Obvious though it is, the theme behind this season of The Challenge is that being over forty-years-old is far from a death sentence. Being over forty for The Challenge: All Stars wasn’t just a requirement, it was a way to prove that you do not have to quit, you do not have to fall out of shape, you do not have to seem uncompetitive, you are not old. And Yes Duffy, this season’s winner, deserves to be thrown into the regular seasons with all of those youngsters in order to demonstrate that point further.
Yes began his connection to MTV with the 1999 season of Road Rules: Semester at Sea. For anyone bad at math (me) that was 22 years ago! He was one of the winners of Challenge 2000 and now stands alone as king of the mountain, 1st place in The Challenge: All Stars. And good for him.
Yes Duffy brings a Zen-like composure and even kindness to the show. It likely helped him avoid elimination on All Stars and that may have helped him to ease into the final; however, I’m of the belief that he would’ve won any elimination as he was often sure and reliable — not only that, he was one of my constant picks to win it all this season. His work ethic and attitude help rise above the fray of what’s usually heavy drama on The Challenge. (And my second pick actually came in second: Darrell.)
It was heartwarming to see a nice guy finish first. And Darrell, also a rather chill guy in all of his seasons on the show, finished second. Mark, someone few would label an asshole, finished third. Here’s the thing: all three of these guys need to be on a regular season of the show; they’re not just made for appearances in the old-timers version. Just ask CT, who won Double Agents at age forty and very well could’ve been cast on All Stars, as he fits the seemingly required number of years both on the show and on Earth.
As for the episode itself, it offered the usual bits that are accoustomary for finals and it entertained through its short 43-minute run time. “You’re the Best Around” picks up with Darrell calling for a medic after the painful experience of downing the Carolina Reapers, which turns into much ado about nothing as KellyAnne demands he stop yelling and continue running. Darrell has been strong all season, but here, he owes it to KellyAnne. Without her push, he likely would’ve gotten up at some point, but it seems she helps get him his strong finish.
Then it was to a beautiful, open space where the competitors had some more eating in store, or as Big Easy dubbed it: Patagonian Picnic. It was a shame and a curious exclusion not to label the animal parts that they were having to eat here in order to earn points, but the food remained a mystery. It was gross enough to a lot of them, but Yes didn’t seem dismayed as he finished first. Jemmye got the most attention, though, as she debated quitting and somehow blaming Big Easy, her partner, for an almost-failed attempt with the food. I’m not sure if she knew it, but Big Easy had nothing to do with her lack of effort. Nice, Jemmye. So the two of them finish last in that segment. (It’s got to be impossible to be a vegetarian and compete on The Challenge, right? I mean, unless you’re Fessy.)
Everyone gets to their beds for the night, which was a structure designed so that one of the partners must stand on a small stool in order for the bed to be raised and flat enough to get rest. Or as Darrell points out, “It look like a teeter-totter!” Basically, it was up to the partner on if the competitor would get much sleep. And you know who had no problems sleeping? Big Easy. It’s here that he utters the most unsurprising sentence in Challenge history: “I used to live in a fraternity house.” So Easy snores a lot of the night before T.J. rides in on a damn horse and dressed as a damn conquistador! I did not see that coming. (Nor did I see the point? Maybe it’s on the cutting room floor or T.J. just felt goofy that morning.)
From there, the final leg is just a day-long race up the mountain, which is pretty usual these days for a final. I was impressed, though. In that sort of elevation and with that little sleep, I can’t imagine how hard it is to run up not just a hill but a full-blown mountain. Yes loses the extra clothes and correctly bets that Darrell, who was in first place at the time, would burn out. Yes passes him, and Yes gets the second win of his Challenge career, his first as a solo player.
The final moments play out pretty expectedly, with Aneesa and Big Easy coming in 9th and 10th. It’s still a win for them, though, as the major memory for anyone concerning Big Easy involved a stretcher and Aneesa has yet to finish a final until this season. Pair those two coming up that mountain with the notion that Yes, Darrell, Mark, KellyAnne, Alton, Ruthie, and even the too-early-eliminated Derrick and Kendal are still in good enough condition to win any Challenge, not just this one, and what you have is an inspiring season. It wasn’t as dramatic as other seasons and it wasn’t as nearly as long, but it did help to show the world that perhaps anyone can climb whatever mountain they’re facing.
Good stuff all around.