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Survivor Cagayan Finale – If I Had A Million Dollars…

Well, I would not ask Woooooooo! for advice on how to obtain it. Wooooooo!, meet Colby. You two are now forever entwined in Survivor lore when it comes to how to not select an opponent in the Final Two.

Before I get into the finale of one of the best seasons of this show – an incredible feat for a show that has now put on 28 seasons, I need to address something.

I am posting this a week late – sort of a reminder of what all of our Wednesdays are like when the show is running. I can spin it that way, or I can tell the truth. Single parenting, maintaining a house, a social life and a brand new paying job has been kicking my ass. I am lucky to get anything posted. So, for that, I apologize. I will keep trying to continue this hobby – I truly enjoy writing about Survivor and Top Chef – but I cannot guarantee I can do it long term. At least not on time. So, if you all like what I produce, I will keep trying for as long as I can. Just understand that there may be gaps in production.

Anyway, back to the show.

Thank goodness that Woooooo! made this blunder. Because if he didn’t, an excellent season would have ending with a whimper. He seems like a nice enough guy. He was mildly entertaining at times. But no way, no how should Wooooooo! have won this season. Not with the pedal to the metal way so many of the Survivors were playing did his non-play of the game deserve the reward. Heck, I would probably have accepted Kass as the winner more than him because at least she was trying!

Kass made the perfect analogy to him when she was trying to sell him on voting out Pitbull. Woooooo! was essentially Fabio. A nice, easy going dude who managed to hang around for a while as the sharks ate each other. And then managed to beat a couple of guys who angered too many people along the way. Of course, being compared to arguably the worst winner in arguably the worst season is not really all that wonderful – it was at least rather apt.

Woooooo! forgot the first rule of Survivor – something that Pitbull never forgot – which is that the person you are outside of the game needs to be checked at the door. It is all well and good to live your life based on the honorable precepts of martial arts masters – but if so, then don’t go on Survivor. Or at least don’t go on Survivor and expect to win. He will have to come to terms with his decision for the rest of his life – and perhaps he already has. Is his honor on a game show worth $900K? Personally, I am more like Pitbull when asked by Trish if it was worth it to swear on his dead father’s memory. If it was worth it to win a million dollars by telling that little lie. He said it was. As I was watching I was shouting, YES! Ancient superstitions do not affect me. Whatever rules the afterlife, or manages the karmic spirit of what happens to our energy/spirit/soul after we depart this world is NOT, I repeat, is NOT going to be affected by a lie told in a game built upon lies.

If my father was alive, he would tell me if I was going on this show to lie, cheat and steal and say whatever I wanted on his name to get that money. That cash is a nest egg for Pitbull’s little girl. It is totally worth the lie.

I missed the Final Two and the dynamic that goes with it. Woooooo! had a million dollar choice to make. And a more clear cut one than the one Colby made all those seasons ago. With Colby, he knew he could beat Keith, and he thought he could beat Tina. So he tried to walk to the line between his honor and desire to win the game. Woooooo! had to know that he could easily beat Kass, but would lose to Pitbull. Every move Pitbull made, he followed. You can’t beat that. Your hands were dirty on all the backstabs, except you didn’t engineer them. A Final Three doesn’t present this kind of huge decision – it’s an a la carte menu instead of a direct choice. There is drama there – but it is usually so much less. More often than not, we have a choice between two and a third tag-a-long who gets zero votes. I know this Final Two only happened because Lindsay quit, but I really wish they would go back to this plan.

It is also amazing how close the margin of victory and defeat can be on this show. Spencer had a huge puzzle lead and lost it. That could have cost him the million. Kass lost by a second to Woooo! in the final challenge. Could the attorney have managed to convince a jury that hated her to vote for her? They said no at the reunion, but that was without knowing what Kass would have, or could have, said in the moment. We also know that when Survivor goes back to returning players (Rumor has it Seasons 29 and 30 will be all-new players) expect to see a bunch of Cagayan second-timers.

As for the nitty gritty of the episode, to be honest, it was probably the weakest episode of the season. We got a limited family episode for the Final Four – Kass believed her husband’s appearance helped her pull off that amazing come from behind win in the Final Four immunity challenge. She didn’t need the win as there was no way she was going home – but her win meant the end for Spencer. I gave Kass some ribbing this season about how she always seemed to manage to lose the puzzle challenges to Spencer, LJ, Sarah, etc. But this one, she earned. Big time. It looked as if she would never actually get to the puzzle as she teetered on that pole trying to fill that tube with buckets of water. Badly. But, that’s why you never say quit on this show.

Honestly, I think the family episode needs to have more Survivors. Or at least more for them to do. We got to see Pitbull cry because his wife didn’t come. We got to see Kass humanized by showing us someone who loved her. And we got Spencer’s sister showing us that the Bledsoe siblings are equally confident. Other than that, did any viewer get a lot out of the family visit this season?

Despite really messing up his chance at being a millionaire, opening his own studio and proposing to the mysterious Christina Hamilton, Wooooo! did give us one hell of a funny moment as he tried to figure out what happens at the Final Four if there is a tie. It also goes to show that Woooooo! was not a fan of the show in the way Spencer, or many of the others were. I am sure Spencer watched Becky and Sundra fail to make fire. Although Wooooo!’s delivery of “do we fight?” was totally worth it.
I give Spencer mad, mad props for figuring out that Probst’s careful wordplay at the Final Four challenge implied that there would be a Final Two. And he made the one and only play he had, and do so rather effectively. He told Pitbull that if Woooo! or Kass won the Final Three challenge, they would be crazy to take him to the end. He was right. Except Pitbull had an ace in the hole – like he has had all season long – he knew how to play Wooooo! And he did. I was rooting for Spencer – he showed his heart on his sleeve and I relate to that. Even if Probst somehow never saw that.

