S36 E14
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May 23, 2018 at 11:30 PM EDT

But apparently Wendell wasn’t the only lover out there. Sea Bass also proclaimed himself a lover in the most Sea Bass quote of all time. “That was brutal,” he said regarding Dom’s theatrics before voting him out. “I’m a lover dude. Like, I played from my heart. That was my entire game. I didn’t even have strategy, you know.” Oh, we know, Sea Bass. We know.

Kellyn was a force on the jury. Michael made hugely important points. Chris Noble scored massive props by showing nothing but respect and admiration for his biggest enemy out there. (No Bitter Jury Syndrome for that dude — please take note all future egocentric Survivor players.) Donathan backed up Domenick ‘s version of events during Tribal… and then went and voted for Wendell! I love that because it shows that he was committed to being objective and having the facts straight, even if it meant at times publicly supporting the person he was not even voting for.

Sure, there were people on the jury that did next to nothing (the ones we pretty much predicted), but that’s why this format is so great, because those that don’t care to add anything to the conversation don’t have to. We don’t have to waste time with dumb questions that people don’t even really want to ask. Those who really, truly want to be involved and have their say can take over. And that makes for a better discussion and it makes for better TV.

As if all of this was not fantastic enough, Probst then brought the votes out and in the most chill way possible, announcing “Alright, I’m going to read the votes.” Wait, WHAT?!? Read the votes?!? Shouldn’t you be on a jet ski or a motorcycle or getting ready to skydive or mount your paddleboard to bring the votes back to Los Angeles? The reactions from both the final three and the jury were priceless with major freak-outs all around.

Of course, the biggest freak-out had to be Domenick. I wonder how long it took him to process that and the come to the devastating realization that he had just lost a million dollars. Clearly, Laurel was going to vote Wendell. At least in the edit we saw, Wendell appeared to cultivate that relationship more. Yes, Dom brought her to the final three, but Wendell gave her that (albeit pointless) immunity necklace at the final five.

I wonder if Dom could have made a deal with Laurel there before bringing her to the end. Remember, this cast saw the Game Changers reunion tiebreaker announcement before they left for Fiji, so they knew the rules. I was thinking about this as Dom made his decision on whom to bring to the end with him (which we’ll get into more later) and I was thinking even back then that I would have tried something along the lines of this: “Laurel, here’s the deal. I know you don’t think you can beat Wendell in a fire-making contest, but I will fast-pass you to the final 3 under one condition. In the event of a tie at the end, you will vote for me to win. But you’ll get something out of this too, because if there is a tie between you and the other person, I will vote for you. We promise that to each other right here and right now. We make an unbreakable vow, kind of like Severus Snape and Narcissa Malfoy. So how about it? I take you to the end and we agree to vote for each other if we tie against someone else. Deal?”

Now, as we know, such deals are completely unenforceable. Just ask Dreamz about that as he rolls around town in his 2008 Ford Super Duty truck. But it can’t hurt. And maybe Laurel actually then honors that agreement and Domenick is $900,000 richer. We’ll never know.

Losing by a tiebreaker vote has to sting a super-fan like Domenick. And that sting will never truly go away. It just won’t. I’m not saying the guy will be the first guest on CBS’ new Dwellin’ with Kellyn talk show where he goes on about how he has been haunted by that last tiebreaker vote ever since. The dude is not going to be destitute and crazy 30 years from now pushing around a shopping cart and yelling out “DAMN CAGAYAN URN!!!!” at nobody in particular. He’s got a beautiful wife and adorable kids. He’ll be fine. But the pain of getting that close will never truly go away. It’s kinda like that time an aggressive monkey lunged at me on my honeymoon in Bali and I instinctively grabbed my wife and put her in between me and the charging beast. She forgave me, but I’m sure she has not forgotten. And my secret shame will never truly fade.

And then there’s Wendell. A more-than-worthy winner, to be sure. Everyone in the press who met him before the game had him on their short lists to win. (Gordon Holmes actually picked him to take it all. My initial pick was Dom and then I switched last minute to Brendan. DOH!) And Jeff Probst, who’s prognosticating skills —if you can believe it — are even worse than mine (he selected Ciera to win Game Changers and she went home first — DOUBLE DOH!) actually picked Wendell on day 1 to win the game. Looks like Probst reversed his own curse!

I can’t recall a single what-was-he-thinking?!? moment from Wendell all season. Dom had one just minutes into the game when he needlessly called out The Noble One for his decision-making at the marooning challenge, but Wendell played it cool the entire time. I can’t see anyone being upset at a Wendell win. How could you be?

Okay, let’s hit on the other big moments from the finale and reunion and we will also be revealing the winners of our #FakeKellyn contest. Wait a minute, did I just say winners??? I believe I did. (Recap continues on next page)

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