This is an act of war, plain and simple. Only the naïve among us could not see it that way. Shots have been fired, ladies and gentlemen! Jeff Probst has officially declared war on all final two lovers, attempting to drive a stake through the heart of its fearless leader, yours truly.
How did we get to this place where the Hostmaster General would have no qualms with raising the hopes of all true believers by going to the finale with only four players — obviously setting up a final two situation — only to cruelly and callously dash those hopes and dreams with a wacky new twist instead? How long has he been plotting this nefarious maneuver clearly geared to publicly humiliate me? Did the idea first strike him after I made fun of the time he wore sunglasses during a challenge…in the rain?! Was it after the Survivor: Palau red carpet in which I asked him if he was going to convince Janu to quit the finale, as well? Or was it after one of my admittedly rambling and only mildly coherent diatribes against the Redemption Island twist? NO MATTER! THE GAUNTLET HAS BEEN THROWN DOWN!
#FINAL24EVA!!!! Wait, that doesn’t look right. That makes it appear as if I am lobbying for a final 24, which I think all parties can agree is plainly absurd. But I will never stop carrying the final two flag, Probst! It may not be as colorful nor as large as Debbie’s geek flag, but it suits me just fine, thank you very much. And neither you nor your highly publicized stunt can stop me!
But before we can get to Michele’s controversial million-dollar victory — and yes, we will get to it — we need to digest this new stunt of which I speak. Realizing that they would rather hand the title of Sole Survivor over to Mark the Chicken than stage the best way to end a Survivor season with only two players, producers needed something to help fill out the two-hour finale. Oh, I know! Thirty-minute Rites of Passage! Let’s do this! C’mon who doesn’t want to hear Aubry, Tai, and Michele wax nostalgic about people they never met before they were voted off? “Uh…yeah, Darnell. Ummmm…gonna miss ya, buddy. Hope you enjoyed the footage of you pooping on national television.”
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Nope, that was out. Instead, producers momentarily confused everyone by offering up a reward challenge after the final three had already been set. What the what?!? And then Probst announced the reward: the ability to kick someone (and his or her vote) off the jury. In certain seasons, this could prove to be a million-dollar challenge with one vote changing the entire outcome. I suspected that would not be the case here and that we were getting ready for a blowout, but here’s how dumb I am: I was convinced that the entire exercise was somewhat inconsequential because Aubry was going to run away with the jury vote. Yes, Aubry. Even through the final Tribal Council and even through the voting I thought it was going to be Aubry in a blowout. That’s how far off I was.
Turns out it was Michele that would dominate the final vote, but let’s pretend for a moment that we were in store for a close vote. Let’s pretend that the juror eviction actually had the potential to tip the scales and change the outcome. How do we feel about it then?
I am going to set aside my ample anger over this replacing my beloved final two for a minute and attempt to judge this twist in a vacuum, independent of the thing it essentially replaced. And in doing so, I think I may surprise you by saying I actually kinda like it. I don’t know if that exactly qualifies as a ringing endorsement, but I can’t think of one good reason to object to its existence.
It is not inherently unfair in any way. It creates another level of strategy and guesswork, which is always a good thing. And there’s no need to cry for the juror who just had his or her power stripped because that person was out of the game and was not allowed to return to the United States until the season was wrapped anyway. While you may feel sorry for eventual evicted juror Neal, who ended up having to sit around all that time for absolutely nothing, he would have had to do that anyway, as all the pre-merge boots did. Dude got himself a nice paid oceanfront vacation after he left the game. Cry me a river.
And it’s not exactly like Aubry — who had a sure vote taken away from her — was wronged. If that had instead been an immunity challenge instead leading into a final two, then guess what? Aubry would have been voted out. No question. Therefore, when given the choice to have a vote taken away from the jury or to become a member of the jury, I am fairly confident that Aubry would have picked option No. 1. So I’m actually perfectly fine with the juror-removal twist. I just wish it hadn’t been used in lieu of going to a final two — even if going to that final two would have cut the most deserving player, Aubry, out of the mix in the process.
NEXT: Why the wrong person won