Survivor: Gabon: Finale and Reunion

Sugar says that handing over the hidden immunity idol to Matty at the last Tribal Council felt glorious — she’s never felt so powerful. She continues the power rush by telling Bob that the plan is to pick off Kenny and Susie next. “Yes, dear,” says Bob.

Kenny’s bummed that he was out of the loop with the vote against Crystal, and he’s pouting because he thinks Bob went back on his offer to give him the immunity necklace. Bob says he didn’t hand over the necklace because he knew Kenny wasn’t being voted out, and Kenny says that wasn’t the deal. Kenny asks Bob if he’ll give him the immunity necklace should Bob win the next challenge, and the response (either from Bob or Matty — I can’t tell) is “Why don’t you get your own idol?” Burn!

Before the immunity challenge, the Survivors get clothes and face paint to dress themselves up as warriors, and Jeff Probst comments on how it looks “very Village People.” He doesn’t comment on how Susie’s face paint makes her look like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, so I think that’s just me.

The challenge involves digging a hole to get under a wall, going through mazes, collecting puzzle pieces, and assembling the pieces into a replica of a Gabonese hut. Bob ties a Survivor record by winning a fifth straight challenge, and Susie questions how anyone can beat “Wizard Fantastic Bob.”

Susie feels vulnerable because no one’s telling her who to vote for, and although Matty and Sugar agree that Susie is the next to be voted out, Sugar thinks Kenny’s more dangerous.

At Tribal Council, Susie says that she’s not strategically making moves in this game — her strategy is to wait until someone comes and tells her something. The jury laughs a little at how pathetic that sounds, and I realize she shouldn’t be voted out: If that answer is a preview of what she’d tell the jury, the woman is gold — in the pocket of whoever she goes against in the finals.

Kenny whines again about Bob supposedly reneging on his offer to give him the immunity necklace, saying that there apparently was small print in their agreement. Bob says yes, the small print was that if you try to blindside me, then the deal is void. Kenny says no, he should have given him the necklace anyway, even though he would’ve been voted out of the game.

Following his ridiculous attempt to make Bob look bad, Kenny’s voted out.

The Final 4 do the Tribute to the Fallen Comrades thing, where they visit the masks of those voted out. The foursome say pretty good things about almost everyone — Gillian was really fun; Paloma was sweet; Jacquie was smiling and helpful; G.C. was classic; Ace was a shyster but cool. Sugar (who has a lot of lipstick on for some reason — paint left over from the challenge?) cries because she thinks she voted Ace out too early, but she regains her composure in time to blow Randy’s mask a raspberry. (Randy’s voice-over comment is “I’m not a dumbass for falling for the fake idol; the people who voted me off were the dumbasses.” Oh, I’ve missed Randy.)

The foursome carry the masks to a group of Gabonese folks who are playing instruments and singing. The Survivors put the masks on a fire and stare at it, presumably until someone tells them, “OK, you can turn around and go back to camp now; we’ve got enough footage.”

For the final immunity challenge, the Survivors are given 200 wooden tiles to use in building a house of cards. The first to build a house 10 feet tall, or to have built the tallest stack after 30 minutes, wins.

In constructing their house of cards, the Survivors use different designs for their base. Sugar quickly builds tall houses that collapse easily, while Matty is hoping that slow and steady will win him the race. Bob tries for a good base but never gets very far, and in the end, it’s Susie who gets her stack up to 8 feet and then waits out the final minute to win the challenge.

Back at camp, everyone’s bummed that they have to say goodbye to Bob and not Susie. Well, Susie’s not bummed, but she does keep wringing her hands and saying how she’s in shock that she won immunity, and, trying to give him a chance to make his case for staying, she asks Bob if he thinks he’d get a lot of jury votes if he went to the Final 3. Bob kind of snaps at her, saying there’s no point in talking about it, since he’s a goner anyway. Sugar and Matty counsel Susie to stop saying every thought that pops into her head.

Sugar sees Bob as a father figure, so she talks to him about keeping him — if she votes against Matty, it’ll force a tie. Bob goes out and practices making a fire so he’s ready if the vote comes down to a tiebreaker of making fire.

At Tribal Council, Bob concedes he’s a huge threat and has friends on the jury. Despite this, and despite loving Matty like a brother, Sugar votes against Matty and forces a fire-making tiebreaker, which Bob wins.

The next day, the Final 3 get food for brunch, and they torch their hut (there’s no cause and effect here; I’m just summarizing by throwing unrelated things into the same sentence). We hear a few members of the jury give their thoughts on the upcoming Tribal Council:

* Kenny says Sugar took control of the game, and he wants Bob to admit that he’s not honorable

* Randy doesn’t like any of the three, and while he concedes that Sugar made some decent moves, he hopes to “tear Bob a new one.”

