Woo channels the ghost of Colby Donaldson, and hands away a million dollars to Tony in the process
“I’d be the stupidest Survivor player taking Tony to the end.”— Woo Hwang
Oh, boy. The second those words escaped the lips of Ninja Stealth Woo, you had to have a sneaky suspicion that they would come back to haunt him. And haunt him they did. Because Woo did win the final immunity competition and did get to choose whom to bring with him to the finals. And when the moment came to make that fateful decision, Woo did the most inexplicable thing possible — he took Tony to the end. So, to be clear, I am not the one calling Woo the stupidest Survivor player ever — he is calling himself that.
And he is on to something with that assessment, because guess what? Woo had won the money! The million dollars was his! All he had to do was pick Kass and that would have ensured three different things. 1) It would be the worst final two in Survivor history. 2) It would guarantee that notorious final two hater Jeff Probst would never, ever go back to that format ever again, and if you argued for it, all he would have to say is “Woo vs. Kass” and you would have no choice but to slink away in defeat. And 3) Woo would become an automatic millionaire.
But no, instead of taking his place as one of the worst winners in Survivor history — but a winner nonetheless — Woo morphed into freakin’ Colby Donaldson, choosing honor and integrity over intelligence. Look, I’m not trying to bash Woo. I love the guy and would totally want to hang out with him and have a beer while saying words like “rad” and “stoked” a lot. But this was a terrible, terrible move and deserves to be called out as such. There is a separation between “in game” and “out of game.” You can have all the honor and integrity in the world outside of the game, but the point of Survivor is not to have the most honor; it is to make the best strategic moves possible, and the only strategic move Woo controlled all season was a flat-out awful one. And it cost him a million dollars. The first five codes of Taekwondo may be discipline, integrity, loyalty, respect, and harmony between mind and body, but it is never wise to neglect the rarely publicized sixth code: DON’T BE A MORON!!!
But thank God he did make that move, or, as I said, we would have had Woo vs. Kass. Would that have been the worst final 2 ever? Probably, right? I mean, Neleh vs. Vecepia was not exactly a clash of the titans, but this would have been right up (down?) there. And it would have been a real bummer of a way to close out this incredible season. Instead, Woo made his epic blunder and we got ourselves a worthy winner. And yes, Tony is a worthy winner. With apologies to Boston Rob on the Redemption Island season, Tony played what has to be considered the most aggressive game from start to finish we have ever seen from a champion. (Not the best, but the most aggressive.) Sometimes his moves were positively maddening and sometimes he acted without thinking through the consequences of said actions, but the dude was always playing the game. As a fan of the show, even if you did not love Tony, you had to love and respect that effort. That’s what we want from people that go out and play the game — to play the game. And so thanks to Woo, we were able to tie a proper bow on this terrific installment. But there is so much else to get to and touch on from this three hour finale/reunion extravaganza, so let’s get to it from the very top.
We begin the same way every finale begins, with a recap of the season so far. Wait, no it doesn’t! Instead, he have Jeff Probst coming at us from the comfy confines of CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles, California ordering us to eat snacks, call our friends, and use CBS approved hashtags. After that introduction we head back to the Philippines for the aforementioned recap. Oh, look! There’s Tony’s spy shack! There’s Woo falling out of a tree! And there’s a montage of Spencer celebrations and tantrums! No doubt we will be seeing at least one more of those this evening. Then the final four returns from getting rid of Trish and we discover that Spencer and Kass had no idea Tony was also going to vote her out. Kass tells us in the morning that, “Tony is an idiot” for making this move because when it comes to the jury “I’m pretty sure everybody dislikes Trish.” Which begs the question, how exactly do you think they feel about you, Kass?
NEXT: Enter the loved ones!
But wait…what’s that off in the distance? It’s a boat. Could it be Jeff Probst arriving with a tribe full of “Outcasts” ready to play their way back into the game? Could it be Tata the Horny Bushman looking for more hot chicks to mack on? (No luck here, Tata! Check the jury house.) Could it be a boatload of immunity idols for Tony to use into the final 2 and beyond, including, but not limited to, any and all future appearances on the program? None of the above! Instead, it is the loved ones. We thought we were going loved ones-less this season. We thought wrong. Look, there’s Kass’ husband! And Spencer’s sister! And Woo’s cousin! And Tony’s wife! Who looks suspiciously like a man! Is this the wife Tony keeps swearing on (in which case I can see why he hasn’t seemed too concerned about throwing her life around so willy nilly)?
