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Wednesday night’s episode of The Challenge: USA proved to be this season’s most dramatic yet. Allegiances were broken, lines were drawn in the sand, and two of the strongest competitors in the compound found themselves facing elimination after a, quite frankly, expected act of betrayal.

After new pairings were decided by the Algorithm, the challengers competed inFalling Off the Knowledge,’ where they were tasked with answering trivia questions while being suspended off the ledge of a building. As usual, the winning pair would receive $10,000 to be split in their challenge accounts, while the losers are immediately sent into the Arena for that week’s elimination round. In the end, Big Brother 23’s Kyland Young and Alyssa Lopez reigned victorious, beating out their competitors and earning themselves safety for the week. The decision of who would face this week’s losing pair, Justine Ndiba (Love Island 2) and David Alexander (Big Brother 21, 22), was now up to them, and the BB23 duo made it clear they were aiming for big players.

After several deliberations, Kyland and Alyssa decided to seek “revenge” and target none other than Xavier Prather, their former ally and winner of Big Brother 23. Alongside Prather was Shan Smith, the shining star and strategic mastermind of Survivor 41. Although viewers saw the blindside of Prather coming, it didn’t seem to make much sense for the Big Brother duo in the long term. 

After an epic battle in this week’s elimination challenge ‘Smash in Puzzle Out,’ Prather and Smith unfortunately couldn’t manage to finish their puzzle in time, officially ending their journey on The Challenge: USA.

Pop Crave caught up with Xavier and Shan following their elimination to discuss this week’s daily challenge, why the house distrusted Big Brother, and the dynamics of the Survivor alliance. Keep reading for our full exit interview!

Courtesy of Laura Barisonzi/Paramount

Pop Crave: You both are clearly strong physical competitors. What was your initial reaction to not being able to test your physical strength together, but instead compete in a trivia based challenge?

Xavier: Tomato, tomato, tomato, tomato, tomato! All the bad vibes toward this trivia!

Shan: Yeah, we didn’t love the trivia. We didn’t love the idea that it was trivia because Xavier’s, like… I mean, look at him! And also, like, look at me [laughs]! No, I’m just joking! Just joking! But when the algorithm picked Xavier, I was like, “It’s good! I’m good!” If it’s mental, I’m good. If it’s physical, I’m good. I trust Xavier. He’s solid. He’s a solid and all-around good player.

Xavier: I want to first clarify that I loved every single partner I had, but up until that point, Shan is the only partner that I had who didn’t lose a daily challenge and go straight into elimination.

Shan: I came, like, second in two of those challenges [laughs]!

Xavier: I was like, “Okay! Survivor woman, let’s get busy!” I was geeked, and then T.J. was like, “Hey, it’s trivia,” and I was like, “T.J., you can kiss my ass!”

One thing we’ve heard from players throughout the season and especially during last night’s episode is that Big Brother players cannot be trusted. Considering Survivor is just as known for its cutthroat gameplay, what do you both think made Big Brother players especially so distrusted in the house?

Xavier: Shan, take it away.

Shan: I think with Big Brother, the few things that were circulating around the house that made them distrustful was that it really felt like they were scrambling most of the time, and they were willing to throw each other under the bus. More often than not, we would hear them throwing each other’s name whereas with Survivor players, we did not do that. We’re cutthroat, but we were thinking about strategy as well. I think with Big Brother players, it was to each their own. They were just trying to live another day, and that short-sighted gameplay doesn’t get you very far. I think for the most part, that was one of the traits that kind of carried – not including Xavier, Azah, or even Tiff – but there were a lot of Big Brother players that would throw each other under the bus. The other thing is that they were like the pigeon carriers. They would just pass information around the house, and you couldn’t have a conversation without a Big Brother player being there! I think it’s because they’re used to playing the game 24/7 for 90 days. I’m not even sure they left the house still, even in the compound. I think it’s hard to get out of that mind frame. The trauma bonds are strong, so the connections run really deep. With The Cookout, it’s even more so because they banded together during the George Floyd kind of era, and they came together to ensure there was a Black winner. They were bonded on levels that we knew were just, you know… Those things made them honestly inspirational because of what they did, but they were also untrustworthy.

Would you agree, Xavier?

Xavier: I think people know the nature of Big Brother. When you not only see a lot of Big Brother players, but when you know the nature of Big Brother, you’re just kind of like, “Okay, yeah.” It’s funny because she says there’s all these Big Brother players and conversations. I was only having conversations that I felt like I needed to have. Other than that, I was hanging out. I did see some of my Big Brother castmates trying to sneak in on this conversation or have this conversation that you think is being sneaky, but it’s also very obvious that you’re having a game conversation. That’s doing too much too soon. Y’all gotta bring it back! Come on, reel it in! People aren’t gonna trust Big Brother, they’re not gonna trust that there’s so many of us, and they just won’t trust Big Brother overall, but that means we have to stick together as much as we can. There’s an algorithm, so all nine of us aren’t going to make the final, but if we can get the most of us there then that would be great! We kind of had to stick together.

Shan, throughout the season, both you and Domenick voiced concerns over Tyson getting close with some Big Brother players. With that being said, did you fully intend on running the final with everyone in your Survivor alliance or was there anyone you were looking to get out beforehand?

Shan: Oh, I wanted Sarah out, I wanted Tyson out [laughs], and I love Desi but wanted her out because I knew she’s stronger than me! Like, she’s gonna take me out but I love her! I wanted Ben out, too, because they’ve all won millions of dollars! It’s like, “Get out of here! Please!” I think the Survivor group was pretty cohesive and pretty tight. I think everybody had their eye on Tyson, though. That was the consensus amongst us. We would all meet as Survivors, but then we would all meet as Survivors without Tyson. Nobody knew what he was doing or what he was thinking.

Xavier: I would’ve taken that shot [laughs]!

Shan: With Tyson, you have to keep your eye on him because he does kind of crazy things. He played Survivor four times and one time got himself voted out! You just never know if Tyson’s plans are gonna work, or they’re gonna backfire, or what he’s going to do. But yeah, I definitely didn’t want Sarah Lacina there, and I definitely didn’t want Ben or Tyson there. Dom, I wanted to go all the way with him. Tasha, I wanted to go all the way with her. Danny, all the way with him. We got really tight on the show.

Courtesy of Laura Barisonzi/Paramount

New episodes of The Challenge: USA air Wednesday nights at 9/8c on CBS.