Survivor Nicaragua – I Feel Like You’re My Best Friend In the Game

The season finale of Survivor Nicaragua kind of came out of nowhere to me.  I guess I should have expected it, but was a little shocked last Wednesday when they announced it was set for last night in a 3 hour special.   Then I checked and seen there was a 4pm football game, which no doubt was set to screw up the timing of the show, and to top it off, my Patriots were in Sunday Night Football.  Needless to say, it was a busy night for me, but rest assured, DVR screw-ups aside, I was manage to catch every moment of the 2 hour episode + 1 hour reunion special and ready to finish off what was a huge letdown of a season.

Maybe it was due to me blogging every minute of every episode, and the first time I’ve ever watched the show with a notepad.   This is also the first time I’ve tried to add all the contestants to facebook to see what they have to say about the show and book interviews (which didn’t happen this season, but I should have plenty of exclusive interviews next season as Vicki from The Amazing Race helped me on that front – she’s a great person btw).   Needless to say, this was a different experience for me, which could have resulted in a season that didn’t feel as exciting as seasons past.

Perhaps it wasn’t me, perhaps it was just the season?  I have read a lot of other different opinions on the season, and I’m gathering it’s been a fairly weak in general.    The old vs young concept was extremely flawed to begin with as they stacked the young tribe with very fit people including a girl with one leg who was in better physical shape than the majority of both tribes.   The old tribe was mixed with some physical people like Tyrone, some smart people like Marty and Jill, but some general nutjobs like Jimmy T and Wendy.   In order to throw a life-line to the old tribe, they nixed the format only a few episodes in, and did traditional teams, but only after the young tribe bonded and formed tight alliances.  Needless to say, some people who actually played the game (Marty) were completely screwed from the start which allowed people like Purple Kelly to advance as far as they did, only to quit randomly.

Last night’s episode pretty much followed the path of the recent episodes.  Very weak strategizing attempts, and a few players who tried to play every side, and some who tried to play no sides.   Dan and Fabio were still floating through the game, and Fabio’s attempt at pulling in someone like Holly to go to the finals consisted of telling her that his plan was just to win immunity the rest of the way through.  Needless to say, that strategy wasn’t enough to convince Holly to break her alliance of Chase and Sash which would have lost her votes in the jury.

First Challenge Race

In the first immunity challenge of the night, which required players to answer 3 questions about Nicaragua then take puzzle pieces to put together an extremely easy puzzle of the Survivor logo, it appeared Fabio’s plan was going to be short lived.   He got the first question wrong which instantly put him well behind the other 3 (I’m just going to exclude Dan from challenges since he hasn’t competed since day 1), but when Sash stumbled on putting together the easy puzzle, Fabio pulled ahead and actually won.  Was this luck-based strategy actually going to work?  He only had to win one more challenge to make the final 3, but first it was time to see who he’d be competing against.

Dan playing the game

After the challenge, for the first time all season, Dan senses he’s in danger and actually starts trying to play the game.  He worked desperately to try to convince both Sash and Chase that Holly is a bigger threat than him, because she was.  The entire game, Dan was the guy you can throw away at any point, and even if he made it to the finals, you’d have to be a huge dick and plead a horrible case to the jury to not convince them you deserve it more than the ultimate floater ever.   He essentially made the game a final two, so this was an easy decision to make, right?   Wrong… everyone, including Fabio decided they’d rather get rid of the weak player sooner than later and off went Dan.  The most entertaining part of the first half was when Dan went off on the remaining cast members in his exit-interview calling Holly a crook for stealing his shoes.  Finally Dan came to life, after he left the show.

Dan voted out

We were quickly left with the final four which consisted of an alliance of three, and a Fabio.  Setting up the drama nicely, Sash declares that if Fabio doesn’t win immunity, he’s going home.  No shit.  That’s been the case the past few tribal councils and nothing has changed, but thanks for the insight.

