“Today is the day,” screams Lana Searle to the camera and us to our television screens.
We are finally here at the long-awaited Treasure Island Fans v Faves finale, where either Susan Devoy, Matty McLean or Lana Searle will walk away with the $50,000 treasure for their chosen charity.
The trio are all nerves and desperate for the games to begin. McLean has peed one time for every year he’s dreamed of this moment, and Devoy can’t wait to use her stones of power and parades them around like a fancy charcuterie board.
So, in the words of host Jayden Daniels: “Let’s get it!”
Our treasure hunt kicks off by revealing the stones of power will enable you to stop both of your opponents for five minutes, block a time penalty, or give you a challenge hack. We all know that this means it’s Devoy and her seven stones’ game to lose.
Stage one is a puzzle, which they must put together to reveal a riddle that will reveal the location of keys and the next challenge.
McLean is off to a flying start, until Devoy decides to blow her whistle and unleash a five-minute time penalty on her fellow contestants to give herself more time to solve the riddle - the move is stone-cold, but we love it.
The Dame also stops to reveal that after a near-drowning when she was younger, she decided to take up swimming lessons that saved her life in more ways than one. Her teacher discovered a mole on her back that Devoy had removed, and it ultimately saved her life after losing two brothers to melanoma.
Devoy faces her fears and dives into the open water to collect her keys. It’s amazing to watch as she battles with her fears but fights through, only asking for a flotation device for the final stretch.
McLean has a lead and is flying along the beach in a massive show of power, but Searle isn’t far behind.
The next challenge awaits - light a fire and transport it to the other side of a river, where a code will be found once a board is ignited.
Devoy arrives and uses a stone for a challenge hack, which is a bag that contains cable ties for her raft and a much-needed box of matches.
McLean’s fire takes off but his raft, much like a Sally Ridge craft piece, is held together purely by “luck and hope”.
Back on shore, Devoy decides to make a game-changing move utilising the comradery we have come to love her for. She asks Searle if she wants to light a fire together so they can both advance and catch McLean. Move over Lance Savali, the Dame is our bestie now.
The women get their fire going and McLean makes it to the other side, lights his board, and it reveals the number 0603.
It feels like an episode of Home & Away as it’s revealed he’s off to Mangrove River, while team Devoy and Searle finally get their boards alight.
McLean reaches a whiteboard and a dial with a key. He realises that a key he found on challenge one will help with this and uses it.
McLean cracks the letter-based code and reveals, “At the place where journeys end, yours will too”. Literally everyone shouts at the TV that it’s the elimination arena, but McLean is “stumped”.
Devoy and Searle continue to put their powers together and use the challenge hack, but it still has them baffled.
Then the game really begins, as Devoy uses a rock to give the players a time penalty - Searle is in on the move - but McLean chooses to reverse the rock and uses one of his to keep going.
But Susan hits him straight back and blows the whistle again, delaying McLean by a further five minutes. But McLean goes full send, throwing his final rock on the beach and again reversing the time penalty.
He doesn’t quite know where he’s going, but he’s running faster than a Shore girl to a Lululemon sample sale, so we know it’s going to be good.
Devoy and Searle finally crack the code and Devoy gives a 15-minute penalty to McLean and Searle as she goes for gold and sprints to the elimination arena.
Searle labels the Dame “a legend and always has been”, and we and our goosebumps agree.
But McLean is mad as he sees Devoy coming toward him down the beach while under the penalty.
“This kills me, I just want to play,” he says to the camera.
However, it’s not time wasted, as he remembers journeys on the island don’t end at camp, they end in the elimination arena. But can Devoy get there first?
McLean manages to get there first and unlocks the box using his code from the second challenge. Inside the box, there’s a clue buried in sand that reveals, “You are within a stone’s throw. X marks the spot”.
But much like someone who has been ghosted, he can’t seem to locate his X and the women begin to catch up.
He finally finds the X under a platform, pulls it back and begins his dig. He’s frantically digging the entire area up, but he’s tiring fast and our Dame has just arrived.
But she’s seconds too late, as McLean’s paddle strikes the treasure and victory is his - $50,000 is going to Zeal Education Trust, and McLean instantly breaks down in tears.
The classiest competitor the show has ever known, Dame Devoy stays true to her words and immediately congratulates her rival, holding him in her arms and allowing him to express the full depth of his joy.
“Awesome, Matty. You can let it out now, baby. You can let it all out,” she says to McLean as she holds him close. “I’m so proud of you, Matty,” she says, before casting her eyes on the treasure.
“Now, let’s get it out.”
Searle arrives and the three unlikely finalists share in the joy as a “family”.
“It’s a beautiful moment seeing how much this actually means to him,” says Devoy, and she’s right.
In the history of the show, nobody genuinely wanted this more than McLean did, and he went and bloody did it.
“This is just beyond my wildest dreams”, shares a triumphant McLean.
“I just think about little me watching this show and not believing in himself. Today, I think for the first time ever, I really have that belief in myself,” he says through tears.
The player who was doubted for his strength in past seasons has won the ultimate season. It’s redemption at its best, and there’s not a dry eye in the house.
So, any last words?
“Take that, Barbara Kendall!” he shouts with a smile.
- Treasure Island Fans v Faves airs at 7.30pm on TVNZ 2 Monday - Wednesday and on TVNZ+