The Challenge Rivals Episode 1 “Welcome To The Jungle”

Oh man, I’ve been looking forward to The Challenge: Rivals for a while now. In case you were unaware, this season pairs people up who have had a tumultuous history on previous Challenges or Real World seasons. Some of them are pretty dead-on while others seem pretty flimsy, but if you’re not sure why some of these folks dislike each other, they not only run down the history of Challenges past, but also get specific with what happened. A few still left me scratching my head, but everyone can’t be Evan or Paula, am I right? We’re tossed into the beginning of the episode with sound bites of the various contestants dumping on one another with Robin having the best: “You couldn’t pick a bigger cast of assholes.” True enough. Hit the jump to see who the biggest of the bunch is.

The gang get all lined up, waiting in the dark, telling the camera they weren’t sure who was going to be hosting after usual Challenge host TJ Lavin had a pretty serious bike injury between the end of the last season and this one. But then, like a damn champ, he walks out of the darkness and get the cheers of a conquering hero. I know I’ve talked a little smack about Lavin in past blog posts, but after hearing the way the cast members talk about him and how he pushes them, I found a new respect for him. Lavin drops the bomb on them that the game is Rivals and quickly starts pairing them off. I know I wrote this in the post linked above, but I’m doing through them again. CT/Adam. Cara Maria/Laurel. Johnny/Tyler. Theresa/Camila. Evan/Nehemia. Paula/Ev. Davis/Tyrie. Jenn/Mandi. Leroy/Adam. Sarah/Katelynn. Ty/Brandon. Jasmine/Jonna. Aneesa/Robin. Kenny/Wes.

A few thoughts. I still hate smug Laurel and asshole Adam (from Las Vegas, hereby referred to as LVAdam). Theresa and Camila aren’t even a blip on my memory banks. I wonder how many people they had above Nehemia when it came to picking Evan’s rival. Poor Ev. Sarah thought she didn’t have any enemies. No one has fallen faster and harder in my reality show watching esteem than Sarah. Ty and Brandon seems like a weak pairing as they only got in a little tiff once, NBD. I vaguely remember Jasmine and Jonna. Paring Kenny and Wes and CT and Adam should be interesting.

Lavin also explained a few more aspects of the game. First place winners get $100K per team (one male and one female), second place gets $50K and third gets nothing. The elimination thingy is called The Jungle. I don’t know if he explained this or not at the time, but each day all the teams–male and female–compete but only one sex is up for elimination, the other gets cash for winning. The winner of the day is safe from elimination, the losers definitely get sent into the Jungle and their opponents are voted on by the rest of the cast. I’ll jump ahead and also tell you that they’re given 20 minutes before voting to talk about their position. It looked like everyone then just voted in the room and that was that. It didn’t look like the losing team was part of the discussion, but there’s still a butt load of people left so it was hard to tell. Oh, they’re in Costa Rica for whatever that’s worth.

After getting the game explained to them, the gang was sent back to their awesome bad, which is sufficiently awesome and filled with booze. It’s got to be wild leaving your crappy, one bedroom apartment above a deli and living in the kind of place Prince rents when he’s feeling bored. At the house, Wes talks to LVAdam and Leroy, supposedly explaining the game to them, but really trying to get them under his wing so he can use and abuse them, which he tells the camera of course. In an awesome and ballsy move, Leroy tells him he doesn’t trust him AND that he won’t be trusting him because they’re going to win every challenge. Bam. Unfortunately I don’t remember them showing Wes’ reaction to this. I bet he was partially pissed and part impressed. We also see Adam and CT talking it out. CT explains that when he went off on Adam previously that his brother had recently been killed. He seems more calm, but we’ll see. Even if I hadn’t seen him freaking out in the trailers MTV has been running incessantly, I wouldn’t expect him to be completely cool the whole time. He might have gotten a longer fuse, but it’s still there, always ready to go off.

