The Challenge Spies, Lies & Allies Episode 19 FINALE Recap & 10 Biggest Takeaways
Episode 19 of Spies, Lies & Allies 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. Above is our YouTube Podcast Video recap, and for those that prefer Audio Only, Spotify and Apple Below.
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A Podcast Covering Reality TV and Culture with a general focus on MTV's the Challenge A Podcast Covering Reality TV and…
10 A Tale of Two Teams
Considering how everything played out, the 2-Team portion felt more like an extra daily challenge than a Final. I have to give a shoutout to all the women in this Final, as they all physically killed this portion of the competition, and none of them actively brought their team down. There were three clear standouts in the Team Portion. The first two are Devin and Nelson, who held their teams back. Nelson was an absolute agent of chaos under the guise of optimism and goodwill, setting his team back during all the checkpoints; meanwhile, Devin’s lack of cardio allowed the Orange Team to catch up and then take a significant lead. CT asking Devin if he wanted him to hold his hand had me dying laugh, as he absolutely took the piss out of Devin and did so all without any yelling.
CT was the third standout for positive reasons, as he led his team physically, mentally, and spiritually. He put up another all-time CT performance, specifically in the puzzle where he solved it so quickly, the other team did not even get a shot to cheat and copy what they did. I’ve made the Tom Brady comparison before, and it feels so apt now. When Tom Brady goes under center, he can read the defense like no other because he has seen every scheme imaginable thrown at him. CT is the same way with these puzzles. Specifically, the puzzle from this episode is one where you have to go outside the box with your thinking, except because he knew the answer, it was quite literally as simple as 1–2–3. If anything, CT’s biggest worry was solving it discretely to maintain their lead. What an absolute pro.
9 Nelson’s Hilariously Bad Final
Most Challenge Finals are incredibly dull to watch. Not a Final with Nelson involved. Nelson’s brazen stupidity and eagerness added a massive chaos element to a Final I’ve never seen before. Usually, when a player drags their team down in a Final, it’s by quitting or gassing out. Not Nelson; he kept finding new ways to bring his team down and self down.
To kick off, Nelson found out players do not get life-vests in a Final, which is not a great look for someone with the intent to win. Pretty quickly, Nelson was cramping up and needed production assistance to keep him from drowning. Usually, I’m not one to shit on a person’s lack of swimming aptitude, but when it’s the Final, oh boy, you can’t be asking for the medic after swimming less than 50 meters when on your 8th season. During the puzzle, he did not know the difference between a rectangle and a square and was loud during a time when he should’ve simply been quiet. The cherry on top was him accidentally pushing the hamster ball with their team supplies into a ditch, forcing the entire team to spend a decent amount of time trying to push it out just to get back on track.
Nelson in this Final was like watching a small child try to serve themselves milk only to spill all over the place, and then they accidentally make a bigger mess trying to clean it up. There was a good intent there; it just went south fast. Things got even worse for him the following day…
8 Kyle vs. Nelson
After all these years, we finally get Kyle & Nelson in a 1 v 1 physical elimination. Kyle and Nelson have filled a similar role on the Challenge where they aren’t the brightest mentally, yet they usually go far into almost every season based on their physical strength, heart, and grit. Two Himbos with Hearts of Gold.
The backpack elimination was a fascinating match-up. Even though Kyle outweighed Nelson by about 15–20 lbs, Nelson had beat a heavier opponent in Hunter on Dirty 30 in a similar elimination, and I don’t feel crazy in saying Hunter is a more explosive athlete than Kyle. The difference in this elimination was height, and Kyle being 4–6 inches taller than Nelson played a significant factor in this elimination. The fact they played this elimination inside of a box allowed Kyle to use his extra length to grab the sides of the container to gain leverage. Nelson tried his best to hold down Kyle’s octopus-like limbs; the problem is, at a certain point, he was simply only playing defense. Kyle played the elimination like an expert and won decisively 2–0.
For the first time in Kyle’s Challenge Career, he has a winning elimination record 7–6, and this is the first 1 on 1 elimination he’s ever gotten that wasn’t against The Goof or a Rookie. Nelson gets taken out, and it’s his 3rd straight elimination loss; tough for a guy who for a long time was able to pride himself as being an elimination King, his record now stands at a solid 9–5–1.
