It all began with the final five. Lauren Beck, Janet Carbin, Dean Kowalski, Tommy Sheehan and Noura Salman were first brought to the Island of the Idols. Upon arrival, they were greeted by Sandra Diaz-Twine and Boston Rob Mariano, who revealed they were handing over their house to them for the duration of the game.
The final five were then given special buffs and Tommy was quick to find hints that he assumed led to an idol. It turned into a bit of a scavenger hunt with one clue leading to the next. He confided in Dean to show trust and they agreed they’d bring each other to final two. However, Tommy kept searching while Dean did yoga. Tommy then made his biggest mistake, sharing the next clues he’d found. While he continued to search, Dean pretended not to … but actually was privately. He ultimately found the idol and didn’t tell Tommy.
The first challenge of the finale was for both immunity and a steak dinner reward. Dean and Tommy both lead the challenge, which included an obstacle course and a puzzle, but it was extremely close. Ultimately, Dean won the challenge and got to choose one person to share his meal with. He surprised many by deciding to take Noura — something Lauren assumed was jury management. During their dinner, Noura and Dean made a final two deal. Meanwhile, Janet and Tommy made a plan: Put all the votes on Janet, she’ll use her idol and they’ll vote out Lauren. He agreed — but secretly wanted her out since he knew she could always win at a fire-making challenge.
After Janet walked away, Tommy told Lauren and Dean everything. Ultimately, Lauren was hoping Dean would use her idol nullifier in order to keep her in the game and send Janet home. However, Dean saw Lauren and Tommy’s bond, so thought maybe he needed to get rid of Lauren. At tribal council, Janet chose to use her immunity idol — but Dean had used the nullifier right to block her idol. Ultimately, Janet was voted out.
The last immunity challenge was the most important: the winner was able to choose who would sit next to him or her in the final three. The other two would face off in a fire-making challenge; the loser would go home and the winner would take the third spot in the final three. Dean and Noura were neck-and-neck throughout the entire challenge but ultimately, Noura pulled out the win.
Once back at camp, Noura gave the perfect Noura speech which included a ton of rambling. She stated that Lauren was her No. 1, but was also the biggest threat. With that, she decided to take Tommy to the final 3 and have Lauren face off with Dean in a fire-making challenge. When it came time to make fire, the challenge was neck and neck. While Dean and Lauren had different methods of building their fires, both were working slowly. In the end, Dean’s flame was the first to burn through the rope and he made it to the final three.
At the end, the jury revealed to the final three they were undecided about who they would vote for. Tommy and Dean felt like they had it in the bag over Noura and seemed like best friends going in. However, when Dean admitted that he took a “chill” perspective in his strategic game, Tommy said that wasn’t a good game move — or even a game move at all. Dean made sure to bring up that Tommy hadn’t won any individual idols throughout the game. During the chat with the jury, Dean revealed that at the final five, he had the nullifier, Jamal’s (fake) legacy idol and the idol he found from Sandra and Rob — and didn’t have to use two of the three.
The jury was extremely impressed with Dean’s reveal (after a quick downpour), but it didn’t come with some heat from those he didn’t work with. At the end, Dean reminded everyone that he had his back up against the wall throughout the entire time on the island but still managed to find idols and get to the end with some of those advantages — or “jewlery” as he called them — in his pocket.
In Los Angeles, the votes were revealed. While Dean received two votes, Tommy received the rest and won it all!
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