Welcome to Literally the Hottest Season in Challenge History (The Challenge: Rivals II Premiere Recap)

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It’s finally here!  Last night was the premiere of the new season of The Challenge: Rivals II, and while it wasn’t the most exciting premiere episode ever, I still love this show.  I wrote a preview earlier detailing how I expect things to play out this season, and based on the first episode I’m pleased to say my predictions are looking pretty solid.  (You can read the preview here).  But I’m sure there will be some twists I didn’t anticipate, so I’ll stop gloating and start the actual recap of last night’s action.

To kick the episode off we get the typical introduction from TJ where he lets the cast members know what this year’s theme will be, and then pairs the players off into teams of two.  I got two of my favorite quotes from the night during this segment, the first coming from Jessica who says during her intro that she and Anastasia will be “team Barbie” and will have to be like “stop, lipstick check.”)  I really just like this because it helps validate my feelings that Jessica is the most annoying cast member in history.  My second favorite quote of the night comes from Naomi who describes herself by saying, “I’m from New York City, I love shopping, I love brunch.”  Fierce competitors always love a good brunch, so I think this is a great sign for her teammate Cooke.  The only other real take a ways I have from this opening segment are:  1.  Not too many of these people are really acting like rivals, at least right now, and 2.  Hey look, Jonna is a hipster now.

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Moving on, another major observation from this season of the challenge is that it appears to be the sweatiest one in history.  The entire cast seemed to be dripping with sweat for the entire episode.  Moving on from how uncomfortably hot everyone looked all episode, I just want to say how happy I am to have CT back doing challenges.  You can always count on CT to bring some excitement to these shows, which was evidenced almost immediately this season, when he tried to kill Marlon about 15 minutes into the night for breaking glass by the pool.

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Luckily for Marlon, Jordan jumps in and helps him before CT is able to drown him in the swimming pool, and luckily for all of us Leroy is able to talk CT down so he doesn’t get kicked off another challenge.

One thing that I didn’t predict in my preview was that Diem would be over the bad feelings she had towards CT during Battle of the Exe’s.  I expected Diem to still be apprehensive towards her former flame, but the pair was quite flirty, and they seem to have developed a friendship, at least for now.  (Since CT is also seen being flirty with basically every other girl in the house, I could see this friendship falling apart at some point this season).

The challenge for this way is a fairly tame one by typical standards for this show.  One partner is suspended in the air, and the other partner has to jump into their airs from a platform and then hang on for 15 seconds.  The platform is moved back making the jump bigger and bigger until only one team remains.  TJ announces at the start of the challenge that this will be a guys elimination week, and that the first place team will be safe, while the last place team for the guys heads directly into the jungle.  (All standard stuff here, the twist on the eliminations this season comes a little later).  On the girl’s side of this challenge, things go very predictably.  Emily and Paula, who seem to clearly be the strongest team, come away with the victory while Jonna and Nany finishing second, and Aneesa and Diem coming in third.  On the guys side things aren’t quite as predictable.  Dunbar and Tyrie are the first time out, (Tyrie is always the first guy out so no surprises there) but a surprise was delivered in the form of the winners, Zach and Trey.  I think Zach and Trey should be a good team, at least physically, the mental part of the game might cost them later, but it was nice for them to get an early victory.

For the last couple of challenges, excluding the most recent Battle of the seasons, which he wasn’t a part of, Johnny Banana’s has been dominant on these shows.  With that fact in mind, CT decides they shouldn’t waste any time and starts trying to round-up people to vote Johnny into the first elimination round.  This is ok with Tyrie, (who probably knew deep down he was losing no matter who they put in) but it upsets CT’s partner Wes, who feels that a move like this puts a target on their back.  (Wes and CT always have a target on their back, and Wes not knowing this fact is part of his problem in the challenges).  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who CT or any of the other guys want to send into the elimination.  The majority of the girls have agreed to send in Derek and Robb, and after the girls finish voting during deliberations TJ drops the first big surprise of the season – the girls will be deciding which guys team goes in, and vice versa for this season.  The certainly changes the game up some for certain teams, and crushes the hopes of Derek and Robb who were hoping the guys vote might save them from facing an early elimination round.

One male team that could benefit from the girls controlling their fate is Wes and CT, and CT decides to get to work right away by throwing some “flirty bait” Anastasia’s way.  Anastasia seems to bite pretty hard, which is a little surprising since even Jessica can see this situation can’t possibly end well.  (And clearly it doesn’t if the footage of Anastasia slapping CT during the trailer is any indication).

Next up we learn that Naomi’s father is suffering from heart failure and apparently isn’t going to live much longer.  Faced with the choice of going to be with her father, (with whom she had recently reconciled) or remaining on the show, Naomi ultimately decides with the support of her teammate Cooke that she will leave the show.  The briefly spells an uncertain future for Cooke in the game, but before the start of the elimination round, TJ announces they will be flying in a new cast member, and she will be able to remain on the show.  (According to the Rivals II Wikipedia page the new cast member is Cara Maria.   This seems like kind of a random choice, but maybe they’ve had some fight in real life that we don’t know about.  Whether these two are actually rivals or not, I’m sure Cooke is still happy, as almost anyone would have been an upgrade on Naomi in terms of physical challenges).

Finally, it’s time for this week’s elimination round.  This week’s elimination challenge looks a lot like one we’ve seen in the past.  There is a hallway that tapers in the middle set up in the middle of “the jungle,”  one guy from each team tries to run from one end of the hallway to the other and ring a bell, while the remaining two players try to prevent their opponents from getting through.  In the end Derek and Robb come away with the victory after a classic performance from Tyrie and Dunbar.  The first time through Derek is able to run by Tyrie virtually untouched to score first.  In the second heat Tyrie manages to do his job and hold  up Derek, but this time Dunbar lets the team down by pulling of a “swing and miss” while diving for the bell.  This marks yet another early exit for Tyrie, you would think the guy would just give up eventually.  On the other hand, if Tyrie did stop coming to these challenges it would be harder to figure out who was going home first, and we’d miss out on great moments like this:

So keep coming back Tyrie.

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The episode closes out with some more flirting between Diem and CT, much to the horror of her partner Aneesa.

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And we get some words of wisdom from Johnny Banana’s who tells Anastasia that CT is one of the most conniving, manipulative people he’s ever met, (takes one to know one) and that her being seen with him is “not a good look.”

Overall a solid start to a new season of the challenge.  So far things have gone pretty much as expected, but I’m sure there will be some surprises to come.  Maybe this will be the season people finally wise up and get rid of Johnny Banana’s instead of letting him control the game, probably not though, he has too many friends in the house.  Before I leave you for this week I have a bit of bad news, I’ll be on vacation next week, and won’t have internet access, so next week’s recap will probably be posted sometime next weekend, you can check on Twitter for updates.

If you missed this week’s episode and want to watch online here’s the link.

Thoughts/Questions/Comments? You can reach me via email – SHMcG223@gmail.com or on Twitter – @NoOneGoesToClev

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