Ghosts Of Challenge Past: Can Nicole Survive Vendettas After Her Reunion With Laurel?

The former champion showed up out of nowhere to serve as one of the latest Mercenaries.

The ghost of Christmas past came a little bit early for Nicole on tonight’s Challenge installment — so will she be able to push on now that she’s been forced to confront her ex face-to-face?

On the latest Vendettas episode, competitors were challenged — after having been divided into three teams — to recover a series of palettes and construct staircases that would lead up to one of three flags. The first team to raise their respective emblem in “This Land Is My Land” would win, and Tony, Zach, Nicole, Natalie, Britni came out on top, with Zach, Tony and Natalie ultimately earning spots in The Troika.

And though Devin had the advantage of using his grenade to make the teams, he, Nelson, Kam, Kailah and Brad lost, and the group sentenced Kam and Brad straight into the looming Ring round, which TJ warned would be a double elimination.

The real action wouldn’t come until the actual Ring game — “Yanking My Chain” — began, though, as TJ informed the group he’d enlisted the likes of new Mercenaries Frank, Laurel, Ashley and Darrell to battle it out against the previous Ring nominees and Nelson and Britni, who’d been tossed into the elimination round by The Troika.

And though Nicole was safe from elimination, she was hardly at ease, and when she spotted Laurel, her ex-girlfriend of nearly a year, she broke down.

“What a great birthday gift — surprise, surprise, Laurel’s here,” Nicole said as she sank into her knees and began to cry. “Just to see her kind of makes my stomach drop...obviously [she] still has my heart a little bit.”

After four two-man rounds of the elimination round, — which amounted to a reverse tug-of-war performed around the circumference of a ring — Laurel turned out to be the only Mercenary who could beat her assigned opponent, Britni. And while Nicole remained in shambles, the uber-competitive Laurel didn’t look too shaken up by the reunion with her ex.

“I take no f**king prisoners,” Laurel said amid her battle. “I actually haven’t looked at Nicole yet. Do I want to see her hurt? No. Has she hurt me multiple times? Yes, continuously, but I’m trying not to pay attention to her because, you know, elimination rounds are not about f**king emotions, right? So f**k that.”

Still, Nicole and Laurel — both of whom were vague about the causes of their breakup — did cross paths on Laurel’s way out. It was friendly, but Nicole remained shaken, and as Laurel, herself, pointed out, once a competitor begins to acknowledge his or her emotions, he or she is absolutely done for. Will the sentiment apply to Nicole?

What do you think — can Nicole overcome the pain of seeing Laurel again, or is Laurel, herself, proof that an emotional player is a ticking time bomb (remember, the only elimination round she’s ever lost is when she was dating Nicole on Invasion of the Champions)? Share your thoughts, and see how Nicole progresses Tuesday at 9/8c!