The Survivor finale begins with Anderson Cooper scuba diving off the coast of Redemption Island. Followed by Meryl Streep discussing the craft of deception she plans on using at the jury. Oh wait - there's a delay. Thanks, NFL.
Survivor begins 33 minutes late, & after a recap of the entire season thus far, the opening is set to quotes from the remaining players. With so many voices speaking over each other, this must be what it feels like to be Brandon.
Fresh from being voted out by God, Brandon shows up at Redemption Island. Ozzy is bewildered that he gave up his immunity necklace. "He wasn't blindsided - he gave up a frickin immunity necklace!...He's playing the game like he's playing with God. He's not. He's playing with human beings that are greedy & want that money." Could someone not have told him that to his face 3 weeks earlier? You're not Christ, & you're not playing with God. But, but...dragonslayers are supposed to be noble!
|Also, we want money.|
Back at Te Tuna, (I so hope that is the last time I ever have to type that), Coach chides Albert with the same voice Will Forte used when chastising Gilly. He wants Albert to admit that he knew Brandon was going home & kept the necklace anyway. Coach says enough with the bullshit! No more pretending to be holier-than-thou, & no more lies! The dragonslayer will not be made a fool!
The final Redemption Island duel looks to be unfairly suited towards Ozzy's unique background of being reared by otters & monkeys. Just climb a pole & hold on for as long as you can. Add to that the fact that for 2 weeks, Ozzy has been on Redemption Island, fishing, eating, defeating all who come his way & feeling pretty good about his personal paradise, or - dare I say it - heaven, & this looks like 4 scary dudes are mounting their horses & heading Brandon's way for a quick smiting.
|"I was raised by monkeys." "I was raised by Hantzes."|
It is impressive how long Brandon lasts before ultimately falling. The only explanation I have is that Brandon has fully identified with the OompaLoompa nickname I have given his former tribe, Upolu, & was reenacting a Snozzywanger attack in Loompaland, this being the preferred method of escape in such a situation.
Ozzy would scurry to the top to regain his footing, & I kept thinking he would accidentally grab the top of the pole, which isn't allowed. However, it was not to be, & as much as I wanted Ozzy out of the running, I am happy he didn't go out at the very last challenge. He is truly an amazing competitor.
Brandon falls to the ground & thanks God immediately. He is smiling, says he had a heart-to-heart with God, & holds "no bitterness to nobody." What?!? How is he not bit...ah, he's speaking in double negative code. He is bitter. Clever, Brandon! He exits, of course, to the sound of a church bell.
Probst refers to Ozzy as an underdog, but I don't know if you can call Ozzy an underdog. That's like calling Cochran an underdog in a Woody-Allen-off. Ozzy is back in the game & since no one is congratulating him, he'll do it himself. "I spent the last 15 days just pushing myself every single day with the hopes that if I do make it back to this final stretch, then I'll come harder than I have ever been able to in this game of Survivor." Everyone else: "Yay."
Coach, the man who just will not stand for bullshit, tells Ozzy he wants to take him to the final 3, going so far as saying if he wins immunity, he'll give Ozzy the immunity idol he's been hanging on to.
OK. As Ozzy says, "Who in their right mind would want to take me to the end right now? After battling on Redemption & coming back after 8 people straight? Come on." Here, his arrogance is justified.
The Immunity Challenge is a balancing challenge, but this is no stacking-plates challenge. This looks incredibly difficult. They are to steady a board using a pulley with one hand, & with the other, they must build a house of cards out of tiles that is high enough to cross a line. Dude.
Sophie reveals she does this for fun, & has a book on how to build these. Probst says her tower looks indestructible, & she is confident until she runs out of tiles. She is waiting for someone to bring her more when Probst says "part of this challenge is tile management." Sophie has to take her tower apart & wants to dig out Probst's glorious dimples. Later in the challenge, half of Sophie's tower falls over & she issues a command.
Sophie: "Hey Albert, drop your stack & come pick up my pieces."
Albert: "Um, I'm in a pretty decent spot right now"...also, no fucking way.
Sophie: "Drop your damn stack & pick up my pieces. I'm gonna beat you."
Sophie: "ALBERT! JUST DROP YOUR STACK!"
Probst made sure that gold was captured on camera, then says there's no helping allowed. "You want Ozzy out of this game? Beat him."
Coach gives Ozzy a run, but amazingly, Ozzy wins immunity. Dude is unstoppable. His plan now is to pit everyone else against each other. He tells Albert about Coach's promise to take him to the final 3. Albert is suspicious, but can't bring himself to believe Coach would cheat on him like that.
Albert: "There's long curly hair all over your jacket, man."
Coach: "Oh, that's mine. My hair falls out when I'm constantly clawing through it."
