Challenge Total Madness Episode 1 Recap: Ten Biggest Takeaways
Episode 1 is in the books. Instead of giving a simple summary, I decided to focus on the 10 Biggest moments/takeaways from the first episode. These will be integral storylines that the first episode focused on, and I’ll breakdown why they matter for the season.
Sidenote: Had food poisoning while writing this. Been a rough week, but I’m super thankful for everyone who reads my articles.
10 Bunker Blues
The Bunker sucks. I understand it adds an extreme element to the Challenge, but overall, it is the type of move that alienates quality cast members from returning. One of the big reasons why people like Landon Lueck, Sarah Rice, Frank Sweeney, and Rachel Robinson won’t consider coming back to the show is they aren’t getting paid enough to live in a filthy house with tiny beds. Then you add in the fact that this one is underground and there are no windows… That’s claustrophobic hell.
MTV wants to trick you by showing the gym and pool and playing DMX music, but they don’t mention the fact that the pool, kitchen, and gym are all about 15–25 feet apart. Mix in the smell of sweat, chlorine, and whatever is cooking, and that area is going to be disgusting in only a few days.
9 Kyle and Ashley charisma King and Queen
These two bring a certain amount of charm to their confessionals. Regardless of how they do as competitors, I want these two on my TV because they bring personality and levity when giving their confessionals.
And as a side-note, nothing is more worrisome than when a new competitor gives a generic confessional or an overly optimistic one. Most of the time, it means this competitor will be out early or inconsequential to the season.
8 Big Brother Thruple
The Big Brother trio of Fessy, Bayleigh, and Swaggy had some ups and downs in this episode. Swaggy got eliminated immediately in the daily challenge. Fessy was in the final three and, with his size, established himself as a threat. Then you had Bayleigh who did decently in the women’s heat for the daily challenge and has already established that if you go for Swaggy, then she’s going for you, hardcore.
Bayleigh’s confidence as a rookie comes from out of nowhere and will anger fans who believe she needs to earn her stripes. However, Bayleigh has such ferocity to her, that you can potentially become intimidated. Hell, one could argue that because we haven’t Bayleigh compete much, her potential danger level is much higher than a veteran like Nany, since we’ve Nany lose again and again, while Bayleigh is an unknown commodity.
7 Rogan and Dee the best/worst power couple ever
Dee and Rogan proved more individually in this one daily challenge than they did all of War of the Worlds 2. As a long-time Rogan skeptic, I was shocked to see him pull out the win. Then you have Dee finishing in second in the girls heat despite being one of the smallest girls on the show. Dee murdered the puzzles and held her own against Jenny physically.
Rogan is trying to distance himself from Dee, but Dee still has feelings for him deep down. Although Dee did hint that she might be physically interested in Jay. While I don’t think Rogan cares about Dee, the manipulator in him does not want to see Dee with someone else either. Especially after seeing her kill the daily challenge.
6 The Holy Trinity (Jenna, Kailah, Nany)
Easily the biggest losers from the episode. All three girls were eliminated from the daily before the first portion of the challenge was over. From a physical standpoint, they were at the bottom. When the house vote happened, their goal was to protect Nany’s cuddle buddy Asaf. So they failed politically as well. Then you have Bear trying to hookup with Kailah, and that’s just whiffs of bad news.
In theory, having a pre-existing alliance of three is very powerful. The problem is, they are all hanging out together. To ensure best overall gameplay, they should stay separate at all times, trying to create friendships to protect one another in the long-run, rather than become one giant target.
5 Daily Challenge Performances
A tremendous first daily challenge as it tested upper body strength, endurance, and puzzle-skills. In the men’s round, the first men out made sense. Jay, Asaf, and Swaggy are all rookies who are on the leaner end. Wes is the smallest or second smallest guy on the cast, and then Jordan can only use one arm to reel in the weights.
Nelson, Kyle, and Cory becoming eliminated once puzzles were involved was hilarious.
Kudos to Bear for lasting so long in the daily challenge. The other guys his size got knocked out immediately. Likewise, it does scare me that Josh wasn’t able to solve a simple math puzzle after having a considerable lead. CT, Fessy, and Rogan crushed it.
Ashley, Big T, Jenn Lee, Jenna, Kailah, Melissa, and Nany were out immediately. Considering Kailah was doing fitness videos and making to the final the last time she legitimately competed on the show, to be out this fast on the daily challenge has to be disappointing.
Bayleigh and Mattie go out in the second round. Big ups to Aneesa for making it into the top 5. Dee and Jenny are the only two girls to make it to the final round. Jenny is outpacing everyone physically by a considerable margin, but Dee’s ability to solve the puzzles quickly allows her to stay in contention.
My problem with this daily is that the answer does not follow the rules of “PEMDAS” — Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication/Division, Addition Subtraction. Jenny gets a check when she states the answer is 29. 82 + 28 = 110 -52 = 58 / 2 = 29. The rules of PEMDAS state you have to divide first, meaning 52 / 2 = 26, and then we can go from there. 82 + 28 = 110, 110–26 = 84
This could be the reason why other people had issues with their math problems.
4 Voting Breakdown
The elimination vote came down to two rookies, and it was extraordinarily close.
Votes for Jay: CT, Tori, Jordan, Bananas, Kyle, Jenna, Jennifer, Kailah, Nany
Votes for Asaf: Wes, Mattie, Josh, Nelson, Bear, Aneesa, Bayleigh, Dee, Swaggy, Melissa, Big T, Jay, Ashley, Fessy, Kaycee
15 votes for Asaf, 9 votes for Jay, and 1 vote for Wes (from Asaf).
If you notice, all fives of the CBS rookies (Fessy, Bay, Swaggy, Kaycee, Jay), all voted for Asaf. Wes also voted with them, so if Wes is running his classic play of aligning rookie numbers, then he’s already succeeded a little bit. Most of the votes to put Jay in were Nany’s friends.
Jenny, Rogan, and Cory nominated Wes, Kyle, and Jay for elimination, but we all knew Jay was going in.
3 Wes and Bananas alliance
I’ll be the first to admit that I get tired of the Wes vs. Bananas shenanigans. It’s an overplayed record that was never near as good as Wes vs. Kenny.
Then I saw them do a confessional together, and I immediately realized: “I hate this 1000% more.”
There is just something about these two coming together that seems so gross. It’s like two people fighting over whether Ham & Cheese or PB & J is the superior elementary school sack lunch sandwich, and some company decided to make a Ham, Cheese, Jelly, and Peanut Butter sandwich to counteract the debate.
2 Jay vs Asaf
Asaf got to hook up with Nany! So at the end of the day, he picked up a win. Sadly, he got knocked out first in an elimination he could have potentially won.
In one of the most creative eliminations in recent years, MTV had both men hold onto a trapeze bar. While in air, they would try to hang on as long as possible, while divided by a glass wall. Jay knew from the jump that swinging into the glass to knock off Asaf would only tire himself out. Asaf did the opposite, quickly began to gas out, and lost 2–0 in a best of 3.
Jay moves on and has the eyes of Dee on him. A showmance with Dee would be quite smart as not only is she a strong player, but her #1 ally is Wes (another power player).
1 The Elimination Twist
The elimination twist seems like Challenge producers over-reacting to the awful format they created on Season 34. I love to watch people politically coast through a game because the Challenge is already so physical that politics add another element. Considering 50% of elimination participants are decided by house vote, I’m not against the format as I’d usually be.
House votes are normally an awful way to decide who goes into elimination. It automatically gives power to people who have not earned it. In a format like this where everyone has to see at least one elimination, it is acceptable.
It will be fun to see if players throw themselves into elimination if they see someone they believe they can take out quite easily. I can imagine Kyle asking for Bear as he’s already trounced him in elimination before.