The Finale of Challenge All Stars S2 is in the books. You probably have some thoughts, so let’s compare. Instead of giving a simple summary, I decided to focus on the 10 Biggest moments/takeaways from the last episode
10 Up All Night
Starting the Final immediately after Janelle & Darrell’s elimination was hardcore. While we are accustomed to players not sleeping much after Day 1 of a Final, we have never seen it before/jumping into a final. Players were probably banking on hydrating, carbo-loading, and getting a good night’s rest to prepare themselves, and instead, they had to compete directly after the elimination. Key to note, these are older competitors, so rest is an absolute necessity. It was super unfair to Darrell & Janelle, who just expensed a ton of energy in an intense cardiovascular elimination, specifically Janelle, who has a bad back, which won’t get better with the sleeping arrangements they had.
The twist sets a precedent, and from here on, players should try to get a few hours of sleep before the last elimination of the season because the Final can come out of nowhere.
9 Phase 1…Why Purge Only 1 Team?
MTV needs to figure out how to format their Finals fairly. The fact that 90% of this Final was an additional purge challenge made no sense. Purges should not happen in Finals, but raise the stakes and knock two teams out if you’re going to do it. The fact Melinda/Nehemiah & Darrell/Janelle did not get rewarded at all for finishing in 1st and 2nd in Phase 1 was abysmal. At the very least, give them a 5 and 2-minute head start, or better yet, fewer plates of food to eat in the last portion.
The design of Phase 1 of the Final itself was solid. I like when players get to pick their routes when it comes to checkpoints because it does begin to feel like anyone’s game at any moment. The most intense checkpoint was easily the biking portion, as they had to do so many treks back and forth. I enjoyed the cave checkpoint as it was simply something different and creative.
8 Teck & Ayanna’s Journey
Subtitle: Ayanna is a Menace
One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in a Final was watching Ayanna purposefully get in the way of Darrell/Janelle’s bike path. As a pair, Teck & Ayanna came in hot, cooled down fast, and then proceeded to peter out even more. Honestly, they performed to the level I expected, maybe even better. They lacked cardiovascular endurance to thrive, the finals experience to know how to pace themselves, and when it came to chemistry, they were never on the same page. Even though Ayanna was the one who quit, Teck didn’t go the extra mile to keep her going and actively opted out of the cave portion, putting the onus on her.
Still, they shined this season with their charisma. Both put up the most entertaining eliminations, from Teck’s battle with Steve to Ayanna dominating the first elimination and then helping Leah finish out in a super emotional moment. Both were excellent additions to the show.
7 MJ & Jonna Were Shockingly Mediocre
We saw Nehemiah/Melinda and Darrell/Janelle make critical mistakes made during Phase 1 of the final and have to overcome injuries. MJ and Jonna didn’t have any adversity like that, yet they found themselves in 3rd. They struggled cardio-wise and fumbled massively during the memorization portion. It was shocking as Jonna and MJ felt like the team to beat coming out of the Mini Final. Jonna wanted to quit at one point, and MJ looked even more exhausted than her. Luckily, they found something with themselves by the end; however, their performance in Phase 1 was mediocre at best. Technically, we didn’t even really see them finish Phase 1.
6 Darrell & Janelle Love To Run, But Hate To Read
Cardio-wise, Darrell & Janelle killed this final. Even with Janelle’s bad back, they set a good pace and never slowed down physically. What hurt them was their refusal to read instructions and think critically. Then again, they did put a lot of energy into an intense elimination the night before, so they were likely running on pure adrenaline at that point. Darrell & Janelle wasted a lot of time shining a flashlight at the memorization board after taking the wrong route. Luckily, they were able to memorize the board itself with relative ease. Based on the edit, they were seconds/minutes behind Nehemiah & Melinda for 2nd in Phase 1.
