Well, we’ve made it this far so we might as well write up the final episode too. We’re down to a girls-only game with the removal of Tarzan last week, and Kim is the strong favorite to lead according to the unofficial poll we ran following last week’s episode. In order to do that, she really needs to take Alicia and Christina to the final two, but if she has any honor to herself she would take Sabrina and Chelsea in order to actually have a final three worth something. We’ll see how things actually play out.
As usual, we get an epic recap of the season, which really serves as a reminder of how unimpressive the season as a whole has been. As the actual episode starts, we move into the girls celebrating their survival in the game and a little bit of plotting about who should go home next. Kim has her sites set on Chelsea, even though she’s been angsty the past few weeks about possibly putting Chels on the chopping block.
Immunity Challenge: We don’t take long to get into the first bout for immunity, which is a heck of a puzzle game mixed in with a huge balance factor. Players have to open a gate to a balance maze by untying a sequence of knots. Once exiting the balance maze, the players then have to collect puzzle pieces from a net, assemble the puzzle, and then solve the riddle the puzzle presents which gives them a combination for the lockbox that secures their victory flag. The girls stay pretty evenly matched through the gates and balance maze, with Alicia accidentally offering an advantage to other players in the third part by untying a bunch of puzzle bags that weren’t hers. The girls appear to approach the puzzle sequence at the same time, but Kim, Alicia, and Chelsea get moving a lot faster on their puzzles (Sabrina and Christina are practically ruled out by Jeff they have so many problems).
Kim is the first to solve the puzzle and sprints up to her lockbox, but the numbers don’t work. She keeps trying different combinations of the numbers but still can’t get it open, while Alicia catches up, trying her own version of the combination. Eventually both girls have to go back to the puzzle to see where they messed up, giving Chelsea the opportunity to catch up as well. It comes down to the three girls each trying different variations of their combinations when Kim finally manages to release her flag – Kim wins individual immunity.
Of course, this leads to more plotting about who is going home – Kim is the one calling the shots in two different alliances. She has individual immunity and she also has a secret immunity idol (which I mistakenly said Chelsea had in the past). Kim admits telling Chelsea about the idol earlier felt like the right move, but she now wishes she hadn’t told her about it because she thinks Chelsea expects her to play it for her. Considering Chelsea is one of the people she’s potentially gunning for, it’s not like she can sweep in and save her at the same time.
Tribal Council: Probst tries to fire up the girls but there really isn’t a lot here to work with. He basically gets them to admit their criteria for who to keep and who to vote out (loyalty, ability to win – common sense kinds of things). Kim discusses the difficulty of separating head and heart in the game – separating the emotional connection that, for instance, kept Chelsea in the game for so long. Probst gives everyone a chance to get one more word in, essentially pleading with Kim as to where things will go, so it’s not even as if there’s an illusion about who has the power. The jury seems shocked as some players choose not to vocalize anything, perhaps not realizing those are the players who have nothing to worry about. Probst announces it’s the last night the hidden idol can be played, but Kim does nothing. The votes are read and..
The tribe has spoken
Wow. I already had written down Chelsea’s name – I thought this was so predictable. As Alicia’s torch is snuffed, members of the jury whisper comments of surprise (also expecting Chelsea to go home) and suspicion. Alicia’s parting comments say she’s proud of Kim for fooling her, but also announce that the only reason Christina is still around is because Alicia carried her (so, “she sucks” right now, despite the fact that she did nothing different than Alicia did).
The girls once again celebrate their victory, although Christina knows she needs to win immunity in order to stay in it, while others feel like Christina explaining to the jury how she played the game would be a joke. The girls head out for the last challenge, traveling a pre-planned course that takes them past the torches of the previous players. Yet again, it’s a reminder of how disappointing the season was, as most of the former players are uninteresting and unremarkable (for a lot of the women) or all we can remember about them is how big of a jerk they were (for most of the guys). About the only one I wish had lasted longer was Bill, who was unfortunately targeted because Colton didn’t like parts of Bill that had nothing to do with Survivor. The torches are burned in memory of the past, and there they best remain.
Final Immunity Challenge: When Survivor first started, the final challenge was always an epic endurance challenge. I sort of miss those days (as well as the days of the car reward challenge that pretty much guaranteed someone wasn’t going to win the final million dollars). This year the puzzle is something unique. Using a pole, the players navigate wooden bowls through a metal maze. As the bowls are through the maze, they get stacked on top. The trick to the challenge is that players have to do this ten times, and the maze has a spring at its base, which means touching the metal course as they make their way through with subsequent bowls runs the risk of knocking down previous successes, which means starting over. The player to get ten bowls through wins.
Kim and Christina start off strong, running neck and neck through their bowls. Chelsea remains one behind the others, while Sabrina is one again all but announced out by Probst. In the last two bowls, Kim manages to get ahead of Christina (wouldn’t it have made for an interesting last council if Christina had finally won a challenge?) and claims victory. Kim is guaranteed a spot at the final tribal council, as if she wasn’t already. Now the question is who she will take with her: the worthy or the easy victory.
The answer becomes readily apparent: Christina is more than aware that she’s going home. Instead of begging around, she decides to enjoy her last day after asking Kim if she’s the one going home. While Christina doesn’t raise a fuss, Kim admits to second-guessing the decision for the exact reason I said above: she’s the easy foe. Christina wouldn’t get a single vote for the million dollars, which has to be appealing.
