Survivor “Lie, Cheat and Steal” Review (Season 31 Episode 14) – Finale 2015

Survivor

Author’s Note: I’m currently sitting in a hospital chair because my 6 week old son had a surgery a few days ago, and he’s still recovering. I’m running on very little sleep, and I’m watching the finale on a tiny TV in the corner of the room, so forgive me if I miss some details or make a few typos. Anyway…let’s get started!

Survivor concluded their season tonight with the great two hour finale episode “Lie, Cheat, and Steal”, as we say goodbye to one of the best seasons in Survivor history. It really is incredible after 31 seasons for a show to still bring it like Survivor has week in and week out, and it’s especially surprising considering how utterly underwhelming and frustrating the previous season was. If they were going to fill the landmark 30th season with such unlikable contestants and uninspired challenges and twists, why would the 31st season be any better? Man did they prove us wrong!

The finale began as they usually do, with Mr. Dimples (AKA Jeff Probst) welcoming us to the epic conclusion we’re about to witness and builds it up to sound like the best television event in history. This guy hypes up every episode and finale like it’s the best one ever, but he may really be right this time! After introducing the “capacity” crowd (isn’t it always?) he then goes right into a brief recap of the episode and of our six remaining contestants. It’s very rare that we go into the final episode and I’d be happy with most of the players winning, but that’s the case this season. Basically everybody but Kimmi has made some impressive moves and really earned their place in the game, so I have a 5 in 6 chance of being a happy man in a couple hours! Let’s get into the meat of the episode, shall we?

The brief “blue view” scene at the beginning showed a rift growing between Keith and Spencer, and Kimmi starts looking to make her (very first?) big move in the game as she hopes to move against the four person alliance in the game. It’s a little odd to make a move against the four person alliance when you’re already in it, but why expect her to start making intelligent moves in week 12? I get that she thinks she might be at the bottom of the totem pole, but why rock the boat when you’re basically guaranteed to make it through the next two votes unscathed? You just run the risk of ticking off your longtime allies, and they’ll either vote you out or you’ll miraculously make it through long enough to blindside them and make some very angry jury members.

The first immunity challenge of the night was a recycled one, which has been my only real frustration of this season so far. At least it was a cool one, with that tall pyramid thingy always being an impressive sight to behold, but it was still one we’ve seen before. Spencer won yet another immunity idol, his third, and it really seems like they’re continuing to give Spencer a “winners edit” this season. Between all of the immunity wins, the “I’m learning how to love” subplot, and everything else, the guy is clearly being set up to take the million. Of course, this will be posted after I already know who wins, but whatever. I’m in the hospital, I’m tired. Leave me alone.

I don’t know if it’s just that I’m running on very little sleep or something, but I was freaking out over that first tribal! Not only were those harsh words beforehand electric enough, we had Kelly play her second idol, followed closely by Jeremy playing his second idol, and then they get all the votes! First time in Survivor history that no votes have been cast that actually count! That’s nuts! I’d like to say more about the crazy votes/re-vote/discussion that happened next, but man was that confusing. They were really reaching into the back pages of the Survivor rulebook for that one, but I loved every second. I was so glad that Keith decided against giving up his spot for Kimmi, and Kimmi is sent home.

It’s pretty hilarious that this was so confusing and crazy that Jeff Probst thought it was necessary that he bust out a little white pen and explain to everybody what just happened. I understood stuff a little better once he went over it, but I was still confused why everybody had the chance to talk through their vote and come to a unanimous decision. I don’t think they’ve ever done that before, have they? It used to be that if a vote was tied, then you all vote again and if the vote is still tied, then you have to draw rocks and everybody except the people who were voted for might go home if they draw the wrong rock. So it seemed like they were introducing a new rule on top of having one of the most confusing tribals ever. Crazy stuff.

Speaking of crazy, how about that second immunity challenge? Not only did it appear to be (mostly) original, but it was freakin’ huge! They’ve been editing Spencer like a winner for a long time, so it was a little odd that he fell behind so far in this challenge but we really weren’t able to see why. Spencer has been so impressive in challenges because he’s a good mix of a physical presence and he’s good at puzzles, but he was out of that challenge from the word “go”. Wentworth is also getting a pretty strong winner edit, and she was definitely worthy of winning that challenge. I was just impressed that Keith was doing so well in the puzzle!

Kelly and Keith were also the focus of the following scenes, as Kelly helps Keith try to sell a fake idol. As amusing as it was seeing him (very obviously) try to convince others that he had an idol, it didn’t work. Keith is “sent to the house”, as he says it, and becomes yet another member of the jury. This is definitely the point in the game where you wonder why people would vote out a player like Keith over a player like Spencer. I get that you might have an alliance with Spencer, but the guy finally is without an immunity necklace, and he’s been a huge threat throughout the whole game. Keith is no slouch, mind you, but he’s definitely not as big of a threat as Spence. If Jeremy turned on him then he would no doubt lose Spencer’s vote in the jury, but he might gain a few others for making such a huge move. Or do you think maybe he’d lose some votes because he’d be seen as disloyal? It’s a tough balance for sure, but Keith is sent home anyway.

