Twice a year, a night comes along that most reality fans embrace like Christmas (or for those of us not of that persuasion, Hannukah… or any other gift-giving day of the year. Arbor day, perhaps?). Anyway, the night of which I speak is Survivor finale night, and yes, that night has come and gone yet again. For a season like Exile Island, I always approach these climactic evenings with mixed emotions. On the one hand, we know thirteen weeks of vicious backstabbing and Machiavellian plotting will culminate in a raucous evening of wits and determination — and with a little luck, some bitter jury member rants to boot. On the other hand, it also means the end of a great ride, one that may or may not be duplicated next season. For now, let’s focus on the positives, and man, were there positives on last night’s finale. From the fire-starting tie breaker to the random reward challenge to the nerve-wracking immunity challenge to the jury confrontation, the show could be summed up by one, beautiful word: unpredictable. A fitting way to end a great season.The two hour finale started off exactly where we had last left off: with Cirie and Danielle competing in a tie-breaker challenge at Tribal Council. For anyone who had missed Thursday’s episode, each woman had received two votes and now they had to determine their fate by attempting to start a fire. Things started off promisingly for Cirie as she was the first to get a decent-sized flame. It looked like she might be a lock for this competition, especially as Danielle struggled to get even the smallest ember glowing, but then her healthy blaze suddenly receded, and both women were back to square one.
As intense as this was, perhaps the most exciting part of the entire challenge was watching whether or not Danielle’s boobs would come popping out of her top. They certainly were threatening, and the more Danielle attacked her flint, the more her cleavage seemed ready to liberate itself and flap in the Panamanian breeze. There were surely some major mammary undulations going on, and I couldn’t help thinking that with all the heaving and jiggling, Danielle’s chest was acting like some sort of makeshift bellow system. How else to explain her previously non-existent fire bursting into huge flames? But just when the momentum had shifted to Danielle, her fire suddenly died out, causing her to seethe, “Mother!” You know, we’ve seen a few of these fire challenges before, but this was by far the most exciting.
Anyway, Cirie suddenly managed to resurrect her flames, but once again, she lost it in a matter of seconds. Good god, woman! Build the damn fire!! Well, something in Danielle’s head clearly clicked because she suddenly remembered that a strong campfire is not built on kindling wood alone. She quickly assembled a small tent-like structure with larger pieces of wood, and sure enough, after she lit her kindling for the umpteenth time, she was able to sustain and grow her fire. Long store short: her rope burned through, and she won the challenge, effectively sending Cirie home (booo!).
Well, Cirie had made a fantastic run, and given that she’d been on the chopping block from day one, her final four placement was highly impressive. Still, I was quite sad to see her torch snuffed out, but alas, we can’t get everything we want. “Cirie, the tribe has spoken,” Jeff said. Actually, it’s more like the laws of physics and chemistry have spoken, but that’s neither here nor there.
And so with Cirie gone, I had to find a new person to get behind. I couldn’t root for Terry on account of me thinking he was a smug jerk, and I couldn’t really back Danielle because, well, she had aligned with Terry. That only left Aras, but he had a faux-hawk. How could I approve that? I guess I’d just have to keep watching and see who I’d naturally root for.
Back at camp, the remaining Gitanos tribe returned — and don’t worry. No one placed a torch inappropriately near Terry. Still, there was tension around the campfire. How did I know? Because the music told me so! Yes, the soundtrack was full of ominous music, and as we saw Aras sitting alone in the shelter, we knew something may be afoot. But what?
Terry then babbled to us about the pact he had made with Danielle — a pact that they’d take each other to the final two if they could. “Danielle and I are going to take it to Aras, and we’re going to the finals,” he bragged. Hmmm… Terry bravado + Terry’s inability to scheme + ominous music = something’s not right. Odds that Aras will win the immunity challenge: uh, I don’t know. I’m really bad with odds. Let’s just say 3-2. Point is, nothing’s ever simple on Survivor. Someone says they’re going to the finals, and chances are they ain’t going to the finals.
The next morning, Terry returned to full gloat mode by pulling out the now useless Exile Island immunity idol and showing it to his tribemates, specifically Aras. The yoga instructor seemed to be totally transfixed by this doll, but that’s probably because he was just using it as inspiration for a new hairstyle. Thank God Shane wasn’t around. The voices he’d probably hear from that thing would probably have him bashing someone’s head over a rock.
