Who is going to win The Traitors? Everything you need to know about the season 2 finale

By Louis Shankar

Published Jan 26, 2024 at 01:48 PM

Reading time: 4 minutes

The Traitors is excellent television. There’s nothing quite like it—in the best possible way. This is the best that reality TV has been since the early days of Big Brother or The X Factor, when such shows were the focus of office chat on a daily or weekly basis. The Traitors is more extreme, though, airing Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for four weeks on the trot; fall behind and you’re quickly lost.

And, due to the show’s success, it’s practically impossible to avoid spoilers on social media. It’s appointment viewing of a kind we’ve not seen in years. The first UK series aired December 2022 in the run-up to Christmas—it was a runaway success and a second season was immediately inevitable. It’s no surprise then that the BBC has already confirmed a third series would officially be happening, with a celebrity version also on the cards.

So, I want to try and break down exactly why the British public just can’t seem to get enough of this show. Is it the fact that we’d rather watch Diane over a cohort of influencers any day of the week, or is it the sheer wow-factor of Miss Claudia Winkleman and her incredible fringe? Let’s find out. 

What’s The Traitors?

The premise of the show is oh-so-simple: a group of strangers work together to raise money doing missions. Among them are several traitors. Each day, they vote to banish someone, hoping to catch the traitors. Each night, the traitors select someone to eliminate. At the end, if any traitors remain, they take the prize pot. It’s bitchy, duplicitous, highly entertaining and entirely unpredictable. It’s reality TV, but hyperreal—everything is fake, everyone is performing, and no one knows quite what’s real. And it’s ultimately a wonderful examination of human nature—and British mores. 

I have no idea how they come up with the daily challenges, which are in turn mad, dark, and taxing. I still feel there’s a missed opportunity here: that the traitors should somehow be rewarded for sabotaging the group tasks. When they’re competing for the money, everyone is working together. No one benefits from a fuckup—they might as well just have £120,000 up for grabs from the start, not that this concept would fill a full hour of watching time.

The Traitors season 2 review

This season, some of the tasks were seriously dark, though. That funeral procession, complete with mock burial? Brutal! The penultimate challenge was lateral thinking and problem-solving—ultimately quite straightforward but made more extreme in the execution. It feels like next season, they might actually go full-on The Wicker Man. There might be a slight reliance on quizzes to add jeopardy, but at least they never require general knowledge. Rather, the games are always geared towards paying attention to the goings-on at the castle and among the groups. It must be so much fun to be a producer or a runner on this show. That being said, I do feel sorry for those who are removed early on, they get so little screen time and whoever is murdered first doesn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. RIP.

@hawesism

BAFTA OSCAR TONY EMMY GOLDEN GLOBE FOR THE DIANE STATE FUNERAL #thetraitors#dianetraitors

♬ original sound - em ♡

We’ve had our villain, Paul, our antihero, Harry, and the immediate fan-favourite, Dianne—as well as the brilliant and entirely unnecessary twist of Ross being her son. It’s a shame that hidden relationship never had a proper payoff. Although, I will say that Ross’ wink to the camera in episode eight will remain an all-time highlight. Jazmine was potentially my personal favourite, I had really hoped she would make it through to the final.

@tezzabelle88

The Traitors Uncloaked delivering that other moment we’ve been waiting for… #TheTraitors #TheTraitorsUK #TheTraitorsUncloaked #ButRossIs

♬ original sound - Terry Scott Hague

Why is The Traitors so popular?

The editing is genius. It’s so over the top—just think of every time they cut to a traitor who’s lying and play an eerie sting. It must be so different in the room. As the audience, we’ve always known who the traitors are, but for those in the game, the paranoia and second-guessing really starts to eat at them, especially after a few days. The production ramps this up to eleven, creating an unsettling atmosphere. The music is especially mad: moody acoustic covers of nostalgic pop songs. The penultimate episode’s mediaeval monk rendition of ‘Seven Nation Army’, anyone? Or somehow extra creepy ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’? On more than one occasion, I’ve burst out laughing when I actually realised what song it was.

@jackwhitetheatre

2 types of The Traitors music #TheTraitors #Traitors #TheTraitorsUK #BBC #TraitorsMusic #OneDirection

♬ original sound - Jack White 🎭

But let’s be honest here, it’s Claudia Winkleman who makes the show—a different host and the formula simply wouldn’t work. She brings drama to every episode and a camp severity that gives the show its edge. Her stylist, Sinead McKeefry, deserves a shoutout too: her wardrobe perfectly balances Scottish, gothic, and high glamour influences.

@ryanjl7

Claudia Winkleman is a national treasure. Just some of her best bits from The Traitors. Give her every award #claudiawinkleman #thetraitors #television #uktv #funny #trend #fyp #viralvideo

♬ original sound - Ryan Love

It’s filmed at Ardross Castle, a 19th-century castle around 30 miles north of Inverness—very much in the Highlands of Scotland. Where the contestants actually stay overnight is unclear; each morning, they appear by car and meet up once more. Ardross Castle does have accommodation, as well as “formal gardens and over 100 acres of parkland on the banks of the River Alness.” It’s available for both corporate and private hire, including weddings!

The BBC commissioned a spinoff show for this season, The Traitors Uncloaked, which airs immediately afterwards on BBC Two—think The Apprentice: You’re Fired or Bake Off: Extra Slice. It’s essentially a companion podcast (available on BBC Sounds) but they film it too, which is low-cost but also essential for diehard fans.Hosted by comedian and podcaster Ed Gamble, the show’s had an eclectic array of guests including: Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, the Reverend Richard Coles, and Danny Beard. Clearly, this show has captured the attention of the whole nation.

The Traitors is a Dutch concept, adapted to several international versions now. Alan Cumming hosts the American version, which is filmed in the same location as the British edition—although the US iteration mixes celebrities with members of the public, a twist that I don’t think quite works. Part of the joy of this show is that everyone is unknown and starts with a blank slate. Also, the large cash prize seems ill-suited to celebrities. Imagine if the Strictly trophy came with £100,000. 

Journalist and TV critic, Scott Bryan, who has championed the show since it first aired, shared a touching email that speaks to the power of the show: “The power of watching something like The Traitors is life-changing! Feelings of isolation have been really bad recently, and it sounds daft, but the feeling of community of so many people watching the same show at the same time makes me feel included.” With so much television now dispersed across catchup services, terrestrial television, and more streamers than anyone can keep on top of, communal viewing is uncommon but vital.

I’ve got no idea which team is going to win. What’s more, I don’t know which side I want to win. I do have to say though, I think it would be quite fun if team traitor won this time around. I think they’ve played a blinding game, while the final three faithful are some of the least interesting of the bunch. Both Mollie and Andrew have inspirational stories and want to put the money to great use—and only one of them can have it. Let’s just say the final is going to be epic.

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