Survivor: Edge of Extinction - Finale Recap, Part 2
I See the Million Dollars
By Jim Van Nest
May 26, 2019
Hello good people and thanks for joining me for the final recap of the Survivor 38 season. Apologies for the length of time between the 2 parts of the finale, but I have to be honest. After the way this season ended, I had to take some time. It's taken me this long to wind down to pissed off. Spoiler alert: the ending sucks and the worst case scenario actually came to fruition. I've debated back and forth about even wasting the pixels to recap the entire episode. I've decided to do it, but it'll be a limited recap. Not a lot of hardcore details. Because at the end of the day, I've already wasted a ton of time and a metric shit ton of words recapping episode 4 through today and NONE OF IT MATTERED.
Kama wanting no piece of the returning players and voting out Aubry with an idol. Rick Devens getting voted out. Gavin and Victoria flipping to take out Eric. Devens winning his way back into the game. Joe getting dumped at the merge. Julie losing her shit and jumping ship to take out Julia. The destruction of the Lesu 3 as Wentworth and Wardog went out. David Wright finally getting booted. Aurora, the season's true challenge beast, finally goes down. None of this mattered. NONE of it. At all. The last 28 or so days of game time and the last 8-9 weeks of show time have meant NOTHING!
Ok, let's roll through this because I'm just getting pissed off all over again. When last we checked in, Chris won his way back in the game. Julie won immunity at the 2nd Final 6 Tribal. Devens played his idol for himself. Lauren played her idol for Chris and probably the game's best player, Victoria, was sent home in 6th place.
As we watch the night of day 36 and the beginning of Day 37, Devens needs a new idol AND he actually honors his deal with Chris and gives him back the 2nd half of the Edge idol. He also hides a couple fake idols in the paperwork he kept from his other 2 idols. After stashing the fakes, while it's still dark, Devens actually finds ANOTHER idol.
So, before the challenge even begins, Rick and Chris have immunity going into the final 5. Everyone is looking for idols now and naturally, Rick's idols are found. 1 by Julie and 1 by Lauren. To his credit, Devens actually hid the "the idol is in the tree above your camp" clue and then put his fake in the tree for her to chase down. Well played. So, now we're headed to the challenge and tribal with 4 people having idols. 2 real, 2 fake. The ridiculousness has been turned up to 11. And how in the hell they can think there would be this many idols in the game is mind-numbing.
Anyway, day 37 and it's time for a Probst Sighting. I do love these types of challenges. It's one of those rope course, several station type challenges. 6 different obstacles all with puzzle pieces. First to solve the puzzle makes the final 4. No need to break this one down, Devens locks in immunity and now leaves Lauren, Gavin and Julie vulnerable tonight at Tribal.
As we prepare for Tribal, there's strategy talk and really, does it matter? Tribal is the typical yadda, yadda. Let's just get to the votes. Julie plays her idol. It's fake. Lauren plays her idol. It's fake. The jury is eating it up. Devens plays his idol for Gavin. Chris plays his idol for himself. After all the carnage, Lauren is the one voted out. And we're left with Chris, Devens, Gavin and Julie in the final 4. One challenge and then fire making before we can finally end this thing.
And we go straight to the last challenge Probst Sighting! This one is a "balance a platform and them stack blocks on it" challenge. The final piece to the inevitability of this season happens when Chris wins the final 4 immunity challenge. Meaning that someone who spent almost a month on Extinction will get to plead his case to the jury. The season's 3rd boot has made it to the end. I'll repeat that, someone who played less than 1/3 of the season will be sitting in the final 3.
Let's just get to the Tribal Council where there is a bit of intrigue as Chris decides the best way to get Rick Devens out of the game is to take the necklace off and go head to head with Rick in fire making. Now, Chris has been making fire on Extinction for the last 28 or so days. It's really not even a challenge. Chris wins the fire making easily and Rick Devens leaves the game in 4th place. You're final 3 are: Julie - winner of 2 immunity challenges, flipper of alliances and move maker; Gavin - part of the strategic pair who stealthily pulled off a handful of the best blindsides of the season, also never had a vote cast against him; Chris - voted out 3rd on Day 8, returned to the game on Day 36 after spending the previous 28 days living with, bonding with and feeding the people who are now going to form the jury that decides who will win the million? So, yeah, who do you think they'll choose?
So, we begin the final Tribal and it's clear from the get-go. Devens does his best to control the line of questioning and answers. He's clearly trying to sway things toward Gavin. But, you can tell the rest of the jury doesn't seem to show his enthusiasm for Gavin. I mean, who would have thought that the Extinction Property Brother would have the pull of all the early boot Edgers? Oh wait, EVERYONE would have thought it. The real question is how in the hell did the Production team and Jeff Probst, specifically, not think it would happen? The best line mentioned in the entire final tribal came from Gavin, but not surprisingly, no one seemed to care. After Chris talked about his last 3 games and brought up "classic Survivor" in regards to making bonds and then not breaking them, Gavin said, "I respect everything you're saying, but if you wanna talk about Classic Survivor then it's about surviving 39 days. It's not getting voted out on Day 8 and then coming back on Day 35 with a chance to win this game." That is it in a nutshell. He also mentions how much he would have loved to have gone to the Edge so he could repair bonds with Eric and Aubry and the people he wronged so he feels like he's at a disadvantage on that front as well. As he could see that it wasn't swaying any of the jury, Devens played one last card. He asked everyone that never had their name written down to raise their hand. Gavin was the only one with hand raised.
