Season 25: Episode 14 - "Million Dollar Question"
Posted on Dec 17, 2012 06:05pm


On night 36, the four remaining Dangrayne tribe members return to camp having voted out Abi at Tribal Council. Denise and Michael do a dance to celebrate her absence. Michael comments, "Getting rid of Abi, it's the best feeling I've had since I've been out here. It sucked life out of you having her here." At the same time, Malcolm is not happy that Abi brought up his name at Tribal Council as the person who will win the game if the others don't vote him out. Malcolm vents, "The amount of damage control I have to keep doing after somebody blows up at Tribal Council is getting ridiculous." Malcolm first checks in with Michael to make sure they are still committed to going to the final three together. Michael confirms with Malcolm that nothing has changed. Michael knows that Lisa and Abi think that Malcolm will win the game if he makes it to the end. He doesn't agree with them though. Michael reveals, "I believe I have a better story than he has."

The next morning Denise brings back tree mail to camp. After reading it, the tribe is not sure whether they are going to a reward or immunity challenge. Denise admits, "My fear is I will be the next one to go. We've had the solid four, but four can't go to three. So I am desperate to win it." REWARD CHALLENGE: DRAGON SLAYER The final four castaways arrive on their mat. Host Jeff Probst explains the rules of this challenge. The castaways will each race through a series of obstacles collecting three bags along the way. Once they have all three bags, they will use the pieces to solve a dragon puzzle. The winner of this challenge wins an advantage in the final immunity challenge tomorrow. The first obstacle is a balance beam that everyone gets across quickly. The next obstacle is a bamboo slide, which Malcolm and Michael get across first, although Lisa and Denise are right behind them. The first bag of puzzle pieces is at the start of a bamboo maze. They all work quickly to untie their bags. Denise, Michael and Malcolm get their bags first and race through the maze. Lisa takes a little longer. The second bag is in the middle of another balance beam. Skupin gets this second bag untied first and heads to the third bag, which is on top of a steep ramp. Denise and Malcolm are right behind Michael while Lisa is still working on her second bag. She catches up to the rest though, so they are all now at the top of the ramp untying their third and final bags. Michael gets through the knots first and starts to work on his dragon puzzle. Denise, Malcolm and Lisa are not far behind him though as everyone is now working on their dragon puzzles. Denise places many of her pieces in the puzzle first. Malcolm is in second place and Lisa in third. Michael is struggling with his puzzle. In the end, Malcolm once again benefits from his puzzle-making skills and wins the reward, which is a very valuable advantage in the final immunity challenge. Jeff hands over a sealed scroll to Malcolm and tells him to not read it until the final immunity challenge.

As they return to camp from the challenge, the Dangrayne tribe congratulates Malcolm for winning the reward. Since he has proven himself to be good at challenges, Lisa feels it will be impossible for anyone to beat him at the next and final immunity challenge now that he has an advantage. Malcolm is so happy to have won the advantage with only three days left in the game. He is also happy that he has a final three deal with Michael and Lisa since he feels he has the best chance of winning if he is up against them at the end. Malcolm is not as confident about beating Denise. He explains, "Her story is too similar to mine. You know, the person from the tribe that was wiped out early on, made it all the way to the end." Denise goes to the water well with Malcolm and takes this opportunity to ask him for a confirmation that they will go to the final three together. Malcolm tells her that he has to think about it first. This makes Denise uncomfortable since she knows that Malcolm is a planner and does not leave decisions like this to the last minute. Denise admits, "This is kind of scramble time. I need to figure out a plan and figure it out fast." She next has a meeting with Lisa and asks her if she is willing to vote out Malcolm next. Lisa is happy to hear that Denise is thinking this way since she thought that Denise would never turn on Malcolm. Lisa and Denise hug and both agree that Malcolm is the most dangerous person left in the game. Lisa reveals, "I hugged her, big hug. Didn't shake her hand. Didn't give her my word because I don't know what Skupin is going to think about this." Next, Denise finds Michael and tells him that she talked to Lisa and that she is voting for Malcolm at the next Tribal Council. Later, Lisa tells Michael about her conversation with Denise and suggests they decide on taking either Denise or Malcolm to the end with them. Lisa favors taking Denise. Michael is happy that he and Lisa are now in final three alliances with both Malcolm and Denise. Michael comments, "Either way Lisa and I will be in the final three with one of those two depending on who wins immunity." He knows that Malcolm is good at challenges, but he still feels that he has a shot at beating him in the final immunity. Michael admits, "I just have to keep my cool and figure out who I want to sit next to in the final three, because that's the million dollar question right there."