Anyway, no one really cared about Terry’s immunity idol except for, you guessed it, Terry. He then launched into typical bragging about general things such as being able to open a coconut with one swift machete chop. To his credit, it was a fairly impressive strike. Aras tried to accomplish the same feat, but sadly, he was only able to get about one inch through. And so ended the Great Coconut Chopping Games of 2006.
The rivalry continued as both guys tried their hands at fishing. Terry donned some flippers and a snorkeling mask. Aras simply dropped a line in the ocean. At the end of the day, a proud Terry bragged about catching four small fish. Aras, on the other hand, caught several huge fish.
“Very nice!” Terry smiled. Translation: I hate you, you little punk. I hope you choke on your fish and die a miserable death.
With tension simmering between these two guys, we moved onto the immunity challenge. Oh wait, it was a… reward challenge? Yes, for the first time since I can remember, we actually had a little reward challenge, the winner of which would receive a hearty “power meal” consisting of chicken, vegetables, fruit, and a cot. I mean, the winner wouldn’t eat the cot. It would be available at camp afterwards to sleep on. And then it could be eaten, if desired.
Anyway, the whole purpose of this was to give the winner a huge advantage in the next day’s immunity challenge. We didn’t know what that would be just yet, but for now, we had this reward challenge to deal with, and guess what? It wasn’t the least bit convoluted. That is, if you ignore all the extremely convoluted components. Players basically had to scale a three-story wall, and to do so, they’d need to use four pegs. Ah, but don’t think those pegs were readily available. No siree. First the players would have to insert a peg into a “table maze,” navigate it through all sorts of nooks and crannies, and at the end, another peg would come free. Then players would have to advance to a wheel — yes, a wheel — and read a bunch of clues. Using those clues, they’d have to rotate the wheel in a certain direction, and if all went well, the wheel would yield a bag with the other two pegs inside it. THEN the players would have to climb up the wall with the pegs, and at the top, insert the pegs into specific slots, which would cause a flag to raise. First person to raise a flag would win. So as you could see, it was pretty simple.
Well, the competition began, and I’ll just say it: this was the most intense table maze I’d ever seen in my life. Granted, it was my first table maze I’d ever seen, but I think we can all say that no other table maze will be like it. Watching everyone navigate their pegs through those cracks was utterly exhilarating. Kind of. Nevertheless, Aras made short work of it, unlike Terry and Danielle who struggled mightily. Haha — losers. Can’t even do a table maze.
Eventually though, everyone triumphed over the cruel table maze and got to work spinning that wheel. Since Aras had a slight lead, he was first to get through this obstacle and move onto the wall. I had to say, he was doing really well. He fully exploited his lead by scampering up that thing, but wait! Here came Terry! You can never count Terry out (but of course, we can always count Danielle out. She had already messed up her wheel clues, causing Probst to snap, “Go back to the start!” I’m surprised he didn’t add, “You should be ashamed yourself, woman!”).
Anyway, Terry surprisingly had trouble with his pegs, but to his luck, Aras began struggling as well. In fact, Aras took a tumble, and if his shirt hadn’t caught on one of his pegs, he would have fallen all the way down — out of reach of the pegs — and been done. Luckily, he survived, but now he and Terry were neck and neck. This was honestly extremely exciting. With the music pounding away, Aras regained a slight lead and reached the top of the wall first, but oh! Those pegs! Those pegs! He had to fit them into their corresponding slots, and in a classic example of choking, Aras panicked and seemed unable to properly rotate his x-shaped peg to fit the slots, thus allowing Terry to catch up, slide in all his pegs, and steal the victory. That’s right. Terry won! How the hell did you lose that, Aras? Man, that was intense (even Probst had to let out a small “Wow!” when it was over).
“You are the ULTIMATE competitor!!” Terry yelled to Aras in what was supposed to sound like a compliment but was really his way of saying, “I STILL BEAT YOU, SUCKER!” He then followed up by saying, “You bring your A-game every time.” He then added, “Not you, Danielle. You’re a massive failure.”
Anyway, the two losers slunk back to camp, with Aras kicking himself the whole way. “I had such a lead too!” he said. YES, YOU DID.
Around this time we had our first commercial break, which meant we got to see Cirie’s family moment. Long story short, in case we didn’t love her and fam enough already (that H.B. is a swell guy), her son had a lisp too. Oh, could they be any less wonderful?
