The Challenge USA Episode 2 Recap — Winners & Losers

Brian Batty
13 min readJul 14, 2022


Welcome back to Winners & Losers! The skinny guy from Utah reigns supreme yet again, and the Big Brother glue has started to wear off. Inside this edition: Shan perpetuates negative millennial stereotypes, Flava Fav makes an unannounced comeback, we try and fix Wheel of Fortune, and much much more…

Winner: TJ Lavin

What are the chances that at least 15% of the reason they created this obnoxious roll-call board to use for “The Algorithm” (oo0o0o spooky) was so TJ would be able to put a name to a face one by one so he learns who these people are?

Winner: Not Together, But Not Apart

Sometimes on The Challenge, whomever you’re partnered with isn’t totally a friend, but the two of you have enough success and you get far enough in the game to consider it a successful season.

Moving forward, it’s not as if moving forward the two of you always become direct allies. But there is a special bond is organically created where if and when the two of you are on the same season in the future there is an unspoken, silent pact (or who knows maybe this is discussed in the dark corners of Instagram DM’s) that the two of you won’t necessarily work with each other, but also not against each other either.

Think Nany and Turbo. Or Jemmye and Camila. Or Wes and CT.

It’s possible that the nature of a cast of people who have cumulatively never done The Challenge before has accelerated that phenomenon and that many, if not most, of the initial partnerships, will have already created that same bond.

I have to imagine that for any of them who are taking this with at least a modicum of seriousness, any ally or partnership is worth taking on with such minimal history with the group as a whole.

Winner: Kismet

I cannot believe that this totally random Light Bright board that’s making partnerships would pair up the two people fresh off a break-up.

I’m shocked.


I mean can you believe it?!?! You couldn’t script this haha lolol!!

Loser: All Of The People On This Cast

The juxtaposition coming off of All Stars 3 where they lived in quite possibly the most beautiful house ever built to this abandoned there-was-definitely-heroin-for-sale-here-roughly-three-weeks-ago warehouse that’s only slightly more appealing than the Total Madness bunker is throwing me off.

On Total Madness, the living situation was a bit. They weren’t supposed to be comfortable. This just seems kinda mean.

Loser: Cinco’s Dinner

My guy, you gotta cook that thing from frozen.

I feel like we’ve all done the “well if I leave my frozen pizza out while the oven heats up, then it’ll cook faster” trick as we first navigated the rocky waters of having to feed ourselves. But your futile attempt at efficiency will only result in a floppy pool noodle dripping with processed red sauce and covered in cheese that’s mostly made up of imported saw-dust.

If you properly cook a frozen pizza, the amount of non-food you’re consuming vaporizes into an afterthought and you’re left with a delicious stomach-ache-inducing dinner.

While it’s possible that this was the last frozen pizza left, grocery day wasn’t until Tuesday, leaving Cinco with no choice but to jump all over it in the fear that Enzo or Sarah were lurking around the corner ready to pounce. Add to that possible scarcity, he’s most likely still on tilt after spending the bus ride home thinking about the prospect of potentially having to climb over a bed of used needles tightly tethered to his ex-girlfriend in order to solve a thirteen-sided Rubik’s Cube standing behind an active jet turbine engine while TJ laughs in his face in the upcoming daily challenge.

Patience is a virtue. And frozen pizzas are worth cooking correctly. Maybe just make a sandwich next time.

Loser: Angela’s Lack Of Reverence

The Randomizer? Air Quotes? A high pony?

Are you trying to get yourself killed?

Loser: The Temperature In The Interview Room

Man, how cold was it in there? If production spent a little less money on the air conditioning, maybe they could have afforded a less echo-ey living situation for cast.

#JusticeForHotRealityTVPeople #OccupyParamount #Kony2012

Winner: Chekhov’s Body Toss

Don’t just talk about it. Be about it. Let’s have a Tiffany Throwing Contest. Enough of this whole “creatively race from Point A to Point B then do some sort of puzzle” nonsense. Let’s start tossing bodies.

Loser: Millennials

Avocado toast? Seriously Shan? In this economy?

Winner: Booze

I had a Chemistry teacher in high school who would show up to school hungover roughly all of the time. I decided at an early age that Science would be marked as my designated in-school nap time, and then Sophomore year I had Chemistry bright and early at 8:15 a.m. That sort of threw that entire plan out the window.

But luckily my teacher was as distraught about this early start as I was. As a class, we watched Gattaca eleven times that year. Which is second only to October Sky, which may have reached triple digits. Not a single soul complained.

