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“The Challenge: Vendettas”- Finale

Photo courtesy of MTV.

Welcome back the to final episode of “The Challenge: Vendettas”! It has been a prolonged, dissatisfying season. From the beginning of “The Challenge: Dirty Thirty” to now, “The Challenge” has changed their approach to production and it is not a desired effect. Instead of airing the final part of “The Finale” during the last episode, MTV made sure to milk the suspense for as long as possible, not announcing the winners (and losers) of the season until the end of a two part reunion. It was just wholly unnecessary and we are definitely approaching trashy reality TV territory.

Traditionally? I love a good reunion episode. We get the chance to catch up with the cast, see unshown footage and see them hash out any lingering animosity. However, with the way it was set up, what I really got was a combined 50 minutes of drama, an hour’s worth of commercials and The Miz…for whatever reason. And as much as I love watching adults ranging from their twenties to fifties arguing about pizza, it would have been even better if we known the winners. #PizzaGate struck again as the “Miz” questioned the validity of the altercation. It seemed that post-episode, everyone was actually on Marie’s side. As you may remember from episode four, Brad and Marie argued over pizza, greed and alimony when Brad confronted her about putting boxes of pizza in her room while other houseguests were outside. Long story short, she put the boxes aside for her roommates, but then ultimately decided to throw the boxes on Brad as he had sexual intercourse with Britni in his bed.

Moving on from that palpitating drama, there was much more in store! Devin and Johnny ‘Bananas’ went at each other, and this time, Devin received cheers whilst Johnny received jeers; the audience literally laughed in his face. The tides have turned and Bananas is without a paddle. His reign may be over, but even though he is less of a competitor, he is still remaining true to his ‘character’. Character meaning a manipulative piece of shit that still won’t admit to kissing Kayleigh. Brad and Zach also had some Twitter beef that was just so scalding it HAD to be premiered on national television, of course. The most surprising drama of the night, in my eyes, was the attempt to discredit Cara Maria. She, Zach, Kyle, and Kailah were the four that made it the final, yet a few cast members, namely Nicole and Nelson, felt Cara got a free pass. Nicole said that Cara has yet to prove herself as a strong competitor, while Nelson felt she should have met an elimination. These statements are very strange as Cara is one of the best ranked players in the line up. She has won 12/17 eliminations, gotten to four finals and won two seasons, including a Champs spin-off. Trashing her for not getting voted into an elimination is ridiculous as Cara is one of the more humble challengers. The mercenaries also weighed in with their opinions. Jordan had been dropping loads off and much to my dismay, he kept going. He joined in on the Cara sucks bandwagon. Then fellow mercenary, Derek, brought the most heat I have seen in the last couple of week to defend Cara.

Finally, near the final seven minutes of the second part of the reunion episode, we were shown part two of “The Finale.” It was a color puzzle, and the order completed determined the winners of “The Challenge: Vendettas.” It was a genderless competition, for the first time in Challenge history, and a woman won! It had definitely been a male dominated season, especially when it concerned the Troika so that was a blessing. The bigger blessing? MTV’s sweetheart, Cara Maria, is the winner of “The Challenge: Vendettas”! From being bullied on her first Challenge season to being a (mostly) respected well-rounded, solo champion! It’s almost heartwarming.
Pulling up in second place was Zach, followed by Kyle, with Kailah coming in fourth place by default. She did not actually finish the puzzle, which got people disqualified from receiving money in the past. However it seems MTV has new rules now. Let us hope that they get the new views that they are vying for.

“The Challenge: Vendettas”- Episode 14

Welcome back to another episode of “The Challenge: Vendettas”! We are entering finale territory and this season could not end faster, in my opinion. There are eight competitors left vying for fame, Instagram followers, and sometimes, money. The women left in the “The Challenge” are fan favorites Cara Maria and rookie Kam, along with “The Real World” veterans Kailah and Nicole. On the guy’s side, its three former “Real World” cast members, Tony, Zach and Leroy, along with U.K rookie and Cara’s bunk buddy, Kyle. However, T.J Lavin makes it known that after part one: Gender doesn’t matter. The top three finalists will be the winners.

The fallout from the previous week was minimized but entertaining nonetheless. Leroy is still pissed at Tony for his decision to save Kyle and send Leroy into the elimination ring with Brad. He said the worst part was Tony not giving him the heads up and refuses to revoke his claim that Tony is, in fact, a bitch. Talks like a bitch, walks like a bitch, Tony has made yet another vendetta. Speaking of vendettas, apparently Leroy is Zach’s! After a long awaited reveal, Zach said that Leroy was his vendetta from a past season. This was mysteriously revealed in the latest episode; for whatever reason. On the flip side, Leroy and Cara Maria are on good terms as Cara actually told him that she was saving her boo thang, roughly five minutes before the elimination.

Finally it was time for the Finale: Part 1. Starting at Kost Castle of Northern Bohemia, Czech Republic, our young participants gathered around to endure the supposed hardest finale ever; no more preposterous word could have been spoken. That was the biggest lie T.J Lavin has spewed since calling Tori a champion. Part 1 was a mile and half obstacle course with a dash of medieval physical hindrances. At each checkpoint, the cast had to don a particular garment, such as shackles or a full metal armour, and then compete in various barriers. Nicole gives up pretty early in the game, due to a sprained ankle. She spent a sufficient amount of time crying on the ground and shaking her head. With Nicole out of the running, Kailah, Kam and Cara Maria are competing to place top two, with Kailah falling behind. Midway through the course, there was a twist; each player had to challenge the eliminated Johnny Bananas or U.K’s Melissa in a game of high/low. Taking place in a dungeon, if they won then they were free to move on, however, if they lost, the eliminated castmate could choose to launch a grenade in their path. Unfortunately, Kam’s bad luck preceded as she was the only one face with a grenade. Kam went from second place for the girl’s to third. Melissa gave her the challenge of burying a log, before she could continue in the race. Leroy was, at a point, leading the pack, but was soon out ran by both Kyle and Zach. As the competitors reach the finish line, it was revealed that Zach, Kyle, Kailah and Cara Maria with be the four to compete in the Finale: Part 2.

With that, “Tony Time” has finally come to an end. He has no chance of winning this season, and with Tony’s past treachery, he is guaranteed to never win one in the future. Also, Kam will be the Rookie of The Year indefinitely. That wraps up Episode 14 of “MTV’s The Challenge: Vendettas,” you can tune in every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. and then read my take on the season here at the Niner Times!

TV REVIEW: ‘The Challenge: Vendettas’ – Episode 13

Welcome back to another episode of “The Challenge: Vendettas”! After the overwhelming cut shoot edit that was last week, we have a more steadied episode this time around. MTV is gearing us up for a finale and are working hard to make sure we tune in. They are working even harder to promote the latest installment of “The Jersey Shore” and the upcoming season of the “The Challenge: The Reckoning.” It seems MTV will churn out as many seasons of “The Challenge” that they can, and if this season and the previous season, “The Challenge: Dirty Thirty,” are any indicator of the season to come, then lower your expectations. The quality of production is on a decline and has a ridiculously inverse relationship with the budget.

