The Challenge: Bloodlines "Blood Is Thicker Than Mud" Review: CT Returned to Honor Diem

The Challenge S07E08: "Blood Is Thicker Than Mud"


The thing that makes The Challenge unique is that its cast returns season after season and that not only deepens the relationships they have with each other but with the audience, too. Some have made a career out of appearing on the show and most of The Challenge icons are noteworthy because of their drunken brawls or shocking hook-ups. There is one very noble exception to that group: Diem Brown. To understand what this week's tribute meant, you have to understand who Diem was and what her presence on the show meant. 

Diem made her first Challenge appearance on Fresh Meat in 2006. She had recently been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and joined the show to prove to herself, and to the world, that cancer wouldn't define her. Her go-get-'em attitude and big heart instantly made her a fan favorite. During her second Challenge stint on The Duel, Diem sparked with Real World: Paris hothead Chris "CT" Tamburello. Their love story was the stuff of reality show legend, from their first kiss on the bluff to their heartbreaking ending before The Duel II in 2009 to their eagerly anticipated reconciliation on Battle of the Exes in 2012. Fans were hoping the couple would officially get back together when they returned for Battle of the Exes II in 2014, but Diem collapsed shortly into filming in Panama. Her cancer had returned and she passed away a few months later, leaving a gigantic gaping hole in The Challenge family's heart. 

To pay tribute to a competitor who touched so many lives, The Challenge brought CT out of hibernation, along with Diem's little sister Faith, to run a demo of a challenge that mirrored "Ring Toss" from The Duel in 2009. Diem had just finished a round of chemotherapy and was in remission when she joined that season, leaving her hair in a close pixie cut. She wore a wig for a majority of the season to hide the side effects of her cancer treatment, but "Ring Toss" was a water challenge that forced her to bare it all and reveal her true self to the cameras for the first time. It was a moment of empowerment and true beauty, and a moment that defined The Challenge as something more than just bar fights and drunk debauchery. 

CT and Faith's appearance honored the memory of Diem and allowed everyone to relive the glory of her triumphant moment one more time. CT has basically been invisible on social media and from press appearances since Diem's death. He's a legend on the show in his own right, but to see him make his first appearance since Diem collapsed in a way that honors her was simultaneously heartbreaking and warming. 

I know there's an argument to be made that MTV is milking Diem's death, but fans who followed Diem's journey through The Challenge know that she'd love to be honored this way. She was diagnosed with cancer three times, went through two rounds of chemo, went into remission twice, and met the love of her life on the show. And she shared that journey with the audience in hopes of inspiring them to be strong and open in their own lives. For all of The Challenge's reality show cliches, Diem Brown represented all the good that can come from this type of programming. And remembering she's gone had everyone feeling exactly like Cara Maria looked here:

We miss you, D. 

Honoring Diem was a beautiful moment, but that doesn't mean the politics stopped. Here's how the rest of the episode shook out:

– Bananas and Anthony attempted to throw the challenge to give the Blue team a victory so they could put Cara Maria in the pit. The problem with that was that even when they tried to fail, the Red team still came out on top. This meant that only girls from the Blue team could be voted in and Cara Maria was safe. 

– Bananas pulled his third uber-shady move of the season by voting KellyAnne—Anthony's partner—into the pit against Jenna. Poor Anthony thought he had made the best alliance in the house and was thrown under the bus because of KellyAnne's wildcard voting. Sucked to be you dude. 

– The elimination was a dizzy challenge involving KellyAnne and Jenna being spun around until they could barely walk and then being asked to complete various balance activities. KellyAnne thought she had it on lockdown thanks to all that yoga, but Jenna was able to pull out her third pit win to send KellyAnne and Anthony home. 

– Bananas and Vince are officially on an island by themselves, but it seems that they are impossible to get into the pit. 

– The preview for next week revealed that the tribute won't be CT's last appearance on the show. He returns next week with Zach for a special challenge, and everyone looks scared. 

The Challenge: Battle of the Bloodlinesairs Wednesdays at 10 pm on MTV. 


This article originally appears on TV Guide.com.

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Jan 15, 2016
I feel like the season started great, but now it's in a rut. I'm glad production brought in CT and Diem's sister, I just wish they were involved in a larger way.
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Jan 15, 2016
Finally caught up on this ep last night - so glad someone is finally covering The Challenge here.. great ep - so cool to see CT and Faith for a bit. Bananas may have been "the challenge" master in the past - but he is really failing in that role this year. But best of off was mad Jenna - who seems just like normal Jenna - actually having to tell us she's mad (rofl) and killing yet another "Pit" challenge. Jenna for (a very surprising) MVP - IF she can manage to eat something gross and not quit this year. Can't wait for next week - I hope CT gets to toss some people around. 8/10.
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Jan 15, 2016
Bananas choosing to throw the one challenge dedicated to Diem just further shows where his loyalties lie. Dude is an ass.
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Jan 16, 2016
Add to his meathead cousin trying to pick a fight with CT. They are both disgusting me this season.
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Jan 15, 2016
yeah he's even more of an ass this year than usual - and seriously off his game as a result... hope he goes in The Pit next week.. and even though he's not "in the game" - I'd love to see CT wear him like a backpack again! lol...
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Jan 14, 2016
I didnt really see MTV milking Diem's death but I know there are those who think that. But I felt as though it was exactly as you mentioned as more for the fans. Ive been watching this show since the very first Real World/Road Rules challenge so it was nice for me to be able to have that moment of paying respect to someone ive felt a connection for as a viewer. It was also a nice moment for the challenge family as well. One thing I did not like however was the lack of mentions of Knight. I understand that he was an ass sometimes but he was also the jokester of the bunch who i felt maybe should have had more discussion of remembrance.

but anyways.... can we talk about Vince's comment to Anthony about being like Zoolander cause he was being "creepy"? what movie did he watch?
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