The road to the Survivor: Kaoh Rong finale has been a bumpy one. A high of three people were medically evacuated this season. Fifteen more had their torches snuffed. Only Aubry, Cydney, Michele and Tai (don’t forget Mark the Chicken!) remain and their about to duke it out for the title of sole Survivor for Season 32. Let’s find out who the last man/woman (or chicken) standing will be.

The Final Four

Mark (the chicken) is in his hammock and crowing while everyone’s trying to sleep. His act is getting a little old. Tai realizes this and takes responsibility for him and takes him away for the beach. He talks about how he’s nervous now that he doesn’t have his idol, but he knows he can count on Aubry.

Aubry is still feeling bummed about Joe going home. She previously thought she needed to get rid of Cydney, but now she thinks that it’s her best shot to make sure she has Cydney’s trust so she and Tai can vote out Michele. At this point, she thinks Michele is the biggest threat in the game because of her close personal relationships with the people on the jury.

Michele knows she’s in a tight spot. She says she has to win immunity in order to go on in this game. Cydney says she still has her back though and wants it to be the three girls in the finals.

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A Refueling Reward

The first challenge of the evening is a complicated one. They have to race under a net and slide tiles on a target. Then, they have to balance the tiles on a machete across balance beam to solve a puzzle to get a number combination. First to finish wins a meal meant to refuel their bodies and spirits and get them ready for the next immunity challenge.

It’s Aubry’s challenge from pretty much the beginning. No one but Aubry masters the balance beam, especially poor Cydney who keeps wiping out. But when it comes to her puzzle number combination, Aubry just can’t get it right. Tai and Cydney catch up, but Aubry has enough of a lead to finally realize her mistake and set it right. Aubry wins her first individual challenge.

Of course, Jeff offers Aubry her a chance to choose someone else to come join her. She chooses Cydney so she can get a good meal to help them both beat Michele in the next challenge.

Cydney is obviously thrilled to be chosen. She and Aubry have been close from the start and she thinks this solidifies their relationship.

But this leaves Tai and Michele back at camp once again. And now, they’ve already laid the groundwork for a working relationship. Michele says it shouldn’t have to be one of them that goes home next and if one of them wins, they should target Aubry. Tai agrees to it right away; he even shakes on it. He says in confessional that he wants to win and he’s not afraid to cut his closest ally to do that.

Climbing the Stairs to Immunity

It’s another complicated challenge for the final four. The Survivors have to race out of the ocean and up the stairs in a series of obstacles. Once they’ve climbed their third set of stairs, they have to solve a three-level puzzle to win a spot in the final three.

Once again, Aubry is off to a quick start. But by the time the puzzle part comes along, everyone is even and she gets completely stumped. Michele and Tai (the two Beauties) are the ones with the brains to figure out the puzzle. It’s between them in a race to the finish and Michele pulls it out for the win.

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No More Alliances

Cydney says Michele would have been the easy vote if she hadn’t won that challenge. But she did and now she has to cozy up to Michele to make sure it’s someone else going home instead of her. They’d like to keep Aubry around, but they think she’s a bigger threat than Tai to take to the end, so they want to convince him to vote with them. Cydney wonders if she should practice making a fire in case of a tie, but Michele assures her that there’s no need for that.

Aubry and Tai are still tight, but Tai isn’t as sneaky as he’d like to think. He basically warns Aubry that she should be practicing her fire making skills, even though she didn’t think she was in danger of going home. Aubry says the two of them have been like a zipper that doesn’t quite line up this entire game and she doesn’t know if she can trust him. She knows he’d turn on her if it was beneficial to him.

Michele tells Tai that they’re votes are going on Aubry and he’s surprised to hear it, but agrees to vote with him. He says at some point his alliance had to break since it’s an individual game now.

Tribal Council #1

There’s a lot of talk of who is a bigger threat in the game and how to make the right decision about who to go to the end with.

Aubry warns her fellow tribe members that they should be careful about who they send to the jury right now because that person might have the power to blow up someone else’s game with the information they share with the rest of the jury.

Michele feels nervous tonight with all of the power she has with the immunity necklace. She wants to make sure she uses her power wisely.

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To the Vote!

The votes come in and it’s a two-two tie between Cydney and Aubry. Neither Michele or Tai are about to change their votes so that means a fire-making challenge!

Aubry is the first with flame and she builds up her flame pretty easily. Cydney, on the other hand, cuts her fingers and is unable to get anything going. But Aubry’s fire collapses before it can burn through her rope, opening the door for Cydney to make a comeback. She rekindles it though and she wins a spot in the final three.

Cydney becomes the next member of the jury and she’s devastated. She just wanted to help her mom out and go to school. It’s a rough spot, but she fought hard throughout the game and played really well.

Premature Celebration

Michele feels pretty crappy after Tribal Council, but Aubry is feeling very proud of herself, despite the fact that her friend Cydney is gone as a direct result.

Michele tells Tai that he basically just handed Aubry that million dollars. She says everyone respects Aubry’s game, especially now that she just bought her way into the final three.

Tai is worried that they’ll have another challenge since Jeff didn’t make any references about them pleading their case in front of the jury. Usually Jeff has some grand statement about arguing their way to the top and all that Jeff nonsense. Aubry assures him he’s wrong and tells him not to worry about it.

But the next day, Michele comes back with tree mail. They do have one more challenge. This bums out Michele the most. She thought she was in the clear, but now she has to fight for her life once again.