For a second I thought we were going to have some sort of Jonny Fairplay dead grandma situation, but no, it turns out Tony’s wife Marissa wisely decided that leaving a 4-month-old baby back at home while her parents are halfway around the world starring on a reality television show may not exactly get them nominated for any parent of the year awards. So instead we get Arnold, who makes Tony feel like an even worse parent by telling him his baby is twice the size she was when he left. (Real nice job, Arnold!)
So after Woo dreams out loud about proposing to some chick named Christina Hamilton — “after getting permission from her mom and dad of course” — and after Kass tells her hubby that “I’m not a goat, I’m just hated” (ooooooookay), the final four and their loved ones walk away from camp all dramatic like, as if they are a local action news team in a TV promo. By the way, how awesome would these guys be as a local action news team?
Spencer as male anchor
“Good evening and welcome to Action News 9. Tonight’s top story: Local do-gooder Marcia Fiddlewick wants the city council to stop and think about putting in more stop signs. OH, COME ON! WHO WROTE THIS COPY? AND IF I HAVE TO DO ONE MORE GODDAMN STORY ABOUT MARICA F—ING FIDDLEWICK I AM GOING TO LOSE IT! MARCIA FIDDEWICK — ZERO PERCENT CHANCE OF GETTING THOSE NEW STOP SIGNS!”
Kass as female anchor
“In community news, First Lady Michelle Obama will be visiting town next month to promote her physical fitness themed Let’s Move campaign. She will be making appearances at the following locations… Actually, you know what? I’m not going to tell you. Yeah, I think I just won’t tell you. You know what they call this? Newscasting by ambush, people. Deal with it!”
Woo as weatherman
“Whoa, what up, dudes and dudettes? I know it looks like there’s a major rainstorm outside right now, but Tony tells me it’s actually abundant sunshine happening, and I know that sounds crazy, but hey, I just gotta go with my gut, and my gut tells me to trust Tony. So slap on that sunblock because it looks like a scorcher out there!”
Tony as sportscaster
“Well, my friend, let me tell you, the Spurs definitely beat the young lads on the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals the other night. Tim Duncan busted out some of his “special powers” that allowed him to score baskets even after the game had already ended, giving the Spurs 30 extra points! Or maybe he didn’t. I can neither confirm nor deny that he did that. Or that he has “special powers.” Although he totally does. Or does he? I’m not saying. But he does. I’m serious. I can show you the highlights! But after I show you the highlights I may tell you that those highlights did not actually exist. Oh, also, I’m really a construction worker. Back to you, Spencer!”
NEXT: Are the challenges too puzzle dependent?
So off to our first immunity challenge we go, and with an audience of loved ones, no less. The contest starts with the players perched on a pole in the ocean, where they must use a bucket to retrieve water, which must then be poured down a chute to raise a key. When they get their key, they much swim to shore and use that key to unlock pieces and make a puzzle. Like all of these challenges, it’s all about the puzzle. Look, I have railed about too many puzzles in the past, but while I actually think the challenges have been pretty good this season, I do worry that 90 percent of each contest is basically irrelevant because whomever does best on the puzzle almost always ends up winning. The flip side is that it gives us these amazing comebacks, and those are great to watch and no doubt the course is designed for those because they make for great television. But you also need to feel like every stage actually matters, and I’m not sure that has been the case this season.
And here is another perfect example of that. Kass is about as far back as one can be, still working on getting her chute filled with water as all the others are deep into their puzzle. But then what happens? Even after she gets her rope stuck, delaying her even more, she still is able to come all the way back and beat Spencer for the win. I suppose this was extra humiliating for the Bledsoe family after Spencer’s sister replied to Probst’s announcement of “Spencer making a lot of progress, if he’s right” with “Of course, he’s right!” Of course.
