Survivor: Nicaragua Finale Recap - Part 1
What about me?
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
December 20, 2010

Bitch stole my shoes.

Previously on Survivor, we endured a season of decisions by the dumbest cast in the history of the show. Yes, we have said this in previous years, and usually, we were just venting. This time, we mean it. This is the measuring stick for the future. Whenever someone does something idiotic, we’ll say to ourselves, “But how does it stack up against all the numerous things the various tribe members of Libertad did?” The person who cast this season of Survivor should be fired with extreme prejudice.

Where to begin? We could start with Chase’s dumbass decision two weeks in a row to tell various people he would take them on Reward Challenges if he won, only to follow through by taking someone else instead. The worst kind of lie in the game of Survivor is the one that has no purpose. Telling Sash and then Fabio that you’ll take them on challenges without living up to your promise is just needless. Just don’t make any promises to anyone if you’re going to be wishy-washy, or if you know who you’re taking, just go ahead and invite them for the reward.

We should backtrack to say that when we last recapped the show, there were nine remaining players. Two of them promptly quit, as NaOnka proved to be an immature hypocrite through and through, while Purple Kelly felt like she’d said everything she had to say in the game when she stated, “I have nothing left to suck.” Honestly, Purple Kelly was a follower, and the moment her leader, Brenda, was eliminated, she lost all her fight…and obviously she didn’t have the stones or the brains to get herself a new alliance.

Combined with Benry, that’s three forgettable/horrible players removed from the game (and don’t get us started on how Benry could have aligned with Fabio, Dan and potentially Sash if they could have read Sash’s clues correctly). Meanwhile, Sash thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room, which is roughly equivalent to being the valedictorian of a class containing Ralph Wiggum, Beavis, and Butthead.

The last episode encapsulates everything that has frustrated us this season. There were six remaining players, yet it takes Probst to point out that if three people are in an alliance and three people are not, the three unaligned players are not outnumbered. Jeff all but said, “The three of you need to vote for Holly,” and yet here we stand, with Dan and Fabio voting with people they know are against them. To be fair, it’s not like Jane made any real effort to get them to her side prior to the vote. Perhaps if she had thought further than the final four, she wouldn’t be in this position.

The elimination of Jane, easily the most engaging player of the current season, means that we almost certainly will not be happy with the Survivor: Nicaragua winner. Jud “Fabio” Birza seems like an affable young man and he’s provided a lot of laughs in embracing his role as village idiot. We don’t think he’s actually anywhere near as dumb as he lets on – he’s just young and inexperienced. Perhaps this is why his game has been mostly passive, and he’s going to need some breaks to win the game. Our expectation is that if Fabio doesn’t win immunity next, he is the obvious choice to send home, particularly since Dan has very little immunity outside of a “who has the most expensive shoes?” challenge. Hell, Holly may win that since she’s the only one who knows where the shoes are.

Dan Lembo is a super-rich 63-year-old with worse knees than our beloved Mark Schlereth (who is approaching 30 knee surgeries). Dan has exerted roughly the same amount of effort in challenges that you, the reader, have. His continued presence in this game is quite possibly the greatest accomplishment in the history of the show. We aren’t even joking when we say that. Dan was on the short list for elimination after the very first challenge, and should have been strongly considered in every other one. He’s funny as hell, and has found a way to make himself valuable to others by offering up his vote in exchange for not having his own name written down. At the beginning of the show, Dan’s winning Survivor seemed about as likely as his chance at winning a marathon. No, he has a 1/20 shot at the money.

Kim is rooting for Fabio. David is rooting for Dan. Our tortoise vs. hare analogy may have a chance of actually coming true.

As for Matthew “Sash” Lenahan, he’s one of those reality show frauds who are predictable in their selfishness and treachery. He and Brenda formed what seemed like a tight alliance, yet when she was in need, she asked for his help and he rewarded her by voting against her. Once NaOnka quit, Sash had no allies left. Then, he made what we felt was a poor decision to join the alliance of Holly and Jane, two people he couldn’t beat in a vote. At this point, he started bragging about how he was completely in command of the game. This struck us as him trying to make himself believe it rather than it being any real evaluation of the situation. Sash isn’t hated, exactly, but we don’t think anyone genuinely likes him, either. It’s hard to win the game when faced with that situation.

We’ve learned that Chase Rice is a follower, and that he also lacks strategy or any real intuition when it comes to playing the game. He’s the total package of incompetent play. It seemed like he spent the first half of his season making decisions based on his crush on Brenda, and the second half of his season trying to deal with his mommy issues by latching onto Jane and Holly. He wants everyone else to make the tough decisions, and never wants to be the bad guy. It seems highly unlikely that anyone on the jury would give their vote to Chase with the way things have gone. You’d think his social game would have helped him, but he’s blown it big-time with a number of his peers. Chase wants to be liked more than he wants to win Survivor, yet his passive-aggressive behavior led to his alienating Fabio, Dan and Jane – just in the last episode.

