Hello Takers and welcome back to another season of episode-by-episode recaps of The Challenge. This past Wednesday saw the premiere of the 37th season of MTV’s reality competition, entitled Spies, Lies & Allies, continuing the theme of the past two seasons; and what a premiere it was.
We’re gonna change things up a bit with our recaps this season. Instead of recapping the entire show, we’re going to answer three (or more) big questions from each episode. With that said, let’s get to business.
Question 1: There were a number of tweaks to the game’s format in the premiere, so let’s go over them real quick. After a last place finish in the opening challenge for two-time champ Ashley and rookie Hughie, T.J. teased a purge by saying, “By getting last place, you are done… getting last place. Consider this a very stern warning.” One team gets voted into the Lair — this season’s elimination — by the house; and their opponents are chosen by the day’s challenge winners, who are known as The Agency. However, The Agency does NOT have to pick another team, rather they can pick any two contestants (one male, one female) they please. The elimination winners can choose to stay together as partners, go back to their original partners, or steal any partner they choose (except for The Agency). Lastly, the abandoned partners become a team, and the players who have their partners stolen become a team.
Whew, I think I got it all. So, the question: what in the fresh hell do you make of all these twists?
TD: Man, I need to catch my breath after all of that. I was worried my girl Ashley was gonna get sent home early yet again, but “Mr. T.J.” was just teasing. However, that stern warning was rather ominous. Makes me wonder if finishing last twice gets you sent home. That would be quite an intriguing twist. I LOVED the change in regards to how elimination contestants are picked. That’s gonna add a hell of a lot of drama and strategy to the selection process, both pre and post elimination.
Blaine: What? No questions about TJ driving that red Lambo?! Okay then. The first official episode may have felt abrupt, but MTV did a thing where they aired an “episode” the night before, which was more or less an introduction to the myriad of new players and drama set up that I wished had been a real episode as it also set up the Americans-in-need-of-rescue bit: they were whisked away from the mansion at the end of the preview ep. As for the twists themselves, they seem fine for now, but there have to be bigger things coming. If you’ve seen a preview at all, then you know that there’s plenty more. With Nam being suddenly (and off camera) gone — this makes me very sad, by the way — I was hoping that one of the twists was to bring in Johnny Bananas or even Wes instead of Ed. Who is Ed? I don’t know Ed. Couldn’t they have at least brought in Jay? I like Jay. Bring back Jay. Anyway, it’s rumored that Nam had COVID-19. Yikes.
Adam: And apparently Jay broke COVID protocol while they prepped for filming! So says the rumor mill. I am very into the format this season. I think it will reward a well rounded game, and, as always, it’ll be a race to see who can understand things and plot their chess moves first. It’s a convoluted set of rules. Actions will have big reactions. I do hope TD’s theory comes true on finishing last in the dailies having dire consequences. I miss the days where that sent you straight into elimination. Let’s keep the stakes high every competition!
Question 2: There are A LOT of new faces this season, what are your initial impressions of the newcomers?
TD: Chaos, that’s the first thing that comes to mind. There’s a good mix of seemingly tough competitors like elimination winners Corey L. and Michele, drama drivers like Emy, and goofballs like Hughie and Gabo. We’ve often complained about the lack of personality from recent additions to the cast, but the producers seemed to have picked a good bunch this season.
Blaine: Whenever I see newcomers, I usually hate them. I know that’s not fair. There were a few I sort of liked and think will bring some cool things to the table this season, namely Logan, Kelz, and Emanuel. Like TD said, these newcomers are seriously big and competitive. There are others that’ll win me over. But I can almost guarantee that I’ll hate Emy and Gabo for the rest of the season to the point where I was utterly disappointed to see Emy in the previews. Yeah, she brings wanted drama, but damn. Can’t we have drama without annoying?
Adam: This episode reminded me a bit of Dirty 30 or the War of the Worlds, in terms of the sheer number of folks and its overwhelming effect. Blaine mentioned earlier that MTV really should have called that “preview” episode the first episode. Traditionally, it would have been. Socializing and drinking at the house. After watching that, I felt better prepared for the true E1, but this sea of new faces still feels mostly anonymous. I’m glad the vets are planning to stick together. My only impressions are very general: there’s some big dudes here. I’m not sure Fessy and CT will be the default winners of headbanger eliminations anymore (note: I still take CT versus ANYONE). Corey L. looks tough. We will see who has the popcorn muscles, as Gabo admits, and who can run, but it seems like it’ll be tough sledding for the veterans. The women’s side looks stacked, too. Emy was immediately insufferably annoying, but the elimination matchup we saw this week between the ladies could very well have been a marquee end of season thing, had things shaken out differently. Gone is the cohort of smaller ladies headed up by Amber M. All of these folks look tough!
Question 3: This is the obvious one, after the premiere, who are your favorites to win it all?
TD: I mean, did you see the shape CT is in? The defending champ and 18-season vet looks like he’s in the best shape of his life, and that should scare the shit out of the rest of the cast. Other than that, we have the usual suspects Fessy and Cory. But, elimination winner Corey L. is a physical beast, and may surprise us. His elimination partner, rookie Michele, is a former Survivor champ, so I’m keeping my eye on her. But she’ll have to go through vets like Aneesa, Tori, Ashley, and Kaycee — who might’ve won last season had she not gotten hurt.
Blaine: I don’t even have to say who I want to win it all, so I’ll say that I’m going to guess that Kaycee and Kyle get the win. But, yeah. CT will actually win it.
Adam: It all hinges on how long the vets can stick together, but it also doesn’t, because CT looks like he’s in fantastic shape. I can only imagine the level of pissed off Cory, Nelson, Fessy, et al hit when they saw him at the airport. If this was an NBA playoff series: CT in FOUR. Since it was impossible to miss in the trailers, I’m not counting it as a spoiler to say that Amber B is surely showing up soon. She dominated the Final last season and I don’t see how any girl could keep up with her (maybe Kaycee), but I’m not sure that committee of folks TD mentioned will let her get there.