'Survivor: Winners At War' recap: Jeremy Collins and Nick Wilson voted out as Tony Vlachos and Sarah Lacina run the game
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/07/2020
Survivor: Winners At War featured Jeremy Collins getting voted out on Night 31, followed by Nick Wilson on Day 34 at separate Tribal Council sessions during a special two-hour penultimate episode of Season 40 that aired Wednesday night on CBS.
Nick, who won Survivor: David vs. Goliath, was later voted out of Koru on Night 34 with four votes instead of Survivor: Philippines winner Denise Stapley, who received two votes at Tribal Council.
"It's the first time I've ever been voted out. It feels different than I expected. I was starting to see my path towards the end, but it was all just a bunch of lies and deceit," Nick said before heading to the Edge of Extinction.
"I made it 34 days in the game. To make it to the Final 6, I'm really proud of myself."
TheSurvivor broadcast began on Night 29 at Koru's camp, with the following players remaining in the original game to win $2 million: Jeremy; Michele; Ben; Nick; Denise; Survivor: Cagayan winner Tony Vlachos, who also appeared on Survivor: Game Changers; and Survivor: Game Changers winner Sarah Lacina, who also previously appeared on Survivor: Cagayan.
Michele was trying to figure out how she could recover now that everyone knew she had a 50/50 advantage, which she had given to Jeremy.
Jeremy vented people were going after him three Tribal Council sessions in a row. He didn't understand why he was a consistent target for his tribe, but Michele was obviously glad he was still around.
Jeremy was thankful for that 50/50 coin, but he decided to give it back to Michele, saying his game wasn't going to come down to chance or a coin flip like that.
On Day 30, Denise was trying to let go of some of her stress and anxiety by painting words of positivity on herself and at camp, such as "endure." Denise said she knew she could last nine more days in the game.
Tony, a police officer, and Jeremy, a firefighter, had a fun rivalry going on, but Tony wanted to keep him around as a shield. Sarah agreed with Tony's perspective, but the "Cops R Us" pair was well aware Jeremy was a huge threat to win the game.
Tony wanted to ride with Sarah all the way until the end, and they agreed they had a problem in that Ben hated Jeremy and wanted him out.
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"If we take our Jeremy, then we are sitting ducks," Sarah told Tony.
"Then you have Nick, Michele and Denise will team up," Tony said.
Sarah told Tony that Nick was with them but he didn't want to go to the end with him.
Sarah therefore came to the conclusion Nick should go, but she wasn't sure Ben would budge on that vote since he's "pretty stubborn." Sarah acknowledged she had her work cut out for her in convincing Ben to go after Nick.
Sarah tried to make Ben believe that the next vote was his decision, but she told the cameras it was "just a ploy" so they could vote Nick out. Ben then suggested to Tony that they blindside Nick next because keeping Jeremy around would be "more beneficial" for his game.
Sarah's plan worked because Ben told Tony that Nick didn't want to go to the end with them and Sarah. Ben also realized Nick was playing both sides and he could sway Denise towards any vote.
Ben, however, feared Michele was going to play her advantage, so he wanted to flush that out.
On Day 31, the Koru tribe met Jeff for the season's next Individual Immunity Challenge.
Jeff instructed each castaway to race out with a ball, toss the ball into an overhead trap, catch the ball on the other side, dig under a bar in the sand, race to the finish, and finally solve a slide puzzle.
Jeff noted the winner would receive immunity as well as two Fire Tokens and the next person voted out of the game would become the fifteenth castaway sent to the Edge of Extinction.
Denise and Michele were way behind in the challenge because they struggled to catch their balls, and in the end, Nick won Individual Immunity -- which threw Sarah, Tony, Ben and Denise's plan away.
Michele cried after the challenge because by the time Nick won, she had yet to even begin working on her puzzle. Her fellow castaways, however, comforted her and assured her that she did a fine job.
Denise immediately began wondering what Plan B was going to be.
When the players returned to camp, everyone agreed to take Denise out, but Ben called her "a friend and a number." Ben was therefore still debating on targeting Jeremy.
Ben thought breaking up Jeremy and Michele would be a great strategy, so he attempted to drive a wedge between them by creating a little distrust. Ben suggested to Jeremy he should get the 50/50 coin back so they could vote out Michele, but Jeremy didn't want to see Michele go home.
Jeremy was also suspicious of the Denise vote, saying it seemed too easy.
"Denise is definitely a smokescreen. I don't know whom they're putting their votes on, if it's me or Michele, but I don't trust Ben at all!" Jeremy said in a confessional.
And Jeremy had no reason to trust Ben, who was whispering to Michele that Jeremy was probably going to ask her for her 50/50 coin back. Michele told Ben that she wasn't giving up, and Ben tried to make her feel wary of Jeremy and his intentions.
