Survivor: Cagayan - Episode 13
It's Do or Die
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Expert
May 21, 2014

It's all come down to this. What started as 39 days and 18 Americans is now down to 4 Castaways, 3 Tribal Councils, 2 Incredible Hours, 1 Survivor! Hello good people and welcome to the Survivor: Cagayan Finale recap! You can tell it's a finale because I said the entire site's name, instead of just BOP! We're talking serious stuff here.

While Jeff is recapping the entire season up to this point, I just want to focus on where we are right now and where we're going over the next 2 hours. First of all, please pay attention; I don't want to have to repeat this recap later in llama, mmkay? With that out of the way, let's get down to it. Last week, Tony made a head-scratcher of a move by voting out his closest ally in the game and one of 2 people who had little chance of getting a vote against him in the finale, Trish. Normally pretty vocal on Twitter, Tony was pretty quiet this week, so there was no insight given on that move. As it stands, we have Tony and Spencer who have a real solid shot at winning this game. We have Woo, who would have to make a pretty killer argument at the end to justify enough votes to win. And we have Kass, who has played a good enough strategic game to all but insure herself a seat at the finale, but a bad enough social game to insure that the only votes she'd get for the money would be from the ultimate bitter juror who isn't bitter at her.

We've learned over the course of this week that we're looking at a Final 2, instead of a Final 3, but it's been pretty obvious that our players have no idea. With that in mind, we can only hope for a Tony/Spencer final 2. That way, the two best players can duke it out and we can see who comes out on top. Anything short of that will make for a slight disappointment. I'm here to tell ya, you should probably get used to disappointment. Tony and Spencer are both too good at this game to let the other make it to the end. I see no way at all that they both make it. In the previews we've seen, I think the most intriguing thing for me is the Woo quote about burning the camp down. Aside from the school children reward, we haven't seen a lot of emotion or fire out of Woo, so I'm curious to see what has him making that comment. The way this season has gone, I feel there's only one thing I can say about tonight's finale with 100% absolute certainty...NOTHING tonight will be 100% certain. OK, Jeff's finished up his monologue, time to get to the show!

We begin after the Trish vote. Spencer is once again, flabbergasted. Tony confesses to voting for Trish. He says he doesn't play with emotion, he plays with strategy. He feels horrible for dumping Trish, but she was loyal and honest and people liked her (they did?), so he couldn't have her sitting with him at the end. They take a couple minutes to celebrate being the final four. Spencer is excited to be in the final 4 but he's very concerned about Tony's second idol. A large discussion starts among everyone about how the vote will go and immunity winning and special idols. Kass admits not necessarily believing that the idol is good at the final four. Tony tells us that he's got to sell this to the tribe so they don't vote for him. He tells us that all this special idol is now is a souvenir. He just hopes that his bluff will work for one more vote.

We come back from break the next morning. The discussion is between Kass and Tony and they're discussing Trish. Kass tells us that she is pretty sure that Trish is not well liked and that Tony made a huge mistake voting her out under the impression that everyone loved her. Tony tells Kass she's got it all wrong and also that his idols are what has made him be so cocky out there. Kass tells us that Tony has had a pretty easy road in this game, because his team was always winning. As they talk, a boat comes into view headed for the beach. It arrives at the beach and the talk turns to picnics and final 4 treatment. And who comes off the boat? Kass' husband. Then Woo's cousin, Spencer's sister and Tony's buddy. I just knew there would be some sort of family visit. Everyone hugs and cries, but there's something extra with Tony. Turns out he was hoping to see his wife, but she didn't want to leave a 4 month old baby at home to come out there. He learns that everyone is OK, but he's still quite bummed she's not there. Woo starts to tell us about how pumped he is for his cousin to be there and for the challenges and for winning the game and getting the money and proposing to his girlfriend after he gets it (with her mom and dad's permission, of course). If Woo was like Joe Surfer Dude all season, it's like Joe Surfer Dude just drank a case of Red Bull.