Albert: "No, this hair is really, really well conditioned. Like, it looks more amazing than unwashed hair should look. This is not your hair....it looks like...Ozzy's?"
Coach: "Wha....I mean..."
Coach: "Dude..trust me....no."
Albert: "So, for my curiosity, did anything ever happen between you & Ozzy?"
Coach: "(mumbles), (drinks water), (walks away)"
|I have a spider monkey that comes & grooms me.|
Rick gets voted out, unsurprisingly. Coach stands up for that hug he seems to think everyone wants, & Rick shuts him down.
Back at Te Tuna (damn it), Sophie doesn't want Ozzy to have any plantains, but since he's off scaling trees & eating coconuts by himself, I think he's ok with that. Ozzy being there irritates Sophie, but I can't imagine there's much that doesn't irritate her. She seems highly irritable. All the time.
Coach confronts Ozzy about his spilling the beans at tribal. Ozzy explains he's been burned in the past by trusting people, & one person in particular really crushed him, as he cared about her. He would be speaking of the lovely Parvati, who was a friend & close ally in the Fans Vs Favourites season, until she blindsided him. Here's what Ozzy was like with much shorter hair, & a much fresher wound:
The final immunity challenge is upon us, the winner of which is automatically in the final 3. It is my favourite kind of challenge, the enormous & ridiculous obstacle course followed by a puzzle. Blindfolds are the only component missing to make this a perfect challenge. The Survivors line up, & everyone heads to the leg of the course closest to them, except for Albert. He heads to the one furthest away from him, which is also the one Sophie has gone to. WTF Albert? There are 2 empty legs now, over where you just were. This proves to be a huge mistake, as Albert is constantly getting stuck behind Sophie for the rest of the challenge. There are lots of falls & rolls, aside from Ozzy, who leaps & bounds like a chimpanzee over the net that everyone else is having so much trouble with.
Ozzy has a great lead on the puzzle, but Sophie comes from behind & wins the final immunity. Everyone celebrates except for Ozzy, who swears, because he knows he's done. Ozzy has a tearful moment as he reflects on his game, & doubts that Coach will keep him. This is interrupted by shouts of celebration from everyone else, & Ozzy gives the camera a "see what I have to deal with?" look.
So what exactly is everyone celebrating, specifically? In the most surprising moment since Jeff's green shirt, Coach relinquishes his title of Dragonslayer! But...you gave that title to yourself! Does that mean nothing to you? Coach declares Sophie the new slayer, as she has slayed Ozzy. Now Coach will be known as her Watcher.
|A new Dragonslayer is born!|
Ozzy plays up Coach's dramatic side, asking him to vote for Albert with him, leading to a tie, & a make-fire-off between the 2. Coach is struggling with which of his words to honour, or is he? Pretty sure he wants a million dollars. At tribal, Sophie votes Ozzy because "I am the new dragonslayer."
Ozzy is voted out, & I am actually really, really sad for him. I have never been a huge Ozzy fan, but you cannot deny that he was made for this game. My husband does not see him as the arrogant douche that I see, & he has whittled away a lot of the hate-on I have for him. It's just sad to see him go out so late in the game, when he's so close. Everyone claps for Ozzy & he has his torch snuffed out for the third time this season. Albert looks to the heavens & thanks God & I realize that all the praying left when Brandon left. Curious.
Coach is so ecstatic to be in the final 3, he doesn't even care about the accuracy of his quotes. "I'm not sure who said it - Mark Twain, Shakespeare - one of those guys - 'If I'm in a dream, let me never wake up.'" Coach, that's not so much a quote as just something people say. Often.
The final 3 have a delicious breakfast on day 39, & they all hug, & Brandon is feeling phantom pains somewhere. Before they head to final tribal council where they will face the jury, they torch the shelter at camp, but there is no Former Tribe-Mate Memorial Walk. I think the only people who were missing it were the former tribe-mates. Semhar had written a spoken word piece for the montage & everything! I happened to get an advanced copy, & here it is:
What Survivor Means To Me
(dedicated to my future lucky husband)
I wrap my legs around you, yet you still walk away, stretching my soul until it is as black as my tears.
I still feel your love, coursing through my veins
that you cut open when you abandoned me, leaving me to die
alone while my blood poured over a single fragrant lily in the garden that our dozen children tilled.
Geez, Semhar, lighten up. It's just a game.
