Survivor: Fiji’s winner was announced tonight. Shockingly, it wasn’t the season’s challenge hound and master strategist, Cassandra.
The castaways didn’t get a break, as they had to participate in another Immunity Challenge the day after Stacy’s ouster. The challenge was a maze the size of a football field, split into five sections. Before completing each section of the maze, each contestant had to find a key and unlock a drawbridge.
And it all had to be done blindfolded.
Cassandra and Earl were out of the contest early, and it was up to Boo and Dreamz to catch Yau-Man. They never could, and Yau-Man won immunity at a critical juncture. It meant Yau-Man was in the Final Four, and Boo was back on the chopping block.
At camp, Boo tried to convince Yau-Man and Earl that he was totally beatable in the final Tribal Council, and that Dreamz wasn’t.
Boo brought those issues up at Tribal Council as well, reminding everyone that Dreamz’s impoverished background was likely to earn him sympathy votes in the final Tribal Council. Dreamz explained that he hadn’t disclosed his past to earn sympathy votes, but Boo countered that Dreamz would get those votes anyway.
After the votes were cast, Earl played his hidden Immunity Idol, even though he wasn’t in any danger. It was the last opportunity for the Idol to be used, so there was no point in holding on to it.
Boo was voted out. In his parting words, he said that he respects Yau-Man on "many different levels." He also said that it would be funny if Dreamz broke his agreement with Yau-Man.
(In case you missed it, a few episodes back, Yau-Man gave Dreamz a truck in exchange for Dreamz’s promise to give Yau-Man the Immunity necklace, should Dreamz win the Final Four Immunity Challenge.)
The following morning, Earl said he and Yau-Man will be friends for a lifetime: "An older Chinese guy and a young black guy — friends. Who’d’ve ever thought? That’s like Rush Hour."
Then, the gang embarked on the traditional "Torches of the Fallen" tour on their way to another Immunity Challenge. The video of the tour was more like a blooper reel, with footage of Lisi tripping, Michelle falling off the platform, and Boo’s hammock collapsing.
When the gang arrived at the challenge, Jeff Probst took the Immunity necklace from Yau-Man. Dreamz told him, "You’ll get it back." Then Jeff told them that this was to be their last Immunity Challenge, and that three of the four would compete in a final Tribal Council.
Unlike final challenges of the past, which tended to favor women by testing stamina and balance, this was a challenge designed for a man to win. Each survivor had to lie on an elevated plank tilted at a 35 degree angle, and hang onto a bar — something that required a lot of upper body strength. A barrel of water attached to the top of the plank emptied a stream of water onto the contestants’ heads and hands, continuously.
Every five minutes, the planks were tilted five degrees steeper. After an hour, the planks would be standing perpendicular at 90 degrees.
After 15 minutes, Jeff tilted the planks to 50 degrees, and Cassandra slipped off of her bar. Earl and Yau-Man lasted another five minutes before both of them lost their grips, and Dreamz won the final Immunity of the game.
Jeff pointed out to Dreamz, "You have fulfilled part of the bargain you made with Yau-Man."
Earl was glad Dreamz won, since he was certain that Dreamz would keep his bargain with Yau-Man — meaning that Earl wouldn’t have to vote against his best friend in the game. But Dreamz wasn’t sure about giving up a guaranteed spot in the finals: "$1 million or keeping my word. I could use both of ’em."
At Tribal Council, Yau-Man was still hopeful that Dreamz would live up to his end of the bargain.
"Whatever you do," he told Dreamz, "you have to live with it."
But, after a day of talking about showing his son the importance of keeping promises, Dreamz decided to keep Immunity for himself.
The move shocked Earl, who decided that he had no choice but to vote for Yau-Man (who would be his toughest competition in the Final Three). Dreamz and Cassandra did so, as well, and Yau-Man left the game without either $1 million or a $60,000 truck.
The following morning, Cassandra looked forward to getting back to civilization: "We’ve spent 39 days in the same underwear. Actually… I discarded my underwear about three weeks ago."
And Dreamz described what it felt like being so close to winning $1 million: "I feel like I’m standing next to Oprah!"
At the final Tribal Council, Earl gave the best opening statement, saying that he wanted the jury to vote for him out of respect, not for sympathy (Dreamz) or because he was the underdog (Cassandra). Dreamz mentioned that he was poor — but, you know, not because he wanted any sympathy votes. Cassandra’s speech prompted everyone to daydream, including me.
Then it was time for the jury to ask their questions. Michelle asked all of the finalists what their biggest obstacle was during the game, and Cassandra said it was her inability to swim. Michelle asked, "Do you think your fear of water earns you $1 million?"
Edgardo had only one question, and asked Earl how he found out that Mookie had one of the hidden Immunity Idols. Earl answered, "Dreamz."
Then, Alex the Attorney took the floor, and tried to do his best Jack McCoy impression — and failed. He asked Cassandra to "describe a moment where you grappled with your integrity," but when she didn’t give the answer he wanted, he blew up at her. As she tried to explain herself, he shouted, "Stop talking! Is that not clear to you, Cassandra, that I said ‘stop talking?’ Maybe I should say it in Spanish."
He continued to be a tremendous asshole when he turned his attention to Dreamz. "Riddle me this, Dreamz," he began, and wanted to know how lying was setting a positive example for "the kids you and I are trying to help." He closed by saying, "You can’t hide from karma forever, ‘my friend’" — and he actually made the air quotes hand gesture.
Alex, if you’re trying to encourage kids to be total douchebags, you’re doing a great job.
Another genius, Lisi, was up next. Somehow, Lisi was able to convince herself that Cassandra’s ugly water shoes made her a greedy liar. Cassandra spoke for everyone with a brain when she said, "I don’t see the relevance in the question."
Then Lisi asked Dreamz how many zeroes were in the number one million. She acted surprised when Dreamz gave the correct answer (six), and Dreamz asked her, "What? Did you think I’m stupid?"
Because telling the truth would have revealed her own idiocy in asking such a mean, stupid question, Lisi answered nonsensically, "I’m a part of the jury. This is part of my game."
Stacy made the most interesting observation of the night when she told Earl "the only real difference that I see between you and Dreamz is that you’re a little more sophisticated." She said that, because of Earl’s college education, she was sure he’d be able to take care of himself even without $1 million — whereas Dreamz might not fare as well. She asked Earl if she should base her vote on need.
Earl said, "I’m not supposed to feel bad because I have a job. I had a tough upbringing, and I worked hard." He told her to vote on how they played the game because "we all need it."
Rocky asked each contestant how they were manipulative, and he became annoyed with Cassandra when she wouldn’t give him a specific example.
Boo was frustrated with Dreamz for going back on his word with Yau-Man, and he wanted Dreamz "to be able to tell the devil, ‘Dangle all the money you want in front of me. This Christian is not for sale!’"
Yau-Man told Dreamz that he could keep the truck, but asked him to explain why he changed his mind about handing over the necklace. "Yau-Man, I didn’t change my mind. I was playing the game," replied Dreamz. But Yau-Man didn’t seem convinced that the erratic Dreamz had planned to back out on the deal the whole time.
Then Yau-Man asked Earl, "Why would you [vote against me and] not want to take me to the next level?"
Earl answered, correctly, "The reason I would not want to go against you is because I would not win. Because you played the best game by far."
Jeff brought the votes into the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York to reveal this season’s winner. In the first-ever unanimous vote, Earl was declared the winner.
Earl confessed that, once Yau-Man left, he’d known what would happen: "When Dreamz reneged on that deal, I thought, Wow, I just won a million dollars!"