The Challenge: All Stars recap: The final begins with a close call — and a purge
Who was eliminated in episode 8, "Mo Money Mo Problems?"
It feels like only yesterday that the inaugural season of The Challenge: All Stars began, but we're already at the final. The season has flown by due to the combination of it having fewer episodes than a normal season (which is how we got all the players who are parents to compete since it was a shortened production schedule) and because it's been fun. Compared to the torturous slog of Double Agents, a.k.a. the season that just wouldn't end, All Stars has been like the vacation we all desperately needed. I'm really sad it's almost over but I'm holding out hope that this won't be a one-off because All Stars is what the fans want and deserve. Hey Paramount+, are you listening?!
This episode begins on the last night in the house before the final, and everyone is in good spirits — Jisela and Jonna have made it to their first final ever, Big Easy is excited for the chance to redeem his last final performance, and Darrell has finally made it to a final after 14 years of getting shut out. There are so many different journeys culminating in this one final that I'm not even sure who I'm rooting for at this point. I would love to see people like Ruthie and KellyAnne get their first win. For others, like Yes and Mark, watching them get another title would be so satisfying after all these years. There are many potential happy endings — but only one will come true.
Casting gloom over the celebration is the fact that Jisela is somehow still mad at Aneesa for voting in Nehemiah instead of Yes in the last elimination. She really is finding a way to take it personally, even though it had nothing to do with her. Aneesa does her best to smooth things over with Jisela, pointing out how that vote had nothing to do with their friendship. Things seem to end on a good note, which is definitely for the best since they need to be focusing on the final and not a real-life friendship crumbling over nothing. Now is not the time for drama, ladies!
At the starting line, the players already know what's at stake: $500,000, and only one Challenger walks away victorious. But what they don't know is what stands between them and the top prize.
TJ gleefully reveals the final will stretch over the "next couple days," and players race to complete checkpoints of mini-challenges to collect points (five points for first, four for second, etc.) at each one. And even though this is an individual game, players will be partnered up with someone of the opposite gender for every single checkpoint. They can't have the same partner twice, so people will end up getting screwed based on who they're assigned for specific checkpoints. Because if at any point a player can't finish, they are out — and so is their partner. And after checkpoint two, there's a purge, with the last place team automatically getting cut. This is the worst part of finals, for sure. Just let them all run it individually! I'm already nervous about who is going to get cut. If Big Easy costs another player their win...
At the end of the race, all the points will be added up to determine which single-player won the entire season. My male winner pick at the start is Yes, and my female pick is KellyAnne, just because they seem to be the most well-rounded players here. But you also never know what's going to happen in this game. It's all going to come down to who is partnered up at which point in the race! There's so much left to chance here.
But there's no time to worry because the final begins! Everyone has to complete a tangram puzzle on their own at the first stage, and when they finish, they must wait for the next player of the opposite gender to finish, and that's your partner for the next leg. Alton finishes first, and Aneesa is second, so they get in their canoe and move on to the next checkpoint. Darrell finishes next, and Jonna becomes his partner. Yes helps Jemmye with her puzzle because he wants to partner with her. Jisela finishes hers next and Derrick becomes her partner. Yes and Jemmye finish together and get partnered up, just like Yes wanted. Ruthie and Mark partner up, then KellyAnne finishes and has to wait for Big Easy, as she shouts, "No! No! No!" over and over again. My heart breaks for her in this moment because of all people, why did she have to get paired with him at the most crucial part of the final?! I'm getting flashbacks to Gauntlet 3 already.
Big Easy finally finishes his puzzle and gets in the canoe with KellyAnne, but they've got a lot of time to make up. Darrell and Jonna start to catch up on Alton and Aneesa for the first place spot, while Yes and Jemmye overtake Jisela and Derrick for third place, with Mark and Ruthie also gaining fast. And soon, Alton and Aneesa's canoe starts taking on too much water, and they capsize. It takes them some time, but they manage to flip their boat back over, get most of the water out, and get back in to continue on. But they absolutely lose their first-place lead in the process — they're now in fourth and just trying not to be in last place. But Jisela and Derrick might be in the most trouble since Big Easy and KellyAnne are actually gaining on them as they're slowing down.
Darrell and Jonna reach the checkpoint first, securing five points each for first place. Yes and Jemmye come in second, Mark and Ruthie in third, and Alton and Aneesa in fourth. The race for last place is now on, with KellyAnne and Big Easy finally passing Jisela and Derrick in the very last stretch of the river. Eventually, somehow Jisela and Derrick turn their canoe backward and paddle in reverse for some of the way, which is just hilarious. I've never seen two people more inept at paddling than this duo.
Big Easy and KellyAnne finally make it to the second checkpoint, securing one-point each and guaranteeing their spot to continue on in the final — I'm right with KellyAnne here when she breathes a huge sigh of relief. And to celebrate, Big Easy falls out of the canoe and fully submerges in the water in the least graceful way. But I'll go easy on him here because he didn't cost KellyAnne her entire game. And just like that, Derrick and Jisela are out. If anyone was going to be purged, I'm sad it was Derrick because he's always entertaining in finals, but I don't think Jisela could have finished the rest of this race on her injured leg. So it kind of worked out perfectly.
