By Molly Freeman, Hollywood Staff
The MTV reality competition series The Challenge is sort of like the Olympics, except twice a year and with way more public intoxication. With its newest season, however, MTV has switched up the typical format of the show.
Usually contestants are split up into pairs or teams based on a variety of categorizations - Rivals, Exes, and Seasons - but on The Challenge: Free Agents, everyone is on his or her own. However, there's a twist. (Isn't there always?) Each episode when the competitors show up to that day's challenge, they don't know if they'll be participating alone or with other players, and when they do compete with others, it will be a random drawing. Then, anyone who doesn't win that day's challenge is eligible for elimination - either the winners will vote an elimination player in or they'll win the draw, a torturous chance game that's basically choosing straws (but actually entails flipping over cards, one of which has a skull and crossbones on it).
So, the stakes are higher, and the challengers need to watch their backs. One day they could compete on a huge team and the next they'll face a challenge on their own. Under those circumstances, it will be hard to form alliances, though that doesn't mean they won't try.
Since only the winners of that day's challenge will be safe from elimination, we're going to see the players get desperate. In previous seasons, participants were willing to throw challenges for the sake of an alliance - but when everyone is a free agent, they're going to be looking out for themselves and themselves alone.
If the premiere is anything to go by, the higher stakes and desperation are going to lead to more failed alliances, more backstabbing, more enemies, more fights, and more drama. So we think we're in for a particularly brutal - and entertaining - season of The Challenge.