The Challenge USA Season 2 Episode 9 Recap — Winners & Losers

Brian Batty
20 min readSep 18, 2023

Welcome back to a fresh and late batch of Winners & Losers for The Challenge USA Season 2 Episode 9!!! The Survivors stopped surviving and finally Tori can breathe again! Inside this week: Will Smith is back again, Cash Money Records is forever, we dive deeper in Cory’s pop culture knowledge, and much much more….

Winner: Will Smith

Last week’s episode was titled Independence Day, this week’s is Enemy of the State.

If next week’s is titled Men In Black I’m gonna….well…yeah idk what I’m gonna do. Likely nothing more than take a screenshot of it and add it to my recap. Pretty threatening stuff.

Anywho, Enemy of the State is a dope movie. Incredible cast that goes like twenty actors deep with “holy shit, they’re in this too?!” type actors. Jack Black is an NSA agent and is playing it totally straight. He’s just another guy, no Jack Black-ness to be found.

Though I gotta say, the idea of the NSA being able to see through somebody’s bag in crystal clear resolution with a camera in space is pretty out there considering we still barely have cameras on the goal line during football games.

Winner: White Kids From The Suburbs

I’m not gonna sit here and pretend I wasn’t throwing up the west side while riding my bike around my Midwestern, middle class, white, suburb, but I was also ten. And listening to a tonnnnn of Cash Money records. Tyler’s an adult. And probably didn’t know who B.G. was when his recent release from prison showed up on his Twitter feed.

If Tyler didn’t fill his parents computer with viruses trying to download Chopper City and uncensored versions of the #1 Stunna music video while dreaming of the day when he can drive around in his all yellow Plymouth Prowler then I don’t wanna hear it from him.

In middle school when it was my turn to write something on the board for the class to guess during a game of Hang Man I wrote out the first part of Juvenile’s verse on this song, one of my favorite songs ever made across any genre. Much to dismay of my teacher who stopped the proceedings halfway through.

For some ridiculous reason, she was under the impression that “Yellow Viper, yellow Hummer, yellow Benz, yellow PT Cruiser, yellow Lac on rims drop yellow ‘Vette and a platinum Rolls Royce that’s seven different cars every day I got a choice” was an improper use of my turn.

The message is: You can take the white kid out of the suburbs, but you can’t take the suburbs out of the white kid.

Winner: Yellow Vipers, Yellow Hummers, And Yellow Benz’s (Benzi?)

I’ll tell you what, when the Turk and Lil Wayne verse hits right at the end, that was easily the first time in my life I understood what it felt like to have your soul leave your body. Even if I couldn’t contextualize it at ten years old, all these years looking back, that feeling of being taken to an entirely different plane of existence through music was as palpable then as it is as an adult who understands their feelings.

To this day I can be immediately taken to that magical place when Turk raps “Give me a gangsta ho, one that don’t give a fuck and will shank a ho”.

If only Alyssa would have said “he is sunshine in human form”, then you all wouldn’t have been subjected to even more of my takes on outdated rap music that only further inform how out of touch with modern society I truly am.

The thing is, Alyssa, when you add the word literally when attempting to directly compare a person to sunshine, that sentence immediately becomes nonsensical. Just don’t say the word, and everything would have been fine.

Sometimes when I get on my ‘literally’ soapbox, I feel as lonely as I’ve ever felt. It might just be me up here. Literally. But you what? That’s fine, more room on the dance floor for me. Manny Fresh is hittin those boom-baps for me and me alone. Yo Fresh, you ready? Watch the freestyle….

Winner: Applying Irrelevant Truths In Order To Further An Agenda

So, and forgive me ignorance if what I’m about to say next is incorrect, but it seems that yes you do need more grit to play Survivor and sleep on sand rather than sit around an air conditioned Big Brother house and talk (?).

I have to imagine the level of grit for one is higher than the other.