The next morning on day 38, Michael tells Lisa that they need to make sure Denise does not win the immunity challenge. Lisa reminds him that Malcolm is the bigger threat, so they don't want him to win. Michael recommends that they don't let either Denise or Malcolm win immunity, and then they will control who sits on the final three. Michael reveals, "Lisa and I are not on the same page as far as who sits on the final three." He therefore wants to be the one who wins the immunity challenge, so he can create the final three himself. Malcolm and Denise bring tree mail into camp. It invites them to the fallen comrade's walk, to honor the people that have gone before them in this game. After that they will go to the final immunity challenge. The final four make their way to the beach where they pay their respects to each of the castaways that had been voted out "“ from Zane to Abi-Maria. They collect all of the representative nameplates and burn them in a ceremonial fire. Then, the final four head to the last immunity challenge.

The final four castaways arrive on their mat. Host Jeff Probst explains the rules of this immunity challenge. The castaways each have a wooden cylinder that has been cut into several pieces. At the start, they will pick up the first piece using two handles. The goal is to balance a ball in the center piece of wood. Every five minutes, they will add more pieces of wood, making it more difficult to balance the ball. If at any point the ball falls from the piece wood, they are out of the challenge. The last person left standing will win immunity and guarantee themself a shot at the final Tribal Council, where he or she can plead a case for a million dollars. The losers will go to Tribal Council where one of them will be voted out. Malcolm then reads the advantage that he won at the last reward challenge. It tells him that he has a second chance in this immunity challenge. If he drops the ball, he has one more opportunity to put it back on the wood and keep going. Malcolm, Michael, Lisa and Denise all completed the first five-minute round successfully. In the second round, they each add two more pieces of wood, one on either side of the ball, which makes it more difficult to balance. Malcolm moves his hands during the round, which knocks his ball from the wood. So, he uses his advantage to reset his ball and stay in the game. As they resume the second round, Malcolm's hands begin to shake. He does his best to keep the ball balanced but ends up once again dropping it. So. Malcolm is the first out of the challenge even with his advantage. With only thirty seconds left to go in the second round, Denise drops her ball and is out of the challenge too. Michael and Lisa are the only two left and they make in through the second and third rounds. In the fourth round, Lisa drops the ball, so Michael wins final immunity. He is guaranteed to go to the final Tribal Council and plead his case in front of the jury. Michael is thrilled.

As Dangrayne returns to camp from the challenge, everyone congratulates Michael for winning immunity. Malcolm is nervous about his loss. He explains, "It's a very disconcerting scenario because my fate now rests with Lisa and Skupin." Michael is so proud to have won immunity at this crucial challenge. He proved everyone that thought Malcolm was the sure winner wrong. Michael reveals, "Now there's a ton of strategy. Who do you keep? Who do you put on the jury and can you get their vote?" He knows the decision is his, since he is the only one with immunity at Tribal Council. Malcolm talks with Lisa and Skupin to make sure that they are still on board with the plan to go to the final three together. Lisa and Skupin tell him they are. Malcolm worries, "This is the first time in a long time in this game that I haven't been calling the shots." He hopes that all his past work to cement alliances will pay off tonight and keep him safe. Later, Denise talks with Lisa and Skupin to encourage them to vote with her and get Malcolm out tonight. Denise wishes that she and Malcolm were still working together. They could have split the vote tonight and tried to vote out Lisa. Since that is not happening, Denise knows she is vulnerable tonight. Her mission is to convince Michael that she is the one to take to the end with him and Lisa. Denise comments, "I'm one stubborn, determined woman and if I can make it happen, I'm going to make it happen." Later that afternoon, Denise meets with Michael down at the beach. Michael admits that he would like to bring Malcolm to the end to go against the best and see if he could win. Denise replies, "Is that a risk that's worth taking?" She cautions Michael that none of them may be able to beat Malcolm in the end. Michael reveals, "I would love to take Malcolm and beat him straight up man to man. Two warriors fought to a head." Denise starts to cry as she tells Michael that she considers him a friend and will respect whatever decision he makes. Michael is struggling with his decision. He wants to make his family proud of him. He admits, "I would love to get to the final three by keeping my word and being honorable." Finally, Michael meets with Lisa. He tells her that he favors taking Malcolm to the end. Lisa is not happy and comments, "Handing the title of Sole Survivor on a platter to Malcolm would just be stupid." She is willing to vote differently than Michael if that will prevent Malcolm from getting to the end.