7 Kaycee vs. Nany
Tears. Watching two people in love with each other having to face off in an elimination mid-final is something I never saw coming. At times this season, I’ve joked that Kaycee and Nany are acting as if they are on Vacation rather than the Challenge, and I felt comfortable making those jokes because they clearly have something special. They don’t even need to talk. The way they look at each other sets off fireworks; real fireworks, not the cheap explosions Challenge producers overuse.
Nany’s scene where she talks about how Kaycee made her feel secure with her sexuality took my breath away. For over a decade, Nany’s sexuality has been a defining trait that people harp on and examine, often overly harshly too. It makes me appreciate Kaycee because Nany is a good person who I’ve watched hook up and date these real shit-heads over the years. There were some decent people along the way; it’s just those relationships never had the spark she has with Kaycee.
The elimination between them was beautiful. Kaycee probably would’ve won 2–0 if they played straight up. Instead, Kaycee gave Nany the second-round because if Nany wanted the shot to win, Kaycee would have ceded the elimination to her. From the moment they learned they’d be facing each other, Nany knew Kaycee was their best shot to win.
6 Overpowered Infiltration
Kaycee’s tears of sadness from having to eliminate Nany turned into tears of joy real quick when TJ announced she would get to infiltrate and pick a partner to run the last leg of the Final with. She took CT, to which if I were Emy & Tori, I’d be heated. The drop-off between CT and Kyle/Devin is fucking massive. If Emy/Tori knew this was going to the twist, they would’ve volunteered to go into elimination because if you don’t have CT, then your chances of winning aren’t great. Kaycee knocking out Nany was like Thanos taking out Gamora to get the Soul Stone.
Kyle getting Tori was nowhere near the upgrade of Kaycee getting CT; still, I think his chance of winning went from about 5 to 10%, as Tori up to that point had been the most impressive female in the Final. Emy had no shot at winning with Devin, especially once TJ said 2nd/3rd could be eligible to win money because, at that point, Devin’s only goal was to finish the Final rather than try to win. This leads me to…
5 Devin Doesn’t Know What It Takes To Win
Let’s talk positively about Devin first. He held a ton of political power this season and was vital towards most of these veterans making the Final with little resistance. The guy has improved a ton in the daily challenges, and his puzzle skills have gotten much better over the last couple of seasons. Now, we move into the hard fact that this guy clearly was in over his head during the Final.
Devin tried to play this Final with a turtle vs. hare mentality, where he thought things would go his way if he went at his own pace and would just make up ground with puzzles. The problem with that ideology is it assumes everyone is terrible at puzzles and everyone is so bad that the physical gap between him and them is enough for him to win out. If Devin had run the Final against only Kyle and Nelson, then maybe he’d have a point; the problem is, he was in alliance and worked with CT this entire game. CT, who is clearly in much greater shape than him, has more experience and is better than him in most puzzles. When you’re someone like Devin, you have to take big risks to make sure you have the best shot to win a Final, and when you look back, his political game was debatably terrible as he actively worked with the one guy he was never going to beat. It did not help either that Devin refused to push the pace, I know he didn’t want to get hurt or pass out, but in a Final, that’s the moment you take the risk because it’s a million dollars on the line.
I hope this Final was a learning experience for Devin. His biggest takeaways need to be #1 Don’t run a Final against CT or any blue-chipper (Darrell, Bananas, Jordan, Wes), #2 Run more daily in case you get to a Final again, and #3 Eat breakfast before you run a Final.
4 Production Wanted a Photo Finish
To be completely transparent, the design of this Final was total bullshit by production. You could make the argument the actual Final was only the partner leg where they ran up the mountain, memorized the 20 digit code, and ran back down to unlock the safe. Obviously, everything that happened beforehand played a factor in the final product, except the rules were not defined. When that happens, you have players essentially chasing after a non-existent carrot. Production thinks random twists and format changes excite the viewers. From the viewers’ perspective, I’ll say that they are giving me the middle finger and telling me the 30 minutes of Individual Final I saw last week and the 50 minutes of Team Final I watched this week are entirely irrelevant, and I mostly wasted time.
Let’s get into the meat, which is that last leg of the Final. They designed the last leg in hopes of a photo finish to create the most noise on social media. Last season, they didn’t get that due to Amber & CT wiping the floor with their competition (although we did get a last-minute sprint for second-place). While it was not the fairest way to crown a Challenge Champion, this last leg created the highest stakes. It is also allowed MTV to crown two exalted winners and some crushed runner-ups who everyone online would sympathize with as they were seconds away from victory. The narrative of the close loser is almost better when trying to get cast for future seasons, in all honesty. I mean, the last two female champions were made alternates after winning.
