The Challenge: USA recap: The first Big Brother betrayal has Survivor collateral damage
Hell hath no fury like a Big Brother player scorned! Everyone on The Challenge: USA was so worried about Survivor players being untrustworthy (and some of them were by proxy throwing each other under the bus last week), but the first real show-on-show violence came from inside the Big Brother house instead in this week's episode. Let's recap all the blindsiding, backstabbing, and betraying, shall we?
Another week, another group of random pairings revealed by "The Algorithm." The new teams are: Leo and Desi; Kyland and Alyssa; Ben and Azah; Enzo and Cashay; David and Justine; Xavier and Shan; Danny and Kyra; Derek and Sarah; Tyson and Cayla; Domenick and Angela; and Cinco and Shannon. There's nothing really spicy about these new partnerships, other than some people are happy and others are not. You know, the usual!
The real drama is happening in the kitchen where Alyssa and Derek — the two Big Brother alums who feel betrayed by the Cookout alliance using them as pawns during their original season — are scheming to get Xavier and Shan eliminated from the game. For background: Alyssa and Xavier call each other "best friends" from their original Big Brother season, but Alyssa wants revenge on him for not telling her about the Cookout alliance he was in that ultimately meant her demise in the game. Earlier this season on The Challenge: USA, she already convinced Xavier to turn on Tiffany (who was the mastermind of the Cookout alliance) in favor of saving her. But now she's trying to convince Derek that Xavier needs to go, and he agrees since he also knows how cutthroat and untrustworthy Shan is from her Survivor season. Watching these two cheers with cups of instant ramen is hilarious. I love how devious this duo is!
On the other side of that conflict, Shan is feeling extremely comfortable in her position in the game, especially now that she's partnered with a Big Brother person. In her mind, she can't imagine that Big Brother alums would go after their own people, so she thinks she's safe from Big Brother as well as Survivor people coming after her. Xavier is also "way past" all the Big Brother drama, which is easy for him to say since he won that season. That massive check sitting in his bank account makes it easy to forgive and forget all the backstabbing, lying, manipulating, and deception. He can't even fathom his "best friend" Alyssa coming for him. This is setting us up nicely for a major betrayal. At this point, I'll be shocked if Xavier and Shan make it past this episode. The editing is not subtle, to say the least.
The Challenge: Falling Off the Knowledge
TJ's evil giggle is enough of a clue to let everyone know this week's challenge is his favorite game ever: TRIVIA! Plus it's combined with heights, so it's going to be extra entertaining. Teams start off standing on a ledge hanging over the edge of a 30-story building, and TJ will go down the line asking questions. If a team answers a question wrong, they get immediately dropped into a free fall for 150 ft. The challenge is played in three rounds, which will then produce a winners round and a losers round to determine the overall winning and losing team.
Enzo keeps talking about how there's going to be "doo doo pies getting dropped" during this challenge, and I can't tell if he means he's going to poop his pants? That's just ... a phrase I've never heard before in my entire life. Pure poetry.
The first round is Danny/Kyra, Domenick/Angela, Cinco/Shannon, and Xavier and Shan. We get another shout-out from Danny to his wife Kiki about how if he dies doing this challenge, she gets everything. Listen, it wouldn't be an episode of The Challenge: USA without us hearing about Kiki! Shan keeps violently trembling, and when Danny says Spanish is the main language spoken in Brazil (it's not), everyone gets their first look at what awaits them if they lose. The drop is fast and brutal, and only TJ is laughing. "Now it's real!" he says with a huge smile, while Cinco is absolutely shocked and traumatized by seeing what could happen to him next. He doesn't have to worry though, because Xavier and Shan drop next after saying the Peso is one of the top eight most tradable currencies in the world.
The next question is the heaviest animals in the world, and even though it's not their turn, Dom and Angela give us the best dumb Challenge trivia moment of the episode as Dom swears a shark is not an animal ... because it's a fish! Everyone tries to make him realize a fish is an animal, but he can't be convinced. It doesn't even matter though, because a great white shark is not one of the top 10 heaviest animals, so Cinco and Shannon drop, sending Dom and Angela into the winners round.
Round two is Leo/Desi, Kyland/Alyssa, Derek/Sarah, and Tyson/Cayla. Leo is apparently obsessed with cats and talks about them all the time, so the first question is appropriately about which actresses have played Catwoman in movies. Unfortunately Derek and Sarah have never seen a Batman movie, so they're dropped first. Then Leo and Desi repeat an answer that was already said while listing all the states that start with N, so they're dropped next. Then Tyson and Cayla answer "Garfield" as one of the first 10 U.S. Presidents, so they're dropped, giving Kyland and Alyssa a pass straight to the winners round.
The third round is David/Justine, Enzo/Cashay, and Ben/Azah, and David thought Sandra Bullock got an Oscar in the last 10 years, so he and Justine are dropped first, going right into the losers round. And after Cashay answers "boxing" as one of the World Atlas top 10 most popular sports, she and Enzo get dropped, giving Ben and Azah a ticket to the winners round.
