Episode 19 of Double Agents 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 19th episode. These will be integral storylines that the 19th episode focused on, and I’ll breakdown why they matter. Also, if you prefer a traditional Summary, the YouTube Podcast breakdown is above, and the Spotify/Apple Version below.
Caffeine Confessionals on Apple Podcasts
A Podcast Covering Reality TV and Culture with a general focus on MTV's the Challenge A Podcast Covering Reality TV and…
10 Kayaking and Callbacks
When people think of water in finals, they think of swimming, not kayaking. However, I went through the last 16 seasons and found that since Rivals 1, there have been 9 seasons where there are kayaking portions and only 6 seasons with any type of swimming portion. Two of those six seasons, the players literally swam out to a kayak. 5 out of the 6 finals with swimming portions also had kayak portions, and the one that didn’t was on Exes 1, when players had to a quick jump into freezing water and then run back to shore and get into a heated van to avoid hypothermia.
What I am trying to say here is that if you plan on winning the Challenge, spend a weekend or two kayaking before you come on. I was impressed how well Amber knew her way around a kayak; she said in her preseason interviews for Big Brother back in 2014 that she was an outdoors person who loved to hike, rock-climb, and kayak and we saw that in this final. Meanwhile, CT has kayaked in every single Challenge final he has won. Leroy and Nany struggled even though they have both kayaked in their past finals experiences. Kam and Cory performed solidly; Cory kayaked in both the Bloodlines and Invasion final. The totem pole puzzle players had to solve was a callback to the daily challenge that Devin & Gabby won. I am a fan of any time they can reference a past challenge during the final. The tangram puzzle and letter decoding were also references to past dailies and eliminations.
9 Fessy and Kaycee “Time Out.”
Fessy quit. When TJ asked Fessy if he was quitting, his mouth said no, his body language and actions said yes. Unless Fessy dramatically changes as a human being, nobody will respect him as an elite competitor, no matter whom he beats in a Hall Brawl or Pole Wrestle going forward. An actual Challenge top dog does not quit on a teammate like that — let alone your best friend. I’ve seen Wes carry Casey on his back for over a mile during the Fresh Meat 1 Final, Landon dug his head into Carley’s ass and pushed her up a volcano on Fresh Meat 2, CT wore a women’s thong for Diem during the Exes 1 final, and even Devin took a shit alongside Cheyenne on top of a mountain on Rivals 3 to make her feel better. Fessy, take notes; that’s what you do for a teammate.
My heart goes out to Kaycee; she killed this season and deserves another shot to become a Challenge Champion.
8 Math Problems and Weird Editing
There was a rumor out there that in the portion where players had to solve a math problem, initially, both players had to solve their own individual equations to complete the checkpoint, and then it got changed after the fact to only one person on each team had to do so. Based on the editing of the portion, that seemed to be the case. CT clearly was the first to finish his equation and I expected Amber B to embrace him when he did so, and instead, she kept trying to solve hers. After Nany and Kam solved their equations, they panned out, and Amber’s briefcase was still open, which makes me assume she was still going. After TJ ended the portion, he announced CT would get the power to pick a new partner, which made sense as they had already had a similar checkpoint earlier in the final, yet nothing insinuated any twist like that would happen at that point in the final.
Add in that at this point in the final; we began to get TJ voice-overs, which is never a good sign as MTV has revised the history of their shows multiple times with TJ voice-overs. They changed the name of Season 34 from Bloody Hell to War of the Worlds 2 in post-production. This part of the episode was a bit suspect/fishy. Even if CT & Amber started Day 2 as the 3rd Place team with a 5-minute disadvantage, I still don’t think another team was touching them physically in this final.
7 Up All Night
Ever since Rivals 1, partner/team finals where one player gets to sleep as the others stay awake has become a staple. Rivals 1 was my favorite version of this twist as the shock-factor the first time they did it was fantastic. This up-all-night challenge takes a close second as the icy glacier the players slept inside of was beautiful. It made for a great aesthetic. Watching CT drink pure Icelandic glacier water was hilarious.
Leroy asking Nany to go to sleep so he can stay up and talk to Kam was an all-time cute moment. CT and Cory’s reaction to Leroy’s retirement announcement was terrific as well. Cory could not believe it, and CT yelling he knew it while looking like the caterpillar from A Bug’s Life had me dying laughing.
6 Uphill Battle
Once Day 2 got going, CT and Amber were unstoppable. They didn’t even need to decode every letter in the first puzzle portion of Day 2 as once CT saw the first three were “INF” on a 10-letter-word, he knew the word was Infiltrate. Following that, he and Amber set a pace that nobody could catch. Amber was going faster than the legend himself. Kam did not want to pull a Kaycee — yet, at the pace she and Cory were going, second-place was the best-case scenario. By the time Nany/Leroy and Kam/Cory got to the tangram puzzle, CT and Amber were already long gone. They kept doing these zoomed-out shots to show close the 2nd/3rd place teams were to portray this a close race, ignoring the fact that the 1st place team was nowhere in sight.
