Dumb moves abound and a winner is crowned.
Survivor: Micronesia Blog
14th Elimination: James
Seeing as this piece is already a week outdated as I've begun typing it, I'm going to keep my wrap up of Survivor: Micronesia as brief as possible. However, since this final blog entry is going to cover the final three episodes, "brief" may end up being the longest entry I've ever written. We'll see how it goes. Thanks to James being medically eliminated from the game, the finale was bumped up a week earlier than I'd anticipated. Unfortunately that meant that the "final six" episode aired two days before I got married and that the "final five" episode and three-hour finale aired during my honeymoon. Unless I wanted to co-hold the world title for fastest annulment ever with Britney Spears there was no way I was watching a minute of those shows, let alone write a blog post about them. Which brings me to this point - two weeks after getting hitched, one week after the finale, and five hours of Survivor to rehash...
Since we've got a lot of ground to cover and this is old news anyway, I'm going to only go with one observation a piece for Episodes 12 and 13. Here there are...
Episode 12 - A Flawless Play. When Amanda found the final clue to the hidden immunity idol and doscovered that it was actually hidden back at camp, I immediately thought that she should empty her bags in front of everyone upon returnng from exile and say that she didn't find it. This would allow her to feel her tribemates out and potentially give her the option of saving the idol until the next tribal council if she felt safe. If there was even the smallest suspicion amongst the other players that she had the idol, she'd be forced to follow Rule #3 of the Survivor Manifesto and play the thing. To do otherwise would simply be incredibly stupid, especially in light of the recent Ozzy and Jason oustings.
Of course Amanda's as good of a strategist as this show's ever had, so that's exactly what she did. Her and Parvati put on a oscar-worthy performance headng into the vote and pulled off one of the biggest tribal council shockers ever. My only gripe with the entire plot was that they went after Alexis with the idol instead of Natalie. When you've got the numbers like they did, it's more important to make sure that the people you want out don't win immunity and break up your alliance than it is to squash potential winners. Even though Alexis would have been a threat to take the whole thing if she made it to the final, it was highly unlikely that she'd run the table with immunity with her busted knee. Natalie on the other hand ended up giving the threesome a run for their money at the final four immunity challenge. But that's the next episode...
15th Elimination: Alexis
Episode 13 - The Dumbest Move. Ever. I can't believe I even have to write this, but apparently, the following is not a given.
Survivor Manifesto Rule #6: Never give up the immunity necklace.
Honestly, what is there to talk about in this episode other than Erik forever cementing his spot in Survivor history as the game's dumbest player? His decision to give away the immunity necklace is beyond description. There just aren't enough synonyms for "stupid" in the thesaurus to do it justice. The real kicker is that when the women hatched their seemingly improbable plan to trick him into giving it away, there was not a doubt in my mind that he was dumb enough to fall for it. I mean, it's bad enough to do something historically stupid, but when you've earned yourself the reputation where people can reasonably expect you to do something historically stupid, that's a major problem. I'll have to leave it at that due to all that's left to cover, but you can rest assured that it was killing me on Monday night to realize that I missed out on tearing Erik to shreads in a full-length blog post.
Before we get to the finale, I need to bring something up one last time. I've mentioned this multiple times before, but between Dirty Ogre, Chet, Kathleen, Jason, and Erik, the Super Fans have managed to compile an absolutely astounding resume of pathetic and/or moronic moves. Were it not for Erik's dominating performance in the Surivor trivia challenge, I would be seriously wondering whether this group of people were actually fans of the show at all or some scam by CBS. There have been multiple moments where it's seemed that the producers finally ran out of applicants and were forced to scour the local mental institutions and homeless shelters for contestants. I just can't fathom how anybody who loves the show could perform the way they did. I'm now officially embarassed to admit that I like this show.
