This is the seventh in a series of “The Challenge: Rivals 2″ team previews that will lead into the first power rankings of the season. Next up: the last of the women teams, Sarah and Trishelle
PAULA and EMILY
Where did we last see them? Paula and Emily took Battle of the Seasons off (at this point, try to name a fourth player to include from Real World: Key West or Real World: Washington D.C. to fill out their teams. Svetlana? Andrew the Panda?) and were last seen fueling their rivalry fire on Battle of the Exes.
The Rivalry: Paula and Emily have had an actual rivalry on several actual challenges dating back to Cuthroat and most recently on Battle of the Exes when Emily and Ty eliminated Paula and Dunbar.
Rivalry Meter on a scale of 1-10 (where 1 is a Leroy and Mike from Rivals I “Rivalry? They’re actually really good friends” rivalry and 10 is a Kenny and Wes from Rivals I “they have hated each other for years” RIVALRY) – 7, best Rivals I comparison: Evelyn and Paula
Highlights and Commentary from MTV bio:
“Heads turned and jaws dropped when one of the game’s most fearless players was teamed with a total bundle of nerves.”
The funny thing is, when I first read “one of the game’s most fearless players,” I thought of Emily and Paula. After her culminating and overdue Rivals I win, the player who has been on the most challenges (this is Paula’s 10th!) is a legitimate (and dare I say historic) The Challenge competitor. This admitted “total bundle of nerves” has managed to fuel it into something productive, her finale endurance is the strongest of any competitor, and she understands how to effectively play the interpersonal game with the best of them (including long-term male foil, Johnny Bananas). And yes, Emily is one of the “game’s most feared players” (more on this in a bit – just look at her abs).
“Emily relates, ‘Paula is a nut case. She is panicky and stressful. But she knows how to win a Final. She’s done it before and that’s something I can’t say.’”
Emily’s handle (her relating) on this essential fact – Paula knows how to win a final – must inspire a healthy degree of fear in the other women teams.
“Paired with such a huge physical threat, Paula already feels like she hit the jackpot when it comes to Rivals II, remarking, ‘I literally could not ask for a better partner. She is all quads and traps and muscles. She’s like a lost X-Man or something.’”
Emily as a lost X-Man (or something) is pretty close to it. Emily is a beast (or, to further the metaphor, is Beast?) and is hungry for her first The Challenge win. Once again, other teams – be warned.
“This veteran pair may have what it takes to compete in a Final, but they have to contend with a target on their backs from the moment they enter the game.”
There are targets on backs that can be dangerous (any time it is on Wes at this point, it seems to be for him) and there are targets on backs that consume other players away from a normally sound strategy. Emily, for all her affiliations with a Marvel Comics super team, has yet to put it all together for a win, and Paula, the savviest of Challenge women veterans, has never been of Laurel’s caliber in pre-finale challenges. It would then be wise for other teams to not put too much emphasis on bringing Emily and Paula down. In addition, with some very strong alliances and both with a healthy dose of payback (if you fail), it could be the most risky of moves.
Best-Case Scenario: Paula and Emily ride dominant play in challenges to a finale appearance. With Paula’s endurance and experience and Emily’s athletic prowess and competitive hunger, they put it all together to a Rivals 2 win.
Worst-Case Scenario: The target on their backs is a real thing and they are pinned against another strong team early in an elimination who they lose to.
The Verdict: Like, Jonna and Nany, a Paula/Emily tandem is good for TV, bad for the competition, and good for the possibility of increased cash in Paula and Emily’s bank accounts. 2013 Paula (a mellower version of her earlier Challenge self) is a reliable sound byte, a mentor and a counsel for new players (can’t you see her giving Jessica some sound advice?), and deserves much credit for coming to terms with some of her past struggles. Emily’s earnestness and well-meaning nature (set against that competitive fire) is most deserving of a win. Are they the frontrunners? Perhaps (wait to see the first power rankings), but at a minimum, both are a most welcome return to The Challenge.
Watch the Paula and Emily pre-interviews here.
Other team previews:
David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about MTV’s “The Challenge,” pop culture, and the NBA for Bishop and Company. His weekly “The Challenge: Rivals 2” power rankings will begin the week of July 10.