Don’t know a ton about chemistry, but I’ll tell ya what, I never want to be a coal miner.

Loser: The 24/7 News Cycle

What if there were a 24/7 news channel dedicated solely to Challenge based news?

You’re right. It’s important to get the bad ideas out first. We’re still early in the episode. I have plenty of time to recover. Maybe I’m just hungry.

Winner: Musty References

Are we still doing Flava Flav? Did I miss the memo that Flava Flav impressions are back? How did I miss this?

Because if we’re still doing Flava Flav things I demand a comprehensive two-hour “Where Are They Now?” special on the women from the first season of Flava of Love. I also demand the return of Flava of Love in general. I don’t care whether he wants to do it or not. Just deep fake it.

Society peaked the minute that piece of poop traveled from Something’s butt and plopped onto the floor.

Winner: The Challenge

Cashay just described the predicament Nany has found herself in before 90% of daily challenges since roughly the second Obama administration.

Loser: TJ’s Stylist Again

What floor underneath a Kohl’s clearance rack did they find that shirt at?

It looks like a shirt you would buy when you’re on vacation and the airline lost your carry-on. TJ’s almost always the coolest guy in the room, but whatever they’re going for over in wardrobe, it’s not what you want.

Maybe that’s what happened. Maybe TJ’s suitcase got lost on the way to Argentina. That sure would explain a lot.

As I sit here in shorts stained with a smear of goat cheese on the right leg from three days ago and a cut-off t-shirt covered in dog hair that I picked up off the floor still half asleep this morning after determining the aroma I got when I sniffed it wasn’t too offensive. Add to that the devastating realization I had yesterday that every single pair of jeans I own has a worn-out hole in the crotch, I feel as though I’m in the perfect position to critique the fashion of others.

Let’s get on with the chlorophyll.

Loser: Buying Vowels

How much better would Wheel of Fortune be if this is what contestants had to do to get vowels instead of simply purchasing them with fake money?

I’m ready for any and all suggestions on improving Wheel of Fortune. I catch the last few rounds once a week anytime there’s a Bachelor or Bachelor adjacent show airing. Judging on their awkward interactions during the end credits, I can just feel like one day Vanna’s just gonna snap, refuse to turn over the letters, and finally strangle Sajak like she’s clearly wanted to do since the late 90s.

Winner: Yellow Rubber Wristbands

I wonder if that’s how Lance Armstrong won all those races? I was under the impression he was able to pedal so fast because of all the lying and copious amounts of performance-enhancing drugs. I never considered subtle mind games.

It’s important for personal growth to learn something new every day.

Winner: Danny’s Wife Kiki

Kiki Kount: 3

Winner: Danny’s Wife Kiki

Kiki Kount: 4

Winner: Transparency

This James cat already speaks fluent Challenge, and I’m super here for it.

When you’re in a position like James, where potential success will never come from attempting to intimidate with force or fear. It’s as fruitless a venture as Nelson winning a daily challenge or Beth winning prom queen. Even Hellen Keller would be able to see how disingenuous it would come off.

So James did his best Devin impression and just truth dumped his way through the interrogation. He did it last week and it saved him, and by just being overwhelmingly honest and aware, he at least gains back a morsel of the power he lost after popping an implant during the challenge earlier that day.

Most people upon arriving on The Challenge (mostly the guys) will default to over-hyping themselves as a defense mechanism. Both outwardly and inwardly. And not being aware of your bugaboos is the easiest way to book a middle-seat plane ticket home.

Winner: The Patron Saint of Travel

There has never been a prominent Brian on The Challenge, so I’ve never had the opportunity to see if I would subconsciously root for them simply because we share a name.

I just feel like there’s no way anyone out there named Nany who watches the show doesn’t just inherently root for Nany. Same with someone named Bananas. It just makes sense to me.

And yet, despite the abyss of Brian’s on my favorite show, my confirmation name does happen to be Xavier. Which I’m pretty sure I chose because the school Xavier won a few games in March Madness that year. So now that there’s an Xavier on The Challenge, I find myself totally rooting for him. And any and all faults that he may display, I will simply dismiss as poor circumstances or bad luck.

Xavier stole twenty dollars from my wallet? Gas ain’t cheap. Xavier smashed my guitar? It must have been out of tune. Xavier ran my dog over with his car? She shouldn’t have been standing there.

