It’s finale time! You know what that means: ridiculous amounts of filler. After the Peih-Gee TC, the Final Four return to camp, congratulating themselves for succeeding in their original plan. “Is this a plan turned into motion, or what?” Denise says to everyone. Everyone, in their heads: “Well, there’s sort of one more step, but we’ll let that be a surprise. TO NO ONE BUT YOU.”
The next morning, Amanda retrieves a treemail that hints that there will be one more shot at food. This means no car this season! That’s unfortunate, given how awesome it turned out last time. The reward challenge is supposed to be a version of the Great Wall of China. You start on top of “the wall”, and you have to assemble a puzzle bridge in the middle. On the other side of the bridge there are puzzle blocks and one of those carrying mechanisms that go across your shoulders. You bring the puzzle blocks (which look exactly like Tetris blocks, right down to the shape) back across the bridge and up onto the wall, and then you use the blocks to complete a portion of the wall. First person to complete the wall wins the reward, which is pizza, soda and brownies.
The challenge commences, and Todd gets out ahead when he figures out the puzzle bridge relatively quickly. Amanda, however, is right behind him because she has decided to become awesome at challenges now. I think that’s really part of the strategy of the game, not letting on how awesome you are until it’s too late for anyone to do anything about it. Todd and Amanda are neck in neck at the Tetris puzzle, and Amanda just sort of figures it out a little more quickly than he does, and she wins the reward. Man, she is on a hot streak, which may explain all of the blurring.
Now, Probst lowers the boom on Amanda: she can choose one, or two, people to share her reward with. This is a terrible thing to do to someone this late in the game, especially because Probst frames it as “you can keep the advantage for yourself” or “share it with somebody”. This is tough, because if you keep it for yourself you inspire resentment among the other three people (see also: Cindy and the car during the Guatemala season), but if you pick two people to share with, you let the other person (DENISE) in on the fact that she’s probably screwed. Not that she would try to do anything about it anyway, which is why I would have just taken Todd and Courtney. Sharing with Denise is like feeding your pet rock at this point. Well, except the pet rock would probably win an endurance challenge.
Amanda chooses the safe route and takes only Todd, trying to shore up her twosome should it eventually come to that. She also decides to broach the uncomfortable subject matter of Todd himself, specifically how damn untrustworthy he is. She literally just balls out says to him, “Honestly, I don’t trust you very much right now.” Which is sort of awesome in its own way. Todd acts all faux-shocked at this, and then tells her what she wants to hear, which is that he never even considered taking her out, and that he is more loyal to her than anything else. He does not look at the camera, wink, and elbow nudge the Great Wall of China, but it is implied.
Denise and Courtney return to camp empty-handed, and Denise goes for a swim by herself and be all pensive. Unfortunately, a pensive Denise is a self-pitying Denise, and she talks all about how left out she’s been this whole time, completely disregarding the fact that she’s won the last two rewards and been taken on at least two more that I can think of. And also, she’s in the final four, which is not a position in which you end up if you are left out of anything significant. You can also see here that Denise has lost a whole lot of weight over the course of her journey. Whining is good for the metabolism, apparently.
She’s also worried about being voted out at Final Four. Of course, Final Four is the appropriate time to worry about that. Lots you can do at this point! Form an alliance with two pandas and vote out Todd and Amanda! Dominate this shit!
Denise and Courtney lounge in the sun. Denise, like it’s a surprise: “Well, I thought you and Todd were pretty tight, but it looks like Todd and Amanda are pretty tight as well!” Denise, catch up. Todd plus Courtney plus Amanda equals how many? Hint: It’s one less than the number of people left.
Sigh. At this point, I’m literally like, “I said GOOD DAY SIR!” to her every time her mullet darkens my screen.
After Todd and Amanda return from reward, Todd works Denise over in the shade of the shelter. He does not know that Courtney is perched right behind him in the woods overhearing everything, even though she’s not trying to. Todd does a decent job at making Denise feel comfortable, telling her that he’s paranoid that they’re all going to turn on him and vote him out. He tells Denise that he feels bad because he’s built relationships with all three of them, so it will be hard to write down a name tomorrow night and he wants there to be no hard feelings between any of them. HINT, HINT. Courtney, still listening, tells us that Todd is a “slipperly little sucker” and will only watch out for himself, and somehow always seems to wind up with the prize. Courtney relays this information to Amanda (I think their relationship is one of the unsung reasons that this alliance has worked so well, BTW), and tells Amanda that she thinks Todd might be telling different people different things. You know what? I think he might! Amanda tells Courtney that she took Todd with her on the reward for this very reason; she wanted to seal up his allegiance for the final stage of the game, to make sure she doesn’t get screwed over. If I’m Courtney, this scares me, particularly in the case of a Denise immunity win. In a well-shot sequence, Amanda relays this info to Courtney as Todd sneaks up behind her silently in the background. It looks like a horror movie, seriously. The cameraman makes it look like Todd is about to brandish a very large knife.
