Episode Fourteen: Flames and Endurance
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
The season finale starts out with EIGHT minutes of recaps. All this accomplishes is to remind us how very little has happened since Rupert was voted off. Even worse, it reminds us that Jon and Lill make up half of the remaining contestants. My god, is this ever going to be an excruciatingly long two hours.
And hey, would you look at that! Day 37 starts with a shot of Jon sleeping and Lill crying. They should swap her from Troop 617 to Troop 666 so that she can be closer to her liege lord and master. Double-0-Probst shows up with champagne and orange juice, thereby reducing Lill to even heavier tears. You could walk up to Lill and say the word “sponge” and she would start crying.
Our host assaults Jon’s latent sexuality with a wry comment about Jon sleeping with three women and noting that it is likely the first time. Jon tries to brag that it has actually happened before, but a nation of millions remains skeptical -- and would remain skeptical even if the number were only one woman.
Lill hugs Probst as thanks for their pastries, never realizing that this action is really negative reinforcement. The scout leader wonders aloud if Probst would like to “join her troop,” giving us the dry heaves on his behalf. You know, we can joke about it all we want and are certainly going to continue to make her the constant victim of our acerbic commentary, but it’s obvious that she has lost it. We expect her to split Piggy’s head open with a rock at any time.
We were planning on starting tonight’s Survivor Drinking Game with one of the rules being “If Lill cries, chug,” but any participants would already have liver problems and need of a twelve step program inside of the first 15 minutes. We’re up to four now, for those of you keeping score at home. From here on in, we’ll just say “CHUG!” instead of “Lill cries.” It cuts down on the typing.
Probst the postman delivers greetings from home, causing Lill to again excitedly ask if he’d like to join her troop. He politely says, “Someday,” then runs back to the ship as if being followed by both Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. We’re particularly excited about Jon’s mail, since it might have been conveyed to him by Jon Edward. It’s not often you get letters from beyond the grave, after all. The best part of tonight’s three hour Survivor block will undoubtedly be Jon’s grandma sitting in the front row during the post-game show to wholeheartedly root him on. We’re hoping she’ll be going all Resident Evil “itchy…tasty…” on everyone in the audience. We are equally hopeful that Vince McMahon will be in the crowd so that he can stand up and give a review of Jon’s WWE audition. We expect it to sound something like, “We said no to Joe Millionaire, and he had a much better look than you. Sorry.” Bonus points if he then hits Jon in the head with a chair and says, “YOU’RE FIRED!!!!”
Lill holds up her champagne glass and says, “This is to Jeff.” CHUG!
Jon is unfortunately within earshot of Lill as she reads a letter from her child – DEAR GOD, SHE SPAWNED! NOOOOOO! It’s very lucky for Jon that Probst provided all that alcohol, as we wryly note that Jon is waaaaaay ahead of us on the “Lill cries” drinking game.
Jon’s bitterness over someone else being in the spotlight comes across in the next segment by providing what we will call the “BOP Voice” for describing Lill’s theatrics. He provokes her by openly mocking what he describes as her “hearts and flowers rehearsal for later.” Jon is in the same position that Sandra was a few days ago. He might have lost, but he’s going to go out launching haymakers left and right. Jon tricks Lill into asking Darrah point blank who she will take into the final if she wins immunity. The Southern Belle, who has been quietly listening to the entire conversation while pretending to be sleeping, is now placed in an awkward position. She doesn’t want to commit because this means that she might have to break her word and have this held against her in a jury vote. Her noncommittal attitude immediately backfires as the Queen of Insecurity storms off to pout.
Darrah is fed up and promptly goes to offer an idea to Sandra. She suggests that Lill should be the next to go even over the pro wrestling wannabe. Sandra, who is fully aware of her position in the catbird seat, hears Darrah out and says that she’s fine with the suggestion. As long as Sandra herself isn’t next to go, anyone else is fine at this point. For her part, Lill’s trying to stratemagize! She’s just realized that if she can somehow rig Florida, she can win Survivor! The moral of the story is that you should never underestimate the dumb guy.
Sandra plays it perfectly. She sees an old woman and a prepubescent boy on the one hand, and a tigress on the other. Sandra agrees with Lillian’s assessment about Darrah’s strength and brings Jon in to verify that the three of them will vote off the most physically dominant player remaining in the game provided she doesn’t win immunity again. She has put herself in a position to advance to the final vote independent of which of her three remaining competitors gets to choose. The eerie parallel is that Jon has performed a similar feat on the other side. All he needs to do is to keep stirring up doubt amongst the others, because they would otherwise execute him instead. It’s the same strategy that has been working for him since the merge. It’s a shame that Jon and Sandra hate each other since they’re really both a lot alike -- bitchy, clever and selfish.
Treemail arrives to let the remaining competitors know that the Immunity Challenge is in the offing. Jon, who has learned absolutely nothing in the three days since he bragged to Burton that the two of them are unbeatable, boldly states that unless the challenge involves getting pregnant, the women can’t beat him. While we think that Darrah could beat him at pretty much anything, we certainly agree that he’d have trouble impregnating a woman.