We then returned to the show to find Aras essentially peeling some poor fish apart. I’ll tell you this much, that fish did not look happy. It’s not like Aras had take a machete to the thing and delicately filleted the meat. He was full on sticking his fingers in all sorts of places I didn’t think you could stick them. It was like Find Nemo meets Hostel.
“Urgh! Be… gentle… I have a wife…”
While Aras went Medieval on the fish, Danielle showed off her smarts by chopping a coconut… on her knee. Memo to Danielle: using your own body as a cutting board is not smart. Luckily, she avoided injury by eventually moving the coconut to the ground, but I couldn’t help thinking that she was overdue for some massive, Bruce-like injury.
Suddenly, we heard dangerous, ominous music. In the distance, a boat pulled up to the island, and I couldn’t help wondering if maybe these were some roving Panamanian drug smugglers. Nope. It was just Terry returning from his power meal. Aras asked him what he hate, and Terry merely shrugged it off, saying it wasn’t much — just two chicken breasts, some steamed veggies, cauliflower, fruit, thirty-two ounces of water, a protein drink, “and that was it!” Oh, not much at all! Except for the giant meal….
Well, seeing that Terry was chock full of healthy food, he certainly had some sort of advantage in the immunity challenge, but Aras was quick to dismiss that. “It can be a psychological disadvantage,” he said. If that’s what you want to believe, Aras, then by all means…
Next up on the slate of activities was the traditional (and ridiculous) tribute to the “fallen comrades,” which had our three remaining survivors walking amongst the torches of everyone who had been voted off and reflecting as if they had actually died in some horrific war. Of course, the best part of this silly sequence is always watching the finalists trying to desperately remember who the hell the first people voted off were. Case in point: Aras upon reaching Tina’s torch. “Tina, you were the first one out,” he said. And that was it. I’m surprised the other two didn’t shrug their shoulders and ask, “We had a Tina? Seriously?”
At least Tina got some sort of description. The most Melinda got was maybe a cough or a yawn. That’s right. They didn’t even say anything about her. That’s the way it went for a lot of the players, but eventually, we started to get some decent descriptions. Terry, of course, waxed poetic about astronaut Dan: “Dan was a confidante, he was a survivor, he was–” your former ally that you sold up the river in two seconds? Yup. Good ol’ Dan.
We then came upon Austin’s torch, and after her awful three-night stay with him at Exile Island, Danielle had the most thoughtful words for him. “Austin!” she said. And that was it. Okay, so maybe she’s not the most eloquent. But it was the thought that counted.
Eventually, we came to Bruce’s torch, and as we listened to his disembodied voice recount all the joys and pains of Survivor, he said, “The hardest part was getting sick.” Yeah, not being able to take a shit for twelve days can be a real bummer. Sorry, duder.
The Survivors then made their way to Courtney’s torch, and we heard her voiceover say, “I stayed the real me throughout it all.” That’s right. You were an unwavering idiot. Congratulations. Shane’s voiceover, meanwhile, focused on all the things he realized he could do. Unfortunately for him, the producers then showed images of him bumming a cigarette drag at a Panamanian feast and stuffing his mouth full of food. Yes, all the wonderful things that Shane can do — like not being able to quit smoking or not knowing when to stop stuffing his mouth. A learning experience indeed!
Ah, memories. Embarrassing, embarrassing memories…
Insert grunting, carnivorous sounds here.
“Must… eat… before the robots come back!”
Well, the tribute finally ended with soaring music as the final three lit the Exile Island skull on fire and then watched from a safe distance. This would be so emotional and moving… if we actually cared about any of it. But we didn’t, so let’s just move onto the final challenge.
I have to say, after all of Probst’s talk about how the power meal would give Terry an advantage at the Immunity Challenge, I half expected some elaborate settup involving logs and pulleys and various other contraptions. Instead, what we got were a bunch of floating platforms in the ocean. Basically, there were three rows of floating “lily pads” — one row per survivor. The players would have to balance on these things, and every fifteen minutes, they’d have to crawl on over to the next platform, which — oh by the way — was significantly smaller. They’d have one minute to find their balance, and then after that, only their feet could touch the platform. It seemed rather mundane as far as endurance challenges go, but as we later found out, it was quite exciting.
Anyway, the challenge got underway, and all I have to say was that the big platform sucked. There was no threat of falling. Might as well have just started on the small ones. Nevertheless, everyone found their balance and silently stood there, focusing all their energy on staying upright.