Tribal Council: Probst is surprised to find out it wasn’t a busy, scrambling afternoon but instead was a calm afternoon before the council. The host points out to Christina that some really unlikely people have won, but they haven’t won by lying down and accepting defeat. Of course, this has been Christina’s method of play all along – she’s simply ridden other coattails and hasn’t really played much on her own. Kim still looks doubtful of her choice as the council goes on, but vocalizes that Christina should have tried to fight a little bit. The votes are cast and…
The tribe has spoken
With that, an alliance that started early on has endured until the end. The power now shifts to the jury as one more tribal council awaits: the one that decides who gets a million dollars and the title of Survivor. It’ll be interesting to see how this final council plays out. At this point, most of the people on the jury got screwed over by someone else on the jury, which means there shouldn’t be a lot of ire aimed at the final three players.
By the way, I still hate final three. While I can understand the evolution of the game in some areas, I think having a final two was always a better way to conclude the game. There was more strategy about taking a second player along for the ride and less influence on who won immunity toward the end. I guess we probably won’t see a return of the final two, as three players has become pretty standard over the past few seasons, but I still miss two.
As the three women prepare for the final council (including a breakfast of croissants and mimosas), we finally see the curtain pulled back a little bit for each of them. Sabrina admits she will miss the environment of Survivor, having to return to her life as an inner-city teacher who was recently laid off. Chelsea discusses what she has managed to get out of the game beyond a million dollars – playing for the adventure instead of the prize. Kim confesses feeling powerless as she entered the game because of a recent divorce. It’s a nice moment for each of the women that I wish we had learned a little bit earlier. In a season where nobody was interesting, it turns out maybe we just needed to know the players a little better.
Final Tribal Council: The players gather for the final time, with the focus on the jury determining who to award the million-dollar prize. From an editing standpoint, we aren’t giving a lot of time to the jury – less than half-an-hour for remarks, questions, and votes. I don’t expect things to get too shaken up over the course of the final council. Of course, the final winner is all but determined at this point anyway.
The opening remarks always offer an interesting insight into the approach each player is going to take. Chelsea stands to address the jury and talks about how she changed over the course of the game. Kim talks about approaching Survivor as a poker game and how she didn’t let on to how sending players home affected her and how she had to think about the people at home who have invested in her for years rather than the people here she had only known for thirty days. Sabrina voices her strategy, scaling back physically and removing herself from some of the choices so she didn’t have to face the emotional consequences. She also tries to garner sympathy by discussing losing her job.
Time for jury questions and comments.
Jonas is up first and he opens with some levity (demanding players refer to him as “Yes Master Jonas” before cracking up). Jonas compliments Sabrina on sucking in some of the physical challenges and then asks Chelsea the biggest move she instigated (not that Kim started) – which was voting out Kat. He then asks Kim about getting rid of Sabrina, with Kim giving a
Christina is next: she asks Kim who she would have gotten rid of if she had kept Christina for the final three. Kim says she thinks Chelsea would be the hardest to beat, so she would have gotten rid of her. Christina then asks Chelsea why she hates her. Chelsea says she’s not the “cold hard bitch” she’s appeared to be within the confines of the game.
Jay directs his question to Sabrina (interesting, considering everyone else has just commented about Sabrina but not directed a question to her). Jay says she not only played it easy during challenges but played it easy in camp as well. Basically he asks Sabrina if she rode coattails or actually earned her place here.
Michael asks Kim to define a “blindside” and asks if she feels like she blindsided anyone using her own definition. She admits she did – Leif. Mike points out that Kim missed an important element: blame. Everyone knows Kim was the one responsible for sending them home. Now the question is whether they can respect that or whether it was a stupid move.
Tarzan… man, Tarzan. He uses his big vocabulary to thank God and the girls for letting him enjoy this adventure and last long enough to have his wife join him on the island. It would have been a nicer moment if he hadn’t tried so hard with the vocabulary. Chelsea takes advantage of the moment to tell Tarzan that his romance with his wife is admirable and sets the standard for what she wants in her life – well played Chelsea.
Leif asks for the truth behind his ejection from the game. The girls spell out that Kim was responsible for it and Kim admits she never knew whether she could trust him. I can’t tell whether Leif respects the answer or not, but it’s an answer.
Alicia shows her delusions of grandeur within the game, comparing herself to Kim, saying both of them had pawns and manipulated people. What Alicia leaves out is that she was a pawn of Kim. She then rambles on in a fashion that makes it seem like the jury has been drinking…
… an image that Troyzan doesn’t help with. Troy asks Kim at what point she decided to play a game that shattered his chances of winning, telling her the question is a make it or break it question as far as winning the prize. Kim says it was when Jonas was sent home. Probst asks Troyzan if he’ll reveal if she answered the question correctly. Troy says no, and then goes a little crazy (“The Survivor gods have spoken and it’s uno, dos…”).
Finally, we get Kat, who I expected to have the least substance. In a surprising move, we continue learning more about the contestants in this last episode than the entire season, Kat has hidden her weakness: having had several open heart surgeries (and another one coming in the next year) due to some health defects. Instead of asking the contestants a question, she tells everyone they have to play without anger because life is too short to be angry at people for silly reasons. As much as she wants to be sitting there in the final three, life’s just too short. It’s a nice sentiment – one that’s a complete polar opposite to Kat’s parting words when she was voted out. It’s also a nice note to end the jury questioning with.
Time for votes to be cast, this time with the name of the person being rewarded being written down. We see how Troyzan casts his vote (Sabrina) and Kat (Kim) and we see Leif struggle with the decision of how to vote. Probst collects the votes and we move locations, from the wilds of Survivor to the reunion show in New York City (even more than missing a final two, I miss the old awesome transitions from footage to the live show).
The votes are read… two votes for Kim, two votes for Sabrina, and then Kim’s name keeps popping up until she is declared the winner (only seven votes were revealed, but presumably the rest were also for Kim).
The tribe has spoken