The Challenge USA Season 2 Episode 1 Recap — Winners & Losers

Brian Batty
13 min readAug 13, 2023


Welcome back!!! We’re here to recap Episode 1 of The Challenge USA Season 2! No longer will we swim in the flaccid waters of the original spin off. The Challenge vets are here and they brought their ladles to stir the pot as they only know how. Let’s get right to it. Inside this week: Josh is back, Ameerah makes her glassware preferences known loud and clear, Johnny’s inner-psyche is exposed, and much much more…

Winner: Giving The People What They Want

Regardless of your feelings towards this person, any serious Challenge fan that tells you they weren’t at the very least interested in seeing Paulie back in this world would is totally lying. The same way anyone who drives past a thirty car pile up and claims they didn’t look out their window.

There is no coincidence that this crazy looking gentleman, the guy you’d hesitate to buy drugs from at a festival before ultimately giving in due to desperation, the guy who is only partway through describing the spot he and his buddies are staying at to you for the eleventh time in the last thirty seconds before you turn to your friend and share a knowing look, the guy who talks way more loudly than anyone ever should on the phone behind you in line at the grocery store while a value pack of Red Bulls, six limes, extra-pulp orange juice, and five pounds of chicken breast are sloppily strewn around the conveyor belt leaving the edge of his raw chicken edging against your loaf of wheat bread, was given the opening confessional of the season.

Loser: Trying To Be Everything For Everyone

Michele’s shirt needs to make a decision.

Winner: The Relentlessness of Permanence

Some free life advice for anyone who’s paying attention.

Don’t ever, ever, and I mean ever, be the person whose name can realistically fill in the blank within the sentence “Did _____ get a neck tattoo?!”

Lovin’ the hair though, Josh! It’s great to be back!

Winner: The One Thousand Words A Picture Can Say

There is a lottttt going on in this screenshot.

Winner: Dressing Like Your Girlfriend

It’s like when Tori was dating Jordan and suddenly all her clothes had holes in them. Except instead of this happening on planet earth, Paulie and Cara happen to be living in Westeros.

Loser: The Meet And Greet Getting Cancelled

Do you think he’s bummed that he doesn’t get to meet CT?

Winner: Sharing

Is Alyssa wearing Fessy’s jeans because she forgot to bring her own or did she just grab the wrong suitcase at baggage claim?

Winner: Memories

Josh has never met anything at all that he didn’t want to scream about. You gotta respect the consistency. Though, if your hypothetical daughter is ever playing against his hypothetical daughter in a youth basketball game, you’re likely in for the worst afternoon of your life.

Winner: Class


Winner: The Real World

What an incredible television program.

That’s it, there’s no joke or anything. I just think that it’s important to get the information out there, raise awareness, and ensure that those that are too young to remember or missed the train the first time around (Though, if you were around back then, I highly doubt you’d have ever pressed your thumb against this link if you didn’t watch The Real World) properly understand how amazing it was to have The Real World and new Real World People in our lives once every nine months or so.

Life used to be palatable, ya know?

Also, while we’re here, and this goes beyond the Are You The One? erasure, they strangely left out that Cory was also on The Real World. So, in honor of his ignored alumni status, here’s a photo of two-time Challenge champion Ashley sloppy drunk and making out with Cory in the back of a San Fransisco cab while Club Rat Jay watches on in delight.

Winner: Taking Any Opportunity Available To Talk About Shauvon

Let’s compare our three captains here with the team captains last time we did the three-team-draft in the opening moments of Cutthroat.

This time we have Josh, Cassidy, and Desi. And on Cutthroat we had these people…

Now obviously Josh is Shauvon. I don’t think there’s much debate there. Which leaves the other two to parse through, Emilee with three E’s and the Challenger formerly known as Camila.

Now comparing anyone to Camila is a little mean, and a lot unfair, so this is a bit of a fraught analogy. I guess now that we’re talking it out together as a group, I only did this in order to have an opportunity to fire off the Josh/Shauvon line. And everyone knows that explaining a joke only makes it funnier. Especially jokes that weren’t really that funny in the first place.

So here we are. I feel like a dog with it’s belly fully exposed right now. Camila really makes certain parts of this show super difficult to talk about, huh? She even managed to spoil a ripe for the picking Josh and Shauvon comparison. I guess this leaves me with only one option…

Loser: The Same Old Same Old

Obvious first pick.

[Insert a by-now-well-played-out ironic comment lambasting the perception of who Jonna was with who Jonna is now]

Am i rite?! lol

Winner: Storytelling Through Wardrobe Choices

If you didn’t already know that Paulie has been dying to get back on The Challenge, or if you needed the point hammered home just a smidge, don’t fret, because Paulie has also decided to dress exactly like someone who’s been gathering outfits for years in anticipation for this exact moment.

Also, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that’s not real fur. I’ve never seen a red leopard before. (Disclaimer: I’m color blind and extremely unsure of what animal print that’s supposed to be. So if that’s actually a purple cheetah or something like that, I apologize. Feel free to tweet us your corrections @fessyfitness)

Winner: Goals

You should write that down.

I’ve heard writing down your goals can be an effective way to manifest them. In fact, according to this link I found…

“Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, did a study on goal setting with 267 participants. She found that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.”

42% more likely, Michaela! That’s a lot! Grab that pen and get to writing, and maybe, especially with that 42% boost, you’ll become a Challenge Champion.

Winner: The Editors

There is no doubt in my mind that, whether subconsciously or consciously, they purposely cut immediately to a shot of Alyssa standing next to Fessy (not to mention the Ori’s weighing down each of her shoulders) while she made this wild ass claim. This theory is made stronger by the fact that she’s also wearing Fessy’s shirt in her confessional.

