Survivor season finale recap: How to Survive a Bitter Jury

Jonathan Penner attempted to steal the show, but did his last second revelation about Lisa hand the game to Denise?
Ep. 14 | Aired Dec 16, 2012

FEARSOME FOURSOME Four walked into the final episode, but only Denise walked out a winner.

Image credit: CBS

And his final comments were similarly both genius and self-serving at the same time. Yes, they were bit overblown, crafted by the writer-actor as his epic send-off, but if you want drama, well, then Penner is the right guy to give it to you. Who else could come up with the following? “I think that one of you has ridden the other two here like oxen. You have yoked to a cart and have been ridden in and now you will be led to the slaughter. And you hear the cheering. You think the million dollars is yours. One of you is right. One of you is standing in the chariot. And the other two are actually just the oxen listening to the crowd cheering the person behind you. I’m done.” I wonder how many times he practiced that in the mirror at the jury house.

We Have Our Winner!
In the end, it was as we predicted this scenario would play out, with Denise taking the majority of votes (RC voted for Lisa and Carter voted for “Skoopin”) in the oldest final 3 in Survivor history, with all three finalists over the age of 40. No hate here. Denise did something nobody else has ever done in surviving every single Tribal Council. I don’t know if her win was “exciting,” but it was rock solid.

Reunited and it Feels So…Mild
I was really looking forward to this reunion, but I gotta say, was a little disappointed. First off, Probst once again refused all manner of absurd forms of transportation (jet ski, skydiving, motorcycle, subway, taxi) and simply walked the votes in. We got a moment of silence for the victims of the Newtown, CT shooting that was entirely appropriate but also made for a super awkward transition to the celebratory reading of the votes.

Lisa was eloquent talking about how “I don’t think God cares who wins Survivor,” but Jeff stayed with her on the Christianity thing for way too long. I thought there was a fascinating line of questioning to be had with Russell Swan and his various meltdowns and difficult time he has had coming to grips with what happened after the episodes aired, but instead we just got a throwaway question to him about rain. I definitely would have loved more time on the RC-Abi feud, which continues in full force to this day, and we never got into why Artis hates Skupin so much (which he discussed in detail on our InsideTV Podcast). And worst of all, No OVERSIZED NOVELTY CHECK!!! If I were Denise, I would pissed. You go all the way out there, watch your original tribe lose every single challenge, you have to attend every single Tribal Council, make it all the way to the end, win, and then you don’t even get an oversized novelty check? Lame!

Oh, and also, Lisa just beat Malcolm in the $100,000 fan favorite voting, if you care about that sort of thing. At least we had Dawson spice things up uy bum rushing Jeff Probst to land a big fat wet one right on his lips. And then we got to get our first tease of next season, titled Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs Favorites. (Jeff Probst shared more details about it with me that you can read right here.)

So, um, over 4,000 words later and I guess that’s it. Congrats to all the contestants and Survivor crew for giving us a thoroughly entertaining season. And thanks, as always, to you for reading…if anyone out there indeed is still reading. May your holidays be festive and merry! And if you’re a glutton for punishment looking for more, check out that post with Probst talking about next season. You can also feast on an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s finale in the video player below, along with my pre-game interviews with the entire final four. Speaking of the final four, I’ll be chatting with them on Monday, so look for that as well as my finale/reunion Q&A with Probst. And of course, make sure to follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss for all the latest Survivor scoop. I got nothing left to say except sorry about whatever typos may be lurking within! It’s late, this is long, and stuff happens. See you in 2013 with a brand new scoop of the crispy!

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