In the season finale, the triumphant all-woman alliance has to turn on itself, with Parvati eventually edging out Amanda for the big prize

By Dalton Ross
Updated February 28, 2015 at 03:45 AM EST
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Monty Brinton

Survivor

S16 E14
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  • TV Show
network
  • CBS
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Poor Amanda. She spent 39 days suffering in China, went home for a few months, and then spent 39 more days getting rained on in Palau. She made it to the very end twice — the only Survivor contestant ever to do so. She won the final challenges of each season and got to hand-pick her finale opponents. And what does she have to show for it besides two crappy-ass final tribal council performances? Now, make no mistake about it, Amanda wasn’t as insanely awful this time as she was in China, when she basically handed Todd a million dollars on a silver platter, but she wasn’t very good either. Her low point came when Cirie asked her why Parvati deserved to be there over her, leading the doe-eyed dummy to give a speech on what a ”powerhouse” Parvati was and how she made so many bold decisions, in essence telling the jury to vote for the person sitting next to her.

Here’s the thing: Amanda was no slouch in this game. She was smart enough to ask to be sent to Exile Island so she could go find the hidden immunity idol, and then sold it to her tribemates that she didn’t have it. She won challenges. She was completely left out of the loop on a major decision (to get rid of Ozzy) yet still managed to reinsert herself back into a position of power. But then she got back to the final tribal council and just refused to own it. And thus the game became Parvati’s.

I don’t have a problem with that. Love her or loathe her, Parvati played a totally solid game. Probably the second best strategist out there this season after Cirie. But first let’s look at what went down in the season finale leading up to this Shallow victory (no pun intended). The episode began with the women doing a very awkward victory dance and laughing at how stupid men are. Like men that have immunity idols but don’t use them. Or men who win immunity and then give it away. Or men who stay up late at night drinking cheap beer and writing recaps of reality shows for no particular reason. Men like that. Look, I love what the women have done this season. I think it’s awesome. I just don’t need them to hammer their awesomeness down my throat every two minutes. That ”stir the pot” dance of theirs is already about as old as the macarena or electric slide.

So what else would they do with no men around? Well, Parvati scaled a tree and cut down a bushel of coconuts. Honestly, had I been there with her, I probably wouldn’t have been much help. Of course, that’s because I would have been busy barfing after getting a close-up view of her big bitten and sore-covered legs. As for Natalie, she revealed that she felt she needed to be more of a bitch in real life. Uhhhhhhh, okay. You do that. A piece of advice, Natalie: The black-widow thing works wonders in Survivor. In real life, it just kinda makes you trashy. Save it for the game, babe.

NEXT: The girls heart each other

Natalie actually had a big early lead in the first immunity challenge but then evidently began daydreaming about new, improved ways to be bitchy during the step-puzzle portion and was easily passed by Amanda. And that was it for Natalie at a truly historic tribal council — historic because I believe it was the first ever TC to feature a heart drawn onto every single piece of parchment. (You know, you’d think a group of women who love to brag about what cutthroat black widows they are would come up with a more badass symbol then a heart. How about a skull? Or a knife? Or a picture of Jeff Probst having his head blown off by a shotgun? Basically, anything but a heart.)

Before being voted out, however, Natalie gave us a little sneak peek into her bizarre views on sexuality by insisting that they should allow their chicken to go free and ”let the rooster have his way with her.” Okay, I get it, it’s been over a month on an island. You guys are pretty bored. But watching chickens have sex? Far more entertaining (and far less disturbing) was watching Cirie and Amanda go at it at tribal council, when Cirie pointed out she was on the outside of the Amanda-Parvati alliance. Which she was. They made up back at camp after a group hug. (Again, not very badass; wouldn’t a group slap be more in keeping with their new image?) As dumb as the guys were this season, Parvati, Amanda, and Cirie weren’t much smarter for assuming that it would be a final three as opposed to a final two. Hello, you haven’t had to take part yet in the cheesy, yawn-inducing ”fallen comrades” tribute, which always precedes the final challenge! You can’t sniff the finals until you sniff that thing (in which this time we were treated to such fascinating nuggets as Parvati’s incendiary comment that ”I didn’t really know Mary” — riveting stuff). The only interesting thing about the fallen-comrades montage this time was trying to figure out who sounded more in love with himself, Jason or Natalie. Jason informed us that ”I came out here as a strong competitor and solid provider, and nobody really saw that because I think everybody was just focused on Ozzy.” (Wait, you think everybody else was too focused on Ozzy?) Meanwhile Natalie told us that she is her biggest fan. (By the way, backtracking a bit, I’ve never liked the final-three concept, even if it did get Ozzy into the Cook Islands finals. The inherent drama in a two-person face-off is much greater than having votes scattered among three people. Just wanted to wedge that in awkwardly before we moved on…which we kind of already had. Sorry about that.)

