The Challenge: Ride or Dies Review


Ben Allen, Reporter

The Challenge is an ongoing reality competition show that started way back in 1998 before any current high school student was born. For a better understanding, host Thomas Joseph (TJ) Lavin, a bicycle motocross (BMX) legend, gathers a group of reality television personalities, now from all shows from around the globe, and brings them to a unique location to compete in some of the most iconic, dangerous, and stunt-like challenges fans have ever seen! Following an ongoing battle for power, the chosen players will battle for their right to stay in the game in the elimination grounds. Each episode, someone will be eliminated and their shot at winning the big money will come to an end. In the end, only the contestants that reach TJ’s grueling final will have the shot to win it.

Fastforwarding to the fall of 2022, the thirty-eighth installment titled The Challenge: Ride or Dies premiered on MTV. This season, the cast was paired up with their ride-or-die, someone they can completely rely on. Within the pair dynamics, there are couples, friends, and even exes. TJ brought his players to a unique setting near Buenos Aires, Argentina to battle it out. The winners of the daily challenges not only earn safety from the following elimination round, but will have the power to nominate four pairs for elimination, two of which will ultimately go in.

The premiere was quite intriguing even without the series’ “mount rushmore” competitors like Cara Maria Sorbello or Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio. Instead of seeing the typical opening strategy of targeting the first time players first, also known as the rookies, a unique moment happened where the rookies won the first challenge. It was refreshing being able to witness a unique scenario where the returning players, also known as the veterans, were on the wrong side for once. The premiere also established a fine line between certain alliances and divisions within the cast. There appeared to be a rookie group led by the winners, Johnny Middlebrooks from Love Island USA 2 & Ravyn who is an actress and their rookie allies Horacio from Exatlon & Olivia from Love Island USA 3. Of course there was also the veteran group. One of the negative aspects of not only this season but this challenge era as a whole are the veterans they choose to bring back every season. The fans refer to these same veterans as “the vacation alliance” because they typically go on vacation right before a season to allegedly make pre-made deals. Within this veteran group includes players like Devin and Tori from Are You the One and Fessy and Kaycee from Big Brother. But within those two main groups, there were a few pairs like Jay & Michele from Survivor and Amber from Big Brother & her boyfriend, Chauncey. Those two pairs began to ride the middle.

Despite a well developed premiere with the rookies being able to take out a veteran right away with Kailah from The Real World and her husband Sam going home, it was only a matter of time before a veteran pair won a daily challenge and the rookies would end up in a familiar position. Unfortunately for fans, this occurred in the second episode. After TJ unleashed a twist that introduced a few iconic veteran pairs to the game after each of the first three eliminations, iconic ride-or-die pair Bananas and Nany, both from The Real World, won the second daily challenge. Although it is never really intriguing to witness all the rookies being targeted, episode two had its positives for different reasons. One of the more messy veterans, Turbo, who is from Survivor Turkey, was arguing with some of the other veterans as per expected from someone like him. Nany, one of the winners, grew more agitated with his behavior and confronted him about it. This only got worse for Turbo and his girlfriend Tamara, whose relationship is quite questionable according to social media activity. As expected per the episode, Turbo gets nominated and he gets sent home despite Bananas & Nany simultaneously trying to take a shot at the perceived rookie alliance.

Although the first two episodes provided unique entertainment within their own ways, the next few episodes played out as expected. The rookies got targeted being Johnny & Ravyn and Analyse & Tommy from Big Brother. During the third episode, the ending was agreed upon by fans as one of the best Hall Brawl eliminations in challenge history. Hall Brawl is an iconic challenge elimination where both players start on opposite ends of a narrow hallway and they both must spring to the other side. After a hard collision, the first player to ring their bell on the other side wins. For years, Hall Brawl seemed broken. There was always a bigger, stronger player that defeated the smaller player. In other words, David never beat Goliath. But this Hall Brawl seemed new and improved. Not only was there an even match between Horacio & Olivia and Johnny & Ravyn, this Hall Brawl seemed safer by implementing a new rule where instead of putting their hands on each other, they had to push their opponent with a bar separating them. It was one of the more nail biting Hall Brawls to date.

Other than that, the following episode was boring. It was nice seeing original veterans like Darrell and Veronica from Road Rules return to the game but other than that, it was the same old story of the veterans winning the daily and rookies being sent into the elimination. This one was a funnier elimination because Analyse & Tommy flopped and could barely even compete in the elimination. They were quite boring and were not super likable on their original show Big Brother 21.

