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Survivor Gabon Finale: All’s Well that Ends Well for the “Good”

December 23rd, 2008 · No Comments

by Don Hart

The Live Finale Show

The Finale/Reunion show at CBS Studios in LA was my first live TV show ever. It was as if I were in a theater watching a movie. The images/thoughts that are the most lasting for me are:

1. Randy’s six fan-guests seemed so admiring of him, and he seemed so genuinely nice to them.
2. The Survivors did not seem too different in person than they were on the show. I sympathized with them having to answer such a barrage of questions all at once.
3. Sugar was doing that Marilyn Monroe impression for all it was worth. She was lucky to last the whole game, thereby maximizing her wannabe actress exposure.
4. The live audience did not like Ken at all. He received boos, and his inability to get over Bob’s broken immunity idol promise added eye rolls and groans to those boos.
5. The Gabonese dancers were for show only, with very little airtime. The country of Gabon appears to be the Belize of Africa. No wonder Bob and his wife want to go back there for the honeymoon they missed.

The Finalists: How Good Were The Jury Questions?

Taken as a whole, the questions weren’t bad. The three finalists had to defend themselves on their game strategy, backstabbing and, perhaps most importantly, against some very nasty personal attacks. We viewers have to admit that we are entertained by some of that nastiness.

Worst questions/comments:

1. Marcus to Susie: “Just a game is all it took for you to shed your obligations to be a positive role model in the biggest game of all…and that’s life.” Come on, Marcus. Susie made the right move in voting you out. But does that choice mean she failed in life?
2. Corinne’s final comment to Sugar. Corinne, you had plenty of time to edit out the reference to Sugar’s Dad. If you had only left out that last part and scripted yourself just one positive comment, you would have done much better. The comment about cutting out Susie’s vocal chords was amusing, but also over the top.
3. Randy on defining “elaborate” to Susie: It was demeaning. Period.
4. Matty to Bob: “Why are the two people sitting next to you more deserving than you are?” I think Matty misspoke here and meant to say “less deserving”.

Best questions/comments:

1. Charlie to “the ladies”: “In pier assessment…why do you think you are on the top of the totem pole now?” Probably the best question.
2. Sugar after Corinne’s attack: “Next.” Even though Corinne deserved the finger, Sugar should have risen about that.
3. Randy on ending his Susie attack: “I’m done with you.” It was nasty, but very amusing nonetheless.
4. Ken on hearing Sugar’s defense on why she voted him out: “For some reason, I don’t believe you.” Actually Sugar was being honest here, but Ken only wanted to hear something else.
5. Randy to Bob: “Please don’t make me vote for Susie, because she’s the only one who didn’t laugh.” Randy was absolutely correct on bringing up the over-the-top humiliation to which he was subjected.

Worst Answers (No wonder Sugar didn’t receive any votes):

1. Sugar’s response to Matty’s question about her worst move: Sugar said she regretted voting out Ken, but had nothing to say about voting out Matty. Matty was looking for another, obvious answer, but Sugar missed the opportunity to give him what he wanted.
2. Sugar to Randy: “You are a jerk.” Sugar, this was a time to bury some of your animosity towards Randy. You were honest, but it was time to be apologetic.
3. Sugar giving up on Charlie’s vote: Sugar, you could have at least said something in your defense.

Best Answers:

1. Bob to Randy: “I was outraged at Sugar’s behavior and I was pissed.” This could have been the answer that swayed Randy’s key vote.
2. Sugar to Crystal: “I know strategically it would be better to have you up here instead of Bob, but I voted with my heart.” Honest and truthful!
3. Bob to Ken: “You were organizing an assassination on me. You became the enemy.” Ken, you should have accepted that answer.

Critical Turning Points in the Game

1. The third tribal council, when Kota voted out Paloma and not Sugar. Corinne said in her exit interview that Bob, Kelly and she were considering voting out Sugar and not Paloma. How different things could have been!
2. The sixth tribal council for Kota, when Sugar turned against Ace. Ken turned the tide by lying to Sugar and breaking Sugar’s trust of Ace.
3. The second tribal council for Kota, when they voted out Dan and not Susie. Dan was so gung-ho on being a Kota and betraying his ex-Fang mates that he should have been pulled into the Onion Alliance, and Susie should have been voted out.
4. The thirteenth tribal council, where anyone except Crystal should have been ousted. This killed any chances for Sugar and Susie to win the game.

