The Challenge: Double Agents winners break down that dominating final run
"It was the best run I've ever had in the final," [SPOILER] says of winning season 36.
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday's season finale of The Challenge: Double Agents.
When you come at the king, you best not miss. Despite a full season of all the players targeting Chris "CT" Tamburello in the hopes of eliminating him and clearing the way for a new Challenge champion to be crowned, the three-time winner and his partner, rookie Amber Borzotra, won The Challenge: Double Agents.
Wednesday's episode 19, "The World Is Not Enough," featured the long-awaited conclusion to season 36's two-part final, and CT and Amber B.'s massive lead from the first day cemented their eventual win, as no other team could catch up to them throughout the entire second day.
Below, the winners to break down their dominant final run, what this win means for their respective futures in the franchise, and of course, their thoughts on Fessy Shafaat's temper tantrum and disqualification.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congrats on winning Double Agents!
AMBER BORZOTRA: That win means so much to us because we were the underdogs. No one wanted us, and then we got paired together.
CHRIS "CT" TAMBURELLO: Yeah, we did it. We did that s---!
BORZOTRA: I think people wanted me paired with him because they're like, he's got the rookie, they won't do well together.
TAMBURELLO: Well, hey, look, all season none of the girls wanted me. And then we came in and crushed it! At one point we were finishing checkpoints before anyone else showed up. I think it was the best run I've ever had in the final.
How much of a lead did you have? How long did it take for the two other teams to reach the finish line after you?
TAMBURELLO: I think at one point we had a lead of close to an hour. But then we got lost in the woods. The last time we saw somebody was actually after the kayak, as we were finishing, Cory and Kam started. And after that it was just us. And then I just remember Amber running uphill, not even tired at all, and getting to TJ at the top of the mountain, and I was like, okay, what are we doing now? Where are we going? We just had such a good lead.
BORZOTRA: I actually kept yelling at CT like, "Where are you? Come on!"
TAMBURELLO: She hasn't admitted this yet, but there were times when she would run up and look for the arrows for which direction to go, and then run back. I honestly feel like she would slow down and pretend to be looking for where to go to kind of give me time to catch up, because she didn't want to discourage me, or to give me a little break.
BORZOTRA: I grew up in the mountains of Tennessee and this is what I'd do, run barefoot. This was just like being back home, playing in the woods, enjoying myself. I was having fun. It's crazy because sometimes it looks like we're yelling at each other or getting mad at each other, but we were just pushing each other in a good way.
TAMBURELLO: And I knew that experience would help me out because I was talking to Darrell and he would always say that she's got a lot of heart and gas for days. He also told me she had run a marathon before. Every person has strengths and weaknesses, and we knew what each of our weaknesses are, so to me, if I'm the slowest runner out of us, we're in really good shape. And we didn't look back.
BORZOTRA: And no one was ever in front of us!
You became partners right as the final began — what surprised you about how you worked together?
BORZOTRA: It's crazy that we weren't partners all season, so we didn't know how we would do in the final together. But Darrell did tell me before he left, "Stay strong, and if anything, protect CT. Make sure he's good because he's someone you'd want as a partner. He can eat, he can do the puzzles." Darrell literally whispered all of this to me real quick and then went on his way.
TAMBURELLO: Me and Darrell are the same type of Challenger, we're basically even. And we're from the same generation; he was a four-timer, I was a three-timer at the time. So maybe that was it, it was an easy transition for us. And I've made the mistake of trying to deflect the responsibility of failures onto a teammate and making things worse, and I wasn't trying to do that again.
BORZOTRA: That's where things were hard for me and Fessy. I picked him because I wanted to reattach myself to the Big Brother alliance, because I felt like I was on the bottom of the barrel. But I learned so much from these OGs, these vets, CT and Darrell. Coming in as a rookie, I just listened to everything they had to say. There was a moment when the rookie girls wanted me to work with them, and that was cool, but I want to listen to someone who has won four of these in a row, who knows what they're doing. So I came in, laid low, listened to what my partner was saying, and it helped me in the long run.
TAMBURELLO: Now you're part of the club!
Speaking of that winners club, CT, this is your fourth win, which puts you in a very exclusive group of people with four or more wins: just you, Bananas, and Darrell. So that's got to feel amazing.
TAMBURELLO: And three of them during the "dadbod era," [laughs] during the "washed-up" era.
BORZOTRA: You don't have a dadbod now, you're looking good!
But since you've always said you love this franchise and will do it for as long as you can, has this fourth win changed your outlook on your future on The Challenge?
TAMBURELLO: Yeah, the way I look at The Challenge is different now. Honestly, I've thought about it, I can ride off into the sunset now. I had a good run, I got nothing else to prove. Especially with this Challenge, I can honestly say this is the most intense Challenge I've ever been on, and then winning it, that's insane. But the thing is, I'm grateful. I have a different appreciation for the show, especially with winning. I'm not necessarily proud of the way I had to play the game. Sometimes The Challenge is designed a certain way and you've got to do what you got to do. I feel like a born-again rookie because I'm basically learning how to play the game because the game evolves. But then thinking about it, like, s---. I mean, I always tell myself I'm getting old and I don't have too much of this left. But if I'm doing well, why not? Why not keep going?