Final Challenge

It’s intense as they walk in. Jeff tells them that there is a challenge today but they’re not competing for immunity. They are the final three, which they’re all relieved to hear. What they’ll be competing for is the right to vote out a member of the jury who might come in the way of them winning the million.

It’s an interesting concept and it could ultimately help or hurt the winner of this challenge. But unfortunately, it makes for a lackluster challenge with not a lot on the line. They stack some balls on a balance beam and Michele wins.

They’ll go to Tribal Council tonight where instead of voting someone off, Michele will break the news to one unlucky member of the jury.

After the challenge, Michele ponders whose vote to cancel. She thinks Joe is the obvious choice but Tai tries to tell her to consider Neal as well. Tai says Neal can persuade other people more than Joe, so maybe he would be the smart choice.

Obviously, Aubry doesn’t want her to vote off Joe or Neal. She tells Michele that getting rid of Scot might be the best idea since he’s so aggressive and he could make it a point to slander her character. It’s a big decision and Michele doesn’t want to make the wrong one.

Tribal Council #2

The jury notices right away that no one is wearing a necklace, and they’re nervous. Once the bomb drops, people think that the obvious choice is Joe.

But Michele explains that things aren’t that crystal clear. It’s uncharted territory and she’s choosing someone who is persuasive and someone who she knew was never going to vote for her in the end.

The person Michele chooses to boot is Neal. He tells her she came into this game thinking she was a bad ass bitch, but really she’s just a sad puppy. Well, Neal, Michele has spoken. And it looks like she made the right choice. So don’t let the door hit you in the wounded knee on the way out.

Day 39

Aubry said it was her worst nightmare to see Neal walk away because she was sure he was voting for her, but now she has to work even harder to get the votes she needs. She started this game out as an “anxious ball of crazy,” but now she realized that it’s okay to be in control and it’s okay to be perceived as a threat. She’s going into the next Tribal like she goes into every Tribal; like her head is on the chopping block and she needs to maneuver a way to get out unscathed.

Michele knows it’s going to be an uphill battle, especially after the words Neal had for her on his way out. But she’s not going to be timid and she’s going to prove that she’s someone that made moves throughout the game that got her here.

Tai thinks that to win he’s going to have to win over Scot. But he says that Scot is a great player and he respects the game so he thinks he can appeal to him. He says if he hadn’t flipped on his original alliance, none of these three would be here now.

Final Tribal Council

Mark is at the final Tribal Council, which is obviously hilarious.

Nick starts things off with some advice for the the finalists. He tells Michele to display intelligence, Tai to display awareness and Aubry to display confidence.

Well Michele and Aubry take Nick’s advice. Tai… not so much.

For some reason every time he’s addressed, Tai brings up the Scot vote which is arguably the thing that most of the people on the jury (especially Scot) are bitter about. He doesn’t seem to realize that it was a major betrayal when he flipped from that alliance and that doesn’t only look bad to the person he flipped on. He is also unaware when it comes to apologizing or making it right. He just keeps repeating himself over and over about how big the flip was and how much it meant to the game.

Debbie is obviously still a little stung that Aubry voted her out. But Aubry takes the right approach to dealing with Debbie, telling her that she’s the one regret she has, but their games were just moving in opposite directions. She apologizes to her and says she respects her as a human being and she had to get rid of her because she was a threat. Debbie’s ego has never met a compliment it didn’t like, so she’s satisfied.

Julia points out that Michele’s game started off weak and only gotten stronger while Tai’s game started off strong and only got weaker. Which should she value more? Tai claims that he’s accomplished more than Michele, which is highly questionable. Michele argues that it took time for her to find her footing in the game, but once she did, she kicked it into high gear.

Joe asks Aubry why she should get their votes instead of Tai. Aubry says that she took a lot of the information that Tai came to her with and was the one making the decisions. She says Tai had so many advantages but he didn’t have his finger on the pulse of this game like she did. She rallied people together and made things happen that Tai couldn’t.

Jason wants to know one thing: Why did Tai pick the other alliance over them? Tai says it was because he was jealous of the relationship the two men had. Which makes sense. Then he keeps talking and calls them savages. Which is a mistake. Tai’s best strategy coming into this final Tribal might have been to just not say anything at all.

Cydney wants to know if it was Aubry’s plan all along to get rid of her at the end. Aubry says absolutely not; she wanted to get rid of Michele. Michele says she’d rather be sitting there with Cydney and that’s why she didn’t switch her vote and let it go to fire.

Scot doesn’t have any questions for Tai but he points out that he didn’t use his idol and he used his advantage wrong and his alliance didn’t trust him, so there’s no reason to vote for him. He asks Aubry why he should vote for her and she says because as a competitor he should respect someone who is just as competitive but who plays to their different strengths. Then he ends the questions by giving Michele a round of applause for getting stronger as she went and playing so hard.

The finalists make their closing arguments. Aubry says her game has evolved and she made fire to earn her place here. Tai talks about a Vietnamese proverb about a lily floating on the water (???). Michele says she got here by believing in herself and working hard.

To the Final Vote!

At first we see Julia’s vote for Michele. Then we see Joe’s vote for Aubry. No votes for Tai.

The final votes come in and Michele is the surprise winner of Survivor: Kaoh Rong! Her immunity run, positive attitude, and commendable final Tribal performance were all very impressive. Congratulations Michele!

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Gina Pusateri

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV