Tonight’s episode of The Challenge: Rivals was packed with drunken debauchery, travel to exotic places, intrigue, one of the lamest challenges I’ve ever seen, betrayal, callbacks to previous seasons, romance, fights, tension, drunken arguments, a piano in danger, soda soaking and the most hated three words in the history of television: To Be Continued. I was taken aback by not only how much I enjoyed tonight’s episode, but also how engrossed I got, to the point where I hadn’t realized the hour was almost up. It’s been a while since that happened. As you might remember from the end of the previous episode, the gang had just found out that they were heading to Buenos Aires. They’re only cautious when interviewed after the fact, but in the moment they decided to make tribal duds out of sheets and anything else they could find which, of course, lead to weird making out and butt slapping with sticks. I can only imagine how these things must get to people. As if all that wasn’t enough, later in the evening (it’s impossible to tell how late anything is happening in these houses cause there’s always a million lights on), Mike flips into a RAGE because someone threw cookies at him. I’ve seen Mike be an asshole, but never freak out quite like this. I’m talking near-meltdown here, you guys. He’s yelling, dropping F bombs like it’s wartimes and winds up moving into a different room to sleep. He even argues with his partner Leroy for not sticking up for him, but Leroy said Mike needs to stop playing games with them because they don’t know when to stop.The next day they fly to Buenos Aires where they’re staying in this big huge villa that looks amazing and for some reason has a piano in the middle of one of the hallways. Who thought this was a good idea? Were they expecting Johnny and Ev to sit around playing into the wee hours as the others smoked cigars wearing tuxes and discussing the latest works of deconstructionist literature? Anyway, Laurel and CT seem to make up after having a heart to heart, then there’s some wild craziness in one of the rooms where people wind up naked, there’s wrestling going on, beds are being thrown. No one seems to get hurt though, so no big deal. Just blowing off steam. Then some real insanity goes down. The stuff in that room moves throughout the house and Wes dumps a two liter (he said two and a half, do they even make those?) of soda on Cara Maria’s head, which has a similar effect of dumping water on a Mogwai. Well, not really. Nothing shot off her back and she didn’t turn evil, but she did get really bummed out. That’s practically the same right? Wes then decides to follow Cara Maria into her room where he sits down and tells her no one likes her. Laurel comes in and lights into him and gets him to leave. It was a thing of beauty. She’s not intimidated by ANYONE in that house and lets them know it. As Wes fell in my opinion tonight, Laurel rose up. Dogs and cats must be living together, because this surely must be End Times type stuff.
But, it’s not over. I missed a bit here, but it seemed like Laurel decided to go get Wes back. By the time I got back in the room she was chasing him around that lovely piano with her own bottle of soda. This freaked Tyler out beyond belief, which makes me think the producers sat down with them and were like “You break this piano, we own you for the next decade.” So, Tyler starts yelling at Laurel as well, but she’s not having it. Someone (Johnny I believe) throws a water bottle at Laurel and then for some reason Paula jumps on her. She was also dogging Cara Maria earlier too (forgot to mention that, a lot is going on). All of this brought out Laurel’s wrath. As I said on Twitter, it was like watching an expert butcher dismantle a cow. Laurel was sharp and precise and cut DEEP, bringing up the facts that Paula was old, not married, had no kids, was anorexic and had never won a Challenge among other things. It was terrifying and impressive. I can spot peoples’ weaknesses, but rarely ever mention them. I also haven’t been crammed into a house with a bunch of horny, money hungry, scheming madpeople. Paula starts crying, Laurel walks away. The night is over.
We finally get to the challenge which is called Bombs Away and involves climbing, hanging, water (of course) and a helicopter. One person was tied to the helicopter, the other jumped onto a rope ladder from a boat, had to climb up to a certain point and pull a rope to release their partner. Shortest time wins. Here’s my problem with this challenge, it’s a complete skate-through for one of the teammates. The person hanging from the helicopter does NOTHING. They’re literally just hanging there waiting to fall. They can’t help or hurt in any way. I chided the gamemakers last week for reusing a Jungle, but this is just boring, lazy and lame. Ev and Paula set the order which apparently involved all the ladies going first and then the fellas (or at least it was edited that way). Cara Maria hung while Laurel climbed like a maniac, it seemed like it was fast, but the others were even faster. Jenn and Ev both climbed with Ev doing better. The producers really tried to make this seem epic, but who cares? They’re all in, they’re just playing for money. Snore. Next.
As always, CT and Adam were made to go first for their sex. CT seemed to be struggling right off the bat, which was strange because the ladies didn’t seem to have trouble with the rope hitting the water. He said that made him swing around and it looked like the copter might have been flying lower than but who knows. In the end, he wound up falling in the water and getting disqualified. Mike and Leroy were up next with Leroy tearing the thing apart, getting it done in under 10 seconds which you could see terrified the rest of the guys. Johnny climbs next but doesn’t go faster than Leroy, which leaves Wes and Kenny. Knowing Kenny’s been struggling, Wes does the climbing. He goes fast, but not as fast as Leroy.So, that means that Ev and Paula won for the women. Boring, next. CT and Adam obviously lost as they were the only ones who got disqualified which left the winner obviously being Leroy and Mike. I’ve got to say that that team really lucked out thanks to this dumb, boring challenge. This also put the people in an interesting and unenviable position. They were clearly saving Leroy and Mike to throw in against CT and Adam at the end, but that’s not how it worked out, is it? That left a choice between Team Kenny and Wes and Team Johnny and Tyler. Johnny kept saying there was a respectable way to figure it out which meant he didn’t want Wes to bully everyone else–including Kenny–into voting for the other team. Say what you will about Wes, but dude knows how to play the game.
