After a long, chaotic season of Survivor, we’re finally here. This season was definitely an overall improvement over Survivor 41, with a few little twists that made the game seem more organic. However, it was still a very flawed game compared to the Survivor of olden days, which let the game play out naturally. This version often felt like it was playing the castaways.

With six contestants left following Drea’s epic elimination, this felt from the start like it was going to be the deciding episode of the season. Omar had engineered several of the best blindsides of the season, and the unassuming veterinarian seemed like he was on cruise control to the finale. With three idols still in play, any tribal council was likely to be a high-wire game, and it made the stakes much higher for every challenge.

That began right away, with a reward challenge involving spinning out of a rope trap and assembling a puzzle while incredibly dizzy. Omar pulled off the upset and got to make a choice – take two people to join him for a meal of chicken and vegetables, or three for a rich dessert meal. He chose dessert and left Jonathan and Lindsay out in the cold – never a good sign when you’re already the two biggest threats in the game.

Mike was the initial target of the two alpha players, but that was thrown for a loop once Mike and Maryanne shared the information about Lindsay’s amulet idol. This started a rift between the two women left in the game, and set up a tense battle for immunity right before the finale.

As opposed to the last few balance challenges, this was a challenge worthy of survivor – a race to assemble a puzzle staircase, followed by steering two balls into targets on a table maze. While Jonathan led much of the way, in the end it was Lindsay who sank her balls first and claimed her latest victory as she quickly became the biggest challenge beast in the game.

And so, it once again was Jonathan as the chopping block. While he looks imposing, he hasn’t really backed it up in strong gameplay OR challenge wins, and he was once again vulnerable with no idol to protect him. But Mike remains tight with him, and he aimed to protect him by shifting the target onto Romeo – who had no real allies and no real strong points in the game. It looked likely to be an easy vote against one of the two.

And then Maryanne came out of nowhere in one of the most dramatic tribal councils to hit Survivor in years. She had lost her trust in Omar, had an extra vote in her pocket, and tried to convince Mike to get on board with the blindside. Mike was resistant, seeing it as well past time to take out Romeo, but Maryanne eventually won out, convincing them to do a split vote. It was one of the best moves in a long time, and the look on Omar’s face when the vote came out 3-2-2 against him was priceless. Even more amazing – all three idols stayed in their pocket, with Lindsay not playing her amulet on Omar despite it being the last time she could. That may have been a game-ending move for her.

And here we are – at the finale of Survivor 42. Five contestants are still in the game, and all five have taken unique paths to get here. Below, I’ll make my picks on who’s most likely to win Survivor 42 looking at their games overall and the paths they have to the endgame.

Below, the final power rankings for Survivor 42.

5. Romeo – Yeah…this one doesn’t take a rocket scientist. With virtually no allies or game moves to his record, he’s drawing dead in the jury from the start. The only question is whether he makes it to the end as a goat or gets picked off before the end.

4. Jonathan – Jonathan is what I like to call a “stealth goat”. On the surface, he seems like a powerhouse. But much like Xander, Albert, Mick, and several others over the course of the game, he’s completely fallen down on the job of convincing the jury why they should vote for him. He only has a few allies, most of whom are tired of him, and is likely to face a hostile jury if he makes it to the end due to his surly attitude.

3. Lindsay – If she makes it to the end, Lindsay has a very good chance at victory. She’s been the dominant challenge player of the game, she’s been involved in several key blindsides, and she’s well-liked. The problem is…everyone knows this. She lost her top ally due to a boneheaded move this week, and now she likely needs to win out to make it to the end.

2. Maryanne – Has any contestant ever seen their stock shoot up post-merge like Maryanne? From a cartoonish character who was next in line for the boot on her tribe to a savvy underdog player, she’s pulled off some of the game’s biggest moves while still not registering as a threat? If she gets taken to the end, I see the jury loving her grit and quirky attitude and wanting to reward her. The problem is…will anyone take her to the end? Does she have the fire-making skills needed to win her way there? (Because immunity probably isn’t happening). The only thing keeping her from the #1 spot is that she might have peaked at the exact wrong time to sneak to the end.

#1. Mike – Mike’s had a rough few weeks, having to betray some of his best allies and winding up on the outside of several big moves. But despite that, he’s still in the best position in the game. All that needs to happen is for Lindsay not to win out, and people to realize Maryanne is a jury threat. At which point, he’ll take his lumps from the jury, but I think he’s almost guaranteed to get a nod of respect from the jurors as they make him the oldest winner of Survivor over Romeo and Jonathan.

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