Culture Challenged will be following The Challenge: Free Agents every step of the way this season with commentary, interviews, recaps, Zapruder film analysis, and weekly power rankings.
The Men rankings can be found here: Part I Part II
And then it begins…on to part 1 of the The Challenge: Free Agents Preseason Power Rankings – Women Division.
PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS – WOMEN DIVISION
Where did we last see her? The last time we saw LaToya she was BFFing with Marie and giving Swifty the habitual cold shoulder on Real World:
Seclusion St. Thomas.
CHALLENGE History: She is a rookie on The Challenge: Free Agents.
From her MTV bio: Feisty and energetic, rookie LaToya comes into this game focused on one thing, making it to the end. LaToya reveals, “I don’t care about all the beefs. I’m here for the almighty dollar.” LaToya may not be into creating drama, but she isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. Upon learning the game-changing format, LaToya is confident about her chances despite her rookie status. She declares, “The new kids on the block actually have a chance, a strong chance at winning.” Look for this newbie to make an impression, but could her wild-card status make her a target?
Why would you sign LaToya? As the MTV bio contends, she is “feisty and energetic” and this can be a good thing. She did manage to stay out of most of the drama on her Real World season and seems to get along really well with other women. When push comes to shove, she will defend herself.
Why would you not sign LaToya? She appears to be a classic Challenge rookie: happy to be there, but not going to stay for very long – in year one you pay your dues. When watching Real World:
ill-advised location St. Thomas, the only person who seemed less of natural fit for The Challenge was Brandon. On a pure physical comparison, she may have a hard time up against the more physically dominating fellow women of this season (Laurel, Nia, Jemmye, Nany, Aneesa).
Potential Allies: Challenge rookies and sophomores like Jessica and Nia; I have a feeling she is going to hit it off with Jasmine
Potential Enemies: Have she and Swifty worked out their business? Veterans looking to target a rookie, but are afraid of Hurricane Nia may target LaToya.
Best-case scenario: Some internal dissension among the women target strong competitors first to go into eliminations, and LaToya sticks around longer than expected.
Worst-case scenario: LaToya’s rookie status places her in the first elimination and “The Draw” comes up with a veteran competitor who will not be losing to a rookie in a first elimination.
The Verdict: I am not sure what to make of LaToya’s participation this year on The Challenge, but I think it will be both short and memorable enough to want to see her come back another time.
Where did we last see her? Emilee’s last Challenge ride was as the original Captain of the Blue Team on Cutthroat. She and fellow Real World: Cancun castmate, Derek, were eliminated in the first episode.
CHALLENGE History: Free Agents will be Emilee’s second Challenge and the first episode of this season will also be her second episode on The Challenge in light of her aforementioned early elimination on Cutthroat (season 20).
From her MTV bio: Last seen being eliminated first on Cutthroat, Emilee is back for a second chance on Free Agents. This Boston native may not be the most intimidating athlete in the house, but believes she has what it takes to excel in other aspects of the game. She confides, “I’m really great when it comes to puzzles. I’ve got a brain and it’s not all good looks and girlish charm.” Fun and flirtatious, Emilee quickly sets her sights on a newly single guy, but discovers that on The Challenge, competition isn’t limited to the playing field. Watch for Emilee to make a new rival when they clash over one guy’s affections.
Why would you sign Emilee? Her first Challenge experience was so short that people may underestimate her. She could be afforded both the benefits of being a rookie (people are intrigued, fresh start) and may not have to face some of the downsides (first person targeted). She is a Boston native. Her little Real World: Cancun group of women could make some collective noise (and I am not referring to that one night a Challenge in which Jasmine has a little too much to drink).
Why would you not sign Emilee? For all intensive purposes, she is like a rookie and this may not be the best thing. Her elimination on Cutthroat was a long time ago and some of the game’s women power players have changed since then. There traditionally aren’t that many puzzles on The Challenge.
Potential Allies: Jonna and Jasmine (Cancun Strong); fellow “Bostonians” CT and Johnny and current resident Zach
Potential Enemies: Whomever this “new rival” is alluded to in her bio
Best-case scenario: The best-case scenario is that Emilee gets a favorable match-up in an early elimination, wins, and then manages to stay out of the limelight longer into this game than expected.
Worst case scenario: The winners have a soft spot for LaToya and are afraid of Nia, so Emilee is the next logical first women thrown into the first elimination.
The Verdict: This is a deep group of strong women and I just don’t see Emilee surviving beyond the first two or three episodes. Prove me wrong, fellow Bostonian!
Where did we last see her? We last saw Devyn, although a breakout interview star throughout the season, struggling to compete against the formidable Namibian Desert maelstrom that was the Battle of the Seasons final challenge.
