I’ll give tonight’s episode of The Challenge: Rivals one thing, it had a few surprises. They’re not really surprises I cared much about, but they were there. I realized something while watching tonight’s episode: the female teams this season are not very interesting. Maybe it’s because they’re not as braggadocios as the fellas or because they’re not really playing the game (the strategic part of the game, I mean, not the challenges and what not) the way the guys are, but I’m pretty bored with them for the most part. It also seems like they’re just generally weaker. I don’t mean that in a general “men strong, women weak” way, but that–aside from Ev and Paula–these specific women don’t really feel like contenders. It doesn’t help that the men are basically running things and no one male or female has decided to stand up to them. Ah well, hit the jump for all the deets. The ep kicks off with the group all playing some kind of game, which serves as a vehicle for Adam to tell us that he’s had a crush on Jenn for three years. The game turns into a female-and-Tyler free for all skinny dipping session with Jenn, Laurel, pantieless Paula and I think Mandi baring all and jumping in. Then there’s some junk about Sarah complaining that she can’t rely on Katelynn. This will be a theme throughout.
In another part of the grounds, Jasmine and Jonna are talking with Jenn (she’s weirdly important as a secondary character sort of way this episode). Jenn’s trying to give them advice, but Team JJ looks pretty blazed if you ask me and Jasmine doesn’t like to be told what to do by anyone. Jenn leaves, leaving the teammates to chat, which devolves into Jasmine shouting and Jonna and FREAKING OUT. There’s a great bit where Mandi wanders into their argument zone, looks around awkwardly, hoping to find someone else to talk to and then, finding no one, scurries away. At another point, Wes and CT are watching the meltdown like it’s TV. They must get really bored at these things. Jasmine goes so far as to drop her mic and take her shirt off for some reason, then walk out the front of the house. Out there, Evan and Jenn (there she is again) try to talk her down, fail and then Evan just picks her up and brings her back to Jonna. Somehow this works and they patch things up. Weird. I’m getting pretty sick of Jasmine’s shenanigans.
The challenge this time around is called Against The Current. Each team starts off in a canoe pointing upstream (against the current). They’re inside an area called the zone. Once the whistle is blown they have to paddle as hard as possible upstream inside the zone. Once they leave the zone, they then have to switch around and paddle down stream as fast as they can. The time they spend inside the zone is actually taken off the time it takes them to get to the finish line. Fastest wins and you can’t be away from the boat for more than 30 seconds. Also, it’s a women’s challenge day.
Since they won the previous challenge, Johnny and Tyler pick the order and make CT and Adam go first. They do pretty well. Team JJ, Mike and Leroy and Jenn and Mandi all go through pretty well. Evan and Nehemiah are up next. Apparently Evan had a plan, but it didn’t work. No shocker there. Next up it’s drama queen Sarah and poor Katelynn. Before going in, Sarah complains some more about Katelynn. Chick sounds like a broken record of awfulness. When they go, they do alright in the zone, but hit some trouble heading towards the finish line. Both get knocked out of the boat, but Katelynn stays nearby and gets back in. She doesn’t see Sarah and starts to worry. MTV cuts to a commercial to build tension. Turns out Sarah pops up at the finish line, but she not only has to cross it with her partner, but also can’t be away for more than the seconds. Sarah starts trudging back upstream and winds up not being able to get back on the boat in time. She’s pissed. None of it is her fault, of course.
Wes and Kenny are the only other ones to get disqualified for being away from the boat too long. The only screen time Kenny got this episode were him sucking at rowing kayaks and saying that he’s cursed. Dude’s clearly fallen on hard times if he can’t even get a clever quip in here and there. Laurel and Cara Maria, Johnny and Tyler and Paula and Ev all make it through quickly, though Tyler smashed his junk on a rock while crossing the finish line. It was all worth it though, because Johnny and Tyler won the cash for the day. For the ladies, since they were the only ones to get DQed, Sarah and Katelynn got a ticket to The Jungle. Out of nowhere, Jenn and Mandi wound up winning (I guess she’s sorta important).