Fast Forward Time

But before the dramatic final challenge, it was time to do the right of passage ritual thing where they walk along this path, collect shit from burning torches of their former players and someone says something nice  even if they hated them, almost like a funeral.  We get to see highlights of some who left the game far too early, and some who made it far too deep in, but the best part was they colored NaOnka and Kelly Purples tiles black because they quit.  In addition, during NaOnka’s segment, they had a voice-over of her saying how nice of a person she is, while showing a clip of her wrestling with Kelly Bruno (the girl with one leg).

fabio and sash shirtless

For the girls

It was final challenge time, which traditionally is an endurance challenge, and it was no different this time.   For this challenge, players had to hold a sword into a shield while they stacked crooked coins on the handle.   I guess this was more of a balance challenge than actual endurance, but perhaps they fall under the same category because it wasn’t physical by any means.

Again, the drama was thick here as it was essentially three against one, but as Holly then Chase dropped, it was again a battle between Sash and Fabio.  Towards the end of the competition, it really looked like Fabio was going to drop his coins as they were leaning pretty hard, but out of nowhere, Sash failed again and Fabio’s strategy of winning out actually worked.

Now it was the fun time, where each member of the alliance approaches Fabio and begs and pleads their case as to why they deserve to be in the final 3 with him.  Sash takes the lying approach, which got him that far, and suddenly becomes best friends with Fabio telling him that it would have been them two had Sash won (hint: it wouldn’t have).   Fabio approaches Chase who decides to take the honest route and tell him he was a goner had he lost, which Holly also confirms later on.    So Fabio was honestly left with an extremely hard decision, because each one of the remaining members easily had a case to win the money.

You had the lying player (the Russell) in Sash, you had the wishy washy everyone’s friend (the Amanda) in Chase, and the parental figure (long list here) in Holly.  If presented right, and with the right jury, any one of those three types has a real legitimate chance to win, but based on this current jury, my opinion was that Holly had the best chance.  Would that hurt her?

In tribal council, the decision became easier by one as in front of the jury, Sash was made to look like a real douchebag liar and called out on a lot of his shit through the season.  By making Sash look horrible, that essentially hurt Chase and Holly because anyone with half a brain would have wanted him sitting there in the final three.    So the votes were cast, and the final person to be eliminated from Survivor:

You made a good run, Holly

Holly Hoffman.

The final three were set, it was Fabio, Sash, and Chase, and it was then time for the fast forward button.  I’ve watched survivor many seasons, and very rarely does anything worth even watching happen between the final tribal council, and the jury questions.  Last season when Sandra did a really bitchy thing during this period was the only real exception. (Pre-order the season on DVD now).

Dan looks very evil

It was time for the grilling part of the episode, which can sometimes make or break a season for me.  There is nothing better than bitter jury members approaching remaining cast members.  There have been some funny moments, and some awkward moments like the girl who basically hit on Parvati instead of asking a question.  Last night was no different when Marty absolutely railed on Chase making him seem like a moron.  Brenda went back and forth bashing both Chase and Sash for betraying her.  Jane got in the action and called Sash a river rat.. not as good as the snake comment from season 1, but still pretty decent.   Even Danny boy ripped Sash a new one and told him to get his eye fixed because he hated the winking thing he did.  Kelly Purple’s question was just as dull as her appearance on the show, and NaOnka set up Fabio to get the jury all teared up by talking about his mom.

Alina was the only person who really bothered me during it.  Through the show she’s been pretty level headed, even during her ponderosa videos she’s impressed me.  However, last night she absolutely refused to consider Fabio for a vote because she wanted a ‘man’ to win, not a ‘boy’.  Kind of weird for her, that seems like something a Kelly Purple will say, not a level headed Alina.

With that said, the votes were cast, and it was now time to see who became the million dollar winner…

drumroll please…

Thank you, Clark.

And with a 5-4 vote….  Fabio wins Survivor Nicaragua!

Fabio wins Survivor Nicaragua

Fabio wins Survivor Nicaragua

Congrats to Fabio.  He came a long way in the game, was an extreme long shot to win, and floated his way to the end without pissing off a person.  He was also one of the most likable members of the entire cast, and brought a lot of random laughs.  It was hard to dislike the guy, and I’m glad to see he won.  Out of that final three, he deserved it the most by far.

I’m going to chat about the reunion show and next season in other posts, so keep an eye out for them.  This is already a super long post.

Gallery below:

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