So Spencer kicks his puzzle piece in disgust — which is awesome and hilarious because that’s what Spencer does when he loses — while Kass goes over and smooches her husband, making millions of Americans simultaneously pull a Spencer and kick their remotes in disgust. “I had to win and it meant so much,” Spencer tells us. “And so losing in itself is devastating, but to lose to a brain dead weasel like Kass? That is the most humiliating way I could have lost today.” He lost the battle and it looks like he is about to lose the war unless he can somehow convince Tony to keep him. So after the Jersey cop complains about missing his last chance to win an individual immunity challenge, Spencer informs him that he can tell it is going to be a final 2, not final 3, and that Kass and Woo will take each other — but if Tony keeps him, then Spencer will remain the biggest target at the following Tribal Council, not Tony.
It’s an interesting pitch, and although Woo spends a good amount of energy trying to figure out what the tiebreaker would be in such a scenario (“We’re gonna have to draw rocks? The jury? We fight for it? What happens? We have to act out all the Pauly Shore scenes from Encino Man?”) the fact that we never hear Tony weigh in on it means it’s a pretty safe bet that he won’t be buying that pitch. But let’s head to Tribal Council to find out anyway.
Probst begins by talking about Kass’ incredible comeback and says, “Spencer, the look of despair on your face when Kass won the challenge today. It’s the first time in 37 days I’ve seen emotion from you.” SAY WHAT?!?!??!?!?!?!?! The guy was yelling and screaming YESTERDAY when he won the last challenge. And whenever he loses, he starts kicking and knocking things over! Spencer’s celebrations and temper tantrums are legendary…at least in these here recaps they are.
NEXT: Rites of Passage R.I.P.
Anyhoo, Spencer then ups the ante on his previous offer to Tony by saying that if he ends up in situation where he can take Kass or Tony to the end that he will take Tony, and then asks the jury to not vote for him if he goes back on his word. He says he will take himself out of the running if he does not honor that. At first blush, this seems like an obvious lie, but I actually think Spencer would have stayed true to his word and the reason is simple — if Spencer makes the finals, it doesn’t matter who he faces, because he wins. He’s like the anti-Kass, who would have lost no matter whom she faced. I think they could helicopter freakin’ Dreamz with a Z into the finals to face Kass and she would still lose. (Yep, that’s right, I just dropped a Dreamz with a Z reference into this season 28 finale recap. By the way, I wonder if he’s still rollin’ around town in Yau-Man’s car.)
And it is because of Spencer having such a good chance of winning the final challenge and being a slam dunk winner in the finals that Tony needs to get rid of him, and that’s exactly what he does. But not until we get yet another comment from Spencer while voting. I need to ask this question seriously right now — have there been any Tribal Councils in which we did not hear from Spencer while casting his vote? It’s unbelievable and has to be a record. It’s remarkably also not even his last one of the season! (We see his final Tribal vote later as well.) I wonder if CBS.com has set up a camera in Spencer’s house to record everything he votes on: what to have for breakfast, whether to go boxers or briefs, how many times to curse Kass under his breath that particular day, etc…
So after Tony explains to everyone what the real special powers of his idol were — which is a smart thing to do because now he should get props from the jury for skillfully using a tool that wasn’t even at his disposal — Spencer has to take the walk of shame to the jury house. But his shame is my shame as well because once again my episode 1 pick to win it all has come up short. But Spencer should be super proud of how he played. He was the odd man out on a terrible tribe and yet made it all the way to the final four, even when people were gunning for him. Well done, sir. I have no doubt we will be seeing you again. Then again, I’m sure we’ll also be seeing Kass again so I’m not sure how much of a compliment that actually is.
At this point I am going to do Woo the favor of not repeating the next scene, which is where he makes that infamous declaration about not being dumb enough to bring Tony to the finals. Besides, we can’t waste any time because we have to get to the Rites of Passage to pay tribute to all of the Fallen Comrades who left us along the way. Will it be by land or by sea? The anticipation is simply killing me! But no! Instead, the Rites of Passage has turned on itself and committed suicide because this marks the second straight season we have not been treated to hilariously awkward shots of the remaining contestants attempting to wax poetic about people they either barely or never met. Yes, the Rites of Passage is one of the biggest waste of times of every season but it still may have been worth it just to watch Kass, Tony, and Woo struggling to say something — anything! — about Brice, whom they never even played with. I can just picture Woo now: “Um…yeah, Brice was…like, totally a player who…um, came to play and he showed honor and integrity and…yeah, man. Brice. Totally Brice.”
