We have come to the end, fellow Challenge fans. A roller coaster season came to its conclusion with a pretty solid final episode with a couple big twists thrown in for good measure. We were graced with “Nelson vs. the Torpedo Puzzle” — a comedic masterpiece. We saw Devin struggle, but never give up and finish the final with rookie sensation Emy. We had to say goodbye to Nany and Nelson, who were casualties of one last elimination. We witness Kyle and Tori challenge for the throne, but fall oh so short. In the end, we saw Kaycee shake her demons from last season’s final and win her first Challenge title, alongside teammate and now 5-time Challenge champion CT. The vet showed why he is arguably the greatest in Challenge history, taking the final’s physical hurdles with ease; and brushing aside the puzzles as if they were child’s play. Congratulations to CT and Kaycee, Spies, Lies & Allies winners.
Question 1: How soon did you figure out the partners facing off twist? Was it the first or 35th time they focused on Kaycee and Nany’s relationship?
TD: There’s foreshadowing, and then there’s just showing everybody your hand. It didn’t take but two sentences from Nany’s mouth for me to say, “Oh, that’s where they’re going with this.”
Blaine: Partners facing off was a done deal after last week’s tease. It was just a matter of which cell lost. Once I found out it was the purple cell, I pumped my fist in the room alone because Nany and Kaycee deserved it. It was hard and emotionally resonant for some (not really me), but Nany skated by all season, ducking elimination for no good reason. And Kaycee needs to prove herself a little as she’s only a third-year veteran who saw no eliminations either. The dues are now paid, even though that elimination had moments of b.s.: Kaycee gave Nany the win; Nany didn’t fight too hard.
Adam: Nany has quit in an elimination before, when her cousin was on the show. It’s a really tough spot, obviously, going against someone you care so much about, but I’m with the fellas. Her strategy all season was to draft off stronger players, and she reaped what she sowed. Nelson, on the other hand, kind of broke my heart. I wasn’t expecting that. From how uncomfortable the rest of the cast was during the elimination to TJ’s very emotional sendoff, that was a tough break for Nelly T.
Question 2: How high does Nelson’s battle against the square puzzle rank on you funniest Challenge moments in recent memory?
TD: I mean, nothing will ever beat Devin trolling an angry Josh by shouting math problems at him for me, but Nelson’s brazen overconfidence made his struggles hilarious. Bless his heart, he was just trying to win, but damn was he out of his element.
Blaine: It’s rough, but you got to think the purple’s cells first-day loss has to be chalked up to Nelson: he couldn’t finish the swim and he took charge of a puzzle where he had little clue on how to solve it. Poor Nelson. He’s a competitor, and I appreciated T.J. taking some extra time to talk to him. It was deserved.
Adam: It was great TV and triangles are now very funny, but if anyone else on that team had had any idea what to do, I bet he’s not thinking out loud quite as much. He wants the win so bad.
Question 3: CT and Kaycee chose to take 800k of the million in prize money, giving the rest to the other four competitors. How would you have played it?
TD: I’d like to think I would do the same, although maybe get a bit greedier and take $900k and leave the remaining 100 grand to the others. It would depend on the opponents. This group had a good chemistry, with a few close friends. There was a lot of respect going around. But, if I beat some people I didn’t care for, I’d be tempted to take it all.
Blaine: The whole time, I was thinking in terms of percentages. I was thinking 70% for my team, 20% for second place, and 10% for 3rd. I think that C.T. and Kaycee’s approach was much, much better. Giving 2nd and 3rd places more or less would’ve made for unnecessary drama.
Adam: I am with Blaine, I was thinking about how to give second place a bit more than third, but they made the right decision. It was a pretty tight knit group, and CT and Kaycee are being smart about it. They know they have to do it all again in a few months with the same folks. My only change would be making Devin start a cardio program before getting the cash. The dude was a liability!
Question 4: Any final thoughts on the final/this season?
TD: It was a strong finish to a sometimes tame season. I’ll be happy to move away from this theme. Hopefully, the next format isn’t so thematic, and more naturally ties into gameplay. This trilogy of Total Madness, Double Agents, and Spies, Lies & Allies has felt too forced at times, and more glitter than gold. A lot of games were shallow, with special effects around them to spice things up. They need to simplify things when it comes to format. A good way to do this would be to give us our champions-only season. Do it. Or we riot.
Blaine: Whew, how amazing would that champions only season that T.D. mentions be? That would be amazing and every elimination would be balls out. This season was fine. It really did have some down moments — likely due to so many rookies — but there were some new faces who truly did well and made the show interesting. I’m ready for the spy bit to end, too; plus, I always get excited about who’ll be in the next season and what the format will be, so here’s to many more
Adam: I agree with the format fatigue. This season introduced a lot of intriguing rookies, and I’m excited to see who comes back. But once most of them were eliminated, it really hit the doldrums for a few weeks as the final few were picked off and Cory waged a proxy war with the other vets. But, the closing run of episodes was really strong, and this was a solid to great Final. The rules always made sense, no half assed games, and a clear leaderboard. They landed the plane.