The Challenge Pluto Rewind: The Island Episode 7 — Winners & Losers

Brian Batty
12 min readJan 21, 2022


Welcome to a fresh edition of Pluto Rewind!!! This edition is an episode of the much maligned season of The Island titled “Down to the Wire”. Inside this episode: We learn about insect affection, Colie has never seen an episode of First Look, we discover the key to happiness, and much much more…..

Winner: Future

This the first instance of the word key being said out loud, but I can promise you with the highest level of sincerity that it will not be the last. Which makes sense, considering having one of these keys (I will never hear or say that word the same for the rest of my life by the time this episode is done) is the key (lol) to being able to win the cash at the end, but they take it to another level. Together, let’s find out how high the Key Kount can get. I’ll be sure to check back in every once in awhile.

Loser: Johnny Bananas

This is kind of cheating because it’s from the “Previously On” portion of the episode, but I just cannot stop staring at his outfit.

Camo shorts, Under Armor armband (I had a friend that, no joke, right around this time (2007ish) would wear an armband like that out to parties. We have pictures of it and everything. I haven’t stopped making fun of him for it since. I’m gonna see him next weekend, and I’ll be sure to bring it up.), yellow bandana (bandana is almost banana and I subconsciously typed it out twice before I finally got it right) UNDER a fedora.

He looks like an unnamed member of the Traveling Symphony that never wanted to leave the airport but protested in silence, as usual.

Loser: Dan

Tough look. Ryan could have just said Johnny or Kenny, but instead he said both. When you know you’re the worst looking guy in the room, you never want it to actually be said out loud.

Winner: Ryan’s Nipple Rings

Winner: The Sun

Just a bunch of super sun burnt dudes hangin out shirtless, nbd.

Loser: Dunbar

I mean. Just look at that faux hawk. Unreal. I could only dream of doing something like that and being that cool in public. Hold on, wait a minute. Sixteen year old me just texted current me to remind me I styled me hair the exact same way Junior year of high school.

Am I….am I Dunbar?

I guess we all got a little bit of Dunbar in us…Phrasing. You know what? I’m bailing on this one, you guys stay if you want.

Winner: That Bug

So let’s move completely beyond the fact that Evelyn is sitting away from the group, sober, at a table petting a tiny bug…Do bugs like to be pet? Do all animals like to be pet? But I feel like its a hair thing, though, right? If that’s the case do bugs pet each other? Does Evelyn know that bugs like to be pet, or did she just go for it? If so, how often does Evelyn pet bugs? Is this something she does at home as well? Or did she pick it up being stranded on an island with a bunch of people she doesn’t really like (and they don’t really seem to like her either, for what it’s worth) competing for enough money to buy like eight college textbooks?

So many questions. And I’ll never know the answer to any of them. I guess I could just Google them, or even stalk Evelyn and break into her house and ask her while she’s eating breakfast. But both of those solutions are just so complicated, ya know?

Winner: Self Awareness

No shit. You’re telling me the girl who was just petting a bug has been a social outcast before? You know what they say, sometimes real life really is stranger than fiction.

Winner: Sponsorship

Right now Kenny is like that scene in Scary Movie 3 where the cops hat keeps getting bigger every time you see her, but with adding Under Armor sweatbands. He looks like Ricky Bobby’s Nascar car.

Is that right? Is it called a Nascar car? Or would it just be referred to as a Nascar. Is Nascar an acronym? What do they call their cars? I mean other than a racecar. And just like racecar, this entire paragraph is exactly the same forwards and backwards.

What were we talking about again? Oh that’s right, Lost. I always thought Ben Linus got a bad rap. Sure he killed his dad and ordered the murders of countless others, but I ultimately he always had a point. Roger Linus was an asshole, as were most of the Dharma Initiative. Like, we get it, Namaste. Enough already with the namaste you pretentious hippies.

