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.
Before We Begin, a Quick Note on Dee
After Dee Nguyen made offensive comments about the Black Lives Matter movement last week, MTV swiftly severed ties with her, though the network said that Total Madness would air “as planned.” What’s clear now is that along with “as planned,” MTV should have added “... with some heavy edits.” Though her presence still impacts the competition off camera, Dee’s been effectively erased from the show: This week, Dee had under a minute of screentime. The fallout of Johnny Bananas and Rogan’s betrayal of Dee was morphed into a story line about Melissa being mad at Josh for voting along with those guys; and despite Dee’s team winning the group elimination and her earning her place in the tribunal, she didn’t speak once in deliberations, and when it came time for her to throw someone into Purgatory, cameras cut away as she announced her vote.
After last week’s heavily edited episode, there was a question of whether MTV would ease Dee back into the fold in the coming weeks. Now we have our answer—they’re going for an “as little as possible” approach from here on out. Not that she doesn’t deserve it.
TJ in a Tank!!!
In last week’s tank-related group challenge, TJ Lavin remained on the sidelines, standing around like some schlub who doesn’t love to pretend to drive tanks. Clearly, Challenge producers realized how dirty they’d done Teej (and us) by revoking his tank privileges, because this week my guy was back in the saddle:
Also back in the saddle is our little dude who actually drives the tank, who we met in the season premiere:
Do they have to keep this guy on retainer? There’s so much tank content this season—this week’s challenge definitely didn’t require a tank, but who’s complaining—that I hope MTV locked in Tank Guy for life with a one-time fee.
Let’s Talk About Josh (but Not for Too Long Because He’s Annoying)
Early in the season, I was a little confused when Wes seemed to go out of his way to slag Josh—but now I get it. Josh plays the game emotions-first, is extremely entitled despite his performance record, and his alliances change on a minute-to-minute basis. This week, after palling around with Kyle, Josh chose not to give him his vote in the loser’s elimination, throwing Cory a bone instead. That initially earned this response from Kyle:
I think he means “you move quickly from one person to another,” and not the other definition of this word.
But things escalated even more when Melissa—who Josh betrayed last week—decided to jump down Josh’s throat for being fake:
First of all, I love that standing on this table has become this season’s go-to “I AM PEAK MAD RIGHT NOW” move. But I love this even more:
For better or worse, the goal this deep in the game is to go into elimination, but Josh seems to think it’s better to go in via the tribunal vote rather than the house vote. (Personally, I think taking advantage of both opportunities rather than just one of them is a smart strategy.) He chooses to not even try to politic his way into the house voting him in, and then gets mad when the tribunal picks Swaggy C instead of him. But how did he not see that coming?! On the tribunal were Bayleigh, Swaggy’s wife, and Dee, who Josh had just betrayed. He was never getting voted in by that group. Why did he think he was?
Whatever, I’m done with Josh. I hope he gets eliminated before TJ’s final because he doesn’t have a red skull.
A New Bar!
The bunker gang had spent their early-season nights out at Hangar, a basement bar that looked like a bunker. Then in the middle they switched to Nebe, another basement bar that looked like a bunker. On Wednesday night, they ventured out to a place called Pekelnej Bar. What a change of atmosphere! Finally they get to be above ground! LOL, just kidding, Pekelnej was also a basement bar that looked like a bunker:
MTV’s commitment to a bit is unparalleled.
Every Husband and Every Wife Will Feel This
Here’s Swaggy, flailing around just seconds into elimination:
And here’s his wife:
Yikes. That car ride home’s gonna be super awkward. (Side note: I’ve long felt that this season wouldn’t really start until either Swaggy or Bayleigh went home. Finally, it happened. Let the game begin.)