16th Elimination: Erik
1. The Final... Two! As soon as Jeff Probst revealed the "final four" immunity challenge I knew that we were finally heading back to a two-person finale. After all, when in Survivor history has the last immunity challenge been anything other than a "test of endurance"-type competition? It always boils down to a battle of the wills where the person who wants it most comes out on top. (Note: This excludes the Exile Island farce where Aras and Terry had no chance of out-balancing the featherweight Danielle) With that in mind, was suprised that all four women accepted the challenge, which was clearly a test of strength and speed, as the final battle for immunity. Maybe it was simply a matter of wanting to believe there would be a final three after 37 days of striving towards that goal, or maybe Amanda, Parvati, and Cirie just took Jeff Probst's warning at tribal council as one last opportunity for the producers to mess with their minds, but whatever the reason, the girls just never saw it coming. They thought they had the game wrapped up when Natalie's torch was snuffed, but it just wasn't meant to be.
17th Elimination: Natalie
In retrospect, I really don't see how preparing for a final two vs. a final three would have influenced the vote, as Amanda had won immunity. Put that necklace around Parvati or Cirie's neck and you could make a real case for voting Amanda off instead of Natalie, as she was probably the biggest theat to win that final challenge. Still, you have to give the Survivor producers some credit, as they've finally seen the light. I've been campaigning for a return to the final two since they first broke out with a final three. For starters, a final three completely takes the drama out of the final immunity challenge. With four people competing, you've still got a 66% chance of being there at the end if you lose, and you have very little power as the winner as there's still the possibility of a 2-2 tie. With three people, if you lose, it's a 50-50 shot and your fate is completely within the hands of the winner. There's just so much more on the line. Also, a three person final always caters itself to the "better" person winning. Just look at the track record with Yul, Earl, and Todd taking hom the million. With that in mind, I think it's pretty safe to say that Amanda would have won the million dollars in a final three. She had Ozzy, James, and Erik's votes pretty much locked in no matter what. If Cirie takes even one vote away from Parvati, we're going to a tie, and I'm guessing that she would have at least talked her way into two of them. On the other hand, we all saw how Amanda faired after winning immunity and taking Parvati to the final, and it's also worth mentioning that if Cirie or Parvati wins that final challenge, it's unlikely that either of them would have taken Amanda to the end for fear of going up against the only contestant who didn't screw over a single person.
I do understand that the final two system does lend itself to an occasional boring finish like when Jenna completely steamrolled Matthew in The Amazon or when Tom crushed Katie in Palau. However, and I think the producers have figured this out, there's always the option of going with a final three or a final two based on who's still around at the end. It's not something that has to be predetermined weeks in advance. Got a solid core like Amanda, Cirie, and Parvati? Go with a dramatic final two. Got a solid 1-2 combo and a pathetic tag-along which could potentially end up boring as a final two like Amanda, Todd, and Courtney in China? Then keep things interesting with a final three. I think this is clearly the solution and should provide for a good finish nearly every time. I'm still waiting for the final vote though!
For good measure...
18th Elimination: Cirie
Runner-up: Amanda (3 Votes)
Winner and Sole Survivor: Parvati (5 Votes)
2. Parvati vs. Amanda. I thought for certain that Amanda had the game wrapped up after she won that final immunity. I mean, there was not a single person on the entire jury that she had screwed over. Ozzy, James, Alexis, Natalie, and Jason were all sitting on the jury as a direct result of Parvati's scheming. She had been downright cruel to Eliza, and Erik was clearly much closer to Amanda throughout the entire season. That pretty much left Cirie as the lone vote that was up in the air. So why then is Parvati seven figures richer and Amanda a back-to-back loser?
The reason is that just like Todd did one season earlier, Parvati made no excuses for her gameplan, owned up to her decpetions, and took the jury head on, while Amanda put on a repeat performance of her teary-eyed plea that once again came off as completely disingenuous. I'm telling you, after she won that last challenge, Amanda had the game signed, sealed, and delivered. All she had to do was waltz into tribal council and knock out Cirie with a smile on her face, then face the jury the following night by painting Parvati as a lying hoochie while making it very clear that she reached the end by winning challenges, making smart plays like her move with the idol, and staying true to her alliance partners the entire way. How could anyone not respect that type of game?
