‘Survivor: Samoa’ Finale Recap: Did Russell Do It?

Last Episode: After Brett won his second-straight immunity, the Foa Foa Four had to choose between Shambo (who would be easy to beat in front of a jury) and Mick (who could help them defeat Brett). In the end, they decided to send Shambo to the jury.

And then there were five…

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Here is the tribe as it currently stands…

Aiga (Samoan for “Extended Family”)

Brett – 23 – T-shirt Designer
Jaison – 28 – Law Student
Mick – 33 – Doctor
Natalie – 26 – Pharmaceutical Sales
Russell H. – 36 – Oil Company Owner

Russell wakes up the tribe with a tree mail that announces the next challenge. Jaison said he had a rough time with his diarrhea the night before and isn’t in the mood for a challenge. Thanks for that, Jaison.

Russell thinks he’s in a game with a bunch of misfits. He thinks he should be out there with superstars. Have you been reading spoilers, Russell?

Immunity Challenge #1: The players will race across obstacles to retrieve puzzle pieces, they’ll then take those puzzle pieces and run back across the obstacles. Once they get back to the beginning they’ll have to put their puzzle together. First person to complete their puzzle wins immunity.

Mick and Russell have a tough time at the beginning, falling off of the balance beam. Russell retrieves his pieces first and maintains his lead throughout the racing portion. They all get to the puzzle part at around the same time. Brett, Mick, and Russell are the closest to completing the puzzle with Brett managing to finish it first to claim his third consecutive immunity challenge.

There is no joy in Aiga, the Foa Foa Four have struck out.

Back at camp, Russell promises that he’ll try to keep Natalie around. Russell thinks he can beat Jaison in votes, but Jaison can’t win challenges. But, he thinks he may have trouble beating Mick in front of a jury, but Mick could possibly beat Super Brett in a challenge. Russell goes to Jaison and pitches Mick, then he goes to Mick and pitches Jaison. They’re both on board because they completely trust Russell.


That night at tribal council the Galu jury seems to be very excited that one of Foa Foa is finally coming to join them.

Jaison says his vote may rely on who’s the second-best vote getter after Brett.

Mick thinks they need to keep around people who can take out Brett in a challenge.

Brett actually says something and claims he wasn’t sandbagging the early challenges, but the most recent challenges have been things he’s good at.

Voting Time: Mick votes for Jaison, Jaison votes for Mick, and the rest aren’t shown. Don’t worry, Probst will read them…now. One vote for Mick, one vote for Jaison, one vote for Jaison and the eighth member of the jury is…Jaison.

During Jaison’s farewell confessional, he lets us know that he wishes Russell would have let him know. He says he’s now rooting for Brett.

Quick Aside: I can’t imagine Brett winning the next immunity challenge. He didn’t say anything in this episode until 30 minutes into it.

The following morning, Russell tells Brett that he’ll take him to the final three. And for some odd reason, Brett believes him.

Tree mail announces the Fallen Comrades Ceremony. During the trek of torches, Mike’s punching dance, Ben’s debate with Yasmin, and Erik clotheslining himself (literally) were all shown. Good times.

Immunity Challenge #2: Each player will balance a wooden statue at the end of a pole. At regular intervals they will have to extend that pole with another pole. The last person to keep their statue on the pole wins immunity.

Another Quick Aside: Am I the only one who misses the final challenge where they’d just have to stand in one place forever? Those were awesome.

Mick is the first one out of the challenge, followed shortly afterward by Natalie. Probst spells it all out, saying the winner of this challenge will probably go home with the million dollars.

This is actually really tense. Both poles are swaying in the wind. Eventually, Brett’s statue falls. Russell wins immunity.

Back at camp, Brett tells Mick and Natalie that he’s proud to have made it as far as he did. Maybe, he’s smart and doesn’t trust Russell to take him to the end.

Russell thinks Brett is the kind of guy he wants his daughters to meet, but not the kind of guy he wants to face at the end of the game. However, he is worried that Brett won’t vote for him if he breaks his deal with him.

Russell breaks it down to Brett with this gem of a quote, “I made a deal with you, but I made a deal with everybody.” He pitches Russell and Brett voting for Mick and Mick and Natalie voting for Brett. This would force a tie and a fire challenge between Mick and Brett. I don’t buy this for a second; he doesn’t want to go to the end with Brett.

That night at tribal council Russell says he knew Brett would be there with him at the end of the immunity challenge.

Yet Another Quick Aside: How does Natalie’s hair still look so nice?

Natalie and Mick both agree that they knew Brett was going home once he lost the challenge. Mick says Brett deserves to go to the end because of how well he played. Natalie and Mick follow this up by saying keeping Brett around will cost him a million dollars.

Brett thinks keeping him around shows integrity and self confidence.

Voting Time: Mick votes for Brett, Natalie votes for Brett, and the rest will be kept secret until such time as Mr. Probst decides to share them with us. Fortunately, he doesn’t wait that long. One vote for Brett, one vote for Mick, one vote for Brett, and the ninth and final member of the jury is…Brett.

The following morning, the Foa Foa Four Three are greeted by the traditional pre final tribal council breakfast.

