the challenge free agents

In the 25th installment of MTV's infamous competition show, we finally abandoned the old playbook. This time around, all of the competitors are individual players and no one is playing as part of a team. They've played with their exes, with their rivals, and with newbies, but this season, it's all about flyin' solo.

The cast, a healthy mix of challenge veterans (hi, CT!), long-forgotten Real World participants (who's Isaac?), and rookies, will spend this season in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The players on The Challenge: Free Agents will compete for an individual $125,000 prize for the men and women. Not too shabby, huh?

And as they moved into the decked out mansion, because this is MTV, of course, we quickly saw the drinks flowing, the pool dives starting, and new romances blossoming. Remember Dustin and Heather, who charmed their way into our hearts on Real World: Las Vegas? Yeah, they're dunzo. And although Dustin promised his ex that he wouldn't find a challenge hookup, his romance with Jessica (Real World: Portland) promptly began on night one.

But before we can see too much debauchery happen, the cast was taken out to their first challenge: "Out on a Ledge." In classic Challenge style, it had every element of a competition: endurance, puzzle, and genuine fear. First, the two teams (which were led by Chet and Naya) had to run up 42 flights of stairs, then had to complete a jigsaw puzzle, walk across a rolling log while suspended over 40 stories in the air, retrieve a flag, and ring a bell.

The game seemed simple, but when LaToya passed out after completing the stair portion, she was taken to the hospital. The teams continued competing and Jessica, who has openly talked about her fear of heights, completed the third part of the game and won the challenge for her team.

After Naya's team was handed its first win of the season, host TJ Lavin threw in another interesting plot twist. The winning team would choose a man and a woman from the losing team to go into the elimination round. Their competitor would be chosen by pure, blind luck. All members from the losing team were eligible for the draw and could be chosen (at the absolute last possible moment) to enter the elimination round. Yeah, I wouldn't be cool with those odds either, guys.

So when Chet (as captain of the losing team, this one was just too easy) and LaToya (really guys, the girl passed out earlier that afternoon) were selected into the elimination round, it was high time for everyone else to panic. Which they very well should have. When Jemmye and Frank each selected the death card and were placed into the round, everyone was shocked. Frank has been a challenge beast for the past several seasons and never would have gone into the elimination, especially on night one.

Ultimately, Chet eliminated himself after his duel with Frank got too bloody, and LaToya rightfully beat Jemmye. And that was just the first episode. We're in for a brutal season, and Johnny Bananas got it perfectly right: "If it's this ugly this early on, it's only going to get worse." And I can't wait.

What did you think of the premiere and the new format?

 

Image via MTV