The episode begins with a montage of collage/shattered glass pieces collected of all time great Challenge moments. It was an awesome way to introduce the season. The video quality and the editing of this season and Invasion have put the Challenge in 2017 and beyond. Comparing this to even Bloodlines, this season is so much more sleek and defined from a visual standpoint.
We open with TJ by the house pool. He explains that this will be a game where even he will be playing dirty by holding off on the news that they are playing for a million dollars, not 350k. MTV is really trying to make TJ a huge part of the show. If TJ was Jeff Probst, Julie Chen, or Chris Harrison, I’d understand it, but TJ is not a great announcer/commentator. More or less a chill dude who gives instructions and has a no quitters shtick.
Then we get the classic walk up into the jungle scene where TJ introduces the game to the players. We learn that CT is still in America due to passport issues. Dirty 29, not Dirty 30. The first confessional goes to Dario. My friend quickly notices that the title “Vet” is under Dario’s name. Which is weird, but true. This is Dario’s fourth season, and that means he is now a veteran. After that, people like Hunter and Kailah had the title of veteran. By the laws of the Gauntlet, people who have done one season prior or less are rookies. As TJ gives the money amount and rules to the players, there switches over to a confessional from TJ. I think that was the first time that TJ has ever had a confessional.
From there they go the house move-in scene. Then a quick turnaround to them in the pool, drinks are out, and people are having fun. The girls are in their bikinis, some guys are shirtless, the fan service is great. We get some rookie introductions and learn what some already know, Derrick Henry and Tori Deal are dating. Derrick is madly in love her, Tori is questioning whether it was a good idea to show up with a boyfriend. Ammo declares that he is gender nonbinary, and speaks very fast, to the point where it is hard to catch everything he says. May need to slow down for us to understand. Britni looks good and rooms with her fellow AYTO family. There’s 9/30 this season.
Aneesa walks out with a text from TJ saying they need to be up early in the morning for the first challenge at 6:30, much to the chagrin of the partying people who wanted to rock their faces off and then sleep till the afternoon. It is in this moment that we find out that all of Ashley’s luggage is gone, and that she plans to quit over not having anything. Cara Maria pulls off her best political move in 8 years of the show by telling Ashley that she’s already proved herself as a competitor and should go home to rest. AND ASHLEY LEAVES. She might be a quitter, but at least she got it out of the way before anyone got eliminated. At the end of the day, Ashley has won as many Challenges as Laurel, Brad, Camila, and Coral.
Tony yells to Cory that he would be neck and neck with him if he was still in “the game” (camera pans over to Camila). Cory yells that nobody is neck and neck with him, then announces that he wants to hookup with Veronica, the OG hot girl of the Challenge. The girls (Kailah, Aneesa, Marie, Jemmye, Nicole) all talk about how they have to get Cory out of the house first in order to get back at him.
At the challenge, TJ tells the cast they are in La Tierra Bomba, the land of bombs. It is here they will competing for the first mission, and instead of last place going straight to elimination, they will be eliminating the bottom three competitors. He also announces that they will be playing in three different rounds, giving the competitors three chances to win and confirm their spot in the game. The first round will be a race to grab a giant barrel, than roll it down the path to the finish line. Top four of each sex are safe. Darrell believes there are at least 10 guys there who he knows he can beat, he relaxes (too much).
Before the challenge, we get a Derrick moment where he says that he has come back to show that he can compete and be a hero for his kids to show he still has something left in the tank. He also states that the males are stacked body wise from the outside, besides Dario, Ammo, and Shane. I cackled, the Dario burn was killer. Tori says that Jemmye, Aneesa, and Veronica probably don’t have the gas to keep up with her. Considering Jemmye is still in her twenties, and premiered in MTV roughly a decade after Veronica and Aneesa, the shade is unreal.
Round 1: The game gets going and Bananas/Hunter gun it from the start. Jordan has a tumble where he flips over and get back running immediately. They begin rolling their barrels, fighting for space. One of my favorite moments is Britni and Nicole fighting for a barrel, and Britni rips straight out of Nicole’s hands. Bananas talks about how the minute you’re behind someone, they’ve beat you due to the lack of spacing. As they grab the barrels, my thought for everyone in the back is to quit and get ready for round two. For anyone who decides to pace themselves, they’re ruined their chances.
Bananas wins the first daily mission of the season, Hunter finishes in second, Jordan in third, and Derrick K takes fourth. Considering it was his first mission in 7 years, Derrick did pretty damn good! For the girls, Kailah takes the win, her first ever individual daily win, and only her 3rd daily mission ever overall. Camila takes second, Aneesa gives her all for a 3rd place finish, and Tori takes fourth in her first ever mission.
Round 2: They get split into two random teams where they must carry two large cannons up the path of the barrel challenge. First team to get both of their cannons up, wins. The Blue team consists of: LeRoy, Dario, Ammo, Derrick H, Nelson, Britni, Veronica, Cara Maria, Marie, and Nicole. The Pink team consists of: Darrell, Cory, Tony, Shane, Devin, Amanda, Jenna, LaToya, Simone, and Jemmye.
In the end the pink team loses as they allocate too much cannon weight to a group of girls, where Jemmye/Simone bring them down by doing nothing. Jemmye at points doesn’t even hold the cannon. She’s severely out of competition shape as she was at the back of the barrel challenge as well.
Round 3: The rules are to grab a cannonball and run up to the cannon, put your ball in the bucket, and light the flame to shoot it off and win. Devin tells Cory that if he wins, he will be his minion all season if he keeps him safe as Devin isn’t winning any races. They race off and Cory shows why he played college football as his speed in short distance running is excellent. He gets the win. Jenna being the biggest of the girls by a good amount gets her the win with LaToya and Amanda trailing.
Cory chooses first to eliminate Devin as he cannot be trusted. Devin hilariously agrees with the statement. The last time that Devin was eliminated first, he made the final of that season. Shane gets eliminated second due to a lack of connection between the two, and he eliminated Darrell third, stating that he cannot beat him in a final, and that Tony has kids, so the money means. LaToya than asks Darrell: “You have kids though, right?”
Jenna eliminates Simone first. Simone believes that because they follow each other on Instagram, Jenna has betrayed her. Amanda is out second, much to the delight of Jenna who hates Amanda, and is glad to get out a good competitor this early. She picks LaToya third, hurtful as LaToya did well all throughout the day. Jemmye who absolutely was a major reason towards why good competitors like Darrell and Amanda got eliminated, gets to stay in the game.
Before the episode ends, we get a scene of the eliminated going to a new house where they will be in Exile until “Redemption”.