Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance finale recap: Lie, Cheat and Steal |

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Survivor finale recap: 'Lie, Cheat and Steal'

After 39 days, four hidden immunity idols, and a billion mentions of the phrase 'voting bloc,' the Sole Survivor is...



Season 31, Ep. 14 | Aired Dec 16

What a disappointment. What a terrible way to end an otherwise terrific season. If I had to boil it down to just one word, I guess that word would have to be travesty. Yes, travesty. That’s the word. And really, there is no other word for it: a travesty flying in the face of all that is right and good in this world.

I’m not speaking of the fact that Jeremy Collins was just crowned the Sole Survivor, of course. More power to the guy. He played a great game. Rather, I am pointing to the fact that Jeff Probst once again delivered the votes from Cambodia to Los Angeles neither by jet ski, nor skydiving, nor motorcycle, not subway, nor TARDIS, nor time-traveling DeLorean, nor Tuk Tuk chauffeured by Keith Nale, but rather by foot. Such a bummer. First off, it must have taken him forever to walk those things all the way from the remote island of Koh Rong to CBS Studios. (I’m also not sure how that is logistical possible considering, you know, oceans and stuff.)

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Second, this exceptional season deserved an exceptionally ridiculous entry. A hang glider would have been nice. Waterskiing could have added a certain je ne sais quoi. At least hand them to Fishbach for chrissakes, and let him walk them in. Then you still have about a 30 percent chance of him slipping on a banana peel, sending the voting urn flying up into air and landing on his head. (Maybe that already happened, and he was in a woozy, confused state of mind when he decided to wear that hideous shirt at last week’s Tribal Council.)

Regardless, I am able to overlook this travesty of justice due to an otherwise excellent season and excellent result. I said going into this finale that I would be happy with a win by either Spencer (my pre-season pick to win both times he has played), Jeremy (my pre-season pick to win last time he played), or Kelley (my pre-season pick to win neither time she played…but I did have her in my top three this season). They all played hard, played well and could offer different reasons why they deserved the million-dollar check. Had all three of them made it to end, I may have stuck an IV from my can of Milwaukee’s Best straight into my vein in celebration. It was not meant to be (and as a result, I am still alive to write this recap), but a Jeremy-Spencer face-off was still a glorious ending. (Nothing against Tasha, but she was merely a spectator by the end.)

Did the jury make the right call in choosing Jeremy? Well, I’m not sure either Jeremy or Spencer would have been the wrong call. Both had solid claims to the loot. Jeremy found two idols, won the most-important immunity challenge of the season, and was in a position of majority power for pretty much the entire time. Spencer won three immunities and went the distance, even though he almost didn’t make it past day six and then was on the verge of getting voted out several times after that. Both are impressive runs. I couldn’t fault anyone for voting either way, and I expected a few votes to go to each. The skunking Jeremy put on Spencer (and Tasha) therefore truly shocked me. I figured he would win but not that cleanly.

Did Spencer’s threat to Jeremy at the previous Tribal Council cost him? Possibly. When it appeared as if Jeremy might be wavering on whether to bring Wentworth to the final three, Spencer went on an all-out assault. “She 100-percent wins if she’s sitting here tomorrow,” said Spencer. But then he took it a step further. “If I go to the jury, I would consider it a terrible move on your part, and based on that move, I would do everything in my power to see her win.” This came right on the heels of Spencer also threatening that if Jeremy voted him out, he would “spend all of my energy making sure she won.”

Let me address this for a second. I actually do not have a problem with Spencer saying any of this. You have to do whatever is in your power to get someone to keep you around, even if it means making empty threats — and knowing Spencer, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt and assume he would have actually based his vote on who played the best all-around game, not on whether Jeremy brought him to the end or not. So the problem was not with what Spencer said but rather where he said it: at Tribal Council. Because not only are you now saying it to Jeremy, but you are also saying it to the entire jury, and it’s not a great look. Spencer may have tried to veil it in strategic terms, but it was unmistakably a threat — a threat to turn the entire jury against Jeremy.

Not only did it look arrogant, as Savage later stated, but it also belittled the jury in the sense that Spencer would assume publicly he could turn weak-willed voters into doing his bidding. That’s the brilliant trick of Survivor, though: How do you play for today to stay alive without ruining your chances later? Spencer was in a tough spot, no doubt. He was fighting to stay alive, and he fought hard, but his words may have come back to haunt him.

NEXT: Jeremy performs the ultimate Tribal Council mic drop