Get the goods on the two-hour finale show and the events leading up to the reunion with Carrie’s finale recap. And now, on with the reunion show …
This has to have been one of the most respectful final two, three and four I can remember on Survivor. Not that the jury respected them, but their mutual respect of each other has to be admired. When someone would be voted out, they would say that’s okay; I understand. Personally, I think it’s because of Rafe and Lydia. I think the two of them took the game to a higher moral ground, and consequently they made it very far, but not final two.
That final two honor goes to Danni Boatwright and Stephenie LaGrossa. Danni chose to take Steph with her to final two because she thought she had a better chance of beating her than she did Rafe. Jeff Probst lands his helicopter at CBS Studio City in Hollywood and runs in with the votes. As he reads the votes, Danny and Steph start out tied at one each, but then Danni gets another three in a row. Danni Boatwright from Tonganoxie, Kansas is the winner of Survivor 11!
After Danni greets and hugs her family, everyone is seated again to talk to Jeff. As a clip is shown of Danni buying the clue to the immunity challenge, I think of it as “spend $200, get a million”. Jeff thinks of it as a 500,000% return on her investment. Danni says she bought the clue as there were so many puzzles in this game, and her family will back her up that she is terrible at them.
Asked what her most strategic move was, Danni says it has to be voting out Rafe. Jeff takes this opportunity to ask Rafe why, when he had been promised final two, did he give up the guarantee. Was it because of honor? Rafe says he really wanted Danni to make a decision that she would always be proud of. Although he thought at the time her decision would be to take him to final two. Apparently he just wanted her to be comfortable taking him and not feel forced into it. That way if she lost, she wouldn’t be able to blame their agreement.
Danni says she panicked when she saw it was an endurance competition. She knew her family would kill her if she won and took Rafe. Jeff asks Gary if he thought Danni got to final two because she was underrated. Gary doesn’t think that was the case. He thinks Danni got there because of her smile and her hard work.
Rafe says being morally conflicted was definitely the hardest part of being on Survivor, yet he is very proud of all the decisions he made up to the end. On day thirty-eight he couldn’t throw it away and hold Danni to her word of taking him to final two. He also admits to being surprised he did so well physically. Every time he gave it his best, but he does think the others underestimated him, and that’s why he made it as far as he did, winning four individual immunities.
Jeff says he asked Lydia every week how she was still in the game when she did so poorly on all the challenges. He never understood it. She says tonight that as a mom she is nurturing and compassionate. She’s not a real athlete, but she’s a provider and would greet everyone with a smile and motivation. Jeff now points to her great attitude in what amounted to the toughest Survivor season ever. Lydia says she believes a positive attitude, a good heart, and a kindred spirit will take you far in life.
Jeff addresses Bobby Jon and Steph coming back to Survivor for back to back seasons. Steph says she felt she had a target on her from the very beginning and didn’t feel she would make it past the first tribal council. She thought the only chance she had was to take a leadership role and create a good alliance with Rafe and a few others. Jeff compares the two different Stephs – the one from Palau that was America’s Sweetheart and the one from Guatemala that played it hard. Steph says she’s both people; she just wasn’t going to enter the game this time to end up in seventh place again.
Addressing the idea of Bobby Jon and Steph’s fellow Survivors as being starstruck, Cindy admits that part of the reason she is on the show is because of Steph. She came on thinking she could do it even better than Steph had in Palau. Gary sensed inspiration from them being a big Survivor fan. There’s no doubt to him that their presence impacted the game as people would ask question after question of them.
Jeff does a little math for us, saying of Steph’s two Survivor seasons, she has been in forty-six challenges – won ten and lost thirty-six. She has survived twenty-five tribal councils and has been essentially voted out twice.
Steph had a tight bond with Judd, and Jeff shows a clip of Judd’s parting words, saying he hoped they got bitten by a “freakin’ crocodile”, and calling them all Scumbags. Judd says he is always brutally honest. Today he still sees Steph as awesome and a good girl; it’s just that no one likes to lose. He says he was recognized in his job as a doorman in New York City. People would say, “Look, there’s the big fat dude from Survivor.”
He knows he was seen as the villain, and he’s okay with that, as he has no regrets. Jeff brings up Judd’s speech to Margaret about telling him he has ADD. Judd laughs and says that was part of his strategy. Jeff forces him to admit he lied in this game, and says the funniest thing to him was after he was outed for lying about the idol and was kicked out the following week, he said in the confessional again that he never lied.
Moving on to Bobby Jon, Jeff brings up his arrival in Guatemala, starting out as a big target and being one of the strongest guys, then falling down after the long hike the first two days with his eyes rolling back in his head. Bobby Jon says it embarrassed and humbled him. He admits to having a different strategy this time around. He had to “mash the gas for the car to go.” Working hard and being nice and sweet just wasn’t enough. Jeff points out Bobby Jon still has to be one of the most authentic and endearing guys.