CT/Amber giving Kam/Cory the extra food boosted Nany/Leroy into second place. Leroy/Nany held that position for a significant amount of time; they performed admirably in this final, considering they do not have complementary skill-sets. The moment where Leroy/Nany got to a tangram puzzle and Nany yelling, “Leroy, this is all you,” got an audible gasp out of me as Leroy is historically one of those players who watches his partner solve puzzles for them.
With the confessionals that Leroy, Kam, Nany, and Cory were cutting, I was waiting for a big last-minute comeback at the end, and it never came. Just a lot of walking up mountains.
5 The Winners Are
The editing team tried to add suspense by showing CT/Amber getting lost, although they could not have gotten lost for much more than a minute or two with the lead they had. CT and Amber crossed the finish line with nobody else in sight and are now each 450k dollars richer. They are the duo we expected to win the game together on Day 1.
I love Cory and Kam, but I’d be lying if I said this was a solid second-place finish. They underperformed to their abilities, and the gap between them and Leroy/Nany should have been much larger. I do believe they have it in them to become Challenge Champions one day. Again, Leroy & Nany put up a good race when accounting for what their skill-sets are as individuals; as much as my heart wanted them to win, watching Leroy embrace Nany after everything they went through together felt powerful.
4 The Bridesmaids
Cory is now the 4th player in Challenge history to not win a Challenge championship after making it to four career finals. He has become a consistent top contender in recent seasons. Cory’s only problem as a competitor is that he is not the all-around talent players like CT and Bananas are. If Cory plans to win in the future, he needs to take those guys out before the final. Regardless, with the stats he has put up, Cory is easily in the Top 5 for men to have never won a Challenge Championship.
It is a tough loss for Kam. If she was going to win a season, this was going to be the one. Her biggest threats in a final (Theresa, Ashley, Natalie) were all out of the game before the halfway point, and then the other top player from the season (Kaycee) would go on to get injured in the final. On paper, Nany and Amber should not have been threats. The final played out, and from what we saw, Amber outperformed Kam, and Nany kept up with her for the most part. I don’t want to say that Kam is bad in finals because that is not accurate — she is not someone who dies out in a final. Yet, I am not going to say finals are her strength. Kam’s final performances remind me of Cara Maria, where each player stays at a steady pace, somewhat banking on their opponents to gas out or hit a brick wall. If the opponent doesn’t gas out, then you just lose. Even without a Championship, Kam is a legend. If she genuinely wants to become one, she needs to reevaluate how she tackles these finals.
3 Amber Makes History
She is the first Black Challenge Champion since Nehemiah on the Gauntlet 3 (Season 15) and the first Black Female Champion since Janelle on the Inferno 3 (Season 14). Amber is also the first female rookie to win since Ashley Kelsey and Sam McGinn on Battle of the Seasons 2012. Most notably, Amber is the first Big Brother player to become a Challenge Champion. Another interesting stat is that she is maybe the most invisible recent winner, as she has the lowest average confessional amount of any winner over the last ten seasons other than Camila on Dirty 30. Camila had a low confessional count because MTV actively tried to erase her from the season after the racist tirade.
2. Is CT the GOAT?
He ties Darrell for the second-most Challenge Championships ever (Bananas in first with 7) with this win. This is CT’s first win to happen in a season not set in Thailand. Is he the GOAT? Well, if you thought CT was the greatest to ever play before this season, then this only validates your feelings. If you want to be objective statistically, his expected career win total after the 18 seasons he has played in is 2.32. That means we assume the average player in his shoes should be at least a 2x Champion. He has won 4, which means he is much better than average and has a win ratio of 171.96%. However, to put in perspective, the other players in the GOAT conversation have the following ratios:
Career Win Ratios
CT trails them all by a significant amount. Of course, those numbers do not account for the intangibles that CT possesses and his overall dominance as a physical force on the Challenge. I will note that if you take CT’s career over the last 9 seasons (taking out Exes 2 where Diem was medically removed, rest in peace), CT’s put up 4 Championships against an expected win total of 0.894. His win ratio since Rivals 2 is 447%, meaning the second-half of CT’s career is only challenged statistically by Jordan. While CT is not my GOAT, I respect anyone who thinks he is the best to play the game. Hell, the Johnny Bananas Backpack moment was worth 8 championships alone.
1 The End of an Era
Leroy is an extraordinary human and an absolute Challenge legend. Leroy maintaining universal likability while also being Johnny Bananas best friend is one of the most incredible feats humankind has ever seen. I don’t even know what to write here — Leroy was the first player I was ever a fan of on the Challenge, and now he’s moved on from the franchise. As much as I wanted Leroy to win this season, he at least gets to walk away with the title of the greatest Challenge competitor never to win.