Survivor: Edge of Extinction Episode 13 Recap: Hard Work Pays Off

We’ve now reached the edge…the edge of the season, that is. The Survivor: Edge of Extinction two-hour Finale is now just one week away, next Wednesday, May 15 (CBS of course!). The stage is set, the end is near, but judging by tonight’s penultimate episode, there is still much work that needs to be done before anyone walks away with the title of Sole Survivor.

As I do at the beginning of every recap, please heed the following. Remember that this recap assumes that you have already seen this week’s Episode 13 of Survivor: Edge of Extinction. If you have not and don’t want to be spoiled, please come back later! It’s important to add that while we WILL hit on all of the important developments of the episode, this is not a linear “blow-by-blow” recap. It is more of a discussion and reaction of what we just witnessed together.


Survivor: Edge of Extinction Episode 13 Recap: On The Edge of The Finale

Before I dive deep into the shenanigans caused by Rick Devens during tonight’s ep, let me first set you all up for next week: Yes, the Season 38 two-hour Finale is next week followed by the one-hour Live Reunion Show, or if they follow suit with the last couple seasons, the Reunion Show will probably be more like 40 minutes with the Finale Episode spilling over past 10 pm (EST). I want to thank you up-front for sticking with this season. It was borderline spectacular ever since the merge (minus the occasional quibble here and there).

I also want to thank all of you for reading this Recap each week. Next week you will not want to miss my final Recap of the season on Wednesday night, but then – brace yourselves! – the FilmSurvivor Podcast returns next Thursday (5/16) as I will be interviewing ALL FIVE of the Finalists PLUS whomever returns from the Edge of Extinction…that’s one podcast, six interviews! Look for that on Thursday, and if you haven’t already you can also follow the podcast on iTunes and on Podbean.

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Last but not least, in addition to the Podcast (which will post right here as well), Thursday will bring my updated “Most Memorable Seasons” and “All-Time Winners” rankings. Please not only look for them, but comment on them and tell me where you think Edge of Extinction and its winner should have ranked! I love hearing how wrong I get these seasons, or on the off-chance you agree with my picks, please let me know that as well!

And then we’ll examine what we know about the mysterious Season 39 (!!!) before I leave you all for the Summer (and here’s a hot rumor: Am I really leaving for the Summer? The scuttlebutt says that I just might be recapping another popular CBS show for RealityTea in-between now and the next season of Survivor…stay tuned!).

Survivor: Edge of Extinction Episode 13 Recap: On The Edge of The Finale

With that out of the way, let’s get to tonight’s Episode 13! This one seemed to be all about Devens, but actually it was about something much more: It was about what it takes to be a Survivor. Both the game and the Edge gave us some great moments, all that drove home just how difficult it is to not only play Survivor, but to succeed at it. On the island, we got to see Rick Devens just absolutely bust his ass in order to get the edge (pun intended) over his remaining cast mates. He was workin’ it, and having fun doing it. Over at the Edge, we got to see the cast-outs receive letters that they themselves wrote to themselves prior to the game starting.

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These letters seemed to be stark reminders of just why these people are still clinging to hope and pushing themselves beyond the brink. Reem‘s letter, in particular, struck me. Voted out first, and with a chip on her shoulder the size of a mountain, we got to see her rough-and-tough persona melt a bit. She deserves to be proud of herself, she is no loser. Even the humility that Chris seemed to discover when reading his letter detailing the “perfect game” of Survivor, shows the true grit and determination these people have, and the growth they’ve experienced over the course of the show. Not sure where I’m going with this, other than to say that I really dug these personal moments this week.

But I digress. We have to discuss Rick Devens, and here’s what I have to say. He started off the season as a sort of comic-relief goofball, but was voted off quite easily. I don’t believe anybody predicted that he’d be the one to win a challenge that would get him back into the game, but he did. Then, as the audience rooted for David, Rick’s popularity began to fall off with a lot of us. He wasn’t playing a good game, people would say. Why then, was everyone else so worried about him all the time? A bit frustrating, I know. Was Devens the most over-hyped player of all-time?

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Survivor: Edge of Extinction Episode 13 Recap: On The Edge of The Finale

Here’s how I’d sum up Rick Devens at this point: He’s not the most talented, best player on the team. But he’s the guy who is working the hardest, the guy that the coach points to and tells the rest of the team, “Why can’t you work as hard as Devens?” His hard work is reaping rewards in the game, and he’s been playing pedal to the medal ever since he rejoined the game. And while Devens hasn’t shown the best social awareness, and hasn’t been the best in challenges (although he’s done quite well in this regard actually, he’s no Ozzy), Devens actually HAS been putting on an absolute masterclass at Tribal Councils.

He airs things out, clearly portrays his thoughts and keeps his emotions in check. He’s a pot stirrer. And maybe it’s because he spent time on the Edge, or maybe it’s because of his personality, or maybe it’s both, but this jury ABSOLUTELY LOVES HIM. It was quite rare, actually, that tonight he wore Immunity around his neck, yet was the complete and total focus at Tribal. As good as he’s been at Tribal as a talker, tonight was his greatest achievement yet…somehow managing to save both Julie and his hidden Idol after flashing it and once again, stirring things up.

