I'm getting my Season 18, dammit. Even if I have to write a whole new season for it.
- [+] Spoiler
- Dates: Spring 2011
Winner: Austin Avila (two kills)
Runner Up: Christa Carpenter (seven kills)
Third Place: Terry Leefolt (one kill)
Location: The abandoned logging town of Palmyre, Washington. Abandoned thirty years earlier, Palmyre has been mired in rumors of paranormal activity following several tragedies in the 20th century and has been seen as a popular spot for ghost hunters.
• Austin Avila (winner, two kills): The winner of Season 18, Austin was a handsome and popular soccer player. He spent most of the game searching for his girlfriend, Christa Carpenter. This ended up being a noble journey that was plagued with tragedy and suffering.
• Christa Carpenter (second place, seven kills): The biggest killer of Season 18. Christa was an attractive and popular cheerleader and Austin’s girlfriend. After an accidental murder and a self-defense killing, Christa gave into the hopelessness of the game and found herself becoming more willing to kill and less willing to trust, turning her into one of the most tragic contestants this season.
• Terry Leefolt (third place, one kill): Another soccer player and Austin’s best friend, Terry managed to find his girlfriend, Brianna Tucker, and her cousin, Malcolm Duggan, early on and formed an alliance with them and later Austin. While initially heroic, Terry’s time in the game was filled with tragedy, and Terry himself became more of an anti-villain as the game progressed.
• The Mystery Girls: Emilie Brown (twelfth place, zero kills), Jessica Hurley (thirteenth place, one kill), and Rachel Lexington (fourteenth place, zero kills): Three friends back in Bennington, The Mystery Girls (as they were retroactively dubbed) formed one of the tightest alliances and starred in one of the most focused plot lines of the season. Emilie Brown was the leader of the group, having maintained the valedictorian position in their class and acting as student body president. Jessica Hurley was an athlete on the school wrestling team and was a lot more skeptical and critical of their game. Rachel Lexington was a quiet, intellectual girl and track team member. In their group, Emilie represented the intellectual side, while Jessica was the muscle, and Rachel fell in the middle. Together, they formed a strong team and led to a surprising story set by the producers.
• Michael Haverforth (fifteenth place, four kills): A member of the school baseball team, Michael was known for being into hunting back home with his family. Upon entering, he decided to play, leading to several notable deaths. His end tied in with the end of The Mystery Girls’ story and was seen as one of the biggest player mistakes of the game.
Summary: For Season 18, 42 senior students from Bennington, Maine were abducted and sent to Palmyre, Washington. Palmyre was a former logging community in the Northwestern part of the state with a sordid history. Following a mill fire in the mid-20th century, rumors about hauntings and paranormal activity spread, leading Palmyre to develop a reputation as a cursed town. The town was abandoned thirty years prior after the main lumber mill closed, but the ruins of the town have made it a popular sight for ghost hunters and fans of the paranormal.
For this season, students were scattered throughout the remains of the town, which included a small area with stores and businesses, a small suburban area, the nearby lake, and the remains of the rebuilt lumber mill and surrounding forest. Because of the town’s reputation, the producers framed the season to appear like a ghost hunting show, with night vision cameras and set decorating to look like there were signs of paranormal activity afoot. Some students also had special weapon draws related to the rumors, such as ghost hunting equipment or materials from when Palmyre was thriving.
At the start, the game began normally. Some students made alliances, while others went into hiding and some began to play. The first day was fairly slow, with only 4 kids dying before the first announcement, mostly from accidents and one suicide. It was also in this time that some of the major storylines for the season began. Christa Carpenter had committed the first murder when she accidentally shot Bruno Paisley when he surprised her. She was on the verge of ending her life when her boyfriend, Austin Avila, found her. He managed to talk her down, but she ran from him ashamed of her actions, leading Austin to pursue her.
Meanwhile, Emilie Brown had allied with two of her friends, Jessica Hurley and Rachel Lexington. The girls had little in the way of playing, with Emilie receiving a book entitled "The History of Palmyre" and Jessica and Rachel being armed with a carving knife and a cherry pie, respectively. While holed up in one of the lumber mill dorms, Emilie flipped through the book and realized there was a message written in fake blood at the end. The message read that there was salvation to be found if the mystery of Palmyre could be solved, with details about the next clue following.
The book and the message were a gimmick imposed by the producers to tie with the paranormal theme. The book was placed in the game along with a mystery tied in with the Palmyre folklore, with part of the scene decorating being constructed to be a part of the mystery. This was added to add a mystery element to the game, while also to be a possible Easter egg for any players.
Emilie, noting that it was too odd to have such a thing as her assigned weapon, convinced Jessica and Rachel to follow along with the mystery. Although Jessica and Rachel were skeptical, Emilie convinced them that solving the mystery would be preferable to playing, and that there may be an actual reward involved. With no better options, Jessica and Rachel agreed, and the girls set out to solve the mystery.
