After 39 days, four hidden immunity idols, and a billion mentions of the phrase 'voting bloc,' the Sole Survivor is...

By Dalton Ross
January 19, 2016 at 01:53 PM EST
Credit: CBS
S31 E14

What a disappointment. What a terrible way to end an otherwise terrific season. If I had to boil it down to just one word, I guess that word would have to be travesty. Yes, travesty. That’s the word. And really, there is no other word for it: a travesty flying in the face of all that is right and good in this world.

I’m not speaking of the fact that Jeremy Collins was just crowned the Sole Survivor, of course. More power to the guy. He played a great game. Rather, I am pointing to the fact that Jeff Probst once again delivered the votes from Cambodia to Los Angeles neither by jet ski, nor skydiving, nor motorcycle, not subway, nor TARDIS, nor time-traveling DeLorean, nor Tuk Tuk chauffeured by Keith Nale, but rather by foot. Such a bummer. First off, it must have taken him forever to walk those things all the way from the remote island of Koh Rong to CBS Studios. (I’m also not sure how that is logistical possible considering, you know, oceans and stuff.)

Second, this exceptional season deserved an exceptionally ridiculous entry. A hang glider would have been nice. Waterskiing could have added a certain je ne sais quoi. At least hand them to Fishbach for chrissakes, and let him walk them in. Then you still have about a 30 percent chance of him slipping on a banana peel, sending the voting urn flying up into air and landing on his head. (Maybe that already happened, and he was in a woozy, confused state of mind when he decided to wear that hideous shirt at last week’s Tribal Council.)

Regardless, I am able to overlook this travesty of justice due to an otherwise excellent season and excellent result. I said going into this finale that I would be happy with a win by either Spencer (my pre-season pick to win both times he has played), Jeremy (my pre-season pick to win last time he played), or Kelley (my pre-season pick to win neither time she played…but I did have her in my top three this season). They all played hard, played well and could offer different reasons why they deserved the million-dollar check. Had all three of them made it to end, I may have stuck an IV from my can of Milwaukee’s Best straight into my vein in celebration. It was not meant to be (and as a result, I am still alive to write this recap), but a Jeremy-Spencer face-off was still a glorious ending. (Nothing against Tasha, but she was merely a spectator by the end.)

Did the jury make the right call in choosing Jeremy? Well, I’m not sure either Jeremy or Spencer would have been the wrong call. Both had solid claims to the loot. Jeremy found two idols, won the most-important immunity challenge of the season, and was in a position of majority power for pretty much the entire time. Spencer won three immunities and went the distance, even though he almost didn’t make it past day six and then was on the verge of getting voted out several times after that. Both are impressive runs. I couldn’t fault anyone for voting either way, and I expected a few votes to go to each. The skunking Jeremy put on Spencer (and Tasha) therefore truly shocked me. I figured he would win but not that cleanly.

Did Spencer’s threat to Jeremy at the previous Tribal Council cost him? Possibly. When it appeared as if Jeremy might be wavering on whether to bring Wentworth to the final three, Spencer went on an all-out assault. “She 100-percent wins if she’s sitting here tomorrow,” said Spencer. But then he took it a step further. “If I go to the jury, I would consider it a terrible move on your part, and based on that move, I would do everything in my power to see her win.” This came right on the heels of Spencer also threatening that if Jeremy voted him out, he would “spend all of my energy making sure she won.”

Let me address this for a second. I actually do not have a problem with Spencer saying any of this. You have to do whatever is in your power to get someone to keep you around, even if it means making empty threats — and knowing Spencer, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt and assume he would have actually based his vote on who played the best all-around game, not on whether Jeremy brought him to the end or not. So the problem was not with what Spencer said but rather where he said it: at Tribal Council. Because not only are you now saying it to Jeremy, but you are also saying it to the entire jury, and it’s not a great look. Spencer may have tried to veil it in strategic terms, but it was unmistakably a threat — a threat to turn the entire jury against Jeremy.

Not only did it look arrogant, as Savage later stated, but it also belittled the jury in the sense that Spencer would assume publicly he could turn weak-willed voters into doing his bidding. That’s the brilliant trick of Survivor, though: How do you play for today to stay alive without ruining your chances later? Spencer was in a tough spot, no doubt. He was fighting to stay alive, and he fought hard, but his words may have come back to haunt him.

