“We’re playing the game with a bunch of bitches and I’ve got the biggest one on my team.” —Nehemiah
Just a week after I broke down my problems with this season of the Challenge, Rivals had its best episode yet. Things that had been brewing all season long—fraying rivalries, the tension with C.T., C.T.’s love triangle—finally boiled over.
It seems that the moronic “D-Day” plan from two weeks ago did not die with its initial failure—the Wes/Johnny/Evan alliance put it in motion yet again last night. The plan was essentially the same: Evan would throw the challenge to get sent into the Jungle, where he would hopefully meet and defeat Adam/C.T. There were many obvious problems with this plan, the first of which was preventing Adam/C.T. from winning immunity.
Since Jenn/Mandi won last week, they got to set the order, but Mandi’s affection for C.T. made it hard for her to make his team go first (by the end of the episode, her affection for C.T. would largely disappear). But despite Jenn’s ongoing flirtation with Adam, she took command and followed the orders of the dominant alliance.
At this point, though, C.T. expects to go first every time, so he was not fazed. The challenge was very similar to the one from an earlier episode—it involved swimming and a zip line— but it was still fun to watch. For as much as I criticize MTV’s challenges, the way they filmed this one was pretty awesome. We got to see the views from camera helmets as one teammate jumped into the arms of another and then flew across the water. C.T. and Adam had a pretty good time, and the best chance to defeat them—Johnny/Tyler—went down in flames when Johnny “prematurely evacuated” and let his team down from the zip line too fast.
But WAIT! It was team formerly known as the Great DQ Machine—Kenny/Wes—who came through with the best time, keeping the D-Day plan alive.
There was another big problem, though, which was that Evan neglected to tell Nehemiah—probably because they weren’t on speaking terms at this point—about his plans to throw the challenge. This understandably angered Nehemiah, who challenged Evan to a fight after the challenge (and again on the after show*). They were probably not in an ideal state to be going into the Jungle.
*Which is now hosted by The Miz. What happened to Mark??
Which of course brings up yet another problem with the D-Day plan: Why did anyone think this team could beat C.T.? The deliberation session was quick and boring yet again, as everyone voted in Adam/C.T., but it didn’t matter—C.T. had no reason to be afraid of Evan/Nehemiah. In addition to a total lack of communication, neither Evan nor Nehemiah is a particularly imposing athlete.
The Jungle challenge required each team to hang by their arms from a rail, which was suspended across two parallel bars. The players had to move the rail from one end of these bars to the other while still hanging. Involving upper-body strength (to hang from the rail), flexibility (since you had to thrust your body forward to move the rail), and teamwork (since coordinated movements obviously moved the rail farther), it was not well-suited for Evan/Nehemiah. Evan in particular flailed around somewhat helplessly, allowing Adam/C.T. to win, thwarting Operation D-Day, which ended up being, in both theoretical soundness and eventual success, the exact opposite of its namesake.
Happily, this brings Adam back to Jenn and C.T. back to Laurel, who he has moved onto after tiring of Mandi. Although Mandi tried to play it off like she didn’t care, she was obviously pretty upset to get dumped C.T.—I mean, anything that sends a girl into the arms of Wes has got to be pretty traumatic.
More importantly, though, this is a pretty big blow to the dominant alliance. With only two of the remaining eight teams, the balance of power may have shifted.
To know for sure, we’ll have to rank:
I’ll at least give Evan credit for accepting the blame for his colossally dumb decision to agree to the D-Day plan.
8. Jasmine/Jonna (—): Although every remaining female pair has won at least once, these two are probably the worst, and the ones with the fewest friends.
7. Jenn/Mandi (-1): Jenn is very good at not alienating the dominant players, but with the balance of power shifting, that may turn around on her.
6. Leroy/Michael (+3): These two should immediately align themselves with Adam/C.T. and the remaining rookies to try and take down Wes and Johnny.
5. Evelyn/Paula (-1): Though these two initially looked ready to dominate the female side, they haven’t won in a few weeks.
4. Kenny/Wes (+3): The first win from these two helps their ranking, even if their alliance lost a key member (and Kenny lost a friend—he even cried!).
3. Cara Maria/Laurel (—): Have these two officially left their bickering ways behind?
2. Johnny/Tyler (-1): Man, my opinions of Tyler have really changed since last season: His breakdown of the house relationships (“they’re disgusting”) was great.
1. Adam/C.T. (+1): There’s a lesson here, Evan: You come at the king, you best not miss…