NEXT: Cirie’s finale

The ladies finally made it to the real final challenge, which involved balancing a silver ball on a cylinder while adding pieces to it. It was very similar in spirit to the final China challenge, which Amanda dominated, so it was no surprise to see her win here as well. While I’m blabbering on about things I don’t like, I’m not a big fan of these balancing challenges either. I’d like them to get back to something involving people standing or hanging in awkward positions for as long as possible. I just like the idea of contestants having to endure something really, really painful to get that million dollars, not just balancing a ball or some teacups. If nothing else, it makes the stakes seem higher.

Back at camp, Parvati inadvertently did her best to persuade Amanda to take Cirie to the finals instead of her by pointing out how Cirie would get no votes. Amanda seemed generally torn as to whom to bring with her, pointing out how Cirie had pissed so many people off but was a good speaker. ”It’s kind of a catch-22,” said Amanda, proving once and for all that she has no idea what a catch-22 is. She got to tribal council, busted out the doe eyes, and looked like she was going to break down. And then she did! As soon as she started weeping, I have no doubt that someone in the production booth began yelling, ”Get me an Eliza eye-roll shot, stat!” And sure enough, there it was. It was the end of Cirie, as well as my chances for once again predicting a Survivor winner from the very beginning. Oh, well, the streak was nice while it lasted. Now I can finally get back to the mediocre predictions you all know, love, and mock incessantly.

So what to make of the final tribal council? Just plan odd. Eliza told Parvati she ”might just be a mean person” yet then (after milking every single second of camera time possible) voted for her, and James told Parvati, ”You fluffed me on several occasions,” which may or may not be the first time Parvati has been mistaken for a fluffer. (This is a family-friendly, PG-13 recap, so if you don’t know what a fluffer is, you’re going to have to Google it yourself, and neither I nor EW.com can be held responsible for some of the sites you may come across in the search.) And then we were back to rooster-sex-watching Natalie, who brought up Parvati’s flirting and asked, ”How does that resonate for you in the bedroom?” Say what? I think Probst’s look of utter confusion pretty much summed it up. Wait, is she hitting on her? I wondered? ”You flirted with me on several occasions.” She is hitting on her! And why does everything Parvati does have to happen ”on several occasions”? I’m not sure if this whole exchange was more or less uncomfortable than Parvati trying to talk gangsta to James. Speaking of uncomfortable, wow, what was Ozzy’s deal? He must have been pounding some Keystone Light at the jury house before tribal because he was sporting some serious bitter beer face with those accusations at Parvati. Dude, she played you. It was a good move. Nothing more. Nothing less. Which, to his credit, Ozzy seemed to realize after he’d calmed down for a few months.

NEXT: Reunion dues

So even with everyone throwing arrows at Parvati, Amanda still couldn’t capitalize — again. I feel sorry for the girl. Maybe it’s just because she hot. Who knows? As for the reunion show, well, I’m still bummed that Probst no longer delivers the votes from the foreign locale via hang glider or some other ridiculous means of transportation. Those have always been the funniest moments of Survivor finales, and I beg the producers to start doing them again. It’s season 16, for crissakes — have some fun with it! Have him and the votes be delivered on the shoulders of giant fire-breathing, break-dancing robots. I don’t care. Just do something! My other initial thought upon seeing the contestants at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City was that Amanda and Parvati must have just come straight from some sort of tacky-earring convention. I was secretly praying for a 4-4 tie just so we could see what the hell the tiebreaker would have been. Were they going to have to make fire right then and there on the stage, and if so, exactly how many New York City fire codes would that have broken?

If you tuned out after Parvati won the million bucks, you didn’t miss much. Fairplay tried to get Probst to hug his infant daughter, Chet gave Probst crap for giving him crap, and Joel kind of looked like crap with his new buzz cut. Ozzy forgave Parvati, James won $100,000 as the viewers’ favorite contestant, and I swear I saw that Baba Booey guy from Howard Stern in the audience.

Okay, guys, it’s late, and I’m out of pistachios. A few notes before I sign off for the season. First off, we will be doing Survivor Talk installments with Parvati, Amanda, Cirie, and Natalie, so look for those on Tuesday. (Our interview with Erik is already up.) Doing Survivor Talk was a blast, and I hope you guys enjoyed watching it as much as we did shooting it every week. While I’m doling out the thanks, thanks again for reading and playing along here on the Survivor TV Watch. You guys have made this one of the liveliest and most entertaining boards on the entire site and…well…I…oh, jeez, I think I’m gonna make like Amanda and start crying if I keep this up. You get the point. Have a great summer, and I’ll see you next fall for Survivor: Gabon. If that season is even half as good as this one was, we’re all in for a treat. And hey, it can’t be any worse than Fiji, right? C ya!

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Survivor

Jeff Probst leads adventures in the ultimate (and original) reality series.

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