‘Survivor’ Finale: No Way!

A winner is named — and the live audience overwhelmingly disagrees. So does Russell

Last Updated: December 21, 2009 @ 6:51 AM

Jeff Probst rehashing what’s happened so far this season takes up the first five minutes. We hit the skip button 10 times, and Day 37 begins with some beautiful water shots contrasted with Russell walking down the beach with tree mail.

Balance, speed and patience are going to be required for the next immunity challenge.

The tribe is sleeping, and Russell is complaining that they are a “bunch of misfits.” Jaison and Mick are strategizing about the need to get rid of Brett. Russell tells Natalie if Brett wins another immunity she will be out. Random thought: Natalie looks pretty good with her hair down. Russell is still yapping about Brett not being a superstar, and that “He’s no Mike Tyson … he’s Brett.”

It’s time for the immunity challenge, and the final five approach. Jeff asks if it’s still the Foa Foa against Brett and Russell confirms. It’s an obstacle/puzzle challenge for a guaranteed spot in the final four.

Russell takes an early lead but isn’t far enough ahead. Everyone is neck and neck. Ya know, if I were doing this puzzle I’d be telling Jeff to shut up. His play-by-play really must get on their nerves.

Once again, Brett wins immunity for the threepeat and one of the four Foa Foas is going home. Natalie feels her head is on the chopping block and Russell promises to keep Natalie. He thinks he can beat Natalie if it’s them in the final two (Is he serious? He’s a multimillionaire — how is he going to explain that to the tribe?)

Russell tells the camera that it’s either Mick or Jaison to go. Russell tells Jaison that they’ll get rid of Mick but I have a feeling he’s about to tell Mick the same thing about Jaison. Ten seconds later, and I’m totally right. Wow. Russell looks more convincing when talking to Mick, so it may be Jaison going home. Russ and Natalie strategize over which of the two guys to vote out. It’s time for tribal…

Yikes. Shambo with makeup — not a pretty sight. The rest of the jury tumbles out of her mullet and they all take their seats.

The tribe talks about all the layers of decision making but nobody seems to have the definitive solution. Brett makes a dumb statement about preferring to be on the Foa Foa side of the coin. “It doesn’t mean anything unless I win the next one,” he says. Jeff asks if he wants to switch spots but he declines. It’s time to vote…

We see: Mick voting for Jaison and Jaison voting for Mick. First vote is Mick and the rest go to Jaison. Jaison is going home. He doesn’t even look back at the tribe as he walks away. To the camera he says the he’s pissed off at Russell and that he’s rooting for Brett.

The final four get back to camp and high-five each other.

Day 38 dawns and Russell asks Brett if he could beat him if they were in the final three. Russell is now trying to buddy up to him and makes promises that he can’t keep (and we wouldn’t expect anything less from him). It’s time for the “torches of the falling comrades” bit, and time for my wife and I to fast-forward through what is always the most boring and superfluous part of the season, except this time I can’t skip it because I’m recapping the show.

Other than the beautiful scenery, this season’s fallen comrades segment doesn’t add much to enhance the "Survivor" viewing experience (with the exception of getting to relive Erik’s clothesline clothesline -– which never gets old).

Oh, and to hear Russell saying that Monica was the fakest person on the show.

It’s time for the very last immunity challenge, which will require balance and concentration. We’ve got a Balance the Statue on the Pole Contest, folks. Every two minutes they have to add another section of pole under the statue.

Mick is out first and Natalie quickly follows. Down to Russell and Brett, each holding six feet of pole. The wind starts to pick up and it’s affecting both poles. As they’re both standing there holding their poles up in the air the penis jokes are writing themselves. Brett is starting to wobble but he recovers …  whew, this is quite the showdown.

Brett’s statue falls and Russell wins the final immunity. Gee, wonder who’s going home later? I can’t wait to hear Russell plead his case as to why a multimillionaire should win another million.

Brett, in his infinite gullibility, seems to pin his hopes on the deal he made with Russell but knows that he may still be going home. Russell says of Brett that he’s the kind of guy he would like his daughters to meet one day. Mick is paranoid and thinks that he may be going home. “Are you on drugs?” Natalie asks him and assures him that the Foa Foas are in it to the end.

Russell tells Brett that he’s still got a chance if the two of them vote for Mick, which would split the vote and have it come down to a fire challenge. Russell is already strategizing about jury votes and is strongly considering keeping Brett.

His head is spinning and his mouth is not too far behind.

