The Challenge: USA was full of questionable decisions, but the hottest debate surrounds Angela’s decision to kinda-quit in the final. She chose not to compete in the overnight portion because she had to do the task solo, and accepted that she’d finish last and get last-place points.
The following day, this was viewed as essentially quitting, and she was booted from the final. But was this fair?
It’s a complex question. I’ll be honest: I knew the spoilers before the final, but I merely knew Angela was disqualified, and the fact that she was solo played a role in this. I didn’t know all the facts.
There are some details that are left out of the episode, but have later emerged online (assuming Tyson is telling the truth). For example, Angela did reveal that she had less dirt than the opposing duos, but she had two-thirds of the dirt, not half. And production stopped the competition in the middle of the night.
But these things didn’t impact Angela because she resigned to last place very quickly. Other teams kept chipping away while Angela slept. When Angela decided to stop, she made her intentions known. She told everyone she was accepting last place and went off to bed. No one stopped her, and she got no warning, but this announcement would be her downfall.
We also see Sarah and Cayla complaining about Angela’s choice, and their frustrations are totally justified. No one wants to move the dirt, but they have partners who are depending on their support, so they stayed in the rain shoveling dirt. On the flip side, they did get some rest. Angela wasn’t afforded that luxury right away because she didn’t have a male partner. Her options were to rest and make no progress or wheelbarrow dirt with no possibility of resting.
We watched Justine time out in the decoding stage, and Sarah would later time out at the first puzzle. Angela had no reason to believe her situation would be any different, but it is true that she didn’t try. So TJ called this quitting.
Why This Decision Could Be Fair
Angela didn’t try and chose to sleep instead of work. All girls had a solo stage, and Angela was the fourth girl to compete individually. So, she had to know this was coming, but she assumed the outcome of her actions based on prior incidents and didn’t seem to account for the fact that her lack of effort would differentiate her decision.
Why This Decision Might Not Be Fair
Angela was allowed to spend the night in the tent with no warning of the DQ, and she made her intentions clear. While there’s always a possibility that she could have changed her mind, if she was going to get a DQ, at least offer her the chance to get out of the cold and sleep in a real bed. The fact that she wasn’t offered to leave indicates that production accepted the possibility that she could resume the competition — then production ended the game early. So, they took away her option to resume competing.
There’s also the fact that she was solo. Yes, all girls had to compete in solo stages, but not all stages are created equal. Desi would have loved to do the first stage individually, but the algorithm forced her to work with Enzo. Meanwhile, no one wants to wheelbarrow dirt without a partner because it compromises rest time.
The worst thing —making her intentions clear may have been Angela’s undoing. If she had just gone to bed, it would have been reasonable to assume she was taking a rest at first (like every other girl did), then resuming the competition (like every other girl). If Angela just went to bed, then production ended the competition, she probably would have been safe. Instead, she admitted she was opting out and production used that information to create some drama.
Was It Fair?
Not really, but you could argue that Angela elected to quit, and that wouldn’t be entirely baseless. The show is called The Challenge, and Angela clearly chose the easy road here, though her opportunity was a result of last-minute attempts to accommodate Ben’s DQ. Angela just got burned worse than the other girls.
Tyson talks a lot about production making up rules as they go. It seems like this was likely in Angela’s case, and it created a frustrating moment for viewers. If she was given a fair warning, this disqualification wouldn’t live in the gray zone, but she wasn’t given the warning. This leaves viewers to make up their own minds, and production might have wanted to create a controversial moment.
But viewers can probably agree on a few things. Angela was put in a very hard position based on formatting issues with Ben’s DQ — not based on her merits. Also, Desi was definitely screwed, and the female competition could have been a lot better.