CHALLENGE History: Battle of the Seasons (season 23) was Devyn’s first finals appearance on her first Challenge (fellow Brooklyn alums Sarah and Chet had a little bit to do with this).
From her MTV bio: We last saw Devyn being dragged up a sand dune by her teammates in the final challenge of Battle of the Seasons, where she took third place. Although you’re still more likely to find this NYC diva shopping on Fifth Avenue than hitting the gym, Devyn is ready to quiet the haters and prove it takes more than muscle to win The Challenge. She explains, “I’ve gotten a lot of comments that I’m not athletic or people think that I can’t compete. But I don’t think you have to be a fitness pro to win this.” Devyn is a shrewd political player and extremely well liked by her fellow competitors. Can Devyn make up for her weaknesses on the field with crafty gameplay? Or will this fierce fashionista unravel under pressure?
Why would you would sign Devyn? She has an infectious and hilarious personality and excels at the social game. Besides a situation in which teammates have to rely on her to perform athletically, she is always a joy to have around. Battle of the Seasons must have given a taste of what it means to compete, knowledge that she can use to her advantage this time around.
Why would you not sign Devyn? Despite her proclamations that you don’t have to be “a fitness pro to win this,” endurance is a component of the final challenge and if you don’t have it, you won’t be able to win. The Battle of the Seasons format played to her strengths (great teammate, positive attitude, hysterical), but Free Agents may play to her weaknesses (athletic and competitive drive).
Potential Allies: Doesn’t everyone get along with Devyn? She and LaToya are going to be fast friends (if only there were shopping options in Uruguay).
Potential Enemies: The heat of her hair
Best-case scenario: I think a finish somewhere in the middle is the best-case scenario for Devyn. The women at the top of this bracket are just too strong to make it that far. I can see her having a gutsy elimination win where she proves everybody wrong. There is also a scenario where other competitors keep her around because they see her as someone they can beat in the Finals. However, in a an every person for his or herself format, it is going to be most difficult to fall through any cracks and this scenario is highly unlikely.
Worst-case scenario: Her worst-case scenario is bad luck with “The Draw” and a tough elimination competitor to face because Devyn is not going to get picked to go in early eliminations.
The Verdict: Anything in the range of the top seven or eight women is a victory for Devyn and I have feeling she is going to get there, but not much further. We viewers all benefit from having her comedic potential around as long as possible, so let us hope that her sophomore slump is not too dramatic.
Where did we last see her? Nia was last seen embodying a natural weather phenomenon in the Real World: Portland house, leaving a path of fear, destruction, and devastation in her wake.
CHALLENGE History: Although Nia is a Challenge rookie, her stormy reputation will not be a surprise to anyone.
From her MTV bio: “Hurricane” Nia was last seen wreaking havoc on the Real World: Portland where she terrorized her roommates. Having matured and mellowed from the experience, this Challenge rookie assures that she is more interested in competition than stirring things up in the house. Nia declares, “I do intimidate people, but not on purpose. I don’t really know what it’s like to lose. I am going to win. There is no other option.” Nia may have the competitive drive it takes to win the Challenge, but will she be able to hold back her inner hurricane?
Why would you sign Nia? When she says, “I don’t really know what it’s like to lose. I am going to win,” you believe her. When she says, “I do intimidate people, but not on purpose,” the consideration of the intent is lost in the intimidation factor. She has spent lots of time around professional athletes (according to her book on dating) and may have picked up some moves. She is a tall and strong woman who will have many a physical advantage over the majority of her fellow women. A “matured and mellowed” Nia added on to the dominating force that she already is could be a dangerous thing for other competitors.
Why would you not sign Nia? “Will she be able to hold back her inner hurricane?” – this is a fair question. Those who do not fear her will want her eliminated as soon as possible.
Potential Allies: Jess (Portland Strong)
Potential Enemies: Certainly Johnny and maybe Jordan (Portland Not So Strong); There is no way she and Camila (a tropical storm at times in her own right) see eye to eye
Best-case scenario: Nia decidedly wins challenges and eliminations, corrals her weather systems, and works her way to a conceivable shot at the finals.
Worst-case scenario: Hurricane Nia detection has improved since Portland. Some of the savvier veterans target her early and often in an attempt to diffuse her threat.
The Verdict: Part of the experience of Hurricane Nia on Real World: Portland was unpredictability. Unpredictability is not something that usually succeeds on The Challenge. I think Nia may struggle to find her footing in her rookie campaign.
SOMETHING TO PROVE
Where did we last see her? An original competitor from Fresh Meat II, Theresa had one of her most memorable Challenges on Rivals 2. Unfortunately, the erroneous team vote for Leroy ended up being strategically misguided.