Get out the room!
Todd tells us all about how paranoid he is that the three girls will band together and eliminate him, and how nervous that makes him. He looms over Courtney and Amanda as we go to commercial. I really hope they’re both alive after the break.
During this commercial break, CBS airs the first promo for the next season of Big Brother. (Returning February 19th! What is a boy to recap?) They make it look like the coolest show ever, with the All-American Rejects Song and the cool PostSecret video that came along with it, even though last season was completely doody and quite possibly fixed. Whoever is in charge of creating those commercials is crafty indeed.
After the commercial, Todd returns with treemail. Time for us all to remember the many Survivors who have died in the field of battle, especially the ones who have been edited out of the credits.
Hey, remember Chicken? Neither do any of these guys, because they are currently burning him in effigy and have likely never spoken to him. Ditto Ashley, who Courtney tries to say something nice about, barely refraining from making a stinkface. Mourn the loss of her giant scary rack! Wow, this must suck to have to say something nice about these people. You know what this reminds me of? It’s kind of like when the manager at your office forces everyone to gather round and sing happy birthday to the IT guy who works on the next floor, and you have no idea who he is, and you have met briefly, but you’re standing there clapping passively and thinking about how this moment, right here, before the cake, is the only thing that is actually worse than the Excel spreadsheet waiting for you back at your desk. These four people right here? They are celebrating the birthday of the IT guy.
Oh, and in this metaphor, Jeff Probst is an Excel spreadsheet. But you knew that.
Leslie. Dave, who tells us that his strategy was to be “highly likeable”. That, I did not see. Did see your wang though, unfortunately. Aaron. Sherea’s Giant Boobs In Slow Motion. Jaime, who will embarrass herself later, but we’ll get to that. Jean-Robert. Frosti. James, who will end up being sort of cool later. We’ll also get to that. Erik the Boring Bore, who (and think about this) did more strategically than Denise. Peih-Gee.
Jeff is waiting at the end of the pathway to begin their final immunity challenge, which is stacking plates. Get it? They’re stacking China! It’s totally blowing my mind.
Basically, Jeff will make them stack dishes on the end of a pedestal that they hold with one hand, and dishes will be added at intervals until there are big stacks of dishes. Last person with unbroken dinnerware is the winner. You will recall that last season, people had to submit to freaking water torture to win final immunity. This season, they are stacking plates, which is something my grandmother does to pass the time.
The music gets very dramatic as plates are stacked. Hey, you guys want to watch me empty the dishwasher? I’ll let Probst commentate, even! “Hey, Schoonie, I see you’re putting that gravy bowl that you drank beer out of on Friday night in the upper left cabinet. That could cost you!” Then he would ask James what he thinks.
Todd’s plates fall first. Jeff calls for those left to add a larger bowl to the top of the stack, and Amanda chooses to stack hers upside down, which is an excellent move for a situation like this. It’s sort of like stacking your Jenga piece in the middle after you’ve removed it, in that it stabilizes the weight distribution and gives you a greater shot at going the distance. As you can tell, I have set the table many times.
Jeff: Next, I want you to place the salad fork on the left. No, not that fork, the other one! Some people have no manners. Now, about your virginity!
Courtney’s plates fall next, which is surprising because you would think she would be really good at this. Denise, sensing that she’s about to lose, attempts to make a deal with Amanda. Amanda knows this, and since Denise has no leeway and is making the weakest attempt at a deal ever, she tells her no. That’s the thing about having a Final Three instead of a Final Two; deals at the last immunity challenge aren’t nearly as important, because your chances of being eliminated if you lose are much less, especially because the person who wins immunity is no longer the sole decision-maker about who gets the boot. They should let the winner of final immunity kick someone out. It’s kind of an element that I miss.
So, Denise’s plates eventually fall, as we all knew that would, and Amanda wins immunity. I wonder who will be booted? WHO? The suspense is…what’s the opposite of killing me? The suspense is giving birth to me!
