We start with a skull and crossbones, which makes me think of pirates, which makes me think of Survivor: Pearl Islands. If Rupert Boneham’s fat, entitled ass drops by this season, I might hurt somebody. We flip to Ye Olden Map, as an arrow follows islands marked as “Battle of the Seasons,” “Battle of the Sexes,” “The Gauntlet” and “The Inferno.” In other words: every Challenge where the cast toured on buses and there was no voting process? Never happened. Another Jolly Roger pops up, and we see a human pyramid walking, a tug-of-war, and people pushing a vehicle. The arrow continues through the remaining seasons before hitting the X on the map. Arrrrr, there be media whores here.
We meet TJ Lavin, who will be hosting this season. TJ is a BMX pro, just like our medicated friend, Dave “Yo, Where’s Karamo At?” Mirra. Clips of TJ in action, and he does look impressive. “It’s a new game,” TJ tells us, “with new rules, and even a few new faces.” Yeah, four new Challengers would be a “few.” TJ tells us that all of our contestants have histories, and he will help us catch up. First, the rundown on the Rookies and Veterans teams:
Rookies: Jillian, Jodi, Kina, Ibis, Cameran, Cara, Susie, Jo, Landon, Jeremy, Alton, MJ, Jamie, Randy, Danny, Adam K.
Veterans: Ruthie, Jisela, Robin, Katie, Montana, Julie, Beth, Aneesa, Derrick, Brad, Adam L., Timmy, Mark, Syrus, Ace, David
TJ tells us that he needs help going through the cast, so he’s brought us panelists: Ruthie, Mark, Robin, Derrick, Katie and Beth. Annoyingly enough, they all basically say, “Hey, TJ!” as if they’ve known him for years.
We kick off with the guy TJ calls “one of the most experienced vets of all,” Mark. Oh, joy. There’s an old clip of him from Road Rules: Season One, before he turned to the dark side. There he is at the end of Battle of the Sexes, throwing the giant check to the side after finding out he just won a car. TJ tells us that his challenge this season won’t just include missions, as we see him with Robin. “When I’m there,” Mark interviews, “stuff usually happens between girls, and it usually turns out to be pretty bad.” Maybe if you didn’t take quantity over quality, that wouldn’t happen. Cut to Inferno II, where Robin and Tonya yell at each other, and Tonya loudly notes that Mark had them both. Mark tells us that he spent one night with Tonya, but Robin is his “number one.” Great...it’s the preview special, and I’m nauseous already. Cut to a current clip of Mark and Robin in the pool. TJ: “Robin is number one, but out of how many?” Robin interviews that she knows Jodi will be on this Challenge, and there’s something between her and Mark. Cut to Jodi asking Robin is she’s mad at her. TJ wonders what Robin will do now that she and Jodi are under the same roof. We get a clip of Robin outside the bathroom, telling Jodi not to cry over Mark. Robin interviews that it will be interesting to see what will happen with all three of them.
Our next profile is Robin. There she is getting arrested in San Diego. TJ calls calls her a “loveable troublemaker.” Wait, that’s Brad. Derrick doesn’t think she’ll do well, since she’s not a great athlete. Cut to her jumping over a rope held up by teammates. “If you piss her off enough,” Katie interviews, “I think she’ll definitely go after your ass.” Cut to her on the bus, grabbing Mark’s jaw, telling him to shut up. Mark actually looks pissed off, demanding to get off, going so far as to shake the camera.
TJ moves onward to Jodi, because we have so many Road Rules: X-Treme cast members here, and we gotta start somewhere. TJ: “She’s the Road Ruler who proved herself to be a tough competitor in past Challenges.” But she only did the one Challenge. Of course, we get the clip of Jodi losing in the Inferno to Veronica, as well as her breakdown. Thankfully, we’re spared the jeers of Rachel and Dan this time. Derrick interviews that she’s awesome, and that he has nothing else to say...except she’ll probably be making out with one of the boys. Cut to her and Mike fooling around from last season. Beth: “I think Jodi’s on her way for being the next Tonya.” Shut up, Beth. By the way, see how many times I tell Beth to zip it. Make a game of it!
TJ comes back to tell us that almost all of Jodi’s old cast members are here with her. Luckily, Angela and Patrick are not here with us. We do have Jillian, who was a substitute on her season. New clip of showing off in her swimsuit. Yowza. Hey, I’m a guy. Derrick interviews that Jillian is a cool and laid-back girl. “And she’s not that bad to good at,” he adds. Indeed.
