“It comes down to knowing yourself very well. I’m very aware of the vibes I’m giving off and how people perceive them.”
—JudFabio, summarizing in two sentences the essence of Survivor
So much of this 21st season of Survivor has paled in comparison to its 20th iteration. The castaways were not only unfamiliar, but seemingly unenlightened in how to play the game. The outsize personalities were less polarizing than simply unpleasant, and none of the final five could really lay claim to controlling the game for extended periods of time.
But Survivor: Nicaragua did deliver something that Heroes vs. Villains couldn’t: a completely compelling and satisfying finale with a more-deserving-than-we-thought winner. Let’s take a spin.
FROM FIVE TO FOUR
The “Previously on…” established the narrative arcs and the relative strengths and weaknesses for each of the final five castaways. Dan had done nothing, but that included not making any enemies. Holly had a nervous breakdown before taking down the game’s most powerful player in Brenda. Chase seemed to show genuine remorse each and every time he voted off an ally. Sash had made innumerable side deals, allying himself with everyone (and, as a result, no one). JudFabio was dumb—or was he?—and is a physical threat to win immunity.