‘Survivor 46’ finale recap: Did Ben, Charlie, Kenzie, Liz or Maria win the $1 million grand prize? [LIVE BLOG]

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The “Survivor 46” finale proved to be the end of the road for one of the messiest and most unpredictable seasons in recent memory. At the start of the night, five people still remained on the island: three from the original Siga tribe (Ben Katzman, Charlie Davis and Maria Shrime Gonzalez), one from the original Yanu tribe (Kenzie Petty), and one from the original Nami tribe (Liz Wilcox). So which castaway ended up a millionaire by the end of the three-hour episode?

Below, read our minute-by-minute “Survivor 46” finale recap/live blog of “Friends Going to War” to find out what happened on Wednesday, May 22, 2024 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. Then be sure to sound off in the comments section about your favorite castaways on CBS’s reality TV show, who annoys you the most and who you think will ultimately join the “Survivor” winners list and take home the $1 million grand prize.

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8:00 p.m. – “Previously on ‘Survivor’!” In the 12th episode, Charlie won the reward and decided to take Kenzie and Liz with him for a day of Chinese food and letters from home. Maria later won the immunity challenge, keeping her safe at exactly the right time, because Charlie was starting to go after her (and vice versa). At tribal council, despite having a hidden immunity idol in his pocket, Q Burdette was blindsided by a 4-to-2 vote over Charlie, and he was sent to the jury.

8:01 p.m. – At the start of the episode, Jeff Probst underscored the two major records that were set this season: five players voted out with idols in their pocket, including four in a row and then 23 days without rice.

8:03 p.m. – As soon as the final five got back to camp after another tribal council blindside, Maria pulled Charlie for an aside in order to explain her attempt at taking out Charlie. She called it a “bait and switch” pulled by everyone else convincing her that they were voting Charlie out in order to throw her under the bus in his eyes. She called Kenzie, Liz and Ben a threesome that is out to get the two of them. Charlie did his best to assure her that he is not coming for her and wants to work with her against the others, but he knew that her explanation was “completely fake” because he understood that he was going for her and so she was obviously going for him. When they returned to the camp with the others, it was a unified celebration for Liz that she outlasted her nemesis Q and Maria gave everyone props for blindsiding her.

8:08 p.m. – On Day 24, the group assembled for their next immunity challenge. To earn their individual place in the final four, the five players had to race through a series of obstacles and then complete a puzzle and combination lock. In addition, they competed for a pasta lunch and dessert reward at the sanctuary. Jeff also pointed out that if Maria were to win this challenge she’d become only the fifth woman in series history to win four individual immunity challenges alongside Kelly Wiglesworth, Jenna Morasca, Kim Spradlin, and Chrissy Hofbeck.

8:12 p.m. – In the challenge, Charlie and Maria kept fairly even pace through the obstacle portion of the race, but Maria was the first to reach the puzzle. Kenzie was the third to reach the puzzle and then quickly assembled it, surpassing Maria and leaving Charlie in the dust. On the puzzle was a riddle that required the players to determine a series of numbers that they’d use to open their combination lock. Giving up on her own puzzle, Liz decided to assist Kenzie by running back to retrieve a plank that Kenzie needed to count the holes in. Even with Liz’s help, Kenzie’s attempt at the combination was wrong and so they had to recount. Luckily, they figured it out by the time Maria returned and Kenzie was able to successfully earn the win.

8:18 p.m. – With her win secured, both Kenzie and Liz told Maria that she’s a “bad ass” and the only way they could defeat her is by working together. Kenzie could only bring one person with her to the sanctuary for the reward. Kenzie began to say that she was torn between Liz and Ben, but Liz graciously announced that because she’s allergic to pasta that she should take Ben for his first trip to the sanctuary.

