The Challenge Rivals II Episode 5

Wow, you guys. I’ve watched more seasons of The Challenge than I can count and I’ve never seen one with such wildly stupid voting as this one. Of course, it’s far too early to get into that just yet, so let’s hop right in. The top of the show featured two interesting bits of news. First off, Leroy and Theresa are hooking up. Not a big deal in and of itself, but they do it right over Wes who hooked up with Theresa on Fresh Meat II. Because of this, Wes changes rooms, so Johnny creates a Wes effigy and people write silly things on it like “Low Self Esteem,” a hilarious statement when you think about it. Still, this causes some tension between Wes and Leroy, Leroy thinks Wes needs to be a man and talk things out, but Wes has the best line. “Leroy’s a trash man, he’s used to picking up another man’s garbage.”

Later, Zach talked to his mom and found out that his sister had a baby. Everyone was good and healthy, but he was getting weird and angry. He was also feeling sick which lead to a bit of a tantrum on Zach’s part where he yelled at people and slammed the door on one of the camera man. In a strange move, Knight sidled up to him and instigated him into doing stupid crap like breaking things instead of doing what Frank suggested and going inside to wait for the doctors (who didn’t really find anything wrong with him, by the way).

With the shenanigans over, it was time for the challenge. It was a pretty good one called Frog Smash where one team has to try and run across a beam 30 feet over the water while all the others are in these large swings trying to knock them off. You’ve also got to stay within two swings of your partner during the process.

It was a men’s day, so the ladies go first. Cooke and Cara Maria go up first with the former making it and the latter falling. There’s some kind of alliance between Cooke and Cara Maria, Nany and Jonna and Jasmine and Theresa, so they talk about not swinging on each other. Diem and Aneesa doesn’t know this and also decide to let them run across. So, absolutely no one swings on Jasmine and Theresa so they make it across with a quickness. When Paula and Emily go, Paula falls and Emily winds up running right off the end which doesn’t count as making it. Diem also falls pretty quickly, but Aneesa makes it and holds on. Camila books across followed by Jemmye, but not close enough. Finally, Nany falls off just from looking at someone swinging in her general direction.

For the guys, Trey and Zach are up first. Zach falls up a few steps from the starting line, Zach does better but still falls about two swings from the end. Leroy does an amazing save, slipping at one point, grabbing onto a nearby rope and pulling himself back up…only to fall off the other side. Ty does his own gymnastics moves to get to the end only to run right off at the very end. Marlon and Jordan both make it, but Jordan was way out in front. There’s talk of letting Knight and Preston through. Zach and Trey make a deal with Johnny and Frank to swing on Knight and Preston in an effort to make them have a worse time than Zach and Trey. Preston falls and Knight makes his way across only to fall off at the very end. This is more important because Zach’s pissed at Johnny for not keeping their deal. No one swings on CT and Wes, so they have a nice stroll. At the end it’s Frank and Johnny who only get swung at by a few teams and both make it.

TJ explains after the festivities that  Camila and Jemmye would have won, but Camila went way out ahead of her partner, so the win actually went to Theresa and Jasmine. For the guys, Trey and Zach were the clear losers while Wes and CT had the obvious best time. Once again, I’m a little bummed that the set up of this game means that the winners actually play no role in the rest of the episode. It’s like getting the most excited about the Bronze Metal basketball game at the Olympics instead of the Gold/Silver match.

As far as vote talk goes, Zach tells Frank point blank that he doesn’t trust Johnny and wants him gone. When Frank points out to him that that means he’d go too, Zach tells him that he doesn’t care. Oddly, later when he’s talking to one of the women, Zach says he doesn’t want Knight and Preston thrown in because Knight’s his pal. Huh?

Earlier in the episode, before the challenge, Diem and Wes had a little chat about voting Leroy and Ty into the Jungle. Wes had his reasons while Diem understood that there were basically four teams ahead of hers that they had relationships with.

