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They outwitted, outplayed, and outlasted once. But can they do it again?

Eighteen of the greatest Survivors to play the game reconvene on the Pearl Islands of Panama for one more go-round and one more million-dollar prize.

However, the twists and turns have increased, and the level of backstabbing is sure to be at an all time high.

Recaps by Chico Alexander, Gordon Pepper, and Chris Wolvie, GSNN


FACT FILE:
Host:
Jeff Probst
Creator: Charlie Parsons
EP: Mark Burnett, Charlie Parsons
Packager: Mark Burnett Prods., Survivor Prods., Castaway TV Prods.
Airs: Thursdays at 8:00pm ET on CBS


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May 9, 2004 - The Sole-Surviving All-Star

Night 36: Another Tribal, another reflection.

Big Tom and his glare are now gone. Down to the best of the best now, and Jenna still doesn't know why. Rob knows why, though, as he presses Jenna for Rupert's ouster.

Day 37: Breakfast and a scrapbook.

Jeff arrives for some breakfast (that they have to make themselves?) - bacon, eggs, pancakes, fruit, OJ, champagne, and a scrapbook with a Polaroid camera to just go nuts with.

Rob notes that we're down to two opposing alliances, and that the only way this will go down is by either the Paschal English purple rock or if Rob pulls a Yoko Ono and breaks up the band. Amber brings up that fact to Jenna, much to worry malign. "I don't want to have it come down to a freaking rock." She takes fate into her own hands.

All this, and she still has time for the best damn pancake ever.

I-CHALLENGE: Obstacle Maze.

You've seen this before: each spoke of a maze has a ladder rung  to be assembled before a tower in the center. But you have never seen it with obstacles in play. Winner makes it into the Final Three. It's more or less a dead heat until Amber breaks forth and assembles her ladder first to win. "I've never worn this before!"

Back at camp, Jenna reveals to Rupert Amber and Boston Rob's plan. In the end, she tells him that "she can't do it. I'd rather sit there and pick a rock than give them a smug satisfaction of knowing that they're guaranteed a spot."

Rupert's rebuttal: "My fate rests on the honor of a 26-year-old single mama who really really wants to win badly."

Jenna's corebuttal involves the rock. That said, Amber and Boston Rob step onto the beach, possibly for the last time. Rob is genuinely a little scared. Meanwhile, Jenna tells Rupert that the decision is up in the air still. "I believe she will write Rob's name down." His emotions control what he does... Big mistake.

Letting Rob know of that early on. Bigger mistake.

Night 37: Tribal. Jenna is worried about the power shift to the jury, especially after Big Tom didn't know about his ouster. "There's two sides to every story, and I say that with 100% conviction," Rob rebuts. It was hard for Amber to do a similar stunt in Australia. Rupert was high and low after the challenge, while Jenna tries to fill in the blanks, as Jeff puts it. She throws around the "this is a game" defense. Rupert is hoping for the rock. We'll see after the vote.

Rupert - ROB. "Don't know what to say. Hope we have two votes. Hope we go into a tie."

Boston Rob - RUPERT. "It's been a pleasure playing the game with you. I hope it's you tonight and not me."

Jenna still doesn't know how to vote. Ultimate, she and Amber would vote the same... Rupert. By a vote of three to one, Hagrid, THE TRIBE HAS SPOKEN. He's given the classy nods as he exits stage right. If I may say so, if Rob wins this, I will lose ALL faith in this franchise. ALL FAITH!

Day 38: Jenna squirms out of Mother Fate... again.

Rob reassures her that that is her own decision. Meanwhile, Jeff arrives quite early with news on the final rite of passage. They'll take a windjammer to an island where they will adorn their bodies with war paint and dress. Then they'll take the traditional walk of fallen comrades, where, instead of personal revelations, we get sound bytes from the ousted. Finally, Jeff will lead them to the final Immunity Challenge, which is...

I-CHALLENGE: Hand on the Idol

Two stumps, one Idol. Both feet must stay on the stump. One hand must stay on the Idol. Any violation is an out. Last one standing, literally, wins Immunity. After 2 hours in the hot hot sun, Jenna decides to move her feet a little. A little too little. She's out at 2:33. Cut to Amber and Rob arguing like a married couple about who should get immunity. In the end, Rob and Amber agreed that it will be "last one standing." Jeff eggs on as he brings trust into the forefold. 

Amber gets sidetracked while talking to Rob and touches her way out of the compeition, giving Boston Rob final Immunity.

Back at camp, Jenna is regretting the foot incident. "My dad is going to be very proud." Jenna thinks that she would stand a better chance against Rob for the million, but calls Amber on what a good boyfriend she has. Gave her a million-dollar check? I'd say.

