The Challenge USA Episode 5 Recap: 10 Biggest Takeaways

Allan Aguirre
10 min readAug 4, 2022

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Episode 5 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 5th episode.

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

10 It Sucks To Live With Your Ex

Cashay & Cinco did not break up long before the filming of this season. You can’t tell by how Cinco is acting, though you can see it clearly by how Cashay acts. When their scene at the beginning of the episode popped up, I cynically rolled my eyes. The more I reflect, I can’t imagine how I’d feel still loving a person and then seeing them flirt/attract every woman in the house. It’s not like Cashay can distract herself by going for a drive or watching YouTube, she’s now stuck in a house with him, and it’s the only thing she can think about. And while Cashay is a beautiful woman, when you start comparing yourself to other gorgeous women (Desi, Azah, Justine, Tiffany), you begin to pick at your flaws and go stir-crazy.

Shout-out to my podcast co-host Zoe Trimboli for helping me get a different perspective on the Cashay/Cinco stuff.

9 I’m Convinced Casting Wants Someone To Almost Drown For Ratings

The amount of people on this cast who either don’t know how to swim or don’t know they don’t know how to swim is absurd. Azah & Cashay were open and honest about not knowing how to swim, and Leo & Enzo had a very tenuous grasp on the concept of swimming. Someone messaged me saying Justine didn’t know how to swim either, which I’m not sure if I believe as she finished 2nd in the water/memorization portion, although she had a life-vest, so maybe she was just that athletic, and Ben did an excellent job of pushing her forward? 25% of our remaining cast not knowing how to swim is ludicrous.

8 Swim Challenge Stars

Derek & Cayla are two players who have been firmly middle of the pack/below-average in the daily challenges this season, and even before they daily, they talked about their goal going in to just not come in last. Then they went out and crushed both the swimming and memorization part of the challenge; they had a clear strategy and level of communication that was key to them being the first to get the physical aspect of the challenge done. Failing to capitalize on the puzzle of all things was a bit shocking, though, as Derek/Cayla mentioned, their minds were somewhat working against each other. At least they came in 2nd Place and put up a performance where people may look at them differently now.

Ben & Justine were 2nd to complete the water portion and 3rd Place overall — another strong finish for Justine, and Ben finished in the Top 3 for the third straight week. David & Alyssa had a solid under-the-radar performance (3rd out of the water, 5th overall), and Danny & Angela performed fine (5th out of the water, 4th overall).

7 Kyra Rocks and Sarah continues to stink up the joint

I’d say Kyra has had the worst partner draws this season; she’s had three below-average partners in Cashel, David, and now Enzo. Kyra got Danny in the worst challenge you could have him (Trivia). When Kyra got a decent partner, Ben, she came in 2nd Place! Despite the lousy luck with partners, Kyra continues to push her teammates in a firm and supportive way. During the daily challenge this week, she patiently tried to show Enzo how to doggy paddle, and it got a big grin out of me. Kyra rocks.

Then you have Sarah. Before we dig into her, I have to say, Leo sucked during this challenge. Leo could not swim, and by their second go-around, he was hanging on to Sarah for life. At the same time, we saw Tyson, Kyra, and Cinco all be far more supportive of their failing partners. Kyra and Cinco didn’t do well in the challenge, but they showed care for their partners because they knew it would reflect on them. I haven’t seen Sarah say anything nice about anyone in this game. While Tyson might have a giant ego, at least he’s given props to players when it’s due.

6 Tyson is a Fucking Boss

Tyson dragged a partner who could not swim through the water, took a penalty because that partner fucked up the memorization portion, and proceeded to still get 4th in the physical part of the daily challenge. It doesn’t stop there; Tyson then solo dominates the puzzle and steals the daily challenge win for him and Cashay. Fucking bonkers. It was an awe-inspiring performance by Tyson, and it will lead to me writing an article about the Top 10 times a solo player dominated pair/team challenges.

5 Cayla is a Top Tier Bartender

Following the daily, Tyson prodded after Cinco & Azah to throw out the name they wanted to face in elimination, except they refused to take the bait. Once this happened, Cayla realized that she & Derek (Amazing Race & Big Brother) had a great shot of getting voted in by Tyson & Cashay (Survivor & Love Island) due to sheer show alignment.

So what does Cayla do? She goes out and plays the social/political game. Cayla very calmly hints at the concept of Ben getting frustrated by continually losing to Tyson and that his Survivor fellows might be legitimate threats to his game. What I like about Cayla is she keeps a very calm and even demeanor where when she actually tries to talk game, you want to listen because she seems like someone you can trust. Cayla is like a top-tier bartender who, the moment you walk in, she’ll either be immediately attentive or will still manage to acknowledge even if busy/held up. Once you have Cayla’s attention, she’ll be upfront about what people like best on the menu; she’ll listen to your stories if you crave attention or give you space if that’s what you desire. If someone looks at you weirdly or a girl is crushing on you across the bar, Cayla will give you the heads up. At the end of the day, she’s raking up some monster tips by simply being a delightful human.