The leaves us with Holly Hoffman, who is sadly the most likely to win Survivor this year. Let’s look at her highlight reel. She stole a guy’s shoes, filled them with sand, buried them at sea and somehow got away with it. She threatened to quit – twice – and then got preachy when other contestants talked about quitting. Finally, she was the driving force in betraying Jane at the last Tribal Council. She has done a couple of things to win respect, such as sacrificing her reward in order for the camp to have some bare necessities after a fire, and employing smart tactics by eliminating Brenda and Jane. She wants to think of herself as a good person, but will then do whatever it takes to get what she wants before justifying it to herself as a good and correct decision even if her ethics were in question.

Knowing that one of these people will be a champion of Survivor while Boston Rob never has been makes us sick to our stomachs.

Our final power rankings going into the final episode are bloody. There are a significant number of moving parts here that create havoc in ranking the various players. The only clear-cut aspect is that this is Holly’s game to lose. In spite of some mystifying behavior early this season, she has recovered to the point that she has the respect of her peers and, presumably, the allies needed to win her the game. We say “presumably” because there are some disturbing rumors about under-the-table deals this season that have us perplexed. With a 3-2 majority, Holly should make it to the final vote, and if she makes it to the final vote, barring something unforeseen, she’ll win. The fly in the ointment is Sash, whose loyalty is about as reliable as a coin flip. Should he look at Fabio and Dan and decide that he has a better chance beating them, he should flip, and that final vote would be a choice between dumb, slow and mean (Kim still loves you, Fabio, and we both think dumb would win). Since Sash is still a power broker, we would place him second in the power rankings.

The debate between Chase and Fabio for third is an interesting one. Since we’re basing these power rankings on who can win versus who can go to the final, we’re going with Fabio here. Fabio has offended no one. He’s been sweet, funny and just a generally positive presence in a season with some serious climate condition issues – and some seriously nasty contestants. Meanwhile, Chase has failed to take people on challenges as promised, he’s been perceived as a backstabber by many (Brenda, Marty, Dan, Jane, maybe others we’re not thinking about) and he has let others guide the course of the game rather than taking control himself. He’s lost a lot of allies with his various slipups in the past couple of episodes.

As for Dan, well, Dan hasn’t done anything. He hasn’t made any moves, he hasn’t won any challenges, and he’s barely done any work around camp. He’s also rich already. Having said that he’s nice and funny, and had to have some skill to manage whatever career success he’s managed. While we think it’s unlikely that he wins, we’ve seen stranger things this season.

After all, it’s important to remember that most members of this jury will vote according to emotion and whim. There is no logic or though that goes into what they’re doing…we miss Jimmy Johnson.

We skip bases at the start of the show and go to the “who are you aligned with” portion. Fabio and Dan state the obvious: Holly needs to go if anyone else is to have a shot. Amusingly, their next conversation is with Holly, whom they press to guarantee that she will take them to the final. Holly’s dead silence would be a painful reminder to audiences about what happened to Wendy in the first episode…if any of us remembered a Wendy. Let’s be honest about the fact that Holly will win this game and be painted as having played ethically. We ain’t buying it. She formed an alliance after five minutes and then turned around on it at the first vote, went crazy on Dan a couple of days later, and then tried to quit soon after that. Hers has been the Survivor path not often traveled. Her body language telegraphs to Dan, a rather perceptive man, that they should turn to Sash instead.

Sash, someone whose strategy is to tell people what they want to hear, tells Fabio what he wants to hear. He claims that his dream final is Chase, Fabio and Sash. If Chase were there, he would agree, take them on a celebratory reward challenge meal, and then take Jane instead even though she’s no longer there and also hates him.

Chase is also shown strategizing. You can tell because there is smoke coming out of his ears. Sometimes the easiest jokes are the most accurate.

Probst sighting! We’re right into the first Immunity Challenge, which tests the contestants’ knowledge of Survivor. They have to go to three stations, each of which has a question about the country. They choose the right answer, and then pull puzzle pieces from the post with that answer. If they get it wrong, they have to run back and guess agaim. Once they have all their pieces, they can solve the puzzle.

Holly, Chase, Sash and Fabio are neck and neck after the first question, until Fabio gets a question wrong and gets behind. Dan, of course, is nowhere to be seen. Holly, Chase and Sash are all working on their puzzles, and Fabio eventually gets all his pieces and is back to the assembly station. Despite the fact that he’s way behind, Fabio is clearly a much better puzzle solver than any of the other three, and he is soon right there with them. Chase is confused as to why he can’t solve his, but what he doesn’t realize is that he dropped a piece on the ground while running back and forth. Fabio has a huge come from behind victory to secure immunity and a guaranteed spot in the final four.