It was also in this time that the game began to ramp up. Natalie Cochran and Elizabeth Danish had teamed up early on, but soon ran into trouble regarding game play. As the girls argued, this drew the attention of early player Michael Haverforth. Michael shot at the girls, injuring them both. They tried to retaliate, but Michael managed to easily kill Natalie. Elizabeth ran away, and Michael pursued her, only to lose track of her when she went into the lumber mill.
As Elizabeth hid, she stumbled upon the hiding place of Justin Grey. Surprised by her sudden appearance, Justin swung the walking stick he had been assigned, killing her. As he reeled in shock, Michael appeared and shot Justin. Michael collected Elizabeth and Justin’s supplies, and moved on.
Meanwhile, Christa continued to run from Austin out of shame for what she did. As she did, she arrived in the general store. While she collected herself, Cotton Keeler appeared. Cotton tried to understand Christa’s actions, and she explained herself to him. He seemed to buy her explanation, and Christa started to relax. However, Cotton then pulled a switchblade and attacked. Cotton revealed that Bruno was his boyfriend, something almost no one in Bennington knew about. Cotton tried to attack and kill Christa, leading to a fight in the general store. Christa eventually gained the upper hand after knocking a shelf onto Cotton. While he was trapped, she tried to make a break for it, but he stabbed her in the foot with his blade. In response, Christa shot him in the head.
Horrified that she had now killed two people in about eight hours, Christa decided it didn’t matter any more. People were going to try and kill her, and there was almost no chance of stopping it. Christa collected Cotton’s supplies and hid herself to treat her injuries.
As Christa tended to her injuries, Austin had managed to join an alliance with Terry Leefolt, Brianna Tucker, and Malcolm Duggan. Terry and Brianna were dating, and Malcolm was Brianna’s cousin. Austin and Terry were friends from the soccer team, so they joined up with the goal of gaining numbers and finding a way out. Austin wanted the group to also find Christa, although the others were a bit uncertain about adding a killer to their ranks, despite Austin’s defense of her.
By the end of the first day, the remaining number of students was thirty. Michael had managed another kill, bringing his total up to three. Meanwhile, Emilie’s group had continued to try and solve the mystery of Palmyre. This had led them to finding some documents in a locked drawer in the lumber mill office that hinted the prize was a way to disable the collars. Another clue led them to finding a revolver in a locked box in the police station, which Jessica took as her weapon, trading her blade to Rachel and Emilie continuing to lead the group.
Emilie’s group did reach their first trouble with another student when they came across Dietrich Moynihan. Dietrich had witnessed Oliver Franklin murder Jasper Willoughby in the nearby diner, unaware that Oliver had killed in self-defense. This, coupled with the continuous death toll, began to take toll on his mind. Upon finding the girls looking around in the library. Seeing the gun in Jessica’s hand had led him to assume they were dangerous and tried to fight them with his sword. Jessica was unable to fire the gun due to nerves, so Rachel took to challenging Dietrich. She managed to disarm him and began to physically fight him in order to finally scare him away from the group. However, Dietrich managed to overpower Rachel and began to choke her. Jessica was finally able to muster up the nerve to use the revolver and fired, killing Dietrich and saving Rachel.
Jessica chided Emilie for doing nothing, but Emilie pointed out that they had more to deal with right then. They went over to help Rachel, who was battered but still alive. Jessica declared that they couldn’t fool around any longer and wanted to abandon the mystery hunt. Emilie insisted they keep going, especially since the prize may be a way to escape. The tiebreaker was left to Rachel, who decided on a compromise. They’d solve the mystery, but they’d be more prepared. Emilie, being the smartest, would handle solving the puzzles, while Jessica and Rachel would defend her. Rachel took Dietrich’s sword and the girls moved on to the next clue.
Day 2 saw a few more scattered events. Christa gained another kill when she found Hillary Montoya hiding and killed the girl as she plead for her life. Michael had earned another kill when Donovan Evans tried to hunt him down to avenge Natalie, but lost his life in the process. Near the end of Day 2, the number of remaining students had been brought down to 18.
Austin, Terry, Brianna, and Malcolm had settled into a groove of hiding and searching, which had caused them to avoid a lot of danger. Near sunset, they however came upon a shocking scene. Christa had gotten into a fight with Oliver near the town hall, and had managed to gun him down right as Austin’s group found her. Christa raised her gun to the group, demanding they go away. Austin tried to plead with Christa, but she begged him to leave her alone. Terry also tried to calm her down, but Christa was less likely to trust him.
