Goodnight Sweet Prince
Okay, if you’ve overcome your anger over me saying that it was a good thing for viewers that Christian got voted out and are still reading this recap anyway, thank you. Like I said, allow me to explain. After Davie used the hidden immunity idol he had to use but didn’t need to use, and Nick then used his fake hidden immunity idol he didn’t need to find and then used to incorrectly to read the faces of his fellow tribemates, and Nick then used his real hidden immunity idol he didn’t need to use so he got bummed out after he used it, we finally got to the votes. And Christian was gone.
Unfortunately for him, due to the vote splitting, Christian ended up one vote shy of Laura Morett’s record for more votes cast against a single person in a single season with 19 in Blood vs. Water, although she was voted out twice due to the Redemption Island twist so I’m not really sure if that counts or not. Phillip Sheppard was voted against 17 times in the Redemption Island season and never voted out, which is borderline insane.
Christian is one of the most enjoyable Survivor contestants to watch in years. The guy really was the entire package. He was funny (both intentionally and unintentionally), he was kind, he was smart, he was awkward, he was humble, he was tough — holy hell I think I have a man-crush on the guy! But there is something to be said for the most likable player not winning. If the most likable, hero type wins every single season, then the show becomes boring, predictable and static.
Last season, Wendell was the less-goofy version of Christian — likable, funny, smart, tough. And Wendell won. The season before that, Ben was the stars and stripes military vet who showed tremendous bravery in openly talking about his PTSD. And Ben won. But here’s the thing: The hero can’t win every single time. Nobody wants that! Even if you think you want it, you don’t. Because then every season would be the same. I have long argued that the best or most popular player winning a season is less dramatic than he or she getting cut close to the end. That’s where you get your best drama.
It’s like when Rupert went home in Pearl Islands. (Yes, believe it or not, there was actually a time when everyone loved Rupert. Ask your parents. They’ll remember.) He was one of (if not the) most popular players in Survivor history… which, granted was only a seven-season history at that point. But his blindside made for great television. And yes, perhaps paved the way for Lil to make the final 2, so maybe he’s not the best example. You know what? Forget I brought Rupert up. Take him and his tie-dye t-shirt and toss them both into your memory trash can. The point I’m trying to make — and have made a lot since producers added both a final 3 and then a fire-making final 4 twist to help the best players make it to the end — is that sometimes it makes for better television for these social, strategic, or physical powerhouses to NOT make it to the end.
It also opens things up. If Christian made it to the end, the whole thing was a fait accompli. Now? I have no idea who beats whom. I mean, as previously discussed, I don’t see how Angelina wins. (Although I hope I am dead wrong on this. An Angelina win would be glorious because Angelina is God’s gift to reality television.) I also don’t see any possibility of an Alison victory based solely on her edit, or lack thereof — although that would also excite me because it would put an end to my pathetic 21-season drought of correctly picking a winner. (Poor Allison. You make it in the game all the way to finale night, are all excited because you did so well, get back to the United States, wait four months for the show to go on the air…and then basically have to run the few scraps of air-time you get every week in slow-motion just to see yourself on TV for more than two seconds. Bummer.)
But Mike, Kara, Davie, and Nick are all legitimate threats to win this game. I’m beyond jazzed to see how it all shakes out. But even though I do think it makes for a better season for Christian to go now, of course, it is sad to see him voted out. It was an absolute delight to watch him this season and I don’t know a single person that feels otherwise. (And if you do feel otherwise than you are even more heartless and cruel than I am, which I did not actually think was humanly possible.)
Okay, we’re about to get to the updated season rankings to see where David vs. Goliath falls, but before we do, a reminder that we will have an exclusive deleted scene from the episode on the last page, and you will also want to make sure to check out my weekly Q&A with Hostmaster General Jeff Probst as well as exit interview with the departing Christian. All good stuff! Okay, enough of my yakkin’. Let’s get to even more yakkin’ via my Survivor season rankings!
SURVIVOR SEASON-BY SEASON RANKINGS
(From best to worst)
1. (Tie) Survivor: Borneo
(Winner: Richard Hatch)
and Survivor: Micronesia — Fans vs. Favorites
(Winner: Parvati Shallow)
I’ve gone back and forth with these two over the years. After Micronesia aired, I named it the best Survivor season ever. Upon reflection, while I still considered it the most enjoyable, I also worried I was understating the impact of the first season, which became a national phenomenon. (Yes, Borneo now seems dated and tame by comparison, but it’s the biggest game changer in the past 20 years of television and you have to do your best to judge these seasons on the era in which they aired.) So then I returned that to the #1 spot. If I wanted to watch one season again, it would be Micronesia. If you ask me which is the most important season, well, obviously it’s Borneo. So instead of constantly flipping them, they can simply share the top spot… until I change my mind again.
3. Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains
(Winner: Sandra Diaz-Twine)
The Russell vs. Boston Rob feud made for the best pre-merge run of episodes ever. And the greatness just kept on coming. Filled with huge memorable moments like Tyson voting himself off, J.T. giving Russell his immunity idol, and Parvati handing out two immunity idols at one Tribal Council. Loses a few points for having so many three-timers, though, including a few (Amanda, James) we simply didn’t need to see again. I know many people would consider this #1, but it’s all returnees. For me, the fresh blood of Micronesia keeps that season higher.