Survivor: Kaoh Rong - Finale Recap - Part 1
Episode 14 - Not Going Down Without a Fight
By Jim Van Nest
May 30, 2016

Not strong enough to get a spot in the Final 3.

Hello, good people, and welcome the super duper two-hour finale of Survivor: Kaoh Rong. Tonight is the culmination of what has turned out to be a quite entertaining season of Survivor. There has been plenty of personality this season, with Tai and Debbie as the standouts. And we've seen A LOT of strategy - really good strategy from the likes of Aubry and Cydney. Really awful strategy from the likes of Liz and Dr. Peter. And really weird strategy from the likes of Scot and Jason.

Last episode was a bit of a disappointment, with Joe leaving the game due to a beef emergency. You hate to see an episode as late as the Final 5 episode end in an evacuation rather than a vote, but not as much as Aubry hated watching her partner and ticket to the Final 3 leave the game before she was able to remove either Cydney or Michele and lock in her choice of opponents in the Final Tribal Council. Aside from winning immunity, I don't really see a way that Aubry even makes the end game now. Cydney and Michele are pretty locked in and Tai has been known to flap in the breeze, so I see no reason he wouldn't stick with his new bestie, Michele, and send the game's best player home at Final 4. And if it rolls like that, CBS should be writing a check out to Cydney - UNLESS we have a Final 2 as suggested by all the latest CBS finale TV commercials. They're hyping a big twist and three Tribal Councils.

With that in mind, we could end up with a Michele and Tai final 2. Since I consider Aubry and Cydney to be the season's best players, it would be quite the bummer to see both of them eliminated before the final. Either way, the time for speculation is over. The Survivor Kaoh Rong finale is about to begin. 13 episodes, 39 days and three medical evacuations have led us to this. The Final 4. Two hours, three Tribal Councils, one Survivor.

Once Jeff finishes his five-minute finale setup, we begin the actual show at camp the morning of day 36. Tai and Aubry are both reeling a little after the Joe med-evac. Their plan is shattered and the new plan they come up with is to get close to Cydney and see if they can't dump Michele and go to the Final 3 together. Aubry is worried about Michele's social game and the fact that she hasn't made any enemies on the jury. Michele is also making a pitch to Cydney that Tai should be the next to go. Cydney is feeling pretty good right now, as both sides want her to join them. She just needs to sit back and decide what works best for her.

We waste no time getting to our first Probst Sighting! Today's reward challenge will see them racing under a net crawl and sliding some tiles through a sliding table. Once all the tiles are through, they'll need to carry them on a machete blade across a balance beam. Once they get all tiles across the beam, they will match them up in pairs. Three of the tiles will not have a match. Flip them over and the numbers will come together to open a combination lock. First person to open their lock and raise their flag wins reward. Reward this time is a big feast, filled with protein, including steak (don't overdo it kids), protein bars - the whole nine yards.

Everyone is pretty jacked about this challenge and they're off. Through the net crawl and the tile sliding, Cydney is killing this challenge. But she has trouble with the balance beam and everyone catches up to her. Aubry is the first to master the beam and she takes a huge lead as she gets all her tiles to the finish while no one else has tiles at the end. Aubry starts pairing up her tiles.

But wait - she has her pairs wrong, which means she has the wrong three tiles as her numbers. She tries one combination - wrong. Another - wrong. She cannot win with these tiles. She has to reevaluate. Tai and Cydney have now caught up with Aubry and are pairing up their tiles. Michele gets across and Aubry is still entering the wrong combinations. Finally, Aubry looks at her tiles again and finds the wrong pair. She fixes the problem, but Tai and Cydney are entering combinations before her. Tai is wrong. Cydney is wrong. And finally, after leading the way most of the challenge, Aubry gets the right code and wins reward.

Jeff gives her the chance to offer up a reward to someone else. She doesn't have to give it to anyone, but can choose one person. Naturally, she chooses Cydney. As we head to break, she tells us that she had to bring Cydney in and get her trust back. Also, she wants to make them both stronger so they can beat Michele at the next challenge.

We come back from break and there's a table set up for Aubry and Cydney to go eat. Cydney tells us that Aubry choosing her solidifies their bond. They have all this food in them and that should help them with what they expect to be a huge challenge. She says her ideal Final 3 is herself, Aubry and Tai. She has a second option with Michele, so she's feeling pretty good right now.

As the other two dine, Michele makes a move with Tai. She tells Tai that either one of them is on the chopping block if they don't win. She proposes that they should work together and join up with Cydney to take out Aubry. Tai, to his credit, follows Survivor rule #1 and accepts this deal with Michele. He tells us, however, that he's not sure he can turn on Aubry. But if it's what it takes to win this game, he will definitely consider it.

And just like that, it's a Probst Sighting! And Cydney was right. This is a huge sprawling immunity challenge. To start, they'll race into the ocean to get a key. They'll run back and unlock a set of stairs. Then, the Survivors will climb the stairs and there's another key. The contestants will take it back to the ocean to get a ball, and then race back to the beach and use the ball to release the next part of the challenge. That will take them to key number three, which goes back out to the ocean where they will unlock a pole. They will then use that pole to knock off a bag of puzzle pieces. They'll race back to the beach and climb to the top of this huge rig that they've been building and they'll use those puzzle pieces to put together a really tough three-level round puzzle.

