The Challenge has always been a heavily edited show—the main thing that keeps it from feeling like an actual sport is the fact that every elimination challenge comes with about 600 camera cuts—but we can’t remember it ever being this boosted in post-production. Total Madness is flying through camera filters and low-grade graphics; it’s taking HUGE swings from the editing room. It’s, quite simply, astonishing. So, every week, we’ll collect the best moments of each episode in screenshots, sometimes adding context, sometimes letting the image itself speak a thousand words.
Previously... on The Blacklist
No, seriously. That is Jordan making a cameo on last Friday’s episode of NBC’s The Blacklist. (What a way to find out that The Blacklist is still on!) And The Blacklist really found a way to utilize all of Jordan. “Your cell is next to Ruel’s—any idea how his fingerprint ended up at a crime scene?” The Blacklist lady asks Jordan.
He shakes his head, then says (and I swear to god this is not a joke), “You’re asking the wrong guy. When it comes to fingerprints—I’m no expert.” Then the camera pans down to his hand:
I mean, wow. Just incredible stuff. Network TV is not dead.
But beyond the amazing fact that this even exists, it’s just good to know that Jordan might’ve actually had a legitimate reason to grow that horrible cartoon-villain facial hair.
More than 45 minutes elapse in this episode of The Challenge before we even see a shred of athletic competition. That can mean only one thing: Things are POPPING OFF. Three episodes ago, I wrote that living in a bunker was clearly getting to these already-on-edge reality TV stars, and wow, I did not even realize how much worse things could get. The fire extinguisher episode was nothing.
Our first escalation of the episode occurred when Nelson got overly upset about his own assumption that everyone in the bunker was giving Tori an easy path to the final. (As he proves basically every season, Nelson is a self-destructing idiot who will never win one of these things.) When Kailah begins to defend herself and her friend Jenna, Nelson goes for the jugular by bringing up her tryst with Bear. Which is when we get a great shot of Bear being like, “Ah shit I hope no one realizes they’re talking about me”:
Then Nelson really loses it—again, for basically no reason—and tells Kailah that she is “the foulest woman here.” Josh is all like ...
And when Nelson triples down and says, “Go get fucked in a port-a-potty again,” Josh is all like ...
And everyone else is all like ...
“Who said she got fucked in a port-a-potty, who said that?” Bear asks. It’s a good question that Nelson never answers. I, too, would like to know who said that, because there is a huge difference between kissing in a public bathroom (which Kailah did) and having sex in a port-a-potty (which Kailah did not do … at least not on The Challenge).
“I’m honestly losing it, to be honest with you,” Nelson says in a confessional, seemingly immediately realizing that: (1) It’s a bad look to be openly disrespectful to woman and (2) in a game that prioritizes having allies, it’s monumentally stupid to make so many enemies for no reason. But considering that this whole blowup sprang from Nelson apologizing to Aneesa for disrespecting her, I’m gonna go ahead and guess that this will not be the last time Nelson does something like this.
Elsewhere, this whole situation somehow works out perfectly for Bear. (Total Madness is truly the Season of the Bear.) Two episodes ago Bear was pretending to call Kailah’s boyfriend and tell him that his girlfriend was cheating on him, but now he looks like a saint to Kailah for standing up in the middle of her fight and taking the absolutely saintlike stance of “you shouldn’t call girls sluts.” That’s legitimately all it takes to make Kailah melt into Bear’s arms and completely throw away the three-year relationship she had with a guy with whom she lives. (We haven’t seen her actually break up with the guy yet, but she’s certainly operating like a single woman.)
“I came into this whole thing with a committed boyfriend that’s a great guy,” Kailah says. “But I feel like everything was moving towards, like, the marriage route? Which I know I’m not ready for? And Bear might’ve just confirmed that? It sucks but if I was gonna choose anyone to go through this with—or make this mistake with—I’m happy that it’s Bear.”
Later in the episode, Kailah offhandedly tells the camera, “I have no control of my life right now.”
Let It Be Trash, Bro
The second escalation of the episode is between Nany—a legendary mess—and Aneesa. Nany is drunk at the one bar the cast is allowed to go to this season and hitting on Kaycee, who has a girlfriend. Presumably trying to help Kaycee avoid becoming Kailah 2.0, Aneesa is like, “Hey, don’t cheat on your significant other.”
Nany overhears this and just goes off. She and Aneesa get in each other’s faces, and though Aneesa tries to diffuse the situation, Nany is having none of that:
“Let it be trash, bro”—this is the new slogan of The Challenge.
But the fight doesn’t end there. It gets way messier (and way funnier) once everyone returns to the bunker. “What the hell has happened to Nany?” Melissa wonders. “She’s walking around the bunker, she’s got a cup of noodles … it is quite fun to watch. Like, Nany is going crazy.” This is actually a very good summary of the situation:
That fork is NOT strong enough for the cup of noodles.
Hopped up on cheap noodles and MSG (and so much Stella Artois), Nany continues to come after Aneesa, saying a handful of unforgivable things. Eventually her hurricane of rage claims the cup of noodles as a casualty:
But instead of letting the noodles be, Nany improvises. This is what makes her an all-time Challenge character, a chaotic genius. As Frank says in The Departed, “I’m an artist—you give me a fucking tuba and I’ll get you something out of it.” Well, Nany is an artist too—give her a fucking cup of noodles and she’ll get you something out of it.
Reaching down for the cup, Nany exclaims, “You’re corny, I’ll take my cup of noodles and throw them at you,” says Nany. And then that’s exactly what she does. There are noodles all over the place:
At one point, you can see that Rogan has caught some of the noodles as they fell from the sky, and has started to snack on them:
“I’ve seen a lot of things in The Challenge,” Kyle says. “But I’ve never seen anyone get a cup of noodles thrown at their head.” That’s what makes this show the greatest, baby!
(Final note: This is also the room where Bear set off the fire extinguisher. This room has seen some shit.)
Dust to Dust
In this week’s elimination challenge—the only non-noodle action we get this week—Tori and Jenna must slam cinder blocks through a grate in order to amass enough debris to fill a bucket. For CT, who lost a different elimination earlier this season in part because of an odd strategy to waste all of his energy trying to smash cinder blocks, this elimination must’ve really been a twist of the knife.
Tori is fairly confident that she will beat Jenna, who everyone thinks is “checked out” because of her relationship problems back home. This mostly seems like a false narrative that quickly became regarded as fact, though, and I’m not sure why—Jenna said repeatedly that she wasn’t going to quit, so I don’t know why everyone listened to that and said, “Wow sounds like she’s going to quit.”
In the end, Tori gets upset by Jenna due to an inability to comprehend how gravity works.
Why is she trying to break concrete while kneeling when she could just drop the blocks?! Didn’t anyone ever teach her Newton’s Laws?!
What an incredible L by Tori—between Jay and Jenna’s elimination wins, Total Madness is really a season for the underdogs. Jordan, meanwhile, is absolutely devastated to see his fiancée get sent home.
The saddest Mennonite-looking L.A. hipster you will ever see.
I’m really happy for Jenna, though. After spending the last three episodes in the Skype Dungeon getting emotionally abused by her boyfriend, Zach, she really deserves this.
Noodle Check-in, One Day Later
Still there; still the funniest thing that’s happened on this season of The Challenge.