The Challenge All Stars 4 Episode 3 Recap — Winners & Losers

Brian Batty
21 min readApr 19, 2024

Welcome back to a fresh All Stars 4 recap of what was a jam-packed Episode 3! We said hello and goodbye to a legend or two, and had a few laughs along the way. Inside this week: Veronica teaches us about Russian literature, Tony and Nicole’s old stomping grounds sure have changed, Brad takes a magic carpet ride, and much much more…

Winner: Dining Al Fresco

Tablecloths outside?

In this economy?

Must be nice.

Winner: Ironic Pop Records

The Britney Spears song Lucky, with a full view of what was to come for her next, is now even more tragic than its initial conceit. At the time, this was essentially Britney cutting a record to inform everyone that, despite appearances, her life actually kinda sucks, and then a few years later she was shaving her head.

I particularly enjoy pop songs that combine melancholic lyrics with upbeat melodies and vibrant sounds to create a total banger. Like Kendrick making a club record about alcoholism. Or Wale making Chain Music, which is a song about how dumb everyone is getting over a trap-beat while Rick Ross shouts CHAIN SO BIG CAN’T POP MY COLLAR to distract everyone.

Lucky is one of those songs. And their decision to use the record to celebrate Tina lucking into a star obviously implies that, by the end of All Stars 4, she’ll be totally bald and get caught on video tape assaulting the starting center for the San Antonio Spurs. Or, maybe (unlikely, but I guess it’s possible) the music supervisor didn’t understand what Lucky was all about in the first place.

Or maybe none of this matters. And that Lucky is just a fun song, and I should stop pissing in everyone’s Wheaties and yucking your yum.

This is why we have that fart screenshot. For times like this. But I’m not just gonna give it to you that easy. If you want it, you know who to tweet at.

Winner: Chekhov’s Soundbite

This sound bite, or some allusion to Veronica’s assumed closeness with Rachel and Tina, has been played dozens of times in numerous forms and we’re only two episodes and three minutes into the season.

Remember how often in the first season of Game of Thrones we were told that The Wall would never come down? Basically everybody there or elsewhere was like “this puppy is sturdy as ever, ain’t no way no how she’s gon’ come topplin’ over”

I’m starting to wonder if this is a little like that.

Loser: The Other Flamingos

Wtf?

They’re just gonna leave homie all alone like that?

Is he the Chris of Flamingos?

Does that mean this Flamingo is gonna win Challenge USA 3?

Porduction is such a joke! NO ONE WANTS TO SEE PLASTIC FLOATING POOL FLAMINGOS COMPETING ON THE CHALLENGE!!!! We’ve been saying this for years! Why don’t they listen to us>!?!?!

With all the positive reaction All Stars 4 has gotten, I just don’t understand why they’re going to start casting plastic floating pool flamingos. I mean just do one search for plastic floating pool flamingos on Google and you will not see a single person asking for that!!

You want me to do it?

Fine.

Out of 2,020,000 results (and I read them all) not once did I catch a whiff of desire from the Challenge fanbase to see Elka from The Real World: Boston or Belou’s now adult child instead be replaced by fucking plastic floating pool flamingos!!!

It’s like porduction hates us.

Loser: Tommy John Surgery

This is a classic case of reality television editing magic because after talking to that podcaster who has close friendships with several cast members, I discovered that allegedly this is footage of Kam checking her fantasy baseball team and discovering how many of her starting pitchers are already out for the season.

She was going to take Acuna with the first overall pick, but Flora being the big Braves fan that she is and not trusting Acuna to repeat last year’s historic season, had a hunch that Strider was the way to go.

What you’re seeing is the moment she realized she never should have listened to Flora in the first place.

Winner: Yet Another Example Of Why This Season’s Biggest Problem Had A Simple Solution

See?

Even the closed captioning person didn’t realize that The Middle Group was the name of something. This soundbite from Kam would have needed zero editing. She could have just said “at least be in the middle group”, and we would have understood what she was talking about. But instead, since we know that The Middle Group is actually a proper noun, they’ve forced Kam to say it and sound silly in doing so.