The lower case “c” challenge the next day was called High Dive. Each team had to hold hands and run off of a platform 150 feet in the air over the water. There were several hash lines in front of them and whoever jumped over the most while also jumping before a red line on the platform won. This was a female day, so the dudes were competing for a grand each while the women were trying to see who was going into the jungle. Going in Mandi was really nervous, but here and Jenn cleared 12 marks. Ev and Paula were up next and one of them stepped over the line which got them disqualified (it’s hard to tell who’s who when they’re wearing the same colored shirt, lifejackets, helmets and being shot from behind). Cara Maria and Laurel, Evan and Nehemia and Wes and Kenny did the same thing and all got DQed. Aneesa and Robin got 13, Johnny and Tyler got 14, Jonna and Jasmine 13, Davis and Tyrie 5, Adam and CT 15, Brandon and Ty 13, Katelynn and Sarah 11, Camila and Theresa 10 and Leroy and LVAdam 15.

Of course, I asked myself, “Hey, how are they going to figure out the winner with a tie and same thing for the losers? Well, let me tell you. It came down to time. For the guys, LVAdam and Leroy and Adam and CT both got 15 (which was all there were by the way), but it turned out that Leroy and LVAdam did it the fastest, so they won. Same thing happened with the girls as it came down to Aneesa and Robin and rookies Jonna and Jasmine. Once again, the rookies took it home. That left the losers and definite Jungle attendees. Seeing as how Cara Maria and Laurel DQed along with Paula and Ev, it came down to how egregious the foul was and apparently both Ev and Paula stepped over the line. There you have it.

On the way back to the house, Laurel was talking to someone about sending in Aneesa and Robin against Ev and Paula because, duh, she doesn’t want to get sent home. Turns out though that Davis and Aneesa are sitting right behind them and Davis doesn’t overhear Laurel talking, but DOES see her writing and circling Aneesa and Robin’s names in her journal. And we see it too as the camera zooms in and does a flash freeze. Back at the house, Aneesa confronts Laurel about it, Laurel says she thinks they’re the only ones who can take out Ev (no one really mentions Paula). Out of nowhere Katelynn comes in and tells Laurel she’s the only one who has a chance of taking Ev out. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but no one wants to go home the first time.

The voting goes as I mentioned above with seemingly everyone but Ev and Paula in the room talking about who should be voted in. The guys don’t really give a shit, but the girls all look like long-tailed cats at a vacuum cleaner convention. Robin decides to get up and explain why her and Aneesa shouldn’t be sent in, which turns into her rambling, then asking Aneesa to jump in. Aneesa says they think Laurel and Cara Maria have a good shot. Laurel looks shocked and actually says to the camera–I shit you not–“Don’t say my name bitch.” Amazing. But, Laurel’s better on her feet than Aneesa or Robin, she throws their names out and as I believe Davis explained, when a train of votes starts you better hop on. Soon enough, there’s no argument and Aneesa and Robin are going up against Paula and Ev. I’d like to think this was good gamesmanship and an effort to take out the second best team of the day, but I don’t think anyone aside from Wes is thinking that far ahead of the game except maybe CT. We’ll see what happens when it’s a guy game day.

With all that dumb game stuff out of the way it’s time to party! But first a few pieces of trivia I didn’t remember: Aneesa has never been sent home in a regular elimination and Robin has a kid. Wow. Okay, enough trivia. First some making out and then a fight. Jasmine–who I’m starting to remember bit by bit as being a loudmouth drunk asshole–starts flirting with Tyrie, but informs the camera that she has a boyfriend. 3, 2, 1 now they’re making out. Kenny says Tyrie is a weirdo who sleeps with his sneakers on and that Jasmine will smell like bacon for the rest of her life. Man, that guy’s a jerk, but he does great commentary. After that, Ty decides to start doing his usual thing and pushing peoples’ buttons. He goes after a few people then zeroes in on Laurel, saying her legs were fat. Now, that’s mean and uncalled for, but she was a total bitch the Easy last season so I don’t feel too bad. Then, out of nowhere, LVAdam jumps in to defend her honor. You guys remember how chivalrous he was on Real World Vegas right? Or when he said on the LV Reunion that Nani was just some girl to him after pining over her all season (even from a distance after getting kicked off that show)?

