Russell Has 'Em All On A String
So before Russell decided to get rid of Jaison during the first elimination vote of the finale, there was a moment that so truly depicted this year's season of Survivor. Within a five minute span, Natalie, Mick and Jaison all tell the camera with a straight face that within the first two days Russell told them they were going to the end together and they still believed it. Cut to Russell telling the camera he still had no idea who wanted to bring with him because he had deals with everybody (even Brett, who Russ just recently told he would bring to the end). Fantastic playing by Russ.
I feel like this segment, when the remaining survivors go out and pay tribute to the contestants that were eliminated along the way, usually is extremely boring and tedious. This year it was much better and almost moving at times. I think it was because of the voice overs done by the ousted survivors. Was this new? Instead of having the four remaining survivors go on and on with robotic material, we got to hear a quick note from them and then a lengthy comment from the contestant that was currently being remembered. It was a nice touch.
Final Challenge Nerves
Russell kept Mick around so that the three remaining Foa Foa's would have a better chance to defeat Brett in the final challenge and oust him from the game. Who is the first person to get eliminated from the immunity challenge? Obviously Mick. As the contestants balanced a tiny statue up high on top of little poles, I was never more involved in a competition. Mick and Natalie both bowed out early and it was up to Russell to save the world from Brett being in the final three. A win here for Russell and he (and everyone watching) knew he would be winning the championship. I was never more nervous watching Survivor than when Russell's seven foot long poll was leaning in the breeze, but I was never more pumped than when Brett's little statue fell from its pedestal and Russ won his first immunity challenge of the season. The most important won to date.
Probst's Loaded Questions
So I don't get what Probst does while the show is being filmed. Is he just sitting around watching everything that is happening? At tribal council he seems to know every single conversation that has been going on. Not only that, but the questions he asks the survivors have been so loaded recently. Has he always been doing it this way? I can't remember that he ever had before. His questioning of Brett, Mick and Natalie on the final elimination made it seem as though he knew exactly what Russell had talked to each of them about. He said "I'm almost hearing it in Natalie right now, almost like she's talking to Russell, saying You know that's not a good move, right?". Let them play the game! If Mick and Natalie wasn't intuitive enough to figure out what Russell was doing behind his back, don't bring it to light. That wouldn't be fair to Russ or Brett, if Russ truly was blindsiding Mick at the time.
Russell Helping Others?
Down to the final three and Russell is badgering the other two about their final speeches? Maybe this was a part of his strategy, but it just seemed to me like he was helping them. "What are you going to say to the jury?" "You have to have a speech prepared." These types of comments might have been what got Mick and Natalie the idea that they really needed to be ready come time for the tribal council. It might have been what cost Russell in the end. If he hadn't said anything to Natalie, she may have been as unprepared as Sugar was two seasons ago, and basically said she didn't deserve to win.
This was easily the best final tribal council I've seen in the past three seasons. It started off with a bang as Russell delivered a ridiculously well planned opening statement that keyed on all of the different things he did so well in the game (even if he did forget to mention his ability to find idols with no clues). He, as well as Natalie and Mick, answered every question honestly but with decisiveness that didn't make it look like anyone was wavering on anything. All three of Bob, Suzie and Sugar two seasons ago were unsure of themselves, and Stephen was babbling all over the place last spring. We actually had three contestants that were prepared to explain why they should win. And although Russell did it the best, some of the jury members are still so immature that they think Russ's awful behavior in the game is a negative.
Even though Natalie didn't perform as well as Russell in the game or at the final tribal council, she had someone step up for her and give one of the most profound and almost emotional speeches I've seen on a reality competition.
Natalie, people will call you weak. People will say that you're undeserving. But you know what? Why are those characteristics any less admirable as lying, cheating and stealing? Why does he get a free pass? When your "wrong" way of playing is admonished? If there's one thing I've learned in this game, it's that perception is not reality. Reality is reality. And you are sitting there, and that makes you just as dangerous as any one of those guys there. You would say that you are probably most deserving of the title of Sole Survivor, but maybe, just maybe, in an environment filled with arrogance (points at Russell), delusional entitlement (points at Mick), maybe the person who thinks she's least deserving, is probably the most. You got my vote. I hope you get four more. Congratulations.
Maybe he has a good point. Maybe it was bull sh*t. But either way, it was perfectly executed and I feel he was the reason that Natalie won this thing. He plead with the jury and I think he swayed a couple from Russell to Natalie. My major agreement with the whole thing is this. Sure I, like a lot of people out there, feel that Russell played the best game in Survivor history. But if you really think about it, why is Natalie's strategy (although it probably wasn't a planned strategy) to sit behind Russell not an even better one. If you know this dude is going to manipulate everyone on his way to the finals, why not latch on to him, stay behind the scenes and be nice. If you get to the final vote you know that there are going to be those on the jury that will vote for you because you were nicer than the bully. It might just be the best strategy out there right now.
Cut ahead to the live reunion show in Hollywood. What?!?! What the H E double hockey sticks was Natalie doing since the show ended?!? I mean my first guess would be eating a lot. Any other conjectures. How fat can you get in that little amount of time. At one point Probst commented on the amount of weight that Mike B lost since the show. How about pointing out that Natalie is ginormous? She should have lost the title of Sole Survivor for that alone.
Nice Guys Finish First
As soon as Natalie got her second vote I knew it was over. What is going on in the world of reality television. In the last three seasons I've watched, the title has gone to the nice person. Last season on Survivor J.T. won the game without doing any game play. This past season on Big Brother Jordan was a worthless piece of garbage, but won the championship. And now Natalie does absolutely nothing on Survivor, but wins because Russell was a mean guy. When are people going to realize that you get to the end however you can, and it is just a game? But then again maybe the question is, when am I going to realize that if the contestants continue to think the game is about ethics and morals, how do you give yourself the best chance to win under those circumstances? Is Russell's strategy never going to work? Or with a different jury would he have taken home the championship? I guess I'm still at a loss for why Russell did not win this game.
My man Russell was visibly upset. The eyes were watering throughout the finale. He definitely thought he was about to be the the champion and go down as the best Survivor of all time. I still think he may be, but as the '07 Patriots can tell you, without the title it may be all for not. Russell just wanted that title so badly. The dude offers Natalie 100,000 dollars to let Probst say that Russell is the Sole Survivor. She obviously declined.
Russell Vs. Dan
Here's my final thought on the game play aspect of Survivor and Big Brother. Russell play the outright strategy game more than anyone I've ever seen, but Dan from Big Brother 10 might have done it better. Sure I could be saying that because Dan won and Russell didn't. (Also I've heard stories of Evil Dick form Big Brother 7 but never actually seen the season) While Russell was playing the game balls to the wall right from the get go, Dan started off slowly and built relationships with people. Russell was pouring out canteens and burning socks, while Dan was telling jokes and having fun. When it came down to a final vote, Russell's lying and backstabbing were looked upon as a true negative by the jury because none of them really liked him. Dan won the Big Brother final vote unanimously because the people on the jury grew to like him as a person and when they found out he was playing the game so well behind the scenes, they were so impressed that they though he deserved the championship. So as I say that Russell was my favorite contestant in a while to watch, he might not have been the best player.
W. Russell-W15 (106), W16 (121), Im (20)= 247
Natalie- W15 (106), W16 (121), W17 (137)= 364
Freecell Makes Me Wanna
Mick- W15 (106), W16 (121), Votes (-8)= 219
Brett- W15 (106), Im (20), Votes (-12)= 114
Jaison- Votes (-16)= -16