Episode 6 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 6th episode.
If you prefer audio/video, my podcast recap can be found above/below.
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10 Feeling Cynical About The Perfect Algorithm
Angela was stunned to get Dom as a partner as they have already been partners this season and it’s not like there were no other possible options. Ben hasn’t had Angela as a partner and Sarah has no played with with Dom, so they easily could have flipped those two. Following last week’s episode, they wanted Sarah & Ben to be together to give them a good shot to win the daily challenge and exact revenge on Tyson or to be able to battle in elimination together. The “Perfect” part of the algorithm is that production can perfectly put together whoever they want for storyline purposes.
9 Tyson vs. Sarah
Watching how Tyson & Sarah separately dealt with the fallout of Tyson’s vote-in from last week when returning to the house was fascinating. Tyson felt like a stand-up comedian where he had an entire crowd around him as he told everyone they didn’t have permission to throw him into elimination, but if they did, he’d shake their hand because it was a game move. It was weirdly open and transparent — Tyson is a true showman.
Then you had Sarah take people one-on-one talking about how she’s going to get back at Tyson in a way that felt very cold and paranoid. A stark fucking contrast.
8 The Dailies Are Feeling Repetitive
This season’s daily challenges have been remarkably comprehensive in testing players’ abilities. They’ve tested fears (heights), endurance & cardio (swimming & running) and have often had mental elements ranging from memory games to puzzles to math.
What they lack is grit and simplicity. Not every challenge has to be so convoluted. The game is getting real, so give us a headbanger daily where players get thrown in a mud pit and chase after a ball in the center. Hell, I want a week where the daily challenge is two players climbing a rope as fast as they can (with a timer on screen) and ringing a bell at the top. Or maybe two players must clear a buffet of food as quickly as possible. Just give us something where TJ doesn’t have to explain the rules, and we can immediately understand and get engaged watching.
7 Dom is in his own world and Angela is a Beast
Each week Dom gives these hardo confessionals where he talks about the game/challenges as if he’s putting up Tyson-level performances. Yet, through six weeks, he’s had the three best female daily performers this season as partners: Desi, Justine, and Angela (twice), and has not pulled off a win. While Dom helped with the math part of the daily, he definitely slowed down Angela physically. Considering Angela is intelligent and has decent math skills, I don’t think it’s crazy to believe she would have won had she competed with Ben during this challenge.
6 Don’t Say Ow (Even If It Hurts)
My heart sunk for Shannon watching the daily challenge. Not only did Shannon injure her hamstring, she did so in front of everyone and gave a natural response to getting hurt that anyone would have; unfortunately, it painted a big target on her and Derek’s back. The fact she was still able to complete the challenge was nothing short of impressive.
Her injury was a cruel reminder of how savage The Challenge can be.
5 Couldn’t Make The Jump
Two teams weren’t able to complete the challenge. The first one was Tyson & Kyra in which Kyra was dealing with a bad case of food poisoning. She struggled to get up the cargo net and seemed discombobulated the entire time. Respect to Kyra for even taking the leap — sadly, it led to a cataclysmic fall. You had to feel terrible for Kyra; after doing well in spite of lousy partners all season, the week she gets Tyson, she has food poisoning. That’s awful luck.
Fortunately for them, old man Enzo was too afraid even to take the leap during the challenge, forcing him and Justine into elimination. Enzo hasn’t had a Top 3 finish all season, couldn’t swim and finished close to last the previous week (with a healthy Kyra), and now comes in last with Justine — the guy has been a bottom-of-the-barrel player. He likes to say meow meow; maybe he should say bye-bye.
4 Holy Shit, David Won The Daily Challenge
First off, shout-out to Desi. She’s been consistently above average in every daily challenge this season, and this week she finally gets a win after putting on an all-around performance physically and mentally. Desi now has the money needed to run the Final, and in all honesty, it’s hard to imagine her going into elimination from here on unless another player brings her down. As long as the algorithm doesn’t get screwy, Desi only has three partner options next week: Tyson, Kyland, and Ben. She is in a great position currently.
Now onto the real shocker, David Alexander won the daily challenge! The guy seemed destined to be an early-season boot who would leave little to no mark on the season. He only had a single confessional from Episodes 1–3 and only got a bit of spotlight after a last-place finish in the trivia challenge put him in elimination. Since then, David won his elimination alongside Justine, had a solid finish with Alyssa in last week’s swimming challenge, and now this week, he joins Tyson & Kyland as the only men to win a daily challenge. David’s Challenge career is already markedly more successful than his Big Brother career.
3 David Needed a Big Move, Desi Didn’t.
Coming out of the daily challenge, David wanted to make a big move because he knew the chances of him getting power again would be slim, so he had to play a bit dangerously if he wanted an actual shot of winning this season. David also knows from a Reality TV perspective that he needs to make noise because his personality isn’t getting the job done.
The problem was, going after a Tyson or Kyland didn’t make sense for Desi’s game. As it stands, Desi has those men as potential partners going forward, so she wants those strong players by her side. Not to mention, throwing them in comes with repercussions, and currently, Desi is someone whose name hasn’t been said all season as a potential elimination player. Desi doesn’t need to go after a power player since she is the power player herself. When you’re confident in your abilities to take on anyone in a Final, there is no need to rock the boat. Desi made sure to play up the charm factor when talking to David about who to throw into elimination. She made sure to make David feel like Derek & Shannon was the best move for both their games.
2 Tired of This Elimination
In 2020, I called the elimination between KellyAnne & Nany on Bloodlines the 4th worst designed elimination in Challenge history. The elimination consisted of players running laps with a small physical task included. This week’s elimination was essentially the same, except with a dumb reverse-spelling twist and a tiny strategy element when stacking the tires. The elimination stunk. Nobody wants to watch people run laps. Not even Steve Prefontaine would have enjoyed watching this elimination.
Kudos to Justine & Enzo for pulling off the win, even with an extra five tires they had to retrieve. Justine & Enzo’s tire stacking was superior, and they were aided by Derek & Shannon’s total lack of strategy when stacking. Shannon’s lack of height and her injury also played a part in their team’s loss — I do respect for her going out and leaving it all on the field. Derek’s loss stings a bit as it felt like he was on an upswing the past couple of weeks. Justine continues to be a real threat in this game, and Enzo continues to exist.
1 We Need Some Good Eliminations ASAP
The Top 10 Co-Ed Eliminations in MTV Challenge History
We are currently four weeks into The Challenge USA. The game has been a format of rotating co-ed partnerships where we…
Eliminations are my favorite part of The Challenge, and they are what I show my friends at dinner/parties when they ask me what The Challenge is about. People don’t fully comprehend what the Challenge is/can be until you show them a clip of CT backpacking Bananas or Big Easy railroading Wes in a Hall Brawl. Once they see that, their interest gets piqued, and they want to watch more.
Not every elimination needs to be a headbanger. Except we are six weeks in, and since that opening season, Knot So Fast, the eliminations have been poorly designed/non-combative. The best part about eliminations is watching two people/teams go head-to-head. Thus far, the eliminations have had teams incredibly separate, trying to complete their task in the fastest amount of time. Please give us something where teams have to interact, whether it be a Blind Stick Fight, a Balls In, a reverse-tug-of-war, or whatever. For the Love of God, don’t make me watch people run laps again.