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Well, it’s been a long and winding road this season on Survivor: Guatemala. Actually, it hasn’t really been that windy. Or twisty. Just long. But hey, I’m not about to kick off this finale recap on a sour note. After all, regardless of how fun or lame a season of Survivor is, you can always depend on the big three-hour send-off to be one of the most entertaining highlights of December (or May). So how did this finale match up? Well, it was okay. Not bad. Not great. But hey, there’s always plenty to snark about; so who cares really?As usual, the giant season finale kicked off with a wham-bam recap of the entire season so far. Now, as much as I enjoy everything meta, I’ll refrain from recapping the recap, but I will say that this little segment was possibly more exciting than the entire season thus far. Nevertheless, ten minutes later, we finally returned to our survivors on Day 37 as birds chirped and monkey danced. Ah, the refreshing sound of optimism! How long until all the “Gosh, I’m in the final four!” revelations? If you answered three seconds, you’d be correct.
The self-congratulations and bewilderment kicked in immediately, with Lydia commenting, “I always felt like the odd man out!” Listen, Lyd. I love you as much as the next hobbit fan, but we all know your time has come. Let’s not start thinking you’re no longer the odd man/perfectly-coifed-lady out. Nevertheless, she continued: “Somebody’s watching over me.” Yes, it’s the little known Mayan god of the fishmongers. Curiously, his name is Stan. Very pedestrian, I know. Those crazy Mayans!
As for Danni, she explained that she was très nervous to be in the final four. After all, she’s a big Kansas State fan, and they’ve been in the Final Four (of NCAA basketball, not Survivor — although that would certainly be interesting) four times in a row without success. Now the pressure was on for Danni to bring home a championship. I’m confused. Did Danni want to win an NCAA tournament? Would this be a one-woman basketball team? I smell a hilarious ABC Family Movie in the works! Tony Danza can be her coach!
Okay, obviously, Danny was not hoping to bring home a basketball championship (although, she was quite good at court-ball). No, she was talking about the big $1 million prize; something Rafe was also angling for. “It feels really good sitting here proud of every decision so far in the game,” he told us. Hmmmm… might this be some foreshadowing to a heated jury interrogation? I sure hope so. You just know Rafe would crumble under the pressure.
Anyway, Lydia went off to get tree-mail and returned in such a rapture, I’m pretty sure she was speaking tongues. With the tribe all excited, our favorite fishmonger read the parchment which focused on the Mayan culture and all that fun stuff. “These ancestral grounds are still considered scared,” Lydia said, amusing misreading “sacred.” That would be pretty funny though if the lands were actually scared. You know the pyramids are all like, “Oh no. Jeff Probst is coming back! And that skinny girl with the abs is about to climb me. Help! Someone! Don’t let this happen all over again!!”
Nevertheless, Lydia continued to read, eventually announcing, “The spirit and culture of the Maya is still alive, and now you are part of this history.” To which the Mayan ancestors all rolled their eyes and moaned, “Great.” A wonderful, legendary civilization, and now Judd puking is part of it.
Well, Lydia interpreted this entire tree mail as some sort of warning of impending celebration, but instead, the tribe was sent a bunch of locals to perform an ancient ritual. “They poured a whole bottle of honey on the fire,” Steph explained, adding, “I’m like hello! Hello! We want the honey!” Yes, please halt this ancient, traditional, and meaningful ceremony so Steph can have a little honey. Later, the Maya brought out a chicken for sacrifice, but the perpetually hungry Steph asked, “We gonna get to eat that chicken?” So basically, she just wants to eat this entire ceremony. I’m surprised she didn’t make a cannibalistic run for the locals.
Anyway, in a very Ted Nugent twist, the Maya then ripped the head off the chicken and threw it in the fire; although, Steph still wasn’t sure if the poor bird was actually dead. You should have seen her confusion when she learned about guillotines. (A little guillotine humor for the Marie Antoinette fans out there. What’s up, Jean-Jacques.) Later, Steph even had Lydia ask if they could eat the chicken, but unsurprisingly, she was denied. Note to Steph: gets some tapeworm tests when you get back to the U.S.
