The Challenge Battle For a New Champion Episode 17 Recap: 10 Biggest Takeaways

Allan Aguirre
10 min readFeb 8, 2024

The 17th Episode of The Challenge Battle For a New Champion is in the books. You probably have some thoughts, so let’s compare. Instead of giving a simple summary, I decided to focus on the 10 Biggest moments/takeaways from the 17th Episode.

If you prefer audio/video, my podcast recap can be found above/below:

10 Nurys Return & Olivia’s Meltdown

When Olivia saw Nurys return from the elimination, the sense of regret hit her like a brick truck. If Kyland or Horacio had come back, they’re friendly enough people that Olivia could put on the waterworks or be her sociable self and be able to get their sympathy. With Nurys returning, Olivia had to confront that she irrevocably destroyed their relationship…and sent her “Ride or Die” Horacio home.

Nurys set the house ablaze upon her return…except she didn’t dig into Olivia…which, in a way, hurt Olivia more. It almost would’ve been easier for Olivia had Nurys cursed her out; instead, she had to live with the shitty decision she made, and you could see the pain she was in.

Do I wish Nurys let loose on Olivia? A bit. At the same time, as disgusted as Nurys was with Olivia, she saw how desperate Olivia was to make things up and realized that’s a number she can manipulate. On top of that, Nurys was disgusted by everyone else in the house already, so she might as well keep Olivia around because, at this point, Nurys expectations for her could not be any lower. Ultimately, Nurys is still a gamer…which leads us to…

9 All Female Final Pitch

Nurys came back this week and pitched hard to the other women in the house on the concept of an All-Female Final. Even though the alliance lines had been drawn, you could see the wheels spinning in some of the other ladies’ heads where they could see themselves with a much better chance of winning in a world where Jay, Emanuel, and Corey aren’t there for the Final.

Considering the power of the edit, I’m not entirely sure whether the All-Female Final was closer to being a dream than a reality. That said, with a 1-winner format, it’s made sense for the woman to actively make moves against some of the strongest men — which is why targeting Horacio & Kyland for so long made sense.

On paper, the move for an All-Female Final made sense, and you could even let Moriah take James because you know he isn’t running a Final after more than 1 mile.

8 Berna Wins

I’m currently in the works of writing a blog where I rank the Top 10 Most Undeserving Modern Challenge Finalists. Prior to this episode, Berna was going to rank very high on that list, if not at the top, and in all honesty, she still might. Berna has played an awful social game, hasn’t been very impressive in the daily challenges, can’t solve a puzzle to save her life, creates drama out of nothing and is simply a pawn for the major alliance.

And then, after being a mess this entire season, Berna fucking crushes the final daily challenge to guarantee her spot in the Final and also sets in motion the safety line for the last elimination. Fucking insane. It’s honestly hysterical, as there is no reason Berna should still be in this game if it weren’t for Michele looking out for her and using her. Which makes the second part of this daily challenge even more cruel and hilarious.

7 Michele Falls Off

Look, Michele and Jay have played this game together since Day 1, and they have held the most power in this game. If you don’t like this season, it’s easy to bunch them together.

However, if you think Michele and Jay are the same, you are not actually watching the show. Jay is an insecure toddler who is actively hurting his own game and friendships every single week. Their alliance has stuck together and stayed intact because of Michele. Michele babysits Jay, babysits Berna, has ensured Corey & Emanuel’s loyalty, and kept Moriah (& James) on a leash. Hell, as much hate as Olivia got for her awful move last week, Michele deserves credit for setting that play in motion and Olivia not turning around on her to save her friends. Michele got Olivia to sell her friends down a river!!! That’s a big master manipulator move.

Michele got to Final 10 with Kyland, Horacio, and Zara, all taken out before the Final. With the power she holds over Berna, there’s a world where Michele convinces Berna to buy in on the All-Female Final. In that world, with her swimming & puzzle ability and if luck breaks the right way, Michele actually had a shot at winning.

Unfortunately, all this is only theory. The reality is Michele didn’t have the coordination and upper body to run on that log or keep herself, so she got purged. Whomp Whomp.

I’m disappointed. Some people have said Michele “coasted” through this game, and it’s ridiculous because other than Nurys and Jay, I’m looking at 6–7 people who truly did nothing in this game.

6 Is Colleen a Mole or a Rat?

During the occasional 2 seconds an episode that she gets screentime, Colleen is constantly poking fun at the mistakes of others in her confessionals and she likes to play up her “Mole” character. For someone so smart, you would think that the All-Female Final concept would appeal to Colleen, especially after her abysmal performance in the Mini Final a month ago. Nope. Instead, Colleen used her mole rat skills to get in Jay’s ears to get him to turn against Nurys fully.

