''Thailand'''s end is -- in reality -- no shocker. Who didn't know that Brian was gonna take home the million, asks Dalton Ross, as the season ends as predictably as he predicted it would

By Dalton Ross
Updated December 20, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: Brian Heidik: Robert Voets/CBS
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”Thailand”’s end is — in reality — no shocker

So, it is done. Completing the least shocking edition of ”Survivor” ever, we were treated to the least shocking finale ever, with Brian taking home the million bucks. This can’t be the way creator/producer Mark Burnett envisioned it. Basically, for the past two months we knew EXACTLY where this was going, and if there’s one thing ”Survivor” is NOT supposed to be, it’s predictable.

(Which is why ”The Amazing Race” finale on Wednesday was so… well, amazing. You never truly know what’s going to happen on that show.) So since we already knew no one was smart enough or strong enough to beat Brian, it was hard for the finale to really be great — but it did have a few moments.

First off, we saw just how stupid Clay was when he blew a huge lead in the first immunity challenge when he couldn’t figure out the knife puzzle. (Okay, maybe not as stupid as not being able to spell ”road trip,” but still.) Then, after Helen was voted out at the initial Tribal Council, the Navy swim instructor wished the final three to ”break a leg, and I mean it.”

(By the way, was I the only one screaming at the two women to smarten up and join forces to vote against the guys? Then again, we’ve all been doing that for weeks. Who knows, maybe Brian and Clay offered to buy Jan a beer or something — truly an offer she couldn’t refuse.)

After Helen left, we had to sit through that boring-ass tribute to fallen tribemates Burnett always puts us through, although this one was a bit bizarre, with the montage of remembrances including images of Tanya puking and Robb choking the life out of Clay. Ah, sweet memories.

Then Brian, Clay, and Jan paddled into a creepy cave for the last immunity challenge. It was pretty spooky looking, but also pretty dark, which made it difficult to see what the hell was going on. I THINK they were holding coins in their fingers or something, but honestly I was too distracted by Jeff Probst’s incessant motivational speeches to tell. (”Your body is in a very dark place now. You’ve got to overcome it.”)

So of course, Brian won (again!) and Jan was toast, which completed ”Thailand”’s string of no surprises in either the challenges or voting. Remember when Jerri was sent packing in ”The Australian Outback,” or when Dr. John got the surprise shaft in ”Marquesas”?

They’ll be no such memories this time around.

So it was down to Brian versus Clay. While out of those two, you had to sort of root for Brian, Clay’s advance to the finals was impressive as well in that never has a ”Survivor” contestant made it so far while doing so little. Congratulations, Clay. You’re an inspiration to slackers everywhere. At least the final jury questions were good. First you had Ted calling out Brian for being a lemon and then calling Clay an ”ignorant Southern redneck hillbilly.”

And then you knew something was up when they skipped the proper order and had Jan go before Helen. Helen, in true Sue Hawk fashion, teed off on everybody, even calling her former friend Brian ”the epitome of the trashy used car salesman.” I love bitter people. They make television fun.

So, yeah, Brian won. I guess the only surprise of the entire season (besides the nonmerge) is that it was so close. Then, in a fitting end to the subpar season, even the live reunion special was lame. First off, they couldn’t even get a celebrity to host it this time (although, truth be told, I actually prefer Probst to Bryant Gumbel or Rosie O’Donnell).

Then, I couldn’t concentrate on what was going on in the first 15 minutes due to Tanya’s incessant coughing. Is there a production assistant in the house? Can someone get that woman some freakin’ mentholyptus? Highlight of the evening, hands down: Stephanie’s bizarre strip tease audition tape. And what, exactly, happened in ”Thailand” that made her decide she wanted to have children? Ironic, isn’t it, that the least interesting contestant during the show became the most interesting postfinale.

But every cloud has a silver lining, people — ”Survivor: The Amazon” is only two months away, and it can’t be any worse. Can it?

Who were you rooting for in the finals?

Survivor: Thailand

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