The Best ‘Survivor’ Finale Ever?

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I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that perhaps with the exception of the iconic first season of Survivor, last night’s finale may have been the best in the series’ ten year history. Not only did it feature the closest finale immunity challenge of all time, but the final three were so well matched, it was difficult to imagine who might go home with the cool million. The last time we had such a solid showdown, it was Cook Islands, which featured an epic choice between Yul (brains) and Ozzie (brawn). However, that trio also featured Becky, who was something of a nonentity. Unlike that season, Heroes vs. Villains gave us three finalists who each could have easily marched away with the cash (that is, until it became obvious that one was going to flame out miserably).

No spoilers on this page though. For that, you’ll have to follow the jump…

Okay, if you’re still reading, then you’re enter a spoiler zone. You have a few seconds to turn back. 3… 2… 1…

And here it is: my girl Sandra Diaz-Twine WON! How psyched was I? Words can hardly describe it. Truthfully, if either she or Parvati had won over the jury, I would have been thrilled; however, I was pulling more for SDT than anyone else. I suppose though in reality I was just hoping Russell would lose again. You see, last season, Russell was the so-bad-you-gotta-love-him antihero, and even though I wasn’t disappointed with the outcome of Samoa (like Fireman Tom, I still believe whoever wins the game deserves it), I still did enjoy Russell quite a bit as a character.

This time around though, I wasn’t rooting for Russell. Sure, he was one heck of a villain, and sure, he certainly was responsible for a majority of the entertainment value of the show, but after seeing the temper tantrum he threw during the Samoa live show, I was certainly not wanting to feed that ego with another shot at the million dollars.

Of course, the theory back in December was that Russell had been voted out of Heroes vs. Villains — why else was he so desperate to be sole Survivor, going so far as to offer cash for the title to Natalie? Why else would he have tears in his eyes? Why else would he be so demented? Because, it was assumed, he had already blown his chance on the All-Star season, which had already taped.

But no. Russell had in fact made it all the way to the end of Heroes vs. Villains. And what a journey it had been. I must admit, his days certainly looked numbered in the beginning. He was on the outs with a tribe of savvy schemers who all seemed to be above and beyond the Texas oil man. Slowly though, Russell took over, stoking inner-turmoil on his tribe and exploiting the resultant insecurity all the way to the final three. However, just like in Samoa, that’s where his game crumbled magnificently. Russell failed to win over the jury, costing him any chance at the prize. In fact, he didn’t even earn one single vote this time around.

Last season, Russell fans made a giant stink on the Internet, accusing the jury of being full of whining babies that didn’t reward good game play. I suppose that argument has some validity (although, I think good gameplay includes the all-important social game, which encompasses winning jury votes). This time around though, Russell similarly flamed out, and I’m not sure his fans can cry foul a second time. After all, the jurors were no chumps. They were all veterans of the game, and while many of them did have hurt feelings, they still know all about rewarding good gameplay. Russell’s failure to win over the panel can no longer be attributed to weak-minded losers. The fault lies squarely on him, and this was made even more evident during the reunion when he bizarrely proclaimed that he simply didn’t CARE about jury votes. It didn’t make sense, but of course many of the things Russell said during the live show didn’t make sense. The guy is totally deluded and sadly unable to get his mind out of the game. It goes beyond being a sore loser (although, he IS that too).

Point is that the reason why Russell lost this season and the last is because he’s crazy, megalomaniacal, and a jerk. Heck, Probst even alluded to it when he told the audience that Russell’s latest tantrum was what it was like every Tribal Council. Sure, he’s got charisma and brains, but also an ego that has done him in twice in a row.

More impressive were Sandra and Parvati. Already the boo-birds are out about Sandra. I’m not having it. Sandra is awesome. I absolutely love her blunt attitude, not to mention the fact that she burned Russell’s hat. She certainly wasn’t as strong a physical player as Parvati, but Sandra schemed a whole heck of a lot. She wasn’t the coat-tail rider she was accused of being. She lied, spread dissent, and most importantly of all, she kept an eye on Russell, quietly biding her time before she could exact her ultimate revenge: snatching the million dollars out from right under him.

