“Survivor” season 41 is down to its final five. The two-hour finale will crown a winner the Sole Survivor from among castaways Deshawn Radden, Heather Aldret, Erika Casupanan, Ricard Foye and Xander Hastings. The editing is making us lean toward either Ricard or Xander winning, but Deshawn might sneak in there. We don’t see Erika or Heather taking the title; a woman has not won “Survivor” since Sarah Lacina won in season 34 in 2016.
Here is how to watch a live stream of the finale.
CBS’ description for the three-hour finale reads, “After a dangerous season filled with new twists, only five castaways remain and must battle it out for the title of Sole Survivor and the $1 million prize, on the two-hour season finale of the CBS original series “Survivor.” For the first time since season one, the winner will be revealed live on location. The finale will be immediately followed by a one-hour after-show hosted by Jeff Probst.”
Follow along here with our live recap but be warned of spoilers. All times Eastern.
8:10 — After Probst welcomes us to the show and tells us how there is “one last twist” that “no one will see coming,” plus that they’re going to announce the winner live in Fiji, we pick back up with the final five arriving at their new camp where they have no amenities. Erika does not want to talk to Deshawn about him blowing up her duo with Heather. He says he’s sorry, but he had to try something to keep his buddy Danny there. Plus, Heather is pretty mad at Erika because she thought they were tight.
8:15 — The next morning, they each get a clue to the final advantage. It’s a word scramble and then a phrase they have to decipher. You are not allowed to search for the advantage until you have correctly solved the phrase. Xander gets it first — “Your treasure hangs where thre trees love to dance.” He runs off and then quickly everyone else gets it too and they start searching. “It’s a million-dollar egg hunt,” cracks Xander. Hilariously, Erika is the last person to solve the clue and the one who finds the advantage, which is an advantage in the final five immunity challenge. She immediately tells her alliance that she found it, but they let Deshawn and Xander keep looking. Ha ha.
8:20 — At the immunity challenge, they are building a rope ladder, hauling a bag of puzzle pieces up an elevated platform and then solving a 75-piece “Survivor” puzzle. They are also playing for a steak dinner reward. Erika’s advantage is that she gets to start with four rungs on each of her two ladders. Wow. That’s not a small advantage.
During the challenge, Erika’s advantage does get her a lead, but she’s not so far ahead that it’s a blow-out. In fact, they all get to the puzzle in a timely manner and Ricard starts to close in on Erika’s lead — but she pulls it out! Good for her. She chooses Heather to join her on the reward.
8:30 — At the reward, Erika apologizes for screwing up their friendship, but Heather is madder at Deshawn for the way he did Erika dirty. They end up patching things up and talk about who they want to take to the end. Erika wants to take Ricard but he’s a huge threat, but they also know they can’t take Deshawn because he will win for sure. Back at camp, Ricard is pretty annoyed that Erika and Heather might vote him out over Deshawn. Well, of course, they might! You are an immunity beast and there’s one more immunity challenge!
Then Ricard drops the bomb to Xander that he has a baby boy due “next week,” as in the week after the show wrapped back last spring. He starts crying, Xander tears up, it’s very emotional — and it makes Xander consider using his idol on Ricard! Whoa. If Ricard gets Xander to do that, Ricard deserves to win this 100 percent — and Xander knows this is a big gamble because can Xander beat him in the finals? I don’t know if he can.
8:40 — At Tribal Council, there is a lot of talking about Deshawn vs. Ricard and why do you keep one over the other. Then Ricard reveals about the baby on the way, getting all emotional. Hmmm. Is this the right play or will cynical people look at this as a bridge too far? He also talks himself up as one of the best players in “Survivor” history, which makes this feel like he knows he’s getting voted out.
8:45 — Before the votes are read, Xander plays his idol for himself just to play it. Then the votes go Deshawn, Ricard, Ricard and Ricard. Awww, that’s a shame. He really did play a great game.
