Seriously, can you stop talking about how you got robbed? I just want you and your tiny, tiny shirt to go away. It’s the morning of Day 37, and Russell is up early while the rest of the castaways sleep. Of course, this means that Russell has to complain and bitch about being awake while everyone else is sleeping, because what’s the point of being up early if you can’t use it to feel superior to others?
“I’m FOCUSED, I’m better than them,” he says, despite the fact that Jaison and Mick have won immunities while Russell…has not. “I should be here with superstars,” he says. Stupid foreshadowing, making me watch him again next season.
Russell talks to Natalie, telling her that she should really try her best, because if Brett wins, he won’t be able to save her, since they’ll need the three guys to stay and try to beat him. “My goal was to be the underdog and slide through, and it’s worked,” she says, worrying that she can’t beat Brett. Take a page out of the Book of Tonya Harding, people. It’s not that hard.
From the right side of the screen, with a tire iron. That’s all it takes.
Russell is doing his “preparation” for the immunity challenge by smack talking Brett. “I can OUTDO HIM when it comes to pain,” he says. This is what he had to get up early for? This guy is so lame.
Immunity Challenge. There’s a simple obstacle course with some puzzle pieces at the end, and the contestants will retrieve them and then assemble the puzzle to win immunity. Jaison takes a mean spill right at the beginning and finishes the course last, but the whole thing is all about the puzzle anyway. It has the Survivor Logo on it, so it’s definitely not as hard as the puzzles we’ve seen in the past. Russ and Mick come close, but Brett finishes first, meaning that a Foa Foa is finally going to be sent home.
The Foa Foas look dejected as they return to camp. Natalie knows that she’s in trouble, asking Russell what the plan is. He promises her that he’s going to try and keep her. “I want her around because I can beat her! She’s been riding my coattails this whole time,” he says assuredly. Hey, how did that work out? I forgot.
“Hahaha…second place is mine!”
Russell walks up to a Jaison lounging in the shelter some more, declaring to use that he’s pretty much checked out of the game. “Natalie is definitely stronger than he is,” Russell says. It’s really taken this long to figure that out? I love how having a penis automatically makes you awesome on Survivor. I’ve never understood that. He also thinks Mick is a good option, since he thinks Mick will beat him in front of a jury. I must say, after knowing how this ends, Russell’s predictions in this sequence are beyond hilarious. It’s like opposite day up in this bitch.
So Russell gets Mick and Jaison to agree to vote for each other, putting the decision in the hands of Brett and Natalie. While I do think Russell completely shat the bed strategically once he got to the finals, he’s does a pretty good job here at manipulating the other people. He’s essentially made promises to all these people to go to the finals together, which they have all believed. Of course, he seems to think that this guarantees him the win, when in fact Natalie, Mick and Jaison are the smart ones for knowing to go to the finale with a pompous ass clown. But whatever, he’s the GREATEST STRATEGIST EVER! Let’s throw him a thirteen episode party!
Tribal Council. The Foa Foa jury is clearly ecstatic to see Brett with the immunity necklace. Probst asks Brett if he was “sandbagging it”, waiting until the right time to strike. Yes, Probst, it was Brett’s plan to completely blow it strategically, allow all his friends to be voted out, and then dominate the endgame via the expedient solving of puzzles. He’s a genius!
Next up: solving a Rubik’s Cube in 30 seconds.
Brett correctly answers no to this question, telling Probst that it’s about frame of mind; he just wants it more than the Foa Foas do, because he knows he’s going home if he loses. Probst talks briefly with the Foa Foas, but they basically tell him what we already know: that the vote is basically a matter of Who Can Beat Brett versus Who Is Good To Take To The End. A Tribal Council full of insights, people.
Time to vote. Mick regretfully votes for Jaison, telling us that he’s checked out. We also see Jaison apologetically vote for Mick. We don’t see the others. When Probst reads the votes, there’s one for Mick and the rest are for Jaison and he’s done. His final words are quite pissy: “I am very upset at Russell, he broke his word to me. I’m rooting for Brett, because he is who we were, and underdog that really wants to win.” Hmm. The writing seems to be on the wall for Russell, no? How were we all surprised?
Back at camp the next morning, Russell gets Brett alone, asking Brett if he thinks he can beat him in the top three. Brett thinks that it’d be close, and Russell plays the “I want to beat the best” card, because apparently Brett is one of the best despite the fact that I had no idea who he was until about two weeks ago. He offers a top three deal to Brett and they shake on it, and even Brett isn’t fully buying it. Russell, of course, is super proud of himself, all “Never hurts to have insurance, right?” and cackling. I really think that neither person in that deal has any intention of keeping it, so I’m not sure what the point of that was. Whatever, I guess he’s the genius.