But first up is the losers round! Danny/Kyra, Derek/Sarah, and David/Justine are battling it out to see who goes straight into elimination. While naming NHL teams that have won the Stanley Cup, Danny and Kyra are resigned to lose since they both know nothing about hockey, but somehow Danny guesses the Pittsburgh Penguins out of nowhere! And then David guesses Las Vegas for a team, which is incorrect, so they get dropped and are going right into elimination.
Now it's time to find out who the winners are. It's Dom/Angela, Kyland/Alyssa, and Ben/Azah, and would you look at that: it's all Big Brother and Survivor alums. I think I can see where this whole season is heading ...
The first question is naming U.S. federal holidays, and Azah guesses Easter. She's wrong, and she and Ben drop. Next up is naming zodiac signs, and Dom and Angela repeat Pisces after it was already said, so they drop ... and that means Kyland wins his second challenge in a row! This is Alyssa's first win, and she's squeezing her eyes shut as the realization hits her that she just won with Kyland.
Shan really thinks she's okay now that Kyland and Alyssa won, because she thinks her partner Xavier won't be targeted by his "BFF" Alyssa. She's in for a rude awakening. Xavier, on the other hand, knows he's probably going to be targeted for revenge and he lets Alyssa and Kyland know that if they put him into elimination and he comes back, he'll be coming for both of them. They all laugh about it, but Alyssa's serious about wanting to take that shot against Xavier.
When Kyland and Alyssa sit down with the losing team, Justine and David, they float the idea of Xavier and Shan. Justine is shocked since that's a Big Brother player being thrown in by fellow Big Brother alums, which she thought would never happen. She isn't even sure she should trust that they're being serious, but she wants to take advantage of the opportunity so she agrees to it. And it's hilarious watching David do absolutely nothing during this entire meeting. Is he good for anything?
Then Tyson sits down with Kyland and Alyssa, and they whisper that their plan is to throw in Shan and Xavier, and Tyson is actually speechless for a moment. He's literally in shock that they're doing exactly what he would want to do in their position, because it means Big Brother is going after each other, giving Survivor a smooth ride to the finish line. It's working out even better than he could have ever hoped! Angela is also happy with this plan since it takes a little attention off her back and puts Kyland and Alyssa in the hot seat for going after their own alliance members. Angela even gives them the idea to put it all on Shan and make Xavier feel like he's getting targeted only because of who he's partnered with. This is all so diabolical and brilliant! You really can't trust Big Brother people, huh?
Meanwhile Shan is talking a lot of smack about Kyland being "insufferable" and Alyssa being "like a weasel," so there's clearly no love lost there. She should not be surprised by what's about to happen to her, but something tells me she's not going to see it coming.
Walking into The Arena, Derek sees a puzzle set up and immediately panics. He shakes his head at Alyssa, warning her not to throw in Xavier and Shan because he knows Xavier is good at puzzles. Alyssa freaks out because she doesn't know why Derek is telling her not to make the move they agreed on, but she and Kyland stick to their plan anyway and send in Shan and Xavier. Most everyone is shocked by this choice, and Alyssa gives the reason that they were told not to trust Shan. Shan sees right through that and knows she's a scapegoat, so she's pissed. Xavier is also heated by the betrayal, but Alyssa and Kyland feel absolutely no remorse. They both are getting their revenge on Xavier and it feels good in the moment. Hopefully it doesn't end up biting them in the butt later though.
Elimination challenge: Smash In Puzzle Out. Teams must crawl through steel tunnels that are segmented by panes of glass. After breaking each glass plane, they have to make it through the tunnel, collecting block puzzle pieces one at a time along the way. The first team to solve the puzzle once all pieces are collected wins. But there's a twist! Each pane of glass is color-coded for each specific player, and if their teammate breaks the glass meant for them, that adds a five second penalty to their overall team ... for each pane of glass. Staying focused and making sure not to mess up who breaks which pane could make the difference between winning and losing here.
Immediately Xavier reveals he wants to punch through all the glass himself and take on all the time penalties on purpose because he doesn't think that will cost him the win. And he does exactly what he says — he practically explodes through all the glass in each tunnel. But even though Justine and David are paying attention to who is supposed to break each pane, they're only a few seconds behind Xavier and Shan. Eventually, Justine and David catch up, and they get started on the puzzle after only a 10 second penalty while Xavier and Shan have to wait 50 seconds for all the panes that Shan was supposed to break. Those extra 40 seconds of time give Justine and David enough of a lead to finish their puzzle first, and they beat Xavier and Shan, sending them home and proving that slow and steady won this race.
After their defeat, Shan is upset at Alyssa because in her mind, she can't fathom why Alyssa made this move. "It doesn't make any sense to me," she says. Meanwhile, Xavier recognizes that he backstabbed everyone on his season of Big Brother to win, but in his own words, "they're all petty little bitches about it." He says that's why Tyson and all the other Survivor players are going to dominate and destroy Big Brother this season. We'll just have to wait and see if his prediction comes true!
Challenger of the week: Alyssa and Kyland for making a big move and sticking with it, even after Derek starting panicking. They could have easily gotten scared and not gone through with it in the moment, but they confidently made the move they thought was strategic and right for their game. That's the kind of gameplay we love to see on The Challenge!
The Challenge: USA airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBS.
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