The Challenge USA Episode 5 Recap — Winners & Losers

Brian Batty
12 min readAug 5, 2022


Welcome to another edition of Winners & Losers!!! For the first time, the team voted into elimination has found its way back into the house, things are gonna get spicy from here! Inside this week: Dom’s not paying attention, Cayla orders Taco Bell for the group, Mariah Carey and Eminem make diss tracks about each other, and much much more…

Loser: The Editors, Despite Their Best Efforts, Being Forced To Show David Last Week

“That’s right David. Congratulations on that win. No go back into the corners of the screen where you belong.” — The editors, super duper angry at David (not my Dad) for whatever reason.

Loser: Not Paying Attention

So a red-faced Dom who may or may not have passed out by pool earlier that afternoon just explained how having a pair with one Big Brother alumni and one Survivor alumni is an “insurance policy” and that now after Aneesa’s Algorithm paired him with another Survivor player, he feels a little less safe.

Hold on a minute. Let’s check out the sexy garbage collectors who went home last week…

Now according to the little icon that pops up on the bottom left of the screen when they do confessionals, that looks to me like a team with one Big Brother alumni, and one Survivor alumni. And they were very certainly not safe. And Dom just stood there and watched them go from safe, to unsafe, to an uncomfortable plastic seat in Terminal B23 at the nearest Argentinian airport.

Keep your head on a swivel, Dom. You’re a God damn construction supervisor.

That’s fucking right you are. Don’t you forget it.

Loser: That Joke From My All-Stars 3 Recaps You All Thought Was Finally Over But Is Now Back Due To A Surprise Scene Of One Player Braiding The Hair Of Another Player (It’s Not My Fault)

Something something Jonna and MJ something something those that braid hair together something something…

Winner: Cinco

How lucky is Cinco that he gets to play this game with his ex-girlfriend?

The Challenge is supposed to be hard. Having your ex there accusing you of flirting with everyone from TJ to the cameraperson is like playing on easy mode. I know I talk about how unfairness is built into this game, and how sometimes you just get unlucky. But, if you ask me, it’s kinda bullshit that on Cinco’s first taste of this, he gets to live in such an anxiety-free environment.

Winner: The Word Murky

“No, dammit. That water isn’t murky enough!”

“But TJ, we’ve shown you photos of nearly every natural body of water in Argentina. The challenge is in three days. We need to pick something or we’re gonna have to do trivia again.”

“Okay, now just hear me out…what if we filled a reservoir with chocolate milk? Could we get in any trouble for that? Like, environmentally and what not.”

“Uh, yeah…probably.”

“No excuses, just make it happen. We need a lake of chocolate milk. Chop chop.”

Winner: TJ Lavin’s Checking Account

I wish they would make it a little clearer which streaming service I’ll be able to watch this Challenge World Championship on.

Loser: Bullies

Nah. No way. Why would anyone do that?

Loser: Misleading Movie Trailers

A long time ago, before Catfish was one of only three shows that were played on MTV, it was a little-known independent documentary.

One this fateful summer night all many years ago, a friend of mine hit me with a “hey you wanna drive downtown and see this creepy-looking documentary?” text. This was when I was young and adventurous, right in the middle of my say yes to anything era, so I of course, naturally, said yes. But like any red blooded-tax paying-American, I wanted to see the trailer first.

Now I know I hyperbolize a lot around here, but I promise you this isn’t one of those times.

The trailer for the Catfish documentary is the most misleading movie trailer ever made.

This trailer for this spooky documentary had me hooked. What would he find! And that last shot! Holy Canolis! It’s a modern Hitchcock thriller, but it actually happened!

So we schlepped our happy asses all the way to the North Side to go to The Music Box Theater for a 10:45 pm showing. And what we ended up with was a slightly boring documentary that wasn’t scary at all. In fact it simply made me sad.

I was sad that someone got into an internet relationship. And I was sad that some lady who likes to paint fish had to pretend she was someone else and get into a fake internet relationship just to feel alive inside. And I was sad that I now had a tummy ache from eating too much popcorn and finishing an entire large Dr. Pepper.

Nev from Catfish has a pretty punchable face in general, but it’s rare that I’ve felt the need to punch someone more than the need I felt to punch that guy in the face as I stewed in my own misery the entire ride home.

So when that stupid movie blew up into what Catfish is now, a hit show and a verb fully ingrained in the modern vernacular, I remained incredulous for the entire journey. And I still feel the deep desire to punch Nev. That fire never stopped burning.

What were we talking about again?

Loser: Rachel Dawes

They better be careful. I’m pretty sure this is the same place where Maggie Gyllenhaal died in The Dark Knight.

Winner: Danny’s Wife Kiki

Kiki Kount: 7

There he goes, talking about death again. Seriously, this man is going through it.

Loser: Reality Television Chicanery

Let’s stay here a minute.

I’ve said it a million times, and yet the 19 people who read my recaps every week still don’t want to listen to me. I hear your cries. I read your letters. I listen to your protests from the alleyway outside my bedroom window.

But what I need you all to do is open your third eye and say it with me…

The number one rule in reality television: If you don’t see the person saying the words, if you don’t see their mouth moving in concert with the words you’re hearing out loud, they probably didn’t say it.

Nice try, Challenge Gods. I see you shoehorning a Kiki reference in there. Slapping Kiki’s name onto the end of Danny complaining that a silly girl (Ugh! A girl! Helping?!) was trying to help him climb a net.

I’ve wasted way too much of my life watching reality programming. You’re not sneaking that one past me.

Loser: Nev

No clue. Let’s test it out on Nev.

Too much? Yeah, you’re right, I should definitely beat this joke into the ground.

