The jury gets it right, with an extra push from the most unlikely source

By Dalton Ross
Updated February 27, 2015 at 11:41 PM EST
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S24 E14
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It’s no secret that I wasn’t crazy about this season of Survivor. Just not enough likeable people and not enough signature moments for my taste. But there is something satisfying about watching the most deserving player from the starting line to the finish line being rewarded for their efforts. And that is what happened on Survivor: One World when Kim Spradlin was crowned the winner. Kim may not have the on-screen charm or charisma that Tom Westman, Parvati Shallow, or Boston Rob had, but her win was every bit as impressive.

There are three aspects to Survivor: the social, the strategic, and the physical. Kim was head and shoulders better than anyone else in all three categories. She duped Troyzan, She duped Jay. She duped Alicia and Christina. She duped everyone. And not in a mean way, but in a smart way. And she won four individual immunities as icing on the cake. The thing that truly sealed the deal for…

[Door busts open to Ross residence; in walks a scraggly looking man in a buff]

Dalton: “Ummm Troyzan, what are you doing here?”

Troyzan: “Look, you, just so you know, Mr. Fancy Recapper guy, that is still my island, okay? People say I’m just like Richard Hatch…only better!”

Dalton: “Okay. If you say so.”

Troyzan: “Let me just ask you one thing. Just one thing. Tell me the moment where in your mind you basically decimated my chances of winning this game. And you better tell me the right answer, or else!”

Dalton: “Or else what?”

Troyzan: “Or else I’m going to vote for Sabrina to take over your recaps.”

Dalton; “Sabrina?”

Troyzan” Yes, Sabrina. She’s a teacher so at least she won’t have any many stupid typos as you do.”

Dalton: “Harsh, but fair.”

Troyzan: “So when was it? When was the moment you demolished in your mind my chances of winning this game?”

Dalton: “I suppose the moment I found out you called yourself Troyzan.”

Troyzan: “SABRINA, GET OVER HERE! I’M VOTING FOR YOU AGAIN! Pssst, I vote for her for something anytime I don’t like what people tell me.”

Dalton: “Okay, well, can I just finish that one last recap at least?

Troyzan: “Fine, but make sure to talk all about how much sense my final vote made. And how I’ve played the best game that anyone has ever seen.”

Dalton: “Oh, yeah, definitely. One for the ages, buddy!”

Okay, sorry about that. Back to our regularly scheduled recap. Unfortunately, Kim had no legitimate competition, which is why the journey for One World viewers felt so unfulfilling at times this season. But if you like to see greatness rewarded, then the end couldn’t help but be satisfying. After all, what was the alternative? Alicia?!? (After all, according to her, she and Kim are total twinsies!) Okay, let’s take it from the top in an episode that provided one great challenge, one not so great challenge, the return of an old friend, and the redemption of Kat Edorsson.

A-maze-ing

Every Survivor finale has one big, huge, epic challenge, and tonight’s first competition fit the bill. The players had to untie ropes to open a gate, race across a giant balance beam maze, traverse a rope net while collecting five bags of puzzle pieces, and then use pieces to solve puzzle, which would give them clues to three numbers. Okay, let me stop and catch my breath for a second. Alright, then they had to use those three numbers to solve the combination lock.

NEXT: The female Colton meets her overdue end

There were a lot of different elements to this challenge, meaning that even though Christina got through the gate first, the other players had plenty of time to beat her by an embarrassing amount of time — well, players not named “Sabrina” at least. Alicia and Chelsea were the first ones through the maze and onto the rope net, where Alicia tried the very unique strategy of untying other peoples’ bags for them. It is quite telling that this is the nicest thing Alicia has done for anyone all season — and it was completely by accident.

But the real excitement was at the end as Kim and Alicia both went to enter the number combos, only to be denied and have to run down and check their numbers again. This opened a window for Chelsea who ran up and tried her three numbers. No good. Their were so many wrong numbers floating around I have expected David Krumholtz and the cast of canceled CBS drama Numb3rs to show up and start berating everyone. Krumholtz! Talk all you want, but you’ll never live down that backwards e in the shape of a 3, my man. Eventually Kim won, because that’s what she does.

