The Challenge Battle For a New Champion Episodes 3 and 4 Super Recap: 20 Biggest Takeaways

Allan Aguirre
21 min readNov 9, 2023

The 3rd & 4th 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 20 Biggest moments/takeaways from the 3rd & 4th Episode.

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

20 Two Episode Drop Decision

If you haven’t seen the news or couldn’t tell, the viewership for The Challenge For a New Champion is at an all-time low for the MTV show. Last season set records, and now we’re doing it again. It’s not surprising, considering they put together a cast of 24 people who have never won before, most of which come from recent seasons with low viewership or from international spinoffs that a decent amount of casual fans have never watched.

This week, MTV decided to drop two episodes in one night, seemingly as a means to fast-forward to their twist where they will be bringing mercenaries into the game. MTV hopes that the appearances of CT, Cara Maria, Laurel, and other former champions will boost the viewership, or at the very least, they can move on from the season as quickly as possible and go back to the drawing board. Or perhaps we might be seeing the end of MTV’s The Challenge.

As someone who has been covering this show for a while, it fucking sucks that people aren’t watching. My blogs aren’t getting as much traffic as they used to, my Twitter timeline is not getting flooded with live tweets from other fans as it was in the past, and overall, it’s painful to see a show you love die. MTV and Challenge production is at fault for the direction they’ve taken this show. They took a big swing towards trying to build towards the future with this Battle For a New Champion cast and format — and I’ll always respect a big swing. What I don’t respect is their not committing fully to the big swing because dropping these two episodes at once to get the mercenaries faster was a white flag signal of cowardice that they don’t believe in this show.

Having watched the last 2.5 hours of episodes — I think that was an insane choice. The two episodes we got today were both individually solid episodes that each had decent daily challenges, drama, hookups, and the plot of the game progressed. Each episode deserved to stand on its own for fans to digest and take apart. Instead, we get two episodes, and it’s almost too much to take in all at once. Some good storylines and player moments are going to get buried/overlooked because of the pure amount of content we had to consume in one sitting. I enjoy when The Challenge does a two-hour premiere, finale, or a special episode where it makes sense to extend the time — these were simply two individually edited episodes lumped together. Now, let’s recap them.

19 That’s So Ravyn

Last week, I thought Ravyn played the game as poorly as one could. She fought too hard for Chauncey, a weak competitor who was playing a messy social/political game, and then fully exposed herself by leaking her alliance plan to the international side.

Coming into this week, I appreciated Ravyn taking a step back and having the self-awareness to straight-up say she’s playing a terrible game and made every rookie mistake possible, albeit not as a rookie. All that said, it was clear to everyone and Ravyn that she was the #1 target and likely going into elimination unless anyone else combusted themselves into flames. During the daily challenge itself, Ravyn was desperate to stand out positively and didn’t have much opportunity to. She was also hoping someone would fuck up to give her an out, which didn’t really happen either.

18 Sex Sells

After we saw Ravyn talk about the aftermath of her messy gameplay, the first real house scene we got was a fucking crazy camera shot right behind Moriah’s ass in a bikini. When they first showed it, I was going to be respectful and ignore it — except then they gave us the pan-out view of her in the bikini as she talked with James & Ed, and then when you think it’s over, boom, they pan back in behind her ass again, it was undeniably something we had to talk about. The editors have so many shots and scenes they could show us, and so the fact that Moriah’s ass was the angle they chose to give us means that it was done with purpose.

The purpose is…Moriah is attractive…along with many of this cast’s men and women. Not just Moriah — we are getting a ton of bikini, makeout, hot tub, six-pack ab, and gorgeous-looking shots of our cast this season because they are trying to keep our attention. If you don’t want me to talk about this, read Stevie Wonder’s recaps of The Challenge. I’m telling you what I’m seeing with my eyes based on the edit of the fucking show.

17 Chef BoyarT

We then went from cake to steak as Big T cooked for the entire house as she marinated and grilled some steaks. Production loves Big T, and being able to highlight her real-life chef background was a fun addition. It’s also crazy to see someone have a real-life job and profession in this house. At times, it feels as though everyone’s job is either posting on Instagram or is simply “Beach.”

16 Was Berna Bullied?

Now, my recap is based mostly on the edit. I’ve seen online that there was other shit going that got left out from this scene.

The Berna & Melissa “bully” situation was chaotic for many reasons. I do think Big T & Melissa were side-eyeing her in a very high-school girl-esque way; even then, I think Big T was far more judgmental, as Melissa seemed to be in her own world.