I don’t even think Denzel from Training Day, the coolest human being (fictional or otherwise) to ever live, could make The Middle Group sound cool.

That’s right Jake! The Middle Group! I didn’t know you liked to get wet.

See? Shit just does not work.

That’s why we’re sticking with The Gooch.

Loser: All Other Babies

Damn, tough break for the rest of them.

Loser: Rachel’s Ability To Read The Situation

I feel like if anything Ayanna could stand to be a bit more vocal.

But I guess that’s why I’m on this side of the TV.

Loser: Pleasantries

Wowwwww

And it’s all because she took the last Hot Pocket when they got home from the bar. It’s just wild how such a normally small slight can become so mountainous within an environment like this.

Loser: People Like Me Who Say Things Like “They’re A Bad Competitor”

I mean, really, at this moment in time, do you think these two give a shit?

“Errderr I don’t think Ryan can win a Final, duhhhh Derek’s bad at tangerine puzzles”

Like, they’re poolside, in South Africa, probably not far from a beverage, talking mad shit about people they don’t actually care about.

The human embodiment of outside tablecloths.

Must be nice.

Loser: The Dark Side Of Handjobs

All people see is the dipping of chicken nuggets into barbecue sauce and the popping of tabs spraying beer mist into the air.

What they don’t realize is all the work that goes on when the camera’s not zoomed in on your cuticles. They don’t see that you need to be hooked up to machinery like a Terminator in order to regenerate over night.

“Bitch you wasn’t wit’ me shootin’ in the gym”

— Drake and Rick Ross on the song Stay Schemin’ metaphorically speaking as Kobe Bryant’s inner consternation regarding having to cede one hundred and fifty M’s to his wife in a potential divorce despite him being the one who earned said M’s by endlessly practicing proper jumpshot form in the gym.

“Bitch you wasn’t wit’ me regenerating metatarsals in the bed”

— Me in the recap for Episode Four metaphorically speaking as Handjob Steve’s inner consternation regarding having to cede half of his prize money to Flora in a potential money stealing situation at the end of the Final despite him being the one who earned it by endlessly practicing proper handjob form.

(Okay this has nothing to do with anything, but since we’re here and since I don’t anticipate this person coming up in these recaps ever again (though, honestly, who’s to say) I’m just going to shoehorn this in here because there is literally (nailed it) no one telling me what I can and cannot put in here. I once started a rumor with all my friends that French Montana never learned how to read and that’s why he never writes his lyrics down. It’s mean, but, I mean, truly is there anyone out there that can explain why French Montana was featured on every rappers mixtape and/or album for like a five year stretch? Was he someone’s nephew?)

(Another non-Challenge note about this song choice: For those of you who read the papers, looking back, this is a fun group of co-workers, huh?)

The point is, as Handjob Steve always says, everyone wants to be a hand model, yet nobody wants to work for it.

Winner: Chicago

I don’t know if any of their cast has been back, but the neighborhood they lived in during their time on The Real World has changed so much I wonder if the two of them would even recognize it any more.

Since the time they lived there, this neighborhood, The West Loop, has gone from the coolest part of town known by only a handful of people to a place where Google has a warehouse-sized office and the McDonald's world headquarters is now located. Add in about five bajilliion restaurants and bars that they cannot stop opening, (I just looked and five more have opened since I started writing this sentence. And they all have fried brussels sprouts on the menu.) and what you’re now looking at is the busiest, noisiest, most expensive, second douchiest neighborhood in the city.

Just a little tip for you travelers, if you’re coming to my Chicago, my fine and wonderful town, and you see a restaurant that you want to eat at and it’s in the West Loop, my recommendation is to certainly go because some of the best meals I’ve had in the city were there, but then to quickly exit. maybe one other bar for a drink, but that’s it. Just get an Uber and go to a different part of town. It’s a trap, truly. I’m not kidding, go almost anywhere else.

Unless you’re a douche. And I say that in an honest loving way. If you hold a generic Bachelor’s degree from a Big Ten school, are making 58,000 a year, and just opened your first credit card with Chase meaning that $18 cocktails are basically free, then by all means stick around. You’re with your tribe. To quote my favorite Australian poet Brian Brown, it’s a proctologist’s dream. Wall to wall assholes. You’ll hear Dua Lipa dozens of times, just like the mix you listened to getting ready before you left the house.

