Episode 1 of Challenge All Stars S2 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 1st episode.
What just missed out on the Recap:
- Darrell & Janelle as a Sleeper Power Duo
- Jasmine’s Energy
- Derrick & Nehemiah trying to step up as characters
10 Excellent Introduction
The first 25 minutes of this episode rocked. Getting reintroduced to so many faces that we have not seen in many years and realizing that some of these players across multiple generations have never once been on a season together or had not seen each other in 12–18 years. Darrell realized it was Steve from all the way back on the Gauntlet 1, seeing Kendal & Leah reunited all these years after their famous elimination, and Ayanna & Sophie sharing a bond from Battle of the Sexes that I’ve never seen talked about before. You had moments like a Cancun reunion between Derek, Jonna, and Jasmine, or Road Rules castmates Jodi & Derrick sharing a moment. There was also Derek dressing up as Tina, two people from different generations of the showing mixing it up in a way you hope on a show like this.
9 The Old Throwbacks Bringing New Heat
As much as I love seeing the biggest names of this game return, I thoroughly enjoy seeing the people who don’t have that big of Challenge legacies try to blend into this modern game. I consider the Inferno 2 to be the cut-off point for when the modern game that has become Challenge started, mainly due to a shift in the challenges, gameplay, finals, eliminations, etc. Also, it is the oldest accessible season on a streaming platform currently. Thus, my interest in people like Steve, Leah, Ayanna, and Sophia is immediately piqued.
Leah is a single mom trying to show she has something bigger in her. We found out Steve is a successful Hand Model, which had me wondering if Steve competes in a tug of war, and his hands get blistered or rope-burned, would he have to quit? His hands are his breadwinners; he can’t risk damaging them. Sophia quit her job, is on a soul-search currently, and she gets to use All-Stars as a playhouse, which is perfect; instead of taking up gardening in her 40s, she is going on Reality TV.
Then you have Ayanna, who has so much charisma in her, and man, do I wish she did more seasons back in the day. The scene of her mouth-watering over Teck and his large “scepter” was hilarious.
8 The Music Still Rocks
All-Stars does not have to rely on any hokey spy themes or anything like that; the nostalgia of having the old school competitors is a built-in theme in itself. Playing bangers from the early to mid-00s while watching our favorite Reality Stars from that period enhances everything going on and gives the show a consistency the main seasons have been missing. Good editing goes a long way.
As someone who has a weird fascination with 2000’s Rapper, Chingy, I had a huge-ass grin hearing “Holidae In” pop up in a Challenge episode. I think “Right Thurr” was on a recent Spies, Lies & Allies episode, but it hit different this time around.
7 Melinda and Teck Bringing The Heat
Incredible pool jumps.
6 Jonna is Playing the Game
Last season, Jonna’s strategy was to stay under the radar, and among all the chaos, she mostly coasted to the Final. Once in her first career Final, she killed it and saw what she was capable, coming in 3rd Place Overall and tying with KellyAnne for first place among Females. Before, Jonna was trying to survive, and now she is trying to thrive. Jonna focused on building Tina’s ego and hyping her up, as she saw Tina as a threat and someone who she wants on her good side from the jump. Being a mom helps Jonna a ton, because I can assure you, trying to get your kids to eat broccoli & cauliflower is infinitely harder than it is to manipulate half-drunk reality stars.
5 Incredibly Underwhelming Daily Challenge
First off, prayers out to Nehemiah and his nuts.
The opening daily challenge on All-Stars S1 was so intense and hardcore that it gave you so much respect for any of the players capable of completing the challenge. We came out of that episode with so much more respect for players such as Jisela, Yes, and Nehemiah, while also getting an incredible moment where half the cast feels a sensation of victory for the first time in years the year felt the crushing feeling of defeat. The daily challenge this season…
For an episode that was only 42 minutes, having 15 minutes of content being a played out and tedious daily challenge without anyone trying to go above and beyond was disappointing. Yes, we got to see some players happy after completing the challenge and having fun dunking a ball; however, once Ayanna DQ’d in the challenge, everyone could play it safe. I can’t blame the players for taking the path of least resistance; it just doesn’t make for great television, on top of the fact we didn’t get an elimination this episode. Congrats to Derrick & Jodi on their win and Steve & Tina for a second-place finish. Ayanna & Nehemiah will be going directly into elimination, the first elimination of Ayanna’s Challenger career.
4 Jodi is still Jodi
In Jodi’s opening confessionals, she talks about becoming more self-assured and confident, and wiser with age. Then you have a scene where she is drinking with Derrick, watching everyone have fun, and you can tell from her face, she is nervous she might be on the outside socially, and immediately, Jodi slowly transports back to her 2005 self.
Reality TV PTSD is a real thing. Jodi is a boss who is uber-athletic, gorgeous, and basically capable of anything. Yet, she has so much self-doubt, and I don’t mean it in a bad way; it makes her a real person fans can empathize with and relate to.
3 Tina is an Absolute Star
Fifteen years later, and Tina’s still got it. Tina knows her worth and won’t stand for anyone diminishing who she is, and that is a badass woman. Production knew what they were doing when giving her the opening confessional. Tina explains her life outside this show is fantastic, she lives a posh life and is mostly here to see if she can still fuck shit up. There were so many moments from her in this episode alone, like her trying to get Leah to strip and jump in the pool or when everyone was frantically running into the house trying to find a bed, and she was walking, asking where the bar is. Her talking shit to TJ after the daily challenge had me grinning from ear to ear.
A personal favorite was her mentioning her new hardware as potential competitive hazards in the daily challenge and then going full gung-ho by simply stating: “Titties down, let’s fucking play.” Production needs to do whatever it takes to ensure Tina stays on this show because she elevated this episode a couple of levels on her own through sheer charisma.
2 We Should Have Gotten a 60 or 90 Minute Premiere
As I wrote at the beginning of this article, the first 25 minutes of this episode kicked ass, and then we got a meh daily challenge made worse by the fact we didn’t get an elimination. Challenge fans love simplicity, and getting both a daily challenge and an elimination in the same episode is something simple that keeps me and most fans happy. I don’t think anyone will be upset because we are all running off genuine adrenaline and excitement of having All-Stars back in our life, although if they overplay the cliffhanger game in future weeks, I could see fans souring a bit.
The extra-long season premiere seemed like a no-brainer as it would give more for introductions, the daily challenge, politics, general house debauchery, and of course, an elimination. Nonetheless, I will put my trust in production for the time being.
1 What’s Happening Next Week
Derrick and Jodi are in power, and they must pick four players for Nehemiah and Ayanna to potentially face in elimination. Ideally, this twist stirs the pot as the more players you nominate for elimination leads to more drama as one of those players is guaranteed to come back in the house looking for vengeance, potentially two. The issue with a twist like this is that it could lead to more passivity. Without the guarantee the player you are sending down is going into elimination, people will likely just put in those they perceive to be the weakest, which will lead to stale gameplay.
My guess for male nominations is Steve and Derek, as they have the least connection to Derrick. The women can go in any direction, though; I do not expect Jodi to make a power move; if anything, she might listen to Derrick, to which the people Derrick has never done seasons with are Leah and Jasmine. For me, it’s exciting to be writing about all these names within the context of a new competition versus a historical article. We’ll find out what happens next week; stay tuned.