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Episode 14: "Perception Is Not Always Reality" (season finale)
Filmed: September 6-8, 2011; Aired: Sunday, May 13, 2012
  • Final five immunity challenge: "Balance Beam Maze" - Kim wins, narrowly defeating Alicia & Chelsea.
  • Final five voted out: Alicia, 3-2 over Chelsea.
  • Hidden immunity idols: Unplayed. Thanks for the souvenir?
  • Final four immunity challenge: "Operation Balance Build" - Kim wins again, barely edging Christina.
  • Final four voted out: Christina, 3-1, but if Christina had her way, it would have been 4-0.
  • Final jury vote: Kim wins, 7-2-0, over Sabrina and Chelsea.

The finale itself was pretty good. A full title sequence (intro), finally. Two impressive new challenges, each won by Kim. Kim took the strongest possible opponent pair with her to face the jury, and still won handily. But the reunion left a lot to be desired, mainly due to the extended segment where Probst spent what seemed like three hours running around the audience, trying to justify a decision that had clearly already been made: to bring Colton back for another season. Near-universal audience disapproval be damned! Blossom has spoken! Sigh. At least Survivor: Philippines will be Colton-free.

Trolly: Troyzan
Trolly
ICU!: Kourtney
ICU!
Beasty: Kim
Beasty/Sitty
Slitty: Kim
Slashy/Slitty
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trollyThe Russell Hantz Memorial Troll of the Week award (the "Trolly"): Troyzan
Honorable mention: Tarzan, Probst

Troyzan made two big, desperate pleas for attention during the finale/reunion show. First, despite being (in his mind), the greatest player ever to appear on Survivor, he decided to be the consummate bitter juror, and vote for Sabrina. This was probably at least partially a calculated play for camera time: he knew Kim would win, and that random votes for non-winners will be shown, to create suspense. For this, he was rewarded with: camera time. Or maybe he actually wanted Sabrina to win, because he's a petulant jerk. Never mind that in terms of social game, challenge performance, and overall strategy, that Kim is actually one of the best players, ever (especially among first-time players). Master Troyzan decided to ignore all that, and instead vote for the woman who did nothing around camp, consciously avoided being the person who called the shots, and did worse in nearly every challenge than an almost-senior-citizen. (We did actually like Sabrina, but still, there's no serious comparison.)

 

Then at the reunion, we got to hear first-hand from Troyzan about how he is the second coming of Richard Hatch. Keep in mind that Troyzan (while he did play hard and was decent in the challenges) was chiefly memorable in the social/strategic realm for going out of his way to antagonize the people not in his alliance, while assembling for himself a solid alliance consisting of: Jonas. Who would have have beat Troyzan in the jury vote, since everyone loved Jonas. So the Richard Hatch self-comparison seems a bit strained, since Hatch didn't feel compelled to win every immunity challenge (and indeed, famously dropped out of the final one), because he was actually in control of the game, and able to convince people (who had never watched the show) to do the things he needed them to do in order to win. But apart from that, and pretty much any other category you could come up with, they're twins. Of which Troyzan is clearly the superior member, just ask him.

 

Honestly, if the casting this season was designed to make the viewing audience yearn for a season with zero applicants, they did a bang-up job: There was repeat applicant Troyzan, Sears contest applicant Christina (who apparently decided to stop playing after day 1), and Colton, whose foul, over-rehearsed comments made him unwatchable. Way to go, casting. We really hope Kim applied, to balance this out.

icuThe S24 Purple Kelly Memorial Invisibility Cloakee Unmasked! award ("ICU!"): Kourtney
Honorable mention: Nina

Kourtney was one of the more interesting characters going into Survivor: One World, and when she was removed in the first episode with a broken wrist, it was disappointing. Made all the worse by her minimal screen time in that episode. And the lack of a title sequence in the premiere.

