After a Challenge season that spilled over with unexpected injuries, crushing betrayals and at least eight pints of Icelandic blood cocktails (we’ll stick to seltzer, thankyouverymuch), Double Agents officially named its two champions on Wednesday’s finale. And after a grueling race to a mountaintop that featured seven seasoned vets, it was the lone remaining rookie who ultimately blew the competition away.
When the final mission resumed at the top of the game’s final episode, Kaycee, who’d badly injured her knee during a footrace, watched her chances at Challenge gold slip away. Though she was committed to powering through her injury and chowed down on the second checkpoint’s stomach-churning entrees, her partner Fessy had all but given up. And when the game’s other three teams had advanced to the game’s next stage — a race to collect buoyed puzzle pieces from aboard a kayak — TJ told Kaycee and Fessy that their time on the show was over.
“Fessy is not gonna own any of this -- we already know,” Cory said after hearing the news of the Big Brother star's elimination. “I don’t know if he’s earned that vet stripe yet…It’s not all physical.”
Amber and CT — the final mission’s underdogs — conversely showed unexpected strength. Though they had never worked together before the final mission, Amber’s penchant for long-distance running paired with CT’s strategic acumen proved to be a winning combination. The two collected their puzzle pieces before anyone else, finished their puzzle before anyone else and raced to a fourth checkpoint — an overnight stay in a hollowed-out glacier — before anyone else.
“I’m so happy Amber’s my partner right now because she makes me feel like she’s slowing her pace down for me,” CT said, surprised by the typically quiet Amber’s commanding performance. “Marching through three checkpoints in first place. Let’s go!”
All the while, Teams Cory/Kam and Nany/Leroy continued to battle for second place, which came with a $100,000 cash prize.
“I have dedicated ten years of my life to Challenges, and there’s nothing more that I want than to win,” Nany said, while Cory was incentivized by avoiding a third-place finish, which came with no money at all.
“You get no respect for third, so we have got to make up some time,” he said.
After a miserable night in which players tried in vain to get some shut-eye while freezing-cold water droplets showered down on them, host TJ Lavin arrived to usher in daylight and the game’s final stage. The remaining six players would have to sprint up an adjacent glacier, each retrieve a pickaxe and hack away at an ice block until they could yank out a capsule frozen inside. They’d then use a code buried inside the capsule to complete a puzzle before sprinting to a tangram brain teaser.
Amber, for one, wondered how she’d survive the race still to come.
“I don’t know how I’m gonna do this with an empty stomach and no sleep,” she said. “I’m still in the middle of a hurricane that’s coming through.”
But hunger and fatigue proved to be rocket fuel for her, as she and CT — in one of the most decisive performances in Challenge history — crossed the game’s finish line first, earning $900,000 in the process. As they collapsed at TJ’s feet and looked out into the expanse of Icelandic cliffsides, they agreed that pre-race odds would never again be a reliable metric. After all, the only team with a rookie and the only team that had never worked together spent the entire final mission in first place.
“I cannot believe that I just won this whole entire final,” Amber said.
And while Amber and CT’s win was an absolute blowout, the race for second proved to be a buzzer-beater. Though Leroy and Nany, who spent much of the final mission in second place, seemed to have the silver medal in the bag, Nany struggled up the mission’s final ascent. Cory and Kam pulled ahead at the very last second, earning a paycheck they were sure they had lost.
And while Leroy failed to secure a Challenge win in his final outing before his retirement, sharing the race with Nany, his friend of a decade, felt like a poetic conclusion.
“You would think with me losing again I would be upset,” Leroy said, before addressing his partner. “This is the best way to end it if I couldn’t get a win, is to end it with you, Nany. I don’t have any more tears, this is a joyful moment.”
Are you shocked by the winners, or did Amber and CT’s win seem written in the stars? Sound off on Season 36 of The Challenge: Double Agents and catch Part 1 of the reunion next Wednesday!