Sunday, December 17, 2006

Survivor finale: Brains vs. brawn

"Survivor: Cook Islands" spoilers coming up just as soon as I figure out whether Sundra's use of "ignited" was the poorest word choice in "Survivor" history...

Hot-diggity! Yul wins, albeit in a very weird way, in that Adam's vote -- courtesy of the "get rid of Jonathan first" deal -- was the tie-breaker, and the Insider videos implied strongly that Yul didn't want to dump Jonathan at that point, but let the other Aitus talk him into it. Even if he was fully on board with that in the end, it shows how stupid Adam was to offer that deal when Yul alone didn't have complete decision-making power. But then, Adam -- and Parvati, and Candace, and Nate -- was so stupid in so many ways that I don't feel too bad about the outcome.

This was about the purest final two choice possible. (Becky had no shot, and I'm glad she didn't take a Katie from Palau-esque beating from the jury.) On the one hand, you have Yul the master strategist and leader (who, admittedly was quite the challenge player himself, albeit not on Ozzy's level), versus Ozzy the Jungle Boy, who was, if not the best challenge player ever, in the top three or four with Tom Westman, Terry Deitz and Boston Rob. Either was a valid choice, but Yul was a nicer guy, and he gave one of the best jury performances of all time, talking up his accomplishments without seeming arrogant or belittling of the other two, discussing his integrity while admitting that the game only allowed it to go so far, etc.

I expected the jury to be a bunch of whiny, petty rhymes-with-witches, and Nate and Adam thankfully didn't disappoint. (Jonathan and Candice came pretty close, too.) Thankfully, I have a DVR with a fast-forward button, so I was able to skip past the ugliest stuff.

Though the finale lacked the drama of, say, Palau, it was just so amazing to see the final four acting like rational, supportive adults about everything, even though it led to the most pathetic challenge of all time between Sundra and Becky. Seriously, instead of calling for the matches after an hour, Probst should have just said, "You know what? Even if either of you had a sliver of a chance against Yul and Ozzy 60 minutes ago, nobody's going to vote for you now, so why don't you both just move over to the jury?"

Nothing all that illuminating in the reunion, especially since Probst had to zip past the whole Ozzy/Yul/Adam/Jonathan vote-bargaining issue because he had to make time to talk to 19 different contestants. As I've said in the past, I appreciate Jeff's desire to give everyone at least a sound byte (as opposed to the dreaded Rosie O'Donnell, who talked to, like, five people during the entire Marquesas reunion), but I'd rather spend more time on the people and events that shaped the game instead of letting J.P. give us an update on his latest projects.

What did everybody else think? Happy with the winner? Think Ozzy got hosed?

24 comments:

Alan Sepinwall said...

A few other quickies:

-Liked that Ozzy so profusely thanked Jonathan during The Stations of the Cross segment, though I don't know if he would have knowing what Jonathan was going to say to him at the final TC;

-Adam calling someone "boring" is a high compliment, to me;

-Interesting that they asked Adam and not Candice whether they were still an item, as I understand she's been quite blunt, bordering on angry, in dismissing him in her post-show interviews;

-Ever since Tom and Ian kept Probst up past his bedtime in the Palau finale, every final challenge has been more about balance than endurance;

-I liked Brad acknowledging that he and Ozzy didn't know each other at all, and I hope future seasons don't put people on the jury who didn't make it to the merge.

Caitie said...

I was very happy with the winner, although if anyone of the Aitu four won, I would have been happy. This is the first time in a long time (since maybe Africa) that I've liked the final two (or three, for that matter) contestants. Poor Becky had no chance in a final three jury against Yul and Ozzy but I'm also glad no one reamed her too bad.

velvetcannibal said...

So I guess the Car Curse still stands, right?

Dan Jardine said...

So happy that it came down to the two most deserving participants for a change. And full credit to the jury for getting it right, which was a bit of a surprise. I thought Ozzy was a lock, as the jury usually punishes the perceived architect of their ouster in these situations (that would be Yul) and this jury was full of the sorta childish and petty people that I felt certain would be unable to rise above their shortcomings and reward the appropriate person.

Happy to be proven wrong, for a change.

Adam C. said...

Agree that it was the best two, in the end, getting the votes, but I still was surprised at how close it was. In my mind, without Yul's superior strategy, neither one would have been sitting there -- I just don't believe that Ozzy would have run the IC table had Aitu's numbers (and the protection those numbers offered) diminished any further.

Given the sour mug Jenny adopted at every single tribal council after her ouster (engineered, by the way, by her fellow jurors and not anyone from Aitu), I was pleasantly surprised by her upbeat jury performance.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Side question: Is Sundra, both in game and out, the prettiest contestant ever? Wow.

Taleena said...

I was happy to see Yul win and happier to have been correct in most of my predictions. I liked Jonathan and was happy that Yul didn't throw him over as willy nilly as the editors suggested Yul did. I found Jeff's Ozzie partisanship irritating and Ozzie's claim to be a mastermind and an underdog from day one to be silly.

Happily there was a dearth of nasty snipping from the jury, Adam came across nicer and Candice bitchier.

The reunion show was mostly worthless, I wish the reunion show would focus on the post jury manuvering unless something huge (like injury huge, quitting huge) happens.

Adam C. said...

It did seem as though the reunion contained more commercial time, and less content, than in past seasons.

I'll agree with Alan re: Sundra -- she looked absolutely fantastic at the reunion

Jason said...

While Sundra is attractive, I think there are at least 4 or 5 prettier than her in Survivor history. My opinion anyhow. I personally found Becky attractive.

As far as the winner, it went down just the right way. Ozzy deserved his votes because he played awesome but Yul deserved the win.