The previous week ended on an uphill battle for our challengers. In a not at all shocking result, Devin and Jemmye proved to be the least athletic male and female competitors, resulting in their elimination. It is disappointing to see such smart, strategic players go out on a challenge that was already done. Given that the original cast of 28 had to race up a mountain, this felt repetitive and unnecessary. After watching various seasons of “The Challenge,” I am very disappointed about the lack of creativity exhibited.

Going from one disappointment to an extreme, TJ Lavin comes back to host another challenge because he needed to thin the herd again. In a bizarre event of physical prowess, the cast had to jump from a moving truck to avoid obstacle towers. Each mistake resulting in additional points and this is one game where you do not want the most points. At this point of the show, there are four women (Cara Maria, Kam, Kailah and Nicole), but six men (Nelson, Zach, Tony, Leroy, Kyle and Brad). As a result, all four women are in the final and the last place male will be going home. Unfortunately that made the latest loser Nelson, he racked up too many points and after a hallmark worthy description of his time, he bid the show a farewell.

Of course that isn’t the end. There’s still five guys left and one has got to go. TJ announced that there will be another Troika of the top three competitors, which encompassed Cara Maria, Kailah and Tony. They had to immediately choose three of the guys for the inquisition, and on the spot they each picked one man. Brad, Leroy and Kyle are up for elimination, with Zach coasting to the final.

In the inquisition Kyle and Brad speil emotions, promises, and maybe even a few tears in true dramatic fashion. Brad emphasizes his two children and his current financial crisis while Kyle appeals to Tony and Cara Maria about how they are his home away from home, whilst layching in the confessional about how he probably has kids out there…somewhere. Leroy really just showed his ass. Instead of kissing the ring or offering reason for him to be safe, he looks at each member of the Troika and tells then that he deserves to not go into the elimination. That they owe it to him. With it being Leroy’s ninth “Challenge,” a lot has changed. He started in the days that vets, especially friends, did not put each other in to the elimination. However, those days have passed and he really rubbed Cara Maria and Tony the wrong way.

With Tony’s betrayal activity at an all time high and Cara Maria shagging Kyle on the regular, it was not a surprise to see Leroy and Brad in the elimination ring. Their excuses were pitiful, but ultimately why did what they thought would be best for themselves. Or in Tony’s case, how to get the best power edit. The elimination was a short one. The male competitors had to break keys out of a wall with weird glove balls, and to the shock of many, Leroy pulled it out. This is the first thing that he has won all season, and he did it sending Brad, a champion, home.

I hope Tony is prepared for vengeance because he is making new vendettas left and right.
Well, that wraps up Episode 13 of “MTV’s The Challenge: Vendettas,” you can tune in every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. and then read my take on the season here at the Niner Times!

TV REVIEW: ‘The Challenge: Vendettas’ – Episode 12

Welcome back to another week of “The Challenge: Vendettas”! Last week we had our first full, compact episode; featuring the challenge, inquisition and even a whole elimination. A very tall act to follow and even harder to surpass. So I was not at all surprised with the fast paced cluster that was this week’s episode.

We began with the fallout of Natalie’s betrayal of Nelson. After Bananas left, Nelson became her number one guy, and somehow that translated into her choosing him to go into the elimination. Knowing that she willingly fucked Nelson over, and alienated herself from the rest of the group, moved her to tears. Of course, in reality TV, tears equate to smeared makeup and long, choked pauses. However, no amount of running mascara will salvage her burnt bridges. Everyone in the house feels that she has been exposed as the fake, disloyal player that she is. Nelson considers her his newest vendetta.

The challenge of the week was an underwater basketball competition. The cast was divided into two teams and they preformed one after the other, attempting to get the ball and themselves five feet below the surface. Kam and Brad received grenades for winning their elimination rounds last episode. Kam chose to target Cara Maria once again, giving her, and her team a time penalty, whereas Brad chose to tie Kyle’s legs together. The catch was, the teams hadn’t been decided yet, so the previous Troika put Kam, Cara Maria and other poor swimmers, such as Nelson, Leroy, Kailah, and the tied up Kyle on the same team. The other team was Brad, Tony, Zach, Jemmye, Natalie, Nicole and Devin. The latter demolished the former to a ridiculous extent. No one on Kam’s team could even finish the task. As the losing team, they had to pick one girl to go straight into the elimination. Unfortunately, there was a tie both times, between Kailah and Kam so the winning team voted Kam in. This sequence of events somehow led to Tony, Zach and Brad forming the new Troika. This is the third time in a row for Zach and Tony. What is disturbing about this power imbalance is that it was a girl’s elimination week, yet there were no women in the Troika. Zach and Tony felt, very adamantly, that they deserved their spots just for picking the winning team, while Brad felt he deserved it for using his grenade on someone else. Nicole and Natalie were on the fence with that decision, and Devin said he would back them 100 percent if they wanted a girl in the Troika, but after Jemmye agreed with the other boys, the other girls decided to trust them not to be put into the elimination, or inquisition for that matter.

That was the dumbest mistake Natalie has ever made. Knowing she was on an island alone she definitely should have fought to be in the Troika, because ultimately? These boys have lied before (just last week they lied to Britni and subsequently sent her home) and they’re not afraid to break a few promises to get what they want. This goes doubly for Tony as this is the first season of “The Challenge” where he is not getting blackout drunk, cheating on his girlfriend, or threatening anyone with bodily harm. So he is feeling very confident, edging arrogance.

Forgoing the boring, useless, time-consuming inquisition, we had to see who the Troika would vote into battle Kam, rookie of the year, in the elimination ring. Low and behold, they broke their promise to Natalie and sent her in. The last of the female rookies had to race across a balance rope to ring a bell, and with Natalie’s gymnastic background, she was the frontrunner to win this competition. Yet Killa Kam pulled it out, sending another competitor home and bringing another grenade to the next challenge.

Peculiarly the episode did not end there. After the elimination, we were rushed into the next challenge after a location change to the Czech Republic. Much like their very first challenge of the season, it is a race to the top of the hill and a double elimination: the slowest girl and boy would be going home. Kam had another chance to throw a grenade, and this time she lobbed it over to Devin, stealing his money instead of taking shot at Cara Maria. The episode ended before the girls started running, so that is what we have to look forward to next time.

Well that wraps up Episode 12 of “MTV’s The Challenge: Vendettas,” you can tune in every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. and then read my take on the season here at the Niner Times!

TV REVIEW: ‘The Challenge: Vendettas’ – Episode 10 & 11

Welcome back to “The Challenge: Vendettas”! It sure has been a doozy. In this article I will cover the events of episode ten before moving on the the latest episode: “It’s Britni Bitch!” Episode ten is being renowned as the most explosive and drama-filled episode that has premiered thus far…of this season that is.

That week was a series of surprises served up in Devin’s perfect concoction of disaster and revenge. The previous week, Nelson’s cuddle buddy, Kayleigh, betrayed him and his alliance with Devin, by protecting Johnny ‘Bananas’ from going straight into elimination and sacrificing Devin in his stead. In retaliation, Devin shares information that he’s been holding onto since week one, with his pal Nelson. He tells him that Kayleigh and Bananas have hooked up in secret, and he does not want Nelson to look like an idiot for getting played.