Russell is proud of the fact that not only did he get to the end, but that he brought the two people he wanted to take with him. Russell starts grilling Natalie on how she’s going to answer the jury’s questions. She doesn’t have any answers. I get the feeling Russell’s been practicing his jury speech in the shower for years.

Natalie thinks Russell is trying to psych her out. Her plan is to differentiate herself from the players who were out to get people.

That night at tribal council, J-Pro makes the point that all three of the remaining players are responsible for putting all nine of the jury members on the jury.

During Mick’s opening statement, Mick uses the fact that Foa Foa was an underdog to make it OK for him to bend his morals a bit.

Natalie says the reason she came to Samoa was to learn to go outside of her comfort zone and that the jury members helped her do that.

Russell says he did exactly what he said he was going to do. He said he made huge strategic moves to get to the end. He went through each big move he made throughout the game to show how he got to the finish. He says if either Mick or Natalie outwitted him or outplayed him, then they should give them the money.

Wow, great opening statement, Russell.  I’m a big believer that you should just fess up to everything at the end. If you lied, say you lied.

Jaison’s up first; he wants the players to explain to the jury who they really are. Natalie explains that she is unemployed due to coming on “Survivor.” Russell says he is a business man, he says his business has just become successful. Mick says he’s has major debt due to medical school. Jaison says Natalie has made a lot of money, he says that Russell made seven figures over the past year, and says that Mick has a fellowship at a prestigious medical school.

Next up, Shambo apologizes to America for dismantling Galu. She asks Mick if he’d describe his game as “feckless.” Mick claims not to know what “feckless” means. Oddly enough, that answer is good enough for Shambo.

Shambo wants to know what word that starts with “C” describes Natalie.


Shambo thinks Natalie rode Russell’s “Coattails.” She doesn’t say anything to Russell, but says Mick won’t get her vote.

Brett wants to know where Mick and Brett would go on a “Bro-date.” “Danger” Dave must be jealous. Mick laughs and says he’d whisper sweet nothings in his ear. Brett asked the question to see how well Mick knows Brett.

Kelly takes her turn. Kelly thinks that Natalie wasn’t ever on the field. Kelly knows Russell claimed he wanted to lie and steal, but is he like that in real life? Russell says he isn’t at all. Kelly doesn’t believe that.

Next up is Monica. Monica admits that Russell made big moves. She feels that Natalie and Mick were somewhat honest, but didn’t have passion. She asks Mick why Russell and Natalie don’t deserve the money. Mick doesn’t think Natalie did anything to deserve it. He thinks Russell lied and had a large ego. Russell claims that Mick didn’t mind him being a snake when it worked in his favor.

“Danger” Dave is curious as to what people think their chances are to win. Mick says 20 to 25%, Natalie says 30 to 40%, and Russell says 55%.

Laura asks what Russell learned about her that helped him to beat her. Russell says he knew right off the bat that she was the person to beat. Russell thinks if it didn’t turn out the way it did, that Laura would be in the finals.

John wants to know why Mick should get John’s vote. Mick claims he has the best character of anyone up there. Mick says that he wasn’t an end-justifies-the-means type of player. John then asks Natalie why she should win. She says the most aggressive woman was voted out first, so she went the other direction.

Erik finishes it up by telling Mick that he didn’t do anything to earn the title. He tells Russell that they have nothing in common because Russell didn’t play an ethical game. This drives Erik crazy because Russell got to the right place by playing the wrong way. Erik thinks Natalie is undeserving, but how is that any better than having delusional entitlement or playing an underhanded game? He says his vote is for Natalie and he hopes she gets four more votes. Whoa…Erik was crying there.

Voting Time: Erik votes for “Ratalie,” Shambo votes for Russell, and the rest will have to wait till Los Angeles. I wonder if that means Mick will be voteless.

First vote is for “Ratalie,” second vote is for Russell, third vote is for Natalie, fourth vote is for Russell, fifth vote is for Natalie, sixth vote is for Natalie, the seventh vote and the winner of “Survivor: Samoa” is Natalie.

Wow…Russell looks really upset…as he should.

Verdict: The funny thing about “Survivor” is how a bad winner can change how you feel about a season. And I’m going to come out and say it; Natalie is a terrible choice for the winner. Russell was 100% right at the final tribal council when he said he did some deceitful things, but Mick and Natalie were right behind him when he did them.

And while I agree that you should win anyway you can, the “Fly Under the Radar” strategy is extremely unsatisfying for the viewers.

That being said, this was a really good season with a super hot middle and a slightly sputtering finish.

“Survivor” Power Ranking Challenge Results: Due to the East Coast’s crazy snowstorm, the server was down and I was unable to get to Taj’s final picks. I consulted with the “Survivor” Power Rankings Executive Ruling Committee and they have decided that the player with the highest score during the last episode will be rewarded the coveted Golden Probsty Award. That player, by a final score of 134 to 133, is Tamara “Taj” George. Congratulations, Taj!

What Do You Think? Should Russell have won the million? What do you think of the “Fly Under the Radar” strategy? How do you feel about the “Heroes vs. Villains” concept?

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