The Challenge War of the Worlds 2 — Ep 1 Recap + Extra Thots

The much heralded 34th season of MTV’s long-running reality TV competition, The Challenge, finally premiered last night! And let me tell you, it was LIT! 🔥

Not only do we have 90 minute episodes this season (or a full hour of action-packed TV if you’re lucky enough to watch without commercials), but we have:

  • the return of Laurel and Jordan (both dominant forces)

In addition to loud personalities, shameless flirts, a beautiful house, lush scenery, the inimitable TJ, and plenty of eye candy, including stripper Rogan, who is not afraid to get down and dirty.

Oh, and did I mention? Innovative twists that actually seem like good ideas that will add an extra level of strategy to the game, instead of protracted Redemption Houses, convoluted rules, and unfair advantages. But we’ll get to that.

I’ll give a recap below, with some thots sprinkled through, but obviously (hopefully) you already watched the episode — so feel free to skip down the funny / interesting / polarizing part of this article, Extra Thots.

What happened in the episode?

Opening Challenge

The show starts with the US and UK teams rolling up to the opening Challenge in army trucks. We see the Americans first and their reactions as the Brits appear. The US competitors departed before the UK ones + Reinforcements did, so while most of their shock was for show, I’m sure there were some surprises.

First daily is “Trench Warfare” — essentially hardcore capture the flag. Each person has to retrieve 2 flags from the opponent’s side and transfer them back to their own side, running through a narrow aisle and climbing over a sandbag wall along the way.

It’s speed and it’s brawn, but ultimately it’s not about who is fastest. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so the team should focus on helping their members out and not just trying to be the first to “get it done.”

Unfortunately, experience brings expertise, and most people didn’t get this strategy. Paulie is the 1st back for Team US, just like he was the first finisher on the opening Challenge of War of the Worlds 1. He’s good.

But it ultimately comes down to the biggest girl (Laurel) vs. the smallest girl (Big T, who seemed proud to admit she hasn’t been in a gym for 12 years). Laurel blocks poor Tula from running back to her side, allowing Faith to return and clinch the win for Team US.

(Sidenote — I thought Faith was better than this, tf? Also, I expected Jenny to be a tank, since she’s a bodybuilder, but Tori knocked her down with ease. Conversely, Idris rocked Wes just like Aneesa did to Jenna on XXX, and it was a beautiful sight.)

Picking Reinforcements

This means the Americans got to dictate who of the Reinforcements would join their team. Obviously, they pick Ninja over Dee. Not that Dee is bad (she’s under-rated), but Ninja essentially just won the previous season, being the only woman to cross the finish line of the longest final in Challenge herstory.

Then it’s between Turbo and CT. To me, it’s an obvious choice. Similar to Ninja, Turbo was the sole winner of WotW1 and stomped the final like it was nothing. He is well-rounded and his only apparent weakness is mastery of the English language (which leads to some entertaining confessionals).

So why is it an argument? Well, Cara and Wes are both CT’s Challenge besties, having worked together before and attended his wedding. Hell, Weston was Best Man!

Ashley M also advocates for CT, likely since they struck up a friendship by winning Invasion at the same time and being on all 3 Champs vs ____ spin-offs together (along with Wes). Johnny, Zach, and Kam also acknowledge his strengths

But ultimately the arguments of Jordan, Paulie, and Josh win out, as Team US picks Turbo, thereby making them the most stacked team in Challenge history. Yes, more so than the Vets on Gauntlet 3 (who were weighed down by Casey, Katie, Beth, and especially Big Easy) and Champs on The Ruins (who had the anchors of Syrus, Ibis, and Katie again).

In comparison, the only people who have done more than 2 seasons on Team UK are Kyle and CT. Neither of whom are bad, but they don’t compare to Turbo, Jordan, Paulie, and Wes. Sure, Joss and Theo got second place and Kayleigh is under-rated, but on The Challenge, experience is king.

