It hasn’t been smooth sailing for any of the final five contestants on season 30 of Survivor: Worlds Apart, but after a grueling 39 days all the hard work paid off — for one of them, that is. At the start of Wednesday’s two-hour episode, five hopefuls remained: Mike Holloway, Rodney Lavoie, Carolyn Rivera, Sierra Dawn Thomas, and Will Sims. Mike took the lead early by winning a challenge that earned him time with a special guest: his mother, Debra.
In addition to enjoying some bonding time with her son, Mike’s mom provided him with an advantage for the next challenge, which was a maze. The contestants would be blindfolded when going through the waist-high structure, but Mike’s mom was not. Before the challenge began, Mike’s mom got 30 minutes to lead her (blindfolded) son through the maze on a sort of dry run. Unfortunately, even without a blindfold on, Debra couldn’t figure out the right path, so it’s unclear whether that extra time was helpful or not. Regardless, Mike won the challenge and earned himself immunity in the next tribal council — where Sierra was sent home.
The next challenge involved a giant water slide and building a “lighthouse” — and, much to the obvious annoyance of the other remaining three, Mike won again. Will, though, was a good sport and put the immunity necklace (where can we get one of those?) on the challenge victor himself. The next tribal council elimination earned both Carolyn and Rodney two votes. To break the tie, they performed a fire-making challenge and, a mere hour later Carolyn won, which meant Rodney was going home.
And so the final three were Mike, Carolyn, and, perhaps a bit surprisingly, Will. (ICYMI, even host Jeff Probst didn’t think Will could win.) They headed to the final council, where castoff contestants said their peace. Highlights included Dan taking aim at Mike and Shirin firing at Will.
“You didn’t care about the jury, all you cared about was making it to the end,” Dan said as he pointed a finger at the 38-year-old oil driller. “Well let me tell you brother, you damn well better care about us tonight because there’s no necklace to save you tonight.”
In response, Mike said he hoped that he and Dan could be friends, and Dan actually seemed to believe it. “That is the most genuine thing that you have said to me since the auction,” he said to his former castmate. “That, finally, was real, and for that I am grateful.” Meanwhile, Shirin made a heartfelt speech about her time on the show in which she managed to weave in her thoughts on Will, namely, that he was “the dead fish we dragged in with our nets.” (For the record, her vote was going to Carolyn.)
Ultimately, Mike edged out Carolyn (whom Probst seemed to favor) was named the winner of the season. During the reunion finale, which aired immediately after, he shed some light on his strategy this season. After making some loose references to Jesus Christ, he explained, “When your back is completely up against the wall and you know what position you’re in in this game and the only person that you can trust is yourself, you’re able to make moves that otherwise you might not have been able to have the forethought to make.”
Asked if he had any tips for next season’s contestants, he quipped that they should learn how to handle firewood. Love him or hate him, that’s some solid advice.
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