Minute 25 brings us our first Rupert sighting, and Burton is sporting new facial hair. For a second consecutive show, the Immunity Challenge is rigged. The trick this time is that the jury is a competitor along with the four remaining Survivors in a game of Pearl Islands Trivial Pursuit. If the jury gets five questions right before any of the contestants, none of the Final Four will receive immunity. If one of the remaining Survivors gets five questions correct first, they’ll be exempt from the next vote.
Anyone who has watched the show this season knows that the Michael Jordan of pirate trivia is our bearded hero, Rupert. Before a single question is asked, we are on the phone to Vegas to put heavy action on the big guy. The most fascinating aspect of this challenge is that it underscores the theme of the entire season – the Jets/Sharks feud between Rupert and Burton for island supremacy. The naming of a winner tonight is a sham as these two have always been the pirates warring to be captain. Whenever the two have combined forces, they have been as close to invincible as any group in the history of the show. Tonight is no exception, as the jury pockets immunity.
After the four remaining players fail to secure immunity, Probst moves on for the normal Tribal Council questioning. He asks about the letters from home. CHUG!!
Jon’s reaction to her histrionics is similar to the old Saturday Night Live skit where Jon Lovitz as Michael Dukakis exclaims, “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy!” The camera then shows Burton, who we are certain says, “I can’t believe she open mouth kissed me!”
Best vote ever belongs to Darrah, as she notes that she wrote down Lill’s name because, as she says, “I’m tired of listening to you whine.” Testify, sister. That’s all she wins, though, because she is voted out. Of course, we do give her credit for calling Lill out again in her exit speech. Darrah might have been the most alert player there.
It’s now time for that awful tradition of stretching a one-hour show into a two-hour show. Lame tributes will be given to the Survivors that Lill, Jon, and Sandra couldn’t wait to vote off. Well, that is, everyone except Osten, who is so lame he apparently doesn’t deserve tribute. CHUG!!
Appropriately, it’s Lillian who is first to offer up fake praise to one of the previously eliminated players, but frankly, it’s a whole blah blah blah thing until we get to Rupert. After they have finished their homage, we have two minutes of three people who are celebrating the glory that is fire. We find the fast forward button on our TiVo remote control.
Back from the break, we go straight to the final immunity challenge. This one promises to be surprising since none of the remaining three have demonstrated any proficiency in prior challenges. Since the jury is not allowed in, one of these guys still has to win, though.
This final challenge is “learning how to surf.” After a minute of this sea-sickness inducing footage, we’re ready to go back to watch the fire again. Little do our contestants know, but the Perfect Storm is behind them. It knocks Sandra out after only 20 minutes, leaving Jon to try to negotiate with the world’s most stubborn biddy. We are now in the sick position of having to root for Jon to win. Despite the high waters, we have reached low tide.
God help us, the previously eliminated Scout Troop Leader, the worst Survivor ever, is going to be in the final. With Lill now wearing the sword, our only hope is that she might stumble and fall on it.
During the two minute commercial break, success has already gone to Lill’s head. When we return, she has begun to talk about herself in the third person much like all the annoying NFL receivers such as Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Joe Horn (hey, Joe, I think you’ve got a phone call). The next ten minutes of television is like watching Ralph Wiggum make a life-altering decision. Jon and Sandra both plead their cases, while Lillian professes to give each one due consideration. We secretly suspect that as they wax eloquent, she’s tuned them out to daydream whether she’d look better as a brunette.
We suffer through until the one hour, eight minute mark, until we see RUPERT! Yes, it’s time for Tribal Council again. We have our hands on the remote to change the channel because if this plays out the way we think it’s going to, we’re looking at a final two comprised of Jon and Lillian. However, to our stunned amazement, she selects Sandra to go with her to the end. You know, she really ought to at least get some of these decisions right by accident. CHUG!!
Jon mugs for the camera a bit in his exit speech, but he’s a loser now, so we don’t pay much attention.
The night after the vote, finalist Lillian (and boy, do you know how much it sucks having to say that) explains her rationale. Apparently, she had come to consider Jon as “manipulative,” almost as though he were trying to influence the vote a particular way. Her big tip was when she registered her vote on a butterfly ballot.
Lill offers her apologies to the camera, saying that no one at home has the right to judge the behavior of the 16 contestants. We wonder how long it is before serial killers start using this defense in court. “Yeah, I don’t know what that baby’s problem was.” (Apologies to those who don't read Penny Arcade.) She goes on a bit after that, but we’ve long since tuned her out.
Sandra’s comments drive home the bastardization of the process this season. She points out that she has yet to receive a vote. Lillian, on the other hand, hey, wasn’t she eliminated from this show a looooooooooong time ago? We think our football teams, the Falcons and the Bills, should be allowed to participate in the playoffs anyway. Just ‘cause.
The most surreal moment occurs when Lill turns around as they are leaving camp and says, “Bye, God. It’s been fun.” As politely as we can say this, we don’t see George Burns anywhere in the shot. We do think the idea of her abandoning her creator is appropriate, though.