We check in with Kass and her husband. She's telling him that she is not well liked, especially by the women. She feels that she's played the game like a man and that if a man made all the moves she made, he'd be seen as strategic, but because she's a woman, she's a bitch. I think John Cochran V 1.0 would disagree with that. He made the exact same move in South Pacific and everyone hated him and he was quickly sent out of the game. There may be a double standard on Survivor...but this ain't one of them. We then see Spencer telling his sister that he plans on leaving everything out there in the game and that he desperately needs this immunity win if he wants to continue in the game. As they head to Tribal, we head to break...but wait. Jeff is apparently going to talk to us live! And this break we head into the green room where the cast is watching the final episode all together. Despite when we've seen on Twitter, Jeff insists that everyone really gets along. And then we're off to commercial.

And for the first time within the game it's a Probst sighting! We talk about the family members. Kass likes having someone there that doesn't hate her. Tony is thrilled to have someone with whom he doesn't have to lie to or break a promise to, Spencer's sister tells us a poorly kept secret (Spencer is neurotic) and Woo is feeling energized with his cousin there. As Jeff takes the necklace from Spencer, his sister is the one to say that he'll be getting it right back. Today's challenge has everyone perched atop a really high poll in the water. They have to lower a bucket into the water and then dump it into a tube. Once the tube is full, a key will be in reach, they'll grab the key and jump off the perch and head back to the beach where the key will unlock puzzle pieces (uh oh Tony). Tony and Spencer are fast out of the gate in the challenge. Kass is pretty nervous of the height and is having a real tough go of it. Tony is the first one to get his key, but because he doesn't swim, he won't jump off the perch...he climbs down. Spencer is next to get his key and he leaps into the water. Just like the last challenge, it's Spencer and Tony working on the puzzle. Woo finally catches up while Kass is just a mess out there with her rope all tangled. Tony is making no progress while Spencer seems to be breezing through this thing. This is a 3d puzzle that needs to be completed on both sides, so this is one of the harder puzzles I've seen on this show. Woo is just throwing pieces around hoping that something works, same as Tony. Spencer seems to be a bit hung up. Oh yeah, Kass finally gets her key and heads to the beach. As Spencer and Tony rethink, Woo keeps chugging along and Kass finally gets all her pieces unlocked. I'm not exactly sure how this happened, but within about 30 seconds, it seems, Kass manages to catch up, pass up and finish her puzzle before everyone else. And Kass wins immunity and has a guaranteed spot in the final 3. As we head to break, Spencer laments losing to a, "Brain dead weasel like Kass." He also tells us that he's come too far to go out like this and he plans to play his ass off when they get back to camp.

We come back to camp to play "It's anyone but Spencer". And Kass is just ecstatic that she'll be able to put Spencer out of the game. She wants to sit with 2 brawns at the end and that's exactly what she plans to do. Right after getting back, Spencer asks Tony if they can have a talk. As they walk to Tree Mail, Spencer clues Tony into the thought that this is going to be a final 2. He mentions that every time there's a final 3, when the challenge is over, Jeff will say something about that person earning the right to plead their case to the jury. But he didn't say it this time. This can only mean a final 2. Spence lays out for Tony that if they get rid of him tonight that either Woo or Kass will dump him at the next Tribal rather than sit with him at the end. Spencer suggests that the best play for both of their games is to get rid of Woo. Tony recognizes that Spence is a super fan, so he takes it all under advisement. Spencer tells us that a forced tie and a fire making challenge are better than a 3-1 vote out and he'll take it.

While they talk, Kass and Woo are left alone at camp. Kass confirms with Woo that they'd be stupid to not take out Spencer. She swears that she doesn't care what Tony says or does, she'll never waiver from that vote. Woo tells us that he has no idea what the tie breaker will be. A rock draw, a fight? Building a fire? I love this kid. He's so delightfully oblivious. As they head to Tribal, Kass tells us that the tie break is definitely a fire making challenge. She hopes it doesn't come to that, but with the necklace, he doesn't really care what they do tonight. And with that, we get to the first Tribal Council of the night.