Berna’s inability to shake anything off is why she’s made for Reality TV — not only that, it’s the fact Berna creates conflict while constantly playing the victim that creates unique moments. It’s very Cara Maria coded, except amplified by 10. Rather than ignore Melissa & Big T, Berna had to tell Melissa in front of everyone that she felt bullied. Melissa’s reaction was a genuine trigger moment. As we saw with Melissa’s backstory, the word bully means so much to her, and it brought out her anger in a way that didn’t look good to the rest of the house. There was a broken lamp, and Berna ran away into the woods. It was pure chaos.

The funniest part about their conflict is that both players are politically at the bottom of the game, as they aren’t part of the Ride or Die/US alliance. Their interaction painted a target on each of them, which is why I think Melissa was keen on apologizing and talking with Berna the next day because they needed to be buddy-buddy by the time deliberation happened. I laughed at Melissa wearing glasses during her apology and explanation to Berna. At one point, I almost expected Melissa to tell Berna: “Look at me, I’m wearing glasses; bullies don’t wear glasses!”

15 They Won A Daily Challenge!

The third time was the charm. The daily challenge involved collaboration and ensuring everyone was in the right spots. Ed & Kyland (and Jay) did a great job solving the math equations. Michele was phenomenal as a communicator & coordinator. The drivers got their job done, and the rest did not get in the way. It was good to see the cast finally win and not look like total scrubs.

14 Burn Baby Burn

Once Melissa & Berna made up, it felt guaranteed that Ravyn would go in. Still, none of the women, specifically the Ride or Dies ladies, wanted to create any further conflict with Ravyn or be the person that Ravyn could point at as the reason she went into elimination. Thus, the women decided to burn their votes on one different man each and let the men vote in Ravyn.

Now, this move was a bit dangerous as, in theory, the men could put in whoever they wanted and potentially steamroll every vote from then on. This is assuming TJ/production wasn’t going to force the next episode to be a guy’s elimination as they did.

The only person who we saw object to the women’s plan loudly was Corey Lay. As we saw in the second episode, Corey tried to take the power to throw Zara into elimination. Corey wants to play the game politically and strategically, except at this moment, the right move is shutting up, taking the safety, and not potentially putting a target on yourself (like he did).

13 Ravyn vs. Jujuy

Ravyn called out Jujuy because she was hoping to mend fences with the Ride or Die alliance, not anger of the UK alliance players, and importantly, Jujuy is beatable.

The elimination was much closer than it should have been. Ravyn is a better athlete with much more heart in the game. In that first round, though, Ravyn played with zero strategy. The elimination wasn’t just digging; it was keeping an eye on your opponent, which Ravyn didn’t do, and so when Jujuy happened upon the third pole first, it led to a surprise first-round result. Once Ravyn realized how to play the elimination and listened to Moriah in the crowd, she took home the next two rounds and the win.

I like Jujuy; she’s a delightful & sweet human being. Unfortunately, I don’t think she’s cut out for The Challenge, and it’s not even the language barrier issue. The language barrier doesn’t help — it’s more or less that Jujuy doesn’t have the competitive edge to her physically, mentally, or strategically. She’s successful in Argentina and has over a million followers. Not everyone needs to be great at The Challenge. What did stand out about Jujuy’s time in this scene was her connection to Horacio…

12 Latin Heat

Obviously, Horacio and Jujuy’s ability to communicate in Spanish gave them a bond in the house that other people didn’t have. Horacio is currently dating Nurys, and Jujuy had a boyfriend during the filming of this season. They called each other good friends.

That said, these two were so fucking into each other. When around Jujuy, I saw such a happy and vibrant version of Horacio. When Ravyn called her out, Horacio looked far more engaged and worried for Jujuy than he did in all five of his eliminations combined last season. Horacio went into full Jordan Wiseley coaching mode during this elimination and was way more vocal than we’ve ever seen on this show.

Now, going into the rumor mill…some people have mentioned/hinted that Horacio & Jujuy were hooking up on the down low. After seeing this episode, it would come as no surprise, though it would be a bit funny for a couple of reasons. When Jujuy got eliminated from this season, she went home and did a crying Instagram live, talking about how her boyfriend cheated on her while she was away filming. Which sucks! Jujuy’s ex is a loser and cheater! However, if she was crying and did cheat on him herself… Then you can’t help but laugh a little. Likewise, you got Horacio talking about the other showmances in the house, saying he won’t partake in that stuff, yet he might’ve had something with Jujuy and later ended up with Nurys, as we all know. Potentially, two beautiful hypocrites and a great “What If” had Jujuy stayed longer.