However…

That truly, TRULY, has absolutely nothing to do with The Challenge. I just don’t think that the two are that equivocal in the sense that you can compare grit levels as the barometer for success.

But see that’s a nuanced take, whereas these people have been clearly directed to only speak about the show they were on before this. So my apologies. I’m just gonna go back to dancing to Mannie Fresh records. Brb.

Loser: Being A Girl

Not that the closeness was really much of your choice…

I gotta be honest I don’t know how you ladies do it. These creepy persistent ass men must be exhausting to deal with. Some of the stories I’ve heard and things I’ve seen over the years really make me question why any of you even bother leaving the house every day. Or own a cell phone for that matter.

Tori really can’t go very far, which is a shame. She’s kinda trapped. Though she could have just thrown him into elimination herself and/or pulled a Double Agents Tori and lost to Jonna on purpose week two when she saw the Sebastian train barrelling down the tracks towards her station.

Loser: Exaggerated Confessionals

No it wouldn’t.

Loser: Making Friends

Couple things…

Number One: I hope Chris was appropriately fined for speaking to roommates that weren’t originally on the show Survivor. That’s a blatant, disrespectful act and it’s right that Michaela is calling him out on international television for it. Silence is violence.

Number Two: In all seriousness, good for Chris. Way to branch out. Way to expand your social circle. It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. Solid work Chris

Number Three: This will be a theme throughout this episode, but there is just about nothing in the world lamer than Michaela being weary of Chris because he’s making friends. Like, I understand that keeping tight numbers is extremely important to success within this game structure. I get it. I’ve seen the show. It makes total sense.

But if Challenge-specific taboos are going to spring up around expanding your social circles beyond the show you were originally on, then this show is going to wilt away and die. This forced division, and the editing clearly being strident about presenting the fact that these people were once on either Big Brother or Survivor, is going to be a long-term problem that they need to squash quickly.

Spoiler Alert: Later on in this episode, Chris is punished for those exact sins. He isn’t totally finished, as the elimination round plays out in his favor, but if the sin of “Meeting New People” begins to be punished consistently, over time this will become a sin that future Challenge people will avoid.

Which will then cause a stilted, obvious, boring game where the winner will be whoever has the most endurance and came from the original show that has the majority of cast members. It’s that simple. Obviously the topsy-turvy nature of this game makes nothing inevitable (except CT), but the script is currently being written for how this specific spin-off will go moving forward. And they’re setting a dangerous precedent.

Loser: Point B

Wait a minute, I just want to make sure I heard this right, this daily challenge is a set up beyond going from Point A to Point B and solving a puzzle somewhere along the line?

There’s no Point B?

You’re telling me there’s no POINT B!??!?!?!

Then how are we going to get them to the puzzle at the end of the race?

There’s no puzzle at the end of the race? There’s not even a race?!

Wow. Crazy. I didn’t know they were even allowed to do that. First Chris makes friends, now there’s actually a simple, straightforward, creative daily challenge?

Where am I? What planet am I on?

Loser: Making Friends

Top four? Jesus. What, are you setting up your MySpace? Idk, maybe Michaela’s got a point.

Though I’ll tell ya what, for those that remember, the politics behind who you put in your MySpace Top 8 was more complicated than anything these people have to deal with on The Challenge.

Loser: The Losers

This was very likely a long day for everyone. Cast, crew, Cool New Josh, whoever was in charge of the royal grapes for King Faysal of House Fitness, Tori being stuck with Sebastian following her around. This portion of the daily challenge didn’t seem like one that was exactly rapid fire turns.

They had to drive the semi all the way back down the runway, they had to set up all the safety equipment, the camera crew had to get back into positions and grab fresh battery packs. This section alone had to be hours and hours.

So what did that group of losers do the entire time? Do they just genuinely have to sit around and pick at grass? If they wanted to bring a paperback or something, would that be allowed? How bored out of their minds do they have to be?

