Survivor Gabon: Earth's Last Eden
Say Goodbye to Gabon, Part 1
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst
January 8, 2009

Pour some Sugar on me.

Hello, good people, and welcome to the extremely late Survivor: Gabon finale recap. Hopefully, you were all glued to BOP for our first ever Survivor finale blog. But if you weren't, I'll recap that for you real quick: I predicted every challenge and boot perfectly, including the exact vote count for the winner. David, however, was completely wrong on everything. It was quite amazing really. But I digress... When we left the Survivor recaps, Sugar, Bob and Matty pulled in Susie and turned the tables on the power twins, Crystal and Kenny, by blindsiding Crystal and sending her to a cold shoulder greeting at the Ponderosa. Bob remains a challenge hog, Sugar is still playing the best strategic game, Susie is still practically invisible and Kenny has GOT to be shaking in his boots. Okay, I've alreay delayed this column enough, so let's get to the recap.

As they do every season, the finale episode starts with a lengthy season recap. We begin the new action at the Nobag camp after Crystal's ouster. Sugar is feeling very proud of herself for the way she and Matty played the hidden idol at Tribal. I think Sugar is finally starting to believe she can win this game. Kenny complains about not being aware of the vote for Crystal. He then gets going again on Bob giving him his immunity idol. Bob finally tells him to get his own idol, which leads to another confessional whinefest about how Bob has no integrity for not sacrificing himself for Kenny. Bob tells us that the deal is off and Ken is just on his own.

The next morning, Sugar and Bob are talking about the dream final three of them and Matty. To set the hook into Ken, Sugar confirms with Ken that if he loses, Bob is gone. And if Bob wins, Susie is gone. Ken then tells us that he had felt betrayed and blindsided the night before, but after their little talk, he feels that Sugar really wants to take him to the finals with her. And somewhere along the line he called himself the mastermind?? Really???

Ken and Sugar come back from Tree Mail with a bunch of face paint and clothing type stuff to dress up/make up like warriors for the challenge. While they all look pretty good, I think Probst nails it when he tells Bob he is very "Village People". Still, since Bob keeps winning challenges, I'd say he can dress however he wants. With that in mind, let's get to today's challenge.

The survivors will have to dig underneath a wall and over a plank maze to a more traditional maze. While in the maze, they will find their way to several Gabonese huts. In three of these huts, there will be bags of puzzle pieces. In the rest, nothing. Once they find a bag, they have to exit the maze and take the bag to the puzzle making station, then head back into the maze. Once they have all three bags, they will begin working on a puzzle that will recreate one of the Gabonese huts. The first person to complete the puzzle wins immunity. As they take off, it's surprisingly Susie that leads the way under the wall and over the plank maze. However, everyone is pretty close behind, so they're all pretty much equal in the maze. Everyone gets their first bag of pieces at about the same time. When he finds the second bag, Matty starts to build himself a bit of a lead, but everyone is pretty close behind. Sugar and Bob pass Matty up to the third bag and Sugar is actually the first one to start on her puzzle. Bob, Matty and Ken are right behind. Susie can't find the final bag. As you might expect, Bob is flying through the puzzle, but so is Sugar. With only two pieces left in her puzzle, Sugar has to hear those dreaded words once again. "Bob wins immunity." And a one in four shot at winning a million dollars.

We come back from break to play, "It's anyone but Kenny." Well...we would play "It's Anyone But Kenny", but Ken bought Sugar's line all the way and he feels pretty confident that Susie is the vote. Matty comes to Ken to let him know that Susie is the vote, but they're not going to say anything to her until the end of the day, so she can't scramble around. Next up we see Susie asking Matty what the vote is and he keeps insisting that he doesn't know. And for the first time, Susie feels vulnerable.

Next up, we see Matty hammering Sugar for a final alliance. He says that he will gladly vote for Susie to get them to the end of the game. Sugar finally goes to Bob to see what he thinks - Susie or Kenny? Sugar is having a hard time deciding. She has no alliance with Susie at all, so that's the safe vote. But, Kenny is a liar and could scramble up votes and possibly turn people. The one thing she feels sure about is that Matty and Bob will vote with her, no matter who the target is.

As we get to Tribal Council, the first question is for Bob about his record-tying challenge win and whether or not the target on his back is getting larger. He says that it definitely is. That's why he keeps doing everything he can to have that necklace. Next up, Jeff asks Matty if he doesn't look at Bob with admiration. He says definitely, and that Bob can't have a target on his back, because he's so far ahead of them. He then asks Susie if she thinks there may be a good reason for her to get voted out. She says that just sits back to wait to be told who to vote for and that can be a bad thing.

