The Challenge All Stars Episode 1 Recap: 10 Biggest Takeaways
If you clicked on this article, you have likely watched Episode 1 of the Challenge All Stars. In this article, I will be breaking down the 10 most important moments/storylines from the episode. There is also a video version above that differs a bit if you do not enjoy reading (I am dyslexic, so I get it, I don’t like reading either).
Less than 8 hours after this episode has been released, I have seen people on Social Media refer to this as one of the best episodes in Challenge history. In all honesty, I think I somewhat agree, at the very least it is one of the best premieres the show has ever had. Let’s get into the recap!
10 Awesome Introductions, Aesthetic, and Music
Opening with classic players walking out of a bus and cutting confessionals about what they have done in their Challenge careers and where they are in their lives now was fantastic. Never underrate the power of nostalgia because being able to see footage of a season like Challenge 2000 or the Gauntlet 1 in this episode was extremely dope. MTV has brought back loads of veterans in the last half-decade to the Challenge’s main seasons, yet they often ignore their shows’ history. KellyAnne was not on the Challenge for six or seven years, and when she came back for Bloodlines, they did not treat it like something special. Whereas in the opening of All Stars, you have Katie straight up referencing her experience on Cutthroat as if it was yesterday, as well as showing a montage of her most memorable moments and rants.
The editors’ choice to have the first three players introduced being Katie, Mark, and Alton, was perfect because they are all legends that long-time fans would be happy to see, and it adds a sense of comfort. When you see the three of them, you know we are in business. It is similar to eating a Thai restaurant with friends or family where they serve you pineapple fried rice, pad thai, and chicken satay, delicious staples. You like the meal so much, and you and your friends are still hungry, so you ask for whatever the chef recommends, and out they come with something you never expected to see — Jisela Delgado. Once she enters, you feel like your taste palette has expanded, and all you want is more Jisela in your life. At 40, she is more gorgeous than ever, charismatic, and has an undefinable quality that you do not see in modern competitors. In 3–5 minutes, they pull off one of the best intros in Challenge history.
The log cabin look of the voting area and house is a modern take on the OG house aesthetic. It reminds me of a stylized version of the Gauntlet 1 pad. The players’ jerseys look fantastic, and all the music choices enhanced the show.
Good lord, Beth yelling “Tenderoni” to Nehemiah from the house balcony and him trying not to acknowledge it was an all-time moment. Not going to lie; I actively did not ask Beth about Nehemiah when interviewing her last week as I had once read that Beth had sent a cease and desist order to MTV for insinuating they were ever together when casting for Exes 1. I guess that was a lie because Beth noted him as one of her best friends in the game. To get that callback in the first ten minutes of the episodes was hilarious.
8 Kim, People Are Dying
I talked to a few players on the season privately about this daily challenge, and they all came back saying this was maybe the hardest daily they have ever competed in. Even people who performed above average to well stated they almost died competing in this challenge. We saw players cramping up, experiencing loss of breathing, getting hypothermia, or simply being incapable of swimming underwater. Mark Long famously said on the Duel 2 Reunion that every daily challenge was easy for him. This time around, he openly admitted the blocks themselves were ridiculously heavy, and if a 6'3 215+ lb man says that, then you know those puzzle pieces were no joke.
The best failures were Katie and Beth. Katie swam out for 10 seconds and then immediately swam back to shore with a smile on her face — she was aware of her limitations. Beth was the first player to go into the water and fail, and it made it seem like she was weak, when in reality, it was setting up for the first of many. It did not help that she was swimming backstroke the wrong way to shore. Arissa cramping up immediately was rough to watch. KellyAnne swimming down into the deep parts of the water and being unable to find a number that did not exist was maybe the cruelest moment of the episode. Had she not been in the water so long, she likely would have been able to get a Puzzle Piece, possibly two, for her team.
My favorite moment might have been Nehemiah getting frustrated by Big Easy’s inability to bring his puzzle piece back after unhooking it. A super under-the-radar storyline is Nehemiah has always disliked Big Easy since their BS elimination on The Duel 1. Aneesa failing in the daily challenge after stating she would do well in the game because she still competes in modern seasons was on par for her.
7 Seal Team 6
Before the daily challenge, the Silver Team looked like they were going to be destroyed based on the groups’ makeup, and even in the onset, it seemed that way too. On the Copper Team, Alton, Derrick, and Mark were able to retrieve pieces for their team, and then they died out, and nobody was able to step up.
Jisela getting the first piece for her team set the tone for her team, and set a standard for the rest of the players, where if this mom who has not competed in 16 years can get it done, so can you. She would grab an additional piece (making her the only female to grab 2 pieces). Jemmye was the only other woman to retrieve a piece, and it not surprising as she is a former lifeguard. From paying close attention, I noted that Yes and Nehemiah were the MVP swimmers, each grabbing three pieces — Darrell grabbed three pieces as well, except one was from the other team. I bet Wes was proud at home watching Nehemiah kill the swimming portion. Yes was their most crucial player as not only did he crush the swimming portion, but he solved a majority of the math for them. Before the season, I ranked Yes as the 7th best male, and now I am beginning to rethink that. Gosh, imagine telling someone Yes, Nehemiah, and Jisela were going to physically dominate the first challenge on a season with Alton, Mark, Ruthie, Derrick, etc.
