Season 30, Survivor: Worlds Apart, has been a turbulent journey of ups and downs. We’ve had ugly social issues arise after Will and Dan issued personal attacks on Shirin. Mike has scrambled his way to the finale, despite having his back against the wall for weeks. And maybe most importantly, we’ve been blessed with Joe’s adorable dimples. But now, it’s finally time to see who wins it all. As Jeff would say, “Sole Survivor is back up for grabs!”

Carolyn had fun at the last Tribal Council when she realized she made the right choice by playing her idol.

Back at camp, Carolyn still pulls Rodney, Sierra and Will aside to confirm they’re all still going to the final four. Cute plan, but one of you lugs has to beat Mike at the next immunity challenge in order for that to happen. Good luck with that.¬†

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First Reward Challenge

For today’s first reward challenge, the survivors have to crawl through a net, slide tiles on a table, use a machete to transport those tiles across two balance beams and then solve a puzzle to raise their flag. First to finish gets an advantage in the next immunity challenge.

In addition to that, family members are here! Carolyn’s husband of 40 years is here and those two are just the sweetest. Rodney tells his dad that he’s “so proud to be your son, brother,” in true Rodney fashion. And Will gets pumped to show off his sweet challenge skills in front of his wife.

Besides the advantage, the winner will enjoy the company of their loved one back at camp for the evening.

Will is actually really pumped and he’s the first one out of the net crawl. Jeff keeps commenting on how this is the first time he’s ever been in the running for a challenge, which is rude to do in front of his wife, but still kind of hilarious.

But Mike is hot on his heels, and Will loses any time he gained by face-planting into the balance beam when trying to transport his tiles. Mike gets to the puzzle first, way in front of everyone, and at that point it’s his to lose. And he doesn’t lose. He wins the advantage and a camp visit from his mom Deborah.

Back at camp, everyone seems happy to have someone new and pleasant (and presumably less smelly) to talk to. When he gets to talk to Deborah alone, Mike tells her that he’s been battling for a long time in the game and the others have really villainized him. He’s glad to have her support at this time in the game though and it’s given him a boost of energy to continue.

Mike and Deborah arrive at the immunity challenge early to get his advantage. It’s a giant maze and Deborah has 30 minutes to lead Mike blindfolded through the maze. The only problem is, Deborah can’t even solve the maze while looking. She says he’d never say she let him down, but that’s exactly what happened. She feels terribly for possibly ruining his chances of winning the challenge, and thus the game.

First Immunity Challenge

The survivors are blindfolded and start off in the middle of the maze. They have to collect four medallions, one in each corner, before they make their way back to the middle and to the immunity necklace.

Mike quickly finds his first two medallions. Sierra and Rodney find some too, but Will and Carolyn are hopeless. At one point Rodney runs into Mike so he knows where to find a medallion and then he brings the rest of his friends over to find it too. But it’s not enough to stop Mike. He finds all four medallions before anyone else even finds three and he makes his way to the immunity necklace. Mike is safe at Tribal Council once again.

First Loser Camp

Carolyn is feeling vulnerable now that her hidden immunity idol is gone. But she thinks she has a bond with Mike so she can get him to vote with her. She, Mike and Sierra talk about making a Final Three pact. Sierra promises that if they vote for Rodney tonight, she’ll take him to the finals if he doesn’t win immunity. She admits in her confessional that she would do anything that Mike says because she’s scared of going home. Round of applause for Sierra’s courageous gameplay. (I’m just kidding; she’s played scared this entire game.)

Mike knows that he has other options. He tells Rodney that Sierra wants to write Rodney’s name down. Of course Rodney takes it personally. He tells Mike that it would be stupid for Mike to keep Sierra in the finals when she hasn’t done anything to upset anyone on the jury. He also points out that she’s the only one who has come close to beating him in challenges. He swears on his sister’s soul that if Mike keeps him around, he’ll be with him to the end.

First Tribal Council

Dan comes in as the next jury member, looking bitter and troll-like as ever. He gives Mike the biggest eyeroll. He needs to check himself before he wrecks himself. Oh wait, he’s already out of the running so I guess that already happened.

Mike knows he’s the swing vote tonight and that people are still coming for him. He says he loves everyone there but he can’t trust any of them so he needs to make the decision that’s best for him.

Rodney says that he’ll play true to his word and he’s ready to vote so everyone will know where his loyalties lie.

Sierra says she deserves to be there because she’s playing hard, but her argument as to why she should stay sounds more like an argument as to why she’s a threat.

The rest of the tribe agrees. Everyone votes for Sierra and she’s the next person out.

Second Immunity Challenge

It’s an epic final challenge, and of course we wouldn’t have it any other way. The survivors have to climb a huge set of stairs, unlock a bag of puzzle pieces, slide down a water slide, go through an obstacle course and drop off their bag. Then they have to do it two more times to retrieve two more bags. Once they have all their bags, they have to solve a puzzle. First one to solve it wins a guaranteed spot in the finals.

Mike takes the stairs four at a time to get off to a quick lead, but the rest of them aren’t too far behind him, especially Rodney. He keeps up on the physical portions of the challenge while everyone else slows down significantly after the first round.

