We did it guys! We made it to the end of another season of Survivor. And we’ll tell you what, despite what the general consensus seems to be, we found this to be a thoroughly entertaining season. Filled with a disconcerting number of weak, unlikable players, yes. Lacking a truly great storyline, showdown or blindside, perhaps. Nearly ruined with the loss of Jimmy Johnson, you bet. A total failure in attempting to change the game with the Medallion of Power, for sure. An all-time great Sole Survivor, not likely. But coming on the heels of All-Stars, we feared the worst. And, thanks in part to one of the more gratifying wins in recent memory (it certainly helps make up for giving the million to Sandra), Survivor: Nicaragua restored our faith in the franchise, proving it could still entertain and astonish, even without Russell Hantz, Tom Westman, or water-based challenges.
But before we get to the finale, we need to first revisit the trend that has dominated the most recent episodes.
Read on: The creepiness continues. And we have a winner! And we’re happy! Plus, Jimmy Johnson!
First off, if there’s one thing that Jeff Probst hates, it’s quitters. The man just has no tolerance for Survivor competitors who travel all the way to a remote island or exotic locale, endure the worst possible conditions they will ever experience, and then quit when the end is in sight. Especially when those spineless deserters take away a perfectly good shot at a million dollars from hungrier, more deserving players on the jury (or armchair survivors at home). Jeff HATES that.
Which is why it was so surprising, and so frustrating, that Probst gave NaOnka and Purple Kelly multiple chances to reconsider and stay in the game. Jeff, if they want to go, let them walk. Benry and Fabio understood; if NaOnka and Kelly want to get up and walk out and in turn improve that male twosome’s chances then so be it. Don’t stand in the girls’ way, Jeff. As far as we were considered, when Purple Kelly and NaOnka announced their intentions to leave following the Reward Challenge Jeff should have stripped them of their buffs right then and there. But that didn’t happen. And to instead allow NaOnka to not only stay in the game but also attend the reward was just insulting, infuriating.
Keep Reading: We get a couple things off our chest. And did you know that Dan was on Laugh-In?
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!
Well, Survivor: Nicaragua just became a little tougher to watch every week. While we were initially skeptical of the inclusion of former NFL head coach Jimmy Johnson’s in the cast, we were quickly won over by his charm and gung-ho attitude. We still think it was a questionable decision by the producers, big picture-wise, but it enabled us to enjoy his positivity, humor and variety of faces every week. That is, until the Espada tribe made the curious (aka egregious, outrageous) decision to cut Coach Johnson, engineered by Jimmy T and Marty’s testosterone-driven need to prove that they can be a better leader (than a Super Bowl winning NFL head coach). Why Jimmy T felt threatened by Jimmy Johnson, or why he desired to usurp the leadership role when it makes more sense to let Jimmy J maintain the mantle and thus the pressure, is beyond us. And why Marty feels compelled to “accelerate” the game is even more baffling. Now they’ve put themselves both in the cross-hairs, while they could have let the bullseye rest on Coach Johnson. It was way to early for a power grab, and completely unnecessary, and they’ll likely realize this sooner rather than later. At least vote out the dude who can’t even walk (Danny).
But, for now, the damage is done and Jimmy J is gone. In his honor, our (perhaps) final Faces of Jimmy Johnson:
Continue: The sad final Faces of Jimmy Johnson. Then we rundown who’s left!