By Sydney Bucksbaum
September 04, 2019 at 10:00 PM EDT
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Hello, fellow Challenge fans! Last week’s War of the Worlds 2 premiere had my mind racing, so I’m officially stepping in to recap this season moving forward. I’ve got a lot of thoughts on The Challenge’s new structure, new alliances, new players, returning vets, and more this season, so why not make use of them in weekly recaps? Let’s geek out, gossip, and complain together!

Before we get into the action of episode 2, I’ve already got some worries about this season. After last week’s premiere wasted no time dumping both teams into the jungle for their first major challenge, I’m seeing a major problem: Team U.K. is at a huge disadvantage. Team U.S. is full of impressive vets (most with multiple wins under their belts), making them the most decorated Challenge team of all time. Team U.K. is mostly rookies, and the few returning players are still basically rookies themselves. Honestly, Team U.K. looks like what The Challenge cast used to look like back when the emphasis was more on the partying and drama than the actual physical competition. That era is definitely over.

How in the world is Kyle the most experienced person on his team?! This is disastrous. I’m already envisioning a clean sweep from Team U.S. in every challenge, which wouldn’t be all that exciting to watch. Unless The Challenge is going to do some creative editing to make the competition look closer (which would defeat the whole purpose of the new, higher stakes of this series after last season’s revamp), we could be in for a boring ride.

I guess the only disadvantage for Team U.S. is that they all have such complicated histories with one another that working together could (and most definitely will) be difficult. But they still have the experience and athleticism to overcome that. I’m going to need Team U.K. to really step up and give our U.S. faves a run for their literal money, or else the incredible updates to the franchise introduced last season are going to lose their momentum.

That’s probably why TJ introduced the new twist of whoever wins the Proving Ground elimination each week getting to choose to either stay on their team or become a turncoat, officially changing their allegiance. (Once you switch teams, you can never switch back.) I could see Team U.K. players wanting to get onto the more experienced team. But who will be the first to make that move? Probably Kyle or CT. Wouldn’t that just put the newly swapped team member on the bottom of the totem pole? Not if you’re Kyle or CT.

But enough about my predictions — let’s get to recapping episode 2. No surprise here but Idris, after winning the Proving Floor elimination against Sean, stays with Team U.K. He’d be the first to go if he swapped to Team U.S., with no alliances (other than Wes) to save him.

What is a surprise is how quickly Wes gets called out for his betrayal by burning a vote on Bear and letting Rogan know immediately he was on the chopping block. Jordan calls an emergency Team U.S. meeting and lays it all out on the floor. Wes does some sneaky fast-talking to try to discredit Jordan, but this time it doesn’t work. Is this the quickest that Wes’ secret deals have been exposed on a Challenge season? Absolutely. Should anyone be surprised he was making these deals? Not at all! This is how he always plays! If you didn’t expect it, you haven’t been paying attention. He won’t be running this season like he usually does, and I’m excited to see a panicked Wes try to stay afloat. The battle lines have been drawn, and Wes is clearly in need of more allies than he thought.

In the romance department, the sparks that started flying in the premiere between Dee and Rogan have ignited into full-on relationship status, which has Ninja Natalie worried that Dee is taking her eye off the ball. But what has me more worried is Laurel and Bear. It’s wild, seemingly random connections like this one that always make me wonder if vets watch seasons they’re not on. Because if Laurel saw the way Bear acted last season, she would not be as into him as she is now. Girl, you can do so much better!

While some Challengers are relaxing by the pool, Jenny from Team U.K. is coming to the same realizations I did about her teammates and leads some of the more physically lacking women in a workout to see their strengths and weaknesses and get a better idea about their overall character. In the group workout, Big T is not coming out well. And honestly, it makes Jenny look like a frontrunner for the women on Team U.K. She certainly impresses CT (who’s just walking leisurely on a treadmill off to the side, working on that dadbod).

Before the Challengers hear from TJ about what this week’s challenge is, we get some sad news: Zahida found out her grandma passed away and left the show. She will no longer be participating in this season. I was really hoping we’d get to see her exact some revenge on Zach after his betrayal last season, but family comes first. It’s important to note that Zahida did not quit — remember that for later.

The Challenge: Cryptic Crossbow

Challengers swim to collect 16 letters attached to buoys, which will create a four-word puzzle that needs to be solved. One team member will then be launched from a giant crossbow to swim and retrieve a cryptex puzzle and solve it using their four-word puzzle solutions. If they’re right, the cryptex will open. Whoever gets their cryptex open first wins the challenge.

Degree of physical difficulty: Moderate. This is a big swimming challenge, with some letters far out in the water and others closer to the platform. Strong swimmers should take the far letters, unless they want to paint a target on any slower swimmers.