NEXT: Woo loses by winning
In any event, potential goldmine awkwardness aside, producers did a good job nixing this segment once again. So instead of the pomp and circumstance we just get right to the final immunity challenge of the season, which is a massive set piece stretching across a wide swath of land, as players must race through a maze of turnstiles, some of which turn and some of which don’t. Along the way they must collect four medallions which will be used to open a chest full of cogs that when used together will raise the person’s flag.
It’s a cool challenge and I would have no qualms whatsoever if it had been played as the penultimate one. But here’s the thing: I love the old school Survivor when the final battle was always an endurance contest. Whether it was seeing who could touch a pole the longest (Borneo), or hold coins while in a painful pose (Thailand), or stand on a stump while holding a wacky headdress up in the air (Amazon), or bob on a buoy (Palau), those challenges may not have been epic in size, but they were epic nonetheless because they all came down to one thing: who wants it more. I loooooove those tests of endurance and have been wishing for years that we could go back to them. Sometimes simpler can be better and I think stripping that last challenge back down a to mind over matter exercise makes it even more powerful. Also, keep in mind that women usually did better in these endurance tests than men did. Remember 56-year-old Kim beating Ethan and Lex in Africa? Or Kelly beating Richard and Rudy in Borneo? Or Jenna beating Rob and Matt in The Amazon? Or Lil beating Fairplay (and Sandra) in Pearl Islands? These challenges weren’t about strength. They were about desire. And I desire to see them again.
Okay, challenge rant out of system! So the final three take off into turnstile hell, and although Kass grabs an early lead, it is Woo and then Tony that find their medallions first. Kass is pretty far behind as Woo starts to place his cogs. But we remember what happened last time Kass was behind in a challenge…unless you have a terrible memory in which case I will remind you that she won. And once again she flies through the puzzle to catch back up to Woo. In a photo finish, Woo beats her by a mere second. That’s all. And even though he was not even in the mix for this contest, that is the difference between Tony winning and losing this game. Because for all Kass’ talk about Tony being a good person to sit next to at the end, the fact is — Woo is even better. And had Kass won and taken Woo, then guess what? Woo would have won. So yes, in effect, Woo lost Survivor by winning this challenge. Allow me to repeat that for maximum impact: Woo lost Survivor by winning this challenge. Brutal.
NEXT: We narrowly avoid the worst final 2 in Survivor history
If Tony has proven one thing this season it is…that he likes to lean very far forward while casting his votes at Tribal Council? Okay, yes, but another thing he has proven is that he knows what buttons to push with people, and he pushes all the right ones with Woo when they get back to camp. (And yes, I realize that inadvertently sounds very sexual and I sincerely apologize for that.) He plays up the honor and integrity card and says Woo will not be able to use that if he goes and brings the less deserving Kass to the finals instead of him. It is the type of argument that has no business actually working. But then again, Woo kind of has no business still being in this game. (And again I say this as someone who totally digs the guy on a personal level.) Kass compares Woo to Fabio from Nicaragua, and that is not a terrible comparison to make. In fact, it may be one of the only non-terrible things Kass has done in this entire game. (She was great on puzzles. I’ll give her that too. Also great at appointing herself nicknames. Can’t deny her power in that area.)
Right about now is where I get really, really nervous. Because ever since they moved to the final 3 format in Cook Islands, I have publicly lobbied for a return to the final 2 (which has made only occasional appearances since, seemingly due to injuries in the game unexpectedly pulling people out). I have long argued to Probst that A vs. B is inherently more dramatic than “pick one of the above,” even if it means sacrificing a better player in the process. But now, with us staring down at a potential Woo vs. Kass finals, let’s just say I am fearful of checking my email inbox lest I see an incoming message from Jeffrey Probst with the following subject line: “SEE!!!!!!!”
There’s no doubt about it: even with the endlessly entertaining invective that would have been directed at the queen of chaos, a Woo vs. Kass final would have been an epic letdown, and I would never win this argument of final 2 vs final 3 with Probst ever again. So Woo not only saves Tony with this next vote, but he saves me as well. And he saves Colby Donaldson, who now has company in the best intentions/worst idea category. But others are not so happy. Over on the jury, watching Woo vote out Kass, Spencer sits there with his mouth agape, not believing what he just saw. And all Kass can say is “Woo! Stupid, stupid, stupid.”