I’m not here to judge, we all are the people that we are and being honest with yourself is important.

Also, at the end of the day, this was the neighborhood where Nany went to school to be an esthetician around the same time as their Real World season was being filmed, so it is what it is.

Don’t ask me how I know that.

Loser: Priorities

No!

No, Tony Raines!

No!

You sit back down, unpack your bags, and you get your ass out there and you find that fucking dog!

Do I gotta be the one to say it?

Is no one else gonna stand up and say what’s on everyone’s minds?

Am I the only one with the guts?

Fine.

I think it’s total bullshit that Tony chose his family over us.

There. I did it. You’re welcome, everybody.

Now I’m just lashing out. Taking my own sadness and placing blame onto others. I mean we were having so much fun. Remember when Tony pulled the wrong flag? And instead of it saying Tony, it said Veronica?

We were so young then.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Winner: Growing Up In A Good Way

It’s a small thing, but it’s nice to see Tony being driven away from a Challenge house in the backseat of a rental car for reasons that fall under the umbrella of Being A Responsible Adult rather than, well, you know, the usual.

Loser: Unrelated Excuses To Justify Lowering Your Guard

“Hey, Laurel, wanna go sit six inches away from the brightest light we can find and talk about my feelings?”

“Of course I do.”

Winner: Understanding What’s Really Important

Winner: Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

This is all of us who were having such a fun time last week that we forgot Syrus was on the pre-season cast list until just now.

Or was that just me?

Loser: DVD Menu Songs Haunting Your Dreams

Whatever song that was that they chose for Syrus’s (Syri?) entrance music, the one where it was like BIG TIME! I’M ON MY WAYYEE AHM MAKEN IT…BIG TIME!, was the DVD menu song for I think Wrestlemania 22 or one of those. And I would fall asleep watching that one all the time.

Because back in the DVD days, it was always easier to just re-watch the same thing again than to get up and pick out something new. And then when you’d fall asleep, after the credits rolled, the DVD menu itself would just play on a loop over and over again, never to end until you took it upon yourself to end it.

The worst offender was the Chappelle’s Show DVD’s. The theme song with the whistle and those two old guys singing was like fifteen times louder than the actual show. I actually did reach a point where I stopped watching it before bed, because I could not take another night of WOOHOOO YOOHOOO in my ear.

Yet there was no greater inconvenience than when this phenomenon occurred during a sleepover at a friend's house. Especially when it wasn’t one of your core friend group, so it was still kinda awkward. Because if you ever want to feel like a total moron, try and work somebody else’s TV remote. But you only reached that point if you were able to clear the massive hurdle of awkwardness that is being the only awake one at what amounts to a total strangers house. You’re frozen, even though no one told you not to do anything. So, you just have to lie there and listen to the DVD menu of Old School for hours on end until the sun finally comes up, and by then you’re so numb to it that it’s now become more than just a DVD menu.

That DVD menu is now a part of who you are. Repeating itself, reverberating in perpetuity, volleying against the walls within the deep recesses of your soul, lingering along the peripheries until your final lucid moments, remaining attached to your spirit as it drifts upwards into the ether.

So, yeah, that’s really all I could think about when Syrus showed up.

Not his fault, obviously.

Loser: My Personal Expectation Management

What did I want him to say next?

Thank you for asking.

What would have been ideal is if the next thing TJ said after this was, “We got actual, live tremors from the movie Tremors that will be lurking under the sand waiting to jump out and tear you apart limb by limb. Also, Kevin Bacon’s here.”

Okay, Teej, take it away. What’s the twist?

Woah. You’re right, you sure didn’t make it easy.

Winner: Cultural Icons

Big shout out to Allen Iverson. Shout out Philly. Shout out Virginia.

And I’ll tell you what, if there was anyone Allen would want to sport the sleeve on The Challenge in honor of him, it’s Adam Larson. Famously Allen’s favorite Road Ruler.

How can you not be romantic about The Challenge?

