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The Challenge USA’s players are still ‘playing it safe’

The Challenge USA’s players are still ‘playing it safe’
Josh tries to get his game out of the bushes during The Challenge USA 2 episode 12 (Photo by Jonne Roriz/Paramount)

“This is going to be a tough day at the office,” Bananas said about The Challenge USA 2 episode 12’s challenge, “Brain Squeeze.”

But is it actually a tough day at the office for Johnny Bananas, or any of his Challenge vet friends? Josh Martinez was in tears about not getting to compete to prove his worth, so desperate is he to make a final and win.

Josh was crying with Fessy and Cory, and Josh said “I do need to earn it, dude.” He told us, “I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything so bad” and that on Big Brother, “I was best known for being chaotic” and “I want to prove to myself that I can finally run a final, that I have what it takes to win.” I don’t understand the connection between those things, but this is Josh.

Cassidy, who yet again went into an elimination Challenge, said, “I’m pissed, because so many people are playing it safe right now.”

Cassidy has now been in three eliminations, Chris has been in four, and of the 28 individual slots for elimination competitors, only six have been filled with OG Challenge vets.

Some of that is the result of the hopper’s randomness, of course, but even the original nominations have been mostly newer-to-the-challenge Survivor, Amazing Race, and Big Brother players—and often the same people again and again.

Meanwhile, the Challenge regulars sit back and laugh. Granted, of the six OG vets, only half remain: Bananas, Cory, and Tori. But Josh and Fessy are more Challenge than CBS at this point.

This week, Bananas and the bros decided they’d make it a woman’s elimination week, but didn’t even have to make that case, because the Survivor women were so ready to axe Michele for playing both sides.

Michaela actually said, “This is our chance to overtake the vets, and I’ve been waiting for this pretty much all season.” So have we. So have the vets. They’ve just been twiddling their thumbs.

And then, with Desi and Chris’s win, they went after Michele instead. I can see why they would want Michele out, since she was playing with the OG vets too, but that just allows this group of dumb guys who’ve done jack shit to sit back and watch, again. And Josh to cry, more.

A person carries a canvas bag on their back; the logo for The Challenge USA is visible in the background
Desi carries a puzzle piece on her way to winning The Challenge USA 2 episode 12’s challenge (Photo by Jonne Roriz/Paramount)

For the main challenge, the remaining players had to run through an old fort, picking up large puzzle pieces, and then running them to a station one at a time. The twist: they did not know how many pieces there were, or where they were located in the fort, which had some crawl spaces and hidden rooms.

The carrying and running was not easy. “I have pretty good endurance,” Fessy said. Cut to him yakking.

Chris started building his puzzle at five pieces, while Bananas thought there were seven. But there were actually eight, and Michaela concealed a piece from Bananas by lying to him.

Her goal was simply to get “people who are willing to nominate Michele win.”

After 50 minutes, both Chris and Desi won, placing power in the Survivor alliance’s hands.

A person sits atop a small castle-like tower
Chris rests after winning The Challenge USA 2 episode 12’s challenge (Photo by Jonne Roriz/Paramount)

Michele knew she was in trouble: “Cue the waterworks.” She and Michaela got into an argument, which was quite comical, with Michele saying things like, “I’m a mess, that’s a fact.”

Chris and Desi sat down and decided between Michele and Tori. Desi “felt incredibly betrayed by” Michele, and wanted to vote for her—even though she knew Tori could beat her in the final. Desi also thought this would “right my wrong with Tori,” because they’d agreed to not vote for each other, and Desi broke that promise last episode.

Meanwhile, Fessy assumed he’d be a target, and Chris said, “This is revenge at its finest.” Why not Bananas? “He’s a target, and he’s dangerous, but he’s getting old,” Chris said, and that’s the first decent argument I’ve heard against him.

So Michele and Josh were selected, but Josh was not really at risk.

A person turns a yellow wheel attached to a yellow metal apparatus
Michele competes in the elimination challenge on The Challenge USA 2 episode 12 (Photo by Jonne Roriz/Paramount)

On the way to voting, Chanelle observed “Johnny Bananas eating a banana—how ironic.” He said, “It’s cannibalism. They’re going to have to put a blur over this.” When he walked into the voting booth, the banana was covered with a little icon of his face. Perfect editing!

Votes came down to Cory 1, Chanelle 1, Cassidy 7—again, the safest option possible.

The odds were in Josh’s favor and against Cassidy, and the hopper did indeed select Cassidy to face Michele.

Their game was “Hot Wheel.” They had to control of a torch, trying to light a fuse attached to one of six targets. When lit, they exploded in a beautiful burst of smoke.

I loved the design of this challenge, because each had simultaneous control of the torch via a wheel connected to a pipe, so it was like tug of war and arm wrestling.

An explosion of smoke comes from the top of an apparatus
On The Challenge USA 2 episode 12, Cassidy and Michele—not Challenge vets—faced off in the elimination challenge (Photo by Jonne Roriz/Paramount)

They each got one early on, but then Cassidy tired out Michele and got the rest of her targets.

With all the Josh focus early on, I expected him to lose, and it was all just making me laugh—especially when he said he also wanted to go in next week to fight Chris. “I’m going to knock the head off of him,” Josh said.

The preview for next week, though—the penultimate episode—appears to show Josh lying in the elimination arena’s sand saying, “I hate this game.” Even if it’s not that, let me pretend for a few minutes.

We also learned that the finale in two weeks will have four men and four women, so two players will leave next week. Will the Survivor alliance survive? Or will Challenge regulars find their way to another finale?

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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Happy discussing!

Bad Mitten

Monday 9th of October 2023

"The twist: they did not know how many pieces there were, or where they were located in the fort, which had some crawl spaces and"

- You trailed off there and didn't finish your sentence lol

Andy Dehnart

Monday 9th of October 2023

It’s my signature fill-in-the-blank sentence!