6 Some People Came Ready To Players, Others Are Not
Laterrian and Teck have had two of the most extended gaps since playing, and both agreed to be Team Captain, seemingly without knowing what would happen if they lost. Going to compliment Aneesa, she knew that being team captain was not worth the potential positive of winning, as the possible penalty for losing was much more significant. Jemmye seems legitimately confident as a competitor for the first time as a 32-year-old competing in the OG Division.
Trishelle flat out said she expected to be day drinking by the pool and is probably disappointed she has to compete. It is not that she is a bad player — it is that she did not sign up for this type of game. Arissa probably feels the same way. When it came down to the actual vote, Ace was the first name said, and people ran with it. It did not help that Ace acted defensive, rather than going on the offensive and suggesting someone else as Laterrian’s elimination opponent. He was a victim of his passivity.
5 Party Like It’s 1999
The players making a conscious effort to put any idea of a game aside to have a flat-out fun 90s themed party for both them and us to enjoy was special. On modern Challenge seasons, it does not often look like the players are having fun. We just got the 80s themed Party Episode where CT took off his wig to fight with Fessy. When the players look like they are having fun, you think to yourself, “wow, wouldn’t it be cool if I was there.” Whereas on Double Agents, I think to myself, “Jesus Christ, I would never want to be in the same house as Lolo, Josh, and Devin.” The competition side of the Challenge will always exist — it is the fun that we miss. We should not have to rely on an OG season to bring that fun vibe back on our television — nonetheless, I am more than grateful for what they brought to the table with their 90s party.
What might have been even better than the party itself was the players struggling to recover from a night of partying due to being older.
4 Jisela Delgado is an OG Challenge Competitor and a modern Challenge Icon
Across three seasons, Jisela only lasted 16 episodes (back when the show had 30-minute episodes) — equivalent to a little over five episodes on a current season. She was the first player to get voted off of a Road Rule season, and while she did have a flair to her back in the day, the last time we saw her was when she basically quit in an elimination against Ruthie on the Gauntlet 2.
Fast forward sixteen years, and in 2021, she is a mom with two kids and was the best female in the first daily challenge of the season. From her first confessional on, she had maybe the most significant impact on this episode. She has a star presence to her that I was not expecting whatsoever. When asked if she wanted to use the lifesaver on Ace, she not only responded with flavorful “no” to TJ, she made a callback to the Gauntlet 2 where Ace called her dead weight!!! Good lord, getting revenge on a throwaway confessional from 17 years ago is so fucking cool.
3 A Good Ol’ Fashion Pole Wrestle
When TJ told Ace and Laterrian that they would be playing a classic Pole Wrestle elimination, their faces were both bewildered — Pole Wrestle did not exist when Laterrian competed. While it did debut on The Duel 1 (1 season before Ace’s last season, the Inferno 3), Ace was not on The Duel 1, and he does not seem like the type to watch seasons he is not on.
Laterrian is a personal trainer who acknowledged that his Challenge resume is not impressive, and the last time we saw him in elimination, he got embarrassed. However, he never got to be in a headbanger back in the day, and in Episode 1, he proved what he could do in one. He manhandled Ace and even power-bombed him a couple of times during their battle. It was a dominant 2–0 win, and in one episode, my opinion of Laterrian as a competitor has dramatically changed compared to how we saw him last eighteen years ago.
2 No Ace Up His Sleeve
Someone had to be the first player eliminated on this season, and sadly, it was Ace. When the cast list leaked initially, I saw a genuine interest from fans both new and old in an Ace return. It should not be shocking that Ace got eliminated as he was not a good physical player back in the day. He was a fun, likable guy, just not good at the game, and as much as this premiere episode showed that people could get redemption over time and people can change, Ace going out first shows that some things never change.
I do hope he gets a shot at a second OG season or, hell, even a regular-season down the line because I think he has a natural charisma to him that makes me want to cheer for him, even though he was a bit of a sour puss at points this episode.
1 Overall Episode Rating
Nostalgia alone makes this episode a 10/10, and then you add in the editing, art design, soundtrack, and production choices on top of the amazingly charismatic cast, and you got an 11/10 episode of the Challenge. My only negative takeaway is that there will only be 1 winner this season, and there are only 9 episodes. We are 1 episode down and have 21 people left. That leaves me to assume we will be dealing with some Purge BS along the way, and that does not make me happy as I don’t want any of these legends to become robbed legends. Regardless, this episode of the Challenge reinvigorates me after a depressingly bad Double Agents episode. There are so many elements from this one episode, where if they applied it to a modern game, we would get a better main season product.