The Challenge: Total Madness recap: A brutal headbanger elimination results in injury
Whenever there's a headbanger elimination on The Challenge, the odds of a major injury occurring are high. And with Rogan constantly threatening that he's going to "throw [Jay] around like a rag doll," things came to a brutal head on this week's episode of Total Madness. Let's get right into it.
After deciding there's a weird feeling in the bunker, Big T, Kailah, Bear, and Tori make a ouija board and attempt to communicate with spirits. It's just the kind of insanity you'd expect from a group of people who have been trapped in a bunker for weeks without fresh air. But it's also exactly the thing that makes Kailah more interested in Bear, which worries Jenna (and the rest of us). Bear keeps talking about how he's going to "get" Kailah, and this is a train wreck that you can't stop watching. Jenna confronts Kailah about it later but she says she's just bored in the bunker and she wouldn't risk anything with her boyfriend back home for something with Bear. Mhm. Sure.
But we also get a cameo from Challenge alum Zach, who's been dating Jenna on and off for six years (they've been "on" for two). Jenna video chats with him and says something about wanting to start a family soon in her talking head interview, but based on the trailer for this season, we know something is going to cause them to fight over a video chat; it doesn't happen in this one. What was the point of us seeing this conversation about nothing? Is it just setting up the major fight that's coming later?
Elsewhere in the bunker, Rogan wants to go into Purgatory and take out Jay, who knows he's still not safe even with two red skulls. Wes and Josh bicker on treadmills. And then Wes and Jordan get into a fight about how to best fix the astroturf in the gym when it gets a little wrinkled. Jordan holds a salami in Wes's face and tells him to "talk into [his] d---," and things take a turn. Wes tells Jordan, "You will not talk to me the way you talk to your wife." Cory's giddy on the sidelines, since two of the best male players in the bunker are now fighting, which means they have a high chance of going head-to-head in Purgatory. "That's good for my game," he says, proving that he's definitely learned a thing or two in his time away from the show. Wes and Dee start to conspire about getting Jordan thrown into elimination, and the game is on. But don't they remember Jordan's impressive elimination record? They could just be handing him his red skull.
The Challenge: Bomb Squad
T.J. rolls up in a car that's literally driving on its side, and he proudly claims that this challenge is "gonna be sick." Played in randomly selected teams of four, the players must work together to set off a bomb. Player 1 sits in the car being driven on its side and reads math equations on shipping containers as they drive by, communicating the equations through a radio to player 2, who must then solve the equation and run the resulting number to player 3. Player 3 uses the number to decode a puzzle and run the corresponding color rods to player 4, who then runs the rods to the detonator. If the color rods are correct, the detonator explodes the bomb. The team that detonates the bomb the fastest becomes the Tribunal of Four.
Team 1: Jay, Kailah, Wes, and Nany. Team 2: Tori, Bear, Dee, and Bananas. Team 3: Mattie, Rogan, Nelson, and Big T. Team 4: Kaycee, Swaggy C, Josh, and Jenny. Team 5: Melissa, Bayleigh, Kyle, and Cory. Team 6: Fessy, Aneesa, Jordan, and Jenna.
Degree of physical difficulty: Low. This relay relies mostly on mental ability, but runners have a chance to make up time.
Degree of mental difficulty: High. It's all math. Most of these players can't do math. This will be entertaining, to say the least.
Potential for drama: Moderate. Rookie Jay is still being targeted despite having two red skulls and taking out CT, so he's likely going into elimination again if he doesn't make the Tribunal.
Winner: With a lead of only two seconds, Team 4 (Kaycee, Swaggy C, Josh, and Jenny) beats Team 6.
Team 1 messes up immediately when Jay misses the first equation, so they get eliminated. Team 2 isn't off to a much better start when Bear doesn't hear Bananas give the beginning of their equation, so they get eliminated as well. Team 3 is the first to get their entire equation thanks to Mattie and Rogan, and Rogan tells Nelson their number. He also yells out the coded colors, essentially doing Nelson's job for him. But Big T puts in the colors told to her and the bomb doesn't explode, which means Rogan got the math equation wrong. They're eliminated. Team 4 has Swaggy C on the math. He says he was a day trader so he does the equation in seconds. They detonate the bomb, becoming the first team to finish. Team 5 gets the right numbers but Cory doesn't know where to put the colored rods, adding time to their total as he fumbles around. Team 6 also finishes quickly, with Jenna smiling as she runs and detonates the bomb.
