HOT TAKE: The Challenge Vendettas recap – Czech Yourself

Half of $25K and a seat on a plane headed to the Czech Republic are up for grabs on tonight’s episode of the Challenge Vendettas. Last week we saw all the remaining contestants run a mini-final of sorts to determine who would be moving on and who would be sent home but we were left without the results. We know from last week that both the guy and the girl with the slowest times will immediately be sent home. No trip to the Czech Republic. No shot at $350K. First, TJ announces the winners and I am not at all surprised by who they are. For the guys, Zach is our champion. And for the ladies it’s none other than Staten Island Nicole Z. These two are probably the most physically dominant of the remaining challengers so again, no surprise here. They both can respectively dominate a physical challenge. Congrats you two, you each get some monies! Maybe Nicole can use some of that money to buy herself a new wardrobe – in her confessional she is wearing a shirt with her face on it. Ugghhh. I already instantly hear her accent the second I see her face so with this shirt out in the wild that just increases the chance my daily inner monologue gets a grating Staten Island accent…

As for our losers, the first one doesn’t surprise me either. For the girls it’s Jemmye. If I’m not mistaken this is yet another example of a time that Jemmye has managed to just kind of hang around right up until the end because no one really views her as a threat. Her game has largely been to team up with different coalitions of women to protect herself and just blend in as a seasoned vet. She doesn’t perform particularly well on any of the challenges but because she keeps her mouth shut no one really pays her any mind. Well that strategy works until you need to perform and when she needed to perform she didn’t quite deliver. Personally I am glad to see finally go. Ever since she joined the mean girl group that attacked and bullied Kayleigh I was ready for her to go. She never really got any flak for that either, which was surprising considering how easily she turned on Kayleigh. I sincerely hope this is the last challenge Jemmye does – does she even have a much of a fan base? Doubtful.

As for the guys, the two slowest finishers were only separated by 5 seconds. 5 SECONDS?! That is just brutal. Devin and Kyle finish at the bottom. With only a 5 second difference between the two I immediately wonder what could have been done just a teeny bit faster to finish faster. Lock into the zip line and tuck yourself in as you shoot the gap? Repel down the side of the bridge more quickly? Throw yourself across the finish line when it’s in sight? If Devin had just schemed to finish 5 seconds faster than I he would be going to the Czech Republic – but he didn’t. Despite Devin being incredibly annoying I think I’ll miss him. Someone on reddit pointed out that he was really the only challenger that kept things real and I agree. Dude was on the level. I’m positive we will see him again but for now we wave goodbye to the mastermind and congratulate Kyle on being just good enough to skirt by. We’re off to the Czech Republic!

devin
Goodbye Devin – till we meet again

In Prague the remaining challengers check in to their new digs and settle in. They have a challenge the very next day so there is no going out antics and the drinking is minimal – everyone has their eyes on the prize. We’re treated to a few segments on what each remaining challenger would do with the money if they won and the answers are somewhat predictable. Support my family, pay off debts, etc. However there were 2 notable answers among the group. The first belongs to Cara Maria who wants to use the money to finally build an obstacle course? Okay – I assume this is related to her fitness program du juor but still – is this really the best use? The other response I notice is Kam’s who said she would donate money to charity. That’s awesome and I think anyone who gets some sort of windfall should consider donating to a cause they support. Kam says she will donate to kids with cancer or kids that suffer from alopecia…hmmm…those two seem pretty different if you ask me. I’m not judging at all, both are worthy causes – I just don’t understand Kam’s thought process on this one. Maybe sleep on it?

When the challengers wake up they face their next challenge – Outside the Box. TJ tells the gang they will be dodging stacked boxes while being joined to truck traveling at 50 miles per hour. Damn! They just keep upping the ante on these challenges and this one seems like one of the more extreme challenges they’ve had in recent seasons (Survivor, looking at you here: Do better). Each challenger will be suspended mid-air on the side of a truck and have to move back and forth while the truck is at speed to avoid columns of boxes. Each column has a point value assigned to it and if you hit it, you get those points. The objective here is to have the lowest score possible to stay safe. Winning this challenge comes with a few perks, too. Each guy and girl with the best score will automatically be placed in the final and get a shot at the $350k. They will also split another $25k for the winning the event. I think their banks are safe at this point if they win so the money is theirs – its no longer a device that paints a target on your back.

Up first for the guys are Zach and Leroy. The two strap in and truck takes off accelerating to 50 miles an hour. Zach moves back and forth as best he can and makes it look so easy that Kyle remarks, “He looks like a proper action man!” Is this what they call action stars in the UK? Action Men? Because I love it. Leroy has a more difficult time and ends up getting stuck between the support beam and the truck. He becomes a hanging target and plows into several columns, earning him points and immediately dropping him into last place. Leroy just can’t catch a break. Next up is Nelson and Kyle. Kyle manages to duplicate Zach’s effort and knots a goose egg for himself. Nelson…is not as coordinated. He loses focus and hits a column very quickly into the competition, whoops. I think this column might be worth more than the 2 Leroy hit so maybe my boy Lee is safe now? I would love to swap Nelson for Leroy in the final. Last for the guys are Tony and Brad who each run through the course and avoid all the column. Impressive. Looks like Nelson will not be going to final, right?!?