NEXT: Jeremy performs the ultimate Tribal Council mic drop

And what of Jeremy’s big words — his final words at the final Tribal when he talked about how Val told him at the loved ones challenge that their baby was going to be a boy? Normally, I HATE when players use stuff outside of the game to try to convince jury members to give them the money. I hate it because it has nothing to do with your merit on the island and you should be judged on how you played, not on some sob story about your life back home or any concerns about who “needs” the money more.

But I didn’t hate it here for a few reasons. First off, it totally fit into the context of the question Kelley asked about what each of their Second Chance stories were about. Second, you have to respect the amazing game move of Jeremy not telling anyone about finding out the gender of his unborn baby until the last possible second before they went up to vote. I mean, if you’re going to manipulate people’s emotions, that is the way to manipulate people’s emotions!

Absolutely incredible. And it was all planned out that way. He even told us right after he found out from Val that he was staying silent and putting that nugget of info into his back pocket in case he needed it later. Had he done it any earlier in the Tribal under a different context it may have felt forced and self-serving, but he rolled the dice that there would be an opening to do so, waiting to the last possible question, and then BAM! Bottom line: Jeremy found a tool in the game and then used it at the perfect time.

So congratulations to Jeremy, and congratulations to the season as a whole. I threatened to move the season ranking up from No. 8 all the way to No. 5 if the finale stuck the landing, so did it? Well, I do think having four Tribal Councils (as opposed to usual three in a finale) was a bit much. It just threw off the pacing in that it was all challenge, Tribal, challenge, Tribal, challenge, etc… I also miss opening statements at the final Tribal.

And as much as I mock bitter jury members for being being babies, I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy at least one super-catty takedown. Unfortunately, all the questions were very civil — some might say bland. So, the finale was by no means perfect. But there were many great moments along the way with a great match-up at the end. That’s good enough for me. So yeah, I would probably leapfrog this over Palau, Pearl Islands, and Amazon and into the No. 5 spot. This was a season with simply no lulls.

Okay, let’s now get to the nitty and gritty and get through some of the other big moments of the episode, including one of the craziest Tribal Councils in Survivor history.

The finale starts as all Survivor finales start, with a recap of the season so far. These are always fun as scene-setters in terms of re-living all the moments that got us to where we are. It’s also a good excuse to watch Stephen Fishbach crying again. Not that we needed an excuse. This leads into night 35 after Abi’s ouster, and Keith is plum confused. Actually, he’s hopping mad. “I would like to be there with her” he says of Abi and the final three, berating the others. “Not you, Jeremy, not Spencer, not Kelley.”

So, to be clear, Keith is outright telling the people still in the game that he does not want to bring them to the end. Interesting strategy. I also love the fact that Keith can’t compute that this is precisely the reason others wanted to vote her out. “That’s exactly why I wanted to get rid of her,” explains Spencer. The Abi boot is actually a very interesting one in terms of the evolution of the game because in previous seasons people would have thought like Keith and kept her around to beat at the end, Phillip Sheppard/Natalie Tenerelli style. Now people realize they are just as likely to be voted out by others to keep the goat, so just get rid of them.

NEXT: The ultimate vote nullification

Meanwhile, Kimmi feels like she’s on the outside of the Jeremy-Spencer-Tasha final three so is ready to make a move. She talks to Kelley about forming a new threesome with Keith and says the others will split their vote so they can then take out Jeremy or Spencer. Sneaky! But before we see how that shakes out, we need to head to the first immunity challenge. It’s one we’ve seen before from the Redemption Island season as the players must race to collect puzzle steps and place them in order from bottom to top to build a staircase which they must then climb to complete a slide puzzle.

So basically the entire challenge is one big puzzle, meaning Spencer has pretty much won it before it even begins. Sure enough, he leads from wire to wire in a contest that probably caused Boston Rob to suffer a panic attack just watching as he re-lived his own personal Vietnam from his exhausting experience on this monster of a course.