Unfortunately, I could tell that the million was far from settled once Amanda started in with the water works during the final three tribal council. I honestly believe those tears were genuine, but to a jaded jury her emotion simply came off as pandering. Using lines like "I feel like winning immunity today was both a blessing and a curse" is not something that anybody wanted to hear when all ten of the Survivors present that night would have given nearly anything to be sitting in her seat, wearing that necklace. You could just tell that the scales were beginning to tip out of her favor. Earlier in the night Parvati made the comment that Amanda is "a closer", referring to her penchant for winning late game immunity challenges. However, when it comes to sitting in front of the jury, Amanda is anything but cool under pressure. When the jury begins to attack she gets apologetic and comes off as weak. Both this season and the last, she failed to realize that the point of the final tribal council is to convince the jury why they should give you the million dollars. When you're facing a group of ticked off people looking to tear you to shreds, convincing them often requires going on the offensive and dishing out as much as you're taking in. Amanda was simply too defensive and never really made a case for herself, which is a complete shame since in both this season and the last she played the best game of any Survivor, hands down.
3. Time to throw The Manifesto out the window? When I dreamed up The Survivor Manifesto, I had in mind an unbreakable set of rules that one must follow to win the game of Survivor. At the time, it seemed like a genious idea, but with the advent of the Parvati/Amanda Final Two, it's become incredibly clear that one can make it to the final and potentially win the game despite violating multiple edicts. For example:
Rule #1: Under no circumstances are you to engage in overt flirting or public displays of affection.
Violators: Both Parvati and Amanda
Addendum 1a: This rule also extends to late night snuggling and removing your bathing suit during group showers.
Rule #5: If you're going to screw over a large amount of jury members, you better not do it alone. Always have a sidekick to share the blame with.
Violators: Parvati... big time.
So what happened? Is The Manifesto simply a sham? Personally, I'd like to believe it's not, and both logic and general Survivor history back up my stance. I think the success of Amanda and Parvati has a very simple explanation. the violations of The Manifesto were simply so wide-spread that one of the violators was bound to win. Ozzy violated Rule #3 by not playing the idol when everybody knew he had it. Jason also violated Rule #3 as a follow up to his violation of #2 by unnecessarily revealing he had the idol. Erik broke Rule #6 by giving away the immunity necklace. Throw in Amanda's complete disregard of Rules #1 and 1a and Parvati's failure to follow both #1 and #5, and that's over half of your final nine! Out of the four remaining players with clean hands, James was medically eliminated, Alexis was hit with the idol, and Natalie and Cirie just never got the numbers on their side. Sometimes no matter how well you play the game, the chips don't fall your way. So don't give up on The Manifesto yet. Survivor's an unpredictable game and there's simply no hard and fast way to guarantee yourself a victory. Regardless, I still think using The Manifesto as a guideline is your best defense against being humiliated on national television like Erik or Jason. And while we're at it, let's add another entry...
Rule #6 - Never start crying during the final tribal council or start apologizing for the decisions you made. You're sitting at the end because you outwitted, outplayed, and outlasted the jury. Own it.
That one's for you, Amanda. Of course The Manifesto also contains "Proverbs" which are more words of wisdom than hard and fast rules, and after selecting Mikey B as my pick for this season after seriously considering both Amanda and Parvati, I think I have one more of those to add as well.
Proverb #2 - If you're thinking about building your gameplan around players with awful nicknames (Dreamz, Boo, or Mikey B, for example), you probably want to think again.
That's right, I was going back and forth between Parvati and Amanda the entire day of the Micronesia Premiere and then talked myself out of it after their Rule #1 violating flirtations with Ozzy and James. In most cases, shying away from people who put huge targets on their back like that would have been a smart decision, but in retrospect, going with somebody named "Mikey B" was even more risky. Had I gone with somebody solid like Alexis, I wouldn't have been beating myself up over passing on Amanda and Parvati. That would have been a calculated move that simply didn't pan out. Going with Mikey B...
Well let's just say I'm grateful Erik was around so it wasn't me who made the dumbest move of the season! Thanks for reading!