Survivor: Nicaragua Recap - Finale Part Two
The Grand Finale
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
December 22, 2010

Is this the face of hidden genius? We report, you decide.

The conversation at the final Tribal Council with an elimination starts off with some glee. No, 25-year-old “high school students” don’t make awkward attempts to reinvent established hit music. What we mean is that when the jury enters the area, several faces light up at the visual of Fabio draped in an immunity necklace. It’s the fashion-forward accessory of choice for island living. Its presence also means that Sash, Holly and Chase are now forced to turn on one another, making Fabio the people’s choice for the night. Dan and Marty in particular beam with pride at the news of Fabio’s immunity challenge triumph. We already know how Dan feels about the other remaining contestants and Marty will probably spend the rest of his life taking credit for Fabio’s victory if he wins this season.

In order for Fabio to win, he has to vote off Holly. Chase is viewed as wishy-washy and paranoid, presumably because he’s been wishy-washy and paranoid for the month they’ve been on the island. Sash is roughly as popular as known cannibals. Holly is the only remaining player who has garnered the respect of her peers. Even Fabio cannot make this claim, instead having to rely on his genial disposition as he attempts to win the game. If he keeps Holly and eliminates Sash, the next most likely person to go home tonight, Holly will almost certainly beat him in the final vote. Fabio’s problem is that he only gets one of the four votes tonight, meaning that he cannot control what happens next.

The night’s discussion centers upon issues of trust, as is usually the case. Fabio relays the fact that Sash told him he would have made the final vote either way, yet Chase told him exactly the opposite. This means that Chase is more honest than Sash; also, water is wet. This does lead to a humorous exchange wherein Sash is pressed by Probst. Our host asks the man about his intentions for the night’s vote and Sash hems and haws in a way that must make Chase proud. He emphatically answers “Probably.” This is our problem with Sash encapsulated in one awful lie. He’s someone who thinks he can manipulate people, someone who desperately wants to be perceived as a puppet master. In reality, he is terrible at lying. He stutters any time he’s trying to come up with a lie. The ones he does come up with are frequently this silly, this transparent.

Sash is a person who wants to be wicked but doesn’t seem to have the chops for it. If he does survive this vote and make it to the final, he won’t get a single vote, which is exactly why it would be madness to vote him out. Sash has played himself out of contention on Survivor, all the while claiming to be the game’s power player. He’s eerily similar to Evil Loser Russell in terms of overall game play with the primary difference being that Russell is at least psychotic. Sash is Russell without the danger. He also played what was in hindsight a very stupid game down the stretch. He had the option to join a four person alliance with Dan, Benry and Fabio or Holly, Jane and Chase. Given the apathy shown by Dan throughout the competition and the dismissive attitude toward Benry, Sash would have been the second most popular member of that group. He was the least popular member of the Holly, Jane and Chase alliance the moment he joined. We questioned the move at the time and it looks completely absurd in hindsight. Sash played as if he didn’t want to win Survivor, which is the one criticism we could never make of Russell.

Holly steps into the spotlight at this point. She confirms that she told Fabio she would have voted him out as well. Her argument is that her honesty in this matter separates her from the other two players. She goes on to point out that she has demonstrated integrity and class in all of her dealings (Dan politely chooses not to guffaw at this), a statement that resounds with Fabio, who clearly seems to like her more than the other two remaining players. Then again, he also recognizes that most of the jury (but not Dan) feels the same way, which is exactly why Holly has to be the final person voted out of the competition. And she is. Holly votes for Sash while everyone else votes for Holly.

The winner of Survivor will be either Fabio or Chase. Also, Sash will be there.

When the three remaining players return to camp, Chase tells his companions that he thinks all three of them are awesome. Kim and David want to take this opportunity to tell you, the reader, that we think the three of us are also awesome. We’re more correct about this than Chase is, although to his credit, he did take a stand on something for once in his life. Sash then provides us with a huge laugh when he sincerely states, “I do feel that I played the best strategic game.” We hope for his sake that he is joking. The following morning, Chase tells Fabio that the latter gentleman has won the million dollars. We hope for our sake that he is right. Alas, we don’t bank on Chase being right a lot of the time. Please let this be the Broken Clock Right Twice a Day scenario.

The Final Tribal Council this season is frankly boring relative to most. Perhaps that’s fitting given what a disastrous season this has been. The problem is also exacerbated by the dull personalities of the remaining contestants. Fabio is genial to a point of fault, Chase is twitchy, and Sash is irrelevant. We are amused to see a pattern develop in the questions. Most of the people asking them first take the opportunity to spit at Sash, then they move to quiz Chase and Fabio about who is more worthy of the title. We were honestly thinking that Fabio’s victory would be a foregone conclusion, but it does appear that the jury members are taking their duties more seriously than normal this time, indicating that perhaps this is not the slam dunk we had expected.