Jeff starts with Kass and details her amazing comeback in the challenge. She says that hearing her husband cheering her on helped her through it. Tony says that the family visit was bittersweet for him. He was thrilled to see his friend, but he was hoping to see his wife. Jeff asks Spencer about the dejected look on his face after the challenge. He says that his sister was right, he is neurotic and that it's going to kill him to lose this close to his dream. Jeff asks him what case he has to make. He says that he told Tony that he's in a good spot to win and that they may be looking at a final 2 and that unless Tony wins immunity at the final 3, he goes home. He also tells Tony, in front of the jury, that he guarantees he will take Tony to the end and if he doesn't, he'll ask the jury not to vote for him. Tony says that he's scared about going to the end with Spencer, but Spencer thinks Tony wins easily in that scenario (um...I don't think so...but I sure hope we find out.) Jeff goes to Woo and asks what his story is. He doesn't seem to have made any moves, but he also hasn't offended anyone. He says that he's been an instrumental part in these moves, but since he's not so outspoken, he kind of blends in. Kass then mentions Tony's idol and sarcastically suggests she wants to see what the powers are and that Woo is very likable that hasn't burned anyone. If it's a bitter jury, Woo will win. If not, she and Tony have a shot. Jeff asks Tony about the possibility of another Tribal and whether or not he feels like he'd be a target there. Spencer chimes in, "Yes." Tony says, "I don't know. Kass, do you think you could beat me over Woo?" Kass says, "I have a better chance against Woo, I think. Not Tony." "Oh schnap", is Tony's reply. The light bulb just went on that what Spencer has said is absolutely true. Spencer reinforces that if they get rid of him tonight, Tony will HAVE to win immunity to stay in the game.

And with that, it's time to vote. We see Spencer voting for Woo and Kass voting for Spencer. Before we get to the votes, Tony wants to tell the group what the special power his idol possesses. He says that the idol can be played after the votes are read. But he then goes on to say that he cannot use it tonight as the last Tribal was the last opportunity. He used it as a decoy and if his name comes up 3 times tonight, he's going home. And right here, this sums up the game Tony has played from Day 1. He's not just content to make a move...he has to make sure that everyone knows he made that move. Should he make the end of this game, I can't wait to see how that factors into his argument. Jeff reads the votes. Spencer. Woo. Spencer. And...14th person voted out of the game and the 8th member of our jury...Spencer. And the hearts of America all just dropped. With a "Well done, Tony", Spencer takes his torch to Jeff and he is out of the game. Before they head out of Tribal, Jeff does drop the bomb that they will have their final immunity challenge tomorrow. It is, indeed, a final 2. I guess the question now is whether or not Tony can win immunity. If he does, Tony wins the game. If he does not, Woo wins the game. Totally not what I thought would be happening tonight. I really thought Spencer would simply win out.

We come back to camp as the final 3 take a second to celebrate. Kass gloats about the vote going as she expected but she's bummed that they're not at the end. She tells us that the guys are more upset about it than she is as she feels she'll be taken to the end no matter what. As Tony chops some coconuts, Kass secures her final 2 with Woo by saying that they can't let Tony win immunity. They both agree that they have no shot at beating Tony. Woo tell Kass that he'd be the stupidest player ever to take Tony to the end. And with that, the writing is on the wall. Tony, #teamtv, it's win or go home. Let's see what you’re made of, buddy! Because it's time for a

Probst sighting! As they arrive at the final challenge, they are shocked to see the sheer size and scope of the maze that has been built for today's challenge. They will race through a maze of turnstiles. Some will turn, some will not. They have to race through this maze to find 4 medallions. Once they collect all 4 medallions, they will open a box of cogs that when put together will raise an immunity flag. First one to raise their flag wins immunity, a guaranteed spot at the final Tribal Council and the power to choose who they will go against. For the final time in Survivor: Cagayan: Survivors ready?

All three players hit the maze and they all come back quick with their first medallion. Kass goes off on her own, while Woo is following Tony around the course. It's a very solid metaphor for how they've played the game. Tony has made the moves and Woo has always been right there to follow along. Kass gets back with her second medallion while the guys struggle. They do finally get their 2nd medallion and we're all tied up again. Kass had some extra time and pulls in the 3rd medallion. The guys are quickly behind with their 3rd medallion. Kass has to get the medallion that had Tony and Woo puzzled at the beginning. The guys have to get the same medallion, but they take different paths to get to it. Woo is first to get to the 4th station. Tony finally catches up to Woo and starts untying his 4th medallion. Woo and Tony both head back with their last medallion, while Kass struggles. Woo opens the chest and Tony finds his way out of the maze as Kass finally gets to her 4th. Now it's a race between Woo and Tony to put this puzzle together. Woo is moving along pretty well as Kass gets back to her puzzle station. Tony is falling behind a little, but he's studying Woo's puzzle in an attempt to win this thing. Woo is down to his last 2 pieces, as is Kass. Woo gets to his last piece and he and Kass are neck and neck. They both complete their puzzle, but Woo is just a bit faster and Woo wins immunity. Hang dai, Woo. Hang Dai!!!

