The Challenge: Total Madness recap: A champ makes the dumbest mistake
Warning: the following recap contains spoilers from Wednesday's The Challenge: Total Madness.
This season of The Challenge is playing with a whole new rule book, and some competitors are quicker at adapting to it than others. In this week's episode, Jenny used the new game twist to secure the easiest ticket to the final, while Tori and Jordan faced a tougher path. And Dee. Sweet, sweet Dee. She came out looking like the biggest fool, making a choice that immediately earned its spot in The Challenge's hall of fame for the most idiotic moves ever. Let's recap it all, shall we?
At the top of this week's episode, all the players are reeling after TJ's big twist reveal that in order to qualify for this season's final, you must go into an elimination and win. CT is taking it hardest since his whole career has been about intimidating everyone into not sending him into elimination. This is completely new territory and everyone is scrambling.
But of course, some new flirtations are also arising, most notably Rogan and rookie Jenn. He's laying the compliments on thick, calling her beautiful and saying the other girls will target her because of that. What's funniest about this whole exchange is Dee and Tori listening in, watching and laughing with abject horror on their faces. If Rogan thinks he's going to have fun talking to other girls this season, he's incredibly naive. Dee is going to make sure his life is a total nightmare this season. Jenn, you're also in danger, girl! But real talk, if we have to suffer through another season of Rogan and Dee drama, it's not going to be fun.
The Challenge: Airdrop Extraction
The players get their first taste of sunlight in days as they line up for the second challenge of the season... and it's one that TJ calls "sick," so you know it's going to be good. Played in teams of three, each team must transfer 15 military crates over a mile. Top three teams to do it the fastest move on to round two, where they board a helicopter and get nine tries to bomb a target from the air. The team with the most accurate bombs wins the challenge and forms the Tribunal. The teams are chosen randomly: Swaggy C, Dee, and Cory; Jordan, Jenny, and Wes; Bear, Jenna, and Ashley; Josh, Jenn, and Bayleigh; Rogan, Mattie, and Big T; Kaycee, Jay, and CT; Bananas, Aneesa, and Nany; Nelson, Kailah, and Tori; Fessy, Kyle, and Melissa.
Degree of physical difficulty: High. Those crates are heavy and these randomly selected teams are extremely uneven. Endurance and strength are necessary to win this one, and some teams are more stacked than others in that department.
Degree of mental difficulty: N/A. This is all physical.
Potential for drama: High. Whoever wins gets to pick who goes into Purgatory, and this is the first time the players know that they need to win an elimination to compete in the final. There will be drama as they all attempt to game the system in their favor.
Winner: Swaggy C, Dee, and Cory.
Fessy and Bear are the first to reach a crate after the mile run, but everyone is close behind. Jordan pulls up in the lead next to Fessy, wanting to see where he sets his pace, sizing up the strongest male rookie. Meanwhile, everyone is noticing how much Jenn is struggling and how much Josh is having to pull her weight for her. It's not good to show weakness this early in the game. Bear is getting angry at Ashley's refusal to keep carrying her ammunition crates (Ashley giving up during a challenge? Shocker) and when he tries to give her a boost, she threatens to just sit down and stop altogether. Is this your champion?! This happens every. Single. Season. Ugh.
Jordan, Jenny, and Wes are the first team to finish their crates, locking in their spot for round two. Fessy, Kyle, and Melissa are next to finish, and Swaggy C, Dee, and Cory get the third and final spot. Jordan, Jenny, and Wes miss their first few bomb drops, but they make two at the end. Fessy, Kyle, and Melissa are next, and they get seven of nine, destroying the first team's run. Swaggy C, Dee, and Cory are the last to go, and they hit their target on the first try, and every try, securing the win.
Tribunal: The Tribunal is all three winners this week, meaning Cory is the only player to be in the Tribunal every week so far this season.
After the challenge ends, Jordan can't let his loss go, knowing he lost his chance at giving Tori an easy opponent to go against in an elimination. Other vets call him out for being a sore loser. Dee reveals that she wants to set up her friend Jenny to win an easy elimination, and the whole house is swaying towards nominating Jenn since she was the weakest in the challenge.
When Bananas and Wes see that a "very one-sided nomination" is about to go down, they decide to "coach" Jenn on the speech she should give at nominations. They clearly are setting her up to fail, and it works spectacularly. Her speech is horrible. Poor girl didn't stand a chance. And then Wes immediately starts off the voting by calling out Jenn, making it clear that he set her up. Everyone else votes for Jenn but Rogan, Bananas, and CT vote for Big T. After nominations, Jenn and Dee get into a huge fight at dinner over Rogan, and it's just sad to see Dee still so invested in him, especially because Rogan is getting such a kick out of it.
But more importantly, Dee is also in a bind because she's promising Jenny first pick at elimination over Tori, but Jordan says that back in Thailand after winning War of the Worlds 2, they had an agreement about working together this season which came before any promise she made to Jenny. He threatens to be done working with Dee if she prioritizes Jenny over Tori. But Dee isn't backing down because she says she's not scared of Tori or Jordan. And Cory also owes Jenny a favor since she put him in the first Tribunal, so it's looking likely that the elimination will be Jenn vs. Jenny. But they also decide to interrogate Tori and Big T. That way, if Jenny sees the elimination and decides she's not confident about it, they'll vote in Tori. If Tori also decides she's not about this week's elimination, then Big T will go in because she's got the least blowback of any other girl in the house. It's a smart strategy.
Before TJ lets the Tribunal vote for Jenn's opponent, he drops another twist: not only does the Tribunal hold the power to vote someone into elimination, but they can also vote to throw themselves in for the chance to earn a red skull brand. If Dee was smart, she'd throw herself in this week to take out Jenn herself and earn that ticket to the final. The entire house is screaming at her to go in herself, but she votes for Jenny instead. It's a major letdown and not a good show of confidence from Dee. She's afraid of losing and dying of embarrassment getting sent home by Jenn — but like, come on. No matter what the elimination is, Dee would easily smoke Jenn. There's no risk of her losing after seeing how Jenn's competed so far. Even TJ is disappointed in Dee's choice. But the votes are in, and Jenny is the unanimous pick to go against Jenn.
Elimination challenge: Flip the Switch. Opponents must flip a line of barrels over a pole. Whoever flips all theirs faster, wins.
Degree of physical difficulty: Moderate. This is all strength, but it's not a Hall Brawl situation so Jenn might actually have a shot (a tiny, tiny, sliver of a shot) if she's been strength training and doesn't gas out.
Degree of mental difficulty: N/A. This is all physical.
Potential for drama: Low. Unless Jenn pulls out a surprise upset, Jenny is clearly coming back from this with a red skull.
Winner: Obviously Jenny. It's a total blowout. Before Jenn can even get one barrel flipped over, Jenny flips all 10 of hers without even breaking a sweat. She did most of them with only one hand! Easiest elimination win we've ever seen on this show? Yes. Least surprising outcome? Yes. Is Dee kicking herself for not throwing herself in? Yes. As she should.
Challenger of the week: Josh, for carrying double the weight of any other player during the challenge to make up for Jenn's failures. He also did it without complaining, just wanting to help her complete the challenge. Just an all-around impressive performance.
The Challenge: Total Madness airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on MTV.