“This says ‘No one is buying it.’”
Turns out there’s new treemail, and guess what? They’re going on a walk during which they will remember the previous players! Shocked, I know. I mean, we’ve seen this 19 times now. It is not interesting and no one cares. I mean, do we really need to remember Ben and Yasmin?
Anyway, let’s see what generic pleasantries everyone will be spouting this time: Marisa existed and was apparently a strong lady. Russell seems to think that if he hadn’t gotten rid of her, he’d be gone. He’s said this more than once, and frankly, I don’t buy it. If that’s his best strategic argument, he can cram it. Also, her voice is almost unbearable. Mike almost had a heart attack, and was also slightly racist. Betsy says…stuff. Ben was lots racist. Yasmin was loud. Ashley I had completely forgotten about. Other Russell thinks he would have won, and he says some stuff about his family that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and is oddly morbid. Liz was sort of cool, and she would have gotten a lot farther if she had just gotten one Tribal Council farther. I feel like we would have been rooting for her right now. Russell thanks Galu for voting out Erik and making a move for Foa Foa. “Voting him out was your downfall,” he says. That’s not even close to true: when you’re up eight to four, losing one person is not your downfall.
Kelly says…stuff. Laura talks for a long time about being an “awesome grandma” that makes no sense at all. Everything these people say fall into one of two categories: stuff that’s generic and stuff that makes no sense whatsoever. Does anyone know where the bathroom is? I have some magazines to catch up on during this segment.
John and hauls a rope in a Speedo, or possibly very scary underwear which I do not remember. He still believes that breaking the tie was a good move, despite the fact that he was immediately voted out afterwards. How does anyone think that’s a good move when they’re almost immediately punished for it? Would that not persuade you that it had perhaps been a mistake?
Dave was apparently hilarious and misunderstood, bringing the total number of things he has in common with Pauly Shore to “one”. Monica was “the fakest person here” according to Russell, which tells you just how badly she got to him during that brief period when she decided to strategize. When it’s Shambo turn, Foa Foa thanks her for switching. “My whole life, I’ve been uplifter of the underdog,” she says, which tells you exactly why she ended up switching, which is very interesting sociologically. If Galu had been the team down four to eight, do you think she would have stayed loyal? Jaison gets remembered too, but even the Final Four are all “Wasn’t he just here yesterday? Why are we doing this?”
Having reached the end of their producer mandated spirit walk, the Final Four symbolically burn the masks of their former competitors. They all stand there with their hands on their hips and look pensive as helicopters capture aerial shots, meant to portray just how majestic and important this all really is. It ends up falling somewhere between “Completely Cheesy” and “Swiped From An Episode Of Captain Planet”. I realize that no one has ever used the adjective “majestic” to describe Russell before, but that’s apparently what they’re going for here. He’s like a tiny penguin king!
They spent a long time arguing over who got to be ‘Heart’.
Final Immunity Challenge. The contestants will place a small wooden statue on the end of a pole and balance it using both their hands. Every two minutes, they’ll add another foot long section of pole, making the statue harder to balance, and then keep their hands on the lowest section. The last person with a statue wins immunity. I must say, I would be terrible at this. Once there are about five sections, Mick’s statue drops and he’s the first one out. Natalie’s statue drops right after, so it’s down to Russell and Brett. Somewhere off camera, the producers are so happy that they poop themselves.
It begins to get windy and the poles start swaying, which can’t help. The time comes to add another section of pole, bringing to total to seven feet. Brett adds to his pole immediately while Russell takes the strategy of waiting him out. Unfortunately, this also means that Russell has to hustle to add his section of pole, getting it on just before the allotted time runs out. The remainder of the challenge is actually pretty exciting: Brett’s pole wobbles and bends, and then Russell’s pole wobbles and bends, and it’s very tense and Natalie almost passes out.
“Oh maaaaaa worrrrrrrd.”
Eventually, Brett’s pole wobbles enough that the statue falls, and what do you know? Russell is actually able to back up his shit talking for once, so he wins immunity. Of course, he can’t help overstepping his bounds some more. “This challenge just won me the million dollars! I am a millionaire,” he says cockily in confessional. While that is supposedly true, I don’t think it’s going to be in the way he’s hoping. I love how he can even turn things that you would normally give him props for into hilarious failures. I should have watched the finale first, and then watched the entire season. That would have made things much more tasty. The recaps would be mad late, though.
