The 10th episode of The Challenge USA 2 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 tenth episode.
10 Leap of Faith
The daily challenge was a battle of raw athleticism and leaping ability. It tested who is the fastest/most explosive jumpers, with an added element of hand-eye coordination and when to time a jump.
First, let’s talk about the losers. While Wes is still a very skilled natural athlete, his raw athleticism has been declining rapidly since he hit age 25, and it showed during this daily as he completely whiffed on the first jump. Josh was the second guy out, and that was more of him being a clutz without coordination. On the women’s side, Michele had incredible energy and went for the jump with no fear — unfortunately, she had no hops and missed hard. Like last week, Chanelle couldn’t get the timing down again, and Alyssa S. wasn’t close even after lots of hesitation/build-up.
Everyone else did well from there, and I believe the two most athletic people won.
9 Terrified and Terrific
Michaela has killed other past height challenges this season. This one, though, struck fear into her that we had not seen. I get it; it’s a total free fall without a security blanket. Nonetheless, Michaela proved why she was a collegiate track and field athlete as she was sprinting and leaping at a speed nobody else could match. Desi also killed this challenge — she just wasn’t on Michaela’s level for this one. Michaela’s height and length also helped.
I’m glad to see Michaela get this daily win to keep herself safe. It’s been a big redemption tour for her following SLA. She did want to go after Tori following her win, though her alliance had her back off. It will be intriguing to see if that decision comes back to bite them. Then again, Tori likely would’ve killed the elimination.
8 Fessy is in Cruise Control
Fessy is a former collegiate tight-end with great speed, leaping ability, and reach. Nobody was beating him in this daily challenge. Maybe only 4–5 guys in Challenge history were beating Fessy in this challenge.
Even though he had no confessionals for six weeks, a Fessy under-the-radar win is becoming more realistic. He’s quietly dominating this season.
7 Michaela & Fessy would be a perfect pair
As much as I want to chastise Fessy for playing a safe game and not putting in Bananas — he’s someone who has no target on him right now, except for one person, and that’s Chris, who he put in last week. Even if Fessy voted in Bananas, the house likely would’ve toppled a decent amount of votes on Chris anyway. By putting in Chris, Fessy minimized the amount of blood on his hands.
What I enjoyed about the winner’s deliberation is that Fessy’s words calmed Michaela’s typically anxious mind. Michaela is a fantastic strategic player whose downfall is she gets paranoid and overthinks things. Fessy is egotistical and doesn’t put much thought into this game other than making the path of least resistance for himself (for the most part). Together, I think they would balance each other out and make an unstoppable pair.
They nominated Chris and Alyssa, the simple and easy move.
6 The Underwood Edit
I’ve never been as conflicted in how I feel about a Challenge competitor as I do with Chris. For starters, I think Chris has been an awful social, political, and strategic player with very little awareness. His confessionals are a bit dry and repetitive, and I think about him stumbling through his words as he tried to talk shit to Tyler & Monte earlier this season.
That said, Chris is undeniably a phenomenal competitor in the actual challenges and eliminations. Chris is athletic, mentally tackles the challenges creatively in a way reminiscent of actual Challenge legends, and he has some dawg in him. The guy is playing the underdog role perfectly in a way where I find myself rooting for him heavily later. And then later, I shake my head because he doesn’t seem the most game-aware.
This season’s editors are hamming up Chris’s emotional hero edit these past few weeks. They painted this week as Chris fighting for his family against the rest of the cast and essentially the world. To which, yes, Chris is entirely on the outside, but part of the reason he’s on the outside and going against everyone is because of actions/inactions of his own doing. I support a chaotic Chris renegade win. I don’t need an emotional hero’s edit for a guy who is playing messy, yet awesome.
5 Josh and Wes’s non-rivalry rivalry
All the Josh and Wes scenes are very interesting. When you think of these two, the scene where Wes puts Josh in a bodybag and rips his heart out by telling him they’re not rivals on Total Madness always stands out. They’ve gone on this journey where Josh thinks they have mutual respect, and then Wes cuts hilarious confessionals, making fun of Josh and his abilities, knowing it’ll hurt Josh’s feelings. I find two truths vitally important while dissecting Josh’s decision to throw his Hopper vote on Wes for elimination.
The first truth is that Wes would beat Josh in a Final. This was Josh’s reasoning for why he voted Wes in, and he’s correct; it’s difficult to envision a world where these two people go head-to-head, and Wes doesn’t come out on top. The problem with this idea is that it implies there aren’t three other people already there who will almost certainly beat Josh in a Final: Bananas, Fessy, and Cory. Josh needs to know that he’s not winning this Final.
Which leads to our second truth.
