I have a love/hate relationship with finale episodes. On the one hand, I’m excited because we finally get to find out who’s gonna win the million. As a strategy nut, I’m always hoping to see a monumental feat of the Outwit portion of the motto — Natalie Anderson in SJdS: “Did you vote for who I told you to, Jaclyn?” Sandra in HvV telling Russell: “I’m happy with 2nd place, they won’t give me the money again.” Aras in Panama throwing the final 3 challenge, then telling Danielle “If you don’t take me to the finals, I’ll make sure me and Cirie don’t vote for you.” Todd leaving Jean-Robert speechless in China: (“When you mentioned blindsiding James, I thought ‘Oh no, he’s catching up.’ So YOU became my biggest threat”). Sophie in South Pacific: “I saw Coach as the equivalent to a young girl.” Wendell in Ghost Island telling Domenick: “You really have to watch your tone in front of the Jury.” Tommy convincing Noura he couldn’t beat Lauren at making fire. Even Kristie in Australian Survivor playing possum the entire game then blowing her jurors away by breaking down her very well-planned strategy. I love seeing the moment when one player closes out the win with their wits.
But on the other hand, I get sad because I know it will be a while before we get a new dose of Survivor. The Summer break is always the longest. Equally cringeworthy to me is knowing I could see someone bumble their way into a dumb-luck win, primarily due to another finalists’ mistake(s) in how they address the jury (cough, Michele over Aubry, cough).
I think this season, there’s a solid possibility either scenario could come to fruition. Maryanne could do either one. We know she understands Survivor strategy, and she does have one good move under her belt. But can she explain her game in a way that doesn’t prompt the impatient sighs and eye rolls she got for most of the season? Mike could stay the course, look humble and get the win. Or he could fall on his face if he claims he was the picture of integrity he regularly spoke about while watching at least 5 jurors he blatantly lied to load their verbal weapons. Romeo can only go up, but imagine if he pulls a Sophie/Kristie, and blows the jury away? Jonathan has likely already talked his way out of several votes, but can he turn it around and talk his way into some? Lindsay seems to be the most capable of hosting an FTC Outwitting clinic because she’s kept her composure all game long. But what happens if she gets tripped up?
And the biggest question of them all? Which finalist will read their jurors the best? Who will know what their jurors want to hear, and sell it to them the best?
And away we go…
*I hope they don’t bring back the “Fallen Comrades” segment. I never cared for it in the early seasons, and I still don’t miss it.
*Jonathan just referred to himself in the third person. Damnbueno hates when people do that.
*Sending the final 5 to a new island is a twist for the sake of having a twist. I don’t think it adds anything. Its like Ozzy sending himself to Exile in South Pacific — totally unnecessary.
*Lindsay picking a fight with Jonathan is a bad look. Lindsay, can you see how you’re about to lose Jonathan’s jury vote?
*Jonathan repeating “You voted for me Lindsay” is doing the same thing. Jonathan’s Jury Management is very bad.
*Romeo, if you want to sell that you have an Idol, you don’t just come out and say “I have an Idol.” You have to let someone see you holding it when they think you’re not looking. Geez, even Rupert knew how to do this by putting a rock in his pocket in HvV. And we all know what a titan of strategy Rupert is.
*Maryanne wants Lindsay in the finals? Bad move.
*Mike blatantly lying to Lindsay is compromising her jury vote too.
*I don’t like having an Immunity Challenge Advantage at final 5. Let the players play the game!
*Hey look at that! The Advantage is hidden in a place that requires great physical strength to find it. What are the odds?
*The other 4 must not have come close to solving the puzzle. It looks like Lindsay might have had help finding the Advantage too.
*Lindsay shouldn’t have told anyone she found it. She should have let them waste energy searching for it. Then again, they’d still be solving the word puzzle at nightfall too.
*Lindsay’s Advantage puts Jonathan in even bigger trouble than I thought.
*I remember when Kelley Wentworth won this challenge in Cambodia. The smartest player goes for the toughest bridge first. I think it’s the one where you carry 2 planks.