But at the end of it all, it didn't matter. Gavin received 4 votes: Devens, Aurora, Lauren and Wentworth. Everyone else went with the Extinction bond and the "bold" move to give up immunity to do the fire challenge as their criteria for winning this season and they voted for Chris. So, to steal a phrase from Hannah Shapiro on the final Know It All’s of the season, "The twist won the season." So, Jeff, Survivor, CBS - congrats. You got what you wanted. A complete bastardization of the game and the winner to go with it. Hope it was worth it. Good thing you have Rob and Sandra next season and All Winners for 40 to try to make up for the Edge of Extinction twist.
I should add here, I have NOTHING against Chris Underwood. He did play, quite possibly, the best 3 consecutive days of Survivor we've ever seen. Convincing Lauren to play her idol for him. Convincing Rick to give him the half idol back, and then having the balls to go tip top toes with the game's #1 contender in a fire making challenge - that was an epic 3 days of Survivor. Seriously. And he sold it in the final tribal. This is not a slam on Chris, the player or the person.
It's a slam on the twist and the mechanics of that twist. So while Wardog said at Tribal that the "theme is not on trial", in this column; it's not only on trial, but it's already been tried, convicted and sentenced to death. A lot of people smarter than me have already torn this season to shreds, but allow me a few paragraphs to add my 2 cents. I find it cathartic after the crap we all just watched.
"Fire represents your life in this game. Once your fire is out, so are you." That is the very heart and soul of this game. You get one shot and if you blow it, hopefully you were interesting enough to get an invite back. This twist changed the very fabric of the game. I hated it in in the Pearl Islands and Redemption Island and I hate it now. The whole idea of the show is to vote people out and the convince them to give you a million dollars. It had every player on the same playing field. And while some challenges may strongly lean toward favoring a certain type of player, the game itself was blind to gender, race, physical stature and walk of life. If you had the skills to navigate through 15-19 other people and get their vote at the end - you could win this game. Winners from Richard Hatch to Sandra Diaz-Twine to Wendell Holland to Natalie Anderson have come with every type of skill set imaginable and have won this game. This season did NOT offer all players a level playing field.
The Edge of Extinction was a flawed idea the moment they decided to allow it to live after the merge. If they had it and the Devens won his way back in and then everything over there ended and those people were taken off Extinction and sent on the Pre-Jury trip - all would have been well and the twist would have been seen as super successful as it saved the season's biggest personality and gave him a new lease in the game. But it didn't do that. It allowed those people to continue to live together. To continue to rely on each other and to continue to build the unbreakable type of bonds that we saw at the end when all of the early boots (Reem, Aubry, Eric, Julia and Joe) voted for Chris to win. For crying out loud, Reem had never even MET Gavin and Julie. How could she be counted on to make an unbiased and fair decision on a winner?
And then - to send him back into the game on Day 36 with an Immunity Idol??? Sure, Devens didn't have to give it back to him, that's for sure and he probably wishes he hadn't. But to even put that power in the hands of the returning player who already has enough things going for him was irresponsible and damn near game-fixing. I do appreciate that Survivor is willing to take the big swing to keep things fresh, but when your swing tears apart the only law your lawless game actually has, you've done nothing but create a game of Calvinball that no one wants to play, that no one wants to see, that no one can possibly follow and that ultimately insults the millions of people responsible for your being able to do this for a living. And one more comment on the not being able to follow the show aspect of this. We got to know like 4 people this entire season: Devens, Ron Clark, Aubry and Joe's mustache. Without wasting time on Extinction, maybe we could have met the winner before the finale. Also, with Chris getting voted out on Day 8 and coming back on Day 35, and I can't stress this enough, nothing in between those days mattered. Nothing. None of it. How do they supposed that makes the viewers feel when they realize that we were all asleep and Bobby Ewing was in the shower the whole time? It erased 2/3 of the season. That's what it did.
And you know what; maybe this does just add me to the list of whiners out there crying for a good clean classic game of Survivor where there are no idols, 16 players, no tribe swaps and a guaranteed Pagonging after the merge. I assure you that is NOT the case. I like immunity idols, I just think there's too many, they last too long and they're too easy to find. I like tribe swaps - I just don't think we need 2-3-4 of them in the same season. There's a happy medium that can and HAS to be found. Then again, all of you reading this right now...Get the hell off my lawn!!! Take care!