We come back from break and it's time for Woo to decide who he'll sit next to at the end. Woo is super psyched to have won the final immunity. He also tells us that he has an uneasy feeling in his stomach as he tried to figure out who to take to the end. Tony tells us his back is up against the wall. He takes Woo aside to tell him why he doesn't want to take Kass to the end. He plays the loyalty and integrity card. He says that if Woo takes Kass to the end, he'll be disloyal and he'll have no integrity. He then explains that if he takes Kass to the end, he'll lose because he hasn't really done anything and she has made moves, even if they didn't work. Tony tells us that he gave it his best shot. He says that he wouldn't believe it, but he's hoping that Woo will. Next up, Kass tells Woo why Tony shouldn't go to the end. She says that Tony will take credit for everything and he’ll be right. She tells him and us, that Woo is just like Fabio. He hasn't offended anyone, but he hasn't really done anything either. To his credit, Woo tells both of them that he plans to take the day to think about it and he'll make his decision at Tribal. Woo then tells us that he's concerned about what to do. He feels that it would be good to go from the start to the end with Tony. That would be showing his loyalty, but it would ultimately hurt his chance to win. He also says that he's not thrilled about being seen as a hypocrite for taking Kass just because he thinks he can beat her. As they head to Tribal, it certainly doesn't seem like he's made up his mind at all.

We get to Tribal and Jeff starts with Woo. He mentions that Tony had the choice to stick with Woo or turn on him and stick with Spencer. He then says that as it turns out, he made Tony pay for it. Woo says that he's excited and nervous to be wearing the necklace tonight. He also says that he thinks Tony's vote last night was strategic but mostly loyal. Tony speaks up about how everything went just the way Spencer said it would and that Woo has played this entire game loyal. Not to everyone but to Tony. So he's hoping that loyalty will continue. Jeff rubs in to Kass that it was less than a second between them in the challenge. She's thought about it a lot and that it's been really rough. She says the roughest part is the complete lack on control. Jeff asks Woo if he was approached by the players. He then asks what their pitches were to him. Woo asks if he can go off topic on this one. He says that he doesn't want to hear any more from either of them and he just wants to get to the vote. With that in mind, Woo heads to the bucket to make the only vote that matters. We see him standing there for a long time agonizing over the decision, but he finally makes it. Jeff tallies the vote and prepares to read it. The only vote: 15th person voted out and the 9th member of our jury: Kass! Wha, wha, what?!?!?!? He took her out. The jury is stunned. The studio audience is stunned. The Van Nest couch is stunned. With her parting words, Kass can't help herself but to slag Woo on the way out the door. But she's not wrong. Woo had her beat, no questions asked. With Tony, I think Woo will have to settle for 2nd place.

The guys get back to camp and Tony is shocked to still be in the game. Woo tells us that he thought the jury would respect him for making this vote, more than taking the goat to the end. He tells us that in a martial arts tournament, if he went up against a weaker fighter, the win isn't as sweet. He felt like he needed to go to the end with the best. The next morning, it's the final 3 feast!! Neither one of these guys seems to know how to cook, so that should be fun. As they're digging through the basket, Tony finds a clue. Seeming to have forgotten that the game is essentially over, he stuffs the clue in his pocket and reads it behind Woo's back. It tells him to head to the back of camp as there is something else waiting for him. It's a mirror and scale. I wonder what the hell Tony thought they would give him after the game was over. As they get ready to head to Tribal, Tony tells us about how much the money would change his life. Woo tells us that his argument to the jury will be that he played the game through the same 5 tenants he lives his martial arts life through and loyalty and integrity are a big part of that. Thankfully, they have given us a pass on the whole rite of passage portion of the show and we head straight to Tribal.

