For the first time in the Challenge franchise -- which has historically paired former same-sex enemies together as season-long pairs -- show host TJ Lavin announced teams would consist of man-woman sets. And while this proved to be just a mild inconvenience for some (Wes and Nany aren’t the greatest of friends, but things could be worse; Leroy and Averey’s discord only runs skin-deep), it was essentially a death sentence for others.
Almost immediately after the roster was fleshed out, Camila broke down. On Battle of the Bloodlines, Tony tore her sister Larissa apart, and the thought of working with the Real World: Skeletons alum exclusively shook Camila to her core.
“I want to cry right now,” Camila said prophetically before tears began to fall. “I’m so frustrated. He’s such a douchebag.”
Still, the duo proved they could work through their differences and delivered a strong showing on “Give Me Some Slack,” the game’s first mission. Bloodlines co-loathers Jenna and Vince also demonstrated why they were a team worth watching, even though Jenna would have probably preferred the company of a man-shaped stone slab.
One team that didn’t do so well? Nate and Christina. Though a pre-game skydiving event was technically optional, Nate was the only cast member among the show’s 26 who opted out, and his “Give Me Some Slack” performance didn’t compensate for the shortcoming. Paired with implicit distrust over Nate and Christina’s soured Are You The One? love story, the rookie team’s early showing didn’t do them any favors.
“I’m paired with the one person who doesn’t jump out of the airplane, so now we have a target on our back.” Christina lamented. “Thank you, Nate.”
Johnny and Jessica, who spent the better part of their Real World: Portland experience entangled in verbal warfare, have, conversely, barely spoken since the reunion, and their performance similarly suffered for it.
“Her voice from across the room pierces my eardrums,” Johnny said, while Jessica protested that the team’s issues were rooted in Johnny’s unwillingness to communicate.
“It’s hard to trust someone who doesn’t even like you,” she noted.
Then, of course, there was Bananas and Sarah. He maintained that Sarah’s choice to throw him into an elimination round on Battle of the Exes II was calculated and a violation of their friendship. She maintained it’s something he, himself, would have done, and that it wasn’t personal, just good game play (she did eventually win, after all).
It’s been nearly two years since the show filmed, but neither has budged much.
“She’s a ghost; she’s an apparition,” Johnny said. “As far as I’m concerned, she’s not even in this house.”
“I’m never apologizing for what I did,” Sarah maintained. “I outsmarted you. Just admit it.”
And though the Johnny/Sarah disharmony wasn’t surprising, Johnny’s choice to let Sarah fall off a ledge during the game’s first competition -- which amounted to a totally average showing from a could-be power team -- was proof that tension ran more thickly than even Sarah could have expected.
Some teams fought hard, others slipped up, but each of them proved they’ve got a long way to go. The first episode considered, which Rivals III team has the steepest mountain to climb? Take our poll, explain your choice in the comments and see how the game progresses next Wednesday at 10/9c!
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