Before we see the men’s results the women are up next. Killa Kam is up first along with Nicole. Kam is talking a good game about how she can’t make any more mistakes and she is more focused now than ever and then…hits some boxes and earns herself 4 points. Nicole on the other side of truck doesn’t come close to a box and earns the coveted zero. Cara Maria squares off against Kailah in round 2. Each avoids the boxes and each gets a zero. Now I’m worried Kam may not be going to the final and that’s a damn shame considering how much shit she had to go through to get here (3 eliminations in as many weeks and she still may not qualify for a final). I’m fully prepared for TJ to send Nelson and Kam home when he announces the competition is just getting started. That was just the first round? The announcement catches me and the challengers off guard but then I come to realize with so many perfect scores on the first round this makes sense. The winner is automatically in the final so they need to determine who that will be, duh. Round 2 means only one thing – more speed!

This time the girls are up first and right from the beginning I can tell this truck is now hauling ass. It is moving way faster than 50 mph (anyone get a speed check? I never heard what the second round speed was but if I had to guess I would think it’s like 70 or so…) and the challengers struggle to dodge all the boxes. It turns out that the human reaction time to move back and forth between a column and truck at speed is not great. Nicole and Kailah both hit boxes and Cara Maria fails to transfer (counts the same as hitting the boxes, minus the bruising) so it will come down to who got the least amount of points based on the column’s value. I think Cara Maria has it at this point but I’m not sure because the point system is confusing and I only saw it once.  Also at this speed it looks like it fucking hurts to collide with those boxes. I can’t imagine connecting with anything at 70 mph feels good. Full size body bruises anyone?

The boys are up next and they have the same results as the women – almost all of them hit a box. I say almost because somehow Tony has managed to miss all the boxes and looks to be our winner by default. Goddamit. I really don’t care for Tony at all. But here he is in his first final after today, sigh. For the girls, Cara Maria gets the win over the girls and I am okay with this. TJ tells Nelson to get lost since there are 6 guys – he won’t get a shot at redemption in the elimination event since he placed last – wahoo!!! I’m stoked to see Nelson go. He was the other guy I was actively rooting against outside of Terrible Tony. As for the girls, since there are only 4 girls left, they all get to go to the final! Killa Kam is safe!!! So now Tony and Kailah will form 2 parts of the last troika and be joined by…Cara Maria. Wow. Kailah somehow manages to come up big in the only challenge that really matters and wins a spot in her first final. Lots of new blood for this final it seems. You really gotta think if Joss had never ran into Derek he would be here, too. Poor Joss.

Competition
Our final group of scrappy challengers

This troika is the best troika to be a part of because there won’t be any revenge, game-wise, for the decision the group makes (mostly, more on this a bit later). TJ tells them that he need 1 dude’s name to save from the inquisition and he needs it now. The troika huddles and with Tony being the only guy he’s automatically the odd man out if the girls vote together. He won’t have a say in who the troika spares. Both Cara Maria and Kailah agree that out of all the guys remaining if they need to run the final with someone they want that someone to be Zach. Zach, by far the best player left standing in the game, will be spared from elimination and automatically placed in the final. Tony doesn’t like the move. You know why Tony doesn’t like the move? He can’t beat Zach in a final. Brad, Leroy and Kyle will be up for elimination and will have to plead their individual cases at the inquisition that night. The troika will need to select one more guy to save and have the two remaining challengers battle it out to earn the last spot in this season’s final.

At the inquisition Brad, Kyle and Leroy make their closing arguments. Brad has been placed in elimination a few times already this season so it’s a good bet that he will be going in again. Brad tells the group he’s going to use the money for his kids and that should deliver for Tony but because Tony is an asshole he doesn’t care and remains unmoved. Kyle is up next and he talks about how he’s changed from the beginning of this competition to now. This is all just a formality for Kyle though because he has been bonin’ Cara Maria for weeks now so because he has a dick he’s probably safe – forgone conclusion. This leaves my main man Leroy who basically tells the troika that he shouldn’t be going in. He’ had their backs, he’s played a fair game and he deserves to be in this final. This is easily the most assertive I have seen Leroy, ever. And honestly, it’s about damn time. Leroy knows how much he has been fucked over in the past and I like him telling each and every member of the troika that if he gets put in it’s a joke. He’s earned a spot in this final dammit. His reaction catches everyone at the table off guard but dude is right. If anyone is safe over him its bullshit.

Fast-forward to the elimination night and wouldn’t you know it – Tony fucks Leroy over. This dude is a real piece of shit. Oh, and Cara Maria is a piece of shit too. She also votes in Leroy. Kailah is apparently the only one with a conscious and votes Leroy safe and suddenly my opinion of Kailah is not as bad as it was just seconds ago. Now Cara Maria has my ire. As for Tony – Lee explodes on him. He calls him out in front of everyone for being a snake and coward. Leroy tells Tony that he would be good with Tony saying his name if he was honest about why he is saying it but Tony keeps avoiding the confrontation. Tony tells Leroy he didn’t like how aggressive Leroy was at the inquisition the night before and because of that he decided to put Leroy in the elimination. Come on Tony – that’s pretty damn weak. We all know you don’t want to go up against Leroy in a final – something Leroy calls him out for. Congratulations Tony, you just made yourself a new enemy. As for Brad, well we all knew he was going in all along so now Brad has to square up against a super-pissed Leroy in the final elimination. Sorry Brad.

