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Welcome, Gasmii, to Season 21 of The Challenge! I know, I can’t believe it myself. In honor of our beloved Challenge reaching drinking age, we’re going to spend the season creating the Ultimate Challenge Drinking Game. I’ll throw out some suggestions in the recap, and you can all feel free to add yours in the comments. For example:
– Drink whenever someone (probably Paula Walnuts) says “I thought you had my back.”
– Drink whenever someone (probably Johnny Bananas) says “Trim the fat.”
– Don’t drink every time CT is terrifying, because you will end up in the hospital or the morgue.
– Finish your drink whenever Kenny and Evan build a cuddle fort and/or shower together.
Drink whenever TJ looks like he needs a shower.
By the end of this season, we’ll all be raging alcoholics, which will make us prime candidates for the next season of Fresh Meat and/or The Real World. (I don’t watch Survivor, but I know they did a “Fans vs. Favorites” season. The Challenge probably doesn’t want to do that because no one who’s old enough to participate wants to admit that they still watch the Challenge.) And now, let’s get started!
We open with a montage of various fights over the past few years. This season’s Challengers march in single file, trying and (mostly failing) to look intimidating. A girl (maybe Robin?) declares it “the craziest group of people I’ve ever seen.” It’s going to be the angriest season EVERRR, y’all. Everyone hates everyone! And, as you probably know by now, CT is BACK for real this time. Their brief experiment with him last season yielded no fatalities, so they’re releasing him into the wild to see how long he can last without attempting to rip anyone’s limbs off.
But WAIT! Before we can even begin, we must dramatically wait for the reveal of whether or not the Teejster will be back to host after his tragic accident last fall. The answer to this question has already been in the news, but I suppose the Challengers didn’t know that when they were filming. Finally, TJ Lavin walks out to applause and cheering from the veterans. Jenn informs us that she is teary and inspired. Teej thanks them for their various well-wishes during his recovery. Personally, I’m glad he’s back. I like it when he mocks the contestants for sucking and especially for not trying.
Is she really sad or does he really need a shower?
Teej tells them that their worst enemies are among the cast this season, and they will each be teamed with the person they have beef with. They’re in Costa Rica, and this is RIVALS. I don’t know why it took them 21 seasons to think of this setup, but it seems poised to provide maximum drama. I hope whoever came up with this idea got a cookie or something.
Enjoy that cookie, Mark Burnett!
Now for the pairings:
CT and Adam, for having what may be the biggest fight in Challenge history. If you saw it, no explanation needed. If you didn’t, know that it involved footie pajamas and CT at his most animalistic. Currently, Adam is pooping his pants in terror.
Cara Maria (AKA Skull Beads) and Laurel, because the latter thinks the former is a worthless pile of shit. Since that was only last season, it’s no surprise that nothing has changed.
Johnny Bananas and Tyler, because Bananas hates that he has lost to Tyler? Or something, I never really got it. Plus I always forget that they were on the same Real World season, so maybe something happened then that I missed or can’t remember.
Theresa and Camila, because Theresa thought she had achieved veteran status after one season of Fresh Meat and therefore picked a fight with Camila.
Fighting with your armpit shouldn’t be fair, but it is.
Evan and Nehemiah, because apparently Nehemiah doesn’t like that Evan has an alarming amount of control over these Challenges. I’m taking his word for it, because whatever happened between them must have been like 8 challenges ago since I barely remember Nehemiah and/or this alleged beef.
Paula and Ev, because Bananas ditched Paula and used Ev so he could win that challenge on that island that time. Walnuts is happy about the pairing, though, because she knows Ev is good at this stuff. Ev is less psyched, because she can only win if Walnuts does, and we all know Walnuts is the Susan Lucci of these things.
Davis and Tyrie, because of some fight that happened on their season (Denver), which I did not watch.
Jenn and Mandi, because Jenn gave her that “You’re a rookie. If you don’t get it, you’re not supposed to” smackdown on Fresh Meat.
Leroy and Adam, the new kids, because on the Vegas season that just ended, Leroy saw through Adam’s mindboggling amount of bullshit.
Sarah and Katelynn, because Katelynn tried to jump on the bandwagon on Fresh Meat and Sarah did not appreciate getting screwed over by her alleged friend. Sarah forgot she even had an enemy until Katelynn’s name was announced, because she’s supposed to be the nice one.
Ty and Brandon, because Ty is a suckass instigator and dragged Brandon into his shit. This is one of those teams on which I love one member and can’t stand the other, which comes with the territory considering the format.
Jasmine and Jonna, who fought over a guy in Cancun, which is another season I didn’t watch.
The one who smelt it, dealt it, Rihanna.