Plus, the only debuts this season are on Team UK: Nicole, Jenny, Big T (who turns out is actually small), Esther, Idris, and Sean. Hoping it’s not a steamrolling, but a twist might help with that.

Drawma, Mawma

They enter the house and get settled in. Laurel and Cara are at odds, big surprise. Nany cackles with Laurel about it. CT talks with Cara (and Paulie) about how he wasn’t chosen to join Team US, which he was looking forward to. Josh and Georgia are both empaths and then he sneaks a kiss on her. Unexpected couple #2. Oh, I forgot to mention #1, which is how Laurel finds Bear cute. Ugh, no, girl, you can do so much better.

But the pièce de résistance is the famed fight between Josh and CT. Josh is in the UK room (since they’re segregated for some reason?) with Laurel and Kyle, and CT doesn’t want him there. He tells him to get out, and Josh doesn’t. CT gets pissed and walks away, and Josh calls him an asshole, which causes Chris to return. Good on Josh, though, because he does not kowtow. They go face-to-face and it’s honestly humorous, because CT is supposed to be this Big Bad, but he is the same height and size as Josh, if not an inch shorter.

CT tries to intimidate, Josh doesn’t back down (because who would listen when someone is telling him to get out of their room? is this elementary school), production gets involved, people get hyped up, and we finally see the good ol’ Masshole back. Now look, I don’t think he came out of the confrontation looking good, but I am H E R E for angry CT again. Obviously the betrayal he felt by Wes, Cara, and his other veteran friends precipitated this meltdown, but he was PISSED and I guess decided to take it out on Josh, the perceived weakest on Team US, when he really should have hashed it out with his previous allies who seemingly didn’t try hard enough.

Anyway, hilariously, CT storms into the gym and starts doing squats while grunting/yelling. It was only like 200lbs so I’m unimpressed, but I welcome problematic angry CT back with open arms.

What else happens? Bullet mode.

  • Wes strikes a deal with Joss + Rogan, aka #Jogan.


  • This plays out in Team UK voting Sean into elimination. Big T comes to his defense and tries to get Bear voted in, but to no avail.


  • Is called the “Proving Ground.” Which is legit the worst name for an elimination arena in Challenge history. Yes, worse than the “Killing Floor” and “the Presidio.” The upside is that it looks badass.


  • Then we find out an exciting twist. The elimination winner can decide which team to return to — they can “renounce their allegiance to their country.” Many of us have been hoping for this for literal years. It would have helped Camila and Brandon N on Cutthroat and Sarah G on Gauntlet 1. So I’m psyched about it, and it adds a whole ‘nother level of strategy. I really hope we see people use it to their advantage. It’s ballsy but could be beneficial for Wes (who has his good allies Dee and CT on Team UK, plus a bunch of rookies he can try to manipulate) or Kyle (who really fits in better with the Americans, and was not in the British Alliance last season). Like RuPaul says — I can’t WAIT to see how this turns out.

Extra Thots

Ogay, that recap turned out a lot longer than I anticipated, but I am not known for my brevity, sorry not sorry. The REAL things I can add are in this section, Extra Thots (a name which could also apply to some cast members). It’s hot takes, funny confessionals, insights about casting, and the like. Enjoy, and would love to hear why I’m wrong about all of them!

  • While I am excited about the cast overall, I wish they had made some slight changes. Y’all know I’m not a fan of Leroy and see him as a wasted spot, since he doesn’t actively try to switch up his game and improve upon his weaknesses in order to actually win one. I know they cast him for the RoyLee-Kam-Theo love triangle, but that’s boring to me.

Anygay, some funny moments and quotes:

  • TJ said Ninja is “the best climber in Challenge history.” Alton & Landon found dead ⚰️

And that’s it for now!

No guarantees I’ll do this every week but I hope y’all had a chuckle or 2.



I write about MTV’s The Challenge, with a queer / social justice / critical analysis bent. #UnspoiledGang

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I write about MTV’s The Challenge, with a queer / social justice / critical analysis bent. #UnspoiledGang