Tribunal: The winning team of Kaycee, Swaggy C, Josh, and Jenny form this week's Tribunal, making Swaggy C officially the rookie to watch at this point.
Jay hopes that Wes's mission to get the house to vote for Jordan means he won't see yet another elimination since he's been in both male eliminations so far. Jordan says he's happy to go in, knowing he can perform in eliminations and has the record to prove it. But Wes gets advice from his secret alliance member Bananas, who rightly points out that coming after a "player of Jordan's caliber" is not the smart call, and it's still strange to see these two working together. When Nany sees them talking, she starts to figure out that they've got a secret alliance.
At nominations, Wes burns his vote on Kyle, heeding Bananas' advice to lay low and un-ruffle Jordan's feathers. Nelson then kicks off the real votes by saying Bear's name, and Jay follows suit with Cory next. But Rogan votes for Jay, who makes a good argument that if he keeps stealing skulls, everyone else's shot at getting into the final will diminish. Bear votes for Jay, and then Bananas and Kyle do too. Fessy votes Bear, Jordan votes for himself (!), Kailah votes Jay, and then Dee votes for Jay since Rogan would be "miserable" without Bear in the bunker, which would, in turn, make her miserable (barf), and then everyone else votes for Jay, sending him into his third straight elimination. Rogan starts campaigning the Tribunal to send him in against Jay if it looks like a physical challenge.
After a night out at a bar, Bear keeps wearing Kailah down, and while brushing their teeth in the bathroom, he makes his move. And she makes out with him. Yikes. She thought the cameras didn't catch any of it, but they got it all.
The next morning, the Tribunal picks Rogan, Wes, and Nelson for interrogation. Rogan says he wants to go in, Nelson pleads for his safety, and Wes says he'll never come for Josh because he only goes after people that can beat him in a final (brutal yet solid burn). "You can come for me all you want, I am not here to get rid of the worst player here," Wes adds, twisting the knife.
Jay tries to convince/goad Rogan into going against him in the elimination regardless of whether it's physical or a puzzle. He wants Rogan to put up or shut up. And walking into Purgatory, it's clear that this is a headbanger, so Rogan wants it. T.J. calls out the rest of the guys for sending in Jay again, saying it's "ridiculous" in a game where you need to go into an elimination and win to qualify for the final. And then T.J. drops a hint that you never know how many opportunities they'll have to go into elimination, meaning there will be a purge moment of some kind coming, so they need to get their red skull as early as possible. The Tribunal votes for Rogan, and he steps into the sand.
Elimination challenge: Normally called Balls In, this time it's Fireball. Because the ball is now on fire. A Challenge classic and a total headbanger, players must score a goal in the center of the ring while their opponent plays defense. First to three goals wins. And again, the ball will literally be on fire. Talk about a level up!
Degree of physical difficulty: High. This is a headbanger, and injuries have occurred in the past when players get too rough.
Degree of mental difficulty: N/A. This is all physical.
Potential for drama: High. Rogan and Jay have wanted to go after each other all season thanks to Dee's drama. Rogan has been threatening to get physical with Jay and now's his chance. But Jay is undefeated in eliminations, and Rogan has never been in one before after begging to stay out of it all last season.
Winner: N/A. In the first round with Jay on offense, Rogan throws him down on the ground so hard that he can't get up. It looks like his arm may be broken, but we don't find out because the episode ends on a cliffhanger. How badly hurt is Jay? Can he continue in elimination or has he been DQed due to an injury? It does not look good.
Challenger of the week: Regardless of how this elimination ends, Jay is by far the MVP for going into his third straight elimination with the best attitude. He was excited about the ball getting lit on fire, wanted to go against Rogan even though it was physical, and never showed fear. Hopefully, he's okay and can continue in the elimination, but even if he goes home, this definitely won't be the last time we see Jay on The Challenge. He's 2-0 in eliminations so far (not counting this one); he beat CT, and if he loses this one, it's because of an injury. Plus, you can't beat that positive, enthusiastic attitude. He's the perfect competitor.