Tag Archives: The Dome

T.J. Lavin’s Masterpiece Theatre: Episode Three

9 Feb

[Our ongoing Swanky coverage of The Challenge: Battle of the Exes.  For an introduction, go here.  For the episodes: One, Two]

The Fighter

We can’t choose our family, and for better or worse, we’re connected to them throughout our life.  The trials and tribulations that go along with having a dysfunctional family were a central part of “The Fighter,” in which boxer Micky Ward’s professional hopes are almost permanently derailed by the actions of his family, particularly his brother Dickie.  Even though Dickie’s flaws nearly become fatal for Micky’s career, Micky could never truly shake Dickie from his life, and their fates are permanently intertwined.  Which leads us to Battle of the Exes.

Episode Three emphasizes that the contestants’ partners are their family in the game – you can’t choose them, you can’t shake them, and they could very well bring you down.  There are Dickies all over the Challenge house, barely keeping their demons and issues at bay, while the Mickys keep fighting and hoping that their partner’s flaws won’t prove fatal.  So far, two players have been unceremoniously cut from the game solely due to their partners (one of them literally) slipping up.  And one of the strongest contestants of the season, Leroy, was felled this episode in a final Dome challenge that was a perfect visual representation of one partner holding the other back.  This season is as much about surviving your teammate as it is surviving the other teams.

The teams that are still standing by the end of Episode Three are by no means out of the woods when it comes to dealing with their weak links.  A short breakdown of the Micky/Dickie dynamics of the remaining contenders, in no particular order:

CT=Micky.  Diem=Dickie.  A close one, as CT’s past has indicated that he could be sent home at any minute for attempting to snap someone in half.  But CT seems to have his shit together for now, while Diem is one Masshole crack away from breaking down when it matters most.

Cara Maria=Micky.  Abe=Dickie.  Even though Cara Maria isn’t as strong physically and can occasionally burst into tears, Abe is beginning to swing back and forth between calm and insane intensity with more frequency.  If I were a contestant, I would pick the bunk farthest from his, and that’s not a good sign.

Emily=Micky.  Ty=Dickie.  Emily is clearly more stable emotionally than Ty, and she might very well be able to challenge him physically.  Ty continues to remind us of a petulant tween who’s constantly one comment away from a tearful and violent tantrum.

Mark=Micky.  Robin=Dickie.  These two veterans have stayed mostly out of the spotlight for now, so there hasn’t been much insight into their dynamic.  But based on the past, Robin has been more than willing to oblige the cameras with tears- and alcohol-fueled meltdowns that can prove costly.

Dunbar=Micky.  Paula=Dickie.  This is a no-brainer.  As much as she has seemed calm for the first part of this season, we have seen far too much of Paula Walnuts to think that she’s gone away for good.

Rachel=Micky.  Aneesa=Dickie.  Rachel has been one of the most level-headed people in the game to this point, and she seems to be the constant to Aneesa’s variable.  We’ve already seen Aneesa help Leroy patent the “sit-on-my-face” dance move, indicating that she’ll find love wherever she pleases, and she seems primed for at least one vocally violent confrontation before her time is up.

Johnny=Micky.  Camila=Dickie.  Johnny is a hardened Challenge veteran, and he knows all the tricks of the trade by now.  He’s reliable to take care of his shit.  Camila has kept it together so far, but she has shown in the past that she can care more about proving her point or protecting her pride than winning a Challenge.  Johnny will have to watch out for her.

Tyrie=Dickie.  Jasmine=Dickie.  We’ve tried looking at this from every angle to see which one of this team could be the Micky, and it just doesn’t work.  They’ve already come to blows in the first episode, and if this were real life instead of the Challenge, dual restraining orders would have been issued a long time ago(if that’s legally possible).  Tyrie seems to be calmer than Jasmine on average, as she seems on the edge of a meltdown at all times, but directing the phrases “You punch like a bitch,” and “Kiss my black ass” at your female partner does not merit a Micky label.  Could two Dickies take this Challenge down?  It’s definitely an unconventional method, but stranger things have happened.  Stay tuned.