CHALLENGE History: Free Agents will be Theresa’s fifth season. Previous seasons include Fresh Meat II (season 19), Cutthroat (season 20), Rivals (season 21), and Rivals 2 (season 24). Her best previous finish was Top 5 (among women) on Fresh Meat II.
From her MTV bio: Returning for her fifth challenge, Theresa is optimistic about her chances in Free Agents. Hampered in past games by relationship drama and unreliable partners, Theresa is ready to let her impressive athletic abilities speak for themselves. She explains, “Since my friends usually always screw me over in this game, I love that I can rely on myself and only myself.” Theresa may be comfortable with the physical aspects of the Challenge, but she’ll have to dig deep to harness the mental toughness it takes to win. Theresa notes, “If you get me riled up, I don’t keep my cool.” Will Free Agents give Theresa the opportunity to shine? Or is she one outburst away from a plane ticket home?
Why would you sign Theresa? Like her Fresh Meat II cast mate Brandon, this could be a make or break season for Theresa on The Challenge, so her level of competitiveness may be heightened. She has not traditionally been matched with the most dominant teams or partners, so the individual format could be to her advantage. She is one tough cookie and will not back down from anyone (This pugnacity landed her spots on Rivals opposite Camila and Rivals 2 opposite Jasmine). You can sense her hunger.
Why would you not sign Theresa? Despite circumstances out of her control, her track record is not the strongest (she has never been within an elimination of the finals). Relationship drama seems to follow her during most Challenges. Her pugnacity is sometimes on the edge of volatility.
Potential Allies: Jasmine (Rivals 2 Strong)
Potential Enemies: Laurel, Cara Maria; Things did not end well with Jordan
Best-case scenario: The Free Agents format caters to Theresa’s talents and she becomes one of the key competitors in challenges, winning some, and avoiding early eliminations. With a little bit of luck from the infamous “The Draw,” she could be a long shot to make the finals.
Worst-case scenario: She seals her partner for Rivals 3 early on. This bodes well for her return for another season, but does not bode well for Free Agents.
The Verdict: I could go either way on Theresa. She and Nia are definitely the two from the back half of the preseason rankings who I would not be surprised to see in the top group at the end. I do not for a second question Theresa’s drive to compete and have a hunch she is going to be around for a while, but if the trailer does in fact show us an elimination round against Laurel, that will mark the end of her game.
Where did we last see her? We last saw Jasmine, despite an embarrassing women voting debacle in her second to last week, have one of her best Challenge performances to date on Rivals 2 (while partnered with Theresa).
CHALLENGE History: Incredibly, Free Agents is Jasmine’s fifth straight season on The Challenge. Previously she appeared on Rivals (season 21), Battle of the Exes (season 22), Battle of the Seasons (season 23), and Rivals 2 (season 24). Her best finish was in the top 8 (of women) on Battle of the Seasons.
From her MTV bio: Pint-size siren Jasmine made it halfway through Rivals II paired with her nemesis, Theresa. Having conquered her fears, Jasmine is excited to compete on her own. Jasmine reveals, “Free Agents, this is the kind of challenge for me. I think people are going to be really surprised because I can really hold my own and I’ve got some fight in me.” Prepared for anything, Jasmine is determined to enjoy her time on Free Agents and immediately sets her sights on a younger man. Jasmine confesses, “I’m single, I’m gonna have a little bit of fun. So, that’s what I’m gonna do right now.” Will Jasmine’s small stature hold her back? Or can she prove Free Agents really is anyone’s game?
Why would you sign Jasmine? Jasmine can be so much fun to have around and now that she is “single,” watch out. No one has ever questioned her fight or drive (maybe her state of sanity when intoxicated though). Despite a slightly better finish on Battle of the Seasons than on Rivals 2, she has performed so much better on her last two Challenges than she did on her first two Challenges. She is trending up for a reason.
Why would you not sign Jasmine? Her size continues to have some limitations in physical challenges and the women this season are not getting any smaller. Her track record on The Challenge is mixed at best and Jasmine may be better served on a larger team (as was the case on Battle of the Seasons) than all by herself.
Potential Allies: It’s complicated, but Jonna and Emilee (interesting Real World: Cancun cohort), Theresa (Rivals 2 strong)
Potential Enemies: Dating back to her first two seasons…wine glasses.
Best-case scenario: Jasmine gets lucky, stays out of eliminations because of her strong social game, and when she does have to go in, faces someone who she can beat. She lasts until the middle of the season.
Worst-case scenario: The worst-case scenario involves some misfortune courtesy of “The Draw” and is then physically overmatched in an early elimination.