Winner: How Long 20,000 Miles Really Is

Proooovvvveeee iiiittttttt

Loser: Normalcy

Imagine if they flew by with one of these supply airdrops and they just threw a dead body over the side.

No? Nobody else wants to imagine that? Moving on.

Loser: Survival Essentials

Nothings more exciting than getting a video camera in your survival kit while you’re surrounded by a production crew holding giant video cameras.

Winner: Whichever Angel Just Got Their Wings

When Challengers say Challenge catchphrases it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Winner: Rick Ross

Key Kount Kupdate: We’re at 55 times the word ‘key’ has been used, and we’re not even halfway done with the episode. During a short, barely forty second conversation between Paula, Colie, and Johnny, Colie put up a real tour de force with roughly twenty of those fifty-five all on her own. Impressive stuff.

Loser: First Look

Finally Colie and I have something in common. I also slowly chant this before I go to bed. Nightmares still come though. Those will never stop. The piercing screams of that Shell gas station clerk named Elanor that I stabbed and murdered on September 14th, 2011 in Williamsburg, Kentucky will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Winner: Everything One Could Seemingly Accomplish In 45 Minutes

45 minutes? Think of how long 45 minutes actually is. That’s an absurd amount of time. What could they even talk about for 45 minutes? This entire episode isn’t even 45 minutes. Hypothetically, if they did take their entire allotted time, would TJ just go stand around and wait for them? Do they give him a magazine or something?

Loser: Noah’s Girlfriend

That’s the part they left out of the story of Noah’s Ark. His relationship with his girlfriend Elanor was completely railroaded by this damn boat project he was working on. Also, guess who had to clean up all the animal shit while the giraffes and squirrels and what not waited around for ole Sea Captain over there to build the damn boat? Let’s just say he needed a lot more than 45 minutes to build it. Elanor never got a single ounce of credit.

Somebody should re-write that thing. You know there’s also not a single mention of cell phones in the Bible either? Obviously that’s something they overlooked at the publishers office. And don’t get me started on these big publishers, lemme tell ya…What were we talking about again? Lost?

Winner: Older People At Dinner Parties In Like 2017

There was a bit of a break from all the key talk in the middle of this episode for a short interlude of casual misogyny. Real high level 2008 type stuff. A lot of hot takes and generic tweets made by Russian bots to stir up division were flying from every which direction, including Paula saying that “girl muscles can’t tie these knots” and Colie saying “girls can do anything if not better than boys can”. But by far my favorite one of all was Derrick with the piping hot, hilarious honesty.

He’s not wrong. The coalition of Colie, Robin, and Jenn with two n’s is not exactly the troika that I would ever choose to build a boat I’m trying to sail away on to win a bunch of money. But the truth is, I wouldn’t even sail on a boat that me and my friends built. Who knows how to build a boat? Even with the Ikea instructions, building a desk is kind of hard. Who’s to say I’d build something sail-able?

And before you get all high and mighty, ask yourself when the last time you built a boat was. I’ll be sure to hurry up and wait, Ahab.

Winner: Clear and Concise Thoughts

Kenny, you gotta be a little more clear. I’m not really sure whether he wants Robin on his boat or not. It’s a real bummer this episode aired 14 years ago. Now I’ll never know for sure.

Loser: Paula

Paula, absolutely everyone’s friend at all times no matter what, is a real tragic character this season.

Nobody in this shows run thought they were sitting prettier, and had the rug pulled out from them faster than Paula did this season. She had her buds, Johnny and Kenny, running the show. And she was happy to sit along for the ride, ensuring her spot on one of those boats. She was used as their mouthpiece, like a press secretary, for most of the season.

This whole boat/girls vs. guys/cats vs. dogs segment led to Paula and Robin sharing a cigarette after a few cocktails later that night to have another enlightening Battle of the Sexes conversation, but this time with the motive to calm the waters rather than argue cause they’re hungry and bored.

