This Survivor finale recap covers episode 14 (May 16) of the Heroes vs. Villains season on CBS, in which the final five survivors are narrowed down to three and then a winner is chosen by a jury of players who were previously voted out.
Survivor Finale Recap: Fallout from last week’s tribal council
Last week the ultimate hero, Rupert, was finally sent home, leaving just one hero, Colby, to battle four villains – Russell, Parvati, Sandra and Jerri.
Early in the May 16 Survivor finale, Russell is mad that Sandra didn’t tell him she had the hidden immunity idol she played at the last tribal council. Sandra sticks up for herself and says she didn’t have to tell him. Russell then accuses Parvati of knowing about Sandra’s idol and keeping the secret from him. Parvati asserts that she didn’t know about the idol either.
Russell says he wants to take Sandra and Jerri to the end. He plans to vote out Colby unless Colby wins immunity, in which case he’ll target Parvati.
Survivor Finale Recap: Immunity challenge #1
The immunity challenge on Day 37 involves balancing dishes on a platform. Jeff Probst instructs the competitors to add more and more dishes as they attempt to continue holding their dishes upright. Colby doesn’t go out right away (for once!) After nine dishes, Sandra’s stack tips over and she is eliminated.
After 14 dishes, Jerri’s stack falls. Two dishes later, Russell is knocked out, leaving Parvati and Colby. Colby’s stack finally falls after 17 dishes, giving Parvati immunity for the second consecutive tribal council and perhaps sealing Colby’s fate.
Survivor Finale Recap: Tribal council #1
Back at camp, Colby admits defeat and tells the tribe he’s willing to go out quietly. His “surrender speech” is fake, though. He later approaches Russell to convince him to vote out Sandra instead. Russell starts to sound convinced. “I don’t trust Sandra as far as I can throw her,” he says. “If we keep Colby, it could help us beat Parvati (in the next immunity challenge).”
At tribal council, Colby makes one last attempt to persuade the Villains to send Sandra home, but it fails. Colby becomes the 8th member of the jury, leaving four Villains to battle to the end.
Survivor Finale Recap: Final immunity challenge
Before the final immunity challenge, Russell and Jerri have a quiet conversation in which they discuss the importance of winning the next challenge to keep immunity out of Parvati’s hands. They feel Parvati would get all the jury votes and want to take her out next.
The walk to the immunity challenge is the “fallen comrades” segment, where the survivors collect the torches of each player who has been voted out since the game started. The dismissed competitors are heard in voiceover as their torches are gathered. The most interesting comment comes from the old man Randy, who notes with wry humor that the reason he was voted out is because he “couldn’t communicate with 26-year-old girls,” and he’s not ashamed of that.
The challenge itself is a large human-size maze in which the players are blindfolded and must read guideposts with their fingers to locate four necklaces. Russell jumps to an early lead with two necklaces, while Sandra takes forever to find her first necklace and falls behind. Jerri and Parvati come back to take the lead with three necklaces.
Russell and Parvati both grab necklace #4 at the same time and start the blindfolded sprint to the finish. Jerri then picks up her fourth necklace and joins the pursuit. The search for the exit is excruciating but finally picks up steam as all three head for the finish line together. In one of the closest challenges in history, Russell hits the finish line just before Jerri and Parvati. Jeff calls it “one of the most dramatic finishes of any challenge” in the show’s 20-season run.
Russell’s immunity gives him a guaranteed spot in the final three. Parvati gets worried. “I gotta talk to Russell and make sure I’m still his girl,” she says.
Survivor Finale Recap: Tribal council #2
Back at camp, Russell is in the power position of deciding who to take with him to the final three. Russell tells Sandra flat out, “I want you in the final three because I think I could beat you for the million.” Sandra is fine with that – she just wants to stay another day.
Russell tells Jerri he’s voting out Parvati, but he tells Parvati he’s voting out Jerri.
At tribal council, each woman makes the case for why Russell should take her to the final three. It all comes down to whether Russell wants to keep Parvati or Jerri. Ultimately, he elects to keep his longtime ally Parvati and Jerri becomes the final member of the jury.
Survivor Finale Recap: Back at camp
Back at camp, the competitors start planning their speeches to persuade the nine jury members to vote for them.
On day 39, Parvati, Russell, and Sandra arrive at tree mail to see a feast of bread and vegetables. They gorge themselves and discuss the final vote. When Russell walks away, Sandra takes his hat and burns it in the fire. “That’s payback for everything he’s done in this game,” Sandra says.
Survivor Finale Recap: Final pitches to the jury
The players’ opening statements reveal their strategies. Sandra talks about how she was the only remaining member of her alliance and she made it all the way to the end by herself with no help. Russell actually apologizes for playing a devious game, but says that he was simply playing the game the way he had to play. Parvati says she played the ultimate social game, the ultimate strategic game, and the ultimate physical game.
Russell tells Colby, “I believe I got here without any luck.” That elicits some eye rolls. Parvati says she was a target from Day 1 and the fact she survived makes her worthy of the prize.
Sandra admits that her strategy did not work because if it had, Russell would’ve been voted out earlier. She makes a smart statement by reminding the Heroes how she kept going to them to try to convince them to vote out Russell. That statement seems to sway Rupert, who gives her effusive thanks for her efforts.
Danielle tells Russell he won’t get any votes. “I wouldn’t change anything and I don’t regret it,” he replies.
Candice attacks Russell as well. “You told dirty lies – lies that you didn’t need to tell.” Candice compares Parvati to a spouse in an abusive relationship with Russell. She seems to insinuate she’ll be voting for Sandra.
Survivor Finale Recap: The final vote count for Heroes vs Villains
As the votes are shown, it becomes clear the battle is between Parvati and Sandra, both of whom have already won the game before. As Jeff reads the votes, Sandra triumphs 6-3 while Russell is shut out. She becomes the first two-time winner of Survivor.
Survivor Finale Recap – Live reunion show for Heroes vs Villains
Jeff and the full Survivor cast returned for the reunion show and discussed the strategic moves that occurred throughout the game.
Jeff asks Sandra if she considers herself the best Survivor player ever, and Sandra says yes. Parvati says she’s lasted the longest in the history of the game. Jeff asks Russell if he considers Sandra the best ever, and he says that Sandra has no social game, no strategic game, and no physical game. Russell says if Sandra can win twice, there is obviously a flaw in the game, and therefore America needs to have a percentage of the vote.
Russell was proven right when he won the Sprint fan vote for player of the season.
This was one of the most exciting seasons in Survivor history, but the finish was disappointing. For the second straight season, the winner was clearly not the most deserving player. The jury vote is becoming more of a popularity contest rather than a reward for playing a great game. We’ll see if that changes next season, when Survivor: Nicaragua becomes season 21 of the series.
See my previous Survivor Heroes vs Villains Recaps:
May 13: Rupert’s time finally runs out
May 6: Candice and Danielle are both sent home
April 29: Amanda is voted off for the first time ever
April 22: JT is voted off with his own immunity idol
Survivor Finale Recap: Sources