“There’s me and everyone’s revolving around me. And everybody’s thinking: What are we going to do about this kid?” —C.T.
Somewhere, the MTV executive who thought up the concept for Rivals is laughing maniacally. In episode two, everything is going according to plan: Some of the pairs are being drawn closer together, and others are being torn apart at the seams. We have couples forming and fights breaking out. And C.T. is building an air of invincibility while simultaneously drawing the ire of the rest of the cast. Mwahahahahaha!
We began the episode with a simple prank: Kenny, Johnny, Evan, and Wes lift a giant sculpture of a swan from their yard and leave it in Mandi’s bed. They seem to think this is the funniest thing that anybody’s ever done. Mandi doesn’t know what to do, but luckily her new beau is C.T., and he’s a monster. He lifts the swan—which required four people to lift it the first time—by himself and carries it back outside.
Even in a show like The Challenge, where people are loathe to admit their own weaknesses or inferiorities, everyone seems scared of C.T. Wes, of all people, admitted that C.T. was “maybe” stronger than him—despite Wes’ later claim that he is “a lot stronger than most collegiate football players.” It also seems as if most of the cast genuinely dislikes C.T. as a person. Whether this is because of his mammoth temper, his arrogance, or something else was not clear, but the result was the same: The cast spent a lot of time scheming to throw C.T. into the first male Jungle. Even Adam, C.T.’s own partner, admitted that part of him was rooting against C.T.
Unlike last week, this week’s challenge was great. Rather than relying on a simple athletic skill like jumping, this one required both strategy and teamwork. The pairs had to co-pilot a giant one-armed loader while using the bucket to crush and drag a car along an obstacle course. The challenge did suffer the classic MTV flaw of having a lot of DQs, but even that wasn’t that bad: All the disqualifications seemed to offer different glimpses into what was going wrong with the teams. Laurel/Cara Maria, for example, DQed simply because they didn’t crush their car low enough, while Kenny/Wes DQ almost immediately because a miscommunication led them to drive out of bounds.
The female challenge was won by Evelyn/Paula, who seem to be bonding—Evelyn said that there’s nobody she’d rather have as her partner than Paula. For the males, it came down to Leroy/Michael and C.T./Adam. Though I was rooting for the much-hyped nerdiness of Michael—he became, I think, the first Challenge contestant to start a conversation about the perilous state of American wheat farming…I think—to carry the day, it was C.T./Adam who pulled out the win. It was a much-needed win, too, since it looked like they would have been voted in otherwise.
Wes/Kenny were thrown into the Jungle thanks to their speedy DQ, leaving the rest of the group to vote on their opponents. The vote didn’t take long, since as soon as Wes nominated Davis/Tyrie, they didn’t bother fighting—they wouldn’t have had the votes anyway.
Before the Jungle, though, some sparks flew. Camila tried to confront Jonna about something the latter had said, but she called Jonna the wrong name, which only made things worse. As fights between girls will do, this escalated quickly and for seemingly no reason. At one point, Jasmine got involved to defend her partner. Jasmine is insanely tiny—at one point, Theresa, who’s not exactly a giant, seemed to tower over Jasmine like Darth Vader over Luke—but she’s also “incredibly feisty.” After Sarah had to restrain her, she kept screaming about how “that’s not how they do things in Houston.”* She even punched a mirror into pieces.
*Is this a stereotype about Houston? Do tiny black girls from Houston not back down from fights? I did not know.
What was so interesting about this week’s fight was how quickly Theresa and Jasmine came to the defense of partners they supposedly dislike, just as Leroy came to Adam’s defense last week. It’s amazing how wearing the same color shirt can create a sense of camaraderie.* On the other hand, there are some partnerships, like Adam/C.T. and Kenny/Wes, that are barely holding on.
*As Michael Chabon said about how clothes help create bonds: “As any two people who have ever dressed in matching pajamas will attest, it was surprisingly effective.”
The Jungle challenge was Blast Off, which was essentially a wrestling variant. While Tyrie seemed to have a size advantage, he and Davis never put up much of a fight, and Kenny/Wes managed a quick win.
And now we’re laughing all the way to the rank:
Another reason the evil MTV executive is laughing: The least interesting pairs are going home first.
12. Jasmine/Jonna (-1): While these two are now closer to each other, they’ve alienated most of the house with their belligerence.
11. Brandon/Ty (+1): It was nice to see Ty at least admit that he screwed up in a challenge.
10. Katelynn/Sarah (-2): These two DQed relatively early, and Katelynn is a pretty lousy partner.
9. Camila/Theresa (+3): These two were second to Evelyn/Paula, so perhaps I underestimated their ability last week.
8. Leroy/Michael (+2): I’d like Michael to do well, but there aren’t going to be many challenges that are as non-athletic as last night’s was.
7. Jenn/Mandi (—): At this point, I don’t know if Mandi’s relationship with C.T. is going to help or hurt her.
6. Evan/Nehemiah (—): Of course Nehemiah meditates… Of course he does.
5. Cara Maria/Laurel (-1): It was hard to tell if Laurel was subtly blaming their loss on Cara Maria or not.
4. Johnny/Tyler (-1): I could have lived without knowing that Tyler uses magnum condoms.
3. Evelyn/Paula (+2): I held these two back last week because of their mistrust, but they’re already seeming to like each other.
2. Kenny/Wes (-1): An early DQ and mounting friction knocks them out of the #1 spot, which means….
1. Adam/C.T. (+1): Everyone is out to get C.T.—even his partner—but right now he’s back to his winning ways.