*Maryanne’s gonna be the roadblock. Whoever gets stuck behind her on a bridge is screwed.
*Sure enough, Lindsay falls on the 2-plank bridge.
*I wish they’d include the times players say “Shut up, Jeff!” Malcolm once told a story of how Probst ripped into him as he was digging in sand during Philippines. Malcom said he started throwing sand on Probst, and was upset it didn’t make the final cut.
*Lindsay’s fall on the bridge cost her the challenge win, and possibly the game. But Mike’s lie to Lindsay might cost him Lindsay’s vote. That’s good news for Maryanne.
*Before the challenge, Maryanne said in confessional she wanted Lindsay in the finals. She can help that happen by giving her Idol to Lindsay, but I think that will be perceived as a bonehead move by the Jury. Keeping Lindsay around over Jonathan could be perceived like Hannah keeping David Wright in over Sunday in MvGX. This late in the game, you boot the person who has a better chance of beating you. Nobody should want Jonathan gone.
*I understand why Mike wouldn’t bring Lindsay on the Reward, but what’s the value in bringing Jonathan? You’ve just made it easier for Jonathan to win final 4 Immunity.
*Jonathan to Mike: “Will you play your Idol for me?” Mike’s hesitation spoke volumes to me. It should have told Jonathan, “Hell no!”
*Lindsay pitching Mike on the importance of keeping his word is a good plan. If Mike realizes he’s been a hypocrite … naah, he’s still gonna lie his ass off. She needs to make him feel like he’s losing her Jury vote.
*Lindsay is pitching her plan hard, but I gotta parrot Rob C. here: “Favors aren’t returned in Survivor.”
*Maryanne: “Voting out someone who knows she’s going home is not a ‘Big Move.’” I still don’t see how using her idol tonight will be impressive.
*Based I what I’m hearing after the challenge and at Tribal Council, the remaining players STILL don’t see Maryanne as a threat to win.
*Jonathan is unintentionally telling the Jury why Lindsay has been playing better than he has.
*If Lindsay stays, she’ll look like she tricked someone into using an Idol for her.
*If Mike saves Lindsay, he’ll looks like he’s lost Jonathan’s Jury vote.
* If Maryanne saves Lindsay, she looks like a fool.
*Romeo just looks invisible.
*Mike plays his Idol for Maryanne, and now she can bury his chances of winning by revealing she’s already got an Idol.
*So Maryanne wasted an Idol. She didn’t even bother to tell the Jury she found it. Revealing her Idol at FTC probably won’t have the same impact as doing it tonight. She could have shown the jury she tricked Mike into playing an Idol for her when she didn’t need one.
*At least Romeo took a shot at impressing the Jury with his phony Idol.
*Omar saying he’s sad Lindsay is gone confirms to me he was lobbying for her to win.
*Maryanne has to win at fire against Mike or Jonathan to win the game. I don’t think she’s up for it. I don’t think she’s winning Immunity at 4. Maybe she’ll surprise me and convince one of the guys not to throw her into the challenge.
*This Survivor/Top Gun ad just reminds me of how much I’ve been done with Tom Cruise for so long.
*Ahh, the “Rolling Ball Cage” challenge. This one’s pretty even. I could even see Romeo winning this one. I’d still prefer to see something new, just to catch the players off guard, knowing they all have to learn the challenge as they’re playing it.
*Ok, this Maryanne “My family isn’t talking to each other” segment just told me she’s winning the game. I know, I’m late to the party on this one.
*Is Mike the first person to drop out of this challenge with only one ball? I think he is.
*Romeo dropped his 2nd ball in too soon.
*Maryanne is rushing already. Her lack of patience killed her.
*Romeo dropped his 3rd ball in too soon too.
*Wow, I thought Jonathan had this one easy because he was being so patient.
*Romeo winning this challenge was the best thing for Maryanne. He’s gonna pit Mike against Jonathan, and Jonathan is gonna win. Call this a dumb luck break for Maryanne.
*It wasn’t a prediction, but I said Maryanne’s best chance to win was against Jonathan and Romeo, and that’s what I think is gonna happen, even though Maryanne can’t take any credit for removing Lindsay or Mike.
