Who was sent home in episode 2, "Oh Say Can You See Tiffany?"
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Is this The Challenge, or is this Survivor? It's neither and both — it's The Challenge: USA! After last week's series premiere, where all the players were getting a feel for the CBS spin-off and learning the rules of the game, this week we started to see players infuse their original show strategies into this new environment. And I cannot accurately sum up how psyched I was to see a Survivor-style blindside play out so beautifully as the first big move of this season. Let's recap!

This week's episode picks up right where we left off in the elimination arena, where TJ just revealed that everyone's partners will be randomized each week. And just like that, the algorithm starts popping out new teams: Kyland and Sarah; Derek and Tasha; Cayla and James; Tyson and Justine; Leo and Angela; Xavier and Azah; Cashel and Tiffany; Enzo and Alyssa; Danny and Desi; Domenick and Shannon; Ben and Shan; Cinco and Cashay; and David and Kyra.

“Oh Say Can You See Tiffany” – The CBS reality titans take on their next challenge, “Yeah Buoy,” where they must gather letter pieces from a rotating buoy high in the sky and form as many words as possible. Meanwhile, a SURVIVOR legend looks to cement their dominance in the game, a crafty BIG BROTHER player is a little too popular with other Challengers, and two LOVE ISLAND exes must put their differences aside in order to win a challenge, on MTV presents THE CHALLENGE: USA, Wednesday, July 13 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+. TJ Lavin is the host. Pictured (Top Row L-R): Alyssa Lopez, Angela Rummans, Leo Temory, Cayla Platt, James Wallington, and Derek Xiao. Pictured (Bottom Row L-R): Shannon St. Clair, Ben Driebergen, Shan Smith, and Kyland Young. Photo by Laura Barisonzi, courtesy of Paramount ©2022 Paramount, All Rights Reserved.
Credit: Laura Barisonzi/Paramount

There are a few notable issues with these new teams: Cayla and James are two of only three total Amazing Race alums, and now that they're paired together, that makes them an easy target for all the other teams (unlike Ben and Shan, who have a whole group of capable Survivor alums to save them); Tyson just orchestrated the exit of Justine's BFF Cely, so she's feeling some type of way about having to work with him now; and Cinco and Cashay are estranged exes who wanted to keep their distance from each other in the house. This algorithm really said "maximum messiness." In related news, I love the algorithm.

Back at the house, every conversation is about the new randomized teams. Cashay and Cinco are dreading having to work together. Cayla is worried about being a double Amazing Race alum team. Justine sits down with Tyson to hash out why she's so upset with him, but in true Tyson fashion, he doesn't care at all — he just wants to win the next challenge, get some more money, and move on. He doesn't have the time or patience for hurt feelings. Will Justine follow his lead or continue to sulk?

Meanwhile, Tiffany thinks flirting with Cinco is going to help keep her safe (somehow), but she has no idea all the Survivor alums are sitting in the corner talking about how she can't be trusted. Shan apparently has all the hot gossip about the drama between Cashay and Cinco, and how Tiffany and Cinco might have something going on outside of the game — and you can bet this is all going to come to a head sooner rather than later. In The Challenge world, "polidicking" can get you far if you play it right... but Tiffany might be trying too hard to flirt her way to the top. If she's getting noticed this early, it's not a good sign.

“Oh Say Can You See Tiffany” – The CBS reality titans take on their next challenge, “Yeah Buoy,” where they must gather letter pieces from a rotating buoy high in the sky and form as many words as possible. Meanwhile, a SURVIVOR legend looks to cement their dominance in the game, a crafty BIG BROTHER player is a little too popular with other Challengers, and two LOVE ISLAND exes must put their differences aside in order to win a challenge, on MTV presents THE CHALLENGE: USA, Wednesday, July 13 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+. TJ Lavin is the host. Pictured (L-R): Cashay Proudfoot, Tasha Fox, and Derek Xiao. Photo by Laura Barisonzi, courtesy of Paramount ©2022 Paramount, All Rights Reserved.
Credit: Laura Barisonzi/Paramount

The Challenge: Yeah Buoy

Two teams at a time will race into the water, climb up a ladder, and jump onto moving, spinning buoys suspended over the water. Players can collect up to five letters at a time from the buoys before jumping back into the water, swimming to shore, and forming as many words as they can with the letters they collected, Scrabble-style. After 20 minutes, the team with the most words formed wins.