Speaking of which, I would love a retrospective YouTube montage of what are now giant Russell FAILS, if someone could hook me up with that. Just a parade of shit-talking that never, ever comes to fruition. Hooray for other people’s pain! That’s what Christmas is really about.
Back at camp, everyone high fives Russell for winning. Brett is already talking about how much fun he had playing the game while sad memorial music plays in the background, in case you’re wondering whether the producers are going to make this suspenseful.
Brett’s all “All I have to fall back on is Russell’s promise,” and you can tell that even he doesn’t really believe it. Russell starts talking to Natalie and Mick about how awesome it’s going to be when he wins, and they look sort of sick. You can tell that they’re really tired of hearing him yap. Can you imagine having no one to talk to but Russell for thirty-nine days? Ponder that shit.
“Yeah, that million dollars is MINE. NO WAY anything can go wrong at this point. Dumb ass girl.”
At this point on DAY THIRTY-EIGHT, Russell figures out that he may have pissed off a bunch of people and that this might not be as easy as he thinks, so he goes to Brett and tells him that he’s a great guy, but that he doesn’t want to force a tie to keep him in the game. Mick, meanwhile, is super paranoid, telling Natalie that he suspects that something is up. “Oh ma god, you are so paranoid,” she tells him. He’s freaking out here mostly because he’s slowly realizing that he’s probably screwed either way, whether he goes home or not. That can’t be pleasant to deal with.
Tribal Council. Probst’s love for Russell is in full effect here. Mick and Natalie get yes or no questions, like “Was sending Brett home a done deal once he lost?”, and Russell gets questions like “Is it hard to send someone awesome like Brett home when you are equally awesome and want to go to the end with other awesome people?” It’s sort of gross. “Is there part of you that can appreciate the competitor in Brett?” he says to Russell only. Probst doesn’t ask Natalie or Mick whether they want to go to the end with the best, because the insinuation is that they are inferior. Probst crosses new lines of inappropriate favoritism every season.
“Russell, would you say that you are the best person ever to play this game, and also way better than these other people, and also willing to come over to my house and eat a dinner that I prepare for you while wearing little clothing, and then maybe we can spoon afterwards?”
Time to vote. We see Mick and Natalie vote Brett. Of course, when the votes are read Mick gets one and the rest go to Brett, so he’s done. Brett’s final words are as generic as he is. I mean, he literally says nothing. He seems nice enough, but whatever, peace out.
It’s the morning of Day 39, and the typical feast is waiting for the Final Three when they wake up. Russell is all “I brought two people with me,” he says, which is patently ridiculous since he couldn’t have gotten there without him and Natalie has made several moves throughout the game. Russell begins playing an unnecessary mind game here, telling them that he brought them the whole way and asking Natalie what she’s planning on saying to the jury. Natalie gets all defensive while Russell continues, telling them both that he’s letting the whole jury know that Natalie and Mick have been in the backseat this whole time. “He needs to be reminded that he couldn’t have made it without us,” Mick says indignantly. “We’re all sitting in the same place.”
“Don’t make me make you look STUPID,” he says to them, spitting out this last word. He lies in the hammock, listing which five people are going to vote for him. “And then, I am another millionaire,” he says nonchalantly. He’s just kind of being a dick here. He clearly hasn’t thought that this might actually fire them up and make them want to beat him more instead of beating them down.
“Man, I have TOTALLY got this wrapped up.”
Mick, Natalie and Russell light the camp on fire, denying millions of kids with pediatric diseases lots of auction dollars. “If these people won over me, that would be a shame,” Russell says. “I’ve played better than anybody in history.” I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: not even CLOSE to true.
Final Tribal Council! The jury enters, complete now that Brett’s been added. Probst makes the interesting point that for the first time in history, everyone in the finals has voted for every single person on the jury, meaning that they should theoretically be on an even playing field. Time for opening statements: Mick’s is actually pretty terrible. He tells the jury that he made it a point not to promise them too much or treat them terribly. His insinuation is that he’s not an asshole like Russell, but he doesn’t actually say that and he probably should have.
Natalie tells them that everyone told her that she couldn’t do it before she left, says that people told her she couldn’t do it, that she went outside her comfort zone and has been humbling, and then she says “thank you” to the jury, which is always, always a terrible move. If you lost a game, and someone told you “Thank you for losing!” wouldn’t you be pissed off at them?
And now: Russell. He says that came to play hard and to win the game (apparently everyone else came to lose) and then made huge strategic moves. He started in his own tribe by getting rid of Marisa and Betsy, and then he went to Galu and got rid of Kelly and then went to John to get him to switch and get rid of Laura.
