The Challenge: Ride or Dies Episode 12 Recap — Winners & Losers

Brian Batty
12 min readDec 30, 2022

It feels so good to be back!!! After a hectic week of holiday traveling across half of the United States, your boy is back and better than ever to recap The Challenge Ride or Dies Episode 12!!! We said goodbye to a King this week, but fear not, the season is just beginning to get good. Inside this week: We meet Nelson’s friend Carl, Dee makes multiple appearances, Kaycee is as loquacious as ever, and much much more…

Winner: Merch

Does anyone know where I can get the hoodie Chauncey’s wearing? I have a gift card from Christmas and I’m looking for some new street wear.

Though, to be honest, I’d rather get a version without the photo of Dee at the bottom, but beggars can’t be choosers at this point.

Hit me up @fessyfitness with the link.

Winner: The Color Purple

I noticed this first during The Challenge: Australia, but my favorite part about this house has gotta be the fact that the phone room is located inside of Barney’s esophagus.

Loser: Production Favoritism

I’m so sick and tired of production favorites just being able to do whatever the fuck they want. Nelson gets to just call his rando friend named Cory? What if he leaks information? How can MTV just trust this Cory person? And why are they showing him so much? Who else’s random friend can we call?

I just want things to be on an even playing field. If Nelson can call rando’s, then what’s even sacred anymore? What’s next? Kaycee gets to bring her brother with her? I mean I know that sounds farfetched, but that’s where we’re headed if this outlandish behavior remains unchecked.

Loser: Bragging

Oh yeah?

Well for the last two months I’ve been blogging about The Challenge and making mediocre jokes about your mullet. But you don’t hear me braggin about it!

Winner: Audition Tapes

What’s up MTV! My name’s Jordan. I’m 29 years old. And I would love if you considered me to be on the next season of The Real World!

Loser: Me

That’s it?

In all seriousness, Jordan’s a super hero.

It’s people like him, and anyone who does anything for simply the greater good of society, that the world needs infinitely more of.

Winner: The Duality Of Man

From one selfless act to another.

Cutting from this package of Jordan doing this amazing humanitarian work directly to Fessy in an orange shirt and a black beanie essentially guilting Moriah into sacrificing her success to jumpstart his own is just one of the most amazing pieces of reality television editing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

Nothing gets my jollies going quite like The Challenge Gods subtly clowning Fessy. Merry Christmas to me.

Loser: Kevin Love, Or “How I Learned To Fit In, Not Fit Out”

I have a question…

Why is Jordan the only one not in uniform?

Winner: Childlike Wonder

Outside of actual helicopter pilots, I can think of no group of human beings in the world with more experience with helicopters than Challenge people. And yet, they still manage to get excited when they see them. I’ll never not point it out. While remaining a group of selfish, cynical scoundrels, this innocent exuberance at the sight of a helicopter is by far the most endearing aspect of them as a whole.

Loser: My Dog Whenever The Mail Person Has The Audacity To Drop Mail Into The Mail Slot

Loser: The Navy Seals

Man, they’ll just let anybody in these days.

Winner: Gravity

Winner: Wisdom

A young Johnny not only would have gone back and gotten them, but he would’ve been screaming at both them and Fessy the entire way there.

But older, wiser, 40 year old Johnny? Fuck that noise. In the immortal words of Sweet Brown…

Winner: This Show

And by professional athletes he’s obviously referring to Aneesa.

How can you not be romantic about The Challenge?

Winner: This Show (Part 2)

How can you not be romantic about The Challenge?

Loser: Loquacity

Good contribution Kaycee. Way to really sum it all up.

Winner: Clarity

Hold up….Amber is Chauncey’s girlfriend?

What are you gonna tell me next? Kenny is Kaycee’s brother?

Winner: Choice

The three men in this room represent three different ways to dress. Devin goes with the collared shirt/blazer combo. Sort of a business casual/manager of a high-end restaurant look. Horacio goes with “regular dude”. This one is my go-to look. I’m wearing a solid color tee (usually black), one chain, and a backwards hat almost every time I leave my house. Yet again, the similarities between Horacio and I extend beyond our washboard abs.

