The Challenge: Total Madness recap: Relationships implode on and off the show
Relationships take center stage on this week's episode of The Challenge: Total Madness, both on the show and off. But first, we finally find out what happened with Jay and Rogan's elimination that ended in a cliffhanger last week.
The episode picks right back up with Jay on the ground, unable to get up after Rogan's first tackle. But medics and producers check him out and conclude that he only got the wind knocked out of him. They all want Jay to take a beat, drink some water, and rest for a bit, but he's ready to go again immediately. In his second attempt, Jay tries to throw the ball into the center so he doesn't get tackled by Rogan again, but he misses the basket. His third attempt gets closer, but Rogan throws it out of the center again. It's clear from the other players' reactions that this elimination is as fun for them to watch in person as it is for viewers at home — i.e., not fun at all. If Rogan wins, this won't be remembered as an iconic elimination.
When it resets for Rogan's three attempts on offense, Jay calls a producer over and asks what the rules are. She tells him, and he immediately asks her the rules again. He also doesn't remember that he just went three rounds on offense. The producers gets another medic to check him out again, and she doesn't clear him for another round. He has to go to the hospital for a CT scan to check for a concussion. T.J. announces that Jay has been medically disqualified and he's sent home from the season, but T.J. says he's "positive" we'll see Jay again on The Challenge. After his incredible performance in eliminations, his positive attitude even though he kept getting thrown in every week, and his not wanting to quit even after he wasn't medically cleared to continue, it's a no-brainer. Jay has become a Challenge favorite in record time.
What's less clear is why Rogan is given a red skull. He didn't win this elimination outright; it ended early because of an injury. Of course, in previous seasons elimination injuries meant whoever was injured went home and their opponent stayed, so they won by not getting sent home. But with this red skull twist, it shouldn't be that simple. You have to win an elimination to qualify for the finale, and Rogan never actually scored against Jay. T.J. gets the final say, however, so Rogan is now the only guy in the house who can run the final. Ugh.
But on to the relationship drama we knew was coming: Zach and Jenna. Every time she's on a season and he isn't, there still manages to be drama between them that makes it onto the show. And he's been dodging her calls while she's been away this season, even though it's still early. So she thinks something is going on back at home. Meanwhile, Bear's exploits breaking down Kailah's resistance despite her boyfriend she lives with back home are spreading around the bunker. And everyone except Kailah knows she's making a huge mistake with a serial cheater like Bear, but she's starting to break down from the anxiety of it all.
Jenna finally gets her friend on the phone, who reveals that while she's been away, Zach looked at her Instagram DMs (from two years ago!) and is having a meltdown over some messages from when they weren't even together. He wants her to come home. Jenna tells her friend that if her being gone is "affecting his mental health," she shouldn't be away filming this season. He's been on seasons without her and she never made him quit; why doesn't she get the same treatment, especially since he's mad about things that happened while they were on a break? Based on what we've seen from their relationship, this isn't healthy, and if it causes Jenna to give up her shot at getting her first win, that would be unforgivable. Nany and Aneesa try to talk some sense into Jenna and get her to stay, but they both know Jenna will do anything to make Zach happy, even if she'll regret it later.
When Tori and Jordan talk to Jenna, Tori says if she was in Jenna's position, she would leave and go home to Jordan. Jordan says the opposite: He would stay and hope that Tori would respect his choice to handle his business, and they could work it out when he got home. Tori also thinks out loud in her talking-head interview that if Jenna goes into elimination, this could be her shot to win against someone whose head isn't in the game. That's ice cold! But also… not wrong.
Elsewhere in the bunker, Bananas and Wes decide to stir the pot (shocking) on Bear and Kailah's fling by redecorating a few beds to make a double for them to sleep on, but they tape photos of Kailah and her boyfriend all around it. The photos really set Kailah off, and she throws her dishes in the kitchen and storms off, saying she wants to go home.
Jenna finally gets Zach on the phone, and he says she has "not been forthcoming about who [she is] as a person" and that she's "lied about every single thing in [her] life." He's convinced she's cheated on him based on messages he found in her DMs (again, from when they weren't even together). This seems so childish, and it's clear she's going to cave. It's heartbreaking to see. She tells him she's coming home, and he says they can try to work on things. She says she loves him and he refuses to say it back to her because "that's how bad it is."
Nany tries to convince Jenna to stay and brings up some great points, but Zach has already ruined this shot for Jenna. She's checked out, and everyone in the house knows it. As a Challenge champion himself, he of all people should understand how important it is for her to stay and go for the win. But he's being selfish. Shocker.