Some might argue that Parvati deserved the prize over Sandra, and it’s hard to disagree. Again, I say whoever wins the game deserves it, but even then, Parvati did a whole heck of a lot: she won challenges, made big strategic moves, fended off hoards of opponents, and maintained friendly relations with more or less all the jury members. I’m actually not sure why she didn’t win. I guess maybe her association with Russell really did hurt her. In the end, Sandra’s underdog story was perhaps more compelling to the jury — as was her forthright attitude. Parvati’s smartest move would have been to have axed Sandra instead of Jerri. Once again, it comes down to reading your peers, and Parvati came up just a hair short.

That being said, Parv was fairly awesome in front of the group. I loved her opening statement, mostly in the way she referred to Russell as her pet. It was the perfect way to simultaneously belittle him and elevate her, and Russell was noticeably peeved at the insinuation that he was the pawn in anyone’s game (even though he was). Not everyone believed it though, and Parvati was at least once accused of being stuck under Russell’s thumb the entire game. Had she been wise, Parvati would have replied “Well, then help me get out from under his thumb and give me the million dollars.” Who knows — it might have won her some more votes.

Ultimately though, as long as Russell didn’t win, I was happy. That Sandra managed to earn the title of Sole Survivor a second time made it all the sweeter. And the fact that I’ve been ardently on Team Sandra for several weeks now was just the icing on the cake. Of course, now I must cluck away about my prescience regarding Sandra. Back in late March, when I saw my cousin in New York, the two of us got into a rather intense discussion about the show. I insisted that Sandra was a force to be reckoned with, but my cousin thought I was crazy. A few days later, we exchanged these text messages (I’m the green chat bubbles on the right):

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BOOYAH.

What else is there to say? Actually, a lot. What did you think about the finale? Thoughts on Sandra’s win? Who did you want to win? What could Russell or Parvati have done differently? What did you think of the season?

22 replies on “The Best ‘Survivor’ Finale Ever?”

  1. Even though a message board spoiler ruined the winner for me around the time Coach was voted out, I was still more than happy that Sandra won. I’ve always loved her. But just when I thought Russell couldn’t get any more obnoxious and whiny than he already is, he sulked through the reunion show like a petulant child whose favorite blankie had been taken away. Jeff Probst is my hero for repeatedly shutting Russell up.

  2. I don’t get how russell knew he hadn’t won his first season during the taping of the second. Unless they taped two versions of that interview and used the appropriate one during the final episode

  3. So happy that Sandra won.!!
    I disagree with anyone who says Sandra was a coattail rider. She was thwarted by the Heroes who were a tribe of coattail riders. She didn’t cower away from Russhole at any time. And as far as Sandra being bad in the challenges — I would argue Colby was the worse in that arena.

    I love when Courtney calls Probst “Jeffery”.

    hb

  4. That is very interesting the point about how at the taping of the live finale with Natalie stomping all over the crying Russell, he had already wrapped All-Stars and pretty much knew he was hated yet again by the jurors and did not win. I’d like to know if that is indeed true because it answers a lot about the Villains/Heroes interactions (i.e. they really had no idea about Russell’s season or game play, which is why they neverrrrrrrrrr voted him off?)

    B-Side, do you know anything conclusive about that?

  5. Boston Rob was SO right last night when he said Russell played the game but not to WIN! He totally forgot about the jury members And wouldn’t you like to see yet another playoff between the two of them? I know I would.

    I was very happy Sandra won … wish Russell hadn’t worn America’s player award.

    Can’t wait for season 21!

    1. Well no one knows that better than Rob who lost during All-Stars because he didn’t consider the jury’s reactions after they are voted out. He thought they would reward him for good game play when he forgot that their feelings might be hurt from being burned by him. Voting people out but still getting them to vote for you is one of the essential components of the game.