This is strategic for Devin. Natalie and Bananas were known as a power couple so this move broke them up, pushing Natalie and Nelson closer to Devin. With circulating information turning into gossip from hearsay, things got intense. While Nelson and Natalie’s achy breaky hearts were all over the place, Kayleigh actually faced the brunt of the heat. A few girls in the house, Kailah, Britni and Jemmye, drunkenly throw her items and mattress over the living room balcony when Kayleigh refuses to move out of Natalie’s room. A lot of the other housemates aren’t happy about the three on one dynamic, the most outspoken being Kam, Cara Maria and Kyle. Devin wasn’t just going after Kayleigh, he’s doing this to face Bananas in the elimination. He’s engaging in psychological warfare, finding ways to weaken Bananas and make him vulnerable. They are vendettas and Devin has been longing for Banana’s failure, even going as far as wanting to send him out of the game himself. That’s where The Troika came in.

The Troika was made up of Banana’s friends, Tony and Zach, along with the person he voted in the previous week, Kailah. So under ordinary circumstances? Bananas would be safe once again. However, there’s a new Tony on this season of “The Challenge: Vendettas” and he’s ready for a win. Even after a montage of the gift Bananas sent his daughter and how he’s helped Tony with his anger, ultimately Tony had to make 300,000 dollar decision.

At the elimination TJ Lavin, the host, calls out Kailah, Britni and Jemmye for their actions and for being “mean girls.” He goes on to apologize to Kayleigh and condone bullying. This message has been hit with some pretty heavy criticism. In all of the years of “The Challenge,” why would TJ speak up now? There has been previous seasons with much worse behavior and in most instances it involved MTV’s very own poster boy: Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio. He’s berated men and (mostly) women alike, driving quite a few of them to cry daily, yet TJ never said anything then. And of course there’s “The Challenge: Ruins,” in which “Challenge” champion Wes Bergmann was literally coerced by his ex girlfriend to play a certain way, or else his house, which was still under her name, would pay the price. So there is a bullying controversy, given the grey area. These girls weren’t trying to break Kayleigh down, just attempting to get her away from them after she hopped from room to room, speaking badly about the majority of people in the house. The bullying dynamic is just not there, so TJ choosing to take a stand for this circumstance is questionable at best.

For the actual elimination Devin got his wish, he’s going head to head with the most awarded “Challenge” champion, Bananas. Two members of The Troika voted him in, Kailah and his friend Tony. Zach played it safe by giving Nelson a vote. The competition was mental and physical. There was a partially lit board the boys had to fully light up. The catch was that they could only light the board 2-3 seconds at time and memorize what’s lit and what needed to be lit. In the end, Devin won! But that was not the only surprise, Kayleigh decided to quit the game and go home empty handed.

After the drama of week 10, week 11 would look a bit sparse in comparison. The saving grace? Not only was there a double elimination, but we have a full episode. I repeat, we have a full, well rounded, from challenge to elimination, episode. It’s like they finally eliminated enough people for things to be done well. The effects are not as cheesy, there is way more people-to-people interactions, and the less I see graphic designed fire confessionals, the better.

With Devin’s elimination win came his choice of Grenade, and he chose Team Up: the power to choose the teams. The challenge seems pretty cut and dry; there is running, heavy lifting and building a makeshift staircase to reach a flag. Devin’s team looks very stacked; there is himself, Brad, Nelson, Kailah and Kam. However, appearance isn’t everything because they lost and came in very last of the three teams. The winning team was composed of Nicole, Tony, Natalie, Britni and Zach. Of course the winners form The Troika and it was decided on Zach, Tony and Natalie whom have all been in The Troika before. The boys chose Natalie over Britni, because Bananas is gone and they think she’ll do whatever they want to avoid backlash.

With it being a double elimination, the losing team had to choose one girl and one boy to go straight into ring and that there was not an inquisition (most likely the reason why we got to see the full elimination). The losers ultimately voted in Brad and Kam to face another elimination. The Troika is more divided on their decisions. They all promised Britni 1.) she would be safe and 2.) if anything changes, they’d give her a heads up as she was on the winning team with them. Yet Zach and Tony were ready to betray that trust, and additionally send in her other ally, Nelson. Natalie says that she respects Britni and that Nelson is her number one guy, but at no point comes to his defense. She is showing herself to be an disloyal, sketchy player by continuously targeting her “friends.”

At the elimination, the Troika votes in Nelson and Britni into the elimination to accompany Kam and Brad. That’s when TJ announced another game changer; the mercenaries are back so there was a chance of a quadruple elimination. However, these heavy hitters did not strike as hard as the last round did. In the end, the only mercenary to do their job was fan favorite and ex girlfriend of Nice, Laurel, who sent Britni home. Kam and Brad beat their championed mercenaries and Nelson’s competition ended in a draw. As a result, Brad and Kam are going back with a choice of grenades and Nelson gets to stay in the competition.

Well that wraps up episode 10 and 11 of “MTV’s The Challenge: Vendettas,” you can tune in every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. and then read my take on the season here at the Niner Times!

TV REVIEW: ‘The Challenge: Vendettas’ – Episode 9

Welcome back to “The Challenge: Vendettas”! Fortunately things on “The Challenge” are never slow for long. Things are heating up this week, and certain relationships may boil over. Last week we left off with the losing team voting Marie in to go straight into elimination. However, it is the Troika that will decide on whom she shall face.

Kailah and Marie are roommates, Cara Marie’s vendettas, and known partners in the house. They are also scrambling to not face each other in the elimination, to avoid sending a friend home. Marie wants to go against UK rookie, Kayleigh. She thinks she’s weak and does not have many ties in the house. However, one strong tie she does have, is with Nelson, a member of this week’s Troika. So that was a failure. Instead she goes to appeal to Bananas, where she is shut down and turns campaigning into an argument. Things are not looking too good for Marie.

Things were not going so well for her alliance member, Kailah either. Aware of the target on her back, Kailah attempts to appeal to Bananas in an effort to keep her out of the elimination and from sending her closest ally home. The thing about Kailah is that she is relatively new to the game and is not the most strategic player on the cast, or her room for that matter. In an effort to seem less threatening, she tells Bananas that she is working with his friends, Zach, Tony and Leroy. That was a dumb decision. In her effort to show him that they were on the same side, Bananas was able to make her a larger target by stating he is not on her list. She essentially stated that he’s forth with her, at best.

With Bananas and Natalie in the Troika, while maintaining their little showmance, they have a lot of power. Other ‘power’ couples in the house include Cara Maria and her foreign pirate Kyle, Nelson and the other Brit left, Kayleigh, and then there’s ‘Day One’ couple, Brad and Britni. Nelson, Natalie and Bananas made up the Troika for this week and had to choose three women to face then in the inquisition. Since there are three of each, each member of the Troika can nominate one girl, in essence. However Nelson and Bananas have always been on opposite sides so their targets are very different. Natalie is a rookie so she just wants a strong player out, and is following Banana’s lead, given their relationship. During deliberation, the couple is pushing for Nicole, Kailah and Kam to be put on the board. Nelson avidly denies Kam’s involvement this week, as she looked out for him week six, by voting in Brad. Instead, Nelson wants to put in Cara Marie. Cara was on the winning team, and the only member not in the Troika, putting her in a vulnerable position. The only girls not mentioned the entire time were Jemmye and Britni, so they are sitting pretty for a few weeks.

