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Who's Already On The Ropes In The Challenge's Season Premiere?

New game, new twists; same old boozy yelling, suspect 'strategy,' and Teej side-eyes. It's like your blankie! But, you know, made of mosquito netting and smelling vaguely of Coppertone and Tecate.

Cosmetically, Season 29 (...!!) of The Challenge is different from its predecessors. For starters, the group of Challengers we meet consists entirely of runners-up and newbies; nobody's won one of these before. And we're spared the exclaiming-over-the-mansion montage, as the Elite Eighteen have to bunk in an open-air shelter, Survivor-style.

But it's soon evident that it's the same old shit: yeah, the kids have to camp out, kind of, but bedding and mosquito nets and what looks like standard-issue booze and crafty soon appear in the margins; people are giving talking-head interviews about not coming to make friends buuuuuuut this other Challenger is totes fuckable; and the season is called Invasion Of The Champions, so if you thought we could go one season without that Easter Island meathead Bananas taking shit over and making it boring by the sixth episode, think again. Granted, the champs are cloistered away from the first group for the moment, and the also-rans don't know the champs are coming...and CT and Darrell allowed themselves to be dragged out of semi-retirement, which is promising.

But otherwise, it's the same old Challenge: fighting, fucking, barfing, overstrategerizing, blood feuds based on the nominations, and Jenna having absolutely zero grasp of geography. ...Wait! The eliminations take place in a cone of secrecy, just the combatants and Teej. Other than that, and a few new faces to those of us who don't watch Are You The One?, it's just what you'd expect -- and it's why we tune in season after season.

Who's headed to the Oasis and who needs to go for a nice long crawl in a desert? To the list!

  1. Cory

    A+ "seaman" dad joke about scuba diving, and his advice for Kailah is right on: it's not about who's "real" in the house, it's about who has traction, and Kailah drew a line too early and in the wrong place. I could have done without the smacky make-out noises, and his joining the list of Challenge shitbricks who call women "fee-males," but he's a smart bet for the final.

  2. Jenna

    Whose house?

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    Jen's house! ...Okay, she should have looked Thailand up on a map, I guess, but she's always in the final and she DGAF that the entire house is already arrayed against her for...reasons? Probably social-media/"Zach got to keep the cool kids in the 'divorce'" reasons? Her eye-rolling dismissal of Theo as having anything relevant to say about alliances is gangster also.

  3. Dario

    Won the challenge.

  4. Nicole

    You know I love me some Officer Nicole; you know I love anyone who's like, I'm here to move out of my parents' basement and maybe find a new girlfriend -- in that order. She won the challenge, she's an expert Bruno-whisperer, and I get why she's trying to keep her fellow Skeletons together. But she's overinvested in Sylvia picking a side, and even if she weren't, or Sylvia had sided with them, Sylvia's going to end up in the elimination soon enough, because she'll lose, because this is not a game for her physically or emotionally.

  5. Kailah

    I had it in mind to rank her way low because she shows up to an athletic competition wearing a lacy thong. She's also played football for years, like real football, and handles Marie in the elimination with aplomb. I like her so far. Not sure she hasn't already written her ticket home, though.

  6. Hunter, Shane, Amanda, Anika, Ashley M.

    No objection.

  7. The champs

    Returning to the ring to annoy us again are Cara Maria, Laurel, CT, Darrell, Bananas, Camila, Zach, and something called an "Ashley." Even Bananas is like one of those zits you get alongside your nose to me now: it's painful and annoying for a while but it always goes away. Until the next time you fall asleep in front of Midsomer Murders and forget to wash your face, anyways.

  8. Theo

    Interrupts a talking-head to warn the cameraperson, "Watch out for that crab!", then sternly tells the departing crustacean, "Yeah, you better move a little bit." Hee. He pulls a few votes in nominations, and seems like he might talk a bigger game than he has, especially to the women.

  9. Tony

    Once again, Tony's gotten a lady pregnant, and once again, Tony's elected to come on the show instead of hanging out with that situation. He's also elected not to drink on this season and so far he's sticking to it, but he's also making enemies in his usual gnawing-puppy way, and while he survives the elimination, he'd be wise to conserve his strength, because the house is out for him.

  10. Bruno

    Bruno's struggled IRL of late, but seems to have improved his attitude marginally since his season. Low bar, though, and while I think Teej's assessment of Bruno quitting was a bit harsh -- he was already in last; why kill himself picking a knot apart -- it's probably safer for everyone that he went out now, as commitments to working on one's temper seldom survive more than a few rounds of this game.

  11. LaToya

    Have a seat, girl.

  12. Marie

    Points for admitting you should have worked out more before getting on the plane, but you...should have worked out more before getting on the plane. Lost the challenge and elimination.

  13. Sylvia

    Her rationale for siding against Tony is completely legit. It probably won't work out for her, because once the champs come back, Nelson's protection -- which may not be worth all that much as it is -- won't help her. And...you know. This is the polar opposite of "intestinal fortitude." By which I mean you can hear her bowels liquefying.

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    But if you're going to side against your "natural" alliance, the one we would assume you have coming into the house? Explain that's what you're doing, explain why, and leave it out with the fucking crying and the low blows about Nicole's ex-girlfriend. That's classic Sylvia, though, waiting too long to stick up for herself and then going way overboard. Fortunately we won't have to watch it for long.

  14. Anthony

    Into Marie, ugly visors, and flashing his gums. Nope.

  15. Nelson

    Interesting that Nelson is also making big moves early -- like getting in Tony's face for not cheering on "his boy," like, mind your knitting, dude -- but only Kailah gets clocked for taking sides and trying to set herself up. If Nelson's trying to align the rest of the house against certain people is a perceived-threat con, it's a solid one; he seems really sincere. That said, I'm not sure he has the self-control to run the game effectively, and the smugness isn't cute. If you're going to drag T. Raines for not asking everyone to work as a team, what's your justification for not doing so your own self? And how is it "unifying" to come at him physically at the finish line?

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    No, YOU are.

Episode Superlatives

MVP: 2017-02-07-challenge-mvpup

LVP: Tony's partners' birth-control methods.

Best Reaction Shot: Tony returns from elimination. Nelson is disappoint.

2017-02-07-challenge-nelson-reax-02 Best Quote: 2017-02-07-challenge-best-line-01

("Oh, THAT time." Hee.)

Sickest Burn: Bananas, gesturing towards a domicile behind him (that has a "Bikini Inspector" sign on the lawn, because of course it does), discusses some recent life changes: "I purchased a house. Actually Sarah purchased me a house." That's brisk, baby!

Crimes Against Fashion: 2017-02-07-challenge-dario-braids 2017-02-07-challenge-anthony-douche-visor

Digging Laurel's TH top, though.

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The Wrath Of Teej: "You know how I feel about quitters, bro."

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You know how I felt about your hair last season; please to bring back the '30s-gangster style, it was cuter.

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