Well, this was quite the episode of The Challenge: Rivals II. We had castmates leaving, more than two getting sent home, new hook-ups, a pretty intense challenge, two big fights and a Jungle with surprising results. The episode kicks off with a tryst between Marlon and Derek. If you remember from Marlon’s season, he told his housemates that he was bisexual, but since the season didn’t air before Rivals II started filming, the others had no idea what was going on. Jordan tells them the story we heard, so word of him being bi gets out.
Marlon doesn’t care about any of this until the whole group is playing a game where you pull a name out of a bowl and have to act like that person until the others guess correctly. Leroy gets Marlon’s name, but doesn’t really know him well enough to play the game. Wes says he’ll do it, but Knight gets word of whose name is on the paper, so he gets up and simulates oral sex on Wes before quickly saying, “It’s Marlon!” This is the equivalent of dragging a needle across a record and stops the party dead. Before you know it, Marlon and Knight are about to get into it, with both of their partners trying to hold them back for fear of getting sent home themselves. This puts Preston in a bad place because, as a gay man, he’s defending a guy who’s at the very least insensitive (and possibly a downright homophobe). But, hey, it’s for money, right? During all this, Jemmye made me laugh pretty hard when she said she’d pay money to see Marlon knock Knight out. You can put me down for a five spot too.
Marlon walks away to cool off and eventually finds himself back outside talking to Aneesa who says she can relate to him coming out in front of a group like this that’s not always great at not being jerks. For some reason, Aneesa talking to Marlon off to a side bothers Trishelle who starts complaining about it. Jemmye comes over and tells Aneesa this and then a-whole-nother fight breaks out. There’s a lot of yelling and, at one point, it looked like Trishelle was going in to hit Aneesa, so she put her arm up and maybe-sorta close-lined Trishelle a bit. As Aneesa said, she didn’t hit her though, so she’s good to stay.
Trishelle wakes up the next morning and starts packing, telling Emily she’s leaving. Emily relays the information to Trishelle’s partner Sarah who looks bummed but not overly shocked. Trishelle seems to leave pretty quickly and later on TJ shows up at the house asking everyone to get together. Turns out, Cara Maria was the only woman on the bench they had and Sarah got sent home (just like she did when Vinny acted a damn fool during Battle Of The Exes). I’ve got to say, this move surprised me because you’d expect with a concept like Rivals that production would have a number of potential fill in people. How crazy would it have been to bring Laurel in this late in the game?
Anyway, that wasn’t happening. Instead we cut to the challenge which was called Mind Over Splatter. There’s this bonkers structure hanging over water (of course). They’ve got to climb up a rope ladder one at a time and then travel down two ropes while straddling them, but they’ve got to do this part in pretty close proximity. You’ve got 10 minutes to finish. If one person falls from the ropes, the other person has to stop and wait for the other to get back up on the structure, re-climb the rope and then go from there.
You might remember from the last episode that Wes and Preston dropped out of a female challenge because they didn’t want to do stuff. TJ said they’d be penalized this time around and that turned out to be not only a 30 second penalty, but they also had to go first. And they gave the craziest show because Knight and Preston flipped over so they were dangling upside down. Knight wound up falling into the water and finally getting back on the ropes. They got a few feet away from the finish with very little time left and then Preston wound up falling making them the team to beat in order to avoid the Jungle automatically.
The rest were pretty standard. The teams, which alternated between sexes, all finished and all seemed pretty equal with one another. Highlights included Marlon and Jordan flipping over, but still killing the rest of the course and pretty speedy performances by Zach and Trey, Frank and Johnny and Marlon and Jordan, but Frank and Johnny walked away with the victory as did Emily and Paula.
This time around, Diem explains her group’s plan: continue voting for Robb and Derek in an effort to not make any other teams upset. At first this sounded dumb to me, but after thinking on it, it makes more sense. You’ve got to vote for someone, so why spread around the anger you’ll cause by voting people in? When it comes back around to you, a team like Robb and Derek will only have one vote and something like three or four teams to vote for, so the odds are in your favor. Well played Diem.
But, everyone’s not in on the plan. Diem and Aneesa, Emily and Paula and Camila and Jemmye vote for Robb and Derek. Meanwhile, Marlon and Trey get votes from Nany and Jonna and Cooke and Cara Maria while Leroy and Ty get a vote from Jasmine and Theresa. Now, this seemed goofy and odd, but I think it might actually be a good plan these two teams have worked out. In the last voting session, Ty and Leroy voted for these ladies which seemed like a complete throwaway, this time the women “got them back,” but it’s possible this is all just a nice game of misdirection, especially because they did their votes in the middle or towards the end. Well played you sneaky folks.
We then move on to what might be one of the best Jungles/finals of all time called Snapper. When I saw the big red circle on the ground I groaned, thinking this would be another one of those finals where dudes try to smash each other out of a box. But, oh no, that’s not the case. Instead, each person is blindfolded, wearing bells around the ankles, given movement clues by their partner and handed a colorful stick. The goal? Break that stick over your opponent. It looked like the goofies Star Wars cosplay in the world and there’s nothing wrong with that.
First, Robb went up against Preston. This one went by pretty quickly once they got close to each other with Robb just wailing on Preston like a snake. They got the first point. Then Preston and Knight developed code words and a pretty solid idea: stay low. Derek got close to Knight, but he was doing all these crazy motions and wound up getting Derek in the leg. Finally, it was done to a battle between Robb and Knight. Robb had some trouble squaring off in the correct direction, but Knight was doing all those crazy moves and wound up sending Robb and Derek home.
I was stunned. I’ve made my opinions about Knight pretty clear. I think he’s an emotional terrorist who knows how to hit buttons. In other words he’s a bully who relies on his words because he usually doesn’t have the physical presence to actually be good at these games. It’s time for that jerkstore to be done with these things.
Anyway, I’ve noticed a few things about this season that seem noteworthy. First off, the rivalries all seem pretty dead, right? All the fights we’ve seen are between non-teammates and it looks like the supposed enemies are getting along well. That’s kind of boring and defeats the point of this season, right? There’s also a weird let down that comes immediately after a team wins the challenge because right after that, they’re no longer important. In other Challenges, the winners would be safe but also have a hand in figuring out who would go in. Now, the focus shifts immediately away from the winner to the folks of the opposite sex trying to figure out who they’re going to toss in. It’s a bit anticlimactic and also shifts the focus of the challenges from “Who will win?!” to “Who will lose?” which feels strange to me. Ah well, like I said, I enjoyed this episode for the most part and am always curious to see what happens next.