And the winner is...

9:07 AM Posted In , , Edit This 0 Comments »
Sandra?!?! Colour me surprised. Oh right, I'm talking about Survivor here.

I predicted this final three to be one of the most compelling, and I was right – just as I was also right that Russell would not win no matter what. I have to say, major kudos to two past winners for making it to the end and being the only ones really in contention to win this thing all over again.

I was wrong however, on who the jury would pick between Sandra and Parvati. Although I gave the edge to Parv, Sandra ended up taking the win by a decent-sized margin. I pointed out that Sandra’s strength, that she used quite well in the final tribal, was that she did try to make big moves but it was the Heroes that ultimately hindered them. Although Russell was all sour grapes about rewarding Sandra’s failures (a slightly fair point), the Heroes at least got that her failures were their failures and rewarded her as a result.

That being said, I think the majority of people out there are in agreement with me that Parvati probably really should have won. She did play the best overall social, strategy, and physical game. Her and Sandra were incredibly different actually, Sandra playing the complete opposite and being all scrappy on her way to the top. But both of their arguments did hinge on a similar point – they had to work extra hard to get to the end. Sandra, because her alliance was decimated (although once it was she sort of floated to the end), and Parvati, because no one wanted to work with her from day one onwards. I have to admit that Russell made one of the splashier plays that saved Parvati (i.e. hidden immunity idol and the ouster of Boston Rob), but overall the fact Parvati could get to the end and get votes over Russell speaks volumes about her gameplay.

I was a bit disappointed Sandra won although I still give credit where credit is due, and it did make for an exciting final episode. I laid out my argument to the boyfriend, after he agreed with Probst’s claim that this was indeed possibly the best season ever, about why it was NOT the best season ever. Namely that despite the increased focus on ‘What’s going on at camp?” with the endless combined reward and immunity challenges, we really didn’t get to see any new character development.

What was brilliant about Fans vs. Favourites was the cast represented people we’d seen a fair bit of (i.e. they were all former jury players) but not tons of, because there were no former winners or anything in the mix, other than runner-ups Amanda and Ozzy. Putting this ragtag group of castaways on the same season was a stroke of brilliance because it allowed some players that probably should have gone farther in their original seasons the chance to shine apart from the winners of their past seasons (Parvati and Cirie in particular took top honours here).

The same can not be said about Heroes vs. Villains. As I said in my last Survivor post, the fact there were so many threepeats, many of who had played recently, did kind of screw up the casting this time around.

So here I present to you my fantasy casting for the show. The only rule I set up for myself was that no threepeats are allowed UNLESS the last season they played on was All Stars. Therefore our Guatemalan contender Stephenie and all of the Fans vs. Favourites cast members wouldn’t be allowed. Also I took out all concerns about who they asked, and how each of these characters played out on the show. I was going for people I wanted to see more of, not how they actually turned out this season (because no one, save for Jerri, was really reinvented).

Heroes Tribe
Colleen – America’s original sweetheart, it would be so interesting to see someone that isn’t so high profile outside of their season back on the show. That being said, Stephenie’s comment regarding pre-game friendships was very revealing about how an original castmate like Richard or Colleen would have done on the show.

Jenna – Who doesn’t love Jenna Morasca, S6 Amazon winner? However, dear gal that she is, Jenna stayed home to be with her boyfriend, S3 Africa winner Ethan. She played a heroic, scrappy game towards the end and managed to get six of seven jury votes. Although a threepeater like Colby and Jerri, I was ready to see more of Jenna.

Shambo – Although I was kind of ambivalent about her on the show, Shambo is one of those characters that is way more awesome after the fact (much like Coach, or ANTM’s Jade). Apparently they asked her back as well but the back to back seasons put a crimp in those plans.

Sugar – I never liked Sugar and I probably never will, but I’d still have casted her to represent Gabon well enough. Plus she made for a no-tears-lost first ouster.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck nee Filarski – this would have been as close as the show ever got to having a celebrity edition. I think it would have been interesting to have such a high profile person on the show, although she probably would have been ousted early, not really being one to keep her head in this kind of game at this point.

Colby – Despite his pitiful performance, I would have been happy to see Colby come back, even in my fantasy casting. His fallen hero story arc was relatively compelling although I wish they’d gotten into it more than they did during the actual show, and not just Colby’s final spot on emotional explanation at the reunion about the lack of adventure for him this time around. He definitely embodied hero, and should have been there.

JT – Another person who had a disappointing return (but how could he not?) that I’m still glad participated. He made for good television at the very least with the whole idol debacle. Plus I heart him. He reminds me of a down south version of the boyfriend.

Rupert – So the male heroes casting was pretty acceptable obviously. Rupert, being the all around lovable teddy bear big guy, was deserving of returning to the show on premise. On the show however, I got irritated with him throughout and kind of wished he wasn’t around, but were I casting and not knowing what was to happen, I would have brought him back.

Tom – I’m not sure if I’d have rather seen Ian or Tom from Palau come back. I wasn’t a fan of Tom, I thought he was a bit of an arrogant prick, but I think he’s just one of those aggravatingly good guys that gets under people’s skin because they probably couldn’t be that ‘good’ no matter how hard they tried. He played a disappointing (unsurprisingly) game this year, but again, on paper he was a perfect casting choice.

