Wednesday’s “Survivor: Edge of Extinction” season finale began with the five remaining castaways — Rick Devens, Lauren O’Connell, Gavin Whitson, Victoria Baamonde and Julie Rosenberg — nervously awaiting the return of one of the show’s voted-out players. With a whopping 11 people hoping to return to the game, 10 dreams were about to be shattered following the highly anticipated Extinction Island comeback challenge. So who returned from the Edge and which player was ultimately named the winner of the $1 million prize?
Below, check out our minute-by-minute “Survivor” recap of Season 38, Episode 14, titled “I See the Million Dollars,” to find out what happened Wednesday, May 15 at 8/7c. Then be sure to sound off in the comments section about your favorite castaways on CBS’s reality TV show and who you think will ultimately join the “Survivor” winners list. Keep refreshing/reloading this live blog for the most recent updates.
8:00 p.m. – “Previously on ‘Survivor’!” In last week’s 13th episode, Rick won the immunity challenge and then bluffed that he was going to use his hidden idol on Julie. Spooked, the others decided to vote out Aurora McCreary instead. Aurora then became the final inhabitant of Extinction Island, joining Reem Daly, Chris Underwood, Aubry Bracco, Joe Anglim, Eric Hafemann, Julia Carter, David Wright, Kelley Wentworth, Dan “Wardog” DaSilva and Ron Clark. Let’s get this finale started!
8:02 p.m. – To kick things off tonight, Jeff welcomed in not only the final five, but also the 11 players still on Extinction Island to compete for the last time in the hopes of getting back in the game as the final six. In that challenge the players had to maneuver through a ropes course and then finish with a table maze.
8:04 p.m. – Eric, Aurora, Julia, Joe and Chris were the quickest on the first stage of the challenge while Wardog, Reem and Ron brought up the rear. Aurora finished the second stage first, followed by Eric, Kelley, Joe and David. On the knots-untying portion, Eric once again lead with Joe right behind him. They got to the rope bridge just before Kelley, Aurora and Chris. Aurora made up some time to get off the rope bridge just before Joe, Eric and Chris. She then untied her second set of knots first and got to the table maze first. At the maze the players had to sink two balls–Aurora dropped a ball in a hole first, remaining the player to beat. Joe and Chris then got a ball in to even the playing field and as both of them inched closer to the final hole, Joe dropped his ball off the course and Chris found the hole in time to win after 27 nights at Extinction!
8:10 p.m. – For the players that lost the challenge, Jeff had them reflect on what their time at Extinction meant. For all of them it was an emotional experience, but one that taught them things about themselves, including overcoming long held grief (Julia) and realizing that the center of their world is always back home (David). At that point they all left to head to Ponderosa (not Extinction!) and Chris returned with the top five as a part of the top six for his second chance at winning.
8:21 p.m. – Upon returning to camp, Chris asked for some time to reacclimate to the game. That being said, he knew that he had information he could use to his advantage–namely that Lauren has a hidden idol (because Kelley told everyone about it). Victoria was the most worried about Chris being back in the game because he has previous connections with both Rick and Lauren from their original tribe, connections she saw as “options” for them to use.
8:23 p.m. – The first person Chris spoke with was Rick, vowing to stick with him and wanting to go to the final four together. In return Rick promised to not write his name down at the next tribal council, but knowing that he was the one that backstabbed him originally and voted him out. Later Chris approached Lauren to tell her that the jury wants people to make moves and the move he thinks she should make is to play her idol for herself or for someone else in a way that changes the game. In that way he let her know that he knows about her idol and so she set out to have trust with him, but under the promise that he wouldn’t tell anyone else about her idol.
8:25 p.m. – For the first immunity challenge of the night the final six raced through a series of obstacles, including balance beams, in order to release a combination lock and then solve a circular standing puzzle. They also played for a steak and chocolate cake meal as reward. Chris and Rick both got to aggressive starts in the challenge and reached the combination lock stage at roughly the same time as everyone else. Victoria unlocked it first and began working on the puzzle just before Rick, Julie, Lauren and Gavin caught up, leaving Chris in the dust. The women were much better at the puzzle than the men with Julie taking a big lead as both Victoria and Lauren, her closest competitors, cheered her on. As Julie struggled to get her final piece in, Chris stopped working on his own puzzle to guide her through hers which left an unpleasant taste in Rick’s mouth. In the end, Julie did win, her second of the season, and got to choose two other people to join her on reward. Because of his all coconut and rice diet she chose Chris first and then Lauren. Again Rick was upset, pointing out that he’s had her back more than anyone else. Tough cookies, buddy!
8:36 p.m. – At the reward, Julie’s goal was to convince Chris that he needs to work with the rest of them to get Rick out. At this point Julie was still hoping that Rick’s idol was fake, but Chris cautioned that the biggest threats in the eyes of the jury are Rick and Victoria which perked Lauren’s ears up. It was news to her that Victoria was a threat.