9:00 — The next day, they head straight into the immunity challenge. They have to traverse a curved walkway while stacking blocks on a wobbly platform. The first one to stack all six of their blocks wins. They each take a turn losing their blocks early on, then Xander pulls into a lead — and then he wins! Well, barring some kind of complete meltdown in front of the jury, Xander is probably going to win. If Deshawn is sitting next to him, it gets harder, but I still think he wins.
9:20 — The next day, Xander straight-up tells everyone that he’s taking Erika to the final three, which is an interesting choice. He says she’s made some good moves and doesn’t want to let her have a flashy fire-making win in front of the jury. Hmm. That kind of makes sense, but wouldn’t you also want to put Erika against Deshawn in the fire-making challenge? It seems like Deshawn is the biggest threat to Xander winning, so wouldn’t you want to see Erika take him out? She’s more likely to make fire than Heather, it seems. Why wouldn’t Xander take Heather? But then Erika shows him that she can’t make fire, so now he’s wondering if he should put Erika in the fire-making challenge and get her out? Yeah, this is tricky because now, my thinking is if Heather is better at making fire, she has to go up against Deshawn.
9:30 — At Tribal Council, Xander says that the jury doesn’t respect Erika’s game, which is a reason to take her to the final three and they visibly react like he is crazy, PLUS Shan remarks under her breath that that’s a bad read on his part. Huh. I wonder if editing made that reaction shot happen because even after that jury reaction, Xander still chooses to take Erika to the final three.
9:40 — In the fire-making challenge, Deshawn gets off to a hot start, but Heather gets back in it. And then suddenly, the tides turn because Deshawn’s flame goes out and Heather coaxes her flame up to the rope. But then Heather’s flame falls and Deshawn gets his going again! This is intense. And then Deshawn wins and Heather’s rope goes up like five seconds later. Wow. That was a great fire-making showdown.
9:50 — Final Tribal Council. Honestly, it has been very hard to get a good read on this jury, but it feels like Deshawn probably has the votes to win? But as the jury asks questions (which is a total free-for-all, what is happening?!), it’s unclear how some of them lean. Ricard is obviously voting for Erika, Danny is obviously voting for Deshawn, and Evvie is obviously voting for Xander, but other than that… ?
10:10 — We finally get to the fire-making decision. Ricard wants to know why Xander would cut him (Ricard) and yet take Erika (who everyone seems to see as a huge threat) to the final three. Xander has to be honest — he didn’t think Erika was a threat and that could come back to bite him. He also says he didn’t want to give Erika a chance to get a fire-making win in front of the jury and they all seem to think that makes total sense.
10:15 — Shan then puts the screws to Deshawn about using a social movement as a game move. She would have stayed with that alliance to the end, but Deshawn was part of the people who cut her and she feels betrayed by that. He apologizes but doesn’t really explain why he didn’t stick with the alliance.
Then Tribal ends with Danny praising Erika’s game and saying she played the game he wanted to play, to which a lot of other jurors nod in agreement. It now feels like Erika has this in the bag?! This is the craziest finale I can remember in terms of not knowing who is going to win.
10:20 — After the vote, Jeff drops the bombshell that they’re revealing the winner on location and everyone freaks (because of course, they do, that’s crazy for them). The votes then go Erika, Deshawn, Erika, Erika, Erika and Erika wins! Wow. She won by a vote of 7-1.
10:30 — Jeff Probst then drops another bombshell. They are doing the after-show on location in Fiji too, so he brings out champagne, pizza and the production crew rushes in with a new set.
When Jeff questions everyone during the after-show, Erika leans into how she is always so underestimated, saying, “The way that I look really affects the way that people treat me outside of the game … I knew that that was something that I had up my sleeve. And I had no ego about how I was going to play … I don’t need to have the full credit for anything. I knew the path to the end didn’t have to be pretty, I just had to get here … I just had to have the chance to plead my case.”
“Survivor” returns for season 42 on March 9, 2022. Seasons 43 and 44 are casting now, so if you’ve always wanted to apply, now is your chance!