Sorry for the lateness of this review, but I've been a little bit busy. I had the opportunity of actually going to the Survivor Gabon Finale this Sunday so I just recently got back to Michigan and in front of my computer. It was a hell of an after party, I must say.
This season may have gotten off to a rocky start, but the ending was completely worth it! I was extremely pleased with the winner this year, although I would have liked if Sugar won the Fan Favorite money. It's all good, in my opinion, and I haven't really felt this satisfied over a winner of Survivor since probably Season 10 (Palau). Normally someone who is depicted in a more negative light usually wins, and consequentially, motivates me to watch the next season of Survivor so that maybe one of the good guys can have a chance at winning. With Bob, Susie, and Sugar in the final three I was pretty content with whoever won.
Let's go over a bit of what happened.
I absolutely loved seeing Crystal get blindsided and Kenny getting put on the ropes. Bob, way to go with making the correct strategic moves with the immunity necklace.
When talking with Bob later at the Reunion he mentioned he was genuinely considering giving up the idol, but because of what happened with me he realized it was all a smooth move on Kenny's part. He felt safe within the tribe and was actually considering giving up the idol, something that cost me the same kind of money on my season. Apparently I learned a hard lesson so Bob could pay off!
The re-negotiation as directed by Bob was awesome, and Kenny sat "idol"ly by and watched Bob trick him. If I were Ken I wouldn't have rolled over and depended on Bob to keep his word, he should have been planning something on the side. It's totally possible that Kenny was trying to sway other members, but because of his unsuccessful attempts to do so they may have been entirely edited out of the episode.
Regardless, I just loved seeing Bob keep the idol and Sugar hand the hidden idol over to Matty to guarantee their alliance's safety. Brilliant move.
In the finale we see the aftermath of Crystal being voted out, and Kenny is pretty much done. Although the episode started to shape up as if Kenny was safe, I had a feeling the entire time Kenny was on the outs. He started to feel too comfortable, something that will kill you in Survivor. You have to feel as if everyone hates you and wants you dead all the time; and if everyone is starting to tell you what you want to hear something bad is about to happen to you.
Kenny laid in his hammock all day, pretty content and eating up whatever Sugar told him was going to happen. This was Kenny's downfall. That night he was ousted easily. It really didn't help Kenny look any better with all the "bitching" he brought up about Bob's idol promise. On one hand, yes, Bob didn't stick by his word to give Kenny the idol. However, with the circumstances included that Kenny was in fact trying to blindside Bob once the idol was removed it makes total sense as to why the deal was null and void. That would be much like my own idol blunder, which was giving someone else my gun just so they could shoot me with it. (Reflecting upon my own immunity blunder only makes me love Bob's insight and strategic play that much more.)
I must say, for an old guy Bob killed in those challenges! To be fair, the puzzles in Survivor are always harder than the physical portions. I would even go so far as to say the ratio of time and energy spent on the challenges is 1:3 (we would usually spend about three times longer on the puzzle portion of challenges than the physical side). Bob was a threat to both types of challenges and because of his connection with Sugar he didn't really have to play that large of a social game.
The final Immunity challenge is worthy of note because it's part of a new trend in Survivor. In past seasons the final challenge was typically endurance type stuff: Hold onto this idol the longest, balance on this forever, outlast everyone while you hold a bow, etc. etc. Lately the challenges have been more concerned with balance and clear thinking and less about length of time. I tend to like the endurance challenges (from a viewer standpoint) because they are so difficult, but this new stuff is kinda unfair in my opinion. In this case the final challenge involved stacking wooden cards as high as possible within a time period, something that involves patience and balance.
It surprised me that Matty, considered a huge physical threat for the entire game, never really won anything. Matty pretty much got the short end of the stick; he had the misfortune of being targeted as a physical threat and yet didn't have the luxury of winning immunity every week to keep himself safe. That's a pretty damn crappy position.
Holy crap was this Jury fun to watch! Corinne tearing into Sugar was pretty damn nasty, but it was obvious that Sugar felt the hatred was mutual by flipping Corinne the bird. Randy was just as bad. When Kenny again reinterated his deal with Bob and how Bob wasn't an honest person I couldn't help but roll my eyes. Let it go Kenny! You were going to kill him in the game so fast and laugh about how dumb he was too.
