The Challenge Battle For a New Champion Episode 2 Recap: 10 Biggest Takeaways

Allan Aguirre
15 min readNov 2, 2023

The 2nd 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 2nd episode.

10 United States vs. The World

Last week, the assumption was the game would devolve into Men vs. Women. This week, the focus shifted to the “US” vs. “International” players. I put it in quotations as it’s not a true divide. Essentially, there is a core alliance consisting of the Ride or Die ladies and most of the US men who were on Ride or Dies or Spies, Lies & Allies. It’s not truly US vs. Internationals, as Colleen is from Germany, except she is a Ride or Die girl and part of the alliance, even if at the bottom of that totem pole. Likewise, someone like Kyland, who is from the US, is not in the alliance as he had no prior experience playing with anyone from this cast.

It’s also crucial to note that while certain international players are aligned: Melissa & Big T, James & Ciarran, and Zara & Jujuy, etc.; there is no tight collective interntional alliance to take over a vote. Based on Challenge history, unless those outsiders can come together and form a unit, then I expect the international players to get picked off one by one by the US majority, similar to Spies, Lies & Allies. If that’s the case, it would be a shame as nobody wants a repeat of SLA, and personally, I’d hate to see it as I think we need some of these international cast members for the long haul, which transitions into the next takeaway.

9 International Flavor

Pretty straightforward: The American men on this show are far less charismatic and entertaining than the international men. Despite being fuckbois, Ciarran and Callum are two charming and charismatic men who carry themselves with a real swagger. It’s difficult to tell what Hughie’s saying half the time, yet he’s undeniably electric television and a prominent character.

Then you have James Lock, who is a ridiculous human being and called himself a household name. Former 2x Challenge Champ Mike “The Miz” Mizanin is a future WWE Hall of Famer, has his own reality show following him and his wife (Miz & Mrs.), has been on Dancing with the Stars, and even after all that, I wouldn’t feel confident calling him a household name. I understand James is far more famous in the UK — still, it was such a crazy thing to say. Yet, it’s one of those things that stands out about the episode. Then again, some great Reality TV characters are delusional about their fame.

Then you look across the pond, and the men from American Reality TV all feel so generic. Ed & Asaf feel like goofy caricatures, and Horacio & Chauncey simply don’t have Reality TV personalities. I like Jay and Kyland and think they are solid confessionalists — it just feels like they want to be badass competitors more than they want to be great characters. Obviously, the game should be their #1 focus, yet if they want to be the next Wes or Bananas or Jordan, being a bold character on screen is important. Devin was a character first, and it’s what led to production and fans investing in him to where he eventually built himself into a Champion.

Corey & Emmanuel are two outliers for each group. Even though Corey can be a bit annoying and too self-serious at times — that does make him a decent Reality TV character. Emmanuel is similar to Ed/Asaf, a caricature with no substance.

8 Another Daily Challenge Loss

This daily challenge looked extremely difficult, and trying to accomplish it in only 23 minutes felt like an impossible task for even the most veteran players. That said, the strategy and execution of the cast during this daily challenge were hysterically bad.

It was clear that the player’s ladders should have consisted only of men in order of heaviest to lightest from bottom to top as far as possible. If there needed to be additional people at the top of the ladder, only then should the strongest women take up those spots. The way they actually did it, where they rotated men and women as ladder rungs, was ridiculous. Olivia almost had to get her second facial reconstruction surgery in a year after 6’5 James almost stomped her like a fucking goomba.

The only standouts from the daily challenge were those who failed spectacularly. Chauncey spent a lot of time climbing up so many players only to be unable to clip himself in and then almost killed Moriah as he fell. Hughie couldn’t lift himself at all — in retrospect, his giant floatation device of an ass should have been the base. And I hate to say it, but Melissa freezing at the top of the ladder/platform kept them from getting a potential 2–6k dollars extra.

7 Who is Weaker?

Following Jessica Brody’s elimination from this season, she did many press interviews. She revealed that a significant reason why she got thrown into elimination is that she aligned with Chauncey, and Chauncey had directly told Jay he was going after him. They could’ve put that in Episode 1, and they didn’t for some reason. Instead, this episode began with an awkward conversation between these two where it felt like something was missing. After the daily challenge, the house tried to figure out who the weakest player was and who they should throw into elimination. The “obvious” pick was Hughie.