In the last couple of months, Colleen basically had Jay tell her to her face that she was at the bottom of his alliance. And then Emanuel had her hookup with him off-camera because he had a girlfriend and then proceeded to cuddle up with Olivia & Ravyn on camera. Yet, those two guys who used her and are significant threats in the Final are the ones Colleen uses her mole techniques on to protect rather than trying to convince Berna to go for the All-Female Final. Look, everyone makes mistakes. I’m not going to make fun of Colleen; just know that if someone else did this, Colleen would make fun of them in her confessionals.

5 Jay vs. Nurys

Jay taking Colleen & Berna’s words at face value and using them as his rationale to tell Nurys he’s not saving her after his big dramatic cry-filled display last week can only be explained by three possible things to me:

  1. Jay is an idiot who let Colleen & Berna, of all people, manipulate him.
  2. He’s afraid of facing Nurys in the Final.
  3. He’s looking for an excuse to toss her in because he’s still petty and insecure.

In all honesty, it could be all three. Regardless, seeing Jay again take zero ownership of his game or relationships is unsurprising. Even Olivia went to bat for Nurys when she found out Jay wouldn’t be saving Nurys. Jay is a preposterous human.

4 Emanuel Stinks

I kept seeing people say that Emanuel is getting overlooked as a threat as Kyland/Horacio got thrown week after week. While I believe Emanuel is a very good competitor who is competent to above average at everything — I don’t think he got overlooked. Even after their eliminations, I still believe that Horacio, Kyland, AND Ed are better competitors than Emanuel.

Except they’re gone now, and Emanuel is in a prime position to win this game potentially. It’s fucking frustrating because I think he stinks as a human being and Challenge personality. He is a corny fucking character in confessionals, talks shit about people except not to their faces and cheats on his girlfriend off the camera, yet tries to act like he’s only there to compete. To which, Emanuel hasn’t even been a stellar competitor this season.

Each time he’s on my TV screen now, I roll my eyes.

3 TJ Fucking Hates Jay

Once again, TJ Lavin broke the 4th wall during the nomination ceremony. This time it was to call out Jay for not saving Nurys after he cried about wanting to protect during the previous episode’s safety chain.

TJ loves Nurys and can’t fucking stand Jay. I don’t think I’ve ever seen TJ dislike a challenger as much as Jay, who wasn’t a quitter, which is crazy because he definitely loved him after Jay pulled off the upset of CT. It’s a testament to how lame Jay has been that TJ is freely speaking his mind like this after all these years.

2 Elimination Domination

Nurys obliterated James and Olivia in that elimination. Out of all the threeway eliminations, this one looked the easiest, and it makes sense as James/Olivia aren’t quite the competitors that Horacio & Kyland are. Nurys made mincemeat of those elementary puzzles and put on a dominating win that had TJ on his toes, cheering.

That elimination win over Horacio/Nurys changed Nurys. Whoever she was two weeks ago…Nurys is a different person and a different competitor now. She has a level of confidence and focus that makes me believe she can beat anyone. It is fantastic to see. To me, Battle For A New Champion is a success because part of the point is to build new characters and faces. Ravyn, Horacio, Kyland, Jay, and Michele are all people who I think have established themselves as characters on this show. Nurys isn’t a character. Nurys is a star.

Oh yeah, James and Olivia lost. Last week, I dropped the stat that Horacio & Kyland had won a combined 10 eliminations in a row before their loss — James & Olivia were at a combined 4, so the four of them had 14 straight eliminations before getting defeated by Nurys. At least Olivia & James get to be part of Nurys’ legacy. Truthfully, I have no desire or need to see James on a show again. Had Bananas come on this season, things would’ve been interesting — without him, there’s nothing James brings to the table. Olivia? I don’t know. While I was excited about the potential for her & Nurys rivalry, at this point, it seems like a one-sided affair that Nurys has flat-out won from all angles. Olivia isn’t going to be one to play villain, and she isn’t someone everyone is 100% rooting for, so I don’t know where Olivia fits into the show anymore.

1 Undeserving Finalists?

Of the 7 players going to the Finals, only Nurys has seen an elimination this season. Out of those 6, Jay is the only person I believe is actively deserving of going to the Final because he’s been a major part of this season.

We then have 5 people who have been wallpapering/coasting through this game. Yes, they may have been nominated at some point, but many didn’t have their backs against the wall.

So is that a problem? I don’t know. There’s only one winner, so taking shots at big threats is the point of the game. At the same time, other than Nurys, I don’t want any of these people to win.

Should they bring back Skulls? God no. The Skull seasons were much worse than this one and were so dragged out by the end of each. Maybe if they found a healthy medium where Skulls can be won via daily challenges as well? Like perhaps a game format where you need to earn 3 Skulls via dailies and eliminations to qualify for the Final? I don’t know; I’m spitballing here. Regardless, I’m excited that the Final is here and I’m clearly rooting for Nurys.

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Allan Aguirre

27 years old. I blog about MTV's the Challenge and will dabble into other subjects occasionally. Follow me on Twitter for the occasional bad joke.