Yul Kwon edges Ozzy Lusth to win 'Survivor: Cook Islands'
By Reality TV World staff, 12/18/2006
"Brains" edged out "brawn" on Sunday night's finale broadcast of Survivor's thirteenth edition, with Yul Kwon narrowly defeating Oscar "Ozzy" Lusth to emerge as Survivor: Cook Islands' ultimate survivor and $1,000,000 winner.
Yul, a 31-year-old management consultant who currently resides in San Mateo, CA, edged Ozzy, a 25-year-old waiter from Venice, CA, via a tight 5-4 vote in which Becky Lee, the third member of Survivor'sfirst-ever final threesome, received zero votes from the long-running reality show's first-ever nine person jury.
"With all due respect to Becky as well, you two dominated this game, you deserved to be in the Final 2 -- it's the first time I've ever felt bad that somebody didn't win," Survivor host Jeff Probst commented after Yul, the season's strategic "puppetmaster," defeated Ozzy, an outdoorsman who had managed to win five of the season's six individual Immunity Challenges. "It was so evenly matched."
Sunday night's CBS broadcast of Survivor: Cook Islands' finale began with the game's five remaining castaways having returned from the Night 36 Tribal Council session in which Yul, Ozzy, Becky, and Sundra Oakley -- the members of the four person pre-merge Aitutaki tribe that had managed to defeat the much larger Rarotonga tribe -- had voted Parvati Shallow, Adam Gentry's last remaining ally, out of the game.
The next morning, it was clear to Adam that if he didn't win the next Immunity Challenge, he'd be the next castaway going home. "It's extremely important for me to win this one, it's them four against me," Adam explained to the cameras. "I need to go out there and put up a fight and try to win and stay in this game."
However unbeknownst to Adam, Becky was still hoping to get a chance to implement the plan that she, Yul, and Sundra had discussed prior to the game's previous Immunity Challenge challenge -- sending Ozzy (who had won the game's last two Immunity Challenges) home instead. "The Aitu 4, we've gotten this far because we've stuck together, but it's going to come down to a point where we're going to be competing against each other in our Aitu 4 and Ozzy can be really, really hard to beat, so it might to our advantage to eliminate him when we get the chance," Becky explained.
Having won three of the game's first four individual Immunity Challenges, Ozzy had already sensed that his allies might be considering turning on him. "I know I'm a threat -- I'm a huge threat -- so I'd say winning immunity is crucial for my survival in the rest of this game," Ozzy told the cameras.
Later that day the castaways assembled for the Immunity Challenge, a competition that required both brains and brawn. Each castaway would have to race through a ropes course and retrieve eight puzzle piece bags. Once they'd retrieved bags from all eight of the course's stations, each castaway would have to use the puzzle pieces to construct an eight-point compass rose puzzle. Once the puzzle -- which Jeff deemed to be the most difficult puzzle in Survivor history -- was assembled correctly, the castaway would be able to raise a flag. The first castaway to raise their flag would win immunity from the evening's upcoming Tribal Council session and a guaranteed spot in the game's Final 4.
Although Yul initially took the lead in the challenge, Ozzy eventually caught up and became the first castaway to retrieve all his puzzle pieces. Despite a strong late surge from Adam, Ozzy was the first castaway to correctly complete his puzzle, giving him his third straight Immunity Challenge win.
Once the castaways returned to camp, Adam -- resigned to his fate but still looking for a small victory -- attempted to convince Ozzy and Sundra to cast their Tribal Council votes for Yul, a move that would (along with Adam's vote) force Yul to use his hidden Immunity Idol to save himself and deny him an automatic spot in the game's Final 3. "Yul is in control of the game, he's been in control for a while... I would like to get the idol out of Yul's hands just to stir it up before I go home," Adam explained to the cameras.
"If you don't get it out tonight then the next Tribal Council, if he needs it he'll use it [and he's] guaranteed Top 3," Adam told Sundra about Yul's idol before the castaways left for Tribal Council. However although the move would only have increased their own chances of making the game's Final 3, neither Ozzy or Sundra agreed to Adam's plan. Despite some questioning from Jeff, none of Yul's allies voted for him and Adam was eliminated from the game in a 4-1 vote.
The next day, the castaways retrieved a Tree Mail message that instructed them to paddle to a nearby island where they would gather the torches of their sixteen fallen comrades and then burn them in a cauldron fire. After traveling to the island and doing as the message had instructed, the foursome paddled on to their final Immunity Challenge.
Once the castaways arrived at the challenge site, Jeff surprised the castaways with the news that, in a Survivor first, Survivor: Cook Islands' final Tribal Council would include three castaways instead of the usual two. After shocking the castaways with the news, Jeff explained the game's final challenge. An endurance challenge, the challenge required each castaway to perch on one of four steel beams erected in waist-deep lagoon water. In order to make sure the challenge was fair, each perch had been individually proportioned to each castaway's foot size. Every fifteen minutes, the castaways would have to remove a section of their perch. After one hour, they would have to stand on a section that was less than half the size of a postcard.
