The Challenge cast added a third “R” to rest and relaxation — reflection — on tonight’s episode as they remembered a fallen fellow competitor.
After CT defeated Darrell in the season’s final Fortress game, “Knot So Fast,” TJ announced that the remaining contestants — four Underdogs and two Champions — were officially headed to the final mission. First, though, they’d get a mini-vacation at a beautiful beach resort to rest up for the big day (or, more accurately, days).
Following a celebration that included popping champagne and enjoying some pool time in their new digs, the gang got a surprise envelope that alerted them to Thailand’s Loy Krathong Festival. As part of the celebration, which centered on totems of cleansing and renewal, they’d each release two lanterns into the water. One symbolized the past, the other represented future.
The Underdogs chatted excitedly about what they hoped for and what they aimed to leave behind. CT was a little less forthright with his vision, though, and cryptically observed as he passed through the conversation: “What a day to do this.” The group asked him what exactly he meant, but CT could only answer, “It’s a special day, I guess…Damn, I don’t even want to talk about it.”
And he didn’t — CT continued to shrug off questions and eventually secluded himself in one of the suite’s rooms to sort through his thoughts alone. Camila, his only remaining teammate, eventually clued the rest of the group in: It was the two-year anniversary of the death of Diem Brown, a fellow Challenge contestant who died in November 2014 after a third battle with cancer.
Diem and CT had a love story for the ages, Camila told the Challenge cast’s newest members, and the memory of her spirit had begun to hit CT particularly hard. Eventually, it started to hit Camila hard too.
“It’s kind of crazy that this is happening today,” Camila said, as a montage of Diem’s finest Challenge moments — scaling mountains, sporting fluorescent pink wigs — began to play. “We kind of went through it together. We were very close to her. She was a very special person.”
“She used to love The Challenge,” Camila added as she began to cry. “She used to be so fierce and powerful and just an amazing human being. She always fought. She never gave up — she fought until the end. The fact that today’s her anniversary and that today we’re kind of letting go of the past and moving forward to the future, it just shows that she’s here with us and she’s looking down on me and she’s looking down on CT. She’s looking down on all of us.”
And the night’s sentiment eventually rubbed off on CT, who finally started to open up.
“I think tonight’s been a blessing,” he said. “It’s crazy to think that the moon and the stars just aligned for this to happen after everything I’ve been through, at this very moment on this day. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.”
Watch the moment in the clip above, and leave your memory of Diem in the comments.