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Survivor finale - unanimous vote!

Oh, MAN I wish I'd taped it!  I badly want to rewind and play that final tribal council back...the fun one where a couple of nice people ask genuine questions, and the rest of them bitch and moan because they're insanely jealous that they're not one of the final 3.  (and on that note, I want to go back to final 2 now, please?  This big playing field at the top is too wide; I want narrower parameters for making one's final decision.)

But back to jury speeches.  For a great percentage of the time, I laughed so hard I practically cried, and I think I might have given myself a sore throat in the process.  Everyone is just so...self-righteous!  And INDIGNANT!  And OUTRAGED that totally nice and clever people managed to last until the end!  That's the best part, I think, that so many of the hotheaded guys are pissed at Cassandra because she was too nice.  Keep in mind that the people with the nastiest tribal council speeches were also the ones with the ugliest personalities, and not only that but who made all kinds of blundering moves during the game, so it's hilarious when you know they're furious because they think they deserved a spot in the final 3.  Let's see...highlights.

Michelle: Actually did deserve a spot in the final 3 until the producers screwed her out of her alliance for no reason at all, but no matter.  Yes, her question ("What was your hardest thing to overcome?") was bland and uninformative, but I think that was just because she didn't really want to ask anything at all but she had to say something.  And the way she kept nodding and saying "okay" a couple of times after each response was so totally "college student speal."  That's what we do.  Personally, I believe it's a skill honed when a professor wants to talk to you about ways to improve your latest paper/presentation/etc., and you don't really care because you BS'ed the thing at 4 AM, but you have to pretend to be seriously invested in youreducation.  And/or when you want to win points for being actively involved in a discussion-based course, so you encourage fellow students whenever they speak up.

Alex: Proved a strong case for being the assiest player in Survivor history; speech surpassed Sue's in terms of nastiness.  Kept literally yelling at Cassandra to "stop talking!  This is my turn to talk!" whenever her answer started to wander away from his pre-determined notions of what he wanted her to admit.  Also accused her of pretending to be nice to Stacey, manipulating her, and then betraying her by voting her out (because God knows, it's not like Stacey was ever hostile to HER.  Frankly, Cassandra helped Stacey stick around a lot longer).  It was complete badgering; if his weasley lawyer self had been in court, the other lawyer would have won about 10 sustained objections by the end of his tirade.  I didn't catch all of what he was saying as I was laughing too hard.  His delusions of self-importance are just that funny.

Mookie/Edgardo: Said basically the same thing, wherein they'd been bottling up their bitterness at Dreamz for screwing their Four Horsemen alliance.  At least Edgardo was short and sweet about it - just asked Earl how he'd known who had the other immunity idol, got him to admit straight up that Dreamz had been a double agent (which seemed pretty much what he'd already figured out, but wanted confirmation) and then quietly sat back down.  Mookie rambled and started to get surly.  Honest to God, whenever I look at him I see that tough but dumb-as-nails bulldog itching for a fight.

Lisi: Surpassed ALEX in terms of both nastiness and flat-out idiocy.  Included such highlights as asking Cassandra to show her water shoes as part of some bizarre quest to point out that said water shoes weren't good enough and therefore she had come to the game unprepared (WTF?).  There was also the priceless part where she snits at Dreamz "Can you tell me how many zeroes are in a million?" Because racist remarks alone weren't enough, she's now stereotyping - in as patronizing a manner as possible.  I really dislike Dreamz, but I have to admit that I was really proud of him when he first gave her a "...the hell?" stare, and then answered "6," and added rather pointedly that he wasn't stupid.  Only heard bits and pieces of her rant as I was too pre-occupied beating my fists into the pillow and howling with laughter.  I have to admit that as horrible a person as she is, the amount of glee gained from the film clips of her blatant idiocy is staggering.

Boo: ...went into a strangely religious rant about whether or not Dreamz was playing as a good Christian when he "swore to God" that he would honor Yau-Man's deal only to break his word later.  Seriously, he used the word "Christian" about 40 times.  Has religion ever been brought up on Survivor?  Ever?  Oh, Boo.  My love has died.

