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A ‘full-frontal attack’ by ‘Wes’s minions’ leads to Challenge USA fallout

A ‘full-frontal attack’ by ‘Wes’s minions’ leads to Challenge USA fallout
The Challenge USA 2's Wes Bergmann and his minions (Composite image; photo of Wes by Jonne Roriz/Paramount; image of Minons by Steve Buissinne/Pixabay)

The two Challenge USA season 2 episodes that aired this weekend—well, Thursday and Friday—could have been a two-hour episode, in that they started and at least continued a story arc, even if it wasn’t exactly concluded.

The strategy that began in episode five snowballed into episode six, gathering so much momentum it led to a stunning scene at the elimination challenge.

But let’s start at episode five, where the plan to turn Big Brother and Survivor against each other began. (Amazing Race was left out because that’s only Dusty.)

Episode 5: ‘Operation Hat Trick’

Five people walking in a line across a grass field, each holding a handle on a trunk
The green team works together to carry their boxes to victory on The Challenge USA 2 episode 5 (Photo by Jonne Roriz/Paramount)

Chris Underwood, fired up from his challenge win, demonstrated the deft social skills that helped him win Survivor: Edge of Extinction by telling Tyler and Monte, “We rally the fucking troops and take all you little bitches out.” He added, “This is not Big Brother. You’re playing like it.”

In an interview, Chris told us that “articles were written about me that I was the most undeserving winner to ever play Survivor.” Yes they were. He added, “I’m here to win this game.” Okay, great, but you know you have to actually play to the end, right?

Tori told us this war was a “complete advantage for us,” and by us she means the OG Challenge people.

Wes, meanwhile, was annoyed. “What the fuck were you guys thinking?” he said to Monte and Tyler. “I’m a very sad ginger.”

But that wasn’t convincing everyone. “We’re not going to do everything he says,” Michaela said.

Wes tried a different tactic: “I just have to find a way to lull them all into submission,” he said, becoming “the funny, entertaining one.” So he took off his clothes and jumped into the pool.

At the challenge, TJ yet again referred to “this season of The Challenge USA,” perhaps because he cannot count to two, though I should not mock him for this because in my last recap I confused primary colors.

In “Unboxed,” the players had to carry heavy, awkward boxes, mysteriously “proportional” to their own body weight. Along the path to the finish line they found five puzzle stations, giving them the chance to drop a box if the puzzle was solved correctly.

Wes told us about his strategy: “have faith in your athletic ability,” he said. “I just need the rest of my team to trust me.”

Thankfully, one of his teammates was Michaela, who was far ahead of everyone else, and was able to drop her box and come back to help a teammate get to the first puzzle station.

The puzzles varied, with numbers and words and other things to confuse Josh. “I am pretty confident in my puzzle skills,” he said, adding, “this shit is hard.”

After solving their first puzzle, the green team went with Wes’ strategy: they stood in a line, sharing the weight by each holding one handle—except for the two people on the ends, of course.

Blue was in the lead, but Sebastian had to solve a puzzle and just stared at it as the green team ran past. The red team thought they’d need to answer the third puzzle to get ahead, and that left them a distant third.

Wes’s strategy worked: green powered through to the finish.

Now Wes introduced a new strategy: He wanted to stoke the Survivor vs. Big Brother fires to protect the vets, playing off the animosity between Tyler and Monte and Chris.

Michaela, on the other hand, said, “I hope we do something smart,” and argued against voting in two Survivor players—even though, as she said, “I’m not with all of them; I don’t even like all of them.” LOL.

Michaela did not win the argument, and Cassidy and Chris were nominated. “Clearly there’s a full-frontal attack against people on Survivor,” Michaela said.

Cassidy said that the green team “became Wes’ minions.” Bananas framed it as “we went from being the main target” to “the swing votes.”

Wes continued his social game at the bar, where they had a faux bachelorette context. He told a group of women, “I am not on your level. I don’t deserve any of you.”