Aneesa and Robin, who apparently hate each other but since they’re both fossils at this point, I doubt even they can remember. I’m pretty sure they’ve both done Challenges with Beth, in case you need a point of reference.
And last, but certainly not least, we are left with Kenny and Wes, who are the Challenge equivalent of a Shakespearean tragedy without all of the eloquent language. They remind us that this goes back “many years” and Kenny quips to the crowd “I’m gonna show this guy what a finish line looks like.”
I sense a kiss coming. A really plaque-y one.
In the final challenge, the first place team for each gender will receive $100,000. I like how the most seasoned veterans are still amazed by this even though it’s the same amount EVERY SINGLE TIME. Second place for each gender gets $50,000, but third place gets zilch. Okay, that one’s new, and ouch. Roy Lee (Leroy, for those of you who didn’t watch RW Vegas), would like to win. You don’t say?
Teej then tells them that the winning team of each challenge will be safe from elimination. The losing team will automatically be sent into the elimination round, and will go against whichever non-winning team the rest of the players vote to send in.
The challengers stampede into their house and run around like kids in a McDonald’s Playplace, while Evan and Kenny toast to their reunion after a grueling couple of Challenges apart. CT is happy they let him out of his cage, and says that everyone is still the same except that Evan looks pregnant. Oh shit, you guys, Kenny’s gonna be a daddy. I’m a little surprised, though, since I thought Evan wore the pants in that relationship.
Congrats! We’ve got someone paying our rent for a month or two! You guys have jobs yet in the real world? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone? Let’s drink!
Wes tells Vegas Adam and Roy Lee about “The Bandwagon Effect,” in which someone votes a team into elimination, and everyone else follows because they’re all chicken shits. Adam immediately says he’s all for that plan, as Wes tells us that rookies are easily manipulated, so he’ll just get them to do what he says until he doesn’t need them anymore. Roy Lee, as we well know, is no such fool and promptly tells Wes straight to his face that he doesn’t trust him.
CT and Adam hug it out and apologize. Apparently they’re not still mad at each other, so… so much for RIVALS, I guess. CT tells us that his brother was murdered and CT himself was shot in the back. That… explains a lot, actually. CT says he’s not his own worst enemy anymore, and I’m glad he’s doing better but it’s hard not to feel like he’s one splinter away from cracking. Adam tells us it’s unrealistic to think he and CT will be best friends, but they’ll be able to get along well enough.
The familiar sound of a clue arrival rings out into the night, and rookie Roy Lee has the honor of spitting out the product placement. They have to be ready at 6 AM, to which I say hell yes. If these people are getting paid to party in exotic locations, they had damn well better be obligated to wake up earlier than I do.
They arrive at the challenge, where they must hold hands with their partners and jump off of a platform suspended over a waterfall. They don’t have to fall very far, but the object is to clear as many hash marks as possible (in other words, jump as far out as possible). If two teams clear the same number, whoever did it the fastest wins. This is a girls’ elimination day, so the girls who jump the farthest will be safe. They guys who jump the farthest will receive a $2000 prize.
Maybe just try to avoid that giant pointy rock right below the lines.
Jenn and Mandi are up first and clear 12 hash marks. Paula and Ev are next, followed by Laurel and Skull Beads, and both teams DQ. On the guys’ side, Evan/Nehemiah and Kenny/Wes also DQ. Aneesa and Robin clear 13 hash marks, and Paula is impressed that Aneesa’s giant ass got that much air. Johnny and Tyler clear 14, Jonna and Jasmine clear 13, and Davis and Tyrie clear a whopping 5.
CT and Adam are up next, and Adam tells us he’s afraid to fail for fear his partner will tear his limbs off. Luckily for Adam’s safety, they manage to clear all 15 hash marks. Brandon and Ty clear 13, Sarah and Katelynn clear 11, Camila and Theresa clear 10. Leroy and Vegas Adam also clear all 15 hash marks, and the Douche Trio are clearly impressed and/or threatened.
Teej gathers everyone to announce the winners. Since two guy teams cleared all 15 hash marks, it comes down to who got off the platform the fastest. It turns out Leroy and Vegas Adam got off faster (insert your own premature ejaculation joke here) than CT and Paris Adam, so the rookies take home the cash prize. For the girls, Aneesa/Robin and Jonna/Jasmine both cleared 13 hash marks, but once again the rookies did it fast so the Cancun J’s are safe from elimination. I guess being younger and faster paid off in this one. As for the losers, Paula/Ev and Laurel/Skull Beads both DQ’ed, but apparently Paula/Ev both stepped over the line and therefore are sent into elimination.
