The Challenge USA Episode 4 Recap: 10 Biggest Takeaways

Allan Aguirre
9 min readJul 28, 2022

Episode 4 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 4th episode.

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

10 The Perfect Algorithm and Slurping Noodles

While fans have been skeptical about how random the algorithm is, now TJ and the players have gotten in on the joke by calling it “the perfect algorithm.” This week, the partnerships were:

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

Some key takeaways from the partnerships were Desi throwing Leo under the bus a bit by saying he hasn’t excelled in anything, Justine worrying about David as a partner as everyone thinks he is weak, Cinco/Shannon a bit on high alert as double Love Island pair, and Xavier/Shan feeling comfortable knowing they should have both Big Brother/Survivor looking out for them.

As we saw, Derek and Alyssa were plotting hard for the downfall of Xavier & Shan as Alyssa ate her yogurt and as Derek loudly slurped his Cup of Noodles. I like Derek, unfortunately, his Cup of Noodle eating form was atrocious.

9 Leo Really Likes Cats

Danny loves his wife Kiki, and Leo is a guy who fucking loves cats. We haven’t seen much of Leo this season, and maybe it’s because he’s busy talking about cats, as that’s all people have to say about him.

Enzo from Big Brother has to be pissed. For over a decade, Enzo has referred to himself as the “Meow Meow,” and now Leo has taken his shtick as the cat guy in the house! The two men need to have a “Cat on a Pole” elimination where they try to cling to two giant wooden pole for as long as possible until the better cat wins.

8 Shan’s Lack of Awareness

It is abundantly clear that Shan did her research on other players going into the season. She knew the tea about outside relationships/hook-ups (Tiffany & Cinco), had reasons to distrust certain Big Brother players, and went into the game well-informed. What Shan forgot to account for is that other people did their research on who she is. Shan was playing this game like she was on Survivor, where she thought she could play a specific role/character and then be a mastermind behind the scenes. In reality, she didn’t see that people saw her as someone who could not be trusted at all costs, and it’s a flaw in her game. You have to be able to adapt to a different game, and Shan lacked that awareness.

7 Killer Trivia Format

I thoroughly enjoyed the way they formatted trivia this week. Free-response trivia is always entertaining as it leads to some hilariously bad answers. Yet, even with the easier questions, there was a nerve-wracking element where players had to keep track of their opponents’ answers to avoid repeating an already used response. The fact there was a winners & losers heat ensured the fact that one wasn’t getting sent directly into elimination or getting 5k based purely on luck. If you fucked up badly once, you at least got a shot to redeem yourself.

6 Sarah Lacina Stinks

Sarah threw Derek under the bus, saying he’s not as smart as everyone talks about because he didn’t know an actress who played Catwoman was wild. There wasn’t a hint of sarcasm in her voice either. There is no correlation between intelligence and knowing who played Catwoman. Potentially a correlation in determining the horniness of an individual (for reference, I couldn’t get Zoe Kravitz out of my head), but to say he isn’t smart was ludicrous! Not to mention the fact she didn’t have a single answer to give herself. We don’t age-shame, except when you’ve been alive 13 years longer and thus, have likely been around for more Catwomen! Sarah keeps talking about wanting to intimidate the other girls — we are into Week 4, and she still hasn’t been up a Top 3 daily challenge finish.

5 Sharks Are Animals

The way Dom talked about/to the Love Island women last week was questionable and came off a bit misogynistic. This week, he follows it up by arguing with Shannon by dismissively telling her that a Great White Shark is not an animal. Newsflash: Sharks are indeed animals. The fact Dom wasn’t even willing to reel back his comment when his own partner Angela was telling him that sharks are animals was infuriating. Dom is a guy who forces his servers at Chili’s or Outback to repeat his order back to him multiple times and then leaves less than a 10% tip.

4 Winners and Losers

Kudos to Kyland — he answered every question for him and Alyssa and guided them to victory. Kyland is now a 2x daily winner alongside Tyson & Angela; meanwhile, Alyssa gets her first win, and even though she didn’t do much to earn it, she was ready to wield power.

David and Justine came in last, and as much as I said luck wasn’t a factor with there being two rounds, I did feel like they were a tad unlucky. Sandra Bullock won an Oscar in 2010 and got nominated again in 2014 — that was a good guess by David. Then in the Loser’s Heat, TJ gave Danny 8 billion seconds to throw out his Pittsburgh Penguins answer. It could have been Danny & Kyra in elimination, two of the strongest players in the game, which could have forced our winners to make an even flashier/bigger move than they did.

3 Armed Alyssa and Chaotic Kyland

We’ve known since Day 1 that Alyssa’s goal has been to exact revenge on Xavier and the Cookout. After winning the daily and having the ammunition to take the shot, she pitches the idea of throwing Xavier/Shan into elimination to Kyland. Coming off back-to-back daily wins, Kyland was definitely feeding off his own ego because he was completely down for the plan, seeing it as his “revenge” for BB23. Say whatever you want about Alyssa’s strategy — Kyland agreeing to this move is pure and utter chaos. Even if Kyland couldn’t 100% trust Xavier, Xavier still had Kyland’s back over other players. By making this play, he looks less trustworthy to fellow Big Brother players, and the Survivor men already see him as a potential threat.

You compare how Tyson leveraged his power in the first two weeks to Kyland these last two weeks, and it’s Chess vs. Jenga. Tyson is setting himself up for a checkmate, and Kyland is pulling out wooden blocks without thinking.

Sidenote: Tyson’s reaction to Kyland/Alyssa committing Big Brother Civil War was pure gold.

2 Breaking the Glass

Credit to Alyssa for going through with her move even after Derek pleaded against it once seeing the elimination was a puzzle. Alyssa knew rumors in the house would circle back to Xavier anyway, so there was no other option. Luckily, the move hit.

The elimination was all over the place, and I think 99.9% of people checked out when TJ gave the rules. My only takeaway was maybe the penalty should have been ten instead of five seconds. I think both teams’ strategy in the elimination was the best choice for their respective sides. Xavier had to get through all that glass immediately because, physically, Shan could not get through the tunnels as quickly as Justine. Ultimately, that’s what it came down to — the 25-second head start on the puzzle was enough for Justine & David to pull off the win. Justine killed it, outpacing Shan physically and holding up against Xavier mentally; she is a real threat to go far in this game. David finally gets a moment of relief where for once, he was on the winning side of something.

On the way out, Xavier swipes at Kyland, saying this is why he’ll never win a game, and Shan pokes fun at Alyssa’s appearance by calling her Megamind. The Reality TV fan in me loves a messy loss where people are taking digs out the door, even if they can be a bit mean/rude. Actions like that validate the move for the players who executed them.

1 Alyssa Achieved Her Goal

If you think Alyssa’s move this week was short-sighted and bad for her game, then you haven’t been watching the show. Her main goal was to get revenge on Xavier/The Cookout, and she succeeded. Whatever happens from this point on is gravy for Alyssa. She is a Reality TV character who did not have delusions of grandeur, saying she would dominate the game and win it all. No, her sole focus was finding the perfect moment to get back at her fellow castmates, and she’s achieved just that.

By playing the game she has, Alyssa has set herself up for a future Rivals season with either Tiffany or Xavier, and the way she’s been able to sell a storyline shows she can transition on the MTV show with ease. Alyssa’s game didn’t reflect someone wanting to win The Challenge USA. It was someone who wanted to get cast again for a future show.

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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.