Ultimately the Troika chose Nicole, Kailah and Cara Marie to join them in the inquisition, before deciding who will go in to face Marie. They chose Nicole, because she has an abundance of connections in the house and is heavily aligned with strong players. Kam is also campaigning for Nicole to be voted in as the house believes the next elimination is mental. Marie has a reputation of being smart (and nothing else good) and Nicole…does not have that reputation in the slightest. If Kam could get Nicole in against Marie, then she had a chance to keep her alliance together.

It was all for naught as the next day revealed; the Troika voted Kailah into the elimination to go against Marie. The elimination is “Basket Case,” a title that at least three cast members have referred to Marie as. The competitors must break out of a closed, weaved basket and then complete a puzzle. Kailah won heads above Marie, who was checked out from the get go. Kailah is not considered a genius by any means, but she was able to complete her puzzle before Marie could start hers. Marie has pattern of giving up and checking out, so her loss was not a shock to anyone. It was, however, a disappointment to host, TJ Lavin, who hates quitters and is quite vocal about it.

With Kailah’s win, she is going back to the house with a grenade in her disposal. She has her choice of Team Up, Cash Out or Put or Shut up. Then, with the announcement of Leroy returning to the game, the cast headed back home.

The following challenge is a simple one. In theory. The cast is divided into two teams for a soccer match! While running on bungee-stilts, kicking a large medicine ball and trapped in their own plastic ball. Kailah was able to choose a grenade, and decided on Team Up, the ability to pick the teams. She put all the weaker and injured competitors on one team and kept the stronger people on her team. This plan worked very well in her favor as her team won! Last season on “The Challenge: Dirty Thirty,” she had a similar power and butchered it incredibly. This challenge is ridiculous in a fun way; there’s no sinister plans, or deathly heights, just a good game in a gladiator ring.

With Kailah’s team winning, it is time to choose the new Troika. As Kailah picked the team and gave up the other grenades to do so, she was chosen. Brad attempted to worm his way into the Troika by claiming he ‘assisted’ with two goals. Assistance didn’t really matter given that the goals were made by Zach and Tony, rounding out the Troika. As Kailah said before, these three are working together, so it should be smooth sailing. As it is a males’ elimination week, the losing team must vote for which guy is going straight into the elimination. The losing team was made up of an injured Leroy, injured Bananas, Nelson, Devin, Cara Marie, Britni, Jemmye and Kayleigh. The votes are split for Devin and Bananas, whom are also vendettas with each other. Bananas is a major player in the game with a little too much influence, and Devin is sick of it. Devin, Nelson and Britni vote for Bananas to go into the elimination. Bananas, Cara and Jemmye vote for Devin. Kayleigh, Nelson’s showmance and perceived ally, shocked everyone by going against his vote, and saying Devin’s name, sending him into the elimination.

With Kayleigh’s admission that she’s here to get money and not be loyal to anyone, a lot of things are up in the air. People are questioning her integrity and potential deals that she made. The Troika now has to decide who will battle Devin in the elimination. If it was up to Devin, he would rather face Bananas head on. That is what we have to look forward to in the next episode of “The Challenge: Vendettas”! Tune in to MTV at 9 p.m Tuesday nights to watch Bananas implode!

TV REVIEW: ‘The Challenge: Vendettas’ – Episode 8

Welcome back to “The Challenge: Vendettas!” Last week I was hopeful in thinking we could only go up from the halfway point. Unfortunately, I was too optimistic in my thinking, because week eight’s episode? Total snooze fest. I have never been so disappointed yet indifferent to results at the same time. The people in this season of “The Challenge” are not out for blood, they are out for camera time.

Lights, camera, action! The elimination rounds are still going. Starting off with last week’s review, Veronica’s finger is injured and she is no longer able to compete and is therefore eliminated. With her departure, it may be safe to say that her relationship with Aneesa just got a little more complicated. Next challenger is Kam, going against Tori, one of the ‘Mercenaries of Mayhem’; as Tori described the heavy hitters participating in this elimination with nothing to win but everything to lose. Their battle was a bit lackluster; Kam won 2-1. What was surprising was actually Leroy’s encouragement and direction that he provided to Kam. In the green room he revealed that they have an “unspoken alliance” and that she’s his number one in the game. This was particularly surprising as Kam and Leroy have not spoken at all (at least not on camera)! Kam has not acknowledged any deal or preference towards Leroy. With his obvious allegiance to Johnny Bananas, most would assume they are each other’s number ones. Maybe the flirtmance that is between Bananas and Natalie is to explain for this “unspoken alliance” Leroy spoke of, because it is always good to have a backup plan.

Next in the elimination match up is Joss and Derrick. Derrick is a man of small stature, but he is extremely tough. He is not just one of “The Challenge” veterans, but a three time winner as well. Joss is the U.K rookie that won the very first challenge of the season and was the first to get money under his belt. However looking at them side by side, many people were expecting Joss to dominate this elimination. That was not the case. The men were very equal in the ring and had an intense, brutal time. After an hour or so T.J Lavin, the host, announced a sudden death. One point to win. A bloodied Derrick got the better of Joss, proving what kind of champion he really is, winning 1-0. In the rules of this elimination round, if the contestants stepped outside the ring, they would have to reset back to the middle. Joss thought Derrick left the ring but he did not, so Derrick took that chance to send Joss home.

With the eliminations over, three players are leaving the game and one remains to go back into the house. Shane, Veronica and Joss are all going home empty handed, any money won going to the winners’ pot. Kam, the sole survivor, has her choice of three grenades to use at the next challenge: Lube up, Endure and Flip out. So who’s left in the game? Right now there are nine female competitors and eight male competitors. For the women, there are Nicole Z, known for her love of peanut butter and women, originally cast for “Real World (RW): Skeletons,” Natalie from “Big Brother,” Marie from “RW: St. Thomas,” Kayleigh form UK’s “Ex on the Beach,” Kam from the latest season of “Are You The One?” (AYTO), Kailah from “RW: Go Big or Go Home,” Jemmye hailing from “RW: New Orleans,” Cara Maria who started on “The Challenge: Fresh Meat II” and Britni from AYTO season three. For the men we have Devin and Nelson who are also from “AYTO” season three, Brad from “RW: San Diego,” Johnny ‘Bananas’ from “RW: Key West,” Kyle from the U.K’s “Geordie Shore,” Zach (whom I am still unsure of who he has a vendetta against) coming from a later season of “RW: San Diego,” Leroy from “RW: Las Vegas” and finally Tony, whom was on the same season as Nicole in “RW: Skeletons.” Some of these people have known each other for years, whereas a few players are brand new.

Competitor wise, the men are running the show. Bananas has had the most wins this season but is tied for Troika possession with his ally, Tony at three each. At this point of the game, the only players without an wins or money are Kam and Leroy.