The first round is Angela and Leo vs. Sarah and Kyland, and Leo takes time to take his shoes off before jumping in the water while everyone else just jumped right in. And then he can't even stay on the buoy on his first jump, falling right back into the water instead. It's not a good start, but he sticks the landing on his second jump, and the race is finally on. Tiffany shouts from the sidelines to try and help Kyland's team, and at the end of the round, Sarah and Kyland have five words while Angela and Leo only have four.

Round two is Azah and Xavier vs. Cayla and James, and while James makes his first jump, Cayla falls right off... twice. James has a hard hit on his second jump and gets the wind knocked out of him, so Cayla just comforts him as the round ends. Azah and Xavier end up with three words while Cayla and James get zero, likely sending themselves straight into elimination. They didn't have to worry about other teams screwing them over after all — they did it themselves!

Next, Domenick and Shannon face Enzo and Alyssa. Enzo and Alyssa end with four words while Domenick and Shannon only have two. The next round is Shan and Ben vs. Cashel and Tiffany, and Cashel thinks spelling his ex-girlfriend's name Kyra will count as a word. Tiffany makes him rearrange the word and they end up with six (taking the lead), while Shan and Ben only have five. The next round is Derek and Tasha vs. Cashay and Cinco, and Cashay misses her first jump and makes it on the second one, but is too scared to jump down after she gets her letters. Cinco has to talk her through it, and then she can't even swim back. It's a terrible performance all around but at the end, Cashay and Cinco have four words while Derek and Tasha have three.

“Oh Say Can You See Tiffany” – The CBS reality titans take on their next challenge, “Yeah Buoy,” where they must gather letter pieces from a rotating buoy high in the sky and form as many words as possible. Meanwhile, a SURVIVOR legend looks to cement their dominance in the game, a crafty BIG BROTHER player is a little too popular with other Challengers, and two LOVE ISLAND exes must put their differences aside in order to win a challenge, on MTV presents THE CHALLENGE: USA, Wednesday, July 13 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+. TJ Lavin is the host. Pictured: Danny McCray. Photo by Laura Barisonzi, courtesy of Paramount ©2022 Paramount, All Rights Reserved.
Credit: Laura Barisonzi/Paramount

In the next round, David and Kyra vs. Justine and Tyson, Tyson takes his chance to show off his fast swimming skills. Even after taking a hard fall on his face, he just says, "I'm okay," and keeps on going. He keeps lapping everyone and grabbing pretty much every letter on the buoy. He also makes sure to keep his breathing light so he psyches out all his competition watching. This guy is reality TV villain gold. David thinks this is a great chance to see how he stacks up against Tyson and then immediately falls off the buoy and I'm not sure if that was perfect editing or perfect timing but that entire sequence was *chef's kiss*. David and Kyra end with four words while Tyson and Justine got nine, putting them in first place.

The final round is Danny and Desi on their own. They work well together, getting six words. But it doesn't change the standings: Tyson wins his second challenge in a row with Justine (who is now eligible to run the final, along with Tyson and Angela), and James and Cayla are going straight into elimination.

Back at the house, Tyson and Justine ask James and Cayla for any suggestions of people they'd want to go against. As we saw last week, James really has his finger on the pulse of the social politics and alliance dynamics in the house, pointing out how Enzo and Alyssa and Xavier and Azah are the only non-Amazing Race/Survivor/Love Island teams on the table, so it would be a clean option for Tyson and Justine to choose. But James also wants Cashel and Tiffany on the chopping block, even though Cashel and Justine come from the same show. Justine understands just how big of a threat Tiffany is, however, so she's not unwilling to hear this idea out. Tyson is clearly rubbing off on her already!

Later that night, Cashay sees Cinco literally carrying Tiffany to bed and it's super awkward. There is some major drama brewing between these three, and it continues to build the next morning when Cashay gossips with Kyra about how Tiffany is trying to control all the Love Island guys, and Kyra doesn't trust that Cashel isn't falling under Tiffany's spell. Outside the bunk room, Tyson tries to gauge Tiffany's feelings about who he should put in, and she throws Enzo and Alyssa under the bus. Alyssa can tell which way the wind is blowing, so she appeals to her Big Brother "best friend" Xavier for help and he promises to try and sway Tyson. Will it work, or is he too late after Tyson promised to help Tiffany?

