The Challenge Crosses Another Finale Off Its Bucket List

An anticlimactic final day of checkpoints leads to a not entirely unexpected result -- and, in Sarah D. Bunting's dreams, a sitcom spin-off.

I'm-a skip the granular description of the final set of challenges, because despite an attempt by The Challenge to create tension with footage of sinking kayaks; another time-buster in the form of prayer-bead stringing; and a trapeze-transfer portion of the final individual sprint to the finish that nobody ended up biffing, the finale is mostly flashbacks of the competitors' "journeys"...and the fact that neither we nor the Challengers know who's sitting where time-wise means everyone's just waiting for the final announcement.

Said announcement is utterly satisfactory to me, if unsurprising on the guys' side, although I did think Nelson had a shot at it. The girls' result is less predictable, but a win for anyone but Camila is a win for this correspondent (and whatever you think of Ashley -- and my sense is that I like her more than most viewers -- you have to admit that her post-victory meltdown afforded TJ the opportunity to be paternal in the cutest way).

And yes, we have no Bananas.

As Ashley and CT prepare to spend their winnings on short-shorts and diapers (probably respectively?), let's Rankle the finalists one last time.

  1. CT
    Yes, it's a result we saw coming the minute he walked into the sandpit early in the season. No, I don't care.

    The best thing about CT, in my opinion, isn't that he's so wonderful or perfect, but that we've seen him grow up, which most of these foolios don't do (or they stop coming back to the show before we can see their progress). This kid came into our lives almost 15 years ago as a basically good egg who thought the answer to everything was fighting

    and now he's a responsible dad, with a dad bod and dad jokes.

  2. Ashley
    She hung in there with it. No doubt she benefited from a race-to-last series of time-eating fuck-ups by Nicole and Camila -- i.e., she's not so much the best as consistently the least sucky -- but it still counts.
  3. Nicole
    I assumed she had a win in the bag, despite flailing at various puzzles, so the show's decision not to tell us anything about the relative times did have a pay-off here -- but I think it would have worked better overall if, after the results,
    we'd gotten to know who got what times on which portions. Otherwise what's the point?

    Speaking of points, I'll have to deduct a couple for Nicole's spoiling part of the reunion for us in a talking-head where she strongly implies she's with Laurel now. (Not really, good for them.)

  4. Nelson
    I know he's exhausted and I know second place is not very satisfying, but his wordlessly ungracious glowering on the dais needs improvement. (Although you could argue, based on the facial twitching, that whatever he prevented himself from saying was markedly worse than shutting the hell up for once.) Most improved in performance and attitude, though,
    I'd say.
  5. Camila
    I understand her frustration, with Cory and with the partnered portions of the finale generally, but whinging at/about Cory in the shelter, then promptly blaming her partner choices generally for her second-place finish...she's not incorrect, I suppose, but who's fault is that, in the end?
  6. Cory
    Finished third AND blamed his partners for his poor showing. I suspect the franchise is stuck with the guy for the next several seasons, and I don't hate him, but he's dull and a weak finisher.

LVP: The construction of the final. It did succeed in giving everyone a shot, better than some finals I can remember, but if we can't follow along with their progress, it's not great TV and we end up FF-ing to the results.

Best Reaction Shot: We get a few classic group shots,

and the "this bitch" look Nicole and Camila exchange when Ashley breaks down in winning sobs is a strong contender,

but Ashley wins again with this face when she finds out she's doing another challenge instead of lying down to rest.

Best Quote:

Sickest Burn: "'s Camila, what can you say." - Ashley

Crimes Against Fashion: I don't particularly care for Teej's formal finale polo, but everything else in this shot, these two hoary old bros having a moment, makes me smile.

Please give them an MST3K-style spin-off where they sit around watching extreme sports and riffing on it while CT2 crawls around and is cute.

The Wrath Of Teej: He tries to summon some wrath when he comes back to the shelter and finds the finalists on a snack break from beading, but it's completely unconvincing. Not so his glee when he announces they have a time-buster waiting to cut into their 40 winks:

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