11 Moving into Episode 4/Part 2

Before we jump into Episode 4, I am acknowledging that I got sent two fully edited 90-minute episodes of The Challenge. There’s a real potential that I’m blogging about stuff that got edited out of the actual episode that I won’t be aware of as I don’t have cable/access to watch the episodes live. If that happens, I apologize for confusing you.

10 Sink or Swim

I can’t be the only person who felt confused by the daily challenge, right? Based on how players talked and participated during the daily challenge, I assumed that all 21 players had to dive and recover a puzzle piece before the four additional divers could go out and grab the remaining pieces. We saw 20/21 recover their pieces, with Nurys being the one player unable to do so. As a big fan of Nurys, I kept waiting for her Melissa moment, where she would dive in and finally grab her piece. It never happened, and suddenly, it seemed like one of the top dog houses might have a target on her back. At that point, I assumed the challenger team was shit out of luck and that they weren’t going to settle for only winning part of the 50k pot during the daily challenge.

Even before the daily challenge, when Nurys said she had her Scuba Nelly T necklace for good luck, all I could think was, “fuck, if she has the spirit of Nelson with her, that girl is going to drown.”

Once it was clear Nurys wasn’t going to get the job done, we then saw Ed come in, grab her piece, and then an additional piece as well. The team came together and got the win at the last moment. The fact it took so long for another player to go in and help Nurys leads me to believe that Challenge production changed the rules midway through because if any player could grab multiple pieces, they would have done so immediately or helped much sooner. I believe production intervened as they didn’t want the cast to look weak by losing yet another challenge, AND, importantly, they didn’t want Nurys, someone who is very clearly one of the top-billed characters on this show, to get a massive target painted on her. The fact that TJ explicitly stated the next elimination would be a guy elimination also affirms that belief, as they didn’t want any discussion of Nurys going into elimination to happen.

I also believe they made it a guy’s day to have even numbers for the upcoming mercenary twist and balanced sides for whatever the next daily challenge is. For conspiracy’s sake and the way the daily challenge got edited, production shifted things midway.

It also needs to be noted that there were some stellar swimming performances this episode from Zara, Jay, Ciarran, Emmanuel, Michele, and Corey. Hell, compared to past seasons, the cast impressed me with their abilities in the water.

9 Shoutout Ed

In both daily challenge wins, Ed was a clear standout. He was the best swimmer in one challenge and solved the math equations in the other. I feel comfortable saying that within these four episodes, Ed has been the strongest player in the game. Add in the fact that he’s well-connected socially and politically — I don’t see any reason to think he doesn’t have a clear path to the Final. Nobody will want to see his muscular ass in a headbanger or face his engineering brain in a puzzle. The guy is a real threat to win it all, given that cardio is sufficient.

8 Coming Out Party

First, I want to congratulate Big T on coming out. It takes a lot of courage to do so, and I’m very proud of her for doing so on such a big stage. As we all know, the approval of a 27-year-old 5’6 white looking Latino is what all people need in life, and now that I’ve given that to Big T, she can live her life and thrive.

As a whole, I loved the Coming Out Party because everyone committed. We had guys dressing up in drag, people were vibrant and fun colors, Big T and so many others looked gorgeous, and importantly, there was some fun and mess.

7 Hughie Is The Uncle With No Filter

Everyone in their family has an Uncle who says whatever is on their mind, and Hughie is that in The Challenge house. Whether it be before the daily challenge, the deliberation, or during a Coming Out Party, Hughie will be speaking his mind. It’s what makes him good Reality Television and also what makes him an easy player to target as he sometimes talks a little too much.

During the party, when everyone is tossing out fun questions, Hughie takes everyone aback by asking who they think is going into elimination tomorrow. The whole party looked stunned and awkward, only for Hughie to top it by asking who they think is most likely to cheat on their spouse at home! Next, I thought he would ask if still listening to R Kelly songs is okay.

It was so hilariously awkward considering we got Callum hiding a girlfriend, Moriah’s situation with James, Ciaran, who cheated on his girlfriend at The Challenge Australia, and probably a couple of others under-the-radar adulterers around the house.

6 Banana Split

As a person who loves messy Reality TV and the history of The Challenge…seeing Moriah climb into James’ bed was a perfect stew of messiness. Going into this season, Moriah was known for being Johnny Bananas showmance, and even during the cast intro episode this season, he took her screentime away. In this moment, we saw Moriah make a move for herself by listening to her heart/body and cuddling with James. Watching Johnny Bananas get “cheated on” knowing his rumored history of cheating on girlfriend(s) behind the scenes was incredible to watch. From losing Finals due to production twists/formats and getting cheated, The Challenge world is turning upside down for Bananas.