Idol Thoughts

Kim’s victory created an interesting decision, because she also had that hidden immunity idol she stuffed next to her vagina a while back. The next Tribal Council would be the last one at which she could play it. But now that she didn’t even need the idol, would she give it to Chelsea? “I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more comfortable going into a Tribal,” said Chelsea. Gulp! And now Kim was left to regret her earlier tomfoolery. “At the time it seemed like such a smart thing to tell Chelsea about the idol. I can honestly say sitting here today that I wish she didn’t know.” How many times have people regretting blabbing about the idol? It’s a vicious cycle.

And now Kim was left with the thought that if she decided to vote her best buddy Chelsea out, not only would she be sore about being backstabbed, but she might feel one extra layer of betrayal due to Kim not using the idol to save her. Did this contribute to Kim’s decision to vote out Alicia at the next Tribal Council instead? Hard to say, but it may have. The difference between Chelsea and Alicia as people was crystal clear in their comments while voting for each other’s ouster.

Chelsea: “Alicia, I love you like a sister.”

Alicia: “Chelsea, you’ll be just fine.” (America’s sweetheart, ladies and gentlemen!)

Kim ended up not giving Chelsea the idol, but didn’t need to since her swing vote sent Alicia out of the game, causing a nation to collectively celebrate. Strangers hugging strangers in the street! Cats high-pawing dogs! People whose job it is to blur out protruding ass cheeks finally being able to take a break and breathe easy. And then came Alicia’s final words: “The game is done. I’m out. I am definitely not a sore loser. I’m proud of Kim. She fooled me completely.” Hey, maybe Alicia isn’t so bad after all. Maybe I’ve been way too hard on her this whole time. Oh, wait, she’s not done talking. “And Christina, I brought you there. All those girls wanted you out from day one, so good job, Christina. Bask in it, because you suck right now.” Annnnnnnd she’s back.

NEXT: It’s baaaaaaaaaaaack

The Return of an Old (And Always Mocked) Friend

When it comes to ’80s glam metal, Cinderella was one of the worst. For one thing, that’s just an awful name for a band. Whenever they tried to act all tough, all you had to do was pull them aside and say, “Dude, you’re Cinderella.” (And then the drummer would be all like, “Dammit! I told you we should have called ourselves The Decapitated Demons! None of you ever listen to me ‘cause I’m just the drummer! Show a little respect!!!”) But Cinderella did have one wonderfully stupid power ballad called “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone).” The song was simply unforgettable, mostly due to the fact that the singer was playing the piano out in the middle of a desert for no good reason whatsoever.

But I am reminded of that band and that song as we all bore witness to the glorious return of the Fallen Comrades tribute. Poor Fallen Comrades tribute. It’s been missing for the past few seasons — as Probst explained, they simply had too much other great stuff to show instead. Not a problem this year! So it was back. Look, no one on the planet Earth has made more fun of the stupid Fallen Comrades montage than me. I always found it hilarious how players who barely spent any time — and often no time — with someone else would be forced to wax poetic about that person. (“Oh, man. Frank was…um, a guy…and…yeah, he, like, totally was here. Great job, Frank.”)

But I gotta tell you something — I don’t know if absence made the heart grow fonder or if it is merely a sign of what a yawner this season has been, but damn if I wasn’t kinda okay with getting some Fallen Comrades action back. After all, without it, we wouldn’t have gotten to hear Rooster Matt tell us he’s still the best. We wouldn’t have gotten the amusement of watching Colton running in slow motion during a challenge. And we wouldn’t have gotten to hear Alicia tells us how she fell in love with herself out there, which just may have been the funniest thing we heard all episode. Scratch that — all season! Working against the Fallen Comrades montage, however, were the all too numerous shots of hairy Tarzan in his ball-busting underwear.

The Not-So-Super Bowl

The final challenge is almost always some sort of endurance test. One that truly tests your resolve and often pushes you to limits of physical pain to see who wants it the most. Not this time. The Survivor challenge team have been experimenting with various stacking competitions over the past few years, but those have usually been about who can hold onto that stack the longest. Not this time.

