Wow, talk about a letdown! For the first time in literally years, I felt compelled to watch every single episode of SURVIVOR: SOUTH PACIFIC this season, because it was filled with “what will happen?” tension and some intriguing character conflict. But then came the finale, featuring the absolute worst, most undeserving final trio ever, and the whole series went south for me.
Thanks to Ozzy’s brain fart during the final challenge puzzle, the finale came down to Sophie, Coach and Albert — and never was there a lamer, more useless choice of finalists. The jury was correct to be disgusted. I wish the jury had been allowed to vote “none of the above” at the last ballot and the million dollars could have been donated to charity. Ozzy would have won in a walk — like he deserved to — if only it the SURVIVOR producers had not indulged their puzzle fetish one last time.
Forget the $1 million — the prize should have been a dictionary, so the final three could look up the words honor and integrity, because — to paraphrase Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, “You keep using those words; I do not think they mean what you think they mean.”
The final Tribal Council was populated by what Obi Wan Kenobi might call a wretched hive of scum and villainy.
Sophie Clarke was deemed the least of the three evils and thus took home the big money. I do have to agree that prickly future cat lady Sophie was somewhat less odious than the other choices. However, she played no social game at all; relying instead on fading into the woodwork and letting others interact and draw attention to them. She sat back and flung brickbats from a distance when not bust condescending to her tribe. The crabby medical student won a few challenges, including the final one — the singular success that set her up to sidle in a snatch the grand prize like a skittering little beach crab.
“Coach” Ben Wade proved to be the antithesis of a man of “honor,” as he systematically betrayed everyone after taking them into his “confidence.” He even told the camera that when he gave his word to Ozzy “as a Christian man” it meant something. It meant nothing, other than that he was not going to honor the deal. Coach was the worst kind of hypocrite: the sort who uses religion to inveigle the mush-minded and easily led. But the less said about the hypocrisy of all the God talk bandied about by Coach and Brandon Hantz, the better.
Albert Destrade did not get a single jury vote — not that he deserved any. He did nothing positive in the game whatsoever. He coasted along while other, more obvious threats were eliminated until there was simply no time left to boot him. Albert openly lied, and then in the finale had the unmitigated gall to claim he had played a strategic game of integrity. Such temerity! Hopefully, someone sat him down to explain the “I” word to him.And then there was the fourth-place finisher, the intrepid Ozzy Lusth, who vanquished eight straight foes in single combat on Redemption Island — and in the process redeemed the idea of Redemption Island itself. Sadly, Ozzy became the final member of the jury in a heartbreaking loss. It was heartbreaking because he was the last contestant who had played with anything approaching personal integrity, and he deserved to win more than the “Player of the Season” title and $100,000.
I hated the way host Jeff Probst sucked up to the Hantz clan, hinting that Brandon could be pitted against multiple loser Russell in a future contest. It was shocking to see his father (Russell’s brother) browbeat the confused and impressionable youth during the visit by “loved ones” a couple of weeks back. I actually felt bad for Brandon when he revealed that various members of his clan berated him for not being ruthless enough to uphold the family’s reputation for underhandedness. Brandon, that’s one criticism you should wear as a badge of honor!
Here’s hoping we never see another Hantz on SURVIVOR again. And — seriously — in February’s new season (SURVIVOR: ONE WORLD), can we have a moratorium on the damn puzzles? They make the physical aspects of the various challenges completely pointless, because each challenge is won of lost on the puzzle leg, no matter what happens with the swimming and the jumping and the throwing and the running. It’s a failure of obstacle design.