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Season 8: Episode 15 - AND THEN THERE WAS ONE: AMBER BRKICH IS THE SOLE SURVIVOR
Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am

Thirty-nine days, eighteen All-Stars, four tribes, dozens of broken alliances, two forfeitures, a budding romance and now, one Sole Survivor. Amber Brkich, the 25-year-old All-Star of SURVIVOR: THE AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK from Beaver, Pennsylvania, rode an alliance with her sweetheart in order to capture the million-dollar prize. In the gut-wrenching Final Tribal Council, Amber humbly admitted to the Jury that she got lucky and rode the alliance with Rob Mariano, the 28-year-old All-Star of SURVIVOR: MARQUESAS from Canton, Massachusetts to the end. Amber explained that she broke alliances to a lesser degree than Rob and therefore deserved to be Sole Survivor. The Jury agreed in a 4 to 3 decision, making Amber Brkich Sole Survivor and recipient of the one-million dollar prize.

FINAL FOUR As night 36 took hold, the four remaining Chaboga Mogo tribe members took inventory of their situation. When Rupert Boneham, the 40-year-old castaway of SURVIVOR: PEARL ISLANDS PANAMA from Indianapolis, Indiana, went to pour out a bucket at the creek, Amber and Rob lobbied Jenna Lewis, the 26-year-old castaway of SURVIVOR: BORNEO from Franklin, New Hampshire, to vote off Rupert. "You have no chance to beat Rupert," Rob informed her.

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS 
The surprised All-Stars were awakened by host Jeff Probst, who landed on their beach, gifts in hand: a breakfast spread of eggs, bacon, mimosas and pancakes. He also gave them a camera and scrapbook to collect the memories of their final days. The tribe shared in a grand toast of champagne and orange juice to making it to the coveted position of Final Four. "The four people that are in the Final Four are two distinct groups of two," assessed Rob, "There's no chance myself and Amber are going to break."

JENNA'S DECISION
As Amber and Jenna went to get water, they discussed Jenna's unique and difficult decision within the game. Jenna could vote for whoever doesn't win Immunity out of the Rob/Amber dyad with Rupert and cause a tie. In the event of a tie, the three All-Stars without Immunity would pick rocks out of a bag, with the castaway picking the purple rock being eliminated. Jenna's other choice would be to break her alliance and vote out Rupert, assuming he doesn't win Immunity, in order to go to the Final Three with Rob and Amber. "I didn't come thirty-seven days to reach into a bag and let a color decide my fate," Jenna declared, "So I'm taking fate into my own hands."

IMMUNITY CHALLENGE: OBSTACLE PUZZLE MAZE
As the four converged for an Immunity Challenge, Jeff Probst explained that they would have to negotiate a maze loaded with obstacles. At the end of each corridor would be a rung to a ladder for each Survivor. The first All-Star to assemble all eight of their rungs, thereby constructing a ladder on a tower, would then get to climb it and claim Immunity.

The Challenge started off in a flurry as the Final Four Chaboga Mogo tribemates hurried into the labyrinth with purpose. Amber collected her first rung as Jenna fell behind. It was a close competition as each castaway collected rung after rung. It was dead even at five rungs each when Boston Rob became confused in the maze and fell behind. Rupert and Amber both collected their crucial seventh rungs, while Jenna and Rob were now playing catch-up.

With his final rung in hand, Rupert ran toward the tower just in time to see Amber emerge at the top of her newly constructed ladder to claim the essential victory. Amber Brkich would live to see another day!

JENNA'S DILEMMA 
After Amber won the Immunity Challenge, Jenna was faced with the problem she had feared would arise: should she vote for Rupert and go to the Final Three or vote for Rob and let her fate come down to chance? Back at camp, Jenna informed Rupert that she could not write his name down and so was going to vote the game into a tie. "My fate comes down to a 26-year-old single momma who wants to win very badly," noted Rupert.