8:37 p.m. – Back at camp, Victoria was readying Gavin for the concept that the three at reward would be working together, leaving them on the outs. They decided to bring Rick in, telling him that the original plan was to split between Rick and Chris, but now possibly Rick should vote with Victoria and Gavin in order to eliminate Chris. Rick said he didn’t want to backstab Chris again, but said he’s going to play his idol no matter what and would keep his options open to determine if Chris is going to work with him or against him.
8:39 p.m. – Once he returned from the reward, Chris and Rick touched base where Chris vowed to work with him, saying that he didn’t hold a grudge from the initial vote and then showed Rick the prize he got for returning to the game–the same joint idol that Rick received upon his own return. So Chris gave half of that idol to Rick and if they both survived this vote they’d be able to join it together at the next tribal council in order to use it as an idol. But Chris wasn’t convinced that he’d be safe and so he attempted to get Lauren to play her idol on behalf of him in order to secure his safety. (Sidebar: Is anyone surprised producers thought it was a good idea to plant a third idol into the game at this stage? Knowing that there was already two floating around? Wasn’t what happened to Cirie Fields during “Game Changers” bad enough?!)
8:45 p.m. – At tribal council, Victoria argued for “not rocking the boat” and sticking to the plan to oust Rick and/or Chris. Julie also had to defend her decision to take Chris and Lauren on the reward, at which point Rick (I’m assuming) forced some tears out about how tough the game has been for him. When it came time to vote and play any hidden idols, Rick played his (Julia, on the jury, said “yesssss”) and Lauren played hers for Chris (“wow” from the jury) so Chris, Rick and Julie were safe from elimination as Jeff read the votes:
Rick, Rick, Rick, Chris, Victoria, Victoria. And so Victoria finished in 6th place and on her way out she told Gavin she’d be voting for him (ouch! why would you throw him under the bus like that?!).
8:52 p.m. – After tribal council, Rick went on the hunt for another idol thinking that his would be replaced. But before that he had fashioned two fake idols and hid those so that if other players went on the hunt that they’d find his fake ones and mistake them as real. Sure enough, everyone was on the hunt with him, but Rick found the real one before anyone else could, ensuring his spot in the final four. With his own idol he gave Chris his half of the other idol, ensuring that Chris would also make the final four……….
8:55 p.m. – Thinking that because two idols were played the night before, Julie and Lauren continued to hunt for the second idol. Julie found one of Rick’s fake idols and mistook it for a real one and then Lauren found the clue to the other one (above the shelter) that Rick also planted. So Rick’s two fake idols were in the hands of the two women who wanted him out most, and he and his ally from Extinction Chris had real ones. Great.
8:58 p.m. – At the final five immunity challenge the players had to scramble across an obstacle course hovering above the water in order to collect all the pieces to a puzzle. Chris got out to an early lead with three of his bags back first despite not needing immunity for himself. At one point Julie was on the same obstacle ahead of Chris and so it gave Gavin a chance to catch up and pass him, getting to the puzzle stage just before both Chris and Julie. On the block puzzle Gavin looked strong while it wasn’t going very well for Chris. Rick worked quickly as well, catching up to Gavin and ultimately placing his final pieces first and winning immunity, further cementing his place in the final four (which was already secured).
9:08 p.m. – Rick returned to camp smug as ever, knowing that he was safe twice over. With the idol necklace around his neck, he decided to approach Gavin as an option to hand his hidden idol over in return for his promise that if he wins the next immunity that he’d save him from having to do the fire-making challenge at final four. Gavin was reluctant to make the deal because he’d “be stupid” to go to the end with Rick, but he also knew that he’d have to make the deal and could potentially go back on his word anyway.
9:11 p.m. – Later, Julie and Lauren, thinking they were safe with idols, vowed with Gavin to vote for Chris. But smartly, Lauren was worried that one of the three idols found yesterday (Rick’s, Lauren’s or Julie’s) was fake and so she sought out Chris in order to pitch voting Julie out in order to save herself in the case of a fake idol. Chris thought it was a smokescreen, but was still thinking Julie has more friends on the jury and told Lauren he’s down to vote Julie. But he went to Rick in order to decide who they’d vote out and Rick said that Lauren is the better option, laughing all the while knowing that they were about to play his fake idols.
9:14 p.m. – At tribal, both Chris and Rick played up the idea that they were worried heading in to both the immunity challenge and tribal council. But Chris also wanted to pitch that no one should vote for him tonight because he’s their best option to beat Rick in the fire-making challenge at final four, but Lauren smartly pointed out that in the event Rick wins the next immunity it means they will have done themselves a disservice by setting up the opportunity for Chris to easily defeat them at fire.
9:17 p.m. – After the votes were cast, Julie played her idol first (a fake) and Lauren played hers next (also a fake) to the uproarious laughter of the jury. Then Rick played his (real) idol for Gavin (as promised) at which point Chris acted upset before playing his own (real) idol. That meant that only Lauren and Julie were eligible for votes as Jeff read them aloud:
Chris, Chris, Chris, Lauren, Lauren. And with that, and a ton of smiles and well wishes, Lauren, the best actual player (stupid use of the idol, aside) of the season was voted out.