Probst, however, was sitting off to the side, eager to chat the afternoon away. “Nobody wants to talk?” he asked, adding, “Really? Because I just saw Poseidon, and I’d love to discuss it. Seriously, you guys aren’t talking? Lame.”
Actually, he didn’t say that, but he was equally annoying to them as he noted, “This challenge requires intense concentration. Lose your focus for just a second, you’ll be in the water.” Yes, JEFF. THEY KNOW. SHUT UP. I’m surprised he didn’t suddenly yell “SHARK!!!” at them or start dancing on the sidelines.
Well, fifteen minutes into the challenge, and everyone had to move to the next platform, which was significantly shakier. Luckily for them, the survivors found their balance, and it occurred to me that now would be a terrible time for a tsunami. Just thinking out loud. Anyway, the music suddenly revved up, and lo and behold, Aras began to lose his balance. No, Aras! Don’t do it! Keep it together!! Luckily, his magical yoga powers adjusted his inner gyroscope, and he somehow regained his balance. I for sure thought he was a goner. Then again, I also thought no one could ever keep a faux-hawk for 37 days in the wilderness. The world is a many-splendored place.
Fifteen minutes later, the survivors had to advance to the next lily pad, and this is where things got intense. For the life of him, Terry could not get on his platform. He kept on sliding off of it, barely able to extend his legs more than an inch before he was cruelly ejected into the water again. For those of us who hate him, we were hoping that he wouldn’t regain his balance. For those of you who love him, you were desperately praying he’d get it together. Probst, meanwhile, did his part to ratchet up the excitement as he noted that Terry had only 45 seconds to get it together. Then, after what seemed like 90 seconds, Probst said there were 30 seconds left. I call bullshit! His time was up! (Then again, I didn’t have a timer, and I’m biased. Probst was probably correct.) Anyway, Terry still couldn’t get on the platform, and with ten seconds left, it looked like it might be over for him. But then again, he’s something of a Superman, and I could never discount him finding balance at the last second.
Probst finally said time was up, and Terry had to let go of the platform. He did and stood up straight… and then promptly fell into the water. Yes, TERRY WAS ELIMINATED FIRST! Where’s your protein shake now, mofo!! Haha. As Terry’s swam to the nearby pontoon, the music became incredibly morbid and sad. Hey — it’s not like he was shot in the head. He just fell in the water.
He’s losing it!
That was so Poseidon of him.
“Why I oughtta!!!”
Danielle, meanwhile, was doing just dandy on her platform, and Aras, well, he was struggling a bit. But then something peculiar happened. Danielle — who had a pact with Terry — nodded her head at Aras, and upon seeing that, he jumped off his platform, essentially handing over immunity. Yes, Danielle had won her first challenge, and it just so happened to be the most important one of all. Did I expect Danielle to win this challenge? Hell, no. This was like when Lil won the final immunity on Pearl Islands. Did not expect that. Now, was it wise for Aras to dive off his lily pad without any sort of verbal confirmation of a pact? Probably not. But at least Terry didn’t win again. And now the real fun would begin: would Danielle take the man she made the deal with or the man she had an alliance with?
With these questions dancing in our heads, we cut to commercial, and when we returned we saw a happy little crab skittering around on the beach. But uh oh! There’s a nasty lookin’ gull! We knew where this was going. The crab darted away and the gull followed, thus commencing another episode of Crab N’ Gull Theatre! In this episode, the crab ran towards a rock, and after an impressive sprint worthy of the 2006 Crab Olympic Team, the little crustacean was overpowered by the bird, which mightily caught its prey in its beak and marched off. You win this time, GULL!
Back in the human world, Aras was still trying to chop coconuts, but alas, he was about as effective as Bruce trying to take a dump. Danielle, meanwhile, was predictably hemming and hawing as to who she should take with her to the finals. Terry took her aside to make sure everything was still groovy, but, um, well, Danielle couldn’t commit. Once again, Terry had that flabbergasted look on his face — the same look he’s had every single tribal council when he’s realized that his plans have been foiled YET AGAIN. As Danielle explained that she needed to think about who she could best win against, Terry seemed at a total loss for words. Did he really expect her to uphold their pact, especially after she’d double-crossed about three or four people in a row? He tried to guilt her, but Danielle had the perfect passive-aggressive response:
“If you would have given me the hidden immunity idol, I would 100% took you without any question,” she said. Hahaha. Way to throw it in his face! She was right though. He didn’t truly commit to her when she needed him to (although, to his credit, I can understand why he held onto the immunity). Anyway, Terry then tried to play the whole “I’m beatable!” card by saying that in front of the jury, he’ll come off as “Oh guys, yeah, I’m here, thanks. I kind of won a bunch of challenges and was the nail in your side.” Nail in your side? It’s bad metaphors like that which will be the thorn in his coffin.