With this nifty “Learn from the natives — those crazy, crazy natives!” segment over, the final four then headed off to the immunity challenge, which, by the way, was fairly insane looking. Basically, it was the most gi-normous maze of all time, all shaped in the image of an eagle. And because eagle layouts don’t always come easily nature, it looked like Survivor was kind enough to chop down some trees in the process. Ecosystem schmecosystem.
Of course, if you know me, you know that I lurve the Survivor maze competitions. I don’t know why, really. I think it’s just my general fascination with mazes. Someday, I hope to do one of those huge corn field mazes. I would liveblog it, but I’m pretty sure it would be lame: “I’m making a right turn. Oh wait, dead end. Turning around. Left. Now right.” And so on and so forth. Nevertheless, Probst told us this was the biggest Survivor maze ever, and not only that, I’m pretty sure it was the most convoluted as well. Each person had to collect eight puzzle pieces, but there were only six puzzle piece stations in the maze. Some pieces were in pairs and others weren’t and some stations were fake while others were real. Plus, once someone got a piece, they then had to cross over a series of pontoons, climb a ladder, and then place the piece into frame. Then they had to cross a rope bridge, and oy vey. I’m not even going to try listing all the random bylaws of this challenge. All you need to know is that Survivor has yet to outdo that awesome blindfolded maze challenge on Amazon.
Well, everyone began racing, and for while, it was pretty much neck and neck. People didn’t seem to be awfully lost (way to go, NON-CONFUSING MAZE); so Jeff tried to spice things up by adding inane commentary like “Physically demanding. Day 37. Worn out. You have to dig deep if you want this.” Just calm down and let them race, Jeffy.
Eventually, someone did get lost in the maze, and surprise, surprise — it was Lydia. But she didn’t give up. “Those short little legs workin’!” Probst said as Lydia bounced from pontoon to pontoon like some long lost Super Mario Brothers heroine. I have to admit. I was totally rooting for a Lydia upset. Unfortunately, it was obvious that Rafe was gonna take this challenge, and sure enough, he just barely beat out Stephenie to win his fourth immunity. This was followed by Lydia appearing at the top of the ladder with a block in her hand and saying, “Last piece!” Yeah, whatever. You’re so going home.
During the commercial break, we saw one of many commercials for the Pontiac Torrent, which has been pushing some silly promotion to give away the four cars that Cindy denied from her tribe mates. “No Torrent gets left behind!” the commercial promised. It’s not often that a car commercial piggybacks on a social initiative pun, but hey, sometimes it has to be done. I believe we all remember the ill-fated “Megan’s Kia” campaign.
Anyhoo, when we returned from the commercial break, Stephenie contemplated keeping Lydia around to improve her chances at the inevitable final-three endurance challenge, but we all knew this was blatant misdirection. Besides, Danni was doing her bestest to ensure her spot in the end by acting like she’d suck in an endurance challenge. C’mon. You don’t get those abs without a little patience. But enough scheming. Who wants to see that on Survivor? Oh, yeah, ALL OF US. Nevertheless, attention returned to that chicken from the Mayan ceremony as the ravenous Steph debated eating the charred carcass. Sure enough, the meat was still good, and Lydia, Steph, and Danni chowed down while Rafe abstained, feeling pangs of moral guilt. Silly Rafe. Doesn’t he know that you’re not supposed to really sacrifice something in a ceremony about sacrifice?
Well, no sooner had the tribe devoured this religious poultry than the heavens opened up and a near monsoon descended on the countryside. Either the Mayan gods were mad, or they just wanted a shout out on Survivor (what deities will do to get on TV these days…). Anyway, the foursome trekked up to Tribal Council where we saw our lovely jury again, and here’s to hoping Cindy’s shaved her mustache. Ah ha! She has! Score one for Lady Schick!
Unfortunately, if you were looking for fireworks at Tribal Council, this was not your episode. Conversation quickly gravitated to that chicken as the tribe expressed shame, guilt, and a little amusement for eating the sacred bird. Surprisingly, Jeff seemed genuinely annoyed at this development as he snipped, “I’m not judging whether it was right or wrong, but we’re definitely going to talk about it.” Oh, that’s right. Probst HATES ceremonial disrespect. Sounds like we may have to take this case to Chicken Court.