* Corinne is looking forward to being herself and saying what she couldn’t say during the game. I’ll go put on my anti-vitriol suit.

For their opening statements in front of the jury:

* Susie says that she wanted to teach her son and her students what it means to try. She says she started off the game being scared of her fellow players (and here she rattles off the professions of those on the jury, including Crystal being an Olympic gold medalist, which I thought people didn’t know during the game), and she says she’s really grown in confidence.

* Bob says his strategy was to use survival skills to make his and others’ lives easier.

* Sugar says she had to lie and she feels sorry for that, but she thinks she’s played a pretty good game as a free agent — her only alliance was with Bob at the end, because she felt he deserves to be there.

And now for the jury questions:

* Charlie says that back when the members of each tribe were ranked, Susie and Sugar were rated among the worst of their tribes, and he asks them why they should now be put on top and given a million dollars. Susie says she’s often underestimated but she kept on trying. Sugar says you don’t have to vote for me, but it would be nice. (Uh-oh — Sugar’s dismissing a vote from the most likable juror. This doesn’t bode well for when she gets to the people who hate her.) Charlie asks Bob if the intimate cuddling they did was more enjoyable than he’d like to admit, and Bob says Charlie’s a wonderful person, and nice and warm at night. Charlie likes the answer — score one for Bob!

* Crystal says to Susie, “If coattail riding is your strategy, bravo.” She then tells Bob that Sugar controlled him like a remote control, and Bob agrees that he didn’t do much strategically. (Yay — Sugar’s mastermindery will be acknowledged!) Crystal then asks Sugar why she voted against her, and Sugar says it’s because of how Crystal was treating people (“even though that’s the way you are — and I like it,” she adds, strangely).

* Kenny asks Susie why she deserves his vote, and Susie talks about how she’s just this average, ordinary housewife. He asks Sugar why she backstabbed him and says he’s been scarred because he had opened up to her. Sugar tears up, and she says she thought Kenny was a bigger threat than Susie. Kenny doesn’t buy it. Kenny asks Bob for a good lobster salad recipe. Hang on. That’s what I want to know. Instead, Kenny again asks Bob why he reneged on the “I’ll give you my immunity necklace” deal, which we already know is because Kenny was planning to vote out Bob if he gave him the necklace, but Kenny’s not happy with the answer.

* Corinne says she’ll vote for Susie if she agrees to use the money to get her vocal chords removed, but Susie declines the offer. Corinne then tells Bob she wants to see Nasty Bob and hear what he doesn’t like about Sugar, and he says he was upset by how she reacted to Randy playing the fake idol. Corinne turns her attention toward Sugar, saying,  “You are an unemployed, uneducated leech on society, and the only thing I would vote to give you is a handful of antidepressants so that no one else has to be subjected to your constant crying anymore; and maybe if you got some, then it would seem a little more sincere when you are crying about your dead father.” Sugar responds with a blurred hand. (Although this blog might get more hits if I said “Sugar gave Corinne the finger,” I’ll follow CBS’ lead. So a blurred hand it is.)

* Marcus says that Susie shed her obligation to be a positive role model in the most important game of all. And what game is that, Marcus? “And that’s life.” I have no idea what he’s talking about. Marcus asks Sugar if she’d use the million to do something to honor her father’s memory, and she says yes, something to do with lung cancer, since that’s what her dad died from. Marcus accuses Bob of giving ownership of his choices to others, and asks for an example of when he chose to be responsible for his decisions. Bob says the occasion didn’t come up; others were making good decisions.

* Randy asks Susie why she said she felt sorry for him, and she explains. He then asks Sugar about how she “rolled on the dirt laughing uncontrollably” when he played the fake idol — “Did you not know that I was going to the jury? Did you not want my vote?” She shrugs and says, “You were a jerk the whole time.” (Eek. She’s been way too cavalier about throwing potential votes away. I’m not necessarily a huge Sugar fan — I just hate it when a player has played a decent game, and then doesn’t fight for every vote in the finals.) He asks the same question of Bob, who says it was a strategic move. Randy questions how it was strategic — Randy was being voted out with or without a fake idol — and says, “Please don’t make me vote for Susie, because she’s the only one who didn’t laugh.” Bob says he made the idol so people would think he’d found it, not for the purpose of humiliating Randy.

* Matty asks Susie why Bob and Sugar are less deserving to win the money than she is. She jumps on the “Sugar humiliated Randy” bandwagon, and mentions how Bob was short-tempered and not congratulatory enough when Susie won immunity and Bob’s fate looked sealed. (Really? That’s all you’ve got on Bob?). Matty then tells Sugar that her persona is innocent but it’s total garbage, and asks what she’s done that was total evil. She says she broke Kenny’s heart. Matty asks Bob why Susie and Sugar deserve the money more than he does, and he says he doesn’t think they do.