Winner: Classic Jokes

A blonde, a brunette, and a redhead walk into a bar…yada yada yada…something something…the mother was the doctor.

Loser: Shrinkflation

“Hey Ameerah, we have regular sized wine glasses over here…”

“I said I’m fine with this tiny one.”

“But that’s for like candies and garnishes. It’s decorative…”

“Don’t make me repeat myself.”

Loser: Time

First off, easy on the cussing. Secondly, I know that time’s been a little wonky since 2020, but their history isn’t that long. Have Johnny and Josh ever even spoken to each other on camera?

Loser: The Other People On Paulie’s Show

Hey! Check out the English major over here! No metaphorical web is too complex for Paulie.

I can’t say for sure, considering I’m both uninvolved and uninformed, but I have to imagine that Paulie’s ego had nothing to do with the set up for this game.

Winner: The Croatian Statue Market

I have so many questions about these statues…Where did they come from? Did they send out field producers to find statues for sale that looked vaguely like Amanda and Wes? How does one even do that? Did they borrow them from a cemetery? Did they have them commissioned? Beyond how insanely expensive that would be, is even going through all that trouble worth this one daily challenge they spent ten minutes on? Did some rando Croatian stone-cutter just get a call from an American number one day and then they were like “yo we got some pictures of six hot Americans can you make statues of them holding swords and looking down solemnly as if they had just slain their enemies and are saying a prayer for their souls to rest in the afterlife?” How did all of this work?

And most importantly, where are they now? They seemed genuinely heavy, and heavy vanity objects are not only difficult to move, but also expensive. Are they just sitting in a Croatian warehouse somewhere collecting dust? Did they return them back to the cemetery they borrowed them from? Please tell me they’re still just sitting in whatever field they used for this daily challenge in the exact spot they left them.

I could go longer, but the point is, no matter their, these statues were cumbersome to acquire. All that for what could have easily just been a bunch of rocks like they normally would do.

But I guess how could a bunch of rocks possibly satisfy Paulie’s ego? The lesson, as always, is that I’m an idiot.

Loser: The Erosion of Chivalry

Fessy let Alyssa borrow his jeans for day one and his shirt for her confessionals, but couldn’t go the extra step and throw her a long sleeve tee to wear under her uniform? Look at her! She’s shivering out there!

Something’s not adding up.

Loser: Not Leaving The Jokes To The Joke Makers

A few years ago, I went to a concert with my girlfriend at the City Winery in Chicago’s West Loop. It was for a gentleman named Ron Pope, a real whiny, sad, crooner who plays acoustic guitar and piano type songs about love and what not. Talented guy, just not my type of music. But what are ya gonna do, life’s all about give and take.

Anywho, between every song he basically tried doing like stand-up bits about his life. Like those early season Seinfeld episodes where at the beginning and end Jerry would do a stand-up joke that would sort of set the theme of the episode.

Except they were all terrible. Sure he got some luke-warm laughs from the women in the crowd who wanted to support him and his comedic endeavors. But I know a pity laugh when I hear one, and that’s all they were.

The lesson here, kids, is stay in your lane. Leave the cooking to the chefs and the jokes to the comedians.

Winner: One Half Of A Good Idea

This boring ass daily challenge would have been way less boring if the entire thing would have been downhill. The best part of the Titanic is when the boat is sinking, ya know?

There was a retention pond in the town I grew up in that was real real deep and when it snowed it transformed into the GOAT sledding hill. So we would sneak under the fence and go down it all freakin day long. Then when we were a little older, we started playing this game we called Grand Theft Sled where basically half the people would start on sleds at the top, while the other half were off sleds a little lower down the hill. Once we said go, it was essentially a free for all, you could do anything you want, and the winner was the person first at the bottom of the hill on a sled.

It was chaos, and looked a whole lot like the downhill portion of this daily challenge.

So I now ask you this question, what was more boring? My droning trip down memory lane or this opening daily challenge?

Correct, the answer is my droning trip down memory lane. But not by much, which is the entire point.

Winner: The Word Literally

We’re literally back!

Winner: The Word Literally (Again)

Winner: 4/20: To Some, Just A Date On A Calendar, But To Others, It’s A Lifestyle

Idk about you, but I think Tyler should smoke just a little more pot.

Winner: When A Blind Squirrel Finds A Nut

Josh has never, ever, ever, ever, ever, and I mean ever, looked cooler than he does in this confessional. I’m all the way back in on Josh.

Loser: Psychological Scars

Last time we saw Johnny Bananas on a season of The Challenge he was being sent home because he didn’t notice that the face on a cartoon sun was smiling.

Now he’s wearing an enormous yellow reminder of that on his forehead.

There’s a lot to unpack there and I am under no circumstances qualified to do so.

Loser: Those Stairs

What a nightmare.Are you kidding me? I was about to write ‘imagine walking down those stairs drunk’ but now I’m realizing I don’t think I could walk down those stairs sober.

Winner: The Challenge Musical I Hope To Someday Write

And now thanks to Michaela I already have the hook to the opening number.

Winner: Staying True To Yourself

Shout out to Johnny for orating his decision making process to only the empty cubbies in the wall of the ball-sucking room with the same enthusiasm as any of his infamous opening toasts.

Loser: Saying The Math Isn’t Mathing

Come on dawg…that’s enough of that.

Winner: Paradoxes

Loser: Closed Circles

Just as it was about to get good, they finished early. All of my former lovers know the feeling all too well.


Thanks for reading! See you back here soon after we all enjoy episode 2! Until then, as always, Happy Challenge Watching!!!



Brian Batty

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