Still, despite Terry’s lame case, Danielle just couldn’t commit. “I’m so indecisive as it is because I’m a gemini,” she explained. Too bad Courtney wasn’t around. She’d be able to harness the power of dead sea tortoises and clear all of Danielle’s gemini-spurred confusion.
Having seen Terry and Danielle quietly conspire in the woods, Aras decided it was time for him to make a move. He did some of the usual kissing up — saying he’d respect her decision and whatnot — but he also laid on the guilt by saying they were original Casayans and then strong-armed her by saying that she would lose his and Cirie’s votes if she took Terry to the finals. You see that, Terry? That’s what you call strategizing. I’m somewhat shocked, by the way, that Terry didn’t tell Danielle “I formally invite you to take me to the finals. I can guarantee you a spot in the final two if you do that.”
Anyway, Danielle was kind of pissed at Aras for threatening her, saying that it contradicted his whole mantra of honesty and integrity. Personally, I didn’t see the contradiction. You can have honesty and integrity and still be able to make a strategical move. Either way, it was all too much for Danielle, and at Tribal Council, she complained to Jeff, “My brain is about to explode out my head!” She should feel lucky. At least she has a brain that can explode out her head (sorry, Courtney).
Well, Tribal Council was a tense little affair. I didn’t know who Danielle was going to take. It made the most sense to take Aras because Terry already had two guaranteed votes (Sally and Austin) and two probable votes (Cirie and Aras). That would be enough to guarantee him the victory. While Danielle continued to pull at her eyeballs, we kept cutting to the jury, who looked like they had taken a nifty little field trip to the Panama Islands Native Gift Shop. They all were decked out in traditional jewelry and shirts and whatnot. It kind of reminded me of high school whenever girls would go down to the Caribbean on Spring Break and return with their hair all braided and shit. Yes, you went to the islands. WE GET IT.
Anyway, Danielle finally went off to vote, and it felt like an eternity before Jeff read the name. Would it be Terry? Aras? Taras?
The fourteenth person leaving Survivor: Exile Islands was… Terry! Hahahaha. EXCELLENT! The Curse of the Car REMAINS! Sorry, Terry fans, but this was really awesome for me.
And so Terry walked off into the night, but not before turning around and saying, “Thanks for the journey, you guys.” Uh, you’ll see them all tomorrow. Just go already. Afterwards, Terry shared his parting words, and just when he couldn’t be any worse, he broke out the third-person: “Terry Dietz is not a perfect guy.” He then added, “Oh, who am I kidding? I’m wonderful! I intended to lose all along!”
We then saw Terry’s family moment, and geez, how many children did he have? There were like nine kids there. And they all had crazy, black pupils. They’re all evil monsters! The whole clan! Beware the Dietzes!!
He’s stealing my SOUL!
Anyway, Terry’s wife smiled and said, “I can’t wait to have you come back, honey, because I just can’t make cappuccino like you can!” This was then followed by the whole family agreeing, “That’s for sure!” So do all those kids drink cappuccinos also? Terry Dietz: pilot, Navy vet, barrista.
And then something wonderful happened. The highlight of the week: a commercial for BIG BROTHER!!! YES!!! ‘Tis the season, people, and never one to disappoint, Julie Chen — a.k.a. The Chenbot — showed up wearing what looked to be the unholy hybrid of a zebra and seaweed. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Big Brother is an experience. If you haven’t watched, do yourself a favor and check it out this summer. You won’t regret it.
We then returned to Survivor where Aras was gushing to Danielle the next morning about how wonderful it was that they were in the final two. Danielle didn’t seem totally pleased — maybe it’s because she was still pissed at Aras for threatening her… or maybe she looked at her armpit for the first time and saw the bushels of hair growing — but either way, there was nothing she could do about anything now but enjoy herself.
