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Denise tries to make a deal with Malcolm, but he is hesitant. Later, Denise tries to make a deal with Lisa and Michael for the Final Three, but Lisa and Michael made the same deal with Malcolm during their previous reward. During the Reward Challenge, Malcolm wins and receives an advantage in the Final Immunity Challenge. The other castaways claimed things like “Malcolm doesn’t need an advantage” and “he would be tough to beat without immunity”.
Denise, Lisa, and Michael enjoyed the traditional Day 39 breakfast. Before the three headed to the Final Tribal Council, they set their shelter ablaze. At the Final Tribal Council, the three made their opening statements to the jury. The jury made their statements to the three and questioned them about their game play. Artis took his statement to attack the three for betraying alliances. Carter asked Michael why he voted him out. Pete questioned Lisa over her perceived betrayal of the former Tandang members. He questioned Denise about why she played a better game than Lisa or Michael. RC questioned Michael about his role in her being sent to the jury. Malcolm also questioned Denise about why she played a better game than the other two. Jeff asked Michael if he was a person who made things happen, watched things happened, or wonder what just happened. He then asked Lisa to give him examples of her not playing in the middle and being assertive. Abi-Maria asked all three why they deserved her vote. Jonathan spent his time attacking the final three and revealing Lisa’s past as a television star to the jury. When the final vote came, the jury decided that Denise was the most deserving and awarder her the title of Sole Survivor by a vote of 6–1–1.
S25 denise t
(voting against Malcolm) Hey, Malcolm. I completely respect the way you play the game, but I tried to approach you, and you didn’t give me a commitment. So, I helped make your bed.
S25 malcolm t
(voting against Denise) (sighs) It sounds like it’s either me or you tonight. Um…(expletive censor)
S25 malcolm bw
Maybe I pushed too hard, I leveraged too much. I had them so driven to finally play the game and see threats, and they finally saw me as a threat. It’s just, I’m pissed off that I’m not gonna be at the end. Right now, it’s painful for a lifelong fan.
Behind the Scenes
Life at Ponderosa
Malcolm Freberg is warmly received by the other jurors, with Carter Williams handing him a bottle of beer. Malcolm vents his frustration on how close he was to making it to Day 39 before going for his post-game medical, where he lost a total of 10 pounds, which surprises him as he states that he “wasn’t that skinny since middle school”.
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The next day, the jurors prepare for the Final Tribal Council by pondering on their speeches.
The name of the Reward Challenge, Dragon Slayer, is a reference to Coach Wade’s moniker.
This episode is the first since “The Good Guys Should Win in the End” where only one person wins individual reward.
This episode shares many things in common with “A Slippery Little Sucker”.
There was one Reward Challenge and one Immunity Challenge.
Both runners-up received no votes against them during the game.
All three finalists received at least one vote from a juror.
The final four included a contestant named Denise.
This is the first episode since “Create a Little Chaos” in which a member of the original Matsing tribe is voted out.
This is the third consecutive finale where a female who started on a blue tribe wins the season.
Dalton Ross from Entertainment Weekly heavily criticized the inclusion of an advantage for the Final Immunity Challenge, claiming that it is the most important challenge of the game and should be kept fair.
This is the first season since Fiji where there are co-runners up and the first since China where all of the final three receive votes to win from the jury.
All three finalists were berated by the jury at the Final Tribal Council: Lisa for claiming that she could not handle the pressures of the game, Michael for being strategically and socially inept and Denise for being condescending at times. However, Denise’s argument, coupled with the fact that she was the first player in Survivor history to attend and survive every Tribal Council in the season proved to be the most convincing, which earned her the title of Sole Survivor by a 6-1-1 vote.