By Sydney Bucksbaum
September 11, 2019 at 10:00 PM EDT
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And we’re back! Fresh off Georgia’s elimination win in last week’s episode, The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2 picks up this week with the Challengers returning home shortly after. We’re not wasting any time, and Georgia is quick to realize that even though she won, Team U.K. is losing. Badly. Plus, she wasn’t ignoring the outside world during her elimination — she heard who was cheering for her and who was cheering for Big T. Kayleigh, you in trouble, girl.

Over on Team U.S., Leroy realizes the same thing about cheering exposing crucial information and proposes that no one cheers for anyone during eliminations, because if you cheer for the loser, the winner will paint a new target on your back. Smart strategy coming from the vets! Josh’s extremely vocal support for Georgia is not sitting well with the rest of his team, and they somehow convince him to be the next speaker for Team U.S., with him promising to go after Team U.K.’s strongest player, Theo. He’s being played, his own teammates are using him to take out threats, and he has no idea. Once he wises up, his emotions are going to get the better of him like they always do. Expect a meltdown pretty soon.

Update on the Laurel/Bear situation: They’ve progressed to making out and whispering compliments to each other in the bathroom. This is what passes for a Challenge romance nowadays, huh? Also, Laurel says she isn’t going to tell anyone about her connection with Bear. I see this coming back to bite her in the butt extremely soon. We’ve all seen how hotheaded and petty Bear can be when he’s backed into a corner (or just drunk). Laurel is obviously going to dominate this season physically, but Bear is going to her hurt her game politically. I can’t believe she would torpedo her own strategy like this! Team U.S. is already starting to notice that she’s only hanging out with Bear, Theo, and Kyle. Even if they don’t know about her hooking up with Bear, her alliances are already pretty clear, and that’s something Cara Maria is quick to point out. Their real-life friendship ending is going to make things awkward and tense on screen, and we’ve only just begun to see the consequences.

Meanwhile, Leroy is finally speaking up about his desires to make his own deals: Everyone always assumes he’ll just go with whatever Bananas will do, but that’s hurt him the past few seasons he’s competed. He tells Ashley he’s ready to cut a deal with anyone else on the low, but no one is approaching him about that. People would be stupid not to take him up on his offer. I’m excited to see Leroy finally strike out on his own! But he needs to start making moves — lying on his bed complaining that no one is making deals with him is not how you make a deal, man. You have to approach people!

Team U.K. takes a page out of the Team U.S. book and has a team meeting, where CT tries to rally his team but Bear immediately causes problems by… well, just by being Bear. He argues that he should be the speaker for the team if they win the next challenge, and then he’ll nominate Wes for elimination. Understandably, his entire team just laughs at him, and when Idris says he should be speaker and everyone immediately agrees, it sets Bear off. Bear’s first temper tantrum only took a little over two episodes. That might be a record! He’s actually shocked that no one on his team takes him seriously, which ironically just makes me laugh harder. Dude. Come on.

The Challenge: Paddlewheel Puzzle

After memorizing four-digit codes, Challengers tumble in a paddlewheel to collect 16 puzzle pieces that are locked up by remembering those codes. Challengers then assemble those puzzle pieces into either an American or British flag. The fastest team to correctly build their puzzle wins the challenge, with Team U.S. going first.

Degree of physical difficulty: Moderate. This is going to come down to whoever gets the least dizzy. Expect lots of vomiting.

Degree of mental difficulty: High. A lot of these challengers are not great at memory games. With the added factors of getting thrown around in a giant wheel, getting tossed head over heels while searching for tiny locks, and correctly entering the right codes while staying upright, there are going to be some frustrations.

Potential for drama: High. Challengers are going to be falling all over each other, messing up, and possibly vomiting on one another. People are definitely going to blow up.