At tribal council, the jury comes in & it appears they've brought Ozzy of Green Gables with them.
|That's Ozzy with a Y.|
Albert does a lot of pandering in his statement - you're all amazing, so glad I had an opportunity to play with you all, but he also touches on the reason he loves this game, which is the same reason I love this game: it's a social experiment. I had a conversation with someone who stopped watching Survivor years ago, because "it's always the same". It was hard to keep my mouth shut, but I knew it would be like talking strategy with Brandon, & I don't want Jeff Probst to show up in an orange shirt or something. What is so fascinating about Survivor is that it's never the same, because of the people. It could even be the same people, just split up a different way, & it would be a different Choose Your Own Adventure entirely. You could have your game strategy all ready before you go, & when you get there, you may realize it's just not going to work with the tribe you've been dealt. Look at the seasons where it was men vs women...all those flirtatious women were desperate to find a lesbian in their midst as their only selling point was boobies.
Sophie goes logical, which was her plan following her emotional breakdown a few days prior. Her argument was simple - I outwitted, outplayed, & outlasted. Coach was self-deprecating, which was new for Coach, & he did lots of pandering about relationships built in the game. The arguments depend on the jury as well - if you have a bitter jury, which this certainly was, there's virtually nothing you can say to persuade them to throw a vote your way. Especially if you've made it clear you wanted to play with honour & integrity...because it will get thrown back in your face.
Ozzy of Green Gables speaks first. He asks Coach about his word, & Coach fesses up to compromising his word & the way he wanted to play the game. Brandon looks bewildered - he may have just realized in that moment that it wasn't God who voted him out.
Jim is next, & asks Albert the jury classic - tell me why the other two should not be sitting there? Jim also warns not to throw any compliments in there, or his vote is lost. Jim wants to hear straight up, why Coach & Sophie suck, & Albert says, "I love this question - love the way you're approaching the game." Ozzy of Green Gables laughs maniacally & OMG, I think the raspberry cordial is really currant wine! Marilla, put a lock on your liquor cabinet!
|Look! Sophie's smiling now!|
Dawn wants to know why Sophie aligned with Coach & Albert, in particular. Even though Sophie's voice is so shaky it's making me nervous, she sounds like she had a plan. She says she had wished she was a man before starting this game, because men can always seem to get 2 young girls to follow them to the end, & she knew she couldn't do that. "I saw [Coach] as the equivalent of a young girl. He was someone who said to me 'loyalty is worth more than a million dollars. I want to come out of this game restoring who I am.' That's a guy who's not gonna write my name down." When it came to Albert, he was into strategy, & Sophie wanted someone to discuss strategy with. And with that answer, she sounded like she had a plan from the beginning, & didn't end up there by luck.
Rick is mad & just is mad.
Brandon asks Coach about his word, & Coach says what Brandon wants to hear, & that's that Brandon raised the bar re: Christianity & praying & God, & he thanks Brandon for that. Brandon: I forgive you. Come on, Brandon, you have to make it harder than that! Even God asks for a few Our Fathers before absolving any sins! Brandon asks Albert, "Did you know I was going home?" Albert stalls & goes into his Bella Swan impression once more.
|How could...the thing is...they said...look, I tried...when you...|
And just like that, because he didn't just say Yeah, I knew. But it's a million dollars!, he's out of the running.
Whitney is mad, calls Albert sleazy, & Sophie condescending. Sophie gets a little emotional again, vowing to work on herself when she gets home.
Edna chooses to speak to the jury, not the finalists & reminds them that everybody lies in this game, so they shouldn't vote based on that. "We signed up to be duped, & they duped us." Like I said after watching Edna's Ponderosa videos, I like her so much more outside of the game! I wish we had seen more of this side of her.
Keith asks about the hidden immunity idol, & Sophie pipes up, telling everyone how Coach actually found it early on with plans to use it for just the 3 of them, & then staged the praying & finding of it for everyone.
Brandon looks devastated, but Keith either doesn't understand what was just said, or...no, I think that's it. He just offers a blank "k, thanks guys".
Cochran is the last member of the jury to have his say. He is impressed with Coach's game, but comments on how Coach says honour so much, the word now means nothing. He would like Coach to discuss his strategy without using the word honour, & it's like a game of Taboo!
|I am ready to buzz you out, Coach.|
The stress of being forbidden to use his favourite word leads Coach to implode. He says he got caught up in the game, & compares his game to a house of cards that "looks nice for so long...but now everybody hates me, the cards are gone, & the game I tried so hard to play was in shambles."
Everyone votes, & Jeff takes the urn with the votes & walks from the South Pacific to LA, which is not as impressive as these trips used to be:
I mean, that is awesome. Probst takes the urn & hacks his way through the jungle with a machete ALL NIGHT LONG until he finds a waiting plane that flies over an Indiana Jones map to the US, then he SKYDIVES out of the plane, lands next to a motorcycle which he rides to LA, & then unfortunately, just walks into the studio. Not even a skateboard after all of that? Whatever, I am getting a signed buff from that man. That alone is awesome.
