We interrupt the My TV Award nominees for a much overdue commentary on the Survivor finale.
This finale may be the greatest in history of Survivor. Their definitely were some amazing finales in the past but this one had all the makings for a perfect ending: a clear underdog who needed immunity to make it to the finals, a strong alliance that dominated the majority of the game, strategic moves, an inspiring jury speech.
From the beginning, my ideal final three would consist of Natalie, Russell, and Mick. Russell clearly is one of the greatest castaways to ever play this game, but not for strategic reasons. I strongly believe that were he thrown into any other season, Russell would not have done as well. Sure he would still have been a huge target with his numerous hidden immunity idols, but Russell lucked out this season because no real strategic players stayed around. He spent the majority of the season picking off people he didn’t like or who wanted him out and his entire alliance agreed because they knew that a strong alliance would win. Everyone knows that numbers are important in this game but what is even more important is a tight alliance. The Foa Foa four were forced to work together because of their dwindling numbers and their survival was due in large part to Shambo’s disdain for her tribe. Aside from this, the only thing stopping me from routing for Russell was his disdainful personality. Jaison never deserved to be in the running for this season’s title of sole survivor. Back in Foa Foa he nearly gave up a million times and did nothing to help his team. Other than a few immunity wins, Jaison was the epitome of a coattail rider who did nothing but obey Russell. Mic also did not deserve the win. While he clearly wanted to be in the game, the only thing he had to offer was sincerity and his good looks. Brett, oddly enough, became someone I was not entirely routing against toward the end. His impressive immunity challenge wins really spoke to his desire to take this game. Granted, the bitter jury of annoying members would have easily voted for personal reasons if he made it instead of anything else, so I couldn’t picture him in the finals without hating the outcome. By process of elimination, that clearly leaves Natalie as my ideal choice for soul survivor. Natalie played a quieter game in the beginning but lucked help her out immediately when Russell chose to be true to her over everyone else. Natalie also jumped right into the strategic game play by being the only other person Russell really included in his own strategies. While Shambo may have helped the Foa Foa four this season, it was Natalie who secured their space in the final five. She was the convincing factor to the Galu girls that Erik needed to leave. I strongly believe had she not succeeded, Erik would have won this game.
So the finale begins and as usual the final five are far too quickly decreased to four. My biggest problem with Survivor’s newer final 3 makes the 2 hour episode way too rushed. When Brett won immunity again, it was disheartening to see a Foa Foa leave so quickly without at least some more air time. I was worried for a second when Russell and the guys toyed with the idea of getting rid of Natalie since she physically couldn’t beat Brett. Does anyone else not remember her kicking ass during the last endurance challenge? She even beat out Brett! Finally Russell admits that Jaison is the actual weakest link giving rightful credit to Natalie and he sticks with his original partner voting out Jaison. The final decision once again came down to Natalie and Russell deciding between Jaison or Mick. These two have made all the pivotal moves this game so it was only fitting that they keep it up.
The final immunity challenge was really the most intense challenge I’ve seen in ages. The actual endurance aspect was kind of lame since it was mostly a balancing act. But it came down Brett and Russell which just seemed far too fitting. Now the producers try to make it look like Russell considers bringing Brett to the final but this was clearly Brett’s only hope for the final 3. Anyone would be an idiot to bring Brett into a jury of his friends. Russell finally won immunity when it counted most and Brett was sent packing leaving the perfect final three of Mick, Natalie, and Russell.
I believe this was the first time in Survivor history that the final three voted out every single person in the jury. That to me demonstrates an amazing final three who obviously deserve the win. Right before tribal council, Russell tries to use his “smarts” to scare Mick and Natalie by convincing them they won’t win. While it does ruffle their feathers, the only thing Russell accomplishes is a reassurance of his asshole nature.
The jury questions were typical. A few nice individuals who weren’t too bitter about their positions, and a few extremely bitter ones. Shambo shocked me by being a complete witch as she degraded Natalie and Mick. The real heart wrenching speech was Erik’s. A few jury members made it obvious that they were gunning for Russell to win but Erik one upped them by pleading for Natalie’s victory. The basis of his speech was that Natalie didn’t think she deserved it and therefore did. While I don’t necessarily agree Natalie gave up on her hopes to win, I do find her to be the most humble of the three. Furthermore, the nice girl deserves to win. The game of survivor is about not only strategy and strength but also relationships. Sure Russell “outplayed” and “outwitted” and Mick did a little bit of both, but it was Natalie who really “outlasted” the bunch. Along with her game play and strength she had a kindness to her which the others noticed. And thus with a jury of haters, Natalie was voted the ultimate survivor.
The reunion show was a pathetic ploy at giving Russell more airtime as he literally cried and begged for the title of sole survivor. This should be a great moral for future players: scheme and be as strategic as you want but you need kindness to really influence the others.
Fun quotes from the finale:
“he’s no mike tyson, he’s bret”
“voting me out was the downfall of Galu”-Erick (thus why Natalie deserved to win)
“Lift people up, don’t tear em down”-Shambo
Survivor 20 Heroes vs. Villains. Brilliant. Cannot wait.