- I couldn't be happier that Danni won, not only because she seemed like one of the nicest contestants this time around, but because when her back was up against it and the whip came down and the going got tough and the cliches started piling up, she didn't roll over and accept that the numbers were against her. She fought and she schemed and she was the only one smart enough to bid on the damn immunity clue in the auction. If any of the other five had been smart enough to realize the threat that Danni would pose if she won that immunity challenge, the game could have gone down very differently. Hell, we could've had a Steph/Judd final two, which would've been really distasteful.
- As Danni started wasting away to Lara Flynn Boyle dimensions, I mentioned my concern for her well-being to a friend at CBS. "Don't worry," he told me. "She'll clean up real well for the reunion." And he was dead on the money; it's amazing what an extra 10-15 pounds can do.
- Why do so many players that I like have to turn into moralizing twits at the end? Tom from Palau got pretty damn sanctimonious with Ian at the end of last season, only forgiving the guy after Ian guaranteed him the million dollars. Now we have Rafe, who in back to back episodes gets all "Well, if it were me, I would have given away the cars, but Cindy will just have to live with her decision," and then "Danni, I'm going to tell you that you don't have to keep your promise to me, but what I really mean is that you had better keep it or I'm going to piss and moan for 18 hours."
- Two very cool variations on familiar challenges, with the mega-maze and then the rope balance game. As soon as all three started leaning into the posts, I knew Danni was going to win. She just looked much stabler than the other two, and while I don't think this is an exact challenge she ever faced on the pageant circuit, balance is a big thing in that world.
- Aside from Judd, one of the least bitter jury segments we've ever had. Nice. On the other hand, this is the second time where one of the two finalists had a chance to argue that she didn't need a second chance to make it to final two (Sandra in Pearl Islands was the other, since Lill got back in on the Outcasts twist), and didn't do it. Then again, I'm guessing Danni didn't think she needed to. She had Gary and Bobby Jon in the bag, and Judd and Jamie were so pissed at Steph that she had the win locked up right there.
- Probst had his good moments and his bad in the reunion, but I felt like there were a lot of follow-up questions he should've asked but didn't. Why didn't anyone but Steph bid against Danni for the immunity clue, and why did Steph drop out so soon? Why did Gary insist on keeping up his stupid secret identity gag even after Danni outed him? (And, show of hands, how many people actually believed he was a landscaper after Danni started talking?) If Danni had chosen Rafe instead of Steph, who would've won? I appreciate that, unlike Rosie or Bryant, Jeff actually makes an effort to let everyone answer at least one question, but I'd be willing to sacrifice a moment with Morgan or Brianna or Brooke (who?) to get more info on the people who stuck around and affected the final outcome.
- Speaking of Probst, he's delivered some pretty withering looks at contestants in the past, but I don't think I've ever seen him quite as disgusted as when Lydia, Danni and Steph admitted to eating the sacrificial chicken. I was sitting on the couch, and even I felt like whimpering, "I'm sorry, Mr. Probst. I didn't mean to!"
- One last Probst thing: on the conference call before the season started, he said that Bobby Jon and Steph would be returning to the show "in some capacity," and I asked him flat out if that meant they were actually competing for the million bucks. I'd heard a rumor that, if they lasted until the merge, they would automatically wind up on the jury, but that no one would know it until/unless it happened. Jeff hemmed and hawed and gave an ellipticial answer that to me hinted strongly that the rumor was true. Whoops.
- The spring season looks promising, because it's obvious Burnett and Tom Shelly have realized that they have to keep shaking up the game to safeguard themselves against casts who don't click the way they had hoped. Guatemala definitely didn't have the best bunch of personalities ever, but the season turned out pretty well thanks to twists like the mini-idol, the immunity clue, the Gift of the Car-gi, etc.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Still working on the sports movie post (it's an obsession of mine, and I want to do it right), but in the meantime, some brief thoughts on the "Survivor: Guatemala" finale: