Survivor UK Episode 15 & 16 Recap – A Winner is Crowned

What happened in the season finale?

BBC

After eight weeks and 16 episodes, Survivor UK has come to a close with tonight’s double-dose of episodes. It’s quite literally been a season of two halves: a plodding, predictable, and often frustrating pre-merge followed by a compelling, entertaining, and more unpredictable post-merge. These last two episodes contained elements of both, at times slow and drawn out and, in other moments, highly tense.

Over the past few weeks, a big question has been whether the BBC will renew Survivor UK for a second season. The ratings have been underwhelming (for a weekend evening show) but consistent, and the post-merge has shown signs of promise in the format. But is that enough? It’s hard to say, and it felt like tonight’s finale (and the result) could play heavily into whether the show will be given a second chance.

However, before we get to the finalists and winner, let’s recap how we got there. The first of tonight’s two episodes opened with an excessively long loved ones segment, and it didn’t even involve family members physically on the island. Instead, we saw a series of video calls at the Outpost, with the castaways determining the order and length of time each got to spend on the call.

SUK
BBC

This was an intriguing twist on an old format, putting the decision in the players’ hands, with the unlucky ones only getting three or one-minute calls with their loved ones. But it didn’t particularly cause much tension, as most agreed that those with kids and grandkids should get the most time, so Leilani and Pegleg lucked out, as well as Hannah, who was picked to go first. Poor Matt and Chris were left with the dregs.

An interesting wrinkle would have been to include an advantage for the person who ended up with the one-minute call. Maybe they could have earned an advantage in the Final 5 immunity challenge? Something to spice up what was quite a repetitive segment and offer a reprieve for the person chosen to go last.

However, Chris didn’t need any advantage in the challenge, as he went on to win his second immunity necklace of the season. Hannah came extremely close with her puzzle but had her top row the wrong way around. But with Chris safe, the vote came down to who posed the biggest threat at the final tribal council. Each player discussed their options, but it quickly became clear who was target number one.

Nobody wanted to sit next to Pegleg in the end; his friends on the jury, plus the grit and determination he’d shown throughout the game, made him a frontrunner to win it all. Even Hannah, Peg’s closest ally, knew it’d be a mistake to go to the end with him. And so, after 32 days, Pegleg was voted out and became the penultimate member of the jury.

SUK
BBC

With that, the final four embarked on the final immunity challenge of the season, and it was an old favorite, Hands on the Idol. It’s such a simple challenge but one that always delivers in intensity and drama. While this wasn’t quite as emotional as the Australian Survivor 2016 showdown, it gave it a run for its money. The challenge lasted over five hours, with Chris ultimately beating Leilani after she collapsed from her perch, causing medics to rush into action.

Thankfully, Leilani was okay, so Chris could celebrate his victory with a smile on his face, even if his pants were wet from peeing himself mid-challenge (hey, when nature calls!). Because the challenge went on so long, the group didn’t have time to return to camp and instead were whisked straight to tribal council.

Much like the previous vote, it all came down to the biggest jury threat, with Chris prodding Leilani to admit that Hannah was the most threatening player remaining. They weren’t wrong; while Hannah wasn’t the most proactive player, she had a lot of friends on the jury, hadn’t really offended anyone, and picked up her gameplay towards the end. So it was no surprise Chris, Matt, and Leilani sent her packing.

And so we were down to three: Chris, who spent the second half of this season as the game’s most wanted; Matt, who changed the course of the season with his flip on Tinuke and Nathan; and Leilani, an early target who survived a swap and made it all the way to the end.

SUK
BBC

Chris opened his pitch to the jury by talking about his self-doubt coming into the game. He mentioned that he came in with no set strategy, instead focusing on forming organic friendships and being himself. But this approach changed after his failed challenge throw, which irked some of his tribemates. From there, his alliances crumbled, and he had to go into survival mode, whether winning challenges, playing an idol, or making big moves. And through all that, he’s learned to believe in himself again.

Matt talked about how others often perceive him as naive, and he played into that perception at the start. Like Chris, he came in with the intention of playing with his heart, but he had to put his “game head” on at the merge. This meant making big decisions and blindsiding friends, moves that he still stands by. He concluded by saying he came in as a boy and is leaving the game a man.

Leilani described Survivor as a “brutal, brilliant, awesome game,” one she expected to chew her up and spit her out. But it didn’t, and she said that took “balls, courage, and bravery.” Unlike Chris and Matt, she didn’t have any specific moves to point to, but said she often relied on her gut and was happy to join alliances and make up numbers. Plus, she also tackled the challenges with determination, even if she never got a win.

As I said at the start of this article, the season’s winner could play a significant role in the future of Survivor UK. It’s a tone-setter, much like how Richard Hatch‘s victory in Borneo laid the blueprint for Survivor U.S.’s success. Each of these three finalists brought something different and represented their own style of gameplay.

Chris
BBC

Chris, who was my personal pick to win, fell more into the Richard Hatch role, not in terms of control, but in the sense he was the more open gameplayer not afraid to lie and scheme. He survived despite being a constant target, sometimes due to clutch immunity wins, but also by his keen observation and manipulation skills, knowing who to approach and when to make a move.

A Chris win would have cemented Survivor UK as a true game of “outwit, outplay, and outlast,” but, unfortunately, Chris failed to sell his game to the jury. To be fair, it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Welsh singer, as there appeared to be a significant anti-Chris sentiment on the jury, particularly from Lee, who continued to spout his “moralistic” bullshit and lie about the all-male alliance thing.