Everyone but LVAdam seems to know Ty’s schtick. He gets in peoples’ faces, riles them up and hopes they hit him so they get sent home. I don’t specifically remember this happening in previous seasons, but that doesn’t mean much. Anyway, Brandon–his partner–gets pissed off about all this back and forth between him and Adam and walks away. First we see Leroy trying to calm LVAdam down and then Jenn tries her hand at it. Something sets Adam off that we can’t see and things get really jump-cutty. Next thing you know, Johnny’s holding LVAdam back, but he’s charging across the patio. He runs into Mandi whose back was turned to him and knocks her on the ground. It then looks like Johnny flips LVAdam on his back. The next thing we know, LVAdam pops up out of nowhere and punch slaps (or better yet slap punches) Ty in the face. The field producer then appears and tells Adam he needs to leave, Adam just kind of stands there, the producer tells him if he doesn’t leave they’ll call the cops, he walks outside, Leroy tells him he’s a dumbass and that his attitude is going to get him hurt or killed, then he’s out. Good riddance asshole.

I’d like to take a moment out of the play by play and chastise MTV. No, I don’t care that they’re showing stupid pointless violence on television, I’m mad that they’re not showing MORE. The way this thing was edited together was insane and hard to comprehend, which is ridiculous because it looked like a camera man was right in the middle of all this, shooting it and then they cut to another camera focusing on another group of people reacting to the scuffle. It makes things a lot harder to understand when you don’t just show it, or at least show it for more than a few seconds. Mandi getting hurt is a lot worse in the grand scheme of things that Adam being a douche, yet they did a slow-mo replay of that. Speaking of which, she was fine. A medic checked her out and asked the probably drunk girl if she wanted to go to the hospital, which she said no, so she went back inside and flirted with CT. What I’m saying, though, is just show the damn fights, that’s what we’re here for.

After all this Ty explains that it wasn’t his intent to get someone to hit him and go home (bullshit) but that if he could do that to all the guys and get hit at once, he’d take the win. That makes you a bitch, dude. TJ Lavin should slap the shit out of you and send you home. Try not to fall over and quit in the Jungle like you did in the last Challenge.

With all that out of the way, it’s Jungle time. I missed what it was actually called, but the teams had to hold hands while on separate boards that were being moved further apart as TJ pulled a lever. It’s kind of like one of those partner trust exercises where you walk on a bridge that keeps getting further apart, but you lean on each other and make it. Anyway, it was kind of interesting, but after all the shenanigans earlier, not much of a show. Aneesa and Robin seemed to be doing pretty well, but then, after a fourth or fifth click by TJ, Aneesa stopped doing it whatever way they had been doing it before (according to Robin) and they fell. It looked like it might have been just in the nick of time, though, because Ev and Paula seemed to fall immediately afterwards. So, there you have it, what could have been a game changer turns into Ev sending another pair home, even if it was Aneesa the Unbeatable.

Maybe it’s because we’re still so early in the season, but it seemed like a lot of stuff was cut out. The episode was designed for a specific story after a certain point (Aneesa and Robin against Laurel) and that’s all you saw. You didn’t see Wes trying to manipulate anyone or Kenny/Evan/Johnny talking or even Ev and Paula trying to convince someone to vote in a particular team. I know there’s a lot of people to keep track of at this point and the drama is pretty specific at times (you’ve got to show the Adam/Ty fight and Tyrie kissing Jasmine) but it felt really rushed to me. I don’t say this often–and even gave Next Food Network Chef some trouble for it–but I think this could have easily been an 90-120 minute episode. Ah well, I’m sold on this season and can’t wait to see what happens!

UPDATE! I completely forgot to mention that Lerory’s new partner is now Mike from Las Vegas which is strange because they are total BFFs. Also, it was completely spoiled on MTV.com’s Challenge: Rivals page. I had opened it for name reference while taking notes and it was already talking about how people are getting annoyed by his geekiness. Big shocker there. Can’t wait for him to sit in judgement of everyone and drag Leroy down. Also, are they keeping spare cast members in Costa Rica just in case people get tossed off? Methinks yes.

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