Speaking of Kam, she let the Grenade get to her head. Referring to herself as “Queen Kam,” she used her Grenade as power source, forcing people to kiss the ring and guarantee safety for not only herself, but her closest friends and roommates, Kailah and Marie. While Natalie is on board with this plan, Cara Maria is troubled. Kailah and Marie are her vendettas, and no matter what she says to Kam, she will remain their number one target.

Now to the challenge of the week! Things are getting ridiculous on the competition front, as this week the cast must travel from car to car suspended in mid air above a large body of water. The cars were suspended, the players were not. Kam, holder of the Grenade, chose to ‘Lube up’ Cara Maria to defer her chances of winning. So one wrong move and it’s goodbye birdie! Even with the absurd challenge being performed, it was still boring. A majority of the cast could not make it across and the highlight of the event was Leroy falling so hard that he had to go to the hospital for the remainder of the episode. It was a team-based challenge, so let us skip to the winners and the losers. Despite Cara Maria’s disadvantage, her team did win, allowing them to chose the Troika from amongst themselves. Cara’s team was herself, Bananas and Nelson. Nelson was the first to finish the challenge and Bananas and Natalie both got farther than Cara Marie did, so they did not choose her to be in the Troika. The losers? Kam’s team. Her Grenade may as well have blown up in her face, because it did her no favors whatsoever. On Kam’s team there was herself, Marie, Jemmye and Brad. With this being a girls’ elimination they had to decide who was going in…and to my surprise the group consensus was Marie. This made sense for Brad, they have had bad blood since #pizzagate, but Jemmye and Kam? They were her closest allies, and now Marie is feeling betrayed.

That is where episode eight of “The Challenge: Vendettas” ends! I have given up hope on a fulfilling episode for the time being, but Leroy has always been a favorite of mine, so I will be tuning in regardless, every Tuesday night at 9 p.m.

Feathers, Gumbo and Beads: CAB Celebrates Mardi Gras


Photos by Joseph Leocadio .

CAB brought the beautiful, long standing tradition and celebration of Mardi Gras to the Student Union and it was…surprisingly decent. I know, I was shocked too. Anyone that is familiar with CAB events knows: low expectations is the way to go. Maybe it’s because I had these feelings anticipated, but there were some praisable aspects of the event. Yet those aspects could not make up for the overall lukewarm caliber.

So what is Mardi Gras? Well it’s name is French for “Fat Tuesday.” Like many other celebrations, it was originally a thing of Christianity, the ceremonious feast before Lent and people began fasting. According to the Mardi Gras website of New Orleans: “New Orleans was established in 1718 by Bienville. By the 1730s, Mardi Gras was celebrated openly in New Orleans, but not with the parades we know today. In the early 1740s, Louisiana’s governor, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, established elegant society balls, which became the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today.” Today it is one of the best free carnivals anyone could wish for, and it’s definitely a fun one.

No one could expect for CAB, with a limited budget uncomparable to the socialites of New Orleans, to create a carnival. I, an intellectual, (that’s meme for the uncultured that can read) knew not to expect much more than a five round tables and a CAB calendar. Of course, there was much more in store! Upon entering the room 340HI, I did see the anticipated round tables, but there was also a stage, decorations, food, drinks and an activity. While the refreshments were not available at the very beginning of the event, I was able to convince my friends that we should try the sole activity offered: painting masks.

Mardi Gras is known for its bright festivities and Islander garments. There were different things to decorate with, including feathers, beads (oh so many beads were seen, and broken throughout the night) glue and paint. The downside? The material of the masks was a shiny plastic that was very resistant to any modification. However by the time my friends and I swallowed our prides to admit we weren’t artists, or talented, the food had assembled. Free food is the most cultivated thing that college students participate for and it was definitely an inspired assortment of dishes. At least some of them were. There was shrimp and chicken gumbo, bread pudding, and then an assortment of desserts including cookies, brownies and various cake pops. Halfway through the event, there was another pleasant surprise: King Cake.

Center stage was a live jazz band, Jazz Revolution. Self advertised as a “Band that is built from a six piece ensemble playing sounds of the standard jazz, R&B, Dance and progressive soul music.” The choice to hire a live band instead of a DJ really worked in CAB’s favor; for the most part. Live performances are more authentic and often more captivating. The lead singer was wonderful and she sang a couple of songs in between Jazz sessions. One con to the band was that they were under the impression that UNCC students are energetic and fond of participation. This is not the case. Jazz Revolution barely received a scattered applause after each performance, if that. It got so bad that frontman told the seated audience that he loved us. Three times. After those awkward moments and a lack of food, I decided to conclude my Mardi Gras experience.

TV REVIEW: ‘The Challenge: Vendettas’ – Episode 7

Welcome back to “The Challenge: Vendettas!” We’re at the halfway point and it can only go up from here. As per usual, this week’s episode began where last week ended: elimination time. The Troika of the time (Johnny ‘Bananas’, Kyle and Tony) chose former “Big Brother” contestant to face “Challenge” veteran, Brad. They proceeded to battle it out in one of the strangest eliminations I have ever witnessed.

The two men were standing in what was essentially a glass box without a top. That’s a bit boring for the “The Challenge,” so of course it was filled up to their waists in water. The object of the game was to use their bodies to remove the water in their boxes, down to a marked midpoint. Once the sufficient amount of water was removed, the competitors were free to break out of the glass box and escape to ring the bell of victory. Brad had his movements down pat, whilst Victor floundered and splashed his way to another reality TV defeat. As the winner, Brad got his choice of grenade, able to choose between Time Crunch, Sit Out and Blindside, to be decided at the challenge.

Cue scene of Brad and Britni aggressively making out.

Speaking of Britni, another note was found in her room. #Notegate confirmed. Her roommates, fellow occupants of the blue room, are all suspects, along with their vendettas of course. This week MTV did shine the light on the actual culprit, Bananas. I did suspect him last week, but what I did not suspect was the immaculate planning he acted with. Johnny Bananas has quite a few henchmen, and his sister seems to be one of them. He had her write a series of notes in her ‘girliest’ writing to stir the pot whenever he so desired. It seems the only person of the cast that knows about this is fellow henchman and accomplice, Leroy.

So on to the challenge of the week! It is revealed that Sylvia is too sick to compete and therefore was sent home. Additionally T.J unveiled a new plot twist: double elimination in celebration of the halfway point. The name of the game is “Puppet master.” The cast is divided into two teams (decided on by the previous Troika) and chained together. They must retrieve puppet pieces and then assemble it in their designated area. Brad chose to use Time Crunch as his grenade, adding a one minute delay to the other team. He chose to use it on rookie Kam, as she voted for him in the team decision last week. The time delay ultimately caused Kam’s team to lose. As it is a double elimination, the losing team had to choose one man and one woman to go straight into elimination. For the men, it was a choice between Nelson, Joss, Zach, Devin and Leroy. For the women, it was between Kailah, Kam, Britni, Veronica and Marie. If it were solely up to the guys, Leroy would be going in, but luckily for him the girls had his back and voted in U.K’s Joss. The majority of girls and boys voted Veronica in. Though Veronica is a veteran and has been on quite a few “Challenges,” she has no alliances and no one in her corner, so that is of no surprise. Joss is a very strong rookie, he won the very first challenge of the season and this was bound to happen eventually. I am sure it would be happening to U.K’s Kyle as well if he did not have a budding romance with fan favorite Cara Maria.