  6. I was glad to see Sandra come out the winner as well, plus the fact that Russell didn’t even get one vote was cool too. I was good editing on the producers part b/c after the jury’s questions, I would have thought that Parv was the winner. That last immunity challenge was AWESOME in it’s closeness, but I still think that Russell should have taken Parv out of the final three over Jerri. He may have gotten a vote then, but prolly not. LOVED Sandra burning his hat and I loved that she still mouthed off to him at the finale. Seeing Russell act like an asshat again just proves that he really IS that horrible in real life! Plus- i think that he was drunk at the finale b/c he kept slurring his words and interrupting- which is why Probst handled him well to shut him up.

  7. I loved that Sandra didn’t take Russell’s shit throughout the season or last night. He was vile in that reunion Q&A. CBS–please stop shoving that little troll down our throats now.

    Do you take screen caps of all of your text conversations to use for future gloating?

  8. I’m not watching survivor anymore! Russell clearly should have won!!!! Once again the jury base their decision on jealously not who actually played the game the best. What exactly did Sandra do that made the jury award her the prize money. The only thing she did was find an idol. How many did Russell find!!!

    1. ummm….why would you not watch such a great show any more? These people aren’t going to be on it again, a new unknown cast is coming in. And the rules haven’t changed since season 1 re: voting for the winners.

      I never get it when supposed fans of a show say that. Oh well.

      1. dee – he lost because he wasn’t playing Survivor – he was playing Omnipotent Being. Part of Survivor is the social game and you would think he would have learned from the first time he played but .. Nope. he even wants to change to rules to suit himself.

        nikki – i agree. i have hated winners of various shows (jeffrey sebelia of Project Runway // EvilDick of BB) but i love the games too much to stop watching.

        hb

    2. What did Sandra do? Sandra tried to help the heros overthrow Russell. She did not succeed but that wasnt her fault. What her effort did was cast her in a good light in the eyes of the heros, who comprised most of the jury. She was the only one of the three villians who had tried to be on their side so, naturally, she was likely to earn most of their votes. But, more importantly, she concealed this effort from the other three villains who, had they known, would have never taken her to the final three.

  9. Russell is just so nasty. I’m so glad he lost again but I am so pissed at stupid America voting for him to win that consolation prize. He doesn’t deserve it. He is oblivious that even if you are great at challenges and finding immunity idols, you still need people to vote FOR you at the end. If you burn people too badly, they’re not going to vote for you.

    I was rooting for Sandra–so glad she won! I would have been glad if Jerri won too because she has changed so much since her first Survivor. She seems more open even if she is still a villain. She’s still a nice villain.

    Thought it was funny that JT enjoyed getting the award for dumbest move. At least he was good-natured about it and not all sulky like a certain troll.

  10. WOW I PICKED THE WINNER IN THE WIDDLE OF THE SEASON…TOO FUNNY, MY ONE QUESTION IS “WHY WAS RUSSELL ASKED TO COME BACK”…..MAYBE IT WAS TO SHOW HIS A

    I PICKED THE WINNER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEASON ,,,,LOVE IT !!! GO SANDRA,
    WE LOVE YOU !!!!! RUSSELL YOU ARE A BUTT !!!

  11. I would have loved to see Parvati win because I think she dominated the whole season and is a great player overall. Great strategy, physical and social game in her part, however her mistake was not seeing that Sandra had a lot of friends on the jury. Russell is a sore loser and the reunion proved it once again, he fails to comprehend that no matter how many times you make it to the end, if you have no friends on the jury you got no votes. I was happy with Sandra winning because she proved that you don’t have to be winning every challenge to be able to win this game so as long as it was her or parv i was fine with the winner.

  12. Can’t stand the 3 person Tribal final. Takes so much away from one person making the final decision as to who stands beside them. Hrrmmmph.

  13. I liked Sandra, but Parvati played the better game and should have won. Russell made the game interesting.

  14. TV guide interviewed Boston Rob a few weeks ago and Rob said they had not seen Russells season yet. He said if they had seen it they would have voted Russell out first. That would have been so sweet to see Russell booted first. His meltdown would have been classic. I was overjoyed that he didn’t get one vote. I was ok with either Parvi or Sandra winning. I thought it was one of the best seasons in a long time.

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