meanwhile Laurel drew the kill-card against Aneesa and the editing suggested this would be Laurel's shocking downfall. But after a surprisingly close showdown, Laurel triumphed over Aneesa and bid her an ice-cold, robotic farewell. But this episode required no huge upsets in the end, it was already great enough.

I say this every week, maybe even every day, both out loud and to myself, but... God bless The Challenge.

[Video via MTV]

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