AP said...

I was a little annoyed about the Final 3 twist before it happened, but it actually did lead to a much more interesting finale. If it was a Final Two, Yul or Ozzy would have been voted out when there were 3 people left, and we would have had one of them going up against a nonentity for the final TC (like so many other Survivor seasons). I'm used to the "endurance immunity challenge lets you pick who to take with you to Final Two" tradition, but giving one player all the power does kind of go against the whole "social game" aspect. The cost is that you get Becky sitting there and getting no votes, but hey, that's better than her getting no votes in a Final Two scenario, right?

Dan Jardine said...

ap, you are entirely correct. The final three concept may be one of the best innovations in the game's young history, as it does allow two strong players to make it to the final, unlike so many earlier incarnations that guaranteed that it would pretty much never happen.

Dan Jardine said...

Question, though. What if it IS a tie? What would the tie-breaker have been? Anybody have any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Who can hold their breath the longest!

Anonymous said...

For your three greatest challenge winners, maybe swap Colby Donaldson for Boston Rob?

Anonymous said...

Yup. Colby holds the records for most wins.

Alan Sepinwall said...

No, he doesn't -- not immunity challenges, at least. Terry in Exile Islands won all but one of those, and Tom in Palau won all but two, whereas Colby didn't win three individual immunities in Australia.

You could definitely make an argument to put him in over Boston Rob, who had fewer individual immunities in All-Stars, but Rob -- like Tom and Ozzy -- also excelled at leading his team to pre-merge victories, where Colby's team lost so much that they would have been down in the numbers at the merge if Tom hadn't fallen into the fire (and if Burnett and company hadn't deliberately rigged the maze challenge).

A top five would be, in some order, Ozzy, Terry, Tom, Rob and Colby. Interestingly, Tom is the only winner of the group, even though all but Terry made it to the final two.

(Colby did, however, win the majority of the reward challenges

dez said...

where Colby's team lost so much that they would have been down in the numbers at the merge if Tom hadn't fallen into the fire (and if Burnett and company hadn't deliberately rigged the maze challenge).

Do you mean Michael Skupkin? Or whatever his name was? And did they really rig the maze challenge? Because that's illegal, you know...HAHHAHAHAA I forgot I'm talking about Burnett... :-D

LV said...

I think having three finalists was such a dumb idea. And what would have happened if there had been a tie? Say one person voted for Becky and Yul and Ozzie both got four votes - what then? Do they make the jury revote right there on live TV? I think their attempt at a "big twist" ended up as soggy as the coconut husks the girls were trying to 'ignite' - sorry, I couldn't help myself.

Taleena said...

if there were a tie the third finalist decides who to give thier votes to, maybe.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Dez, yeah, I meant Skupin Pigslayer. Whoops. Different bad-ass middle-aged man.

There was a point where Skupin's team was up 7-5 over Colby's, and there was an immunity challenge where each team is roped together and has to run through a giant maze. And the team with 7 was told that because having two extra people wasn't an advantage, they would all go through together. Of course it wasn't an advantage! It was a disadvantage! They moved much more slowly through the maze, and Colby's team temporarily staved off what was looking like a pre-Ulong Ulong'ing.

Looking back, I'm not sure whether it was rigged because the producers wanted the teams as close to even as possible at the merge, or because the show was still so new that they weren't sure what to do when one team had a significant numbers advantage on the other one. (Remember, in Borneo, the two teams essentially traded off immunity wins and entered the merge at 5-5.) Either way, it was lame, and even without The Burning, that season should have played out very differently.

Dark Tyler said...

Ove at EW.com, Yul explains what happened with the hat. I'm sorry if this is stuff that happens on a regular basis, but having never watched Survivor in the past, I find this bit very amusing:

I was begging the crew people to give him the hat! In general, the show is very authentic; people don't tell you what to do. That was the only instance where I felt there was some manipulation and I got fed up. I asked the crew at tribal council and even before I left the island, please give this to Jonathan. At one point they said yes, but then left to have an hour-long discussion, and then came back and said, ''You want to give him the hat, go ahead.'' I'm like, what's the big deal? I put it on the jury box before the jury came in so no one would know and then Probst says, ''Yul makes this bold power play!'' I was like, what?

Plus, Yull apparently didn't offer the Idol to Becky when we saw him doing it. He offered it to her back when the mutiny took place, but they edited it so that it looked like he did it right before the last vote. But Becky went and took credit for declining the offer, anyways. Is niiice!

Anonymous said...

I hated there being a final three. I thought they ended up having to edit the final tribal council too much for time, and it was way too choppy. But I was thrilled that Yul won.

BTW - didn't Kelly from the first season win a bunch of challenges? She would have been voted off a couple times if she didn't have the necklace, and she got a couple rewards as well.

dez said...

But Becky went and took credit for declining the offer, anyways. Is niiice!

But it proves Yul's point that she was more involved and calculating that people gave her credit for, doesn't it?

So did Adam dump Candace and that's why she's so bitter and snippy about him? Or was it purely strategy on his part and when she found out, she was offended since they probably made sexy time together? You like!!

Dark Tyler said...

But it proves Yul's point that she was more involved and calculating that people gave her credit for, doesn't it?

Oh, definately! I liked Becky throughout the season, and the mere fact that no matter what she had Yul in her pocket shows a lot about her abilities as a player!

Re: Adam & Candice, I think that Candice was actually the one who saw this whole fling as strategy. Way I see it, she mutinied because she knew that over there she could be the Becky to Adam's Yul. Only, you know, with a total I.Q. of about a tenth of the Asian couple's. ;)