I was trying to remember why Jay and Chauncey would even have beef, and then I realized that Jay did a bunch of interviews last season where he said Chauncey was deadweight in their alliance and called him a bad competitor. This leads to the ultimate debate the players in the house had. Visually, Chauncey looks much stronger and more fit than Hughie. Except, in terms of actually competing on the show, Chauncey was consistently near the bottom in most daily challenges with Amber as a partner. He can’t swim, isn’t comfortable with heights, and has no puzzle skills. When the Ride or Die ladies began debating who was weaker, Olivia said Chauncey might be weaker. That’s partially due to Hughie being her friend but also because she competed alongside Chauncey for the entire season and knows what he can’t do.

6 Melissa & Kyland sitting in a tree

When players return to The Challenge after becoming parents, we expect them to be more reserved and laid-back. Melissa is not that. Don’t get me wrong, I believe Melissa is a fantastic mom. Vienna is always the #1 priority on her mind, and she’s trying to earn some money for the two of them. However, I think Melissa came on this show because she’s been missing the Reality TV/chaotic part of her life. After three years of Mom Duty, Melissa is here to get into some fights, hook up, and get messy in the ways she can’t with everyday mom. When Melissa goes home, it’s back to Bluey and Paw Patrol; till then, though, she will live it up.

Melissa took a liking to Kyland early — she enjoys affection, and having a cuddle buddy makes you feel much less lonely, especially as she is away from her family right now. Meanwhile, Kyland has been binge-watching Challenge seasons, fell for Melissa, and is living the fan’s dream as he cuddles up with her. It’s a win-win for both of them.

The scene of them at the club was painfully awkward, though. At the same time, it was an interesting moment. Melissa is a wild child. When you google Melissa, there are old Papparzi photos of Melissa back in the day when she and Kayleigh were flashing the press. On Melissa’s rookie season, she was naked skinny dipping with Britni & Nicole and had the whole house listening in on their hookup. Considering how goo-goo Kyland was into her — she was STUNNED by the fact he wouldn’t kiss her.

Then it became a fascinating conversation with Kyland’s opening up about his distaste for PDA, his inability to process certain social things due to autism, and Melissa trying to understand it all was intriguing to watch. As I think about it more, I LOVED this scene because this was a real moment. When you date someone and have to reveal a particular disability or mental/physical illness or past trauma that’s limiting you, it’s a scary moment, and also, being on the other side and trying to respond to someone in a healthy way can be almost as frightening. Eventually, these two made up, and they cuddled up in a tiny bed in a room with three other tiny beds that could not be more than 15 feet wide.

5 A Tale of Two Deliberations

Hughie’s deliberation speech was fantastic and had the proper amount of gusto. Although Hughie somewhat gave players the green light to vote him in, his confidence and willingness to face anyone in elimination shined bright and displayed strength that people thought he lacked.

On the other side, we had Chauncey’s utter mess of deliberation. Last week, I blogged about how Jessica had one of the worst deliberation performances ever, and now here we are in Episode 2, and Chauncey took the crown. Chauncey tried to portray himself as a loyal and good character and asked Horacio, the nicest & most honorable guy in the house if he had ever wronged him. When Horacio told the truth and said Chauncey had lied/wronged him before, it was like watching a NASCAR race where a car gets bumped by another car (Horacio) and slams hard into a wall, leaving it barely working. Except it wasn’t done yet because as this car recovers, another car hits it (Michele), and then suddenly the car is sidewise only to be hit again (Jay), and finally, one car comes in for the last hit and flips Chauncey over (Olivia).

4 Ravyn Can’t Be One Of The Group

Before and after the deliberation, the only person in the house riding hard for Chauncey was Ravyn. It was a BOLD move by Ravyn. Sticking up for a person who is a house pariah and objectively one of the weaker players in the house is a dumb move.

Last season, Ravyn had her beef with Nurys as she was hooking up with her partner, Johnny. Due to Ravyn’s feelings for Johnny, she couldn’t chill. Which makes sense as they came onto the season together, and she thought they’d be an item. In spite of their beef on social media during the season, Ravyn and Nurys were able to make up, and going into this season, they were supposed to be aligned. Ravyn is a Ride or Girl, where she had a clear path to go at least halfway into the season as long as she didn’t shake the boat. The problem is that Ravyn lives in Ravyn’s world, and she cannot handle being one person in a large group. If there was a car with eight people in it and seven of them all agreed that they wanted burgers, Ravyn would still speak up and say no, they should get Chick-fil-A instead. Even if the burger place served a chicken sandwich, Ravyn would still not relent.

