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September 19 (Kalabaw)
September 19 (Tandang)

September 19 (Matsing)
September 26 (Kalabaw)
September 26 (Tandang)

September 26 (Matsing)

October 3 (Kalabaw)
October 3 (Tandang)

October 3 (Matsing)

October 10 (Kalabaw)
October 10 (Tandang)

October 10 (Matsing)

October 17 (Kalabaw)
October 17 (Tandang)

October 17 (Matsing)

October 24 (Kalabaw)
October 24 (Tandang)

October 31
November 7
November 14
November 21
November 28
December 5
December 12
 
Eighteen players -- including three who have been here before but left due to injury -- have travelled to the Philipines to see who can outplay, outwit and outlast the others in a battle for a million dollars! 18 castaways, 39 days... only ONE Survivor!

Recaps by Chico Alexander, Chris Wolvie & Jason Huhn, GSNN

Host Jeff Probst
Creator Charlie Parsons
EP Mark Burnett
Charlie Parsons
David Burris
Jeff Probst
Packager Mark Burnett Productions
Survivor Productions
Castaway TV Productions
Origins Island of Upolu, Samoa
Web cbs.com/survivor
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The Million Dollar Question
December 16

Thirty-six days ago, 18 Americans - including three who were evacuated in the past - were plucked from their every day lives and made to compete on an island in the Philippines for rewards and powers. One by one they were voted out by their own, until only the final four remained... the gamer Malcolm Freberg... the returnee Michael Skupin... the former teen star Lisa Whelchel... and the mentalist Denise Stapley. In two hours, one of them will be $1 million richer and claim the title of SOLE SURVIVOR!

(C-Note: due to CBS coverage of the Newtown memorial service, the first few moments were taken from other sources. Our apologies.)

DAY 37: Well this is a surprise...

Day 37 would normally be welcomed with news of an Immunity Challenge. Not so today.

 

WINNING THIS NEXT CHALLENGE
WILL BE WORTHY OF YOUR BRAGGIN'.
YOU'LL HAVE A BETTER SHOT AT THE MONEY,
WHEN YOU'VE FINISHED OFF THE DRAGON.

 

The treemail includes news of a challenge where the winner would receive ... something. Usually this is an Immunity Round. What that is exactly remains to be seen.

IMMUNITY(?) CHALLENGE: Unleash the Dragon

The Final Four will take to an obstacle course of beams, pyramids, bamboo, and a ramp to collect three puzzle bags. Once all three have been collected, start assembling the puzzle. The first tribesman to "finish off the dragon" wins.... AN IMPORTANT ADVANTAGE IN TOMORROW'S FINAL IMMUNITY CHALLENGE. But not immunity itself.

WINNER.... By a hair... MALCOLM! Jeff gives him a note but instructs him not to open it until the Immunity Challenge.

Back at camp, the tribe is tired. Lisa didn't need Malcolm to win that advantage, because he is now bordering on invincible. He says he'll take any advantage that he'll get. He says he has a final three deal with Lisa and Skupin, but Denise is the hardest nut to crack at this point. He feels bad, but his game entails that he takes people to the final three... that he can beat. Denise has an idea, though... to make it a tie and force Lisa and her to make fire. He is hesitant to make that deal, so that makes Denise "leery."

Denise tells Lisa that she's having flashes of Penner, saying that Malcolm has votes all over the jury, so it sounds like Denise is willing to turn on Malcolm and take the others to the final with her.

So what does Skupin have to say? He thinks that it's great. Either way, Lisa and Skupin are in the final three. Amazing how that works. The Million Dollar Question... Who does Skupin want to sit next to in the Final Three?

DAY 38: The million dollar question revisited: the past becomes the present

Lisa and Skupin are not on the same page as to who will sit in the final three. Skupin needs Immunity now more than ever in order to be able to create the final three.

And now, the moment you've waited 14 weeks for...