As Derrick and Jisela walk away, the race continues, and new partnerships are formed. As the first-place finisher, Jonna picks Yes as her new partner because she sees him eyeing the bike they're going to have to put together and correctly assumes he'll be able to help her. Darrell picks Jemmye and Ruthie picks Big Easy, leaving Mark and Aneesa together and Alton with KellyAnne. The checkpoint begins with everyone building their own individual bikes, and as they all chaotically try to put theirs together, TJ drops the bomb that they're also going to be tethered together for the ride. How fun!
Yes and Jonna take off first (Jonna really is starting this final off on the right foot… until she goes flying over her handlebars, ouch). Aneesa and Mark take off next, then Darrell and Jemmye go after them, with Big Easy and Ruthie in fourth and Alton and KellyAnne in last. Ruthie struggles with her bike and gets overtaken by Alton and KellyAnne, which pisses off Big Easy because Ruthie's tire is somehow broken. Clearly, these bikes were not put together by experts because gears are breaking, pedals are falling off, wheels and handlebars are misaligned — it makes watching them all ride bikes even more entertaining than normal.
Eventually, Alton and KellyAnne overtake Darrell and Jemmye and Mark and Aneesa, all due to more bike troubles. While everyone is struggling with their bikes and their partners, Alton and KellyAnne fly through the path, supporting each other, even commenting on how beautiful the scenery is. It's a huge improvement from how this final started for KellyAnne, and super impressive... especially since Mark has to now use his bike like a skateboard with only one pedal and Jonna keeps falling off and panicking. The gap between good and terrible on this leg is really wide.
But Yes and Jonna eventually make it to checkpoint three in first place and move on to the puzzle. Alton and KellyAnne arrive second and Mark and Aneesa in third, as Yes finishes his puzzle and helps Jonna finish hers, securing their first-place finish. Darrell and Jemmye arrive in fourth and Big Easy and Ruthie arrive last. Big Easy somehow finishes his puzzle in second place — but he still has to wait for Ruthie to finish hers. Darrell finishes next, then Aneesa and then Jemmye (meaning Darrell and Jemmye get second place), then Alton, then Mark (securing third place for him and Aneesa), then KellyAnne (earning fourth place for her and Alton). Even with Big Easy's help, Ruthie finishes last, meaning she and Big Easy get last place for this leg.
It's time for new partners again! Yes picks KellyAnne, Jonna picks Mark, Darrell picks Ruthie, and Jemmye picks Alton, leaving Aneesa and Big Easy. This leg is a good ol'-fashioned sprint with teams tethered together, and KellyAnne and Yes secure a nice lead in first place almost immediately. And somehow Aneesa is the one holding Big Easy up, putting their team in last place — I honestly thought it would have been the other way around. Jemmye keeps trying to use her tether with Alton to her advantage, making him pull her weight which pisses him off, while Darrell makes the whole thing fun for Ruthie by cracking jokes and coaching her when to run and when to walk. Eventually, he just picks her up to carry her up a hill and passes Mark and Jonna. Some people are just better at being team players than others! Bless Darrell for giving us another iconic Challenge moment where someone goes beast mode and literally carries their partner up a mountain. Legends only!
Yes and KellyAnne eventually cross the finish line in first place, Darrell and Ruthie come in second, Alton and Jemmye in third, Mark and Jonna in fourth, and Big Easy and Aneesa in last place. New partnerships are formed again: Yes and Aneesa, KellyAnne and Darrell, Ruthie and Alton, Jemmye and Mark, and Big Easy and Jonna. They all race off to checkpoint four, where they discover they have to eat two Carolina Reaper hot peppers each and then complete a puzzle and run. People are screaming, puking, drooling, crying — it's a total mess. And they haven't even started to do their puzzle!
Yes and Aneesa finish their puzzle first and take off for the finish line, with Darrell and KellyAnne finishing second, Big Easy and Jonna in third, Ruthie and Alton in fourth, and Mark and Jemmye in last. But on the run, Aneesa slows Yes down and Darrell and KellyAnne end up passing them. Big Easy starts to gas out and slow up Jonna, while Jemmye can't stop puking, slowing down Mark. Then the peppers hits Darrell's stomach, making him puke. Ruthie starts to go down in the same way, and things start off funny but get serious real fast as Darrell calls out for a medic. These peppers are no joke, but hopefully, Darrell is just panicking in the moment because if he gets taken out by a pepper he'll never be able to live that down.
Challenger of the week: Jonna for performing way above anyone's expectations — including her own. She started off this final in the best shape with a high point total, but will she be able to hold onto her lead, or will Yes run away with the prize in the end? We'll find out next week in part 2 of the finale!