Winner: Team U.S., but because of a technicality! Here’s how it happened: After Team U.S. tumbles around for a while with Team U.K. shouting out random numbers and laughing, Johnny comes up with the idea of everyone trying the same codes until each puzzle piece is unlocked. It might take longer, but it’s more efficient than everyone tumbling around trying every single lock individually. It starts to work, and Zach is the first to vomit. But with the last puzzle piece locked, no one can remember who’s code is left and things just go right to s—. It ends up being Cara Maria’s code, and Team U.S. is quick to figure out that the puzzle is just everyone’s names written on each piece in alphabetical order.

When it’s Team U.K.’s turn, the tables quickly turn and their laughs dry up. It’s not as easy as they thought, huh? They definitely should not have been so cocky with their trash talking earlier. But they do have the advantage of seeing Team U.S. figure out the strategy and copy it immediately, making quick work of their pieces. The look of despair on the Team U.S. faces is pretty clear as the Brits unlock piece after piece. This challenge would have been a lot more of a fight if both teams went at the same time, but clearly the producers gave Team U.K. a leg up by having them watch Team U.S. and going second. This is exactly what I was worried about with the unbalanced teams this season!

But with two pieces left, Theo literally pulls one lock apart by force without trying a code. So while Team U.K. celebrates what they think is a clear win, TJ hates cheaters and he’s got the evidence of broken locks to prove that Team U.K. didn’t earn their win. He names Team U.S. the winners, and the reactions are priceless. Johnny and Jordan copy Team U.K.’s celebration 30 seconds prior by cheering on their knees and mooning the other team. It’s a brilliant showing of teaching Team U.K. to not rub a win in the other team’s faces (cough, Bear).

Tribunal: As decided earlier, Josh is speaker for Team U.S., and he picks Zach and Laurel for the Tribunal. Why do Team U.S. speakers always pick a member of the opposite sex for the Tribunal when, on a guy’s elimination week, they should be three guys? Josh picks her because he thinks she’s not afraid to make a big move. But again, she’s got heavy ties to Team U.K. guys and it’s a guy’s elimination. This could get pretty messy.

At nominations, Team U.K. starts off calm enough, with CT giving a great recap of their challenge and how their inexperience got the best of them. And then Bear proves that even further by immediately trying to throw Idris’ name in, “based off performance.” The delusions on this one! Dee steps up by pointing out that Bear is actually the most unstable one on the team, and things go off. Bear refuses to let anyone talk and kind of digs himself into a hole. But then Theo comes in and nominates Rogan based on him gassing out in the first challenge back on Vendettas — which, he’s not wrong, but if now is the chance to get rid of Bear, then don’t screw this up, Theo! The vote is clearly for Bear, though, with CT hitting the final nail in the coffin by pointing out that Bear is starting to “aggravate the s— out of” him. CT, the voice of every Challenge fan, speaking the truth. Bless him.

Thanks to the nominations, the Tribunal sees the clear divide on Team U.K., which throws a wrench into their plans to vote in Theo to go against Bear, because Theo has the numbers on his side that could end up coming for whoever votes him in. Josh is terrified to piss off Theo, but he previously said he would vote Theo in! It’s why he got the role of speaker this week! He talked a big talk but won’t back it up, and that’s my least favorite kind of competitor. Wes immediately calls out Josh for wavering on his big play because the dude literally had one job and he flounders under pressure.

And LOL at Laurel just pretending to sleep so she doesn’t have to participate in the conversation. Now that’s strategy. She hears Wes’ cocky statements about Josh being expendable and decides to immediately tell Josh and propose him throwing Wes in via blindside. He celebrates like that’s the best idea in the world, and I’m just baffled for both Laurel and Josh. Why would Team U.S. throw their own player in no matter their personal issues at this point in the game? Especially one of their strongest players? It’s just… dumb. There is no other way to describe it. But again, while Josh talks a big game, he doesn’t always follow through. Let’s see how this actually plays out, shall we?