This season’s final challenge was a race. A race to move 10 small bowls — that must then be stacked on top of each other — through a steal channel resting on a spring. First one to get all 10 through and stacked wins. I have to admit, I was disappointed. I love that anticipation of the endurance test. Who’s gonna drop? Who’s gonna falter? And while the design of this challenge was impressive, the end result of watching people move little bowls around wasn’t quite the epic capper I was hoping for. Oh, and P.S. Kim won. Of course she did.

NEXT: Final Tribal Council is upon us

Christina Goes Out Quietly

Everyone knew Christina was the next to go — and that included Christina herself because Kim told her. Probst gave her a hard time for not fighting more, and while yes, Christina should have fought more all season, once Alicia was gone, it was clear Christina was next, making the next Tribal Council about as uneventful as Christina’s entire game. Bye, Christina. I’m not sure why everyone hated you so much. But at the same time, I’m kinda glad you didn’t make the finals. Just didn’t do enough. Didn’t do anything, really. So after we heard all the sob stories from the last three and they enjoyed their finalist feast, we were off to the final Tribal Council.

The Jury Speaks!

So the only real question heading into the final Tribal Council was — will this be a jury that honors the best player, or a bunch of bitter Betties who refuse to reward the person who did a better job than they did? Chelsea — my episode 1 pick to win it all — pulled a sweet move and asked to stand while she made her opening statement (this was something that Coach told me he would do if he made the South Pacific finals…and then didn’t; Albert also tweeted me that he asked producers if he could stand and they said no). Chelsea said something about having a hard time voting out Jonas and then shutting down any emotional connections. Sabrina tried the unique strategy of telling the jury that, “I chose not to step up” in both challenges and voting people out. So I guess you could call that the “I Suck” defense. Or maybe it was part of her sympathy plea, the same way that she also told them how she had been fired from teaching kids “in the toughest place in the world.”

And then we got to the Jury questions. Sometimes the “questions” weren’t actually questions at all (Jonas to Sabrina: “Out there at the challenges, it’s amazing how bad you sucked.”), sometimes they were loaded questions (Christina to Chelsea: “Why do you hate people?”), and sometimes they were just a dude saying lots of words I have never heard before (Tarzan). And then there was Leif, who used his time as a therapy session for himself to figure out why he was voted out. It’s not that hard, Leif. It’s because YOU HAVE A PENIS! Take a look at the final 5. What did they all have in common? There’s your answer.

Alicia took a different tack. She decided — in perhaps the least shocking development of the season — to talk all about herself and how incredible she was! “Kim, you and I play this game very similar. I was a kingpin, I had my pawns, Christina and Tarzan. Homegirl, you know if I was sitting next to you, you’d be s—ting bricks right now. Because without you getting me out, I would have had more chances of wining that money than any of yous.” Yous?

Troyzan asked Kim what would seem to be an innocent question about when she made the move that demolished his game, but instead it only served as a bizarre justification for his nonsensical vote for Sabrina to be the million dollar winner.

NEXT: The redemption of Kat Edorsson

The big question, of course, was how many guns blazing Kat would come out with. Kat, who began the season by jumping in the water repeatedly in a challenge even when she didn’t have to. Kat, who farted on people for giggles. Kat, who chose people to come on the reward based on how much fun they would be to get drunk with. Kat who laughed about how hilarious it would be to blindside someone, only to be blindsided herself. Kat who came off like an immature and uncaring party girl the entire season. I was ready for some crazy unwarranted bitterness. And it never came.

I’ll admit it. I rolled my eyes when she started by pulling an Alicia and making her comments all about herself while the piano music swelled as she talked about her open heart surgeries. But then she started addressing the jury. And she told them something that was so crazy, it actually made sense! Hey, here’s an idea, she said. How about we vote for the person who actually played the best game? How about we don’t base our decision on who made us angry because they were better than us? “It takes a lot more energy to be angry about what happened in this game,” said Kat “And it’s a lot easier to smile and to forgive and be happy, so that’s what I’m gonna say.”

Ladies and gentlemen, if I weren’t so lazy and glued to my couch while covered in a sea of sour cream and onion potato chips, I would stand up right now and give Kat a slow clap for that wonderful speech. The redemption of Kat Edorsson is complete. The most important impression is the last one you make, and Kat’s last impression was very, very good.