So Spencer is safe, but Jeremy and Tasha should be nervous. Why? Because Kimmi once again proves that subtlety is not exactly her strong suit by making off with Keith to talk strategy by the water well. They solidify the Triple K alliance, which totally would have been their name had they been on Big Brother because apparently every single alliance on BB is contractually obligated to give themselves a goofy nickname. But Spencer knows what’s up because Spencer has eyes and you would have to not have eyes to not see what is happening. Either that or your name is Jeremy.

Jeremy just doesn’t see it and thinks Spencer is being paranoid. He goes and asks Kimmi on the hammock about it and tells her that folks are worried she is flipping. Kimmi makes like Claude Rains in Casablanca and is shocked — SHOCKED! — to learn gambling is going on in here. “I don’t want to be on the bottom of a foursome,” Kimmi explains to us of her flip, not realizing that she has just provided the perfect set-up line for the next great “that’s what she said” retort. (Seriously, I said it out loud to my screen only to then be mildly embarrassed by the fact that I was talking to myself. And that I was making “that’s what she said” jokes.)

But Kimmi’s status is not the only point on which Spencer and Jeremy do not see straight. Spencer says there is no need to split the vote because “Wentworth doesn’t have an idol, man.” Jeremy is not so sure. “She found one before,” he replies. “You found one before,” says Spencer. “That doesn’t mean I think you have an idol right now.” Oh, Spencer, you have no idea.

So off to our first of approximately 18 Tribal Councils we go, with the big question being whether Keith will inadvertently out that Kimmi has flipped by telling everyone to “stick to the plan” in between hawking loogies into a spittoon. (He does mention that he will lie, cheat, and steal to stay alive, and by steal, I can only assume he is referring to Tuk Tuks because the guy does already have a rap sheet in this regard.)

And then the fireworks start. Spencer announces that they were going to split the vote but “after the last 24 hours, Tasha, Jeremy, and I aren’t good with splitting the vote anymore.” He’s publicly calling out Kimmi, while at the same time whispering to Kelley “you’re good.” Now why would he whisper that? If you’re voting against another group, the last thing you want is for that group to know where the target is, so by telling one of those targets “you’re good,” Spencer has overplayed his fake-out. Clearly the votes are going on Wentworth.

So Kelley plays her idol, and then Jeremy plays his idol — and the rest is Survivor history as all 6 votes cast for the two of them are hereby null and void. Meaning we just had our first Survivor vote where zero of the votes actually counted. The result leaves us with absolutely nothing, which, coincidentally, is exactly how I felt watching long stretches of Survivor: Nicaragua.

This whole incident also starts the first in a long line of over-expressive Stephen Fishbach reaction shots, as he is clearly attempting to dethrone undisputed Jury Reaction Shot Champion Eliza Orlins. With Spencer, Kelley, and Jeremy all now safe, the group re-votes, and that vote results in a 3-3 tie between Tasha and Kimmi, and this is where things get super interesting. Because if the four people who did not just receive votes cannot come to a consensus, that means that Kimmi and Tasha would be safe and one of the four of them would be booted. But since Spencer, Kelley, and Jeremy are all safe already, then, Keith, by default, would be the one to go. There’s no other option. Chalk it up to some sort of weird voodoo Survivor math.

NEXT: Keith wastes Kelley’s masterful handiwork

Now let’s make things even more confusing. While Spencer asks Jeremy, “Would you rather have Kimmi go home or Keith go home?” Kimmi does some campaigning, and her campaigning is not to them, but to Keith. “I haven’t been here in a long time,” she tells him. Is it just me, or is that the worst sales pitch ever? Keith should throw away a chance for a million dollars simply because you had more time in between seasons? Is this a lame attempt at a seniority play? Well that’s certainly interesting considering Kimmi voted out Kelly Wiglesworth…from season 1. But remarkably, it works! “She’s a single momma with two young babies — send me to the house,” says Keith in one of the most misplaced and frustrating displays of chivalry I have ever seen in my entire life. KEITH, DON’T LET HER MANIPULATE YOU LIKE THAT!! In all honestly I think Keith could probably be manipulated by that rat we saw scurrying around the tribe’s pot at the start of the episode. Totally love that guy, but sheesh.