NO PURPLE ROCK: RUPERT AXED 
After much painful deliberation, Jenna simply could not let a purple rock decide her fate, and she voted Rupert off. Saddened, but not surprised, as he heard the three to one vote being read, Rupert will became the sixth member of the Jury and will have a say about who will become Sole Survivor and claim the million-dollar prize. Shortly after leaving Tribal Council, Rupert revealed, "I am a little angry at Jenna. Greed won out over friendship... almost disgustingly."

HERE'S TO OUR FALLEN
After an early-morning visit from Jeff Probst, the three remaining Chaboga Mogo members were given a map to follow. After landing on an island where they adorned their bodies with a local tribe's war paints and jewelry, the Final Three All-Stars set along the trek that would lead them to their final Immunity Challenge. Along the journey, the Survivors passed by each of their fallen castaways' torches and reminisced about the 38 days they had spent on the Pearl Islands and of those they had spent it with.

FINAL IMMUNITY CHALLENGE: HAND HARD ON IDOL 
As the remaining three gathered for what would be their final Immunity Challenge, Jeff Probst explained they would battle in a test of endurance. The Survivors would have to balance themselves barefoot on a post, while holding onto to the Idol with one hand. Any All-Star who moved either foot off the post or touched the Idol with the free hand would lose. The last one standing would win Final Immunity.

After an hour under the hot sun, the castaways were all in pain but holding strong. However, after two hours, Jenna Lewis inadvertently lifted her back foot off the post. With Jenna eliminated, Amber pleaded with Rob to let her win. Boston Rob, however, wanted to finish the Challenge fair and square.

Fair and square it was, as Amber accidentally touched the Idol with her free hand to give Rob Mariano the coveted Final Immunity. Rob would also have the chance to choose who would join him in front of the Jury as the Final Two.

ROB MUST CHOOSE WHO TO EXECUTE
Having been allied with Amber the entire time, Boston Rob made it clear he would be voting Jenna off at Tribal Council. That didn't stop Amber from being paranoid and a little scared. Rob even considered how the Jury would vote if he and Jenna were the Final Two. "I have seen him turn on people out here," confessed Amber, "I have seen him break his word. I just can't help but to feel nervous."

LOVERS 'TILL THE END: JENNA LEWIS SENT HOME
Proving his alliance with Amber was strong, Rob Mariano kept his word and voted off Jenna Lewis. Jenna was not surprised at all and bravely stood as Jeff Probst extinguished her torch. Jenna became the final member of the Jury that will decide who earns both the title of Sole Survivor and the million-dollar prize.

Shortly after the fateful decision, Jenna noted, "This time I am very proud of the way I played the game. I didn't get blindsided. I think I was more observant and more strategic. And I had a lot more fun; that's for sure."

SAVE IT FOR THE JURY
After spending a final night together, Rob and Amber prepared to meet the Jury the next day. They would each have to plead their case for why they should be the Sole Survivor and why they deserved the million-dollar prize. Despite competing with each other for the final slot, Rob and Amber enjoyed romantic moments, with the camp to themselves for the first time. "Over the first couple of days, there was a lot of flirting going on, and it turned into something real," remarked Amber, "Now we have an amazing bond."

FINAL TRIBAL COUNCIL: THE JURY DELIBERATES 
As the Final Two Chaboga Mogo tribe members sat down at Tribal Council, the Jury assembled to ask questions that would help them decide who would win the million dollars. As the emotional statements were made, many angrily alluding to Rob's deception and hurtful strategy, Rob stared blankly into the distance.

As the questions rolled in and the answers rolled out, Rob defended his actions as part of the game. He also admitted that maybe he wasn't that proud of himself. Amber confessed that her position in the Final Two was partly due to luck and partly to riding Rob's coattails. After much deliberation, the Jury voted for Amber in a 4 to 3 decision and bestowed the title of All-Star Sole Survivor and the million-dollar prize.