Inquisition
Leroy’s eyes already calling Tony a bitch

Brad lost before TJ said the word “go”. Lee uses his anger to break through two walls, then bust up 2 additional balls to win the elimination and send Brad home right at the finish line. God that’s gotta suck.  As this is happening the camera pans over to Tony periodically who looks fairly uncomfortable with Lee’s domination. He’s just created a monster in Leroy and I have a feeling that all the bad karma Tony has built up to get himself here is going to catch up with him during the final. And every other challenge he participates in from now on because Tony made a fuck ton of enemies to get to this point. Hope it’s worth it Tony.

Now we have our cast for the final – Zach, Tony, Leroy, Kyle, Nicole, Kam, Cara Maria and Kailah. Who do you think has the edge going into the final that is not named Zach? I’m personally pulling for Leeroy and Kam on this one.

 

 

HOT TAKE: The Challenge Recap – Help Me Rhonda

Kyle tell us he doesn’t remember what happened last week and I’ll be honest, I don’t either. After a quick recap we see Natalie who is just a mess. Mascara is running down her face as she during a tearful confessional with Nelson about how awful she feels that she betrayed him in last week’s votes. Come on girl. I know Nelson ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer but even he can sniff this one out. He tells her it’s cool after the apology but to the audience he says he’ll keep her thinking he’s her ally till he doesn’t need her. Has Natalie actually convinced herself that she’s mended the damage between her and Nelly? Is she really that dense or does she know the walls are closing in and she’s just treading water?

leroy
Leroy sums up his swimming technique

Speaking of water – today’s challenge involves Leroy’s favorite obstacle – WATER! Poor Leroy. Any veteran who has watched enough of the Challenge knows that any challenge involving water is basically a death sentence for Leroy. Dude just can’t swim. I remember one season where Leroy came onto the challenge and proudly told everyone he practiced swimming in-between seasons and was now so much better at swimming. But he wasn’t. He graduated from a doggie paddle but that’s about it. Poor guy. TJ tells everyone that for today’s challenge they will have 2 teams that will need to swim across a stunning Spanish spring (seriously this place is gorgeous. I can only imagine how many #fitgirls have instagrammed themselves here) to an area where there are floating balls. They will then need to grab a ball and swim underwater with the ball and place the ball in a net. The nets are fastened to a treasure chest that will eventually rise off the bottom of the spring once enough balls have been secured. The chest will then rise allowing the team to swim with the chest back to the shore and declare victory. Seems easy enough unless you’re Leroy. Or Cara Maria. She also sucks at swimming stuff.

Brad and Killa Kam won last week’s elimination so each has a grenade that they need to toss. Kam is up first and she decides she is going to add time to Cara Maria – Cara Maria (and her team) will start with a minute penalty. Kam has made it abundantly clear that she is gunning for Cara Maria at this point and might just have cemented a new vendetta with this latest stunt. Brad’s and his grenade are next but before he pulls the pin he asks TJ a logistics question: If he chooses to add time to someone he could still potentially end up on the team with penalties, right? Clever girl, Brad. TJ tells him, yes, that is definitely a possibility since the troika will be picking this week’s teams. Brad essentially barters his way on to the troika’s (Tony, Zach and Natalie) team and chooses to penalize Kyle by not allowing him to compete. MY MAN! Such a power move! Brad may be a bit older than most of the competitors but my dude has not lost a step strategically. The whole time this is happening Kam’s face just sinks, as do her chances of winning this challenge. She knows that both Cara Maria and Kyle will be on her team so she’s essentially used the grenade on herself. Whoopsie Daisy!

kam
Some girls have all the luck

Sure enough Kam is placed on the all can’t with team with Cara Maria, Kyle, Leroy, Nelson, Kailah. This is not good. As for the troika? They’ve got Brad, Tony, Zach, Natalie, Nicole, Jemmye and Devin- all strong swimmers. Side note: I actually think swimming might be the only thing Jemmye is good at other than stirring the pot for other people and inflating arguments. With the teams decided we are off and team troika is up first. Practically before the competition has even started they finish with a commendable time of 15:03. Their effort and teamwork looked seamless. Watching this you just knew that there was not a chance in hell that the other team would be able to compete – no less do it in under 14:03 because of Cara’s penalty. They all can’t swim, save Kyle, who isn’t even allowed to compete. At least he gets to keep his gorgeous flow dry? Sorry bud, you fucked.
Cara jumps into the water and swims out to the balls where…she struggles, mightily. Apparently all that CrossFit doesn’t help when it comes to pushing a buoyant ball under water because Cara can’t manage to do more than break the surface of the spring. After a futile minute of trying to dive with the ball she gives up and swims back to the shore. Kam is up next and basically drowns. Maybe it was the adrenaline coursing through her veins that convinced her she knew how to swim but girl does not know how to swim. I’m not joking when I say she almost drowns – the standby rescue crew has to come over and grab her after watching her head slip below water, mid-flail. Ooof. And that about sums up team-can’t swim’s effort. Kailah jumps in and also fails and by then it’s too late, time has expired. I don’t think they got a single ball in the net. Ouch.