Although, there was another change to the game. Instead of everyone going back and discussing who to throw in, TJ Lavin told them they had to vote while still standing on the podiums they’re put on like so many garage sale trophies. Ev and Paula were up first, waffled and wound up voting for Johnny and Tyler which was nuts because her and Tyler are close. Jenn and Mandi voted for Kenny and Wes which was surprising. Laurel and Cara Maria wound up voting for Johnny and Tyler because, according to Cara Maria, she’s friends with Kenny. Really? It then bounced over to the fellas starting with Mike and Leroy who basically asked who to vote for and wound up going for Johnny and Tyler (woulda been awesome if they showed some balls and voted for Kenny and Wes, which would have made more sense from a competitive perspective, two strong teams enter, one leaves, that’s better for everyone). Johnny and Tyler voted for Wes and Kenny who did the the opposite, which wound up with Johnny and Tyler going into the Jungle. Tyler and Johnny seemed shocked that all this could happen. Really? I mean, you’re laying down with lions, bro, did you really not expect to get bitten? How surprised these two dudes are is actually shocking to me. What in the world made them think that Wes of all people and Kenny, the ultimate coattail rider would be stand up dudes and volunteer themselves to go in this close to the end? Johnny’s mad at Kenny for not sticking up for his buddy, while Tyler seems to be mad at, well, everyone who voted for him.
Cue a series of ridiculous nonsense, starting with Jenn telling Johnny and Tyler they’re the only ones who could take out CT and Adam followed by Tyler saying he could anchor against CT, or some such. I mean, Tyler’s a fit dude, but CT is a beast. He’s the Hulk, Bruce Banner when his classes are on and his hair is gelled up, an angry, spitting, smashing monster when the glasses come off and gets some liquor in him. Tyler then sits down with Paula and tells her how upset he is with her. She says she’s playing the game. Blah blah blah. Tyler then moves on to Mike for some reason. Leroy points out that, had had they lost, he and his partner would have been thrown in without the blink of an eye. He then tells Tyler he’s scared. Tyler’s response is saying how many Challenges he’s won. Tyler starts getting in Leroy’s face. It’s all nonsense. Tyler, just shut up and prepare for the Jungle, dude. But, apparently the Jungle’s not the next day as the gang wind up hanging around the house for another day. Tyler wakes up thinking that he’s pushed through a lot of negativity and thinks a lot better of himself now. Great. We then get a scene of the guys minus CT and Adam talking about Adam being the weak link of his team. They say he’s gotten a big head because he’s hooking up with a girl (Jenn) and has a solid teammate. Yeah, what an asshole. I’m sure they wouldn’t be walking around all puffy chested given the same situation. Wes still decides that it’s time to go after Adam which leads directly into a club scene with a parade of dudes talking to Adam and giving him shit about CT or somesuch. Being a public place packed with all the people they’re playing the game with, CT of course sees this and steps in to break it up. Tensions are rising with Johnny and Kenny and whoever else getting in CT’s face. It’s getting pretty wild and then…bam…To be Continued.
Wow, I really didn’t see that coming. I was so wrapped up in the potential fight–I don’t think CT would be foolish enough to throw a punch this late in the game, this close to the money, but you never know–that I hadn’t looked at the clock. I felt like such a noob. Anyway, there was enough going on in the episode that I didn’t really mind the lame challenge or the TBC bomb drop.
Oh, I also checked out the after show because it was hosted by The Miz. I love that guy and really want the next season of The Challenge to be “Everyone Vs. The Miz.” You can have that idea for free, I just want to see it. Anyway, Wes apologized to Cara Maria for being a jerk, but can you ever really believe a Wes apology? We saw more of the Paula/Laurel fight which made it seem less precise but more grueling. Laurel didn’t apologize because she said she was defending her friend and that Paula hadn’t apologized or acknowledged her own role in the proceedings. The rest is mostly about Paula and Mike with a few clips of CT helping Mike get ready for a night out and Mike with his blow-up doll dubbed Paula 2.0.
I’m going to end with a bit of commentary, so feel free to tune out (I know, this has been a LONG post). I came into this Challenge really disliking Laurel. She had been an overconfident jerk in her first season and downright mean to Easy and Cara Maria in the previous one, but I like that she finally got over whatever nonsense she felt with CM and put her powers to good use, defending the defenseless. I’ve had friends like that and they can be a blessing when you’re overwhelmed. I’m also liking Wes less and less this season as he seems to have devolved from a clever schemer to a bullying ass. He told the Miz he was mean to Cara Maria because he thought she was fake. Really? You’re the dude who tells everyone what they want to hear and you’re dumping on others for even possibly being fake? Wow. His bullying nature has put me off and I’m glad at least someone has the guts to stand up to him. I can’t believe I’m writing all this, it’s like loving Batman and hating the Joker for years and then rooting for the Joker. It feels wrong.