At one point, Doug gave Chris an opportunity to own his game, asking about the Matt flip and the part he played in it. For whatever reason, Chris backed off, telling Doug that everyone is their own individual who makes their own decisions. Maybe he thought Doug was setting a trap? But this was Chris’ chance to claim credit for the game’s biggest move, explaining how he convinced Matt to flip on Tinuke and Nathan.

On the flip side, there was Leilani, who, while I’m sure a lovely person, didn’t have much of a resume to speak for. This was brought up by Nathan and Laurence, who basically said she was a bench warmer for most of the season. Leilani highlighted her five-hour stint in the final challenge, calling herself a “badass bitch,” and tried to claim that sitting next to Chris and Matt was her “big move” of the season.

Leilani
BBC

A Leilani win was what I feared the most. Again, I have nothing against her as a person, but I feel had Leilani won, it would have doomed Survivor UK even further. It would show that the UK still isn’t ready to accept gameplayers and will always go for the nicest, least offensive option. It would have set a bad precedent for future players and the future of the game itself.

That left Matt, who was a cross between the two. I suppose he was the perfect winner for the season in that he represented both sides, the sort of go-with-the-flow, safe-thinking of the pre-merge and the riskier, flippier game of the post-merge. Matt flipping on Tinuke and Nathan was the major move of the season, one that set him on the path to the final. And, in many ways, it was refreshing to see the jurors not hold that against him, earning six of their votes to win decisively.

Matt’s social game obviously tipped things in his favour over Chris. He received some backlash from the jury over being a puppet, again, a suggestion that they knew Chris had more control. But Matt did well to put out those fires, talking up how he made the decision for the benefit of his own game while at the same time showing he took those decisions to heart due to the genuine connections he’d formed.

Matt
BBC

Chris played the flashier, more impressive game with more moves to his resume, but he didn’t have the respect or friendship of the jury. Whereas Matt made enough moves, even if he wasn’t the one leading the charge, while still having the social bonds with those he voted out. So it’s understandable why the guy who couldn’t properly lock a padlock won out in the end, earning all but two votes (Chris and Leilani received one vote each).

And so, for the question of whether Survivor UK will be back for a second season, Matt’s win might have helped keep the flame alight for a little longer. He had just the right mix of social likability and strategy that keeps the essence of the Survivor format alive and might encourage more active gamers in a potential second season, much like what we saw in Australian Survivor 2017.

Until then, congratulations to Matt. Oh, and a word of advice for your £100,000… I suggest you double-check the padlock on your safe.


Written by

Martin Holmes

Martin is a freelance writer from England. He’s represented by Berlin Associates for comedy writing and writes about TV and entertainment, currently for TV Insider and Vulture, previously Digital Spy, ET Canada, and Yahoo. A finalist for the Shortlist Sitcom Search in 2012 for “Siblings,” Martin received his BA in English with Creative Writing from The University of Hull. Martin is the owner and editor-in-chief of Insider Survivor.


5 responses to “Survivor UK Episode 15 & 16 Recap – A Winner is Crowned”

  1. Gutted. Chris deserved the win.

    The marketing for this season has been horrific. It’s almost like the BBC expected it to fail.

  2. Definitely should have been Chris to win. Apart from his daft decision to attempt to throw a challenge he has been fantastic. Best strategist throughout. He was the puppet master but the puppet won. Matthew was a nice person but easily swayed. Thankfully Leilani didn’t win I don’t think I’d have watched any further series if she had. Your article was spot on. Lee, what a petulant chap and he’ll cringe when he watches it back and sees himself wanting the all male alliance. Tanuke deserved to go, so smug and over confident and of course she voted predictably for the only female in the final. Liked Doug very much and Laurence was very perceptive with his questions.

  3. Terrible season. Production to blame. Lopsided challenges where the women had no chance in the pre merge.

    Terrible players cast who hadn’t a clue how to play and vilified anyone on the bottom trying to save themselves. All production needed to do was get the players to watch the show – select a season or two from US and Australia.

    Overall this was probably one of the worst seasons of survivor I’ve ever watched across the whole franchise.

    They really messed it up. I doubt it will come back. Hope I’m wrong.

  4. My 3 favourites in the whole series were Shai, Laurence and Chris (not in that order). They all played the darker relms of the game but without being over confident. Instead they knew a lot of the time, they were the unpopular ones, and had targets on their back’s.

    Chris looked so disheartened even hurt after the rant by Lee at the Jury final. I can only imagine there was a lot more said but edited out.
    I wanted Chris to win. It was annoying to see Lee plainly lie about his move to have a male alliance and destroy Chris’chances in the process.

    I don’t really like the whole jury concept for deciding the winner, as it prevents the contestants stabbing each other in the back and getting away with it.

    When Doug pressed Chris for whether he got into Matthew’s head, I think he shyed away of owning that brilliant bit of plan, as he had already been deflated by Lee’s rant, and also maybe felt the jury would go against him for admitting to sneaky tactics.
    From a viewing standpoint, the sneaky, misdirection, blind-siding, tactics are much more exciting to see. Maybe the final winner should be decided or at least accompanied with a public vote?

  5. Lee is a pathological LIAR. Be aware of him. He is the downfall of this show. By refusing to admit his doing, it made a strong blow to Chris’s game and therefore, doubtful whether to own his game or not.
    If only the editing favored Matthew, it could have save the show.
    Goodbye Survivor UK!

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