Tony starts with his opening statement. He says that tonight he has a lot of explaining to do and that he'll tell the truth and they are welcome to ask him anything they want. He says that nothing in this game has been personal; everything was a part of strategy. He also thanks Woo for taking him to the end even though everyone told him he'd lose. Woo's statement is that he knew this game was a lot of lying and deceit. He says that he came out there to live by the same 5 tenants he tells his students. Respect, loyalty, integrity, discipline and harmony between mind and body. He says that he did his best to abide by that code. He says that when it got tough out there, he thought of his mom who has recently gone through open heart surgery and that she was a true testament to perseverance. He looks forward to answering any question they have.

We come back from break and it's time for questions. First up...

Sarah - She congratulates both of them and then tells Tony that they both swore on their badges and Tony voted her out anyway. She says that her badge means something to her. She then asks Woo if she were in his place having played the same game he played, who would he have voted for. He tells her that if she had made it through the entire game, with no idols to help her, he would have given her major credit for that and would have voted for her. (Writer's note: um Woo...wrong answer buddy. Should've just copped to the vote for Tony. She'd have respected you more and she wasn't planning on voting for Tony. Now she might be.)

Jefra - She says she's not bitter and that she wants to be fair. But she wants Tony to own his game. She wants him to own and admit his game. She says he backstabbed everyone on the jury and she wants him to own that. He tells her that he did not backstab her. He knew she was trying to vote him out, so she crossed that line first. When he learned she wanted to vote him out, he turned on her. I have to say, for someone who isn't bitter; Jefra really goes after him here saying that he did backstab her. She asks him if he's the villain. He says, "Half and half. Half villain, half good player."

Morgan - She starts with Tony. She says that as a person who was on the beauty tribe, she knows how to keep men in her back pocket following her around. She wants to know how Tony did it without even having breasts. Tony says that he was genuine with people. He gave them his last drink of water if they were thirsty, the last shell of rice if they were hungry. He was genuine with people like Woo, even if the majority of his game was spent doing whatever he had to do to get himself farther in the game. Morgan then tells Woo that she very much respected him for his decision to vote out Kass. She says it takes a lot to keep the person who deserves to be at the end, rather than a goat that would be easy to beat. She tells him she will keep that in mind when voting.

Jeremiah - He wants to know from Tony about the swears he made on his "wife and baby." He says that if Tony has a wife, that swearing on them and breaking that promise, where he's from, is pathetic. SO he asks Tony if he has a wife and baby. Tony says that he absolutely does and he loves them very much. He tries to explain something to Jeremiah, but he doesn't want to hear it. He then gives Woo a chance to prove that he really wants the million dollars. So, Woo tells him that he really, really wants a million dollars. (Writer's note: Jeremiah, you didn't have to ask Woo anything. If all you wanted to do was take a shot at Tony, you can do that. Making up a dumb question just so you can say you addressed both of them just wastes time. Kthx.)

Tasha - She starts with Tony and talks about how he kept a loyal alliance, despite turning on them several times. She wants to know how he was able to do that. He says that he told his alliance why he did what he did every time. He explained how it worked for them and that he only voted out people who came after him first. Except for Trish. He says Trish never broke a promise to him and probably never would have. He broke his promise to her. She asks Woo how he decided to align with Tony. Woo says that at the beginning Tony didn't trust him at all. It wasn't until they were down to the Solana 5 that Tony started to trust him. He said that he was at the bottom and had to adapt to get himself into the alliance. (Writer's note: Not quite sure that's what she was asking. And she looked a bit confused by the answer.)

LJ - This should be the ultimate in bitterness, if his looks on the jury for the last 7 episodes are any indication. He wants to know from Tony, "Who are you?" Tony explains why he voted LJ out. That he was petrified of him because he was a strategic player. That's not exactly the answer LJ was looking for, I don't think. I think he was looking for Tony to differentiate the "Game Tony" from the "real life Tony." But Tony just kind of forced the strategy down his throat and LJ takes a seat. Weird.

Kass - She goes right after Woo. Having power for the first time, she wants to know why he didn't cut the head off the dragon. Woo says that in his field of study, he had to be honorable. He wanted to bring someone to the end that deserved it and he thought that would get him points with the jury. She comes back at him saying that he put someone more deserving than him in the final 2 with him in hopes it would get points from the jury. Woo's response is priceless, "We're all deserving Kass, but between the two of you, I didn't feel that you deserved to sit here next to me. But Tony did."

