Survivor: Kaoh Rong - Finale Recap - Part 2
Episode 14 - Not Going Down Without a Fight
By Jim Van Nest
June 1, 2016
Cydney then thanks Michele for giving her the opportunity to make fire against Aubry. She could have just flipped her vote and been done with it, so that was much appreciated. Aubry interrupts right here to ask Michele if she had any idea at all that they were voting for Cydney. Michele says no. Aubry throws up her hands and then Michele goes on to say that if she HAD known, she would have tried to do something to save her. But the point is very simple here. When votes were made that changed the course of the game - the Scot vote and the forced tie vote with Cydney - Michele knew nothing about either. That's because she wasn't running the game, she wasn't controlling the game. She did an amazing job at rolling with the punches and hanging on to the game. But she was a reactionary player all season, while Aubry was a proactive player all season. That being said, Cydney seemed hurt by Aubry and didn't appear to appreciate being interrupted right there. I'll chalk her up as a Michele vote.
Hey Scot, how about you finish us off? He says he'll make this quick - okay, so he already knows who he's voting for. Let's hear it. He says he was gonna ask Tai a question but doesn't need to anymore. He tells him that he had an idol and an advantage and that despite all that, he botched using them all and he basically has no respect for that. Scot tells Aubry that he had his respect at the beginning of the game, but now she has to tell him why he should vote for her. She says that she would expect his vote because he's a competitor and as such, he knows that people compete in different ways. They compete to their strengths and even though her strengths don't match up with his strengths, he's the kind of person who would respect that. Nicely done. I don't think it matters, but a very solid answer nonetheless. He tells Michele that if someone would have told him four Tribals ago that this would be the Final 3, he would have considered her in third place. But as Tai and Aubry got weaker, she got stronger and then he applauds for her, tells her well done and sits down. He's a vote for Michele.
At this point, Jeff gives everyone a chance to say anything that they didn't get a chance to say throughout this Tribal. He starts with Aubry.
Aubry says that she came into the game with a really rough start. She made some tough decisions along the way and even won a challenge on her own. And then she had the ultimate Survivor experience when she won a fire making challenge in front of everyone. She feels she Outwitted, she definitely Outlasted and she thinks she Outplayed everyone. And I agree.
I'm not sure Tai had any votes coming into this. But he probably should have stopped while he was behind. He mentions an old proverb about water hyacinth plants and how they float and the wind blows them apart and he hopes to have great memories and the game demands too much lying and backstabbing out of you and I honestly have NO idea where he was going with this, but it didn't really register with me or with the jurors, I don't think.
Michele's last words are that people must not have thought she was playing an intelligent game, but she kept her cool and really fought her way to the end. No one else had faith in her. She believed in herself and trusted herself and *cue the waterworks* and she's proud of the way she played the game.
So, let's break this down. By my count, Aubry has Debbie and Joe. Michele has Julia, Scot and Cydney. Jason is between Michele and Tai...but considering that Scot and Julia are Michele votes, you have to think he is as well. That gives me four Michele, two Aubry and Nick as undecided. I think Tai is shut out, so the most likely finish is a 4-3 Michele over Aubry vote. I have NO idea how this can possibly happen, but it looks like it's going to. Michele just might pull this off, against all odds. I’ll reserve my comments until votes are cast and read...but my jury breakdown looks pretty solid to me.
We come back from break and Jeff sends everyone to vote. We see Julia vote for Michele, saying that she promised she would and she's sticking to it. As if she was ever going to do anything else. We then see Joe's vote for Aubry congratulating her. Again, a non-shocking vote here. Give me something else, Probst!! Alas, he does not. We see no other votes. All we get is a few seconds of Jason seeming to have trouble deciding who to vote for. Jeff goes to collect the votes. Before they sign off, though, Jeff has Tai set Mark out into the jungle to be free. And thus ends the story of Survivor: Kaoh Rong and Mark the Chicken. Let's get back to the states for the reading of the votes.
Jeff doesn't waste a lot of time once he gets to the stage. He thanks the castaways for a great season and then gets right to the reading of the votes. First vote: Julia's vote for Michele. Second vote: Joe's vote for Aubry. Third vote: Aubry. Fourth vote: Michele. 2-2. After this comes the run of Michele votes and the winner of Survivor: Kaoh Rong is Michele. Michele and her people go absolutely ape shit and everyone else in Survivor land wonders exactly how the hell that happened.