The Endgame

The post-merge Survivor Gabon series began with the downfall of the Onion Alliance and ended with Bob vs. the Fang five. The dynamics of the Final Six were interesting, but the game play was flawed at best. First of all, Crystal never should have been voted out at six. A complete mess at challenges, with a short fuse that angered everyone but her pal Ken, Crystal was the perfect candidate to take to the Finals. As for Ken, it was his game to win, but he completely blew his chances when he first fell for Bob and Corrine’s immunity idol story, then betrayed Matty, and then was betrayed by Sugar. He just simply could not get beyond that false immunity idol mess.

As for Susie, it at times appeared as if she wasn’t even there. She had no strategy other than working hard, staying under the radar and being relatively nice to everyone, which ironically was the same strategy that Bob admitted he had in the first part of the game. But when Bob found himself in danger, he acted, and another irony is that Susie, with the same strategy as Bob’s, almost won. Like Susie, Matty didn’t plot much (at least from what we saw). At eight left he seemed to step up his game, but he was overruled by his Fang gang, led by Sugar and Crystal, who decided to vote out Randy instead of Bob. Sugar, a game strategist’s nightmare, had the most influence on the endgame dynamics. Her preference for the “good” people over the “evil” ones was what led Bob slip through as winner.

To Bob’s credit, he did show some scrappiness when cornered. Cast as Yau-Man II, he played his role to the hilt. Luckily for him, his Dreamz-like nemesis, Ken, wasn’t able to strike the final blow.

The Sugar Wildcard

Picked five times to visit Exile Island and never really targeted for her immunity idol, Sugar was perceived right from the beginning as a weaker player and not a big threat, especially after Ace’s exit.

The other castaways put Sugar in a unique position. Sugar managed to cast deciding votes against key players: Ace, Charlie, Randy, Corinne, Crystal, Ken and Matty. She voted with her heart and seemed content to finish close to the top, but never seemed hungry enough to win the million dollars. However, she received a large share of airtime that will certainly benefit her acting career. If ever a young, Marilyn Monroe-like actress is needed for a role where crying is involved, Sugar is a slam-dunk to get that role. Ironically, her opening statement at the final Tribal Council was very well spoken. She was honest and presented some very good reasons why she deserved to win. Her answers to the jury members’ questions, however, made it clear that she was rooting for Bob to win.

Lessons Not Learned from Previous Survivors

A lesson for the Onion Alliance which should have been learned from Survivor 4 Marquesas: Do not just depend on a core alliance of four, but form some sub-alliances which are able to survive any unexpected game developments.

A lesson for the Fang 5 which should have been learned from Survivor 9, Vanuatu, (where Chris slipped through) or Survivor 11 Guatemala (where Danni outlasted): Get rid of the entire enemy, or at least get rid of all their strongest first, before devouring your own. Matty had the right idea, but evidently was outvoted.

Do the “Good” always have to outlast the “Bad”?

As I had written in an earlier article, the Final Four were more or less portrayed as “good” people, whereas Ken, Crystal, Corinne, and Randy, who finished fifth through eighth, were edited as a bit “evil”.
I guess we wouldn’t have a classic American story if evil prevailed, but it wouldn’t be so horrible if “evil” won out once in a while (like Brian Heidik of Survivor 5 Thailand), just to keep us on our toes

Things We’d Like to See in the Future

1. We’d like to see two enemies strike up an unlikely alliance and take out everyone.
2. How about one series where there are tribal mix-ups each and every week? That would really shake up the alliances.
3. How about a totally different cast, one that would not be loaded with wannabe actor & actress twenty-somethings?
4. How about a cast that avoided interpersonal nastiness and had a good sense of game strategy? After Survivor Gabon, it would be so refreshing!

Looking Ahead

Randy, you have got to be on the next All-Stars show!
That next Brazil locale: can’t wait!

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Tags: Survivor