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Warning: If you don’t want to know who won “Survivor: Edge of Extinction,” go read something else and come back after you’ve watched the episode. Otherwise, read on.
One of the most enjoyable and entertaining “Survivor” seasons (debate among yourselves) ended in suitable fashion with one mind-blowing event after another.
Two players saved some of their biggest moves for the last episode.
Rick Devens, the 33-year-old morning news anchor from Macon, Georgia, arguably played a near perfect game, the first to win his way back from the Edge of Extinction — the island exile voted off players were sent this season — and then surviving being voted off again by winning immunity or finding hidden immunity idols.
In the season finale, he pulls off his biggest moves.
- After Rick, once again a target, saves himself by playing a hidden idol, he goes right out and finds another — but not before salting the jungle with two fake idols.
- At Tribal Council, with five players remaining, it was an idol-palooza. Rick has the immunity necklace and his latest hidden idol, which he plays on the behalf of Gavin; Chris has an idol (more on that later), and Lauren and Julie have the fake idols. Lauren, who had been salivating wanting to get Rick out is instead sent packing.
Chris Underwood, a 25-year-old district sales manager from Greenville, South Carolina, provides the biggest entertainment of the evening.
Chris was the second player voted off way back when. At times, he appeared inconsolable on Extinction Island. He had wanted to play a perfect game and he had failed. When the 11 torched players compete to get back in the game, Chris manages to beat Super Joe and rejoins the five remaining players.
- Chris first pretends not to be that interested in winning. His spirit has been broken on the Island and he is just happy to be there. He sells himself as having valuable information to share.
- Knowing that Lauren has an idol that she has been holding onto, something only fellow exile Kelley had known but blabbed, Chris convinces Lauren that he is bringing her a message from Kelley: Play that idol wisely, for herself or for someone else. And he soon convinces Lauren to do just that. He didn’t need protecting, but he got rid of the idol Lauren had been holding onto since the start of the game.
- At his first immunity challenge back, Chris is way ahead of the others until he hits a roadblock that slows him down and takes the win out of his reach. He gives up on solving his puzzle to encourage Julie and offer guidance so that she can win. She does and as the immunity necklace comes with a steak dinner and chocolate cake, Julie returns the favor and brings Chris with her and Lauren.
- Chris discovers a two-piece hidden idol in his bag and gives half to Rick to prove that he has forgiven Rick for voting him off in the first place, and that he is loyal to him. Rick, who has been doubtful, puts his full trust in Chris, promising not to vote him off ever again. At the next Tribal Council, Rick returns the idol half, allowing Chris to save himself and go to the final four.
- At the last Immunity Challenge, Chris wins the necklace and has a decision to make. He must pick one person to join him in the final three, and let the other two make fire to decide who will be the final member of the triad. Rick expects it to be him, but Chris knows that would be a huge mistake. No one can win against Rick, so Chris won’t guarantee him a spot.
- That leaves it up to Julie or Gavin to beat Rick in the fire-making contest. Chris works with both of them, teaching them and assessing their skills, then at Tribal Council he does something stunning. He gives up his necklace to Julie and announces that he will face Rick in the challenge. It’s a gutsy move and even host Jeff Probst is surprised and impressed. Chris wins the challenge.
The final vote
The most exciting thing we learn during the jury’s interrogation of Chris, Gavin and Julie, is that Julie’s frequent meltdowns and crying jags were part of her strategy. Not that she planned or faked them. She’s just an emotional person and she knew she wouldn’t be able to stop them, so she tried to use them strategically. No, it made no sense to us, either.
Some of the jurors, and Gavin and Julie, thought that Chris spending 28 days in the brutal conditions on Extinction Island, was an advantage. After all, he didn’t have to worry about someone voting him off.
At last the votes are read and they all fall to Chris and Gavin — Julie’s strategy apparently didn’t work as well as she hoped — and Chris is named the sole survivor. We don’t always agree with the jury’s decision, but we find no fault in this one.
Thanks for joining this season, and we’ll be back later this year with another go.