Then there’s Jordan.

Now, Jordan dressing like that isn’t necessarily striking. At least not anymore. But it’s because he’s Jordan. Only Jordan can be Jordan, he’s a one of one.

Yet if there were to be another Rivals season, Jordan’s rival would certainly be the conventions of fashion.

So the obvious question arises…How long would it take for me to reach the point where I could dress like Jordan, as in wear a silk scarf with scorpions on it as a babushka in public, before those in my life would start explaining it by saying “only Brian could get away with that”?

Six months? A year? Multiple years?

I genuinely don’t know what the answer would be. Maybe it would even be an immediate thing. Maybe it’s all confidence. The most important aspect, though, is that I’m both too lame and too old to attempt a transformation as intense as that.

Just another of life’s many unanswerable questions.

Loser: Not Trusting Your Gut

Then why are you ignoring them? Why have you been ignoring them the entire game?

I understand why Nany wouldn’t be saying this out loud, and for the rest of them maybe it’s a kettle not wanting to call the pot black situation, but why didn’t anyone simply respond with…

“Well, Bananas, that’s because you haven’t been trying that hard?”

Let’s go back to something extremely prescient that Nelson’s buddy Carl or whatever said earlier…

There are few people in the known universe who have spent more time staring up at the backsides of Johnny or CT in a Challenge Final than Carl. He would know.

And look, I understand that sitting comfortably behind my laptop with an All-22 game tape view of the situation makes it incredibly simple to say, but it is astonishing to me that we’re eleven and a half episodes deep and Johnny hasn’t seen elimination one time.

Just throw him in there. Somebody. Don’t let the sins of the Spies, Lies, and Allies cast carry over into this season as well. It’s hard to tell how much Johnny’s holding back and how much of his lack of performance can be attributed to natural erosion of skills. But The Challenge is the type of game where once someone wins once, winning again becomes much easier.

There’s a reason that in the last ten years worth of seasons, only three times has the winner not been some combo of Johnny, CT, and/or Jordan. Upsets are rare, and over and over the best at the game wins at the end. Very similar to basketball in that sense. Whichever team has the best player in the pick-up game is likely going to be the team that wins.

Easier said than done, to be sure, but them falling for Johnny’s low budget slight of hand using Fessy as a big shiny distraction is pretty disappointing. Johnny’s a favorite of mine, and great to have around, so if he were to win I’ll genuinely be happy to see it. But new blood, new champs, new entrants into the Champions Night Club is a good thing.

Loser: Statement T-Shirts

At least Chauncey’s Dee-centric apparel was subtle. A shirt with a big ass picture of her face is a bit heavy handed, don’t ya think?

Winner: When Your Best Friend’s Parents Leave You The House For The Weekend

Loser: Responsibilities

Jordan’s currently dressed like a girl who fell asleep on the couch catching up on White Lotus and then woke up to take her dog out to pee one last time before going to bed on an unseasonably cold autumn evening.

Loser: Re-Hashing Old Strategies

What was the best way to get at young Jordan on this show? Go after his ego, right? Nobody’s ego was more fragile than a young Jordan’s.

Free Agents Jordan would’ve fallen for this trick Fessy’s trying to pull here. He would’ve puffed his chest out and threw his body in front of Fessy being the direct vote into elimination. Save it for me, he would’ve said.

But this is Mature Jordan. This is Zen Jordan. This is Mullet Jordan. And there is no way in hell he’s going to fall for the oldest trick in the book.

Winner: Never Having A Good Time

My intital instinct after watching this slightly bizarre scene of Tori confronting Jordan about possibly voting in Fessy was to say something along the lines of “Tori shouldn’t be interrupting Jordan while he’s working out. That’s just rude.”

