Lemme just stuff my feelings about the winner way down deep until I'm ready. So. First of all, kinda disappointed Jay went out 6th. I was diggin' the Bronemies vibe (it's like frenemies, but with bros. Although it also sounds kind of like Brony enemies), and really looking forward to a final 3 in which he and Adam were in a stallion showdown to the bitter end. I can't believe they didn't make all the combinations different on that last challenge -- it wouldn't even have occurred to me to cover the combo. Also, his cockiness in finding/playing the fake idol is not only one of the reasons 2 Weeks Ago Me disliked him, but so embarrassing I nearly died. I couldn't even appreciate David's fine trickery and artistic skills until Jay seemed to find it the most hilarious joke ever played.
But since he went out with the same no-worries vibe as ever (including taking his sweet time leaving and then grandly inviting Jeff to snuff his torch), it turned out OK.
I really enjoyed how beautifully that steal-a-reward was played, in the end -- that the thief was able to share it with the person he stole it from, and reward the person who sacrified the advantage to him in the first place as a thank-you for not using it. (Future Me is confused. What I'm saying is that David snagged the win out from under Jay's nose and the reward was a steak dinner shared with two people. Jay took it using his advantage, but picked David & Adam as his people to share it with. Adam, the person who was rewarded for not using it to steal the family visit...by being picked to share the family visit). That is wild and so against the mean spirit Survivor intended. I love when players subvert stuff like that!
Adam finding that last idol? !!!! As was his glee in sharing with everyone that he had it.
And even though Ken's legacy advantage didn't change the course of the game, that is really awesome that it gave him individual immunity. Jessica freaking out on the jury all "I hate this game" was the most epic part of it. Seconded by Adam's "WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING" faces. All while Ken and his poker face are just like, "Ayup."
The final Hannah vs. Ken showdown in the immunity challenge was amazing, too -- I'm so happy Ken won. And I'm really happy that he kept his moral code or whatever intact by concluding that it's OK to break your #1 alliance at the very end when it acutely threatens the goal for which you made the alliance in the first place. I think everyone agrees with that. I appreciate that David, too, went out with the cheery no-worries vibe. Everyone this season is so HAPPY and NICE. They all really seemed like they came to play a GAME, as in being out to have fun, with no higher stakes.
The Final Day
And then it's Day 39, and I know Hannah is all goggly about Ken and Ken alone at this point, but score if both he and Adam are your two champion comrades.* Like. I'm pretty sure no lady has been in this great of an F3 situation since Erin on Tocantins, and this is still better. I for one could not be more delighted that two of my favorites for the majority of the game ACTUALLY MADE IT TO THE END.
*Side note: he and Hannah actually have a pretty awesome friend vibe. I'm pretty sure they're gonna come play next time I have a YA novel where I need the guy and girl to just be friends while the girl is mooning over some handsome athletic type
I'm really pleased by the fact that no one was accused of being brought to the end. Everyone really worked to get themselves to this day, and everyone on the jury more or less recognized that they did. It wasn't a bitter jury. I honestly thought Adam was talking himself right out of it -- he seemed so desperate/defensive, and all his focus shifted to knocking Hannah down instead of building himself up, I'm guessing because Hannah suddenly proved way more of a threat than she seemed.
Like I went into tribal thinking Hannah was a lock for 0 votes, having no more than 1 friend on the jury while going against the guy who was a hard worker around camp / never crossed anyone and was almost definitely going to bring up his daughter + the guy who worked his ass off calculating every vote and finding immunity idols. I went out going, "Holy crap, Hannah could talk herself into this win."
By far my favorite part of tribal was Jay's perfectly worded question -- giving him a platform to share The Big Secret, but not cornering him with it -- and Adam promptly melting down while still refusing to disclose specifics. Just, "you KNOW why I'm playing this game, and why it's so important to me, OK?" No television writer could have scripted a more heartrending moment.
(Deluxe Transcript excerpt: Jay takes a seat back on the jury while Adam quietly sniffles and tries to compose himself for the next question. Meanwhile, Hannah is over here like "wtf what is this fuckery is he literally stealing the win out from under me with a sympathy vote GOD DAMN; if ANYBODY is built to cry their way into victory IT IS ME.")
(Alternate deluxe transcript: "I do genuinely love you like a brother and you know why." / "You don't have to talk about it." Shipper Hannah, ears perking up, probably: SLASH??)
I also loved Ken's moment of standing up for himself during his answer to Brett's question. Adam was over there scrambling to take him down, and Ken reminded me of a very large dog just putting his paw down on a yappy one's head and going, "Shhh."
But still, I thought the winner was a toss-up until Adam let his secret fly, and then I got pretty confident that on top of Chris advocating Adam*, his sob story was going to win it. Do you want to be the person who voted against the guy whose mom has stage IV cancer?
(*Poor Ken. "STOP UNDERESTIMATING ME. Maybe next time you'll...estimate me.")
AND THE WINNER IS: ADAM KLEIN
Immediately, more tears. Tears everywhere in that family. Tears of joy on my face. And then more tears for about the next fifteen minutes straight as I started to wonder if this was the Survivor reunion show or Feely the Share Bear's Personal Tragedy Special. I snark only because things got so intense that even I, with my boundless shark greed for sympathetic figures, started to feel uncomfortable about being invited to feast on it. Some of that felt really private. And I guess that was his choice, but I also don't think any of us strangers needed to know more than that she had passed away shortly after filiming.
