Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


Survivor finale recap: It's a Fickle, Fickle Game

The finale comes down to a (long) battle of fire.

Posted on

Screen Grab/CBS


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

A lot of incredible things happened on Wednesday’s Survivor finale. Mike won all three challenges, bringing his challenge-winning total to 17,348. Carolyn pulled some sort of Jedi mind trick to convince Mike to take her to the end. We had a fire-making tiebreaker that came close to matching the ineptitude of the Becky vs. Sundra duel—and I use that word “duel” loosely—that took place on Cook Islands.

But the most incredible thing BY FAR that went down has to be this: Rodney voted for Will to win Survivor: Worlds Apart. Not only did Rodney vote for Will to win Survivor: Worlds Apart, but he voted for him based on the fact that—and I’m quoting here—Will “kept it real.” I know this because Rodney’s comments while voting for the #DeadFish to take home the million dollars were “I kept it real in this game. You kept it real in this game.”

Lest anyone think Will’s qualifications for “keeping it real” were not quite up to snuff, Rodney used his one precious question to the finalist to ask Will the following incisive and probing query: “How did you keep it real?” HOW DID YOU KEEP IT REAL?!?! THAT WAS HIS QUESTION!!! Apparently, Will’s dissertation on the art of keeping it real must has satisfied Rodney’s ever-so-high standards because he then awarded him his vote—the most inexplicable vote since Ralph Malph voted for Phillip Sheppard to win Redemption Island—proclaiming that his No Collar friend did, in fact, keep it real…and thank God for that.

So, to be clear, Rodney did not vote for the winner based on strategy. Nor did he base it on performance in challenges. Rather, he chose to judge the finalists based on their own personal keepin’-it-realness, which evidently can be measured by some sort of mixture of je ne sais quoi and the ability to do nothing whatsoever for 39 days. Some people just have it: Natalie from Redemption Island, Cassandra from Fiji, Mik from Samoa, Clay from Thailand—they all had it. And Rodney probably would have voted for them as well.

Unfortunately for Rodney, he did not have a quadruple final Tribal Council vote advantage, so Will would not be taking home the million dollar prize. It came down as it always should—to Mike and Carolyn, the howler monkey and the sting ray. Each could present a strong argument as to why they were the most worthy, but Mike had one crucial advantage: Once the majority alliance in the game turned on him, that put him with the group who would eventually form the majority of the jury: Shirin, Jenn, Hali, and Joe. True, Hali and Joe were already out by then, but we all know that strong lobbying goes on among the eliminated contestants, and there’s no way Mike forming strong bonds with their best buds could not have a spillover effect.

While Mike erred greatly with his food auction ruse, at least he was able to form some strong personal connections, while Mama C (nickname not withstanding) came off as a bit cold. He also won a billion challenges. Honestly, I would have been happy with either one winning. I do think Carolyn probably played a savvier game, but Mike played with his foot on the gas from day 1, and as a viewer, you love to see that. There were missteps along the way—I still hate anyone throwing a challenge and he completely lost his mind with the advantage and love one letters fiasco—but when you add everything up together, he probably would have received my million-dollar vote as well. I say probably not as a knock on Mike, but a sign of respect for the constantly underappreciated Carolyn. They both had a lot of game—Mike just had a little bit more. (Cue the Happy Dance.)

So we have our winner. But of course there is so much more to break down: Loved ones! Tiebreakers! Dan putting Jeff Probst’s public Service Announcement on Tribal Council voting into action and doing his best Eliza Orlins impersonation while casting his final ballot! The Will-Shirin reunion! The new Survivor cast! Ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it, so let’s recap tonight’s Survivor season finale and reunion.

NEXT: Enter the loved ones!