But again, Amber notes that Rob has turned on people. And yet Rob is still wondering what to do in his mind. Did Amber really ride his coat-tails? Is he about to risk losing to Jenna of all people? "I'm going to make the decision I feel most comfortable with, based on me. What would you do for a million dollars?"

Night 38: Tribal. Jenna recalls the foot incident. Jeff brings up a trust issue again. Rob and Amber both didn't want to come into Tribal without the hardware. Strategically, Rob doesn't know whether or not he has a bigger chance of winning with either of them. Jenna would be shocked if Amber was voted out, but pleased. Amber is able to separate business with pleasure. Can Rob do the same? We'll see.

His vote: JENNA. Rob has spoken, and it's the power couple as your Final Two.

Night 38: The world's an island.

Amber gushes at spending 39 days with the security, pride, and amazement that is Rob Mariano. Well it's not herself, that's for sure. She tuck by her strategy - flirting, if you can call it that - and got a great friend out of it. "In a game where trust is fleeting, to have a partnership, and alliance, that you can trust... that's huge," Rob says. "They're gonna hate us when this is over."

Bonnie and Clyde toast themselves, as we head to...

Day 39: Pictures of you.

The game is over, and all there is now is the Polaroid moments. Oh yeah, and there's a small matter of Tribal Council. "I'm completely at peace right now," Rob says.

They head on a private date at one of their favorite spots, where Boston Rob gets some blue fish, not the black one. The last supper. "I don't know how I ever made it without Rupert out here," Rob says as he notices that his dinner isn't de-livened yet. he suggests to Amber that they both be given the million. Amber doesn't know what to expect from tribal, while Rob says to people who don't believe that this is just a game, "It's their own problem." The highs and the lows justify the means, he believes. The day ends with rain.

All together now... SYM-bolism. "I think the jury would love to see Rob and I squirm," Amber says.

(looks at jury) Yep.

Night 39: Final Tribal Council. First, the opening summations. Boston Rob is first: "Obviously, the last 39 days have been emotional, and you're sitting over there and I guarantee that you're all pissed off over there. I didn't want to let personal relationships interfere with this game. I had a situation that I made a promise to someone I wasn't able to keep. In the end, that's where everything started to go south for me. Obviously when you have a jury that you have to vote out, it's gonna come back to haunt you. But I would want you to consider how well I played the game, always trying to do well for my team, at the same time trying to look out for myself."

Now Amber: "I came into the game saying that I knew it was going to be harder because I was playing against people I knew. I didn't come out here to make friends. I didn't come out to, gosh, have a relationship with a guy. Little did I know that all these little bonuses came along with it. So, I think the reason why I'm sitting here right now is luck, all of you guys for not voting me off, and my alliance with Rob, those are the three things that got me here. I know that you guys have sore feelings. I got out of this game what I really wanted to do. And now I'm satisfied."

Now to the jury. First Lex: "It's just a game. Something we probably all said a thousand times while we were out here. I'm sure the both of you it offers an excuse that helped wash away the guilt as you played the game, the way that you played it. You know what that phrase, just a game, is a big lie. Not just a game. For all of us out here, for all of you, it's life. And the line between game and life is not cut and dried. Life blurs into the game constantly. This game exposes who we are as people to the core, it's like truth serum, I think the way you play this game is representative of the kind of person you are. The hardest lesson I learned out here was about friendship and betrayal. I think the true measure of a man, what kind of friend he is, what kind of friend are you, rob? What kind of friend were you to me? You asked me to do you a favor, bro to bro, friend to friend I did the only thing I could do that was to answer the call of a friend in need. You were paid that by putting a knife in my back. As far as this game is concerned, I lost and you both beat me. No sour grapes, no bitterness, with all sincerity I will congratulate you both. But as I see it good as your game was, you sold out your values, you sold out your character, and you sold out your friends for a stack of greenbacks. I hope it was worth it, because that money will never be enough to buy it all back."

