What a horrible finale.
The Challenge Season 35 Episode 16 didn't have the excitement of a season finale.
Aside from the final nine competitors scaling a mountain, it felt like a regular installment.
If you watch The Challenge online, you know The Challenge Season 36 has been a mostly disjointed affair, thanks largely to Dee Nguyen getting the pink slip.
The season failed to bounce back after acting like Dee was not a major part of the storyline. They gave her the villain edit, only to erase her.
It was... strange.
In any case, the finale featured a lot of weak competitors, perhaps making it easier for the ultimate victors to, well, tiptoe around a mountain.
Believe me, there were high stakes, but the final challenge weeded out the people who were not cut out to be crowned the winners, and it was particularly surprising that two competitors walked out of the competition.
Melissa exiting was surprising, but I couldn't help but agree with Bayleigh's sentiment that Melissa has had a relatively easy road to the final.
Aside from her challenge with Nany, she didn't get much time to shine this season. Her quitting was questionable, especially given that we now know she was three months pregnant when these scenes were filmed.
It's entirely possible that she learned of her pregnancy between winning her red skull and taking part in that final competition. I appreciated the way she realized her time was up and exited.
She was visibly struggling and was in last place. Offering herself up for the final elimination seemed like she was trying to get people on her side before quitting.
I'm unsure what to make of it, but I'm sure we'll get some insight after the episode airs.
Bayleigh quitting was unfortunate, but you could tell she had twisted her leg in a way that was unhealthy. Bayleigh has actually been one of my favorite rookies.
She came into the game with her lover, and despite him getting eliminated early-ish, she managed to pivot and make connections to keep her around all the way to the final.
That's skill. Her performances in the competitions were also good, so I hope she returns down the line. She still has a lot to offer the series.
Who would have thought that it would be Jenny and Kaycee going against each other for the women in the final act? Kaycee was a comp beast on Big Brother, but she played it too safe on The Challenge.
Sure, she got to the end, but her performance in the final heat against Jenny was lackluster. Jenny is strong, but she steamrolled all of the women in the finale.
Jenny's social game was shaky at times, but at least she managed to survive based on her competition wins.
What will stick with me for a long time is the way T.J. told her she won. It was like he realized the final battle was a dud and wanted a re-do of the whole season.
If we look at the men, it was a much more intense battle to the finish line. Kyle, who languished early on, managing to finish in second place, was mindblowing.
Cory discounted Kyle's abilities and even made a sly comment about throwing him into the final elimination being a worthless endeavor. Who would have thought that Kyle would come in second place?
It was ... something.
Cory was given a gift on The Challenge Season 35 Episode 15 when Nelson sacrificed his own game to keep Cory in the mix for the final.
Cory tried to be strategic, and pitting Bananas against Rogan was actually good. But I can't shake the feeling that Cory will be furious Kyle ultimately beat him to the finish line.
Fortunately, someone got there before Kyle, and that someone was Bananas. He was a worthy winner, putting in a lot of effort to right the sins of his Challenge past.
It was touch and go for a while, but at least he managed to prove to himself that age is just a number. He was the oldest person running the final and still managed to win.
It makes me wonder whether Bananas will take some time away. He proved that he could still win, but then again, he wasn't against the biggest of threats.
Fessy was overly confident, to the point I didn't want him to win. He had all the traits of a typical rookie. He wanted to mess with the status quo, and even his chat with Kaycee was particularly telling.
He thought he was going to win.
As we look ahead to The Challenge Season 36, the format needs refreshed. The red skull twist this season was perfect, but too many mediocre players are getting to the final.
Maybe we should get a complete cast overhaul, or we should get that all originals season that fans have been crying out for.
Nevertheless, I'll be watching.
What did you think of the winner?
Are you surprised by who quit?
Hit the comments below.
The Challenge Season 36 premieres in 2021.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.