"The Challenge" is known for igniting unbelievable game-play moves, but any fan of the show's incredible 26-season run would probably argue that last week's "Battle of the Exes 2" episode featured one of the most shocking moments in the series' storied history -- specifically, Sarah naming her longtime friend and ally Johnny Bananas and his partner Nany into the last elimination round before the final.
"It was utter disbelief," JB confessed to MTV News about the sudden blindside. "How could a friend who I've known on and off the show for eight years, and with whom I'd trained and strategized with before this season, pull such a deceptive move? I couldn't believe it then, and I have trouble believing it now."
Sarah revealed during a recent interview with MTV News that her controversial choice to pit Banany against last-place “Don’t Let Me Down" mission finishers Leroy and Nia was actually inspired by Johnny's famous "All's fair in love, war and challenges" statement -- but Johnny now has a few choice words from "Hamlet."
"In the words of Shakespeare, 'The lady doth protest too much!'" JB said. "This is just the latest addition to Sarah's laundry list of lame attempts to justify her decision," he explained, before elaborating on the origin of his well-known "all's fair" quote.
"It was an off-the-cuff remark I made to Jordan his rookie season of the 'Challenge' as an attempt to ease the blow of 'unfairly' being nominated to his first elimination," Johnny stated. "It was never intended as a green light to a friend of eight years to slit my throat when it was to her benefit, and nobody on this planet -- including Sarah -- is dumb enough to believe otherwise. The bottom line: Sarah knows what she did was cowardly and double-crossing, and instead of just owning up to her actions, she continues to come up with ridiculous ways to justify them."
So what does Johnny think of Sarah's comment about not wanting to go up against "the guy who's won five times"? In short, he believes that she wouldn't have even made it to the final to begin with if it weren't for his and N's impressive return from "Battle of the EX-iled."
"I convinced Leroy to end his alliance with Wes and to put his trust in me and his faith in the relationship I had with Sarah," J told us. "This, in turn, completely turned the dynamic of the house upside down -- in the blink of an eye, Sarah and Jordan went from low man on the totem pole to top of the food chain...all because of me.
"I came into 'Battle of the Exes 2' with two friends in my alliance, and going into the final would have been really fun and exciting -- had Sarah stuck to the plan we'd all put in place. Ultimately, Sarah betrayed not only me, but Leroy as well, by putting him in direct competition with me for a place in the final. I'd have much more respect for her if she just hung her head and admitted she'd made a morally weak decision."
If the shoe was on the other foot -- and he and Nany were in the enviable Power Couple position -- Johnny says without any hesitation that rookies Jay and Jenna would have been sent in without "any question."
As for whether or not he'll be able to forgive Sarah's actions, he points to the nature of his notorious relationships with adversaries CT and Wes for a bit of an explanation.
"We've been going back and forth for years -- I've done them dirty and they've returned the favor countless times," he stated about his fellow powerhouse cast members. "I don't hold any animosity towards them because, at the end of the day, I know which team they’re on, and it’s not mine. There's no betrayal there because in order for betrayal, there first needs to be trust.
"I trusted Sarah. Had I not entered this game with the friendship I shared with Sarah, and had she not sent me into the final elimination against my only friend on 'The Challenge,' I'd say I could see me forgiving her. But Sarah showed her true colors, and it's unlikely I'll be able to trust her again. And who wants to be friends with someone you don't trust? In the end, it only does me harm to hold on to a hostility to her. So I would say sure, I can forgive -- but I won’t forget."
And for those countless viewers wondering about Johnny's chummy rapport with Jordan (remember their rocky "Free Agents" past, seen below), JB dishes that was all because of his loyalty to the "Real World: Brooklyn" alum.
"Before leaving to film, we knew -- based on the cast -- 'Battle of the Exes 2' was a very likely format," he dished. "And if that was the case, her partner was obviously going to be Jordan. As a favor, she asked me to put my differences with him aside, and get him to attempt to play nice -- which I decided to do for the sake of Sarah."
Lastly, Johnny says anyone who argues that he's taken Sarah-like actions on his pals during previous "Challenge" seasons should check his record -- because he's never stabbed a friend in the back to help his game.
"The only thing that even comes close is what happened with Paula on 'The Island,'" he explained. "Setting aside the fact that was my third 'Challenge' -- and it was six years ago -- the level of Sarah's betrayal is beyond comparison. The decision I had to make was out of desperation and necessity -- it was to keep me alive in the game. And my decision didn't involve sending Paula home, or even throwing her into an elimination. It simply placed her on a separate team. Paula still had her opportunity to compete in the final and had a fighting chance of winning.
"Sarah, on the other hand, already punched her ticket to the final, as well as a second option for nomination. Her move was not made out of desperation or necessity -- it was made out of laziness and greed, and a very poor moral compass. Sarah stabbing me in the back wasn't a sound, strategic move, as she'd like to have you believe. You only make those decisions to get to the final. We were there, and then she pulled that move. I think she thinks she made a really smart move, to which I will say it was her last move ever. On 'Challenge,' being labeled as manipulative or conniving is commonplace. The worst thing that can happen to you on a 'Challenge' is being branded as a traitor."
+ What's your take on Johnny Bananas' reaction to Sarah's decision? Share your thoughts in the comments, and be sure to see what happens in The Dome tomorrow night at 10/9c!