But first! The Brits are, shockingly (sarcasm), up late, wasted, getting into fights. Theo’s slurring his words and Rogan calls him out for not being able “to handle a beer.” Never insult a Brit’s drinking abilities! They get into a pissing contest where only every third word is intelligible. Rogan gets Theo to go off, and the insults are flying left and right. Security comes in just in case, but things don’t get close to physical until Theo yells at Dee to shut up, which of course then sets Rogan off. “You can’t handle a glass of pinot grigio, you skinny little c—!” might just be the best thing that Rogan has ever said. Engrave that on his tombstone, people!

The next day, Team U.S. has an arbitrary meeting where the majority votes for the Tribunal to vote in Theo, but as Bananas points out, that vote is a waste of time. The Tribunal can do whatever they want, the alliances have been exposed, and the “team” isn’t so much a team as a bunch of shady cliques forced to work together in challenges. Both teams are imploding and it’s only week 3, y’all. Josh throws Wes’ words right in his face, and Bananas immediately supports him. He also reveals in his talking-head interview that eliminating Wes from the game right now is more important than winning a final — which honestly isn’t saying much for Bananas, as he hasn’t even made it to a final since he stole the money from his partner (the curse is real, people).

Paulie and Zach take Josh aside to try and calm him down. Josh is already going off on how Wes called him unstable (proving him right, of course), and Zach tries to explain how Josh being emotional is bad for his game since he’s showing his cards every moment. Paulie tries to explain that throwing in Theo is the smart move, not because Wes said it but because Josh was literally the one to say it. Remember that?! His emotions are honestly becoming so confusing and tangled that he doesn’t even remember his own plan.

The Proving Ground elimination

At the Proving Ground elimination, before Team U.S. can even have their Tribunal vote for a player to go against Bear, Bear calls out Wes himself. Of course, Wes says, “absolutely not,” because he’s already proven himself, and the Tribunal gets to the voting. Zach votes for Theo, as discussed, but Laurel actually votes for Wes, which inspires Josh to take his “shot” and he votes for Wes too. That might be the dumbest move ever. Not only does Wes have way more experience and training than Bear, meaning he’s more likely coming back than not, but the rest of Team U.S. now sees Laurel and Josh as traitors. I cannot believe they would pull this so early, but here we go. Wes is totally aware of the stakes: “Bear’s an interesting one to go in against, because if I beat him, I’m going to get no credit. If I lose to him, I’m going to get made fun of for at least a half a decade.” He is… not wrong. But it’s clear from his demeanor that while he’s hoping for the best, he’s already preparing for the worst.

Elimination challenge: Firing Squad. Players start facing a wall, and then TJ fires a cannonball at them at 70 mph. Whoever captures the ball and scores in their goal two times wins the elimination.

Degree of physical difficulty: High. This one is all physical, and Wes has the body mass and muscle strength, plus agility and stamina, to absolutely decimate Bear. But Bear has been preparing all day mentally, whereas Wes just got blindsided. That could put Wes at a major disadvantage since his head is not in the game the same way.

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

Potential for drama: High. Whoever wins this could have the option to really change the game and redraw alliances in the house.

Winner: Shockingly, and I can’t believe I’m writing this, it’s Bear. After easily scoring the first point after Wes fails to tackle him, slips, and falls, Bear gets an early lead. Honestly, my jaw was on the ground there. That’s the kind of mistake that can cost a player the entire game, and it’s a rookie move that Wes knows better than to make. He fights for it more on the second point, but Bear gets absolutely, fiercely violent, throwing elbows to Wes’ face and just throwing punches left and right. Bear scores again, winning. It’s not easy to watch, because Bear is going to be even more insufferable now. He names himself Grizzly Bear and declares The Challenge his show now. Uhhhh… that’s just not how this works. And no surprise here, but Bear chooses to stay on Team U.K. I’m so disappointed with how this one shook out. It hurts. And I don’t even like Wes and how he plays his game! But Bear is not fun to watch, at all.

Challenger of the week: Theo, for somehow escaping elimination after pissing off almost everyone on his team and being the clear target for the opposing team. But he lives to fight another day! (Even though Bear pulled off a huge upset in the elimination, I just can’t bring myself to give him this honor. I would rather die.)

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

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