Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBSAs I type this I am on the plane flying back to Los Angeles less than 12 hours after Sandra became first two-time Survivor winner. So bear in mind I’m a bit fuzzy headed and therefore may say things I later regret or later realize aren’t funny or even interesting.

I’m not going to argue whether Sandra should have won or not. I’ve learned from last season that it’s a bit pointless. The jury is in charge and the jury made their decision.

Having said that… I will go on record and say that I would have voted for Parvati. No question.

Not taking anything away from Sandra. Sandra is a very good player and she does one thing very well – she avoids the vote. Two times played, two times won, two times never voted out. Hard to argue against that record.

Had I been given a vote, I would have voted for Parvati because she played her ass off. She zigged and zagged her away through the Samoan jungle like nobody’s business. I was truly impressed. She handled Russell in a way nobody else could have. The double idol play was bold. The subtle social game she played was spot on. I think she played an overall better game than Sandra.

However, I do believe the jury lumped her in with Russell and if that’s the case, then Parvati misread the vibe of the group and it cost her the money. Then again, I’m just the host and as a contestant recently reminded me at a tribal council, I don’t have a vote, so I don’t count. Truer words never spoken. I don’t have a vote. I don’t count. So let’s move on…

Russell was too hyped up last night at the live Reunion show for me to get much of anything out of him. I’m sorry I didn’t do a better job because he had a lot of very interesting things to say about the game and the wear and tear it took on him. All I could do last night was to try to keep him seated in his chair long enough for us to get a shot of him on-camera. In fact the entire night it felt a bit like a fight might break out at anytime. In case you’re wondering what I would have done…? I would have just let it happen. I wouldn’t have gone to commercial but instead would have launched right into good ole fashioned Survivor play-by-play. But it didn’t. Instead these guys did what they were put on the show to do, they did their best to entertain.

I feel for Russell. I do not believe he is aware of how out of balance his life is right now. He is still stuck in “the game” and it was uncomfortable for me to watch him squirm so much last night and scream so loudly for respect. He doesn’t need to ask for respect. He has won the Sprint Player of the Game two times. He has also proven to be extremely good at getting to the end by being a great strategist and intimidator. There is no question that Russell is an excellent player of Survivor.

But my opinion of Russell changed when he admitted to Boston Rob that he did not play to win. You can’t be the best if you’re not playing to win. He can hoop and holler all he wants about “America choosing” but that’s not this game. This game is about convincing a jury of your peers that you are the most deserving person. He didn’t do that. But my problem is not that he didn’t accomplish that goal, it’s that it wasn’t his goal in the first place.

Boston Rob plays to win. The fact that he hasn’t won doesn’t change the fact that he plays to win. It’s a philosophical approach to the game and if Russell truly doesn’t play to win then he has no claim to greatest player.

Here’s the rub… I am not convinced Russell truly feels that way. Stay with me. I think Russell did play to win. 100%. I think he just misjudged and didn’t fully understand the game well enough to achieve his goal. So now he is changing history. I believe that last night he was scrambling to make sense, scrambling to defend, scrambling to justify another loss, so he decided that all he ever wanted to do was get to the end.

That’s what I mean about “out of balance.” The man needs a break. He needs a retreat somewhere far away where he is not allowed to talk about Survivor, not allowed to talk at all. He needs a rest. I don’t imagine he’ll take one. I imagine he’ll let the anger stir inside him and it will haunt him for a long time to come.

Russell, if you’re reading this and I know you are – I hope, I truly hope you will give yourself a break and let the game go… at least for a while. Come back and revisit it with a fresh mind and see if you can find ways to improve your game. Otherwise you are doomed to be frustrated by this game and continue to make silly suggestions like “let America vote.”

Onto other thoughts:

I was happy to hear that Coach has gained some personal insight into how he is perceived as a result of his time on Survivor. As most of you know, I like Coach and his stories don’t bother me but I love anytime someone changes for the better as a result of their time on our show. Side note: Coach really wanted to play trumpet with the band during the Reunion show. He sent me a clip and he’s pretty damn good, but we just didn’t have any extra time and couldn’t work it out.

I was very surprised at the Sprint Player of the Game vote. I thought Boston Rob was a shoo-in but evidently he was just gone too long. I also never thought Rupert would be one of the two top vote getters, not only that but it was really close. Less than 2,000 votes separated the two.

Candice never looked more beautiful than she did last night. I think it’s the ring on her finger. That girl is in love and so proud. This may surprise those of you who read this blog, but the truth is I really like Candice quite a bit and I’m so happy for her happiness.

Man, I don’t exactly know what is going on with Colby but he still seemed mad last night.

I’m not sure what was going on with James either but word on the street is that he was on some pain medication for his knee and as a result was a bit out of it.

Boston Rob and Amber – who knew they’d make such a cute baby. I saw Amber before the show and she looks great. All smiles. She seems very happy being a mom and Rob is about as proud of his family as you can be without being corny and Boston Rob is rarely corny.

Ethan Zohn also stopped by last night to say hi before the show. I had recently hosted Larry King and he was on as a guest to talk about his cancer being in remission. It was so good to see him in person, give him a hug and tell him how happy I am that he is healthy again. I’d love to see Ethan back on the beach playing Survivor again one day. What an inspiration.

Okay the plane is about to land and I’ll be honest, like I always am… I am ready to put this season to bed.

Heroes v Villains will go down as one of the greatest seasons ever and that’s thanks to the 20 people who played.

It is so easy to sit at my desk in my office with my patio doors open and make fun of these guys all season, just like they could make fun of me if they had a blog. But most of them don’t. So in fairness, after a season full of lippy blogs, I think a bit of redemption is in order.

The 20 people who came out and played Survivor again this year did their very best every damn day they were out there. Survivor is unlike any other game on television. No other show kicks your ass the way this one does. No other show taxes you mentally the way this one does. And no other show puts you in situations that challenge you to be your best but often result in highlighting your worst qualities under the most unflattering conditions.

I tip my hat to the group of heroes and the villains for not only giving us 13 weeks of amazing television but also for everything they put at stake: reputations, family time, personal plans and careers to name a few. They put all this at risk while exposing themselves to the ridicule of lippy bloggers, like myself and Dalton Ross. They knew that was part of the game coming in but it doesn’t make it any easier. This was not an easy season for any of them. Every single player endured some kind of pain and/or hardship. I hope you are all reading this and I hope that at some point in the very near future you raise a glass and toast yourself. Well done.


Writing this blog and getting your feedback was, for the most part, an enjoyable experience. I won’t lie, there are days I am not in the mood to write it but then I remember that for those who do read it, you look forward to it and that always compels me to finish.

I am happy to be back for two more seasons of Survivor and we start shooting very soon. I hope you will come back and stay with us even though we have a lot to live up to following Heroes v. Villains.

To all the people I met in NY this weekend on the streets, in restaurants, at the hotel, at the airport – thanks for the loyal support all these years. I’m sorry we couldn’t accommodate more people at the live show. Maybe CBS should open it up to a bigger venue again as they have in the past.

To those of you still applying who have yet to get on the show – I hope you keep applying. We miss good people all the time, don’t give up the dream.

To those of you who think I suck as a host or as a blogger… kiss it.

Nicaragua.. here we come!

To see Survivor Talk interviews with Sandra, Parvati, and Russell, click on the video player below!