Thankfully, I am not the only one about to pop a vein over this idiocy. Fishbach is about to have a full-on conniption over on the jury. Seriously, the guy is shaking so much he looks like he just got tased. Meanwhile, Kelley tells Keith “Hold on, you can’t just give up like that.” Thankfully, he reconsiders, and Kimmi is unanimously sent to the proverbial house. So in a span of a few minutes, five different people almost got voted out or quit. Crazy.

But don’t you dare attempt to catch your breath because it’s right back to another immunity challenge we go as the final 5 now have to race through a giant obstacle course to six stations to collect six bags of puzzle pieces. It looks like another slam-dunk Spencer victory, but it ends up being a race between Kelley and — in perhaps the shocker of the season — Keith! Wentworth pulls away and takes it, adding to her résumé.

It looks like curtains for Keith, which sounds like the title of some sort of irreverent murder-musical (The New York Times raves “Curtains for Keith will kill you…with laughter!”). But hold the phone because that savvy Kelley has been saving items throughout the season — including a medallion from tree mail and other materials — to construct a truly bitchin’ fake idol worthy of the Bob Crowley Seal of Fake Idol Approval.

Jeremy, who is perpetually worried that he will be the victim of a hidden immunity idol, starts to formulate a plan B to insure his safety. In a moment eerily reminiscent of the infamous Three Amigos “Look up here” scene, Jeremy tries his best to covertly get Keith’s attention while Tasha is sleeping, alas to no avail. Maybe if Jeremy had tried spitting that would have worked. Now that’s a language that Keith can understand. Anyway, their eyes eventually lock leading to…a passionate embrace and sudden explosion of forbidden love. Wait…what? Oh, sorry, that was a section of my uncompleted San Juan del Sur fan-fiction project from 2014. That particular bit fell right between chapter 4’s “The Revenge of Boobs McGee” and chapter 6’s “The Awesomeness of Drew Christy…as Told by Drew Christy.” In actuality, Jeremy tells Keith to vote for Spencer as a safety net. Sly. And smart.

The Tribal Council that follows is a somewhat frustrating affair due to a serious missed opportunity. Kelley starts things off by saying the vote doesn’t matter since Keith is going home. It’s the perfect way to sow the seeds of mistrust by acting as if you are trying your hardest to make the others think that Keith does not have an idol. Keith follows that up by announcing that, “There’s some tricks around to be played,” which would normally be the worst thing to say at that moment. But because it is coming form the lips of Mr. Stick to the Plan, it actually works perfectly. Taking this all in, Tasha says that anything could happen because the theme of the season is “expect the unexpected.” Hey, that’s Big Brother’s motto!!! You can’t go stealing mottos from Big Brother! What’s next, stealing their contestants?!? Oh…uh…never mind.

But then, it is the return of infuriating Keith (and I say this as someone that has grown to love the guy). As if trying to quit for Kimmi was not egregious enough, now Keith makes no attempt whatsoever to use the fake idol that Kelley made him. Had they really played this right, Kelley would have handed it to him in front of everybody right there at Tribal. But dude, at least take it out and put it around your neck and say “Well [spit], I know I’m not goin’ home tonight, Jeff [spit].” Sure, they might think you’re bluffing, but would they risk it? Jeremy has been worried sick about idols this season. You think there’s not a chance he might change his vote to Spencer the same way others voted Phillip out of Caramoan once Malcolm, Reynold, Eddie, and everyone over at Eddie’s dog bar were all safe with immunities? It was at least worth a shot. But Keith never took it, and now he’s on the jury. Like I said, from a game standpoint — infuriating. Fight to the finish, man!

NEXT: Jeremy has a ball (and everyone else loses theirs)

Screw the Rites of Passage, let’s head straight back to another challenge. The final challenge. Win and you’re in. Lose and start convincing the winner how terrible you are so he/she takes you with them. The final competition is that one where everyone ties a hand behind their back, drops a ball down a chute and must catch it while also adding more balls at regular intervals. This is important because it leads to my favorite Jeff Probst out-of-context quote of the evening: “Everybody now with two balls.” Really?

Eventually it comes down to Jeremy vs. Spencer. Spencer would seem to be the favorite with his three previous victories to Jeremy’s none, but that’s why they play the game, people. For Spencer watches helplessly as two balls come down simultaneously, handing Jeremy his first immunity win of the season — and at the most important time. Tears follow. Jeremy’s tears. Kelley’s tears. Fishbach’s tears, just because I assume he is off crying somewhere.

