- The Challenge -Good Guy Ed Is My 'Challenge' Prince
Here we are in Week 2 of The Challenge: SL&A, and I am now 100% sure that MTV doesn’t know the difference between a spy and a cat burglar. Anyway, as y’all will recall, along with losing the two eliminated folks last episode, we also gained a challenger at The Lair: Ed, from The Circle US! He replaced Nam, who we now know had to leave the game because of COVID-19 via a cute lil’ Instagram Live Michele hosted with Lavender Ladies Ashley and Amanda. Ed's paired up with Emy, and seems to be just The. Best. Guy.
Nelson is the unofficial chair of the welcome committee for our new addition and is such a charming host! Usually, Vets like to spend a lot of time hammering into Rookies just how different The Challenge is than any other show; how it’s the toughest physically, the most grueling mentally, the wildest politically... but Nelson welcomes Ed like he just moved into his frat house.
He tells him it’s time to party, have a good time, live his best life and see how fun The Challenge house can be. It’s refreshing! Nelson has possibly/probably/definitely just single-handedly fixed the toxic masculinity problem in The Challenge forever. Right? RIGHT?!?!? Yes, for sure. Thanks bb :-*
ANYWAY, as promised by Nelly, we’re about to see how fun this house can be. They’re having a little post-elimination party and honestly? Alcohol and dancing is probably exactly what a group this far-flung and diverse needs to really get comfortable. And baby they doooo get comfortable. We’ve got Michele eyeing Emanuel, Tori in Kelz’s lap, Berna dancing with Nelson, and newly minted Challenge couple Nany and Kaycee sneaking off to be alone. This looks like a genuinely fun little party and not just because "Pimpin’ All Over the World" is playing, though that definitely helps.
A little post-party canoodling goes down, notably between Ashley and Nelson who we have already learned started hooking up in the off-season. Proving that she really is Ashley’s BFF, Amanda is glad her friend is getting some but is also scared for Nelson! She knows her bestie isn’t exactly the cool and casual type, and she sees an eruption of Mt. Smashley in their future. Strap in, because Ashley’s history with exes on this show is... uh... fraught.
Okay yeah sure I guess the game is the main thing, so let’s discuss: Some Vets have come to realize that with this wild influx of Rookies, they’ve got no choice but to band together if they’re going to stay in this thing. They clock Kelz as a potential leader among this new blood that they should target for elimination, especially now that he’s partnered with another Rookie after last episode’s infiltration and also, I have to assume, because he is an absolute smoke show.
At the daily challenge, Teej confirms for me that MTV doesn’t know enough about spies to fill another season of themed challenges. We continue to associate spies with gems for reasons I am really not clear on, but whatever, it’s fun. This week’s challenge is Heli-Heist, where one player will be hanging out of the sun roof of a speeding Range Rover catching bags of gems thrown down by their partner from a helicopter that will be hovering above them. The team to secure the most gems wins, and who does the throwing vs. the catching is entirely up to each team.
This is the kind of challenge I really enjoy since it doesn’t have any apparent size/height advantage so it truly is anybody’s game! Except Emy’s. It is most definitely not Emy’s.
Our lovely cotton-candy-haired babe, it turns out, is deeply scared of heights. Ed doesn’t fully appreciate this phobia when he asks her to be the gem-thrower, and it’s not clear why she doesn’t protest more to this assignment, but regardless, she’s up in this helicopter straight up sobbing. She’s tossing bags through her tears but it’s just not happening for ‘em.
They end up collecting only 13 gems and our girl is DISTRAUGHT. Good Guy Ed is quick to comfort her but she is all in her feelings, crying that she feels like the weakest in the house. Folks rally around to stabilize her mood, but it’s clear that in Emy we’re dealing with an emotional powder keg, which is my favorite kind of challenger.
The rest of the teams carry on without incident, with Kaycee/Emanuel and Fessy/Esther doing particularly well, and Team Festher bringing home the win. Fessy is also fasting for Ramadan during all this so our dude won the daily on an empty stomach?! As somebody that feels the need to carbo-load before emptying the dishwasher, this is extremely impressive to me.
Now, some drama: we learn here that Lauren, Josh’s partner, is out of the game, and will be replaced by Amber, Double Agents champ. TJ keeps it vague and just says Lauren's been "deactivated," but the rumor is that Lauren was ejected for allegedly making racially insensitive remarks to Aneesa during the party. This allegation hasn't been confirmed. For Lauren's part, she tweeted that she was scapegoated by the network and "gaslit."
Whatever, all of that is a major drag, let’s go out! Once again, we have a little quarantine bubble bar to send The Challengers “out” to, where they can make wobbly political conversation and try to cobble together a strategy over the booming music. Why not!
Fessy seems to try to make a deal with Kelz to keep him safe that... Kelz... kind of... declines? It’s hard to say whether or not Messy Fessy’s loyalty was ever really on offer considering his track record, but in any case, Fessy runs to Josh and these two decide Kelz needs to be the house vote for elimination. Josh definitely thinks he’s Fessy’s wartime consigliere, but it’s pretty obvious he’s more of a goon – just acting on orders from Capo Fessy.
