Survivor: Dude!

He did it! He did it! He did it!
Every time Fabio won a challenge last night, I leaped off the couch with glee. First of all, I love when a strong and likable competitor screws up the core alliance’s plans. Second of all, Fabio winning his way to the end when everyone wanted him out made for an exciting and unpredictable narrative for the finale. And third of all, Fabio winning Survivor: Nicaragua was one of the few outcomes that could actually redeem the season. For such a clunker of a season, that finale was pretty great.
Not-So-Fab Five
I was talking to my boyfriend on Sunday afternoon about who we did and didn’t want to win, and I said “I’ve grown to hate Chase so much that he’s now the worst outcome for me. I’d rather see Dan win than Chase. Dan!”
I stand by that, but Dan made it pretty damn hard when he was talking strategy with Fabio and asked “How many votes do we need?” DAN! There were FIVE people left in the game. How could you possibly not know how many votes you need? Never has a comment epitomized a player so much.
Fabio went into the first immunity challenge of the evening the same way he went into last week’s immunity challenge – with the need to win. I’m the kind of Survivor fan who likes challenges just as much as strategy (or almost as much, at least) and I respect someone for winning their way to the end when their back is up against the wall. Fabio needed three straight wins, and against people like Chase and Sash that is not an easy feat.
The challenge was pretty cool – players had to answer trivia questions about Nicaragua to score puzzle pieces, and then put together a puzzle of their season’s logo. So basically, you knew Chase wouldn’t be winning from the get-go.
It wasn’t looking good for Fabio, and this is part of why last night’s show was really exciting – in both challenges it did not look like poor Fab was going to win. He was the only player to get a question wrong, which set him way behind. He solved the puzzle at lightning speed, and in my book that should once and for all prove that there is a lot more going on under that mop of blonde hair than his tribe originally thought. He’s a goofball, but he’s a smart goofball.
Out with a Bang
Back at camp, the scramble was on. Fabio had won the safety of the necklace, but things weren’t looking so good for his little buddy Dan. I can’t believe a conversation even took place over whether Dan or Holly was a bigger threat. Yes, Dan was likable and kept everyone entertained during rainstorms with stories of fancy cars and countless pairs of expensive alligator shoes. And yes, he didn’t piss anyone off. But the accolades end there, because the reason he didn’t piss anyone off was that he didn’t do anything! Plus he’s rich! Could he really have scored  many votes? Holly, on the other hand, was the last woman standing. The mother figure. The underdog who came farther in the game than anyone else. Yes, she was strategic. But she made personal relationships.
Fabio couldn’t convince the guys to vote out Holly, so in the end he switched his vote to Dan. And Dan exited with possibly the best rant of the entire season:
“I switched my vote tonight to Chase to tell him how much I dislike the guy. I want nothing to do with you. Holly, you’re a crook. You stole my shoes. They ought to cut your damn hands off. Sash, you’re just like a whining little girl. And you’re a liar. I wish them all the worst and I can’t wait to cast my vote.”
Ha! Amazing! Take note, Jane – that is how vindictive is done. No sabotaging the fire. No insulting people’s families. Clever and cutting and complete perfection. Dan did absolutely nothing in the game, mentally or physically, but he made a pretty awesome jury member.
Final Four, Fallen Comrades
Back at the camp, Sash and Chase were still wheeling and dealing. This, I think, is where Sash made a big mistake. Fabio could easily see through his empty promises, and I think it would have served him better to be straight up at that point. By telling Fabio he was going to take him to the finals, all he was doing was insuring that if Fabio lost he would not be voting Sash. It was a bad move, and it came back to haunt him.
Of course, on the way to the final immunity challenge the remaining players had to go through the ridiculous fallen comrades walk. What a great reminder of how pathetic this cast was! My favorite comment came from NaOnka, who said “I always had a smile, I was friendly” and “I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I was the smartest player in the game.” Um, what? I know NaOnka thinks “pissivity” is a word, but I wonder if she’s familiar with the word delusional? Smartest player in the game? Always a smile? The black, X-ed out shield she got to represent how she quit suggested otherwise.
The final challenge is always some sort of endurance or balance challenge, and this season was no different. (I’m glad about this – if the final challenge was, like, an arm-wrestling match, I’d be mad). Fabio really, really needed immunity, but in a way so did Holly. She must have known that if the kid won it, there was a very good chance she’d be going home.
For the challenge, each player had to hold a sword onto a shield, tip down. Then they had to balance coins on the handle, one by one. The coins were uneven though, and from about the second or third coin it really looked like Fabio was cooked. Maybe it was editing, but it really looked like one of his early coins was extra-uneven and his stack constantly seemed to be teetering. Once again, the challenge came down to Sash and Fabio, and once again Fabio took home the gold.
Watching these challenges at home had the added pressure that my mom and I were rooting for different people. My mom wanted Sash to win because it would mean by sister would win the Survivor pool. As much as I wanted her to win $200 as well, I was still rooting for Fabio on the show.
False Promises