As they talked, Malcolm whispered to Brianna that Christa seemed too far gone, and they might have to deal with her first. As Christa talked to Austin and Terry, Malcom raised his gun and shot at Christa, managing to hit her in the shoulder. Christa opened fire on the group, causing them to scatter. In the madness, Brianna was hit in the leg and fell to the ground. Terry tried to go back for her, but Austin pulled him away for safety. Malcolm tried to run out and shoot Christa, but Christa managed to shoot him in the stomach, killing him instantly. Christa then ran away from the scene.
Terry and Austin emerged to find Malcolm dead and Brianna in bad condition. She had been hit in an artery, and soon bled out in Terry’s arms. Austin tried to comfort Terry, but Terry chewed him out for pulling him away from Brianna. Terry grabbed Malcolm’s gun and told Austin that he was going to kill Christa, and that if Austin tried to stop him, he’d kill him too. Terry ran off, leaving Austin in shock. Austin tried to run after him as well after a few minutes.
A few hours later, Emilie’s group had arrived at town hall, where another clue asked them to figure out who caused the mill fire. Emilie figured out that the pictures hanging above the mayor’s desk were the suspects, and that all the clues were to point out who the killer was. As Emilie tried to piece together who the arsonist was, Jessica and Rachel realized that someone had found them. Michael had stumbled upon the three bodies near town hall and went inside, figuring the girls were responsible. He opened fire, causing them to take shelter. Jessica returned fire, but her revolver didn’t carry the same power as Michael’s automatic rifle.
The girls then tried to barricade themselves in the office as Michael got closer. As they did, Emilie realized she figured out who caused the mill fire, and grabbed one of the pictures off the wall. As she did, Michael opened fire on the door, sending wood chips everywhere and forcing the girls to duck. On the back of the picture was a small metal object, which Emilie realized could unlock the collars. She quickly tried it out on hers, causing the collar to fall off. As Michael continued to try and break through the door, Emilie used the key to unlock Jessica and Rachel’s collars, sending them clattering to the ground.
As the collars were removed, Michael made a move to reload when the speakers came on. The speakers announced that the town hall was being declared an emergency danger zone and all students had one minute to evacuate the area. Michael, in his madness, ignored the warning and continued to shoot at the door, finally breaking through the barricade. As he stumbled in, he prepared to fire but realized he was out of ammo and that the girls had their collars off. It was then he realized his collar was beeping. He began to panic, but Emilie tossed him the key, telling him how to get it off. Michael, in his fear, fumbled with the key as the beeping picked up. He tried to insert it and disable the collar, but by the time he got the key in, the collar went off, killing him and starting the girls.
Once things quieted down, the speakers in the town hall announced that Emilie, Jessica, and Rachel had successfully solved the mystery of Palmyre, and for that, they would be removed from play. The girls all celebrated and an extraction team was sent to the town hall to remove the girls from the area. After they were removed, the next announcement revealed to the remaining players that there had been a way out of the game and the trio had successfully solved it. Unfortunately, the prize was only offered to those who had figured out the mystery, so the remaining students would have to continue playing. The removal of the mystery trio had left 11 students remaining at the end of Day 2.
Day 3 moved a little more slowly with fewer students left, but had some spikes in activity. With the goal close and the one chance to escape gone, the surviving students all began to make more moves. Terry got into a fight with Lucinda Heart when the girl surprised him and managed to kill her after a scuffle. Christa had retreated into hiding and began to show further signs of slipping. Austin continued to look for Terry and Christa and had managed to avoid getting shot by Jill Peters, who was hiding in the school bell tower and trying to snipe anyone who came near her.
By the end of Day 3, the pool of students had been lowered to five, calling for endgame to begin. The participants were Austin, Christa, Terry, Jill, and Matilda Hockley. Matilda had spent most of the game hiding and avoiding conflict, although this resulted in all her allies, including her boyfriend, Shawn Walters, dying. Endgame was designated to be the lumber mill. Once all five participants arrived, the producers put their last gimmick into action. To add to the atmosphere of endgame, they had rigged explosives in one section of the lumber mill to go off, setting part of the mill on fire. Now the final five had to fight and worry about the environmental damage.
Early on, Austin found Terry and tried to plead with him to stand down. Terry refused, saying that the game had to end and that it couldn’t end with Christa surviving. As he said this, Matilda came near them, causing Terry to fire at her. Matilda ran away in fear, running into the mill. Terry told Austin that could have been someone dangerous, but Austin ignored him. Austin pointed out that Matilda was in danger going into the mill, and hurried after her.