On the bus ride home, Ev tells Wes (who could not look less interested) that she wants to go against a strong team so that no one will want to send her in after this. Laurel overhears this and says she could beat Ev, but just doesn’t feel like it right now, so she’s going to start gunning for another strong team in Aneesa and Robin. Well, they did come in 2nd today by a fraction of a second, while Laurel’s team technically came in 2nd to last. Aneesa catches wind of this from a few feet away and says Laurel should send them home herself. Well, Aneesa, because she’d be stuck dragging her pathetic little sack of flour teammate through the elimination round. God, don’t you know anything?!
Back at the house, Aneesa and Robin quietly confront Laurel and try to convince her to take Ev out herself. Aneesa probably thinks she’s earned the right to sit out the first few eliminations, but she’s been out of the loop for way too long at this point and the new kids have taken over. Katelynn walks in an awkwardly tries to tell Laurel and co. that they’re talking bullshit. She claims that Laurel is the only one who can take out Ev and tells us she’s bitter that Laurel always makes it into the finals. Oh, shut up, fool. Laurel makes the finals because she can take out pretty much any girl they put her against. Do ONE impressive thing in any of these challenges and then start talking.
TJ gathers everyone once again and tells them it’s time to vote for which team will face Paula and Ev in the elimination round. Robin, for some reason, takes the floor to give a speech. She seems to think she’s going to convince everyone not to vote for her, but she’s babbling incoherently and they’re all looking at her like she’s the teacher who should have retired 10 years ago, or the old lady at the pharmacy who’s yelling about something or other. She begs Aneesa for help, and Aneesa says she just hates the first day whispers and everyone’s bullshit attempt to save their own asses. They ask her for her suggestion, and she offers up Laurel and Skull Beads.
Laurel does not like this, and of course votes for Aneesa and Robin. Since most of these people know Laurel better than the old chicks, the aforementioned Bandwagon Effect rears its ugly head and soon Teej has returned to announce the Aneesa/Robin vs. Paula/Ev matchup.
Ev informs us that Aneesa is the “elimination queen” and has never been sent home in an elimination round. Robin is crying as Paris Adam and Wes try to encourage her. Next she cries some more as she tells us it’s “extremely hard” to be away from her child but she wants to win the money for them. Or she could, you know, get a job to support him, but whatever.
Typing is hard you guys! WAAAAH!
Since 24 out of the 28 challengers know they’re not going into the elimination round the next day, it’s party time! Roy Lee gets to take a celebratory body shot off of Mandi! Tiny Jasmine gets flung into the pool like a rag doll! Now tiny Jasmine and giant Tyrie are flirting, but she has a boyfriend back home so she’s totally not gonna hook up or anything. I give it three minutes. Jonna tells us that when Jasmine drink, she gets completely out of control.
WOW! The three minutes I gave that hookup was too generous, as it has taken mere seconds. I have underestimated the stupidity of these people about whom I know nothing. Kenny informs us that Jasmine will have some ‘splaining to do to her alleged boyfriend. He also informs us that Tyrie is disgusting because he sleeps with his sneakers on, and Jasmine will smell like bacon for the rest of her life. Hey! What’s wrong with smelling like bacon? Bacon is awesome. Oh wait, Kenny used to be fat right? He probably has some bad memories or something.
Kenny. The bacon years.
Ty is being a general ass, which mildly amuses Evan. He informs a random sampling of his colleagues that he has not had sex in a year and a half because he’s “in L.A. and all of the girls suck.” Vegas Adam says he doesn’t like Ty, as if he himself is some pillar of morality. Brandon uselessly tries to tell Ty to be nicer, and gives us kind of a “What can I do?” shrug.
Vegas Adam’s dislike of Ty leads to a little bit of yelling, followed by Brandon dragging Ty away as he laughs like an autotuned hyena. Roy Lee tries to convince his teammate not to let Ty get to him, and tells us he’s worried Adam will do something stupid. The half-hearted arguing starts up again, with Roy Lee holding Ty back as Jenn tries to convince Adam not to bother, causing him to realize a girl is touching him and give him the Lustfully Wasted look he was constantly giving Nany in Vegas.
Adam knocks innocent bystander Mandi down on his way to giving Ty a pathetically weak bitch slap. I mean, not that I condone violence or anything, but if you’re going to fight on a Challenge, try not to be such a pussy about it. Plus, I don’t like Vegas Adam or Ty and they both deserve a good punch to the face.
We get a commercial break to recover from this little scuffle, after which we get to watch it again. CT tells us he’s happy to sit back and watch other people fight for once. Jenn informs us that Mandi hit her head on the pavement when she was knocked down and now she can’t see straight. Jenn brings a crying Mandi over to sit down and tries to comfort her, but Mandi looks pretty freaked out.
How many fingers am I holding up?
