Here are the best episodes of 2012. Obviously this contains spoilers:
10) “Argentina” — Dexter
One of the nicest surprises on television this year was Dexter’s renaissance in quality. After some misguided years and a true nadir of a season in 2011, Dexter finally embraced a real progression in the story—having Debra find out about her brother’s “hobby”—and was all the better for it. The tension between Deb and Dexter led to some of the show’s best scenes ever. And since Dexter didn’t spend the entire season chasing his usual Big Bad Guy, Season Seven actually had decent subplots, including great guest performances from Ray Stevenson and Yvonne Strahovski. In “Argentina,” the show was even able to address the weirdest element of last season—Deb’s crush on her brother—in an impressive and compelling way.
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“Everyone’s puking. I’ve never seen so many people go to the medic in my life.” —Zach
“I have the endurance of a young, virgin colt.” —Chet
As is the custom for the penultimate episode of the Challenge, MTV relocated somewhere even more remote in last night’s episode, in this case Namibia. The contestants always get really excited when they find out where they are going, which makes sense, but from a viewer’s perspective, it’s like, Eh, one foreign country’s the same as the next.
On the other hand, the location of the final challenge always shapes its look, and Namibia seems to mean deserts. Last night’s challenge, though, was pretty basic, as they have generally been all season long: Called “Sling Shot,” the team’s were split in pairs, where one player rode a four-wheel ATV that pulled the other along a ramp and shot them into the water. Once in the water, that player had to swim to a bell and back. Continue reading »
“Realistically, I think Brooklyn is a strong team. Do I want to test that theory? Hell no.” —Devyn
“People in the house may think it’s me protecting Jonna. And, actually, that’s what it is.” —Zach
MTV is really drawing out this nadir of a Challenge. Normally, we’d be at the final challenge by now, ten weeks in, but there’s at least one more episode left, and possibly two. Throw in the two off weeks, for Halloween AND Thanksgiving, and this season will have been on for over three months.
And honestly, I’m sick of it. I can’t even figure out what they’re fighting about anymore. After last week’s hissy fit from Dustin about Trishelle’s refusal to volunteer for the Arena, he backed off of his threat to go home in a scene that took about five seconds. So last week’s big “cliffhanger” amounted to nothing. Instead, last night’s episode was devoted to Marie and Robb screaming about how the rest of the teams were all “corny” and “sleazes.” Continue reading »
“A woman would at least be quiet and listen to her men.” —Alton
“There’s a fight in every corner of the house… Where am I?” —Chet
MTV’s fighting policy is weird. There’s zero tolerance for throwing punches, but apparently you get unlimited pushes and shoves, even when someone gets shoved to the ground for no real reason, like Sam was in last night’s episode.
I imagine MTV’s thinking is much like the NHL’s: They don’t want to be seen as condoning fights, but eliminating them completely would take something away from the game. Last night’s episode, in which everyone seemed to be fighting with everyone, showed just how fights and the game are interconnected. Continue reading »
“I didn’t do anything wrong in this game. Not one thing!” —Frank
“I love watching San Diego fight. It’s sort of like a television show. It’s great.” —Trishelle
Last night’s episode picked up where last week’s left off: With San Diego in disarray and Frank as the villain. Zach specifically wanted nothing to do with Frank, while Frank somehow insisted that he did nothing wrong in backing out of the Arena at the last minute.
Luckily for San Diego, last night’s challenge, “Hunger Games,” didn’t really require much in the way of communication: Set up like a 1970s game show (so that MTV could capitalize on the Jennifer Lawrence movie AND Richard Dawson’s popularity), it was basically an eating contest. TJ Lavin would announce a food item, the teams would wager on how much of it they could eat in four minutes, and whomever wagered the highest had to actually do it. Continue reading »
Sarah: I guess I have a reputation for being good at puzzles. I don’t know how I got it…
Chet: Because you brag about it.
“Sam, you’re not Jesus carrying the cross.” —Frank
The Challenge is back, after a week off for MTV to celebrate Halloween. The layoff seemed to have reset the narrative—whereas I just declared Alton to be this season’s villain, this week’s episode brought a new one into focus: Frank.
Frank was the one who started fighting with Alton in the last episode, and this week he was pulling apart his own team. The problems started in the challenge: Logged Out was kind of a mini-final, consisting of checkpoints and a puzzle. The teams climbed a mountain and passed three checkpoints. The first showed the puzzle’s solution, the second contained the puzzle pieces, and the third was where the solution had to be reassembled. Continue reading »
“Strength comes into the gym, not personality.” —Frank
“I am furious. I should be swinging the fish.” —Marie
We’re more than halfway through this season of the Challenge now, and it’s officially clear who the villain is: Alton. It’s certainly a surprise to me, and anyone else who remembers Alton from his days of dominance on The Gauntlet II and The Inferno III, but it’s hard to defend him after last night’s episode.
In at least his partial defense, there comes a time for every veteran player when he is outnumbered by rookies who don’t know or like him, and often the vets don’t know how to handle this. Alton clearly resents the “children” in the house with him this season, and some of that is certainly justified based on their treatment of him and his team, but his response was equally childish. At the beginning of last night’s episode, for example, he denied the whole cast the opportunity to go to the beach because he didn’t feel like it. Continue reading »
“There’s one thing I hate worse than everything else in the world, and that’s quitters.”—TJ Lavin
“You’re a disgrace to the humankind!” —Camila
You know, for someone who so vocally resents all the people who doubt and disrespect him, you’d think Eric wouldn’t want to give those people any more ammunition. And yet, he has repeatedly displayed a tendency towards failure and defeatism. The most obvious point against him in this regard is his collapse during the final challenge of The Gauntlet III—after which, he was allegedly back into to have a few drinks at the wrap party, according to the Reunion show—but at least that was a real medical issue. Twice this season, he has thrown in the towel for no real reason: In Week 1, when he DQed his team from the challenge, and last night, when he gave up in an elimination challenge because he didn’t like the way Camila was talking to him.
Of course, it’s possible that the fact that he was facing Devyn, who is apparently his soulmate, in the Arena, and thus one of them would have been eliminated no matter what, sapped his motivation. But it was still a pretty shitty thing for him to do to his teammate, who had no say in the matter. And though Camila was pretty nasty to Eric—showing shades of Laurel’s diatribe in Cutthroat—I can understand where she’s coming from. Like TJ, I have no patience for quitters, especially if there’s no strategic reason behind it. Continue reading »
“This is a game.” —Knight (repeated about 50 times)
Man, MTV is starting early this season with the To Be Continued episodes, huh?
Not that this week’s episode lacked for drama. First, we had a night out ending in tears after Knight pulled the old “throw someone’s laundry into the pool” trick. Knight seemed to think soaking Nany’s clothes was some great strategic gambit, since it would “get in her head.” Nany did flip out and threaten to leave the game afterwards, but aren’t she and Knight on the same alliance? What’s the sense in picking a fight with someone who’s on your side?
In reality, Knight’s antics only solidified Las Vegas’ team bond and made everyone else in the house hate him. Plus, it wasn’t even original: Tonya did that back in Inferno II. Continue reading »