Meanwhile, Christa had found Jill, and got into a gun fight with her. Jill, who had spent most of her game in one place and with less practice, wasn’t able to keep up with Christa, and Christa managed to kill her. As Christa walked away, she was discovered by Terry, who began to chase her through the mill. As they fought, Austin managed to find Matilda. Matilda begged Austin not to hurt her, but Austin said he wouldn’t. Matilda pulled a gun on him, begging him to go. Austin agreed, promising to step away. As he did, there was a loud sound, and the roof above them collapsed. Austin managed to get out of the way in time, but the fiery wreckage fell on Matilda, killing her instantly. Austin was able to take Matilda’s gun, which had been knocked away from the collapse, and hurried to the sound of gunfire.
Terry and Christa continued their fight, each taking some injuries. Terry managed to shoot Christa in the leg, knocking her down. Terry noted how similar this was to Brianna, and told Christa he’d pay her back equal to what she did to Brianna. Terry raised his gun to finish Christa off, but before he could, Austin appeared. Austin tried to beg Terry to just stop, but Terry refused, saying Christa had to die. Terry refused all pleads, and turned back to shoot Christa. Before he could, Austin raised his gun and fired repeatedly, hitting Terry a few times and sending him over a railing to his death.
Austin dropped his gun as Christa looked at him in shock. He walked over to Christa and picked her up, carrying her out of the burning lumber mill. They made their way a safe distance away from the burning mill and watched as the mill was consumed. Christa asked Austin why he saved her after all she did. Austin said it was because he loved her, and even now, he still loves her despite all reason telling him otherwise. Christa admitted all the terrible things she did in the game, and told Austin that she couldn’t go home.
Christa put her gun in Austin’s hand and raised it to her head. She begged him to let it end. Austin refused, saying he couldn’t possibly kill her. Christa said he had to, as she was too scared to do it herself. They continued to argue back and forth, but Christa told him that if he loved her, he’d grant her one last mercy. Austin was silent, and finally agreed. He adjusted the gun and put his finger around the trigger. Christa thanked him and declared her love for him, which he reciprocated. Austin pulled the trigger, instantly killing Christa. With that, Austin was declared the winner of Season 18.
However, the extraction team found Austin quite difficult to remove. Austin refused to budge from his spot when they came from him, and refused to let go of Christa’s body. Through panic and tears, Austin was prepared to turn Christa’s gun on himself, but when he fired, he found the gun was empty. The team tasered him, knocking him out and allowing them to remove him from the area and so that firefighters could put out the mill fire.
•Rated as: Good
• Season 18 was seen as a decent season as it occurred, although there have been a few points of contention with the haunted gimmick. For the most part, the season gimmick was well received, with some creative editing and a good atmosphere throughout. The season did receive some criticism from paranormal enthusiasts for destroying the Palmyre lumber mill during the game. However, the presence of Survival of the Fittest has been added to the Palmyre mythology, with supposed sightings and hauntings from the deceased students, increasing tourism in the town.
• The Mystery of Palmyre aspect was somewhat mixed, as it was noted that it could have been completely ignored and wasted had Emilie not flipped through the book, while some considered it a weaker example of an escape attempt as it merely required the participants to solve puzzles and riddles as opposed to figuring out the collars’ weaknesses. However, the fact that it succeeded at all and saved three students led to some praise for being executed at all. While an interesting gimmick, one as complicated as this was seen as something that would be unlikely to be featured in future seasons.
• The escape group, retroactively dubbed “The Mystery Girls,” enjoyed some fame following their escape attempt. The trio as a whole were not as popular because their story required more puzzle solving and less action, with the fight with Dietrich and their final confrontation with Michael being the standouts of their collective arc. Rachel Lexington used the earnings to help her family and avoided the spotlight following her season. She received her doctorate in Psychology and now works as a therapist in Bangor, Maine. Jessica Hurley enjoyed some fame following the show, using the series to start a career in pro wrestling. She continues to wrestle to this day and lives with her husband and two children in Las Vegas. Emilie Brown went to college and studied philosophy and psychology. She has published several books about Survival of the Fittest and game theory, as has been a guest on SOTF related shows to discuss game plays and theories relating to the ever-changing game. She lives comfortably in New York City with her husband. All three Mystery Girls stay in contact and visit one another a few times every year.
• Official winner Austin Avila had a much more tragic turn since winning. After winning, Austin turned away from the spotlight completely, refusing all interviews and appearances. His family wanted him to get evaluated, but Austin refused to seek any help, spending his days floating through on grief and depression. Two years later, tragedy struck when Austin’s father, Rafael Avila, smothered his son in his bedroom one night. Rafael turned himself in and was charged with involuntary euthanasia. Rafael claimed his son was near-catatonic and realized that he would never recover, so he decided to end his son’s suffering. While charges were eventually dropped, Rafael and his wife, Miranda, separated as Miranda had no idea Rafael planned to euthanize Austin. Miranda won custody of their two other children, and both Rafael and Miranda have left Bennington and avoided all press since then.
Suggested by: Laurels