Winners at War? More like Whiners at War. Or Winners at Warm Fuzzy Feelings. Or Winners on the Survivor Celebrity Cruise. [takes a bow]
These are all alternate subtitles for this past “greatest of all-time” season of Survivor (these are also names I flirted with for the headline of this post, and I just couldn’t bear to part with them. So, bonus titles! You’re welcome).
Without doing the arithmetic, I’ve probably posted more about Survivor than any other subject on this blog (are we still saying “blog?” Pop culture review? Internet phenomenon? Literary TikTok?). Certainly I’ve written more words about it than any other show, if the memory of my epic poem-length recaps serves correctly. So there ever was a time to dip my toes back into that clear blue Fijian water, it certainly seems like that time is now. With Season 40 just barely in our rear view, here are my thoughts:
I hated it.
Okay, that is not entirely true or accurate. But it was a letdown, peaking mid-season with the back-to-back-to-back eliminations of Boston Rob, Parvati and Sandra, and then not quite reaching that gear again. All things considered it will probably end up near the bottom of my top 10, or maybe even in the top 15 (I need to do a proper ranking, but perhaps that’s a post for another day). However, this season – as has been the trend in recent Survivor times – succeeded in spite of itself. And I shall endeavor to tell you why (buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy, scattered ride).
In last week‘s Survivor: Nicaragua recap we pointed out that we felt Brenda and Sash were not really in control, and could very well find themselves on the outside looking in. We also meant to add that, despite appearing to call the shots, Brenda is not Parvati, the cunning siren (and arguably best player in Survivor history) who probably seems like the best comparison for Brenda. Unfortunately for Brenda, there are critical, significant differences between the two. Brenda might feel like she has everyone under her thumb, but she lacks both the charm and, more importantly, the ruthlessness of Parvati (and while Brenda has seemed more than physically capable, we’d argue that she doesn’t possess Parvati’s considerable strength). Yes, Brenda had a seemingly strong alliance, with two of her closest allies, Sash and NaOnka, possessing immunity idols, but those two people are clearly intent on keeping those idols for themselves, while Parvati managed to acquire idols without even trying. Brenda went to Tribal Council with an idol in Sash’s pocket, while Parvati basically went with a bucket overflowing with her own. (And speaking of Sash, we probably should have also been pointed out that he’s no Russell Hantz, lacking his killer instinct, his courage, and, most notably, his deviousness).
More: Does anyone remember the day before? What goes on inside Purple Kelly’s brain? And who spiked Probst’s coffee?
Maybe we were spoiled by the last season of All-Stars. Not just that it offered unmatched drama, familiar characters, surprise twists, but also that those guys knew how to play the game. Granted, that’s a benefit of playing the game for the second, and in some cases, third time, and there were still plenty of dummies out there (Tyson and JT committing two of the all-time unforgivable blunders in Survivor history), but the people running the game, at the top of the food chain – Russell, Parvati, Boston Rob, even Rupert – did so with intelligence and cunning. It truly was a game managed by all-stars. Heck, even Sandra knew how to play game. And she also knew to save the vindictive vandalism for the last day, and when Russell steals other player’s shoes he doesn’t tearfully confess an hour later (lessons to be learned, NaOnka, Holly). But over here on Nicaragua, even though there are clearly leaders on each tribe, they’re not nearly as crafty and clever as they think they are. And, now, you can’t even blame it on youth, because Marty, self-proclaimed master of the game, is racking up the mistakes along with the kids. Who among the tribes is truly grasping this game, making smart, logical moves, not just tricky, creative ones? Right now, it’s hard to say.
More: Hey, Marty, stop listening to your gut! And we say goodbye to Jill the proper way. Plus: Let’s milk some milk!
About 3/4 of the way through the Survivor finale I turned to my viewing companion and said “If Sandra wins it might just ruin the whole season for me.” A season, that up to that point, had been arguably the greatest in Survivor history. But he calmed my fears, assuring me she wouldn’t win, and I thought “yeah, you’re right she’s not winning.” It was just a moment of weakness where I let a worst-case impossible scenario appear to be a viable outcome. But I quickly blocked out that preposterous notion.
Well, the good news is that, three nights after the finale aired, I do not feel that the season was ruined by virtue of its final vote. However, the bad news is my nightmare came true. Sandra won. For the 2nd time. The castaway who has never won a single challenge won a second time.
NEVER WON A SINGLE CHALLENGE. IN TWO SEASONS. And this time around she didn’t win by being slightly less worthless than a glorified girl scout. No, this time she beat out Russell and Parvati, arguably the greatest strategist and greatest social player of all time, respectively. So what gives? How could this possibly happen?
Read on: The jury needs to grow up. Plus, our hero returns!
It’s been a busy few weeks in the outside world for Jumped The Snark, so there’s been nary a few minutes for updates, much do our dismay. But before we return to Survivor: All-Stars tonight we wanted to chime in with an A-B-C phrase that works for both of the last episodes. It’s a saying that covers JT’s schoolgirl note to Parvati, Parvati and Russel’s mean girl reaction to the note (see below), and Parvati’s tween brat explantation to Russel upon unveiling her hidden immunity idol (grinning and whispering “secrets”).
Vodpod videos no longer available.
With all this in mind, our overarching theme for the last two episodes is:
Always Be Children
Between the secrets, the cackling, the spiral notebook paper and the naiveté there sure has been some juvenile behavior out there. But, to be fair, between Russell in the former episode and Parvati in the latter, there’s been some brilliant gameplay as well. Tonight, we see if the captain of the football team and the head cheerleader turn their sights on each other or continue to rule the school together.
Or maybe it’s Sadie Hawkins Dance time (not sure how that applies).