All of the castaways managed to survive the first two section removals, however Becky lost her footing immediately after releasing her third section, eliminating her from the challenge at the 45 minute marker. Yul, Ozzy, and Sundra all made it through to the one hour marker, however Yul lost his balance shortly after they were left with only the smallest perch, turning the challenge into a showdown between Ozzy and Sundra. After two and a half hours, Sundra finally lost her balance and fell into the water, giving Ozzy his fourth straight individual Immunity Challenge victory and a guaranteed spot alongside Yul in Survivor: Cook Islands' Final 3.
Once the castaways returned to camp, Ozzy told Yul that rather than having to decide whether Becky or Sundra should be the third member of Survivor: Cook Islands' Final 3, he wanted to force a 2-2 tie and let the women compete in a tiebreaker. "The Aitu 4, from the moment of the mutiny, we've tried to be as fair and equal as possible and do things the right way so I think the fairest thing we can come up with is a tiebreaker... and we let them decide, however that is," Ozzy explained during a confessional.
Upset that he might lose his closest ally to the tiebreaker, Yul secretly offered his hidden Immunity Idol to Becky -- a move that would jeopardize his own status in Survivor: Cook Islands' Final 3. However Becky declined Yul's offer, deciding that although the move might ensure her a spot in the final three, the "sneak attack" would not go over well with the jury members that would ultimately determine which Final 3 member would win the competition's $1,000,000 prize.
After the Tribal Council votes were counted and a 2-2 tie revealed, Jeff announced that -- similar to last season's Final 4 vote -- Becky and Sundra would face off in a tiebreaking firestarting challenge in which the loser would be eliminated. However unlike last season's relatively quick showdown between Cirie Fields and eventual Survivor: Panama runner-up Danielle DiLorenzo, neither Becky or Sundra were able to use flint, steel, coconut husk and a small box of wood to start a fire big enough to burn through a rope and ring an attached bell. In fact, despite having spent having lasted 38 days in the game, neither one was able to start even the smallest fire.
After watching both Becky and Sundra unsuccessfully attempt to spark fires for more than an hour, Jeff -- who, just like Yul, Ozzy, and the jury, had become both bored and frustrated by the women's pathetic performance -- announced that the challenge would switch to matches. Incredibly, the switch didn't seem to help much and although Becky and Sundra both managed to start some quickly extinguished small fires, another half hour passed without either woman building a lasting flame. "After 38 days out here, you should both know how to make a fire," an exasperated Jeff commented after watching the comical scene for a full hour and a half.
Moments later, the challenge took another unexpected turn when, despite having been provided with two boxes of wooden matches that Survivor's producers no doubt assumed would be more than enough to start her fire, Sundra informed a surprised Jeff that she was out of matches. Luckily for Jeff, Yul, Ozzy, and the jury, Becky still had some of her own matches left, and, with Sundra now able to do nothing but watch, she finally managed to start a fire that was large enough to burn her rope "With that, Becky joins Ozzy and Yul as the third member of the Final 3... Sundra, you become the seventeenth person out of this game and the ninth and final member of the jury," a relieved Jeff announced after Becky's bell rang.
The next morning, a couple of Cook Islands locals paddled to the castaways' beach and surprised Yul, Ozzy, and Becky with a basket full of breakfast food. Afterward, Ozzy made it clear that although Becky would be attending Survivor: Cook Islands' final Tribal Council session, he didn't see her as serious competition for the show's $1,000,000 grand prize. "I think Yul and I will get the majority of the votes and I'm really doubting that Becky will get any votes, especially because last night was such an incredibly embarrassing display of firemaking skills," Ozzy told the cameras as the threesome enjoyed their final day on the island.
Then, after leaving camp for one last time later on Day 39, Yul, Ozzy, and Becky faced their final Tribal Council, a rather uneventful session in which each member of the nine member jury had a chance to question any or all of the finalists. In the end, Yul's claims that he'd had the most influence on the overall course of the game and remained loyal to his allies seemed to resonate slightly better with the jury than Ozzy's attempts to highlight his underdog and tribal provider status and Becky's claims that Yul's "puppetmaster" reputation was a false perception and she had played a strong "social game."
"I have to say to you guys that for my money [this season was] one of the most enjoyable seasons that we have had in quite a while and for a show that's been on for thirteen seasons now, that's saying something," Jeff commented before he revealed Yul's tight 5-4 victory during Survivor: Cook Islands' live reunion show.
Later in the reunion show, Jeff revealed that in addition to the show's $100,000 runner-up prize, viewers had voted Ozzy -- by less than a 1% margin over Yul -- to be the winner of CBS.com's "Clever Choice" poll. As the poll's winner, Ozzy wins a brand-new 2008 Mercury Mariner SUV, demonstrating that although CBS has taken the car giveaway out of the actual in-game competition, Survivor's "car curse" still rages on.