Trish - She asks Woo whose idea it was to take her out. He says that it was his idea. He says that she's a sweetheart and the jury liked her and that would not be good to sit with in a final 3. She thanks him for the compliment. She goes to Tony next. She says that they were best buddies from day 1. She says that she had a big part in him sitting there. She says that no one trusted him, they all trusted her. She says that she played her entire game putting out fires for Tony. She said that she would never leave him. She said the biggest thing was when he swore on his father's grave to her. She says that she lost 2 brothers and she would never have broken a promise on their memory. Her one question to Tony is whether or not it was worth it for a million dollars. He tries to explain that he didn't have the numbers on her vote, but she cuts him off. She wants him to just answer the question. Friend to friend, human being to human being. Is a million dollars worth his father's soul and memory? Tony, "Yes." And Trish has a seat. (Writer's note: There was no right answer to this question. Trish was crazy emotional. Tony's "yes" answer was really the only way to go with this. Saying "No" makes him a hypocrite and opens her up to more berating. Saying "Yes" ends the discussion. Nothing else to say. Let's move on to...)

Spencer - He starts with Woo. He compares Woo's game to being a dog. He followed Tony around all game long and did whatever Tony said to do anytime Tony said to do it. Then when he has the chance to take one of the biggest goats in the history of Survivor to the end, he stayed true to his master. He wants to know how Woo can change his mind from thinking that. He asks Spencer, as a student of the game, if he would have respected him for taking a goat to the end. Spencer says that, as a student of the game, he would expect him to take a goat to the end. Woo says that they're just students of a different game. Because he wanted to take someone that deserved to be there to the end. Instead of asking Tony a question, Spencer talks to the jury. He tells them that Tony played his ass off out there. He says that Tony found 3 idols because he looked more than everyone else combined. He was behind every strategic decision. He kept his alliance in the dark for portions of this game. He was the only one that played this game he way it's supposed to be played. So when they take pen to parchment, keep that in mind. (Writer's note: I said from the get go that Tony was playing too hard and too fast. He couldn't keep it up and he would never make the end. But Spencer's right. Tony won the game as soon as Spencer left the island. You can't, in good conscience, vote for Woo over Tony when you have their games sitting right next to each other.)

And after the break, we'll get to the votes.

It is time to vote. This time, you're voting FOR a winner. This is a million dollar vote. The votes we see tonight are: Spencer voting for Tony. He says that he wrote his name down several times during the game. It was a compliment then and it's a compliment now. We see Tasha voting for Woo, with no explanation. And that's it. What that signals to me is that this is an 8-1 vote. Not sure which way, but I'm pretty sure it's going Tony's way. Jeff's gonna head back to the states now and we'll read the votes.

First vote is Spencer's vote for Tony. Second vote is Tasha's vote for Woo. Third vote: Tony. Fourth vote: Tony. Fifth vote: Tony. The winner of Survivor: Cagayan - Tony. And there you have it folks, an 8-1 vote makes Tony a landslide winner of Survivor 28. It's been a long time since we've seen a payer take control as early in the game as Tony did and actually keep it all the way to the end. Like him or hate him. Think he's brilliant or an idiot. There is no arguing that Tony owned this season. As much as we all loved Spencer, dude's ideas never worked. Everything Tony set out to do, he did. Everything Spencer set out to do was an uphill battle that usually lost and only by the grace of immunity challenges did he last as long as he did. In the grand scheme of things, I think Spencer is an equal player to Tony. But the bottom line, his plans failed while Tony's succeeded. So, congrats to #teamtv, Tony Vlachos!!

I want to thank everyone for following along with the recaps and power rankings this season. I want to thank any and all of the Survivors that took part in banter with me, whether on Twitter or FB (Tony, Tasha, Kass). We'll see you back here in the fall for Survivor 29! Until then, take care.

As always, hit me up with a comment or a follow on the Twitter. @vannestjc Hopefully I'll be back for S29 to do it all again. Maybe for S30, I'll have an island to be on. Hear that, Lynne Spillman??? Thanks guys!