Then again, I put the word cheat in quotations for a reason. Dating someone for an entire year and not defining/entering a committed relationship is fucking insane. If you can’t lock it down after all that time, then I think it’s clearly not meant to be, and thus, I support Moriah being able to do whatever she wants. Especially since Moriah’s move took a lot of courage, knowing how much she still cares about Bananas as a friend and the looming figure he holds over The Challenge universe/production.

I want to shout out Nurys for being a great supportive friend to Moriah when Moriah was struggling with her choices.

5 What Boxes, Michele?

Let’s stick to talking about messy affairs in The Challenge house. Every week, it feels like we get a scene where Callum tells Michele that he is falling for her and that she’s all he can think about. Only for production to then edit in a confessional scene right after with them asking about his girlfriend at home. After the third time they do it, it shouldn’t make me laugh anymore… yet it still does.

What killed me was Michele’s confessional saying Callum checks all her boxes. Those boxes must solely consist of: “Does he have face tats, yes or no?” Between Emanuel and Callum now, Michele might already have the Challenge record most guys made out with who have face tats. It’s an impressive stat for someone still so early into their Challenge career.

4 Corey vs. Zara

As mentioned before, we saw a rivalry form with Corey & Zara. In previous week’s blogs, I’ve talked about how I’m typically not a fan of when men become too involved in the women’s side of the game. This season is different as there is only one winner regardless of gender. Corey was going after Zara partly because she’s a big threat, and I don’t think he’s wrong at all to feel threatened. As we saw in the swimming challenge, Zara is a beast. Zara is also one of the few people in the house with experience running a Challenge Final and was within one minute of beating Kaz in The Challenge UK. Considering how big men like Corey typically hold up in Finals, I think Zara can outpace and outrun him.

Again, though, Corey’s attempt to toss her in when Ravyn was the clear vote was misguided. In part two, Zara tried to get at him back, and it was interesting to watch as Corey had allies on the US side who were hesitant to throw him in. There was some traction as Corey is messy and has a big personality. I also want to credit Zara as she’s one of the few international players in the house who you see socializing with the entire house. Big T & Melissa are off in their own corner; the UK guys keep to themselves and their showmances. Zara is always with Michele, Olivia, or Moriah, even though she’s technically not part of their alliance. Zara is actively trying to play the game, and it’s good to see her mix it up, considering the deck was stacked against her a bit casting-wise.

While Hughie was clearly the easy option for most people, James and Corey’s names began getting tossed around seriously.

3 Burn Game Part 2

Whenever they vote in the arena — whoever is the person TJ lets vote first, that person holds so much power. Moriah used the first vote on Hughie; from there, it was easy for people to pile on. Some people wanted James or Corey in, and had they gotten to vote first, like Moriah, maybe they could’ve gotten their way as other people joined in. Even by the end, we saw Hughie’s good friends Michele & Berna toss votes onto him as it was the easiest move (Berna had his blessing).

Hughie called out Kyland, a move that made sense as they have zero connections to one another, and Kyland was one of the only people to vote for him during the Chauncey/James elimination episode.

2 Kyland vs. Hughie

With production knowing that Hughie was likely going into elimination, I feel like they designed an elimination that would give him a fair shot to potentially upset one of the stronger/more alpha men in the house. If Hughie had won the elimination, it would have been an explosive surprise, and they could’ve hammed up the edit.

Instead, Kyland beat Hughie in the expected fashion. It got close at times, and we saw Kyland a bit frazzled. No matter, the better player won the elimination. The elimination wasn’t anything to speak about. It took some strategy and finesse, to which Kyland had the upper hand. Even then, it wasn’t something exciting to watch. The only highlight was watching Hughie fall in hilarious fashion by not seeing the decently sized crate he ran into.

Hughie brings so much character and energy to this show. Sadly, for the game progress, he is someone I don’t mind leaving because he is an easy target. Now that he’s out, the game becomes more real.

1 Mercenary Twist

My guess is that next week, we will get the first mercenary of the season at the end of the episode and get left on a cliffhanger where we don’t see the elimination. That’s my prediction as someone who knows the chicanery MTV likes to pull with these big twists. It likely won’t be CT or Cara coming out either, as they need to milk the CT/Cara draw-in for a little longer.

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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.