After a Challenge season that spilled over with unexpected injuries, crushing betrayals and at least eight pints of Icelandic blood cocktails (weâ€™ll stick to seltzer, thankyouverymuch), Double Agents officially named its two champions on Wednesdayâ€™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 gameâ€™s final episode, Kaycee, whoâ€™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 checkpointâ€™s stomach-churning entrees, her partner Fessy had all but given up. And when the gameâ€™s other three teams had advanced to the gameâ€™s next stage â€” a race to collect buoyed puzzle pieces from aboard a kayak â€” TJ told Kaycee and Fessy that their time on the show was over.
â€œFessy is not gonna own any of this — we already know,â€ Cory said after hearing the news of the Big Brother star’s elimination. â€œI donâ€™t know if heâ€™s earned that vet stripe yetâ€¦Itâ€™s not all physical.â€
Amber and CT â€” the final missionâ€™s underdogs â€” conversely showed unexpected strength. Though they had never worked together before the final mission, Amberâ€™s penchant for long-distance running paired with CTâ€™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 â€” an overnight stay in a hollowed-out glacier â€” before anyone else.
â€œIâ€™m so happy Amberâ€™s my partner right now because she makes me feel like sheâ€™s slowing her pace down for me,â€ CT said, surprised by the typically quiet Amberâ€™s commanding performance. â€œMarching through three checkpoints in first place. Letâ€™s go!â€
All the while, Teams Cory/Kam and Nany/Leroy continued to battle for second place, which came with a $100,000 cash prize.
â€œI have dedicated ten years of my life to Challenges, and thereâ€™s nothing more that I want than to win,â€ Nany said, while Cory was incentivized by avoiding a third-place finish, which came with no money at all.
â€œYou get no respect for third, so we have got to make up some time,â€ 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 gameâ€™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. Theyâ€™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 sheâ€™d survive the race still to come.
â€œI donâ€™t know how Iâ€™m gonna do this with an empty stomach and no sleep,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™m still in the middle of a hurricane thatâ€™s coming through.â€
But hunger and fatigue proved to be rocket fuel for her, as she and CT â€” in one of the most decisive performances in Challenge history â€” crossed the gameâ€™s finish line first, earning $900,000 in the process. As they collapsed at TJâ€™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.
â€œI cannot believe that I just won this whole entire final,â€ Amber said.
And while Amber and CTâ€™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 missionâ€™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.
â€œYou would think with me losing again I would be upset,â€ Leroy said, before addressing his partner. â€œThis is the best way to end it if I couldnâ€™t get a win, is to end it with you, Nany. I donâ€™t have any more tears, this is a joyful moment.â€
Are you shocked by the winners, or did Amber and CTâ€™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!