Finale night for Survivor is always a big night, so as I settled in for the final episode of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, I couldn't help but think at the unpredictability that was still in the air with 5 people remaining heading into tonight. Assuming Colby could ever come close to winning a challenge, there was logic behind all 5 of them possibly winning the game. (Reminder: don't forget to mouse over pictures for captions underneath.)
The one thing that I hate about a Survivor Finale is the unnecessary 7-10 minute recap on the season to start the episode. I understand that you want to set it all up, but it always takes far too long.
But after the recap, we saw our Final 5 competitors back at camp after the last vote which saw Rupert eliminated and the legendary "menacing glare" he shot on the way out (see above). Russell was upset about the fact that Sandra played an Idol without telling him, and she correctly pointed out that she didn't report to him. "He wants to micro-manage the whole tribe, and unfortunately I'm not the kind of person you can micro-manage."
Then, after Sandra refused to back down to him, Russell set his sights on Parvati, insisting that she knew about the Idol. First of all, it was a redundant argument, because even if Parvati did know, what did that matter? He was just looking for somebody to rant at. And second of all, Parvati actually had no idea. As I mentioned in my recap on Thursday, that was apparent by the look on her face when Sandra sprung up to play the Idol. If you don't believe me...check out the picture below.
And despite his 'Roll Over And Die' speech back at camp, which morphed into one final desperate attempt to stay in the game, the first Tribal Council was painfully obvious that we were going to see a 4-1 vote, and Colby join the jury. The only interesting thing coming out of that Tribal Council was the fact that Coach looked like he just came from the Country Club.
And then, we were subjected to what is always the worst part of any Survivor Finale (or season, for that matter), the Fallen Comrades montage. And even though my eight-year-old son turned to me excitedly and said "This is always the best part", I had to sit through a mind-numbing eleven minutes of this garbage before they finally torched it all in a ridiculous-looking creation that looked like something out of a Lego Indiana Jones video game.
For the final immunity challenge, this was one of the rare times that it wasn't an endurance challenge, which surprised me after Jeff Probst's ominous warning at the end of Tribal Council: "I encourage you...try to get a good night's sleep. You're gonna need it." I really enjoyed this challenge, and the final moments to get the immunity necklace were incredibly tense. It's Parvati...wait, it's going to be Jerri...No, it's Russell! And at the end, after Jerri declared "That was fun. Very fun.", I laughed out loud as Sandra responded, "No it wasn't. It sucked. It was awful."
The second Tribal Council saw Colby arrive looking like he just stepped out of a Dockers ad, and Sandra making a smart move telling the Jury that Russell told her that no one will vote for her in the final. It came across very innocent, but it was definitely by design, and a good move. Then Russell and Parvati started talking about their relationship and alliance, and Russell's ego got in the way of him staying composed. He got upset at the notion that Parvati protected him, and instead of just smiling and agreeing, he got annoyed.
The funny thing about this is this is exactly what happened to Danielle 2 weeks ago...at the hands of Russell. So just as he caused Danielle to lose her cool, now he's on the other end of it, and unable to reign in his emotions because he isn't being given enough credit for something he wants to be validated for. Proof that he can dish it out but he can't take it. It was interesting to watch Russell say that he can beat everyone in the final vote, but it was becoming painfully obvious that he couldn't beat anyone.
In a surprise move, we saw Jerri get voted out, because Russell assumed that he would get her vote on the Jury. And on paper, you would think sitting beside 2 former winners would be a pretty smart move, but at this point, it was far too late for Russell. Although he continued his maddening trend of spelling people's names wrong as he wrote them down at Tribal Council. Jerry? Really? Come on!
As we saw the Final 3 enjoying their celebratory feast before the Final Tribal Council, we saw an awesome moment where Sandra burned Russell's hat, which was a nice coincidental spin on what Russell did last season, burning his tribemate's socks. And I wondered at the time if Russell was just learning what happened to his hat as he sat in the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, waiting for the reunion show to start (we learned later that indeed was the case).
But the confusing thing that came out of this segment was Russell sitting hilltop in his camera confessional, saying that "last season, I brought 2 people because I thought I could beat them...because they were the weak players...and I didn't." Here's the thing that doesn't add up: When Russell filmed this season, he did not know that he had lost Survivor: Samoa to Natalie. The season had not aired yet. So for him to make that comment, he either had to be told of the votes, or there are some serious shenanigans going on. I can't be the only one that has spotted this! I demand answers!
In the final Tribal Council, we saw Parvati refer to Russell as her trained pet dragon, and then the Jury took over with their questions and comments:
Colby - A wasted question about Parvati's strategy. But man, has that dude lost weight.
Coach - Didn't actually ask a question, and instead chose to take his time to talk about himself.
Amanda - Another wasted question. She was just happy she wasn't answering questions again.
Courtney - Gushy Gusherson...Courtney loves Sandra. We get it. She's loyal.