“Oh Say Can You See Tiffany” – The CBS reality titans take on their next challenge, “Yeah Buoy,” where they must gather letter pieces from a rotating buoy high in the sky and form as many words as possible. Meanwhile, a SURVIVOR legend looks to cement their dominance in the game, a crafty BIG BROTHER player is a little too popular with other Challengers, and two LOVE ISLAND exes must put their differences aside in order to win a challenge, on MTV presents THE CHALLENGE: USA, Wednesday, July 13 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+. TJ Lavin is the host. Pictured: Desi Williams. Photo by Laura Barisonzi, courtesy of Paramount ©2022 Paramount, All Rights Reserved.
Credit: Laura Barisonzi/Paramount

Elimination

In the Arena that night, Tyson and Justine ultimately choose... Tiffany and Cashel! Wow. Earlier that morning, Tyson literally promised Tiffany he would do "anything" he could for her. Talk about a swift betrayal! Turns out that not only did Tyson want to remove the person he saw as the "glue" of the Big Brother group, he also learned that a lot of the Big Brother alums wanted her gone (Xavier and Alyssa both approached him and threw Tiffany under the bus, while also promising to help Tyson with damage control). This move worked for Tyson in multiple ways: he didn't piss off the Big Brother group while also simultaneously weakening them by taking out their mastermind leader. It's genius and worked out so well for him that I honestly can't even believe what I'm seeing. Both Tyson and Justine are grinning ear-to-ear about pulling off this blindside. These aren't your typical Challenge players! I love how Survivor gameplay is infiltrating this game and dominating so far.

Elimination challenge: Knowledge Is Powered. Players must light up a power station using four stationary bikes. After the first two lights go on, a block of symbols appear. Players must then race to recreate the symbols in the correct order on their board. The teams must repeat the process two more times, and the first team to complete all three phases wins.

Cashel and Tiffany are feeling betrayed, while Cayla and James are laughing and having a great time, pretending they're getting a free spin class. The difference between how these teams are approaching this elimination is downright hilarious. My money is on Cashel and Tiffany winning simply by how serious and in the zone they are, but if James and Cayla are actually huge spin class people, this could be the perfect elimination for them.

Cashel and Tiffany get their first light just a few seconds before Cayla and James, but Tiffany starts looking gassed out pretty quickly and James and Cayla get to their first round of symbols first. Cayla freaks out about the memory portion and they have to continue biking to finish that round. Meanwhile Cashel and Tiffany finally get to their first symbols and finish it on their first try, moving on quickly. Finally Cayla and James finish their first round of symbols and move on, but there's no telling how much they fell behind.

“Oh Say Can You See Tiffany” – The CBS reality titans take on their next challenge, “Yeah Buoy,” where they must gather letter pieces from a rotating buoy high in the sky and form as many words as possible. Meanwhile, a SURVIVOR legend looks to cement their dominance in the game, a crafty BIG BROTHER player is a little too popular with other Challengers, and two LOVE ISLAND exes must put their differences aside in order to win a challenge, on MTV presents THE CHALLENGE: USA, Wednesday, July 13 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+. TJ Lavin is the host. Pictured: T.J.Lavin. Photo by Laura Barisonzi, courtesy of Paramount ©2022 Paramount, All Rights Reserved.
Credit: Laura Barisonzi/Paramount

It soon becomes clear that while Cashel is crushing this elimination, he's brought down by Tiffany. Their team keeps getting overtaken by Cayla and James, who are fast on the bikes, and they get their second round symbols right on the first try. Cashel and Tiffany finally finish their second round, but Tiffany looks like she's about to pass out. Meanwhile, Cayla and James really do start treating this like they're in a spin class, keeping their pedaling on beat and dancing on the bikes. They get into a rhythm and eventually get their third round right, winning the elimination and sending Tiffany and Cashel home.

What an upset! Everyone's pretty happy about Tiffany and Cashel's exit, especially his ex-girlfriend, Kyra, who says he cheated on her and broke her heart, so she made sure he couldn't do it again in this game. Incredible. Hell hath no fury and all that, and now Tiffany's feeling pretty furious with everyone (except Cinco). Too bad she can't do anything about it in this game.

Now the Amazing Race team is back in the house, and no one is feeling any kind of urge for revenge. That was the cleanest blindside I've ever seen on this show and I can't wait to see more. But first, TJ kickstarts the algorithm once more... and we'll have to wait until next week to see who all the new pairings will be.

Challenger of the week: It would be so easy to give this week's honor to Tyson, given how well he performed in the challenge and orchestrated that blindside, but instead I'm going to give it to Justine for putting her emotions aside and playing with her brain. Instead of dwelling on being upset with Tyson for sending her BFF home, the Love Island alum listened to his advice and became a big power player who proved herself in the challenge and took pleasure in pulling off her first blindside. She's definitely a player to watch now!

The Challenge: USA airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBS.

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