Next up is whether Ken feels like he repaired any damage from the last 37 days. And here comes the immunity necklace discussion. What follows is more whining on Ken's part about how he thinks Bob will go back on his deal. He starts talking about "fine print" in the contract that he says Bob threw in there. Bob interjects that when he made the deal with Ken, he then heard that Ken's plan was to take Bob's idol and then vote Bob out. He says THAT is the fine print. If I help you out, you help me out. It's not a situation where if I give you the immunity necklace, you stab me in the back. THANK YOU, BOB!! Thank you for making Ken look like the whiny bitch that he is. And thank you for doing it in front of Jeff and the entire jury.

As Corinne and Charlie laugh, Jeff asks Ken is he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He says not at all, that's just how they were going to vote, and that's what Bob had promised. Jeff asks him if he feels like he needs the necklace or if he just wants Bob to honor the deal. He says that he feels pretty comfortable tonight and he just wants Bob to do what he promised. The last question is whether Bob wants to give up immunity, and that answer is no.

The first vote we see is Susie's for Ken, saying that she's not sure if it'll be a blindside or if she'll be going home. Next up, we see Ken's vote for Susie telling her that she should feel proud that she got this far. And with that, I'll go tally the votes. First vote, Susie. Second vote Kenny. Third vote Kenny. And the 14th person voted out of Survivor: Gabon? The mastermind himself, Kenny. I love it. I love that he's taking his sour grapes on the walk of shame. I love that just five days ago, he and Crystal thought they were sitting on top of the world and now they're both sitting in the jury box. And once again, Sugar is the architect. I sure hope the jury is paying attention, because Sugar is winning the game. If she can make it one more vote and get a place in the finals, she will clearly deserve to win this game. But, with all the hate on the jury in Corinne, Randy, Marcus and Crystal, I think she may be fighting an uphill battle.

We come back from break to the next morning. Bob and Sugar are out fishing and Matty and Susie are both talking about how the last challenge is their last chance to control their own fate. They've pretty much chalked the challenge up to Bob. But Susie confirms with Matty that if Bob doesn't win, she'll vote for him. She also feels that if she doesn't win, she'll be the one to go. Matty goes and gets the Tree Mail, which sets up the Fallen Comrades walk that will lead to the final immunity challenge. As they go through the torches, we get to see a couple shots of each person and hear some of their comments about their time on the show. For the most part, it's a same ol', same ol' kinda thing. There's nothing major said by the first several people voted out. Actually, as we go through Randy, Corinne, Crystal and Ken, none of them really have too terribly much to say. And with the reminiscing behind us, it's time to light the tribal masks that the walkers picked up on their journey. This is done with a small group of natives drumming and singing alongside the fire. Their inclusion actually made this part of the show pretty cool. Generally, it bores me, but this year was pretty cool.

We come back from break to prepare for the final immunity challenge. Today's challenge will give each player a stack of 200 wooden tiles that represent playing cards. The challenge is to use these tiles to build a house of cards. First person to build a house of cards ten feet tall wins immunity. If after 30 minutes, no one has reached the ten foot mark, Probst will check the houses and whoever has the tallest house will win. You have to think this challenge is tailor made for Bob, right? Well, while Bob and Matty are going for a strong base, Sugar is going for speed and is already at about six feet. As Jeff points this out, her tower falls to the ground and after nine minutes, all four are even again. Sugar takes off like a bat out of hell one more time and as she reaches the six and a half foot mark, the tower tumbles again, leaving Susie in the lead. As soon as she has the lead, HER tower falls.

At this point, Matty's solid foundation is in the lead, but Sugar's back on the fast track and working to pass him by. Bob, is having a horrible time getting anything built and with only five minutes remaining, he's starting at square one. This seems to be a two horse race between Sugar and Susie as Sugar is closing in on seven feet and Susie is nearing six feet. Both ladies' towers are terribly thin and wobbly, but they're both around the eight foot mark. At this point, Susie just stops building at all and seems content to ride it out with the tower she has. Sugar and Matty are catching up to her, but she seems fine to let it go. With only five seconds left, Sugar's tower tumbles to the ground and out of frickin nowhere, Susie wins immunity and a guaranteed spot at the final Tribal Council. All I can say is that every season has to have someone who did next to nothing all season in the finals. Susie is simply this year's version of it. The real questions will now be, "Who will be sitting next to her? And will Susie get even one vote in the final tribal?"

You know, those seem like awesome questions with which to end this column. The finale is always broken into two parts and I think this is as good a time as any to sign off for Part 1. I promise you, you won't have to wait for Part 2 as long as you did for Part 1. We should have it up in the next day or so. Until then, take care.