It’s a fair assessment that I like the Ultimate Beastmaster. I liked it so much I made an entire theoretical exercise on video game characters running the courses and even crowned a video game Ultimate Beastmaster. It took weeks but it was a lot of fun.
So, imagine my delight when last week I saw the third season was finally up on Netflix with CM Punk and Stuart Bennett (aka Wade Barrett) as commentators for the USA and British teams respectively. Better yet, the entire format of the competition had changed, improving what I thought were the flaws of “the game” as I did the video game character version.
Once more on the Ultimate Beastmaster, athletes from several countries come to this massive contraption in the deserts of Arizona to compete in a gruelling training course that tests the very limits of their athletic abilities. The competitors this season are USA., UK, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Italy, France, South Korea and Mexico. If you’ve seen earlier seasons, you might recognise some of those countries, but at least the UK and Australia are newcomers to the competition.
Of course, with every country comes its pair of announcers and they are still as much fun as they were in earlier seasons of the Ultimate Beastmaster, sharing banter among each other and having some hilarious rivalries, with my favourites, Italy and France being nearly vicious about it. It was the best thing about season 2 and it’s still pretty great.
As for our two wrestling superstar announcers, they’re pretty good, especially at throwing shade at everyone else around them, with CM Punk being particularly vicious at times.
As for the competition, the changes are awesome. In earlier seasons, the Ultimate Beastmaster was a cumulative game, with each level of the beast adding to the athletes’ totals. This time around the scoring is just for the current level, so athletes must perform well on each course to move forward. It’s great because the previous iteration had the recurring issue of athletes nailing level 1 and then riding that high score through miserable failures on other levels. It made it so someone with a high score often had an impossible lead to match.
The change has a massive impact on the competition, making every level feel tense and exciting, as a high scorer on level one could just falter and fail on level two, which happens fairly often.
Aside from the scoring, the obstacles and even the competition structure for Ultimate Beastmaster changed. The obstacles are brand new and see several variations throughout the season, with some returning ones like Face Plant and Digestive Track, but brand-new ones like Shapeshifter, where athletes must traverse a corridor with irregular footholds and hand holds, putting a strain on their mobility and resistance. Point thrusters are back, now having a big mega thruster brother worth double the points, but on a timer, which very often expires on the athletes.
The competition itself is now tournament based. There are three episodes of regular competition up to level 3, with two competitors joining the semi-finals. Following that are the semi-finals, where the athletes must once again traverse levels one to three but must do so without stopping, turning the beast into a brutal gauntlet.
Lastly, once those eight episodes and two semi-finals are done, we come to the final battle for the title of Ultimate Beastmaster, where the top three competitors of six finalist athletes must brave the all-new Level 4, which has not only been completely redesigned but fitted with branching paths to give the athletes a strategic edge should they find it.
The new season of Ultimate Beastmaster is once again an amazing and entertaining show of pure athletic prowess, with heart-warming and inspiring moments of character stories mixed in for good measure. It’s much more exciting than earlier seasons and keeps you on the edge of your seat, cheering four your favourites, right up to the very end, where the winner might come to you as a complete surprise.
If there is one thing about the Ultimate Beastmaster season 3 that I found disappointing was that no female competitor ever made it through, most not even making it past level 1. I don’t know the reason but some didn’t even make it past the first couple of obstacles. And it becomes a consistent thing. Maybe the course needs rebalancing? I’m not sure what the problem is, and I wouldn’t dream of offering a suggestion, as I know very little of the difference in athletic abilities between men and women, especially against this training course.
And I really wanted them to compete and advance. More than anything I wanted a mixed gender Ultimate Beastmaster final.
But I enjoyed my time with this third season and I can’t wait for the next one!