Last night we learned who won Survivor Philippines? It was the sex therapist from Iowa, Denise Srapley! Yes, Denise, who began the 25th season of Survivor on the ill-fated Matsing Tribe, then the defeated Kalabawa Tribe, and attended every Tribal Council, won the grand prize of $1 Million dollars. She was up against Facts of Life star Lisa Whelchel, who won the $100,000 Sprint Fan Favorite prize, and returning Survivor veteran, Michael Skupin. So how did it all play out? Let us recap the final episode of Survivor Philippines…
The Final Four battle to win Survivor Philippines. Image Credit: CBS Publicity.
After the usual quick recap of the first 36 days, we rejoin the Final Four of the Dangrayne Tribe as they returned from Tribal Council. All are happy that they have gotten rid of Abi-Maria, the Brazilian firecracker who made their lives miserable for the last 36 days. But Malcolm was the most irritated as Abi threw him under the bus by implying to the others that he was a shoe-in to win the grand prize. This now placed a huge target on his back.
Day 37 and it is time for the last Reward Challenge. No automobile this season, but the prize is a good one, an advantage at the final Immunity Challenge. The event itself was fairly typical of others run this season. Race through an obstacle course, untying bags of puzzle pieces along the way, then assemble the puzzle. Lisa was the slowest through the obstacles, but made up for lost time as the others worked on the puzzles. Skupin, who had been in the lead, quickly came to a screeching halt as he toiled with his dragon puzzle. It came down to a battle between Denise and Malcolm, with Malcolm winning the prize. Jeff Probst hands him a scroll and tells him to leave it sealed until the Immunity Challenge tomorrow.
Back at camp, a good deal of politicking goes on as Denise tries first to get a commitment from Malcolm to take her to the Final Three. But he balks, leaving her no option but to work on Lisa and Skupin, which Denise does. She finds a ready ear with Lisa, who also does not want Malcolm in the Finals. Skupin is more cagey, but still interested in other options. Later, Skupin and Lisa chat and are happy that either way, they will be in the finals.
Day 38 and Lisa tells Skupin that they should let Denise win the Immunity Challenge, letting her take the blame for blindsiding Malcolm. But Skupin is not sold on that idea. He would prefer winning it himself and controlling his own destiny. Tree mail arrives and instructs the gang to make the traditional ′Fallen Comrade Walk′ before the final IC. We get the usual flashbacks of the booted players.
The Final Immunity Challenge is a test of balance. Using hand-holders, the players must balance a steel ball on wood segment. Each round is five minutes, after which additional segments will be added. Malcolm′s advantage is a second chance should he drop his ball. Everyone makes it through Round One. But in Round Two, holding three segments, Malcolm slips and must use his advantage. His nerves are rattled and Malcolm′s shaky hands doom him again, this time for good. Denise also looses her ball with just 30 seconds left in the round. Lisa and Skupin make it through Round Three okay and move on to a fourth round with seven segments to be held. Skupin has trouble from the start and things do not look good for him until Lisa looses her ball. Skupin wins the final immunity!
Back at camp, the real fun begins. Malcolm knows he must now trust his alliance and warns Skupin and Lisa that Denise will say anything to stay in The Game. She certainly will and does so! Denise fights for her life arguing with Lisa and Skupin about booting Malcolm. When prompted by Skupin, Denise commits herself to vote against Malcolm. Skupin and Denise then have a private chat where he tells her that he would like to face Malcolm in the end as a matter of honor. Of playing against the best to the bitter end. Skupin then tells Malcolm that Denise is plotting against him. Later, Skupin and Lisa talk and she makes it very clear that she is voting to boot Malcolm.
At Tribal Council we get several takes from each about how the alliances have changed and evolved throughout The Game. Malcolm and Denise become very adversarial as it is clear that their private alliance from Day One has fallen apart. Skupin and Lisa reflect on how they, too, have been allied since the beginning, but at times had voted with others. Lisa again makes it clear that she is voting to boot Malcolm. She is not alone as Malcolm gets his torch snuffed out after a 3 to 1 vote. He now joins The Jury as its eighth and final member.
Day 39 and the Final Three enjoy their last day on the island. They take in the scenery and later the traditional Survivor breakfast feast. All wonder how The Jury will react? Lisa thinks The Game is a toss-up. It is time for the Final Tribal Council. Jeff Probst does his usual speech about how the power has shifted from the players to The Jury.
Each gets to make their opening statements. Denise goes first, saying that she will not apologize for anything she did. She is proud of her game play and thinks she deserves to be there and win. Denise also reminds everyone how she has been through three tribes and was at every single Tribal Council. She outwitted, outplayed and outlasted the rest. Lisa goes next and claims that all three finalists outwitted and outplayed the rest. She knows she made some mistakes along the way but adjusted and kept going, thanks mainly to her brother. Skupin wraps it up saying how he has been a target through The Game as a returning player and did not fail safe until Penner was booted. He thinks he played hard and loves The Game.
The Jury now gets their say starting with Artis, who is bitter and angry at them all. No questions, he just bashes them for being disloyal and liars. Carter compliments the finalists and asks Skupin about when he was voted off. Skupin replies that it had to happen as Carter was just too good and likable to keep around. Pete is next and he trashes Lisa for not warning their alliance when Artis was voted off. Lisa claims that she did not know about it. Pete also asks Denise why she should win over the others? Denise answers that she played a better social game than the rest.
RC is then up and compliments Lisa for making it all the way. She then asks her ally Skupin about when she was voted off. Skupin replies that he thought Penner was the target, not her. Malcolm goes after Denise who again defends her social game and superior strategy. Jeff Ghent asks Skupin what sort of person is he, to which Skupin answers a doer, one who makes things happen. Ghent asks Lisa about her moves and she answers that she tried to blindside Penner when Ghent was voted off instead.
Then we get the two cry babies, Abi and Penner. Abi is still fuming over everyone thinking that she is a rotten human being. She tries to corner Lisa and Skupin for being disloyal to the old Tandang alliance. Penner starts off nice, congratulating each. Then he calls Denise a bitch, attacks Skupin for having never been a real target and outs Lisa as a childhood TV star. Lisa fires back wondering what Penner did 25 years ago? He does not answer but instead describes Lisa and Skupin as oxen pulling Denise in her victory cart.
Its time to vote! We see RC vote for Lisa to win and Carter for Skupin to win. We also see Penner vote for Denise. Jeff Probst grabs the voting urn and heads off from the jungles of the Philippines to CBS Television City in Hollywood, California. Before he counts the votes, Probst asks for a moment of silence for the tragedy in Newtown. He then reads the ballots and Denise Stapley wins Survivor Philippines with six votes to only one each for Lisa Whelchel and Michael Skupin. So ends Season 25 of Survivor, but fear not! There will be a Season 26, this time in the Camaroan Islands of the Philippines. It will be another edition of Fans versus Favorites as ten fans compete against ten returning favorites from previous seasons of Survivor.