The Challenge: Ride or Dies Episode 18 Recap — Winners & Losers

Brian Batty
20 min readFeb 9, 2023

Welcome to a brand new Winners & Losers for The Challenge Ride or Dies Episode 18(!)!!!!! Hope you all had some time to digest after our trip to Argentina’s most rustic Italian restaurant. Let’s burn off those carbs with a fresh batch of Winners & Losers. Inside this edition: The special brownies kick in, Cousin Mitch makes an appearance, we explore mummified pop culture lexicon, and much much more…

Loser: Olivia

Did anybody else wince during this part?

Winner: Boomer

Winner: Edibles

I’ve had a pet theory all season long that either they’re allowing some of the cast to eat weed gummies, or one of them snuck some through the doors. There has been a permanent, hazy calm over so many of the vets (Tori & Jordan when they’re not arguing, Devin, Johnny, Aneesa, Nany, Fessy) throughout the course of the season that I’ve struggled to think of any other alternatives. They’re just chill. Maybe Tori was dishing out Xanax or something. I don’t know. But you cannot tell me there wasn’t something going on. Real recognize real, jah feel?

But it looks to me like somebody in the editing room got their hands on some of the stash. #420ForLyfe

Winner: Anthropomorphism

For as long as I’ve been doing these recaps I’ve been assigning human qualities to and creating fake conversations with the wild animals they come across during challenges.

It’s good to feel seen and heard.

Heard.

Get it?

Like a herd of cows?

Winner: When The Gummies Hit

How can you not be romantic about The Challenge?

Loser: All Other Soups

Pea Soup is elite.

Split Pea and Ham soup, fresh or from a can, almost doesn’t matter, with some warm french bread is an optimal meal. Haters can deep throat a cactus. Idgaf. Talk your shit, eat something else, more soup for me.

You know where to tweet your hate mail.

Loser: Fitzy Fitzgibbons

Actually, in this case Frank, it is.

Loser: Most People, But Not Devin

I have a feeling that a majority of people would answer that way, but only a few of them would actually go through with it. Given super-powers by toxic sludge from an Argentinian swamp, I feel like many of us would use them to hurdle over minor inconveniences in life rather than create some grand scheme for either good or evil.

Devin, on the other hand, is beyond a shadow of a doubt telling the truth.

Winner: Not Most People, But Definitely Bananas

I can say with the same ferocity of confidence that I feel towards Devin choosing evil in this toxic sludge situation, that when Johnny says he would grow a third testicle he is also telling the naked truth.

Winner: Point Break References Shoehorned Into This Recap For Nobody In Particular Besides Myself

Winner: The Dichotomy Of The Human Experience

When adjusting the volume in your car or on your TV, which type of person are you? Are you the type who has to have it on either a 0 or 5? Or are you the type of psycho who can just live life like a plastic bag drifting through the wind and have the number be any ole thing?

Younger me was in deep with the first camp. It would make me physically uncomfortable sitting the backseat of my parents car watching my Dad leave the volume at 17.

These days? Idk, not so much. I got other shit goin on. I feel like I’m still at the same level (probably higher) of anxiety and compulsion in general, I still get squirmy at other minor details, but volume numbers on televisions and stereos or Challenge Final time remaining graphics just don’t get me like they used to.

That’s called growth people. Growth. Like how CT used to be a smelly, substance fueled monster and now he’s a smelly, grumpy old man.

I imagine some viewers at home last night were made irrationally uncomfortable by this ’29 HOURS’ graphic. Which, while I personally grew out of it and hope on day you can too, I can be empathic towards. Just know that I see you. I hear you. I understand you.

Why couldn’t they have just put 30 HOURS on the screen? We have no idea what the fuck’s going on. They’ve lied to us before. What a strange time to be fully honest.

Great question. What were we talking about again?

Ah, yes, The Real World vs Road Rules Challenge on MTV.

“That’s still on?!”

It sure is Cow. It sure is.

Winner: Youth Football Coach Jordan

I’ve said it before on here, but the best/worst idea in the world is for Jordan to quit bangin IG hotties on reality television while competing for a bunch of money and become a youth football coach.

He would be incredible. Too incredible and he’d burn out quick because plenty of parents wouldn’t want his style, which is being unfortunately eradicated from the world, effecting their sweet child in any way.

My mans has no time for excuses. More on this in a bit.

Winner: The New Girl

Shorty lookin’ kinda good from the back. Who’s the new girl?

Oh, it’s Jordan…..

……….

…..I stand by it.

Winner: Spin Team

The 19 people who read my recaps every week know that I love Aneesa. There isn’t much else to be said that I haven’t already said. I’ll defend Aneesa until the day that I die. She’s the fourth longest running relationship I have in my life and that’s not even me being funny. That’s the actual truth.