Let’s go backwards: the John thing, he had very little to do with. That was mostly Shambo, whose resolve forced a tie that John was unwilling to commit to. It was mostly circumstance and had little to nothing to do with Russell. Getting rid of Kelly was the result of an idol, and while he found it, that’s not really strategy, save for the part where the Foa Foas as a group convinced the tribe he didn’t have it. And as for getting rid of Marisa and Betsy, I’m sure we are all wowed and surprised when a middle aged woman and cute girl get voted off early. That certainly never happens! Also, his point is that Marisa and Betsy “suspected him”, like he’s kept it a huge secret that he’s been sneaky. The truth is, everyone knew Russell was sneaky, some people just chose to take advantage of it by going to the end with him.
My point is, he hasn’t really done that much.
“If either Mick or Natalie has outwitted or outplayed me, than give them the money, but I doesn’t think they have,” he says. There’s certainly an argument to be made for Natalie, I’d say. I’m also not going to argue that Russell doesn’t deserve to win, because he does. I just also think that Natalie deserved to win.
Time for questions! Jaison is first. You can kind of tell that he’s bitter just by how he looks. “I want you to give the jury info about who you really are,” he says. “If you don’t, I will.” Natalie tells the jury that she’s in pharmaceutical sales and gave up her job to come to the show. Russell tells them that he’s a businessman, and that this is the first business he’s had that’s been successful. Mick says that he just finished medical school and is 320 thousand dollars in debt, so he could really use the money. Jaison announces to the jury that while says that none of them have lied, Natalie makes a lot of money, Russell is wealthiest guy in game, and Mick’s got a well paid fellowship at one of best hospitals in America. Essentially, Jaison is trying to keep anyone from voting based on need.
Next up: Shambo, who really should be wearing a bra.
Man, she looks fancy.
She begins by apologizes to America for dismantling Galu. “I’m really beginning to question that call,” she says indignantly. Prepare for her to say a lot of things indignantly, by the way. “Mick: you have got to be kidding me,” she begins. Kidding about what, who knows. Prepare for her to make a lot of statements without backing them up, too. “Would you agree that your overall gameplay could be called….feckless?” she says. He tells her that he doesn’t know what the word “feckless” means, and she’s all “I’m done with you,” because he has ruined her fun. This is all an opportunity for Shambo to look superior, as you will discover. She’s essentially Lisi, asking how many zeroes are in a million dollars.
“Natalie, I’m thinking of a word, and it starts with a C. Can you finish it?” Wow. That is both inappropriate and incredibly hypocritical, since Natalie wasn’t the one treating others like shit throughout the game and throwing tantrums. “I’m going to let you finish it Shambo,” Natalie says, embarrassed for Shambo, as we all should be.
“COATTAIL!” Shambo yells. “How do you think America will see your gameplay?” Natalie’s answer is that she thinks people will see her as the girl who “showed up in a sundress and gold wedges”, someone who should have been voted out first but “had enough intuition to notice that aggressive girls got voted out”. All pretty valid, nothing too out of line, right?
Shambo goes “Wow, that is major BS, I’m just cracking up on the inside right now.” Over what? It will forever remain a mystery. Do not expect Shambo to explain herself, or to apply logic to her pronouncements! Just who do you think you are?
“Neither of you are getting my vote,” she says as if Mick or Natalie ever expected to get it. “Thanks for playing!” she says like it’s already done and Russell has won. How did that turn out for them, again? I forgot. This is all so, so tasty to rewatch.
Brett. “Mick, if we were going on a bro date together, what would we do?” Mick is like “WTF?” and Brett has to explain what a ‘bro date’ is. Mick’s like, “I would wake you up with a little sweet nothing, a little tickle on the nose,” he says, taking the question a little too seriously. He gets all generic about it, telling him they’d go eat and talk about sports and girls. Turns out he was asking to see how much Mick had invested in Brett as a human being. Looks like Mick knows Brett just as well as the audience does. ZING!
“Question one: What is my name?”
Kelly. She tells Natalie that when she was in the game, she had to rely on herself (which I don’t remember seeing a lot of), and that she was hoping to see the same thing from Natalie but ended up extremely disappointed. “Well, I may be not as good at physical challenges, but I got better throughout the game,” Natalie says. I’m confused, because from where I was standing Natalie did a pretty damn good job at challenges.
Kelly makes a bitchface and moves on to Russell, asking him if the way he acts during the game is the way he acts in real life. When he says no, she wants three words to replace the “outwit, outplay, outlast” motto he’s been espousing. “It might be hard to believe, but: honor integrity and loyalty,” he says. This question is very unfair to Russell, because people shouldn’t be judged for who they are during the game, because it’s, you know, a GAME and all. Of course, it’s been revealed since the finale that Russell is a giant asshole outside the game as well, but that’s no matter.
