Heading into the two-hour 13th episode of “Survivor: Winners at War,” seven castaways still remained in the running to win the $2 million prize: Denise Stapley, Michele Fitzgerald, Sarah Lacina, Nick Wilson, Tony Vlachos, Jeremy Collins and Ben Driebergen. Considering this 40th season started with 20 iconic winners facing off against each other, that’s quite the accomplishment indeed. After this second-to-last episode of the season was all over, who ended up having their torch snuffed by host Jeff Probst?
Below, read our minute-by-minute “Survivor: Winners at War” recap of Season 40, Episode 13, titled “The Penultimate Step of the War,” to find out what happened Wednesday, May 6 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. Then be sure to sound off in the comments section about your favorite castaways on CBS’s reality TV show, who currently holds immunity idols and fire tokens, and who you think will ultimately join the “Survivor” winners list.
Keep refreshing/reloading this “Survivor 40” live blog for the most recent updates.
7:59 p.m. – “Previously on ‘Survivor’!” In last week’s 12th episode, Kim Spradlin-Wolfe tried her best to send Tony to the Edge of Extinction, but her plans were foiled when he won his third straight immunity challenge. Kim regrouped and decided to vote out Jeremy, so Tony shook things up by telling him all about her plans. At tribal council Jeremy voted with Tony, Sarah, Ben and Nick and sent Kim packing. Who will be voted out tonight?
8:00 p.m. – After tribal, Michele was disappointed that the advantage she gave to Jeremy wasn’t used and in the process put her own game on blast for no reason. Furthermore, she was once again left in the dark about where the votes were actually going. Jeremy was happy to give the 50/50 coin back to her though, not wanting his own game to come down to a coin flip and instead making the moves he needs to secure his safety.
8:02 p.m. – The next morning Denise was feeling off and seeking inspiration to get her head back in the game. It was clear that she, and everyone else, was feeling the stress of a game that has been chaotic and uncontrollable since the beginning. It’s been by far the oddest and most off-the-cuff game we’ve ever seen.
8:05 p.m. – Tony was still looking to work with Jeremy going forward, as well as Sarah, his “Cops R Us” alliance that formed (and failed) six years ago. The problem with Cops R Us was that they had Ben pulled in as their final three deal, but he wants Jeremy out badly and getting out Jeremy would leave them vulnerable to the eyes of everyone else. With that in mind, Sarah’s goal for the day was to convince Ben to get rid of Nick next, not Jeremy. Sarah’s strategy was to give Ben all the information, but make it seem like it’s a decision he’s making instead of one he’s being told. Sure enough, later in the day he went to Tony with the idea of getting rid of Nick instead of Jeremy! LOL!
8:12 p.m. – For the top 7 immunity challenge the players raced through a short obstacle course with a puzzle at the end with the first to finish earning two fire tokens and safety at the next tribal council. Jeremy was the first through the first stage, followed closely by Sarah and Nick. He was also the first through the second stage with Ben making up ground to get to the slide puzzle second. Despite the slide puzzle tripping Tony up in his original season, he seemed to be making solid progress this time around, but Nick was better at it and earned the win!
8:22 p.m. – Because Nick was the prime target for the group, there was some scrambling to be done to figure out who was the backup plan. Most of the group was down to vote Denise out instead, but that wasn’t what Ben wanted so his goal was to create some distrust between Michele and Jeremy. His plan was to ask Jeremy to get the 50/50 coin back from Michele so that they could safely vote her out instead. Jeremy figured that the Denise vote was a smoke screen, likely a lie they were telling him to vote him out instead and so he turned his sights back on Ben. Meanwhile, Ben’s plan went into phase 2 to get Michele to question Jeremy’s trust, but that backfired once they talked to each other. It was clearly a “playing both sides” move and so it put a huge target on his back with yet another player.
8:26 p.m. – When Jeremy went to Tony with the plan to vote out Ben, Tony’s back was against the wall and so he went to Ben with Nick and they formed a plan with everyone else to split the vote between Jeremy and Michele. Sarah was nervous about trusting Nick, but they had no choice to see which direction he’d go: with them or with Jeremy and Michele to vote out Ben.
8:33 p.m. – At tribal Jeff wanted to know what effect the idea of “being watched” has on the way they play the game. Ben clarified that because you’re so mentally and physically exhausted that you have to remember that you’re not always being the same person that you are at home. For Sarah, this season has a “personal” side of it because they’re all friends with one another and in that sense they all strive to be a bit more truthful than they were in the past. The important takeaway from this tribal though was that for once, thankfully, it wasn’t a tornado of whispers. Instead it seemed like there was a legit plan in place and that everyone was determined to stick to it, for better or worse.
8:44 p.m. – Because it was the last night it could be played, Michele played her 50/50 coin for… herself. Michele flipped it and it came up “safe!” So any vote against Michele doesn’t count. Jeff read the votes: Michele, Michele, Ben, Jeremy, Ben, Jeremy, Jeremy. On his way out, Jeremy told Nick it was a “bad move” (it was!) and then he gave his fire tokens to Michele.