This moment last night was the closest (little did I know, I’d be feeling this way many times over the next hour) I’ve ever come to the opposite being true.

But I’m not gonna do it. I’m gonna stay strong. Technically, she’s right. The words that Jordan is speaking are causing air resistance, like walking into the massive fan from that War of The Worlds 2 daily. So by him speaking, the force from his words are pushing against her momentum, naturally causing her pace to slow.

Science. Read about it. In books.

Winner: Playing Smarter, Not Harder

Winner: Hilarious Jokes

Loser: Poor Expectation Management

I used to work with this guy named Carlos. We were both servers at a trendy, fancy champagne lounge in Chicago’s West Loop. Money was good, and fun times were had by all. If you ever have any questions about champagne, or need wine recommendations, I’m your guy. Feel free to Tweet us @fessyfitness with your questions.

Anywho, each work shift, Carlos would arrive all hopped up on adderall and espresso claiming “I need to make six hundred dollars tonight”. And then Carlos would have a great night. We’d both walk with around $450 after tip-outs on a Wednesday night. Not bad, right? My rent was always paid on time if you catch my drift.

But you know who always left disappointed? Carlos. Because $450 isn’t $600.

Expectation management is the key to happiness.

It’s one of my life mottos. I’m not saying don’t set the bar high. Just set the bar realistic. Reach for the stars, but be sure you have on a space suit.

Jordan’s had two months to chisel his expectations to the appropriate level. The Final was always going to go like this. Always. There was no other outcome on the board. He had to have known that. Deep down, underneath all his rah-rah “you can do anything you set your mind to” hippy dippy bullshit, he had to have known, right?

It’s not Jordan’s fault they’re moving at a snails pace, but it is Jordan’s fault that he’s feeling this way.

Loser: Mummified References

That’s three (3!) references to the movie Rain Man within the last like ten minutes.

Rain Man came out in 1988.

That was so long ago. How come, as a society, we haven’t updated our pop culture lexicon when describing someone quickly solving something complex?

How unexplainable social phenomena works is mystery that will live on for all eternity I guess. Just like the mystery of what the jersey numbers in Free Agents stood for.

Loser: Contextual Fruit

I’ll tell ya what, there is just something about watching someone on The Challenge eat a banana that doesn’t sit right with me.

Loser: Telling A Lie By Telling The Truth

You want to know why Jordan and Aneesa’s campfire argument made me uncomfortable? Because I was born in the United States of America. And this argument is as anti-American as it gets.

If you wanna get real technical and pimpy about it, Aneesa’s right. Jordan leading them off the path was the reason she sprained her ankle as in she wouldn’t have gone off the path if Jordan had not led her that way.

But, I mean, ya know, let’s be real for a second. If she didn’t roll it then, she was going to roll it eventually. Or some other malady would have sprung up. Again, this Final was only going to go a certain way.

On the flip side of that coin, Aneesa doesn’t need to hear it. I have a feeling nobody around that campfire feels worse about how she’s performing than she does. And right, I get it, she probably shouldn’t come on the show in this sort of physical condition. That part is true. But this all comes back to Jordan’s poor expectation management.

This is the ONLY way this was ever going to go. I sound like a broken record at this point, but it cannot be emphasized enough. From he minute they walked onto the elimination grounds with Big Dick Energy playing, we all knew the end was pre-written. Everyone involved, cast, crew, fans, the Challenge Gods themselves. Secret was out. This wasn’t some deep layer of nuance requiring hours of pondering to crack.

This whole thing just makes me feel as uncomfortable as I knew it was going to. Both of them are right and wrong at the exact same time. Aneesa, you should’ve gotten into better shape. Aneesa, stop blaming others for your sprained ankle. The ankle isn’t the issue. Jordan, Aneesa doesn’t need to hear it. The words were said with every waddle along the course, they didn’t need to be said out loud. Jordan, she’s fucking up your chance at a fat stack of money and bringing down your on-paper reputation, you have every right to be upset.

Even when they’re telling the truth, they’re both lying.

Having a winner and a loser, a right and wrong, a good and bad, is inherently American. It’s why soccer will never take off here. We hate ties. Nothing makes American football fans more upset than a tie. A tie is the sports equivalent of lying while telling the truth. As un-American as it gets.

Loser: Advertisements When You Least Expect Them

That was the worst episode of The Official Challenge Podcast I’ve ever heard.

Very uncouth of them to force in such a self-involved plug while I was trying to relax on a Wednesday evening and watch my hour-long Under Armor commercial.