Do you want to know why I officially like Rick Devens and think he’d be a fine winner, now that I’ve gotten over my issues with the fact that he’s had his torch snuffed? His line about, “I can rest when it’s Day 40,” is just awesome. That, my friends, is how you play Survivor.

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Survivor: Edge of Extinction Episode 13 Recap: On The Edge of The Finale

The others are right to target him and want him gone, but they are clearly going about it the wrong way. It’s almost never a good idea to underestimate another player on Survivor, or to publicly state how badly you want someone gone. Aurora, Victoria and Gavin all did just that. It’s most egregious in the case of Aurora, who just seemed to want to belong so badly to an alliance that she didn’t trust her gut feeling all along that was telling her that she was on the outs.

She could have gotten to Final Four, and because she is an absolute challenge beast, her strategy could have been to just get there and then try to win challenges. But strategically, she should have been at least talking with Devens, to discuss options and see if there was a better way forward. She just couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

Survivor: Edge of Extinction Episode 13 Recap: On The Edge of The Finale

Victoria, to me, is an enigma. At times early in the game, she looked like a total strategy beast in hiding, willing to cut-throats and twirl her hair. Along the way, she became a total floater and a bit absent from the game, which is why I found it funny that she literally had to remind Jeff tonight during the challenge that she was still playing. I don’t think it was a good move on her part to publicly voice how she wants Devens gone, and I just don’t think there’s enough time left in the game for Victoria to do anything that will catch the jury’s attention.

Work hard and play harder. That was Devens tonight, and as always, Survivor acts as a microcosm of our society, with lessons always there for the learning.

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Survivor: Edge of Extinction Episode 13 Recap: On The Edge of The Finale

Finale Preview: So we’re now on the edge of the Finale. So it’s pretty much the last opportunity to place some bets on how this thing might end up shaking out. Of course, the game is as unpredictable as ever so there is no “knowing,” but here are some educated guesses:

First? I do not see Gavin, Victoria or Julie winning the game, despite all three of them being viable options to sit at the end as goats. I spoke on Victoria already, but with Gavin, it’s more that he just isn’t owning his game. Almost every week, we see him have a clear strategy, only to be persuaded by someone more powerful than him in the game to change up his vote. He’s a fine player, but I don’t see the jury voting for him, or for Victoria. With Julie, she just hasn’t done enough, to be frank. Everyone wants to sit with her at the end, but nobody would expect her to win.

Survivor: Edge of Extinction Episode 13 Recap: On The Edge of The Finale

Can Devens possibly win? Brace yourself for my official prediction: I think that the winner of this season will be the first winner in Survivor history to have been voted out of the game, yet still win. So in other words, I think that Devens OR the person that returns from the Edge will win it all. Devens for one, has simply gone against all odds and for all the reasons listed above, has the love of the jury in his corner. His only real threat might be whoever returns to the game, but even then, I think Devens wins Survivor if he is in the Finals.

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In a season where the newbies clearly wanted nothing to do with the returning players, you can kiss Kelley, Joe, David and Aubry good-bye…even if one of them return to the game, nobody would vote for them to win the game…I don’t think. Could you imagine Reem coming back into the game? Anyone (including Reem) could win the game if they pave the unlikely path of winning themselves back into the game, and then somehow getting to the end WITHOUT finding themselves seated next to Devens.

Survivor: Edge of Extinction Episode 13 Recap: On The Edge of The Finale

I purposely saved Lauren to the end as the one person I see that is a major wild card. She still has an Idol remaining, and I am worried about how she might be perceived by others, but I think a strong finish from Lauren might be enough to push her into the “deserving” basket. If some jury members, like the returnees, find themselves not able to cast a vote for a player who has been voted out prior (call it “old school Survivor” values), Lauren might just be the one player that could win over some people, especially with Kelley as a cheerleader for her (assuming Kelley isn’t the one that comes back into the game and is seated next to Lauren).

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Yes – and I hope this doesn’t cause her to faint again – but I think Lauren could be the dark horse this season. One thing’s for sure: It’s going to be an exciting finish, if this stretch of post-merge episodes is any indication.

Voted out this week: Aurora

Vote: No Idols Played. 5 – Aurora (Devens, Gavin, Lauren, Victoria, Julie), 1 – Julie (Aurora)

Survivor: Edge of Extinction Episode 13 Recap: On The Edge of The Finale

Next Week’s Episode: It’s the Finale! Hard to believe it’s already here, but it is. Once again, make sure to check back here late-night next Wednesday for my Recap of the Finale and the Live Reunion Show, and then you will not want to miss the return of the FilmSurvivor Podcast on Thursday! It will be a mega-sized edition, featuring interviews with up to six of the final contestants, including the winner of Survivor: Edge of Extinction. Following that, don’t miss my updated “Most Memorable Seasons” and “All-Time Survivor Winners” lists as well as our preview of the upcoming Survivor Season 39 coming in the Fall.

Those that have followed me also know that I am a RottenTomatoes-approved film critic. I encourage you to check out my weekly movie reviews. I am also a movie critic/TV personality in the Detroit area. As always, the easiest way to get all of my Survivor coverage and movie reviews is to follow me on Twitter – @tomsantilli – or on Facebook.


[Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe/David M. Russell]