Victorious, Tony, Zach and Brad somehow convince the rest of their team that they need to be in the new troika because Tony and Zach picked the teams and Brad used his grenade. Okay, that seems fair-ish but the thing is that it’s a girl elimination and whoever is in the troika is safe from elimination. There’s 3 girls on the winning team and none of them really protest the guys forming the troika. SIGH. Come on ladies, don’t let Zach push you around! Did you not hear that Burger King is providing today’s troika with the royal treatment?! I bet it’s like a mayonnaise bath followed by chicken fry massage. Don’t sleep on BK, ladies! Natalie, Jemmye and Nicole are placated with assurances from the troika that none of them will be considered for elimination. Oh dear – this is not smart. Devin is openly giggling about this. He knows what is going to happen – stop trusting these men ladies! They leave their fate to the guys and also will dine on zero Burger King this evening save nothing for the royal treatment. Bad form, Peter!

burger king
What the fuck is the royal treatment?

As for the losers, they need to nominate someone to go immediately into the elimination round by voting on the teammate they deem most deserving. Right away it seems like Cara will be the unlucky one but then Kailah’s name gets thrown into the mix and suddenly it’s a draw. Oh shit! TJ warns them that if all they vote and reach a stalemate once more that the troika will decide who goes into elimination. Another round of voting produces the same results and it’s now up to Tony, Zach and Brad to decide who will face elimination. What’s that expression? No good deed goes unpunished? Well Kam, for all her effort with the grenade and now battling her way out of elimination 2 times in 2 weeks, is going into elimination for a third consecutive time. Oh, the joys of being a rookie on the Challenge. Congratulations Kam – you just played yourself.

Back at the house the troika must now determine three potential opponents for Kam to face off against. It takes roughly 15 seconds before Tony and Zach suggest turning on Natalie and throwing her into the mix despite their promises to her that no such thing would happen. She’s a rookie, she is playing everyone by cozying up to the strongest players that will have her – girl got caught. Tony laments that this will be the second time he’s lied to someone’s face (RIP Bananas) about their status in the house, but I mean, this is also coming from a guy who has major infidelity issues. I think its par for the course for old Tony-Bologna and despite Tony trying to be a better guy – a leopard don’t change his spots, ya know? I think Tony is cool with this and probably won’t think twice about betraying Natalie unless he has to deal with an immediate personal consequence. He’s already been labeled a liar, a philanderer and a drunk. How much of a reputation does he have to protect at this point? The troika rightly decides to avoid any other conflicts and just throw Cara Maria and Kailah into contention since they each received votes to go in already.

Cut to the inquisition and we see tonight’s feast has been furnished by the king himself! You want a whopper? Done. BK Chicken club with a side of fries? BOOM, it’s there! I don’t know any other food items BK serves because BK is disgusting and I don’t eat there. Kudos to those that do but this meal would be instant diarrhea for me. Suspiciously I don’t anyone enjoying their sandwiches during this scene…but the fries are admittedly good so those are cool to snack on. As 6 people share a limited amount of fries Kailah and Natalie have a row about why the other girl should be going into the elimination. Kailah figures the troika may not realize Natalie is just sponging off the strongest competitor she can find and informs them of this fact. Dammit Kailah, they know this girl. It’s pretty fucking obvious. They only thing you’ve done with this little rant is paint a big old target on your back for next time. Nice work. All 3 of these girls are legitimately concerned that a match up against Kam will send them home. They’re right. Killa Kam is a beast, especially when she’s heated (and water isn’t involved), and she is super heated about going in again. Yikes.

Natalie
Natalie’s strategy doesn’t work on people not named Bananas

Tonight’s elimination, TJ says, is called Spanish torture. The contestants will walk across two wires that they are attached to from one end of the ring to the other and ring a bell. First one to ding the bell wins. Now that we know what we are doing we just need to know who will be doing it against Kam. Natalie clearly did not stop to purchase a bus ticket before tonight’s elimination because she is thrown right under it. Tony, Zach and Brad all turn on her and tell her that because she is a rookie it’s time for her to prove her worth. WHAMMY! Natalie, who has made a living hiding in other contestants’ shadows, is exposed and has to go up against Kam in order to prolong her stay in Spain. Not good. Natalie gives us a little speech about how she used to be a gymnast and this event is well-suited for her skillset but we know this is a classic Challenge misdirection. Anytime anyone on the show boasts of a skill before displaying that skill it usually foreshadows disaster. Sure enough – it spells disaster. Natalie gets off to a good start versus Kam but suddenly loses her footing and begins to panic. This gives the HMS Kam-Coming-for-Your-Ass enough time to gather steam and eventually pass Natalie. Kam rings the bell first and Natalie exits stage left. Overall did I like Natalie as fresh fodder for the Challenge? Mostly yes. I think she learned some valuable lessons for her first go-around and I think we’ll see her back with an improved game on future Challenges.

With Natalie vanquished Kam is riding high. She’s officially put the other girls in the house on notice that she, much like Laurel, is not to be fucked with. When you take a shot at the queen you best not miss because you won’t get another one. I went into this season pretty indifferent to Kam overall but now? I’m a super fan. TJ is too, and congratulates her for putting another opponent into the ground. But the celebration is short-lived because TJ has another twist up his sleeve – he needs to dump 2 more contestants, 1 guy and 1 girl, before they jet off to the Czech Republic for their next challenge. OH SHIT! No challenge, no troika, nothing. Put up or shut up time – TJ’s favorite part of every challenge.