“This is so bomb,” Aras said, resurrecting some long lost slang. Totally tubular, man. As a reward for making it so far in the game, the producers then gave the final two a neat breakfast spread complete with eggs, fruit, milk, orange juice, and champagne. Well, we knew this could only lead to one thing: mimosas. And we knew mimosas could only lead to one more thing: stupid, spikey hair. Yes, for whatever reason, Aras fashioned his hair into some pseudo-punk rock spikey ‘do — sort of like an exploded faux-hawk. I guess it was all part of the morning celebration, which was going swimmingly until ooops! Aras slipped on some rocks. And when I say slipped, I mean full-on fell! Too bad he was carrying a champagne glass at the time. And too bad the glass shards cut right into his back. Yech. Smell ya later, kidneys! Man, if that had been Bruce, he would have just exploded into a ball of poop. Sorry, nasty image. But it’s true.
That’s so Aras.
Little known fact: apparently, when Aras falls over, he ejaculates!
Well, Aras was a total mess. Blood everywhere. He also cut his finger and whatnot, and Danielle had to apply a white rag (hey, where did that come from?) to stop the bleeding. This wasn’t Bruce pain, but it was pretty close. Eventually, the medics arrived and began stitching Aras up, and for some reason, the music suddenly became quite peppy. Yay, suturing! Actually, the music was more a reaction to Danielle not being able to watch the medical procedure without cringing. She should be happy. At least she never had to deal with Shane’s penis rashes.
Later, after Aras was all stitched up, he then noted, “Despite making it 39 days, I feel like my ego’s been crushed.” I couldn’t imagine what his ego was like beforehand. Was he saying things like “La la la. I can walk on wet, slippery rocks whenever I want to because I’m Aras, and I won’t fall! La la la!”
Nevertheless, Aras managed to turn his tumble into a launch pad for philosophical ramblings, saying how it’s just like life — you fall and then you get up. He entered the game a buffoon and left as a buffoon but did cool stuff in between. Just like life. Yes, yes, we get it. It’s all very spiritual, but all that happened was that you fell on a rock; so, you know, shut up.
This moment brought to you by Pantene.
We then sat through pointless filler material — Aras meditating, Danielle staring at the sea — and for the umpteenth time, the two hugged and congratulated each other. The finally, FINALLY it was time for the Jury. I could not be more excited. We knew Shane would have a crazy rant, and Courtney would probably be equally ridiculous. Then there were the wild cards. Would Terry be a pompous ass? Most likely. Would Bruce be the surprise bitter guy? Probably not. And would Austin and Sally be wastes of space? Probably. I definitely pegged Sally for being this season’s “What number am I thinking of?” girl.
Well, Danielle and Aras took seats on their little stumps, and then the jury walked in (Shane spat just for good measure). Aras addressed the group first, starting off by saying, “Wow, guys.” And that pretty much summed up his whole speech. He babbled on about honesty and integrity, which caused Shane’s head to drop with skepticism — although, to be fair, he may have been succumbing to all the voices in his head.
Danielle then talked about how realistically, you can’t always have honesty and integrity in this game. Gotta deceive someone at some point. True. We’ll see how the jury feels about that. First up was Sally, who clearly thought this was some sort of Star Wars tribute, as evidenced by her Princess Leia braids. Her yawn-inducing question asked which of the original Casayans contributed the most as to why they had made it to the finals. Danielle said Cirie was the one who helped the most. As for Aras? “Ironically, I also say Cirie.” That’s not very ironic at all. More coincidental than anything else. Hey, thanks for the dumb question, Sally! See ya at the reunion!
“So… George Lucas won’t be showing up? Ever?”
Next up was Bruce. “I have pooped so many times now, you would not believe,” he said. Okay, he didn’t say that. Instead, he bowed and said, “You guys battle like real samurai warriors.” He then added, “By the way, I’m Asian.”
Well, Bruce had the sort of dumb question you’d expect from a teacher. He wanted to know what each of them would do not with the money, but with the responsibility of being the winner. Yes, because as we all know, Survivor winners are burdened with so much damn responsibility. Why, I saw Jenna Morasca unearthing land mines in Africa just the other day! And I heard that Amber’s starting up a leper colony. Or as her husband Rob would call it, a “Lepah Colony.”