Anyway, everyone offered up their defenses for eating the chicken, but ultimately, Steph said that the only reason why it stormed so harshly was because they had eaten the chicken. And with that, Jeff gave the tribe members a stern, angry, disgusted, and annoyed look that seemed to say, “I can’t believe you assholes.” I couldn’t tell if he was upset with their lack of appreciation for the ceremony, or if he sincerely blamed them for the bad weather.
Eventually, the discussion moved back to the game, and when asked about Lydia, Danni cheerfully replied, “Everybody loves Lydia!” Oh, that show is so hilarious! I kind of wish Patricia Heaton wouldn’t yell at Lydia so much, but overall, it’s so true to the married fishmonger lifestyle. I always watch it when they show it on American Airlines.
Well, I’m not going to beat around the bush any longer. In a vote that was no surprise to anyone, Lydia was ejected from the tribe unanimously (3 to 1, specifically). Oh well. It was a fun ride, and hey, she made it much father than anyone had expected. Plus, she did it while having perfectly blow-dried hair every single episode.
With Lydia gone, it was clear that Danni absolutely had to win immunity to save this season. Otherwise, it would be too obvious how this all would go down. Rafe and Steph clearly would take each other over everyone else, leaving Danni the dreaded third wheel. We can’t let such predictable television occur.
The next morning, life at the tribe seemed bleak. The monkeys were howling especially mad, and even worse, everything was all wet and maggot-filled from the chicken-induced storm. That sucks. But at this point, we really didn’t care. Let’s just move on to the fallen survivor tribute, mmkay?
Ask and ye shall receive! The final trio headed off to the pyramids where they were to walk by a series of symbolic torches, each with a little drawing of a cast member. And yes, that was awfully nice of Mark Burnett to hire a hungry street artist to sketch out everyone’s caricatured faces. Sadly, there were no images of Brandon surfing or Blake playing guitar (with the words “Rock ‘n’ Roll!” emblazoned next to him). Of course, the best part of this traditional montage is not just reacquainting ourselves with some forgotten faces, but also listening to the vague comments made when no one clearly has anything insightful to say. “She was definitely a fighter,” Steph generically said about Morgan. Even worse though was Brianna, about whom the trio simply said, “Oh Brianna…” Okay, they don’t even know who she is. I’m surprised Rafe didn’t ask, “Was that one of the PA’s we saw fetching Jeff’s lunch?”
As for the drawings, I’d like to say that whomever created Jamie’s little face card deserves a gold star for transforming the paranoid schemer into what seemed to be the cover boy for some long lost 1988 Mr. Mister CD. Well done!
Of course, with every passing torch, we also saw slow-motion footage of that player, and in the case of Cindy, that meant we saw her breasteses in full jiggle mode. It was kind of like watching two water balloons tumbling down a hill: bouncy, rotating, and on the verge of popping.
After this stroll down memory lane was complete, the final three found themselves standing in front of Jeff for the final immunity challenge. And yes, Danni and Steph were in full abdominal flair mode. For this season’s big endurance challenge, the players would have to stand on a swiveling platform and balance. For the first hour, they could hold onto two ropes. The second hour, they could hold onto one. And then after that, nada. Contestants would be eliminated if their feet touched the ground or later if their hands were used in any way for balance. And with that all explained, Rafe, Steph, and Danni all hopped on their platforms. “That swivel is very sensitive,” Probst then said. Yes, the swivels have been known to cry at long distance phone commercials. Try to be nice.
The first hour of the competition went without incident. Once everyone had to release a rope though, pandemonium descended on the challenge as the players began swinging around, carefully trying to avoid touching the ground. Eventually though, the three stabilized by propping their butts up to nearby poles, and a boring calm reclaimed the competition. Luckily, we fast forwarded to the end of the hour, and soon everyone was wedged between the poles and the platforms, no longer holding onto any ropes whatsoever. Surprisingly, Jeff didn’t pull out his usual bag of tricks. You know what I’m talking about: a slice of pizza, a chocolate chip cookie, some creamy peanut butter. Instead, he just sat around and waited to pounce. Sure enough, Rafe gave him his first opportunity as he accidentally touched the pole with his hands. Yer outta there!
