Live Free or Die (The Challenge: Free Agents Premiere Episode Recap)

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It’s finally here, season 25 of The Challenge is upon us!  If last nights hour and a half premiere taught us one thing, it’s that this will be the hardest season to predict the outcome in the history of The Challenge.  I went into this season believing that despite what the previews had said, there was no way this would legitimately be an individual challenge, but after watching the first episode it truly is an every man for themselves format.  Each week the contestants will compete in either a group, pair or individual challenge, the winners on that day get to pick one male and female to go into the elimination round.  The twist that makes this an individual game is that the selected persons opponent is determined by all other losing players from that day flipping over a card.  If the card you flip is blank your safe, but if you get the “kill card” you are heading into the elimination round.  This twist proved it was going to stir things up right away when vets Jemmye and Frank were sent into elimination on night one.  I think everyone really needs to give kudos to the creative team at Bunim/Murray, they have pulled off legitimate game changing twists two series in a row, first with The Real World Ex-Plosion, and now with this new format for The Challenge.  Despite the fact that this twist has the potential to blow up my predictions for this season, I’m still super excited to see this show play out, so let’s get right into and talk about what happened last night.

As always, to kick the show off the entire cast meets up with TJ in the elimination arena to learn what the theme of this season will be.  The best part of this is watching all the people who have always used alliances to hide their limited abilities, and seeing how worried they look when they find out this is an individual game.  Another highlight from the opening segment of the show was the always entertaining Jasmine declaring that she is single for the first time on The Challenge, and that she wants to be “the whore of the house.”  (a title she is trying to steal away from her Real World Cancun cast mate, Jonna.  Also doesn’t Jasmine always hook up on The Challenge? Since when does it matter if you’re single on this show?)  Now for a few other quick takeaways from this opening segment:

-If this was a basketball competition Theresa would be the favorite, as she almost beat CT in a game of strip bball.  Unfortunately for her I don’t think there’s going to be much basketball involved in the actual challenges, so she’s probably in trouble.

-Laurel is back, which is awesome, but she said she was going to be nicer this time around.  Who wants a nice Laurel?  That sounds like a terrible plan to me.

-Oh Jessica, you are such a crazy b*tch.  Jessica declares that she didn’t come on the show to find a boyfriend, but then immediately follows that up by talking about how great Dustin is.  Dustin better watch out, his picture could be in a “family” picture frame next to Jessica’s bed any day now.

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It’s time for the first competition on this season of The Challenge.  This first challenge takes place at the World Trade Center in Uruguay, and has the players divided up into two teams to take on a three-part competition.  First off a group from each team has to race up the 42 flights of stairs to the top of the trade center.  Once at the top other members from the groups put together a tangram puzzle.  Once the puzzle of complete the final competitors from each team have to make their way across a rotating log suspended over the side of the building, the players have to grab a flag half way across the log and then ring a bell.  This contest is a timed event with the team with the fastest time being the winner.  The teams for this challenge were decided by the captains for the day.  Team captains are selected randomly by TJ drawing your name out of a bag, and the captains for this challenge were Chet and Nia.  Team Chet got up the stairs with a slight lead in a situation that looked like a repeat of the most recent Battle of the Seasons, with Frank at the front of the line screaming at everyone to hurry while Zach dragged a weak girl along, the only difference was Zach was dragging LaToya not Sam.  At the puzzle station team black (aka team Nia) led by CT, Aneesa and Jasmine somehow manages to smoke team red (aka team Chet) and steal the lead team red had going into the puzzle.  This competition ultimately comes down to the rolling log portion, and team black comes out on top when they get two of their players across while team red can only get one over (granted the one they got was Camila, who absolutely smoked the challenge, beating everyone else’s time by almost a minute).  As much as it pains me I have to give Jessica credit in this challenge, she made it across the log despite it really looking like she wasn’t going to pull it off.  I still don’t see Jessica doing great in this game, but this was an impressive start.

Back at the house following the challenge it’s time for the winning “team” to deliberate and pick a male and female player to be sent into elimination.  Aside from the fact that it’s always good for drama, I’m not sure why the winning group needs to talk about who to vote for, because when nomination time comes everyone has an individual vote.  Despite the fact that everyone has an individual vote, the vast majority of team black goes along with the original suggestion Laurel put out during deliberations, and Chet and LaToya are heading into the elimination round.  Plenty of names were thrown out during nominations with Dustin seeming like the person still in the house who might be in the most trouble.  Somewhat shockingly, even to her, Cara Maria’s name didn’t come up once.  Having her buddy Laurel in the house might be making people think twice about using Cara is their elimination round whipping girl.  As a mentioned earlier “the draw” proved that no one in this game is safe when Frank and Jemmye ended up picking the “kill card” and going to face off against Chet and LaToya.

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This week’s elimination challenge is a lot like one’s we’ve seen in the past.  There is a circle drawn in the arena with a barrel in the middle.  Players take turns playing offense and defense, trying to score a ball in the barrel, if the ball or offensive player goes out-of-bounds the round is over, and the player with the most scores after five rounds wins.  The guys competition is over practically before it started.  After being thrown out-of-bounds during his attempt to score, Chet gets a nasty cut on his chin wrestling Frank out-of-bounds, and it’s game over.  TJ gives Chet the option to continue and get stitched up later, but Chet doesn’t want to risk his “money-maker” aka his face, and decides to bow out and give Frank the victory.

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While the guys side of things was pretty anti-climatic, the girls battle did not disappoint.  LaToya proved she wasn’t the weak rookie everyone thought she was after her trip to the hospital for dehydration, when she managed to out battle challenge favorite Jemmye.  I was expecting much bigger things from Jemmye after her strong performance on Rivals II, but her loss just proves that anyone can go home at any time.

This episode ends with Frank telling Jordan that he “feels the old Frank coming back,” and that he is really ready to play this game now.  In another room, the now much more feared LaToya tells Devyn that she’s happy to be a free agent, and that if she gets the chance she’ll get back at the people who voted her into the elimination round.  This season is clearly unlike any we’ve had before on The Challenge, and I’m excited to see where things go from here.  I’ll be back next Friday with another recap of The Challenge: Free Agents, see you then.

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

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

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