Back at the camp, after Spencer gets done telling us for the billionth time about his Second Chance narrative (because producers evidently feel they have not bashed us over the head with this enough), he approaches Kelley and already starts working her as a jury member, saying what a good shot he has at winning. Naturally, Kelley reports this back to Jeremy. “Would you do fire?” asks Jeremy in signaling a potential willingness to create a tie which would lead to a fire-making tiebreaker. (By the way, Becky and Sundra from Cook Islands simultaneously just broke out into cold sweats while reading that last sentence.)

There are several reasons why Jeremy should not do this, though. First off, the problem with sending people to fire is that you automatically give the winner another notch in their belt. All you are doing is helping that person pad their résumé with another achievement. That is a general gameplay rule. But here is a more specific reason why Jeremy should not do it: If Kelley makes the final 3, Kelley wins. Take a look at the jury. If she makes it to the end, the game is hers.

Of course, this is exactly what Spencer argues at Tribal Council. He is right to argue it; he just should have done it without the threats. “This is the last time I will be writing your name down on this piece of parchment,” says Kelley as she casts her vote for Spencer. Pretty great line, but it is her last line, as Jeremy sticks with Spencer and sends Wentworth packing. What a great game Kelley played. Can’t say enough good things about her. She played from behind almost the entire way, and that is a hard place to be, but she showed fortitude in all three phases of the game. Respect is due, people.

Okay, so now we have our final three. But before they can make their way back to Tribal Council to plead their case they need to talk all about their “journey.” They also get a mirror, a scale, and the traditional finalist feast. I can’t help but wonder what Tasha’s state of mind is at this point. Does she actually think she has a shot? Is she working through her big talking points for that night, or is she all “F— it. No chance I win anyway so might as well eschew the mimosas and just go straight champagne!” She could have pulled a Fairplay and gone to Tribal Council completely wasted. Had she done that, I would have voted for her. Kinda have a felling Abi and Kass may have as well.

NEXT: Final Tribal Council questions

Speaking of the final Tribal, let’s just head there now to see a very sober final three. No opening comments, unfortunately. I always liked those as scene-setters, but with the new rapid-fire pace, I guess there’s simply no time. So it’s straight to the Q&A session, which I did feel was probably the most underwhelming aspect of the finale. We’ll hit these individually.


“My vote is completely open,” says Andrew. That’s usually not a good sign if you’re a finalist because it means the person saying it is probably going to come after you a bit to see how you respond. “Spencer, your level of arrogance drove me crazy.” (See?) Savage comes at the young lad for his threats to Jeremy, which Spencer blames on insecurity. “I don’t regret the move, but I regret how I presented it,” says Spencer, which is probably as good a response as one could hope to give.

But then Savage comes after Jeremy for his arrogance in skipping and verbally attacking Kimmi before voting her out. No doubt, Jeremy put a little mustard on it at that Tribal, but the firefighter responds that he felt betrayed because he had been the one defending Kimmi when Spencer and Tasha said she had flipped. He stood up for her, only to be stabbed in the back. Pretty good defense. Both Spencer and Jeremy off to solid starts here.


As Jeremy’s loyal ally, it’s clear where Stephen’s vote stands, and his first comment of “Jeremy I think you brought trust honor and integrity onto a season where it didn’t exist” pretty much cements that fact. In Fishbach’s defense, he actually bothers to ask Tasha something, so that’s nice. He also vaguely criticizes Spencer for flipping back and forth so much, but honestly, this question looks like it was edited weirdly because I’m not entirely sure what Stephen says, and he’s an eloquent fellow, so I’m not positive what happened here.


Ciera is also eloquent…and fiery at times, as well. So I couldn’t help but be mildly disappointed by her query of why flipping should be rewarded this season. All it did was allow for more back-patting about how off-the-charts incredible this season was. Hey, contestants! Leave the season-complimenting to me, okay!