Rocky: Jumped on the Cassandra-bashing train and pulled an Alex, telling her to "try again" until she was willing to say something self-incriminating about being a backstabber.  His power trip was disgusting.

Stacey: Had a really intelligent question, actually, about whether her vote ought to be influenced by the fact that while Earl and Cassandra seemed reasonably affluent already, Dreamz was in a total "nothing" situation and this money would give him a greater relative benefit.  Even more impressive was that Earl quite reasonably pointed out that a million dollars will change anybody's life a great deal, and that he was playing the same game the other two were.  In other words, Survivor money is like academic scholarships - merit-based and need-blind.  Most impressive of all?  Stacey actually looks surprised that he doesn't even try to be PC - and like maybe he just changed her mind about who to vote for.

Yau-Man: Screwed over by Dreamz almost as badly as Michelle, but is equally gracious and asks the one question I've been waiting for Earl to answer - why did he write down Yau's name instead of Cassandra's at the last vote?  I'm surprised Earl didn't bring it up on his own, but finally he gets to be clear: because otherwise Yau, being the best player in the game, would have won.  Which was the icing on a cake full of smart moves, and which is why it doesn't bother me that he did so.  It would have been nice to see them together in the final 3, but Earl got a windfall opportunity, and he would have been crazy not to take it.

And then Earl wins.  By a unanimous landslide.  It is the second greatest thing I have ever seen on this show (Yul winning is still #1), and I couldn't be happier.  I thought he played a fantastic game, and as he points out, he was able to do all this without once winning an immunity challenge.  He only had 1 or 2 votes played against him throughout the whole game, and I don't think he even needed to use the fact that he had an idol as a bargaining chip - he let all that heat bounce off Yau-Man. His alliance let him control the game, but nobody outside his alliance ever really seemed aware that he was in control of the game.  People looked to Dreamz as their means of getting ahead, largely forgetting about Earl.  It was fantastic.

I think Dreamz was an idiot for not thinking ahead to the fact that just because he made the final 3 didn't mean he had any better shot the million - jury members weren't likely to vote for him after they found out he'd broken his word (the word which he stressed about a thousand times was TOTALLY GOLDEN AND UNBREAKABLE) to the kind and well-liked older man.  He probably got about $10,000 more in prize money while sacrificing the opportunity to come out looking the kind of dependable and honorable person who can be trusted and who could make a killing giving inspirational speches and be commended by Oprah and such.

As for Cassandra, she played much the same role as Becky last year, and thus got called out on riding coattails and playing under the radar.  I've never understood why this playing-under-the-radar stuff is such a bad thing.  Does it not take some skill to remain unnoticed for so long, and never be considered a threat until it's too late?  She was smart enough to hop alliances whenever necessary, but in doing so she was never mean to anyone and she never stabbed anyone in the back (except for the time she voted for Yau-Man, but nobody except the viewing audience knew that).  If Survivor's a social game, and we all know how easily peoples' feathers are ruffled (Rocky, I'm looking at you), I think it's impressive when people can glide through.  It's not as impressive as actually orchestrating plans to keep yourself in the game, but it's not something to complain about either. 

Random Shallow Notes: I barely recognized the final 3 at Tribal; Cassandra cleans up NICE, Earl looks different with less hair and more pounds, while Dreamz looks...not very attractive with close-cropped hair and a scraggly pornstache.   However, Erica wins for Most Improved.  I thought she was pretty enough before, but with makeup, and hair straightened instead of in an Afro poof, she magically looks 10 years more mature and 50x hotter.

Random Injury Updates: Boo tore his ACL, and it still isn't fixed yet.  The hell?  Also, Gary didn't just have bug bites, he had thousands of fire ant bites.  *squirms* Nick Stokes, are you screaming yet?

I cannot wait for this recap to appear on TWoP.

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