Degree of mental difficulty: High. Multiple puzzles that include big words, which is a major handicap for most of these players. But they don’t need to solve the first puzzle correctly before releasing their crossbow player, so there is a smart way to play this one.

Potential for drama: Low, unless greedy players don’t strategize and give the closer letters to slower swimmers. But high for Team U.S., which has a ton of champions who think they know the best strategy and can’t even agree on things before the challenge starts.

Winner: Team U.S., obviously. Not only are they all beasts in the water, smoking Team U.K. in the beginning of the challenge, they put the letters up randomly to send Jordon into the water before they solve the puzzle, putting them at such a huge lead it’s never even a fair fight. “Is it going to be like this all season?” Yes, Georgia, it sure seems like it. What sours Team U.S.’ win is Wes getting taken away by medics — he’s so sick that he can’t keep his head up without throwing up. But even extremely ill, he was still one of the top guys. A gnarly worm can’t keep him down!

Tribunal: Kam nominates herself as speaker, which comes out of nowhere (according to Leroy, but we all know that drama), and picks Paulie and Ashley to round it out. Ashley’s happy because she now thinks she’s got a friend in this game, but Paulie’s pissed — he was hoping to form the Tribunal on a guy’s elimination day. His safety this week is wasted.

Kam’s self-nomination is rubbing a lot of people the wrong way, as is her choice of Paulie. Cara Maria trusts Kam when she says she has a plan for why she picked a guy on girl’s elimination (but it turns out her plan is just to align with Paulie and Cara), while others like Tori don’t understand why Kam got that power to begin with. Kam might need to calm down her confidence this early in the game, or else she’s going to find herself at the bottom of the pecking order when it comes time for Team U.S. to send someone in to elimination.

Over on Team U.K., the word on the street is that either Esther or Big T is going to be called in at nominations. It’s the smart move: They’re easily the weakest female players, so either they’ll earn their stripes on the Proving Floor and win or Team U.K. will get rid of a weak player right away. Georgia makes a mistake by telling Big T that her friend Nicole is going to be protected the whole game, and that makes a lot of people laugh. You can try to protect people for sure, but no one is actually protected. That mistake ends up painting Georgia in a bad light as her words get twisted to the point of people believing she called herself “untouchable.” Team U.K. is imploding already!

At nominations, Big T is voted in despite Kayleigh’s efforts to put the other rookies into the vote. But the real drama comes later in the night, when the Brits keep Faith up by talking loudly and partying until 4 a.m. So she wakes them up by hitting pots and pans at 5:45 a.m. Security comes in to make sure things don’t get physical. Her revenge backfires, though, because she wakes up the entire house, not just the partiers. Not a good look the night before a female elimination. And it gets even worse because at the Proving Ground the next day, TJ reveals that Faith went home. She wasn’t kicked out, she just decided to leave. TJ’s lack of speech after revealing that speaks volumes: She quit, and TJ hates quitters. I’d be surprised if we ever see Faith again on this show. Zahida can still come back, but Faith committed the cardinal sin of The Challenge. You. Do. Not. Quit. Ever.

The Proving Ground elimination

At the Proving Ground, Kam votes for Georgia, Paulie votes for Georgia, and Ashley votes the same. Now that’s a big move this early in the game! It would be even bigger if Georgia were going against a stronger player, because obviously she’s coming back. No offense to Big T, but Georgia made it to a final on her first season.

Elimination challenge: Firestarter. Players push a dumpster full of rocks with a torch toward their opponent’s fuse. Whoever lights their opponent’s fuse first wins.

Degree of physical difficulty: High. That cart looks heavy, and this is going to take strength and stamina, two things Georgia has and Big T probably doesn’t.

Degree of mental difficulty: N/A. This one is all physical.

Potential for drama: Low. There’s a clear winner here, and unless Big T puts up a fight this will end quickly.

Winner: Big T puts up more of a fight than anyone, myself included, expected! But after more than an hour and a half, Georgia pulls off that win, much to Team U.S. and Kayleigh’s chagrin. She also sticks with Team U.K., which is the smart move for her. Kam, Ashley, and Paulie better watch their backs. As should Josh, whose extremely loud cheering for his crush Georgia immediately puts him on the radar of everyone on Team U.S. He should not be cheering for the best female to get back on Team U.K. since that’s a threat to his own team. That’s one alliance he should have kept secret.

Challenger of the week: Honestly? Big T! Who would have thought she had so much fight in her? Where was that during the first two challenges? I’m actually sad Georgia won and Big T was eliminated. I wish we could have seen what else she has in her. But what a way to go out!

The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2 airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.

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