Speaking of Kyle, he may be laying low, but he proclaimed to be running the game. And it is hard to dispute that claim when he’s in the Troika once again. The winning team was able to choose their top three players to form the Troika this week, and somehow Bananas convinced everyone it should be Tony, Kyle and Nicole. Well, he did not so much as convince, as he said it and no one suggested anything else. I am really surprised at how little people are being proactive in their game play. The same five people or so are making strategic decisions for everyone.

There was no inquisition this week! The Troika announced their shortlist and then voted on who was going in to face Veronica and Joss in elimination. They chose Shane to go against Joss. Tony and Nicole both have a vendetta against Shane and would love to see him leave. They also voted in Kam, possibly for the lack of ties. Just when I thought we would get what we came for, T.J called in a few heavy hitters at the last ten minute mark. In walks “Challenge” finalists and veterans Tori, Aneesa, Derek and Jordan. These are some of the toughest competitors to ever grace MTV’s programming. Previews suggest that there’s a few more heavy hitters waiting in the wings. With their announcement, the elimination is flipped on its head. Shane and Joss no longer need to battle each other, but the vets. Same with Kam and Veronica.

The good news: we actually saw about half of the elimination. The competition this time around was to battle to grab a roped loop from their opponent and to hang it on a pole outside of the circle. If both competitors have hands on the rope and cross the line, they must start over. The pairings are randomly selected by chips. First we see Shane battle Jordan, his so proclaimed “celebrity crush.” Jordan is a lot of things, including hot, but celebrity isn’t one of them. Their match is over fairly quickly as Jordan demolished Shane 2-0.

Next up was Veronica and Aneesa. They have some major beef from last season. Veronica felt Aneesa used her and her feelings for a storyline and Aneesa feels that Veronica felt ‘outed’ for being with her. So not the bestest of friends. Unfortunately we do not know the winner, as Veronica’s hand was injured in the last minute of the episode.

We are getting very close to a full episode! This episode can be excused, as it started with an elimination and it contains part of a double elimination. So if next week’s episode does not encompass a challenge and end with a completed elimination, many will be disappointed.

I know I will be. We will find out the next episode, so tune in to “MTV’s The Challenge: Vendettas” every Tuesday night at 9 p.m., then read my take on the season here at the Niner Times!

If you need a refresher on the cast here’s MTV’s page: http://www.mtv.com/shows/vendettas/cast

TV REVIEW: ‘The Challenge: Vendettas’ – Episode 6

Does MTV know their audience?

This week in “The Challenge: Vendettas” there was a lack of elimination footage. It seems that we, the fans, critics and even the casual viewers are just waiting for that anticipated week of a competition and an elimination in the same, fulfilling episode. However, with the introduction of the Troika, this may never actually happen. There is a chance that the Troika will be abolished in later episodes, and that its use is to give more power to more people, given just how many cast members there are.

This week started off as last week’s ended. Sylvia has won the elimination competition against Melissa, sending her home, but not without a few battle scars. She still has teeth marks on her arm from Melissa’s dirty tactics. She’s also sick with a fever and unable to complete in this week’s competition (or use her grenade). Luckily for her this is a male’s elimination.

The challenge of the week has a twist: lack of daylight. The competitors are split into teams, and one by one must dive into the sea and attempt to move a ring down a rope. The team with the most feet traveled, wins. Then the top three competitors from that team form the latest Troika. T.J. Lavin, the host of “The Challenge,”claims that the teams were chosen randomly and are gender neutral. Yet, a few cast members (including Marie and Jemmye) took to Twitter to say that the former Troika, which consisted of Marie, Tony, and Zack, picked the teams. They also did so with the intent of causing Brad to lose and go straight to elimination.

And that’s exactly what happened. Though Brad scored top marks, tying with Tony and Bananas, his team ultimately lost, and they voted him in to face the elimination instead of Nelson (the only other male on the team). The winning team’s top three performers were Bananas, Tony, and Kyle. They were all previously in a Troika, so nothing new there.

Is Bananas the Tom Brady of The Challenge? Between his personality and record holding “Challenge” wins, he considers himself public enemy number one. And he’s actually not too far off. Earlier in the episode we saw Devin, one of his vendettas, propose an alliance to a group of men with Bananas as the target in mind. He was speaking to “Big Brother’s” Victor, “Challenge” vet Shane, Brad and Nelson. Victor and Nelson vocally supported his arguments while Brad and Shane took a backseat to the discussion. Victor has a few reasons to be weary of Bananas. Not only is Bananas a strong competitor and tough competition in a final, but he’s cozied up with Victor’s vendetta and fellow “Big Brother” alum Natalie. Nelson, on the other hand, is one of the ‘Young Bucks’ that has been against Bananas in the past few “Challenges,” along with the eliminated Cory and Hunter, who is not on this season.

So the Troika had a great decision to make. What three guys are a threat to them and should face an inquisition? Well, for all three of the Troika, Nelson would be a great pick. He is going against Kyle because he broke his word against Cory, Tony is one of his vendettas, and so is Bananas. However the Troika doubts that Nelson can actually win anything. So they decide on Devin, Shane and Victor. Obviously, Bananas is in charge because only his targets were chosen and that was further proven when Tony decided he was the Scotty Pipman to Banana’s Michael Jordan (he also referred to Kyle as Dennis Rodman, much to his surprise). It was very ridiculous. During the inquisition Shane attacks Victor and Devin, throwing them under the bus in an effort to deflect attention from himself. Unfortunately we won’t know if it works until next week.

So why couldn’t MTV fit an elimination into the episode? Well for the daily drama that no one asked for! Someone is terrorizing one of the women’s rooms. There was a mystery note left on Britni’s bed, proclaiming that all of her bunkmates talk poorly of her and are fake. And then there’s a second note of the same variety. And then there was a series of kissing and flirting at the club. Apparently all of this suspense and wacky confessionals are supposed to make up for the cliffhanger of no elimination! What is most interesting is actually the fact that the note bearing culprit is being hidden by production, so not even the viewer knows who is behind the psychological warfare. My bet would be Bananas or Devin as they are both self-proclaimed manipulators.

We will most likely find out the next episode, so tune in to “MTV’s The Challenge: Vendettas” every Tuesday night at 9 p.m., then read my take on the season here at the Niner Times!

TV REVIEW: ‘The Challenge: Vendettas’ – Episode 5

Welcome back to another week of “The Challenge: Vendettas.”

Episode five, titled “Guilty By Association,” is as about filling as an american ‘cheese’ sandwich. Not even grilled cheese worthy. Gone (or yet to be seen) are the episodes that start with a challenge and end with a completed elimination. We have yet to have a ‘full’ episode this season, and fans are feeling cheated because of it. This week we had a bit of deliberation, a bit of a tussle and a hell of an elimination.

