Takin' on 'The Challenge': Only One Gets The Crown

Season 39 of The Alabama Take's favorite thing -- next to college football -- continues with Battle For a New Champion! This season is all about finding a first-time Challenge champ. Every week, devotees to The Challenge answer questions. Spoiler warning ahead!

Picking up where we left off, the final for the 39th season of The Challenge resumed. Emanuel was the clear cut winner of the "chaos" phase of the final, and his reward was the power to chose Nurys to go into an on-the-spot elimination. Moriah had the misfortune of seeing her name pulled in the draw, and Nurys added her to her list of victims. She also won an overnight challenge as the finalists entered the "conquest" stage of the final. In what ended up being a tight finish, Emanuel took the crown as the newest Challenge champion. Nurys finished second, while Colleen came from behind to take third, leaving Corey and Berna out of the money.

Question 1: Once again, Nurys won an elimination -- in fact, she has had an all-time season in that regard. Tell me, did you have Nurys becoming an elimination beast on your bingo card?

TD: I had nothing against Nurys before the season started, but she also didn't stand out. She absolutely made a name for herself this season. That elimination record alone made her season great, but a second place finish puts it over the top. She far exceeded expectations.

Blaine: Look at Nurys now. By sight alone, she does not come off as intimidating. She eliminated two of the strongest players in Horacio and Kyland, and then won even more, besting James, Olivia, and Moriah after that. Oh, and Olivia was a finalist and well on her way to win season 38. That’s a résumé! I’ll argue that Nurys is the true champion of this season. Yeah, Emanuel won — and he did so clearly in the final — but it was a final that was not even handed when it comes to males versus females. And Emanuel never went into elimination as he floated by under Jay and Michelle’s wings. Kudos to Emanuel for lying low — Bananas and C.T. would be proud. But it does seem unfair not to have to face one person in elimination, whereas Nurys faced and eliminated two at a time in two different eliminations. It’s a shame she didn’t get first place, but good for her for getting in the money. She’s my champ.

Question 2: What's your opinion on the final? Did you like the format? Was it entertaining?

TD: I think it was a good final, overall. It called back to the season as a whole, had a few twists, featured a little bit of everything, and did a good job of finding a champion. In the past, the finals were more akin to Ironman competitions. I like when finals feel like The Challenge. It levelled the playing field and gave all the contestants a chance. Maybe not an all-timer, but a solid final in my book.

Blaine: Yeah, I was invested the whole time. Having all five being in it up until the end can be a daunting task for production, but there they all were in the last obstacle course. Usually these finals get slightly boring and editing has to play a role to make it seem closer than it was. Not here. Third through fifth could’ve gone in any direction. (Corey couldn’t handle a balance beam?!?)

Question 3: Is Emanuel a worthy champion?

TD: He won a solo final, so yes. Does he deserve to be mentioned with the greats? No. Not yet, anyway. He was steady all season long, winning when he needed, and staying out of trouble. Nothing about his game was spectacular, but it doesn't have to be when you're a well-rounded competitor.

Blaine: He won the final. And he did it decidedly. But the season needs to play a role. For a season with no previous champions, the skulls should’ve been in play again where only someone who’s won an elimination can compete. I didn’t like that he hid so low all season, though. It’s easy to make a final when you have Jay being the boisterous, loudmouthed idiot. It’ll be curious to see if Emanuel has people gunning for him immediately next time. Or does his low-key persona help all over again?

Question 4: Any final thoughts on the season as a whole?

TD: I think it needed more veteran presence. I know the classic talent pool is gone, and they have to find new faces for The Challenge, but you still have to transition from old to new. Let the new generation earn their way to the front. I mentioned earlier in the season that I thought some kind of format where the former champions were team captains would be entertaining, and crown new champs. Plus, why did they cast have to be mostly people who've only competed in a few seasons? Where were the vets who've been around a long time and are still chasing finals glory? Those stories were sorely missing this season. It wasn't the worst season -- it had its peaks and valleys -- but I don't think it'll go down as a memorable one, either.

Blaine: There is a lot of moaning and groaning about this season, and I think it’s all fair. It was so lacking, almost all of the players took everything so personal, Berna annoyed me every time she was on screen, the players lacked any political know-how other than backstabbing and manipulating, and the bad guys controlled it until way too late in the season. But in hindsight, I’m glad this season was done. It needed more twists (such as more champs for eliminations and eliminations thoroughly catered to each of them), but overall, seeing how near-rookies play versus mostly vets is eye opening. I hope the upcoming season forty’s vets watched, and they crush any of these fools next season except for Kyland, Horacio, and Nurys. And who knows? Emanuel may win my heart sooner rather than later. I liked his gratitude and humility in winning.

Blaine Duncan
Blaine Duncan
Editor-In-Chief, Host of Taking It Down
TD Wood
TD Wood
Editor and host of Takin' On Sports