2011 Jeff Probst just walks into the studio & suddenly we are live & Coach is a Russian villain from an episode of 24.
And the winner is Sophie! Coach gets a few votes, but there is not even one for Albert (if only this had been a handsome-off!). I never disliked Sophie, but I am sad for Coach. As my husband said, Coach would have been happier losing to Ozzy than Sophie. At least Ozzy is OZZY. Sophie's fairly unlikeable although I know at least one person for whom she was the pick to win it all, & I'm sure that person is regretting not joining the Survivor pool this year because she would have won...
Sophie is celebrating with her family, & the rest of the Survivors come out, led by Papa Gummi Bear, bouncing here & there & everywhere. The entire reunion show needs to be longer (perhaps an extra hour online only?) or better managed. Probst didn't even talk to Mikayla!
|I'm a lingerie football player who was stalked by a fellow Survivor. And you don't have time for me?|
Ozzy spoke way too much, even if it was inspiring & positive. Or possibly dangerous, with a message for kids that they can do anything, just learn to fall down & pick yourself up. A valuable lesson, for sure, but I fear it will result in many injuries of children trying to hold their breath for 3 minutes underwater. There is no way there should be enough time for Ozzy to field a question from a kid in the audience like "How do you climb trees & swim so well?" Are you kidding me? Don't you read my recaps, kid? OZZY IS AN OTTER-MONKEY, that's how he does it. Let's move on, please.
Keith has cut his hair, completing his transformation into Joe Jonas & holy Adam's apple, look at that neck! His shaggy hair was hiding that? Oh, look in the far left corner - hair can hide an entire Semhar! I understand now.
Coach is discussing (what else) honour & integrity & makes a passing comment about the 7 layers of viking heaven & Jeff goes wild. He is gleeful.
Thankfully, there's time for Cochran, who looks great in something other than sweater vest - & scruff works for him. He is the most entertaining to listen to, by far. He tells Jeff that the reaction he gets from people on the street is positive, "but then I go on the internet like an obsessive freak & everybody hates me." Not everybody! There's me, & I found a tumblr all about Cochran today!
Jeff reminds everyone that Cochran wrote a prize-winning essay at Harvard on Survivor's jury system. Cochran says that "the biggest shock was that my knowledge of the theory & having watched every single episode didn't mean anything once you get out there, because it all depends on who you're put with." So has Survivor changed the previously socially anxious Cochran? "Now I've put myself through really the most socially uncomfortable, psychologically unpleasant experience you can imagine, & it's being broadcast to millions of people who can make fun of you & ridicule you? Like, it makes real world interactions seem like nothing."
Cochran tells Probst he's not dating anyone. Nobody? "No...just come at me." I adore Cochran. While I'd like for Survivor to go back to having a cast of all newbies, I would really love to see Cochran come back in another season with some of my other Survivor favourites, Courtney Yates & Jonathan Penner.
Brandon's bit is a little heartbreaking, as he's disappointed his whole family, & he really believes he played a good game, trying to be Christ-like. He has no support - no one in his family is there, except for Uncle Russell in the audience, trying hard to look bad-ass. No wonder he needs God so much. Brandon says, "I don't think very many people are proud of me", & just remembering how desperately he wanted his tribe-mates, especially Coach, to be proud of him is quite sad.
Jeff speaks to Russell in the audience, which was totally unnecessary, but he was definitely tearing up, & made clear that Uncle Russell & Russell from Survivor were 2 different people. To me, that was his way of saying the guy who has been hard on you is the persona, not the real me. Or he could have been saying "When you talk to me, don't forget the 'Uncle' out of respect, you son of a bitch." Who knows, & already I've spent more time on this than I wanted to.
Ozzy wins the $100,000 Player of The Season/Fan Favourite, with Cochran not even a close second. I gave you my votes, Cochran.
Probst asks Christine about her "very unlikely friendship" with Stacey. First of all, why are you so surprised they're friends, Jeff? "Would you ever have been friends otherwise?" "Um, yes, Jeff." Stacey says Blam! and also that they call each other every day & call each other Salt & Pepper & I feel like my dream of a Wake Up, Long Island! morning show hosted by them is within my grasp if a CBS affiliate would just take my calls!
In other news, Edna is pregnant, Jim is still a jerk & a bully, Whitney & Keith are still in love. For all my teasing about her, you never really know what goes on behind closed, secret marriage doors, so I'm happy they seem happy. I guess.
I'm glad Jeff handed over the cheque at the end of the Live Reunion. I am a huge Survivor fan, & not once have I ever bothered to watch the cheque presentation on The Early Show the next morning. So it's nice to actually see it.
I have really enjoyed recapping this season of Survivor - I've received loads of positive feedback, so thank you for that! Any thoughts on the finale, or on the season in general? Are there any players you would want to see come back?