The Challenge, Episode 5: They Still Don’t Get It

The more things change, the more they stay the same in The Challenge house.

No one has ever confused the cast of The Challenge with the nominees for the Nobel Prize, but this season might be taking it to a new level.

The big twist in this year’s format was that competitors must win Purgatory — the name for this season’s weekly elimination challenge — and earn a red skull to gain eligibility for the final. In addition, any member of the tribunal — winners of the weekly event — can volunteer themself to take part in Purgatory and try to earn a red skull. As I see it, the optimal strategy would be to get in Purgatory early, when the competition could still be weak, and get your red skull. The longer you wait, the tougher the competition gets, and the harder it becomes to qualify for the final.

A few people share this sentiment, but as a whole the house hasn’t grasped the concept. For the third straight men’s elimination, the house voted in rookie Jay. The last time it happened, CT volunteered to take him on, and we witnessed a gigantic upset. You would think the house would leave Jay be for a while, but that would make too much sense. You gotta feel for Jay, the guy just wants to take a week off. Hell, he’s earned it. Poor kid even pointed out to the house that by voting him in, they’re just giving him the chance to earn more red skulls; which in turn takes opportunities to qualify for the final away from the very people voting him into Purgatory. Didn’t matter, they voted him in a landslide. Morons. T.J. even admonished the cast, telling them to step up because they never know how many opportunities they have to earn a red skull. Tick tock, y’all.

I know there’s an adjustment period needed, for years the Challenge has been about avoiding elimination to get to the final. But this year’s twist was given to the cast right away, and they by and large are still playing checkers when the game has been changed to chess.

Kailah falls into the Bear trap

Well, who the hell didn’t see that coming. Bear has been professing his “love” for Kailah all season. Kailah has rejected and informed Bear that she is in a relationship back home. Bear has persisted, as he is wont to do. Kailah never fully told him to fuck off, rather she kept allowing the flirting. Even Jenna, who has a boyfriend of her own back home (shout out to Zach, whose presence as a competitor is missed this season), took Kailah aside and told her to be careful. Kailah wasn’t, and was caught making out with Bear in the bathroom. It can’t be said enough, if you have a significant other going to The Challenge, lock it up or break it off, because they’re 100% locking lips with somebody in the house.

In Kailah’s defense, Bear is quite the character. He’s all at once the most obnoxious son of a bitch in the house, and the most charismatic. There’s a certain charm to his pestering. I personally find him annoying as fuck, but I see how someone could find it attractive. Unfortunately for Bear and fans of Bear, the guy’s also a dumbass, and cost his team the weekly challenge because he wasn’t paying attention. Then again, he got what he wanted by day’s end, so maybe he’s playing a different game altogether.


As for Jay’s fate, that ended in a cliffhanger. Rogan was the tribunal’s choice to face Jay in Purgatory this week, because Rogan doesn’t like Jay (Rogan is upset about Jay putting CT out, and the fact that Jay made out with Rogan’s on-again-off-again girl Dee earlier this season) and asked to be put in.

The task at hand was the classic “balls in” elimination: one player tries to dunk a ball into a basket in the middle of a ring, and the other tries their damndest to stop them. Except there was one small twist: the ball would be on fire. However, we only get a small taste this week — on the first run, Rogan catches Jay and slams him hard into the ground. The camera gives us shots of the cast reacting to the big hit, a couple standard “Oh man that was bad!” comments, and a tease that Jay could be hurt as the credits rolled.

If the payoff next week is Jay recovering and fighting through the pain for yet another red skull, he might already have the greatest debut season in Challenge history under his belt.



This episode was far and away a better than the previous installment, starting with the mission. Watching a car ride on two wheels doesn’t get old and there was plenty of tension to go around once Jay didn’t get the equation in the first round. The decision during the nomination process crackled with energy, too: Wes is playing mind games now, Bananas is laying low as commentator, Rogan wishes for a moment in Purgatory versus Jay. It was the epitome of why we watch the show. And I’m putting this out there, plain as day: I don’t like Jay. There. I said it. I don’t want anyone hurt, but I want him gone. Being re-baptized in the game this year, I’m new to Rogan, which is to say, I’m cool with Rogan. Sans the likely injury? I loved the ending. The cliffhanger had me wanting the next episode immediately. Avenge CT!


I’m with Blaine, this week’s daily challenge was a big improvement. On display yet again was the deep disadvantage going first seems to be in these games. Stunt cars, math, sprinting, and explosions. Good television! The developing divide between how Wes and Bananas are handling their alliance couldn’t be a better reflection of game styles. Bananas does not want much camera time in the first, even second act of a season. Wes is taking the opposite approach. These vets understand the situations that are win-win in a way that the others don’t seem to grasp yet; Wes can piss off the right people, and it either works for him long term, or they give him what he wants. A chance at Purgatory and a red skull. Rogan and Dee continued their cringe inducing relationship, and we got to see Rogan act like an ass and probably injure Jay. I’m all for the knock down drag outs, even ambulance visits, but stuff like pushing Jay’s head to the ground is just bitchy and petty. I would also argue that speed can win this particular elimination, but donning fireproof protection did Jay’s quickness no favors. Rogan sucks.

4 comments on “The Challenge, Episode 5: They Still Don’t Get It

  1. I need a full article detailing that masterful Wes v. Josh (even thought we all know, ‘it’s not a thing’) conversation during the tribunal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I wanted to get into that scene but I didn’t have enough room. I thought that was some great Challenge television. I’ve wavered back and forth: do I like Wes now? Do I hate him? That scene had me disliking him again because Josh seems like an okay, low-key dude.


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