Its been a long season.
There’s been some cool and some crazy.
Nothing is set in stone.
And now we’ve made it…the finale and reunion! Jeff Probst again presided over the wreckage of the last few months.
Now, Kelly Shinn, Alina Wilson, Ben “Benry” Henry, Brenda Lowe, Chase Rice, Jud Birza, Kelly Bruno, Matthew “Sash” Lenahan, NaOnka Mixon, Shannon Elkins,Dan Lembo, Holly Hoffman, Jane Bright, Jill Behm, Jimmy Johnson, James “Jimmy T.” Tarantino, Marty Pimobo, Tyrone Davis, and Yve Rojas are all back…we haven’t seen some of them in a while!
The show started with a nice recap of the season, including Dan’s $1400 shoes. I would have voted him out just for the shoes.
Then again, he has no enemies, as Probst said.
Holly is another surprise in the final 5. Remember when she stole Dan’s shoes? Remember when Coach Jimmy Johnson had to get her back on track? Ah, memories. Now, she’s ruling the roost in many aspects.
Chase is another strange pick for the final. He’s shifted alliances more than anyone I can remember…I just hope he never meets Jane in a dark alley in North Carolina after the show.
Sash went from top to bottom, then to near-the-top again. He lost everything in terms of alliances and gained it all back to get to the end.
Probst said Fabio is in a deep hole. And that’s probably true. He has alliance issues, but keeps winning immunity when he needs it.
So, here we are. Which of the five will it be in the end?
Day 37 started with waves and seabirds. Dan carved another mark into an obliging tree. Fabio told the camera that he’s intent on breaking up the alliances around camp. Fabio confronted Holly and Dan, and looked visibly nervous.
Fabio’s plan? Win immunity.
Nice plan, Fabio.
Fabio and Sash had a conversation. Sash told the camera he’s telling Fabio what he wants to hear to stay safe in case Fabio wins immunities.
Nice plan, Sash.
Game still on.
The immunity challenge saw the survivors answering Nicaragua questions and grabbing bags with puzzle pieces. Once they answered all three questions and got all three bags of pieces, they could solve it and get a 1 in 4 chance for the million.
Fabio fell behind with Dan.
Sash took a big lead and Fabio started to catch up. Holly was in mix as well. It was a real nail biter until Fabio eventually took it in a shocker.
And in true Survivor fashion, he who is last is suddenly first. Doesn’t it always seem to happen that way?
Fabio was clearly elated when he spoke to the camera…he was a lot lighter around camp. He has turned into a real force…a serious force.
In an effort to save his hide, Dan tried to convince Sash and Fabio that Holly is the bigger threat…it was really his only play, and it seemed to go well.
Holly’s cork seemed to be sinking lower and lower, and Sash appeared receptive to Fabio…although, you can never tell can you?
At Tribal Council, Alina, Marty, Brenda, NaOnka, Purple Kelly, Benry, and Jane appeared as members of the jury. They listened in to the mess that is Libertad at this point.
Holly was clearly uneasy about the vote, feeling that she was anything but safe. Dan’s argument was that he is already rich and that he should go to the final because no one will ever award him a million bucks.
Do you believe that?
Is that a good argument?
Jane shot daggers at Chase from across the fire pit–as if she was thinking of throwing him in.
I don’t think so.
The rest of Council was devoted to Jeff Probst figuring out who was and was not a threat. In the end, it really is hard to tell who has friends on the jury and who doesn’t. This season’s jury looked like it would be particularly difficult.
At the final tally, the 8th member of the jury was Dan.
Dan had no nice words for anyone in his exit interview. It was actually pretty nasty, but hey, this is Survivor, right? Sour grapes make the wine (whine?) of choice, and it was Dan’s turn to drink.
Back at camp it was all smiles, although Fabio told the camera he knew he’d need another necklace.
Holly and Chase seemed pretty tight.
What a final four, right? It could go in any direction!
Tree mail was a congratulatory letter and an invitation to the celebratory name burning for those who had departed.
Wendy Jo was the first stop, followed by Shannon. Jimmy Johnson was an emotional stop for Holly. She called him a “wonderful man” and he probably is. I’d like to meet him someday. Jimmy T. came next. He told the camera how frustrated he was trying to play the game, and how humbling it was. Tyrone admitted that he didn’t play the best social game and that that had hurt him. Kelly B. found some love from the remaining folks. Yve said that she should not have hesitated in the game, but that she has more courage going forward in life. Jill said that she didn’t anticipate such a hard social game. Alina said she was proud to be voted off as a threat. Marty said that he had never lied in the game and that he was happy with how he played. Brenda said the lack of eating and sleeping tested her until the end. NaOnka got some head shakes. She said that she always had a smile and was friendly through the game. She also said she was the smartest player in the game. Purple Kelly was called a quitter by the last four. She told the camera that a quitter is not who she is in real life. Benry said they were smart to get rid of him, as he could have won 3 or 4 more immunities, as long as there were no puzzles of course. Chase complimented Jane, and she told the camera that she felt she really proved her stamina. Dan said he learned that a city boy can survive the wilderness, and that he will be a lot less spoiled.
The final four burned the shields on a hilltop. Fabio told us he is excited to compete until the end.
Oh, and the view from the burning point was breathtaking.
The final immunity challenge came up next. The survivors had a sword. With one hand, they would balance it on a shield. With the other hand, they had to stack coins on the handle. Fallen coins equal fallen chances.
To the winner? A guaranteed spot in the final three.
The stacks were shimmying and shaking all over the place. There were some near misses all the way along.
Holly was the first to drop a coin and, of course, she did not look happy. Chase dropped his coins next, leaving Sash and Fabio with their thoughts and their coins.