This is a huge win for Fabio, and it’s either equally huge for Dan, depending whether they can talk Sash and/or Chase into flipping their loyalty and voting for Holly.

Regardless, we know that it’s now time to play It’s Anyone But Dan. At long last, his magical ability to avoid being voted off the island may have evaporated.

There is a LOT of talk back at camp. Fabio tries to convince Chase that Holly is a big threat – bigger than Dan. Chase says in a confessional that he knows Holly is the bigger threat, but he’s been so close to her that he just can’t flip. That’s right, folks. He totally realizes he can’t beat her for a million bucks, but wants to keep her around anyway. It’s probably too late to show Chase video of Tina Wesson from Season 2, but we presume that if Colby Donaldson isn’t too busy to be watching TV, he’s probably screaming at the screen right now (he’s probably too busy, though, what with his awesome History Channel show and stuff).

So, Fabio then goes and makes his to Sash. Again, the Holly Is A Bigger Threat argument seems to make sense to Sash, but we’re somehow dbious that he’s going to follow through by doing the smart thing.

And in fact, at the time when it makes the least possible sense, Dan is voted out. Sash and Fabio are fighting against a two-person alliance of Holly and Chase, and seem to have no concept that it’s a very uphill battle.

What does Dan say about his elimination? Well…

“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 oughta cut your damn hands off. Sash, you’re just like a whiny little girl and you’re a liar. I wish them the worst and I can’t wait to cast my vote.”


Back at camp, there’s some pretense at strategy as Chase and Holly reassure each other that their three person alliance that is actually the two of them plus Sash does not include Sash.

Yadda yadda yadda, it’s time for the Survivors to honor their fallen comrades. Fast forward to…

Probst sighting! The final Immunity Challenge pits the contestants against each other in a battle of wills. They must balance a sword in one hand, and with their other hand they will grab various sized coins and stack them on the sword’s handle. As the stack of coins gets higher, it gets harder to maintain balance, of course. The last person with all their coins standing is the winner and gets a guaranteed spot in the final.

This challenge is really a lot like a WWE Wrestling match. We have the hero (Fabio) and the bunch of villains (Holly, Chase and Sash). There’s no chance for the hero to win. Surely the heels will have some trick up their sleeve, or maybe Marty will run in from offstage to knock Fabio over the head with a chair. Holly is out first, followed by Chase. That leaves us at Sash versus Fabio, and both of their stacks are a bit wobbly. When Jeff has them add a large coin, Fab’s stack gets super twitchy, but he holds on. They add another coin, and Fabio’s hand is shaking, but he puts it in just the right spot. Sash is also edgy and his hand is unsteady as he adds his coin, knocking a portion of his stack down. Good conquers evil and thank goodness we have a chance for a nice, funny person to win tonight rather than the other three. Truly this is a best-case scenario.

And now, Sash, Chase and Holly are also forced to eat one of their own. Is the two-person alliance of Holly and Chase strong? Will Chase waffle (as he has so many times) and vote out a mommy figure? Who will Fabio choose as his evictee?

A hilarious segment ensues wherein Sash tries to feel out Fabio. Fab toys with his prey and he’s not really sure what he’s gonna do at the next vote. He’s gotta think about it. Sash’s plan to be buddy-buddy is not going as well as he’d planned. “But dude, you’re my best friend in the game and stuff. Ignore the fact that I have repeatedly not voted with you!” he might as well say. Sash does try to throw out Chase’s name as the guy most likely to get jury votes (funny!) and Fabio grins away.

Moments later, Fabio is seen running to Chase to tell him that Sash is trying to vote him out. Chase, who is becoming more and more frustrated that they won’t just hand him a check for a million dollars, says, “Hey, no fair! I was the only one who was supposed to be able to betray and lie to friends!” (Well, it sounds like that to us.)

Fabio almost doesn’t seem to care if he wins right now. He’s just waited 39 days to be in a position to watch these jerks suddenly have to twist in the wind. Fab has had zero power in the game until right now. It’s a beautiful thing to behold. After quizzing each person individually, he comes to realize Sash is the most disreputable player remaining. To his credit, Chase is at least honest that he, Sash and Holly were in a three-person alliance that did not include Fabio. Fabio also realizes that Holly is a big threat to receive jury votes, but he also feels as though she is the only person who has treated him well out of the remaining contestants. What we do know is that Sash should have swung to Dan and Fabio’s side at the most recent vote. He could have controlled his own fate rather than having it up for debate right now.

And now it’s time for the jury portion of the show, and we will break here. Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of our finale recap. (“Go Fabio!” says Kim. “This winner of Survivor will be the worst ever!” says David.