Jeremy and Michele then got together and discussed Ben's manipulative gameplay in that he was trying to play both sides. Jeremy and Michele agreed they needed to take out Ben.
Jeremy told Michele they should keep Ben in the dark so they could blindside him, and with that being said, Jeremy tried to get Tony and Nick onboard with the vote.
Ben's ouster, however, was not in Tony's best interest, so Tony and Nick told Ben, Sarah and Denise that Jeremy was trying to execute a plan to take Ben out.
But Tony assured Ben that the two of them, along with Nick, were voting for Jeremy, while Sarah and Denise would vote for Michele. Tony said they'd be all set with Jeremy and Michele voting for Ben since they had the numbers.
Tony said the plan was to split their votes in case Michele played her advantage and saved herself -- resulting in Jeremy going to the Edge.
Sarah, however, wasn't sure if Nick was tight with them because she found him "hard to read." She feared Nick might join an alliance with Jeremy and Michele to vote out Ben, but Tony didn't think that was going to happen.
Sarah told the cameras they were going to find out that night whether Nick was "for or against" them once and for all. Nick had both Jeremy and Ben's fates in his hands, and he said he was going to make a decision based on Day 39 and how he could win the $2 million.
That night, at Tribal Council, Ben announced everyone was physically, mentally and emotionally broken and so the truth was coming out of everyone. Ben thought every player was showing his or her true colors.
Nick agreed people were being more truthful on this winners' season, and Jeremy pointed out the game was personal this time around but people still needed to play and betray.
Ben admitted he had trust issues with his wife when he got home from Survivor the first time, and Jeremy also confessed the game had gotten to his head before and it "wasn't right for three months" once he returned home.
Jeremy said he even had trouble trusting his closest friends at work for a while.
Tony announced his group was locked, loaded and ready to proceed, and then Michele declared her advantage was probably going to be played that night because this was the last night it could be used.
"I'm nervous," Jeremy told Jeff before everyone cast their votes.
Denise was shown voting for Michele, and Jeremy was shown casting his vote for Ben. Jeremy hoped everyone was going to stick to the plan, but Tony was shown "putting [his] emotions aside" and voting for Jeremy.
Before Jeff tallied the votes, Michele decided to play her 50/50 coin advantage for herself. Michele flipped the coin at Jeff's podium and it landed on Michele, so any votes cast against her would not count.
Michele playfully asked Jeff if she could keep the coin, but he said, "No."
Jeff then read the votes in the following order: Michele, Michele, Ben, Jeremy, Ben, Jeremy, and Jeremy.
Jeremy was therefore sent to the Edge of Extinction, and before he left, he asked the tribe, "Who did it?"
"Sorry, J," Tony replied.
"Bad move, dude," Jeremy insisted before his torch was snuffed.
On his way to the Edge, Jeremy bequeathed both of his Fire Tokens to Michele.
On Night 31 after Tribal Council, Ben joked his showdown with Jeremy was like an old-western movie in which "the draw went" and he finally got Jeremy out. Tony was so glad Michele never gave her advantage to Jeremy, and Ben was thrilled Tony had shown his loyalty.
Tony and Ben discussed how Michele needed to go next.
"Michele has always been on the outside of every vote. She has no idea what's going on in the game. In other seasons, you would call that a goat, and you would want to go to the end with them -- not on a Super Bowl season of Survivor! You don't want that around," Tony said in a confessional.
Tony acknowledged Nick was a big threat when it came to puzzles, but he still wanted to take out Michele next.
Nick then sat down with Michele and told her that they couldn't beat Jeremy in the end. Michele said she understood that and agreed, but she argued they no longer had a clear path to the end.
Michele told Nick that she was Public Enemy No. 1 and then Nick would be next, but Nick had hope he could take Ben out next since he was a "hotheaded and impulsive player."
Michele scolded Nick for being "naive," saying Sarah would not flip on Tony or Ben at this point in the game and Denise would not flip on Ben. Michele told Nick that they were screwed and on the bottom, but she wasn't about to give up.
"I know I do some of my best work when my back is against the wall. They haven't seen the sassy Michele from Jersey, so it's time for me to kick it into high gear. They better buckle in because I'm about to go out fighting," Michele told the cameras.
On Day 32 of the game, Michele was feeling alone and very frustrated. She said all the castaways were "playing scared" but she had nothing to lose.
Michele told Sarah that she saw the writing on the wall but then pitched how nobody would be able to beat Tony in the end. Michele told Sarah that "perception is everything" and it was clear Tony was running the show.
Michele continued to plant seeds in Sarah's mind by saying anyone eliminated from that point on would tell the jury that Tony deserved to win, and Sarah seemed both surprised and concerned in the moment.
