“When Chris took off that necklace and volunteered to do the challenge and risk his game, I thought that was one of the best moves in all of reality TV, not just ‘Survivor,'” claims Gold Derby senior editor Marcus James Dixon in a discussion about the “Survivor: Edge of Extinction” finale with senior editor Susan Wloszczyna and contributing writer Kevin Jacobsen. History was made in the finale of “Survivor’s” 38th season as Chris Underwood became the first person to win the game after being voted out earlier in the season. Watch Dixon, Wloszczyna and Jacobsen discuss what Chris did to win the season, whether Extinction Island worked as a twist, what’s to come in Season 39 and more in our “Survivor: Edge of Extinction” video recap above.
Chris was voted out on Day 8 and was not part of the active game until the finale where he won his way back into the game. Once back in, he made the most of every day, manipulating Lauren O’Connell into wasting her idol on him at the Final 6 Tribal Council, playing his own idol at Final 5 and giving up Immunity to compete against Rick Devens in the Final 4 fire-making challenge and beating him. Yet, only playing the active game for 13 days out of 39 has made his win a controversial one. “It’s gonna have a bit of an asterisk, Chris’s win, considering he was voted out already,” says Jacobsen. “That is an issue for me and maybe other ‘Survivor’ purists who think it should be about the 39 days.” Dixon notes that people wouldn’t be so divided if Rick Devens had won. “Rick came back in Episode 6, so he’s been in the game for more than half the game,” Dixon says. “So if he had won, I don’t think there would’ve been any controversy at all but because Chris came back in the finale, it just didn’t feel fair.” Wloszczyna, who attended the “Survivor” finale, reveals, “I think it was a little shocking to the crowd and it was clear they love Rick Devens.”
Still, Jacobsen admits that Chris “absolutely made the most of those last few days so I definitely understand why he won. He had the entire Extinction Island experience to make friends with people and that’s part of what ‘Survivor’s all about.” It’s hard to blame Chris for working within the parameters of his circumstances, as Dixon observes, even if some fans aren’t crazy about the Extinction Island twist. “I thought the whole Extinction thing was very anticlimactic,” Wloszczyna states, agreeing with Dixon and Jacobsen that having an exiled player return to the game in the finale was a bit unfair. Dixon is hoping that if “Survivor” brings back the Extinction Island twist again, they amend the rules: “If they ever do this again, what they need to do is when they bring back the first person at the merge, all of the losers need to just go home. That was their one chance.”
Regardless of who won, the finale was fun and eventful. Dixon, who was with Wloszczyna at the finale, reports, “People were laughing their butts off the whole time and cheering during the challenges.” Wloszczyna agrees that it was a great final episode, though Jacobsen says it was a bummer to see another example of an older woman not be taken seriously in the Final Tribal Council, with Julie Rosenberg earning zero votes. Dixon says Julie would not have been a memorable winner, Gavin Whitson, who earned four votes, would’ve been “okay,” but, “Once it got down to those three, Chris was definitely the better choice.”
Looking ahead to “Survivor’s” 39th season, titled “Island of the Idols,” Dixon, Wloszczyna and Jacobsen are all intrigued to see how it plays out, with former winners Sandra Diaz-Twine and Rob Mariano acting as advisors to the new players. It’s not clear how this new twist is going to work, but if it’s a matter of finding an idol or taking advice from a past winner, Wloszczyna wonders, “Wouldn’t you wanna find an idol? I guess I would wanna meet Boston Rob.” Dixon says, “If it was something like take a steak meal or get help from Sandra I would take help from Sandra, but if it’s an immunity idol I would take the idol.” The two giant sculptures of Sandra and Rob intrigue Jacobsen the most, saying, “I wanna go there. I wanna worship at the idol of Sandra and Rob.”
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