8:25 p.m. – At their reward lunch, Kenzie and Ben acknowledged that they had built a genuine friendship with one another and that it made it lovely afternoon for the two of them. In terms of strategy, they felt like the “enemy is common” and that it’ll be a no brainer to take out Maria next. Ben said that her only chance at remaining is to find an idol and “pull a blindside.” Back at camp, Maria told Charlie that she would vote with him to take out who they want while acknowledging that in order to do that she’d have to find an idol because it’s obvious the other three want her out. Her other option would be to pull in a third vote. Her attempt was to get Kenzie to turn on Ben by bringing up how he “accidentally” voted for her, but Kenzie wasn’t falling for it. Later, Maria went to Liz and said it wasn’t an accident and that Ben is a dangerous player that will pull something out at the last minute in the final tribal council. Liz was a little more convinced by Maria’s argument and seemed to legitimately contemplate making that move with Maria and Charlie. From Charlie’s perspective he thought it was possible that Ben could pull jury votes away from him because they’ve played similar games.

8:36 p.m. – At tribal council, the jurors seemed happy to see the immunity necklace around Kenzie’s neck with Jeff explaining openly that Liz helped her and that it was a clear effort to stop Maria from winning. Over the course of the conversation, Ben called Maria the “MVP of the game,” Kenzie said she admires Maria, and Liz acknowledged that her and Maria never came together in the game but they could have been a “dynamic duo” if they had connected. Charlie took his time to say that he’s worked “side by side” with Maria and so this vote was a “sibling rivalry moment.”

8:41 p.m. – In their remarks at the voting booth, everyone had wonderful and heartfelt comments for Maria as they unanimously cast their votes to oust her from the game. Maria cast her vote for Ben, as she said she would, and so she was voted out in a 4-1 tally.

8:48 p.m. – Spirits were high when the final four returned to camp that night, but they all understood the weight on their shoulder of having to win the next immunity or be subject to the fire-making challenge. Overnight, Ben once again suffered from night terrors that Kenzie sat patiently with him through. We also got a glimpse into many more nights throughout the course of the game where he was unable to sleep at night and he explained in a confessional that this journey was about him learning to “show up for yourself” in order to hopefully overcome the stress and anxiety that hit him at night. He also realized that the people he played with in the game believed in him are examples of the support that others can always provide.

8:52 p.m. – The next morning they got news of their next immunity challenge and Charlie was reflecting on his friendship with Ben that started from the very first day. It’s here that Charlie coined the episode title phrase by saying that going up against Ben at this point in the competition is like “friends going to war.” Meanwhile, Liz was concerned that a ligament problem she has in her hands will make fire-making very difficult on her and that everyone else knows that.

8:59 p.m. – For their final immunity challenge on Day 25, the only task was to “solve a simple Survivor logo puzzle,” but with the catch that they’d have a timer in the form of a pinball table that rolls down a ramp while they work, but must be caught before hitting a metal track. If the ball gets to the track then it will slowly move down a ramp that they have to wait out until they continue the puzzle. In this challenge, the first person to finish earns immunity and the opportunity to decide one other player to join them in the final three and which two are forced to compete in fire-making to earn the last spot.

9:02 p.m. – In the first pass of the balls down the ramp, everyone caught their ball before hitting the ramp, but in the second pass Charlie let his hit the ramp and so he had to wait it out while everyone else worked on their puzzle with a third pass of the ball up the ramp. With Charlie’s delay, Kenzie and Ben took a lead. Liz missed her next ball and had to wait. In Kenzie’s next attempts to get her ball up her ramp, she suffered from “bad tosses” that gave her a significant delay in her work on the puzzle. Even though she was catching up, Charlie was taking big risks with his ball and then missed again. In this delay, Ben and Kenzie pulled out to a lead once again, but in this challenge the player that said he only got an average of two hours of sleep a night for two weeks straight was the one that came out on top and earned his spot in the final three.

9:15 p.m. – For the three that didn’t win immunity, the afternoon was about pitching their cases for or against Ben choosing them to make fire. For Ben, it was described as “the weight of winning” having to decide who he can beat at the end and his friendships. He told Liz that she played “the hardest game out here” for outlasting her entire tribe and that he doesn’t think he can beat her. Liz pitched that she’s already a millionaire and everyone on the jury knows it so they won’t vote for her, but for Ben that just confirmed for him that he doesn’t want her in the final.