Back at the house, Jonna asks Wes if he’s voting for Team JJ. Wes says he will because they voted against the group last time around. Jonna tells Jasmine this and she’s not very excited about being told what to do, but when it comes to voting time, their names come up first and they agree, so that’s that. Katelynn and Sarah versus Jasmine and Jonna? We win no matter who wins, right?
There’s a strange interlude here where Jenn is in Adam’s bed, but leaves because Leroy is snoring too loudly. She walks out the door and one of the guys tells him to go after her. So what does he do? Goes and talks to Evan and pours out his soul, which just gives him ammo, dummy. They wake up together in the same bed the next day. All the guys are telling Adam she must be into him while Jenn is telling the girls that Adam is gross and that she wouldn’t touch him sober. Ouch. Nothing else comes of all this this episode, but maybe later? We shall see.
Then, TJ shows up at the house, which we already know is strange, but are also told as such by the cast members. As if anyone unfamiliar with the proceedings is watching the 20th season of The Challenge. He gets the Jungle girls together and tells them that one player from each team will have to go with him right then. He won’t say anything else and they only have 5 minutes. Jasmine and Katelynn both go. After Teej (people call me that sometimes, so I assume Lavin gets it too) takes them away, Sarah tells no one in particular that she’s sure she can beat Jonna. Seriously, no one likes her anymore, do they? Talk about diminishing returns. At this point, I figured the Jungle would be something about trying to find the partner. I was envisioning something in the woods, but was wrong.
Not all the way wrong though. The Jungle is called Unburied. Jasmine and Katelynn have both been put into coffins with two doors. The coffin is then covered in a giant mound of hay. When the whistle blows, Sarah and Jonna have to jump into the mounds, find the coffin, dig it out so that both doors can open and THEN go do a puzzle I can’t even begin to explain because I hate puzzles. Oh, also,the buried one can’t talk and the diggers are not told which pile of hay their partner is in. The horn blows and it’s off to the diffing races! Sarah takes an early lead, finding the coffin and digging a fair amount out, but then looks inside and realizes she just dug out part of Jasmine’s coffin. They switch and Jonna catches a bit of a break.
It doesn’t do much, because Sarah winds up getting Katelynn dug out first. They run over to the puzzle and Katelynn tells the camera she’s really familiar with this puzzle and could do it in her sleep. Sarah also thinks she’s good at puzzles. Jonna and Jasmine aren’t too far behind and soon enough both of them are going to work on the puzzle. Team JJ seem to be running around like lunatics, so it seems like this is Sarah and Katelynn’s to lose. And they do. Apparently–according to Katelynn–Sarah started moving pieces around she wasn’t supposed to. Oh and Jonna’s good at puzzles so blammo.
Really, this one was a battle for who I could care less about. The funny thing is that I actually like one member from each team and am sick to death of the other. Jonna has done nothing particularly offensive or awful and I like the idea of rookies doing well, but Jasmine is just SO annoying and over the top. By the way, she said she’d raise hell if they won the Jungle. We’ll see. If anyone would do it it’s her, but how much damage can one team do to the machine? Anyway, I think it’s pretty obvious that I greatly dislike Sarah, but also have zero problem with Katelynn.
At the end of the episode Johnny and Tyler talk about how good of a spot they’re in because they actually like and get along with each other well, something they don’t think is true of any of the other teams. I’d say that’s pretty accurate aside from Mike and Leroy, who they probably don’t even think of as contenders. I think they’re right for the most part, but also that teams like Ev and Paula and Evan and Nehemiah are able to get past the nonsense in order to win. It’s funny because the rival-ness of the show hasn’t really come into play a whole lot. Unless some of the non Boy Alliance teams wise up and stop following the herd, the rest of this season is going to be pretty boring and wind up leading only them to the finale. That’s just boring TV, like watching a football season knowing which teams are going to make the playoffs and still watching the whole season.