'Survivor: Exile Island' Crowns Its Winner
Final choice comes down to Aras and Danielle
In an exhausting multi-hour finale, Aras Baskauskas, a 24-year-old yoga instructor from Los Angeles, became the latest "Survivor" millionaire, beating Danielle DiLorenzo, a 24-year-old medical sales representative from Boston, to rule as champion of CBS' "Survivor: Exile Island."
Terry Deitz, a 46-year-old Connecticut-based pilot, whose run of challenge victories earned him a reputation as one of the strongest players in the reality show's history, finished third. Terry's loss continued the "Survivor" Car Curse, as he won a GMC Yukon, but became the 12th consecutive car winner not to take the big prize.
Sunday night's two-hour finale (the results were actually officially announced during the subsequent live special) began with the conclusion of the first-ever "Survivor" cliffhanger, as Cirie Fields, a 35-year-old nurse and mother of two from Walterboro, South Carolina, and Danielle were forced to break a Tribal Council tie with the traditional firemaking challenge.
After a pathetic display of fire skills, Danielle set her rope aflame first, sending Cirie off to the jury as the fourth-place finisher. It was a disappointing finish for Cirie, who became one of the season's surprising strategic masterminds, staving off multiple potential eliminations reaching back to the very first episode when she seemed destined to an instant departure before orchestrating lumberjack Tina Scheer's exit.
Fittingly, after a season that began with the contestants split into four teams divided by gender and age, the "Survivor: Exile Island" Final Four contained one Older Woman (Cirie), one Younger Woman (Danielle), one Older Man (Terry) and one Younger Man (Aras).
The part of this season's big twist ultimately paid big dividends, though the results were a bit fuzzier for the "Exile Island" component of the season, which forced one contestant to spend days in miserable isolation, while also having the chance to find a hidden immunity idol. Terry uncovered the idol early in his first visit to the island, but he ultimately never got the opportunity to use the idol, running of a lengthy string of individual immunity challenges. The talisman's mere potential was enough to alter Tribal Council voting for multiple weeks.
As usual, the three remaining players -- after the traditional over-long sentimental tribute to fallen comrades they barely remembered -- faced off in a willpower-based concluding challenge to determine the Top Two, balancing on a series of platforms over the fish-filled Panamanian waters. The third wobbly platform proved Terry's undoing, as the man dubbed Captain America was the first person to splash down, despite receiving an added immunity assist in the show's first hour, scoring a reward challenge that gave the winner a nutritious meal and use of a cot, pillow and blanket for a good night's sleep. Aras got wet next, after a nod from Danielle, leaving the lone remaining woman with the power to determine her Top Two partner.
Despite making earlier promises to both men, Danielle, in turn, selected Aras to join her in making final pleas to the "Survivor' jury.
The episode's only other moment of excitement came when Aras, a bit tipsy from a glass of celebratory champagne, took a spill on the rocks, ending up with gashes on both his hand and his back, requiring stitches from the "Survivor" medical team.
"I feel like my ego has been crushed," Aras said.
Nothing helps repair a crushed ego quicker than a million bucks.