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Survivor season finale recap: Cagayan' Season Finale Recap: How To Lose A Million Dollars

Woo channels the ghost of Colby Donaldson, and hands away a million dollars to Tony in the process

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Survivor Finale


TV Show
Reality TV
run date:
Jeff Probst
Current Status:
In Season

“I’d be the stupidest Survivor player taking Tony to the end.”— Woo Hwang

Oh, boy. The second those words escaped the lips of Ninja Stealth Woo, you had to have a sneaky suspicion that they would come back to haunt him. And haunt him they did. Because Woo did win the final immunity competition and did get to choose whom to bring with him to the finals. And when the moment came to make that fateful decision, Woo did the most inexplicable thing possible — he took Tony to the end. So, to be clear, I am not the one calling Woo the stupidest Survivor player ever — he is calling himself that.

And he is on to something with that assessment, because guess what? Woo had won the money! The million dollars was his! All he had to do was pick Kass and that would have ensured three different things. 1) It would be the worst final two in Survivor history. 2) It would guarantee that notorious final two hater Jeff Probst would never, ever go back to that format ever again, and if you argued for it, all he would have to say is “Woo vs. Kass” and you would have no choice but to slink away in defeat. And 3) Woo would become an automatic millionaire.

But no, instead of taking his place as one of the worst winners in Survivor history — but a winner nonetheless — Woo morphed into freakin’ Colby Donaldson, choosing honor and integrity over intelligence. Look, I’m not trying to bash Woo. I love the guy and would totally want to hang out with him and have a beer while saying words like “rad” and “stoked” a lot. But this was a terrible, terrible move and deserves to be called out as such. There is a separation between “in game” and “out of game.” You can have all the honor and integrity in the world outside of the game, but the point of Survivor is not to have the most honor; it is to make the best strategic moves possible, and the only strategic move Woo controlled all season was a flat-out awful one. And it cost him a million dollars. The first five codes of Taekwondo may be discipline, integrity, loyalty, respect, and harmony between mind and body, but it is never wise to neglect the rarely publicized sixth code: DON’T BE A MORON!!!

But thank God he did make that move, or, as I said, we would have had Woo vs. Kass. Would that have been the worst final 2 ever? Probably, right? I mean, Neleh vs. Vecepia was not exactly a clash of the titans, but this would have been right up (down?) there. And it would have been a real bummer of a way to close out this incredible season. Instead, Woo made his epic blunder and we got ourselves a worthy winner. And yes, Tony is a worthy winner. With apologies to Boston Rob on the Redemption Island season, Tony played what has to be considered the most aggressive game from start to finish we have ever seen from a champion. (Not the best, but the most aggressive.) Sometimes his moves were positively maddening and sometimes he acted without thinking through the consequences of said actions, but the dude was always playing the game. As a fan of the show, even if you did not love Tony, you had to love and respect that effort. That’s what we want from people that go out and play the game — to play the game. And so thanks to Woo, we were able to tie a proper bow on this terrific installment. But there is so much else to get to and touch on from this three hour finale/reunion extravaganza, so let’s get to it from the very top.

We begin the same way every finale begins, with a recap of the season so far. Wait, no it doesn’t! Instead, he have Jeff Probst coming at us from the comfy confines of CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles, California ordering us to eat snacks, call our friends, and use CBS approved hashtags. After that introduction we head back to the Philippines for the aforementioned recap. Oh, look! There’s Tony’s spy shack! There’s Woo falling out of a tree! And there’s a montage of Spencer celebrations and tantrums! No doubt we will be seeing at least one more of those this evening. Then the final four returns from getting rid of Trish and we discover that Spencer and Kass had no idea Tony was also going to vote her out. Kass tells us in the morning that, “Tony is an idiot” for making this move because when it comes to the jury “I’m pretty sure everybody dislikes Trish.” Which begs the question, how exactly do you think they feel about you, Kass?

NEXT: Enter the loved ones!