‘The Challenge’ Producer Emer Harkin Teases ‘Gnarly’ Finale — and Why It Wasn’t at All What She Originally Planned

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Playing it by ear! The Challenge: Double Agents showrunner Emer Harkin plans out every daily challenge on the reality competition series, as well as the grueling finales.

However, the final that viewers watched the first half of during the Wednesday, April 14, episode was not what she had mapped out.

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“We were filming in Iceland and in a hurricane, and a hurricane hadn’t hit Iceland since 20 years prior. So, of course, it would hit just as we were filming our final,” the producer said on the Thursday, April 15, episode of the “Watch With Us: Challenge Edition” podcast. “It was awesome, but also a really precarious position to be in as a producer because you’ve got to keep everybody safe and you want to deliver something that looks tremendous.”

Challenge Producer Teases Gnarly Finale
CT Tamburello of ‘The Challenge’. Paramount+/MTV

She noted that the final “looked absolutely nothing like the final that I scouted,” because of the weather. “The final that I scouted and pitched was a completely different beast than the final that ended up on camera because of the hurricane conditions,” Harkin said. “We had these glassy lakes and blue skies and gorgeous snowcap mountains. You don’t see any of that. You just see TJ [Lavin] like a weatherman who’s about to be blown over screaming at the camera and the cast trying to avert their eyes from the sandstorm that’s coming at them. It was gnarly. It was — truly, hand on heart, one of the toughest finals we’ve ever done.”

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Harkin said that the cast was pushed to “their absolute limits,” and everyone was put to the test.

As for what’s to come during the second half of the finale, airing on Wednesday, April 21, she hints that viewers will be “nauseous” and “exhausted” by watching what the cast endures.

“I think you’re going to be impressed at the performances of all of our cast,” she added. “We were stoked at the performances. Everybody just delivered blood, sweat and tears, and it was just something wonderful to watch. They were total troopers.”

Challenge Producer Teases Gnarly Finale
Cast of ‘The Challenge’. Paramount+/MTV

Harkin, who has worked on the show for more than 10 years, also shed light on the format of Double Agents and her hopes to bring back older themes from the past.

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“It’s totally changed over the years. We had Exes, Rivals, Bloodlines and so on, but then you see the trademarks of those themes through our more recent series. They’re just sort of packaged in a different way, I guess. But, you know, I’m a huge fan of Exes,” the Ireland native explained. “It’s just always so fun. It’s super explosive. I’m always a fan of a multi-team structure. It’s something we’ve had great success with in the past and that we just haven’t been able to bring back in a while. I think it’s super interesting. … Everybody loves Exes!”

For more from Harkin, listen to the full episode above and subscribe for free to the “Watch With Us” podcast for more exclusive TV news and interviews.

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