So what is the “million dollar question” heading into tonight’s season finale of Survivor: Philippines? Will it be Malcolm, Denise, Lisa or Mike Skupin named as the Sole Survivor? And really, is there any outcome that wouldn’t be a satisfying one for this season?
All four remaining players seemed to be well-liked fan favorites (yes, even Lisa who has, admittedly, began to wear thin on some). It seems that all four would be considered “good” Survivor winners. As the episode description suggests, the Final will feature a Reward Challenge that gives one of these four players a distinct advantage in the final Immunity Challenge. That all but solidifies the “is it going to be a Final 2 or a Final 3?” argument. There is only so much time in an episode (even though this is an extended, two-hour finale). But yes, it will be a Final 3.
So who is the odd-person out? Let’s look at the possibilities, but first, here is the synopsis from CBS:
Episode 14, Season Finale – “Million Dollar Question” – WITH A MILLION DOLLARS ON THE LINE, THE FINAL FOUR CASTAWAYS SCRAMBLE TO SECURE THEIR SPOT IN THE FINAL TRIBAL COUNCIL, ON THE TWO-HOUR SEASON FINALE OF “SURVIVOR: PHILIPPINES,” FOLLOWED BY THE LIVE ONE-HOUR REUNION SHOW, SUNDAY, DEC. 16. The final four survivors scramble to secure their place at the final Tribal Council. Meanwhile, a crucial reward challenge allows castaways to compete for a highly coveted advantage, on the special two-hour season finale of SURVIVOR: PHILIPPINES, Sunday, Dec. 16 (8:30-10:30 PM, ET/7:30-9:30 PM, CT /8:00-10:00 PM, PT), followed by the live one-hour reunion show (10:30-11:30 PM, ET/9:30-10:30 PM, CT/10:00-11:00 PM, PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Analysis. I’m not sure if I like the idea of an “advantage” being given to a Survivor in the final challenge. That challenge is supposed to be the great equalizer, the “who wants it more?” challenge to end all challenges. So as SNL’s Kenan Thompson would say, what’s up with that?
Malcolm can no longer play his Idol, so it’s anybody’s game at this point. It seems most likely that Skupin and Lisa will stick together no matter what, which points to a breakdown of sorts between Denise and Malcolm. Depending on who can win that much-coveted Immunity Necklace, the Final 3 should be Lisa, Skupin and Denise, or Lisa, Skupin and Malcolm. In either of those scenarios, does Lisa and/or Skupin stand a chance at winning?
With all of the hate being tossed around this season towards returning players (plus Skupin didn’t seem incredibly well-liked socially), it seems that Skupin faces the toughest challenge of all convincing a jury, at first glance anyways. With a Final 3, that means there are eight jury votes up for grabs…meaning four votes will at least create a tie-situation (what would happen in a Finale tie-vote? Jeff Probst isn’t saying, but here is some tie-breaking insight from Xfinity’s Gordon Holmes in an interview with Probst). So could Skupin get four votes? It is possible.
Consider that fellow former player, Jonathan Penner, may very well vote for Skupin if he made it to the end. Abi could also cast her vote towards her former tribe mate. Then there is RC, who would most likely vote Skupin as well. That means he would only need to sway one other person between Carter (possible), Denise/Malcolm (unlikely), Jeff, Artis and Pete. It could happen.
No, in my opinion it is Lisa who will have the toughest time convincing a jury that her back-and-forth, wishy-washy antics were actually strategic maneuverings. This still doesn’t take away the fact that this game is Malcolm’s or Denise’s to lose.
It doesn’t seem possible that Malcolm and Denise could end up in the Final 3 together, but in that unlikely scenario it would be a real toss-up. The “million dollar question” is really this: How will we get down to the Final 3? In recent memory, I can’t remember a Final 4 where all four remaining players had such a legitimate shot at winning Survivor, where after a semi-predictable stretch of exits, we face such uncertainty with who may go home next.
And with that, the Survivor two-hour Finale is tonight! Sunday, Dec. 16, at 8:30 p.m. EST only on CBS! It’s followed by the one-hour Live Reunion Show hosted by Jeff Probst, where per norm, we will also get a sneak peek at Season 26 of Survivor, debuting in just a few more months.
Join me later tonight for my recaps of both the Finale and the Reunion Show. Then on Monday afternoon, check back for my final round of exit interviews with Skupin, Lisa, Malcolm and Denise, as well as my updated lists of “most memorable” Survivor seasons and “Best Winners” on Tuesday.
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