In a word...FEELINGS.
But you know how I can't be satisfied with one word, or one hundred, or probably even one thousand at this point.
Things I Thought: Episode Version
* I have never been this exhausted after finishing a finale. SO INCESSANTLY INTENSE.
* Wept with joy when Brandon finally hit the ground at the bottom of the damn pole, as his freakish upper body strength was really putting a cramp in a challenge at which Ozzy has always excelled.
* Ozzy played about as damn near a perfect game as possible, and it was the most fun game plan I have ever seen from a non-winner. Even his minor missteps were more like lateral moves than actual mistakes. Like he said, maybe trusting Cochran when he shouldn't have? Or maybe staying in the game would have posed other threats; it's harder to beat a tribe than an individual over and over again.
(is there an Ozzy fan club? Maybe, like, a Tumblr devoted solely to worshiping him and/or his genuine survival skills? I mostly play up the hotness factor of obsession as a joke -- his hair this season alone can only be described as "magnificent" -- but I am constantly in awe of him. Even when he personally attacks Sophie. Even then! I find ways around it.***)
* Aw, Rick. I still like you, even though you apparently only come in two modes: stoic and polite or pissed off.
* Is it weird how much I love that stupid paint stain on Ozzy's shirt? It's the like the red badge of survival.
* It actually was kind of weird to have Ozzy return to camp with them -- after so long apart, he felt even more out of place than the relatives. It was like they'd just invited a celebrity to bunk with them for a day.
* I did enjoy the Council of Chiefs feeling I got when he went off to talk to Coach.
* Remember how we used to mock Coach for apparently knowing/having experience with everything in the world? Sophie is like that, but all awesomely casual about it. "Build a house of cards? Sure. I do that for fun. I have a book about it." The only thing I saw wrong with her snapping at Albert to help her during the challenge was that it was a bit embarrassing of her to ask without realizing it wasn't allowed. If it had been allowed? She had a point - he WASN'T going to beat her, and they did need to compete as a block against Ozzy instead of trying to secure personal gain. And it was wonderful how confidently she assessed the situation and took charge of guys older than her.
(From my wise old age perspective of 25, I of course now see 22-year-olds as precociously precious baby adults, to be fussed over and admired whenever they go toe to toe with real adults and demand equal deference.)
* That said, it was even more incredible to see Ozzy pull off that particular win. There was a lot of whooping/fist-to-air punching as a result.
* Just in case Sophie was not already my favorite person in the world, her breakdown at Tribal sealed it. Look, she's me! She simultaneously pulled off pretty crying and uncontrollable tears. And even - definitely unlike me - managed to articulate how it wasn't just the personal attack, but the idea that EVERYONE secretly hates you behind your back, on top of more than a month out here... Yeah, I think that warrants getting suddenly, overwhelmingly upset.
[*** Speaking of finding ways around it -- all I need to hear is "I didn't mean to make her cry," and then I blocked out whatever else he said and declared, "Half an apology. Good enough." Plus, this statement was just backed up on Twitter, so it definitely counts.]
* Loved the physical obstacle course aspect of the final challenge. The puzzle, a little less, not because of the outcome but just because puzzles are boring to watch.
* It was pretty clear from the onset that having both Ozzy and Sophie in my final 3 was an impossibility, so unlike apparently half the internet, "I ain't even mad." Seeing her win resulted in something like sunbeams shooting out of my heart. You dream about this moment...AND THEN IT HAPPENS. A free and clear coast to the end for the girl I have recently decided is my hero/role model for life. Would a fire-building tiebreaker have been nice? Yes, but I'm ultimately happier with what we got. I like the idea of his run ending with a tragic twist every bit as much as the idea of a Herculean quest ending in accomplishment.
* Even Ozzy's exit was perfect. (insert shining anime eyes and clasped hands here)
Things I Thought, Final Tribal Version
* Speaking of Ozzy, as soon as he showed up in braided pigtails, my mom and I both fell off the couch, laughing ourselves into fits. Mom: "I may have to re-evaluate my choices here." And then we took a look at what he was wearing, and started laughing even harder. THAT IS THE MOST RIDICULOUS THING I HAVE EVER SEEN HIM WEAR. A polo shirt would look fine on most people, but...I can't even. He looked like a schoolboy about to head out to the pond with his fishing pole from the neck down, and Heidi from the neck up.
* May have spent most of Tribal diving for cover with fingers in my ears. Every year, I am able to watch less and less of this, between the witch hunt-style bitterness and the increasingly horrible secondhand embarrassment that comes from the final 3 trying to justify their moves. If there's even a hint they are not giving perfect responses, I have to censor them.
* As soon as Dawn got up there, all I wanted was for her to realize that Sophie was the age of her students and treat her accordingly. My heart would not be able to bear it if Dawn went over to the dark side at Ponderosa. I missed half of it because I was too afraid to listen, but it sounds like she had a really nice, fair question? Her vote sealed my anxieties, at any rate.
