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The Trust’s finale: Did strategy or sanctimoniousness win the game?

The Trust’s finale: Did strategy or sanctimoniousness win the game?
The Trust season 1's cast: Gaspare Randazzo, Lindsey Anderson, Simone Stewart, Juelz Morgan, Bryce Lee, Brooke Baldwin, Jay Patterson, Jacob Chocolous, Winnie Ilesso, Brian Firebaugh, Tolú Ekundare, and Julie Theis. (Photo by Carlos Rodriguez/Netflix)

The Trust’s finale was “kill or be killed,” Tolú told us. That’s what I expected: some last-minute, cutthroat game play.

But no! It wasn’t all hugs and kisses and family and barbecue, but it was closer than I expected.

After using missions and the vault to screw with the players all season, the producers pulled way, way back.

A person standing with hands folded on a table in a dark room with dramatic lighting and decorations of pyramids of gold bars
Brooke Baldwin, host of The Trust, in the vault (Photo by Netflix)

As the final episode opened, Gaspare lied to the other players about voting for Lindsey, letting everyone think Tolú and Lindsey voted for each other, and Lindsey’s vote didn’t count.

Julie did the opposite, confessing first to Brian and then everyone else that she took the offer that he declined.

Brian stared at her with the fire of a thousand suns. He said he was furious “not for taking it, but for lying to us. I feel misled, used, and I feel exceedingly gullible,” Brian told us.

“This is someone that we elected to bring to the final with us, to share everything with us,” he said.

Gaspare said, “It does make people question: Is this person really here for the money, and not here for the greater good of the group?”

The what now? The elected to bring to the finale how now? I thought we were just all family and letting everyone stick around? Now we’re deciding who’s worthy? So we’re playing and just pretending not to, eh?

Yes, The Trust players’ rationale was slippery, at best. At worst, it was a misogynistic mess.

“They’ve not been trustful really at all,” Brian declared about the women. “Let’s face it: there’s potentially a lot of money on the table. Can someone like Julie and Tolú resist that temptation and that urge?”

I was bracing for a lecture: Damn women and their destruction of society. Fucking Eve! Was the apple that good, you harlot?!

Two people hold hands across a table; one of them is holding a cowboy hat in his hands
Brooke Baldwin reassures Brian that he deserves money and isn’t a selfish monster on The Trust episode 7 (Image via Netflix)

Brian was not alone in this, as became evident after the players’ final trip to the vault.

For their final test, each player entered the vault, alone, where they were presented with an offer:

Name an amount up to $25,000 that you’d like to take from the trust. If you bid the highest number, it’s yours to keep.

The prize stood at $268,000, and I cannot believe the producers didn’t tempt them by making 100 percent of that available to bid on. (That’d be like when, on The Mole season 6, Joi bet $25,000 of the $28,500 the players earned.)

Taking $5,000 from each of the other players’ split is not that big a deal. Of course, it’s designed to create conflict and perhaps lead to the group voting someone out.

For me, it’d be an easy choice. Totally take the money, lie about it, and split the rest. Brooke assured each player that “no one will let you know unless you tell them,” and also said that if everyone declined, the money will remain.

“What’s the harm of taking some money?” Julie asked, but she did not, nor did Brian, Gaspare, Jake, and Julie. “I’m a man of integrity,” Jake said, “and I’m not going to let this offer buy me out.” Then he fell off his high horse.

“I’m the last hope for my family, and I’ve got to think of my parents,” Tolú said, and bid $25,000. “I do feel bad, though—no, not that bad.”

And she kept it a secret all the way to the end. “That’s not a risk I’m willing to take,” she said about telling anyone else.

When the players reunited, they jumped up and down and hugged over their decision not to take the offer. “Reformed tricksters,” Brian called Julie and Tolú.

“I am very, very sorry for misunderstanding the situation with Lindsey,” Brian later told Tolú. He held her hands and said “we got this” and she said “no vote.”