Next up is Danny. No, he’s not the dumbass from Boston who just got engaged to Melinda. This Danny is gay and concussion-free. There he is suffering through the gross “eat every part of the cow and we do mean every part” mission. There he is in the first episode, all smiles. There he is saying goodbye after getting voted off by his castmates. TJ: “He may shine, or he may suck.” That’s true for everybody, isn’t it? Cut to Danny throwing a hissy fit at the cow mission. Ruthie interviews that he’s been working out, and he wants to redeem himself. Cut to a new clip, where Danny yells at his teammates about having gone six times. He ends it by yelling, “Kiss my fuckin’ ass, bitch!” Charming.
Stepping up for our criticism is Derrick, a Veteran who will be pitted against so many of his old teammates. New clips of him pulling on a rope and rolling around in red paint. Mark thinks Derrick is feisty. “If you’re in a Gauntlet with Derrick,” he adds, “you’re going to have a battle, because that kid is a pitbull.” Derrick interviews that he’ll give all that he has, and he doesn’t care if he breaks an arm. Cut to him looking a little drunk, getting ready to fight Brad, while Katie has to hold him back. Beth: “When Derrick comes to mind for me, I just think ‘ignorant’ and ‘stupid’.” Shut up, Beth. Ever look in a mirror?
The X-Treme train keeps on chuggin’ with Ibis. Derrick recalls the Bombs Away mission in BOTS2, where she ate a stick of butter faster than him. Cut to Ibis getting voted off, and getting a hug from Sophia. Derrick: “If you piss Ibis off, she’s gonna snap.”
Our final X-Treme player is Kina. TJ notes that she’s got friends, and she’s tough. We get a shot of her boxing another girl. Her hook this season? She’s close to Randy, whom TJ dubs “Big Rand.” Cut to the happy couple canoodling in the water. Robin iterviews that being in a couple makes the game easier, since they can trust each other.
Now we focus on Randy, whom TJ calls a “party boy with a heart of gold.” Cut to Randy running while carrying a large stick, but he ends up falling down. Mark labels Randy as a huge threat. “Hopefully,” he adds, “they can bounce him out of here early, and we’ll be at least relieved of his brains.” Cut to Big Rand dancing with Kina. Robin interviews that she’s never seen him like this. “He is totally whipped,” she adds. Bitter much?
Next up: Brad. The editors surprise us with a clip of him dressed up as Mario for Halloween. Cut to Inferno II, where he got an atomic wedgie, and he drunkenly yelled, “And now it’s a necklace!” Katie interviews that she and Derrick laughed at that for fifteen minutes. Mark: “I actually wake up in a sweat sometimes, screaming, ‘And now it’s a necklace!’” Cut to Brad’s defeat in the Inferno at the hands of Abram.
We move on to Cameran. Old clip of her trying to hug Brad, and another clip of them kissing in the hot tub. TJ labels her as Brad’s old crush. Wait...he wanted her? Seems so long ago. Cut to her in BOTS2, saying that the other people don’t seem very friendly. TJ tells us that Cameran was the first girl voted off BOTS2. No, that would be Genesis; Cameran was the first hetero gal kicked off. Would it kill MTV to fact check? Ruthie interviews that Cameran left before she found out her last name. Robin interviews that she loves Cameran, but Challenges are not her thing.
We see an old clip of Ace dancing like a dork in Paris, and breifly making out with Tonya in BOTS2. Cut to Ace bailing out of the “Bug Helmet” Inferno. TJ tells us that Ace has something to prove, since he was sent home first in his first Challenge, and kicked off second in his second Challenge. Ruthie interviews that nobody felt guilty about voting him off so early because “he’s just too nice!”
TJ calls Adam K. “Ace’s best friend.” Would that be with benefits? There’s Adam in his final mission, rubbing his butt on a block of ice. TJ tells us that this is Adam’s second Challenge, so we don’t know what to expect. I’m thinking “awful rapping,” but that’s just me. Cut to a clip of Katie joking that nobody knows Adam, while Jeremy playfully puts a hand in his face.
Moving on to the more obscure cast members, we have Jo, who replaced Puck back on RW: San Francisco. After an old clip, we see her on a cell phone. “It’s just so funny, Dad,” she says. “I swear to God, these people are absolutely insane.” Has Jo not seen this show? She’s been to two Real World reunions. Surely, she knows that these people aren’t exactly a stable bunch. Ruthie thinks there’s something shady about Jo. Cut to Ruthie trying to grab Jo, and Jo not wanting to be handled. Oh, and she wants to call the police. Robin: “To replace Puck, you gotta be a little bit crazy.” First of all, Mark was also up to replace the scabby one. Does that make him crazy? Secondly, I’d think to replace Puck, you’d have to not be a total jackass. Ruthie tries to hold onto Jo, which pisses her off some more. She stalk off, slapping a camera to the side. Cut to Jo getting into a police car. TJ notes that this is Jo’s first Challenge, but she’ll fit right in.