The heights would be the worst part about being on this show. Having to sit around and wait as much as they do has gotta be up there though. Talk about hurry up and wait.

Winner: Croatian Truckers

Yoooo! Let’s Gooooo! Any of you truckers from Croatia out there stand the fuck up, throw in a dip, and celebrate. It’s your time, dawg! We out here.

My man’s focused. Look at him go. Driving straight while some asshole American bounces on a trampoline.

Time and a half? Yeah, definitely time and a half. As my union friends would say, them bennies is nice.

Winner: Run D.M.C.

“Revolution means change, so don’t look at me strange”

— Sebastion, Survivor

Winner: New Cool Josh

Zero.

Zero is the percentage chance that Josh did that on purpose.

But that’s the thing, when your New Cool Josh you don’t do anything on purpose. When your cool, life just happens to you. That’s why your cool.

So when he says “literally just bounces right back up” while describing someone bouncing on a trampoline, nothing else matters. It’s moments like these that transcend the human experience. We’re all Charlie Bucket and his coked up Grandpa floating to the top of the chocolate factory.

By allowing New Cool Josh to shepherd our ascension to a higher plane, whatever capabilities which are possible within the realm of humanity instantly become infinite.

How can you not be romantic about The Challenge?

Winner: Obvious Winners

Weird. Shocked. I am shocked. These two never win anything, and it’s too bad that all those attempts to get rid of them didn’t w….what’s that? The rest of the house just kinda let them stick around outside of that one feeble attempt to get rid of Tori like a million years ago?

Yeah, but, they’ve at least consistently put Fessy’s ball into the Hopp….No? They haven’t even done that?

Wow. Welp, the rest of the house has received what they paid for and gotten what they deserve.

Winner: King Faysal of House Fitness

While he may be leaving out some details, and boiling down what Wes and Bananas accomplish to an unnecessarily simple level, Fessy’s one of the only ones left in this universe willing to speak truth to power.

He’s not saying the name, but he’s also talking about CT here as well. Fessy knows deep down he’s just as good as them at all the aspects of this game, but Lady Luck has turned her ugly head at the worst times so far in his Challenge career.

Now that’s not to say that he hasn’t also benefited from some Challenge luck along the way too. Most notably the fact that most of his elimination rounds have just been variations on football drills. Yet he knows the truth of it. Getting rid of Wes, Bananas, even CT, takes plenty of that same luck out of the equation.

What’s most interesting is that he’s also saying what someone like Chris could say right back to him. Fessy has gotten plenty of the same social passes that he’s currently sticking to Wes and Johnny. And if anything this exact daily challenge proves that the rest of the house should be just as focused on getting rid of him.

Will any of that happen though? Nope. Of course not.

Loser: Reacting The Same To All Situations Rendering Said Reaction Totally Meaningless

Let’s play a game. Can you think of a single set of yellow balls that could potentially have been sitting on those shelves that Josh would not have reacted that way towards?

He’s made that same exact face every single week for nine straight weeks now.

Tune in next week to see if he can go for ten, which would make him only one week shy of the record. We’re watching history here folks.

Winner: Tori’s Level Of Actual, Earned, Confidence

“So I decided to vote you in because I don’t really care whether you’re pissed off or not. So you get me, right? I think those girls might win and you kinda suck. So, like, don’t be mad lol.”

Winner: Chris

Lmao. Yeah. Great point.

Chris kinda slaps low-key.

Winner: Spacial Efficiency

What they should have done is found and even smaller kitchen and crammed even more shit into it.

Winner: The Challenge

Chris had the ordacity to expand his social circle and by the time that information got spit out the other end he was nothing more than a Sith Lord here to vaporize all the remaining good in the universe.

The Challenge Gods and gravity, the only two known undefeated substances in the universe.

Winner: Learning New Things About People

He was on Survivor?!?!?!?!?!

Winner: Boredom

So basically this entire section between winners vote and house vote, we see essentially a house-wide game of telephone going on.

