Survivor Winners at War finale: Why _____ finished in second place

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /

The Survivor: Winners at War runner-up took an interesting path to the end, making the necessary moves to get to Day 39. Did this finalist deserve more love from the jury?

Spoiler alert: This article will discuss the results from the Survivor: Winners at War finale.

History nearly repeated itself in yesterday’s Survivor: Winners at War finale. Natalie Anderson won her way back into the game after being the first one voted out and fought all her way to the Final Three. Unlike Chris Underwood’s miraculous run, Natalie didn’t receive a majority of the votes. Why did she finish in second place?

It really came down to one person: Tony. He played a masterful game and Natalie wasn’t able to take him out. This fact was especially telling since Natalie openly tried to blow up his game by informing the Final Six that the jury felt Tony was dominating. She still wasn’t able to get Tony out after that point, sealing the deal for his case to win.

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Boston Rob shed light on Natalie’s most critical mistake. Instead of taking fire into her own hands, she took a backseat and let Cops-R-Us battle it out. Knowing how much the jury respected Tony’s game, she knew she had to get him out to win it all. With Chris Underwood’s win fresh in their minds, there was no way Natalie was going to win by taking the easy way out.

Don’t get me wrong, Natalie played a masterful game on the Edge of Extinction amassing Fire Tokens, using idols correctly and coming up clutch in the final Immunity Challenge. However, when you play less than 10 days in the game and never survive a single vote without being immune, you need something to pad your resume.

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Plus, the caliber of these Final Four castaways are significantly higher compared to season 38. Tony and Sarah both played phenomenal games, and even Michele was more impressive than Julie and Gavin in Edge of Extinction. Natalie had to do more than just making it to Day 39, and going up against Tony in fire was her best bet.

What if Natalie sincerely felt that Sarah was their best bet at beating Tony? Her decision makes more sense then, but that only makes me question her performance on the Edge of Extinction. So many Edge residents say that life is boring there and that there’s nothing to do. If I was Natalie and had a convincing shot at making it back in the game, I would definitely be perfecting my fire-making skills.

I know we have to keep in mind that we never get the complete picture, even on the Edge, so maybe there were factors that limited Natalie’s ability to practice. However, for someone who strives to work harder than everyone else, choosing to sit out of the fire-making challenge goes against her identity.

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As much as fans like to hate on the Edge of Extinction twist, Natalie took full advantage of it and adapted her game to make it to the end. Her Winners at War performance adds to her Survivor legacy, but she was sitting beside two people who played a more complete game.