Pierre as a young boy was a contrarian. He was the kind who favored The Plague over The Stranger, Beauvoir over Sartre, Henry over Zidane, the left rook’s pawn over the right rook’s pawn.
Pierre as a man retains so much of that contrarianism, but there is within him, he can now say, some sentiment for the Man, the Authority, the Establishment—in short, the common nouns that require proper capitalization.
It is with this perspective of the potentate in mind that I have reached a conclusion I once thought not possible. The NFL, that American Establishment of Establishments, must begin playing an 18-game season.
We can swim against the tide of history or we can ride it. The latter is not, however, a pure acquiescence, as our very presence causes change and rupture and redefinition—perhaps to meet our own needs.
And so we approach tremulously the Mordor of the 18-game concept. Continue reading
“I’m always looked at as, like, I don’t know… not that good at shit. I’m not good at challenges. I’m not good at elimination rounds. But I never wanted to let Emily down, so I did the best I could.” —Paula
“Third place is not my destiny!” —Emily
It may be anticlimactic, but it’s always nice when the team that deserves to win actually wins. And for both the guys and the girls, the winning pair for Rivals II was the team that performed the best throughout the Challenge.
First of all, Emily/Paula were obviously the best female team. They may not have dominated as much as I initially expected—early on I said they might go undefeated in challenges, which obviously didn’t pan out—but they were clearly the alphas on the girls’ side throughout. Even when they did lose, it was a surprise. Continue reading
“I really want to win this Challenge. I feel like I’m one of the best competitors to ever be on The Challenge, and at the same time I feel like the Dan Marino of The Challenge. One of the best quarterbacks ever, a Hall of Famer—doesn’t have a ring. I don’t want to be Dan Marino. I want to be Tom Brady.” —C.T.
“I will be shot before I let Camila and Jemmye beat me to that yacht.” —Emily
People complain a lot about gimmickry in sports. Of course, what makes something a “gimmick” usually depends on your perspective. Baseball’s second wildcard certainly seems like a gimmick… until you’re a Yankees fan with no other hope of seeing the postseason.
Still, one gimmick I am decidedly against is eliminating players in the middle of a challenge. It seems to me that the whole point of devising these long, elaborate Final Challenges is so the teams have to be good at a lot of different things in order to win. That way, teams that fall behind after one event can make it up in the future. Conversely, teams that build big leads are always in danger of blowing it if they run into something they can’t do.
But eliminating a team after the first leg of a multistage challenge erases these possibilities. If the thing you’re weakest at happens to come first, then you are shit out of luck. This looked to be the case for Cooke/Cara Maria on Wednesday night, when Cara Maria, who had been violently dreading any swimming on the Final Challenge, had to swim her way to the first puzzle. And, indeed, Cooke/Cara Maria were the last team to start the puzzle, but luckily they were able to make up ground on the puzzle itself. Camila/Jemmye were not as lucky—their weakness was puzzles, and their inability to finish the puzzle on “Dream Island” got them eliminated from the game for good. Continue reading
“No matter what, people will not be friends after this.” —Paula
Diem: “I’m really confused.”
Wes: “That’s an emotional thing.”
Diem: “I’m an emotional person!”
I have been watching the Challenge for many, many years—not quite since the beginning, but close. And I’ve watched half a dozen Real World seasons as well. Still, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the entire cast turn to the cameraman, point, and yell, “Go!” the way they did in Wednesday’s episode of Rivals II, after Diem followed C.T. away from the pool.
The confrontation itself was a bit of a letdown—they both just stuck to their guns—but it shows how invested everyone involved in the show—cast, crew, and audience—is in C.T. and Diem. The conflict between the two former lovers was pretty small—C.T. didn’t vote the way Diem would have liked—but it became a kind of Rorschach test for how everyone perceives C.T. Continue reading
“She was about to tell me she loves me. Now she’s snoring.” —C.T.
“We ran circles around everyone that even attempted to do it… There is not a single person who’s not shaking in their boot.” —Wes
There’s a common fallacy in life that is always brilliantly illustrated on the Challenge—namely, the belief that if someone’s personal interests don’t align with your own, he is morally at fault. We saw this two weeks ago, when Frank took great umbrage with Jordan’s resistance to being voted in even though that’s what Frank wanted. It was as if Frank could not recognize that Jordan’s priorities might differ from his own.
On Wednesday, that same thing was on display, though this time it was two teams that were safe from the Jungle going at it. After Marlon/Jordan got voted in against Knight/Preston, thereby guaranteeing spots in the Final for C.T./Wes and Johnny/Frank, the two surviving teams went at it. Initially, it was all innocent trash talk, with Wes pointing out that Johnny nearly fainted after this week’s challenge, and therefore wasn’t much of a threat in the Final. Johnny responded by invoking Wes’ abysmal Final performance in the original Rivals season. Continue reading
“We can only promise each other until the cards run out.” —Frank
“I’m the one person that never said a negative thing about this fucking piece of shit.” —Camila
Let’s talk about the shadow of the future. For those not familiar with the work of Robert Axelrod, the term basically means that, when two people face the possibility of interacting at some undetermined point in the future, they are more likely to cooperate with each other, even if cheating each other might be more advantageous in the present. In other words, you’re not going to screw someone over if you think you might run into that person again.
And I’m wondering if that affected Frank’s decision to vote in Jonna, a close friend he had promised to protect. His reasoning was that he didn’t have a choice—Camila/Jemmye won immunity, and Cooke/Cara Maria finished last in the challenge. This only left Aneesa/Diem, Paula/Emily, and Jonna/Nany, all teams Johnny/Frank were aligned with. So even though he swore “Jonna’s name will not come out of my mouth”—a promise he technically kept by letting Johnny vote for the team—he voted in his friend. Continue reading
“I always say: All is fair in love, war, and Challenges.” —Johnny
“There will be blood.” —Cara Maria
Frank is ridiculous. That is the conclusion I’ve reached after watching him for two seasons now. He gets so absurdly, unjustifiably upset about such strange things—he’s like the understudy Jerry dated on Seinfeld.
In Wednesday’s episode, he lashed out at Jordan, multiple times, simply because Jordan accused him of campaigning to have him thrown into the Jungle, which is exactly what Frank was doing. But not only did Frank insist that such allegations “could not be more untrue,” he acted like Jordan accused him of violating the sanctity of the Sunday truce or something. And by getting so angry with Jordan—and borderline violent—all he did was make Marlon/Jordan, a strong team, more deadest on going after him.* Continue reading