Liner Notes

Last week, we bestowed the Swanky stamp of approval on Leroy, and it turned out to be the kiss of death.  We’re sorry, Leroy.  Going to take a break from the stamps of approval for a bit.

Speaking of Leroy, the mid-commercial interlude scene in which he’s giving CT a haircut was the best moment of the episode.  At the very least, the producers need to start work on a “Leroy and CT’s Barbershop” web series right now.  Having those two bullshit with each other and then clowning on new guests every week would be amazing.  We would say at least put them on a team next season, but that would just be unfair for everyone else.

T.J. threw a ‘hang-loose’ sign at the end of the Dome, so we urge you to take his advice and we’ll see you next week.


T.J. Lavin’s Masterpiece Theatre: Episode Two

3 Feb

[Our ongoing Swanky coverage of The Challenge: Battle of the Exes.  For an introduction, go here]


“And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”  So proclaims Russel Crowe, as Roman warrior Maximus, in the film “Gladiator.”  And so proclaimed Vinny, with much less eloquence and much more grunting, in Episode Two of Battle of the Exes.  Now, what Vinny did to Mandi on the dance floor was deplorable, and should not put him on the same heroic level of Maximus, by any means.  But for the sake of our tenuous connection here, we are going to put that aside and look at the bigger picture.  And the picture in Episode Two was one of Vinny exacting his clumsy vengeance on Wes, even if it cost him his own Challenge ‘life’ in the process.

Maximus made true on his promise for revenge by killing the slimy Commodus, but he did so at the expense of his own life.  Commodus was responsible for the death of Maximus’ family, and although it was a long and arduous journey, Maximus was finally able to get the powerful Commodus in a weak position, and killed him on the Coliseum floor.  In this episode of Battle of the Exes, the mighty Wes, responsible for taking out Vinny and many other contestants over the past several challenges, finally found himself in a position of weakness.  Once the garishly tattooed combo of Sarah and the Big Tan Baby locked up their status as the deciding Power Couple of the week,  Baby made it well known that he had a personal score to settle with Emperor Wes.  But as with Maximus, revenge was going to come at a high cost.

This episode saw the first ‘going-out’ segment of the season, and we all know by now that this means poor decisions are on the horizon.  Self-control is not a common trait among Challenge stars, and alcohol-soaked dance floors in tropical countries have been the downfall of many a past contestant.  Vinny, showing us a nightmarish alternate version of Jersey Shore, fell on his own gladiatorial sword by boorishly ripping off Mandi’s top and stumbling off into the night.  After this point, Vinny’s fate was sealed, but T.J. (he’s pulling all the string here) allowed him to stay long enough to take Wes down with him.  Shortly afterwards, T.J. showed up with a delightful smirk and Vinny was booted from the house,  unfairly taking Sarah with him.

As Maximus’ vengeance was finally realized on the sands of the Coliseum floor, so too was Vinny’s, as Wes was left gasping for air under the Dome, staring at an early exit.  The saga of Wes and Vinny is probably not over, as it seemed that Wes was eager to introduce Vin to ‘his boys’ and ‘an alley’ somewhere in the outside world.  Hopefully this won’t actually happen and leave them both in prison, as their bumbling showdowns in future Challenges should prove entertaining.

Liner Notes

With his performance in this week’s episode, Leroy is coming on strong as a Challenge powerhouse, both in physical challenges and in social dynamics.  The dance move in which he basically has Aneesa sit on his face would be more than enough for a memorable episode performance, but he was also able to throw in an excellent wide-eyed reaction to Naomi’s urgent and well-thought-out assertion that they should sleep together, for competition’s sake.  Leroy has the Swanky stamp of approval.

He may be somewhat under-the-radar for now, but the seeds for a CT meltdown are quietly being sown, and hopefully we will get to see them flower this season.  Diem seems to be pushing every button that CT has, and the CT I know is not going to take this forever.  He acted calm this week when Diem pretty much shut down the competition to prove some kind of point (that she sucks?) but his competitive juices had to be boiling.  Keep an eye on the CT meter, because it’s starting to rise.