What a week, huh? (Ryan, it’s Wednesday.)
The last episode of Survivor we witnessed what was, in my opinion, the biggest move of the season — the obvious frontrunner, Omar, coming to a thwarting halt at the hands of lovable underdog, Maryanne. The 3-2-2 vote with an extra vote utilized to its full potential (a first in Survivor history?) blew the game wide open and made this week’s finale way more exciting than it would’ve been had the season-long strategic narrator and puppet master had a smooth sail to the million, even if he’d have deserved the win and the title of Sole Survivor.
I can confidently say that I will be happy with no matter what outcome on Wednesday night based on who I think can win and who cannot. There are several exciting ways this finale could go, but I’m going to try and pick one lane to lock in my official picks and then immediately change my mind at approximately 7:05pm CST after the show starts.
BUT FIRST (sorry, please don’t call me Ryan Chen-Moonves), a few final words on the one who without any doubt* will not be winning.
*I can never actually be 100% sure what stunt Jeff will pull at any given moment
Omar’s story is interesting to me because he was such a central player in this season’s major strategy, especially post-merge, but despite his huge confessional presence, I didn’t feel like he got a lot of, to use an old Edgic term, second-person visibility or SPV. Omar talked a lot about everyone, but no one really talked about Omar until finally this last week. The entire episode, I didn’t think it would amount to anything, though, and that Omar’s relationship with Lindsay would just save him but I held onto hope that Lindsay would hold on to her idol, and she did, giving us the best boot of the season.
I think Omar played a phenomenal game as he was clearly at the center of the tribe with his strong strategic and personal connections to everyone. It was just frustrating feeling like he was getting this “coronation” or flawless type of winner edit as yet another man after we just finished 41 feeling like the show doesn’t fairly give the same celebratory edits to women. Part of me feels bad that someone who played so well fell this sort, but the other part of me is glad this season’s ending won’t be what I thought it would be. I’d be excited to see Omar again only because I think it would be interesting seeing him play with a target on his back. He was incredible in the background pulling lots of strings, but when players gun for him – as they should in any returnee season – will he still be able to hold on? Probably, but I’d like to see him sweat more than he did this season. Still, I loved seeing the biggest strategic player of the season go down in its biggest blindside at the hands of someone he thought he could manipulate all the way to the million.
Starting off my predictions for the players remaining in the hunt, Lindsay. Opposite of Omar’s, Lindsay’s edit has been much more of a subtle slow burn, similar to Erika’s, but since it’s taken off, Lindsay’s become very rootable as a strong woman whose strong game I think is one that hasn’t been as shown as much as it should have. Lindsay winning would also be like Erika – not much of a story in the first half of the season, but increasingly more important as it gets closer to the end though. Outside of Do or Die, though, I still don’t know if Lindsay has had her MOMENT unless that was meant to be it.
My gut says that Lindsay is maybe able to beat anyone in the final three with the exception of maybe Maryanne after the big stunt this week. For as much as 42 has followed 41 in literally almost every way, I hope it’s not another case of the winner emerging onto the show only at the end. Lindsay’s big focus the last 3 episodes have been bout getting rid of Jonathan, so I think that’s going to play into how one of the two loses to the other.
My guess is that the final five immunity challenge will be another tight finish between Jonathan and Lindsay, but it’ll be Jonathan who gets the win. The vote will then likely be between Lindsay for being tight with Omar or Maryanne for getting the recent resume boost. Maryanne’s still got a live idol to play while Lindsay’s is just a lifeless husk of yet another twist that was hyped up but amounted to nothing, so, sadly, I think Lindsay will be the final five boot. If we see her beat Jonathan, however, and he goes out at five instead of her, then I think she’ll go on to win in sort of a “David finally beat Goliath” story.