This challenge is going to be brutal. So much running, stair climbing and running and stair climbing. And then after completely wiping out their bodies, they'll have to put together a puzzle? That's frickin' crazy.

From the get-go, it's looking like the feast is really helping as Aubry is just crushing this challenge. She has a decent sized lead over Cydney, with Tai and Michele falling behind. But like I said, this is a rough puzzle. As with so many of these Survivor challenges, the puzzle is the great equalizer. And within a few seconds, all four are together all working on the first level of the puzzle. So, everything Aubry did to get the lead means nothing now because everyone is even. Well,

Tai completes the first level, which allows him to take the lead. Michele finishes her first level. Tai completes level two and it looks like this will be a race between Tai and Michele, despite Aubry's dominance in the physical part of the challenge. Michele has the second level now, so she and Tai are both working on the final level. And just like that, Aubry's worst fear has come true; Michele completes her third level and wins Final 4 immunity! Guaranteed spot in the Final 3. It should be noted that when Jeff mentions that someone will be made the eighth member of the jury, when we're at the end game, he usually says things like "eighth and final" member of the jury." But he doesn't say that here.

As we head to break, I mull over the options. If this IS a Final 2, Cydney tells us that Michele was definitely the vote, but now that she's won immunity, she'll have to cozy up to her and see if she can set it up so she's not the next to go.

After the commercials, Michele tells us how good it feels to be in the Final 3 and that she feels like she's in a power position. As she breaks it down for us, Tai and Aubry head to get water. They confirm that they need to stay together and since Michele's not an option; they have to go after Cydney. Aubry tells us that if they stick together and vote for Cydney, then they'll likely have a tie and a fire making challenge to determine who goes home. She also tells us that she's getting a weird vibe from Tai and doesn't feel convinced that he'll stick with her and vote Cydney.

Michele, meanwhile, talks to Cydney and while she likes Aubry and really wants to keep her, Aubry will get votes at the end. Tai is a terrible speaker and he's been awful at Tribal Councils. Michele thinks they should keep him around for that reason. Cydney tells us that she's been with Aubry for a long time now, but that Michele has the power and is calling the shots now. She'll have to go with her against Aubry this time. Michele tells her that she has a relationship with Tai now and she just knows that he'll vote with them.

Cydney is really worried and asks Michele, "Should I start working on my fire making skills?" Michele tells her no, she'll be fine and she'll be there tomorrow. Michele talks to Tai next and tells him that Aubry is the vote and that all he has to do is vote with them and he's guaranteed to be Final 3. Aubry sees what's going on and she doesn't have a lot of faith that Tai will stick with her at this Tribal, but at this point, she doesn't have a lot else to go with.

Tribal starts and Jeff goes right to Michele to talk about immunity. He asks Tai about the vibe at camp. Tai says it's an individual game and that alliances don't matter now. The talk is about who to put on the jury and who you want to sit with. Cydney says it's time to start thinking about who you can beat at the end. All the talk is centered around how this is an individual game now and it's all about what's best for "me". Doesn't sound good for Aubry at all. And that's what she gets for trusting Tai.

We see no votes as they cast them and Jeff heads off to tally the votes. First vote - Aubry. Cydney. Aubry. Cydney! WHOA!!! He stuck with her. Way to go Tai - finally showing loyalty. Jeff gives Michele and Tai a chance to change their votes, but they are both locked in - which means we have a fire making challenge coming.

After a disturbingly disappointing trailer for the new Ghostbusters, we're back for the fire making challenge. The challenge is simple. They have a flint, machete and some fuel for the fire. They have to build a fire tall enough and sustainable enough to burn through a rope. A couple minutes in, Aubry finally has a fire going. Cydney has nothing going on. Aubry's fire is really good sized, but it's not centered and not hitting the rope. All she has to do is move to where she's blocking the breeze that is blowing her flames. She doesn't do that and the fire continues to burn away from the rope. It's a real big fire, but it's not in the right place. The rope seems to take some damage, but the fire starts to go down and eventually the whole thing comes down.

Cydney has a chance now, but still cannot get a flame. Aubry's reaching into the heat of her fire to move embers around, trying to rebuild. Cydney gets a couple flames but can't seem to get any of them to catch. And just like that, Aubry has her fire rebuilt and this time it's perfectly centered and within seconds her rope burns through and Cydney becomes the eighth member of the jury. Neal and Nick are visibly happy for Aubry to have won. Jeff talks to Cydney a bit and finally puts out her torch.

As he sends everyone back to camp, he does NOT give his usual finale speech. He tells them that this game is a roller coaster and it's best to just hold on 'til the ride is over. "And this ride's not over." THERE it is! Final 2, baybee!! ANYtime they get to the end, he gives the whole "power now switches over to them" speech. He makes a big deal about them going as far as they can go in the game. He did not do that this time. That's because they aren't done yet. This could turn out amazing, or it could be brutal.

Because lets' be honest; a Michele/Tai Final 2 is a worst case scenario, here, yes? I mean, this has been Aubry or Cydney's game to lose for weeks now. And Cydney's gone. That means that anything shy of Aubry in the Final 2 to get the win will be a letdown. Either way, if you didn't watch, you're gonna have to wait another day for the answers as this is the best spot to conclude Part 1 of the Survivor Kaoh Rong finale recap. 'Til tomorrow, take care!