Anyway, Aras came up with some bullshit answer that he would just try to improve himself as a person and hope to inspire others (a.k.a. he’d just focus on himself and hey, if that helped other, that would be cool). We knew Aras was completely full of it when he concluded his remarks by bizarrely saying to Probst, “I don’t know if that worked.” He then asked, “Can I try again? As the winner, I’d like to start up a school for children with bowel blockages and teach them karate. Did that work better?”
Danielle, meanwhile, said that she’d use her newfound responsibility to “give speeches.” You know, about stuff. Even Shane was horrified by this vapid response.
Next up was Terry, and off the bat, he dialed up his smug superiority to about ten as he bashed Danielle for saying there was no need to ever deceive anyone. After all, he hadn’t deceived anybody. Kind of easy for him to say when he had no allies to deceive. Nevertheless, Terry continued his condescending rant by saying, “Somewhere down the line, I hope that your family and friends and the ringing in your ears doesn’t say, ‘You should have taken the Navy guy.’” Oh shut up, Terry. You lost. Get over it.
Terry eventually got around to a question, which was also quite dumb. He wanted Aras and Danielle to rank themselves on how well they did or performed in each challenge and competition. Uh… okay. Aras gave himself a nine, and Danielle gave herself an 8.5, but as she talked, she then said she was closer to a 9. Well, that cleared up a lot of things. Next!
The softballs continued with Austin who asked each finalist to mention an incident they were proud of and not so proud of. Danielle said that saving Bruce over Bobby was something she felt was a good move, and a not so wonderful moment was voting off Courtney. Aras, on the other hand, came up with some lame story about how telling Melinda she was getting voted off was his proudest moment. Why? Because she was the only one who got to see it coming. Sometimes I just want to punch Aras. His not so proud moment: voting off Shane.
And now the crazy. Courtney stood up to address the finalists, and out of the gate, she wasn’t making sense. “Forgot my guns. They’ve been dropped in the sea of forgiveness,” she said. Huh? Looks like somebody’s been smokin’ some grade-A dead tortoise shell.
Anyway, the “sea of forgiveness” couldn’t have been that huge because Courtney quickly reminded both of them how she had been stabbed in the back — and not by a small knife. A BIG KNIFE! But lo! She was letting go! “I’m holding no chip on my shoulder,” she said, in one of the bigger lies of the evening. Meanwhile, on the jury, Sally was cracking up (actually, everyone was), and Austin was literally flipping her the bird. But she continued: “Chips on your shoulder of regret and anger weigh you down, and I’m a bird and I gotta fly.” Yes, you’re a bird. A very, very dumb bird.
And now Courtney’s big question: “What did you really learn about yourself that you’re going to take out of here and walk with every single day?” I could almost hear the sitars playing in the background.
Of course, Courtney’s brand of New Age interrogation was right up Aras’s alley, and he talked about his ego being totally smashed to pieces. This caused Therapist Courtney to respond, “And that is going to strengthen your spiritual way!” Light some incense! We’ve had a breakthrough!
Danielle then said that what she learned was how difficult the experience was. “Well, in a sense, that is the beautiful gift then that this gave you… in a sense, you’ve learned to be still within yourself. Just you,” Courtney replied, again doing her best Starting Over impersonation. It then dawned on me that someone MUST give Courtney a talk show. Better yet, give her and Shane a talk show together. I would watch each and every episode. (And if that fails, please please please have them on The Amazing Race).
Anyway, Courtney’s inquisition ended with more hippie babble as she said, “I’m glad we’ve all learned something, and we’re all going to walk on a higher road.” Emphasis on “higher.”
Cirie then stood up and asked each of them to say something nice about each other. Danielle said that Aras was a great guy, and Aras said that when he fell and cut himself today, Danielle stayed with him and put a bandage on his wounds. Oh, you mean she wasn’t a total monster and let you lie there on the beach, bleeding to death? She didn’t let the surf come and take you away? Wow! Good for Danielle!
And then finally: SHANE.
We knew this would be good and nutty when he essentially stumbled off his seat and ran (even though it was just about eight or nine feet) to the spot where he was to stand. He started off with some phony congratulations and then launched his attacks. “I’m disappointed it’s the both of you,” he said. Of course, keep in mind that Shane didn’t see Danielle and Aras. He saw Captain Crunch and a talking yo-yo.