Back at camp, Denise makes the decision to work Amanda and try for a tie. Her argument is as follows: if she does not win, she has to go back to being a lunchlady, while Amanda and Todd will become instantly famous from being on a reality show (as one does, of course). They will get famous, she will not, and they should step aside and let her win the million dollars because of this. Basically: feel sorry for me. Remember when Dreamz used to constantly mention that he was homeless? Apparently, being a lunchlady is a worse fate than homelessness. All of this is said as she looks at Amanda with giant, pitiful eyes (remember that for later), like a puppy who has been punched in the face.
For those of you thinking that this is some sort of strategy to shame Amanda into letting her through, I have a question: If this were the case, why the hell has Denise been feeling sorry for herself all season, even when she’s been in the majority alliance for a large part of the game? If your main argument the majority of the time is, “Look at me, being left out! Feel bad for me! Don’t you want to give me a handout?” that’s kind of gross. Courtney talks with Todd and Amanda about how Denise is attempting to make them all feel bad for wanting to vote her out. Courtney says to Todd, “Are you kidding? This isn’t, like, welfare.” (Me, from the couch: “Indeed. Vote her ass out.”) Courtney, continuing: “Like, she doesn’t deserve it just because, you know, she sucks at life.” (Me: “Wow. Way to state that opinion in the most assholish way possible.”) Courtney: “I’m the biggest bitch on the planet.” (Me: “Only in roughly half of the episodes.”)
Out by the river, Amanda and Denise and Denise’s hangdog face are talking about the vote tonight. Denise would like Amanda to vote for Todd and force a tie; Amanda tells Denise all about how she’s had an alliance with Todd from the very beginning and she doesn’t want to betray him now, but that she’d rather be at the end with Denise because she thinks Denise deserves it more. I’m not touching that one. Amanda (or rather, the audio track, because you can’t see Amanda’s face and there seems to be a fairly audible sound edit here, which is very fishy to me) tells Denise the following: “I will guarantee you I will not vote for you tonight.” If you go back and watch, it looks very fishy. I’m not saying it didn’t happen this why, but it seems…odd, to me. That’s all.
Tribal Council! The jury enters, now with added Peih-Gee. I do not miss typing her name. Denise takes the very first question Probst asks her and makes it about being on the bottom of the totem pole and being left out and being picked last in gym class and I would feel a lot sorrier for her if she had, you know, done anything about it. Courtney retorts by pointing out that pretty much everyone in the game has felt on the outside at some point, including Courtney herself at the beginning of the game, so it’s pretty much all perception if you’re feeling sorry for yourself, and what you do about it. Peih-Gee nods her head in agreement. I will also add: good point.
Denise talks about how important Amanda’s vote is, and how Amanda has told her that she has Denise’s back, so she’s hoping she votes with her and not against her. Amanda stops her here to remind her that she said that a while ago, insinuating that a promise like that does not necessarily extend to the point where she has to watch Denise’s back instead of her own. The problem is that she doesn’t directly say this, and Todd takes this opportunity to do some communicating with the jury, mouthing “Burn!” at them, which is both against the rules and ridiculously stupid. Since Todd is as fond as stupid attention grabbing pantomimes as James is, they begin a random mime-off that lasts roughly thirty-two minutes.
Probst grabs onto this and lets Todd make what he terms “an editorial comment” about it where he talks about how that must suck, if you’re Denise, because Amanda is totally owning your ass. Amanda, who is clearly already torn about getting rid of someone who she probably genuinely likes, then lets this comment get to her, and you can kind of see where she lets her guilt get the best of her, and it is the beginning of the end, because you cannot do that if you want the million dollars.
Time to vote! Denise votes for Todd, Todd votes for Denise. The first vote is for Denise, and then Todd, Denise, Denise, and she is out. And I will say this: no one has deserved to get fourth place more than her. Make of that what you will.
Finally, I can get a haircut! My split ends are getting ridiculous.
In her final words, she talks about how she’s definite that she would have won the entire thing if she had made it to the end. Probably not true no matter how much guilt she piled on, given that she didn’t do anything and both Todd and Amanda likely would have crushed her.
After TC, Amanda is really, really angry at Todd for criticizing her during Tribal Council. She tells them that she’s mad at him because he made her look bad, but she’s really mad because she knows that he’s criticized her for saying that she had Denise’s back and then getting rid of her, which is the same thing that Todd himself was about to do. Again, she does not say this, but it’s what she means. It seems to be a recurring thing with her. You guys are lucky I speak Amanda. Well, I actually speak Constant Ass Blur, but they’re both Romance languages so I can sort of make out what she’s saying even if I don’t technically, you know, understand it.