I also want to drop a side note, two people or even one person memorizing 20 numbers is not a big deal. That is simply two phone numbers, and my mom trusted me to remember my phone number when I was five years old, so these players can quickly memorize ten digits in a jiff.
3 The Winners Are
It was a two-horse race between Kyle & Tori and CT & Kaycee. Physically, these two pairs were neck and neck up and down the mountain, and what it came down to was CT & Kaycee felt confident in their memorization of the 20 digit code a bit quicker, and they ultimately were right. Kaycee exorcised many demons, where she was sprinting up and down the same type of rocky surfaces where she got injured last season, and as it is known, she competed in this Final with a broken toe. The moment she and CT win, she crumbles to the floor, and it looks like all the adrenaline has left her body, and she tries to tell CT that her foot hurts as he pops off with excitement.
Tori is in tears as she was less than a minute away from victory, and as much as the loss hurts Kyle, he does an excellent job of consoling Tori. Devin & Emy eventually come down the mountain, and Devin memorizes the entire 20 digit code as a way to flex. It was cool he could do it, although it would have been cooler if he had been able to keep a somewhat close pace with the other competitors, and Emy would’ve appreciated that.
As the winners, CT & Kaycee decided how much money the losers got, and I thought they should keep it all for themselves, except they chose to be friendly and give the other four finalists 50k each. CT talked about his son seeing him as a superhero and how he needs to play the part, him breaking off 50k for Devin & Kyle as his friends reminded me of Batman making sure Robin & Alfred are dressed real nice as they appear in the background of his life. Emy’s genuine happiness and shock over 50k was one of my favorite moments. I googled what the winner of Survivor Romania gets, and it roughly translates to 56k USD, so for Emy, she basically won a season of Survivor Romania.
2 Coming up Short (Kyle & Tori + Devin & Emy)
I genuinely felt sad for Tori. Based on totality, she was the best female in this Final, except all that mattered was that last portion, and she came up short. She’s been ridiculously close to winning two seasons, and the tears in her eyes reflected someone who knew this was a golden opportunity. Kyle has now been the 2nd Place Male on three different seasons, and transparently, I don’t feel bad for Kyle, the player. I feel bad for Kyle the human as he has a kid on the way; however, Kyle the player should know at this point that he isn’t beating the CT/Bananas of this world in a Final. Yet, he refuses to make big moves and go after these players season after season. If Kyle wants to come in 1st, he needs to put fate in his hands.
Emy impressed me so much in this Final. Nothing in this Final looked physically troublesome, and she held her own with the Vets and then some. What impressed me was her consistently asking for direction, acknowledging she isn’t the brightest, which in some ways shows she’s not the dumbest person. I am not a fan of Emy’s personality, though; I don’t think she will be a force in future seasons.
1 The Best Players Won
CT and Kaycee winning was the most chalk possible outcome going into this season. I’m 100% satisfied with this outcome because they are deserving players, and if the people in this game were going to allow them in this Final, they should have known this was going to be the outcome.
Kaycee’s win is so fascinating to me because, in recent seasons, I’ve somewhat become accustomed to players who underwhelmed during the season, coming out and killing the Final (Amber, Dee, Ashley). Before the last leg, Kaycee had a mostly meh Final performance, struggling mightily with the puzzles and not dominating physically either (though being injured did not help). Still, I am thrilled Kaycee won because she put in an exceptionally dominant run over these last few seasons. Kaycee is a very deserving winner, and now, you look at her resume: 3 Seasons, 3x Finalist, 1x Champion, 3–0 Elimination Record, and statistically has the best Daily Challenge Win Ratio % of any female competitor ever. On top of it all, she’s an elite social/political player who not only keeps herself under the radar but creates bonds strong enough to keep her friends safe much longer than they should. With this win, I think Kaycee is one of the 10 Best Females to ever compete on the Challenge, and if you wanted to make an argument for her to be in the Top 5, I’d listen.
CT wins back-to-back seasons for the first time, and it’s his 5th career win. He and Bananas are now the only two players to win more than 4. If you thought CT was the GOAT before this, another win only cements his status. With this win, I’m moving CT up my personal list from #3 to #2 (don’t worry, Bananas isn’t my #1). If CT comes back for Season 38, there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t be the favorite again. Thank you, all, for making it through another season of recaps with me.