Brendan, a 41-year-old physical education teacher from Herndon, VA, was voted out of the game on Night 12 at Tribal Council through a 5-4 vote instead of Bradley Kleihege, a 26-year-old law student from Haslett, MI.
Brendan's ally, Michael Yerger, an 18-year-old real estate agent from Knoxville, TN, wanted to save one of the four former Malolo tribemates -- who were together prior to the tribal swap -- when they were up against five original Naviti members.
However, Michael played the idol for the wrong person in choosing to give it to Stephanie Johnson, a 34-year-old yoga instructor from Boise, ID. Jenna Bowman, a 23-year-old account executive from Detroit, MI, was the other person working with them.
"I'm bitterly disappointed. The outcome wasn't what we wanted as a group of four but that happens in life, sometimes the ball bounces your way and sometimes it doesn't," Brendan said in his final words.
"But we went out swinging. After 16 years of trying to get here, it's a tough pill to swallow, but it's rare in life an experience lives up to expectations, and this one has. It's been a thrill and I'm just thankful for every minute I spent out here."
TheSurvivor broadcast began on Night 9 at the new Naviti tribe.
New Naviti was comprised of Chris Noble, a 27-year-old male model from Florida Keys, FL; Wendell Holland, a 33-year-old furniture designer from Philadelphia, PA; Laurel Johnson, a 29-year-old financial consultant from Philadelphia, PA; Donathan Hurley, a 26-year-old caretaker from Phelps, KY; James Lim, a 24-year-old business analyst from Los Angeles, CA; Angela Perkins, a 42-year-old Army veteran from Cincinnati, OH; Libby Vincek, a 24-year-old social media strategist from Houston, TX; and Domenick Abbate, a 38-year-old construction supervisor from Nesconset, NY.
Domenick said former Malolo had caught him by surprise by taking out his ally, Morgan Ricke, because he had expected the vote to be Angela. Now Angela was frustrated everyone had lied to her, and Domenick acknowledged to Wendell that once Chris returned, the game was going to be "a disaster" for them.
However, Domenick had a hidden Immunity Idol in his pocket, and he was prepared to use it wisely. As a result, he shared the news with Wendell, and the two guys planned to make the smartest move possible with it.
On Day 10, Domenick also found the Legacy Advantage in his bag that had been willed to him by Morgan. He learned he could use it when either 13 people were left in the game, or six. Although there were 17 castaways still in the running to win the title of "Sole Survivor," he was thrilled to get all the help he could get.
It then became time for the two tribes to compete against each other for Reward in the form of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, as well as milk.
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Each tribe was required to race out to retrieve a ring, grab the ring and then race back to a flagpole while the other tribe attempted to stop them any way they could. The first person to place one hand on the ring and his or her other hand on the flagpole would score one point, and the first tribe to rack up three points would win Reward.
In addition, the winning tribe would be able to send someone from the losing tribe to Ghost Island; however, that person would be able to return in time for the next Immunity Challenge, meaning he or she may face Tribal Council and elimination.
Chelsea Townsend, a 24-year-old EMT from Salt Lake City, UT, decided to sit out for Malolo since Naviti had an extra tribe member, and in the end, Naviti won.
Since Naviti could not come to a unanimous decision on which castaway to send to Ghost Island, Malolo drew rocks, and the person who drew the one white rock was Kellyn Bechtold, a 31-year-old career counselor from North Manchester, IN.
It was ironic because right before Kellyn put her hand in the bag, she admitted drawing the unlucky rock was her "biggest Survivor fear." Kellyn was therefore mad at herself for ever opening her mouth, telling Jeff that her fate wasn't a coincidence.
Once Kellyn arrived at Ghost Island, she got to play a game. Kellyn had to determine whether she wanted to accept a Secret Advantage in exchange for her vote at the next Tribal Council session.
Because her tribe had five former Naviti members back at camp against four former Malolo tribe members, she knew it was vital to keep the numbers.
As a result, Kellyn followed her gut and made a decision that was best for the group rather than her own individual game. She knew it would be a huge risk to lose her vote, and she just wasn't willing to do that.
Back at Naviti's camp, Chris learned that Wendell and Domenick attempted to go after Angela because they wanted to take the power away from him. Chris realized the guys had an opportunity to jump in with the former Malolos, and that's exactly what they had tried to do.