5 Melinda & Nehemiah Killed It…Robbed Queen and King?
Nehemiah & Melinda opened the final by getting lost and putting themselves in last place from the jump. Luckily, they knocked out the memorization board with decent efficiency. Then Melinda twisted her ankle before entering the cave, which must be terrifying having to enter a dark cavernous area on unstable ground when you can barely stand straight. She powered through, and they got the second portion done. Most impressively, they knocked out the biking part without complaining and adapting to Melinda’s injury. I truthfully thought the bike part was going to force them to quit, and instead, they finished Phase 1 in 1st.
These two had such a genuine desire to win for both their selves and for each other — their team chemistry and friendship have been beautiful to watch. It makes the fact they did not get rewarded in any way for coming 1st in Phase 1 hurt even more.
4 The Music Person Deserves a Bonus
I’m complimenting whoever is the Sound & Music coordinator for All-Stars for the 8000th time. There’s a lot of dead air and running during these finals, and the music added so much to everything going on. What’s funny is I almost jokingly tweeted last week: “The Challenge All-Stars 2 Soundtrack might be great, but it’s missing Steal My Sunshine by Len and Len.” Then it started playing during the Final, and my brain almost exploded. Also, I know this is a recap of this week’s episode, but they used Country Grammar by Nelly a couple of weeks ago, and I forgot how much I loved that song.
The alternate cover of Smash Mouth’s All-Star used in the trailer for this season came full circle in the final stretch was epic and an excellent editing choice.
3 Phase 2: AKA The Final Feast and Sprint
You could argue the actual Final was just the eating, math problem, and last sprints to the finish line. I wish they had incorporated these portions into Phase 1 and whatever team finished them all first would be declared the winner. Instead, production wants a guaranteed photo finish so that it looks like all three teams were seconds away from victory.
The wildest moment of the eating portion was watching Melinda puke out her food onto the floor, pick it up, and then eat it again. A badass move by her that was so completely unnecessary as MJ basically puked out half of his food and didn’t have to eat it back up. Darrell/Janelle finished the eating first, Jonna/MJ second, and Nehemiah/Melinda third.
Moving on, the math portion was hilarious as it seemed as though certain players (Darrell, MJ, Nehemiah/Melinda) had zero clue how to do simple algebra. Former NBA Player JR Smith enrolled himself in college last year and coincidentally tweeted about figuring out that Algebra exists this week.
In the end, Jonna proved to have the best math skills, Darrell & Janelle once again failed to read instructions, and Melinda/Nehemiah, despite having heart, they didn’t have the skill-set needed to pull it out. Our Challenge All-Stars 2 Champions are Jonna Mannion and MJ Garrett.
2 Final Results, Stats, and Facts
Imagine telling someone a couple of years ago that MJ Garrett & Jonna Mannion would win a Challenge Championship together? That sounds like a weird, goofy fan casting simulation, but it’s the reality and world we live in in 2022, and it’s kind of fucking awesome. It is Jonna’s first Championship and the second straight first-place finish in the female division. Meanwhile, it is MJ’s first All-Stars win and second win total (he also won the Gauntlet 2 in 2004). Did they have an impressive overall Final? No. Were they exceptionally likable and deserving winners? Yes. I’m always going to be happy for a Jonna win, and MJ has been a fun presence this season.
Nehemiah & Melinda tied for 2nd, easily the best finish in Nehemiah’s career in a non-big team season and the farthest Melinda has ever gone. They both come out of the season with 2 Elimination Wins, a Daily Challenge Win, and proving they’re more than minor characters; they are stars in their own rite. Darrell & Janelle tie for 2nd as well. Janelle performed admirably, making it through the end of this game and the final with a bad back. Darrell’s second-straight loss in a final is something I never imagined happening. Regardless, they each put up fantastic seasons and were in real contention to win during both phases.
As a whole, this was a great season front to back, and I’m excited for what comes next.
1 Challenge All Stars Season 3
Oh, Baby. After the episode, we get teased that Challenge All Stars Season 3 is coming soon. We don’t get an official date, footage of the cast, the challenges, or the drama, yet they have me on my toes, ready for the new season to air as soon as possible.