On the latest episode of MTV’s The Challenge: Total Madness, it’s a guys’ week for the elimination battle, which means Survivor alum Jay Starrett better watch his back — he knows everybody is gunning for him because they think he’ll be easy to beat.
In fact, this episode is titled “A Hard Jay’s Night” and the description teases, “Jay finds himself in the middle of a dangerous love triangle that could result in his demise; Wes and Bananas’ alliance faces its first true test.”
The preview video shows the challenge, “Decode and Detonate,” which involves decoding a puzzle and then getting to blow up a truck, which is fun. Who will be able to blast their way into the Tribunal this week?
Follow along here with our live recap but be warned of elimination spoilers. All times Eastern.
8:05 — A bunch of the guys sit around and talk about getting the red skull. This week is a guy’s week for elimination and many of them are gunning for getting into the arena this week. Meanwhile, Jay Starrett and Dee Nguyen are kind of hitting it off, though Jay is worried about pissing off Rogan O’Connor because Rogan and Dee used to date. But for Dee, that’s kind of the point.
“Rogan was not putting my feelings into consideration when he was flirting with Jenn, so I’m going to give him a taste of his own medicine,” she says.
8:10 — Several of the veterans sit around and talk about Ashley Mitchell. Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio talks about how she plays a good social and political game and calls her a snake, but Nany Gonzalez says the reason Bananas doesn’t like Ashley is because he can’t manipulate her. Ashley overhears this conversation and later, she cries to Jenny about how nobody likes her. Bananas comes into the room and starts laying into Ashley about being an “alliance-jumper.” She cries and storms off and says in a talking-head interview that she’s better at this game than Bananas and he can’t handle that.
8:15 — Challenge time. This week’s challenge involves “stamina, memory and blowing sh*t up,” according to host TJ Lavin. What they’ll do is solve a puzzle board that will give them each their own code. On the top of the hill are two decoding stations. Once they have the key to their code, they can solve their puzzle board. The first two people to solve their puzzles will get to blow up one truck each and become the first two members of the Tribunal. A big twist is that you don’t know which board your symbols are on, so if you choose incorrectly, you have to run to both.
8:20 — Chris “CT” Tamburello gets his code right first and gets to blow up a truck. The next person to get the code is Bayleigh Dayton and that’s it. CT and Bayleigh are split on who to pick for their third member. Bayleigh wants to protect her boyfriend, Chris “Swaggy C” Williams because she thinks he’ll get voted into elimination by the house and he doesn’t want to go in yet. But CT is worried that Bayleigh and Swaggy will choose to throw Swaggy into the elimination because they have two votes to CT’s one and CT wants to go in this week. But they promise not to do that, so Swaggy is part of the tribunal.
8:25 — A lot of people want to put Jay back in elimination, but Ashley wants to stir the pot and throw Bananas’ name out there. She has a few people on board — Dee, Melissa Reeves, Jay. But is that enough? Meanwhile, Kailah Casillas runs off to Cory Wharton and Nelson Thomas and tells them that none of the women are voting for Jay and are instead voting for Bananas. So Cory runs to Wes Bergmann and talks to him about voting Bananas in. But no one knows that Wes and Bananas have a secret alliance this year, so now Wes is torn about what to do.
8:35 — At nominations, Bananas starts the conversation by voting for Jay and Jay votes for Bananas right back, which doesn’t raise any eyebrows. But then Dee votes for Bananas and it goes completely off the rails. At one point, Bananas and Nelson each have five votes, Jay has four, and Jordan has one because he voted for himself. When Nelson outs Kailah as throwing Bananas’ name out there (which she didn’t do, actually, she was just repeating what other people were saying), she freaks out and starts yelling at him.
8:45 — When it gets to Wes’ vote, the votes stand at Bananas with six, Jay and Nelson in a tie with five each and Jordan with two. Wes votes for Jay, which surprises everyone. The remaining votes go for Jay, though, which means Jay is in the elimination battle. As the meeting ends, Bananas and Ashley start yelling at each other and honestly, it just seems like they should have sex already and be done with it.
8:55 — It’s Halloween, so they’re letting everybody go out on the town in costumes. At the bar, after they’ve clearly had a few beers, Bananas tells Wes it meant a lot to him that he voted Jay into elimination when the votes were still in flux. He later says, “My game has been incomplete and you complete me.” Awww, these two are the best couple on the show this year. Meanwhile, Dee wants to make out with Jay and Jenny absolutely encourages this to happen, which it then does in a back corner of the bar. Rogan is not pleased, though, weirdly, Nelson asks him if he’s “just going to let them do that,” which — um, it’s not up to Rogan, dude. Dee and Jay are two consenting adults and can do whatever they want. But Rogan isn’t worried because he’s sure Jay is going home this week. Well, that probably means Jay is actually not going home because we all know how editing works on these shows.
9:05 — Back at the bunker, Rogan lobbies CT to vote him into elimination, but CT’s not sure because he wants his own shot at Jay. The Tribunal chooses to interrogate Nelson, Rogan, and Stephen Bear. But it seems like a bit of a foregone conclusion that CT is going to take this elimination for himself. During the interrogation, Bear says he doesn’t want to go in yet, while Nelson says he assumes he would win if he goes in. Rogan also lobbies to get himself into elimination.
9:10 — Later, Jay decides to stick his head into the lion’s mouth and starts yelling at Rogan about being a weak competitor because he only wants to go into elimination against someone he thinks is a weak player. Well, I mean, that’s just good strategy. Why would you want to go into elimination against a strong player? But Jay also says that he’ll work hard all season to keep Rogan from ever getting to go into elimination. That feels… tough to pull off. Also, Jay shouldn’t belittle himself like that. He already won one elimination battle. He’s not necessarily a layup.
9:15 — In Purgatory, CT puts himself into elimination. The battle is called “Take Shelter,” a challenge that involves barricading a bunker, which they have 20 minutes to do. Then they switch bunkers and have to get into each other’s bunkers — and they have to open the door all the way before they can enter the bunker, so that takes care of the fact that Jay could probably slip through a smaller space than CT. The first person to get into his opponent’s bunker and turn on a light wins. Before the competition starts, CT is convinced he’s got this in the bag.
9:25 — During the barricading portion, they go for different strategies. CT concentrates at first on using ropes and chains to wrap up his bunker, then puts a few boulders in front of the ropes at the end, while Jay does a little bit of the ropes/chains, but mostly just piles stuff up in front of his door. His thinking is that if he gasses CT early, by the time he gets to the chain, he won’t have any energy left.
When they switch bunkers, it seems like CT is making quick work of Jay’s pile of stuff, while Jay struggles with the boulders. But actually, CT has to spend so much time moving and smashing heavy stuff that Jay gets to the ropes with a lot more energy and he actually makes quick work of the ropes and chains, while CT is visibly tiring himself out. Then all of a sudden, Jay figures out that if he undoes just part of CT’s knots, he can get the door open, while Jay’s one flimsy little chain doesn’t have enough slack for CT to open his door. Yeah, CT made it look as though he had a lot of ropes and chains on that door, but he didn’t knot them up the right way.
9:30 — Everyone is shocked at this turn of events, while Jay is pretty pumped at beating such a legend. Also, let’s not forget that CT has almost 10 years on Jay, so he may not be in quite as good of shape as he once was. I mean, he limps away and makes a crack about someone finding his back in the bunker and sending it to him and then he says if he wants to keep doing this show, he needs “a tune-up.” Yeah.
The Challenge airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.