Loser: Not Listening To What You’re Saying In A Public Setting

Okay, right, the second part is true. Although, neither Aneesa nor I are doctors as far as I know, so maybe not. But as far as the first part goes, Aneesa, you’re not really giving Jordan anything he needs either. Which is a partner that is trying their best under the bizarre rubric with which Jordan lives his life. So. I mean. Idk. This whole thing sucks. We all knew it was coming, but it’s beginning to spoil this entire Final.

At least I didn’t get hit in the face with a golf ball.

Too soon? You’re right, my bad Olivia. That was uncalled for.

Loser: My Own Expectation Management

Before the Final began, TJ made a small comment that I thought spoke volumes. He rolled up to their campsite on the first morning and said the following…

This, more than anything else, piqued my interest.

I hate the Final. It’s easily my least favorite episode(s) of any given season. Nothing is more boring to me than watching these people compete in a running race. It’s never close. The outcome is never in doubt. The favorite almost always wins. In a game that involves a myriad of different talents, the fact that the winner usually comes down to who has the most endurance has always sort of bummed me out. An anticlimactic way to end such a tension filled game.

This tweet is obviously a joke, but the spirit of the joke is easily my deepest and most passionate truth.

Let’s try something new. Let’s switch up the entire idea of what a Final Challenge is. Fundamentally change everything. Take running and puzzles and moving heavy objects entirely out of the equations. This show involves so much more than endurance, so why does the balance towards endurance shift so heavily when it comes to winning time?

— Have them finish an entire New York Times Crossword book

— Have them cook a seven course meal until it’s perfect. Call in Bobby Flay to judge it.

— Do this. Put them in a room, have TJ pop in once an hour and say “my Final will begin soon, stay ready” and just never start the Final. Whoever pulls an Abed and cracks last wins.

— Finish Infinite Jest and be able to coherently describe the plot to a board of the leading leaders in English teachers.

— You remember the story of the guy who started with a red paper clip and traded all the way up to a mansion or whatever? That should be the Final. Start them with a paperclip, and whoever trades up to some arbitrary hard to get object wins.

— Drop them off in the middle of the jungle somewhere in South America, first one to find their way back to the MTV studios in New York City wins.

— Teach a physics class to a group of students. Whichever group has the highest test score at the end of a month wins.

— Raise a dog. After five years, whoever gets voted Cutest Dog by 1,000 randomly chosen basic white women on Instagram wins.

The Challenge is my favorite television show in the entire world, except for this one glaring flaw. I’ve never been able to shake it. It’s why this article so far has been mostly jokes. Jordan and Aneesa’s dynamic has been the only interesting juice to extract so far. And even that isn’t exactly a bastion of dynamic entertainment.

And so when TJ said that this isn’t a traditional Final, I got so excited! Maybe they finally switched it up! Maybe the 100 hours thing is going to mean they’re forced to do something other than run from Point A to Point B while completing various puzzles and annoying tasks along the way!

Except then the Final started, and guess what it was?

Run run run run puzzle puzzle puzzle puzzle run run run run run puzzle puzzle golf ball to the skull run run run run puzzle puzzle puzzle run run run run

This has been exactly the same Final as it always is. TJ lied to me. He lied to all of us. Maybe Day 3 will be different. Maybe this day will be something different. Maybe they’ll take the bar exam. Prove me wrong, Challenge Gods. I’d love you to.

Nope. Just more running. How nontraditional.

Winner: Getting Gas At The Appropriate Time

The final morning after a bachelor party in Put-In Bay, Ohio (That is a weird, wild, and wacky place man. I had a blast, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not exactly a spot I’ve been recommending to people either. If you know, you know.) in 2019, my buddy who I was driving home with was up and at em real early. He takes pride in being the first one home from these things, and this was one of those times. So, still half asleep, we caught the first ferry out, and were on the road before most of our hungover cohorts had even woken up.

At one point he turns to me in shotgun and says “I’m running low on gas, should I stop?” I was too hungover to really understand what he was saying, or why he was asking me that, it’s his car and he’s driving I don’t have anything to do with it. So I responded in a way that appropriately expressed those feelings.

“Dude, I don’t know.”

Little did I know, he was taking my advice seriously and we ran out of gas. We were stuck on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere Ohio. We sat there for hours waiting for one of our friends to pass us, grab a can of gas, and come all the way back around.

Why did tell this story? I’m honestly not sure. Maybe the culprit is my boredom watching them run in the forest for the umpteenth time this episode. Who knows? This is normally the time I’d drop the All Stars 3 fart screenshot or tell you to tweet at @fessyfitness. But I just don’t have it in me right now. Their exhaustion is my exhaustion.

Loser: Leaving Out Crucial Details

Who’s Kaycee?

It’s who? Kenny’s sister? Kenny has a sister? Weird.