At the final tribal I think Susie received more votes than Sugar simply because Sugar didn't really care for most of the people on the jury. Susie legitimately tried to save herself whereas Sugar just threw in the towel because of her mutual hatred for the majority of the old Kota members. This only makes me sad because I wanted to see what happens when there's a tie vote in Survivor; if any one of the old Kota members threw a vote Sugar's way we could have seen a tie between Bob and Susie. Even if I was ridiculously mad at Sugar I would have thrown her a vote simply to see what a tie looks like. I tried to do this on my season by voting for Amanda when I heard a lot of people were going to be voting for Parvati.
I had the fortune of actually talking with Bob prior to the live finale, and all I can say is awesome job. Bob is an extremely nice guy, a legitimate applicant (not recruited for the show), and deserved all the money that was sent his way (not to say anyone else is less deserving, as Kenny pointed out a few episodes back). He was a challenge monster, played under the radar for a lot of the game, but turned into a strategic challenger towards the end. He played ridiculously well and adapted well to the tribe switch-ups and whatnot.
This is not to say other millionaire winners on past Survivors are less deserving; its simply my opinion that he earned his million. Some past winners, I would argue, had their money given to them by the choices made by other power players. Bob played a significant role in his own victory, and for that I commend him.
Bob earned every bit of that million, but I would like to think Sugar did too. Sugar was an amazing strategic player the entire game and really did the majority of the legwork in terms of making sure people were voted out. I think Bob owes a lot of his own success to the efforts made by Sugar, and especially to Sugar's decision to cut Bob in on her alliance towards the end of the game. I think if Sugar was a more selfish/strategic person she would have kept Kenny and Crystal with her going into the finals because she would have had a better shot at winning. In my own opinion I actually liked her decision to turn on Kenny and Crystal in favor of "letting the good guys win".
A few people I have talked to thought Matty got shafted and I have to agree with them a little bit, but at the same time Matty really had his own fate in his hands. Apparently (and not that surprisingly) Matty has never seen Survivor. In one of his exit interviews he said he came into the game with no strategy because he had no idea what he had really signed up for. That is a huge "no-no" in my book since I come from the fan populace who has watched every season and at one point was one of the thousands of die-hard applicants of the show. It really disappoints me every time I learn that one of my favorite characters on the show was recruited as opposed to being a legitimate fan of Survivor. It just feels fake.
Because Matty hadn't seen the show before he didn't really understand what kind of strategy went into the game and therefore didn't think to practice for a possible fire building challenge. I would say bad practice on Sugar for telling Bob what was about to happen and pretty much screwing over Matty, but I can still blame Matty for not doing his homework and being able to understand how the game works. He ultimately lost the challenge and the game, but Sugar didn't really help him out. Most fire challenges suprisingly end this way; one person fails miserably while the other burns the place down.
Next season looks pretty good from the previews, and I guess it's pretty awesome in terms of strategy. I heard a few rumors coming through the grapevine and I guess the next season has a lot of similarities to the first Survivor season, which many fans enjoyed. I may or may not be back next year to blog about the show, but we shall see. Regardless, I'm definitely going to keep watching it.
Thanks for reading!
It's been great reading your perspective on this season, Erik! I hope you do grace us with your presence next season as well.
I'm with you -- I think Sugar made the right choice by keeping Bob and Susie around until the end. To be honest, I'm not sure she could have beat that jury against Kenny and Crystal either, because no matter what, the Kota Kids were all pouty that she bested them, and there's no getting around that.
But how amazing did she look at the finale? Holy smokes! She beats Corinne on everything -- personality, looks, kindness, strategy... Note to Corinne: It doesn't take a college degree to have a brain.
As much as I agree Bob deserved his win, I think Sugar deserved it more, and I LONG for a season where the jury can get over their hurt feelings and vote for the person who played the hardest. I mean, there is NO WAY Susie should have gotten any votes at that final tribal council.