The Challenge: Final Reckoning's Cara Maria on That Shocking Twist: 'Nothing Is Off Limits'

After winning MTV’s The Challenge: Vendettas earlier this year, Cara Maria Sorbello is back in action for her 12th season, Final Reckoning. As she vies for the $1 million prize alongside rival and partner Marie Roda, she’s blogging about it exclusively on PEOPLE! Follow Cara Maria on Twitter at @CaraMariaMTV.

When we last left off on The Challenge: Final Reckoning, the rookie teams were seemingly on the chopping block for the next Armageddon. Da’Vonne and Jozea veered from Shane’s plan to vote Angela and Faith into elimination, and Shane felt betrayed because he had gone the extra mile to work things in a way that would save them from going in elimination. Da’Vonne and Jozea rightfully felt they were next on the chopping block after Angela and Faith so they wanted to band together to better their chances of staying in the game. Their straying from Shane’s plan made a new enemy in him, and Shane vows to come after them hard for the rest of the game.

That Armageddon

Tori calculated votes and was pretty sure she was going into the Armageddon long before the lights under her feet were illuminated. She said, “Go big or go home,” and made it clear she was going after the biggest threat in the game. And that she did when she called out Sylvia and Joss.

“Ramp It Up” was a wildly physical challenge. While it seems smarter to choose Faith and Angela, we don’t know what sort of equalizer could come into play (Remember Paulie’s double-band handicap from the first elimination?). To choose Brad and Kyle would have been swinging big, but it wouldn’t have been smart. Tori made her best move and chose the fellow male-female team of Joss and Sylvia. This seems like a pretty solid matchup. This is something where Derrick and Tori should excel.

What you didn’t really see

This is really the first time Joss employs teamwork. It’s like he finally realizes that he cannot win this whole thing alone. He is a great partner with Sylvia, and she is all heart and no quit. Every time he runs up a ramp, he throws the rope to Sylvia and literally pulls her up to the top.
Derrick, on the other hand, takes this elimination as his time to shine. It’s almost like he subconsciously wants Tori to look bad and finally “drop the ball” for the team so to speak. He sees the strategy Joss is doing, but instead of helping Tori, he stands at the edge of the halfpipe and dramatically reaches for her hand while she has to use everything she has to climb the rope herself. He crushes the elimination physically but does absolutely nothing to help his partner. Sylvia and Joss pull through and earn their way back into the house. Tori and Derrick head to Redemption House.

Speaking of Redemption House

Everyone in the house is anxious to see who walks through the doors next and to get the tea on what is going on in the main house. Tori talks about her anger over Da’Vonne & Jozea and Marie & me voting a different way (as if we could have predicted they were going to get enough burn votes that would send them in). Then Derrick speaks with Tori about how he can’t trust her as a teammate because she cheated on him two seasons ago (with Jordan, whom she is still dating). I think Derrick is just trying to gain sympathy or possibly soften the blow of not performing his best in the daily challenges. I feel for Tori. She has her work cut out for her. Despite her anger towards me, my vote decision was rash and in the moment and never meant to sabotage her. I am praying for her to come back. Not only does she provide entertainment, but also light and positive vibes. I am a Tori fan. I was when I met her and always will be. She is a boss lady.

Now I am left with only my partner and Kam & Kayleigh. Natalie, Paulie, CT, Brit, Jenna, Jemmye, Tori, and Melissa are either out of the game or out of the main house. I am also left with Johnny, who is otherwise too busy with Angela to speak any game to me.

Meanwhile, Kam discloses to me she has an idea that will turn the house upside down, but she just needs a win to pull it off. That girl is not only fearless, she is smart as hell and not afraid to make waves.

The “Dig Deep” challenge

Teams are separated into two big teams. Zach and Amanda get to choose which team they want to be on due to their win on the last challenge. Teams are buried in a tiny dark mine and have three puzzles to solve. The puzzles are set up in terms of difficulty. The more difficult the puzzle, the more helpful the tool to help dig out of the mine shaft. However, players may start digging as soon as one puzzle is solved. The first duo within the team that gets to the finish line wins immunity and the power vote.

By the looks of the teams, the one Zach chooses is stacked. Theoretically, this challenge is set up for the boys. The men can set themselves up against the wall they have to dig through while most of the girls are solving puzzles. Once the puzzle is solved, the men start digging and force their way to the top first. It’s going to take some extra strategy for the female teams to pull through here.