Let’s start with the deliberation. As you should know from last week, the current Troika is composed of Tony, Marie and Zach. The most obvious choice for them (in their words) is to nominate Britni, along with the UK rookies, Melissa and Kayleigh, to face the inquisition. What made this announcement bearable was the look on the faces of Britni and Brad. Brad, in all his macho bravado, sought Tony out before their deliberation to ‘squash the beef’ in an effort to save Britni. Not many people can respect Brad at this point, between hooking up with Britni, fighting Marie over pizza, nominating Sylvia to go into elimination, and of course he also picked Tony, his vendetta, to face the inquisition. You get the point. Brad is a gigantic sleep ball that bounces between people of power to stay safe. Little does he know how many targets are resting on his back.

While Britni seems to be the front runner to face Sylvia in elimination, Melissa has…other plans. Kam and she have an argument about reputations and speaking to people face to face. With MTV’s editing, I am not quite sure of where this came from, and they seemed to be on good terms. However the angle MTV portrays is that Kam is sick of Melissa using Nicole to get ahead and for safety. Somewhere along the line, Melissa calls Kam “fat” so Jemmye and Kailah decided to get involved to defend her.

So a little about Jemmye: she was never much of a competitor. She came from “The Real World,” which is becoming less and less common. After her ex, Knight, a fellow “Real World”/”Challenge” alum died, she took a absence from reality T.V out of respect of his memory. That lasted… two years. Now Jemmye is back, and as messy as ever! Just like in the previous season of “The Challenge,” Jemmye only gets screentime when she’s running her mouth, scheming or getting in someone else’s business. She has become more of a character and less of a competitor, a layup to take to the final if she avoids elimination. So what gave her air time this week? Well during Kam and Melissa’s disagreement, herself and Kailah are avid instigators that most likely escalated the fight before others jumped in to separate the girls.

With an intense tussle, the Troika had a lot to work with. Should they vote for Britni to go in, and cut away at Brad’s alliances? Vote in Melissa for her controversial behaviors and upset their friend Nicole in the process? Or decide on Kayleigh, who has not actually done anything but also is not associated with anyone; except flirting with local single ranger, Nelson.

Well if you know “The Challenge,” you know the results. Much to Bananas’ disappointment, Melissa was selected to face Sylvia in an elimination. Whoever creates the biggest splash last typically goes in, something Tony knows all too well from previous seasons. And this elimination was one to see. Described as one of the most intense women’s eliminations ever, Sylvia and Melissa had a high stakes basketball game, but surrounded by oily water in a tarp and aiming for a barrel outside of it. It got dirty real fast, and I am not referring to the dirt that flew! Melissa, self-proclaimed MMA fighter, was pulling hair, kneeing Sylvia’s pelvis, and at one point ACTUALLY bit Sylvia! Sylvia came close to jabbing Melissa in the face, but stayed resilient and won the competition 3-1. She will have her choice of grenades at the next challenge, but that’s where this episode ends. Hopefully the next episode will reintroduce the original format.

Tune in to “MTV’s The Challenge: Vendettas” every Tuesday night at 9pm est, then read my take on the season here at the Niner Times!

TV REVIEW: ‘The Challenge: Vendettas’ – Episode 4

Welcome back to another week of “The Challenge: Vendettas”! At this point, the casual viewer may know six of the 25 players left in the game, but that all changed Tuesday night. “The Challenge” is finally starting to kick up and show some promise this episode. We had drama, suspense, arguments, and best of all? It wasn’t focused on the green room or the past. “Vendettas,” at long last, performed to its namesake as a reality TV show, and it was quite the present.

There’s a new player (metaphorically) in the game this week! U.K Kayleigh is actually on screen for once and it’s not all funny faces. She had more scenes socializing and we witnessed the beginnings of a flirtmance with Nelson, which was alluded to the previous week when she commented on his unattractive facial hair on his otherwise attractive face. Another reason for more Kayleigh? We last left off before the Troika had chosen a female competitor to face Mellisa in competition. Herself, along with Kam, and Alicia are all potential candidates to face Melissa in the elimination. Kayleigh also had the time advantage of Melissa being her Vendetta. Yet neither Kayleigh nor Kam needed to fret. Bananas wanted Alicia out, and he got her out.

After the elimination, the strangest thing happened.

#Pizzagate.

Brad (resident midlife criser), after observing Marie take a box of pizza to her room, followed by another box, questions her integrity and empathy for their other castmates. The food was for the house and not everyone had eaten yet. However, there was a lot more than what Marie took. This causes Marie to fly off of several handles, instantly defensive and begins ridiculing Brad, and the situation itself. She’s quite mean. Yet this altercation doesn’t affect Brad’s libido because him and Britni decided to just have some ‘alone time’ and avoid the drama. It was very short lived as Marie is a spiteful, rude person. In all her excellence, she decided to take the remaining pizza boxes and? Throw them on top of Brad and Britni as they…consummated. Luckily it gets worse! Brad is obviously fed up with Marie and berates her lack of success in life. Marie created a new vendetta that night, but not without a few low blows about his children.

Marie isn’t the only one with Brad on their radar. Zach and Leroy were shown agreeing that if they can’t get rid of Brad next, then it’s Britni’s (Leroy’s vendetta) time to go. As the weeks pass, maybe we will see just who Zach’s vendetta is, or if Bananas is the default villain.

With Melissa winning the elimination round, she was the proud owner of the latest grenade. It came with three lovely options: choose the teams at the next challenge, make another player drink a liter of cream before the competition or to make any player sit out of the competition and head straight to elimination. She may be as dumb (or dumber) than her cuddle buddly Nicole, because there was not much strategy in her choice or how it was carried out. In this scenario, one must use the grenade to their advantage without pissing off multiple people. Last week Nelson chose the Money, therefore benefiting from the disadvantage of one person. The easiest choice Melissa could have done? Made her vendetta, Kayleigh, go straight to elimination! Instead she chose the teams, poorly. Not only did she choose incorrectly for herself, and Nicole but she gave her vendetta an all star team. Somewhat luckily for her, another team won.

The challenge of the week was trivia based, losers have an eating competition of gross and less gross stuff. The set up was very retro 90’s game show, and I thought I was having a stroke when it began. TJ would ask the question, and then losing teams that didn’t have the answer, had to eat the food decided by the winning team. For the majority of the time Bananas, Cara Maria and Kayleigh’s team dominated trivia. That changed when it came down to two teams, Tony versus Cara Maria in eating a bowl of mayonnaise. Tony took the win for the team and subsequently had more pull to pick a team that was up for elimination. His team members were Zach, and Marie. It worked out perfectly for their Troika as they all want Brad out. Brad’s team consisted of U.K’s Joss and Sylvia, Tony’s other vendetta. They are chosen to be the losing team and must decide internally who would go up for elimination.

Here’s the real kicker. On the first round of the competition, Sylvia participated in Joss and Brad’s stead because they did not want to consume rotten cheese. Tony beat them in that round so they were disqualified. So who does Brad vote for to face elimination? Sylvia. Joss follows, making them both into bigger, cowardly, targets.

The episode ends before Sylvia’s opponent is decided, but it’s looking like Britni may be in trouble.

Tune in to “MTV’s The Challenge: Vendettas” every Tuesday night at 9pm est, then read my take on the season here at the Niner Times!

TV REVIEW: ‘The Challenge: Vendettas’ – Episode 3

Welcome to week three of “The Challenge: Vendettas.”
I think the cast and crew are both reminiscing about the previous Rivals season as it rolled off the tongue much easier.