Earlier, Tolú told Brian, “You are one of the most genuinely kind—just oh my god, I’ve never, I honestly can say I’ve never met anyone as kind as you and Gaspare, and I just pray that the love you guys have poured into this house, I hope god blesses you tenfold.”

Brian condescendingly said “Tolú has very much grown.” No, she’s learned how to play you—or how she has no choice but to play your game now that her alliance has been decimated.

Meanwhile, Jake told Julie, “I really want you to know that I see you and I appreciate you and I value you.” Then they made out and mounted each other in the interview room.

Three people standing and holding hands while smiling at each other
Julie, Tolú, and Winnie on Netflix’s The Trust, before Winnie’s elimination (Image via Netflix)

Before the final trust ceremony, I was stunned Brooke did not tell the players the results of the vault. I expected she’d just tell them how much money remained, and let the accusations fly. After all, that could be because one person took the money, or because everyone bid.

But no: Brooke just left the players with envelopes to cast their final vote or choose to share the money.

She told them the total was $243,000 only after they’d voted, when the chance for retribution passed. I wonder if then any of them felt bad for not taking it, since there would be no game consequence, at least.

Before the vote, Julie thanked the men for letting her make mistakes. Gaspare looked across the table at the women and said, “you guys showed me people need chances to fix themselves.” Ugh, take that sanctimonious shit and throw it over a cliff.

Three people pose in front of a large Squid Game mask
The Trust bros Brian Firebaugh, Gaspare Randazzo, and Jake Chocholous at a Netflix Squid Game event, probably before talking how righteous they are. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Netflix)

The players actually did gather at the cliff’s edge, so that they could more easily push someone over after the votes were revealed.

When Brooke told them the prize amount— now less than when the game started—Brian said he turned down more than $40,000 throughout the game. “I just don’t understand the decision to come out of the vault and say otherwise,” he said.

Tolú pointed out “Brian has $30K already,” because he took and offer, though of course he framed that as protecting others, not enriching himself.

I so hoped Tolú would vote him out just for funsies.

Brian, Gaspare, and Jake also voted to share the money. Then it was Julie’s turn. Although she said, “I don’t feel safe,” she voted to share, too.

When Brooke asked Tolú about someone taking the $25,000, she did not confess, but said, “In all honesty? I’m not surprised. I don’t put anything past anybody.”

Earlier, Tolú said, “I know I have to trust my gut. She’s never steered me wrong,” which made me think she’d vote. But she, too, chose to share—a move that would both benefit her and keep her out of reality TV villain territory—and everyone hugged and celebrated what great people they are.

“There are truly genuine people in this world,” she told the other players. While this is true, I do not think the players in this game who sat up on their pedestals and judged other people are somehow more genuine than those who played the game.

Tolú is a great game player, and I’d love to see her on an even more strategic reality competition, something like The Devil’s Plan.

With the final five sharing the prize, they each won $48,600, less than the prize for a single episode of Fear Factor in 2001.

The Trust ended with Brian saying that he played the game with the most integrity and won the most, so his morality and game play were validated. Sure, dude; it definitely had nothing to do with that $30K offer you took while taking away others’ votes.

Everyone played the game, some more honestly than others, and one of the many interesting things about The Trust was how they created rules for themselves. That’s just one of the reasons I enjoyed this Netflix competition so much.

The totals for all players:

  • Brian: $78,600
  • Tolú: $73,600
  • Julie: $63,600
  • Gaspare: $48,600
  • Jake: $48,600
  • Jay: $25,000
  • Winnie: $20,000

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Happy discussing!

Thistle

Friday 26th of January 2024

I lost most of my interest in this show when Jake's Instagram account was found. He's a MAGA Trumper, anti-trans, and has said some really nasty stuff about women. And yet he's played off as this good guy on the show...

Bad Mitten

Friday 26th of January 2024

Netflix reality seems to be struggling a bit with their finales (surviving paradise and squid game both had similar problems imo). Which is a disappointment considering they structure the drops in a way where the finale is the only stand alone episode.

