Score your fantasy league, nod your head at our observations, reflect on the 90 minutes that was MTV’s The Challenge Battle of the Exes 2 (BOTE2) Premiere!
SEASON 26 EP 1 (318th episode in the series)
Title: Where is the Love? (like the Black Eyed Peas song)
The cast arrives in Panama (moving on up north* from last season’s Uruguay location).
*a direction not understood by many Challenge cast members, see Stage 2 of the finale episode of Free Agents.
T.J. does his host thing, welcoming the cast and then bringing out 9 rookies: 4 cast members from Are You The One?, 4 from Real World Ex-plosion and Averey from Real World Portland. The Challenge Season 26 brings 26 competitors total. Cool how they did it like that, or, more likely, a total coincidence. Nevertheless, T.J. announces the format (Battle of the Exes 2) and reveals the couples (information we already knew).
As Jemmye notes, some people are unsure who their paired up with due to their promiscuous past. Most notably confused is Nany, who may have thought her partner would be Johnny Portland because she probably has no idea who Averey is. Nevertheless, Bananas and Nany are a team (Team Banany, in fact). They had an apparent off-camera hook up before ever being on a challenge together. The rest of the cast is surprised to hear of this, too. Bananas acknowledges this in vague terms, as if he’s determined to play along but not be caught lying.
A bit of history is described with each pairing. The pairs that were in the most serious and, therefore, can most appropriately be described as actual exes are: Diem & CT, Jonna & Zach, Jemmye & Knight, Averey & Johnny Portland, Jay & Jenna and Thomas & Hailey.
It is, however, notable that even though they just hooked up, Theresa seems to really hate Wes.
The last pair introduced is MTV’s favorite Challenge “love” story: Diem & CT. Diem declares this “The History of CT & I: Volume Seven-hundred and five-two,” which is not a number (yet). To no surprise, MTV goes into their history a bit deeper than others. REMINDER: They came in 2nd in the first installment of Battle of the Exes, behind Bananas and Camila.
T.J. breaks down how the game works:
Challenge losers get automatically sent to the elimination round.
Challenge winners are the Power Couple, safe from elimination AND able to choose a team to be sent to the elimination round to battle the Challenge losers.
And it’s all for the prize money: Winners get $250,000, 2nd place gets $70,000 and 3rd place $15,000.
What they’d do with the money:
Jonna – start a hair extension line (bad idea)
Zach – open up a crossfit gym (bad idea)
Nany – open up her own bar… because she’s a bartender (bad idea)
Brittany – pay off student loans (good idea)
Wes – take his dog on a ridiculous vacation (welcome back, Wes)
The cast is introduced to the house they’ll be staying at in Panama. It’s a gorgeous house with a pool and alcohol, of course.
People claim their rooms. Rookies join together (can we call their section of the house “the freshman dorms”?). Dustin decides to room with “the guys” (veterans) which he also calls, “the heavy hitters.” He declares that as much as the game is his mission, making friends is his mission. With Dustin’s questionable intellect, it’s unclear if he really just wants buddies or if he is actually strategically positioning himself for a potential alliance.
Bananas gives his signature toast (a reference to a speech from the movie “Lone Survivor”) and the cast sizes each other up a bit.
Wes loves to gossip, so based on rumors, he asks Jay if he hooked up with anyone (which is really Jessica and/or Jemmye). Jay denies with a grin, but says in the interview that he “hung out” with Jessica when she was up in New York for a reunion show (presumably Free Agents) and that he kissed Jemmye a long time ago.
Wes is such a high school girl with this stuff. I mean that to be both a compliment and a jab.
Zach, reminding us that he has entertainment value, by accurately making a creative Jay looks like an elf comment, saying: “I can’t believe the one dude in the house getting action is the one that looks like Santa’s helper.”
The house has a wave of high school gossip going through it from this. Dustin questions Jessica, using the “I need to know everything about you because we’re partners” angle. Jessica, who doesn’t deny the alleged hook up, finds Dustin’s pestering annoying because it is.
The clue for the challenge mentions heights and being ready at 5:30am, two things not all cast members are excited for.
CT asks Diem what she needs, as a teammate. She just wants to win and we cut to her discussing her issues with cancer and how her ovaries were removed so if she wants kids she will need a surrogate and it will be expensive. Le sigh. So sad.
The cast is brought into Panama City for their first challenge. The task “I Got You, Babe” is to go from one building to another on a tight rope 500 feet above the street. The men will be in Superman position suspended above the women, holding a rope they will use to drag the men across the tight rope.
Jay claims heights is his only fear. Meanwhile, Leroy looks terrified. He didn’t watch any heights videos on YouTube before the season to conquer this the way he learned how to swim by watching videos?
The challenge is based on trust, something MTV harps on very heavy-handedly in the episode… constantly reminding us that these are exes.
Because this is the first challenge, the order is randomly decided (as opposed to chosen by the power couple).
This tight rope walk was probably more difficult than MTV anticipated as the women dragging along the men is tough as most of these guys are muscular and the women are an average size 4.
Jessica & Dustin are the first to disqualify, but many did.
The pairs who actually completed the tight rope walk were: Averey & Johnny Portland, Diem & CT, Theresa & Wes, and Hailey & Thomas.
The pairs who fell the earliest were: Jemmye & Knight and Brittany & Adam.
WINNING PAIR/POWER COUPLE: Theresa & Wes (15 points each)
LOSING PAIR: Brittany & Adam
Back at the house, Jemmye, Sarah, Brittany, Jonna, Nany and others talk about what they think will go down. Jemmye feels the easy choice is to throw in the rookies of the rookies, the other Are You The One pair (JJ & Simone), but because it’s Wes, he could do anything. Nany comments on how shady Theresa was not during the filming of Free Agents, but from what she saw in the airing of last season. Nany declares Wes & Theresa the shadiest pair in the house.
