‘Survivor’ Season 42 Finale: The Tribe Has Spoken (RECAP)

Survivor S 42 finale
Spoiler Alert
Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Survivor Season 42, Episode 13 finale, “It Comes Down to This.”]

After 26 days and 13 episodes, Survivor Season 42 has found its winner. The Survivor Season 42 finale aired on Wednesday, May 25 on CBS starting at 8/7c. The finale itself was two hours long, immediately followed by the reunion.

Despite the shortened game, it’s been a long season. And the finale didn’t waste time throwing in some final twists and turns. Loyalties are tested, mental and physical exhaustion persists, and final strategies come to fruition. Here, we break down everything that happened in the Survivor Season 42 finale.

Survivor S 42 finale

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After Tribal Council: Tree Mail Advantages

The players are sent to a new beach after Omar’s elimination. Their few belongings are at this new camp, but they’re back to square one in terms of shelter and supplies. Lindsay and Jonathan immediately get into it, with Lindsay telling Jonathan she feels betrayed because he didn’t tell her to vote for Omar. Meanwhile, Lindsay voted for Jonathan, and he calls her out for that. Lindsay is frustrated with how Jonathan speaks to her, but honestly, her argument about betrayal is thin. Sure, he didn’t tell her about Omar. But she voted for him. Who really betrayed the “alliance”?

Romeo crafts a lie to help get him into the Final Four, telling everyone he has an idol (he made a fake one). The next morning, the guys agree Lindsay needs to be voted out. Lindsay breaks down on the beach to Mike, who offers some comfort. And then comes the immunity challenge clue via tree mail.

“Another shot at immunity,” it says. “Final Four is just one vote away. If you want to increase your chances, the riddle shows you the way.”

The players also get envelopes that say “final advantage clue.” That clue reads, “solve the phrase to find the advantage. First you must unscramble the words, then decipher the phrase. You cannot search for the advantage until you have correctly solved and written down the entire phrase.” The phrase: “good fortune is tucked in the toes of the sleeping giant.” Lindsay figures it out first and runs off on her search.

“I’m definitely on the hot seat for sure,” she says to the cameras. “So I need this advantage.”

Romeo Escobar, Jonathon Young, Mike Turner, Lindsay Dolashewich and Maryanne Oketch and in the Survivor Season 42 finale

Mike suggests the remaining four work together to figure out the scramble, and Maryanne “sandbags” the process because she wants Lindsay to find the idol and get to the Final Four. Lindsay searches for 40 minutes and finds it. It’s a “slight” advantage for the upcoming immunity challenge, and it “lights a fire” under butt. The name of her game now, as she describes it, is “savagery.”

Immunity Challenge: A Gladiator’s Arena

In the challenge, the players must race through a series of large obstacles, collecting puzzle pieces along the way. The first to finish the massive circular puzzle wins immunity. There’s also a reward: pasta, garlic bread, cake, salad, and red wine.

Before the challenge begins, Jeff Probst explains Lindsay’s advantage. While everyone else has to untie six knots in the obstacle course, she only has to untie one. To begin, the players run over the net and make the round to their bags. Jonathan crosses the wobbling bridge first, followed by Lindsay. They have to do this multiple times until they have all of their bags.

Jonathan is “on fire” in the challenge yet again, but with puzzles involved, it’s anyone’s game. A poorly timed fall eats up some of Lindsay’s time and sours her advantage. But as always, the puzzle is the equalizer.

Survivor S 42 finale

Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment

It’s one of the longest challenges of the season, and in the end, Mike pulls out his first immunity challenge victory, with Lindsay just one piece away from a win. Through tears, he says, “My kids are gonna be proud.” Mike chooses Jonathan to join him in the food reward, and Jeff says no when he asks to bring one more.

Mike’s idol is a hot topic of conversation. While Mike and Jonathan enjoy their meal, Maryanne, Lindsay, and Romeo talk about the offers Mike has made with his idol. Last week, Mike promised to protect Maryanne with it. Earlier in the finale, Mike implied he may use it for Lindsay in conversation with her, but he also tells Jonathan he’ll protect him.

Lindsay has a moment of panic, asking Mike to prove his loyalty with his idol. Everyone considers voting Lindsay out. Romeo tells Maryanne they have a better chance winning against Mike than Lindsay. Maryanne also considers protecting Lindsay with her idol and blindsiding Jonathan. And just like that, it’s already time for the first Tribal Council.

