The Challenge Double Agents Recap: Episode 1 Winners & Losers

Brian Batty
6 min readDec 10, 2020

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Winner: CT’s Alpha Dog Status

It‘s champ huntin’ season. And the scopes were locked directly onto CT, Ashley, Wes, and Darrell. But as usual, CT’s star shined the brightest. His under the radar game fell apart fast. Squirrelly CT isn’t something we see very often, but part of me enjoyed him hopping around and getting lied to in every corner of the house. It’s a far cry from Free Agents when he could just mumble “if you wanna poke the bear, go ahead” and leave Bananas and Nany rattled and speechless for the first time in both of their lives.

It just is what it is, an in-shape CT is the tallest obstacle a prospective Challenger has to conquer on their path to glory. He knows it. He owns it. But for the sake of everyone watching, I hope the spotlight swivels elsewhere.

Losers: Anyone who’s smugly proclaimed, “work smarter, not harder.”

Wes Bergmann is a successful person. Full stop. I imagine he’s used the phrase “work smarter, not harder”, more than any other living person has. This mantra has guided his moral compass to fruition for his entire life.

But nobody likes that person. Nobody likes the person sidling up to you at work, solving a problem you’ve been working on all day with some simple solution you’ve been overlooking for hours. Then they smugly say “work smarter, not harder” and walk away.

Last night Wes, and everyone like him, got their comeuppance.

During the challenge, Wes worked smart, not hard. He hung around the peripheries of the scrum that was wrestling over the puzzle answer key. He figured, why bother beating myself up when I’m going to have an unobstructed view of it eventually. And he was right! That was absolutely the smart thing to do. Let those headstrong rookies beat up their bodies. Lotta game left to play. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

And then, CT threw a shoe in his face.

Life comes at you fast.

After throwing his moccasin, Hank Scorpio once asked Homer Simpson if he’d ever seen a guy say goodbye to a shoe. Homer chuckled and replied, “yes, once”.

Same Homer, same.

Winner: The word ‘Infiltrate’

I’m gonna be real with you all, I haven’t used, read, or heard the word ‘infiltrate’ in a really long time. So long, in fact, that I can’t say for sure that I ever have in the first place. But we were treated to this dalliance with the dictionary not once, but twice this episode. In honor of that, here are the stories behind the two times in my life I’ve heard the word ‘infiltrate’

The First Time I’ve Ever Heard The Word ‘Infiltrate’: Mechie, when letting us know that he in fact does not have a trust fund (I’m not sure who asked), described himself in three simple yet profound ways. One, he’s a ‘go-getter’. Two, he’s a ‘hustler’. Third, he ‘knows how to infiltrate’.

…..What? Infiltrate what?

The Second Time I’ve Ever Heard The Word ‘Infiltrate’: TJ wielded it like a sledgehammer when delivering the twist at the end. He lays out the options for Natalie after her elimination win, ending with the chance to “infilitrate or steal any other partner up there”. Steal would have worked just fine TJ.

This begs the obvious question, did Mechie do that interview after TJ made his announcement? Or did they both independently use that wildly random word(for no reason at all in Mechie’s case)?

Oh…no, I’m doing fine. Why do you ask?

Mini-Bachelorette Winners & Losers

Winner: Emotional Intelligence Quadrants

Don’t tell me you didn’t take an online EQ test after Bennett did such a poor job mansplaining it to Tayshia and Noah.

Loser: Zac’s 6th Grade Girlfriend

Jesus. Talk about a drive-by.

Loser: Cara Maria

I know, I know. She’s not even here, don’t take pot shots. But I just want to point out one thing.

Look how freaking happy everyone is! Now look where we last left Cara Maria…

See Cara forgot one crucial thing that all the greats inherently understand. The Challenge does not need her. It doesn’t need anybody, really. From around the Vendetta’s reunion and on, Cara has acted as if her presence was the greatest present one could give. She was above it all. She was a Dementor, sucking joy from reality TV.

I hope she watched last night and remember how precious this opportunity is. I hope she missed it. She’s got both fans and detractors, but any Challenge fan can agree that an energized, happy-to-be-here Cara Maria would be a welcome addition back to this show, and would have fit in seamlessly with this cast.

Winner: Onanism, Producer Edition

There was nothing at all subtle about the editors leaving in the mics/cameras catching Lolo proclaiming to her partner Nam, “This is very intimidating, and I’ve competed in a lot of big stadiums. This is quite impressive.”

“What’s that? A multi-time Olympian just validated everything we’ve been trying to do for 35 seasons? Yeah, go with that one.”

They truly deserve a pat on the back, because this season already looks/sounds/feels spectacular.

Winners: Kyle and Nany

Most of the time, being a person on the earth can be perplexing. Chaos reigns supreme, and things that make sense one day can be intergalactically incorrect the next. More on that in a minute.

But every once in awhile, the square peg fits snugly into the square hole. The possibilities are endless for Kyny. Will they ever win a puzzle/strategy based game? No. Would I leave my child with them for 24 hours? Probably not. But the day that TJ announces that today’s Challenge is to finish a large bottle of tequila and make out with the cast, these two are the pick to click. You don’t gotta get ready, if you stay ready.

Loser: Patternicity

“From where we stand, the rain seems random. If we could stand somewhere else, we would see the order in it.”

Tony Hillerman, Coyote Waits

“Truth is chaos. Maybe beauty is chaos”

Bob Dylan, on his worldview

“All’s fair in love, war, and Challenges”

Johnny Bananas, on his worldview

As I laid out in my first Power Rankings, Ashley’s been existing in a comforting pattern where she succeeds beyond expectations one season, then poops on the bathroom floor the next. And because I’m an idiot, I thought the world would keep spinning and there was no way she’d lose to Natalie.

A few minutes later, any balance and order remaining in the universe melted away. This isn’t goodbye forever Ashley, just goodbye for now.

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Brian Batty

Writing about MTV’s The Challenge, one of America’s great institutions