But then I thought about it and realized it likely that Jordan is almost always working out in some form or another, so finding quiet time to talk is trickier than I initially thought.

Winner: Comedy Where You Least Expect It

HA

HAHAHA

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Are you kidding me? If that’s not the funniest thing I’ve ever heard I don’t know what it is.

Loser: Any More Time Tori And Jordan Are Forced To Spend Together

I mean, we’ve officially reached the point where one ex is calling the other a terrorist.

I’m glad to see they’re in a good place.

Winner: Faysal Fitness

That win against Nelson (again) makes Fessy a clean 4–0 in eliminations. And it’s a loud, bold-faced 4–0. Nothing to laugh at.

He’s yet to even come close to being touched on this show. And still, as you can hear in just about every confessional, the lack of the big victory is gnawing at Fessy’s soul. 4–0 means nothing without the big win. He knows that better than anyone. 4–0 is a footnote. 4–0 is a short segment on the next Challenge documentary.

4–0 ain’t nothin but a number.

It’s all within context, right? Horacio’s 4–0 is impressive, considering it all happened this season and our expectations for Horacio are at the floor considering it’s his first crack at it. But we expect greatness out of Fessy. Mostly because Fessy expects greatness out of Fessy. And his lack of a Challenge win is as powerful a fuel for his doubters as it is a lingering itch on that unreachable part of his back for Fessy himself.

The only difference between Fessy the Disappointment and Fessy the Multi Time Challenge Champion really boils down to luck. More specifically a glaring lack of it.

I’d say it’s time to give the man his flowers, but he already gives himself plenty. The eternal rub of Fessy on The Challenge. How do you celebrate someone who already celebrates themselves in the most unendearing, uncharismatic, and slogging way possible?

If you have any suggestions, tweet us @fessyfitness and enlighten us.

Winner: Nelson

No one gives us more of themselves on this cast than Nelson does.

Sure, others give us just as much, but Nelson rolls over, lays on his back, and shows us his belly each and every time he shows up. We’ve seen Nelson go from young hot head with a chip on his shoulder looking to fight and argue with anything and everything, to a man with more monikers and alter-egos than an actual super hero.

Nelson is a fan favorite for a so many reasons. But in my mind they all fall under the same umbrella. It’s difficult to allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to go on reality television. It’s an entirely different thing to grow up on reality television, being put into precarious position after precarious position. All for the entertainment of thousands of humans around the world he will never know.

This was the first season in awhile that Nelson has played rather than let it play him. Last season, it was clear his strategy was to sit back and just survive. Yet the joy was sucked out of him early and never returned. The game, because of a combination of his never-ending losing and others making decisions for him, ate him up. And he hated it.

This time around he grabbed the steering wheel. He got off the schnied. He was Nelson, warts and all. And for that, we all should be grateful.

I’ll miss ya Spider Nelly T. This season won’t be the same without you. Hope to see you soon.

Winner: Preserving History

MTV is a dying network.

Many Challenge fans did not watch this episode on MTV itself. And one day, when this season is just another season to binge among so many on Paramount+, this moment is going to be lost to history.

But if you were watching on MTV, and had access to the music playing during Nelson and Olivia’s goodbye moment, you know exactly how ridiculous this already ridiculous scene actually was.

So in the spirit of preserving history, I now present you the actual unedited version of this goodbye that played on TV last night. In all of it’s bombastic, silly, intergalactically hilarious glory…

The two of them ended things almost immediately after filming stopped.

How can you not be romantic about The Challenge?

Loser: Getting All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go

Did they really have to make Nurys put on her whole ass uniform just to be told she’s gotta go home? Street clothes probably would have done the trick. But Under Armor paid for the commercial, they’re gonna get their damn commercial.

Loser: Kenny

Lmao, so, what, he’s just back to being alone in the hotel again?

Fantastic.

VIVA LA REAL WORLD!!!

Thanks for reading! See you soon for a fresh batch of Power Rankings! And until then, as always, Happy Challenge Watching!!!

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Brian Batty

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