Who who Survivor 2019? That would be Chris Underwood, who was the third person voted out this season. But as the season’s Edge of Extinction theme would have it, Chris won his way back into the game during Wednesday night’s season finale.
This win has sparked a lot of controversy from Survivor fans who aren’t interested in this season being an “evolved” Survivor or an “experiment” as Jeff Probst called it. Most Survivor fans think Chris had no reason even getting to the finale, much less the most votes to win. It looks like, of the three finalists, fans would have chosen Gavin Whitson, who is the official runner up, as the winner. Do I agree? Well, I’m torn.
First let’s look at the facts. Chris was voted out on Day 8. That means he was only in the game 13 days. He spent the rest of the time on the Edge of Extinction. But that island was far more desolate and there were no shots at any kind of reward (other than making friends with the jury). They only time they got to find anything was for someone still in the game. So, in a sense, Chris had it a little worse than the other two finalists. So to say he had it easy probably isn’t fair.
But while we are on the subject of fair, Chris getting that Idol just for winning his way back in the game probably wasn’t that fair. I mean, he did have to survive the first round for it to actually become a real idol, but that kind of power at Final 6/Final 5 just being given to you? Eh. I don’t like that. And then there’s the whole bonding with the jury thing. The winner of the Edge of Extinction competition was always going to have that advantage.
So Chris played the shortest amount of time and had a couple subjectively “unfair” advantages. But did Gavin or Julie play a better game?
Gavin and Julie both lasted the full 39 days. Both of them fought for weeks to get Rick Devens out and were not successful. Chris comes back a few days, wins immunity, gives up the immunity to face Rick in the fire-making challenge so he can single-handedly send him to jury. And he does just that. And that was a huge move. But then Gavin never had a single vote cast against him. Chris was literally voted out once and then had the majority of votes cast against him again as he played his free idol. But what else did Gavin do? We won two immunity challenges and had a great social game. Was that enough? I don’t even know anymore. At this point, I’m just erasing Julie from the equation. Despite two immunity wins, she just wasn’t playing the game the way anyone could respect. Which is why she got zero of the 13 votes.
I thought I would actually gain some clarity as I wrote this, but I’m even more confused now. A big part of me thinks Gavin should have won. But there’s another part of me that isn’t upset that Chris won. And when I say Survivor fans on social media are mad that Chris won, I’m understating it. They are furious. But these are also the same people were furious that Rick Devens won his way back into the game and was poised to win the entire season had Chris not stepped in. So maybe they should accept Chris as the better winner for that reason alone?
Reality TV fans are notoriously rarely happy with any outcome, though. We tend to feed on the disappointment (otherwise why do we keep coming back?) as much as the pleasure we get when we like an outcome. So I think regardless of what happened, people would have been upset. This outcome just gives them a better excuse for being disappointed. So bask in it.
Congratulation to Chris. And to Gavin for getting four of the 13 votes.