I get where Ravyn is coming from. I’m a blogger, and over the years, I’ve gone against the grain with many stubborn opinions that I felt strongly about, sometimes because I just wanted to be different and stand out. The difference is I’m not getting voted into elimination like Ravyn will be very soon from her actions. Even after sticking up for Chauncey, Ravyn began talking to the UK guys and was keying them in on the US player’s plans/strategies. She couldn’t even do that covertly, as the entire house found out about it immediately. We also saw Ravyn in bed with Ciarran, where she mentioned that even though he’s not her type, she views him as a strong player and a good ally who keeps her under her thumb.

Ravyn is so all over the place and making a total fucking mess. IT’S FUCKING AWESOME. Ravyn is genuinely messy and always thinks she’s doing the right thing, and it’s amazing to watch because it will create conflict and competition. Her gameplay is terrible, yet we need a Ravyn on this show. She’s here to make some noise.

3 The Importance of Doing Less

One of my favorite moments in the episode was during the deliberation when Colleen made of Chauncey saying that sometimes it’s better to say less. Colleen is right. Chauncey and Ravyn ran their mouths the whole episode. In the process, Chancey put himself into elimination, and Ravyn painted a massive target on herself for the coming weeks. Hilariously, Colleen is someone who has prospered massively by their actions as she now moves up the lines of the Ride or Dies ladies alliance. If that’s the group that’s going to be running the game, Colleen being the 5th lady in their alliance is a decent spot as nobody will be targeting as the head of the snake, and if other people fuck up within the alliance, she can move up. Worst case scenario, Colleen makes it to the halfway point and has to fight in elimination for her spot in the game.

Colleen is not in the best spot. However, she is in a good spot, and it’s due to self-awareness. It’s the self-awareness that Chauncey & Ravyn lack as they all entered the game with the same circumstances as her, if not better.

2 Big Bloke Call Out

After the deliberation and before the vote, players began theorizing that TJ could pull out a twist, saying that the only men who can get called out for elimination are those who voted for the player going in. Whoever said this had just watched Final Reckoning — and I’ll interject by saying that would make this season much more fun and chaotic. Ciarran & James tried to be cheeky and burn their votes on each other. Their ally, Callum, didn’t go along with the plan and potentially put himself in jeopardy. It didn’t matter, as that twist didn’t exist, and Chauncey got the majority of votes. What did stand out was Ravyn and Kyland putting their votes on Hughie, which stamped them as targets from now on as not being part of the group (if they weren’t already).

Chauncey wanted to make amends with the US folks and stuck to his promise of going after a UK player not named Hughie, and he decided to pick James. Funnily enough, after all the conversation of who is weaker, I think Hughie would’ve beat Chauncey in this elimination as his cardio is better than James’s, and he would’ve had the crowd on his side directing him.

1 An Elimination With Two Losers

A couple of years ago, after the Josh vs. Mechie elimination on Double Agents, I wrote a blog breaking down the history of eliminations where both players walked out losers. Today, we add a new elimination to the list as James and Chauncey put on an embarrassing display.

Even though Chauncey’s stamina and speed was much better than James’ — he had no sense of strategy during the elimination and got beat by a guy who looked like he was going to pass out. To which, as well as James did with the mental portion of this elimination, his stamina was a Big Easy Gauntlet 3 level of terrible. Although James is a large man with an impressive aesthetic physique, his stamina shows he should not get treated as any threat to win this game.

I do have to give James credit — he had the strategy for the elimination down from the jump. James targeted the diagonals as both a way to close off Chauncey and also to increase the total amount of connections of three he could make. If James is an actual puzzle/mental challenge threat, and considering his pure size, he will be a tough player to beat in most eliminations. Again, he is not a threat to win the game, but James could still go far into the season, and the women have to see him as someone they can beat in the Final.

Chauncey stunk. Even though Chauncey has the look of a Reality TV character, the physique of a beast, and was a college athlete — he’s shown little to no ability to be a strong competitor or big personality on this show. If not for Amber, he wouldn’t be on this show, and I think it’s time to turn the page on him.

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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.