Takin' On 'The Challenge: All Stars': "Lone Star"

There are finals of The Challenge, and there are finals of The Challenge

“Lone Star” felt less like a final and more like a series of games, games that at least allowed for higher stakes as the hour went on. The games were intriguing, at best, but as a whole, none of it had a feel like a true final of challenges post – the types that cause massive duress which champions should have to endure in order to hold the belt over their heads. 

The final truly started last week, and this episode picks up with the cliffhanger of Laurel or Derek facing elimination for maneuvering the electric start the slowest. It comes as no surprise that it was Derek. The season telegraphed Laurel playing a massive role from about the midpoint until now. Derek, last one to earn a star, finds himself leaving despite a decent effort most of the episodes. 

Derek’s departure adds the last of the twists: he gets to give his star to someone for that person to have an advantage down the road. We saw that Leroy’s advantage with the electric star truly does help, so Derek’s gesture of offering his to Laurel reverberates. 

The next round of the final had the competitors having to eat peppers ranging from hot to very hot. Not many of them have problems with this one, and the first to eat them all is Nicole. It does nothing to help her accent become less annoying. It does give her an advantage in the next game: players, with arms tied behind their backs, had to balance a glass of water, capture as much of it as they could in their mouths, and spit it into a tube that was taped to their chests. The last player to fill the tube is the first eliminated as this one is a game to send someone home. Nicole’s advantage is that her line is well below the others’ lines. Because of that, she wins easily. 

As for Leroy, he struggles. Is it me or was his tube placed especially farther back on his chest to the point where it was almost on his shoulder? Either way, he was the last out and therefore the one to head home. And it’s a shame. It’s hard to find anyone who wasn’t rooting for Leroy, and it’s sad to see him not win again. He’s made it far so many times, seen several finals, only to come this close. Maybe next time, man. He does give his star to Steve, which will play a big role in the last competition. 

The players then pick a partner, gear up as firemen, and use a firehose to shoot towards a ball into either of the other pair’s goals at the points in a triangle. One would think that Nicole, a firewoman, would be the best. Instead she spends her time complaining, yelling, “Watch out Steve, you can’t do that!” Come on, Nicole. If he can’t do it, they’d stop him. If they let him, then he can. It’s that easy on The Challenge. You should know by now. It makes her screaming “you fucking little bitch!” even more childish as Ace and Cara Maria get the win anyway. It allows those two to go first in the next event. 

The episode does get more intriguing from this point: the remaining players are taken into the “Bluff Room.” One at a time, a player will be taken back to pick a game, attempt to do it as quickly as possible, and return to tell everything, something, nothing, or all lies about the possibility of the three games to pick in the three rooms. Ace lets Cara go first. She chooses to set the stars made of rope on fire and throw kerosine balls into them. As soon as she gets four alight, she’s done. Cara Maria seems to fare well, and she returns to whisper the results to Ace, which Laurel tries to sneakily overhear. 

Laurel is one of the worst players this season. Her pairing with Nicole and waiting to the last minute to get a star – throwing Kam out to sea in the process – did nothing to help her reputation. Watching her try to overhear her “arch nemesis” Cara Maria secretly explain the rules to Ace was just icing on the asshole cake. 

Ace goes the rooms, opts for the fireballs, and does well enough. 

From there, it’s up to Steve, where he has to hammer three six-inch nails into a large piece of wood before anyone else. Look, I’m not a carpenter, but this one is not difficult. The fact that Steve walks away from this challenge with a sore and aching arm seems awfully odd. Has he never hammered a nail into a piece of wood? It’s not a breeze, but it’s nothing that someone can’t do without getting winded. I don’t understand. It’s almost as if something was lost in editing. 

While Steve is at it, it does give is a behind-the-scenes moment that’s glorious as Ace attempts to act as if he’s had the roughest day of his life with this final. (Wait. It as an act, right?) 

Veronica is up. (Seriously. How is she still in this game?) She picks the bowling game where she has to get a large marble into a hole from a high distance. Not hard, but it may take several tries. And it does. Laurel goes in, picks the hammering, and – forgive me – nails it. Nicole is left with the bowling game, and she busts ass to get it done in fewer moves than Veronica, but the game itself still causes both Veronica and Nicole to be the two who took the most time to complete the games. 

And this elimination must release two players to go home, both Nicole and Veronica give their stars to Laurel. Boring! We could’ve seen it coming from dumbass Nicole, but let’s go ahead and call Veronica a dumbass here, too. What has Laurel done for her this season? I suppose nothing, which counts for something. 

Then it’s the last game, the only one remotely close to what a final may look like in other seasons. It’s a convoluted bit of gaming where a large area in the shape of a star holds five games. The players must run through all of the games, finish them, move to the next, and continue through them all five times before the final game, which we really don’t see anyone attempt. 

As Laurel has four stars, she gets to skip four of the games so long as she doesn’t try to use the stars in the same run around the corners of the star. She plays wisely enough, saving plenty for the end. It looks as though she may be halted as she threw a star at the same puzzle each time until round five. She faces it anew as others have already conquered it numerous times; however, it is only a little before she has it. Steve has a chance, though! No, he does not. He foolishly forgets the rules, tries to use a star twice in the same round, and has to play out. It cost him the game. Would he have caught Laurel and won? Maybe. Hard to say. But probably not. It’s as if Laurel was destined to win this one. Instead, the second place goes to Cara Maria, who sadly cannot run as fast to catch the lead Laurel has on her. 

And that’s it. About as challenging as any playground game. It was like Squid Game minus any deaths, sadly. 

There’s a twinge of sadness that hovers over this finale, too. Per casting reports, it’ll be the last true All Stars as season five will ostensibly open the door to anyone who’s played a Challenge, all star or not. 

Alas, goodbye All Stars. At least for now. 


  • Ace avoiding Nicole’s questions in the Bluff Room in the most affable Ace way possible is great TV.  
  • The time between filming and airing allows for viewer insight: we all know that Nicole cheats on Laurel in real life outside of the show. Oh well, Laurel. Nice try anyway, huh? 
  • The ending tried to make it come down to Cara Maria versus Laurel, and it almost worked. 
  • Laurel is a little undeserved in this championship having not competed in an elimination and sneaking in on hopes of another star being given in the end — without the extra advantage stars, she does not win. Who does? Likely Cara Maria. 
  • This season of All Stars made too many accommodations for age. That needs to go away. However, casting people who have only been on the show for a few years? What a shame, Paramount. 
  • I really dislike it when they don’t tell what’s in the drink! What are they drinking?!? 
  • While not a great season, still bad Challenge is better than no Challenge
  • See y’all for the big Season 40!  
Blaine Duncan
Blaine Duncan
Editor-In-Chief, Host of Taking It Down