Meanwhile, it's revealed to viewers that Wes knows Bayleigh and Swaggy C since they live in the same city, but no one else in the house knows they're aligned — both in the game and outside as friends. Not even Wes' secret ally Bananas knows about this. Twist!
The Challenge: Fast and Furious
Before the challenge begins, T.J. tells the group he's been hearing about some things going down in the bunker and he's not happy with the idea that people want to quit. Jenna knows he's talking about her and she's embarrassed, but she decides she wants to be here to compete. That's my girl! Even though she knows Zach might not be able to wait for her to return home, she's picking what's best for her (finally!), and I couldn't be more proud.
On to the challenge! On the largest moving rig this show has ever had, inspired by F9, and played in pairs, teams will be tethered together on a moving truck and retrieve puzzle pieces magnetized on the walls. Once they get all the pieces, they must climb on top of the truck and solve the puzzle. Whoever solves it fastest, wins. Since there's an odd number, a guy is randomly selected to go twice, and it's Jordan. Tori's pumped about this, knowing that he's going to sabotage whichever partner he's with if it isn't her — anything to help her get her red skull. He can also get into the Tribunal and pick her to be in the Tribunal with him.
Team 1: Jordan and Nany. Team 2: Swaggy C and Dee. Team 3: Kyle and Big T. Team 4: Josh and Tori. Team 5: Fessy and Jenna. Team 6: Cory and Mattie. Team 7: Nelson and Aneesa. Team 8: Rogan and Jenny. Team 9: Bananas and Melissa. Team 10: Bear and Kaycee. Team 11: Wes and Kailah. Team 12: Jordan and Bayleigh.
Degree of physical difficulty: High. This combines strength and endurance, plus heights.
Degree of mental difficulty: Moderate. It's a puzzle, but not the hardest we've seen. The addition of the moving truck and the crazy height will trip up some teams.
Potential for drama: Moderate. Tori wants to go against Jenna in Purgatory, and Bayleigh believes this is her shot to get a red skull. It will all come down to whoever wins and makes it into the Tribunal.
Winner: Despite going first, Jordan and Nany have the fastest time. The only other two teams who finish are Bananas and Melissa, and Kaycee and Bear, with eight seconds separating all three teams.
Jordan realizes right away that he only has to use his legs to stay on the truck wall, making it easier to grab pieces with both hands. They get their pieces quickly. Dee struggles with the climbing. Josh immediately kicks a puzzle piece, so when he and Tori go up and solve their puzzle, they're shocked that they don't have all of them. A producer tells them what happened, and Tori is pissed. Jenna and Fessy collect their pieces quickly but one. Cory and Mattie have the exact same problem. Aneesa drops a puzzle piece, eliminating her and Nelson. He immediately accuses her of throwing the challenge. Nelson… seriously? His attitude is the worst it's ever been this season. Rogan can't reach his final piece. Bananas has Melissa grab her pieces before he grabs his, and they get all their pieces and solve their puzzle quickly. Kaycee and Bear get all their pieces too, but solve theirs after Bananas and Melissa. For Jordan's second run, Bayleigh misses a piece on her side and has to climb back down to get it, slowing their time. They can't solve the puzzle in time, and Bayleigh accuses Jordan of throwing the challenge to help his friend Nany get into the Tribunal. But he rightly points out she missed a piece and had to climb back down to get it, which threw off their chance at winning.
Side note: Is Kaycee's only role this season to repeat what the rules of the daily challenges are? The most we've seen her speak is to just reiterate what we already know about the challenge, during the challenge. It's getting kind of hilarious, but I want to see what she's made of. Do her talking-head interviews just suck? Is this all the producers have to show of her?
Tribunal: Nany picks Jenna as the third member of the Tribunal, which is shocking since we all thought Jordan would pick Tori automatically. But he wants the power to choose who Tori goes against. It's risky and relies heavily on Jenna and Nany's choice of going into elimination themselves.
But we won't find out if that gamble pays off, because the episode ends there (since we got an elimination at the beginning of the hour). I hate when seasons get out of whack with the episode structures, and recent seasons have been great about keeping daily challenges, nominations, and eliminations in order in each episode. Hopefully this doesn't throw the rest of the season's structure into chaos, and this is only because of Jenna and Kailah's drama.
Challenger of the week: This week it's split between Jenna for staying and Jay (again) for wanting to continue to compete even though he most definitely had some kind of concussion.
The Challenge airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.
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