J.T. - Acknowledged good game play without being bitter. But lost my respect when his question to Parvati was "How do you think you done?"
Danielle - Gave Russell a chance to apologize (although I doubt it would have had an effect), which he did not take. But she did sum up Russell's game better than anyone else has in 2 seasons when she said "It's clear that there's been a lack of skill in your jury management."
Jerri - Was undecided. Called out Russell for turning on her, and then Parvati told her about Russell's insistence that he would have had Jerri's vote.
Candace - Chastised Russell for his "dirty lies" that went "too far" and "hurt people". Um...what? Then told Parvati that she seemed "like a spouse in a bad, abusive relationship." At this point, I came to realize that Candace may actually be insane. And have you ever heard of a "good" abusive relationship? Didn't think so...
Rupert - Seethingly gave the Hero Speech to Russell who he described as "Disgusting." Emplored the Jury to vote for Sandra.
I have to say, it was a weak Final Tribal Council, and I can't believe that Russell didn't go with the logical argument, which would have been "I'm sitting here with 2 people who have already won a million dollars!" Again, I don't think it would have made a difference, but it's still a shot.
Voting was anti-climactic, as we saw 3 votes for Parvati, and 3 votes for Sandra. We saw Courtney give a virtual Fist Bump, and Candace rant again about morals and values. (has she ever seen the show before?) And then we saw Probst give his same old speech and we cut to the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York (which is now very interesting to see since I've actually been there.)
And as Jeff Probst read the votes, I knew it could go either way. And when Sandra was declared the winner...I was furious. Let's leave Russell out of the equation completely, and just compare Sandra to Parvati. And there's NO comparison at all. Parvati should have won 9-0...but here we are subjected to another bitter jury that votes based on who they don't want to win, more than who should win. Just like last season, and just like in the first All-Stars season when Amber was given the $1 million over Boston Rob. Three deserving winners...and I would submit, the three greatest players in the history of the game...and all three got screwed by a bitter jury.
The wrong person won. Plain and simple.
The reunion show was weak, and predictably consisted primarily of Russell complaining. Yes, he has a point, but he's now crossed the threshold into 'Bitter Asshole', and I can't get behind that.The worst thing that someone can do when they are right is to come across like a jerk so no one wants to hear your argument. He was painfully bitter...and the reunion show was very awkward because of it. Did you notice that Parvati had a pendant around her neck that was a gun...and the gun was pointed in Russell's direction? (see below - click to enlarge)
Not much else happened of any significance: Rob offered to kick Russell's ass on the Island (and refused to shake his hand), J.T. tried to burn the evidence of his dumb move, Erik now had a freaky-ass mohawk, James apologized to his mama, Coach rocked some Dragon Slayer Bling, we met Baby Rob-N-Amber, Randy looked like a Conehead, Tyson looked like a woman, Jerri wore too much makeup (which was a shame, because the last few episodes, she was looking pretty fine), and Russell won $100K in the fan vote. But let's look on the bright side, at least it wasn't hosted by Bryant Gumbel or Rosie O'Donnell, like it used to be. (Remember when Rosie just gave everyone a car? What a joke.)
But Sandra won. And that was honestly a travesty. My faith is being tested with this show.
Overall, I thought this was a pretty good season. I’m not sure I would put it at the top of the All-Time list, but it’s definitely in the top 3. It was a season of great characters, great moments (Rob starting fire by hand, Russell giving Parvati the Idol at Tribal Council, Parvati giving away TWO Idols at Tribal Council, Danielle losing it, Survivor’s first ever catfight), some boneheaded moments (Tyson eliminating himself, J.T. giving Russell the Idol, and our introduction to ‘banana etiquette’), great challenges, and overall great TV. Plus, the fact that Russell continues to find and use (and be given) Immunity Idols has led the producers to re-evaluate how they use them in the future. It’s a game-changing situation, and you can thank Russell.
Players like Boston Rob, who never had to factor in things like Immunity Idols, had the deck stacked against them. But keep in mind that a player like Russell had only 21 days between his two seasons, and he still made it to the end once again. That’s damn impressive. This guy is in your face, confrontational, threatening, and a liar, and everyone knows it…but he has still never been voted out of this game. Not even Amanda can say that anymore.
So what did you think? Should Sandra have won again? Was this just another bitter jury of All-Stars, like when Amber ridiculously beat Rob? And should Coach get his own show? (I know most of you hate him, but I’ll say again, he’s great TV.)
Thanks for reading my recaps this season. The increased number of readers has been a nice surprise. I hope that you’ll come back and read my non-Survivor posts. For you Big Brother fans, I will be recapping the new season this summer, so keep an eye out for that. And of course, with Survivor: Nicaragua coming back in the fall, I will be doing nightly recaps again, on the night the episode airs.
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For now, I’m going to call it a night, but not before heading out to buy a spiffy new blue shirt, because Jeff Probst is just so damn stylin’!