Loser: Dynasties Ruining The Fun For Everyone Else

I was gonna do a whole thing here where I came up with a bunch of fun scenarios and ranked the teams based on how much I’d want to do those scenarios. A gimmick I’ve used often around here. And If I wrote a recap where I didn’t recycle an old bit, well then, what’s the point?

Anywho, unfortunately for you, and very much like the Toronto Raptors for most of the 2010’s (see what I did there?), there’s one team that’s going to ruin any chance at success for the rest of the group.

That’s because there is not a single hypothetical situation in the world where I wouldn’t choose Leroy and Flora to be in said situation with.

I would die for those two people.

So let’s just move forward and hope that one day this situation arises where Leroy and Flora aren’t paired together and maybe then we can revisit the conversation.

Loser: Fire

Ain’t nothin’ catching on fire today!

Deadass, do you think they were able to save money on a fire safety coordinator as long as the two of them remained in the game?

“Listen, if we keep at least one of Nicole or Jay around, that saves us enough money to afford Ride Wit Me while having enough leftover where all we have to do is fire Jonathon and we can get Ironic by Alanis too.”

“And the math checks out?”

“Crunched the numbers twice Aneesa, just like you told me.”

“……Do it.”

Now that’s a conspiracy.

Winner: Knowing The Future

Beyond the countless fun aspects of this season, the one subplot I’ve loved watching the most is the one between these two up here. Every interaction, small or large, is inherently more interesting than almost any interaction between any two cast members. I’d argue that it’s more fascinating to watch than even Laurel and Nicole.

This is because we at home know something that the two of them don’t.

We know that very soon, the two of them will have sex.

I have no idea when their relationship started, but this season was filmed over a year and a half ago, and Adam and Averey are currently still dating. It’s out there, I don’t think I’m spoiling anything. I’m just as clueless regarding this relationship’s nexus as anyone else.

But it’s impossible not to think about it. Every look, every word, every interaction, while meaningless even to them at the time, can only be picked apart frame by frame by us at home. Because we have looked into the crystal ball of reality and seen their future.

Which from here on out I will refer to as, The Present.

Loser: Not Being Smart Enough

Usually, I can pick up on the deeper meaning of their song choices pretty easily. Like when they played Mother during the episode when Kam told us about the struggles of being a new mother back in this game. That one was obvious.

This one? Idk, I just don’t get it.

Speaking of deep…

Winner: Even More Subtle Symbolism

Do you guys get it, or no?

Loser: The Fragile Nature Of Alliances

Sure, they do have an alliance of sort. I guess Ayanna’s not wrong in some sense. But, either way, lmao, amirite?

The alliance between Kam and Leroy.

I love this show.

Winner: Opening The Door When Opportunity Knocks

Loser: Lenny

I love it when the dark underbelly theme of Of Mice And Men shows itself on The Challenge.

Just as Lenny was bad for George, and Kellyanne was bad for Jonna on World Championships, we now see this theme return once again with Jasmine and Ayanna.

The magic of literature, ain’t it?

Winner: Creative Fabric Composition

Winner: Semantics

In a way, Ayanna’s right. All she was doing was passing along secret information she obtained to curry favors. She’s one of the only ones who knew about Kam and Leroy’s alliance at that point, so why not use information as currency? Makes sense to me.

I feel like these people just keep picking on Ayanna because she’s quiet and reserved.

And I’m getting sick and tired of it. Enough is enough. Grow up.

Winner: The Assassin

This is now going to be my default response any time anyone asks me for anything. Regardless of its accuracy.

My girlfriend asks me to get her a fresh glass of rose while we’re watching The Bachelorette?

My landlord asks for rent money?

My boss asks me why my breath smells like tequila on a Tuesday morning?

I see no flaw in this system.

Winner: The Situation and Sammi Watching Ronnie Dance With Another Girl From The Opposite Side Of Karma

Winner: Magic Carpet Rides

Do you think that’s a regular brownie or a unicorn emoji brownie?

Winner: Music Videos

They should let Ayanna cut a music video in the middle of every episode that was absolutely incredible.

Winner: Real Friends

Ayanna’s character is being attacked and so she’s just telling everyone at home how good of a friend she is.