The point is…..well I’m not entirely sure. These entries are sometimes more about the journey than the destination.

Winner: Pressing A Button Every 108 Minutes

God I miss that show. Live together, die alone. Shout Jin and Sun.

Loser: Early Covid Days

Remember when Covid first happened and everyone thought we were just going to be stuck inside for the rest of our lives and everyone ordered a Peloton and then everyone stopped using their Peloton pretty quickly afterward because it’s way easier to just sit on the couch, hear strong medical hot takes from your idiot friends who didn’t go to medical school, and eat takeout?

Loser: Stunted Dreams

Quitting the nightlife industry was the greatest decision Kelsey ever made.

Or at least that’s what she told herself on the Uber ride home from Bottled Blonde A job she’s had for three years and her only steady source of income.

Sure, spending six years at Illinois State to get her degree in Fire Science and Management hadn’t exactly been the most lucrative decision she ever made. But being able to finally use it would sure beat carrying over-priced bottles of Grey Goose with sparklers attached to the spout over to tables occupied by douchey finance bros who she was forced to pretend were funny the rest of the evening.

In the back of that Toyota Camry being driven by a gentleman named Miguel who was clearly a fan of NPR podcasts, Kelsey was offically being whisked away from her life as a bottle service girl. This was the time to do what she’s always wanted to do. She was going to chase the only passion she’s ever had. Tonight would be the last bottle-top sparkler Kelsey would ever light. She made that promise to herself.

She was going to set off explosions.

Upon the news of finally quitting her job, Kelsey’s roommate went and got three boxes of Franzie Merlot. The two of them drank every last drop. They stayed up late into the night talking about their hopes and dreams. How they couldn’t wait to get out of Chicago and move somewhere warm. And how one day they’d finally grab one of those stars they’ve spent so much time avoiding to reach for.

The sound of a honking horn int he alley near her window shot Kelsey awake. Through blurry eyes only made worse by a pounding headache, Kelsey looked at her phone. It was already 1:30 in the afternoon. Instinctively she began to get anxious. Then she stopped, because what does it matter what time it is when you’re unemployed?

Scrolling through her notifications, she found nothing interesting all. Some prodding from Instgram to check out somebody’s something or another. A few texts from her sister. Basically nothing.

But there was one e-mail that stood out. No, not the 2 for 1 BOGO deal on Trader Joe’s Salsa (Today only!). Although that was exciting as well. But what caught her eye was a message from LinkedIn from Viacom, looking for an assistant for their pyrotechnics department.

Kelsey couldn’t believe it! Her dream was coming true!

A few interviews went by and Kelsey nailed the gig. The woman from recruiting told her that her passion is what stood out the most. And that she’d never met anyone as excited about fire.

It all happened so fast. Kelsey packed her stuff, and hopped on a plane to Argentina. It was that simple. She had explained to her roommate that she couldn’t really say what TV show she’d be working on, but that they mentioned more than once how integral explosions were to the production.

After a few ice breaker meetings, HR standards, and all the lame things any job entails, Kelsey was ready to take that first step towards her explosive new career.

“Okay Kelsey, we got our first rig to set up today” Kelsey’s boss Angela explained while they sipped the terrible insta-coffee they kept stocked in the office.

“Amazing! I just want to seriously thank you for this opportunity. My whole life I’ve carried a deep passion for explosives, and to have this chance so early in my career…”

“Yeah, yeah. Whatever. That’s great. Do me a favor and take that energy and go set up a couple of sparklers on top of that big silver box in the sand.”

Moral of the story: Never set goals. That way you’ll never achieve them.

Loser: Unnecessary Abbreviations

They can do what?

Keep My Apples?

Kill More Aardvarks?

Kidnap Milwaukee Advocates?

Just because somebody is out here advocating for the city of Milwaukee, that doesn’t mean that they deserve to be kidnapped. Hell, I’ll advocate for it right now. Bring it on, nappers.

It’s a wonderful city to visit on vacation. You wouldn’t believe how cheap everything is. Even if you tried your hardest I don’t think you could get a dinner bill for two people to go over $100. It’s like they have a hard cap on it.

Here’s the rub, Tiffany, if you don’t want me to make my readers suffer through unfunny diatribes about mid-sized cities in the Midwest, don’t abbreviate words out loud.

That’s it for now. I’ll brb and cya next week. Lol.

Thanks for reading! See you all back here again soon! And as always, Happy Challenge Watching!!!



Brian Batty

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