Somehow, as if by miracle, Fabio made it through and won another immunity.
Day 38 brought some high drama around camp. In Fabio’s camera interview he was perfectly joyous. Fabio was in the driver’s seat, but he clearly wasn’t going to let anyone off the hook. He and Sash had an awkward conversation that left Sash feeling a little unsure.
“Desperate” was the word Sash used to describe his situation.
Fabio confronted Chase about what Sash was saying about him. Chase was not happy, and told the camera that he now considers Sash a snake. But then again, Chase threw Sash under the bus…although, Chase did come clean and admitted to Fabio that he was probably the next to go without immunity.
Holly then came clean with Fabio about the alliance, but she did plead a good case to Fabio against Sash.
Fabio was clearly unsure how to vote. He really gave no indication as to whom he would want to take to the final three.
Although, is that a credit to Fabio or the editing crew?
Tribal on Night 38 promised fireworks. Fabio was totally in control. Would he make the right move?
Fabio was beaming at Tribal. And you know? He earned it. It was a victory for anyone who has ever been down on their luck or been left out.
Fabio smiled. Sash scrambled…and smiled. The jury shook their head…and smiled.
Holly presented her case, and continued to be honest with Fabio about what her vote would have been.
Sash made one last ditch effort to win Fabio’s vote.
Chase made another pitch as well.
Who would it be?
In the end, Holly was the 9th member of the jury. As much as I hated to see her go, she was the biggest threat to Fabio, and he had to know that.
Now, the power shifted to the jury.
Good luck guys. This is going to be a helluva ride.
Holly’s final interview was great, as I knew it would be. “Never give up!” was her mantra, and I have to say I agree.
The final three arrived at camp on Night 38. Fabio was still beaming.
And why not? He’s the power broker. He’s earned it. He made a statement to Chase and Sash and to the jury.
A gorgeous sun dawned over Day 39.
The mood in camp was pretty happy. Tree mail was a feast of breakfasty goodness. Bread, jam, eggs, and orange juice were the order of the day.
Looked pretty good, I must say.
But it was still game on.
Chase told the camera that he was still playing the game, trying to get Fabio cocky and overconfident with false praise.
Prepping for final Tribal, Chase, Sash, and Fabio cleaned up around camp and burned up the shelter.
That’s a great moment.
There didn’t seem to be a lot of love lost. I probably would have kept some of that stuff for souvenirs.
But then again, maybe not.
The men marched off, torches in hand, to make their cases and learn their fates.
The jury marched in looking well fed, well dressed, and serious. After 39 days the power shifted to the jury to make a million dollar decision.
Chase made his opening statement and told the jury that he wanted the questions…”Bring it on!”
Fabio said that he enjoyed playing with the jury folks, but that he was happy to be where he was and that he felt he played a fair game.
Sash said that he felt he played the best strategic game, and that he feels the friendships he forged are more important than alliances.
Brenda was up first. She said she was proud of everyone, but addressed Sash first and asked why he broke his alliances. He said it was strategy…and that friendships were a different story. Brenda told Chase she had an emotional attachment to him, and Chase said he did try to save her when her game life was on the line.
Marty took his hat off to the guys. He addressed Chase and asked who Chase believed was the “dumber than a bag of hammers” award winner of the Survivor Nicaragua season…Chase picked Marty. Good answer, Chase.
Holly addressed Chase and asked him what he feels was the best strategic move he made on his own in the game. Chase said it was at the start of the game when he took a chance to vote Shannon out. She asked Fabio about his last three wins and he said it was perfect timing, and not “too little, too late.” She asked Sash if he ever lied to her. He said “yes” he had. And he apologized to her for having to do it.
Jane started with Sash. She called him a city rat. Chase was next. She said she was pissed at him, but that they had a lot of fun. Chase said he was going to donate some of the money to a family charity.
Benry congratulated the men. He skipped Chase. He congratulated Fabio on the three big wins. He confronted Sash and his “fake smile.” Sash told Benry he thought Benry was a solid player, but that he felt Benry wouldn’t take him to the end.
Dan called Sash a “liar” and a “phony” as well as “spineless.” He also launched an attack against one of Sash’s personal physical traits. He told Chase he was a backstabber. Brutal. He also said, “Beauty fades, dumb is forever.”
Purple Kelly smiled and congratulated the guys. She gave Sash 60 seconds to say how he outwitted everyone. He said that he kept moving forward by making alliances and kept on outlasting.
NaOnka came forward. She had good words for Fabio about his mom. It was a very gracious moment.
Alina said she wanted to give a million dollars to a “man” and not a “boy” like she felt Fabio was. She asked Sash about this and Sash threw Chase and Fabio under their respective buses. Like a man, right? She told Chase she was impressed with him and gave him a chance to impress her with an explanation of his place in the final three. But really? He just threw Fabio under yet another bus.
Like a man.
It was time to vote for the million bucks. The jury voted and Jeff retrieved the votes to take back to L.A.
Cut scene to the live reunion at CBS Television City in Hollywood. There was a token shot of Coach for some reason…
Jeff tallied the votes for the final time. In a stunning (maybe stunning is too strong a word) vote, Jud “Fabio” Birza took home the million. His hometown of St. Louis, Missouri was going wild (at least one group of folks that he probably knows really well).
Good job, Fabio. You were my pick and my viewing partner’s pick. Enjoy the money, and your moment in the spotlight.
You deserve it.
What did we learn this season? I think we learned that Survivor is definitely a social game. And what a game, right? All your sins return before you cross the finish line and you have to answer for your choices. As Sash showed us, you can do what it takes to get to the end, but when you get there, you may just find the final step blocked…and get blanked in the final vote.
Be good out there in the world. And be sure to keep your eye out for our future blogs and articles.