Takin' On 'The Challenge': Welcome to Conquest!

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!

This week we entered the “Conquest” stage, with T.J. making two big changes to the game’s format (discussed below). After Ed won the daily challenge, we said goodbye to Ravyn. DoZara, Kyland, and Horacio were sent into elimination, with Zara ultimately going home. This week tested some loyalties, and broke some alliances. The stretch run for this season looks to be a fun one.

Question 1: Now that we’ve entered the “Conquest” stage, the last place finisher in the daily challenge is automatically sent home. What do you think about this development?

TD: I love a good purge challenge, and even though it feels a little more appropriate for the “chaos” stage, T.J.’s explanation made perfect sense: it’s almost final time, and there’s no room for losers at this point in the game. You also had to assume they’d do something to thin the herd after a few weeks of no eliminations during the last stage.

Blaine: Did they have a choice with so many remaining? It’s high drama for each challenge, so I’m for it. I do believe it’s time for Jay and Michelle to come up short, don’t y’all?

Question 2: The other big change this week was a change to the elimination process. In a throwback to The Duel, the winning player selects one player to keep safe, then that player selects someone to save, and so on, until there are three players left. Those three competitors then go off to a secret elimination (another throwback), with one player going home. How do like (or dislike) this twist?

TD: First of all, I love when the producers make callbacks to previous seasons. The selection process allows for strategy within groups, but also leaves room for an individual to cause a little chaos. Alliances will really be tested in this process. As for the exile-style elimination, it doesn’t change too much from a viewer’s perspective, but I do like the tension it creates within the house as they wait to see who returns to the house. I also like that it’s a three-person elimination.

Blaine: I was so enthralled! The cascade of votes set Jay up to get his way, but the stakes were high. And whenever T. J. comes to the house in a surprise visit, I love it. Lastly, the elimination set up for only T.J.’s eyes is dope. It opens the door for some more surprise when Horacio and Kyland come back. I can’t wait to see the look on Jay’s face. (And I hope Kyland slaps whatever the look is off of him.) It’s just horrible that it’s Zara who has to go. She’s a darling of a competitor and has a genuine class that you want to see in the heart of a challenger. I hope she’s on more seasons.

Question 3: Did you consider either of the players we lost — Zara and Ravyn — as threats to win the final?

TD: Not Ravyn, but maybe Zara if things fell right for her. Unfortunately, as she admitted, she made a crucial error in the elimination by going in the mud pit early and not saving that obstacle for last. Although, I’d argue the bigger error was saving the wall climb for last. You can crawl through mud or walk across a balance beam when you’re gassed, but climbing a wall (and having to do sudoku) last seems miserable.

Blaine: I believe Zara had some potential. She’s quite good: athletic, smart, aware. I wouldn’t be surprised if she comes back and wins a Challenge at some point. As for Ravyn — I can’t think of a recent competitor who’s had so odd of a season in the shadows. She played well most of the time. She was in the mix politically at times. She just never solidified where she would be until too late. I think I landed on sort of rooting for Ravyn. She was certainly against Jay, so points for that.

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