That said, his Instagram has totally been added to my very limited roster of Instagrams, which currently consists of just Josh Canfield and my 3+1 darlings of the NCIS: LA cast. I maintain that he is just one of the straight-up best human beings ever to play Survivor.
Live Reunion Show
I'm actually impressed by how many people Jeff shone a spotlight on. I think the only people he ignored were the first 4 evictees -- everyone else was encouraged to say at least a line or two, and several people got mini segments. I was really shocked he got Ken talking, even if part of it was in mortifying context of "HEY LOL REMEMBER HOW HANNAH HAD A CRUSH ON YOU? LET'S BRING IT UP AGAIN AS YOU SIT TOGETHER." I had to completely leave the room at that point, and only came back to hear him say nice things about overcoming a speech impediment and how important it is not to judge on looks. Which is a rare thing to hear from a guy who would be judged very positively on his looks.
* Giving Jay and Adam ample opportunity to throw around "brother" and "love" some more. I know I compare everything to legendary-in-my-heart season Tocantins, but seriously, best bros since Stephen & JT of Tocantins.
* Figgy's shirt. Goodness, what a beautiful cut and pattern; I want it, I want it bad. I could barely even recognize her with her hair loose and flowing and freshly washed. She's even prettier than I thought. Stupid death knell showmance. Stupid Taylor. I blame him for everything.
* Hannah's rush to throw her arms around Adam was adorable. Totally friend-shippin' that in my next YA novel.
* Thank goodness for YouTube, or I would have missed Ken dropping a quick kiss on Hannah's hair after the Excruciating Recap Of One-Sided Flirt Times. Awwww. That's how you do it. [edit: oh god it gets worse after that. Hannah stop it.]
* It should be noted that Adam and Ken are still looking incredibly fine. Hannah has not gotten a magical makeover (though her hair seems less frizzy), but to her credit, she has also not given herself a garish clown makeup makeover and still looks as naturally cute as she did on the island. Will's haircut reminds me of the transformation from shag to civilized my brother periodically goes through. Both look OK on him. Also, we didn't talk to him, but Paul's hair is entirely too long and luxurious for a man of his age. It's kinda creepin' me out.
* Mom & I concluded that this has been a pleasant season to watch in part because so few people had gross tattoos. There was Jessica's fungi-colored eyesore, but that was the worst of it and the few other people who had markings (Taylor, and I think Figgy/maybe Michelle?), but all the eye candy was eye candy for a reason. They were, to use my preferred terminology, clean. As were most of the other people. Not even Jay had tattoos! That's genuinely surprising, in a good way.
* Also, almost literally everyone this season was nice and pleasant. I apologize for complaining it was boring, because if I'd know the bestest people were going to stick around, I'd have paid more attention. Paul was an obnoxious blowhard and Zeke was an awful leering putz, but he's literally the only person I intensely disliked. SO OF COURSE HE'S WHO THEY CHOOSE TO BRING BACK?
WARNING IF YOU NEED IT: Full cast list (not all names revealed on the show) to follow.
Next season feels like a real mixed bag, cast-wise. There are a few classic standouts, but also a lot of rage triggers and more people I make -.- faces at than I'd like. Some of these people I do really enjoy, but honestly, so many of them have played so many times (THREE. TIMES.) that I'm actually kind of annoyed seeing them.
Pros, in order of appreciation: AUBREY, MALCOLM THE MAGNIFICENT, Ozzy, Michaela, Jeff Varner, possibly Sierra-the-Cowgirl from the Blue Collar tribe
I want to like them but I'm tired: JT, Cirie
They seem pleasant but I don't really care: Sarah from Tony-the-Cop's season
I liked them once, but once was 100% enough (no particular order): Brad Culpepper, Caleb Reynolds (Big Brother dude)*, Vietnamese Tai, Double Winner Sandra, Winner/Cop With Awful Flame Tattoos Tony, Hali from Jen's season (she would have been in the category above, but bitch literally choked a chicken to death, slowly and painfully. That should disqualify her forever)
*I know that he is nice. But he just dresses/has tattoos like such a douchecanoe that I literally physically cannot make myself remember/believe that unless I'm seeing it in action
Oh god you're boring (why do you keep coming around): Blonde Andrea B.
♫WHY DO-O YOU KE-EP COMIN' AROUND, ANGERING MY HE-ART: Ciera
GTFO: Weird White Collar Debbie, FRICKIN' ZEKE, ~Troyzan~
[edit: oh lord it's 4am and I'm still hootenannyin'. I haven't even made it over to YouTube for the one Ponderosa video I care about.]
P.S. Over the course of 3 hours, CBS slowly brainwashed me with promos for "Hunted" until I had gone from "that looks dumb" to realizing it was a reality competition show where people play fugitives on the run from actual former law enforcement people (or people with jobs that would qualify them for such) and going, "Damn, that looks awesome, sign me up." It will take the sting out of missing probably all of the next season of Survivor (it premieres in frickin' MARCH?! March 8th?) with Mom due to night work.