Maryanne winning would just be too good to be true at this point. The first Black woman to win since Vecepia in 2002 would be an amazing testament to the show’s intentional effort to represent more people (not to discredit Erika also being a woman of color). Maryanne represents Black women, Canadians, as well as the “weird kid” community all in one ball of energy that has been a blast to watch this season. The strategic list of accomplishments hadn’t been as extensive until the recent vote, and she’s played from the bottom at the merge, but going into the finale, Maryanne’s at the top of her game. She’s got a guaranteed spot in the final four as long as she doesn’t misplay her idol, but her big move this week should indicate she knows how to play an advantage properly. FINALLY someone recalled Cirie saying, “if you got it, play it.”
Final four is what will make Maryanne either one of the biggest fan favorite winners or the absolute most tragic final four fire-making loser. Maybe she’ll surprise us with an immunity win, but I really think it’s all going to come down to fire for Maryanne. Whichever of Jonathan and Lindsay survives five, I think they’ll win again at four and take the obvious goat Romeo to the end, sending Mike and Maryanne to fire-making. If you’ve read my stuff all season, you know I’m a big Mike fan, but I will be a part of the earth-quaking uproar that will be Survivor fans cheering if Maryanne wins the fire-making challenge or among the tsunami of tears if she loses it.
If Maryanne makes it to the end, I think she’ll win which is why the players will want her losing at fire. Even Mike and Lindsay who have played impressive social and strategic games would likely lose to Maryanne simply for her story and the heart and soul she’s poured into the game. I’d imagine her final tribal council pitch to be one of the most emotional and inspiring that we’ve ever seen. I hope we see it, but since even before the premiere, Maryanne has felt like “the journey” character who always has a heroic story of personal growth but tragically gets an inch away from the end and loses. It’s probably good I’ve at least mentally prepared myself for this moment the entire season. This one will hurt more than most.
As mentioned above, Romeo should be the goat going into this finale. However, everyone thought Heather would be the 0-vote finalist in 41, including myself (I disagreed that she should be, but I thought she would be) and then she ended up in the fire-making challenge by surprise. Will someone be dumb enough to bring a stronger contender to the end only to get demolished by them? *points at Jonathan*
Romeo started off so strong socially and strategically, but seeing how his merge game kind of flopped, it makes me wonder if he was really that strong in the beginning or if the rest of Ika was just such a mess that they made Romeo looked impressive in comparison. I think I called this out at one point. Once he hit the merge, Romeo lost virtually any social standing he had built up and was just at the mercy of everyone else, narrowly dodging several near vote-outs and only voting correctly at 2 out of 6 merge tribal councils. If this was a final two, Romeo could maybe hope to win against Jonathan, but I just don’t see him getting a single vote over Mike, Maryanne, or Lindsay.
It’s sad because on a personal level, Romeo’s someone I’m really rooting for like Maryanne. He’s gone through growth himself this season with publicly coming out finding new confidence in himself both in and out of the game. I don’t think someone needs the title of Sole Survivor to feel like a winner after the experience, so I hope he still feels that way after the 26 days are over. He may not get a lot of love from the jury, but I think he’s got a lot of support from the fans and people who are cheering for him in life regardless of where he ends up in the Survivor standings – myself very much included.
Jonathan isn’t technically the most winningest Survivor in challenges as he’s only won two individual immunity challenges — one of which he was only up against one other person — but his performance in tribal challenges alone makes him feel at least like he’s one of the best challenge performers ever. He’s probably one of the most versatile who could excel at any challenge whereas others may just have success solely at strength, puzzles, or endurance. All this to say, I feel like Jonathan’s finale story will follow along these lines and we’ll see him do what he set out to do: win his way to the end.
This will be very boring, of course, since I don’t think he has a shot to win — he’ll just present himself as a human obstacle, determining who doesn’t have immunity at five and deciding who gets a spot at the final tribal council vs. who has to face-off in fire at four. In a weird way, Jonathan will be very influential in this finale despite having very little chance to actually win it all and not having a lot of strategic input. I don’t think his social and strategic games are strong enough to win over anyone. Like I said, Jonathan vs. Romeo would be the only close call but that’s one the jury will be happy not to have to actually make. Whoever wins the fire-making challenge wins the game — that’s what I’m calling.
