I did this with Survivor Nicaragua so I figured I'd do it again. Where to begin?
Coming into the episode I thought Rob was a lock to win regardless of who he sat next to. Because of that the Redemption Island duel wasn't all that dramatic or important to me. I liked the construct of the challenge and thought it was fitting, a deceptively difficult endurance challenge for the winner to prove that they do deserve to be in the game...and then voted out immediately by Boston Rob.
Once Andrea won, Rob's victory was a lock. The only question was whether it was going to be against Ashley and Natalie, or Natalie and Phillip. The immunity challenge that sealed Andrea's fate was absolute crap, as was the previous one that Ashley won. The fish rib puzzle would have been so much better if they had to place them in order, not simply place them, and a 100 piece puzzle with anything but sequential numbers would have been very interesting.
Ashley won, and Andrea gave us one final moment before leaving, the "oh shit" look on her face as Rob whipped out the hidden immunity idol that no one was thinking about, but everyone should have been 100% positive he had.
Then Rob made the second decision that I didn't really like (the first being voting out Grant). He decided to vote out Ashley. The reason I had an issue with this was with a final three of Rob, Ashley, and Natalie, Phillip
would have voted for Rob even if Rob punched him in the face on the way out. Contrast that with the somewhat uncertain jury vote of Ashley (even with her friend cutting her throat), and it seemed like Phillip was the better choice to go. But hey, Rob won eight votes to one so who am I to judge?
And then the jury. I thought heading in that the best question/commentary would come from David, and the worst question/commentary would come from Julie. Oh lord was I ever right. But all in all, this was a good jury performance.
Andrea - "Phillip...you....are weird." Awesome. Phillip giving it to Andrea saying "if you don't know who I am, don't vote for me" is something I've wanted from a finalist for some time. Natalie's willingness to backstab her friend and stand up for it at Final Tribal Council is one of the big reasons I want her back. Girl has potential.
Ashley - Was the annoying, entitled child at Final Tribal that she always acted like during the game. She might have been older than Natalie, but she acted ten years younger.
Grant - For someone who played professional football and lived a life in which you can be cut just as quickly as you can in Survivor, Grant was kind of a baby.
Ralph - Might have had the question of the night in asking Phillip where the rest of his chicken was. It was oddly cute and touching to see Phillip and Ralph find a connection across race and across different backgrounds.
Matt - Had an oddly decentquestion, asking how Rob transitioned back into real life after all that is the game of Survivor. It was very reflective of Matt's time on Redemption Island and it found me liking Matt just a little bit more.
Julie - Oh god, spare me. "You three should be sitting there very humble." Shut up bitch. "None of you played a respectable game." It's a fucking game. You wouldn't complain about someone buying Boardwalk in Monopoly, or blocking a triple word score square in Scrabble, give me a break. The comment about how Rob treated Natalie shittily was just utter horseshit. Julie talks about being a parent, and part of that role is being a protector, which is excatly what Rob was to a very scared, very out of her element 19-year-old barely adult. Phillip's responses were great, essentially telling the jury to shut up and stop whining because they were sitting in the wrong seats.
Mike - Was clearly possessed by Matt at some point. God, God, God. That having been said, his question was pretty interesting. Asking contestants to outline their journey always produces some good answers. And Rob's "I learned I need to stop playing games," was as good as they come. I knew this would be Rob's last Survivor season, win or lose. He has nothing else to prove. The only reason I can see for Rob to come back is to one day succeed Probst as host.
Steve - Telling Phillip off was pretty funny. As boring as Steve was as a contestant, he does have a great mind for the game and his comments on Natalie and Rob were right on point.
David - All I can say is thank you. I wish Survivor would replay David's speech for every jury from here on out. "Don't be douchebags, vote for the best fucking player!" (Cough*Samoa*Natalie*White*Cough).
Natalie composed herself very well, didn't buckle under pressure, didn't yield emotionally to the harsh comments, and at the end of the day, a part of me wanted to vote for her. Only .01%, but still.
Rob - Didn't do much and didn't have to. When he was required to give a response, he knocked it out of the park.
Phillip - Was Phillip, nothing more, nothing less.
Who I would Like to See Back:
Natalie - I feel like she could be a major player if given a second chance, like an Amanda Kimmel with an ounce of strategy and no regrets. Watching her cut Ashley's throat was awesome as was seeing her utterly unapologetic Final Tribal Performance.
Phillip - Way too entertaining to not be seen again.
David - Really smart and got caught in the wrong tribe at the wrong time. The problem with the seasons in which a strong player is present is that often other strong players are voted out early because they're a bigger threat than the numbnuts that last longer in the game. Rob in his first season is a perfect example.
What Castaways Will Return Next Season?
Not a huge fan of the idea to bring two castaways back again, but it could be interesting depending on who they pick. The theme is "Castaways needing redemption" so keeping that in mind I think it will be two of the following:
Michael Skupin (Australia) - Might have gone far had he not burned his hands off on Day 17.
Kathy O'Brien (Marquesas) - Probably too old, but also probably the most cheated "should-have-won" behind Russell Hantz.
Rob Cesternino (Amazon) - Another castaway that should have won who had a very poor showing in All-Stars at the hands of Rob Mariano.
Andrew Savage (Pearl Islands) - Should have gone far, but got screwed by the terrible Outcasts twist and Lil.
Ian Rosenberger (Palau) - Bullied into quitting at the final Immunity Challenge by Tom Westman.
Terry Deitz (Panama) - A numbers victim, and an asshole to me, but a challenge dominator.
Jonathon Penner (Cook Islands) - An abrasive personality who everyone was happy to see gone.
(I have not seen all of Fiji or Fans vs. Favorites)
Erik Huffman (China) - Voted out due to a thrown immunity challenge.
Ken Hoang (Gabon) - A decent, if annoying, player who got axed.
Tyson Apostol (Tocantins) - Has probably played the two dumbest games of Survivor. Needing redemption, but doesn't deserve to be back.
Coach Wade (Tocantins) - I don't know that he'll ever get redemption, but the producers love him.
Russell Swan (Samoa) - Evacuated due to injury. Would be great to see square off against Mike Skupin.
Erik Cardona (Samoa) - Axed at Samoa, and a likable character at Ponderosa.
John Fincher (Samoa) - Overthought his way out of the game at the hands of Russell Hantz. Would like to see the rocket scientest face off against David from this past season.
Marty Piombo (Nicaragua) - One of the few likable players from that season, if a bit arrogant.
Matt Elrod (Redemption Island) - The in need of redemption poster boy.
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