The Challenge is taking a page out of the Survivor handbook on Battle of the Exes II and implementing The Challenge Exile this season. Or rather, an Ex-ile (MTV figured out that there were a lot of words with "ex" as their prefix somewhere around Real World: Ex-Plosion and there was simply no going back). As on Survivor — although The Challenge's new land of the losers is technically more like Redemption Island than Exile Island — the Ex-ile offers the opportunity for an eliminated team to get back in the game at a much later point. Now, if only they'd give the contestants minimal food, let them get nice and dehydrated, and then give them alcohol as a reward... oh, wait.
The difference here is that the other Challenge teams don't know that one of the teams they've sent home will eventually be returning. This is the first time anything like this has ever been planned in Challenge history. There have been times when the most recently eliminated person, or someone who just happened to be available, have been brought back because another cast member had to make an untimely exit, but this is the first time that MTV has been banking on it. Perhaps they just thought it was finally time they have an exit strategy.
No, no, you're right — they just really wanted to make one more Ex-es pun.
How Does It Work?
Shortly after becoming the first team to be eliminated, Dustin and Jessica were informed that it wasn't quite so cut and dry: Each newly eliminated team, rather than being sent home, will be sent to the Ex-ile house. There, the losing teams will compete against each other for one spot back into the game. That reentrance was originally planned to come in the final challenge, but it's been rumored by the topnotch Challenge theorists over at Vevmo that the returning team will actually come in a little sooner due to CT and Diem's unfortunate early exit.
Jessica & Dustin
So far, the reigning Ex-ile team is still Dustin and Jessica, having taken out Thomas and Hailey in the first round of Ex-ile battling. It was a lucky turn for MTV that the first team in the Ex-ile house were a semi-vet team rather than, say, an Are You The One team: there would be little incentive to go online and check in on the Ex-ile side hustle if all of the rookie teams were eliminated first, but we can at least sort of root for Dustin and Jessica, and it seems like a few rookie teams might really make a name for themselves this year. Not to mention, Dustin and Jessica have boundless energy, are barely exes, and seem to be having a pretty good time hanging out in their own personal Ex-ile kingdom.
While the reactions from the non-eliminated teams to finding out that teams they've gotten out of the game have actually been competing to get back in behind closed doors will certainly be delicious, the best past of any Exile Island situation (Biggest Loser also tried their hand at one this season) is that everyone loves a second chance story. Teams that don't deserve to be there are frequently eliminated on The Challenge, but sometimes a really great team slips through the cracks due to politics and one bad performance. That one team this season could get both one bad day and another chance at the finals is pretty exciting. And hey, in it's 26th season, a little twist couldn't hurt.