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'Survivor: Blood vs Water', Finale Episode recap: Finishing strong

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Entering into Sunday night's two-hour Finale of "Survivor: Blood vs. Water," we knew that the seven remaining contestants had a one-in-seven chance of being crowned the winner and named Sole Survivor by the end of the evening. But anybody who has been watching or knows how Survivor works knew that these weren't seven equal chances...not at this point in the game.

No, all things pointed towards a strong finish for a certain trio alliance of Tyson, Gervase and Monica. Would they be able to pull it off? Would there be any last-minute drama that would shake up the game? Would there be a Fallen Comrades montage? Silly question, right? There is always a Fallen Comrades montage! Wait...are you telling me there was no frickin' Fallen Comrades montage?

Sad but true, despite its two-hour run-time, the Finale did not feature the traditional Fallen Comrades walk right before the final challenge. But let us start at the beginning of the ep as there is much to get to:

Aftermath. Returning from the Tribal Council that saw Hayden sent to Redemption Island, Ciera is trying to stay optimistic. Heck, she is still alive in the game and knows that whomever returns from Redemption Island will be on her side. They'll be in the minority still, but you take what you can get. Tyson officially reveals to the camera that his best bet is to take Gervase and Monica to the end and it is very important to keep Monica close. Monica though, is not interested in being anybody's lap dog. At Redemption, Hayden admits that, "Getting voted out sucks...If it's Tyson, Monica and Gervase at the end, I'm going to vote for Jeff." He knows he's still alive in the game if he can win the upcoming Duel.

The Final Duel. The three Island residents - Tina, Laura and Hayden - had to balance a beam with one of their feet, that on the other end of the beam, held a vase. The slightest movement would send the vase crashing and the last one remaining would re-enter the game. The other two? The game would be officially over for them. It was literally do or die time. Laura has survived six Duels now entering into this one, winning five of them outright. About 15 minutes into the Duel, Hayden was bothered by dripping sweat in his eye which caused him to lose his vase. Hayden was out of the game. Laura then pleaded with Tina to let her win so she could rejoin her daughter Ciera in the game. "No way sister," Tina told her. Roughly 30 minutes in, Laura wavered and her vase fell. That meant Tina was back in the game and after a very impressive run, Laura Morett was out of the game for good.

Finishing Strong. Now came the tears. Hayden told Jeff that he has a much better appreciation for the things he has back home. Laura, fighting back tears as Ciera cried up in the stands, talked about "finishing strong." She felt that she had actually failed overall, because all of her past wins had not resulted in her final goal of re-entering the game. She seemed quite the wreck. But that's when Ciera stuck up for her mother and told her this: "You've shown me out here how to be a better friend, how to be a better woman, how to be a better mom. And I love you so much." To which Laura replied, "How can you walk away saying you lost after that?" 36 days in to the game, Laura's time was over and she departed after burning her buff. Tina took a clue for the Idol and kept it for herself, now back in the game, even though the Idol has already been found by Tyson.

A Brutal Game. The others congratulate Tina on re-entering the game, but the truth is that she is right back to being in the minority along with Ciera. Tina tries desperately to find the hidden Idol, but it had already been found. Tina and Ciera know that they have to sway Monica, but their methods differ. Tina takes a very confrontational approach while Ciera tries to appeal more to Monica's ego. "For the last hour I've been pounced on," Monica says to the cameras. "This is a brutal game."

Immunity Challenge #1. For the next challenge, the players had to stack 10 blocks up on a table that was uneven, made level by a rope that they had to pull on to perfectly balance. One bad move and the table would become uneven, tumbling the blocks. It required patience and a great deal of concentration. So who wins? Tyson, guaranteeing himself a spot in the Final Four. "I never really imagined myself in this position, with the Immunity Necklace on Day 37," Tyson said. "But I'm not going to celebrate because I'm not done." In it to win it, that one is.

"It's My Night." Those words uttered by Monica as they head into Tribal Council. The question is: Do they vote out Tina or Ciera? Monica wants Tina out first, but Gervase is adamant that they get out the scheming Ciera first. The two had a major debate, which once again led Monica to tell us how she doesn't appreciate getting bullied. She plans on doing what she wants, not what others tell her to do.

Tribal Council #1. It's Monica in the middle, again. She has a bit of an emotional break-down, vowing to vote the way that she wants. "Tonight is about me," Monica tells everyone. This attitude from Monica creates a great deal of nervousness between Tyson and Gervase, prompting Tyson to give Gervase the hidden Idol to play it, which he does. It was the last Tribal Council that Tyson could have done so anyways, or it would have become a take-home souvenir.

The Vote #1. With Tyson and now Gervase immune, the question was did Monica flip on them? As the votes were read, it was revealed that Monica did not turn on them and instead the three - Tyson, Gervase and Monica - all voted out Ciera (Ciera and Tina had voted for Gervase). So with that, the second Morett girl of the night was sent to the jury.

In the Know. Although Monica stuck with her alliance, she was a bit upset when she saw Tyson's hidden Idol played on Gervase. That had not been part of the plan that was told to her. Still, it didn't seem to bother her all that much.