The final immunity challenge was definitely not as visually impressive as the first two of the night, but it was still a fun one. Not only was it very hypnotic and fun to watch, but it gave Jeff the opportunity to say the word “balls” a million times. Seriously, it’s like they’re engineering new challenges just to give Jeff new opportunities to say things that sound hilarious out of context. Every Wednesday night my Twitter feed is on fire with hilariously out-of-context Probstisms.

Jeremy hasn’t won many immunity challenges, considering how strong of a physical competitor he is, but man did he win when it mattered! Jeff tells him he now has to go back to camp and figure out who he wants to take along with him, and they are simply editing it into a choice between Spencer and Wentworth. Tasha’s name isn’t even mentioned! It really speaks to the strength of this season, and the strength of these players, that Tasha is totally getting the floater edit. She’s an incredibly strong strategic player, probably one of the strongest from her original season, so it’s crazy that they’re basically ignoring her.

They continued ignoring her at tribal, where she just said she would shut up, and that was that. I really did think that Jeremy already knew he was going to vote for before he got to tribal, so I didn’t think it was necessary for Spencer to sell his case that hard. The dude was laying it on a little too thick, even going so far as to say that he’d vote against Jeremy if sent to the jury and make him lose, so thankfully for him Jeremy showed his loyalty and Kelley was sent home instead. I’m definitely sad to see her go home, as she was singlehandedly responsible for two of the best tribals in this season, and probably two of the best tribals of the whole series! She’s definitely earned her way onto some kind of future all-star season, so I can’t wait to see her then!

On top of the standard “top three feast”, Spencer, Tasha, and Jeremy were also able to check themselves out in the mirror and weigh themselves. I was a little disappointed that nobody shared their weight loss on air, but I guess they’re saving that for the Ponderosa videos on CBS.com.

I was a little disappointed that they didn’t do any kind of “memory lane” scene where they remember their fallen comrades, especially considering this was an all-star season of sorts. I may not have cared too much if it were any other season where the people sent out in the first weeks are people I didn’t care about, but I knew and cared about all of the players this time. Plus, I wanted to see more clips of creepy Vytas giving out his massages!

The final tribal is always a mixed bag for me. Sometimes it can be a valuable resource for the top three to plead their case and answer well thought-out questions, but sometimes it can also be a soapbox for bitter jury members to whine about the players that got them there. The only embittered one tonight was Kimmi, who really had less room to complain than most others out there, and then she was immediately shut down by Jeremy and she went back to sit down without a word. Beautiful.

The rest of the questions were your standard fare, with only a few standouts. I refuse to call Cass by her stupid nickname that she is forcing on America, and now trying to hoist onto Spencer, but her question was pretty original and it was cool that it was the only one that referenced a players’ previous season. Wigglesworth was also pretty amusing, as she insinuates that her vote will be based on the number between one and ten. It seems that Spencer has the best chance of winning her vote, as he has numbers 4-10 cornered, but maybe Wiggles is making that whole thing up.

The best answer came from Jeremy, who was able to close out the tribal with a very heartfelt plea that focused on his family. I thought it was a little odd that he kept the gender of his new baby a secret until now, but it seems that he was keeping it a secret just so that he could reveal it in the final tribal. It’s a skeezy that he’s basically been keeping that information a secret just so he could leverage it at this point to hopefully win everybody’s votes, but you gotta do what you gotta do!

The episode seemed to be going a bit overtime, as it was already 10:05 when the jury was starting to make their votes. Usually they’ve already voted by 10:00 and we transition into the live show for the results! Anyway, the votes are cast, Probst takes the pot ‘o’ votes, and unfortunately does not take a jet ski on his way to Los Angeles. He reads the votes and…it’s unanimous?! Really! All of the votes are cast for Jeremy and he becomes the Sole Survivor and winner of a million bucks! The guy played a great game and he totally deserved the money, but I can’t believe that Spencer didn’t at least make it competitive! I guess a tear-jerking story about your family is going to beat Spencer’s arguments every time!

What did you guys think of the episode? Do you think Jeremy deserved it? Did you love the season? Sound off in the comments section below!

Random Thoughts:

– It’s always a little funny when they film on such a beautiful island, with so much of untouched by human hands…and then they cut down a bunch of trees and build giant challenges on it.

– Jeremy trying unsuccessfully to get Keith’s attention was my favorite part of the episode.

– It’s always fun seeing the newly minted jury members walk in and seeing how well they cleaned up, and man did Kelley look totally different! She looks buff!