A big #hashtag following #Survivor around Twitter is #barf (because fans didn’t like this season). Maybe it’s just the vocal Twitter anger patrol, but this season was as good as any other (if you ask me), even with the fact Natalie won. Yes. She deserved to win Survivor and if you dissect her game and look at the moves she made to create enough chaos and oust the would-be jury favorites, it was one of the better played seasons I’ve seen. But Natalie wouldn’t have won 10 seasons, ago. She would be a villain through and through and a jealous, jilted jury would never have given her the $1-million.

If I have one complaint about Survivor, with Old Hillbilly Keith being the exception, players know the game so well, and how to play it, we don’t have villains anymore. Why can’t villains be villains? In the good ol’ days, Natalie wouldn’t have won and the entire jury would be angry and bitter and asking “gotcha questions” mostly just to further their agenda of explaining to the jury and the world how Natalie is a despicable human being. But nowadays, once they get voted out and everyone gets a shower and some food in their belly, they forgive and forget. Trust me …Pope Francis, if he really wanted to win Survivor, would have to tell at least one lie or blindside if he wanted to win.

But, I guess that’s just part of the maturation problem of a TV show.

Natalie surprised me. She lost her sister (loved one) so early,  and she was so annoying, I figured she was doomed. And then she made the merge and didn’t have an alliance, and didn’t seem capable of winning challenges, and she seemed to have this delusional confidence, so I thought for sure she’d be voted out. But what Natalie had was a non-threatening character persona going on. It was like everyone just assumed she was so annoying, she couldn’t possibly win and she was a great person to keep around (versus Hillbilly Keith on the totally opposite end of the likability spectrum). The John-Jaclyn-Mom-Daughter foursome thought, hey, we need a fifth, so let’s go with Natalie. The “dudes” felt they were solid and secure. So Natalie seemed to be the perfectly expendable person who would just appreciate being a part of everything. Yet Natalie saw Baylor (the Daughter) as a weak link and someone to buddy-up with. I don’t believe for a minute Natalie had a true long-term plan, but she was working every angle.

For goodness sake!!! Baylor and Natalie found a hidden immunity idol and Baylor didn’t even tell her own mother/partner. WFT!?!?!?!

The big debate is this …would Jaclyn have won if she’d brought Hillbilly Keith to the finale. Many say ‘yes’, but the show of hands Jeff Probst asked for said otherwise. People said they would’ve voted for Keith if the final three had been Keith, Mom (aka Missy) and Jaclyn (Beauty Queen). I would’ve voted for Keith. He overcame impossible odds (age, crumbling alliance) and kept winning challenges like no other older contestant has done. He unwittingly changed the course of the game weeks earlier when he opened his big, dumb mouth at Tribal Council and gave away there was a blindside coming (seriously …that single comment shifted a vote and the dudes were about to take control of the game, and they didn’t).  Keith was an instant classic.

Oh, and I loved his advantage in the second to last challenge …that he got to practice. And I love that it paid off. Man! Keith should’ve won. But nooooooo …CBS has to keep Missy (aka Mom) around that’s crap. More on that in a few minutes.

Which brings us to poor Jaclyn. Like Rodney Dangerfield …no respect. No respect. Jaclyn is proof that Natalie’s herky jerky, play-in-the-moment style is always a better play than just surviving and advancing. For some reason, the Survivor jury world has yet to give credit to someone who plays a non-threatening game and doesn’t make big moves or lie or plot and somehow keeps advancing. It’s like we’ve come to expect you have to be a part of a big blindside, or instigate it, otherwise you’re not playing. Why? Isn’t “not making waves” a great strategy. Don’t win challenges and show yourself to be a physical threat. Check. Don’t lie to anyone’s face. Don’t get in a fight with anyone – even if an entire alliance of dudes treats you like a moron the minute your bo-hunk boyfriend is outta the picture. Let the mayhem happen all around you and vote with the alliance you agree with in any given moment. This all seems like a pretty great tactic if you ask me. It’s  how I would want to play the game (if I knew it could win me $1-million).

Jaclyn didn’t have that as a true plan, as far as I could tell, but she should’ve made that case to the jury. Just say, hey, everyone was backstabbing and switching alliances and using and not using immunity idols, and I was letting the madness unfold and, hey, look …here I am. There’s got to be a way someone could use that tactic and get respect from a jury for playing it cool and calm.

A boy can dream.

So …where were we? Jaclyn couldn’t win because of how society (society = jury) judges people who don’t plot and scheme. Keith would’ve won because his entire alliance was on the jury and had he been in the final three everyone would’ve been impressed about how he battled, won immunity, and found immunity idols. Natalie made “big moves” (even though some of them were made in a black out unconscious state …what?). And Missy (aka Mom) was judged harshly because she was given exemption, essentially, even though technically she was not “surviving.”

OK. Let’s talk about that for a minute. I’m sorry …but if you break your ankle …you’re done. That’s “surviving”. It should be that simple. Do you know how many people have been removed from the game in the past because of dehydration? Infected cuts? Hurt shoulders? If Missy broke her ankle and couldn’t walk and needed crutches …I mean, unless she wrapped and made herself a cast from palm fronds and mud and she fashioned crutches from sticks and branches tied together with banana peels …as Willy Wonka (the Gene Wilder Willy Wonka) would say …you lose. Good day! That was totally unfair.

The point is …nobody was voting for Missy. I wasn’t sure why Reed had to detail the plot of his off broadway play based on his experience on Survivor and cast Missy as this wicked stepmother, but credit to him for being the only interesting member of the jury. I certainly didn’t need John standing up saying, “I love you,” and Jeremy getting up to say, “hey, girl (Natalie), you played your game. Props.” Um, that’s not the role of the jury. They need to ask questions and let (or try) people sell or hang themselves with their words.

Hmmmm. So I guess, while loving this season and always and forever loving Survivor, maybe I did have some complaints.

  1. Final tribal in front of the jury is becoming pointless. Nobody changes their vote based on answers and nobody gets mad or asks tough questions.
  2. CBS and Survivor should not start giving medical attention to castaways. If they can’t go, they can’t go. Let’s not compare broken ankles to infected cuts and start judging which is worse.
  3. Nobody is a villain anymore, even though they play like villains …now we respect that behavior.

Personally, I would’ve voted for Jaclyn because I like a long-shot underdog. And because we were witness to the most improbable immunity win when she beat Keith and Natalie while also falling and nearly dying from exhaustion and malnutrition. Jaclyn went on Survivor without any body fat or muscle reserves and she could barely keep herself upright near the end. And yet …she won!!! So great. If only the jury could’ve sat ringside at that challenge …they would’ve voted for her. Oh, and Missy (aka Mom) looked on from the sideline and that meant Keith losing was his last chance to stick around. That’s crap. The three competing should’ve been the final three.

I’m so thankful Missy didn’t win.

Anyway, next season I like the theme …blue collar v. white collar v. no collar. And how they spotted the most perfect white, blue, and no- collar volunteers in the audience is incredible (probably pre-screened). Hopefully they picked the most egomaniacal white-collar people and the most hippy, laid back no collars and it will be all contentious and disconnected with hot heads trying to boss around those who cannot be bossed around.

Where do they think of these great ideas.

I love Survivor. I love those of you who follow along with me every week. Thanks for reading and see you next season.

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