 

So it was some consolation that the return of the Fallen Comrades segment (and the title sequence) gave her a bit more time on the show during the finale. Only to have it yanked away again during the reunion, where Jeff Probst felt compelled to scout out random people in the audience who liked Colton, so he could talk to them, rather than talk to Kourtney (or Nina, who got much the same short shrift at the reunion, but at least got a decent boot episode). You would think that the Survivor: Philippines twist of giving medically evacuated players a second shot would provide an easy segue to find out how Kourtney's wrist had healed up. Or about how her cancer treatment has progressed. But no. Not when there are horrendous returning player casting decisions for which to belaboredly provide cover.

beastyThe S24 Colby Donaldson Memorial Challenge Beast award (The "Beasty"): Kim
Honorable mention: No competition

Rather than throw out subjective opinions here, let's turn to the numbers: Kim Spradlin is the winningest female Survivor challenge performer, ever. And she used this final episode to put an emphatic explanation point on that sentence (which we seem to have misplaced, sorry). Keep in mind: she didn't need to win the final five immunity challenge, because she already had a hidden immunity idol* that expired at that tribal council. Which she got to keep, because she won traditional immunity, anyway.

 

Her second win at the final four immunity challenge put her in some elite company: second-most individual IC wins (four), behind only Tom Westman, Survivor: Palau winner, who had five. And they were a variety of different types of challenges: the slip-and-slide challenge from Episode 11, the endurance rope-hang from Episode 12, and these two, which were completely new challenges. An all-around impressive performance, and a well-earned Beasty trophy.

 

*For those of you keeping score at home, that makes two utterly useless hidden idols this season (Kim's and Colton's), plus with the one Troyzan burned unnecessarily. Great twist, which gets to stick around because it was slightly less pointless than Redemption Island.

slashyThe S24 CIrie Fields Memorial Smiling Backstabber award ("Slitty"): Kim
Honorable mention: No competition

From a purely strategic perspective, Kim's performance this season was an extended clinic in how to play Survivor correctly. Most importantly, as she stated early on, she created for herself several "options." At the final five tribal council, she had a choice between a double-goat final three (Alicia and Christina), or a strong/loyal alliance version (Sabrina and Chelsea). At the merge, she could have gone with original Salani, new Salani, or some new combination. All of this was possible because she was friendly with everyone, through her own tireless efforts. It wasn't a matter of making "fake alliances" with everyone, intending to honor only one. It was more that she really did appreciate what each person/combination of people had to offer, and could see multiple possible paths to the end, only one of which ended up being the one she chose.

 

The likes of Colton, Troyzan, and Russell Hantz would do well to study exactly how she did this. Not that they will, of course. And of course, it didn't hurt that she had a hidden idol to spare, and kept winning individual immunities at the end. But best of all, she put an emphatic (also empathic) end to the belief that strategic players can no longer win, due to bitter juries. She won, 7-2-0.

 

Kim did almost everything right, and as far back as Episode 8, it was so obvious that she was head-and-shoulders above the remainder of the field, that the endgame almost felt a bit anticlimactic (apart from the terrifying prospect that the editing was setting her up for a fall, since it seemed so obvious she was in control). But win she did, and deservedly so. And in doing so, she put in either the fifth-best or third-best overall performance, ever, depending on how you calculate it. Luckily she got both the million and the fan favorite prizes, because really, a season-long Slitty Award seems pretty inconsequential by comparison.

See also:
Other recaps you probably wish you would have read instead of ours
Finale/reunion recaps and commentary
  • Gordon Holmes at XfinityTV.com: "Kim for the Win?"
  • Dalton Ross at EW.com: "The Right Person Won"
  • Dalton Ross & Jeff Probst at EW.com: Q&A
  • Andy Dehnart at RealityBlurred.com: "Kim dominated drawn-out Survivor: One World finale that came alive during the reunion"
  • Jill Mader at CouchtimeWithJill.com: "And the winner is..."
  • John Sciacca at John Sciacca Writes...: "Perception Is Not Always Reality (Finale)"
  • Stephen Fishbach at People.com: "Survivor Winner's Final Tribal Council One of Show's Best Ever"
Survivor: Philippines previews
  • Dalton Ross at EW.com: "Survivor: Philippines: Jeff Probst explains the big twist for next season"
  • Andy Dehnart at RealityBlurred.com: "Survivor: Philippines confirmed but preview doesn't name Jonathan Penner, Michael Skupin, Russell Swan"
Exit interviews
  • Rob & Nicole Cesternino at RobHasAPodcast: "Kim and the Gang: Interviews with The Survivor: One World Final Five"
  • Lindsay Silberman at TVGuide.com: "Survivor: One World Winner Kim Spradlin Explains Why She Thought She Didn't Have a Chance"
  • Josh Wigler at MTV.com: "Survivor: One World Winner: 'I Got Lucky'"
Podcasts Watch the episode on Clicker:
SurvivorSurvivor at Clicker
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