The Win Is In

So Kim scored seven out of nine votes, with only Troyzan and Leif being the only ones stubborn/stupid enough to not vote for the best player in the game. They went for Sabrina, although it is unclear whether they were voting for her horrible performance in challenges, complete lack of strategy, or refusal to do any work around camp. (It’s so hard to choose!) Whatever for them. At least the rest of the jury did the right thing and Kim is now a million dollars richer. The only thing left for us to do is see what sort of lunacy breaks out at the Reunion show.

Reunion Show Odds & Ends

• Jeff Probst asked Matt what the hell he was thinking when the men agreed to go to Tribal Council even though they had won immunity. Great question…to the wrong person! Turns out Matt had already been voted out when that happened. Whoops!

• I am not sure if Bill’s hair and silver suit are part of his comedy act or not, but they had me laughing. The initial reaction is to wonder if he’s the long lost bongo player from The Revolution, but if you ask me, his look had more of a Ready For The World “Oh Sheila” vibe to it. And remember what’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.

• Colton. Ugh. He started to apologize (kinda), but then couldn’t resist a dig by saying “At the same sense, when I left, everybody said it got boring.” No, Colton. It was boring even when you were on. Eventually, Probst worked his way into the audience to talk to Colton’s mommy Martha, who was not happy with her son at all. “The truth is I want to go up there right now and say, ‘Colton, this is not what you’re supposed to be saying.’”

NEXT: Who’s the Fan Favorite? (Not Colton)

She then apologized for Colton and it could have ended right there. But it didn’t. Because then it got awkward. Probst mentioned to Martha how Colton told him how he came out of the closet very young and was “accepted immediately. There were no issues with being gay.” Martha stammered for a bit, scrunched up her face and eventually just stopped talking altogether. Probst rephrased the point to get her back on track, talking about the love and support Colton had from his family after coming out as gay. The reply: “Well, he doesn’t have that from all of his family.” And then, a silence that seemed to last approximately 5,827 years. I mean, FOREVER! That’s live television for you.

• Wait, what is freakin’ Blossom doing at the Survivor reunion? And why is she talking about Colton? It seems Mayim Bialik is a big Survivor fan. “There are a lot of aspects to Colton that are really fabulous,” she said. She then went on to say how’d she’d love to see Colton back on Survivor again, a declaration that might just be the worst decision Mayim Bialik has made since daring to appear alongside Shamu the killer whale on Sea World’s Mother Earth Celebration. And hold on, now some other random dude is talking about how Colton is a great villain just like Russell, but thankfully he is completely drowned out by the rest of the infinitely more sane audience.

• Did Jeff Probst just imply that Tarzan’s wife yells out “Tarzan!” during sex? I really, really, really wish I had not been provided with that information.

• Christina = hot.

• Kim beat Troyzan, Tarzan, and Chelsea (and everyone else for that natter) out for the Sprint fan favorite vote for another $100,000. I don’t know if that was an exciting choice, but it was probably the right one. Which also says a little something about this season. A big something actually.

• I want to like Troyzan. I really do. But I hate the way he refuses to admit that he got played by Kim. And the way he still refuses to admit it was a bad idea for the men to go to Tribal Council after they won immunity. And now the way he claims that people are telling him that “You played the game the best I’ve ever seen.” The best they’ve ever seen?!? Have they seen, like, anything? And comparing you to Richard Hatch? Maybe the dude who played Apollo on Battlestar Galactica, but certainly not the fat naked guy who taught the entire country how to play this game.

Okay, guys. I’m almost out of gas. But a few more things before we wrap up. We have an exclusive deleted scene from the finale in the video player below. Plus, I’ll be speaking to newly crowned Survivor champ Kim Spradlin on Monday morning so click here for that. Also keep an eye out for my Q&A with host Jeff Probst, which is now ready and waiting. Speaking of Probst, I spoke to him out on location of Survivor: Philippines about the next season and the new twist and he talks about it right here. And for Survivor coverage all year long, you can follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Thanks a lot for playing along for another season. I’ve been doing this for a looooooong time, but I love the community we have built here and am proud to be a part of it. Now go have it at on the message boards and share your thoughts about the finale and whether the right person won, and I’ll be back next fall with another huge, bottomless scoop of the crispy!

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Survivor

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

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