The Challenge: Ride or Dies finale recap: And the winners are…
After a long season (19 episodes!) and an even longer final (100 hours!), The Challenge: Ride or Dies has finally crowned two players as champions. Let's recap!
The third episode of the final picks up with only 32 hours left, and Bananas and Nany find themselves in first place, edging Tori and Devin out of the top spot they'd held throughout the entire final thanks to one eating challenge. And Jordan and Aneesa are still alive — Aneesa's ankle has them down but not out. The next checkpoint is more like a daily challenge than anything: Pairs lean out of a helicopter and launch chalk bombs at targets on the ground. But the amount of chalk bombs they get corresponds to their current standings: Aneesa and Jordan get 15, Tori and Devin get 20, and Bananas and Nany get 25 (as well as choosing the order in which the teams compete).
Of course, they choose Tori and Devin to go first (guess that truce is over now, huh?), and it takes a bit of time but they finally get into a rhythm. They end up hitting 10 targets total. Jordan and Aneesa go next and she ends up giving him most of her bombs to throw, but he only hits six. Bananas and Nany go last, but since Bananas struggles for most of their run, Tori and Devin win the checkpoint, getting their lead back after a brief pause.
Tori and Devin get to choose the order in which the teams move on, so they decide to go first (duh), with Jordan and Aneesa going second, and Bananas and Nany in last. Tori and Devin take off, and five minutes later Jordan and Aneesa get to leave, and then Bananas and Nany finally head out. Eventually the sun sets and Tori and Devin reach the next checkpoint in a giant cornfield, and at a fork they have to choose which path to take. Bananas and Nany catch up to them as they reach a campsite lit up with neon lights, and none of them know what to do. Aneesa and Jordan chose the opposite path, and they end up at a similar campsite alone, wondering what to do next.
While the teams come to the conclusion they're going to rest for the night there, a giant structure lights up in the middle of the cornfield, shocking them all. It's hour 82, and TJ announces that they have to find their way through the corn maze to the center. Nany's knee really starts to slow her down (she says she hurt it on day 2 of the final) but Bananas won't slow down with her. He knows this could mean the difference between winning $1 million or getting purged at the last second, and he's feeling the pressure to put the pedal to the metal.
Tori and Devin reach TJ first, putting Bananas and Nany once again in second place. Bananas and Nany immediately get into a fight, and Jordan and Aneesa finally arrive in third to… the Finale Zone. That's right, it's a finale elimination! Tori and Devin are safe, so that means Bananas and Nany are competing against Jordan and Aneesa in Balls In — first team to get three points stays in the game, the other is just gone. The smart money is on Bananas and Nany, but let's see how this plays out.
The women go first, and although Nany gets an opening for an easy point, she misses the shot. Nany tackles Aneesa in the next round, keeping it tied at zero. The men go next, and Bananas get the first point but Jordan ties it immediately. These new rules are changing this entire elimination: Once the offensive player gets inside the rope ring, they're basically guaranteed a point (instead of having to wrestle the entire way until they put the ball in the basket), but it's definitely an effort to avoid any more players getting wrist injuries like we've seen in the past. Understandable, and we support stricter safety measures getting put in place on this show, but you can't deny it makes for a much more boring elimination. Sorry, I'm just being honest!
When the women go again, Nany once again gets a clear opening for a point but misses the shot, pissing off Bananas because he knows they could have won by now and her mistakes are costing them. He tries to tell her that, but she just yells, "I know!" when clearly she doesn't. Aneesa gets a point in the next round, giving her and Jordan the lead, but it also aggravates Aneesa's injury even more.
When the men go next, Bananas gets a point and then pulls on Jordan's shirt to drag him to the ground, forcing Jordan to drop the ball. Smart strategy! Now it's all down to the women. Nany fakes out Aneesa, making it inside the rope and getting a third point as Aneesa falls to the ground in pain. She refuses to quit though and plays through one more round to try and tie it up again. Nany plays dirty and aims right for Aneesa's injured ankle, taking her down immediately. Aneesa starts screaming and crying, and Nany asks her if she's okay while she continues to sob on the ground. Jordan throws his helmet on the ground because he knows this is the end of his game. Nany's inner beast came out in this round, and I'm equally impressed and horrified. She really will do whatever it takes to win this season!
After tear-filled hugs, Jordan and Aneesa are sent home. It's not a shocking outcome, as this final was always going to come down to Tori and Devin and Bananas and Nany. Now the two remaining teams are sent to the two separate camps for the night.
