TV Watch Survivor
Let's face it: Survivor doesn't always have a feel-good ending.
There are no easy seasons of Survivor. From the harsh conditions to the big personalities, the experience is simultaneously exhilarating and miserable for the contestants.
But this season took it to the next level. All 20 contestants had played the game before, but none had won. The result? A hungry cast who was willing to make big moves and stab each other in the face to win the million dollars.
There was strategy and double-dealing, and it was delicious to watch. And there was a lot at stake – the winner would become the show's 30th victor in 31 seasons. (Sandra Diaz-Twine has won the game twice.)
Six contestants made it to the final episode: Jeremy Collins, the likable (and buff) fireman from Massachusetts. Spencer Bledsoe, a student from Chicago who thrives on strategy. Kimmi Kappenberg, the Texas mom who has made quiet moves and never been in danger. Keith Nale, the aw-shucks Louisiana firefighter who is great with a one-liner. Kelley Wentworth, the Seattle marketing manager who displayed a natural aptitude for the game. And Tasha Fox, an athletic accountant from Missouri.
So who walked away with the million-dollar prize? (Spoilers ahead!)
When Survivor airs its finale on Wednesday night, Brazilian spitfire Abi-Maria Gomes won't still be in the game.
Voted out on day 35, she barely missed being in the show's final episode.
It's a familiar spot for Gomes, who placed fifth on Survivor: Philippines – barely missing the finale of that season.
On paper, Gomes seems like a perfect "goat" – a contestant who rubs people the wrong way and is easy to beat at the final tribal council. But for some reason, her tribes get rid of her before the finale.
Gomes, 36, tells PEOPLE why she was voted off – and how she had planned to win the game.
Don't feel bad for Joe Anglim.
When Survivor returns on Wednesday night, he'll be noticeably absent during the challenges. The rest of the tribe correctly determined that he was a threat to win the whole game and voted him out on day 31.
But Anglim, 27, will be just fine.
"Joe is athletic," host Jeff Probst told PEOPLE earlier this season. "Joe is good-looking. Women want to date Joe; men wish they were Joe. He's got a lot of skills that make him good at life, but a threat at Survivor"
Case in point: Anglim competed so hard in an immunity challenge that he passed out. That type of commitment is dangerous in the game, and he was summarily voted off.
Anglim talks to PEOPLE about his game, his close family bonds and how Survivor has affected his love life.
Disclaimer: Stephen Fishbach has been PEOPLE's resident Survivor blogger for years. He's quite popular around here.
We were excited when he was named as a possible contestant. We were thrilled when he made the final cast of the show. We were ecstatic – and a little bit surprised, if we're being perfectly honest – when he made it through the first tribal council without getting voted off.
As it turned out, Fishbach did better than anyone expected, forming solid alliances and lasting 29 days before being voted out.
Survivor is unpredictable, and Fishbach was eliminated after playing his "steal the vote" advantage? Why? Because the season's other superfan/strategizer, Spencer Bledsoe, backstabbed him.
Obviously, Fishbach has written his own blog about his elimination, but we thought it would be fun to ask him some of the questions that he didn't already address.
The last time Ciera Eastin played Survivor, she infamously voted off her own mother.
So when Eastin decided to play the game again, she knew she would be targeted early as a threat. After all, if she'll vote for her mom, she'll do just about anything.
But something funny happened on this season – everybody was a threat in some way. As a result, Eastin made it for 26 days despite being on the wrong side of the numbers after the merge.
As she scrambled to stay alive, she begged the other contestants to "just play the game." And they did: Eastin was only eliminated after PEOPLE's own Stephen Fishbach was protected by an immunity idol.
Eastin, 26, talks about her game that we didn't see – and whether she'd ever play the game again.
We'll admit it: we're suckers for the the Survivor family visit.
Contestants are often reduced to tears when they see their family members. Survivor is a cutthroat game, and it's emotional to spend even a few minutes with someone who isn't actively plotting to stab you in the back.
Richard Hatch doesn't care what people think of his naked body.
"I'm not an exhibitionist, but I don't care either, so I'm often naked. It's just the way it is," the Survivor winner tells PEOPLE of why he walked around in the buff during the premiere season of the CBS reality competition in 2000. "I don't give a crap about how people feel about how I look. But personally, I know that I'm fat."
For those who weren't watching Survivor in 2000, it's hard to understand Kelly Wiglesworth's importance to the franchise – and to reality TV in general.
It looked like the next few episodes of Survivor were going to be very predictable. Kelley Wentworth would be voted out next, followed by Ciera Eastin and Abi Maria Gomes.