But Sarah was shown telling Ben, Denise and Tony afterwards that Michele was trying to pit everyone against each other.
Sarah sarcastically gave Michele an "A for effort" as she talked about the outsider behind her back, and Denise laughed and cackled at the idea of Michele breaking up the majority alliance.
Sarah called Michele "unpredictable" and said she couldn't keep her mouth shut, which is exactly why she needed to go.
Edge of Extinction
Meanwhile, on the Edge of Extinction, everyone received one scoop of rice to eat for the whole day. Jeremy said being out of the game was tough and his mind was wandering about his mistakes and what he could've done differently.
All the players on the Edge were determined to get back into the game, and then suddenly, a message arrived for the voted-out players, teasing "a throne of stone" as a clue to something.
Natalie ended up finding the throne, and Tyson Apostol noted she shifted and moved as if she had become part of the island.
Natalie had never given up on the game since the very first vote-off of the season.
She opened up the advantage box in front of the other players and read the following script inside: "This holds the power to place a disadvantage on one player in the next Immunity Challenge. Sell it to any player in the game giving them the power to use it against any player they want."
Natalie was able to charge as many Fire Tokens as she thought she could get, but a player in the game had to pay for it before sundown in order to use the advantage and for Natalie to receive her Tokens.
Natalie's goal was to find Fire Tokens in the hope of receiving an advantage in the Comeback Challenge.
Nick gets the advantage offer
Back at Koru's camp later that day, Nick looked in his bag and discovered the advantage. Nick was able to write down the player's name whom he wanted to use this advantage against, and the disadvantaged player wouldn't find out about it until the challenge.
"They will not know it's coming from you," Nick read. "This advantage will cost you eight Fire Tokens."
Nick only had six Fire Tokens, so he needed someone's help. Since Tony, his "main man," had zero Tokens, he decided to reach out to Michele for help, anticipating the move might keep him in her good graces -- even though he had voted out Jeremy.
Nick figured he was Michele's only prayer of staying in the game and so she'd work with him, and he was right. Michele, who had three Tokens, was willing to give Nick two Fire Tokens.
Nick said he had a lot to consider because his decision could ultimately cause a lot of chaos.
On Day 34, the Koru tribe met Jeff again for another Individual Immunity Challenge.
Each player was required to stack blocks on a beam, attempting to avoid trip obstacles. The first person to stack his or her blocks so they would fall like Dominoes and hit a gong would win immunity and be safe from the vote, in addition to winning two Fire Tokens.
Jeff announced this was the last time someone could win Fire Tokens and also spend Fire Tokens.
Before the challenge commenced, Jeff revealed one castaway had been given a disadvantage.
"This disadvantaged player will have 30 percent more beam and 30 percent more blocks to stack," Jeff explained.
"Wow," Nick said, playing dumb.
Jeff revealed Ben had been given the disadvantage, and Ben laughed because he had yet to receive a single Fire Token or advantage.
"I guess I'm not making too many friends this season," Ben told Jeff.
Nick hoped that by choosing Ben, people might want to "get him out of here so that Michele can stay."
Michele, Sarah and Tony got off to a steady lead, but Ben worked quickly and stayed in it. In the end, Michele pulled off a victory and screamed and cheered with excitement.
"Wow," Nick said, before telling Michele she had earned it.
"Wow!" Jeff yelled in response to the challenge.
As Jeff put the necklace around Michele's neck, she said she needed this win badly. Michele admitted conversations back at camp had been that anyone could win the game but her, and so she was glad to be given more reason to potentially prove them wrong.
When the tribe returned to camp, the Michele vote was off the table. In order to keep the heat off of herself, Denise decided to use her Fire Tokens to buy a big bag of rice so everyone could feed themselves and feel stronger.
Denise also wanted to go to the Edge with a full belly if the tribe ultimately decided to vote her off.
Denise hoped Tony, Ben and Sarah would vote out Nick with her still, barring any other surprises. Ben told the cameras he was onboard with the Nick vote, but he told Nick and Michele that Denise needed to go because she's so kind and lovable.
Tony, Sarah and Ben were all playing it off like Denise was their vote, and Ben said he felt pretty safe in his alliance and probably wouldn't need to play his idol that night.
Meanwhile, Nick felt like he was in a great position, and he had faith he could convince Tony to vote out Ben with him at Tribal Council that night.
Michele and Nick then sat down with Tony on the beach to chat about his position. Nick explained what worried him about Ben was that Ben made fire to get to the Final 3 on his season. Nick said Ben could probably beat any of them in fire-making.
Tony therefore suggested to Michele and Nick they team up and steal the majority. Tony admitted he didn't want to lose to Ben in fire, and he knew Ben had a hidden Immunity Idol.