Meanwhile, Wes & Theresa are awarded a Power Couple dinner. This is MTV’s setup of a really awkward date. It serves to be a time and place for the pair to discuss who they will throw into the Dome (elimination) against the losing pair, Brittany & Adam.
Wes wants to throw in Bananas, who has thrown him in 7 times over the years (he’s keeping count!). Theresa suggests Jessica & Dustin, but also gives Wes the power to do whatever he wants. She says, “just be smart, please.” That’s quite the request.
Wes loves this power, so he goes around to have some meetings to flaunt it. He meets with Thomas and Jay, acknowledges their rookie alliance has some numbers (4 teams) and suggest he be a silent partner to the rookie alliance. He tells them he is going for a veteran. Thomas and Jay smile and nod.
Wes approaches Jessica and Dustin and tells them they are a possibility to be thrown in, saying they are “too athletic to be cancelled out.” Wes mentions that the rookies have good numbers, which is an acknowledgment of Jessica and Dustin’s lack of alliance. Dustin suggest the “You Are the One” team, but Wes has already decided that it’s between them and Bananas. Dustin and Jessica don’t offer loyalty, alliance or anything. They just kinda sit there.
After Wes departs, Dustin pouts about how he has no friends in the house. He recalls his gay porn past and conveniently blames a lack of alliance on it. “I’m don’t know if I feel judged, but I definitely don’t feel like one of the guys.” I dunno… none of these cast members are model citizens or the moral police. But maybe it’s easier for Dustin to chalk it up to his past than accept that he’s failed to play the politics and/or make friends with his fellow crazy MTV cast members.
By discussing his past and showing he’s vulnerable, Jessica feels a bond with Dustin. While his gay porn past may not have won him any friends, it serves to be a touching moment bond for the pair somehow? Or it maybe works for Dustin here as a pick up angle? What the? How? Oh, Jessica. You make no sense.
Wes brags about his power to Bananas, mentioning he may throw Bananas in for elimination. Bananas thinks Wes is an idiot for not attacking the low-hanging rookie fruit at this stage in the game. Bananas reminds Wes that if he does this and Bananas survives, a likely outcome, it’s war. Wes enjoys making Bananas worry because he loves the power SO MUCH.
We finally get to T.J. asking who Wes & Theresa are putting in and he goes for Jessica & Dustin. Dustin immediately asks why. Wes replies, “you know, there’s old and there’s young and you guys are kinda both. And I don’t wanna piss off old or young.” See Dustin, no one cares about your gay porn!
Jordan is confident in Jessica & Dustin, who have a pep talk. She feels like they are closer now. How sweet.
Brittany & Adam get pumped by working up Brittany to take her anger for Adam out on Jessica.
Going into this Dome, we knew from paying attention to the season preview special last week that Brittany & Adam win, because we saw them making out and that scene hadn’t occurred in the episode.
The Dome “elimination” challenge* is an interesting one. With hands and feet tied to poles, the partners face each other and have to climb a ladder. This takes communication so they can move in unison to get up the top and ring the bell first.
*Noted as such since they are not truly eliminated, but sent down to a lower level Ex-ile where they can win their way back in.
Pre-climb Jessica and Dustin talk about how their issue was not knowing each other well. Um, what? They don’t need to know each other, they need to work together and have a strategy. These two deserve each other.
While it’s close for most of the climb, about three-quarters of the way to the top, Jessica & Dustin fall and have to start from the bottom. Brittany & Adam know they merely have to proceed slow and steady, take advantage of their favorable position and win easily. Adam is so excited he tells Brittany he loves her. They win.
Jessica & Dustin are sad. Dustin’s ego seems to have issue with them being eliminated first. Jessica is disappointed she let her partner down cause “it’s not just me in this game.” Yeah, it’s a pairs game. We notice.
They are both very upset after the leave and we had to look at the clip several times to determine if
crying points were warranted. The final verdict: no clear crying yields no crying points.
The episode concludes with Jessica & Dustin watching a low-def-looking possible VHS video of T.J. giving them the basic concept of Battle of the Ex-iled, the relegation elimination that will pin “eliminated” pairs against each other and at some point allow one pair to rejoin the competition.
This is Sarah’s 8th Challenge and she hasn’t won… yet? Foreshadowing?
Jordan describes himself as a model in New York City. Unsure if he’s joking or not with that statement.
Oh, the new kids. Thomas says, “I’m 22 years old and I’m single and very ready to mingle… if you catch my drift… like sex.” Thanks for clarifying a drift that most certainly could not be missed. I would not bet on him in a puzzle challenge.
At some point, rookies Jenna and Brittany admire Zach’s hulk-like physique. As we learned from the season preview, Zach and Jenna will at least make out, so this is another MTV edit foreshadow of that.
From Michael: “I cringed when Diem was talking about having kids. Basically, any time she talks, I am sad.”
From Rachel: “How long are Dustin and Jessica hanging out in this Elimination House? What are the chances they hook up while in there with their new-found bond based on his fun gay porn past?”
Scoring for Episode 1 was easy as it was too introductory to have drama:
Wes – 15 points
Theresa – 15 points
Brittany – 25 points
Adam – 25 points
A link to the excel file is here: BOTE2 Scores – Ep1
Best player performances of the episode: Brittany & Adam (25 points each)
Worst player performance of the episode: Many players scored 0 points in this premiere episode.