After a hard-fought battle from the Edge of Extinction and back, Chris Underwood earned himself the title Sole Survivor and $1 million.
Wednesday's massive season finale of the CBS reality show, started off with a big curveball when Chris won his way back into the game over his fellow Edge of Extinction castaways — Reem Daly, Aubry Bracco, Joe Anglim, Eric Hafemann, Julia Carter, David Wright, Kelley Wentworth, Dan “Wardog” DaSilva, Ron Clark and Aurora McCreary — in a physical and mental challenge.
Chris' attempt to seem low-key upon his return to the tribe didn't exactly fool final five Rick Devens, Lauren O’Connell, Gavin Whitson, Victoria Baamonde and Julie Rosenberg, but both Devens and Lauren rushed to work with the new player ahead of the last two tribals.
For Lauren, Chris' knowledge of her hidden immunity idol from fellow Extinction resident Kelley Wentworth was a threat, while Devens hoped to mend fences with the former alliance member he betrayed early on in the game before being sent to Extinction himself.
"It's been a long time, and he's had a long time to think about the game," Devens told the camera, "And I'm the only person who really betrayed and back-stabbed him in this game. I'm sure he hasn't forgotten that."
Chris was clearly playing his numbers, however, directly helping Julie in the immunity challenge and earning a serious side-eye from his supposed ally.
"You're supposed to be loyal to me and we're working together and that blew my mind," Devens said later. "Im very wary."
With Julie, Chris and Lauren banding together in a plan to split the vote between Devens and Vic in hopes of sussing out if the hidden immunity idol Devens flashed was real, the targeted castaway felt compelled to work with Gavin and Vic to remove the returning player from the equation altogether.
Chris offering Devens the same two-part immunity idol he had previously shared with David upon his return from Extinction had Devens questioning his thought of betraying Chris again, but with the comeback kid also making an agreement with Lauren to play her idol for him, it was clear the formerly-eliminated player was playing to win from the start.
With the two main contenders out of the running for the vote, it was just two votes that sent Victoria packing at the first of the finale tribals.
After such a bold move, Devens knew his head was on the chopping block yet again, searching all night for an immunity idol — which he found — in addition to planting a number of fake immunity idols, which caught Julie and Lauren completely unaware.
With Chris and Devens with real idols and Lauren and Julie with fakes, it was another boost to the newscaster's game to win the immunity challenge, ensuring him a place in the final four right off the bat.
All five castaways believed they were safe with either an idol or alliance heading into the final real tribal council, but with so many fake-outs in play, it took Lauren and Julie as a surprise when it was determined both their idols would not save them from elimination — and that it was Lauren's turn to go to the jury.
Heading into the final three, Chris earned a critical individual immunity win, but told Devens right off the bat he wanted him to make fire for his spot in front of the jury. What he didn't tell his former ally was that he would offer up his immunity to Julie and take him on in fire himself — and ultimately beat him.
Pleading their cases in front of the jury, Gavin and Julie hyped their social game that allowed them not to ruffle feathers for 39 days, while Chris used his battle back from Extinction and decision to take on Devens as his resume.0comments
In the end, the jury found Chris' argument the most compelling, voting him the winner just ahead of Gavin, while Julie earned no votes.
Photo credit: CBS