UPDATE: The Survivor: Edge of Extinction twist came back into play in a huge way in the finale, and it helped dictate the winner. Rick Devens was cut at the final four, much to the ire of several fans, and the Final 3 were Chris Underwood, who won the Edge of Extinction return competition, Gavin Whitson, and Julie Rosenberg. That was the order of the final 3 -- Chris won the $1 million with 9 votes, and Gavin came in second with four votes. Julie got no votes.
It's going to be controversial to have Chris win when he was the third person voted out and spent almost the entire season on the Edge of Extinction. But he earned the jury's respect in part by risking his place in the final 4 to take on Rick in the fire-making challenge to add to his resume. Plus, the jury spent so much time with him on the island, they ended up rooting for him.
Don't feel too sorry for Rick Devens. Not only is Survivor host/producer Jeff Probst going to bring him back as often as possible, Rick also got The Sia Award from singer Sia. That included $100,000. Apparently that's an annual thing now, and if she's going to give players as much as the runner-up gets, some people are going to be playing just for that award. CBS got rid of the Player of the Season money, but now we have to entertain Sia.
Who won Survivor: Edge of Extinction? Survivor Season 38 is currently down to its final two weeks, but the winner is already known. Not to us, but certainly to host/producer Jeff Probst and most likely to all of the jury members. So who gets to pick up that big $1 million check? Probst may have offered a clue in a recent interview.
Tonight we have May 8's "Idol or Bust," with the finale and reunion special airing next Wednesday, May 15, 2019 on CBS.
What's interesting about Survivor: Edge of Extinction is, at this point, there are only two players who are completely out of the game -- quitters Wendy Diaz and Keith Sowell. Everyone else who has been voted out is still in contention to return. Right now, they are jury members, but one of them will re-enter the game, and possibly still have a chance to win.
So that makes predicting the winner even more difficult. We need that one wild card to return to the game, even with just two nights of game left.
Jeff Probst may have given fans a winner clue in one of his post-episode answers after last week's May 1 episode. EW asked Probst what he made of Ron Clark's move to give Rick Devens his expired advantage menu. Rick made a meal out of it, trying to shame Ron and Julie Rosenberg for going so far to embarrass him in front of the jury, when he could become a jury member himself. Then he pulled a "jk lol" move by whipping out his own immunity idol to save his butt, sending Ron to the jury.
Here's Jeff Probst's take on that move, and his hint on the Edge of Extinction jury mindset:
Ron is a really aggressive and fun player to watch this season. I like the move. I think you have to know your audience, meaning both the recipient (Devens) and the rest of the jury. If you sense that Devens respects gameplay, then it’s ultimately a good move. If you sense he’s a delicate little flower then maybe not. Same with jury. For the last few years, we’ve had juries that reward gameplay even when it’s vicious. I get the feeling that is the case with this group. You have to be willing to murder people and trust that they will respect you when they come back from the dead to cast their million dollar vote.
To me, that sounds like a hint to a non-bitter jury. That this Survivor: Edge of Extinction jury is more likely to reward gameplay -- even if it's "vicious" -- rather than being bitter at whoever had a hand in voting them out. It's possible even Reem Daly might be willing to get over her own bitterness by the time we get to the end.
What could Jeff Probst's tease tell us about the Survivor: Edge of Extinction winner? I think it might rule out someone like Joe Anglim. He's been out of the game too long, and his biggest strength was just immunity wins, never strategy. Rick Devens has an excellent change to win if he can get himself to the Final 3. But that's going to be a challenge. If Wardog, Kelley, David, or maybe even Ron return, they could make late-in-the-game showings. Is it too late for Aubry, having sat out so much of the action?
Don't forget that Lauren O'Connell still has an idol to play. Is she even on the radar as someone to vote out? The jury doesn't seem to like Aurora McCreary, but to me she has made strong arguments to win. Her name comes up as a threat every single episode, and yet she survives -- either by winning immunity, or by helping vote out someone else. She looked through Rick's bag and was brazen about it, which I love, and gave the extra vote that Ron gave her to Gavin Whitson, and Gavin used it to vote out Ron. Maybe Gavin would get the credit for that move, which could be seen as backstabbing and "vicious" since Ron had just taken Gavin and his wife on the loved ones picnic.
That said, I'm not sure I completely agree with Jeff Probst's note that the past few years have seen juries reward gameplay even when it's vicious. The past few years have seen juries split their votes between two of the final three, with the winner tending to be an underdog type. Ben Driebergen was a beneficiary of the controversial new final four fire twist. Wendell Holland initially tied with #1 ally Domenick Abbate until Laurel Johnson's tie-breaking vote. Nick Wilson was considered an underdog as a David vs. so many Goliaths at the end, and won his way to the end with an immunity streak. You could argue that Survivor: Game Changers winner Sarah Lacina was honored for her savvy strategic gameplay, rather than the jury giving Brad Culpepper a win for his perceived leadership or immunity wins.
The synopsis for tonight's Survivor: Edge of Extinction "Idol or Bust" episode mentions "the final seven castaways" battling for immunity during a tough puzzle challenge. Does that mean someone returns from Edge of Extinction in time for immunity? The promo just focused on Rick Devens' "crazy" hustling to stay in the game.
Here are the players still in the Survivor game as of May 8:
• Lauren O'Connell, Student at Baylor University
• Victoria Baamonde, Waitress
• Aurora McCreary, Divorce Lawyer
• Julie Rosenberg, Toymaker
• Gavin Whitson, YMCA Program Director
• Rick Devens, Morning News Anchor
EDGE OF EXTINCTION
• Reem Daly, Sales
• Chris Underwood, District Sales Manager
• Aubry Bracco, Marketing Director, Previous Seasons: Kaoh Rong, Game Changers
• Joe Anglim, Multimedia Artist, Previous Seasons: Worlds Apart, Second Chance
• Eric Hafemann, Firefighter
• Julia Carter, Medical Assistant
• David Wright, Television Writer, Previous Season: Millennials vs. Gen-X
• Kelley Wentworth, Marketing Manager, Previous Seasons: Second Chance, San Juan del Sur
• Dan "The Wardog" DaSilva, Law Student/Former Military
• Ron Clark, Teacher, Ron Clark Academy
OUT OF THE GAME
• Wendy Diaz, Small Business Owner
• Keith Sowell, Pre-Med Student
Survivor airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CBS. The May 15 episode is called "I See The Million Dollars," and someone will be picking it up that night. Then we have the Reunion Special, which has been cut short in recent seasons. Will Sia show up again and give someone us a check for something? Maybe she'll reward Wendy for saving the chickens. Don't forget that Season 40 sounds like it's going to be a major milestone season next year. And be sure to check out Jeff Probst's previous philosophy on how to win Survivor.