The indecision may be triggered by aggressive opening remarks from Chase. He has clearly plotted out his course of action prior to arrival. He speaks confidently, even eloquently about how he looks forward to addressing each criticism given by the members of the jury. We are taken aback by his newfound charisma and find ourselves thinking that if he’d been like this the whole time, we’d be looking at a 9-0 vote tonight. The new and improved Chase is night and day better than the one we’ve been stuck with for the past 14 episodes. Fabio counters by effectively saying, “Hey guys, I’m Fabio. You liked me enough to give me a nickname. Vote for me.” He does make most of the jury members laugh with his aww shucks routine, proving once again that democratic voting is just a popularity contest. Sash attempts to place the jury’s focus upon the “Outwit” portion of the “Outwit. Outplay. Outlast” mantra that rules the game, arguing that all three of them have already checked the box for Outlast. If they didn’t know him enough to hate him, this tactic might work. But they do. Sash is screwed.

Brenda poses the first question. She is at least respectful of former partner in crime, Sash, asking him to recount why he was willing to jeopardize friendships. To his credit, he apologizes for this and states that he hopes people will understand that he had the primary motivation of winning the game. She then asks Chase, “her snuggle buddy”, why he didn’t try to help her when she was in trouble. He pointedly reminds her that he did put his neck on the line by making her aware of the situation. Recognizing the quality of this answer, Sash attempts to diminish Chase by saying “I just think he could have stepped up more.” Chase and Brenda BOTH jump all over him for this, pointing out that he had the immunity idol and the best opportunity to stand up yet he chose not to do so. Brenda was the only person we felt Sash may get to vote for him and that’s clearly not happening now. She seems to be wearing a Team Chase shirt; in fact, she doesn’t even address Fabio. So, win or lose, Chase at least got Brenda to “vote for him” if you know what we mean.

Marty surprises us by starting with positive comments about the three players making it to the end. We think that maybe just maybe Marty will show some class. Psych! He asks Chase to give the “Dumber Than a Bag of Hammers” award to whomever he believes is most deserving. Chase, knowing where this is going, refuses to play along, especially after Marty says Marty cannot be the answer. We’d been vaguely aware of how much these two people disliked each other, but we hadn’t fully appreciated the depth of their mutual hatred until now. After Chase gets the okay from Probst to pass on the question, Marty offers some token compliments to Sash about his cerebral “Chase, that means smart” play. Yes, Marty has addressed two out of three players yet all he has accomplished so far is to be pissy to Chase. Marty is a waste of human life. He then heaps lavish praise upon Fabio because, as we stated above, if Fabio wins, Marty can take credit for all of Fabio’s accomplishments. That’s the type of manager Marty is. If you ever see Marty on the street, throw rotten eggs at him and tell him they’re from BOP.

Holly gets right to the point. “Chase, what do you consider your best strategic move that you made on your own in this game?” He says that it was right at the start of the game when he chose to be in an alliance with people he trusted instead of falling victim to the temptation of going with the numbers. Holly then tries to aid Chase’s candidacy by accusing Fabio of winning the final three immunity challenges as a demonstration of “Too little, too late.” To his credit, Fabio drills his reply by saying, “No, I think it was actually the best timing possible.” She then asks Sash if he ever lied to her and he confesses that he did. This vote goes to Chase, who is up 2-1 after three.

Our favorite player this season, Jane (Jim Van Nest is a nutjob…dude likes Evil Loser Russell, too), is direct with her remarks to Sash and Chase. “Sash, all I have to say is that somebody sure as Hell raised you good to be a New York City river rat and as far as I’m concerned, you can go back to the New York City gutters, and crawl back into the black hole that you came from. Okay? Now Chase, even though I’m still totally pissed at you, you did make my time out here the funnest event I’ve ever had in my life.” As Sash attempts to recover from his killshot, Chase states that some of his money will go toward a Skin Cancer foundation started by his brother and that he will attempt to financially secure his mother’s future. Fabio chimes in that he has a similar plan for his mother. Jane never directly addresses Fabio with a question, simply stating that he enjoyed meeting Chase and Fabio’s parents. We are taken aback by this turn of events as Chase appears to have secured his third vote thus far. If two of the remaining five jury members look kindly upon him, Chase is going to win Survivor.

Benry starts talking. We stifle a yawn. Barely. This guy has the personality of bubble wrap. Unpopped bubble wrap that can never be popped. All Benry does is ask Sash for suggestions on how Benry could have played better. Sash stumbles through some vague answer, and everyone is surprised to see Benry wander off. We have no idea who gets Benry’s vote. We strongly suspect it’s Fabio but if this is another point for Chase, he’s probably won.

Dan comes out and immediately continues what he started during his post-elimination rant. “Sash, I think you’re a liar, I think you’re a phony. You said things to me and you never lived up to them. I think you’re spineless. And I hate that smile. And I think that if I was you, I’d go to the doctor tomorrow and get that eye fixed so that you stop doing the wink. Chase, you were the most paranoid player in this entire game, okay? Whether you care or not, there’s a lot of people bleeding here because of you. A lot of people bleeding here. You backstabbed everybody. You backstabbed me. You backstabbed Jane. Jane! Who was your right hand person! When it came to you, she was gone. So you really let people down. You let me down. Tremendously! I’m going to tell you something. Beauty fades. Dumb is forever.” We’re…going to put Dan down as a Fabio vote.

