Survivor Finale Recap

Survivor Finale Recap: Did the Right Castaway Win Season 35?

CBS’ war between heroes, healers and hustlers has finally reached a (somewhat) surprising conclusion.

Five castaways remained atop Wednesday’s Survivor season finale — Ben Driebergen, 34, Chrissy Hofbeck, 46, Devon Pinto, 23, Ryan Ulrich, 23, and Mike Zahalsky, 43 — with only two hours, as well as one final twist, standing between them and the $1 million prize.

It was every man (and woman) against Ben when the finale began, with Mike likening him to a “villain in a horror movie,” one that refuses to roll over and play dead. Little did the others know that while they were buy plotting against him, Ben was making an 11th-hour discovery that would ensure him a spot in the final four. Chrissy made a lame attempt to rekindle her friendship with Ben, purely for the sake of the game, but he made it pretty clear she was “barking up the wrong tree.”

The night’s first victory went to Chrissy, who earned her third solo challenge win of the season, as well as a dinner for three with all the trimmings. She invited Mike and Devon to join her, leaving Ryan and her “buddy” Ben out in the (metaphorical) cold. But it was Ben who got the last (literal) laugh when Mike devised a half-baked plan to trick Ben into thinking that they found the other idol — once again, unaware that Ben actually did find it.

Ben’s smug look of self-satisfaction was well-earned at the Tribal Council when he got to surprise the others with his hidden immunity idol, revealing that — just as they feared, but definitely never expected — their plan blew up in their collective face. With the votes against Ben now discredited, the remaining castaways had to choose between Mike and Devon, ultimately choosing to send home Mike.

With no more Ben Bombs™ left to drop, Ben was determined — some might even say desperate — to win the final immunity challenge, which also came with the game’s final secret advantage. After what felt like 100 hours of pure frustration (those damn blocks!), Chrissy emerged victorious with her fourth solo win.

Chrissy’s secret advantage came in the form of advanced information about the upcoming Tribal Council: Chrissy would choose one player to sit next to her (Ryan!) while the other two (Ben and Devon!) would compete in a fire-making challenge for the final spot. “Who knew my inability to make fire would save me on Day 38?” Ryan noted. “Very ironic.” But in yet another shocking turn of events, Ben bested his opponent, making a powerful blaze and earning a spot in the final three.

Following an uncomfortable brunch — how could Ben just stand there drinking mimosas with his enemies?! — it was time for the final Tribal Council of Season 35, which proved just as dramatic as you probably expected. (Commitment issues, food issues, nothing was off limits.) But it was ultimately up to the eight-member jury to choose the winner, who voted as follows:

Ben: 4 votes (WINNER!)
Ryan: 1 vote
Chrissy: 2 votes

Time to weigh in: Did your contestant-of-choice win Season 35? Vote for the person you think should have won below, then drop a comment with more of your thoughts.