8:48 p.m. – Back at camp Ben was happy to have come out of the battle against Jeremy still alive and determined to move forward with Tony and Sarah. Tony’s motivation going forward was to get rid of Michele, the player that on another season would be considered a “goat” and on this season isn’t deserving of going to the end. Elsewhere Nick and Michele hashed out why he thought he made the right decision. From his perspective he was pulling her closer to him, but from hers it gave them no path forward to make any move they want to make. Nick’s goal is to now get rid of Ben? Okay……..
8:52 p.m. – The next morning Michele was ready to play hard and upfront with everyone that was clearly building a wall against her. She had a conversation with Sarah that she called a “Hail Mary” where she told him that she has no chance of beating Tony in the end. Michele made it clear that the perception to the jury is that Tony is running the show and that he’s the biggest threat hanging around.
8:55 p.m. – On Edge of Extinction there was a new riddle that directed the players to a “throne of stone” that sent the players running for what they figured was the destination. While other players went toward the water, Wendell Holland went up the hill and Natalie Anderson darted for a stone she knew would be it (on the beach) and sure enough she was right! The advantage she found was actually a disadvantage to be sold to a player in the game to be used against another player. Her goal was to get as many fire tokens as possible and so she targeted Nick. With six fire tokens in his possession, Nick was two short of what Natalie was asking for it!
9:00 p.m. – Needing two fire tokens, Nick reached out to Michele with the hope that they’d be able to buy the advantage together and use it against a player of their choice. Hoping to cause some more chaos, they started considering who they’d play it against and I’m unsure why it took so long for them to think of Tony’s name!
9:07 p.m. – At the site of the next immunity challenge where the players had to stack blocks like dominos on a wire-tripped ledge Jeff informed the group that a disadvantage was played against Ben! Another dumb move by Nick? Probably. Anyhoo, the disadvantage gave Ben 30% more beam and blocks to stack than the rest of the group.
9:10 p.m. – Regardless of the disadvantage, Ben was clumsy and by far the worst at the challenge. Meanwhile, Michele and Tony were making headway and got out to an early lead. On her way back at one point, Michele dropped just one block which required her to have to go back and then reset that block. The mistake gave Tony, Sarah and, shocker, Ben the opportunity to catch up, but Michele still finished her row first and made the attempt to get the win. And on her first try she did it! Right when she needed it!
9:18 p.m. – Back at camp, Denise wanted to take on the role of “dejected” player by telling everyone that she knows she’s on the block and offered to give the group her tokens to buy rice so that she could leave for Edge of Extinction with food in her belly. Meanwhile, she and Ben were actually hatching the plan to work with Tony and Sarah to vote Nick out instead. The plan was to let Michele and Nick think that it was indeed Denise though.
9:20 p.m. – In order to get his plan to eliminate Ben to work, Nick had to get Tony on board. His way of convincing Tony was to remind him that Ben won the fire-making challenge on his season in order to get to the end. Hearing that and knowing that Ben also has an idol, Tony decided to open up his spy nest for business to catch other players in conversations. Form there he heard Denise discuss with Sarah and Ben that she’d like to get rid of Tony because he’ll be strong with the jury. With that information, Tony optioned the idea to Michele of going after Denise instead.
9:24 p.m. – Later, Tony and Sarah discussed their options and realized they’re the swing votes between getting rid of Denise or getting rid of Nick. In their minds, Ben remained the person they wanted to take to the end as their third.
9:30 p.m. – At tribal, the first thing Jeff wanted to know was why Michele was so happy to win immunity this time. She made it clear that she is on the outs and that everyone wanted to vote her out this round. He also wanted to know Ben’s reaction to having a disadvantage played against him, but he was still in the dark about who played it against him. He even considered that it came directly from someone at the Edge. Denise reiterated her strategy of “laying down” in front of the jury and it didn’t look like anyone on the jury was impressed to hear it.
9:42 p.m. – With no idols or advantages played, Jeff read the votes: Nick, Denise, Denise, Nick, Nick, Nick. So Michele was right, wasn’t she, Nick? Bad move leaving Ben in the game!
9:44 p.m. – The next morning, the players on the Edge woke up on their last morning in Extinction. Amber Mariano reflected on the peacefulness of the island and the opportunity it gave her to focus on what matters the most in life, like the simplicity. There was nothing peaceful or simple about the prospect of their final battle though! In preparation they all got the opportunity to use the tokens they had to give themselves an advantage in the challenge. Parvati Shallow, Wendell and Yul Kwon all bought advantages and Natalie was able to purchase three advantages, peanut butter, an idol and retain six fire tokens. The idol she bought wasn’t for herself though, because she already has one, so she bought it for Tyson Apostol instead.
NEXT TIME: We find out who gets back in the game and which winner joins the queen, Sandra Diaz-Twine, as a two-time winner!
Here are the answers to Gold Derby’s contest questions for “Survivor” 40, Episode 13:
Who will be voted out at tribal council? Jeremy Collins and Nick Wilson
Who will win Reward? No one
Who will win Immunity? Nick Wilson and Michele Fitzgerald
Will a hidden idol be played? No
Will anybody quit or be medevaced/removed? No
Be sure to make your predictions to influence our reality TV racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs on CBS. You’ll compete to win a spot on our Season 40 leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.