As the two finalists row their boat to Tribal Council, the eliminated contestants are shown making comments about them. This bit is even more boring than it sounds. Even Rupert doesn’t offer anything sound-bite worthy. The only entertaining anecdote comes from recently-eliminated Jon. He is in complete denial about the situation. He laments what playing the game as well as he did got him, and we are amused to point out that it’s the same thing that last season’s Rob got for 39 days of using the same strategy – third place.
The jury enters, and we note that Burton is no longer sporting that facial hair. Conversely, Jon is wearing the ‘70s porno mustache look. We brace for 30 minutes of Up Close and Personal with Lill. And that doesn’t even include the reunion show.
Lillian states that her strategy from the beginning was to just be herself. Already we can say that this was a huuuuuuuuge miscalculation. For her part, Sandra dances with what brought her – brutal honesty. She notes that she has always been a team player who used the tactic of staying under the radar to her fullest advantage.
What happens after their opening statements is the most entertaining half hour of the season. Lillian is put squarely under the microscope and she doesn’t handle it very well. After hearing for days how she was a lock if she got to the final vote, she is surprised to discover that the members of the jury apparently seems to have changed their mind. They’ve come to see her as something of a deceitful jackass. Go figure.
The jury questioning begins with Cute Ryan. He pulls no punches as he immediately attacks Lillian’s jugular. He asks why someone who was out of the game for ten days should win. Lill’s defense, we swear, is that she was only out of the game eight days. We don’t even feel like this response needs a punchline.
Sandra is questioned on whether she rode anyone’s (read: Rupert’s) coattails, causing her to make two succinct points. The first is that she was proud to defend Rupert, as the two of them had no other natural allies, and the second is that Rupert was eliminated half a season before her. Her openness in admitting an alliance and ferocious pride in pointing out her successes after he was gone scores big points. Round one: Sandra.
Next up is our hero, Rupie. The big guy does not disappoint as he cleverly throws some support to his buddy Sandra’s argument while punching further holes in Lillian’s flotation device. He looks directly at Lill and tells her everything she ever said to him was a lie. He asks her to name a time when she did NOT lie to him. It is at this moment that Lillian realizes all of the talk of her having a huge advantage if she ever got to the final vote was in and of itself a monumental lie. We kept waiting for her to hop in a white Ford Bronco and slowly make her getaway.
Rupert then turns to Sandra and offers her the softball of “Did you know I was getting voted off?” When she says no, you half expect him to hug her and turn to the jury and say, “Nobody vote for Lillian!”
Tijuana’s question is intriguing as she asks each contestant to explain why her competitor should not win. Lillian profusely apologizes before attempting to run Sandra into the ground. She says that Sandra doesn’t deserve to win because Sandra had at times disrespected people, including – horrors! – using the term MF’er. If that’s all it takes to eliminate you from a Survivor competition, about 95 percent of the country is ineligible. From there, Lill takes a turn for the absurd when she mentions that Sandra rode the coattails of other players. She wondered if Sandra had an original thought in her head. We wonder who put this idea in Lillian’s noggin. We suspect it was Jon, but it might have been Burton.
Sandra goes for the throat as she notes that every single person on the jury got a vote from Lill. We suspect that might be the winning answer.
Christa comes up and offers another creampuff for everybody, while Burton asks the women how self-sufficient they would be in a real castaway circumstance. Lillian, who can’t find North or start a fire, waits for Sandra to answer and then pads her answer just a bit higher because she seems to think she’ll look better for it. Have the Boy Scouts of America ever impeached someone?
Darrah simply asks for an honest answer, so we ask her to turn to Sandra. At this point, Sandra unveils the strategy that has gotten her to the final. Take note, all future players. She says that rather than look too far ahead, she made a point to always make sure she wasn’t on the chopping block for the current vote. As simple as it seems, that really is the winning play. It’s what Rob understood last year and it’s what Nerd Ryan demonstrated he recognized about the game early on and tried to pass to Lillian. We suspect he might have been able to go a long way if his tribe had been better at immunity challenges.
Finally Jon comes up to take his moment in the sun, and we are transfixed by his heinous mustache. He asks how the women feel they embodied Puerto Rican culture and the Boy Scouts of America. Sandra gleefully states that she is proud of how she has presented herself and turns to Lill to see where this is going. The Worst Survivor Ever has completely flipped at this point. She has gone from talking about herself in the third person as the Last Boy Scout to saying, “You know, forget what I’m wearing. Please. Just. Forget.” Her strategy of hiding behind the uniform has finally come back to bite her in the ass (ooooh, bad word!). Apparently, Rupert and Darrah are no longer the only two to see what a complete and utter fraud she is. We suspect that this vote is not going to be any prettier than Jenna’s last season, but infinitely more satisfying.
When the final vote is cast, we happily go back to something that was said in our recap of Episode 3. Jon thought he had a million dollars that said Sandra wouldn’t win. Oops!! It’s a landslide, as the girl we’ve liked since her premiere episode bartering wins with an 6-1 vote. Tijuana is the only sucker.
We have felt for the body of the season that Sandra was the best player in recent memory, so with Rupert off the menu, this result was the only one that would have satisfied us. Thank God Lillian is stupid.
See ya in a month, Rupert.