From the beginning of ‘Survivor: Cagayan,’ one player stood out — he knew how to strategize, how to manipulate, and basically, how to survive. So I was beyond thrilled that on the season 28 finale, the right player won the $1 million.
When it came down to the final four on the May 21 finale of Survivor: Cagayan, Spencer Bledsoe, Yung “Woo” Hwang and Kassandra “Kass” McQuillen were shocked when Tony Vlachos revealed that that “special immunity idol” couldn’t even be used anymore — that could have been their chance to vote him out. So, how did he make it to the final two, and how did it all play out? Well, I’d say — the way it was supposed to. [Spoiler Alert: don’t read on if you don’t want to know who won!]
‘Survivor: Cagayan’: Tony Vlachos Deserved The Win
Before I get started, I’ve got to call out that from day one — the Feb. 27 premiere of season 28 of Survivor, I called it, naming Tony was the best player. And that was proven on the finale.
Quick recap for you: Kass shockingly won the immunity idol, landing her a final three spot. So, the option was to send home Woo or Spencer — she couldn’t vote out Tony since he had a “special immunity idol.” So, she teamed up with Tony and Woo and agreed to vote out Spence (which I didn’t agree with, but that’s besides the point).
From there, instead of having a final three head into jury vote, Survivor switched it up, having another immunity challenge for the three and letting the winner choose who would go into the jury vote with them. When Woo won, he chose to take in Tony — which was not at all a smart move. However, he wanted to stay true to the five codes of Taekwondo: discipline, integrity, loyalty, respect, and harmony between mind and body — so he thought he had to take Tony since he had been his ally all along.
This decision alone proved that Tony knew how to play the game — he backstabbed, manipulated and lied throughout the entire game, enough to even have Woo thinking that he had his back, when we all know that if Tony had won immunity, he definitely (and smartly) would have taken Kass to the jury.
Tony: The Smartest In The Game
Tony may not have began in the brains tribe, but he definitely knew what he was doing from day one. Sure, he lied about his job at first, then swore on his police badge and broke the promise. Yes, he swore on his wife and kids and then went back on his word. And, as Trish reminded him in an emotional outrage during the jury, he actually swore on his father’s grave he’d be bringing her to the end . . . then sent her home.
I’m not saying those were nice or right things to do in any matter — but they worked in the game. I mean, to watch every single person, which the exception to Spence, stand up and pretty much put Tony in his place for all the ridiculous lies he told throughout the season, then see them all still vote for him? That says something.
I’ve got to give Spencer a serious shout out here because he summed up this entire post in one amazing plea — he spoke to the jury instead of asking Spence questions. Read his speech below, then let me know:
Love him or hate him, Tony played his ass off out here. Woo tries to excuse his passive play on not having idols and Tony finding three idols. Why do you think Tony found three idols? It’s because he looked more than everyone else combined! Tony was behind every great strategic decision. He blinded his alliance to what was going on around him in the game, like a puppet master. He took a slew of goats deep, put some on the jury. He took one to the end. Tony played with a ferocity this game very rarely does see. And so when you put pen to parchment tonight, vote for the only guy sitting there who actually played this game and played it in a way that honors it.
— Emily Longeretta