Three o’clock in the morning? Shit, I’ll call you back around 10 am.

Loser: Writers

I could take the drug from the movie Limitless and lock myself in a log cabin with a bottle of tequila and a large bag of weed and I could never in a million years produce dialogue as funny and raw and telling as this fight.

I’m the wrong one — Yeah, you are the wrong one

That’s magic.

Loser: Berna and Michele

On Season 39 an argument (or maybe it was a tense conversation? I don’t really remember the details that well nothing sticks the same when you don’t spend your time trying to get the perfect screenshot like I normally do) with similar themes occurred between Michele and Berna.

They too had a dispute centered around revealing information about late night phone calls while at home living a normal life.

Yet when the two of them talk about it, all you imagine is one or both being super drunk and the topic of conversation rarely elevating above YAAAAASSSSSS BITCHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Whereas when Ayanna brings up Jasmine calling her in the middle of the night “when she was going through her stuff”, we know due to Jasmine’s announcement that this season was just her divorce party, that those conversations were about real-life things between two real life people.

Can anyone picture Berna as a real person? Michele’s a little easier just because she’s American and I’m a product of the public education system so myopia regarding anything West of California and East of Maine is just a part of my DNA. But even with her, I picture everything Michele does being some large production and her attempting to carry some deeper “BOSS BITCH SURVIVOR QUEEN” meaning.

Jasmine helps with math homework and packs lunches. Ayanna does the same.

I still am not even sure if Berna knows how to do math.

Winner: Timing

Those unicorn emoji brownies kicking in during this fight was either perfect or the opposite of perfect there is no in between.

Winner: That View

Holy Christ. I didn’t realize Michael Mann was directing this motion picture.

They just got to sit outside and look at that every night.

Must be nice.

Loser: Responsibility

Instead of emptying the dishwasher, for the last four days I’ve been grabbing a fresh coffee mug right out of the top rack.

Just not enough hours in the day, ya know?

Winner: Scary Props

Is Rachel just #AlwaysToning or is that resistance band sort of a tool to make herself seem more intimidating during these game talks?

Because either way it’s working.

Winner: Elimination Rounds

I’ve spoken about this before, but I will never ceased to be amazed by the intensity level of the emotions elicited in an elimination round.

Kefla hasn’t raised his voice above a three at any point in three episodes. Yet after being placed in a round steel tube and asked to push a large yoga ball out into the sand while a friend from twenty years ago attempts to do the same on the other end, Kefla turned into a screaming lunatic that looked a lot like this guy…

Some of the Season 39 cast spilled the beans on the pre-workout trick. Confirming something I once heard Ed tell Johnny on his podcast where he mentioned that CT pulled him aside before his first elimination round and told him to take pre-workout.

But still, there’s something more to it. It’s like a bizarre form of survival instinct kicks in. The feeling is almost primal in a sense. It’s across the board, especially applying to those who are in their first few tries at it.

There is no part of me that would ever go on The Challenge under almost any circumstances (Offer me a billion dollars to show up, I double dog dare you!). But that feeling they get after winning an elimination round (and in this case Kefla didn’t even win) feels to me like a unique part of the human experience that I will never be able to understand.

Loser: Why Say Many Words When Small Words Do Trick

Or you could just twerk.

Winner: Caveats

Unless it’s sitting contest against Kellyanne.

Winner: My New Favorite Game

What do you think it sounds like when Nicole says Ace’s name?

Winner: Packing Light

Really, truly, all I can hope for in the world, is that Syrus didn’t bother unpacking.

Could you imagine how annoying that would be?

Loser: Hard Work

The lesson here, kids?

Don’t ever, under any circumstances, ever work hard for anything. Because as Tina just learned, you can put blood, sweat, and tears into earning that plastic Hobby Lobby decorative gold star, and some rando fitness coach from South Florida can take it from you and give it to Veronica, yes that Veronica, the one from MTV, willy nilly just like that.

VIVA LA REAL WORLD!!!

See you back here soon! Thanks for reading, and until next time, as always, Happy Challenge Watching!!!

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Brian Batty

Writing about MTV’s The Challenge, one of America’s great institutions