The Challenge: USA — Episode 4 Recap
Another episode of the Challenge: USA is in the books. Let’s run back through the episode, decompress, and gather our thoughts over what has happened this week. I’m late with this episode because of life stuff, but I finally found the time to write something up before Wednesday so here we are.
The Daily Challenge: It’s Trivia Week
For this episode of The Challenge we return to a yearly staple of the show: high stakes trivia! Answer TJ’s question correctly and you’re good. Get it wrong and the trap door under your feet opens, falling 150 feet to your inevitable doom. The game was played in heats, and was followed up by subsequent winners and losers heats to determine the power duo and the loser duo.
Questions given were multiple answer questions, and when one pair got an answer right it was passed onto the next pair. It’s a great format for excellent pacing to keep the challenge moving along smoothly, because the worst thing that trivia week can give you is a bunch of people getting answers right. I don’t know if there is a true advantage to going early or going late: it probably just depends on the question and your knowledge of the subject.
The challenge gave us everything we want from Trivia, which is stupid answers like not understanding fish are animals too, freaked out challengers falling through the trap door, and plenty of TJ maniacally laughing. The pairs that won their heat were Ben/Azah, Kyland/Alyssa, and Dom/Angela. Kyland and Alyssa as a pair breeze through this challenge and win without issues. In the loser’s round Danny/Desi, Sarah/Derek (sidenote: wasn’t a fan of how mean Sarah was in her confessional talking about Derek X, I thought that was uncalled for), and Justine/David have to name Stanley Cup winning hockey teams. Danny saves himself with the Pittsburgh Penguins and David and Justine lose the trivia round to get sent into elimination. Justine had mentioned earlier in the episode that she was worried about being saddled with David, who has a Big Brother reputation of being a complete non-factor competitor, and those fears are realized with this challenge.
The BB23 Revenge Narrative Becomes Real
Episodes of setup now finally come to fruition with this power couple. You can go all the way back to ten minutes into the first episode to see the pieces being laid out for Alyssa, who first put into the air her desire to get back at Xavier and Tiffany for being led along as a pawn for the Cookout alliance in BB23. Kyland also has his own score to settle with Xavier from the endgame of their Big Brother season as well. Xavier has banked on safety in the Big Brother numbers and on mended post-game friendships to keep him shielded, at least up until the final third of the season. That may have been a little naive of Xavier to downplay any hard feelings, especially coming from a position where he won the season and didn’t have to go through the pain of betrayal. Maybe with the right partner Alyssa and Kyland would hold off on taking the big shot, but this week Xavier is partnered with Shan. While Shan had been downplaying her aggressively cutthroat style of play on the Challenge, no challengers have had any qualms throwing Shan under the bus or into elimination.
It’s important to note that Tyson and Alyssa were also let into the discussion on whether to go after big name players Xavier and Shan, or to play safely to the show lines and send the Love Island duo Cinco and Shannon to go against Justine and David. It looks like after this episode that Kyland and Alyssa consider themselves more aligned to these top dogs rather than to their original show.
Elimination: A Glass Shattering Strategy Sends Big Names Home
We get to the elimination and while Derek X was trying to quietly plead to the power duo to hold off taking the big shot, Kyland and Alyssa go through with their plan and blindside Xavier and Shan. The elimination involves the duos breaking through glass in a partner pattern to open up a vent like tunnel. The duos then have to retrieve pieces on the other side of the tunnel and transfer them to the puzzle board. After taking a time penalty for shattering glass in the wrong combination (one partner shatters a glass pane that the other partner was supposed to), you have to put together a fairly simple puzzle to win the elimination.
David and Justine do the challenge the way you are supposed to by trying to smash the panes in the proper order, while Xavier and Shan decide to let Xavier just quickly smash through all the panes and eat the time penalty. Xavier was hoping the speed of the pane smashing would let them move quickly to the puzzle despite the penalty, but in the end David and Justine ended up with a twenty-ish second advantage to work on the puzzle. Given the simplicity of the puzzle, the time advantage was enough for David and Justine to take the elimination win. This win was especially emotional for David as he felt the extra burden of shaking off the “layup” label that many people had placed on him.
On the other end Kyland and Alyssa succeed in sending their targets home and avoid the chaos that would have befell them if Xavier and Shan returned to the house. It would have been quite nasty if Shan’s twitter rampage post-episode is any indication. While Kyland and Alyssa removed a perceived threat to their game, the long term benefits of taking out a loyal member of the Big Brother team alliance is a bit questionable. Xavier definitely would have had their backs for at least a few more challenges, so now that Big Brother is more depleted it could be very easy for the other shows to band together and knock out BB, only for Survivor to sweep everyone out before the final. There’s still a long way to go so anything can happen here.