Aren't we bitter. Now onto Kathy who wonders if Rob is concerned about what people will think of him after the series is over. He is concerned. She also asks if Amber played Rob as a patsy. She didn't. Then comes this tirade: "Rob, you just need to know that I was crushed, obviously, look at me. I've been off this thing for 12 days. You were like a son. And I was crushed that you didn't address what we had, if you didn't want me around, that's fine. We came, we merged, we were outnumbered, I got it. I got it. I got that we were out played. I got it. But I just can't imagine any game in the world where you can check your friendships at the door. It's just not in my chemistry and my make up and I thought it wasn't in yours. So 15 minutes, you made an alliance and you ruined friendships that took two years to build. And it just crushed me. I do congratulate you guys sincerely for being here, however you got here. But I just want you to know that you used friendships as stepping stones to get there. And it's a devilish game, but I think you could have taken a parallel course where these people wouldn't have been left in carnage and they would have been feeling a little bit better about their decisions tonight. Maybe that's immaturity, I don't know, but there was another path right next to you that you didn't see that could you have thrown us just an ounce of respect. And this wouldn't be here. So, good luck with you. Thanks.

After congratulating the players on a fine game, Rupert asks why the two deserve the money. Amber was focused. As for Rob... "Because you're a man of your word, that's why you should give me your word."

Alicia goes off with her finger: There is one factor in my opinion that is the lowest form of standard of play that you can reach, and you two not only mastered it but relied on it to get to the final two. That is the fine art of butt kissing and ego stroking. You both did so much of it that I couldn't possibly decide which one of you has got less crap on your lips. Now, you may have outwitted us, outplayed us and outlasted us but you have not outclassed us. Let me ask you both one question. And for the question I need one answer and one word and one word only. How would you say you played this game?"  Rob: Competitively. Amber: Luck.

Next up, Shii Ann's glass-housery and a question of three reasons why the other player deserves the money. Rob: Amber was a true partner. She never wavered. She never quit. She supported their alliance. He wouldn't be in the final two if it wasn't for her. Amber: Rob ruled the challenges. He was the person she could depend on. He stuck to the alliance.

Jenna wonders what they'll do with the money. Rob wants to fund a scholarship for his BU volleyballers. Amber wants to donate it to muscular dystrophy.

Finally, Tom. Classic question: Why should the other guy not win? Amber cites that her alliance wasn't as strong as Rob's. Rob cites the plan to vote him out. Tom offers his hand... and takes it back! "Don't be stupid, stupid. I may have fell for that once, I fell for it twice. Not this time."

Bitter. Closing arguments. Amber? "I came here tonight expecting this to be very difficult because every one of you would love to be sitting where I am sitting. I really thought coming in here tonight that I learned so much about myself throughout the last 39 days but instead after tonight I learned the most about myself after the last couple of minutes. I am not happy about what I learned about myself and I want you to know that I am going to take away what I learned tonight and apply it to my life. I know it is very hard for all you guys to express your feelings and to be completely honest with us. So, I just want you to know that in every answer that I gave tonight, I was completely honest and if that's the most I can give to you tonight, you have it."

Rob? "I guess the first thing I want to say is that I am sorry to each and every one of you for breaking alliances, hurting friendships and all the pain you guys must feel over there. I am not feeling much better over here right now. I played the game as hard as I could but I would be naive to be able to sit in one of the last two seats and think that people on that side were going to feel all right about the way I played the game. It got a lot more personal than I thought it ever would and so tonight, I was expecting it to be hard but I wasn't expecting it to be nearly as hard as it was. I really wasn't. (wipes his eyes) I am really having a tough time even finding the words, to tell you the truth. I fumbled over all my answers. This is really not the time to be screwing it up either but I guess I have been screwing it up for a long time haven't I? I had fun and I am sorry. That's all I have to say."

Time... to vote.

Jenna: "Before I show you my vote, STEP UP! You beat us all. That's my vote, BOSTON ROB, I think he deserved it. This is a large amount of money I hope you win it.

Alicia: "Rob, do you remember back in the middle of the game when you and I shook hands, looked each other in the eye and I promised you that I would never write your name down? (AMBER) I'm a woman of my word."

Big Tom: AMBER - Rob, I thought you of a brother, I stayed with you for 36 days. Thought about I was going to vote you off? Never once crossed my mind. When you find out the truth, maybe you can call to apologize."

Kathy: "I am such a sucker, you know what, in the end friendship rules, I know that we have a really good, tight friendship so I'm giving you a million bucks because I love what we have and I think it's still there, it's just damaged. So take it, man. Take it and run with it, all right? I love you."

It's tied at two. The rest of the votes are going with Jeff to Madison Square Garden for the final live reveal, but first... Amber has a statement to make to the world via T-shirt: "I <3 ROB"

And Rob has a statement of his own to make... to Amber. "You know what, Jeff, regardless of what happens here tonight with the vote, I feel like I already won. I have the most special girl in the entire world sitting here right next to me. If you don't mind, I'd like to say something to her. Amber, we came a long way in this crazy game. I've seen you at your highest high and your lowest low, and between it all, we've worked together as a team to accomplish so much. It was really crazy, and in the end, I ended up falling in love with you. You're the most amazing person I've ever met in my entire life, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Amber, I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me?"