So how will our beloved remaining contestants punch their ticket to the Czech Republic? Easy. All they need to do is run a mile uphill, zip line across a huge gap, repel down the side of a bridge and run some more. Think of it like a jr. final. Each guy and girl with the slowest time will set sail for America. Since this all happens towards the end of the episode we end not knowing who will be sent home. Each cast member gives us a semi-stirring speech about why they are there so we can validate our attachments to them as they run the course. I’m all in on Kam, Brad and Leroy at this point. Especially Leroy. Not because he can’t swim but because he wants to use the prize money to open a group home with his adopted parents for kids. OMG WHAT? Is Leroy actually real life Randall Pearson from This is Us??? I’m really hoping they all make it to the end.

What were your hot takes on tonight’s episode? Who do you want to make it to the Czech Republic? Should Natalie have been back-stabbed like that? Will Leroy ever learn to swim?

The Challenge Recap: Devin’s Big Dumb No Good Plan

Challenge vet Johnny Bananas is out – a fact that Devin reminds us of right when the episode starts. After squaring off against Bananas in a literal lights out elimination Devin sends Johnny packing. With such a big personality gone there is a black-hole-sized power void left behind that needs filling and Devin fancies himself just the guy to fill it. I get how MTV shows work – particularly the Challenge _ I’ve watched this show religiously for like 15 years. We need each cast member to play a certain role and with Sarah out the competition for good (courtesy of Bananas) Devin is now the resident “schemer” of the show. The only problem is that Devin isn’t very smart. Like not even a little bit smart. He’s like the Devin Nunes of the Challenge; he’s an idiot who thinks he’s playing 3D chess when he’s actually playing checkers. Devin ain’t outmaneuvering anyone.

Another result of Johnny being gone is that Leroy finds himself on an island without an ally. Poor Leroy. I love this dude because every opportunity he has to do the wrong thing he ends up taking the high road. And each and every challenge some combination of bizarre circumstances combine to force Lee out sooner than expected. This just proves that you usually have to play dirty if you want to be in the money at the end of the show. Speaking of dirty, Big Brother’s Natalie also finds herself without a powerful ally now that Johnny is gone. Her strategy of cozying up to Johnny seems to have backfired. She’s playing the no one should put me in the elimination match because I have powerful friends game but that game only works when you have powerful friends. Is this how she handled her stint on Big Brother? My guess is she starts hanging around Zach and Tony…

After a brief mention that it is Nicole’s birthday we are ready for today’s challenge. HI TJ! Has TJ Lavin been the host of the Challenge longer than Jeff Probst has been the host of Survivor?  I feel like TJ’s retirement coffers have been absolutely stuffed courtesy of MTV/Viacom. Dude has been on this show so long and he still seems like he’s enjoying himself. He’s part of the challenge family and I’ll be devastated when he eventually leaves. Remember Dave Mira? That was rough. Who is going to replace Lavin when he finally hangs up his beanie? Only two candidates come to mind: 1. The Miz. 2. Johnny Moseley. The Miz is probably way too famous to come back and host the Challenge now, but he has been known to do a special here and there. He’s like the record setting high school QB – he’s sort of obligated to come back every now and then and let us know how he’s doing. As for Moseley, he’s hosted the Challenge before – 3 times actually. If, and when, he does come back to the Challenge I need him to come back with the intensity I saw during the big air competitions at the Pyeonchang Olympics. OHhhhhHHH MAaaanNNn! DID YOU SEE THAT GNARLY DOUBLE BACK GAINER MCTWIST?! THAT WAS…OH MAN THAT WAS SICK! WHOA. We need that Moseley.

Anyway for today’s challenge TJ explains that the cast will have to run across a beach, move pallets and stack them to form a tower where one team member can raise the Spanish flag and declare victory. Seems straight forward enough. Since Devin-not-Nunes won the last elimination he gets a coveted grenade. Grenades are a new mechanic introduced on this season of the Challenge that allow the owner of a grenade to fuck with the rest of the competitors during the day’s challenge. Devin, grenade in-hand, chooses to pick the teams for the Challenge. He’s definitely looking to stack the odds in his favor by making his team the super team while at the same time putting the people he most wants to see in an elimination event on the worst team. Since we are about mid-way through the season at this point there aren’t enough people left to form 3 equal teams of 5 so the worst team only gets 4 people. If you remember nothing else please remember that Devin made these teams:

  • Too Big to Fail team: Devin, Kam, Nelson, Kailah and Brad
  • Weak team destined to lose: Leroy, Jemmye, Kyle (“I’m not smart”), and Cara Maria.
  • Leftovers/Actual Super Team: Nicole, Natalie, Zach, Tony, and Britni

This is Devin pulling the strings all by himself. THIS IS HIS PLAN. Oh, and TJ mentions that tonight’s elimination is a double-elimination so that means potentially 2 people are going home tonight. Why the hell would anyone looking to save their own skin not put Zach and Tony on their team if you have the option? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING DEVIN! You released your ultra-top secret memo and nothing happened. America is laughing in your face now – you deserve to lose. You’re going to lose.

