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'Survivor: Worlds Apart': And the winner is...

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Monty Brinton/CBS

[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched the season finale of Survivor: Worlds Apart.]

After 39 days, three hidden immunity idols, a double vote advantage, and 18 million references to Rodney’s birthday, a winner was finally crowned on Survivor: Worlds Apart tonight, and that winner was…Mike Holloway.

The 38-year-old oil driller from Texas continued his epic challenge run by taking first place in all three challenges this evening, including the decisive one that put him into the finals. But he didn’t make it easy on himself, voting to keep Carolyn and force a fire-making tiebreaker between her and Rodney, which she won after breaking two different flints. That put Mike up against his steepest competition (along with Will) in the finals. In the end, the jury awarded him the million-dollar prize and title of Sole Survivor.

The episode began with Mike winning a loved ones reward challenge, allowing him to invite his mom Deborah back to camp for the night. He also won a huge advantage for the next blindfolded immunity challenge in that he got to spend 30 minutes beforehand testing out the course with his mom. The advance prep-work came in handy as Mike smoked the competition for immunity and Sierra was voted out.

Next up was a final grueling immunity competition in which the final four had to climb a giant staircase and traverse a multilevel obstacle course while collecting keys and puzzle bags that would be used to construct a lighthouse. Mike won that too, which set the stage for the firebreaking tiebreaker which might still be going on if Jeff Probst didn’t keep giving the contestants new flint.

After Carolyn defeated Rodney, we were treated to a final Tribal Council that featured words from the jury that were angry (Dan to Mike: “There’s no necklace to save your ass tonight.”), daring (Jenn to Jury: “Half of you are the most bitter people I’ve ever met in my life…. You guys say that you’re super fans? Well if you’re a fan, then you’re actually going to vote for who deserves it. Get over it. Prove that you’re a fan.”), and humorous (Shirin: “Will is the dead fish we dragged in with our nets.”)

In the end, the vote went to Mike, who won five individual immunities and overcame his blunder at the food auction thanks to his dominance in challenges and well-timed use of a hidden immunity idol. He is a worthy winner who was on the ropes for weeks yet managed to make it to end regardless. His victory puts a satisfying capper on a season that was uneven yet ended strong.

My full recap will be up later and you can check out the full cast list for next season of Survivor right now. And for more Survivor news and views, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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