Survivor: South Pacific Season Finale Recap: And the Winner Is... [Updated]

Totem poles were embraced. Houses of cards were erected. Puzzles were solved. Tears were shed. Hugs were rejected. Pigtails were sported (by Ozzy!). And shirtless Tai Chi was practiced on the beach. (Nope, Coach didn’t spare us the horror.) But in the end, only one player walked away with a cool $1 million at the end of Survivor: South Pacific. Here’s how the finale played out:

Final Redemption Island Duel: Ozzy defeats Brandon
Penultimate Immunity Challenge Winner: Ozzy
Penultimate Tribal Council Eviction: Rick
Final Immunity Challenge Winner: Sophie
Final Tribal Council Eviction: Ozzy
Final Three: Sophie, Coach, Albert
Winner of Survivor: South Pacific: Sophie Clarke!

Yes, I may have let out a mild-to-moderate whoop of pleasure when Jeff Probst finally spilled the beans. But hey, since Coach himself said in his opening remarks to the jury that “when you open yourself to others, you receive it ten-fold,” then surely he should be satisfied with all those warm fuzzies and none of the cash, right?

Anyhow, before I turn things over to you, here are a few of my thoughts on the finale:

Ozzy’s wisest observation (about Brandon’s fatal miscalculation): “He’s not playing with God; he’s playing with human beings who are greedy and want that money.”

Ozzy’s scariest observation: Describing the chance to exit Redemption Island and return to the main game as “getting back to real life.” (Someone needs some serious reality TV detox.)

Ozzy’s most egotistical observation: His reunion show remark about how he was sure everyone was rooting for him in the final challenge. Um, not me, dude.

Coach’s most ponderous voiceover: All that business about envisioning himself “rising above everybody, rising above all the misery… from destruction to absolute victory.”

Coach’s dumbest move (Option A): Not taking Brandon to the finale. (Come ON: Who would’ve voted for that dude?)

Coach’s dumbest move (Option B): Combining knee socks with a scraggly ponytail.

Sophie’s barely veiled way of telling Albert he was utterly useless in challenges, and in particular the house-of-cards game: “Albert, drop your stack and come pick up my pieces!” (Jeff Probst’s brilliant counterpunch: “You want Ozzy out of this game, beat him”)

Rick’s dreadful/truthful assessment of his own value in the game: “Ozzy needs people that aren’t gonna beat him.” (Sophie’s brilliant counterpunch: “If Rick’s not the man to do it, there’s no point in having him around.”)

Rick’s one moment of awesomeness in an almost silent season: Telling Coach to “go have a seat” when his betrayer stood up to embrace him.

Move that may have sealed Sophie’s win: That tearful breakdown during the second-to-last tribal council. Maybe she didn’t do it strategically, but Sophie managed to show some remorse for her social failings in the game — without it coming across that she was only repentant because a jury of her wronged peers were about to decide whether or not to give her $1 million.

Most insufferable congratulatory remark after Sophie’s immunity win: “A new slayer is born!” –Albert (so pretty, yet such a pitiful performance making a case for himself to his peers)

Brat calling the brat a brat: Ozzy whining to the final three that “the bad news is nobody wants to vote for any of you guys.” (Sack up, dude; you choked in that final immunity challenge, and your social game was mediocre, even though you managed to drop this laughable sound bite: “I played as good a social game as I possibly could’ve.”)

Most hilarious comment to the jury: Sophie saying she viewed Coach “as a young girl.”

Dimmest move in response to a juror’s question: Albert hemming and hawing at Brandon’s insistence on a “yes or no” answer to the question of whether he knew Brandon was going home after giving Albert his immunity necklace. (Why couldn’t Albert concoct one more lie and say “No”? Talk about failure to outwit and outlast, sucker.)

Most satisfying jury takedown: “Coach, you used Christianity to manipulate your whole tribe, and to put fear into them, actually.” — Whitney

Most satisfying jury comment period: “We signed up for this,” said a calm, reasonable Edna to her fellow jurors, who seemed hellbent on shaming the final three. “They managed to dupe each one of us. Congratulations!”

And congratulations to Sophie, a non-returning player who won three individual immunities, offered a decent amount of amusing confessional sound bites, and outstrategized her alliance mates all the way to a well-deserved win.

What did you think of Sophie’s win, and the season in general? Hit the comments and sound off, and check out a preview for next season, Survivor: One World, below! And for all my reality TV recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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