Purple Kelly, or as we call her Quitter Thing Number One, gets to ask a question, which is an abomination in and of itself. She throws Sash a softball, giving him 60 seconds to explain how he “outwitted all of us”. After we zone out during another round of clueless braggadocio from Sash, Quitter Thing Number One exclaims that his answer was surprising to her and pretty much perfect. She then chooses not to address the other two players. Either she had made up her mind already and willingly chose to let Sash blather on for a bit or Sash has got a vote! (Editor’s note: in a mild upset, it turned out to be the former.)

Quitter Thing Number Two asks her questions, but we won’t even say her name, choosing instead to note that one-legged Kelly was not a quitter and clearly the better competitor. Number Two asks Fabio about his mother’s presence at the immunity challenge. He starts to tear up as he describes his relationship with his mother, describing it as “his gasoline to get to the end”. This is a poignant moment, a rarity for the final moments of a season. Fabio’s words of love are so pure that several jury members including Brenda and Benry start to tear up. In a huge twist ending that would make M. Night Shyamalan jealous, Fabio hating quitter seems likely to give her vote to Fabio. We are also now ready to call Benry’s vote for Fabio, making the score 4-3-1 in favor of Fabio. He only needs one more vote to win in our estimation. Note that we’ve been wrong before, particularly during Survivor: China when Amanda Kimmel talked her way into Todd Herzog winning.

Alina comes out and opens with a blanket statement to Fabio that she “doesn’t want to give a million dollars to a boy, she wants to give it to a man”. Potential sugar daddies of the world, take note. Alina likes ‘em older and with a bankroll. She asks Sash to convince her that he deserves it. Right on cue, Sash stutters his way to a reply. He tries to bury Fabio about not being a part of the decision making process and (accurately) describes Chase as wishy-washy. At this point, Alina states what we’ve been thinking, that Chase has been impressive on the night. She asks him to state why she has to vote for him. He refutes the critique of him as indecisive, stating that he had to do this in order to avoid alienating anyone. He wanted to make group decisions with people he trusted without burning bridges that might cost him at the final jury discussion.

The conversation takes a turn for the worse for Chase when he tries to dismiss Fabio for clueless play. He recounts moments after eliminations when Fabio would wonder aloud what just happened, indicative of him not being involved in the key decision making that determined the game’s remaining contestants. Fabio capitalizes on this with a blunt assessment of these events. “You tried to get through the game without offending anybody, without double-crossing anybody, this and that, but I actually did it. You know, I didn’t have to backstab anybody and that’s hard to do in this game.”

Chase attempts to discard Fabio’s argument, saying that when you don’t know what is going on, it’s easy to avoid alienating people. Chase makes a critical mistake when he argues that “This isn’t the NBA Finals, this isn’t what it takes to win four and win the championship. This is outwit, outplay and outlast. And winning three is not doing that.” Fabio’s simple but effective reply is, “That’s outplaying you, bro.” At this point, Chase panics a bit, surprised by Fabio’s impressive counter. He states, “You didn’t outlast me. You outplayed me in some of the challenges.” That…is exactly what Fabio just said. Then, Fabio delivers the deathblow to Chase. “I brought you to the final three.”

Sash attempts to inject himself into the conversation, stating that since the three of them are tied in the Outlast aspect, the choice should come down to who did the best in Outwit and Outplay. Fabio then delivers the deathblow to Sash, stating “You didn’t outplay anybody, Sash.” Sash’s face gives him away on this. He acts as if he has just been struck. His look of panic as he quickly scans over the jury only heightens the sense of humiliation pervasive at the moment. This may be the first pair of unkind words Fabio has said the entire season and by saving them until the last possible moment, they are all the more effective. No one expects the Fabish Inquisition.

When the votes are revealed, Fabio wins Survivor by the narrowest of margins. Chase gets four votes, the ones we had expected from Brenda, Jane and Holly plus one that is slightly unexpected from Alina. Fabio receives all of the slam dunk votes from Dan, Marty, Benry and Quitter Number Two (the one who hates people with one leg). The shocker to us is the person who settles the tie as Quitter Thing Number One (you know her as Purple Kelly) does not vote for Sash. Had she done so, we would have had the first final Tribal Council tie in the history of the show. Instead, she gives the nod to Fabio, which gives him the win by the narrowest vote possible. He showed just enough of a spark in the final week of the competition to win while Chase showed just enough of a spark to make the margin of victory razor thin.

All in all, this was one of the worst seasons in the history of the show, but at least good triumphed in the end. As for Chase, what matters most to him is that he won Brenda’s vote. We wouldn’t start planning the honeymoon just yet, though. And Sash, never play poker for money. You’re one of the worst liars we’ve ever seen.