After commercials, TJ calls the Challenge a cross between the X-Games and a soap opera. He might be onto something. He gets back to the cast, starting with Landon, whom he calls “last season’s MVP.” Beating Dan and Karamo was no big deal, but he did outperform his teammates. Robin playfully bitches about how Landon has already won $57,000. She’s off by $500, but she has a point. Mark thinks that Landon is the most dangerous player. Cut to Landon and Derrick drunkenly fighting in Inferno II. TJ notes that Landon will have to watch his back. Derrick interviews that he’s trained to be better than Landon, since Landon was the best. Oh, and Derrick will “toss his ass.” Delightful image.
Next up is MJ, Landon’s best buddy from Philadelphia. Derrick interviews that all he knows about MJ is that he has big hair like Landon. “We may have to do some trimming,” he adds. Considering how Derrick once shaved a spot on Landon’s head, MJ might need to sleep with one eye open. TJ mentions that MJ was a college football star. Cut to MJ leaping off Alton’s back and over a rope. Ruthie goes into homage mode, showing off her muscles in salute to MJ’s “this right here” motions on his audition tape. Mark: “I will knock MJ’s block off faster than you can bat an eye. And I want you to know this, MJ.” If MJ smacks Mark, I’ll forgive the tobacco-chewing.
We go to a Battle of the Seasons clip, where Timmy snort-laughs for about ten seconds. They don’t show Mike prompting that by shouting “Road Rules blows!” That was a cute moment. Beth calls Timmy the “secret weapon” of the Veterans. Derrick: “I really don’t give a fuck about Timmy.” TJ notes that Timmy might look to avenge his loss from Seasons. One problem with that: he already did that by winning Inferno. Oh, and there might be potential conflict between the goofball and Susie. Mark tells us that Timmy and Susie were engaged for a while, and this might create tension.
As long as we’re here, let’s meet Susie. There she is in Australia, holding a cuddly koala bear. There she is holding a snake as she screams. How about the Aussie Rules football game where she ran into a crowd of horny schoolboys? TJ calls this her “first major Challenge.” If he means “the first Challenge she starts, as opposed to coming in halfway through the season,” then he’s right. Cut to a current clip, as she starts to break up about being sincere. “Susie is not as sweet and innocent as she will try to portray herself,” Ruthie interviews. “There’s definitely something about her that I don’t trust.”
Here comes Cara, our Princess of the Gauntlet. Current clip of her in the pool, yelling at somebody. Robin brings up Cara being in Playboy. Beth: “Quite honestly, all these girls are beautiful here, and any of these girls can be in Playboy if they really wanted to be. So there’s nothing really that special about you.” Shut UP, Beth! Did you know that Beth was in Playboy? I think Hef lost a bet or something. Derrick thinks that Cara’s shots looked wonderful. Mark: “I know that’s the only reason I know her.” Didn’t he fool around with her at one point? Yuck.
Next up is Jeremy. After we get a few RR: South Pacific clips, TJ tells us that he replaced Cara. No, Tina replaced Cara. Jeremy took the place of Donell, the bloated sack of fudge who had the decency to stay away from the BMP spotlight. TJ tells us that Jeremy is on the Rookie team, and he’ll be pitted against “good friend Julie.” Oh, Jeremy.
It’s time for Julie. First, we see her in Inferno, calling out Coral. Brief shot of her rappelling down a building. And here’s a new clip of her squeaking while climbing up a rope. And wouldn’t you know it, she’s praying. “Dear Lord! Please help me! To get the half-life!” Closed-captioning sucks, so I’m guessing “half-life” means immunity. Derrick: “She talks crazy stuff about God which I don’t appreciate sometimes, because me and God are close.” Cut to Julie telling Coral to shut her mouth. What kills me is David groaning “whhhhoooooaaaa” while Coral tears into Julie. Good times. Beth: “Julie and I have a lot in common, where I think that the two of us are both a little misunderstood.” Yeah, you two are so innocent. Shut up, Beth. Derrick calls Julie “a little bit cuckoo,” then brings up the time she tried to kill Veronica. Sure enough, there’s Julie and Veronica in the air, as Julie tugs on Veronica’s safety line. “There’s a thin line between sanity and insanity,” Ruthie interviews, “and I think a lot of times in competition, Julie tends to cross it.”