* As soon as Whitney called Sophie condescending, my immediate thought was, "Well, of course that's how you see it; she's better than you." I hardly think Sophie actually thought that, but one look at Whitney compared to Sophie, or how I would look at a girl like Whitney when I was in college, and the thoughts that come to mind are a jumble of "less intelligent/uninteresting/shallow/ditz/w
* I wasn't listening by this point, but my mom asked of Sophie at one point, "Is her voice always like that? Shaky?"
Me: No, I'm pretty sure that's her on-the-verge-of-tears voice. (JD-style thoughts: And now I love her even more!)
* It was entertaining watching Albert stumble around and utterly fail to talk himself up the way he planned. Funny thing about Albert, I don't think he was totally misguided in his belief about his strategy, but this was not really a game where huge strategic moves got made. Heaven forbid the idea of him winning, but I think he's probably a pretty nice and well-spoken person in real life, and I almost felt bad for the fact that the pitch which looked perfect on paper failed in practice.
* By the end of Tribal, I was depressingly sure Coach had it in the bag. I mean, I was OK with Coach winning because I do fully admire and respect the guy by now for reasons I cannot actually explain to anyone -- but on the other hand, to have the threat of Ozzy removed and STILL not see Sophie win...
Things I Thought, Reunion Show & Beyond Version
* SOPHIE WINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
* Take a few minutes to repeat that fact and then go nuts some more while it sinks in
* Holy cow, Coach's voice sounds way different. Low and just...different. Even more disturbing: that creepy beard patch he's got going on.
* First thoughts upon seeing Brandon's horrifying, er...hair: "Please stop watching Glee."
* Early on the in the reunion show: "Brandon, you're making it really hard to hate you. Stop that."
* After Grossell's WTF segment to prove, I guess, that he is somehow EVEN MORE of an asshole than previously established: "Man, now I can't even hate him at all." It's true. As obnoxious as his talk of God and Jesus and prayer have been, I can't bring myself to actually go on record disliking him anymore. He's not winning any prizes for brilliance, but he's certainly harmless.
* I wanted to love how much we were talking to Ozzy, but he was talking so fast it made me dizzy, and it was not all well planned out. I was cringing by the time he started addressing children at large (though I did adore the girl in the audience). What I took away from it was how he talked about how for him, the game was about being out in the elements, and how he found God in nature.
* Jeff's yes-or-no question to Cochran about whether he's been dating cracked me up:
"No. Nobody. Come at me." Hahaha! Ladies of the east coast, I beg you to reconsider. We've had our ups and downs, but I think with this statement he ultimately ended up back where he started, in the "quirky and endearing" camp.
* I feel like I need an icon of his excellent quote, too - "Then I go on the internet like an obsessive freak, and everyone hates me.” (I hereby redact all negative commentary about him I may have made.)
* I apparently have a weird amount of resentment stored up against Whitney, whom I think is probably a very nice woman in real life, because my knee-jerk response to Jeff's offhand mention that she had already been in a relationship when she (hooked up with) Keith was to yelp, "You awful whore!" (now imagine this pronounced in a very prim and proper yet scandalized way)
In conclusion, when Amanda is accused of this, she gets a pass for hooking up with Ozzy. But you, milady, chose the dude with a huge, hideous tattoo on his side. Minnesota solidarity does not outweigh this. In fact, I've disowned him.
* Jim can't stop being a dick toward Cochran EVEN AT THE REUNION SHOW. Most people on this show whom I dislike, at least I can tell myself they're probably nicer in real life. Not this guy. What you see is what you get, and possibly not even half as smarmy and self-important as his actual persona.
* OZZY WINS FAN FAVORITE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(Need a minute or two to die from happiness before I recover.)
* How many people did we fail to hear a single word from at this reunion show?! It seemed like a bunch. I specifically missed Mikayla. Really glad you made sure Hantz could get on camera for a fourth show, then.
* Sophie's current Twitter pic is her face (complete w/ Survivor buff) pasted on Xena's body. I may need to marry her.
* Thanks to the rise of Tumblr, the end of Numb3rs taking out my fave showrunner and the Survivor contestants being less interesting, I abandoned my plan to make a Twitter account to
* Hmm. Next round might be fun with the new twist, provided they have not brought back any horrible people.
[edit: Lantern7 is my new fave person on TWoP for summing this up: "Hantz family = Shire full of asshole Hobbits."]
In conclusion: I am pretty darn happy with this season as a whole.
EDIT: Right, I had an irreverent topic today, too. Is it bad if my first reaction to Kim Jong-Il's death was, "I wonder what 30 Rock is going to do about Avery now?" And my second thought was, "Stupid extra-time-delayed season!"?