Anyway, he said that Terry deserved to be sitting there, and furthermore, “Danielle, you were useless at camp.” He then added, “You were the last to pick out a thinking stump, and you almost threw my Blackberry into the campfire, saying it was ‘firewood’ or some bullshit like that.” Okay, he didn’t say that — or at least, that’s not what the editing showed. He then questioned Danielle’s ability to “outwit,” saying, “At the end of the day, I was with you for 33 days, and I don’t know anything about you.” So basically… she didn’t expose any of her cards and managed to blind-side you out of the game. And that’s not outwitting why?
Shane then attacked Aras’s loyalty. “We had an agreement on what was most important to both of us: my son and your yoga, which is sort of laughable and contradictory,” Shane said. Well, who was the moron that engaged in a deal with someone who swore on YOGA??? Isn’t that sort of an uneven playing field? That would be like Shane swearing on Boston’s life, and me swearing on some chapstick.
Shane then said Aras had good intentions, but, “If I were judged on my intentions, I’d be the President of the planet.” Alas, he has to settle for the mayor of Crazytown. He then made some personal attacks at Aras: “You are broke, you are homeless, and you freeload off your dad; so you don’t know what it’s like to be judged.” Ouch. To be fair, Shane is judged every day by the army of squirrels and pine cones that taunt him from the treetops.
Finally, Shane announced that he had a challenge lined up for the finalists. How excited was I to hear Shane’s challenge? VERY. But alas, it was incredibly lame. He wanted them to pick a number between one and “very fittingly, a million.” Dammit! Of all the people to do the “pick a number” gimmick, Shane was the last I expected. Boo! Terry, on the other hand, seemed blown away by this proposition. It was almost as if he’d never heard of such a thing. Picking a number? This is CRAZY!
Well, Aras chose four, and Danielle picked ten. You guys, it’s between one and one million. You can go a little higher. Then again, knowing Shane, the answer was probably “poop.”
Anyway, the two finalists gave their closing remarks. Danielle just babbled on like usual, and so did Aras, but he was a bit more concise with his comments. He did have one comment that was particularly odd. He said how all the relationships he’d fostered with everyone were real, particularly Shane: “Those hugs you and I would have at the fireside at night were real!” Must… refrain… from… Brokeback… joke…
Finally, it was time to vote. We saw Bruce vote for Danielle, and we saw Sally draw a smiley face (stupid Sally). Terry voted for Aras, and then the rest were kept hidden from us. Amusingly, when Courtney went to vote, she brushed by Shane, causing him to sneery violently as if she’d just spilled pudding on his shirt. As a result, when she returned, he exaggeratedly moved out of her way, trying to avoid whatever cooties she might spread to him. He’s literally crazy.
Well, with all the votes accounted for, Jeff said adios and walked away. Sadly, it seems as though the days of the Jeff Probst vote-carrying montage are over. For the second season in a row, we had no overly-elaborate sequence of events including (and not limited to) skydiving, motorcycles, helicopters, herds of elephants, space rockets, and/or laser beams. Major disappointment.
Nevertheless, we wound up in NYC at the Ed Sullivan Theater where our survivors waited with baited breath for the results. Aras had filled out again, but alas, he had forgotten to dress up for the event. The dude was only wearing a hoodie. C’mon now. You got to do better than that. And in a surprise revelation, Aras’s faux-hawk was nowhere to be found! SHOCK!
But enough stalling. Time for the votes. The first one went to Aras. The second: Danielle. The third (from Shane) was for Danielle too, and it even featured the number he was thinking of: 999,999. The next vote, which featured two smiley faces (thanks, SALLY) went to Aras, and with the votes tied 2-2-, I had no idea how this would unfold. My gut told me Aras, but you never know. I was hoping for a 4-3 vote, but if that were the case, Burnett would have shown three votes for each person at Tribal Council. That meant that whoever got the next vote would most likely be winning.
Well, the next one went to Aras, putting him ahead 3-2, and sure enough, the next name Probst pulled out was Aras. And so Aras won the millino dollars! Hurrah! I was secretly hoping that Aras would then point and laugh, “Honesty and integrity my ass! You all fell for it, IDIOTS!”
And so ended a great season and a great finale. Lots of fun was had by all. I would definitely rank Exile Island up there. Its only detraction came in the middle when we had to watch the predictable exit of Nick, Austin, and Sally. But everything else about the season was wonderful, and the Exile Island twist along with the hidden immunity idol worked much better than I had ever anticipated. What did you think? Happy with the results? Happy with the season?