All of which brings us to the stupidest round of voting I’ve ever seen in the history of The Challenge. Seriously, you guys. This is bonkers. Theresa and Jasmine vote first. Theresa explains to the camera that she’s going to vote for Leroy and Ty. Yes, the chick votes for the dude she’s sleeping with. So then Cooke and Cara Maria are up and they vote for Frank and Johnny because that’s what Zach said he wants. Camila and Jemmye then vote for Marlon and Jordan because they’re rookies (and a safe vote at this point). Nany and Jonna go for Leroy and Ty because they think the next two teams are going to vote differently. They apparently don’t know that Diem already talked to Wes, so she votes for Leroy and Ty, seemingly against Aneesa’s wishes. At this point, it’s over because Leroy and Ty have three votes to every other teams’ one. Emily and Paula vote for Knight and Preston and completely avoid being the bad girls.

Bang. So, because Theresa doesn’t understand the nature of this kind of voting (it’s like dominos many times, one vote leading into another) and because she comes off as a generally foolish person, she winds up helping to send in her bang buddy. Of course, she can’t take responsibility for any of this and starts going around telling others that they screwed up, including Diem. Diem says she stuck to her plan and isn’t there to fix others’ mistakes. True that, Diem. Meanwhile, Wes and CT are practically falling all over themselves laughing at this. I’m with them, it’s hilarious.

The Jungle is called Break On Through. There’s two three-story towers each with a section you can break through using a particular tool. You’ve got to take turns breaking through the barrier, get down to the ground, smash through a door and then ring a bell. Ty and Trey are assigned to go first, but as my wife pointed out, Zach smashes through the first thing and then cuts through a barbed wire barrier before Trey can smash through a glass one. Leroy has a lot of trouble getting through the wire, but they both wind up on the ground floor going at the door at the same time. It looks pretty close, but then, BAMMO, Zach and Trey ring the bell.

In a fit of crazy-person rage, Zach yells things and throws his helmet at the crowd, nearly hitting Jordan in the face. When TJ gets everyone calmed down, he lines the contestants up and says that Zach and Trey clearly got through first, but…commercial. When we come back, he points out what my wife noted about Zach. Essentially he broke the rules and that’s that, they’re actually getting sent home. Zach tells him he’s wrong, but the leave anyway. It still happened, though, we saw it on the tape.

So that’s what happened, gang. It was a wild episode packed with craziness. Leroy hooked up with Theresa again before the end of the episode and already said he forgave everyone, but there’s still got to be some bad blood between them and Diem. Theresa’s still pissed at her for sure, so now she and Aneesa have at least one male team looking to take them out. There’s also going to be some more beef between Wes and Leroy potentially.

There are three things that surprise me about this season. First, the rivals don’t seem to dislike each other very much at this point. Aside from comments made to camera, the actual title of the show doesn’t seem to be coming into play very often. Second, some of the biggest powder kegs on the season haven’t blown up. Wes is generally keeping his cool. CT is too. So is Paula. What’s happening?! Looks like things are set to go up later in the season — I’m particularly interested in what looks like CT jumping in to defend Wes after Johnny pushes him — but at this point, things are relatively tame. Lastly, there is still an obscene amount of fat to cut when it comes to these teams. Guys, Knight and Preston are still there. So are Jonna and Nany. What is happening?!

The Challenge Rivals II Episode 4

I don’t usually like to front load these posts with all the Challenge: Rivals II details, but I just have to point out that the two major fights in this episode revolved around one person supposedly writing a wrap about another and a third person throwing a condiment on a fourth. Seriously. Adults were flying off the handle about poorly crafted flows that might not even exist and ketchup.