9:17 p.m. – The certainty that he’d be sending Liz to fire left Ben with the decision between Charlie and Kenzie. In order to help Ben make a decision, Kenzie said it comes down to who can beat Liz and who he wants to give the chance to have that moment in front of the jury. Privately, Kenzie was psyched about the opportunity to make fire because she believed she could beat Liz and it would pad her resume. Ben thought that Charlie was the strongest at fire, but Charlie did his best to get Ben to just take him with him to the end because he didn’t want the risk of fire. In practice sessions over the course of the afternoon, Liz had successful in her attempts while Kenzie struggled despite the confidence and she started to get scared that she might lose.

9:27 p.m. – At tribal, the jury was surprised to see Ben with immunity and then smiled when Jeff pointed out that he was the only one that didn’t make a mistake during the challenge. Ben’s power was to decide who would build fire, but when it came out that Ben told Liz she’s the biggest threat there was series of confused looks on the jury. In the debate between choosing Charlie or Kenzie, Ben said it was about friendship and the kindness that both of them showed over the course of the game. Without a clear reason how he came to his conclusion, Ben said that he was taking Charlie with him to the end and fire-making would be between Liz and Kenzie. In his acceptance of Ben’s decision, Charlie was sure to underscore that it was because of the bond he built with Ben that he was being taken to the end and that’s an important social aspect of the game. Kenzie expressed her own gratitude that she had an opportunity to show her strength in the game.

9:37 p.m. – In the battle, Liz was the first to get a spark, but her flame quickly went out. As Kenzie prepped her station with a lot of magnesium, we saw Tevin Davis whispering his support for Kenzie and then Q and Tiffany Nicole Ervin wondering why she’s “choking so bad.” After a mental resent, Kenzie was able to get a flame going that she sought to nurture while Liz managed another spark that eventually went out. When Kenzie’s fire finally burnt through her rope, she was elated, Liz was defeated, and Tiffany uttered “that’s my girl” from the jury bench. In her reaction, Kenzie said that she “earned it” and pointed out the meaning of starting the game without fire on her Yanu tribe and then getting to this point where she redeemed herself by starting fire. Liz’s emotional reaction fell on deaf ears with the jury with almost all of them rolling their eyes or looking around in confusion when Liz declared that she would have beat any of the other three.

9:48 p.m. – Among the final three there was a feeling that any of them could win the game. In the private thoughts of the jurors, Tevin would be looking for how the finalists “utilized or didn’t utilize” them in the game. Q considered Ben as a potential person he’d vote for if he could “articulate he was behind moves” in the game and not just flying under the radar. Soda Thompson countered that “outlove” isn’t a part of the game dynamics and so Ben’s social game might not be enough for him. Venus Vafa referred to Kenzie’s social game as “brilliant,” but she needs to see how she played the game while Tiffany was going in already believing that Kenzie was the most powerful player. Hunter McKnight named Charlie as a player who had “his finger on the pulse” and won immunity challenges.

9:58 p.m. – The final tribal council began with Tiffany declaring that they “are not looking for Taylor Swift lyrics or pop culture or rock-n-roll references,” but “serious and thought-provoking responses.” She then wanted to know single moves that changed the course of the game. Ben said that his move was at the merge when he made social connections with Kenzie, Charlie and Liz because he recognized them as being on the outs of their tribes. Charlie co-opted Ben’s answer by saying that he used their alliance of four as a way of having a majority at six in order to keep from being voted out himself and that’s why he didn’t let Q go at the final seven. His single biggest move, he said, was the Hunter vote because he stopped Kenzie from getting Tiffany out because Hunter was his own biggest threat at that moment. But then Hunter spoke up that the only reason he didn’t use his immunity idol during that vote was because Kenzie “sold” him on not needing to. For Kenzie’s move, she started to describe how she had to wrangle Q during the Tim Spicer or Ben vote right at merge, but Q attempted to negate what she was saying despite Tiffany backing her up.