With the competition now down to Steph and Danni, I thought for sure Jeff would try to spark some scheming by saying something like, “It’s been two and a half hours, and neither of you have even tried to make a deal.” But he didn’t really have to hustle this endurance challenge along because soon Stephenie had slid down the pole, her butt mere inches off the ground. Could this be? Could Danni be on the verge of winning this challenge? The ultimate underdog (next to Lydia, natch)?
Well, at two hours and thirty-eight minutes, Steph began to cry (mostly because Probst was needling her about her sagging stature). Yes, cry! CRY! Crack under pressure!!! Mwhwahahaha! We never get enough crying in these sort of challenges. Things became somewhat excruciating though as we watched Steph painfully try to shimmy back up the pole, surely scraping her back in the process. Eventually, she could fight no more, and in a rather sad display, Steph plopped down on the ground, thus giving Danni the victory. Haha, suckers! You shoulda brought Lydia!
Unsurprisingly, Steph devolved into a mess of tears and frustration, and as Danni went over to comfort her, Rafe was profoundly moved — so much so that he told Danni she didn’t have to worry about prior promises to take him to the final two. Awww. That was so kind. And stupid. But kind nonetheless.
Of course, now we were presented with a truly intriguing situation. Who would Danni take? Surely she’d have a better shot against Steph, but she had a stronger alliance with Rafe. Plus, his little gesture was so gracious that Danni must repay it, yes? Later, Steph optimistically announced, “I think I have a 50/50 chance right now.” Well, uh, YEAH. You are one of two people moving on. Nevertheless, as Danni weighed her options, it became pretty clear that she would totally win this thing. I mean, she really hasn’t backstabbed anyone severely, and everyone’s gotta respect that she’s defied the numbers game. Heck, I’m rooting for her now. And by the way, a scene is unfolding by this laptop that Mark Burnett would totally love to film. A little fly just got caught in a spider’s web that was apparently right near me. Now it’s trying to get free, but that spider is totally gonna come soon. Classic Survivor symbolism. Also, the fly is trying to fly away, but since it’s tethered to this strand of web, all it can do is fly around in circles, kind of like the swings at a local carnival. If I didn’t have so much more to write, I would totally liveblog this fly’s fate. Oh shit! The fly got away! JUST LIKE DANNI GOT AWAY FROM THE NUMBERS GAME! Seriously, Mark Burnett is controlling nature!
At Tribal Council, Probst returned to true ornery form as he questioned Steph’s decision to vote Lydia off. Our Jersey Girl said that if the final challenge was a mental image, Lydia could have been a real threat. “Well, wait, let’s hold up on that,” Probst countered. Oooh! Here he goes! “In 95% of the challenges, Rafe, Danni, Steph, Lydia’s gonna be the weak person!” Oh, he gotcha! Kind of. Okay, it wasn’t his best bitchy moment, but it started off promisingly.
Anyway, Probst then grilled Rafe about his choice to release Danni from her promise to take Rafe with her, causing Gary and Judd to share a hearty guffaw. And then Jeff decided to lay on pressure by ever so eloquently telling Danni, “Pick the wrong person, and you’re $900,000 not as rich.” Well, Danni explained the difficulties of her choice to the jury, and when she noted that Steph had pissed off more people in the jury, Bobby Jon and Jamie exchanged a minor/dumb mini-high-five which came complete with a bonus jazz-hands follow-through. Hey, aren’t these guys supposed to hate each other?
Nevertheless, it was judgment time. Danni scaled the temple and grabbed that Mayan Sharpie, but what would she write? My prediction was she’d go with her heart and nix Steph. But wait! I was wrong. She cut Rafe! Holy moly! I thought he was gonna take the whole thing!! Oh man. Steph versus Danni? We don’t even have to keep watching. But we will because we just know this jury’s gonna lay into Steph. Ah, the best part of any season. Confrontation! Awkward bitterness! Dumb questions!!
But first, let’s say bye-bye to Rafe. In his final words, he told us, “I thought I played a smart game.” Yeah, you did. Well, except for that whole “You don’t have to take me to the final two” thing. That’ll go in the Colby Donaldson Book of “What the?” moments. But wait, we weren’t done! Rafe had a little Burton Roberts inside of him as he added, “Danni, I understand the decision you made, and I thought you were the one person who would take me to the final two, and you didn’t, so Stephenie, I’m absolutely rooting for you.” Huh?? Why would you think Danni’s gonna take you to the final two if you told her SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO TAKE YOU?? And then why would you penalize her? The whole point of letting her out of the promise is that you won’t hold anything against her. Oh Rafe. It seems that even the smartest players must succumb to the brain-numbing effect of bitterness.
We then saw Rafe’s Febreeze family moment, featuring two random girls who chirped, “We miss our roommate!” (I don’t understand either), and then it was time for the final day. You know what that means. Some boring “Wow! We’re in the final two!” comments. Of course, this was followed by some boring sentimental mumbo jumbo. Look, it’s our last laundry! And our last bath! And our last comment about observing last things! Before heading up to tribal council, Steph and Danni then burned their whole campground, saying they were sacrificing everything to the Mayan gods. Well, everything but the leftovers of that chicken. Mmmm… sacrilegious poultry! Actually, no more chicken was consumed, but there was some hot Danni-feeding-Steph action. Grrrrowl!
But enough stalling. Let’s get to the jury. Before we even begin, I’d just like to make an opening statement on behalf of my client, Logic. I’m totally rooting for Danni, but I have to say, anyone who bashes Steph for being a backstabber or schemer should realize that many people — starting with Bobby Jon — had warned the jury members that Stephenie was running the show. If no one was happy with her, they should have gotten rid of her when they had the chance. Of course, jurors never like to take personal responsibility, and hey, that’s okay. The sillier and more vengeful the questioning, the better.
Nevertheless, Danni kicked things off with an unmemorable opening statement. She said she was surprised that no one saw her as a threat; so basically, that was a big “Way to go, IDIOTS” to the jury — not that they seemed to pick up on that. As for Steph, she offered up a diplomatic opening: “I just, I first want to start off by thanking all of you for making this an amazing, amazing experience for me [again]. I never thought coming into this Survivor that I would even have a shot [again] and making it past even the first tribal council [AGAIN].”
Okay, and now the jurors. Start us off, Bobby Jon!
“How proud are you of yourself of playing this game up until now?” he asked. Hey, is that Jenny Finch because I think we be playing SOFTBALL.
Well, Danni gave some lame response, and Steph, well, she tried to mollify some of her wrongdoings. “I know there are two people in particular that I have sort of backstabbed.” Sort of? I wasn’t aware there were “sort of” votes. C’mon Steph. Deep down, I still like you, but you gotta commit to it. You turned on people.
Gary then stood up and made one of the more amusingly hypocritical statements of the night: “I’m going to judge my vote tonight on who I think gives me the most honest answers straight out.” Says the guy who still hasn’t revealed that he’s not a landscaper and has been living a lie THIS ENTIRE GAME.
To his credit though, Gary did have a tricky little question as he asked, “Why shouldn’t I vote for you?” But since the answers weren’t very interesting, I’ll just move on.
Jamie stood up next, and surely this would be a bonkers question, right? Well, not at first. He asked Danni some throwaway question about who would be her top five if she had the numbers. But then Jamie moved onto Steph and promised a much harder question. Okay Jamie. Let’s hear it!
“Why are you and the crocodiles conspiring against me?” he asked.
Okay, no, Jamie didn’t ask that. Instead, he commented that whenever he was about to vote someone out, he would never talk to them and be friendly because he thought that was cruel. So when Steph was all sweet and nice to Jamie before she had voted him out, “How do you think the jury — who has to decide — how do you think they feel about that when they saw that?” Wow, way to toss Steph the hard question. I think you’ve put her right on the spot! BUSTED!
The string of lame questions continued with Lydia who declared that she had been loyal to Steph from day one. So why should she vote for her? Of course, Stephenie replied with a lame “I went up against the best, I like to beat the best” line. Okay, okay, okay. Enough with the BS. Let’s just move on.