Elsewhere at Club Challenge, Nelson apparently has a death wish as he flirts with Berna right in front of Smashley, who has just confessed her feelings for him. Nelson seemingly didn’t think Ashley was capable of genuine human emotion so is caught way off guard by this, and carries on flirting with Berna.
Ashley, predictably, gets drunk and starts a fight with Berna, Nelson, and basically anyone else who dares walk by. I say predictably because in this episode alone both Amanda and Devin literally predict a meltdown of some kind outta Ashley, so good on them for paying attention.
In the light of the morning, Kelz is still deemed the Big Rookie Threat. He’s gonna be the house vote, and that’s all there is to it. Josh leads the charge against Kelz in deliberation, claiming that he’s made promises to too many people, is playing a sneaky game, etc., all shit he seems to have totally fabricated as an excuse to vote the scariest Rookie into elimination.
Kelz realizes he’s gonna be the house vote regardless, but doesn’t miss an opportunity to drag Josh. Kelz basically says he knows he’s going in because Josh and the Vets are scared of him, because even if he was scheming Josh is too dumb to be the guy that noticed. Hah!
To me, Josh’s voice sounds like it’s echoing in the cavernous void of his big ol’ head so uh, yeah, I’m with Kelz on this one. Doesn’t matter though, Kelz and Tracy are going in.
Now The Agency’s gotta decide who to throw in to take out Kelz and much less critically, Tracy. It is extremely frustrating to see the guys continue to dominate the strategy so far, working hard to remove a team based solely on the guy’s perceived strength, and almost zero consideration for which girls go in.
Esther seems to have no place in Fessy’s conversations with the Vets on who to throw into elimination, which I am going to optimistically chalk up to Rookie Jitters. Anyway, in an effort to prove his loyalty to The Veteran camp after he’s snaked a lot of these folks in the past, Fessy goes with the easy pick of Ed & Emy. A safe choice as they’re a double Rookie team, Ed’s brand new, blah blah blah.
Emy has a mini breakdown complete with tears and Good Guy Ed once again is just a goddamn ray of sunshine – he’s somehow cheerful about going in without gloating? Confident but not at all arrogant? He really is just pleasant as all helllll. His levity seems to even boost Emy’s spirits, which is no easy feat.
The elimination challenge is called Flipping Agents and it’s another banger! The girls are strapped to a cage that will be flipped over by the guys so that the girls can use a magnetic fishing line to gather puzzle pieces. First team to finish the puzzle wins, and hopefully nobody pukes.
Picking up the puzzle pieces is actually tougher than it seems because the cubes are only magnetic on two of their six sides, so while Emy and Ed take an early lead, things quickly tighten up as we get down to the last few pieces.
In the end, though, once all the pieces are gathered Ed immediately realizes that the puzzle is a map of the world and puts that Ivy League background to work – Ed and Emy win. This is sadly the end of Kelz, who I am kind of in love with, and Tracy, who I completely forgot was on the show until deliberation.
Ed and Emy then calmly and happily declare that they will both be infiltrating, making it clear that they have actually COMMUNICATED ABOUT THIS AHEAD OF TIME? Like adults?? Borderline unprecedented behavior for this show.
They both end up stealing the same folks that got stolen last time – Ed rolls with Tori, the obviously strong female Veteran, and Emy excitedly steals Devin whose merits, as I’ve mentioned, are a lot less clear.
So that’s it! Ed is now cemented as a force to be reckoned with and the Absolute Nicest Challenger around, while Emy lives to cry another day.
Now, some Stray Observations:
- We open up this episode with a Jersey Shore reference!! When Devin yelled “Cabs are here” my MTV-loving heart just about beat out of my chest.
- Gabo also talks about watching JS as a kid, and how he always dreamed of being on American TV like them. All I can imagine is 11 year old baby Gabo looking on longingly as Pauly D blew out his hair, The Situation ironed his Ed Hardy T shirts, just dreaming of America: Land of Truly Wild Reality Show Opportunity
- This was a rough episode editing-wise. Feels like we barely caught glimpses of most of the cast. I get that it’s gotta be that way in these early days since there are about 400 people in the house, but damn I wanted to see more of Tacha and Priscilla, they seemed to be the life of the dance party.
- Tracy talking about how badly she wishes she could be partnered with Devin again, even hoping to one day have the opportunity to steal him back, while they cut to his doughy bod in the gym is just the kind of shady editing I liveeee for
- Amber’s entrance is sadly not that big a reveal since she’s literally on the cover image for the official trailer
- In Cory’s talking head he urges his buddy Nelson not to string multiple girls along, which is pretty solid advice coming from a guy who once hooked up with 3 girls in one season.
- I originally assumed Ashley was calling Berna “Bertha” to be disrespectful, but based on the look on Nelson’s face when Amber points out the mistake, I think they both really thought her name was Bertha, which is FAR funnier.
Until next week!!