Monica, who looks HOT. She says that while she’s seen Russell’s “key moves”, she hasn’t seen a lot of passion from Natalie and Monica, and wants to see some fight. She asks Mick why he deserves the money over the other two, and he plays the whole “I’m a nice guy” card, talking about how Russell’s ego is out of hand and that his behavior does not merit a million dollars. Russell interrupts here to say that Mick “did the same thing”. “He didn’t mind that I was being a snake when he was giving me high-fives about it,” Russell says. While that may be a good comeback in this instance, doesn’t that contradict Russell’s main argument that he did everything, since it means Mick was an active participant? I feel like Russell really, really botched this last part here. If he’s going to take the route where he appeals to the jury’s game playing side, he may have wanted to actually make some solid, logical argument for himself, which I’m not seeing at ALL.
Dave. He just wants to know what they each think their chances are at winning. Mick says 25%, Natalie says 30%, and Russell says that he came in larger, but that right now he’s at about 55%. Enlightening. Next!
Laura. “Russell, what did you learn about me that enabled you to beat me?” I’m not sure why she’s asking this, because the answer is obviously “Shambo hates you because she’s a twelve year old with a mullet” He strokes her ego and tells her that she was “the biggest threat in Galu” and “Controlled a lot”. At this, she looks like she was about to cry, and that’s when you can tell that she really, really wanted this.
John. “Mick, give me the hard sell. Blow my mind right now,” he says. Mick’s response is lame: “In terms of character, you won’t find a better person. With Russell, the ends don’t justify means, and that’s who you’re giving money to if you vote for him.” He also calls himself a “stand up dude” repeatedly. I am not a fan of anyone calling themselves “good people”. That is a pronouncement for someone else to make. Mick’s argument is also a pretty weak, if you ask me. Mick really blew it here, too. You can kind of tell that Natalie won by default, since she was the only one making any sort of logical argument, albeit a tenuous one.
And now, Erik, who’s had the most time to think about what to say here, which means: pretentious speech. He tells the three of them that he doesn’t need to hear anything from them. He tells Mick he was a terrible leader who did nothing with the position that he was awarded. He tells Russell very emphatically that they have “absolutely nothing” in common, and at this point he begins to cry. “This is the first time anyone has gotten to the right place by behaving the wrong way,” he says, going for incredulous but landing somewhere between over-rehearsed and unintentionally hilarious.
“Natalie: people will say that you don’t deserve to win, but why is it less admirable to stand in the back than Russell, who gets a free pass for doing what he did?” He turns to the jury and announces that “perception doesn’t meet reality” which literally means nothing at all in this instance, and he’s basically just trying to sound smart by saying things he’s heard in movies and on TV at this point.
“I’M OUT OF ORDER? YOU’RE OUT OF ORDER!!!”
“In a reality filled with arrogance (shot of Russell) and “delusional entitlement”(shot of Mick), maybe and the person who is the least deserving is actually the most deserving.” My favorite part of Erik’s whole speech is when he points at Mick and says “delusional entitlement” at the end of making a twenty minute speech about how terrible it is to have morals and end up on the jury as a result. Classic.
Commercials. I love the Radio Shack spot featuring Biz Markie. “Oh, SNAP? Guess what I saw?”
Back from the break, it’s time to vote for the winner. There will be no closing statements (at least not that we get to see). We watch Erik votes for “Ratalie”, which he means nicely, if you can believe it. Sham votes for “Russel”, which makes me think of Russet Potatoes. Who doesn’t know how to spell Russell, seriously? Those are all the votes we get to see. At this point, I was pretty positive Russell was going to win. In fact, my notes say “7-2 Russell”, because I figured Natalie would get Brett and Erik’s votes.
Probst walks away with the votes, and we’re in Hollywood for the final. Natalie, Russ and Mick all look much better. Some people said Natalie was wearing too much makeup, and maybe I’ve spent too much time in the South, but I thought she looked pretty good. Russell’s shirt, however, is about eight sizes too small.
Probst talks forever and ever about how great this season has been (seriously, worst season ever) before getting to the voting. Erik’s vote for Natalie is first, then Shambo’s for Russell (lots of cheering for Russ, BTW), then another apiece for Natalie and Russell, and then the rest are for Natalie and she wins, unbelievably.
So…that’s it, you guys! An unremarkable end to an unremarkable season. I’ll see everyone on February 11th.