And when I'm thinking about riding off into the sunset with this mic drop, I'm not thinking about the wins or losses, I start thinking about the memories, all the stuff that people don't see, the downtime. We're traveling the world, doing these live-action stunts, getting thrown out of a plane, diving to the bottom of the ocean, hanging from helicopters, wrestling people on top of trucks. We're like f---ing superheroes. Why would I stop doing that? So every time people say, "Don't you think it's time to settle down and get a real job?" I'm like, no, I'll keep my fake one. [Laughs] F--- that.
CT, you've run more finals than almost anyone on this show by now, so how did this final compare to all the others you've done in the past?
TAMBURELLO: Oh, this one sucked. The conditions in Iceland, I honestly thought we weren't going to be in the water as much, but it was the opposite — it was always raining, it was always cold. I didn't think this season was ever going to end. It got to the point where I was just emotionally drained. So when we finally got to the final, it was like, this is it. It's finally over. Let's prove everybody wrong. Who cares at this point? Just go!
How did it feel watching Fessy refuse to eat and get cut from the final after the way he treated you both this season?
BORZOTRA: My hardest part was seeing Kaycee attached to that and just seeing how she had to go out. Fessy, I was just like, okay, bye! But for Kaycee, you don't ever want to see someone go out that way, it doesn't matter that you're competing against them. It was painful to see her go down in front of me. But she had a great season.
TAMBURELLO: And I'm going to be honest, I don't think anyone was catching us.
BORZOTRA: Yeah, me neither. And even if they weren't there anymore, it also felt good to prove myself to everyone that was doubting me and that wanted either Kaycee or Kam or someone else. I am the underdog, but I did come out on top and I'm just so proud of myself for that.
TAMBURELLO: Yeah, I try not to let stuff like that bother me. I've been where he is, he's a young kid, he's got a chip on his shoulder, he's got a lot to prove. I came in hot like that. Look, I've even treated partners like that. I remember like treating Veronica the way he was treating his teammate. And I've learned from that and I've apologized. But you're going to get way more out of your teammate if you're positive, and that's just going to come from growth. He just has to learn from it. And there's a fine line between arrogance and confidence, and if you're not careful, pride can be your own worst enemy. You're going to underestimate your teammate. Isn't that right, champ?
BORZOTRA: That's right, champ!
CT, you mentioned this earlier but I wanted to go back to how no one wanted you as a partner this season, because that's just insane. Does this win validate you after all the disrespect?
TAMBURELLO: This whole entire season, no one wanted us. They underestimated us. "You're washed up." It was kind of weird because one minute they're like, "We gotta get rid of him," and the next it's like, "You're washed up, you're done." So like, just pick one! Don't lead me on here. [Laughs] One minute I've still got it, and the next I'm no good.
BORZOTRA: It's crazy because I was working with the people who were against him all season and were trying to get him out. And then we get paired together for the final. But we balance each other out so well. The one thing I know I'll always have trouble with is I'm dyslexic with numbers. I have a disability. So I can't do math, basically, and it's always been that way.
TAMBURELLO: And I have "dis belly" which makes it harder for me to move.
BORZOTRA: [Laughs] So I was worried in the cave, the math was the one thing CT couldn't help me on, and he did his in like literally three minutes. This guy is not human at all.
TAMBURELLO: It's because in my day, calculators weren't allowed in class.
BORZOTRA: So I really did worry he was going to pick a new partner at that point. But we didn't know, would that new partner get my time that I had worked so hard for all day? So when he picked me, I was like, wow he really does believe in me.
TAMBURELLO: And you could have picked Fessy again! But it's crazy, we won every single checkpoint. Amber, that is crazy!
BORZOTRA: I still can't believe I won that first one. But I was in game mode. I was a beast, I was a different person in that final.
What did you learn from this season and this final you're going to apply next season?
TAMBURELLO: I'm going to ride out this born-again rookie thing. [Laughs] I'm really feeling it now that we won.
BORZOTRA: I learned so much from my vets that I can't even say it all. I just listened and the advice I was given, I'm going to apply it all every time. And I know I'm going to have such a big target on my back now.
TAMBURELLO: In a weird way, with the whole Fessy argument where he's calling me all washed up and stuff like that, he was calling my whiff because of the way I handled the Big T situation. I was going with Kam, yes she's great, but also for the protection, and I could have handled it differently. That's what was given to me from Fessy: "You're getting too comfortable, you can't hide behind that reputation anymore," and I respected that. I mean, he could have pulled a couple punches, but whatever. By hanging out in the Zen Den — that's what we called Amber and Big T's room — I really was digging in and learning how to play the game again and establishing new connections and relationships with people and really diving in politically because I lost touch with that because I got too comfortable. That was a wake-up call for me: Either you adapt to the new game and the way that The Challenge is being played now, or you've done. It was sink or swim, and we swam.