The Challenge USA Episode 3 Recap: 10 Biggest Takeaways

Episode 3 of Challenge USA 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 3rd episode.

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

10 New Partnerships & Dom’s Weird Commentary

The new partnerships for this week were:

David & Shannon
Kyland & Angela
Derek & Shan
Ben & Kyra
Enzo & Desi
Dom & Cashay
Danny & Azah
Xavier & Cayla
Tyson & Alyssa
Cinco & Sarah
Leo & Justine
James & Tasha

Dom got partnered with Cashay. He lamented the idea of having to partner with a Love Island girl for the third straight week. If Dom had only said, “I wish I had a partner more serious about the game and not about their relationship with their Ex,” nobody would have batted an eye. Instead, Dom mentioned how his wife wouldn’t like him being with these Love Island girls, which was a wild fucking statement. Even though the Love Island ladies enjoy having fun, they are here to compete for 500k dollars just like him. Also, if your wife should be worried about anyone, it should be the guy making the insinuations of these women.

I like Dom, he is one of my favorite Survivor players ever, yet the way he talked/acted this episode rubbed me the wrong way. He didn’t come on this show in peak shape and is dragging down these Love Island women who look fit, one of which (Justine) is a former collegiate athlete. Dom dropped a few pegs in my book this episode.

9 Tyson and Angela are the Power Players

Although from different shows, Tyson and Angela’s immediate bond from that first challenge looks more dangerous than any other alliance in this game. They agree the best strategy is to throw in the weakest players to avoid getting them as partners in the future. It’s a solid strategy because as much as you can train and prepare yourself, getting the wrong partner could end your game in one fell swoop.

Tyson is in a good spot where I can’t imagine a woman letting him get voted into elimination because they’ll want him as a partner. While you can say the same for Angela; I do think the overall female cast is stacked a bit stronger (Justine, Sarah, Desi, Kyra), whereas Tyson is the clear #1 guy, Danny is probably #2, and after that, it’s a bit of a toss-up.

8 The National Shanthem

Shan trying to tell Derek she doesn’t play the game hard when she’s known for having literal theme music to go along with whenever she tries to scheme or manipulate was a laugh-out-loud moment. I do not trust any pastors or priests; Shan is proof as to why. As a game player and Reality TV character, I adore Shan. When she sees Tyson & Angela plotting, you could see the internal struggle within her where she knows staying loyal to Survivor will get her decently far in the game. At the same time, Shan is not going to play someone else’s game, so she realizes she needs to win soon in order to make a big move.

7 Spin That Wheel

People are saying the Challenge USA is rekindling consumer interest in WORDLE after these last two daily challenges. In all seriousness, I’m a sucker for some Wheel of Fortune. The daily challenges this season have been so intricate and well-designed. This week’s mission tested players’ cardio, balance, strength, and problem-solving skills all in one. You had to be a well-rounded player and partnership to thrive in this daily challenge. My one complaint comes via my friend Zoe — as good as the dailies have been this season, we haven’t gotten to see the players have any contact with one another when competing. Thus far, all the challenges and eliminations have had players remain in their own lanes. It would be cool to see some of these players get dirty and physical for the first time.

I understand it’s TV-PG, but Survivor had many wrestling-type challenges back in the day; even on Survivor Winners at War, players competed in a water polo/rugby-esque challenge.

6 Stairway Denied

James and Tasha were far and away the worst pair in this week’s daily challenge. At first, the two were trying to go slow and steady, and in the process, they realized they were falling so behind, it led to them rushing and Tasha’s pole slipping and hitting the mat after James rapidly put some weight on her pole. It was a bad showing by the pair and James’ second straight last-place finish. Watching James fail to perform is tough because he brings so much passion and energy to the show. I was shocked to see Tasha struggle in this — she was an absolute beast on Survivor Cagayan. Then I stepped back for a second and realized that Survivor Cagayan got filmed 9 years ago. While Tasha still looks phenomenal, she is not the same person from a decade ago.