The Verdict: Barring some crummy luck, Jasmine is going to make it into the middle rounds of this game (Top 8 or 9 women), but will not go much further than that.
Where did we last see her? We last saw Jonna struggle with electrocution and partner communication on her second to last challenge before losing to Cara Maria and Cooke in a late game Rivals 2 Jungle Elimination.
CHALLENGE History: Free Agents will be Jonna’s third straight Challenge season and fourth overall. Her Team Cancun almost made the finals on Battle of the Seasons (season 23). She was on Rivals (season 21) and Rivals 2 (season 24).
From her MTV bio: Reeling from a series of dramatic Challenge showmances, Jonna has one priority this season, herself. She confesses, “Every single Challenge that I competed in, I’ve always been concerned about someone else. But this time around it’s about me.” With a brand-new mindset, Jonna comes into Free Agents on a mission to prove she’s a real contender, “I’m here to prove to everyone and even more importantly, prove to myself that I am a strong, confident woman.” Will Jonna succeed on her mission and reach a final at last? Or will she once again become a Challenge casualty?
Why would you sign Jonna? Each of the past two seasons, she has had strong male partnerships. She is a strong performer in challenges. As stated in her bio, she comes into Free Agents with a little chip on her shoulder and something to prove to the competition.
Why would you not sign Jonna? Can she stay away from showmances that may not always be the best thing for her game? Jonna can sometimes have rocky relationships with some of the other women competitors. She has yet to prove how well she can do on her own (strong teams and partnerships have helped her succeed on the last two seasons)
Potential Allies: Jasmine and Emilee (Cancun Strong); Nany (Rivals 2 Strong); Frank
Potential Enemies: What remains from her relationships with Zach and Jordan?
Best-case scenario: Jonna gets her game over the hump, is all about Jonna, and competes at the kind of high level she is capable of, giving her an outside shot into the top group of finals prospective participants.
Worst-case scenario: Jonna has another shomance, but this time, the Free Agents format puts a target on her chest that forces her into an early elimination against the not so luck of “The Draw.”
The Verdict: On a totally subjective hunch, I would not be surprised if this is not Jonna’s best season and she leaves the show earlier than expected. I could also be easily convinced of the opposite, but I will embrace and own my feeling that Jonna will “once again become a Challenge casualty.”
READY TO SHOCK
Where did we last see her? We last saw Jess, albeit ever so briefly, earning her Challenge nickname, Princess Hulk, for her valiant performance in defeat in the second episode of Rivals 2.
CHALLENGE History: Free Agents is Jessica’s second season on The Challenge. She and partner Anastasia (a tough go on her first The Challenge season) were eliminated in their second episode.
From her MTV bio: Good girl Jessica left Rivals II following her partner Anastasia’s epic meltdown. No longer held back by a teammate, Free Agents is Jessica’s chance to show what she’s made of. Jessica proclaims, “I don’t think people see me as a threat this time because I didn’t last very long in the previous Challenge. I have to play it cool and then just bam, hit them with it.” Although she claims she’s not looking for romance in the house, Jessica is all smiles when she makes an instant love connection. Don’t underestimate this former pageant queen—when it comes to performing in challenges, she just might shock everyone.
Why would you sign Jessica? Jessica is making personal training her profession and enters Free Agents in phenomenal shape. When asked to perform athletically (anything involving heights may be the exception), she is primed to dominate. Without many complicated past relationships, she brings a fresh perspective to the festivities that will be particularly useful in the “nothing to lose, everything to win” solo mission that will be Free Agents.
Why would you not sign Jessica? Her first season could not have been shorter, so she comes into Free Agents as basically a rookie. She is not too aware of the hows and whys of the social/strategic game.
Potential Allies: Nia (Portland Strong), LaToya
Potential Enemies: Zach; CT; unnecessary drama; Camila
Best-case scenario: Get ready: Jessica’s best-case scenario is an outside chance at being in the top group of women with a potential shot at making the finals.
Worst-case scenario: Free Agents is dominated by veteran alliances and Jess is unable to clean off the lingering rookie dust, forcing her into early elimination battles against formidable foes pulled from “The Draw.”
The Verdict: My The Challenge bold predictions have always had a wide range of outcomes (some obviously more successful than others), but I won’t let it stop me here. Bold Prediction: Jessica “might just shock everyone” and is a dark horse candidate to make the finals. I was surprised when she made an appearance in one the few MTV promotional videos airing on television (one featured CT, one featured Bananas, one featured the always entertaining, Camila) and I have a feeling that this was intentional on MTV’s part. I look for her to have a breakout second season on The Challenge: Free Agents.
PART II will come out later in the week.