Let me just say that I’m not a big fan of the tell-me-why-the-other-person-deserves-to-win question. I mean, honestly, what’s the point? That leads us to Keith: “Where I’m from, being humble is a pretty big thing. If you convince me Spencer is the winner, you’re the real winner, and I want to feel it.” This makes no sense whatsoever. You want to feel it? Jeremy and Spencer no doubt both feel they deserve to win, so why bother making them pump up their competition? Why ask them to fake enthusiasm telling you how much better the other person is? It’s just an absolutely pointless and ridiculous exercise. Hate it.


Abi has notes. Now whether they are her notes, the notes someone else gave to her with suggestions on things she might want to ask, or simply a list of whom to yell at once she got back to Ponderosa is open to debate. But after consulting her piece of paper, Abi asks them to name the subtle move that helped them get to where they are is. I suppose this is somewhat illuminating as Tasha talks about being 10 times closer to Spencer than Jeremy, Spencer says his was shifting distrust onto Joe, and Jeremy says hunting for idols. So well done, Abi. Or producers. Or whoever came up with that question.


Well, Kimmi’s clearly upset, She lays into Spencer for his threats to Jeremy and being “a downright bully. And I will use that behavior as an example to my children of what never to do. She’s also upset at Tasha and Jeremy for letting Spencer take her final three spot, although Jeremy claims that was never the case, once again turning the blame back onto her by saying, “I was duped by Kimmi Kappenberg.” (On second thought, getting duped by Kimmi is probably not the thing to list at the top of your résumé when asking others to vote you as the best player of the season.)


Honestly, Joe’s question was so boring I have no memory of it at all. I’m assuming his hair was on point, though.


“15 years ago, I was sitting right there. I lost by one vote. My fate was determined by one simple question. Jeremy, Spencer, Tasha: Pick a number between 1 and 10.”

OH MY GOD, KELLY WIGLESWORTH JUST STOLE THE MOTHERFREAKING SHOW!!! I’m not even entirely sure she was on this season, but not unlike a stealth ninja, perhaps she was merely biding her time for the right moment. And here it was. Brilliant. Now, let me be clear that I am assuming that Kelly did not actually base her vote on the answers she got — the same way Greg Buis later revealed that he had always planned to vote for Richard over Kelly but just made up the number-picking thing.

So the fact that Tasha totally Price-Is-Righted Jeremy and then Spencer totally Price-Is-Righted Tasha by each picking one higher than the other probably made no difference whatsoever. But what a wonderful piece of theater, as well as a wonderful callback to one of the most famous moments in Survivor history. Loved it. Made the Wiglesworth casting worth it for that moment alone. By the way, my guess would have been 3 because that’s what Kelly picked in season 1, but I’m fairly certain that Tasha (who also selected 3) didn’t know that.

NEXT: More final Tribal questions


Kass uses her moment to give props…to Kass! She brings up Spencer’s infamous “zero percent chance of winning the game” comment from Cagayan and then tells him that he played like she did last time. Spencer wisely agrees, no doubt calculating that Kass will perhaps then see a vote for Spencer as a vote for herself and the mastery of her style of play.


As previously noted, producers have a habit of stacking the deck and putting the most explosive question last. So all of America was bracing themselves when Kelley came up to speak. Ooooooh, she is going to light into them! You might want to get an ice pack, Jeremy, because here comes the burn! And you should go look for a comfortable pad to sit on, Spencer, because Kelley is about to verbally kick your ass! And don’t look now, Tasha but…well, actually, you can just kind of sit there and hang out a bit longer until this is all over. But no! Kelley instead comes forth with a totally innocuous question: What was your Second Chance story about?

That’s it? That’s the last question? Seriously? No mentions of evil stepmothers or secret child TV stars? “What was your Second Chance story about?” Hell, Abi could have read that off a piece of paper! What a waste! What a complete letdown from what could have been… Hold on a second. What’s happening? Jeremy is talking about being here for his family. All of a sudden I hear a piano playing, which is weird because I have been to this Tribal Councils set and do not recall ever seeing a grand piano anywhere. But there it is. And now the music is swelling. And now Jeremy is talking about Val telling him he has a baby boy on the way. And Kleenex boxes from coast to coast are being emptied. And now the jury is getting a little misty. And now Jeremy is saying, “I don’t even care about me; all I care about is my family.” And now Spencer is crying on the inside because any prayer he had of winning the million dollars just evaporated.