Both Denise and Malcolm agree that they were a strong alliance until the final four, when they needed to separate and protect themselves. Lisa reveals that even she and Michael have not always been totally in agreement on their votes and strategies during the game. Michael says that he has promised Malcolm "favors for life" because he chose him to spend the day with his son. Lisa says, "I don't know that any favors have been exchanged in this game that would be worth a million dollars or giving up the title of Sole Survivor." Malcolm reminds everyone that he may be seen as a threat, but Denise is a bigger threat since she has survived every Tribal Council and has not made as many enemies along the way. He also reminds Michael and Lisa of the deals that they have agreed to in the past and he hopes they will honor them. The tribe then votes. Jeff reveals all four votes, which are one vote for Denise and three votes for Malcolm. So, Malcolm Freberg, the 25-year-old bartender, from Hermosa Beach, CA, becomes the fifteenth person to be voted out of SURVIVOR: PHILIPPINES and the eighth and final person to join the jury. On his way out, Malcolm says, "Congratulations, Denise."

As Michael, Denise and Lisa return to camp, they are sad about voting out Malcolm. Denise says, "This is that part of the game, when I can say, "˜Malcolm, you were a great ally. You played a great game, but this is the part where I outwit you.'" Michael is annoyed that Malcolm congratulated Denise on the way out. He feels Malcolm was implying that Denise would win the game. Michael comments, "I will have a lot to say about that tomorrow." As the sun rises on day 39, Michael, Lisa and Denise hike up to the top of the cliff to get a final look at the beauty of the Philippines and to enjoy their last day. Michael assures them that they will not forget this adventure. On the way back to camp, they check tree mail and are delighted to find an abundance of food and drink. They toast to celebrate making it to the final day. Michael comments, "I knew I could make it to the end twenty-three seasons ago." Michael is so proud to have realized his dream. Lisa is happy to be in the final three with Denise and Michael, whom she considers her friends. Lisa reveals, "This is just a rare privilege and I'm very aware and humbled that I get to experience something so incredible." Denise, Michael and Lisa gather all the items from camp and set them on fire before they head out to the final Tribal Council.

At the final Tribal Council, Michael, Lisa and Denise give their opening statements. Denise boldly states that she is not going to apologize for making it to the final three. She feels that she deserves to be here after not getting voted out of Matsing, Kalabaw or Dangrayne, even though she went to every Tribal Council. Denise is proud of her hard work, her performance in challenges and her strategy. She asks for the jury to vote for her and says, "I've outwit many of you. I've outplayed many of you and ultimately I did outlast all of you." Lisa admits that her strategy was messy. She made a lot of mistakes, but at least she forged her own path. Lisa acknowledges that her brother helped remind her that she is playing a game and she should trust her gut. She is proud of accomplishing the big move that she tried to make earlier in the game, trying to get Malcolm out. Lisa concludes saying, "I know it wasn't a pretty game, but I learned, I grew and I'm proud of the final game that I played at the end." Michael speaks next and reminds the jury how many of them wanted to get the returning players out first. He worked hard to survive the huge target place upon him. Michael says, "I had to respect the core of this game outwit, outplay, outlast. I