Tribal Council Part 1: The Final Four

At Tribal, Lindsay explains why she’s sure she’s on the chopping block, saying she’s the only one who didn’t know Omar was running everything. Jonathan says Lindsay is their biggest threat, and Maryanne expresses her difficulty between voting emotionally and voting strategically.

“It’s calm because no one really has to make a decision,” Lindsay tells Jeff. She argues that her social game wasn’t strong since she was tricked by Omar, and adds they should could keep her because the jury wouldn’t find her impressive. Jonathan disagrees that she’s not a strong player.

Mike says finding the people you can truly trust can help anyone make it to the end, but admitted that in Survivor, who you can trust is always changing. Jeff explains, “You have to align with people that you believe you can beat. And the truth is, they’re aligning with you because they believe they can beat you.”

Maryanne agrees and explains her strategy behind Omar’s elimination. In the jury, Drea tells Omar, “she’s playing for your vote.”

“If the reason for me leaving is because no one thinks they can beat me, that’s the best reason for me to leave,” Lindsay adds before the voting begins.

Mike sticks to his word and plays his idol for… Maryanne. Romeo admits to his fake idol and throws it in the fire. And ultimately, everyone but Lindsay votes for Lindsay, sending her into the jury.

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Immunity Challenge Part 2: A Survivor Classic

It’s a long-standing Survivor game for the Final Four: Simmotion. With one hand tied behind their backs, players with drop a ball down a shoot. It spirals around a metal cage, and they have to catch it. They drop it down, with new balls being added at regular intervals to make everything more difficult. If a ball falls at any point, they’re out.

Mike is the first player out with just one ball. Maryanne is out next, and the mental exhaustion on her and Mike’s faces are clear. After adding more balls, another first: Romeo wins! He’s guaranteed a spot in the Final Three and will be able to affect who comes with him.

Through tears, Romeo says, “I feel like I’ve been at the bottom of this game for so long and I’ve just been hanging on by my finger nails. Every Tribal, my name comes up. Every single Tribal,” adding, “It’s exhausting. I’ve been fighting so hard. This feels good.”

Before the Final Tribal: Playing with Fire

As Romeo basks in his glory, Mike asks him to chat about the fire challenge. He offers him advice, telling Romeo to send him into the fire challenge because he’d be “silly” not to.

His argument: “If I go against Jonathan and I beat Jonathan, then you have to deal with me and Maryanne” in the Final Three. Mike’s arguing that Romeo can’t win against him and Maryanne because they’re well liked by the jury. Jonathan, however, isn’t as widely beloved. Sending Maryanne packing increases Romeo’s chances of winning, per Mike’s logic.

Survivor S 42 finale

Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment

Maryanne wants Jonathan to win the fire challenge so she doesn’t have to compete against Mike in the final. To that end, she tells Jonathan everything she knows about making fire, and he does rather well. Mike comes in to chat with “Goliath” next, who points out that no one has seen Mike (a firefighter) start any fires. He plays coy about his skills there and doesn’t let people see him practice.

“If Romeo gives you an out not to make fire, take it,” Mike warns Jonathan, who doesn’t buy it.

Everyone practices their fire-starting skills, knowing their fates are in their control. Mike thinks this is his “game to lose now.” We’ll see.

The Fire Challenge

Romeo walks Jeff through his selection strategy, describing it like a tennis match in his head. With his place in the Final Three confirmed, Romeo chooses to bring Maryanne into the Final Three with him. (Mike stayed loyal to Maryanne, Romeo did too. People seem to love Maryanne! My, my, my, how the tables have turned.)

Survivor S 42 finale

Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment

And with that, the closest buddies of the season are pitted against each other for the last slot in the Final Three. Before they begin, they say, “I love you, buddy.”

The Hoboken firefighter gets flame first as Jonathan struggles to get his started. Both of them stay laser focused as they fight for their spot, knowing $1 million is on the line. The wind blows Mike’s large fire sideways, nearly blowing into Jonathan’s. But it keeps growing, and Mike wins, taking out one of Survivor‘s strongest physical players. (This also means the voters in our Survivor 42 winner poll chose wrong!)