Last week’s episode ended with a bit of a cliffhanger as Cory was chosen by the Troika to battle his best friend and closest ally, Nelson, in the first elimination round of the season. This week’s episode picks up at the beginning of the competition (after a ‘brief’ recap, of course), introducing the game and rules. This battle is more of a fire fueled soccer match, as the boys must stand in front of their goals and attempt to kick fire engulfed balls into each other’s territory. It could have been better described as a crap-shoot, because neither Cory nor Nelson could score a goal within 10 attempts. T.J Lavin, the host of “The Challenge,” had to call for a sudden death round, sans goalies, just to have a winner. Cory is the pathetic loser, so ashamed of his loss that he leaves Alicia, his new boo, behind surrounded by flames (literally). I am starting to think that “The Challenge” is a soap opera, not a reality show. Tj congratulated Nelson on his “interesting” (read: poor athleticism) win and then proceeded to whip out a new twist. The winners of elimination rounds will receive their choice of grenade to potentially use on their vendetta(s). Nelson was given three choices: take 5,000 dollars from another player, add time to another player’s event, or another choice between joining the Troika or sending someone straight into an elimination. He had to wait until the next competition to decide which grenade would go off and who it would blast.

We have a new couple alert! If you are tired of heteronormativity that is Britni and Brad, Bananas and Natalie and Cara and Kyle, then you will be ecstatic to hear about Nicole Z and U.K’s Melissa. On the account of both of their pasts, this will be a short lived romance, especially considering Melissa claims to be able to flirt with a brick wall; because that’s just her personality. Another sign of the longevity of the relationship is Melissa stating how similar her game is to Natalie’s, in the way that they are both cuddling up with strong, influential players in the house. So alike, in fact, that they decided to practice cheerleading moves together, causing Melissa to cut her foot.
At the challenge destination Nelson must choose a grenade, and in an effort to cause the least amount of waves, he chooses cash and takes 5,000 from U.K’s rookie of the year, Joss. Joss has shown himself to be quite the competitor (he won the very first challenge of the season, winning 25,000 dollars) so we will have to see if Nelson made the right choice in a new enemy, instead of targeting an existing one. Another decision was made, but this time for a competitor. With Melissa’s injury, she is unable to compete in that day’s challenge because it is suspended above water. She is automatically disqualified and will be facing elimination.

With everything happening this episode, the least interesting thing is actually the challenge. The players must navigate a hashtag suspended in air, to move smaller hashtags from one side to the other. Devin and Natalie were the winners from the boys and girls and was unsurprisingly joined by Bananas to form the Troika.

Throughout this week’s episode, Natalie is shown developing friendships with fellow rookies Kam, her roommate Alicia, and Melissa. However, her “Big Brother” experience may come to haunt her, as she thinks that the vets hold all the power. Seeking a better position for herself in the game Natalie strives to be like by the female vets of the game, such as Veronica and Kailah, however not knowing the true dynamics, she painted a target on herself. Her appeals to the vets comes off as a threat and when she revealed her thoughts to the Troika, Devin was not having it. So after he nominated Alicia, he says that she also, has to vote for a competitor to face the inquisition. After the Troika nominated three rookies (all of whom were black), those being Alicia, Kam and Kayleigh, the backlash against Natalie came three-fold. At the inquisition it is seen that Natalie threw her girls under the bus for the chance of ‘safely.’

If Natalie does not stop playing “Big Brother” and start playing “The Challenge,” not even Bananas can save her.

Tune in to “MTV’s The Challenge: Vendettas” every Tuesday night at 9pm est, then read my take on the season here at the Niner Times!

TV REVIEW: ‘The Challenge: Vendettas’ – Episode 2

Did you know reality TV shows have main characters? Well welcome back to “The Challenge: Vendettas,” where Johnny Bananas and Cara Maria are being showcased along with their romantic interests and steamy vendettas. I truly (and very shortly) thought that the episode would…move on a bit from those particular storylines. Alas it was short lived, (think one literal minute) but we were able to see brief and genuine comments from Jemmye, Sylvia and Britni about the previous season before diving into Tony and Brad’s Twitter beef; the very beef that led them to be pitted against each other in this season. We continue on in the episode with sporadic introductions of new players, shining a temporary light on U.K rookies Kayleigh and Melissa, whom we have only seen speak in the green room along with 85% of the rest of the cast. If MTV used more time on the competitors and less on special effects and slow motion, then it would be a more fulfilling episode all around.

Despite Cara and Marie’s mutual interest in U.K’s Kyle, they do discuss working together to get the rookies out first. From Marie’s “this is survival” technique, she knows that she is one of the weaker female competitors. As for Cara, she wants to lay low until his time to strike at both of her vendettas, Marie and Kayla. Aside from Cara’s flirting with Kyle after his (temporary) hook-up with Marie, and Banana’s creepy infatuation with speaking Spanish to Big Brother alum, Natalie, there was a competition to be had. This week the host, T.J Lavin, introduces a new rule. While the challenge for that week was an individual competition, the top three players with the best time would form ‘The Troika,’ allowing them to be the inquisition for three candidates that they could throw into an elimination to face the last place player. The contestants are in a race to go up and down an oily hill of trash bags and suds to bring balls from the ground up to their station. Leroy and Nelson struggle for the guys while Corey foreshadows in the green room, and asking Nelson not to get last place, or it’s them against each other. Despite Britni coming in first place for the girls, all three member of the Troika were male as they beat her time. Those members encompassed Bananas, Brad and Kyle. In their deliberation, they decide on Brad’s vendetta, Tony, Banana’s vendetta, Cory; and with Kyle’s vendetta eliminated the first episode, they chose Natalie’s (Banana’s flirting partner) vendetta, Victor.

With Cory’s back against the wall he decides to lie about an alliance between Victor, Brad, Devin and Shane. It backfires completely as he is a bad liar and no one believes him. This causes Brad to switch his target from Tony and instead go after Cory. Nelson, Cory’s alliance member and guaranteed to go into elimination for his poor challenge performance, really does not want to go against his friend. They decide to appeal to Kyle in the hopes of another decision to be made. While Kyle seems receptive to their proposals, the decision is made. It is Cory versus Nelson in the first elimination of “The Challenge: Vendettas.”

Hopefully we can look forward to less narrated episodes as the numbers dwindle. Yet there is the question of the “other team,” that was briefly shown in the first episode. The squad was consisting of various hard hitters of past seasons, including favorites such as Laurel, Chris Tamburello (known as C.T) and Tori. They are not currently in the house with the others but are shown to be in Italy as well so there must be a purge twist in the horizon. All together this episode (and season) is a bit disappointing regardless of the major hype from the cast online. Throughout the episodes we witness a ridiculous amount of gushing from the girls, about how hot the guys are and from the guys we are hearing a lot about the past. I look for to “The Challenge” for competition, drama and backstabbing. Eddie was removed from the show, so with 25 competitors remaining, I am anticipating more suspense as time goes on.

Tune in to “MTV’s The Challenge: Vendettas” every Tuesday night at 9pm est, then read my take on the season here at the Niner Times!