A producer has arrived to take Vegas Adam away, but he’s wasted so he has a lot of trouble comprehending the simple words she is saying to him. Roy Lee tries once again to talk sense into Adam, because he has the patience of a saint. It’s too late though, as Adam tells us it sucks that he didn’t make it to the end and has to forget about the money. Too bad it’s completely your own fault, jackass. Just like that, Adam has been kicked off of the Challenge even quicker than he got kicked out the Real World house. And he’s done it just like he does everything in life: thinking he’s a badass when in actuality he’s just a punkass bitch. I’m sure the druggies in Maine will be relieved to have their number one dealer back so quickly.
Ty tells us he didn’t do it on purpose, but it would be a good strategy to get every guy mad enough to hit him and get kicked off. That’s tough talk from someone who’s only been hit by Adam so far. Try that plan with CT and then come talk to me, if you’re not too busy choking on your own teeth.
Mandi gets checked out by the medic, and she still looks a little dazed but they tell her she’s okay. Ev seems impressed that Mandi was able to take such a hard hit. Mandi uses her injury to flirt with CT, who she proclaims the hottest guy in the house. Oh man, I used to think that too, until I realized he would probably eat my family. Speaking of, has anyone seen or heard from Diem lately? Just wondering. CT half-heartedly tells us Mandi’s cute and then makes a joke about her having a big head.
The challengers gather on a bridge suspended over the elimination station, as Teej tells them the first order of business is to address Leroy’s partner-less status in the wake of Adam’s departure. Bananas tells us it’s anyone’s guess whether they’ll just send Leroy home or bring in a new partner for him, and TJ tries and fails miserably to fake him out before revealing that he will get a replacement partner. And that replacement partner is none other than…
… “BIG MIKE!” Leroy exclaims excitedly. For those of you who didn’t watch Vegas, here’s what you need to know: Big Mike (AKA MikeMike) and Leroy are polar opposites on the surface but bonded over their tough upbringings and similar attitudes. It was bromantic as hell, and around these parts we refer to them as MikeRoy. I highly recommend watching Dailies from the Vegas season, especially ones involving Mike. I mean, so much for rivals since they’re BFF’s and all, but you won’t hear me complaining. Leroy tells us that Mike’s intelligence and his strength will make a good combination.
Paula tells us she’s never been in a first elimination round, but if she can make it through it’s straight to the final. Has Paula ever seen a final? Aneesa tells us she needs to win. The rules are: each girl will stand on a small platform and hold onto her teammate for balance. Teej will move the platforms apart a little at a time until someone falls. Very simple.
Aneesa and Robin go for the pulling strategy, while Paula and Ev lean on each other. Every few minutes, TJ pulls his lever (not like that, you filthy people) to move the platforms further apart until finally, Robin falls. Ev and Paula jump into the mud and hug each other. I know this is RIVALS and all, but Paula and Ev both care a lot more about winning than they do about fighting, so something tells me they’ll be getting along pretty well. Plus, Ev knows that she needs to be encouraging to her teammate, which is a concept other people (*cough*Laurel*cough*) will probably never grasp.
Aneesa is pissed and blames Robin for the loss of her “Elimination Queen” crown. Teej sends Ev and Paula back to the group and then sends Aneesa and Robin on their not-so-merry way. Robin says she’s happy to go back to her son, which something tells me is no consolation for Aneesa.
Evan tells us that “the party’s over” since the next elimination will be the guys. Of course, when it’s a girls’ elimination and Evan’s ass isn’t on the line, it’s a total joyfest.
Back at the house, Kenny tells CT that he has a cauldron in his room and he’s stirring it up. I am distracted by the fact that our dear Rhodes Scholar Kenny knows the word cauldron. Either he’s been studying, or he’s a warlock. The former would be more surprising. Anyway, Kenny tells CT that he doesn’t trust the nice guy act. There’s some babbling about “top dogs” (new drinking game catchphrase?) and CT tells us the Douche Trio (Kenny/Evan/Johnny) and their partners all think they’ll be in the final three, but not if CT has anything to say about it. Something tells me that is not an empty threat. And we’re left to ponder that for the next week.
I’ve been dating a girl named Britannica.
This season: Heights! Pushing! Fighting! Challenges! Yelling! Vomiting! Worrying! Falling! Breaking things! Partying! Traveling! Tearing down one’s own teammate! It’s your pretty standard Challenge montage, and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of it.
So, what did everyone think of the premiere? I thought it was fine, nothing terribly noteworthy. Will anyone miss Adam? I sure as hell won’t, ESPECIALLY since he replacement was MikeMike. Who do you think would win in an Aneesa vs. Ev battle? Anyone you’re rooting for and/or against? Are you excited for this season? And finally, how do you feel about the RIVALS setup? Talk to me!