06:33 AM EDT 12/18/2014

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Survivor

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And the Winner of Survivor Is ... | Jeff Probst

Survivor

Survivor: San Juan Del Sur Crowns a Winner

Originally posted 12/17/2014 10:30PM

Although Survivor: San Juan Del Sur was an uneven entry in the long-running reality show, the season finale had its share of blindsides and backstabbing – and, ultimately, a satisfying winner.

At the beginning of the final episode, it looked as though former Miss Michigan USA Jaclyn Schulz would be the next to go – and she would have been, had perennial CBS reality star Natalie Anderson not saved her with her immunity idol.

After Schulz won the final immunity challenge, the tribe voted out likable Louisiana firefighter Keith Nale, leaving an all-female final 3. At the final tribal council, Schulz, Anderson and Texas cheerleading coach Missy Payne answered the pointed questions of the jury.

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Who Will Win Survivor: San Juan Del Sur? | Jeff Probst

Jeff Probst Talks Survivor: San Juan Del Sur

Originally posted 12/17/2014 10:00AM

There are good seasons of Survivor, and there are seasons that just never get off the ground. Survivor: San Juan Del Sur looked like it would be the latter, until a run of solid episodes near the end redeemed it.

After the first Blood Vs. Water was a critical and ratings success in 2013, the show returned to the same format this season – only to find that lightning hadn't struck twice.

Even Jeff Probst, Survivor's biggest cheerleader, acknowledges the struggle of San Juan Del Sur. "We came off of four fantastic seasons in a row: Philippines, Caramoan, the first Blood vs. Water and Cagayan, he says. "So this one just feels different, because it follows such great seasons. But it got a lot better as it went along."

But even middling seasons of Survivor can be fascinating, and the long-running CBS series remains the gold standard for competition reality shows. Here, Probst, 53, tells PEOPLE what went wrong with this season – and what went right.

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Survivor: Jon Learns the Limits of Trust – as Natalie Shines

Survivor

Stephen Fishbach's Survivor Blog: Jon Learns the Limits of Trust – as Natalie Shines

Originally posted 12/11/2014 10:00AM

Stephen Fishbach was the runner-up on Survivor: Tocantins and has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @stephenfishbach.

"I'm not gonna trust anybody. But to a certain point, you have to."
– Jeff Varner, Survivor: Australia

Trust is a mysterious thing – in Survivor, as in life.

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Survivor: Natalie Makes an Odd Choice, and What's Up with Jon?

Survivor

Stephen Fishbach's Survivor Blog: Natalie Makes an Odd Choice, and What's Up with Jon?

Originally posted 12/04/2014 09:50AM

Stephen Fishbach was the runner-up on Survivor: Tocantins and has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @stephenfishbach.

"It's always that same question: Who can I trust the most?"
– Russell Hantz, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains

You guys, help me make up my mind. What do we think of Jon Misch?

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Stephen Fishbach's Survivor Blog: Lightning Misses Twice for Broadway Beaux

Survivor

Stephen Fishbach's Survivor Blog: Lightning Misses Twice for Broadway Beaux

Originally posted 11/27/2014 10:30AM

Stephen Fishbach was the runner-up on Survivor: Tocantins and has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @stephenfishbach.

"I think there's a direct correlation between opening your big fat mouth and the idol having to get played."
– Reynold Toepfer, Survivor: Caramoan

Poor Josh and Reed. Have there ever been two such near-misses in Survivor history?

At the merge, Josh had been set to lead his majority alliance to victory. He had orchestrated the perfect blindside of Jeremy – until Julie quit the game and the Meat Brothers alienated Jaclyn. Within three days, Josh went from the strongest strategist to the mayor of Ponderosa.

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Survivor: A Shocking Twist Turns the Season Upside Down

Survivor

Stephen Fishbach's Survivor Blog: A Shocking Twist Turns the Season Upside Down

Originally posted 11/20/2014 10:25AM

Stephen Fishbach was the runner-up on Survivor: Tocantins and has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @stephenfishbach.

"Someone flips over that quickly to our side, it's just as easy to flip-flop back."
– Jerri Manthey, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains

Wednesday night's episode of Survivor presented us with two shocking possibilities.

Could San Juan del Sur turn out to be a good season? And could Jon Misch actually be a good strategist?

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Survivor Recap: Things Get Vulgar, and an Alliance Falls Apart

Survivor

Stephen Fishbach's Survivor Blog: Things Get Vulgar, and an Alliance Falls Apart

Originally posted 11/13/2014 09:55AM

Stephen Fishbach was the runner-up on Survivor: Tocantins and has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @stephenfishbach. Erik Reichenbach is a Survivor fan-turned-favorite, a comic book author and artist. He placed fifth on both Survivor: Micronesia and Survivor: Caramoan. Follow him on Twitter @BloodyAmer1can.

"My biggest strategy going in will just be kill them with kindness. I'll be so nice to them that they're not gonna want to kick me off."
– Taj George, Survivor: Tocantins

The golden rule of Survivor is the same as the golden rule for life.

Just freaking be polite to people.

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Survivor: Was Julie's Walkout the Worst Quit Ever?

Survivor

Stephen Fishbach's Survivor Blog: One Terrible Decision, and One Shocking Walkout

Originally posted 11/06/2014 11:40AM

Stephen Fishbach was the runner-up on Survivor: Tocantins and has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @stephenfishbach.

"Once the merge happens, then the game starts. This is when Survivor really becomes Survivor."
– Hayden Moss, Survivor: Blood vs. Water

Is Julie's quit even worse than Na Onka's?

In Survivor: Nicaragua, Na Onka Mixon set a new benchmark for bad Survivor behavior. She stole food, talked trash and quit the game with a clear path to the finals.

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Stephen Fishbach's Survivor Blog: Did Jon and Jaclyn Get Dale's Idol?

Survivor

Stephen Fishbach's Survivor Blog: Did Jon and Jaclyn Get Dale's Idol?

Originally posted 10/30/2014 11:20AM

Stephen Fishbach was the runner-up on Survivor: Tocantins and has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @stephenfishbach. Erik Reichenbach is a Survivor fan-turned-favorite, a comic book author and artist. He placed fifth on both Survivor: Micronesia and Survivor: Caramoan. Follow him on Twitter @BloodyAmer1can.

"There is no fake, there is no real. It's Survivor.
– Shambo, Survivor: Samoa

"I want to believe" was a famous X-Files catchphrase. Last night on Survivor, you could have applied it to Jon.

Did Dale really have an idol? Was he really going to give it to Jon for saving him at the vote? Could Jon enter the merge with an idol in his pocket?

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Survivor's John Rocker: I'm Not a Bad Guy

Survivor

Survivor's John Rocker: I'm Not a Bad Guy

Originally posted 10/13/2014 07:30PM

At its core, Survivor is a social game. During the first days of the competition, contestants should strive not to get into verbal altercations with anyone else.

John Rocker clearly didn't get the memo.

But it may not have been entirely Rocker's fault. Some of the other contestants were all too aware of his history: In 1998, Rocker made controversial statements about minorities in an interview, causing a scandal that has followed him ever since.

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