The votes we see:

* Matty votes for Susie because they were friends from the start.

* Corinne votes for Bob and makes some comment about him doing an awesome job surviving in Africa, and not knowing how he survives in the real world.

* Randy (in an unwhispered voice reminiscent of when Crystal voted against him) proclaims, “All three of you, kiss my ***.” (CBS didn’t air the word, but I’m assuming it’s “dumbass” —  which CBS does allow — minus the “dumb.”)

* Kenny deliberates and paces.

As Probst reads the votes, it’s three for Susie and three for Bob, with one vote left — and the final vote’s not for Sugar (so Sugar went through the whole season without ever getting any votes). Susie got three? Seriously? That’s insane.

But the world is put right again when Bob is declared the winner.

Snippets from the reunion show:

* Bob’s strategy was to fly under the radar, and be necessary and friendly.

* How did Bob make such elaborate and beautiful fake idols? He says he generally collected odds and ends around camp, and what really helped was taking beads and trinkets from the Kota flag before going to Exile. Probst asks, “Where’d you get the rope [for the necklace]? We don’t give you guys anything.” Bob’s answer: “I take stuff.” (The rope came from the string tied around the instructions on Exile.) Probst presents Bob with what was left of the fake idol after it was pulled out of the fire it had been tossed into at Tribal Council.

* If Matty had been in the Final 3, he presumably would’ve gotten five votes (assuming he didn’t screw up answering the jury’s questions). So his fire-making tiebreaker with Bob was worth a million dollars. Probst urges applicants to Survivor to practice making fire.

* Probst joins me in being shocked that Susie got three votes. He says the deciding vote was cast by Randy (well, weren’t all votes for Bob deciding votes? Had Susie agreed to get her vocal chords removed, would Corinne’s vote have given her the million?), who says it went back to Susie’s “It’s just a cookie” comment about the argument following the auction a few episodes back.

* There’s a montage of Corinne’s nasty comments. She’s asked if she has any regrets over her comment about Sugar’s father, and Corinne says she does feel sorry for Sugar’s loss, but being with weepy Sugar was like being stranded in Africa with a colicky baby. Corinne welcomes the audience’s boos, and says if anything, she was irritated that she wasn’t portrayed in a more negative light. She tries explaining her sense of humor — “When I said Dan was a former fatty, that’s supposed to be funny. I wasn’t actually going to stab Susie in the face.”

* Then we have a montage of Randy being nasty. He seems sullen but a little smirky at the reunion. Whereas Corinne gets boos, Randy gets applause. Probst asks if he was always a bitter guy, and he says no — he used to be fun, happy, likable. He maintains that he hasn’t told a joke the entire season. He’s a complicated guy, and he says you can’t get under his veneer — “You’re either born with the ability or not.” “The ability to what?” Probst asks. “To like me,” Randy answers, and when the audience laughs, he says, “It wasn’t a joke!”

* On the IQ tests the applicants take, Marcus had the highest IQ, and Randy’s was second. Randy says, “The test has gotta be flawed, with these Einsteins here in the front row.”

* Randy used to be a commercial pilot and a marathon runner, and has an engineering degree from Vanderbilt (“I cheated,” he says). His guests to the reunion show are six strangers — people who are just fans of the show. When these people are shown in the audience, the screen labels them as Randy’s “Friends.”

* There’s a Crystal-sucks-at-challenges montage. Probst wants proof she was a gold medalist, and she pulls out her medal. She says the challenges in Survivor were hard — “I am built to run around a circle. I’m a runner, a horse, a gazelle.” (“A Sasquatch,” Randy probably thought.)

* Kenny says his downfall was getting cocky, not fully realizing that people aren’t chess pieces he could move. As for his love life, he has “talked to some girls lately.”

* Ace says yes, his accent is real, although he thinks he may have been better off faking an American accent.

* The top three vote-getters in the online poll to give someone $100K are Matty, Sugar and Bob, with Bob winning the prize. (A confession: I voted for Randy, since I apparently was born with the “think Randy’s a hoot” gene. I’d be a little scared to interact with him, but he’s hilarious to watch.)

* Matty’s still engaged, and he gave his fiancee a real ring when he got back home.

* The next season will be in the Brazilian Highlands, in an area that Probst says is called Token Cheese. Or maybe it’s Tolkien Cheese — kind of a dairy/fantasy thing. Hang on — let me check the logo — Tocantins. I was so close.

Photo: Eric McCandless/Getty/CBS Broadcasting Inc.