Back at the camp, Fabio was now everyone’s best friend. Each person pitched their arguments to him, but some were more honest than others. Sash said he would have taken him to the finals. Chase and Holly both said no way Jose, had Fabio lost he would have been voted out. Sash made a huge mistake here, and he’s lucky he made it to the finals. He shouldn’t have told Fabio that they were BFFs. He shouldn’t have lied. He should have just said “Listen man, I lied to you. I was never going to take you to the end. I’ve lied to everyone in this game though, and you need to think long and hard about who you think you can win against.”
For a while there, I thought Fabio might screw up and vote out Sash because he was mad, rather than Holly who was the bigger threat. I was practically screaming at the TV “Come on kid, don’t go soft on me now!” I wanted someone to call his mom so she could tell him to get his head in the game again. Would Fabio have been able to beat Holly? I’m not sure. Considering how close the final vote was anyway, I think the votes would have been more diverse and that could have cost Fabio the game – or perhaps even caused a tie. (Would someone PLEASE tell me what happens if there’s a tie in the final three??? Doesn’t Mark Burnett or Jeff Probst read this blog?)
After revealing all of Sash’s double-crossing, alliance-breaking, false promise-making ways, Fabio voted out Holly. I breathed a sigh of relief. By making that choice, I think Fabio showed that he understands Survivor strategy. Yes, he played under the radar. But he won his way to the end and he made a pragmatic decision about who he should sit next to. I think that deserves a million bucks.
Let the Sash Bash Begin
I have to say, I was really surprised by how the votes went. I know Sash comes across as insincere and doesn’t have the warmth of personality to forge personal relationships. But he ran the game, lost his entire alliance and still made it to the end. Yes, I wanted Fabio to win. But I still think that Sash was one of maybe three people on the whole season who was really playing Survivor for the entirety of the season. I thought some true lovers of the game like Alina, Marty or Brenda might cast their vote for him despite his conniving ways. After all, they were pretty conniving themselves.
That said, Sash didn’t deliver the best final jury performance. All he had to do was watch the finale of Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites to know that the apologetic backstabber is not the best character to play. He owned up to his double-crossings, but he was apologetic too. Lose the apology. Remind them that you ran the game. Demand their respect.
Chase, meanwhile, said absolutely nothing that was memorable or eloquent. I’m still flabbergasted over how many votes he got. I’m not saying Fabio is getting an award for being the best strategist, but it certainly wouldn’t be going to Chase either! If you wanted to vote for the best strategist, you should have voted Sash. If you wanted to vote for the best player, the most deserving, or the nicest guy, you should  have voted Fabio. If you wanted to vote for a wishy-washy Southern boy who was constantly confused and who backstabbed every single person he was close to (Shannon, Brenda, Jane, Holly) then you would vote Chase.
Personally, I thought Fabio would win in a landslide vote when NaOnka asked him about his mom and he got all teary and high-pitched again. The guy had half the jury in tears! How often does that happen?
I have to say, I expected more fireworks during the questioning. Here are the notes I took during the questioning:
Brenda: Didn’t talk to Fabio. Voting Sash???
Marty: Voting Sash. RUDE.
Holly: Hmm, Fabio?
Jane: Crazy eyes! Hates New Yorkers! Didn’t talk to Fabio. Voting Chase.
Benry: Def. voting Fabio.
Dan: Ha! Love his speech. (To Sash: “I think you’re a liar. I think you’re a phony. I think you’re spineless. And I hate that smile and I think if I was you I would go to the doctor tomorrow and get those eyes fixed so you stop doing the wink.” To Chase: “Beauty fades. Dumb is forever.”) Voting Fabio, obvs.
Kelly: Is she drunk? Voting Sash or Fabio?
NaOnka: Fabio? Crying! Haha!
Alina: Sash? Fabio? I have no idea!
As you can see, I was way off mark. The first time I guessed all the votes, I had tie between Sash and Fabio. Then I rethought it and had Fabio winning in a landslide. Both times I guessed that the only person voting for Chase would be Jane, which is ironic considering she told him not to try and shove his ass back into North Carolina. You can probably see I didn’t care much for Marty’s comments. If he thinks Chase is as dumb as a bag of hammers, he should have just said that. Don’t ask the guy to give himself a fictional award. Also, Jane is pretty lucky that the live finale took place in L.A. this year. Between her comments about Sash in post-show interviews and her comments at the final tribal council, I don’t think she should try to “shove her ass” into New York City anytime soon.
As I said, the voting was pretty unpredictable. There was an incredibly gratuitous shot of Kelly Purple’s boobs. I guess they had to use her for something, since she didn’t say one single interesting thing the entire time, and she’d finally taken Fabio’s yellow track jacket off. We saw Alina and Brenda vote for Chase, which shocked me. We saw Marty vote Fabio, which mildly surprised me,and we saw Dan vote for Fabio, which surprised no one. And we didn’t see a single vote for Sash, which meant no one voted for him.

I figured only Jane would also vote Chase, and expected him to receive three votes to Fabio’s six. So when Probst began to read the votes and it turned into a four-four tie, I was shocked. I was leaning forward on the couch going “No! No! No! Worst! Chase winning will be the worst! Nooooooo!” Luckily, I was put out of my misery. The fifth vote, thank god, was for Fabio and he became the youngest winner in the history of the show.

What did you think of the finale? Did the right person win? I thought it was an exciting show, and I’m very happy with the winner – and that’ll help Nicaragua move up a couple notches in my Survivor rankings list. So stay tuned for that, plus a review of the live reunion show and hopefully a couple interviews!

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Man slashed in the face at Halifax motel