4 Tyson and Cashay Make a Move

Originally, Tyson was going to make a move against Ben until Cashay made an excellent plea. Cashay wanted to save Justine from elimination as that’s a Love Island girl who would have her back. Second, she wanted Leo out as she’s not had him as a partner yet in this game, and after the way Sarah and the other girls talked about him, now would be the time to get rid of him.

For Tyson, it was a no-brainer compromise. He knew throwing in Ben would have Sarah angry anyway, so he might as well throw Sarah in with a “weak partner” she does not like. It’s not like Tyson has to rely on Sarah because he already has multiple strong women who want to partner with him again (Angela, Justine, Alyssa). By the way, Tyson has a 50–50 shot of getting either Desi or Kyra next week; his current game set-up is phenomenal.

Hell, we’ve known that Tyson’s strategy has been to eliminate the weaker players. Based solely on performance, Sarah hasn’t had a Top 3 finish this season and was Bottom 3 two weeks in a row. Sarah’s making fun of Tyson by saying he’s only won Survivor 1 out of 4 times was ridiculous, considering she’s 1 of 3 and the fact that only two players in the show’s entire history have won twice, and one of them was on the all-winners season where it was guaranteed to happen.

3 Leo’s Quadratic System

Leo is a funky cat-loving dude with a weird brain. He moves to the beat of his own drum and doesn’t always have the best social awareness. In this elimination, Leo’s brain worked in his team’s favor. Leo’s quadratic system was a genius strategy that led to their team’s victory. The biggest upsets on The Challenge often come when people think outside the box. Leo is not a standard variable; this week, he came up big in the elimination arena for him and Sarah.

Winning an elimination like this also comes easy when you go against a team like Cinco & Azah, who played the elimination blindly with zero strategy and minimal communication. It will hurt to lose Azah’s confessional looks. Meanwhile, Cinco is one of the more athletic guys in the house. A bit of a coincidence that Cinco gets eliminated in Episode 5.

2 Sarah’s Turkey Leg

A wild display of show-boating post-elimination for someone who got thrown because of all the shit they talked about their partner, who then went on to carry them in elimination. Had the partnerships been flipped with Leo competing alongside Azah and Sarah competing with Cinco, I don’t think it’s crazy to say Sarah would have been the one sent home. I hope she enjoyed her turkey leg at least.

With Ben & Sarah now against Tyson, it looks like we are gearing up for a Survivor Civil War. What’s funny is there is 1 in 4 shot that Tyson and Sarah get partnered up next week.

1 Who is set up best for the upcoming weeks?

I tried to look ahead and find out which players have the best chances to win dailies in the coming weeks based on their potential partnerships. The difference between the Male/Female line-ups is massive. If you’ve burned through your Tyson, Kyland, and Danny partnerships, it’s hard to project a win going forward.

Angela has gone through all three of Tyson, Danny, and Kyland already — her nightmare might be coming true, and she might get targeted due to weak partners. On the men’s side, Dom has had Angela, Justine, and Desi all without a win to show from it.

Best Line-Ups:

+= Positive Difference
0 = Neutral Difference
— = Negative Difference

Men

Tyson’s 4 Eligible Partners: Desi (++), Kyra (+), Sarah (+), Shannon (-)

Enzo’s 4 Eligible Partners: Angela (+++), Justine (++), Cayla (0), Shannon (-)

Kyland’s 5 Eligible Partners: Justine (++), Desi (++), Kyra (+), Cashay (-)

Ben’s 5 Eligible Partners: Angela (+++), Desi (++), Sarah (+), Shannon (-), Cashay (-)

David’s 5 Eligible Partners: Angela (+++), Desi (++), Sarah (+), Shannon (-), Cashay (-)

Women

Justine’s 4 Eligible Partners: Kyland (++), Danny (++), Derek (0), Enzo (-)

Sarah’s 5 Eligible Partners: Tyson (++++), Danny (++), Ben (+), Dom (-), David (-)

Desi’s 5 Eligible Partners: Tyson (++++), Kyland (++), Ben (+), Derek (0), David (-)

Shannon’s 6 Eligible Partners: Tyson (++++), Danny (++), Ben (+), Derek (0), Enzo (-), Leo (-)

Based on these line-ups, I’d say Desi and Kyland probably have the best potential partnerships going forward.

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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.