Cindy twanged up the jury with her question as she asked, “If you could remove one of the jury members, who would it be?” Hmmm… Sort of interesting and original. Sort of dumb too. Danni said she woudl remove Rafe because that was a guaranteed vote against her. Steph, meanwhile, faltered as she first said she’d get rid of Bobby Jon because he was the first guy in the jury (huh?) and then settled on the beauty pageant response of “I don’t want to take anybody out of the game.” As evidenced by her complete lack of backstabbing…
Rafe then stood up and asked why Danni had chosen Steph over him when she had previously said she would take Rafe. Uh… because you told her SHE DIDN’T HAVE TO, BURTON.
Finally, it was time for Judd, and I have to say, I was quite excited. First, we knew he’d be reliable to say something bitter and dumb. Secondly, as jury interrogations go, this one had been relatively lame. We want more passion and hurt from these people! C’mon, Judd. Show us what you’s got!
“I wanna congratulate you’s,” he opened up, revealing that JuddGrammar we so know and love. And now the first question to Danni:
“I want to know if you’ve ever went rollerblading or ice skating before,” he asked, adding, “Have you ever ice-skated or rollerbladed before?” Oooh, thanks for the elaboration! Personally, I thought he was giving Danni a throwaway question so he could move on to grill Steph. But no! He had a point. “I think you’re one of the best ice skaters I’ve ever seen because I believe your strategy was to skate right through this damn game like you did!” Just a small technical point, Judd: you could have just asked about ice skating, not rollerblading. But that’s neither here nor there.
Well, when Danni defended herself, Judd went off, saying, “To me, it just sounds like you lied a lot.” And yes, the rampant hypocrisy in this statement was well observed. Nevertheless, he continued, “I would suggest that when you go back home, the first thing you do is go to confession.” I’m sure you’ll be right there with her, right buddy?
As for Steph, Judd also opened with a cryptic question, asking if she was hungry. Okay Judd. You’ve give us the setup. Let’s hear the punchline.
“I mean, you’ve eaten more than I’ve eaten when I’m home. I”ve been through three immunities, and all you sit there and say is that you’re starving… the only thing you should be starving for is my damn vote!” Bravo! Well rehearsed! Anyway, Judd continued, “You crossed the line when you lied to my wife, man, and you said that we had the strongest alliance here. And that was crossing the damn line, man. You should have never opened your damn mouth when my wife got there.” Ouch. Nice accusation, MAN.
Rather than simply apologizing, Steph tried to explain herself, saying, “I had no idea I was going to vote you out. It wasn’t my idea!” Why, that’s the sort of comment jurors LOVE to hear! Shunning responsibility, playing dumb. Of course, in this case, Steph was actually telling the truth, but well, it just sounded bad.
Well, the closing comments came and went without anything noteworthy. Steph babbled on about how she outwitted, outlasted, outplayed everyone, and Danni shrewdly noted that Steph and Rafe were the reasons why everyone was sitting on the jury. We then watched the jury vote (Judd sided with Danni, Rafe with Steph), and then it was off to the live show. What would this season’s big montage be? Would Probst take a shuttle into outer space, orbit the moon, and then touch down in Television City Studios? Or would he merely ride a camel across Central America, tossing coins and flowers to the various villagers he would encounter along the way? Well, Jeff walked away with his canister of votes and then headed down some stairs. And then some more stairs! And then into a helicopter! And then… he arrived in Hollywood? LAME!
We then saw our two finalists all fattened up and pretty. Danni was especially sexified — as Tyra Banks would say — as her glossy porn star lips seemed to all but beckon Playboy. As for Steph, she opted to Jersey it up with a full Garden State stereotype makeover: green eye-shadow, deep tan, and a hardcore perm made shiny by copious amounts of hairspray and/or gel. Oh my gawd!!
So now the moment of truth. Time to read the votes. I personally predicted a blowout for Danny.
Okay, vote #1: Danni.
Vote 2: Steph.
Vote 3: Danni
Vote 4: Danni.
Vote 5: DANNI! DANNI WINS!! Yay!! Well, it wasn’t a totally exciting season, and the outcome was a bit predictable, but hey, at least the underdog won, and that’s always fun.
As for the live finale, I plan on doing a little photo montage tomorrow when I return to Los Angeles (I’m blogging from the remote offices in New York where I’m incapable of executing proper screen caps).
What did you think of the finale? Were you happy? Did the right person win?