In Zach’s mine, Shane takes the hardest puzzle and solves it with Kam. These two are both brains. Kayleigh does her job and wiggles her way through the boys. Zach waits at the top for Amanda who can’t seem to scramble through the mass of bodies. He watches Kam squeeze through and sees his chances at a win slip away. So he sticks behind and helps others out of the mine.

In my mine, I choose the hardest puzzle and solve it. I believe by solving it I should be allowed to claw my way out first since I technically was the reason our team was even allowed to start digging. No one is getting through Tony though. As soon as he rushes to the top, he sees that the other team has already beaten us so he returns to help the rest of us out.

While I am disappointed in myself for not solving my puzzle faster than Shane solved his, thus costing us the win, I am THRILLED to see Kam and Kayleigh are the winners. I feel safe for the voting and I am also so proud to see them boss their way to victory on a challenge seemingly designed with odds in favor of men winning. GO GIRLS!

Kam’s master plan

Kam gathers the house together and makes an announcement that she is going to disclose who her vote is going to and why. She puts on a convincing display as she says her vote will be Brad & Kyle or Sylvia & Joss. I swear to God even though Kyle and Joss are Kayleigh’s closest allies in the house, I believed the announcement without question. Sylvia starts crying. Give this girl an Academy Award because this is the best acting I have ever seen on a Challenge. Realistically, if Sylvia quits Challenges, she could make a new career for herself on a telenovela. The strategy behind Kam’s plan was to keep Sylvia and Kyle’s teams safe. No one would throw a vote on them if they thought it would guarantee them into Armageddon. Kam orchestrates a plan to get everybody to burn votes on certain people. If the plan works out perfectly, all votes would cancel each other out, rendering Kam and Kayleigh‘s vote to be the deciding factor on which two teams would face off in Armageddon.

Marie fills me in on Kam’s plan and tells me who to vote for. This is the first time in voting history that we just agree. Hopefully, we will have more votes like this in the future. I’ve decided to stop fighting her and just let her do the thinking since the majority of my alliances are gone from the house anyway.

Where the plan could have gone better

Though she is a fresher face than most, Kam is a force. She has brains and brawn. She is here to make an impact. The way she orchestrated the entire house to do her bidding was certainly a queen move. However, I truly thought a really big power move was going to be played. All of this work to put Angela & Faith and Da’Vonne & Jozea against each other? Kam put herself in a situation where she could have guaranteed Johnny & Tony against Zach & Amanda. That would have turned the game upside down. She did indeed keep all of her friends safe, but the Armageddon we are about to see doesn’t change the game much at all.

Back in Armageddon

Faith and Angela get voted in because of Kam and Kayleigh’s power vote, so with Kam’s plan in full effect, they should have to face Da’Vonne and Jozea. However, dirty TJ loves a good twist… and tonight is the night. In come mercenaries Hunter and Ashley. And the twist on twist? This season, if the mercenary team wins the elimination, they get to join the big game and compete against us for $1 million.

At this point, we have only actually eliminated two teams from the game. The rest are in Redemption. Tonight, we are only exchanging a team. This is literally the game that never ends.

My thoughts

While I hate that this twist, I am actually optimistic about seeing Hunter and Ashley. I’m thrilled for Hunter to get a chance to actually compete. He gave his entire heart on Dirty 30 and literally broke bones to make it to a final. He deserves to be here. I know how much this means to him and how badly he wants to be here. He is a fighter and is truly here for the competition and love of the game.

As far as my relationship with Ashley, we had a rocky start because on her first Challenge (Rivals 3), after she hooked up with my cousin, she was caught body shaming him and digging low into his personal physical insecurities. When Jamie told me the terrible things she said about him, it broke my heart. However, Ashley can be charming and we eventually worked things out. In the house, she is crazy but also incredibly funny. I even stood up for her when she was attacked by Nicole Z., who said she did not deserve her win on Invasion. I feel like if Ashley came back in the house, it could mean good vibes and better energy. I’m rooting for them.

Regardless of how this Armageddon turns out, tonight’s twist is a huge game-changer. There is no shortage of grenades TJ will throw our way. It seems like nothing is off-limits. The name of the game is not fair but you have to play with what you got. With $1 million on the line, you know this season is going to test just how far people will go for the win.

Tune in next week and get your tea with me right here. Stay weird.

The Challenge: Final Reckoning airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on MTV.

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