Yul – Definitely one of the greatest heroes, he actually did what Russell would do just a few seasons later, but with charm and grace that made him the winner over physical dominator Ozzy. That is, he propelled his underdog tribe of four to the finals in one of the most blissed out races to the top ever. Funny how that works.

Almost made the cut?
Ethan Zohn – dude has cancer so I knew he wouldn’t be returning, but Ethan played the prototype of the game JT would take on a decade later. He’s not the most fascinating player of all time but he’s certainly one of the most likable.

Bob – the lovable, crafty teacher from Gabon may have been an interesting addition, but I’ve already got enough cast members from a relatively unremarkable season, so Bob got the axe.


Villains Tribe
Russell – guy definitely deserved to be there and will go down as the greatest villain of all time. Even Boston Rob and Parvati know how to play the game and get votes at the end.

Tyson – should have gone farther. Tyson was someone who had potential to develop into a new character, much like some of the Fans vs. Faves, or at least be a more involved player, but he screwed himself.

Shane Powers – apparently they asked Shane and he turned them down. In case you forgot, Shane was the chain-smoking, totally bananas psychopath from Exile Island (with Cirie and Danielle) that used a piece of wood as a Blackberry. It would have been nice to see him break down again, although the game would have claimed him early on methinks.

Todd Herzog – the China winner was a formidable villain with style. Russell could have learned a thing or two about how to be a ruthless player and still win. Plus I imagine Todd would have been the only one wily enough to take down Russell.

Kenny Hoang – I see Kenny as a female Cirie. An unassuming player that is actually diabolically clever. I would have liked to see more of Kenny amongst the big boys this season – I imagine he would have gone far if he were able to do okay in the challenges. Hm, I’ve just created a really weak tribe of gangly boy types though.

Jerri – I was actually pretty stoked to see Jerri back and was definitely a cheerleader of hers throughout the season. She had a great redemptive arc that removed the black mark of All Stars from her record. Beyond that, she was one of the great female villainesses and totally deserved to be there.

Courtney – Although she never stood a chance, I would have liked to have Courtney on the show for the same reasons I liked Tyson. They made great commentary and facial expressions throughout.

Corinne – Another person that was apparently asked back and turned it down. Corinne was the bitchiest witch that ever set foot on the show (pretty much), completely reaming out her competitors in confessionals and to their faces in Gabon.

Laura – I’m trying to fill out the Samoa crew a bit. Laura wasn’t a huge villain, but she was certainly vilified while on Survivor. She probably would have supplied more compelling drama than Danielle or Sandra, plus a Laura vs. Russell showdown take two would have been epic. As stated, Russell had a massive advantage going into this game in that no one had seen him play – I imagine Laura would have put a major crimp in his gameplay. Plus I could see her and Corinne getting along.

Erinn – Another person who wasn’t really villainous so much as vilified. I didn’t want to have too many people from Tocantins, but I think Erinn could have replaced Danielle. Alternatively, I think Candice should have been put on the villains tribe. She probably would have been Russell’s Natalie-mark.

Almost made the cut?
Coach – wasn’t really a villain ever, but you just wanted (and still want) to see more of the guy. Would probably have been served better by appearing on a season that wasn’t as themed as this one.

Boston Rob – I was quite happy to see BR again, and although his rivalry with Russell was fantastic, it sort of messed with the great redemptive arc Rob has had off the island re: Amazing Race and Amber.

Richard Hatch – another person they apparently wanted back but couldn’t be released owing to his jail sentence. Hah. I was ready to see more of Richard amongst these new age players – Boston Rob was a good proxy though. Because of that, I imagine he would have flamed out disappointingly early.

Brian Heidek – I hate this guy. That’s why he’s not on my fantasy cast. But he was a serious villain – just not a likable one like Todd Herzog.

Dreamz – Who doesn’t hate on Dreamz after he stole Yau-Man’s free car and STILL nailed him to the wall in the finals? I mean, he was in the right strategic mind to make that move, but it totally earned him legions of haters. Although he’s someone I dislike, unlike Brian, he played a flaky game and shouldn’t have been in the finals and therefore not on this all star edition of the show.

Randy – So many male villains! Randy was a one note disappointment. It worked on Gabon because it was mind-boggling fun to ask yourself week after week how it was possible for him to still be there, but this time around it fell flat. There were other more strategic players I would have rather seen quite frankly.


I've heard rumblings that they're planning to follow the format of back to back seasons in the same destination, with another All Star (or semi-all-star) edition on the horizon. I've heard and seen many suggestions for what they'll do, but I think it'd be in their best interest to create a cast like Fans vs. Faves that leaves out some of the BIG names for the ones we're ready to see more of. The characters that left a little too early.

Some suggestions I've seen and liked:
- Bringing back all the winners (although kind of effed now that Sandra won twice)
- Bringing back everyone that got second place
- Bringing back everyone that got voted out first
- Bringing back the first jury member from each season

And well...who knows. Who knows what those crazy kids will do next. It's bittersweet to see some of our faves play for the likely last time - Rob and Parvati, ye shall be missed - but overall a good season.

I'm ready for a few more all-star free seasons to be honest. It's time for some new characters!

Till then.

- B

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