Boston Rob Mariano was right when he made an out loud observation as he wrote down the name of his pick for the Sole Survivor of Season 40. Natalie Anderson, who crushed her competition on the Edge of Extinction after being the first arrival on that lonely beach, did almost everything right to get back into the competition and return to the game — except for one move. She should have made sure that she wasn’t pitted against Tony Vlachos in the final three.
Instead, she was betting on Sarah Lacina to beat her cop buddy Tony at making fire. The edit made it seem he wasn’t that adept at sparking a flame with flint during practice. But he struck when the fire was hot and got his bestie kicked out of the competition. Natalie was much more worthy of the prize than Michele Fitzgerald, her other rival. But there was no ignoring that Tony influenced much of the action back on the mainland of the game once there was a merge.
But was Tony really better than Natalie? She played the game as perfectly as she could, especially on the Edge of Extinction. As she told the jury, her targeting of players still in the game with advantages that would fill her pockets with fire tokens and saddling Tony with a disadvantage from afar was long distance gameplay at its best. Plus, she won most of the challenges on the Edge while never ticking anyone off.
And let’s also consider Michele. She was an underdog from the get-go but managed to win back-to-back individual immunity challenges when they counted most. And socially, she was well liked. But that mostly put a target on her back. And if Sarah had won the fire challenge, she would have been able to make a good case that she was the brains behind her alliance with Tony and Ben Driebergen.
Take the poll below and tell us if Tony was the right pick as the Sole Survivor of “Winners at War.” Or if you think another player was more worthy of the crown? And share any other thoughts on Season 40 in the comments below.