Winner: Keeping Up With The Crazies

One of my favorite places on the internet is the Reddit Conspiracy board. I just enjoy randomly checking in on the crazies to see what’s got them all riled up now. Covid and politics have kinda ruined everything (weird), but you can still find the good shit in there if you have the patience to wade through the muck.

I saw one the other day about how the Hollywood Elite are trying to convince us to start eating bugs due to the looming food shortage. Which is wild to me, because I haven’t been told that once by anybody. How come the only real place to get real information any more is the Conspiracy Reddit?

You know who’s gonna be ready as fuck for a world where we eat bugs? No, I know what you’re thinking. Not teenage Simba. Lion King was a cartoon. Don’t be ridiculous.

I’m talking about Cousin Mitch!

Didn’t think you were gonna get a Cousin Mitch reference when you clicked this blog, did you? From now on, you do whatever you wanna do. I’ll show you some cool shit along the way.

Winner: The Spark, Still Present After All These Years

Last week when Nany snapped at Johnny and called him a bleepin idiot while they were doing their Soul Cycle class, I claimed that I had never been more attracted to Nany in my entire life.

I was wrong.

Last night was the most attracted I’ve ever been to Nany in my entire life.

How can you not be romantic about The Challenge?

Winner: Subtle Messaging

During the week when I read The Godfather last summer, I’ve never eaten more pasta in my entire life. Amazing movie, and honestly somehow possibly a better book (it kinda covers the flashback scenes from Part 2 with a young Vito as well), but ingrained at least once per chapter were these lengthy, detailed descriptions of Italian food and massive spreads of pasta and bread and all that. Made me hungrier with each turn of the page.

Last night did not have that effect. In fact, I’m good on pasta for a hot minute.

Winner: Swedish Pop Groups

Best part about Abba? Same name backwards and forwards. Crazy, right?

Great Q. Why don’t you go ask my therapist.

Winner: Cordyceps

I thought The Last Of Us was on Sundays?

Loser: Stupid Questions

God, Aneesa, what is wrong with you? What kind of question was that?

Oh God! Run! Everyone! Get somewhere safe!

Winner: Karma — In Real Time

I love this show so much.

Winner: Dibs

Pocket Full of Pasta, new band name I call it.

Loser: Eating Challenges At Restaurants

Like playing oversized Jenga at a bar, any restaurant’s eating challenge is a trap. Stay far, far away.

Number one, the prizes are almost always terrible. Number two, you ever looked at the pictures of the former winners? Not exactly the group you want as your allies in your decision making if you know what I’m saying. And third, it’s just a great way to ruin the rest of your day.

I’ve only done it once. It was at this pizza place where I grew up. Eat two slices, win a t-shirt. These slices are massive, monster pieces of mostly dough and cheese. Even one is enough to feed a family of four. So one lazy summer night in high school, one of my friends dared me to do it. So while I am a sucker for cornrows and manicured toes, mostly I’m a sucker for peer pressure.

So I agreed. Two slices, down the hatch. And guess what? They only had medium t-shirts left. Which makes sense, because not a ton of medium t-shirt wearers are the type to eat a small child’s worth of pizza. So I gave the shirt away. The knot in my stomach was not worth the story. I wasn’t the same for two weeks.

You got it, Cow.

Loser: Bugaboos You Just Can’t Shake

If Nany and noodles are an example of a perfect relationship, then Devin and noodles are the exact opposite.

Winner: Matt James

Isn’t that how it always goes?

You’re out to dinner, and you fill up on apps and entrees and by the time your server asks about dessert all you want is an Uber home?

During Matt James’s season of The Bachelor, don’t really remember when, he mentioned that he orders dessert first when he goes out to eat. Naturally, I recoiled. What in the God damn hell are you talking about? Dessert first? We live in a society, Matt James. There has to be some form of order, otherwise anarchy reigns supreme.

And then I tried it.

Changed my life. Order dessert first when you go out to eat. Unless it’s one of those monster slices of cake or something, they’re usually small and can almost act as an amuse-bouche for the rest of the meal. A little somethin’ sweet to whet your whistle.

If you’re going to take one piece of advice from me, ever, that’s the one.

Winner: The Challenge

This is a competition for a million dollars.

Don’t ever tell me this isn’t the greatest show in the world.

Loser: Sunday Morning During A Music Festival

There is no worse taste in the world than the first sip of beer on Sunday afternoon during a four day music festival. Music festivals are a young person’s game. My days are done. If I went back to Country Thunder after 13 years like Aneesa did, I’d be looking roughly the same as she does right now.

Winner: Exhaustion

I see we’ve reached the decorative greenery portion of the proceedings.

Winner: Finally, Something Different

Oh look! Running! Finally, something nontraditional.

VIVA LA REAL WORLD!!!

Thanks for reading! We began this journey in October, and somehow, in the middle of February, next week it’ll all be over. See you then! 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