I also want to address Kass’ comments about how her game would have been more respected if she was a man. Perhaps. There is a kind of double standard when it comes to the wheeling and dealing in Survivor by the women. You get the Black Widow label, or you did it with your looks. There is a point in there. However, I will just say one thing – I would like to believe that I would take Kass’ gender out of the equation when analyzing her ruthlessness and puppet mastery if I thought she was making good moves. Maybe they felt good at the time – but I still believe that as she watched the show back, in a quiet moment, Kass would admit that she did not play a solid strategic game. She tried to. She played an aggressive game. But it was not well-played.

Spencer’s jury speech – one of the ages, by the way – helped offset what was shaping up to be a bitter jury, if not a completely bitter one. To sum up – Sarah and Trish never understood that swearing in Survivor means nothing. Pitbull did to LJ what Todd did to Jean Robert in China to win his vote – stroke the ego. Jeremiah was similar to Sarah and Trish – but in a country, folksy way. Morganna made it about her looks. Of course. Tasha inexplicably voted for Wooooo! and thus took away most of the respect I had for her game. Jefra said she wasn’t bitter, and then proceeded to ask bitter questions. And then Spencer told them to shut the front door and realize that Pitbull just kicked all of their asses and deserved the win. Bravo, Spence. Bravo. I wonder if the Final Four idol use put him over the edge on that opinion.

And in the final moments of the episode – before jury voted – we got the season in a nutshell. Woooooo! clueless eating the Final Two breakfast, while Pitbull still playing the game found the hidden note leading them to the mirror and scale. Well done, Tony. You earned this one.

My updated ranking of best winners – as we one day head to an all-winners season. Someday. My criteria – a combination of strategy, verbal skills, challenge skills, and season-centric domination, and future performances.
1 – Sandra – she won twice
2 – Boston Rob – perfect game
3 – Kim – the other perfect game
4 – Brian – one of the most dominant seasons ever
5 – Tony – It wasn’t pretty at times, but he was masterful
6 – Richard – I move him down in retrospect, he didn’t do a lot. But he invented how to win. He ranks below the dominations and double winner, but ahead of the rest.
7 – Tom – Drops a bit due to HvV
8 – Parvati – She arguably deserved two wins.
9 – Tyson – The whole game was gunning for him and he made it
10 – Yul – Co-dominated his season.
11 – Earl – See Yul
12 – Denise – Amazing comeback
13 – Chris – See Denise
14 – Danni – See Denise and Chris
15 – Jenna – Loses points for almost quitting before winning
16 – Todd – Possibly deserves higher based on the best Final Tribal ever
17 – JT – loses points for HvV as well
18 – Cochran – I may need to watch it again, but it feels as if he used Dawn as a shield and let the crazies take each other out.
19 – Ethan – Lex won that one for him
20 – Amber – Doesn’t get the respect she deserves, but still, shouldn’t get that much
21 – Aras – Great social game. That’s it.
22 – Sophie – One of the better winners from a bitter jury. But still a Bitter Jury Syndrome beneficiary.
23 – Tina – Won because of Colby, gets some extra points for grittiness.
24 – Bob – Possibly the nicest winner
25 – Fabio – See Bob
26 – Natalie – The ultimate Bitter Jury Syndrome winner. At least she played the game a bit.
27 – Vescepia – Anyone remember her?

Treemail Top 10 – Reunion Special
1 – I don’t think the cut-ins worked throughout the episode. I think, if anything, it took you out of the moment of the show.
2 – That group of kids with Probst seemed pointless – but what it did was convince me to allow my soon-to-be 8-year-old to watch Season 29 with me. And I told him before that we could watch older seasons. I told him to pick a number. He picked 14. Fiji. Ugh. I told him to pick another. He took 21. Nicaragua. Gaaaah!
3 – Tony’s wife is pregnant again. He needs to play again now! It worked the first time!
4 – Amazing how Twitter has become a real part of this dynamic now. Tony mentioned hate tweets. Sarah did too.
5 – Speaking of Sarah, very sad to see the two of them are not talking. Guys, it’s a game show. Try for some perspective. Sarah, you are having a child – show the kid how to handle these things.
6 – Tony lost 45 pounds!! Wow
7 – I liked Tony’s explanation about why he voted out Trish. He needed Wooooo! to beat Spencer. Funny – he actually needed Kass to beat him as it turned out!
8 – Tony saved a guy’s life. That’s real life. Not Survivor. Real friggin life.
9 – Cochran’s Charlie Brown reference with Spencer was great. Loved that.
10 – I liked Probst’ apology letter for underestimating Spencer, but hated the rest of the reunion. Let us never talk about Tyler Perry’s involvement again.

Vote #1 – Spencer 3 (Woooo!, Pitbull, Kass), Wooooo! 1 (Spencer)

Vote #2 – Kass 1 (Woooooo!)

Vote To Win – Pitbull 8 (Kass, Spencer, Trish, LJ, Jeremiah, Morganna, Sarah, Jefra), Wooooo! 1 (Tasha)

Next Season – Blood vs. Water 2. Back in Nicaragua. All new players.

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