That first conflict stemmed from a night out at the club that kicked the episode off. There’s some flirting between Jonna and Jordan as well as something between CT and Nany that is, of course, shot so that Diem’s also literally in the picture. At some point back at the house, Jemmye tells Nany that Diem wrote a rap about her. This seems to equate to something like, “She bludgeoned your cat with your mom,” in Nany’s head because she gets all up in Diem’s face. Diem’s like, “Uh, look at me I can’t rap.” Jemmye claims she heard it in the bar. My wife and I looked at each other during this and said, “Can you believe we’re watching two adult women argue about a rap that no one heard or saw?” The next morning, Johnny and Leroy actually did write a rap about Nany and posted it in the kitchen. Hilarious.

Jemmye and Leroy have a thing going on. Wes sees this and immediately jumps in to sew seeds of destruction. He brings up Leroy and Knight to Jemmye who says she wants to get down with Leroy and she says that she’s not worried about doing it with Knight still there. The editors then cut to Knight wading in a pool drinking wine out of what looks like a square vase of some kind.

The challenge, called Stumped, was pretty bonkers. There was a bamboo maze and the team had to go through tied not only to one another but also to a 25 foot pole. Teams got disqualified after 20 minutes. Whenever they throw something like that in, you assume it’s going to take a long time, but far fewer people got DQed than I expected.

Since it was a women’s day, let’s gloss over the guys. Every team but Knight and Preston finished. Knight fully placed the blame for this on Preston after initially saying that his partner was in charge. Nice play, there. It basically translate to, “I know we’re not going to finish this, so I’m going to put it all on this guy.” It boggles my mind that they’re still in this game. Oh, Jordan and Marlon won for the guys which means they get to chose who goes in what order next time and get some cash.

The first two teams of women to go up were Nany and Jonna and Cara Maria and Cooke. Neither looked particularly competent out there, but both eventually finished. After that it was Aneesa and Diem along with Theresa and Jasmine. Aneesa and Diem killed it pretty quickly as you might expect. But, Theresa and Jasmine could just not get coordinated — partially because Jasmine’s arms are like a T-Rex’s compared to her partner’s — and wound up getting DQed. Finally, it’s down to Emily and Paula as well as Jemmye and Camila. The latter team winds up getting off to a great start, but Camila winds up losing it as Emily and Paula blow past them and finish. The remaining team got the two minute warning from TJ and it looks like they’re getting the axe, but they pull it out at the very end. Of course, Theresa and Jasmine are going in and it’s up to the men to figure out who will go up against them in The Jungle.

The decision making time was kind of weird this time around. Most of the guys seemed okay with the same strategy Diem talked about last episode which is to keep sending in the same team to piss fewer teams off overall. Wes seemed to think this wasn’t a great way to go, but didn’t really present an alternative to camera. He and CT did talk to Cooke a bit who went around to the guy teams seeing if they’d vote in Diem and Aneesa instead. Ty seemed receptive to the idea, but Zach looked at her like she was insane saying something like, “Why would I rock the boat when I’m in a pretty good spot right now?” She came back with something silly along the lines of, “Because it’s the right thing to do!” Laughable. Still, it seemed like she might have swayed something or other.

As it turned out, Cooke’s stumping didn’t do much of anything. Diem says she talked to everyone as well, but we didn’t see it (we didn’t see a lot of seemingly important elements revolving around her this episode now that I think about it). Anyway, five of the teams voted for Cooke and Cara Maria while Ty and Leroy once again did a throaway vote of Nany and Jonna which I think is part of their plan, distract with a weird pick that can’t possibly sway voting.

After the voting, Jemmye’s drunk and running around. She steals Cooke’s shorts and Knight smacks her on the butt, which was out of line. Jemmye got in his face, so to get her away from him, he sprayed ketchup on her. As it happens, Jemmye has a phobia of the condiment. This sounds as ridiculous as it sounds, but she ran away screaming out of the room only to come back in with a trash can which she threw in his general direction. The fight went off and on, but was mostly verbal. Leroy saw all this and said he’d rather not get into it with Jemmye because she’s drama-central. The next morning he lets Theresa paint his toenails.

