Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Cutthroat, Week 1 Power Rankings

“We need one chief and a lot of Indians!” —Melinda

“Wow, I can say one thing to your face and then secretly do another…”—Derrick

What a day: Cliff Lee gives the Texas Rangers their first postseason win since 1996, Roy Halladay throws the first postseason no-hitter since 1956, and the Yankees rally from behind to the Twins for the first time since…last year. But, of course, the most exciting athletic event to occur yesterday was the premiere of the newest season of The Challenge on MTV. And this season, Cutthroat, brings a lot of changes.

First of all, we begin in-medias-res-style with the contestants competing in individual challenge—some sort of race, the results of which will be used to pick captains who will choose the season’s teams (a suggestion, I should add, that was made a year ago by none other than yours truly). The “twist” that MTV puts on this is that the captains won’t be the race’s winners, but its losers (a twist that is only revealed at the end of course, meaning the race did not feature people running backwards or trying to force others passed the finish line). Despite Paula’s insistence that this twist “changes everything,” it changes pretty much nothing—all that happens is that the people who would have otherwise been picked last (Shauvon, Emilee, Camila) end up on teams first. The rest of the picking goes more or less as you’d expect… EXCEPT that Laurel was, somehow, not the first girl picked. Camila chose Tori, meaning that she either did not watch Fresh Meat II or she hates victory.

Also, in a twist that does actually matter, there are three teams this year, which makes Cutthroat the first team Challenge to feature more than two teams (I think). The rules are pretty simple: The three teams will compete in a challenge. The winning team will be immune, while the losing teams will each have to nominate one guy and girl to face off in the Gulag (which is a pretty cool name for an elimination). One other slight change, though, is that the nominations will be done by secret ballot, which led to the quote above, in which Derrick apparently conceptualized deceit for the first time in his life.

These changes should make the game more interesting, but it’s a shame that the cast that gets to take advantage of them appears so uninspiring. While Fresh Meat II, possibly the best season of the show to date, featured polarizing figures like Kenny and Wes, as well as a dominant player like Landon, this season lacks those dynamic personalities. Over half of the cast of 30 is made up of newcomers or competitors who haven’t been around long enough to make an impression (for example, Tyler, from Key West, is on his third Challenge, but has never made it to the fourth episode). Even the ones the audience does know are mostly of the bland variety: Dunbar, Sarah, Brad and Tori (who are now married), Johnny, Jenn, Derrick, Easy E.

Of course, there are always a few bright spots. Abram, winner of The Inferno and The Inferno III, returns for the first time after voluntarily leaving The Island for personal reasons (and he has apparently written a childrens’ book in the meantime). Laurel is back and will presumably still dominate the female competition. Best of all, though, is the return of Melinda, who is getting divorced from Danny, one of the worst people in Challenge history. Leaving Danny has made Melinda about 100 times more likeable and attractive.

Anyway, once the captains pick the cast is divided into three teams of 10: Red, Gray, and Blue. Coincidentally, the Color War teams at my old summer camp, Camp Equinunk (former summer home to both me and Seth Davis), were Red and Gray, with Blue being the color of the girls’ camp. I am, along with Seth (Go Family!), a Gray man, so I will be rooting for Gray (plus, that team has Abram and Laurel, my two favorite players in the game).

As the teams retire to their house, we hear what a lot of them have been up to and what their plans are for this Challenge. Katie, who I thought had retired, is apparently set on becoming a criminal profiler. Paula is sick of losing (for like the fourth Challenge in a row). Emily, who had a relationship with her housemate—and current teammate—Ty on RW: D.C. is insistent that there will be “no more hooking up with Ty,” so we can probably expect her to hook up with Ty.

The first challenge is a complicated one—so complicated, in fact, that the contestants can barely even explain it. Suffice to say that it involves running into a gas chamber (yes, the producers called it a gas chamber, and yes it was actually full of gas—obviously no Jews were involved in the production of this show) where they had to crack a complicated code—while breathing in some kind of tear gas that made them convulse and gag—to retrieve a combination. They would then use the combination to unlock chests that included diagrams that they then used to assemble a puzzle.

The challenge involved a lot of gagging on tear gas and a lot of yelling. The Red Team was the first to unlock its safes, but got caught up with infighting while trying to assemble the puzzle. The Blue Team was a positive embarrassment. They were the last to unlock their safes, and even worse at assembling the puzzle. Meanwhile, the Gray Team caught up to Red thanks to Abram’s leadership and direction in the puzzle stage.

After Gray pulled out the win, that left Red and Blue to nominate team members for the Gulag. As usual, the rookies were the victims of the initial vote: Blue nominated Derek and Emily, both from RW: Cancun, while Red nominated Brandon from Fresh Meat II and Camila, who I had never seen before but who is apparently from Spring Break Challenge. Theresa (back from Fresh Meat II) tired to do her part for the Blue Team by accusing Camila of stealing, hoping to rattle her teammates’ opponent the night before the Gulag. Having so little knowledge of the participants, I didn’t really care much about this Gulag, but watching Theresa’s pathetic display of psychological warfare made me root, ever-so-slightly, for Red. Luckily, both Brandon and Camila pulled the competition out, leaving Blue with only eight remaining contestants.

Wow, that was a lot of information, and we haven’t even ranked yet. Well, let’s get on with it:

Eliminated: Derek (Blue) and Emilee (Blue)

Another reason I was happy to see both these two go: They each have names that are very similar to another contestant’s (there’s a Derrick and an Emily, after all), and that would have been confusing.