Let the pallet-stacking begin! Even though the weak team only has 4 players they seem to be keeping pace with the other 2 teams. During the competition Kyle admits that his fitness routine of drinking too much and loafing around the house has not prepared him for such a strenuous challenge but he’s making it work as best he can. Him and Leroy end up pulling more than their fair share of the load – they have to compensate for Jemmye – Jemmye always looks like she is just about to throw in the towel. Why does she keep coming on these shows? Everyone know if she makes it to a final she’s going to roll over. She’s going to be the new Vanessa; mark my words.

When the whistle blows it shouldn’t be a surprise that Zach, Tony, Britni, Nicole and Natalie easily beat the other two teams. What is a surprise is that the team Devin picked for himself, what should have been the safest place for him, ends up losing to a team that has 1 less person. This is an endurance-based challenge. Let that sink in for a moment. Ready? Good. Devin should teach a master class on how to royally fuck things up but present yourself as being extremely talented and successful. Did he go to the now defunct Trump University to learn these skills? How does this happen? Nelson figured out why they lost – they used the wrong strategy: muscles. See, the thing about muscles is that over time they don’t work so good when performing the same action over and over again so you actually want to have a strategy to conserve energy when you’re…I don’t know…RUNNING IN FUCKING SAND?!

So now Devin’s team has to cannibalize their own team and throw 2 members into the elimination challenge. Amazingly Devin’s team doesn’t throw Devin into the elimination even though he is without a doubt the most deserving person to go into the elimination. He’s the captain that got into the Titanic’s lifeboat dressed as a woman. Throw him in! Instead they pick Kam and Brad. Sigh. Kam gets picked because she’s a rookie. This is not the first time Kam has been thrown in for being a rookie and it probably won’t be the last. Kam could be the new Laurel. Brad gets thrown in because Brad is in a relationship with Britni and the house wants to split them up. The only thing more common than throwing a rookie into an elimination is splitting a couple up via elimination. Rule number 1 of reality TV competitions – no showmances! The heart is always your enemy. Brad, you know this. You’ve been here before but somehow you ignored this lesson so here you find yourself facing another elimination. Come on bro, get a clue.

The other two players going into the elimination will be decided by the Troika. The Troika is another new device developed by the mad scientists at MTV where 3 players from the winning team are selected to form a tribunal of sorts. Being in the Troika has one advantage – you’re safe from elimination that night. But it also has a cost – the Troika’s job is to select the players who will be going into the elimination that evening. This puts a big ol’ target on your back so you might be safe tonight but tomorrow is a whole different story. Zach, Tony and Melissa (I knew she would do this!) form the Troika after ensuring Britni that she’s safe and promise to not put her in the elimination match. The Troika begin their deliberation over who to send into the elimination and it doesn’t take long to determine that they are going to fuck over Britni. Duh. Also Nelson is going in because no one likes Nelson. His Challenge photo alone is reason enough to send the dude in each and every elimination until he goes home.

Like TJ said, tonight’s elimination is a double elimination so there’s at least two people going home tonight between Brad, Britni, Kam and Nelson. Like a kitten with a ball of yarn TJ toys with us. TJ says he’s going to take it easy on the players after such a brutal challenge earlier in the day – psych! Of course he’s not stepping off the gas. TJ only has one speed – elimination. So what will it take to stay in the competition? Not much, you just have to beat…THE CHAMPIONS! In walks Laurel, Darrell, Frank and Ashley read to bust some ass. Now I’ll give you that neither Frank nor Ashley are really champions but hey – CT is probably busy being a dad. On the other hand Darrell and Laurel are not be fucked with. Darrell has not only won the challenge 5 times, he’s now a boxer. Instead of aging gracefully into retirement Darrell may actually be in better shape than when first appeared on the Challenge back in 1992. As for Laurel – well she made a name for herself as a rookie continually going into eliminations and continually sending Challenge veterans home, one after another. She’s an absolute beast. She’s not losing. To decide who is playing who we flip a coin. Laurel will face Britni, Frank is up against Brad, Darrell versus Nelson, and Laurel will square up against Britni. Bye Britn, you ded.

The elimination itself is more medieval torture device than challenge. With a rope connecting the contestants back-to-back each will run around a circle and cross a platform to ring a bell on the opposite side. The rope is only long enough for 1 contestant to successfully ring their bell so you’re forced to drag your opponent backwards and further away from their own bell. It’s like reverse tug of war, sorta. We lead off with Brad and Frank. The whistle blows and Brad bolts towards the platform – where he easily disposes of Frank. This was no contest and no amount of editing is going to make it seem that way. Frank should not have been a champion. MTV, do better!

Next up we have Kam versus Ashley and we see a similar contest. Ashley is absolutely no match for Kam. Kam is physically bigger and stronger than Ashley. Ashley, despite her appearance, plays a more cerebral game. Physicality ain’t her thing. It doesn’t take long for Kam to drag her back far enough to reach her bell. DING! Kam is safe, again. The play to put Kam into the elimination is a Devin level fuck up because she has now twice-over proven she is here to compete. Killa Kam is coming y’all! With the 2 gimme matches over it’s time for the main event. We start with Nelson and Darrell. TJ blows the whistle and they’re off – Sisyphus meet rock. Nelson may not be the smartest competitor but he can always rely on brute force to get him out of a jam and it’s on full display against Darrell. Nelson sounds like he’s in labor, moaning and groaning making these guttural noises (think dude at the gym attempting a new max deadlift), but he doesn’t move. He can’t get to his bell but Darrell can’t either. They stay there, locked in gladiatorial combat for over 20 minutes before TJ demands blood. They reset and TJ blows the whistle once more. Even with the reset we get the same result. Darrell and Nelson are too evenly matched and we watch them struggle for an additional 40 minutes before TJ, empty-handed, calls it a draw. Nelson has survived hurricane Durrell.

