We’ve been through this season after season. I love the “loved ones” visit. I fight to have it in the show every season because it always pays off. Plus, Sprint loves it and Sprint is a major sponsor so if they like it, we really like it.

It’s almost always emotional and on the rare occasions that it’s uncomfortable due to an odd family dynamic, you always learn something new about the Survivors. This season was pure emotion. Let’s review, shall we?

HOLLY – I think it’s clear that Holly and Charlie have a great love affair. He was a very nice guy and so happy for Holly’s adventure. Married for 25 years and obviously still going strong. In fact, if given the chance, I think he would have stayed for the rest of the show just to be with Holly.

JANE – This was the first time her daughter Ashley had been on a plane. She was feisty just like her mom. She’s clearly a young woman who carries a lot of responsibility. She was a bit nervous at the prospect of being on television, but I have a feeling that once she was back home she was bragging about her trip to Nicaragua!

CHASE – Yeah, sure he’s a big football playin, country music singing, good ‘ole boy… but bring a boy a hug from his Mom and he’s reduced to tears. Connie was a delight to have out in Nicaragua and I think the loved one visit really connected Chase with his mom in a new way.

FABIO – I really liked Fabio’s mom, Anne. She has an amazing sense of calm about her and clearly loves her son. She was smiling the entire time she was there, she had nothing but positive things to say and it made me look at Fabio, aka Judson in a different light.

SASH – Leigh was so excited to see her son, Sash. I loved hearing Sash talk about what it was like growing up with not much money but a lot of love. I think Sash needed that comfort. He doesn’t have a lot of friends in the game right now.

DAN – My personal highlight. You don’t see men share affection enough, especially father/son affection. I was truly moved watching Matthew kiss his father so openly and so often. There was no embarrassment, only love. If you were watching in HD you could probably see that I was tearing up myself. The entire crew thought it was pretty fantastic. For a moment I considered not giving Dan a hard time anymore. But only for a moment.


It’s hard to criticize Chase’s decision of who to take with him on the reward. He certainly bought some goodwill with Sash and Holly. And just as important, by not taking Fabio, he kept Fabio from putting food in his belly. It was a smart move as it could have made a difference in the next Immunity Challenge. Turns out it didn’t, but strategically it made sense.


When Chase came back from the reward, I really respected how honest Fabio was about how he was feeling. He was trying so hard to be “fair” about his frustration but he knew he needed to share that frustration with Chase. Fabio grew on me a lot with that exchange. I didn’t sense any game play, just a guy trying to get something off his chest and then go kick some ass in the next challenge, which he did.


These types of memory challenges are already difficult but add 30 days of no food and no sleep and they become extremely challenging. You are trying to remember symbols and placement. Fabio came through big and it seems clear that without immunity he was next to go. He’s too big of a threat to leave in the game.


After the immunity challenge, the gang goes back to camp and now has to decide who to send home.

The moment of Chase, Sash, Holly standing in a circle as Jane approaches was riveting. It was like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. The other three knew they were going to “kill” Jane but didn’t know how to tell her.

Then… Jane starts to figure it out.

Jane: “So, is it me….?”

Cue the scary music…

Holly: “This is not easy.”


Jane: “So you all been conniving this whole time?”

Cue ominous bells…

Chase: “Yes, there has been discussion…”

Jane gives a not so subtle flip of the middle finger to the group.

Then tears.

Jane: “My alliance have turned on me.”

Then anger.

Jane: “ They’re liars. They’re cheats. They’re backstabbers. I’m most disappointed in my Carolina homeboy, Chase. If I was Chase I wouldn’t show my ass back in North Carolina.”

Then the rage.

Jane grabs a bucket of water and violently dumps it on the fire.

Jane: “By God I started it and I’ll put it out!”

And with that moment I think Jane solidified her spot as the most “root worthy” person on this season of Survivor.

I LOVED this moment. Let’s pass out some recognition to the folks that made it happen:

Kudos to the team who shot this out in the field. Great coverage of this scene. Remember, there are no second takes. What you see is happening in real time. If we don’t get the shots, we don’t have it. We got it. All of it.

Don’t forget the audio. Our sound team has to make sure they get every whisper without ever getting in the way of the shot. When you’re shooting in a circle with four people, that is much easier said than done.

This was excellent work by the Survivor editing team. This scene is brilliantly cut. It’s cut so well you don’t even realize it’s cut. Quentin Tarrantino would be proud.

Fantastic choice of music, which guided our emotions so seamlessly.

And finally, a huge nod to our producing team who oversee all of this. This scene is yet another great example of why Survivor still shines above all the other shows in our genre. We have the best of breed in every single department.


Whoa! Jane tore it up. She broke it wide open. Wow. Fabio just got a huge wake up call. Dan just got a huge wake up call. Did either of them hear it?

At Tribal Council I always try to ask the questions I imagine you are asking at home. Or in this case, the questions that I imagine my mom is asking at home.

When you looked at the scenario it was painfully obvious. There are six people left. Three of them — Chase, Sash and Holly — were hung out to dry by Jane when she exposed their alliance. That leaves three others — Jane, Fabio and Dan. Classic Survivor. You wait for this moment because the game can change on a dime. But did it? Nope.

Even after discussing it, nobody changed their mind or their vote. Now Dan and Fabio must win every challenge or they are gone. That means one of them is gone next….

Unless of course something changes… ah, but that never happens on Survivor, right?


Okay – here’s where we sit. Our final 5:

Holly – Could win. She has made a dramatic comeback and seems well-liked. A jury might respond to the underdog story.

Chase – Could win. Especially if he dominates the last few challenges and takes the right people to the end with him.

Sash –A long shot, would need to take the right people with him and do an amazing job at the final Tribal.

Dan – I just don’t see any way Dan can win, which is why I will be amazed if they vote him out. Dan should be in the final.

Fabio – Could win but he will have to win every challenge because at this point if he loses, they’ll take him out.


Sunday is our two-hour finale followed by the Live Reunion show from CBS in Los Angeles. I think it’s going to be a good one.

In addition to crowning a winner, I’m so looking forward to having Coach Jimmy Johnson back to chat. Rumor has it he’s bringing a special guest with him. I’m very curious as to who will win the Sprint Award voted on by you guys.

And I can’t wait to talk to Naonka! Yes I’m going to talk to her! You’re crazy if you think I’d pass up that gold, especially during a “live” show! Who knows what she might say or do? I’ll be sure to have security close by in case she tries to take me out.


Finally, we have a big announcement regarding the next season of Survivor that I think you’re going to want to check out! It’s.. EPIC.

I hope you enjoy Sunday’s finale!!

Check out Jeff when he guests on Friday’s edition of the TV Insiders podcast to preview the Survivor: Nicaragua finale. In the meantime, enjoy an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode below, as well as Dalton Ross’ pre-game interview with Jane. And make sure to check out Dalton’s Survivor: Nicaragua recap right here.

EW’s TV INSIDERS PODCAST: This week, Dalton Ross, Annie Barrett, and Mandi Bierly debate the sexiest scene in Vampire Diaries‘ season finale, then call executive producers Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec to break down the episode. Plus: Michael Slezak calls in from vacation for a look ahead to the final two episodes of Survivor: Nicaragua, and the Insiders reveal their secret shames — cheesy and horrible TV shows that are downright embarrassing to enjoy. To join in all the fun, just click on the audio player below. And in the best news of all, we‚re now on iTunes! You can subscribe for free right here and take the TV Insiders with you on the go. And to send a question to the TV Insiders or learn about upcoming editions, follow us on Twitter @TVInsiders!