Well tonight’s episode of The Challenge certainly had a few surprises I didn’t see coming. The team that won the challenge was a surprise. Not just one team, but two got sent home. One contestant displayed some deplorable behavior that would make the Jersey Shore guys cringe. A fight broke out. And, The Dome sent one of the more imposing teams home. To get the full report, hit the jump! First off, I’m starting to see the pattern that will most likely follow through the rest of the Battle of the Exes season. We start off with people reflecting on their relationships, to the camera, with one another or with their former lover (I hate that word, it skeevs me out). After that we get to the challenge, someone loses, two teams compete to see who wins and then, back at the house, the Power Couple implies that only two teams are in danger of being sent in. Follow that with partying and more couple stuff, hit up the Dome and then go back to the house for more hook ups and couple drama. Oh, there’s also always a scene or two of one person talking to someone about their partner who just so happens to be standing on the balcony above them. As you might expect, this episode started with relationship reminiscing. The main focuses this time around are Wes and Mandi, Jasmine and Tyrie and Vinny and Sarah. The long and short of it is that Wes still has a thing for Mandi and regrets letting her go, but she had a boyfriend. Jasmine thinks Tyrie has a thing for her, she tells this to someone in the pool with Tyrie in ear shot on a balcony (whether this is actually what happened or it was clipped together remains to be seen). This leads to a fight, of course, with Jasmine losing her freaking mind and going after Tyrie with fists flying. Wes keeps her away from him and everything settles down. Finally, Sarah waxes poetic on Vinny and still seems to like the doof for some reason.
Cut to the challenge which is called Hook Up. This one’s a bit difficult to explain, but I’ll try. There are several planks suspended in the air (over water of course). As a couple, you have to move from one plank to the next using a large stick with a hook on it. There are rings between the planks which are spaced further and further apart the further you go. The two teams that get the most planks in the shortest amount of time face off against each other to see who becomes the Power Couple while the team that gets the fewest planks in the shortest time loses and automatically gets sent in.
Since Johnny and Camila are still the Power Couple, they get to choose the order. As you’d expect Wes and Mandi went first along with Dustin and Heather and got one and two planks respectively. Tyrie and Jasmine go at the same time as Naomi and Leroy with both getting one. Sarah and Vinny get three, while Ty and Emily fall after two. CT and Diem run into some communication problems up there, he yells at her and she won’t move. Meanwhile, they only get two while Abe and Cara Maria walk away with the same number. Mark and Robin fall after the first with Robin smacking her face into the padded platform (she’s okay it seems) while Camila and Johnny make it all the way to the end. Finally, Aneesa and Rachel compete alongside Paula and Dunbar with both getting one. Turns out that, obviously, Johnny and Camila made it to the finals, but so did Vinny and Sarah, so they went up again and Sarah and Vinny came away with a surprise win. Meanwhile, the losers turned out to be Leroy and Naomi, so they’re automatically in The Dome. I gotta say, I’ve disliked Sarah more and more with every Challenge, but I was rooting for her and Vinny, but anyone is better than Johnny coming home with another win. Back at the house, things get odd. Apparently Sarah has this thing about not wanting drama or chaos in the Challenge house. Let that sink in a second. Yes, it’s insane. Also, don’t forget that Sarah spent huge amounts of her past two Challenges making them hell for various teammates she didn’t deem worthy. So, with that in mind, she sits Jasmine and Tyrie down and explains all that to them as a way to explain that they might be sent into the Dome. Then you see Vinny and Sarah holding court with Wes and Mandi. I thought they were just having a conversation (and maybe they are) but then Vinny says he doesn’t like that Wes sent him and Sarah into the whatever during Fresh Meat 2. Wes explains that this is a different game, but Vinny doesn’t seem to be listening. You just know this dude wanted to be on Jersey Shore and was disappointed when he landed a Challenge. Wes tells the camera that this game in particular is rough for him because he’s better at all of them at the game…and life. Why do I love this guy?