On a happier note, we get to meet Jamie, whom TJ calls a “hardcore competitor who keeps his cool.” He doesn’t say how Jamie keeps his cool, but we can guess. There’s Jamie winning BOTS1. There’s nothing from Extreme Challenge, so we don’t have to figure out why he’s with the Rookies. Cut to present-day Jamie, topless and singing. Mark notes that he and Jamie are on separate teams this time, and most of Jamie’s friends are Veterans. He adds, “Jamie’s actually to be a small fish in a big pond over there.” Isn’t that big fish, small pond?
Because you didn’t demand it: Beth. There she is in Inferno II, screeching to Tonya that she didn’t tell Robin that Tonya schupted Mark. TJ: “Beth has one of the longest rap sheets of all the Challenge veterans.” Cut to Beth telling Veronica that she’d sell her family up the river to win. Of course, Veronica and Rachel are grinning like goons, so Beth’s jabs have no effect. Ruthie: “Never believe anything that starts with ‘Beth said’.” Cut to Veronica telling Tonya that Beth is stirring up the waters. “I think she tends to create drama,” Ruthie adds, “where drama doesn’t exist.” Beth: “Me? Drama?” Yeah...you. Drama. Shut up. Derrick comments about how he doesn’t like Beth, and that she have negative energy. “She’s got this chuckle,” he continues, “that reminds me of a witch.” Cut to Beth laughing...and yep, she’s all “ha-ha-ha-haaaaaaa!” Double burn from Derrick and the editors. New clip of her pulling a cart and pushing a vehicle. TJ tells us that she’s not a strong competitor, “but she is really good at pissing people off.” New clip of Beth: “She’s lucky I didn’t fucking bitchslap her, okay?” How does Beth live? I don’t mean with herself...she’s obviously hollow inside. I just wonder why nobody kicks her ass. “If you come after me,” she interviews, “I’m going to come after you even harder.” I’ll take that under advisement this season. “That’s the way Beth operates.” And that’s why Jason wants you to shut up. Katie believes Beth doesn’t care what people think, and she almost admires that.
How about a cast member who doesn’t make us cringe? Well, here’s Syrus. Derrick thinks Syrus will do well, but others might gun for him. Ruthie brings up Syrus getting older, and younger folks are ready to “flip him.” Cut to Syrus shouting at a teammate and wrestling with Landon. TJ calls Syrus “old, but tenacious” There’s a cute clip of Derrick rubbing red paint on Syrus, who comments that he looks like a devil. Then he apologizes to his mother and crosses himself.
Here comes Montana. Old clip of her smoking...nothing from her getting fired from the community center, losing the Gauntlet to Katie, or “WHOOOOOOOORREEE!” We do see her pick up coconuts. Beth: “Montana gets away with being a yapper.” Cut to Beth accusing Montana of flipping out, which she denies. Back to Beth: “I’m definitely gonna check for knives in my back every morning from Montana.” Wait...you have fifteen teammates, most of whom hate your guts...and you’re worried about Montana? Shut up, Beth.
TJ moves on to Alton. New clip of him climbing a wall and dancing with a girl (Jodi, I think). TJ announces that Alton is “single and ready to mingle.” Katie interviews that he broke up with Irulan right before the Challenge. Awwww, and they were such a cute couple. Ruthie notes that Alton will probably “hit on every girl until one bites the bait.” Is that what the kids call it these days?
After a commercial break, TJ comes back to speed with David. Cue an old clip of him bawling to then-girlfriend Kira. Sadly, we don’t get “You don’t even KNNNOWWWW!” Cut to him getting beat in the Inferno by Katie. The best part? Dave Mirra in open-mouthed shock over the outcome. TJ informs us that this didn’t stop those two from hooking up. Katie interviews that they were involved for a year before breaking it off in time for the new Challenge. She adds that she’s having a hard time with it, and she doesn’t want to be crazy about it. Cut to Katie taking off her top, oblivious to not having anything on underneath. “As long as David doesn’t hook up with anyone in the house,” she notes, “I’ll be okay.” Derrick interviews that he’s good friends with Katie, and he’ll watch her back. “I don’t want David to use her or hurt her,” Derrick adds, “so I’ll be watching out for his actions toward her.” A Derrick/David fight might be something I’d like to see.
Now we officially move on to Katie. There she is yelling at Veronica in The Gauntlet. TJ: “She’s a chain smoker and not the most athletic of the bunch, but spite is a great motivator.” Of course, we go to Katie coming so close to ripping Veronica’s head off in Inferno. Sing along if you know the words! ““YOU ARE A SHORT! SCRAWNY! ACNE-FACED LITTLE [bleep] [bleep] !!” Anything else? “YOU HEARD ME, YOU FUCKIN’ WHORE!” Katie tries to lunge at Veronica while they’re being seperated. Good times. Mark: “I think it was the first time that I actually saw fear in Veronica’s eyes. When Katie snaps and gets mad, she’s not kidding around.” Katie tells us that if you piss her off, she’ll come for you. Ruthie: “Can’t fuck with Katie.”