The Jungle was pretty interesting. The women walked into the arena to see a large metal gurney hooked up to several different car batteries. This looked suspect to me from the beginning. I assumed a lot of it was window dressing. Adding to the atmosphere was the fact that TJ was standing there in a crazy leather or rubber apron. He explained the game called, Can You Take It? which would pit members from opposite teams strapped to the gurney with 400,00 megawatts of electricity running through it. Whoever lasted longer without quitting won. Best two out of three got to stay. He even announced who was going against each other and asked if they were ready to start.

After a quick commercial break, TJ explains that this is all a gag and that both teams get to stick around. I was actually embarrassed that I didn’t see this coming because it was so obvious. Then again, we’ve seen these game-makers send these kids into a semi-gas chamber for yucks. Back at the house Cooke and Cara Maria are pissed as are the other top dog female teams. Not really sure why. What does it change? They won their previous Jungle and it changed nothing for them, why would this change anything?

As it began, the episode ends with a club scene. This one’s got a good deal of dancing and flirting but the focus is different. This time, Diem decided to take the advice CT gave her earlier in the episode and went out without a wig, bandana or hat on. I know I don’t know any of these people personally, but I felt really happy for her that she was able to get past that hurdle. Now CT needs to stop flirting with other girls, they need to work through their crap and form a mighty Challenge Union!!!

The Challenge Rivals II Episode 3

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.

The Challenge Rivals II Episode 2

Last week I went the live blog route when it came to the season premiere of The Challenge: Rivals II, but I think I’m going to go the play-by-play route tonight. The episode kicked off with a fun little maneuver by CT, Johnny, Theresa, Anastasia and someone else I missed all dressed ninjas throwing water balloons at the rest of the group who are sleeping in the air conditioned living room. This didn’t explode like you might have thought, but even more surprising was the fact that CT and Johnny did something together.

A big source of drama this episode came thanks to the Diem-CT-Anastasia love triangle. As we learn throughout the episode, CT basically wants Diem to tell the other girls like Anastasia to back off. He wants her to make it known that she wants to be with him. He’s basically playing games with her and using Anastasia to prove his point…and get his rocks off.

Actually, that leads to another point of conflict in the episode and one of two fights. CT’s in a room talking to a group of people including Derek, Trishelle, Frank and Knight. Frank and Trishelle tell him that Anastasia’s been telling people they slept together. CT says it’s hokum, but it doesn’t stop there. Frank starts getting in his face for some reason and a fight is pretty close to breaking out, though both CT and Frank tell the camera they know the game: punch someone, get sent home. Frank and CT start pushing back and forth and CT’s shirt gets ripped, but that’s about it because Knight decided to jump in and basically stop the whole thing by wrapping Frank up and bringing him to the floor. This tension ends with Johnny trying to talk his almost-in-tears partner down.

All of this brings us to the episode’s challenge, bawdily called The Triple X Games. But before getting into that, TJ Lavin reveals Cooke’s partner will be none other than Cara Maria. I figured it’d be Heather, the only other female she actually had problems with on her season. Instead, she got partnered with a person that apparently no one else on the cast likes. You guys, they didn’t even clap for her when she came out, it was crazy. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was a cavalcade of complaints about her thanks to a quick talking head montage.

The Triple X Games were broken up into two parts: Woody and Ball Gag. For the first, you and your partner are joined at the crotch with a saw and have to cut through a log. The winning team gets a five second head start with each subsequent team getting one. With the second part, one partner stands with the other one facing them, but upside down and attached to them. You’ve got to get up from a position on the ground, run through an obstacle course, pick a ball up off a stick, drop it down to the other play and pop that ball into an periscope-esque pipe sticking out of the ground.

Since it was a woman’s challenge day, the fellas went first. Right off the bat, Wes wound up quitting, so he and CT were disqualified. Wes and Preston wind up finishing first, but before the second round can begin, Preston says he doesn’t want to dangle in front of Knight’s junk and bails, so that’s one more team out. CT actually picks Knight up and runs a good deal of the course with the others until TJ tells them to bounce. Zach and Trey wind up winning and walking away with the money.