"If I'm going to make a move, now is the time to make a move and get rid of Ben," Tony said.
Tony then opened up his spy nest again for business, saying he needed more intel for war and potential counter attacks.
While in his spy nest, Tony overheard Denise trying to make a Final 3 deal with Sarah and Ben. Denise said she worried about Tony in the challenges and working over the jury, and Tony overheard it all.
Once Tony heard that, he determined Denise had to go. Since she didn't want Tony in the finals, he said he didn't want her in the finals.
Tony therefore suggested to Michele and Nick that they blindside Denise, and then he pitched the idea to Sarah. Tony told Sarah that Denise would pick Ben over either of them and so they should adjust their plans to take Nick to the Final 4.
Denise and Nick were both options, and Sarah weighed the pros and cons of each potential move in a confessional.
"Denise is a good option to vote out because she slayed The Queen [Sandra Diaz-Twine], she found an idol, she's won two Immunities at this point, she's gotten tons of Fire Tokens from the Edge, and she hasn't made anybody mad. So she could be tough to beat in the end," Sarah told the cameras.
"And then you've got Nick who has won Immunity, come from the bottom all season and everybody loves the underdog story -- and that is Nick. You can't not like the guy because he's playing his butt off and he's fighting every day he's out here. Tony and I are totally the swing vote on this, and I hope we pick the right road to go down."
Sarah said since mistakes are not allowed on Survivor: Winners At War, this vote was going to be the biggest one yet.
At Tribal Council that night, Michele said it was very obvious she was on the bottom because no one wanted to strategize with her at camp.
Ben thought the disadvantage at the challenge had cost him the win, and he said he had no idea who had given it to him.
Michele said Fire Tokens were priceless to her in this game because they gave her a feeling of worth and hope every time she found herself down, but the tribe agreed Fire Tokens and advantages from the Edge made the game very unpredictable and scary.
Denise acknowledged it had been an incredibly stressful 34 days so she basically had a last meal of rice in case the tribe chose to get rid of her. However, she hoped her alliance would stick, so she said she was going to sit back and relax a little bit.
It then became time to vote, and Nick was shown casting his vote for Denise.
After no one chose to play a hidden Immunity Idol or advantage, Jeff read the votes in the following order: Nick, Denise, Denise, Nick, Nick and Nick.
"Well done, you guys," Nick noted on his way out. "I'll do my best to join again tomorrow."
Jeff announced that the very next day, someone from the Edge of Extinction would fight his or her way back into the original game and resume competing for the $2 million prize.
Michele and Nick had both voted for Denise, while everyone else voted to send Nick to the Edge.
"I got a shot tomorrow, so we'll see what I can do. I'll fight to the end!" Nick said following his ouster.
On Day 35 at the Edge of Extinction, the previously-eliminated players celebrated their last day on the remote beach with limited resources. Amber Mariano couldn't believe she had been on the island for a month, but she admitted the time kind of went by quickly.
"As much as I hate this place, I'm sort of going to miss it. It's not really the people, it's just I'm going to miss this amazing view," Amber shared. "It's beautiful out here; it's peaceful."
Amber said being on the Edge forced her to take a break, think about what matters most in life, and spend quality time with her husband Rob.
Suddenly, a message arrived for the players on the Edge which read, "The moment is here. Grab your belongings and say farewell to the Edge of Extinction. It's time to battle."
Everyone cheered and applauded that it was "Game Day," and Rob noted it was "do or die" and he was ready. Rob had previously purchased a hidden Immunity Idol that was still good, so he just hoped for his shot to re-enter the game.
Yul Kwon, Wendell, and Parvati Shallow were all prepared to purchase an advantage in the Comeback Challenge. Ethan noted Natalie was going to have three advantages in the challenge as well as a hidden Immunity Idol and "a surplus" of things, while he had nothing.
Natalie said all of her hard work was worth it and she always kept her head in the game.
"I feel like I proved myself out here and I fully feel like I deserve one of the spots to be fighting for that title and a shot at being the best of the best," Natalie said in a confessional.
Natalie had 40 Fire Tokens, so she bought herself peanut butter as well as three advantages -- which was the maximum amount she could get. After having bought an idol as well, she had six Fire Tokens left.
Natalie also said she bought a hidden Immunity Idol for Tyson since he couldn't purchase one for himself.
"I've played the game four times and it's very rare -- I don't think I've ever experienced that kind of generosity from another player, and it does mean something... When you feel like someone is rooting for you, it gives you a little more motivation to push, focus and just stretch to your limit," Tyson told the cameras.
"The real final hurdle to the endgame is today. If I get back in the game, I am winning this thing."