The Challenge: USA recap: So much for 'Survivor strong'
I really thought it would take a little bit longer than three episodes to see all these show-based alliances start to break down on The Challenge: USA. But here we are, barely in week three, and already Survivor players and The Amazing Race alums are throwing each other under the bus. I'm disappointed and excited all at the same time! Let's recap!
After Tiffany and Cashel were sent home in last week's episode, we pick up right away in The Arena where the algorithm strikes again. The new pairs are: David and Shannon; Kyland and Angela; Derek and Shan; Ben and Kyra; Enzo and Desi; Domenick and Cashay; Danny and Azah; Xavier and Cayla; Tyson and Alyssa; Cinco and Sarah; Leo and Justine; and James and Tasha. There isn't as much drama with these pairings as there was last week, but it's still causing waves among the players.
Back at the house, James is feeling great about putting some respect on The Amazing Race's name by winning the elimination with Cayla, and Shan is trying to pretend with her new partner Derek that she's not "deviously plotting" with her "Shanthem" — but everyone's seen her season of Survivor ... even Derek! He wants to give her a fresh start but he also knows to be wary of her at the same time. Meanwhile James and Tasha are trying to make a connection with each other to make a strong alliance outside of their original shows. And Domenick is getting tired of hearing about Love Island drama — specifically the saga of Cashay and Cinco, which is tough because she is now his partner.
Even though Tyson and Angela are no longer partners, they haven't stopped working together. And they're on the same page about how they need to get rid of weak players each week instead of targeting strong players, because that way they avoid having to be partners with a weak player in the future. They also are feeling pretty cocky about how they're the "top dogs" in the house, and people are starting to notice ... specifically Shan, who isn't feeling too comfy with Tyson despite their Survivor alliance. There's already trouble brewing!
The Challenge: Hang On Man
As TJ describes, this is basically the Challenge version of hangman. Partners run to grab individual stairs one at a time to build a full staircase at their station. Once the entire staircase is assembled, one partner climbs to the top to balance on a ledge while holding a rod across his/her back. The other partner will grab letter tiles from a bin on top of the staircase, run the letter to their phrase board, and if that letter isn't in their mystery phrase, they must add a 10 lb bag of sand to the rod on their partner's back. The process continues until a team can correctly guess the phrase, and if the partner holding the rod falls or drops the rod, they're officially out. Whoever guesses the phrase first wins.
The pairs start collecting stairs, and Domenick doesn't know why Cashay is running so fast — turns out she has to go to the bathroom. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sarah doesn't understand why people are starting to walk so early on in the challenge but Tasha thinks that pacing herself is better than gassing out. Angela and Kyland are the first pair to get all 12 stairs, and she also realizes early on that each stair only fits in one specific spot so it's also a puzzle, and Kyland gets to work on matching each one. Derek gets frustrated because Shan isn't doing that at all, which is making more work for him.
Eventually Angela and Kyland are the first to make it to the top of their staircase and she decides to hold the rod. Soon after, other teams start to finish as well, and some teams make some questionable choices on who holds the rod. Leo letting Justine try and hold it just doesn't make any sense! She can barely hold the rod without any sand bags on it! Meanwhile Ben is a huge Wheel of Fortune fan so he knows RSTLNE are the best letters to go for first.
James and Tasha fall further and further behind, but Domenick is the first to get a letter wrong, so he has to put 10 lbs on Cashay's rod. Leo is the next to get a letter wrong so he adds 10 lbs to Justine, but pretty soon a lot of teams are balancing weight on their rods. Finally James and Tasha get back in the game, but they immediately get a letter wrong and she can't hold the rod up as soon as he ads the weight, so they end up getting DQed. That means James is going straight back into elimination the second week in a row, and Tasha is joining him.
Now the race for first place is on, and many teams get closer and closer to solving their phrase, but it's Kyland who gets it right first. But he has to bring one more sand bag back to the start, and Ben gets his phrase right almost immediately after so he tries to overtake Kyland for first place. But Kyland reaches Angela before Ben gets back, so Kyland and Angela win. That's two wins for Angela out of three challenges — she really is the top dog and she knows it.
Back at the house, Angela asks Tyson who he thinks should be voted into elimination based on who the weakest teams are, and he throws both Domenick and Shan under the bus because of who they're partnered with. So much for Survivor strong! Domenick knows he might be in trouble, but James says he'd rather go against someone who has money that he can steal if he wins and he doesn't care if that means going against his fellow Amazing Race alum Leo. Wow, these show alliances really are dissolving fast! There's no loyalty here.
When Kyland and Angela sit down with James and Tasha, they admit they know that Big Brother teams are off the table so they float Domenick/Cashay and Leo/Justine as their preferences. Back in the bunks, Cashay tries to tell Domenick to cut it out on telling people he's ready to go in, because she doesn't want to go in. Watching Cashay lecture Domenick on strategy is ironic as hell and I could not stop laughing while watching this interaction. Meanwhile James tells Leo he wants to go against him, and that shocks and devastates Leo. Cayla doesn't understand what James is doing, and The Amazing Race alliance is officially done. That really didn't take long, huh?
At The Arena, Angela and Kyla pick Domenick and Cashay because they think they're the weakest team and they want only strong players left at the end. That's certainly an interesting strategy, let's see how it plays out for them moving forward.
Elimination challenge: Plug and Play. Teams start on top of a giant container, and one jumps into the water and works on releasing puzzle blocks that are chained to the bottom. Meanwhile the other partner throws the pieces down to the ground, slides down the fire pole, and starts stacking the pieces. All throughout the elimination, water will be leaking out the cage, and once the water hits a certain line, the game is over, so the player in the tank has to plug the hole as much as possible to give their partner enough time to stack all 14 blocks. The first team to stack all 14 blocks wins.
Cashay wants to be the one in the water but Domenick won't let her, so let's see if they made the right choice! Meanwhile James is in the water for his team, and both of the men make quick work of their first few pieces. Tasha starts stacking a few pieces before Cashay gets on the ground, but soon Domenick frees his last piece, getting a slight lead on James. But Domenick forgets to plug his drain, putting his team at risk of DQing — especially after Cashay's tower falls and she has to start over.
Soon it becomes a race between Cashay, Tasha, and Domenick's water line ... but then Cashay stacks her last piece and calls for a check right as their water hits the line. It's a super close call but they win. Yikes — that simple, stupid mistake of Domenick forgetting to plug the drain could have ruined their entire game, but they got lucky this time. Hopefully he learns from this moving forward or else we could be seeing another Survivor player's exit now that Tasha is gone. And with James gone, The Amazing Race alums are down to two.
Challenger of the week: Angela and Kyland for absolutely beasting this week's challenge. They definitely made a formidable pair!
The Challenge: USA airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBS.
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