‘Survivor H.V.V.’ Finale Recap: Russell Vs. The World…Again

Last Thursday: Jerri upset Russell by not taking him on the reward outing, Sandra upset Russell by telling him she was against him, and yet Rupert was sent to the jury, thus upsetting Rupert’s legions of fans.

And then there were five…

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Here is the tribe as it currently stands…

The Yin Yang Tribe

Colby Donaldson – 35
Sandra Diaz-Twine – 34
Russell Hantz – 37
Jerri Manthey – 38
Parvati Shallow – 27

Quick Note: I’m a big believer that Russell should have won “Survivor: Samoa.” He was more deserving than both of the people (Natalie White and Mick Trimming) who were sitting in front of the jury with him. I can’t say the same for this season. He’s been more abrasive than ever and Sandra and Parvati have both played games that were as strategic as his.

Another Quick Note: The worst thing about holding the “Survivor” finale on Sunday? I have to sit through Andy Rooney at the end of “60 Minutes.”

Yet Another Quick Note: The opening for the finale featured an awesome recap of the final five’s previous “Survivor” experiences. It was awesome seeing all of those old clips. And it was a little sad see Australia Colby vs. this season’s Colby.

OK, let’s do this. We start up after tribal council and Russell is not pleased that Sandra lied to them about having an immunity idol in her bra. Sandra defends her play because Russell never told her when he had an idol. Ah…touché.

Russell isn’t so upset that Sandra lied to him, but he’s convinced that Parvati knew about it and didn’t tell him. He approaches the Australian crew and proposes voting out Parvati. Uh oh, trouble in the Samoan royal family…

The following morning the tribe is greeted by tree mail in the form of a bag of puzzle pieces. The clue makes it sound like a dish-related challenge. Maybe it’ll be dish spinning like on the “Ed Sullivan Show!” Hey, an old-school Nick at Nite fan can dream.

Immunity Challenge: Players will balance ceramic dishes on a balancing arm. (Darn it!) The more dishes they have, the harder it is to balance. When your dishes fall, you’re eliminated. Last player standing (or balancing, as it were) wins immunity.

The first several rounds go off without a hitch. Once we are nine dishes into it, Jerri and Sandra start to wobble. Sure enough, Sandra’s dishes fall eliminating her from the challenge. At the fourteen-dish point, Jerri continues to have problems with her entire stack eventually falling.

Down to three. On the sixteenth dish, Russell’s stack of dishes succumbs to the pull of gravity. The “Survivor” production crew then utilizes their power over nature to summon a huge gust of wind, but Colby and Parvati manage to keep it together.

After adding a large bowl, Colby’s stack falls. Everything’s bigger in Texas, except for the stacks of dishware. Parvati wins her second immunity challenge in a row.

Back at camp, Colby rolls over again, telling everyone that he’s not going to make an attempt to stay in the game.

Really, Colby? Did you just give something you called a “Surrender Speech?” All of that razor endorsement money must be making him soft.

Oh wait, I take that back, apparently he has one more move left in him. Colby approaches Russell with the idea of getting rid of Sandra so they’ll have a better shot of taking Parvati out at the last immunity challenge.

Russell seems interested, but he knows that if Colby gets to the final three that he’ll win. Honestly, Russell could get to the end with Andy Rooney and he’d still lose.

That night at tribal council, Rupert shows up in a new tie-dye shirt. I’d love to see his closet. I’m sure it’s more tie-dye than a Grateful Dead concert.

During the discussion portion of tribal, Colby feels bad about his lack of challenge prowess this season. Colby admits to trying to get Russell to take him over Sandra. He admits to Sandra that he thinks everyone wants to get to the end with her.

Sandra says, “This is ‘Survivor’ you can’t believe nobody.” Which is a double negative. She is crafty.

Parvati says it’s news to her that she’s someone nobody wants to face in the finals.

J-Pro asks Russell if there’s anyone that he trusts 100%. Russell gives a roundabout answer that doesn’t come close to answering Jeff’s question at all.

Voting Time: Parvati votes for Colby, Colby votes for Sandra, Sandra votes for Colby, and you know the other two votes are gonna have to wait.

J-Pro gets his tally on and is ready to read; one vote for Colby, one vote for Sandra, one vote for Colby, and the sixteenth person voted out and the eighth member of the jury is…Colby.

Once we’re back on the beach, Parvati confesses that she didn’t know that she was such a big jury threat. Really? That’s just hitting her? She’s won a billion immunity challenges. And she’s not Russell.

Tree mail arrives the next morning, and sure enough it’s an invitation to the Rites of Passage. Oh! They should call it the Torch Trek.

During the leisurely, respectful stroll, nobody has anything to say about Sugar. Well, they weren’t on the same beach as her.

Stephenie is the first person to be referred to as a “Tough competitor.” I’m putting the over/under on the word “competitor” during this segment at four.

Randy being decimated by James in the mud wrestling challenge is shown in slow motion. I don’t think I can do justice to that moment with words, but I’ll try…let’s say it was five-star awesome dipped in Christmas morning.

They say Cirie is underestimated as a physical competitor. The “competitor” count is now at two.

They all agree that Tom was very trustworthy.

Tyson is of course remembered for his sense of humor. And if you’re not following him on Twitter, you should be.

James is called a competitor by Jerri. That’s three.

During Boston Rob’s remembrance, Russell takes the time to brag about getting the best of him. Sandra takes the time to tell America about a borderline racist comment Boston Rob made about her.

Coach is referred to as “Jerri’s boyfriend.” I need to remember to ask her about that tomorrow.

Courtney’s moment is particularly poignant due to the fact that her physique resembles that of a bamboo torch.

As they walk by JT’s torch, they discuss JT’s give-the-idol-to-the-most-evil-player-in-the-game strategy.

Parvati makes a point of mentioning that “Heroes Vs. Villains” was the first time Amanda had ever been voted out of the game. I prefer to remember Amanda for her brief brawl with Danielle.

Candice’s legacy apparently revolves around stepping out of a challenge to get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Russell doesn’t think that’s worth a million dollars.

Parvati refers to Danielle as the Boston Brawler. Parvati’s very sad she’s gone. Russell is not.

Rupert’s moment revolves around his pirate-like ways. They also hope his toe heals quickly. (Actually, it was two broken toes.)

And finally, Russell refers to Colby as a true hero as they pass his torch. Yes, I’m reminded of that issue of Superman, where Superman gave his “Surrender Speech” to the Legion of Doom.

And with that, they arrive at an awesome (read AWESOME) Tiki bon fire set-up. Jerri sets it ablaze, and now all of their souls are at peace. Or something like that.

Quick Note: Before we get to this immunity challenge, my fingers are crossed for a stand-somewhere-until-everyone-quits challenge. You know, like the old-school ones that would go on for 14 hours. I love those.

Immunity Challenge 2: Electric Boogaloo: And…I’m out of luck. The players will each be blindfolded. They’ll make their way through a maze. At each corner of the maze they’ll have to retrieve a necklace. The first person with all four necklaces wins immunity.

And, if my memory is correct (and it rarely is) this is the same challenge that Fancast columnist Jenna Morasca won in the Amazon.

Russell gets off to a lead as the first person to get to two necklaces. Jerri manages to pass him though as she’s the first person to get three necklaces. Parvati is right behind her. Eventually, Russell and Parvati both get their fourth necklaces. They both stumble toward the exit. Meanwhile, Jerri has claimed her fourth necklace.

All three of them are groping around with the immunity necklace right in front of them. Russell just barely gets to it first. Russell wins immunity. Awesome finish.

Politicking around camp center around Jerri vs. Parvati. Russell tells Sandra he’s taking her to the final three because he knows he can beat her. Sandra says she’s cool with this because she’s happy with the $100,000. I love when those two are honest with each other.

Parvati makes the case that Courtney, Amanda, and Candice will all vote for Sandra.

Russell also seems to believe that Jerri will give him her vote if he sends her to the jury. He’s not sure if Parvati will do the same.

That night at tribal council, Jerri admits that she stuck around camp to stay on top of all of the political discussions.

Sandra discusses her strategy of cozying up to the immunity winner because she knows they’re not going home.

Parvati tells J-Pro that she feels very vulnerable without immunity.

Jerri tells us that she’s been pushing the agenda that Parvati is a huge threat. Parvati says she’s been pushing the agenda that he’ll have to take Parvati to prove that he’s loyal to the jury.

Parvati also thinks she’s been protecting Russell. Russell takes exception to this. She revises her statement to say they’ve been protecting each other. He takes exception to that too.

Voting Time: Parvati votes for Jerri, Jerri votes for Parvati, and the other votes are lost to the magic of editing.

Jeff goes to tally the votes.

Fun Fact: When Jeff says he’s tallying the votes, he’s actually getting in a quick game of Farmville. I may have made that up.

One vote for Parvati, one vote for Jerri, one vote for Jerri, and the seventeen person voted out of the game, and the ninth member of the jury is…Jerri.

As Jerri hugs Russell, she tells him she can’t wait to hear the story later. And during her farewell confessional, she admits that she’s leaning toward voting for Russell.

We meet up with the final three after tribal, and Sandra is having a tough time being away from her family. She admits that the only reason she’s on the show is to win the million. She won’t be satisfied with anything less.

The following morning, tree mail consists of all the food in the world.

Russell thinks he’s got the million in the bag. His strategy was to bring people that he thought he could beat. I’m not sure those people exist. Maybe if they cast Osama bin Laden.

Parvati admits that if Russell had voted her out that she would have voted for Sandra. Russell is shocked by this because he would have voted for Parvati if he were on the jury.

Sandra, for some reason, decides to burn Russell’s hat. Somewhere Samoa’s Jaison is giddy. Revenge of the socks!

Apparently Sandra’s strategy revolves around Russell’s bald head making him look bad in front of the jurors. Well, it’s certainly a unique strategy. Unfortunately for her, he still has his buff.

Wow, they’re showing a lot of Sandra. I wonder if that’s a clue…

Quick Note: Is the tribal council set supposed to be like the Ewok Village?