Guys In Danger: Chet (Red) Ty (Blue) J.D. (Gray)

I like all these guys, but as rookies they are each in the most danger on their respective teams.

Girls In Danger: Mandi (Red) Katie (Blue) Shauvon (Gray)

Just showing how stupid the whole “the captains are the worst players” gimmick was: Two of them ended up in the Gulag anyway, and Shauvon, the third, will probably go as soon as Gray loses.

Hot Girl Immunity: Melinda (Red) Tori (Red) Jenn (Blue) Theresa (Blue)

If you are unfamiliar with this category, it goes to girls who will stick around longer than they should because they tend to hook up with or marry one of the guys, who then wants to keep his wife/fiancé/sex partner around.

18. Emily (Blue): Bad team + Has no allies = Quick elimination

17. Tyler (Red): I do not like Tyler at all. I don’t expect him to do well, and I hope he goes home soon.

16. Camila (Red): Her win in the Gulag last night helps her, but for how long?

15. Eric (Blue): Ever since Eric cost his team the final challenge in The Gauntlet III teams have realized that they have to eliminate him early or risk the same fate.

14. Ayiiia (Gray): Her team is good, but she has asthma and way too many “I”s in her name, so she’s at risk once Gray loses.

13. Brandon (Red): Like Camila, he bought himself some time with a win, but I still don’t think he’s going end up going into the Gulag again.

12. Luke (Gray): Luke didn’t exactly establish a reputation for himself in Fresh Meat II, when he was essentially emasculated by his partner Ev, so that’ll hurt him.

11. Dan (Gray): The only challenge Dan has been on so far–The Island–is one of the few that I didn’t watch in full, so I don’t know what to expect from him. His inability to breathe in the gas chamber doesn’t inspire confidence, though.

10. Johnny (Blue): We start the Top Ten with an experienced strategist, but also someone who is known to make enemies quickly and often in this game.

9. Cara Maria (Gray): Like Luke, she didn’t make such a good name for herself on Fresh Meat II, but she and Abram are getting along, so that bodes well for her safety.

8. Vinny (Gray): I don’t really know what to make of Vinny. He’s on a good team and he looks like he could be strong, but he was kicked off in the second episode of Fresh Meat II, so he hasn’t really proven anything.

7. Dunbar (Red): Dunbar was the first overall pick, which I don’t really get. People tend to overrate him because of his size, but he’s never actually won an elimination or individual competition.

6. Sarah (Gray): Sarah came up under Kenny’s wing, so she knows her stuff. She has quickly attained the status of a respected veteran, meaning she should be around for a while.

5. Derrick (Blue): This may be high for someone who doesn’t know how to strategize and who is useless when it comes to puzzles or teamwork, but he is a great athlete and very well-liked.

4. Paula (Red): Oh, Paula. Is this the year you finally win? I’m betting it is because of her strong performance in Fresh Meat II and her obvious willingness to play dirty.

3. Brad (Red): Brad often ends up as the de facto leader of his team and, more importantly, he has a teammate who will presumably never vote for him, in his wife Tori.

2. Laurel (Gray): Last season the torch was passed from Evelyn (who inherited the torch from Coral, who inherited from Ruthie, and so and so on) to a new dominant female player. There is no girl in this game who will send Laurel home.

1. Abram (Gray): The best player on the best team.

8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by molly on October 7, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    I’ve loved Derrick since his first “Road Rules” stint.
    He kind of looks like Leo DiCaprio’s (prematurely balding) kid brother: a total babe!


  2. Posted by james Schneider on October 9, 2010 at 6:43 PM

    Uhhh….Gray>Red? Ct, who appeared to be wearing black and is apparently making some sort of appearance> everybody


  3. Posted by Sal on October 14, 2010 at 6:51 AM

    Wow, I’m so glad I found this website. I always thought there was no one who cared as much as I do about the RR/RW Challenge. My picks to win after week 1 were Laurel and Abram although Abram started to look more like a loose cannon in week 2.


  4. Posted by Jeff on October 14, 2010 at 8:37 PM

    What the hell is that on Paula’s chin?


  5. Posted by Rob on October 20, 2010 at 4:07 AM

    If you’re watching on MTV’s site it’s about 22 minutes in. A close up of Paula shows some weird, cracked wart type growth on her chin. Never though she was one of the more attractive castmates to begin with but wtf is that.


  6. […] provocateur constantly pushing people to their breaking point. Now, people do things like this all the time on the Challenge, but the actual episode last night showed quite the opposite: In two separate instances, Ty got […]


  7. […] this one. Camila fought with basically everyone last season (through no real fault of her own) and Theresa went out of her way to antagonize her. I don’t expect these two to bury any hatchet, but I doubt they’ll come to […]


  8. Posted by Ashley b on August 1, 2014 at 1:03 AM

    Cutthroat was the most boring challenge thus far. The teams were whack and I can’t believe how cowardly Brad played the game. He used to be one of my favorites because he was a pretty good competitor and seemed to be a good guy, but in this challenge he was so desperate to win he let his wife make all the calls and ultimately finished on the backs of the rookies. MTV should never allow a married couple to be on the same team ever again. Oh yeah, I’m glad Abram served Brad’s butt to him again! One more thing, CT IS AWESOME! His appearance was the highlight of the season. I’m glad he served Johnny Bananas because that guy is a real douche.


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