It wasn’t a confrontational moment that stole the show, but rather raw emotion punctuated by a well-timed revelation. I’ve seen so many damn players cry so many damn times that I am immune from feeling anything (also, I have no soul), but this got even me pretty choked up. I’m a family man. I get it. Sometimes you realize someone is manipulating you emotionally, but you’re okay with it because they are doing such a damn good job of manipulating! Not saying Jeremy did not mean every single word of what he said here. I’ve met the dude a few times, and I believe it all. But I also know he was smart enough to say those things realizing it would help him with the jury.

And with that, the votes magically arrive in America, where Jeremy’s coronation is complete. Congratulations to him. I knew this guy had something when I first met him out on location before the start of San Juan del Sur. He was my pick to win that season, and then five minutes into the game, he made the boneheaded decision to volunteer for the first duel, sending his wife to Exile Island in the process. God, I was pissed! So I was a season too early, it seems.

Anyway, I definitely did not see a unanimous vote coming and Spencer getting Fishbached. Spencer deserved better than that, and you can tell the end result stings for him. But he should be proud for going the distance. So should Tasha, for that matter.

NEXT: The Reunion show (and an exclusive deleted scene)

And with that we were on to the Reunion show. I’m not going to spend a ton of time on this for a few reasons, the first of which being that your eyes are no doubt glazing over already as we pass the 5,500 word mark. And the second of which being it was not terribly memorable.

But while there were no fireworks at the Reunion show, it still had the feeling of a really old-school Survivor Reunion, with the action focused squarely on the contestants on the stage, as it should be. There were no little kid fans or former players from the audience sharing their thoughts, which was a major plus. (Yes, they went out to talk to Terry’s son Danny, but who didn’t want to see that? That was a great moment directly tied into a huge event that took place during the season. And the fact that the doctor and nurses that took care of Danny were flown out, as well? Classy.)

The other minus aside from the lack of fireworks and lingering resentment that we have all come to know and love is the fact that we only heard from about half the cast. I’ve never been one of those guys that feels like every single person needs to speak. I was adamant that they should be afforded the respect of being on the stage after the pre-jury folks of Caramoan were relegated to the audience, but it’s not necessary to rush through everyone just to get a sound bite. But in an ideal world we would have heard more from Kass, Shirin, and especially Wiglesworth about her big “pick a number” callback. I would have LOVED to have gotten her thoughts about that. And the most egregious omission would have to be Ciera. The woman was a huge part of this season, but we heard nary a peep form her at the Reunion. And I can’t help but feel that she was making some terrific facial expressions during all the Joe adoration that we were denied.

So the Reunion wasn’t perfect, but at least it was all contestant-based. And there were moments. It was cute when Probst said “Jeffrey Collins, not a bad name” for Jeremy and Val’s unborn boy. I would also just like to take this time to note that Keith said the phrase “ball savviness” at one point, while Jeff Probst described Joe as “delicious.” And Kass may have had the line of the night when Abi uttered “I am my worst enemy” and Kass replied “but you are your best friend, too.” And I found Spencer’s admission that he stopped watching at one point this season because it was just too painful to be fascinating.

And then there was the person who was not at the reunion. Check out the photo below and see if you tell who from the cast is missing:

Okay, folks, that is going to wrap things up as we put a bow on Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance, now officially ranked as the 8th 5th best Survivor season of all time. I just want to thank you all so much for continuing to read these ramblings of a lunatic. I’ve been writing about this show for a looooooong time, but your kind words, comments, and tweets make it all worthwhile.

And you can already start pre-gaming on season 32 with my Q&A with Hostmaster General Jeff Probst about Survivor: Kaoh Rong, as well as some casting news on the season. I’ll also have a finale/reunion Q&A with Probst up soon, as well as interviews with Jeremy and some of the other finale folks. To find out how to access all that stuff, just follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss. And, of course, check out an exclusive deleted scene from the finale as well as my pre-game interviews with the final 6 in the video player below.

And now, I turn it over to you all. Did the right person win? Did the finale satisfy? And where does the season now rank for you? Discuss and debate it all in the message boards, and I’ll be back in 2016 with a new year’s scoop of the crispy!

Episode Recaps


Jeff Probst leads adventures in the ultimate (and original) reality series.

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