Then it was the ladies’ turn to see who would wind up avoiding elimination and who would be going straight to The Jungle. Nany and Jordan wind up finishing the Woody portion first, but the real treat here is watching Camila go at this thing like a cougar with her first stud and editing that with Jemmye talking about how ridiculous her partner is.

Even though they won a five second head start, Nany and Jonna can not get their poop together and actually stand up. This apparently wound up being a problem for Jessica and Anastasia AND Jemmye and Camila who wound up rolling over one another between obstacles in an effort to not come in last. It was basically a three-way battle for second to last with the rookies coming in last. Oh yeah, Emily and Paula won.

Before heading back to the house, CT drops a bombshell on the two teams of quitters: a penalty will be assessed at the beginning of the next challenge. BOOM. As far as I can remember, that’s never happened before. Back at the house, CT, Wes and Diem are talking about who the guys are going to vote in. Diem — who pretty much always plays safe/scared — wants to throw in newbies Cooke and Cara Maria because they’re new, but CT and Wes think it might make sense to ally themselves with a strong team like that who might stick around for a while and be able to help them with votes down the line.

Voting itself wound up being only slightly interesting, which tends to be the case in these early episodes when the rookies are still around. Most of the newer teams vote for newer teams, so Cooke and Cara Maria got sent in, but the surprise was that Trishelle and Sarah got two votes, mostly for popping off against CT earlier in the episode. So, that’s that, but afterwards Sarah tries to talk some sense into Trishelle, asking if she’s really there to compete, which apparently is the case.

At this point, the Anastasia-CT-Diem triable comes back into play when Theresa explains some of the history between CT and Diem to Anastasia who finally realizes she’s just a pawn. This plays out the next morning when CT comes into her room which sets her off. Anastasia slapped him several times, threw his glasses and kicked him in the butt. Once again Knight was there to stop someone from going after CT (does he think this will help him somehow? is he training for bodyguard school?). Ana lost it, but to be fair, CT just kept pushing her on purpose which isn’t cool.

With that, we’re at The Jungle which is called Hanging By A Thread. Both teams hang down from swings that are part of this large apparatus. While upside down they’ve got to cut through a super-thick rope with tiny hand saws, thus making the opposite team fall into the water. However, before getting to that, Anastasia has a minor medical freakout that sounds an awful lot like dehydration (shock upon shock considering how much wine flows in the house, right?). While waiting for her to get back in action Cooke actually pees into the water they’re supposed to fall into should they lose adding another reason for them to win.

Once the game actually starts, it seems like Cooke and Cara Maria have the lead because they’re attacking this thing from opposite sides. But, their intense movements have started them rocking which — if we believe the editing — allows Anastasia and Jessica to catch up a bit, but it winds up all being for naught. Team C cuts through the rope and we say goodbye to the ladies from Real World Portland. I don’t see these ladies as having anything close to a shot at these things down the line, but I bet we’ll see at least one of them again (a CT/Anastasia Battle Of The Exes team would be funny).

As one ill-conceived “love” dies by way of realization and poor sawing skills, another one between Sarah and Trey starts heating up back at the house. What starts as some couch flirting very quickly turns into shirt-off, straddling time in what they seem to think is a closet area without cameras, but are clearly mounted way up in the top corner.

All in all it was a pretty good episode, packed with all the kinds of craziness you expect from these things: fighting, “romance,” interpersonal drama, etc. The funny thing about this season is that I keep forgetting about some of the more fiery characters who don’t seem to be causing any trouble just yet. It’s still pretty early, but I expected Jasmine, Camila, Ty and Trey to get into it a little more by this point. Maybe next episode!