The next morning, it’s day 39! Courtney says, “I can’t believe that in the next 24 hours, I get to use a Q-tip.” Not to make the obvious joke, but…you kind of are a Q-tip at this point. And also, out of all the things that you will get to do (including showering, the use of a phone, and the reintegration of complex sugars into your diet) you choose…a Q-tip? Go at it, I’ll just be over here with the Funyuns.
At the treemail they have a whole brunch set up, with pancake batter and everything. They feed their faces in preparation for the final tribal council. After they finish, they decide to light things on fire. It’s the least interesting fire ever, and it takes a lot to make fire boring.
Final Tribal Council! The jury members file in, and then opening statements begin. Amanda tells the jury that she feels blessed to be sitting there, and then states that she had a strategy the whole time and gives a brief overview of what she’s done. She then ends with an apology to people that she voted for that she had to blindside (she names James, JR and Frosti, and very notably leaves Denise out). Todd starts things off very poorly by attempting to genuinely thank all of the jury members for “helping” him get to where he is. He tries to be heartfelt, but it sounds really condescending. He does ask them to differentiate between game moves and personal relationships, which he believes are real. Courtney talks about how she had no idea what she was doing, and that this fact actually sort of makes her better than Todd and Amanda. She tells them she’s managed to make her weak frame work for her, and that it’s important to give her credit because everyone thought she was going to be first out, and here she is, big mouth and all. It’s actually a really eloquent statement, and she definitely does the best out of the three here.
Time for jury questioning. James goes first, because Jeff gets to pick the order of questions, and you never want to send a guy mixed signals. Then he might not ask you to the sock hop. James talks about how he knows there’s going to be a lot of bitterness on the jury, and he doesn’t want to be a “Bitter Betty”. It’s either that, or “Bitter Petty”, I’m not sure. Either one is awesome. He asks Courtney what her favorite memory of her time in China has been. She thought that she was going to be the first one out, so when her team won and she realized she wasn’t going home first, she was shocked. Her answer comes off very endearingly and honestly, especially for Courtney. Jeff, of course, follows up with a question for James. “Why that question?” Jeff, he already said he didn’t want to be a Bitter Betty! Don’t you listen to 1950s reading primer alliterative nicknames?
To be fair, even though the question James really asked was “I have already decided who I am going to vote for, so I’m going to use this time to make myself look good” I’m fairly impressed with his conduct here. He just had an opportunity to skewer the three people who betrayed him the most, and he chose not to take the bait. That’s impressive no matter who you are. Maybe he’s just one of those people who’s an asshole when he’s really hungry. It’s like the further he got into the game, the larger the jackass portion of his personality got. And then he got voted out, and bam! He’s kind of interesting and cool again. Just an observation. Either way, I take back, say, one of every three things I’ve said about him this season.
Hey, at least I’m wearing a shirt.
Jean-Robert tells the final three that he’s torn, because he promised Todd & Amanda that he’d make sure they lose if they backstabbed him, but on the other hand, that means he would have to vote for Courtney. Ha. He tells them his vote is “live”, and they can win or lose it right here. He asks Todd to explain the logic behind getting rid of JR himself and not James, who at the time, had two idols. You and I know that there really was no logic behind that decision other than pettiness, given that Todd himself told us that. Todd, to his credit, throws a spectacular line of bullshit at JR about how he was planning on getting rid of James, but then JR brought up the same plan, which alarmed Todd because if they’re thinking the same thing, JR must be smart, and must therefore be eliminated. It’s really well said crap. But crap nonetheless.
JR is succinct in thanking him and returning to his seat, but the other castaways are very impressed with his answer, particularly James, who is, like, slapping his knee and gesturing so wildly that silent film music should be playing in the background. Jeff of course has to give James another opportunity to talk. “Why are you laughing?” he asks. James according to the captions: “Because…he shut up him.” Eloquent! First of all, that is an amazing combination of pronouns. Also, dude, you really shouldn’t be criticizing people for talking too much when all you do is flail around and make elaborate attention-getting hand motions so people will know what you think all the damn time. I just gave you points for being cool a second ago. Don’t eat Jeff’s apple! Even though he totally wants you to.
Peih-Gee wants to vote for the person that “deserves it the most”. She wants to know why Todd didn’t just slide in to the end. Todd lays out his entire strategy for Peih-Gee from beginning to end. She asks Amanda what she’s done that’s better than what Todd did. Amanda tells her that she wanted to get to the end with people she could beat, and she really wanted to get rid of James and that was her best strategic move, but it comes out like this: “Choke.”
She’s having an allergic reaction to money.