The next morning, only eight hours remain — wait, scratch that. Both teams just hang around their campsites all day until only three hours remain. Once again we're reminded that the whole "100-hour final" gimmick is just that, a gimmick. They're only competing for about 25 percent of those hours if we're being real. But TJ calls them into the center of the corn maze for their final elimination of the season ... and he brings out some friends to help support both teams. Aneesa hobbles out with Jordan, and then Olivia comes out rocking two gnarly black eyes with Horacio by her side. It's sweet that they're here to cheer the players on while they compete in Level Up — a massive elimination that is basically four different rooms teams have to break through. Whoever gets to the lever in the middle and pulls it first wins the whole thing.
TJ blows the horn, and they're off! The first room is the elimination from earlier in the season where Fessy beat Nelson, and Bananas gets the first spear out but has to pause to help show Nany the right way to yank it out of the drywall at an angle. Bananas gets his second before Devin gets his first, and while he keeps an early lead, he also has to keep helping Nany with her spears while Devin and Tori work together on theirs. But Bananas and Nany finish the spears first and move on to level 2.
While Bananas and Nany break into the next room, Tori and Devin finish their spears and move on as well. In level 2, they have to relocate 200 cinder blocks and restack them perfectly to form an image — because it's a puzzle too! This looks grueling. Bananas and Nany start yelling at each other while trying to decide the right strategy, while Tori and Devin work together like a well-oiled machine. After a while, from the sidelines, Aneesa sees that Bananas and Nany's image isn't right, and soon Tori and Devin notice that as well, which gives them a burst of momentum as they realize this is what could get them the win.
When Bananas and Nany finally realize their mistake, they take too long to fix it, and Tori and Devin finish level 2 and move on to level 3 while Bananas and Nany keep working on their puzzle. In level 3, players have to dig through a whole room of sand, so Devin and Tori just get to tunneling. On the other side, Bananas and Nany realize they've messed up their puzzle again, because they're missing their last blank cinder block. They essentially have to go through and restack the entire 200 blocks to find where they misplaced it, clearing the path for Tori and Devin to win. It is such a stupid mistake that was easily avoidable, and their impatience and chaotic way of tackling this level is going to cost them $1 million. Absolutely brutal, but as seasoned vets (and Bananas being a seven-time champ!) they should have known better.
Meanwhile Tori and Devin make it through to level 4, where they have to unravel a ton of long, tangled chains as Bananas and Nany just watch on in misery. Bananas admits that he literally can't take the cinder blocks down to restack them at this point because his back can't take it, and Nany's so defeated that she doesn't even want to try to continue. She breaks down, and while Bananas apologizes to her in the moment, he also breaks down later in his confessional because he believes he lost this for her. It's incredible to see this kind of raw emotion from him, but let's not forget Nany also messed up during Balls In, giving up two points in a repeated dumb mistake, which resulted in them having to compete in an exhausting physical elimination much longer than they needed to. That lost energy could have been crucial for them to avoid this mistake later on. They both messed up equally, and blame doesn't belong with only one of them.
Eventually Tori and Devin finish unraveling the chains, kick through the last door, and pull the lever, winning The Challenge: Ride or Dies and finally becoming champions. Devin tries to give TJ a sweaty hug while Jordan lifts Tori up, and not going lie, I got a little teary-eyed watching him celebrate her finally getting her first win. The fact that he got to watch it happen in person is just ... man, I'm getting emotional! Even though they're not together anymore and went on this intense roller coaster all season long, they worked together so hard to get her a championship for years and now it finally happened, and he was there to witness it. Love them or hate them, you can't deny that this is an amazing TV moment that is years in the making.
And on the other end of the spectrum, watching Bananas cry while blaming himself for losing Nany's best chance at getting her first championship is also pulling at my heartstrings! This finale is making me feel too many things! I would have been satisfied with either team winning, and I would have been heartbroken to see either of them lose, and that's how you know this is an incredible final.
But the heartwarming moments don't end there! Devin reveals that he and Tori are going to repeat what CT and Kaycee did last season and give a portion of their $1 million prize to every other finalist. Since CT and Kaycee gave $50,000 to second and third place, they're going to give $38,000 to second, third, and fourth place. Now that's a classy move right there to make sure everyone gets paid instead of going home with nothing because they both know how that feels. Now everyone's walking away from this season a winner — including us. This was a solid end to a solid season. Did you like it? Did you hate it? Send me your thoughts on Twitter at @SydneyBucksbaum, and I'll see you back here for another season of The Challenge soon enough.
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