5 Daily Challenge Standouts & Winners

Ultimately, the daily came down to Angela/Kyland and Kyra/Ben, with Kyland barely outsprinting Ben for the victory. Before we talk about our winners, let’s credit Ben and Krya. Ben has proven to be extremely capable in these challenges and a loyal, reliable partner. Meanwhile, Kyra continues to impress me every week. Kyra looks like a fearless natural athlete out there. She pushed two weaker men (David/Cashel) to solid performances in the opening challenges, and the moment she gets someone competent, they come in 2nd.

Now onto the winners; Angela picked up her second daily win this season and looked immaculate the entire time. She and Kyland were the first to gather all their steps, and on the balance beam, Angela looked at ease, as if she could stand there for four more hours. It was a big win for Kyland; he gave it his all physically and displayed some smarts by organizing his staircase steps in advance and solving the phrase to win it all. Right now, I’d probably rank Kyland third behind Tyson & Danny; he has an x-factor to him that I like. Do I think he could compete with those guys head-on? No. Does he have an outside shot at winning if those guys somehow falter/go down? I think so.

4 Kiki, Do You Love Me?

Danny mentioning his wife Kiki in damn near every confessional is one of my favorite running bits. This man loves his wife.

If we ever see him win an elimination and CBS doesn’t drop the bag to play Drake’s “In My Feelings,” I will be devastated.

3 Dom Throwing Himself In

I was not a fan of Dom essentially volunteering himself and Cashay for elimination. Multiple people online have said Dom was purposefully trying to go home as he doesn’t enjoy being in the house and saw the writing on the wall that his chances of winning the Final aren’t great. Even if that’s true, he didn’t have to be condescending and dismissive towards Cashay (& the Love Island girls as he was in his opening confessionals). I think Cashay can be a bit much and that her head isn’t 100% in the game; however, she performed adequately in the daily challenge, and it’s not insane for her not to want to go into elimination.

Dom stating he didn’t need Cashay’s opinion on the game because he’s a construction felt super out of touch. Being a boss in your outside job is irrelevant to a game where you’re in a random partnership. In the end, Dom’s wish is granted as he gets sent into elimination, even to the chagrin of James.

2 Massive Detour

James tried pitching for Leo & Justine as his elimination opponent. He thought he would align himself with the Survivor players, try to get Justine’s bank account, and probably thought that Leo would be much easier to handle if it was a size-based elimination than Dom.
What I don’t like in this equation is James turning on his Amazing Race allies when they were the only people he could 100% trust. It’s hard to envision the Survivor people bringing James into the fold if they saw him turn on his Amazing Race homies. Likewise, out of the four potential players he and Tasha would be facing in elimination, Justine was clearly the best player. If there was anyone who should have intimidated them, it should have been Justine.

Respect to Leo for not totally blowing up on James and Cayla for being there to pick up the pieces.

1 James and Tasha’s 500k Dream Down The Drain

Dom & Cashay narrowly won the eliminations with some ounces of water to spare. Let’s discuss how it played out, what could have happened, etc.

The elimination looked awesome visually going in and lacked a bit in execution. I think Tasha should have been the one in the tank as she likely had more experience competing in the water/untying knots from Survivor; James also seemed a bit more nervous. Dom was the right one to be in the water for his team as Cashay does not know how to swim, so I’m unsure how well she breathes under the water. Now, the thing everyone will take away is Dom’s refusal to plug his drain. At first, I didn’t think it was a bad strategy as it gave him more room to breathe. As the elimination went on and his tank water was getting low, it seemed like Dom was throwing the elimination. To which I’d honestly agree; there is no way Dom wouldn’t have figured out from the crowd that he needed to plug his drain. Regardless, he and Cashay pull it out.

Losing James and Tasha was tough. James has been a key figure this season, and he’s been so active on social media interacting with fans and giving his all to the show. Likewise, Tasha is one of my favorite Survivor players ever, she had such great energy to her in the glimpses we saw, and she looks fucking amazing for 46.

Sidenote: Cashay is the second player in Challenge history to win the third elimination of the season season while having purple hair (Preston from Rivals 2 being the first).

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Allan Aguirre

26 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.