Live Blogging: The Challenge Rivals 2 “Rumble In The Jungle”

ct and wes rivals 2I’m writing this team evaluation part before the first episode of The Challenge Rivals 2 has aired yet partially because I haven’t talked about this upcoming season yet, partly because I want to comment on a few of the teams and partly because I want to link to my posts about the first The Challenge Rivals. I’m most excited to see Wes and CT. I think they’ve got a shot at knocking longtime winner Johnny off the gold medal stand if Wes can restrain his douchey nature a bit and CT doesn’t go into a berserker rage. I think the former’s far less likely than the latter.

Speaking of Johnny, he’s teamed with Frank based solely on a Twitter feud that I would wager was at least partially manufactured like the old timey Jack Benny/Fred Allen one. Even if it wasn’t, both of these guys are smart enough to put on a good deal of theater for the cameras while not actually letting it get to them. That is unless enough teams smarten up and do their best to get rid of them early on. I’d say Real World: Portland dudes Marlon and Jordan have a fair shot too if they can win early and dodge going into elimination rounds. However, Jordan’s kind of a hothead and has zero experience with Challenges, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he loses it. leroy and ty rivals 2

Ty and Leroy should be interesting. He got third with Emily on Battles Of The Exes, so he’s got some cred while Leroy made it to the end on the first Rivals. Camila and Jemmye got into one fight, but one of them’s a total hothead and the other likes to shout at folks when she gets drunk, actually, they both do, so this could be an explosive pair no matter what.

Dunbar and Tyrie seem like a pretty lame duck team. Both have skills, but neither seem adept at actually learning this game. Maybe getting burned so many times has taught them though. Jasmine’s also kind of a joke on these shows too, right? She’s there to get drunk and smash stuff, but do her and Theresa have a chance? Who knows, I can’t even remember why they supposedly don’t like each other. Paula and Emily are both pros when it comes to these things. I put high odds on them winning this thing.

Preston and Knight are a joke. Knight’s only skill is talking all kinds of smack and becoming an emotional terrorist to the women on the show. I have a real problem with the way he treats people. Preston’s alright, but he’s not super athletic and is saddled with an anchor so unless it suits the other teams, they won’t be around very long. sarah and trishelle

In the “not really enemies, but we wanted to shoehorn them in” category you’ve got Real World: Portland alumnas Jessica and Anastasia who probably just got sick of living together and Robb and Derek who got in one drunken fight that lead to Robb ripping his shirt off in Battle Of The Seasons 2. If Robb could take weeks of crap from whatshername from his season, he should be able to squash this and move on easily. Still, he’s a rookie, so there’s a target. I’d put Trishelle and Sarah in this category as well. Trishelle stirred up trouble when she thought Sarah was getting with Alton just to cause problems with their team on Battle Of The Seasons 2, but that’s just how the game is played.

Trey and Zach are going to have problems. Trey wants so badly to be part of the group but only if he can lead which will never happen. Meanwhile, Zach still looks like Thor and could literally carry Trey through the entire competition if need be.  Finally, I can’t remember why Diem and Aneesa, Nany and Jonna and Cooke and Naomi even have beef. I’m guessing booze and hurt feelings over competitions or fellow cast mates were involved though.

Alright gang, that’s what I think is going to happen. Hit the jump to find out what actually happened in my patented live blog format. SPOILERS for the episode follow, if that wasn’t already obvious.  Continue reading Live Blogging: The Challenge Rivals 2 “Rumble In The Jungle”

Real World Watcher Portland Episode 4

I’m not really sure what to think about tonight’s episode of Real World Portland. We finally get to really meet the latest roommate Nia. Thanks to a series of clips shown off since the very first episode and the fact that she weirdly lied to her soon-to-be-roommates on the phone by telling them she was Southern and part Cherokee, I find myself not particularly interested in her as a person. From what we’d been shown of her in the episodes leading up to this one, she likes stirring up crap with people and that becomes perfectly evident throughout this episode.