9:25 p.m. – For the final four immunity challenge the players competed in a balancing race where they’d have to balance a teetering see saw while also placing a tower of six blocks at the end of it. Rick proved awful at the challenge from the jump while Julie maneuvered slowly and taking an early lead. As Julie approached with her fifth block she dropped her tower, opening the door for Chris to place his fourth and take an easy lead. Chris continued at a very slow and steady pace, setting his fifth block at the same time Rick dropped one block yet again. Upon his approach with his sixth and final block, Chris teetered a bit, but managed to place the block and just had to get back to the start of his see saw without dropping at the same time that Julie placed her fifth block. But for Julie it was too little too late because Chris was able to inch back successfully and win his way into the final three!
9:36 p.m. – Back at camp everyone knew that it was up to Chris who would be battling in the fire-making challenge and who would be taken by him straight to the final tribal council. Rick was the first to plead his case to Chris, pitching the loyalty he showed since Chris returned to the game and asking to be paid back for it, but Chris told him straight up that he’s going to make fire because no one can win against him. Gavin didn’t even pitch to Chris and instead asked that he help him learn how to make fire in the hopes that he could beat Rick. So Chris showed Gavin and Julie the best way to make fire in the hopes that either of them will be best prepared to beat Rick.
9:40 p.m. – At tribal council, Julie and Gavin told Jeff that they didn’t plead their case to Chris and instead practiced fire in order to prove to the jury that they could earn their way into the final tribal council. Rick continued to play the loyalty card, even in front of the jury, and basically beg Chris to take him straight to the finals and let Julie and Gavin build fire against each other. But in a total show of worth, Chris decided to give away his immunity necklace to Julie and send himself into the fire-making challenge against Rick. That meant both Gavin and Julie entered the final three in front of a stunned jury.
9:44 p.m. – In the fire-making challenge Rick was the first to get sparks from his magnesium, but failed to get anything lit. Chris got a flame first, but it went out just before Rick got a flame, too. Rick’s went out as well, but then Chris caught a proper flame as Rick continued to struggle to get anything valuable out of his efforts. Just when it looked like Rick wasn’t going to have a chance, Rick got his flame, but it wasn’t enough. The fire Chris made reached the rope quickly and earned him his spot in the final! So the gamble paid off and Chris became the one to take Rick out!
10:05 p.m. – At the final tribal council it was once again an open forum discussion with the finalists and the jurors. First Jeff wanted the players to discuss the “outwit” portion of the game. Gavin told David that Victoria was his most valuable relationship in the game, working together for the entirety. Chris called Rick is most valuable and Julie named Ron, but also let the jury know about her secret relationship with Lauren that helped her get to the end as well. Aubry wanted to know how Chris used his time at Extinction to his social advantage to which he said him taking care of the players there by providing food for them. When Gavin answered the same question, Chris attempted to throw him under the bus by asking him if he was a goat, but that pissed the jury off and Kelley even asked that the finalists not ask questions of each other. The jury wasn’t happy with Julie’s answer about using her emotional breakdowns as strengths.
10:12 p.m. – When the question of big moves came up, Chris was able to win back the respect of the jury by saying that his best move was using the information Kelley gave him about Lauren and convincing Lauren to use her idol on him. Lauren backed him up on how well he played that move and Ron seemed legitimately impressed. Rick, ever the egomaniac, wanted to know why no one else was looking for idols, but also whether Chris had an advantage with the information he got form Extinction. Chris was able to flip it into a disadvantage, saying that he used his short time in the game to make big moves. Gavin was able to call out Chris and the entire theme of the season by saying that Chris didn’t in fact play a “classic” game of “Survivor” because he was voted out on day 8. Later, Rick did him a solid and had everyone who never received a vote against them raise their hand and the only person to raise their hand was Gavin.
10:25 p.m. – With that, the jurors cast their votes for a winner and Jeff took the urn through the jungle and all the way to Los Angeles to read them: Gavin, Chris, Gavin, Chris, Gavin, Chris, Gavin, Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris. And so everyone except Kelley, Lauren, Aurora and Rick voted for Chris to win! It seems the Edge of Extinction theme, which wasn’t on trial by the way, resulted in another first for the series–the first winner who was previously voted out of the game! What do you think of that? Sound off in the comments.
SEE ‘Survivor’ video recap: We’re ‘rooting for’ Aubry to return from Edge of Extinction, but Joe ‘has what it takes’ [WATCH]
Here are the answers to Gold Derby’s contest questions for “Survivor” Season 38, Episode 14:
Who will win ‘Survivor’? Chris Underwood
Who will place 2nd? Gavin Whitson
Who will place 3rd? Julie Rosenberg
Who will place 4th? Rick Devens
Who will place 5th? Lauren O’Connell
Who will place 6th? Victoria Baamonde
Who will return from Edge of Extinction? Chris Underwood