The second truth is that Josh has never been to a Final, yet he keeps talking about how he wants to make a Final. Every season, it’s an ongoing storyline of Josh getting very far, and then he comes up short of the Final. If Josh wants to win a Final, some experience running one will help him for future seasons. Let me tell you this: a Final is something that changes people, and most players need to see what it’s like so they can test themselves and improve further. Devin’s struggles through Spies, Lies & Allies Final readied him for the Ride or Dies Final. Josh needs to get there, and Wes has actively gone out of his way not to target Josh in the past. Wes does so in part due to the fact he also knows Josh won’t beat him in a Final. If Josh wants to make the Final, that’s the guy you keep in the game. As we saw, Josh’s vote made a difference.
4 The Votes
On the men’s side, three votes went to Wes from Cassidy, Chris, and Josh. Two went to Bananas, likely from Tyler & Alyssa. And then seven votes poured in on Tyler from everyone else in the game. Despite a 7/12 shot, Tyler stays out of an elimination that, in my opinion, he likely would’ve lost. Wes goes in instead. Had Bananas gone in, I think he would’ve done well, and it would have been a great fight.
The women’s side had nine votes going towards Cassidy. A single vote hit Michele, and two votes hit Tori. With the overwhelming 9/12 shot, Cassidy goes in, and we get a battle between the two outsiders in the game.
3 Leftovers Battle
Alyssa’s body language before the elimination did not look like someone who wanted to be there. Ultimately, she put up a decent fight against Cassidy and used her height/reach advantage at times. In the end, Cassidy had way more fight and wanted to win far more.
I don’t want to grill into someone for being emotional, but I found it annoying how personally Alyssa took getting nominated for elimination. As a rookie, Alyssa made it to the halfway point in this game without seeing an elimination, and once it got to the individual portion, she hadn’t shined one bit. Truthfully, Alyssa should have gone into elimination weeks ago. It felt like Alyssa thought going into elimination was a total death sentence, and that didn’t sit right with me. After the elimination, Alyssa said the elimination was something not in her comfort zone, which I get, and I completely respect it. At the same time, some people would kill to be on this show and get these opportunities, and I don’t believe she brought much to the table. Alyssa was a waste of a casting spot, and I stand by that.
On The Challenge, some people are part of the plot, and some people aren’t. Cassidy has no idea that she’s not part of the plot, which makes me love her a bit because I frequently think I’m a main character when, at best, I’m a quirky supporting character in most people’s lives. It is important to acknowledgethat Cassidy is getting a ton of confessionals this season, though, many are through proxy of being up for elimination a lot. Cassidy’s not making moves, says her alliance blindsided her, except we don’t see her interact with any alliance. Guess we have to blame the editors?
After the elimination, we had Cassidy talking shit to the people on the stage, vowing to get her vengeance. Most of those people are on that stage because they’re outplaying her socially, strategically, and physically. They will most likely win the next daily challenge and put her back in elimination with zero thought. It’s not because they hate or feel threatened by her; it’s simply that Cassidy is the easy vote. Nobody thinks Cassidy is a lousy player either (except Chanelle); we just have a specific upper-echelon of women this season. Not a single person left on this cast is weak.
Chanelle did call Cassidy a lay-up in her episode-ending confessional, and to me, that felt the most random — I’ve thought Chanelle is a good competitor. Still, she doesn’t have the daily/elimination wins that Michaela & Desi can hold their hats on.
Desi’s subtle shade of “Cassidy’s always got some words” might’ve been one of the most gutting put-downs I’ve ever seen. Desi Williams was Don Draper in that moment.
2 Koala Clutch
I was thoroughly impressed by Wes taking 9 of 10 patches off of Chris. Chris is a former collegiate football player and rugby guy — meanwhile, Wes hadn’t won an overtly physical contact elimination against a strong opponent in over a decade.
Truthfully, I thought Wes had the elimination in the bag, especially after 2+ minutes into Wes’s defensive shit when Chris hadn’t gotten a single patch off. Wes’s strategy of floating the air looked great until it wasn’t. Chris took his opportunity and leaped onto Wes, wrapping his arms and legs around Wes to where Wes could not escape. It was a perfect and deadly strategy by Chris as he ripped off all 10 patches.
Chris continues to be an absolute killer in these eliminations, dismantling people with both his brain and physical strength. He’s now 3–0 in the elimination arena and technically holds the record for both single-season and career eliminations in the USA franchise. Chris is a completely respectable opponent to end Wes’s career. Thank god it wasn’t Dinky that ended Wes’s Challenge career.
1 Wes’s Retirement
If this truly is Wes’s last season of The Challenge, then the last 18 years have been a hell of a ride. I wish this season had gone better for him; alas, at least Wes got to compete/appear on actual network TV after all these years. Wes is a genuine legend of the game and someone who I fully believe is the most impactful male Challenger the show has ever seen and easily a Top 10 All-Time competitor.
That’ll do, pig.