Instead of sticking around the house, the gang all head out to a club. Everyone’s dancing and having a good time. I was looking at something on my computer and my wife pointed out that Mandi was wearing a shirt that looked a lot more like a scarf than anything. We then get to see Aneesa and Leroy dancing in a way that would make Madonna curious and then things get gross. What first looks like a nip slip from Mandi turns into something awful when it turns out that Vinny walked behind her and pulled her shirt open. She realizes, runs away and covers herself back up. He thinks the whole thing is a joke. Wes comforts her and tells the camera that if this was the real world, he would have knocked Vinny out, but too much is on the line. It’s a smart way to play, but man, it must have been hard not to slug that slug. The next morning, before TJ shows up to find out who Vinny and Sarah are sending into the Dome, Mark informs us via interview that you can get sent home for the kind of thing that Vinny did. It seems like that won’t be happening because TJ shows up, everyone’s gathered together in the “sending people into the Dome” room and they get down to business. At first Sarah brings up Tyrie and Jasmine, so I thought they were the ones going in and then Vinny goes on this strange tangent about wanting to send in the ugliest team or guy and that he feels bad for Mandi and all this nonsense. Not once does he apologize for what he did. Then, Wes calls him on his bullshit and asks what he would have done if someone had done what he did to Mandi the night before and Vinny replies with something along the lines of “Shut up, you’re an idiot.” After THAT, they send Wes and Mandi into the Dome! I was pretty shocked, that’s low class.
There’s an interlude before the Dome, which must always be at night for ambiance, that finds Wes and Sarah talking in the pool. Wes says he’s worried for Sarah that Vinny might get replaced and she just wants peace in the house. I’m not sure where all this comes from, maybe it wound up on the cutting room floor, but it seems to be coming out of nowhere. And then, TJ’s back in the house explaining that Vinny has to leave because you can’t pull that kind of nonsense. So, the big question is what will happen to Sarah. I was wondering if there was anyone she hooked up with on her Real World season, but couldn’t think of anyone. Then, my wife tossed out Kenny’s name. It wouldn’t surprise me if Kenny is just hanging out at all times in case someone gets sent home. But, as we found out after a long commercial break, she got sent home too! I don’t remember this ever happening before. Last season on Rivals, when Adam flipped out, Leroy didn’t get sent home, Mike came in to replace him. I can’t think of any other examples, but I know they’re out there. I actually felt pretty bad for Sarah who was crying and upset and Vinny didn’t say one thing to her. Jerk. Please keep that assbag off of all future Challenges.
Even more surprising is the fact that they still have the Dome! They lost one team already and now they’re about to lose a second. The challenge is called X Battle and it’s a pretty basic one. There’s an X that players of the same sex grab onto and have to wrestle away from the other. Men and women both go, best of three wins. If there’s a tie, there’s a coin flip and either the men or women will play again to see who wins.
This one was pretty intense. I like Leroy, but I think Naomi is weak sauce and way too much drama with how obsessed she is with him. I can’t seem to make myself not like Wes, so he was the one I was rooting for. Alas, it was not meant to be. Leroy and Wes went first and they battled like dogs, but Leroy came away with the X. Then it was up to Mandi and Naomi and this time Mandi got it twice. The coin was flipped and it landed on men. It was another tough one, but Wes never seemed to get the strategy that Mandi got naturally: get between the other person and the X. That gives you more leverage to wrench it away. His flying head butt into Leroy looked cool, but it didn’t work out like he planned. So, unfortunately, Wes and Mandi got sent home. I like how Wes screws with people and think he’s noble in a strange way within the context of the show. I also don’t want to see Johnny try and take over now.
There’s more Naomi and Leroy drama back at the house when he tells her not to sleep in his bed anymore because he doesn’t want to lead her on. Naomi’s issues with intimacy are pretty huge and get annoying after a while. We get it, you’re territorial and desperate for connection, deal with it already. So, there’s that.
A few thoughts. It seemed odd how the second half of this episode was put together. Why did TJ come to the house twice? Shouldn’t he have just kicked Vinny off right away? Did they keep him around to make his stupid speech and vote Wes and Mandi in and then get rid of him? Was it filmed in a different order? Interesting. Also, with Wes gone, I wonder if Abe will step up as a kind of ring leader or drama instigator. I don’t remember seeing him and Johnny bump up against each other, but I’d like to. After the first episode’s focus on CT and Diem, I was surprised to see them take up very little screen time tonight. Looks like we’ll get back to that next week though as Diem’s recounting of her past with CT seems to make Abe cry. Shit’s gonna get real, you guys, real emotional.