Our last match is between Laurel and Britni. Britni talks a good game about how she is going to beat Laurel…and no one believes her. Laurel has absolutely nothing at stake in this competition except to remind her now-ex, Nicole, that she is a bad bitch and Nicole fucked up and Laurel is totes fine without Nicole. Shit. That’s a way better motivator than money. Britni’s screwed more than she was before. After TJ blows the whistle they’re off and it doesn’t take too much effort for Laurel to ring the bell and eliminate Britni. Britni is not back. Britni is going home. Immediately after losing she starts running her mouth about how she’s coming back and when she does Zach, Tony and Natalie are all gonna pay…blah, blah, bah. No chance. Britni is not a threat. Britni will never be a threat. Britni, say goodbye to Brad and go home.

Britni makes her exit and Laurel makes her way towards Nicole. They share an embrace and for a moment I start to think something might wonderful might happen. The challenge and This is Us share a timeslot on Tuesday evenings so maybe some of that Pearson magic is carrying over to the Challenge? Well if it did Nicole kills it because Nicole opens her big fat mouth and tells Laurel that if she really loved her than Laurel would have tried harder to make it work. NICE. It’s always good to blame the person you love for your own shortcomings, smdh. Nicole, you’re such a bro, bro. This line has never made anyone feel guilty about anything ever.

So the Teej promised us a double elimination but instead we only saw Britni leave. I’m okay with this but I was hoping for more carnage on this episode – I want the carnage I was promised! It looks like I will have to wait till next week to see how much longer Devin survives. Speaking of survival, will Nelson’s muscles hold out till the final? Can Leroy finally get a chance at glory? Will Tony drink too much and fuck everything up like he always does? Most importantly, will Kyle remember that Cara Maria’s name is Cara Maria and not Cara Marie? Tuesday seems so far away.

Looking forward: Week of 3/12

Sunday nights – a time for reflection and setting yourself up for success for the upcoming week. Gone is the sheer joy of leaving your office at 5:00PM on a Friday as you stare down the barrel of Monday’s 9:00AM gun. If you’re anything like me you’re easing into Monday with a cool and refreshing adult beverage. Liquor is for Saturdays so unless you’re going full send on Sunday it’s best to find a light beer of choice and sip on that throughout the day. Something you can watch golf to, if you’re into that. I’m not. I’ve tried. There’s not enough drama in it for me. I need artificially produced rivalries and scenarios edited to perfection in order to care about what I am watching. Sundays are for looking ahead into what glorious reality TV Viacom (mostly Viacom, but some other major networks too) have labored to share with us. Let’s look at the week ahead:

Sunday Night

  • American Idol (ABC) – The show that cursed us with American talent shows in every variety is back tonight. Simon Cowell is gone and replaced by whoever is available and trying to reinvent their careers. I should mention that I have never been one for talent/singing/dancing competitions. They all seem too formulaic for me, but then again, I watch the challenge every season and nothing really seems to change. Tonight is the first night of the new American Idol. Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and other country guy who is definitely not Blake Shelton (Not even trying to hide how much they are ripping off the voice this season) will host the most entertaining night of American Idol – the auditions! Expect a lot of raised eyebrows, quirky personalities and shocking performances from someone coming from the rustbelt who left it all behind to pursue their dreams. I’m actually dreading watching this but said I would. Lionel Richie probably said the same but at least he’s getting paid millions of dollars to do it.

Monday Night

  • Summer House (Bravo) – This is honestly, without question, my new favorite show. The cast of characters assembled is nothing short of triumphant. This is Bravo’s second season with the Summer House crew in Montauk. We’ve brought back the old favorites: Kyle, Carl, Lauren and Stephen, but added some new blood into the mix as well (both are “meh”). Lindsay is back again too because Bravo wants us to participate in the will they won’t they get back together question with her and Garrett. No thanks, I am not biting. This past episode we celebrated Kyle’s birthday, which was possibly revolutionary war themed? There were Tories, Colonists, Stephen was the queen of England, and there was a blow-up pirate ship. They drink too much rose, hook up and yell with one another all in the span of about 48 hours before returning to city and waiting 5 days to do it all over again. This is much watch TV. Everyone I’ve recommended it to has experienced “more life” after tuning in. You should too.
  • Teen Mom OG (MTV) – Drew claims this show is directly responsible for lowering the teen birthrate in America and I think I believe him. When you see how miserable the life of Farrah, aspiring porn star who is not a porn star but really an entrepreneur, is you too would never want a kid. Couple that with Amber who is constantly between human punching bags that make suitable replacement fathers for Leah and you begin to actively seek birth control at any cost. This season we’ve seen Farrah fall out with her mother (GASP), Amber bring home a new man who she met on a different reality TV show (Marriage bootcamp maybe) after calling it quits with Matt, Ryan battle a prescription drug problem and Butch get sent to rehab for his always present drug problems. None of this sounds original at this point does it? This show is in desperate need of a pivot. I once pitched the idea to my friends of a show called “Makin’ Money” starring Butch. Each week we find him in a different odd job makin’ money. Of course, for this to work he needs to be clean. So for now I have to put the idea on the shelf. Tyler, make Butch well!
  • Teen Mom Young & Pregnant (MTV) – If my previous synopsis of Teen Mom OG didn’t have you gassed up and ready for Monday’s episode don’t worry. MTV is bringing double the moms! MTV is going around the bend again with a whole new crop of teenaged mothers. We are just supposed to ignore the probably not very popular Teen Mum show we were forced to watch last season. This is different because it is more of the same American version. I don’t know much more about this show other than it exists and is on after Teen Mom OG. Rating Pending.