Final Immunity Challenge. Bypassing the traditional "Fallen Comrades" march to the final challenge of the season, we were instead treated to a massive obstacle course challenge. The players would race around the course collecting bags of puzzle pieces. They then had to solve the puzzle and the puzzle itself would provide them with a clue as to how to unlock a combination lock. First person to unlock their lock wins Immunity and is guaranteed a spot in the Final Three. Tina knew that she had to win this or her game was likely over. During the challenge, Gervase tried to run past Monica on a staircase and Monica gave him a hip check and didn't allow him to pass. Dang! But despite everyone's best efforts, we began to see the writing on the wall with Tyson. He dominated this final challenge, raised his flag and guaranteed himself a spot in front of the jury.

An Easy Vote. "This is the best day of my life," Tyson tells us. Although Tina pleads with Monica to create a tie-vote between Tina and Gervase, it doesn't seem likely to happen. A tie would force them into a fire-making tie-breaking challenge and Tina feels strongly she'd win. But why would Monica do that just for Tina at this point?

Tribal Council #2. As expected, it was a very straight-forward vote and despite the efforts of the CBS editors, there was never really a question that Tina was going to be the one voted out. "Be kind to one another tomorrow," Tina told them as her torch was snuffed for the second time this season.

Final Three Feast. Per tradition, the Final Three returned to their beach and were treated to a celebratory feast for having made it as far as they can go in the game. It was now in the hands of the jury to decide who among them would win the million dollar prize. All three seemed to feel confident that they had a good case to make and we would soon find out if that was true.

Final Tribal Council - Opening Statements. Gervase began by telling the jury that his game was a perfect blend of old-school and new-school. He pointed to the blindside of Aras as something that "Tyson was never that close to him to pull it off." Monica addresses head-on the whole "puppy-on-a-leash" perception, that she is just being strung along by Tyson and Gervase. Not true, she says. Tyson - perhaps his strategy? - gets emotional once again thinking about Rachel's sacrifice in the game. But he also talks about his domination in finding the hidden Idols and winning the big challenges down the stretch. "I'm here on Day 39 because Rachel made that sacrifice," he tells them. He adds that everything he did in the game was not out of malice, but was pure strategy.

Vytas. Per custom, each jury member had a chance to address the Final Three in any way they wanted. Vytas began by reminding Tyson that he told him in the game that he'd never give him his jury vote and went on to tell the other two that he wasn't all that impressed with them either. He was simply going to watch the rest of the jury and make his decision on the fly.

Katie. Katie began by congratulating them all, but then asked Tyson to address the comment he made to her shortly after she drew the white rock (Tyson had made a snide remark about her finding her jury seat). Remember when Tyson said nothing was done out of malice? Well he admitted that this was a regret and his one mistake in the game that he wishes he could take back.

Caleb. Caleb asked Gervase what his biggest move was, to which Gervase replied that he was actually the mastermind and Tyson his lightning rod. Caleb then asked Monica to say something from the heart. Monica got very emotional and tried desperately to give the jury what they wanted, as elusive as it seemed.

Ciera. Ciera asked Tyson if he fancied himself a villain and like all villains, he said of course not. She then asked Gerv if he would have ever voted Tyson out and he admitted he would "when the time was right," but that Tyson's wins down the stretch made that a moot point.

Laura. Addressing Monica, she once again attacked Monica's perceived lack of vulnerability. Monica again wasn't sure how to respond but her answer seemed to please Laura.

Tina. Tina asked them all to describe the "core of who you are" in one word. Monica? Generous. Gervase? Honorable. Tyson? "Is fun-loving one word or two?" He asked in true Tyson fashion. "If it's one word then fun-loving."

Hayden. Hayden verified that Tyson had the hidden Idol when he drew rocks and again took a jab at Monica. "The perception is that you are a little fake," he tells her. You can't help but understand why Monica got emotional and defensive in her responses.

Aras. Perhaps the best jury question of the night came from Aras. Posing the question to each person, suppose I can only vote for the other two? Who should I vote for and why? Gerv and Monica both said he should vote for Tyson, while Tyson said they should vote for Monica.

The Final Vote and Live Reveal. So it has all come down to this. The eight jury members now would write down the name of the person who should win Survivor. Only two votes are revealed to us on the air: The first was Caleb voting for Tyson to win and the second was Vytas holding true to his promise and voting against Tyson, choosing Monica. The show then switched over to the live feed in LA where Jeff Probst revealed the votes live. And it wasn't even close.

In a final vote of 7-1-0, Tyson Apostol was named Sole Survivor and winner of "Survivor: Blood vs. Water."

Analysis. For my take on tonight's Finale and my thoughts on Tyson as this season's winner, please be sure to check out my analysis coverage at TheTVKing.com.

Season 27 is in the books! But we're not done by a long shot. Be sure to subscribe to this column (above by my name) to receive email alerts of new postings, as you will not want to miss my exclusive one-on-one interview with the winner, Tyson Apostol, tomorrow! In fact I'll have interviews with all seven of the Survivors from the Finale Episode up on Monday.

Then we put a cap on this season on Tuesday, when I reveal the updated lists of "most memorable" seasons and "Best Winners." Where do you think Blood vs. Water and Tyson will rank on these lists? Check back on Tuesday for both updated lists.

Finally, here were the best moments from the After Show, in my Live Reunion Show recap. You will not want to miss this article, as the theme and name of the upcoming Season 28 was revealed.

It's been a pleasure writing about Survivor and sharing in it this season with all of you. Thanks for reading and looking forward to Season 28 next February!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, @tomsantilli, and at tomsantilli.com as well!

Also, make sure you check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, Survivor Fever.

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