SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched the finale of Survivor: Edge of Extinction.
In a Survivor first, a winner was crowned after playing only 13 days of the game. Chris Underwood was the third person voted out of Survivor: Edge of Extinction way back on day 8. But after biding his time on Extinction Island (and befriending his future jury members), Chris won a challenge to get back in the game on day 35.
He then made a flurry of big moves in the final days to pad his thin résumé, including convincing Lauren O’Connell to play a hidden immunity idol on him, giving half of an idol he received upon reentering the game to Rick Devens, who then gave it back to him to play at the final 5, winning the final immunity challenge, and then giving up that immunity to take on (and defeat) Rick in a fire-making competition to send the biggest threat out of the game.
In the end, the jury respected the late-game moves — no doubt contrasted against the lack of big plays by fellow finalists Gavin Whitson and Julie Rosenberg — and awarded Chris the title of Sole Survivor and the million-dollar prize that goes along with it. It is sure to be a move debated by Survivor fans for years to come as Chris, who only played a third of the game’s 39 days, becomes the first player to ever win the game after being voted out.
This is the fifth season in which Survivor has had a twist in which players voted out returned to the game. The only other time someone whose torch was snuffed made it to the end was back in season 7 when Lillian Morris (who was also voted out third) reentered Survivor: Pearl Islands as part of the Outcasts twist and lost in the finals to Sandra Diaz-Twine by a vote of 6-1. But Chris made friends on Extinction Island, and then played hard enough in the end to win both the jury’s respect and their votes.
We will have a full recap of the finale up soon as well as interviews with host Jeff Probst and the final 6. Follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss for the latest Survivor updates.