“Goliath” says the famous elimination line as Jeff snuffs out his flame, and then tells Mike, Romeo, and Maryanne it’s all love. He later tells the cameras that if given the chance, he’d come back and play Survivor again.

Before Tribal Council: The Jury Returns

Maryanne, Romeo, and Mike enter their 26th and last day. They watch a beautiful sunrise and look back on the season. And then, the jury comes back for more solo commentary! We missed them, TBH.

“I need Mike to own that he was a snake,” Omar says, describing what would make him vote for Mike. Uh oh.

“Romeo’s strength was the fact that he was weak,” Rocksroy says. “He played the game on a weaker level so that he could be forgotten.” Chanelle says Romeo’s game may deserve more credit for making himself a useful pawn. And Omar says in the apocalypse, it’s better to be a cockroach than an elephant.

As for Maryanne, Hai needs evidence proving she was playing a strong game, as he apparently can’t see it. Tori knows there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye. Lindsay says she can’t see Maryanne’s strengths, which kind of shows why Lindsay was voted out. Drea wants to root for Maryanne, but will choose who makes the strongest case. Newly added juror Jonathan says he’s hoping the players “come with some beef.”

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The Tribal Council Q&A

Omar kicks things off by telling the Final Three his apocalypse metaphor. Tori asks the first question, asking if her described perceptions of them are accurate. This is part of the social game analysis.

Mike says he played the game honorably, going against his word just once with Rocksroy. Maryanne disagrees that she doesn’t take the game seriously. She points out the trend she noticed post-merge, saying players under 25 who “seemed strategic” being targets. She downplayed those skills until it was time to bring them out, keeping under the radar to outwit and outlast. Hai pressed Romeo about their tension, and Romeo eventually admitted the lies he told, which Hai respected.

Mike defends the lies he told (namely when getting Drea out), but Chanelle says he’s not really owning it. Tensions rise, and Drea calms them all saying everyone has to lie in the game. Later on, Drea says Mike’s social game is what saved him. Omar says Maryanne’s social game was sloppy and asked her when she realized that and if it changed her strategy. And she says the merge made her realize her mistakes and changed everything.

Jonathan then tries to take credit for Maryanne’s Omar move, claiming she didn’t think of it. Eh, not true. Romeo says he made social alliances with everyone in the game.

Drea asks each player to describe their biggest strategic moves. Romeo says he had to make as many alliances as he could to keep himself safe, and then talks about his fake idol.

Mike brings up Hai’s blindside as his strong move, saying he played an emotional and strategic game, admitting sometimes his emotions got the best of him. He also admits that he didn’t play with as much integrity as he thought. Maryanne says her Omar elimination is her strongest move, as well as keeping herself safe.

She points out that some may think trusting Mike was a gamble, not an impressive move, but then reveals the kicker: she kept the only secret in the game, her merge idol that she told no one about. The jury gasps. She made it into the Final Three by orchestrating every possible scenario to get her into the Final Three.

“Touché,” Lindsay says.

The players then make their final pleas. Romeo cries as he says he didn’t want to play from the bottom, but it was the game he was dealt. And he made it all the way to the end with pride. Maryanne said staying mindful about not letting her emotions affect her decision making was difficult because she so badly wanted to keep friendships. But she wouldn’t let herself make common Survivor mistakes. Mike stands by his social and strategic games with pride. And the jury begins voting.

And the Winner Is…

Of course, there’s one more twist. The players and jury learn they’re going to immediately learn who wins. The first vote goes to Mike, the second two to Maryanne. The rest of the votes go to… Maryanne!

Survivor Season 42 After Show

In the after show, we learn Lindsay was meant to be in Season 41, but tested positive for COVID-19 before filming began. Omar continues with his animal metaphors. And the players share what their private moments on the island were like (spoiler alert: everyone cried many times).

As for Romeo, Mike, and Maryanne, they look back on their game and look forward to the future. Having both won their first immunity challenges in the finale, Mike (who got one vote) and Romeo (who didn’t get a vote) both feel accomplished. Maryanne never won a challenge, but she won $1 million, so she’s feeling pretty good. Jeff says he knew from the moment he met that her boisterous energy needed to be on the show. And clearly, that turned out well!

What did you think of this season? Let us know in the comments, below.

Survivor, Season 42 Finale, Wednesday, May 25, 8/7c, CBS and Paramount+