So Paula throws out this dead fish, and it’s like, how many people can be in an alliance? They weaponized both Paula and the word ‘alliance’ quite a lot in just this episode alone. It was clear the Johnny and Kenny duo was basically telling every single person besides Evelyn and Kelly Anne that they were in an alliance, using the vagaries of the game rules to their advantage. Any time their end game was questioned, they were able to plead ignorance.

Involuntary plausible deniability. New band name I call it.

Winner: Sam Hinkie

Sam Hinkie died for this.

Loser: Subtlety

You think that’s what they were going for?!?!?! I didn’t even notice until she pointed it out. Damnit Colie, you observant bastard, you’re a genius.

Loser: Panda Express

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the flavor or anything, but Panda Express is my least favorite non-fast-food-fast-food place. Barely edging out Chipotle, which arrives at a clean number two.

Both of these places are fine and all if you want fake American versions of ethnic food, but between you and me, at two different points in my life my social circles were obsessed with going to these places. Panda in high school was like a rite of passage in my home town. Which is weird since it was a middle class lilly white suburb, but when you want orange chicken you want orange chicken.

Then in college getting hungover Chipotle on the weekends was the thing to do. It was like the bar in Cheers or the Max’s diner in Saved By The Bell. Everybody just kinda hung out in the line at Chipotle on Saturday/Sunday morning. You’d see the same people you saw at the random house party from last night or the girl you made out with on the Daddio’s dance floor and it was all gravy.

I just can’t really enjoy either anymore, my taste buds for them have almost completely eroded. When either of them is suggested now the taste of old Busch Lite starts bubbling up in my esophagus.

Winner: Alicia Keys

Key Kount Kupdate: We’re at 75 now. 75 times the word ‘key’ has been said. Only 30 minutes into a 41 minute episode of television, that works out to 1.8 Keys Per Minute. 1.8 is one hell of a KPM. Take that for metrics.

Loser: Paula

By specific you mean specifically everyone on the cast.


Winner: Art

Who drew that beautiful picture resting on top of that pillow to the left of Paula? I had no idea the greatest artist of our generation was also on this show. Please tell me Dunbar or KellyAnne or somebody like that drew that. I wonder where that piece is hanging right now. Probably nowhere. Art is dead. Go get a real job you hippy.

Winner: Season 36

He followed that up by saying, “and there’s a lot of Spies, Lies & Allies here on this island.” I swear I heard him say it. Go back and watch for yourself if you don’t believe me.

Winner: Evelyn

This season’s main story line was sort of The Alliance vs. Scrappy Underdog Evelyn. Like if Rocky had to fight six Drago’s and wear a plain black mesh visor instead of American Flag trunks.

At the last elimination ceremony, after Colie’s flame gets extinguished, TJ announces that the remaining competitors, including Evelyn Balboa, were all going to have the opportunity to go against each other to steal one last key. After doing everything they can to keep her out, The Alliance in stuck waiting for Evelyn (who’s a better competitor than basically everyone, woman or man) to finally have her chance to do what she’s been trying to do all season, screw over Johnny Bananas.

Most of us know how this all eventually turned out, but that evil smirk on Ev’s face sitting at the dinner table (edited in a way that made it seem like she was staring at sad Johnny, which she most definitely wasn’t) is kind of terrifying. Not as terrifying as watching her pet bugs, but I can only handle so much in one morning.

Winner: The Real World Key West

Final Key Kount Kupdate: 98!

That’s right. The word ‘key’ was said 98 times in one episode.

What does that mean? What’s the conclusion? Why did I make 98 tally marks on the top of the legal pad in front of me? No real reason I guess. Now that I’m looking back on the last few hours of my life spent typing this up, I’m realizing how futile and fragile life on this planet truly is.

What really is the key to happiness? I guess we’ll just have to go ask Evelyn.



Brian Batty

Writing about MTV’s The Challenge, one of America’s great institutions, from a fan’s perspective. Inquires: -Twitter: @TJsAirhorn