Next up is Adam L. We get generic clips from The Gauntlet. No abuse of Sarah...not even the time he gave her a store-bought cake to make up for his meanness. Yes, I still have a grudge. However, we get a RR: The Quest clip where Jisela bangs on the RV window and yells at him, while he laughs like a tool. He had been honking the horn while she was calling home, but we don’t get that context. Cut to Jisela flipping out in the Tree House mission in BOTS. Katie interviews that everybody expects her and Jisela to hate each other, since Katie replaced her on Quest. Katie assures us that it’s not the case, and that Jisela is funny and nice. Cut to Jisela doing a mock news report next to Aneesa.
Our next featured Challenger is Ruthie. TJ: “Ruthie is a million miles away from her drunken beginning on Real World: Hawaii.” He adds that she’s one of the most popular cast members, and she’s the “Challenger to beat.” Cut to her getting mobbed after winning Dead Man’s Drop for her team. Cut to a current clip of her boxing another girl. Mark: “She can do stuff that I haven’t seen guys do, ever.” Beth notes that no girl wants to face Ruthie in the Gauntlet. Ruthie: “If somebody wants to mess with me, they’re just going to regret it. So nobody really does.” We see her in the final BOTS1 mission with Ellen and Lori. TJ brings up how she “narrowly lost” that mission, and that might cause friction with her and Mark. Wait...back in the BOTS2 preview, Mark said that his team beat the girls by an hour. That’s narrow? Cue to guys disassembling the girls’ puzzle, which allowed them to solve their own and move on to win. Mark interviews once again that the guys made a strategic move to win the money. Ruthie interviews that it should be interesting to be on the same team as that cheater Mark. “If she does have an ounce of bitterness,” Mark says, “she just has to let it go.”
Finally, we meet Aneesa. New clip of her diving into the pool. “When I say ‘Aneesa’,” Mark interviews, “I think trouble, but fun trouble.” Ruthie says that Aneesa would hug a person five minutes after fighting. Cut to Aneesa giving her team grief, followed by her being on top of a walking human pyramid. TJ tells us that she’s not known for being a great athlete, but rather for her trash-talking. That’s news to me. Beth: “Isn’t she like a low-class stripper, at strip clubs by the airport?” What the hell? Shut UP, Beth! Cut to Aneesa in the pool with Mark. Robin: “Are you gay, are you straight, or are you just greedy?”
TJ brings us the new rules. Actually, our panelists give us the skinny...and man, it’s overly complex. The teams compete in missions. Each team has a captain. The losing team’s captain goes into the Gauntlet against a team member. Apparently, either the captain picks somebody, or the team votes somebody in. Whoever wins the Gauntlet becomes captain, while the loser goes home. This is confusing. First of all, the “captain” concept brings me back to “leaders” in BOTS2, and that makes me cringe. Secondly...what was wrong with the first Gauntlet format? Both teams choose somebody to go in. Why muck with that? And I’m guessing that the Gauntlets will be guy/guy and girl/girl. Gender-specific endgames bug me. Katie: “It’s gonna be a debacle of madness.” Mark: “It’s a huge powder keg, and alls you need is someone to flcik that spark. And believe me, someone is gonna flick it.”
Clips from the new season. David yells out the window, “Oh, what a fun day in Tobago!” TJ blows an airhorn. Guys and girls run in swimwear. Guys climb on a cargo net. Two girls, tethered to each other, run in opposite directions. Two girls wrestle. Two guys wrestle. Aneesa: “Suck my [bleep], bitch!” Syrus looks wiped out. Kina (I think) cries, “I hate this so fucking bad!”
Brad dances with Aneesa and her Mohawk hair. Robin shimmies on her own. Randy tells Kina that he’s not worried about the money, and this is about being here with her. Susie and another girl peck lips. Mark and Robin kiss.
The teams roll giant fake boulders. The teams push pickup trucks. They climb up walls. Dive over ropes. A girl falls off a rope and into the water. A girl crawls through tires suspended in the air. A guy rolls around in blue paint. Syrus: “You have to go NOW!” Tug-of-war. Timmy pulls a cart. Derrick: “You’re the meanest person I’ve ever fucking known.” Guys fight. More jumbled images. Mark grabs a camera, screaming that he has to get out.
And that’s that. TJ tells us to tune in starting December 5, which is this Monday. I’ll look forward to watching it, and I hope you look forward to my recaps.