10:02 p.m. – Venus asked the jury what their mistakes were that they were able to turn around into an advantage. Charlie went in to the dynamics of the “merge limbo” vote where he was the only one that voted for Venus and how that caused Q to invite him into the The Six alliance, but Maria said that she is the one that invited Charlie in and then Hunter pointed out that being in that alliance is not a great aspect of anyone’s game because most of them are on the jury. Kenzie said she got too confident in the game and it was the Tiffany blindside where she was left out which was the turning point for her to look at the game differently. That topic brought up the issue of Ben’s “accidental” vote of Kenzie at the final seven and he backed that up by saying that he was “out of it” because of his lack of sleep and it was a legitimate flub on his part.

10:06 p.m. – Tevin asked them to describe how each of them used someone else in the game to further their own placement. Ben said that he realized no one was asking for his input in decisions and so when Q and Maria would tell him a plan, he used that information to go to Kenzie, Liz and Charlie with it in order to decide what to do. Kenzie explained how she held her emotions at bay in order to stay in Q’s good graces and regain his trust after the Tiffany vote. Charlie said that he used Tevin early in the merge by listening to him as a voice of a chaotic Nami tribe and realizing that it was actually him that was the power player among them that needed to go.

10:08 p.m. – Hunter brought up Ben’s decision for the fire-making challenge and wanting to hear from Kenzie and Charlie who they would have asked to make fire. Kenzie said that she would have chosen herself and Liz to make fire because she recognized that Ben and Charlie have similar games and she has a decent shot at beating them in this final than she would have against Liz who had a different game. Charlie said she would have saved Liz and had Ben and Kenzie compete in fire because his game “stacks up well against” Liz. He added that he never pushed Ben to to put him into fire because he didn’t think he needed fire in an already strong game. Hunter underlined that Charlie said his goal was to “get to this point,” but it should have been “to win this game.”

10:10 p.m. – As the most tenured juror, Soda said Ben appeared like he “had no agency,” that Charlie was “playing the middle very closely with Maria, but did not set yourself apart from her,” and that Kenzie waited for people to tell her who to vote for. She wanted each of them to convince her otherwise in 30 seconds (timed by Tiffany). Kenzie said straight up that she’s a social player and she knew she was a number that had a social and strategic game that were “on in the same.” Charlie took this time to talk about how he set up Maria’s “demise” in the time that she was going after him in order to get her and Q out “exactly” as he “designed.” Ben agreed with Soda’s assessment because of how emotional he is, but he said that “opened the doors” for him to make friendships that helped him through the game.

10:12 p.m. – Q said that the most important thing to him is hearing what they plan to do with the money and how it will change their life. Ben said that he’d give money to his parents and then join up with a non-profit in order to fund and help kids get into music from a young age. Charlie said that he would use the money to “set up” himself and his family for the rest of their lives, pay for law school, and could donate to immigration organizations. Kenzie talked about how she’s worked since she was 15 and owns a salon at this point in her life not to make money, but to give other people the opportunity to make something of themselves. She admitted that she would use the money to invest in herself and set herself up for retirement because her business is not what’s going to do that for her. She said her life “has been for everyone else,” but this journey was for herself.

10:14 p.m. – In closing statements, Charlie said that his strategy was to “never close a door” so that he always had options and paths at power in order to get to the end. Kenzie called herself a “social butterfly” and that she’s “competed in every challenge” all the way to fire-making. Ben admitted that he might not stack up against the other two, but it was important for him to come to the game as the “emotional me” rather than the “bravado me” and he accomplished that.

10:20 p.m. – In the voting booth we saw Soda vote for Charlie, Q vote for Kenzie, Charlie vote for Charlie, and Tiffany vote for Kenzie. Tevin expressed to the others that he was “between two,” but we didn’t see where his vote went. Once they were all cast, Jeff read the votes: Charlie, Kenzie, Charlie, Kenzie, Charlie, Kenzie, Kenzie, Kenzie. By a vote of 5-3, Kenzie is the next new era winner!

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