All together now... Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww(projectile vomiting x 6... make that 7).

Needless to say, she says yes. So there you go. The twist. Oh, that's NOT the twist? Okay. Let's get to the vote then. The final three belong to Rob... and Amber... and AMBER! Amber Brkich wins Survivor All-Stars! So how did we get from there to here? "She definitely helped with all the decisions. From day 1, she was there with me no matter what. No matter what we decided to do, she consulted and we both decided together as a team. I give Amber all the credit in the world. She deserves the win 100%," Rob professes. But it was Amber's decision to align herself with Boston Rob, mostly as a cover. No one expected that they were a team until it was too late. Rob's thoughts? "In the beginning, I knew that in the end people would be gunning for me and the whole time in order to keep our alliance tight she would question me and say... What's going to happen? We are making too many people mad. My whole thinking was, if we get to the final two, they are going to have to vote for one of us and I was hoping they would see that I was the one kinda taking those chances and taking the shots."

But judging by the informal vote, taking Amber to the final two was a mistake, as Shii Ann would've changed her vote, making it 4-3 Rob over Jenna. Woops.

So what about Lex's speech at the end? He held a grudge about saving Amber as a friend to Rob. Pretty harsh words for someone who voted out Ethan, Jerry, AND Colby. "We didn't make alliances. We didn't make a deal. There were no promises made. There can be only one winner in Survivor. We didn't make any deal. Quite frankly, they didn't work into my plan," Lex defended. Of course, Hatch has a word in edgewise: "Because it didn't work into his plan doesn't mean that it isn't part of the game. I love these guys but...it's a game. It's a game. His speech at the end about it being more than that is not true when you are playing chess you do not give away a thing just because you are playing against your buddy. You play to win and in this game, the rules are a little different and you should've known that going in."

"This ain't chess, Rich!" Yeah, whatever, NEXT!

Still some fences to mend with Big Tom and Boston Rob after the exchanges of the words "pony" and "dumbass", apparently terms of endearment. Boston Rob asks Tom, "Did you have an alliance with Lex before the game had even started? Yes or no?"

Big Tom's answer? "Don't yes or no me! I heard your mouth the whole time we were out there and I am sick of it. I just want to tell you this... Big Tom played the game with Amber and Rob. Rupert will tell you right here, I never wavered. There is eighteen of us here. I don't know how many calls I got. I don't know how many calls you got but I do know that on the very first day I gave a handshake deal with you and Amber to last through the game."

And then Jerri chimes in. Because she is Jerri... and there's no known cure.

"This whole thing is making me so sick. This show is a show about entertainment. This entertainment is coming at a price. What did it cost us? Our friendships, our feelings, our pain and suffering for entertainment." Surely Colby didn't see it that way. How about Rudy? "With all the back-stabbing and double-crossing that went on, I am glad that I wasn't a part of it and if I had stayed in, I think I would have done something that I would've been sorry for."

But Boston Rob eventually apologized to Big Tom for insulting his son and the two shook hands. Like men. Other relationships that have forged? Jenna Morasca and Ethan, Jenna Lewis and her new husband, Sue and the knife (after having an extreme makeover done for Extra... looks good), Rupert and Laura, Jenna Morasca and her dearly departed mother (*bows head*), and Jerri and her ego... both of which left the stage due to the realization that she is only seen as a character and not a real person. Was she right in doing so? You be the judge.

Okay, one more twist... not THE twist, but usually, the Sole Survivor gets a new car. In this case, a 2004 Chevy Equinox. Amber already won a car (so to speak), so she gets to decide on who gets this new one... She decides on swing vote Shii Ann. Then we get to the plugs for Survivor 1 on DVD this Tuesday AND swag on eBay.

THEN we get to the much-hyped twist. CBS has footed another $1,000,000 for a most-valuable-player. The winner will be decided by, get this... YOU. We are judge and jury this game, and the winner will be revealed on the real season finale Thursday. How can you vote? Simple!

a) If you are a Cingular wireless customer, you can text-message the name of your favorite All-Star to 26161 (remember, standard text-messaging rates do apply) before 11:59pm ET on May 12 (12:59am AST for our friends in the eastern provinces and 8:59pm ET for our friends on the west coast), OR....

b) Head online and view vids of all eighteen Survivors, then vote at CBS.com. While you're there, you can pick up an app for Survivor 10.

We'll be back on Thursday with the name of the winner, more All-Star highlights, and details on Survivor 9, dropping this fall. See you then!

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