The Redemption House has been razed, Armageddon is a fleeting memory and the finalists of the latest Challenge season have been named. So, between Team Cara Maria/Marie, Team Joss/Sylvia, Team Ashley/Hunter and Team Natalie/Paulie, who do you think has what it takes?
On tonight’s episode, after a grueling final elimination round that boiled down to a battle of will between Natalie and Bananas, the Big Brother export, who just missed out on the last leg of Vendettas, proved she’d come a long way, and beat Johnny in a game of endurance that lasted more than five hours.
“I’m in disbelief,” Paulie said. “Natalie and I just pulled off the hugest win of the season so far.”
But is there an even bigger one to come?
Let’s take a closer look at the final Final Reckoning teams:
While Cara Maria and Marie are the only team that hasn’t yet won a mission, they’ve demonstrated that slow and steady might, indeed, win the race. There was no doubt coming into the game that Cara had the brawn — she’s the game’s reigning champ and the only solo winner in franchise history. Still, Marie initially felt like she couldn’t keep up with Cara, and occasionally fell short. But it was Marie’s resolve that got her team back into the game after an eleventh-hour banishing to the Redemption House. They say it’s not so much about the battles as it is the war — is the final fight the two-woman team’s for the taking?
And while Cara is no doubt the most enduring veteran left, the team of rookies are champing at the bit to best her. Natalie and Paulie, affectionately (…maybe…) dubbed the “Redemption House Residents” by Ashley, were not on anyone’s radar to make it to the finale. While they seemed to the naked eye like a strong team, they couldn’t seem to get their act together after being sent to the Redemption House as the first Armageddon casualties. They failed twice to come back into the game, and were quickly reduced to the butt of the house’s jokes. Finally, though, thanks to a Herculean effort by Natalie, the game’s never-say-die rookies finally returned to the game in Episode 15 with a come-from-behind victory over Brad and Kyle. Since then, they’ve been on a tear, winning their first two missions back and sending seemingly sure-thing winners Bananas and Tony home. Will the greenest team see the greenest reward?
On the other hand, though Natalie and Paulie are newest to the franchise, it’s Hunter and Ashley who are newest to Final Reckoning. The two powerhouses earned entry to the game as Mercenaries with a win over Faith and Angela in Episode 7, and quickly branded themselves as threats, winning their second mission back and quickly taking control of the Lavender Ladies alliance. Ashley proved in Dirty Thirty that she’s got what it takes to win, and Hunter is a consummate workhorse — are those qualities enough to compensate for the fact that no one argues as loudly and aggressively as they do?
Finally, is it possible that the game’s sleeper hits — Joss and Sylvia — will come out on top? While few pointed to the Brit-American team as early contenders, the duo probably boast the most impressive Final Reckoning resume: Joss and Sylvia have taken out Tori, Derrick, Bananas and Tony in Armageddon, won two missions in the game’s home stretch and are the only team that has remained in the game without punctuation since the first mission. Some talk trash, and some let their performances speak for them — Joss and Sylvia have proven they’re the latter, and it might mean they’re in for a payday.
No matter which duo wins, though, the victory won’t come without complication — TJ announced that for the first time since Rivals III, and for only the second time in Challenge history, duos will compete together, but also clock individual scores at each checkpoint. When all is said and done, the more solid performer of the winning team will be left with a huge choice: split the money with his or her partner, or take the entire $1 million grand prize and run. In other words, the awards ceremony could make for the most explosive finale yet.
So, who do you think will win the final mission, and why? Share your thoughts, and see who’s crowned the latest Challenge victor next Tuesday night!