The weirdest part about all of this is how off Woo’s perception of this vote is. He calls it “a big power move that I can finally claim as my own. So what really got me leaning more towards taking Tony is what I thought the jury would respect.” (Sure, maybe if your name is Tasha and you are looking for absolutely any excuse to not give money to the guy who outplayed you.) Woo also keeps repeating to Tony that “we got 50-50, bro” leading me to believe that Woo does not really understand how percentages work. See, 50-50 means you have just as much a chance of winning as the other guy. This is not 50-50.
NEXT: The jury speaks…and sulks
So out come the mimosas and the fruits and breads, and eggs, and sausages, and all of that would be incredible if either of these knuckleheads knew how to cook. But Tony, still in game mode, is more concerned with a note he finds in the basket that says there is another surprise waiting for them. He neglects to tell Stealth Ninja Woo, I guess in the hopes that it is some sort of “Congratulations! You just won a free vote on the jury!” idol, but it’s not. Instead it is a mirror (which tells them both that they look gnarly) and a scale (which tells them both that they have lost around 20 pounds each).
So the final two make their way off the beach and to the final Tribal Council, but without burning down the camp. What the heck?!? You have to burn down the camp! Isn’t that in the Survivor by-laws or something? I always love that scene because I picture all the production assistants standing just off camera with an army of fire extinguishers ready to smother the blaze once the players depart so it does not spread and burn down the entire island.
We arrive at Tribal and the players…HOLY HELL, WHAT THE IN THE NAME OF VIDAL SASSOON HAPPENED TO KASS’ HAIR?!? It’s like the woman took a bath in a giant vat of conditioner and her wild mane has finally been unleashed! This also marks the final opportunity for Morgan to make every horndog’s dream come true by not covering every inch of her body in clothing while on the jury, but alas that sassy little minx continues to play hard to get.
The opening statements are short and sweet. Tony says he’s there to answer truthfully and it was never emotional and always strategy. He also thanks Woo for bringing him to the finals, which is a nice gesture. Woo once again brings up his Taekwondo codes of conduct and talks about his mom going through a heart transplant, which seems to be laying it on a bit thick to me, but maybe that’s just because I am a jaded naysayer. Then it is time for the juror comments/questions. A quick rundown:
Sarah the cop takes Tony to task for their dissolution of their Blueblood alliance, and him swearing on his badge that he would never write her name down. (When will people realize that swearing on anything means absolutely nothing in this game?) She then asks Woo whom he would vote for if they switched places, and Woo says her. (Really? Is honesty not one of the codes of Taekwondo conduct?)
Jefra says “I’m not bitter” and then goes on to prove just how bitter she is by forcing Tony to admit he is a villain. “And the second you start giving me B.S. answers is the second I will start writing a W down so fast.” No, that doesn’t sound bitter at all. Tony answers this pointless exercise about as well as one could expect, not fully conceding nor fully refusing, saying he was half villain and half good player “doing strategic moves to save myself.” That sounds about right.
Okay, here it is, ladies and gentleman. The quote of the evening. Just take it in and soak in the effortless observational skills of Morgan McLeod: “I started out the game on the beauty tribe, which I found pretty fitting to being a young and attractive woman.” Wow. Incredible on so many levels. The logic. The lack of self-awareness. The brazen conceit. Classic stuff all around. But guess what? She isn’t done! Morgan follows this up by giving herself further props for knowing “how to keep a man in my back pocket” and then commends Tony for doing the same and for doing it “without even having breasts.” (Okay, she does have a point there.) Morgan then finishes up by complimenting Woo on his final move that is driving the rest of us completely cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. ““I respect that,” she tells him. “You chose a player that deserved to be here tonight over just a goat who may not be worthy.”
NEXT: Trish goes for the jugular
Jeremiah basically uses his moment in the jury spotlight to tell us about all the things that people don’t look kindly upon “where I’m from.” But Jeremiah has no problem if the wife and kid that Tony was swearing upon don’t really exist — because apparently lying about having a wife and kid is absolutely fine, while lying about swearing on their lives so that he can bring them home a million dollars is unacceptable. (A lie is a lie, my man.) Tony tells Jeremiah his family is real so then the male model turns to Woo and says Woo needs to prove that he deserves to win the money — to which Woo responds that he wants to win, which is not even close to being the same as deserves, so who knows what the hell Jeremiah is thinking at this point after hearing that.
