The finale begins with an extended recap (hey, that’s my job!) of the entire season. “Laura and I are blood!” exclaims Rupert in said recap, which is not technically true…unless they are kissin’ cousins, so to speak. We are also treated to lots of shots of various people flipping off Brad Culpepper and are informed that Ciera made “The biggest and most emotional move the game of Survivor has ever seen,” which I don’t really agree with, even though on paper voting out your mother does seem pretty gosh darn brutal. But I mean, it’s not like her mom found her teeth at the bottom of a lagoon or anything. Just sayin’…
We then get to the new stuff. Hayden arrives at Redemption Island and is not too thrilled with the power trio running the show. “If it’s Tyson, Gervase, and Monica at the end, I’m voting for Jeff,” says Kat’s ex-boyfriend (after all, she didn’t make it to the merge, so…). Hayden also likes his chances of winning the next truel to get back in the game seeing as how he is “competing against two grandmas,” although unless a caveman — for the sake of discussion, let’s just call him Vytas — somehow clubbed Katie over the head, dragged her back to his cave and impregnated her in the past few weeks, I am not sure if Tina has yet to achieve grandma status.
The final truel has Hayden, Tina, and Laura putting one foot on the end of a balancing board. At the other end is a ceramic vase. When the vase falls, you’re out. I love competitions like this. Simple, yet dramatic. Truel dominator Laura — who has won 5 out of 6 truels so far — looks shaky right out of the gate. But it is sure and steady Hayden who makes the mistake of wiping sweat out of his eye, which throws him off balance just enough to make his vase drop.
Too bad. Hayden turned out to be neither a strategic nor a physical threat in this game, but he played a great social game. He was well-liked by everyone and somehow able to be charming even as he was railing against people for votes. He did a strong job in convincing Ciera to flip and probably would have won had he made it back to the finals. But he didn’t. So Survivor contestants will not have to live with the ignominy of a Big Brother player coming in and winning the game they consider to be much far more challenging.
So it comes down to Laura and Tina. “Tina, let me have this please,” begs Laura. WHAT?! Yes, Tina is only still in this game because Laura helped her beat Vytas. And yes, Tina has already won. But if you think Tina Wesson is going to voluntarily give up her spot in the game, then you simply do not know Tina Wesson. A fire burns in that woman’s belly. “No way, sister,” Tina responds. “I love you, but this is a million dollar challenge, honey.” Results later will dictate that not to be true — and it will not be the last time we hear the phrase “million dollar challenge” in this episode — but it is important, and after 30 minutes, Laura’s vase does fall and Tina can celebrate her re-entry in to the game. Laura is crestfallen, saying she did not finish strong. And then come the tears from both mother and daughter. “You showed me how to be a better friend,” says Ciera, “and a better woman and a better mom more than anything. And I love you so much.”
NEXT: Tyson begins his march of dominance to the finals