The structure/production of this finale was pretty bad all around, if people actually wanted interesting television at least. The final vault was honestly ridiculous, the bidding made 0 sense because someone was either going to take $0 or $25k. I'm with you Andy that they should have been able to take a much larger some of the overall pot. I would have also liked to have seen there have been a requirement to vote at the final ceremony if you took that money. In other words, how much is it worth to you to cut someone out at the very end here, give them a blank check at for an opportunity to live in villainy. At the very least, they needed to reveal that someone took the $25k before the vote. It would have been interesting tv to see them cast the blame, to see if Tolu could have successfully lied her way out of it, but no instead it's just a fart in the wind at the cliff's edge after the final votes have already been cast.

It was pretty clear to me the way the show ended, that they wanted everyone to share the money at the end. I think they wanted the ability to put a nice little bow on everything at the end, you all learned to TRUST how fantastic job well done!

Personally, I was rooting for Tolu to cut Jake at the end because Jake acted holier than thou all game, yet has some downright nasty/hateful views/beliefs outside of the game (just read the DailyMail piece if you haven't already).

I'm thankful that Tolu will at least be gracing our screens again in the not so distant future, as she will be appearing on Perfect Match season 2, although I agree I would love to see her on a game that required more strategic chops (hello Traitors 3 give her a call).

Liam

Friday 26th of January 2024

The other alliance should have voted Tolu out instead of Winnie. Winnie wouldn't have been able to change everyone's minds before the next ceremony, they would drop Lindsey for her erratic behavior, and everyone would be even richer from less players and no one taking the last 25k. That alliance didn't make a great game decision there. Tolu played an amazing game, but it was a stroke of luck for her that the other alliance decided to vote Winnie first.

That said, she played the hand she was dealt PERFECTLY. I turned to my wife and said "Tolu is good enough to turn the 'losing a friend' sympathy into advantage", and she did it masterfully.

She played fast and loose and it worked out for her, but man, she had NO reason to lie post-vote. Makes me think "in-game" Tolu isn't that different from "IRL" Tolu. I wish she would just own being the manipulative one and stop with the endless refrain of her parents being immigrants so *that's* why she has to make a selfish decision. Like, spare me. We like you for your manipulative and entertaining self, but don't try to manipulate me by trying to pass this off as a move for your family. Take that money and own your cutthroat gameplay.

On another note, I couldn't disagree with the misogyny claims more. Tolu and Winnie were walking around like they owned the place because their squad was the only one voting. They united all the women, which is fine, but if you make an alliance of all women, you really aren't leaving the men much choice but to start to form up against you. Everything the men did was just reactionary to the decisions the alliance of women was making. If they didn't start voting that alliance off, they would have watched everyone but Tolu, Winnie, and Julie (maybe) get dinged off one by one. When Tolu forms an alliance and votes people off and lies to peoples faces, its good game play, but when the men form up and fight back, its misogyny? "What a good game player!" when Tolu takes people's money and lies and makes it to the end, "What a sanctimonious jerk!" when Brian takes people's money and is honest about it and still makes it to the end?

Either they are playing a game or we are judging their morals, but you want to judge Tolu on her game play and Brian on his persona. Brian walked away with more money and told less lies, making him, in my opinion, the clear winner in both game play and integrity.

Emily

Thursday 25th of January 2024

I really enjoyed this show! I couldn’t believe there wasn’t an opportunity for them to vote more than one person out at the end. It made the stakes so low that it was easier to say share.

Lauren

Thursday 25th of January 2024

Thank you for posting the final award amounts - I was losing track and surprised the show didn't break it down for viewers at the end. Speaking of surprised - I agree - why didn't the producers tell the contestants what was left in The Trust before they voted?

Brian drove me bonkers. He lied on at least one occasion yet had the nerve to lord it over the women when they did the same? Such a hypocrite.

What I need to know now, are Julie and Jake still dating???

Bad Mitten

Friday 26th of January 2024

@Lauren, nope! Jake is a far right wing weirdo so julie kicked his arse to the curb

~ZZZ~

Friday 26th of January 2024

@Lauren, Ha! No, they are not. I just saw it on the Daily Mail yesterday.