Tasha asks Tony how he kept everyone in line after blindsiding people behind their backs, to which Tony replies that the only person he backstabbed without them breaking a promise first was Trish, conveniently omitting his entrapment of LJ.
LJ uses his question to quote the great Roger Daltry and ask simply, “Who are you?” Reading from the book of Todd Herzog, who killed an angry Jean-Robert with kindness by saying he had no choice but to blindside him because he was simply too good and would have beaten him at the end, Tony does the same thing, telling LJ he was “petrified” of him and therefore had to come up with a reason to get rid of his former alliance partner.
This is when it begins to get good. Kass is rightfully incredulous that Woo brought Tony to the finals instead of her. “Why on earth did you not cut the head of the dragon off?” she inquires. When Woo responds that he thought people would respect the decision, Kass hits him back with, “So you brought someone who deserved it more than you to get points for yourself?” This leads Woo to tell Kass that he didn’t think she deserved to sit there in the final 2. EXACTLY! THAT’S WHY YOU BRING HER! But Kass is just the opening act for what is about to come.
Even while Tony was going behind Trish’s back to vote people out from their alliance, Trish excused him and always was able to explain away his actions. But not after he voted her out. She uses her time here to hammer him for swearing on his father’s grave because she has two dead siblings. She wants him to answer one question and one question only, and she wants him to answer it not only to her, but his entire family. The question: “Was it worth it for you for a million dollars, to sacrifice your own father, to get you here?”
Wow, tough spot here for Tony, but there’s only one way to answer. If you say no, you come off as wishy-washy, not genuine, and look like you are repudiating your entire gameplay. So Tony says the only thing he can say — yes. And it is worth it, because those words he spoke were just that, words. And again, what you do in the game has no bearing on anything that happens in real life outside of the game, because this is not real life. Everyone lies in this game. Everyone. To then go and say some lies are okay and others are not is hypocritical. You use every tool in your toolbox to convince people you are not lying, and if Tony felt this was the tool he needed to use, then fine. Not saying I would have done it, but I also don’t have a problem with it either.
NEXT: A worthy winner is crowned
In case you didn’t realize it, producers totally pre-screen jury questions or at least get a sense of what the person is going to say going in, which is why the most dramatic one is usually the last one (remember Penner in Survivor: Philippines)? I actually think in this case, the most powerful thing would have been to end on Trish with Tony’s answer of “Yes,” but no matter because you knew a hardcore fan like Spencer was going to make the most of his moment in the spotlight. He begins with his assessment of Woo: “When I look at your game I can’t help but make this comparison between your strategic play and the behavior of a dog. Tony was like your master.” Ouch. When Woo then asks if Spencer could respect him for taking a goat to the finals, Spencer responds with an emphatic “YES!”
Then, instead of questioning Tony, Spencer chooses to address the jury instead and lobby for Tony to win. This is certainly not a new maneuver. David did the exact same thing on behalf of Boston Rob on Redemption Island. And Kat also addressed the jury on One World and pleaded with them to not vote out of spite. But sometimes you need someone like that to step up and make sure that the people charged with voting on who played the best game are not suffering from Bitter Jury Syndrome (BJS) and making that vote based on the fact that they simply can’t handle that someone outplayed them (ahem…Tasha!). Just because it deserves to be preserved for the official record, here is Spencer’s plea to the jury, in full:
“Love him or hate him, Tony played his ass off out here. Woo tries to excuse his passive play on not having idols and Tony finding three idols. Why do you think Tony found three idols? It’s because he looked more than everyone else combined! Tony was behind every great strategic decision. He blinded his alliance to what was going on around him in the game, like a puppet master. He took a slew of goats deep, put some on the jury. He took one to the end. Tony played with a ferocity this game very rarely does see. And so when you put pen to parchment tonight, vote for the only guy sitting there who actually played this game and played it in a way that honors it.”