Episodes five and six was when the decline of playing in the middle proved disadvantageous for Jay & Michele. It was exciting to see a pair people typically root for to win the daily, however Jay & Michele proved that those pairs that play the middle tend to be better positioned when not in power. Their nominations not only did not make a ton of sense, considering they nominated Jakk & Laurel, Laurel who is a fan favorite and Jakk who seemed to be Jay’s friend in the house. In the nomination room, they created another iconic moment from the season between Laurel and Michele. Michele stated “So…” to which Laurel’s intimidating, confused look responded, “Do… Do you have a question?” It is safe to say that was successfully memed on Twitter. In the sixth episode, it only got worse for them as they decided to go after all the vets. While they successfully eliminated their alleged rivals, Jakk & Laurel, they made enemies with the rest of them. This came back to bite them when one of those teams, Aneesa & Jordan, both from The Real World, won one of the following daily challenges and immediately sent Jay & Michele into the elimination. With the players help, Horacio & Olivia beat Jay & Michele and won their third elimination in eight episodes.

Around this time in the season is when Horacio & Olivia really started becoming fan favorites. Olivia had a very likable personality and good confessionals and Horacio was well liked due to not only his looks, but also the fact that he did not listen to what the veterans wanted.

This is around the halfway point of the season. Now, TJ unleashes the next twist of the season. The ride-or-die pairs were split up and competed against each other in two teams. The winning time sent two of that episode’s gender of the opposite team into the elimination rounds. This was where the season really started declining. It was clear this twist was just to stretch the season out to the required length of nineteen episodes, considering half the cast had been eliminated in just eight episodes. Within the next five episodes, Kenny, Nurys, Nelson, Moriah, and Jordan were all eliminated. The final part of this twist was where all players were brought back into the game, with the exception of Nelson & Nurys, who were permanently eliminated since they were both a duo. The three remaining players and their ride-or-die then competed in one last elimination round. Kenny competed in the elimination with his sister Kaycee, Moriah competed with her partner Fessy, and Jordan competed with his partner Aneesa. The two winners returned to the game, while the losing ride-or-die pair would be eliminated. Kaycee & Kenny lost the elimination round and were both eliminated. Jordan and Moriah both officially returned to the game. That stretch of five episodes were quite anticlimactic because it really felt like the season was just dragging on and that the episodes seemed pointless given that two of them returned to the game.

There are now two eliminations left before TJ’s final. Within the next two episodes, Amber & Chauncey and Fessy & Moriah are both eliminated, this being the first time Fessy has ever lost an elimination. Those two episodes were also pretty boring considering not only were a lot of the remaining teams not likable, the season was also dragging on for about four months.

Now, for the moment everyone is waiting for. It is finally time for TJ’s final! Unfortunately, for all those anticipating a fun, difficult, final, it was the opposite! The final, consisting of eight players: Aneesa & Jordan, Bananas & Nany, Devin & Tori, and Horacio & Olivia, was spread across three episodes. It was also promoted as a one hundred hour final. Safe to say this final was long and uneventful. The first episode consisted of mostly just pointless carnival game checkpoints and running. The ending was really what ended the season for most fans. Olivia was attempting to complete one of the checkpoints. This checkpoint involved shooting golf balls at targets using a slingshot. Unfortunately for her, the slingshot reversed and the golf ball fired back at her face. She broke her face in numerous places, including her nose. This resulted in both her and Horacio being disqualified for the final. Understandably so, fans were not pleased. No headgear was provided and it was clear something like this was bound to happen. The second episode of the final was also uneventful. It was again just pointless checkpoints to fill time. No one was eliminated and it mainly consisted of Aneesa complaining. Considering the finale, it all came down to an elimination and a puzzle, the first two episodes did not entirely matter. So let’s just jump to the finale. To Devin & Tori’s defense, they did a good job throughout the final and led most of the way. Considering they were in the lead, the final elimination came down to Aneesa & Jordan and Bananas & Nany. Bananas & Nany eliminated Aneesa & Jordan and it came down to a puzzle. Bananas & Nany struggled to assemble the puzzle and Tori & Devin won. It was hard to see who exactly was in the lead considering the final challenge was in a tiny hallway. It was clear that Devin & Tori were the ones to win.

The final twist of the season was whether or not Devin & Tori would share some of their winnings with the other finalists. They chose to share some money. This is another element to the challenge that does not seem to work, it causes these larger veteran alliances and pre-made deals to be even stronger to ensure someone in the alliance will at least walk away with something. This makes for even more boring television.

Overall, the season seemed a little better than the thirty-seventh season due to a lot more recognizable players being cast but, the format once again felt stretched out which ultimately had a negative effect on the season outlook as a whole.