Challengers-In-Charge: Who Should Lead Team U.S.?

Johnny, Wes and Laurel have been eliminated, and it’s not clear who’s now captain

Perhaps there’s no “I” in “team,” but there’s certainly one in “captain.” And right now, the American War of the Worlds 2 team is struggling to find a new leader that’s up to the task.

On this week's Challenge episode, amid continued disarray surrounding the eliminations of typical commanders like Johnny Bananas, Laurel and Wes, Team U.S. looked dangerously close to implosion. Sure, they were picking up wins like sea glass, but distrust ran thick, and with the Red, White and Blue essentially split in two, the other shoe seemed ready to drop.

But…maybe Leroy could stop the madness, and finally emerge as a leader?

Yes, it bears mentioning that Leroy, who kicked off his Challenge career way back on 2011’s Rivals, has never won a Challenge. Still, he’s come close a couple times, and when he successfully got his team on the same page about an elimination strategy in Episode 6 — something nobody thought was possible considering the circumstances — Leroy changed the minds of teammates who’d previously counted him out.

“It’s really great to see Leroy step up into this role and own that he is a strong player in this game,” Jordan observed, adding that Leroy’s identity extended beyond Johnny’s obsequious pal. “He does not need Bananas to do this.”

And while Leroy was bringing the zen, Paulie was attempting to prove — contrarily — that pounding his chest was the best way to assume the leadership position. After a blowout with Josh over voting practices, Paulie demanded attention, and his fellow housemates took notice.

“Someone wants to be the main man of the house now that Wes is gone and Bananas is gone,” Bear observed of Paulie’s firestorm. “He wants to be a tough guy.”

And Theo saw Paulie’s eagerness too.

“With Bananas gone, it’s kind of freed up a power space, and a person who’s begging to fill that power space is Paulie,” he said.

And then, though it would pain some of his teammates to say it, Jordan is no doubt a huge asset to his team, in spite of his inflammatory nature. But he demonstrated some unprecedented contrition on the recent episode, when he swallowed his pride, apologized to Turbo for a needless bit of heckling and moved to get his team to a point of harmony. Can you imagine that Jordan on Rivals II or Free Agents? Ha, not so much.

Finally, these suggestions aside, what about the women? Cara Maria’s a seasoned vet and one of only two players in Challenge history to win a season as a solo player. And while Kam isn’t quite as decorated, she’s proven to be a master strategist and was bold enough to stand up to Laurel when most others cowered. Finally, while Natalie’s had some bumps in the road this season, let’s not forget that she is, indeed, a Ninja Warrior and was the only woman to cross the finish line last season.

What do you think: Is Paulie the next American to emerge as a leader? Will Leroy finally step up to the plate? Is it time for a lady to be the No. 1 leader? Share your thoughts, and be sure to tune in to the next War of the Worlds 2 episode Wednesday at 9/8c!