HOLLYWOOD—I have been a fan of the MTV reality competition “The Challenge” for years and when I say years, I talking about the ‘golden days’ when it was a battle between contestants who appeared on the reality series “The Real World” and “Campus Rules.” Since those shows have ended, “The Challenge” has become a bit of a global phenomenon with contestants from various reality shows (some you have heard of and some you have not) competing for some major money.

Some might make the argument that “The Challenge” is similar to “Survivor” and “Big Brother,” but I would argue that “The Challenge” is a lot more intense with the competitions and it’s a lot more entertaining in my personal opinion. We have characters, but on top of that the stakes have been raised to new heights with the contestants being forced to COMPETE and win in other to have an opportunity at a run in TJ Lavin’s final. Yes, those days of skating by without having to compete, oh, they are over people and I love it.

The latest iteration, ‘Double Agents’ is a tantalizing game where it has become crystal clear: worry only about yourself and no one else. There have been faces that you just get tired of seeing, it’s like go away, get a real job, do anything, but be on my TV screen. This season I am stoked to see CT and Darrell back in the mix. CT is an actual veteran as is Darrell. Darrell has NOT been seen for quite some time, and the guy is a boxer people, remember that punch he delivered to Brad’s face? And for those not in the know he has won four times in a row. No other player has accomplished such a feat.

On top of that we have some faces I’m happy to see as I know they bring drama in Lolo Jones, Wes and Josh. Lolo is a firecracker and Josh just fuels off and sometimes doesn’t deliver that big game that he tends to talk. We’re dealing with a lot of players people, a total of 30, that’s a lot, so when the players learned they would be playing with partners, it changed everything. That is right, and on top of that the twist is if you win in an elimination you can stay with the partner you were assigned  or you can swap for someone else. Hence the notion of being a double agent.

There are people as I noted I’m tired of seeing because they’ve played so many times and have never come away with a victory. I’m talking about you Nany and Leroy. I mean 10 seasons each and to never have a victory, that has to be brutal people and perhaps you’re just not cut out to win a final. There are also fresh faces I’m happy to see Natalie Anderson from “Survivor” season 29, as well as Jay who competed last season on “The Challenge.” Other fresh faces include BB alum Amber from “Big Brother 16” and returning BB alums Fessy and Kaycee who competed on BB20. Fessy is more entertaining TV than Kaycee who has to be the most boring thing on TV people.

The premiere kicked off in a big way with everyone being chummy, but then the game started and the strategizing, the lying the manipulating kicked into massive gear. This first episode really set the stage for some major chaos slated to come this way. For starters, the first challenge was all about memory colors in a puzzle. With that said, it was Anessa and Fessy (yes that Fessy) who earned the victory.

Now the fun begins as TJ delivered the first twist of the game: they would be playing as pairs. So how would the pairs be decided, well Anessa had first pick as she had the fastest time in the challenge and she chose Fessy of all people. He did not seem happy at first people, but he warmed up to the idea.

Then it was a free for all as TJ told the players to pair up. I thought at first Anessa and Fessy might get the opportunity to assign the pairs, that would have been exciting. With that said, the next twist kicks in: the players who lost the challenge had to decide which pair (a man and woman) would be sent into the ‘Crater’ to do battle.

Kam felt slighted that CT didn’t want to pair with her and took that to heart and decided to push for CT and his partner Ashley to be put into elimination. CT pleaded his case to the house, but it feel on deaf ears as the majority of the house voted for CT and Ashley to go into battle. However, here is the double agent twist: the winning pair for the challenge, would determine the other pair to go into battle against the house choice.

There is more to the game though: that winning pair could see WHO voted for who? Yeah, it makes things very exciting America. Now we get to the best part of the season, TJ announced there are only 10, yes ONLY 10 gold skulls this season and you have to have one to run his final. Only 10 people can compete in the final and with that said, CT and Ashley were entering the battle ground, and Anessa and Fessy voted in Wes and Natalie.

I was geared for a male and female battle, but nope, it was a female elimination. That threw the contestants for a loop. The challenge was one of strength and precision as Natalie and Ashley where virtually hog tied their arms and legs to a pole and had to move from one end and all the way back for victory. It looked tough, but Natalie won, sending Ashley packing.

The best part of the episode was the final moments when TJ delivered a game changing twist unlike anything seen in the game. For once, winning in the elimination does not just guarantee you stay in the game, but you get to shake up the game. Natalie now has the option to keep Wes as her partner, steal CT or wait for it, any of the contestants still in the game.

So this whole idea of playing with numbers could work to a degree of success, not when things are constantly shifting in the game where power players can be taken at any given opportunity. I am so excited by this twist and cannot wait to see how it plays out the rest of the season. Get ready for backstabbing unlike anything you have ever seen. “The Challenge: Double Agents” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on MTV.

Written By LaDale Anderson