A person wearing a helmet ducking out of a purple metal mesh cage
Alyssa looks around to discover she’s been eliminated on The Challenge USA season 2 episode 5 (Photo by Jonne Roriz/Paramount)

At the elimination arena, the votes were revealed—Tiffany 4, Faysal 1, Desi 1, Alyssa L. 1, Sebastian 1, Chanelle 2, Dusty 4—and the hopper randomly chose Alyssa L. to compete.

In “Block Heads,” Alyssa and Cassidy were locked into cages that they rolled around the arena to four flags. Those flags, when laid over top of each other, would reveal four digits, the code to their cage’s lock.

The real challenge was getting the cages to roll; they were dodecahedrons, and flopping it to the next side was tough. Alyssa could not even get her cage to roll at first, but caught up and both players had all four flags at the same time.

The struggle then was getting to the light box to read the code.

Alyssa could not physically reach the light box, while Cassidy had to reposition repeatedly to get to hers. (Could they have just placed the four flags together and held them to light, or figured it out without using the light box? I’m guessing they had to place all flags onto the light box to proceed, even if they knew the combo.)

Cassidy won, and declined to defect from the blue team, which she chose initially.

Episode 6: ‘A Really Good-Looking Underdog’

A person holding a stack of cards, standing in front of a stanchion with a red button on it
TJ Lavin hosts the challenge on The Challenge USA season 2, episode 6 (Photo by Jonne Roriz/Paramount)

Sunday’s The Challenge USA 2 episode was The Wes Show. “They’re all falling for his charms,” Cassidy told us.

Wes called her an “ankle-biter.” What a charmer! He also knew he was in trouble. “I need to win to break up the Survivor contingency.”

Dusty, meanwhile, was super-scrunch-face mad because Alyssa L. did not protect him in the vote, pout pout. “It is obvious I was double-crossed,” he said.

It’s also obvious Dusty is auditioning to be a permanent Challenge cast member, with his running around and yelling in anger. It’s a good audition, considering the delusion was strong; he blamed Tiffany even though she didn’t vote for him.

I don’t remember Dusty being this annoying on The Amazing Race 33, but I also don’t remember Dusty on The Amazing Race.

Josh told us, “We created this chaos and I am so excited.” So am I: Josh produced a compound sentence!

Bananas said that Wes’s “Operation Hat Trick was a stunning success.” But Wes was forelorn, reflecting on The Challenge being his job for the past 20 years.

“This could be the last time that I ever get to see a Challenge house for the rest of my life,” he said. “That’s what I’m fighting for.” Well, you can watch it on TV.

A view looking up at a glass platform where people are sprawled out; behind it is blue sky; at the bottom the ocean and land with trees.
The Challenge 2 contestants dangle from an apparatus during The Challenge USA season 2 episode 6 (Photo by Jonne Roriz/Paramount)

The challenge itself was trivia, called “High-Q.” Each team competed on a separate platform suspended 35 feet over the ocean. TJ asked questions, and they could answer as a team, but each incorrect answer tilted the platform more, eventually causing everyone to slide into the water.

The blue team got their first two questions wrong, but all that mattered was keeping at least one person up.

My favorite moment of the challenge came not from people tumbling into the water, but a soundbite from Tiffany after Dusty answered a question wrong. I truly doubt Tiffany was reacting, in an interview, directly to Dusty getting a question about the winner of a Super Bowl wrong, but it was hilarious when the show cut to her saying: “Go to hell, Dusty.”

Alyssa S. and Tiffany were the last people on their respective teams, impressively remaining plastered to the glass even as it was approaching vertical. Both fell, though, first Alyssa and then Tiffany, giving blue the win.

Wes called this blue victory “an absolute worst-case situation, because I expect them to seek revenge.”

They did indeed, nominating Wes and Tiffany.

Bananas said Wes was in such a deep hole, “there’s no way I’m getting you out of it, dude.”

Chris thought voting for Tiffany and Wes meant the other teams would put their votes on men in order to increase the odds Wes would be selected to compete.