Bobby Jon had his struggles with Jamie, and Jeff calls their confrontations heated, but always entertaining. After some clips of their heated exchanges with each other, Jamie then gets up behind Bobby Jon and yells at him one more time for good measure. All kidding aside, he now just sees Bobby Jon as another good ole country boy. Jeff jokes, asking if Jamie is going to start losing his mind again tonight. Jamie leans down to Rafe and says, “You’re not voting me out, are you? Don’t you lie to me, Rafe!” More seriously, he admits he was losing it in Guatemala.
Danni is asked about recognizing Gary as Gary Hogeboom the quarterback, and forcing him to create this lie. She says she grew up with seven brothers and a father that were Dallas Cowboy fans. Her first thought when she saw him in Guatemala was that he was Brett Favre until she remembered seeing pictures in a shrine they have for him at his alma mater, Central Michigan State. She had gone there to see a game.
Gary says she he had the alter ego planned anyway as he didn’t want to be seen as a target early on. His fellow NFL guys all wanted to know what he was doing on the show and he told them he just loved the show. Jeff brings up Amy threatening Gary that she better not find out she was being lied to. Amy makes a comment that I miss because my TIVO switched over to recording the next half hour because the show was running late due to football. How ironic is that? Amy say working in the Major Crime Unit she gets recognized now and says, “Listen Buddy, you’re under arrest!” Jeff has to add how fantastic she looks and also notes how great Judd looks, having lost forty-five pounds.
Cindy enjoyed her time in Guatemala so much she often wishes she were back still living in the jungle. She says she wakes up sometimes now at home missing the sounds, the feel of sleeping on the ground and the smell of the fire. She lost her job going on an early audition for the show. Everyone that knows her knows that she always wanted to be on the Survivor and that she loved her job at the zoo. Now she feels she has neither.
Cindy had decided to keep her 2006 Pontiac Torrent instead of giving one to each of her fellow Survivors. Rafe says it’s hard to say if he would have kept her had she given him a car. He would like to think he would have though. She could have given out the cars, not had one herself, and still gotten voted out though, ending up with nothing. Rafe says now she has the car at least, and can drive to Guatemala in it.
Margaret mentions that she really does plan on going back to Guatemala to do relief work and she’s going to do it with her fellow Survivor, Brian. There were so many buried after the mudslides leaving the country devastated that they want to go back and help.
Early on this season there was a need for a lot of triage and Margaret, being a nurse, came in handy, even having Blake in her lap several times. Jeff mentions Blake’s nickname of Golden Boy” and Amy jumps up saying she was the one that had coined it. Asked what his girlfriend thought hearing herself described in Blake’s words on the show, he says she laughed, but her father called him and said he couldn’t believe his daughter’s breasts got Blake kicked off Survivor.
Brandon is asked about the eleven mile trek the first two days and says it was pretty indescribable. He can’t think of anything that compares to it, certainly not hiking in Montana. He agrees that the tough part of the game for him was the moral compass, just like Rafe. Doing it again, he would still play the same. He says the game brings out a lot of ugliness, and he tried to bring a little lightness to it and do some good.
The first person kicked out of Guatemala was Jim who works for the fire department. He had been kicked out because his health was the worst of all the ailing guys, and he had injured his arm in a freak accident. He would do it all over again even if he knew he’d only be there three days. His arm is fine today and he adds oddly that he is going to Disneyland.
Jeff does a little mocking of Brian, how he had said even in his interviews that he was the greatest student of the game and no one could outfox him. He wonders now what Brian didn’t anticipate. Brian says so much of the game is built on luck. Everything was going fine until they asked who had the most team pride and he proudly wore the badge as being that person until the game said, “Screw you! Now you’re in the minority!” He thinks he may have done better had he created stronger bonds with Gary and Amy. Jeff calls him delightful because he was so well-spoken.
Brooke is asked if being labeled a smart person hurt her. She thought it was kind of funny, because she grew up on a farm just like Brandon, yet was never labeled the farm girl. She thought it went okay until the tribe switch. She feels they said, “She’s not an athlete! Get her out of here!”
Brianna agrees with Jeff that the game sometimes seemed to overwhelm her. She adds that she still doesn’t know what a pick is and doesn’t care. Morgan says after she was voted out second she just thought everything happens for a reason. She never expected herself to do as well physically as she did. You can’t be nice and win the game, so she was just glad to be true to herself.
Before the show is over a preview is shown of Survivor 12 that was filmed in Panama. They have chosen an area that has an “Island of Exile.” One person will be banished there each week and will be separated from the others for days at a time. Additionally the sixteen survivors will be divided into teams in a way never seen before. Great, now I have Van Halen going through my head.
The great thing about this season of Survivor is that while it was hard to find any outstanding characters to root for, we were left with a final four that were all extremely likable. I don’t think I would have been upset no matter who won. The fact that they were all gracious about it certainly added to it. I would have preferred Rafe won, as I do feel he deserved it more out of anyone after the merge. He was so likable, though, that something tells me good things are coming for him anyway.
Have thoughts on this season’s Survivor? Email me at LauraBelle@realityshack.com