Time for tribal, and Russell tells Jeff that Brett deserves to be there with him because he’s earned it. Mick disagrees and says if Brett sticks around, he’s guaranteed to win. Based on discussion, there seems to be a bit of suspense to this vote… and it’s time. We see: Mick and Natalie voting Brett. The votes: Brett, Mick, Brett and… Brett. Brett’s time in the game is over and he thanks the Foa Foas for the adventure. Erik: “Wow. They did it.” Duh, Erik.

The final three are at camp on Day 39 and are treated to a huge feast. Is Russell actually trying to convince Natalie to tell the jury, “How could I have done it without Russell?” This may be the most arrogant thing he’s said all season. “He couldn’t have done it without us,” Mick tells the camera. Natalie is not going to give up and tells the camera that her strategy is to be herself. Russell thinks he’s got five jury members’ votes already and that he is a millionaire. The three burn down the hut and are ready to head to the final tribal. “I brought a couple of bums with me,” Russell says as they’re walking down the beach.

Yeah, yeah, Jeff, the power now shifts to the jury. We get it. Opening statements, and Mick is up first. Mick doesn’t seem to be convincing anyone with his wishy-washy explanation. Natalie isn’t faring much better by expressing her humbleness. Russell talks about his strategy, and more or less goes through it in its entirety.

Despite being overlong, Russell takes the opening statement trophy.

Now the jury gets the chance to wine and bitch, and Jaison is up first. Jaison wants them to give them information about who they really are. Natalie is unemployed, Russell is a businessman, and Mick is $320,000 in debt because of medical school. Jaison tells the jury how wealthy the three of them are. Jaison is a great lawyer, man

Shambo is up next and she is pissed. She calls Mick’s gameplay “feckless.” She equates Natalie with the word coattail. Man, Sham is going off. She leaves Russell alone.

Brett is up, and he’s pulling a bro date hypothetical question on Mick. “I love you, man,” Brett says. He didn’t, but that would have been cool. I so don’t get his question… Kelly is next, and calls out Natalie for her lack of strong gameplay. She asks if Russell is different outside this game, and Russell says he’s all about honor, integrity and loyalty in real life. Kelly has trouble buying it, and walks off.

Monica’s turn: she wants to see passion. She pulls the “Why do you deserve the million and the other two don’t?” card. Russell and Brett are arguing and nothing gets solved.

Dave asks what they think their chances are. Mick – 25 percent. Natalie – 35-40 percent. Russell – 55 percent.

Laura is up, and this should be full of bitterness. She asks Russell what he learned about her that enabled him to beat her. Russell says he thought she was the strong one in the tribe, and that seems to placate her and she slithers away. John wants the hard sell from everyone. Mick says you can’t give it to a more standup guy. Natalie doesn’t say much and Russell is left alone. Waste of time.

Erik is last; bring on the hurt. “I don’t need anything from any of you,” he says. He tells Mick that he did nothing. He tells Russell that both played a similar type game yet Russell is sitting there. Erik is babbling incoherently and is pointing and flailing uncontrollably and tells Natalie that she is least deserving, yet goes on to tell her that she has his vote. Whoa … Time to vote.

We see: Erik voting “Ratalie,” Shambo voting Russell, a nice booby shot of Kelly and that is all …

We head to Los Angeles for the live reading of the votes, and the crowd cheers. Before reading the votes, Jeff congratulates everyone for playing through a tough season.

Time to read the votes … Ratalie, Russell, Natalie, Russell, Natalie, Natalie, and another Natalie, who has now won "Survivor."

She looks shocked, as am I. This is not right, folks. Russell got hosed. He looks terribly unhappy and keeps to himself until the other Russell hugs him.

I won’t go over the reunion segment, other than to point out that Russell is visibly upset and is practically in tears; he won’t let go of the fact that he should have won. He even tells Natalie he wants the title but doesn’t need the money. Not only that, he’s offering up ten grand to her for it.

Jeff agrees that Russell dominated the game in every way. The audience overwhelmingly thinks Russell played the better game. This is easily the most controversial "Survivor" win with the audience.

Thanks for sharing the season with me. My wife and I have been watching since day one, and until "Survivor" gets boring we’ll keep on tuning in. We’ll see you back in February for the Heroes vs. Villains version of the show.


Mark Stone is a freelance entertainment writer living in Kelowna, BC, Canada. He is the managing editor of DailyBrainCandy.com and author of "Behind the Screen: Hacking Hollywood."