While watching I thought about how crappy it must be coming into a situation like this one later on down the line. When you show up with six other strangers you’re all on the same footing, exploring who they are and how you react to them. When you come in late in the game, though, you’re not only dealing with a somewhat united front (or at least an existing ecosystem of personalities) and you don’t really get to discover on your own. Day one, you’re being told by everyone what everyone else’s real deal is and that seems unfortunate to me.

It wasn’t until partway through the episode that I realized I was being unfair to Nia, but also that I was doing so because MTV and the producers clearly wanted me to. The truth is that, from what we see in this episode, Nia is a strong, independent woman who likes to keep an open mind about things. You can also tell that she’s a very hard person, possibly cold, but she also seems to have some goodness to her. At the same time, she gets really excited when she hears about Jordan’s regular run-ins with the women of the house, specifically Jessica. She assumes they’re not strong enough to deal with it and decides to take it upon herself to deal with him.

During various conversations, Jordan admits that he goes about trying to explain himself to others poorly, but that he’s like that because of how he was raised. He basically wants to treat everyone like his parents treated him which involved pushing him so he could find his true limits. That doesn’t sound so terrible, but he doesn’t want people to ask him for help, he basically wants to push all of his roommates to be like him even if they’re not even remotely interested in the process. Anyway, Nia’s theory is that his insecurity stems from him having a small penis. To test this she asks him if she can perform a sexual act on him in front of the roommates, which he’s a-okay with. She runs around the house and he wants this to go down, but we don’t see what happens because the episode ends.

This is all a little gross to me. From the wildly public showing to the intense, forceful reaction Jordan has to the whole thing. It seems like it’s one big joke to us — which MTV made clear in a commercial between segments — but I felt really bad for Marlon who was completely vibing on Nia and she does this thing right out of nowhere in front of him.

My wife who’s not a fan of the series was in the room but working on something else while I watched. Even though she was only half paying attention she said that it felt like almost everything Nia said to her roommates was a lie. I felt very similarly, but I was also more steeped in the MTV stuff that had been shown before. It doesn’t help that the very first thing she said or did with her roommates on the phone was a lie. And yet we learn some really deep, intense things about Nia’s past that explain why she is who she is to some extent. And that’s really the reason I watch this show. It’s not enough to love or hate the characters, I want to learn what makes them tick, even if they’re not the kind of people I’d want to spend time with it.

Real World Watcher Portland Episode 3

I’ve got to say, this third episode of Real World has a lot going for it. While there’s nothing close to social commentary or anything approaching altruism in any fashion, it did feature the loss of one roommate, the introduction of a new one, the cast going out and getting jobs and one of the cutest Real World romances in quite a while, juxtaposed against one that seems to be making at least one of the parties uncomfortable with the developments.

Let’s jump on in. While it’s not necessarily the main storyline, one of the key elements of the episode revolved around the gang getting jobs. Unlike previous casts, this crop wasn’t given super rad jobs, but were instead set up with a series of potential places they could interview at. There was an all night diner, a yogurt shack and a pizza place that also served drinks. Averey, Johnny, Jordan and Marlon all decided to work at the pizza place while Averey and Jessica wound up at the yogurt place.

“But, wait!” your thinking, “What about Joi?” Well, Joi is a big ol’ quitting quitter who quits. I’m sure it was more complicated than  presented on the episode, but she seems to leave because she thinks getting a counter job would be a big step backwards for her being a college graduate. She calls her dad and pretty quickly leaves the house. Even though Jess and Ava make sad faces about her leaving, no one really seems all that broken up about it. In the single instance of me agreeing with Jordan he says he can’t imagine giving up this kind of opportunity because you’re never going to get another chance to experience something like that. Even with the pouty lips and sad faces, Ava moves into Joi’s old spot with a real quickness, not wanting to be in the room with lovebirds Averey and Johnny anymore and not wanting to risk the potential new roommate being crazy. I wonder how early Joi actually left because it seemed awfully suspicious that she barely appeared last episode. Seems to me like she wasn’t participating with the cast very much or the editors wanted to frontload the second episode with the more prominent storylines of the Johnny/Averey relationship and the Jessica/Jordan animosity.