Except, and if I’m wrong here go ahead and tweet us @fessyfitness with the correction, this rousing round of Pin-The-Rumor-On-The-Challenger began because Chris was asked who he wanted to see get votes and he…answered.

Look this show is a pie and we only see a single flake of crust on this side of the television set, but I for the life of me cannot track what Chris did wrong. The whole ‘making friends outside your show’ thing is a bit, and I’m generally playing it for laughs. But I’m serious that seems to be the one and only misstep. All these shots of Michaela, Cassidy, etc. talking about the things Chris has been saying are all given to us along side a scene of the accuser and the accused having a one-on-one conversation.

A one-on-one conversation that contained questions and answers in the same way most conversations do.

Any reason is the best reason to get thrown into elimination. That’s been the case since Eric Nies sailed the ocean blue. But this one seems particularly egregious. The only conclusion I can ultimately reach here is that Chris is getting railroaded because he’s not one of the cool kids. Sort of the same reason Cassidy was the vote for the women.

So there it is. Once The Challenge rolls over and shows us it’s belly, what we learn each and every time is that this show is nothing more than a warped, hyper-realized version of high school all over again.

And every day is Bosco Stick day. Unless you’re Chris.

Winner: Red Yankee Hats

Earlier in the season for some reason I can’t recall I wondering aloud in this space whether or not Cory had ever seen The Breakfast Club. A few readers commented that no, he had absolutely not seen that movie. Which I feel like is the right answer. The closest he’s likely come is a teacher showing it to the class in high school. Though even then, I highly doubt Cory was paying attention.

So now, in the spirit of this path of curiosity into Cory’s pop culture consumption, do we think he knows who Limp Bizkit is? Or more specifically, who Fred Durst is?

Winner: The Zoom Function On The Cameras They Used To Film This Show

No, no, I want you to zoom in even further!

No but seriously though, why the fuck are they so close to his face? I feel like I’m watching Friday Night Lights. Did Pete Berg direct this episode?

That highly unlikely because Taylor Kitsch is nowhere to be found…and now all I want is the actual real life Tim Riggins to go on The Challenge. Could you imagine?! Good lord, the production.

If you unleashed the real life Tim Riggins into the Rivals 2-ish era of this show…my God in heaven. Put your kids to bed early those nights, if you know what I mean.

Winner: Davos Seaworth

Please, please, please, please, even if you have to lie straight to my face, please, please, please tell me he had to spend the entire season on that tiny little island by himself.

I’m not kidding, I really do just want you to lie to me. I’m never going to fact check it. I’m never going to go back and watch this season. But just in order for me to feel some modicum of joy and happiness, I need someone to tweet us @fessyfitness and confirm that he won the show by having live on that little island like he survived the Battle of the Blackwater.

Winner: Samara

Winner: Whoever This Genius Was

I don’t know who voted for Johnny. I don’t really feel like figuring it out either. But whoever you are out there, thank you for understanding the assignment.

Like, does Tyler or Josh or Sebastian or any of these dudes think they’re gonna beat Wes in a Final? Why has he been ignored ever since he went up against Dusty?

Why only one vote for Johnny?

Here’s the thing, this shit is inevitable. Rarely, if ever, are there genuine upsets when the Final comes around. The results have been so pre-determined they’ve been forced to created an entire season of the show with the idea of getting some new winners being the entire goal.

I know it’s likely a finer line to walk in reality than it is for me sitting at my desk typing this out, but I just feel like if you actually are playing to win this game, getting Wes/Johnny/Fessy out of the game would be Paramount+.

And even from the women’s side, where it’s like of course you’d want the strongest men around to be paired with in the Final. At the same time though, those same strong players are also going to likely be paired with your opponents as well. Which makes any advantage generally a wash, right?

They all had the right idea in the beginning. They took their shots, to be sure. Except all it amounted to was the exodus of Jonna and Amanda. Which, like, ya know, big whoop?