So Wes set about “an easy ask” of asking everyone to vote for a girl, which he did artfully: “You’re doing a girl,” he asked/told Josh. These people.

In a moment that actually seemed unrelated to strategy, Wes cried in front of Bananas and Dusty, saying “I’ve got a kid coming” and told Bananas he couldn’t understand because he’s not a father. “I think this is my last game,” he told us, saying he had to focus on “the challenge of becoming a father.”

Dusty, however, is a father and that hasn’t affected his Challenge ambitions, but that’s perhaps because he hasn’t yet been nearly killed by one of the badly produced seasons.

Wes, however, didn’t just give up. “I am the elimination king. I’ve gotta fight,” he said.

Votes went to Alyssa S. 2, Michaela 1, Chanelle 1, Dusty 7. So Wes’s girl-vote strategy had some success, but not enough.

Dusty called on his dead father to protect him, but no dice: TJ pulled his ball.

So then Dusty called out “a bunch of cowards on my team” and told us that Wes is “a guy that I’ve watched half of my life…but I have to send his ass home.” (My favorite part was when Wes just said “ditto” after Dusty’s “cowards” comment.)

Wes and Dusty competed in “Crank Shafting,” with one person standing on a wheel—basically a log with a larger center—and the other player trying to get them off. To do that, they had to untie wheels, attach them to the log, and try to turn it to knock the person off.

The first wheel was so small that it made leverage hard, but Wes was able to get the log moving. He went for the second.

Wes got Dusty to fall using the second wheel.

Dusty’s rope untangling was not as controlled as Wes’ was (“There is a difference between frantic and fast,” Wes said), but Dusty also went to the second wheel before even trying the first, saving some time.

With all the attention Wes received, and all the baby talk, and the FaceTime call home, and his sperm was a success yadda yadda yadda, I assumed he was done.

“I kind of know that I lost. It’s time for my loser speech. It’s time to say goodbye. I might never see an elimination from this standpoint again,” Wes said.

The metaphoric violins were playing and then the real melodrama began, when Bananas left the viewing area to comfort Wes on the side of the mud pit, where Wes said, “it’s time to go home.”

The crescendo of all this drama came when TJ announced that there was a 37-second difference between the two—and that Wes won. Now here is a CBS show for which we should expect the unexpected.

And nice work, editors, thoroughly convincing me that you were crafting Wes’ last episode. Now I’m wondering if they’re crafting a winner’s edit.

Wes took advantage of his victory, switching teams with Chris Underwood and becoming a blue team member. Wes said this was strategic to give the blue team more Challenge OGs. A few episodes ago, it seemed like they were done. Not any more.

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Happy discussing!

Bad Mitten

Thursday 31st of August 2023

Funny thing is, as I was watching that episode, as soon as Chris mentioned the articles written about his Survivor game (or lack thereof), I was like oh Andy is definitely hyper linking back to his in his write up

Andy Dehnart

Thursday 31st of August 2023

😂 I guess I'm that predictable!

The link did actually remind me that I gave Chris credit for his win; he played the game he was given, and deserved that win. The show was the problem, not the player.

Nate

Tuesday 29th of August 2023

Considering all of the claims during last season's finale, and the fact that everyone in the arena - Dusty, Wes, and the entire cast - thought Wes lost, does it not feel like this was another rigged elimination and the producers up to S1 antics/

Bad Mitten

Thursday 31st of August 2023

@Nate, "Another" rigged elimination... Can you name another?

antonio

Tuesday 29th of August 2023

@Nate, Yes, I thought Bananas lover Dusty won too but you never know maybe Wes did pull it out.

All that Wes father stuff was a bit much though. I don't really care if he's a father or is soon to be a father or was once a father. Don't care. He should save all that mumbo jumbo for his therapist.

Kurt S

Monday 28th of August 2023

This has been an excellent season of the Challenge so far. Hoping they learned some lessons from the debacle that was the Challenge USA Season 1 and will continue to put on a quality program through the rest of the season.