Speaking of the animosity towards Jordan, everyone seems to be feeling it. There’s a few things between him and Jess (who really does seem to get a kick out of arguing with him), but the real cracks start showing in his relationship with Marlon and Johnny. While out at the clubs one night both guys tell him he’s being a douchebag, but Johnny goes off on him in particular. After Johnny says his piece he tries to remove himself from the situation to calm down, but Jordan won’t let him. He keeps coming over and getting in his face. As Johnny has said several times, he’s not used to not hitting a dude like that. Jordan does get a little respect from his roommates at the end of the episode when he shows off his mad wakeboarding skills, but they still agree that he’s an ass…that can wakeboard well.

Jordan’s usual sparring partner Jessica — who I thought might be bailing because she’s sick of Jordan’s nonsense until I realized that she antagonizes him as much as he annoys her — actually got herself in one of the nicer relationships I’ve seen on the show in a while. She met a gigantic handsom fella named Tyler at a club and he wound up being a pretty nice guy. What’s refreshing about this relationship is that they’re taking things slow and didn’t jump bones right away. I don’t want to judge anyone’s sexual escapades, but it’s nice to see people taking things a little slower, something that’s become almost non-existent on reality television. I loved seeing her get all giddy as she called him up and he asked her on a date. I remember doing something very similar when asking girls to date dances in high school.

If that relationship’s not to your liking, the episode also had healthy doses of Averey and Johnny hooking up. She apparently won’t let him sleep for want of more sex. As if it wasn’t clear from the jump, it doesn’t seem like Johnny really knew what he was getting himself into when it came to Averey. This is actually said a few times throughout the episode — by Averey herself — but is exemplified early on when Averey and a not-yet-gone Joi talk to him about going to a sex shop. Another choice Averey line came in the form of, “I don’t think he’s ever been bondaged. I’m gonna get you to do it and you’re gonna love it.”  Yowza. Later on, after their first day of work, the pizza shop gang hangs out there and gets pretty smashed. After getting into it a bit with Jordan, Johnny goes to the bathroom and Averey follows him in. Everyone knows what they’re doing and one of their fellow workers knocks on the door to break it up.

There’s a moment after the broken up hook up session where the manager tells Johnny that he’s not the type to do something at work and I thought that was really telling. Is he really getting in deeper than he’s comfortable with with Averey? If so, it’s understandable why. He doesn’t want to look like a wuss on national TV or admit that he’s not up to the task of being her sex toy or even interested in the position. Speaking of the manager, I get the feeling that she could be a real Yoda-like figure. She’s a spot-on judge of character, earlier noting that Jordan is the kind of guy who can’t be wrong. He of course thinks that his roommates are talking smack about him, but I think she can just smell it on him.

The episode ends with a person I assume the manager will be able to see through in a heartbeat, new roommate Nia. This is a woman who tells the camera in her audition tape that she loves lying. If you don’t believe her, she pointlessly puts on a fake Southern accent when she calls the house to let them know she’s coming. She also says she’s part Cherokee, again for no reason. I can’t help but think this broad is the most obvious ratings grab in Real World history. Heck, we’ve already seen her hit Jordan in the “this season on” preview, how long can she last? I hope the answer is, “not very long,” because after New Orleans 2’s Ryan, I’m done with vain sociopaths on Real World.

While on the subject of previews and commercials this season, we’re only 3 episodes in and they’ve killed a lot of the dramatic tension. I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but knowing that Nia is coming is actually ruining a bit of this episode because she’s going to be such an asshole. Plus, you’ve got this bubbling conflict between Johnny and Jordan, but you know it’s going to end with Johnny and Averey boning in the bathroom, so there’s zero tension. I know these are little, silly things, but they bug me. Not enough to keep me from watching (yet), but they do get on my nerves.