Erik wants to know what the riskiest move for each of them was. Amanda mentions James again, and Erik, not catching the pass, tells her that it doesn’t seem risky to vote out James because he has immunity idols, so that seemed kind of a no-brainer. Amanda calmly explains the other side of the coin to Curly McBoring, which was that she was probably going to lose her main alliance partner (Todd) if that plan had failed, so she would have had to start all over again.
Frosti goes next, and he does a lot of stupid stuff that doesn’t matter and refers to himself in the third person. He asks Courtney about when he was voted out, and why she didn’t tell him, and to explain herself. She doesn’t take his shit at all and was like, “Well, that sort of…wouldn’t have mattered because you were getting voted out anyway.” She can be really awesome sometimes.
Jaime is next, and she has stolen her question from Miss Teen South Carolina. “If you could tell us everything that we would be disappointed in Todd about knowing, and why we should be voting for him.” If you can explain that question to me, that would be cool. Courtney is again like, “Um, we’ve been discussing this for the past hour, so I’m not going to go through it all again.” Good for her. Jaime repeats the question to the other people, for no other reason than to plainly and directly cause backbiting, not to help her make a decision. She’s kind of the opposite of James here. Also, Jeff should throw her question into the fire, because it is a fake question.
And now…Denise. Sigh. She begins all, “I’m glad you all can look me in the eyes, that’s nice.” Indeed, they suck for lying to you in a game involving lying. Next thing you know, they’ll be collecting rent when you land on Boardwalk. Assholes! And then, this gem: “As you all know, I’m a lunchlady, I’ve dedicated my whole life to being honest, and being fair.” (Me: “…and pudding.”) She continues. “I believe I would have won if I were sitting there, and that the jury would have given me the million dollars.” She turns to the jury for confirmation. The jury’s facial expressions: “Um…no.”
She tells Amanda that she has lied, and tells Todd that because he can lie so well in a GAME INVOLVING LYING that he needs to “look inside himself” and “clean his conscience”. Interesting comments when brought in light of recent events involving her employment and subsequent reunion sob story. Hey, maybe she clean his conscience for him, since she’s a janitor and not a lunchlady!
Then she does the most random thing ever and is like “You’re cool” to Courtney for being honest. Then she sits down without asking a question. Excellent use of time.
Time to vote! Jaime votes for Todd, telling us that she’s impressed with his answers. Erik votes for Amanda, stating that she played the best all around game. This is true; it’s too bad that she started feeling guilty and choked. Denise votes for Courtney, because she always tries to tell her the truth and she “overcame the most odds”. I do have an odd respect for Courtney after tonight, I will say that. We don’t see any of the other votes.
Jeff goes to collect them and pulls a fast one all “I know you want me to read them now…and I will, because we’re live!” and all of a sudden we’re in Hollywood. Remember when Jeff used to do those crazy things where he’d leave on a helicopter and jetski to LA? I’m thinking this is a missed opportunity for him to jump on the back of a panda and amble off into the horizon, possibly whisking James away with him.
Todd is wearing a vest and has a strange mullet-like hairdo, which is odd. Courtney and Amanda are both predictably hot. The first three votes are distributed evenly, and then Courtney gets another, which is both surprising and strangely fitting, because she did a really good job at the finale. Then Todd gets the last two, and he is the winner.
I’m not sure how I feel about this, because I really don’t think that he was as strategic as he makes himself out to be at the reunion. I think Amanda was much smarter, and she would have made a better winner. Overall, this season was kind of lame. The location was awesome, but the people we largely strategically incompetent and there were a few casting whiffs, particularly Erik and Denise. Fiji was a better season, I think. But still, this season was highly enjoyable and had a few highlights.
There will not be a reunion recap, because I don’t want to get into the grossness of the whole Denise situation, but I will state the following:
Probst, while being completely lame for most of this season, absolutely killed the reunion. He did a great job at asking the hard questions, making himself look like a dork, and embarrassing the castaways. He seriously asked Erik if he was still a virgin, can you believe that?
James came off really well, seeming like a very enjoyable person, and I have high hopes that he will be much cooler during his inevitable appearance on the tribe of past contestants next season. Courtney also came off really well, kind of joking with Jeff about her weight and her one-liners, and refusing to play along with his attempts to embarrass her, particularly with respect to the Denise comment about sucking at life. Oh, and she gave Probst the finger for it on national tv, which was AWESOME. I think she was a really great casting choice, and she was surprisingly awesome at the times during the season when she did not suck.
Anyway, it’s been a great season, guys. Thanks for reading, I’m always really grateful for your continued presence. I’m sure I’ll see you for either All-Stars or Big Brother in the spring. Please Lord, keep both from sucking. There won’t be much else on.