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10 Observations From Survivor: Ghost Island Finale

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(WARNING: The Following Article Contains Spoilers for those who have not seen the Finale.)

The votes have been cast, and the tribe has spoken.

The 36th season of Survivor, Survivor: Ghost Island, came to a close on Wednesday night. The Final Tribal Council saw a tie in the votes for the first time in the history of the show. After Laurel was tasked with casting the tie-breaking vote, the season finally had its Sole Survivor: Wendell.


It was a jam-packed finale in every sense of the word. The episode started with the Final 6 and ended with one of the Final 3 being chosen as the Sole Survivor.

Here are 10 Observations from Wednesday’s Finale.

1) The Ghost Island premise made for an entertaining finale

Some people may have seen the Ghost Island premise as a bit of a cheesy one, but it can’t be denied that it made for all kinds of interesting twists. After seeing how Ghost Island worked in the first episode, it all made sense.

The Finale had a cool twist of its own. Domenick won the final immunity challenge to guarantee his spot in the Final 3. He then had to go up a mountain on Ghost Island and choose one of three urns for the final votes to be placed in. The urns were from Survivor: The Australian Outback, Survivor: Cagayan, and Survivor: Game Changers. These were just three of the seasons where the castaway heading into the Final 3 wound up bringing the eventual Sole Survivor with them to the final Tribal Council.
It was a cool way to ensure that the only guarantee was to be in the Final 3 and that the Final 3 will determine who is the Sole Survivor.

2) Dom’s Final 3 Decision was not a bad one

A lot of people watching probably felt like Domenick’s decision to take Laurel to the Final 3 instead of Angela was not the best move. The fact of the matter is that it was the best move for him to make. Dom was hellbent on getting rid of Wendell that he almost decided to go into the fire making challenge himself to try to eliminate Wendell. Fortunately for his sake, he did not take such a massive gamble.

It’s easy to look back now and ask “Why would he do that?” During the game, however, Dom was confident that bringing Laurel to the Final 3 would mean one less person to worry about since she wasn’t going to get many votes, if any at all. Not to mention, Angela voted for Wendell as well, so it wouldn’t have mattered if Angela or Laurel was in the Final 3 had everything played out the way it did with Angela in the Final 3.

And let’s be real, how was anybody supposed to know that the final vote was going to be tied and come down to a tiebreaker?

3) Angela being in the Final 3 instead of Laurel may have resulted in a different outcome

Like Laurel, Angela also voted for Wendell. So, had Angela been in the Final 3 and tribal played out the way it did, the result would have been the same. However, had Angela been in the Final 3 instead of Laurel, perhaps she would have gotten some votes and it wouldn’t have been a tie.

Think about it. Angela was someone who was strong all season and, as a US Army Veteran, had a story to garner support. That’s not to say that she would have just gotten by on the military card, but that definitely would have helped.
With the way the Final Tribal played out, it wound up not mattering whether it was Laurel or Angela in the Final 3 because the result, in that regard, would have had the same result. However, with Angela in the Final 3, there would have been a better chance of there not being a tie.

4) The right castaway won

One question that is asked at the end of every season of Survivor is “Did the right castaway win?” The short answer is yes. However, if Dom was the Sole Survivor the answer would still be yes.

Wendell was a strong player throughout the entire game. He kept Dom in the game early on when others tried to get him out and formed an alliance that lasted until the Final Tribal Council. Domenick also played a great game too. He was in control nearly the entire game after the merge and never gave up that control. He also made a brilliant move at the Final 6 Tribal Council when he bluffed the rest of the tribe with a fake immunity idol. His bluff changed the vote and kept him in the game.

Bottom line is, the jury got it right, But Domenick was also deserving of the title of Sole Survivor.

5) The vote WAS NOT RIGGED!

It seems like every season of Survivor, there are fans and viewers crying out that the show is rigged or fixed to ensure a certain contestant wins, and this season was no different. The thing is, it’s hard to read that and not call BS on all of those claims.

Some people have talked about things like the producers changing the votes and other things like that. The simple fact is that none of that is true. It’s no secret to a lot of people that after the votes are cast, they are seen by Jeff Probst and by producers. They then put them in a certain order so that it creates a more dramatic effect when they are read out loud. It’s nothing new and it’s nothing that is any kind of secret.

There is no fix and nothing is rigged so let it go. That was just the way the Final Tribal played out.

6) Wait, there was a reunion?

Last night was not just the season finale, but it was also the live reunion show as well. Of course, it was a reunion in name only. Like last season, the finale and final Tribal Council ran into the hour slot given to the reunion. Not only that, but not much attention was put on the cast from this season except for Wendell, Laurel, and Domenick. It seemed a little more like the big reveal of the Sole Survivor mixed with a variety show and a preview of the next season of Survivor.

7) Too much content for a two-hour window

It seemed rather odd that the show was going to air their finale when there were still six castaways left. Maybe it was just me, but three Tribal Councils plus the final Tribal Council seemed like an awful lot to cram into two hours. Clearly two hours was not enough, as the finale ate up about 20-25 minutes of the hour devoted to the reunion.

Going from 5 to 3 in a two-hour-finale is still a bit much in its own right, but it’s much better than going from 6 to 3 followed by the Final Tribal. Hopefully this is the last time they do this – even if it means adding in an episode between the Final 6 and the finale.

8) Like it or not, the final tiebreaker is what it is.

There were also a lot of people who did not like the tiebreaker for the final vote, as there was not much of a chance at all for Domenick to win when Laurel cast the tie-breaking vote. Honestly, those people are not wrong in saying that, but the fact of the matter is that the tie-breaking procedure is what it is.

You can like it or not like it as much as you want, but it’s not going to change the fact that this is how the tie is broken. This could also be because there was nothing to compare it to as this had never happened before.

9) Wendell may be the Sole Survivor, but Domenick was the best castaway of the season

Wendell was ultimately named the Sole Survivor, but it’s hard to argue that the best castaway of the season was Domenick. His game play was relentless, he was in control most of the game, and he had a few huge moves that really set him apart, most notably his incredibly risky bluff during the Final 6 Tribal Council that kept him in the game. He may not have been voted Sole Survivor, Domenick definitely deserves a tip of the hat for sure.

10) Survivor: David vs Goliath looks like it’s going to be an interesting season

Near the end of the finale was the preview for next season, titled Survivor: David vs Goliath. The concept pits two tribes against each other. One tribe, the “Davids”, is comprised of underdogs and people who overcame great odds and adversity to succeed. The other tribe, the “Goliaths” is comprised of those who used their physical or mental advantages to succeed in life. It can’t be easy to consistently come up with new ideas when you are into the 37th season, but this sounds like another new one that just may be a hit.

We will have to wait and see when Survivor: Ghost Island premieres this fall on CBS. Until then, these were just 10 observations from the finale. Fans probably have another 10 observations on top of these.

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