Mike, Rodney and Carolyn are all working on the puzzle at the same time. Rodney, bless his heart, can’t even figure out one piece, but Mike and Carolyn are neck-and-neck. But Mike proves to be the LeBron of this season and he comes up clutch, winning his fifth immunity challenge in a row.

Now it’s time to get rid of Carolyn and win this thing.

Second Loser Camp

Mike promises to Carolyn that he’s not writing her name down tonight. Wait, what?! Why not take two of the biggest goats in Survivor history and moonwalk to the million dollars?! He says he might be making the biggest mistake of his life, but he’d rather get beaten by Carolyn then be known for taking those two dummies to the finals.

So, since Rodney and Will are voting for Carolyn, Mike tells Carolyn to brush up on her fire making skills. They agree to vote for Rodney which will force them to make a fire for the tie-breaker.

She sneaks off to practice the fire but doesn’t have much luck. She cries to Mike and he gives her a pep talk. She’s still nervous and frustrated that it all comes down to this.

Second Tribal Council

Dan’s face sours once again at seeing Mike with the immunity necklace. He’s so sad and bitter it’s not even funny anymore.

Mike says they’re a dysfunctional family so it will be hard to see anyone go home tonight, but it has to be someone. Rodney’s annoyed that his name is coming up because he doesn’t seem to understand that only three people can get voted out and Carolyn’s not voting for herself. (It’s shocking that Rodney is having trouble with the rules of the game. That’s never happened before.)

Mike keeps his promise to Carolyn and votes for Rodney so it’s a tie and it’s going to come down to a fire challenge.

Both Carolyn and Rodney have the same amount of supplies. The first person to build a fire with a flame high enough to burn through the rope gets to stay.

After six minutes, Carolyn breaks her flint, but don’t worry, Jeff has back-ups. Twenty more minutes in and still no fire and Carolyn breaks another flint. Forty-five minutes in and Rodney gets a flame and can’t get it going. After 53 minutes, Rodney gets another flame going and Carolyn finally sparks one too. Rodney fails to build up the integrity of his wood pile though and mostly burns through coconut husks. Carolyn, ever the planner, makes a teepee and her flame burns through the rope. She’s moving onto the finals.

Of course Rodney is bitter. He has some choice words for Mike and throws his shirt in the fire like a giant baby. Rodney being Rodney, I guess.

Final Three

Will wants to make his sacrifice of leaving his wife and daughter count for something. He says he’s made the moves he’s had to make, (HA! What moves?), but he’s been true to himself.

Carolyn thinks she’s played this game like a true “White Collar” because she’s always had a back-up plan in a season full of gamers.

Mike feels like he can finally take a breather after being pressured to win all of those immunity challenges. It’s out of his hands now.

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Final Tribal Council

It’s a pretty tame group of jury confrontations, but the good ones are really good.

Hali asks Carolyn how playing the “mom game” was a disadvantage. Carolyn says that she fought hard and played hard in the game even while trying to be maternal to her tribe mates. She says it’s the role took on because some of them are 25 years younger than her, and it was just her natural role for her.

Rodney asks Will how he kept it real with the members of the jury. Will says that he knew he’d be the underdog so all he could do was be himself. He says with exception of Shirin, he’s built relationships with everyone on the jury.

Tyler asks Carolyn to explain herself to him, who feels especially heartbroken after she voted him out. She says that was the most difficult vote she cast and she doesn’t feel great about it. She says you do things in the game of Survivor that you would never do in your normal life, but if you don’t make those moves, you don’t get to the finals. She tells Tyler she’s sorry and he says he has no hard feelings.

Jenn addresses the jury and basically tells them to quit being a bunch of bitter babies and vote for Mike. She said you kicked them out of your alliance and then you got mad when he made moves to stay in the game.

Of course Dan makes an ass out of himself, because he knows no other way. He tells Mike he didn’t care about the jury enough, but he better care about them tonight. Mike takes a moment to genuinely apologize for the moment at the auction when he went back on his word. He says he regrets the fracture that that put in their relationship and it’s not even about gameplay, but he wants to apologize. Dan is grateful for his apology, and for him humbling himself, and says that’s the most genuine moment he’s gotten from Mike and that’s all he wanted.

The winner of the jury confrontations is Shirn. First, she talks about how Will took her back to a dark place in her childhood but then Mike came across as a protector. She says that was a million dollar moment for her. But that doesn’t mean he has her vote. She wants to give it to the person who deserves it most, so Carolyn’s still in it.

She then compares all three finalists to animals in their camp. Mike is a howler monkey: He’s loud and comes at you if you threaten him. Carolyn’s a stingray: She’s hidden and doesn’t want to make waves, but if she senses anything near her, she stings. And will is a dead fish: They dragged him in the net and he played dead without having to make any alliances because everyone wanted to take him to the end because they knew they could beat him. So there’s the aggressive one, the stealthy one and the dead fish. As Sue Hawk once said, “Let it be the way that mother nature intended.”

It’s time for the jury to vote. Sierra is the only person to vote for Carolyn. Rodney is the only person to vote for Will. And everyone else votes for Mike.

Mike is the winner of Survivor: Worlds Apart! A well-deserved winner, though I have to admit, I’m disappointed we won’t be seeing him on Second Chances.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Gina Pusateri

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV