Challenge Total Madness Episode 2 Recap: Ten Biggest Takeaways
Episode 2 is in the books. You probably have some thoughts, so let’s compare. Instead of giving a simple summary, I decided to focus on the 10 Biggest moments/takeaways from the second episode. These will be integral storylines that the second episode focused on, and I’ll breakdown why they matter for the season.
10 Dee vs. Jennifer Lee and Rogan’s sloppy ass
I’m going to open this intro with a Dee plot point because if you watched the episode, you are automatically going to have many feelings/opinions about Dee as the entire episode had her fingerprints all over it.
The Dee/Jenn Lee/Rogan drama was fascinating to watch. Rogan is actively ogling and trying to hook up with Jenn. Jenn seems interested in Rogan, but in general, it looks as though Jenn is in her bubble. Dee looks like a crazy person this episode because she’s still interested in Rogan and has feelings for him even though the guy has made her look like a joke on television multiple times and is trying to hook up with other girls in front of her. At the same time, it is alarming that in all the Dee/Jenn drama that the only people who seem to be taking a liking to Jenn Lee are Rogan, Bananas, and Bear. It’s not a good sign when the three people who are going to bat for you and the three most problematic and chauvinistic men on it.
Likewise, Dee gets helped by the fact that Jenn can’t create coherent thoughts or confessionals. Visually, Dee looks atrocious; she is eavesdropping on Jenn in another room, peeping in the middle of the night to make sure she’s isn’t hooking up with Rogan, and threatening to stare Jenn down an entire night so she won’t be able to sleep. Yet, Jenn can’t convince me to cheer for her in any way. The girl has zero charisma, and if she were able to fight back with words correctly, then she’d be automatically recast for next season. In reality, she mostly seems like a tone-deaf model cast based on her Instagram following. Unfortunately, on the Challenge there isn’t a filter you click on that suddenly talks for you, does the challenges for you, and gives you a personality.
Last note: I love Rogan in all of this. He plays the asshole role so well on this show. Early on, he consciously mentions that from a political standpoint, he should be staying loyal to Dee as she’s a power player, but he still votes and acts with his penis. I hope Rogan never changes; he can’t redeem himself as a good guy, so he just needs to keep leaning into the person he already is.
9 Aneesa is Hilarious
If I was overly harsh to Jenn Lee in that previous passage, I apologize, but Aneesa’s face tells the story of this girl. In the first pic, Aneesa’s eyes are reacting to Jenn saying, “greetings earthlings.” Aneesa has been on reality television for 20 years, was filming Real World Chicago when 9/11 happened, and in all her years, she probably never expected someone to open a speech with “greetings earthlings.”
She brought a hilarious amount of levity the episode by being herself and reacting. Her face in the second photo is when Jenn was trying to fight with Dee at the dinner table, and Aneesa looks like she’s questioning whether coming on this show is still worth it. I’m generally pretty low on Aneesa, but she is a kind and open soul, and if this is how she reacts to someone, it speaks volumes.
8 Obvious Daily Challenge Advantage(s)
If you did not notice, the four teams who performed the best in the daily challenge were the four teams that had two males on it. Likewise, it didn’t help that of those four teams, three of them had Jenny, Dee, and Kaycee, three of the strongest females on the cast. Thus, it’s not worth trying praising or admonishing most of the teams.
Jordan, Wes, and Jenny killed it as all three of their players have excellent cardio and can carry an individual log by themselves. Cory, Swaggy, and Dee’s strategy to do a relay was smart and ultimately gave them the edge against a solid team of CT/Kaycee/Jay.
I will give an honorable mention to Josh because he was essentially carrying two cases at once during this challenge. He was going at a slow pace, but the fact he worked his ass off for Jenn Lee shows he’s a great teammate and a good guy. Also, Jenn had an all-time bad performance in this daily challenge. She gassed out from the run immediately and barely helped Josh in carrying her case. There is no excuse for Jenn Lee to do this poorly when Big T is much shorter, just as petite, and was working her ass off.
7 The Big Brother Thruple continues to thrive
We haven’t seen Bayleigh dominate the competition yet, but people are already talking about her as a power player. It speaks volumes that random people regard her highly. Fessy didn’t win the first two challenges, but he stood out like he crazy in each of them, and at the end of the day, what matters is that people are already afraid of him. Fessy is bigger and faster than all the rest, and because of it, people will come to him with deals as they’d rather not have him as an enemy.
A big winner from this episode is Swaggy C. People hated on Swaggy last week because he let Bayleigh take the reins for him in the elimination deliberation, and Fessy was the one killing the challenge. This time around, Swaggy got his first daily challenge win and finally was able to make a mark on the game. As a trio, they are looking fierce.
6 Tribunal King Cory
Never in a million years did I expect Cory to be in the first two tribunals of the season after the way he performed on his last few performances. What’s even crazier is Cory has still been remarkably low-key despite being in both tribunals. Usually, Cory loses and acts cocky, and now, he’s winning and acting mature. We are living in a weird simulation.
5 Big Players and Personalities are becoming Background Characters
Usually, players get lost in the shuffle early because there isn’t enough time to feature everyone, but through two episodes, its weird that big names and personalities aren’t getting highlighted. While watching, I keep going: “oh, hey Mattie here … oh, I forgot Melissa was on this season … or wow, I forgot Nelson and Kailah finally came back.”
It is disappointing to see MTV bring in this giant motley crew of characters, multiple of which have carried seasons as characters, but in the end, they are banking on the ones they trust, and have a focus on turning new stars into megastars. MTV chose to feature Dee, Jenny, Rogan, Tori, Jordan, and the classics (Wes/Bananas/CT) this heavily over this eclectic and robust group of personalities for a reason. It could be a good one or a bad one; we’ll have to wait to find out.
4 Big T is fantastic person playing a naive game
Knowing that Big T lost her elimination and then trained her ass off to do better the next time displays a commitment that I feel most fans can appreciate. Big T has tons of heart.
I do hate that Big T wants to throw herself into elimination to get a red skull. She does not fully realize that she can easily get thrown into every elimination until she loses. So yes, a Red Skull is necessary if you want to win the game (which is what Big T wants to do), but it doesn’t mean you automatically make the final once you have it. All these people want to face Jenn Lee because it’s the easiest chance to get a Red Skull, but having that skull already could end up putting a larger on your back.
3 Wes and Bananas are having too much fun
Wes and Bananas aligning is still weird to me. Watching them do confessionals together is both corny and unique. Wes helping Jenn Lee write a speech to try and avoid the elimination arena and then be the first person to vote her into elimination was peak comedy. Together, Bananas and Wes created a funny prank. At the same time, they preyed on an easy target and are overproducing these inauthentic moments to further themselves when there are real story-lines we could be focusing on. I like that Bananas has voted against what Wes has the last two weeks to somewhat maintain the image that they are still at odds.
One of my favorite moments from the episode was watching Wes and Dee talk politics. Dee has become a star in her own right, but them meeting together to talk notes is like the first time you piece together that Darth Vader takes notes/directions from the Emperor. Dee is Darth Vader, and Wes is Palpatine, except cuter.
2 Jordan and Tori are becoming Cara and Paulie
After accomplishing maybe the most impressive run as a romantic couple ever on the Challenge last season, Jordan and Tori both seemed primed to have excellent chances at winning this season. However, if this week was any indicator of their gameplay for the entire season, they might be in trouble.
Last season, Jordan and Tori were hellbent on a mission to get off Team USA and get away from the “layups”. Jordan prepared himself to go into every elimination if he had to (he did in the end), and Tori was openly challenging the strength of the other females while winning two impressive eliminations against Jenny and Georgia (two of the top girls in the game). Yet, in a format, as it currently stands where you can go with the flow and pick and choose your spot whenever, for some reason, Jordan and Tori NEEDED Dee to give them Jennifer Lee in elimination. Tori took out Jenny in Hall Brawl last season, but now suddenly she needs to face the weakest girl in the game. These two are playing desperately for no reason in a game that they both know will last a long time. Dee openly told them that they are a priority to her, but she already had cut a deal/had an alliance with Jenny. If Tori/Jordan needed Jenn Lee in an elimination that badly, then they should have won the daily challenge, or they should have cut a deal before Jenny did.
The fact Jordan is threatening Dee over something this early is a bit wild. Jordan is playing the game like someone who invested all their previous winnings in Barnes and Noble.
1 Congrats Jenny, goodbye Jenn Lee
Jenn Lee lasted one episode of the Amazing Race, and two episodes of the Challenge. If she is smart, she will hook up with Rogan off the show to maybe get on an exes season in the future. If Jenn has any fan momentum, she needs to take advantage of it right now on social media so that hopefully, MTV brings her back for a future season.
Ashley made fun of Dee for gifting Jenny a skull, but historically top players have found success in individual seasons by linking up. Dee now has Jenny in her corner. However, Dee also has Tori/Jordan threatening her for not giving them the Jenn Lee elimination, so at the end of the day, could Dee have made a good choice between the two? People are going to criticize regardless of the choice. Should Dee have thrown herself into elimination? Probably. I will note that Dee was in civilian gear because she did not know that throwing herself in was an option. On Final Reckoning, Amanda had to compete in her elimination wearing jeans because they did not have gear ready for her on stand-by (Amanda didn’t know they were going into elimination because they won the daily challenge). While Dee could have won that specific elimination against Jenn Lee wearing anything, I wouldn’t do it. Also, historically, throwing yourself into elimination has generally only gone disastrously in recent years.