The Alabama Take's 'The Challenge' Recap is Back, Baby!

Fear not, Takers -- we know y'all were probably pretty worried after our world-renowned recap of The Challenge didn't show up last week. Ease your worries, for it was only due to scheduling conflicts. We would never disappoint TJ by quitting.

This season's format was no mystery, as MTV used it in the advertising leading up to the premiere: for the first time ever, players were allowed to pick their partners in the season aptly named, Ride or Dies. As has been the case in the last few seasons, there were a lot of fresh faces in the season premiere, including some attached to veterans.

The elimination process this season sees the winners of the daily challenge nominate four teams to interview, and then pick one of those teams to go into elimination; which this season is named "The Zone." The remaining three teams are treated to the return of the dreaded "Draw" -- where teams blindly select one of three daggers, hoping to get the one marked "safe." The team that draws the "safe" dagger then chooses one of the other two Draw participants to save, leaving the remaining team to go into elimination. There does not appear to be any redemption house type thing for eliminated teams, but never say never with The Challenge -- although if they didn't use it last year when the word "lies" was in the season's title then I'm not sure we'll ever see one again.

After the first two episodes, we've seen wins by rookie tandem Johnny & Ravyn and longtime vets Bananas & Nany. We've also said goodbye to the immensely annoying Kailah and her partner/husband Sam, and the increasingly psychotic Turbo and his partner Tamara.

Question 1: What do you think about this season's format? More specifically, do you like the male/female teams, or do you wish we had a more diverse mixture as we've seen in some past seasons featuring duos?

TD: Overall, I really enjoy the format so far. I'm glad they've moved on from the theme of the past few seasons, which always seemed more superficial than substantial. I do wish we'd have some same-gendered teams, though, because how can you have a season named "Ride or Dies" and not have a Cory/Nelson team? It's just too perfect of a fit. I also loved seeing The Draw return in the first episode, and the reactions the reveal caused.

Question 2: At the end of the first episode, TJ surprised the cast and brought out Bananas & Nany, a formidable team that won the daily challenge in the second episode. At the end of the second episode, TJ had yet another card up his sleeve and brought out Jordan, but without a partner. In the teases we've also seen Darrell, Vanessa, and Aneesa. Do you think they're all competitors, or in the game in some sort of mercenary-type of position?

TD: My initial thought -- particularly after the Bananas/Nany surprise and the lack of vets in the cast -- was they would all be teams TJ brought out as additions to the game. But seeing Jordan without a partner has given me pause. Now, we definitely could see the end of that segment, along with Jordan's partner, start out the next episode. But, TJ and the producers love to shake things up with the format, and a free agent/mercenary type in the house would be an intriguing wrinkle.

Question 3: What are your initial reactions to the cast?

TD: My immediate reaction was to say "who the fuck are most of these people?" I don't really watch a lot of reality television outside of this show, so if they aren't Challenge/Real World/Road Rules vets then I don't know who they are. My secondary reaction was this house has a bit of an old school feel to it in terms of the overall attitude of the cast. There seems to be a real party feel inside the house, and we saw some horniness in the first episode that's been absent for awhile on the show. I'm a big fan of where how The Challenge has evolved over the years into a more serious competition, but I do miss the days when the house was somewhere the cast could cut loose and relax, as opposed to the constant scheming and conniving we've become accustomed to in the modern era. It's always more fun when alliances are formed out of hookups/chemistry rather than handshake agreements made in quiet rooms.

TD Wood
TD Wood
Editor and host of Takin' On Sports