Tuesday

  • The Challenge (MTV) – The challenge is like fine wine – the longer it’s on the better it ages. I’ve been watching the challenge since forever back when it was real world versus road rules. I know I just dated myself but I don’t care. At all. This show is too good. MTV literally struck gold. Every season they try and spin the show a little different to make sure we are not watching the same thing over and over and over. This season the theme is vendettas. The idea here is that every competitor on the show has some beef with someone else. That’s more true for others (Johnny Bananas) than it is for others (Nicole? Really? Who doesn’t like Nicole. She’s like Mrs. Steal your girl). Either way, MTV trots these reality stars back out for season 31 of this show. They’ve included some UK Beach House and Big Brother stars along with some Big Brother US contestants to add some not necessarily needed flavor to the Challenge Stew.
  • Real Housewives – Fuck I am going to have to watch this for this blog. FUCK FUCK FUCK. There’s no escaping this show, it seems like any day of the week there is some real housewives of [Blank] on. It doesn’t even matter what time of day it is. It’s like always on. I just hope I don’t lose my mind as I watch this guaranteed shit fest. I mean I genuinely liked the Bachelor this is just like if there were a bunch of winners from the Bachelor all in a group hanging out without the Bachelors, right? Fuck. I think my girlfriend is secretly excited about this. We were at trivia one time and she absolutely killed it with the Housewives questions. I may have been dupped.

Wednesday

  • Survivor: Ghost Island (CBS) – I haven’t watched this show since season two where maybe there was someone named Kolby on it? Did he come close to winning? My buddy Trevor and I would talk at length about how much we wanted to be on this show and also do the EcoChallenge. This lasted for about a year, or as long as that season of Survivor was on TV. I quickly forget about the tribe, Jeff Probst and starving yourself until you are so weak with hunger you are choppered-out and pumped with fluids. This season’s subtitle is “Ghost Island” and I think it is meant to add a hint of intrigue? Maybe the ghost of Richard Hatch, who is maybe not dead but probably should be dead by now, is the final boss? Apparently, there is also a budding bromance on the island so that’s reason enough to watch.

Thursday

  • RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1) – I don’t really watch this but my girlfriend does. This season is all stars and she’s not very interested in watching it. That speaks volumes. She’s in a fantasy league for this and regularly wins. She’s currently in third, you guys. I think maybe this is an off season. I might watch, but I probably won’t. I fully expect people to go to other blogs to read up on this – I don’t know what clever witticisms I could offer. Please, don’t expect much from me here.
  • Jersey Shore: Family Reunion (MTV) – I’m nervous for this one. Some things are better left in the past. The Situation hasn’t aged well. Snooki is a mom. So is JWow. Pauly D is a house DJ in Vegas now. Ronnie is doing fine making club appearances or something. Someone actually married Dina!!! I have no idea what to expect from this. I’m nervous, I’m excited, I’m doubting myself – this is like prom all over again except I don’t have to wear an ill-fitting pile pants Men’s Warehouse tux and try and match it to a gold sequined dress that my date wore.

Friday

  • Master Chef Jr. – Oh hell yes. I’m starting to get to know the cast. Gordon, Joe and Christina are clicking. Kids are crying. They are making me doubt my culinary abilities. If the third episode of the season (hot takes pending) is any indication of what we can expect we are in for quite the rollercoaster this season. Shows like this always make me want to raise my cooking game and this season I’ve decided it’s time to stop buying store made pasta. I want to make my own. It seems not too difficult which means I am definitely going to fuck this up and spend approximately $20 making something that would have set me back about .99.
  • Winter Break: Hunter Mountain (MTV) – Man this show was bad. It’s basically jersey shore meets the last 5 reality TV shows MTV cancelled mid-season. I liked It, but I like bad shows, so I am speaking with authority when I say it is bad. My girlfriend told me less than 200K people watched the debut episode. This is going to be cancelled. I can feel it. MTV is moving it to Friday in the hopes that it will pick up viewership. Friday night prime time is where TV shows go to do; we all know this. How many viewers does this show need to capture in order to make it to episode 4? Infinity. Your likely last chance to watch a house full of homely east coasters and one blond Cali girl live it up on Party Mountain ends Friday. Probably. I live about 2 hours south of Hunter Mountain so the party will continue for me regardless.

And that’s looking forward this week. Which show will provide the most thrills? At what point during the week will I seriously question every decision I’ve made to get to this point? Can I make it through an episode of housewives? Goddamit.