“This is the worst case scenario for the mob because somebody’s going up against ME. The mob is going to have to vote against each other and that is going to be good… This is going to be so good.” —C.T.
I knew this episode of Rivals was going to be good almost instantly. As soon as it opened with a series of slow motion close ups on the cast’s excited yet apprehensive faces—not unlike the piano scene at the end of Act I of The Deer Hunter—it was clear that MTV was setting up something big.
Instead of shipping off to Vietnam, though, the contestants were shipping off to Buenos Aires, trading their Costa Rican paradise for one farther south. Once in Argentina, their behavior veered from hedonistic bacchanalia to inmates-running-the-asylum type madness. There was screaming and nudity and violence, all to no apparent end, like some Nietzschen dystopia.
In all this hullabaloo, Wes decided that he doesn’t like Cara Maria, so he poured a two liter bottle of Pepsi on her head. Because that’s how people behave. When Cara Maria had the nerve to, you know, object to having cola poured all over her for no reason, the rest of the house ganged up on her, with Paula saying that she looked ridiculous (Oh really, Paula, how do you look after a soda shower?) and Wes pointing out that nobody in the house likes her—as if she didn’t get that last week.
When Cara Maria retreated to her room, Laurel—her partner and only ally in the house— was there to comfort her and defend her. And if there’s ever someone you want defending you, it’s Laurel. She essentially chased Wes out of the room, calling him a “fucking firecrotch”* and then went after him in the main room. After getting Wes to back down like a wounded puppy, Paula once again tried to stick up for him… and then shit got bad.
*By the way, words you can say on MTV that will not get bleeped include “firecrotch,” but NOT “Pepsi.”
We saw in Cutthroat, when she lashed out at Eric, that Laurel is very good at going right for a person’s most vulnerable spots, and here she unleashed her powers on Paula. She made fun of Paula’s anorexia, her fake breasts, her age, her attractiveness, and, of course, her inability to get a husband. Paula went from laughing on the side of the argument to openly weeping in about four seconds.
Now, I don’t want to condone Laurel’s behavior. Her treatment of Eric last season was inexcusable, and it’s never good to go after the things that people are most sensitive about. Having said that… Paula really had it coming. She defended Wes’ absurdly immature behavior, began berating Cara Maria, and injected herself into another argument that had nothing to do with her. The hypocrisy of her tearful whining—“How do you have so much anger or hatred for somebody?”—was laughable.
But ANYWAY, that merely brought us to the actual Argentinian challenge. And you’re not going to believe this, but it didn’t involve teamwork or strategy again. It was basically a rope climb, except that the rope was attached to a helicopter. In fact, this was yet another challenge where one partner didn’t have to do anything.
For the females, this made it easier for Evelyn to pull out another win for her and Paula—surprising nobody, Evelyn clarified that individual contests are her “favorite thing” about challenges. For the males, though, things got interesting. C.T. finally struggled with a challenge, falling off the rope and DQing. Meanwhile, Leroy completed the challenge in about ten seconds, giving the rookies a win and guaranteeing them a spot in the final challenge.
With Leroy/Michael as the winners and Adam/C.T. as the losers, this meant that “the mob” (which is really just Johnny and Wes at this point) would have to vote in either Kenny/Wes or Johnny/Tyler. Making things even more interesting, T.J. did not give them time to deliberate, forcing everyone to vote on the spot.
The first team to vote was Evelyn/Paula, which put an absurd amount of power in the hands of a pair that would not be affected by the decision at all. Paula seemed paralyzed, unsure who she owed her loyalty more, until Evelyn pointed out that Johnny/Tyler had not been in the Jungle yet. This logic seemed to win out and Johnny/Tyler—coincidentally, the two contestants who faced C.T. in his amazing Cutthroat appearance—were voted into their first Jungle.
Tyler did not take this well, for both good and bad reasons. On the one hand, he was right to point out that he and Johnny had been a good team all season, and that the only reason they were thrown in was because the alliance hadn’t thought this through. On the other, he took the votes of Paula and Leroy way too personally, as if they were some kind of judgment on him as a person.
With Tyler in a fragile mental state, Johnny, Wes, and Kenny seemed to hatch a plan of mental warfare on Adam, who appears to be benefiting from the modicum of confidence sleeping with Jenn will give someone. During the group’s night on the town in Buenos Aires, all three of them tried to bend Adam’s ear about C.T. in order to shake his confidence. When C.T. went over to help out his partner, a brief scuffle started, as if the mob were trying to provoke C.T. into throwing a punch. As he screamed at everyone to get off him—looking a little like Dr. Manhattan while doing so—MTV cut to the dreaded To Be Continued…
But our job is never done until we’ve ranked…
7. Johnny/Tyler (-6): Last week’s #1 drops all the way to 7th, as I don’t really like their chances going against C.T. in the Jungle.
6. Adam/C.T. (-3): They have to be this low, if only because they’re going to the Jungle.
5. Jenn/Mandi (—): Jenn will most likely continue her tradition of finishing last in final challenges.
4. Kenny/Wes (+2): Wes did not come off well last night, either in picking on Cara Maria or in his desperation to avoid the Jungle. And Kenny didn’t come off so well by deferring to Wes.
3. Leroy/Michael (+5): It’s really amazing that they managed to make it to the final without going to the Jungle once. Call it the C.T. Effect…
2. Evelyn/Paula (—): Can Evelyn count on being able to do everything herself in the final challenge?
1. Cara Maria/Laurel (+3): This two are the real heartwarming story of Rivals, so it would be nice to see them win.