As the episode begins, Tony justifies his surprising vote against Trish: “She hasn’t hurt nobody … and you can’t take somebody like that to the end.” Tony goes on to tell Woo, Kass, and Spencer that his special idol can be used for this upcoming vote as well, unlike all other idols which can only be used until the vote from 5 people to 4 (all of this is a lie). Apparently this is what Tony was somehow trying to say at the last tribal council too. At any rate, the others aren’t sure whether to believe him. Kass thinks Tony made a mistake voting for Trish, because “in reality almost everyone dislikes Trish.”
We now see a boat heading for the camp, with an unfamiliar man on board. Tony, no doubt using his policeman’s intuition, tells Kass “that’s your husband!” And it is. Also on board are Spencer’s younger sister, Woo’s cousin, and Tony’s best friend. However, Tony cries — he is crushed that the best friend came to the Philippines rather than his wife. I can’t recall the “loved ones visit” ever happening as late as the final four before. And yes, there is a challenge but this time the loved ones do not participate (which is only fair — this late in the season these challenges should be decided solely on the merits of the players, not based on the skills of another person whom we haven’t seen before and won’t see again).
The challenge begins with the players perched atop a 20-foot-high pole in the water. They are very high up and it’s very windy, and Kass is freaking out about both of those things. The players have to keep filling a container of water to release a key, then swim to shore and solve a puzzle. Kass is by far the last to get her key, yet manages to come from way behind and win the challenge. Spencer the puzzle ace somehow just can’t get the hang of this one, and of course Woo and Tony have not been great at puzzles all year (we find out that Tony has not won an immunity challenge all season). So congratulations to Kass for winning this, but really it’s irrelevant for her! Since she’s not well-liked, any of the other three players would certainly have taken her to the final three anyway. No, the main effect of this is to hurt Spencer whom nobody in their right mind would want to take to the finals. So he’s the obvious choice to be voted out.
However Spencer isn’t done giving it his best shot. He gets Tony alone and tells him that as a Survivor fan it is obvious to him that this season there will be a final two rather than a final three. His proof is that after the last challenge Probst didn’t say the line he often says: “This gives you the opportunity to plead your case for a million dollars” (or whatever the phrasing is). Spencer’s pitch is that since there must be one more vote to come after this one, he should keep Spencer because this gives him a 2 in 3 chance to make the final two rather than a 1 in 3 chance. Wait, what? Trust me, this made some sense the way Spencer said it, though it makes none to me now, and surely Tony isn’t dumb enough to keep Spencer around?
At tribal council, Spencer tells the jury that if he makes it to the final three he swears to take Tony to the final two. However it’s not enough, and Spencer is voted out. By the way, one of the best things about Spencer is his unfiltered expressions of annoyance, which we have seen many times throughout the season!
All of this is interspersed with periodic shots of Jeff Probst and the live studio audience, as well as a couple of peeks backstage. Sorry but I don’t like this innovation by CBS, or at least the part where they showed all of the players in the green room watching the episode. It’s too jarring to see everyone in street clothes (and back at their normal weights) and then be transported back to the game. Speaking of CBS, at this moment I can’t help but think: now that Spencer is out, how crestfallen will the network be if the final two is Kass and Woo?
Speaking of those two, they agree that Tony cannot be allowed to win the final challenge. Woo says, “We got no shot against Tony … I’d be the stupidest Survivor player taking Tony to the end. Most ridiculous.”
(The love of my life, watching with me, had the following comment on Woo and his California duuuude way of speaking: “He’s totally smoking weed while he’s on the show.”)
We see the final immunity challenge and it’s an absolutely huge maze. If this were in a movie everyone would assume that it were a CGI special effect. The challenge is to search through this maze to find cogs for a wheel, then arrange them correctly so the wheel turns. Tony and Woo end up going through the maze more or less together while Kass strikes out on her own. It comes down to putting together the cogs … remember that Tony is terrible at puzzles! Woo beats Kass by just half a second to win the final immunity.
This means Tony is toast, right? Well, he does have a spiel ready for Woo, basically saying that Woo as a martial arts man lives by integrity and honor and he knows he’ll do the right thing and take Tony to the end. Tony to the camera: “Is he buying it? I wouldn’t buy it.”
At tribal council, Kass makes clear that if she’s on the jury she is voting for Tony to win. Now, you’ll recall that when the show does a final two, only one vote is cast at final three: the vote of the person who has immunity. Since the other two could only vote for each other, there is no point in their casting a vote. So the ballot is in and Woo votes out … Kass! Wow, in a season of shockers, this has to rank with the best of them.
So we are down to two, and the boys celebrate (I find it kind of funny that when Woo cheers he yells his own name). It is time for the final feast. But suddenly, Tony sees a little piece of paper and slips it in his pocket! Is there yet another surprise twist left in the game? No, just a note saying that a mirror and a scale have been left near camp so the guys can see how they look and how much weight they have lost.
As for the final tribal council, let me just hit the high points as frankly most of the jury questions are the usual self-serving nonsense.
- Morgan basically uses her time questioning Woo and Tony to simply rip into Kass. I guess that was the “A” material she had prepared, and even Kass not making the final two wasn’t enough reason to abandon it.
- Usually a player’s appearance worsens during the game, and then when he is on the jury and he’s freshened up, wearing clean clothes etc., he looks better. Not so with L.J. who was on the “beauty” tribe in the game, but kind of looks like a scary drifter now that he’s on the jury.
- Spencer, incredulous that Woo didn’t take Kass to the end, calls Kass “one of the biggest goats in Survivor history.” He also gives a speech to the jury plugging Tony.
In front of the studio audience, the votes are revealed, and Tony wins. Only Tasha voted for Woo. At the finals, Woo is gracious and a complete gentleman, Tony gets to do the entertaining “llama talk” he performed during the season, and also Probst asks the jury how they would have voted if the finale had been Woo vs. Kass. It looks like 7 people say they would have given Woo the million dollars.
You know Probst would have loved to interview Tony’s wife and ask “What is it like being married to this guy?” But alas, Mrs. Tony is pregnant again and can’t be there.
We also find out that the next season will be Survivor: San Juan del Sur — Blood vs. Water. (No Roman numeral II seems to be involved.)
Back to Woo: just think if he had lost the final cogs-in-the-wheel challenge which he just barely won over Kass. Kass certainly would have taken Woo to the finals over Tony, and according to the straw poll mentioned above, Woo would have won in that scenario. So in effect, winning the challenge cost him a million dollars!
I certainly hope we will see more final twos. Granted, in this case the vote was not close, but with Kass added to the mix it still would have been a runaway for Tony.
I’ll be back soon with final thoughts on the season.