Donathan then noted it was Chris vs. Domenick in the tribe, with both men trying to rally troops. Chris insisted to the tribe that Domenick did have an idol and was a "master manipulator."
But Laurel and Donathan were annoyed about how Chris was trying to call the shots all the time. They didn't want to see Wendell go, and Laurel later told Domenick that she wanted to keep him as well.
Laurel was ready to stop playing an "under-the-radar game," and Domenick was thrilled Laurel was willing to work with him. In order to solidify trust and loyalty, Domenick also shared with Lauren that he had an idol. She didn't really seem to care that Domenick had previously lied about his idol being fake.
Laurel told Domenick that Donathan would probably get onboard with them to make a move against Chris.
Naviti and Malolo then met Jeff again on Day 12 for the season's next Immunity Challenge, and at this point, Kellyn returned to her tribe.
For the challenge, each tribe was instructed to swim out to a bamboo cage, climb over it, dive down, untie a door, drag a heavy chest across the shore and up onto a track, and then pull the chest along the track using a rope. Once an entire tribe reached the finish line, they had to shoot balls and attempt to land them on a very narrow perch.
Desiree sat out for Malolo this time, and in the end, Naviti had a huge comeback and won the competition.
Kellyn was so glad she had decided to keep her vote since Malolo was going to Tribal Council now.
Once Malolo returned to camp, Bradley said he was happy that his group of former Naviti members had the numbers. He wanted to be in control, and he noted it was just about keeping his "ducks in a row."
Stephanie didn't think the five were going to crack, so she began to lose hope in the game. It made her sick "someone like Bradley" was going to get to stay in the game instead of her.
Meanwhile, Chelsea and her group of former Naviti members discussed taking out one of the guys in former Malolo, ultimately targeting strength before the merge. However, the tribe seemed to agree that if someone on that side had an idol, he or she would probably play it for one of the big guys -- either Michael or Brendan.
Chelsea's allies therefore contemplated targeting a woman, like Stephanie, instead.
But Michael had an idol -- and a plan. Prior to going to Tribal Council, he discussed with Stephanie and Jen what was about to go down, and part of his strategy involved all of them voting for Bradley.
At Tribal Council, Stephanie pointed out that Bradley was doing a great job of keeping track of whoever was in "his little alliance."
Michael then suggested that Sebastian Noel, a 22-year-old fishing guide from Melbourne, FL, and Chelsea were on the bottom of their alliance, and Brendan added that Bradley was "the ring leader." The two guys agreed Sebastian was a social and physical threat and there was no way Bradley would keep him around for much longer -- nevermind take him to the end.
After making a good case, Michael pulled out his hidden Immunity Idol and announced to the tribe that it was his intention to "reverse the curse."
Michael lied and told the group his idol had a "double power," meaning it could save two people that night. Michael therefore announced he was going to give immunity to two people out of his group of four, and that his allies were all going to vote for Bradley.
Michael said that all he needed was one person to jump onto his side and vote for Bradley in order to avoid a situation that could leave a former Naviti member in trouble.
Michael challenged his new tribemates to play the game they had joinedSurvivor to play. Kellyn expressed that if a former Naviti flipped, he or she would never be able to penetrate or break up the four former Malolo members.
However, Michael argued that the original Malolo members were only united and tight because they were forced to come together and had a lack of options of other people to work with.
Michael admitted that if an original Naviti got voted out that night, the castaway would probably leave the game thinking, "Damn, I really wish I made that move."
When it became time for the players to cast their votes, Laurel was shown writing Bradley's name down and telling the cameras it was because he often whined and complained at camp.
Michael then whispered to Brendan at Tribal Council that they should probably play their idol for Stephanie.
When it became time for Michael to play his idol, he addressed the group and said he was going to play it for himself and Brendan, but he ultimately decided to play it for Stephanie.
Michael seemed to strategically and intentionally deliver vague language so that he didn't have to admit he had lied about his idol supposedly being able to save two people at once.
Jeff then read the votes aloud in the following order: Bradley, Bradley, Bradley, Bradley, Brendan, Brendan, Brendan, Brendan, and Brendan.
On his way out of the game, Brendan told his allies to "keep pressing" because they could find a way. Meanwhile, Bradley sighed "oh my God" in relief.
The episode's closing credits later showed that Stephanie, Michael, Brendan and Jenna voted for Bradley, while Desiree, Sebastian, Kellyn, Bradley and Chelsea voted for Brendan.