Before I go off on a rant here, I want to say that ANYone who gets to the end of Survivor and then gets the most votes from the jury DESERVES to win the game. Even the worst winners ever, deserved to win the game - because they got there and then got the votes. So please, Michele lovers out there, don't mistake what I'm getting ready to say here. Michele deserved to win, plain and simple. In my estimation, Michele played the third best game out there. Out of 18 people, that is really awesome and really deserving of the title of Sole Survivor. HOWEVER, when the person that played the BEST game of the season is sitting next to her, I take issue with the final result.
Aubry (and Cydney, for that matter) played a better game than Michele. You saw it. I saw it. Everyone but the jury saw it - if you're to believe all of their exit press. In fact, Jason has gone so far as to say that they did, in fact, pick the wrong winner, but that no one believed that Aubry really ran the game the way they saw on television. Having watched it back, he says he would now vote for Aubry. And I'm sure she's thrilled to hear that. But I have to call bullshit on that. Exactly who did he think MADE all the moves in the game? Who did he think came up with the ideas and executed on them? Who, of the three sitting on that panel, could he possibly have attributed such a large amount of game control to? Michele? I don't think so. The bottom line is, Aubry lost to one of the most unnecessarily bitter juries in the history of the game. Most notably, Russell Hantz lost to Natalie White due to a bitter jury. But HE poisoned that jury. HE made them bitter. HE got what he deserved because HE treated the other players in the game as lesser human beings with no regard for their feelings at all. Aubry, to say the least, did not do that.
I went back and watched the Jury Speaks videos after the finale and heard what every juror had to say prior to Final Tribal and neither Scot, Jason nor Julia gave Aubry even an ounce of credit for anything she did. For Julia, I get it. She's young and Michele was her BFF out there. Vote for your bestie, I get it. No hard feelings. But Scot and Jason - are you frickin' kidding me? Aubry beat you. Plain and simple. You came in with your bad attitudes and your "destroy the camp" strategy and then lo and behold, this tiny little nerd girl whooped your collective ass in Survivor. She watched how you treated people, specifically Tai and when the time was right, she stole him right out from under you. She made him feel comfortable and safe. Mostly, though, she made him feel like he had friends. He could make a move and not be alone out on a limb. So at Tribal, he voted for Scot and then told him not to use his idol. Tai didn't beat you that night, Aubry did. Then she took out Julia. Then she took out Jason. She kicked your asses and you couldn't handle that. THAT'S what I think happened.
She and Cydney were the only two people to be on the right side of EVERY vote (I don't count Final 4 - since they voted for each other). That is the mark of two people controlling the game. Then when it came down to the nitty gritty, Aubry took on her other half one on one in a fire making challenge and dominated. Does she get credit for that? Nope. But of all the bitterness on the jury, the one I just cannot understand is Debbie. You watched Aubry from day one. You saw her go from a complete miserable mess on day two to a dominant force in the game. You bore witness to it all and yet somehow, couldn't get over the fact that she had to vote you out. You took it so personally, that you took away her title and her money to give to a lesser player. All of you people talking about what fans of the game you are just witnessed a REALLY, REALLY good game and you took a big ol' shit on it. The only person on the jury, in my opinion, that really took his job seriously and stuck to his word of "voting for the person who played the game the best" was Nick, of all people. I've ripped on Nick hard all season, but at the end of the day, he put the pettiness aside and rewarded the person who controlled it all and played the best game.
Overall, when a season ends like this, it takes a little away from it. I really enjoyed the season and had the person I feel played the best game actually won, it would have been a great season. As it is, it's a very good season where the player who should have come in second won. And vice versa. Again, my rant above does not take away ANYthing Michele did. Michele played a near-perfect social game and she kicked serious ass in challenges when she needed it most. I can think of at least 10 Survivor winners who are less deserving than Michele. My rant is not to disparage her at all, but rather to call out the bitterness of the jury and to applaud Aubry for making this season a lot of fun to watch from a strategic standpoint. I sure hope the producers recognized her awesome game enough and will keep her in mind for a future All Stars or Fans v Favorites season.
And with that, kids, I'm going to sign off for this season. Thanks for sticking with me all season long and special thanks for hanging out while I take as long as absolutely possible to get this finale written. Until Gen X'ers v Millennials in Survivor 33 - y'all take care!