At this point, even with showing us Tasha’s absurd vote for Woo, the game is clearly going to Tony, so all that’s left is to cross those fingers and see if we will possibly get another dramatic delivery of the voting urn to the United States. Will it be by jet ski? By subway? By skydiving? By motorcycle? Could this be the year Jeff Probst finally scuba dives his way to Los Angeles? Alas, no. He just walks them in. LAME! In all seriousness, if there is one thing I could change about Survivor, it would be mandating that they go back to some of these classic vote delivery sequences of yesteryear. Nothing has ever made me laugh harder — and that includes the time Becky and Sundra could not make fire in a tiebreaker…even when using matches!
The good news is Probst has promised me at least one more epic entrance at some point in Survivor’s future. The bad news is that with the new live wrap-around format for the first two hours, such an epic journey from halfway around the world makes considerably less sense when we have already seen him on stage in the United States. Or maybe the fact that it makes less sense makes it even better. I have no idea. But it needs to happen. In ant event, as suspected, Tony wins in a landslide, with Tasha the only player allowing BJS to determine her vote. Good for Tony. I think most, if not all, true Survivor fans were cool as long as either Spencer or Tony won.
NEXT: Tyler Perry and other random quick hits from the live reunion
So on to the reunion we go, but first I guess we need to touch on those other live elements we got during the actual finale. Save for that one random moment where Probst looked like he was assembling a Survivor version of the Baseball Bunch with all those little kids grouped together in the audience, I thought the live look-ins were fun. I don’t know, maybe it was just because I was obsessed with this guy.
And this guy.
And this guy.
I DON’T CARE THAT IT IS ALL THE SAME GUY! THAT’S HOW INCREDIBLE HE WAS! (Did someone vomit up a paint palette on that dude’s shirt or what? Spectacular.) As for the actual reunion, here are a few thoughts. • For a while I thought Tony was trying to kick-start a classic slow-clap scene from an inspirational sports movie the way he kept periodically mashing his hands together. Then again, I guess anything to distract him from speaking llama must be considered a good thing. Interesting that he and Sarah are not really on speaking terms. (I thought that according to Probst earlier in the show that everyone was getting along just swell!)
• Wow, Probst was really throwing Tyler Perry under the bus for the unpopular super idol, in essence saying “Hey, if you don’t like it, blame this guy!” Perry noticed it as well, joking that, “Yeah, lay it all on me because you got all the backlash.” Jeff then got the audience to yell that they would have liked it had Spencer found it, but I disagree that the popularity of the idol depended on whom you were rooting for, because I liked Tony but argued about what a mistake going back to the Cook Islands idol was, and I know a lot of people who feel the same way.
• John Cochran looks even more uncomfortable being awkwardly wedged into these reunions for seasons he was not even on than he did the first time he took his shirt off in South Pacific. And that is saying something.
• I don’t care what he said — Ninja Stealth Woo looked suuuuuuper depressed on stage. I would be too if I handed away a million bucks.
• We got updates from a bunch of dudes in the back row that were completely underwhelming. I have never been one of those people that thinks you have to talk to everybody. Put them on the stage? Yes. But you don’t have to talk to them and this illustrated why. Snoozeville.
• We sure did get a lot of shots of that Albert guy.
• WHAT?!? Again, no oversized novelty check?!? I mean, c’mon! What’s the point of even playing if there is no oversized novelty check waiting for you at the end?
Okay, you can tell I am clearly getting a bit loopy now, which is what happens after you cross the 6,000 word barrier. Yikes! Okay, time to sign off, but before I do, a few quick programming notes and then a final word. I’ve got all your scoop (beyond what you saw on TV) about the next season of Survivor right here. And you can check out an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode in the video player below. My finale Q&A with Jeff Probst is now live and individual interviews with the final four will be soon. I’ll tweet out updates when they are live, so follow me @DaltonRoss for that.
I’ll end by just thanking all of you. One, for making it this far in what may be my longest Survivor recap ever. And two, for sticking around for another season of weekly fun and strategy talk. I’ve been doing this for a long time (maybe too long) but your kind words are much appreciated and keep me keeping on. Have a fantastic summer and I’ll see you back in the fall for Survivor: San Juan del Sur — Blood vs. Water! Oh, and happy birthday, Jeff Probst’s wife, whoever and wherever you are!