The days go by, and the money gets more and more tangible, leading to a natural diminishing of risk-taking. That’s just human nature, I can understand that. Fessy articulated it earlier, even if it also applies to him, these heavy hitters are able to mostly slip-by and then pull out the win. I’d bet Brad regrets letting Wes stick around on All-Stars 3. Fessy probably regrets letting Johnny stick around on Ride or Dies to be there waiting in that last elimination round. Ask Kyle and Cory about not getting CT out of the way.

Tori’s an entirely different story at this point, and I’ve stroked those coals plenty so far this season. The point being, if and when one of the old geezers or Fessy wins, I don’t think a single person involved from cast to fans will be at all surprised.

Loser: Referencing Social Media

My attention towards a person talking immediately ceases to exist the moment they reference something on social media. I don’t know what it is, my brain just like rejects it. The information comes in and an angry mob throws it back out into the rain-soaked streets.

And now that I’m seeing references to TikTok on my favorite show I realize that I’ve now died just a little more inside.

Thanks Sea Bass.

Loser: Being Super Weird On TV

Woof.

Winner: The Pyro Person

For a second there, this show leaned a little to heavy into fire and explosions. They were just lighting basically any and everything on fire and the end of any given daily challenge would involve something exploding.

And the fans hated it.

The majority of online discourse surrounding this show was regarding how silly all that fire and all those explosions were. And they clearly listened. They haven’t lit anything on fire unnecessarily in a long time.

But you know who we all forgot about in our complaints?

The pyro person.

They’ve been out of a job for years. Probably day drinking Budweiser bottles in the studio apartment in some small Oklahoma town right now. Addicted to gambling on college basketball. Family completely torn apart. On the verge of throwing away the minuscule amount of life they have left.

Think about the little person, the blue collar worker who dedicated their life to learning how to safely create explosions for reality television competition shows. Maybe next time you complain, you’ll consider that you’re putting someone out of a job.

Winner: Only Fans

At least he’ll always have Tori’s Only Fans.

Get on home Sebastian. Maybe make some friends your age. Call us when you’re 21, maybe we’ll buy you a beer. The adults will take it from here.

Loser: Being Super Weird On TV (Part 2)

Woof.

Winner: My Man Chris

“The ones that hate me the most look just like me/You tell me what that means”

— Jack Harlow

Where this soft spot for Chris is coming from, I have no idea. I never feel sympathy for events that occur within the confines of this show. Luck is a huge part of this game, and if you get the bad side, well then so-be-it. Them’s the brakes.

Something about the way he’s being railroaded for having the ordacity to both play the game and form new relationships is so bizarre. The idea that those two things are seen as a negative can partly explain why this show’s fallen into the sort of stale rut game-wise it’s been stuck in for a few years.

There’s a way to play this game well, and there’s a way to play this game that creates great TV. Ideally both of those things are happening simultaneously, but it’s a hard tight-rope to cross. Being able to walk that line is what shot this show into the stratosphere in the first place. But somewhere along the way, that was lost, and things fell too far on one side.

Playing this game correctly is the only way to truly do it. Winning this amount of money doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t ever have to work again, but you’re not going to have to pick up a part time job on the weekends any time soon either. I don’t fully begrudge anyone for ensuring their spot in a race for a fat check.

Yet as it always is with decision making in sports, the fan suffers first and the hardest. Yet, I have hope. Look at this screenshot again…

Chris is walking into a lion’s den. Eventually some of these people are going to have to start turning on each other. If we’re stuck watching Alyssa and Tyler and Cassidy etc. bite the dust one by one until only the adults are left standing, then we’re in for a stale couple of weeks.

But if these folks can toss away all sensibilities for just a few weeks, we could be in for a fun ride. For now, let’s dance. Hit it DJ

VIVA LA REAL WORLD!!!

Thanks for reading! See you back here soon for Episode 10! And until then, as always, Happy Challenge Watching!!!

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Brian Batty

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