*Maryanne’s impending win is a little disappointing. I like seeing a winner who has more agency in the voting. Maryanne had one move – Omar. She didn’t affect the voting, or outwit anyone at any other time. The only person she convinced to vote a certain way was Romeo.
*Jonathan – “I’ve been starting a lot of fires.” That describes his entire social game.
*Hai seeing the necklace on Romeo hit me pretty hard. Romeo might get his vote.
*Hmm…”The Challenge” isn’t airing on MTV anymore? That’s interesting.
*I think I’m as bored watching this fire challenge as Romeo is
*The wind always seems to be a factor in these challenges. Jonathan’s base is too far to one side. The wind is blowing his flame from his rope.
*Mike proved me wrong. I thought this was an easy win for Jonathan.
*I think Mike gets Rocksroy and Jonathan’s votes, but his hypocrisy costs him all the other votes. He might still get Drea’s vote since she predicted he’d win if he made the finals. She’d be voting to prove herself right. I’ll guess it’s a 5-2-1 win for Maryanne.
*Mike is coming off as pretty cocky to me. That’ll be a bad look if he shows it to the Jury. Its always better to appear humble.
*Ahh, this is why we didn’t get Ponderosa videos this season. They’d detract from including the “Jury Speaks” videos in the broadcast! I gotta say I’m impressed with this. It makes me miss the “Fallen Comrades” segment even less.
*But I don’t like that they’re not including any negative comments about the finalists. I still want to see the full “Jury Speaks” videos.
*Lindsay summed up my feelings about Maryanne’s chances – “I was with you all game. Where was this strategic person?” That’s why I thought her move with Omar was too little, too late, and she needed an impressive follow-up move. She didn’t get that 2nd move, but I think Mike is gonna screw up, and drop her a vote or two.
*Damn, Chanelle is looking good.
*I hate it when one juror says “All our votes are open.” Most jurors are locked in before FTC even begins, and they have to be talked OUT of their decision.
*Mike – “I only lied once.” BAD start, dude.
*Tori told Maryanne what she wanted to hear, and Maryanne is smart enough to repeat it.
*I think Romeo just talked himself out of the only vote he was gonna get.
*No, wait, Romeo came clean. He might have gotten Hai’s vote back.
*Damn, Lindsay is looking good too.
*Omar immediately calls Mike on his BS. Nobody’s buying it, and I don’t think Mike is getting it. They’re not gonna buy the “They deceived me first” line either.
*Hai to Mike -- “You didn’t realize Omar was lying to you?” Mike, put down the shovel, you just lost Hai’s vote.
*Lindsay, Jonathan and Hai are killing Mike, and he doesn’t know it.
*Interesting that Maryanne called it a “fake merge.” Are you listening Probst?
*Maryanne’s doing a bad job of owning the Omar vote, and Jonathan of all people is calling her on it.
*I don’t think anybody is having a good Final Tribal Council. They’re all fumbling through their answers. They’re trying to tell the jurors what they want to hear, and they’re failing.
*Hai to Romeo “Why did you take Maryanne to 3?” Hai thought he should have thrown Mike and Maryanne in the fire challenge. This further confirms Jonathan’s goat status. Romeo lost Hai’s vote for sure.
*Mike – “Maybe I didn’t play with as much integrity as I thought.” Good statement, Mike, but it might have come too late.
*Drea – “Maryanne, I don’t know what you did in the game.” Again, too little, too late?
*Ok Maryanne, I was wrong. Revealing your Idol at FTC opened up some eyes.
*Maybe it’s the editing, but it looks like Maryanne has finally figured out when to stop talking.
*I still think Maryanne has got the win, but Mike admitting he lied did some damage. I’d still like to see the full “Jury Speaks” videos to know where everyone stood as FTC began.
*Congrats to Maryanne. Now we get to see the players talking with their mouths full again.
