SPOILER ALERT: This recap contains storyline and character spoilers.
After 39 days filled with blood, sweat, and tears, Tyson Apostol was crowned the winner of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water.”
The 34-year-old veteran of “Survivor: Tocantins” and “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” was the jury’s near-unanimous choice over Monica Culpepper and Gervase Peterson.
In a season that featured the loved ones of returning players, it was fitting that the bike shop owner’s drive to win was ignited by the elimination of his girlfriend, Rachel Foulger.
His triumph capped off a season marked by intense emotions. The twist of bringing in loved ones — then pitting them against the veterans — added a new level of intrigue and drama to the game.
Apostol also found redemption with his crafty gameplay this season. His decision on “Heroes vs. Villains” to stray from the main alliance’s plan to split votes between Russell Hantz and Parvati Swallow is widely considered to be one of the dumbest moves in "Survivor" history. But on “Blood vs. Water,” Apostol was in control for most of the game. He definitely outwitted, outplayed, and outlasted.
A rundown of the “Blood vs. Water” finale:
One last duel: Ciera prays for her mother, Laura, to win at Redemption Island and return to the game once again. But her hopes are dashed when Laura struggles with the vase-balancing challenge. After Hayden drops out, Laura can’t stop from wobbling and was then eliminated. With that, Tina re-enters the game. But both she and Ciera know that one of them had to win the next immunity challenge or they’ll be toast.
Balancing act: The immunity challenge also involves balancing — blocks on a tilting table. It’s a close one, but Tyson ends up winning the necklace.
Girl power: Time for Tina and Ciera to scramble! They try to get Monica to flip, and search for the hidden idol (which Tyson has). But Monica isn’t swayed and joins the guys in voting out Ciera.
Last challenge: Tina knows her time is almost up. The final immunity challenge is a must-win — but it’s a very physical obstacle course. Tyson and Monica take the early lead, and Tina is last to make it to the puzzle. And Tina’s fate is sealed when Tyson wins immunity. She is voted out at tribal council.
Final words: Tyson, Monica, and Gervase face the jury at the final tribal council. And the questioning is pretty brutal, particularly for Monica. Three different people ask her to open up and be vulnerable, and she breaks down in tears all three times. Monica says her whole life has been about Brad, and she wants something for herself. Meanwhile, Gervase tries to convince the jury that he was really the brains behind their alliance.
The vote: Vytas votes for Monica, but everyone else votes for Tyson. He wins $1 million and the title of Sole Survivor.
Check out Twitter reactions to Tyson’s win, the sound off about it in the comments below.
I know she can be annoying and paranoid and verbose at times, but I actually like Monica. She's a strong, determined woman. #Survivor— Rachel (@salomey5) December 16, 2013