 

CONGRATULATIONS, FINAL FOUR! YOU ARE ALMOST AT THE END. FOLLOW THE MAP TO THE HEADLAND. THERE YOU WILL FIND THE TORCHES OF YOUR FALLEN COMRADES. AT EACH TORCH YOU WILL COLLECT A REPRESENTATIVE NAMEPLATE OF THOSE WHO WERE VOTED OUT BEFORE YOU. AT THE END OF YOUR JOURNEY YOU WILL OFFERING THEM UP IN A CEREMONIAL FIRE, PAYING RESPECT TO THEIR MEMORY AS THEY EACH HAD A PART IN GETTING YOU TO THIS POINT. YOU WILL THEN PROCEED TO YOUR FINAL IMMUNITY CHALLENGE.

 

It's time for the Tribute to the Fallen... Insane Zane, Foxy Roxy, Angie the ditz, Russell Swan the I-don't-want-to-be-the-leader, Dana, who herself was medevaced, Dawson, Katie the beauty queen, RC, Jeff Kent the baseballer, Artis, Pete who stuck with Abi through thick and thin, MISTER Jonathan Penner, Carter, and finally ... the one cat we had to work to get rid of... Abi-Maria freaking Gomes. They all fell... so that the final four could reach...

FINAL IMMUNITY CHALLENGE: DON'T DROP THE BALL

Each tribesman will hold a beam to balance a marble. The beam will be elongated as time goes by. If the marble or any piece of the beam falls to the ground, you're out. The last one standing will plead their case for $1 million.

As for Malcolm's advantage... "You are allowed a second chance at the Final Immunity Challenge. Should you drop the ball, you will be allowed to put it back and start again."

After five minutes... safe. Relax your hands and add two more pieces of wood. Then Malcolm drops the ball, but he gets a chance to reset as do the rest of the tribe. Second time... not so lucky. Then... DENISE falls her ball.

Round 3 up... and safe. Round 4 up... and LISA drops. WINNER, SKUPIN! After 12 years of licking his wounds literally and figuratively, MICHAEL SKUPIN WILL SIT FOR A MILLION. The question... who will join him? For the others, it's so close... yet so far.

So "We're all cool, yes?" Malcolm hopes so, telling Lisa and Skupin that Denise is going to throw votes at Malcolm. He's hoping that he's strategized long enough that it doesn't matter. Denise... "We're all good." If Denise is on board with Lisa & Skupin, then Malcolm is going home. Denise is hoping beyond hope that they're on board. Malcolm could've stayed together with Denise. THAT didn't happen. And Skupin's head is going a thousand places. So Denise has to convince Skupin to keep her around one more day.

Skupin sees honor in "going against the best". But will it happen, and is it a risk worth taking? There would be honor in beating Malcolm, but the thing is with the jury stacked his way, no one will beat him.

Skupin's wife: "Make us proud of you." He'd LOVE to keep some honor in this game, but right now, he's thinking about Malcolm going home. You can play the honorable game or the sure thing. What's going to get you to the million?

NIGHT 38: TRIBAL COUNCIL

Skupin says that alliances are a part of the game, and you have to weigh out everything? Denise says that there's been impact in that Lisa/Skupin and Malcolm/Denise started this game in tandem. Malcolm had to slit a lot of throats of his friends to get here, something Denise has given much thought about. Malcolm says that there was always a final-four end with Malcolm and Denise. Meanwhile, Lisa and Skupin have always been an "open relationship". They wanted to be together, but they always voted separate ways. Reading into that relationship is difficult for Malcolm. Skupin says that thanks to his son's "Survivor experience", Malcolm's got favors for life, but Lisa reminds us that in terms of $1 million, all bets are off. Denise went to every Tribal since the beginning, and she's the only Kalabaw remaining. Malcolm says that she's a threat. Malcolm says that he's a threat. Everyone's got a story, and everyone's gotta tell it.

And there's no reason for LISA to take Malcolm to the end. So there's that.

Denise: "Malcolm (aka Sunshine)" - "I completely respect the way you played the game, but I tried to approach you, and you didn't give me a commitment, so I outwit you, bud."
Malcolm: DENISE - "It sounds like me or you, bud."

The other votes... are for MALCOLM. By a vote of 3 to 1, Malcolm... THE TRIBE HAS SPOKEN. And with that, the Jury is complete, and eight people that Skupin, Lisa, and Denise all had a hand in getting rid of will have the final say TOMORROW. That's the price you pay for getting to the end.

"Congratulations, Denise."

At camp, all of the remaining finalists are trying to dissect what just happened. Denise revels in the fact that she went one step beyond what Malcolm did. And don't forget what he said leaving. Skupin won't.

DAY 39: Time to close the book.

The morning begins with a walk to the headland to take in one more look at the ocean and just sit. Congratulations on making it to the end of the adventure of a lifetime. An adventure you'll NEVER forget.

Now... we FEAST!

NIGHT 39: FINAL TRIBAL COUNCIL

This is where all of the karmic chickens of the past 39 days come home to roost. Eight people who have nothing to lose hold all the cards.

Opening statements:

Denise is not going to make any apologies for being in the final three after surviving time in three tribes. She's proven herself as a valuable tribesman and a valuable contestant. At the end, she's survived every single Tribal Council.

Lisa says that all three players have outwitted and outplayed the jury, and it's on the jury to decide who did it best. Lisa's strategy was getting up after she fell, but she never followed her heart until her brother showed up. She needed to trust her gut and remembered that this was a game meant to be won. At the end, she finally got it and knocked out the heavyweight of the season. It wasn't a pretty game, but it got her to the end.

Skupin did things with fire (heh) to survive because as a returning player, his back was already against the wall. He loves the game, and he knows that the jury loves the game that much as well.

Artis is first. He chastises the final three for being "holier than thou" and played the game contradictory to that. "The beauty of this game is, when it's all said and done, karma is a bitch." Carter congratulates the final three on a good game, questioning Skupin on what he was thinking when Carter was voted out. Skupin said that Carter was selfless. "Friendships and game at some point had to be separated." Pete calls Lisa a Judas. She didn't vote for Pete or Artis, but she kinda knew that they were going home. Why was Denise's game better than the others? The social part of the game became vital, as she needed a reason to stay relevant in the game. RC calls Lisa on being a smart cookie from day 1, Skupin on day 19 (when Penner was supposed to be going home), and Denise... well, nothing there. Malcolm? He lays it in to Denise... "This appeasing thing has to stop. You've been doing it from day 1." Denise, as a therapist, listened and observed. That's it. "I'm sitting here. And you're standing there." Jeff says that they're all bitter for sitting on his side of the fire. He asks Skupin if he makes things happen, watches things happen, or wonders how things happen. He makes things happen. He made it happen when he heard his name come up until Penner left. Lisa said that she never floated in the middle, while Kent insinuates that Denise did. Abi's heart is broken, asking the tribe why each person is worthy of a million. Lisa was "true to the end". Skupin, "the core of what this game is about is outwit, outplay, outlast." Denise, "hindsight is 20/20. There may have been a different way of handling (calling her the most annoying person on the tribe)."

And then... there's Penner, a man who can spin a speech at a drop of a hat. Penner calls Denise the bitch she was afraid she was, says Skupin was never voted against in this game compared to Penner's 15, and basically outed Lisa's past as one Blair Warner. "She has kept that from all of you, and I kept your secret safe until now." Lisa flips it on him, telling her that she's competing as who she is now, rather than who she was before.

That's a clown move, bro. But in the end, TALK IS CHEAP. LET'S VOTE.

RC: LISA - "The minute I got on the raft, I wanted you gone, because I know how big of a threat you were."
Penner: DENISE - "You played a pretty flawless game. My congratulations to you. It hurts, but you did great."
Carter: "SKOOPIN" - "You're a good dude, and I hope everyone else recognizes the type of game you played out here."

One vote each. For the rest, we fastforward to...

THE POST-MORTEM... FROM TELEVISION CITY IN HOLLYWOOD!

First, a moment for the families of the victims of tragedy in Newtown, CT....

... OKAY. Now that "The X Factor" is over, it's time to light a fire. THE REMAINING VOTES...

... are for DENISE. BY A VOTE OF 6 TO 1 TO 1, DENISE STAPLEY IS THE CHAMPION OF "SURVIVOR PHILIPPINES" AND THE WINNER OF ONE MILLION DOLLARS!

BUT...

... how did we get here? Let's reunite the tribe!

Denise truly believed all season long that she was an underdog. The biggest move for her in the game, cutting Malcolm, who took a page out of Penner's "Ways to Get Voted Out" playbook. If Malcolm went to the game... he would've gotten two votes, and Denise would've still won. Either way, she was in good shape. But she was so vulnerable out there in the elements of nature and of the game. Lisa saw Malcolm's game as game, and Penner never lied to Lisa the way Malcolm did. He played an open game all the way through. As for Jeff, Penner was shocked that Jeff wanted him gone. He was trying to deflect the energy somewhere else. He was voted out before Penner (thanks, Denise!) so how did THAT work for ya, boss? Skupin will take to his grave the idea that he was somehow destined to win. Lisa saw this as a redeeming experience to accepting "taking the good and taking the bad." Jeff wanted to win this game as something that, once you get kicked out of it, you're done. It's the competitive nature in him.

B-roll of Skupin's non-fire-related injuries during this season. In a word.... OUCH.

After Jeff takes a moment to thank US for 12 years, 25 seasons, more than 350 Tribal Councils, and many hours worth of loyal devotion, we get to... LISA! Hi, Lisa! She didn't even really think about her image as Blair Warner that she was more focused on being herself and opening up herself and letting her players know who she is. She doesn't think G-d cares who wins Survivor, a football team, or a war, but she does believe that there is a caring force in play for all involved. The game itself was a journey that she turned from a demonic one to a holy one. "It's okay to be human... That's actually what Christianity is about is acceptance."

By the way, did you know that it rained? A lot? And it's cold? It's basically Seattle with palm trees. That was the context behind Dana's evacuation. She never had a vote against her, so who knows how she would've fared!

Now we move to a hero... and a villain. Or perhaps two of the same. Malcolm broke a lot of hearts who were rooting for him. It seemed like he could dictate who could win the game if he won the challenge. Even with the second chance, Malcolm recognized the challenge from Micronesia and realized that he was toast. He does like the adoration of being a character playing himself on TV. All of his experiences came naturally, from climbing a tree to swimming with a whale shark. He said he would consider playing again... And then, on the flip, there's Abi, who was one of the great villains of the metaseries. She never really knew she was unlikeable, and this was the first time anyone's ever said so. She's got a lot of growing to do. She says that she wants to change being passive aggressive and take a chill pill. RC says that Abi wouldn't listen to anyone. Same with Pete. That may be a downfall.

David Vanacore and Russ Landau, two of the best music guys in the game show business, take us to break.

Now... Sprint is going to award America's Favorite Castaway $100,000. It was within 200 votes at one time. In the end, it was 0.7% difference between Malcolm & Lisa. The Sprint Player of the Season... LISA WHELCHEL. Congratulations.

Quickie updates: Angie had a good time. ... Yeah. Zane just made a really bad move. Roxy liked being able to let loose and be who she was, even if it meant speaking in tongues. Katie,,, isn't mad at Probst anymore. Artis ... nothing wrong with him. He's smiling all the time, really, but when he doesn't, he's scary. Carter thought it was a day-and-night game. And he was hungry. And Dawson.... well... just watch.

So how do we possibly top that?

Well, I'm not kissing Probst on the lips if that's what you're asking.

But we are inviting some players back... It's Fans vs. Favorites all over again as ten Survivor vets take on ten Survivor addicts in a game of outwit, outplay, outlast. The venue: Caramoan Islands, Philippines. Season 26 begins in February.

So Denise Stapley gets her check then and there. You get a chance to bid on stuff at SurvivorAuctions.com (proceeds will be shared amongst several charities), and ... of course, if you think you can survive a tribe of your peers for $1 million, YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO AND YOU KNOW WHERE TO GO.

For Chris Wolvie in Florida... for Jason Huhn in Canada. For everyone at GSNN, I've been Chico Alexander. UNC CLASS OF 2002, I TOLD YOU I'D MAKE IT! GOODNIGHT!

To view this episode in its entirety, along with extras and blogs, as well as information on how to become a contestant, go to cbs.com/survivor.