My during-the-commercial-break-before-the-reunion-starts gut instinct says Mike choked away any chance he had when he proudly proclaimed he only lied once. He never had an accurate read on how the others were perceiving him. Similar to Coach in South Pacific, he truly believed he played as honestly as he was preaching, and was caught off guard when the jurors set him straight. To his credit though, he came clean when they spelled it out for him.
I think Maryanne had the lead going into FTC, and didn’t lose it, but aside from revealing her Idol, I don’t think she did anything that secured any undecided votes. We didn’t see any votes for Romeo or Mike, so it might have been unanimous. If it was, then I think Mike talked himself out of Rocksroy and Jonathan’s votes as opposed to Maryanne talking herself into them.
To me, Maryanne is an average to below average winner. I have to give it a lot more thought. Like I said earlier, she simply didn’t influence the other players much at all. She unintentionally played herself into a bad position. But to her credit, she recognized her status, and figured out how to use it to her advantage. But the two biggest reasons for her win – her Extra Vote and Idol – were trinkets found with some freaky luck. I’m still having trouble seeing how she strategized herself to the end through building relationships, gathering information, and figuring out how to use it to improve her position. Outside of the Omar vote, when did Maryanne improve her position in the game? Her most impressive move came primarily because she COULDN’T convince Mike and Jonathan to vote how she wanted.
I LOVE hearing the jurors sharing their thoughts immediately after the voting. We get their unfiltered perceptions. Nobody is influenced by any positive or negative audience reaction while the season has been airing. For example, at the Fiji reunion, Probst asked “Who would have voted for Yau-Man?” Well, with a screaming live audience, and 3 months’ worth of online and in person fan praise for him, NOBODY was gonna say they wouldn’t have voted for Yau-Man. But with no influence from the audience at all, I think we get much more honesty at this type of reunion. We got it at last season’s reunion too.
*Ok, Maryanne is talking too much again. But she won, so I’ll give her a pass.
*Probst says it was a 7-1 vote? Mike even threw Rocksroy’s vote away?
*If the jurors are being honest (and I think they are), then Mike did talk himself out of several votes. He snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. It sounds like it was fairly even as FTC began, but Mike lost any shot he had at votes from Hai, Chanelle, Rocksroy, and Drea. That would have given him 5, which would have won the game.
*Probst – “Mike, how does it feel to know you threw votes away?” Brutal question Jeff.
*Probst – “We haven’t seen any of Season 41 while filming Season 42 either.” LIAR! You see dailies every single day, and you know who won and why.
*I like the instantly-live reunion, but I still think it totally sucks for Mike and Romeo as much as it did for DeShawn and Xander. I don’t know what could have been done about that though.
*Omar’s “Which animal is each finalist” segment fell flat for me.
Recap after the recap
I enjoyed this season, even though the Producer meddling was still maddening. Again, I’ll have to give it more thought, but this season will likely rank in the upper half for me. I’ve got to let it sink in. Omar really impressed me, and I still think he’ll rank as a top 50 player. Lindsay could rank high on my list too, even though she had a blind spot about booting Jonathan. She should never have wanted him gone because she could beat him for the million. I’ve already shared my thoughts about Maryanne’s win. I think Mike caused his own loss by a blind spot he had all season long. Do or Die must die — at least in the post merge game. KIP doesn’t bother me as much as it does others. I’m also done with the fire challenge. It has run it’s course. I’d rather see players outwitting each other, and perhaps choosing to face a fire challenge as a matter of strategy.
What do you think? Where might you rank Maryanne’s win? Do you think Maryanne blew the jurors away, or did Mike eliminate himself? Where do you rank this season and why? What were your highlights/lowlights? Also, let me know what you thought of this new weekly column. I’ve enjoyed writing it, and I’m contemplating some off-season topics for the off-season. Damnbueno welcomes your feedback.
Damnbueno got his nickname in 8th grade Spanish class when his friend shouted out "You're pretty damn good at Spanish." The teacher insisted he say it in Spanish, so the friend said "Esto es damn bueno en Espanol." The nickname stuck. These days, when he's not forgetting his 8th grade Spanish, Damnbueno is indulging his obsession with all things Survivor. Reach him in the comments section here at True Dork Times.