If Jonathan does win his way to the end, the only person I see awarding that with a vote is Rocksroy because Rocksroy is such an old school type of players who values strength, hard work, and winning challenges. Jonathan also didn’t vote out Rocksroy which will also go a long way with that mentality especially if the other two finalists are Mike and Romeo. So, basically, what I’m saying is that in true form of 42 being an almost shot-for-shot remake of 41, the final vote count will once again be 7-1-0. Romeo gets the “O,” Jonathan gets the 1, and the rest go to the winner — who I’m officially going into this season finale saying will be …
I was much more confident in this pick before a few weeks ago when Mike started talking a little like classic Coach about valuing strength, integrity, and giving people his word before then betraying Rocksroy and Hai because he was told he should by someone else. Mike was totally justified in doing this; I just hope he realizes the hypocrisy and is able to own up to the backstabbing in the end which is something that Coach couldn’t do so he lost the game. In Survivor, you’re supposed to lie, backstab, and betray. Just own it and embrace it. The jury doesn’t want apologies — it wants ownership. Mike has played a hell of a game that I hope he stands up for and doesn’t just try to tell the jury what he thinks they want to hear, how he was all about truth and honor, yada yada yada.
I don’t see a scenario where Mike is up against Lindsay or Maryanne in the end, unless I swap Jonathan and Lindsay in my predicted placements. In that case, I think Mike would lose to Lindsay who I would guess to be more articulate in front of the jury, so Mike more likely will be up against Romeo and Jonathan and get an easy win or he just won’t be at the end at all. An all-male final three? It’s about time, am I right?
Mike will make a great winner, in my opinion. I’ve said that the last couple episodes have been shaky for him, but overall, I think he’s a strong social and strategic player on top of being one of my favorite and funniest characters of the season. It’s not always that we get a mix of both — usually it’s a straight-shooting game-bot who makes an unsurprising Sole Survivor or someone so fun and kooky that they aren’t taken seriously as a contender. Mike checks all the boxes in what I could ask for in a Survivor winner.
According to confessional count, he’s actually been more visible than Omar who I gave grief to for being over-exposed, but I think that speaks to Mike’s entertainment to me. I don’t feel like he’s forced because I have enjoyed each and every second of him this season. Drea’s “kiss of death” calling him out during her exit was ominous, but I think it will end up ironic foreshadowing and instead–wait, do you hear that? I think it’s a Hoboken whisper saying, “Mike wins Survivor 42.” Or it could just be a foghorn. They’re both similar.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
Hey, that’s neat!
My brain is saying Lindsay – 5th, Maryanne – 4th, Romeo – 3rd, Jonathan – 2nd, Mike – 1st. My heart is screaming MAAARRRYYYANNNNNNNNNE! My gut … feels like it could be Lindsay winning. While I don’t know which way the game will go, I at least know I’ll be happy with any of these three winning. They’ve each played very different games which will make it fun watch which one was the right one in the end (cue the Mandalorian’s “this is the way”). I really want a BIG ending, though, and while Mike and Lindsay would be satisfying, I’m here for a busting-through-the-door kind of finale – something like this:
There’s really only one person who could be a final Player of the Week this season after her showing in the last episode. That little “You did it?” “I did,” exchange on top of the brilliantly executed blindside was also just beautiful. Watching Maryanne decide to just take over at the end of this game was so impressive and inspiring — she had the tools to make happen what she wanted, so she did. Screw what everyone else wanted or what was “safe.” Omar was definitely the one to beat, so where does this leave Maryanne? Is it like Elder Wand where the wizard who defeats the one with the wand gets to claim it and become the next most powerful wizard? I don’t know, but I really need a Luna Lovegood type of winner on Survivor, and Maryanne may be the closest thing we’ve ever had and will ever get to that. Please win this for the weird kids!
Ryan Kaiser has been a lifelong fan of Survivor since the show first aired during his days in elementary school, and he plans to one day put his money where his mouth is by competing in the greatest game on Earth. Until that day comes, however, he'll stick to running his mouth here and on Twitter: @Ryan__Kaiser