During Sandra’s opening statement, she admits to trying to get rid of Russell three times.

Russell makes the case that he played as hard as he could play. And that if he offended anyone, that he apologizes. For some reason his “Rupert as the second coming” speech just popped into my head.

Parvati claims to have partnered with Russell because everyone was gunning for her from the beginning.

J-Pro then throws it to the jury. Colby starts it off, asking Russell if he thinks he got to the end without any luck. Russell thinks he got there because of his strategy. Colby thinks he’s delusional for thinking he got to the end without luck. He then asks Parvati what makes her a better pick than the other two. Parvati says that everyone was gunning for her and she had to fight harder.

Coach goes next, he has a grand time bashing everyone. However, he gives Parvati credit for being good in challenges. He lets it be known that his vote will be based on what is said tonight.

Amanda takes the third slot, she asks Sandra how her strategy was better than Russell or Parvati’s. She admits that she wishes she had a better strategy because she couldn’t get Russell out of the game.

Courtney bats clean-up, and she has much love for Parvati and Sandra. She even gives Sandra the opportunity to talk about how loyal she was to Courtney.

Next up we hear from JT. JT wants to know if Russell thinks he did a good job getting jury votes. Russell hopes the jury respects his game. Parvati gets the same question and gives the same answer about how everyone was gunning for her. Sandra claims she would have given JT the idol back if he had given it to her.

Danielle is the next to go, and she’s sporting some weird accent to start. OK. Danielle claims that Russell has done a poor job with his jury management. Russell doesn’t regret that because if he didn’t make the moves he made he wouldn’t have made it to the end. She claims that he isn’t going to get any votes because nobody respects the way he played the game.

Next up we hear from Jerri. She claims to be undecided on who to vote for. Jerri calls Russell out on voting for her over Parvati. Russell claims that he didn’t take Jerri because he doesn’t think he can beat her. Parvati claims Russell wanted her on the jury because he thought he’d get her vote. Nice to see the cougar and the kitten getting along.

Candice takes the stage next. She thinks Russell went too far by telling “Dirty lies.” She compares Parvati to an abused wife who never got out from under her abusive husband. Ouch.

Rupert (and yet another tie-dye shirt!) gets to go last. He starts with Russell and reads him the riot act for lying and manipulating people. Rupert wishes he had listened to Sandra more. He thinks she deserves a “Thank you” because she tried to warn them about Russell. He starts on Parvati, but she claims that she didn’t have a choice but to side with Russell because everybody wanted her out. Rupert finishes by saying that Parvati deserves to be there for how hard she played in challenges.

My Take: That did not go well for Russell. Parvati did a decent job, but she didn’t have much to say other than, “I’ve always had a target on my back.” Meanwhile, Sandra’s “I tried to warn you about Russell” argument is very strong.

Voting Time: Jerri votes for Parvati, Candice votes for Sandra, Danielle votes for Parvati, Courtney votes for Sandra, Coach votes for Parvati (because she’s a warrior), Rupert votes for Sandra, and the rest of the votes are gonna have to wait till we get to New York.

Wow, I’m assuming that means no votes Russell.

And we’re in New York…and Gabon’s Charlie Herschel is in the house!

And, Russell does not look pleased, but he does have a new hat.

One vote for Parvati, one vote for Sandra, one vote for Parvati, one vote for Sandra, one vote for Parvati, one vote for Sandra, two votes for Sandra, and the winner of “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” and the first ever two-time winner is…Sandra!

Verdict: I think “Survivor” has been on a major roll since “Survivor: Micronesia” and this season is no exception. I won’t go so far as to call it the best ever, but it’s definitely up there. It probably comes down to how you feel about All-Star seasons, and as I said earlier in the year, I’m all for them.

Notes from the Reunion Special:

•    Parvati and Sandra both made their cases for being the best player ever. Sandra’s case was way stronger.
•    Russell thinks Sandra is a terrible player as she has no social or physical game. He also makes the point that there must be a flaw in the game of “Survivor” if Sandra can win the game twice.
•    JT tried to throw the letter he gave to Russell into the fire, but Russell was able to save it.
•    Russell admits to not caring about the social game at all, he just wants to get to the end.
•    Tyson looks like Jesus. Well, if Jesus ever wore bright pink shirts.
•    The Dumbest Move in “Survivor” History Award went to JT for giving the idol to Russell. I absolutely disagree with that call. Erik Reichenbach giving up immunity, Colby taking Tina Wesson to the final, and Tyson screwing up the Boston Rob alliance vote were all way worse.
•    Rupert and Russell were the top vote-getters for the Sprint Player of the Season award…and Russell won.
•    Randy Bailey is now bald.
•    The next season of “Survivor” will be held in Nicaragua.

More “Survivor” Business: We’re going to have interviews with all of the final five this week as well as Jeff Probst’s surprising thoughts on the best “Survivor” players of all time.

What Do You Think?
Where does this season rank? Should Sandra have won? What changes would you like to see for “Survivor: Nicaragua?”

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