‘Survivor: Cagayan’: The good, bad and ugly of the shocking season finale

We have a winner! The King reigned supreme, as puppetmaster power player Tony Vlachos won the title of sole survivor and a million bucks in the most strategic and riveting season of “Survivor” in recent memory. And we finally answered the question on everybody’s mind; who’s better – Beauty, Brains or Brawn – as Vlachos proved that Brawn squashed Beauty and Brains.

Over on the Gold Derby users leaderboard, it was our very own “Survivor” mastermind Marcus Dixon that won in a cakewalk against his season-long rivals with 37583 points ahead of Logan with 23799 points and Pandamonium with 22955 points.

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As exciting as that final tribal council was, and as much as some of us might celebrate Tony’s win, let’s get down to what’s even more important: the good, the bad and the ugly of the season finale of this, the 27th season of the show that reignited the reality TV phenomenon.

Tony Vlachos: I have no regrets about lying and cheating to win ‘Survivor’ (VIDEO)

The team behind this granddaddy of reality competition TV shows really pulled out all the stops this time around. A great season, so beautifully produced and plotted, was topped off with a wonderful, riveting, epic season finale, perfectly led by multiple Emmy winner, host Jeff Probst. Emmy voters, are you watching this show? It deserves to be in the running for Best Reality Competition Program! 

The final four were first seen lounging around camp when a speed boat arrives. They wonder what is in store for them, hoping for baskets of bread and cheese. But an even better surprise awaited them as their loved ones arrived on what Kass McQuillen called “the love boat,” with food and drinks to their hearts content. This is always one of the highlights of every season of “Survivor,” and this time it was no exception. Watching ruthless Tony crumble in tears as he hears about his wife and four-month-old baby was a sight to behold.

A new twist in this finale was to check in with Jeff, the contestants and live studio audience throughout the episode. We haven’t seen this side of the show until right at the end and then, of course, during the reunion show. I thought I wouldn’t like this innovation because it would take me out of the drama of the episode. Not at all. Jeff’s enthusiasm was so contagious that his asides before each ad break made the episode even more exciting.

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After the first immunity challenge, when Kass pulled off a miraculous comeback to win it, Spencer Bledsoe scrambled like nobody has before as he tried to convince Tony that there will be a final two, not a final three. And I suspect he almost did it, but it was not to be. So, it was very disappointing to see him voted out. So long, Spencer. You could’ve been a contender!

Kass said it best about Yung “Woo” Hwang being in the driver’s seat before the penultimate tribal council – “the person who hasn’t made a decision the entire game is now deciding my fate!” And she was right. It was bittersweet to see Woo be the guy that decided who would join him in the final two, after being so under the radar and inconspicuous for so much of the season.

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The best part of every “Survivor” season finale is the cross examination by the jilted and bitter jury members. It makes for great TV. And wow, there was a lot of ugly in that verbal firing squad. Teary-eyed Trish Hegarty put Tony on the spot and asked whether it was worth “sacrificing your father’s memory” to win a million dollars and Tony said, with sad eyes, “yes.” Trish was incredibly poised, even as she teared up. That was a highlight. But Tony’s complete lack of honor? That was a low point in “Survivor” history. …But he still won the cash!

Photo Gallery: “Survivor: Cagayan” Cast

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