Loser: All The Other Teams

Not only did the MVP of this daily challenge have to basically swim for their partner, but they had to do an extra lap because of a silly mistake the first time around.

It’s gotta be embarrassing to get beat by essentially a one-person team that also had to do extra work.

You gotta give a ton of props to Cashay on this one. Not only did she dominate the swimming portion using only her legs, but she also had to push her dead-beat partner Tyson the entire time. Three total laps, pushing Tyson’s long, gangly body through a sea of chocolate milk.

Put some respect on her name. She just put on one of the most impressive performances I’ve ever seen on this show.

Loser: Jurisdiction

I didn’t go to law school or anything, but since Sarah’s a cop, is it possible that she could have just arrested Leo for being such a bad swimmer and planted some drugs on him or something?

Asking for a friend.

Okay, fine. I’m asking for me.

Winner: Shannon, Nelson & Lloyd Christmas Walk Into A Bar…

Are you guys sure?

Loser: Silence

While it’s possible that Cinco came up with the “don’t say anything in deliberation strategy” and Azah went along with it for intelligent, logical, well-thought game reasons.

It’s also possible that Cinco just doesn’t really have much to say. Hit it DJ!

What’s that? The Top 5 Challenge USA Competitors I’d Like To Smoke Weed With? Is that what you’re asking? Well, fine…

5) Enzo (Definitely has the best guy, because it’s the same guy he’s had since high school.)

4) Cashay/Shannon (Would be fun for an hour, then they’d just end up stuck in their phones and pass out soon after that.)

3) Derek (Seems like he’s spent his fair share of time on Reddit. Bet he’s just got some theories, man.)

2) Tyson (High energy weed smoker, but it’s been a minute, so the stories would just flow.)

1) Cayla (This may be controversial, but here’s the deal, Cayla will definitely order and pay for way more Taco Bell than any of us needs later on. I know the munchie type when I see it.)

Winner: Grocery Runs

Let’s stay here for a minute. Let’s talk through this as a group.

I totally understand not stocking the fridge with ice cream, pizza rolls, or other various creature comforts. The more on edge they are, the better, generally. But, I mean, microwave popcorn isn’t necessarily the most egregious request. Could Tyson just ask for something like that? What if someone was really into crunchy peanut butter, and all they had was creamy?

See, now we got ourselves into a real situation here. Monkey doesn’t go back in the bottle. If you get Tyson microwave popcorn, then you gotta get Cheez-Its for Kyra and it becomes a whole thing.

Loser: Alyssa’s Metaphors

Damnit! You were so close! Just say like a cat! I mean it was right there for you. Leo’s not a dog. He’s a cat! Meow!

Winner: Following Pop Music in 2009

There was a time in music when Mariah Carey featured Gucci Mane on an Eminem diss track and it became a hit record. That’s a thing that happened, and I feel like we forget about it all the time.

That wild-ass mad-lib of a sentence is an actual thing that happened. Gucci’s verse had no business going so hard. Neither did either of Mariah Carey’s for what it’s worth.

“Must be the weed/Must be the E”

“See right through you like you’re bathing in Windex”

“You a mom and pop, I’m a coorporation/I’m the press conference, you a conversation”

Like, why Mariah do it to him like that?

Then that was followed up with a fire response diss track from Eminem called The Warning where he used actual voicemails that she left him in the sample that my friends and I still quote to each other to this day…

All of this is an actual thing that happened. Eminem and Mariah Carey had a diss track back and forth. Even typing all of that out, as well as living through it, it’s still hard to believe it actually happened.

I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them.

Winner: The Post Shower Fresh Feeling

Timing is everything in life.

Cayla choosing to approach Tyson directly after he showered is a bold choice. Some of us need that time to unwind and fully relax. Others find that time to be when they’re most productive.

Cayla’s now lived with Tyson for a few weeks and has probably picked up on his habits. Coming to him with hardcore game talk before his hair has even dried is aggressive. But my guess would be that she knows this is when Tyson is at his most productive.

Personally, this would be the worst time to approach me with anything serious. What, Ben is dangerous to me? Let me eat a banana first. You want more game talk with me? Let me ease into the afternoon. I never talk business with wet hair, it’s just good manners.

Winner: Suspending Disbelief

Okay, but like, what if he was a cat?

Maybe he’s an Animorph?

On a long enough timeline, technically anything is possible. So maybe we’ve just reached the portion of that timeline where an Animorph has finally made it to The Challenge.

Nothing’s for sure. But I do know one thing though. Professor McGonagall is definitely Leo’s favorite Harry Potter character.

Winner: Palindromes

My favorite thing about Azah is the fact that her name is the same forward and backward.

Loser: Dreams

Earlier in the episode, Cashay had mentioned multiple times that being on The Challenge was Cinco’s dream. My dream is to play shortstop for the Chicago Cubs. Another one of my dreams is to own a winery in Walla Walla Washington and name a line of Cabernet Sauvignon’s after my dog Willa, called Willa Willa.

I want my winery to be there because, for one, that’s where Challenge Hall-of-Famer Tonya is from. And also because my dog’s name happened to just line up so perfectly.

Incoming gratuitous photo of Willa the furry monster being stupid cute in 3…2…1….

“Hi, I’ll have two bottles of 2025 Willa Willa Cab Sauv for the table, please. And just keep ’em coming.” — Some billionaire out to dinner at a fancy restaurant sometime in the future.

But now that a cop from Iowa and a cat from The Amazing Race were able to stack phony film reels faster than he was, Cinco is sitting uncomfortably in the middle seat on a plane ride back to America.

The lesson kids, as always, never set any goals in life. Because one day you might actually achieve them.

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



Brian Batty

Writing about MTV’s The Challenge, one of America’s great institutions, from a fan’s perspective. Inquires: -Twitter: @TJsAirhorn