By Gina Carbone
*Note* The “Survivor: Nicaragua” finale will reportedly start 18 minutes late; so around 8:18 p.m. Eastern time instead of 8 p.m.
Something happened in the past, oh, year or so. I used to be a “casual” fan of “Survivor.” The kind who would be rooting for Judson “Fabio” Birza to win “Survivor: Nicaragua” as we go into tonight’s live finale. But somewhere along the way I went hardcore.
Now it’s not enough for me to have a winner who spent 90% of the season as a spectator. I know it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, but that’s just one reason I really wanted Holly Hoffman to win.
I don’t want a Spectator to win “Survivor.” I want a Survivor to win.
To me — other than Holly — that’s Matthew “Sash” Lenahan as #1 and Chase Rice as #2.
They were both knee-deep in the game the whole time, mistakes and all. No one on this show played a dominant game. This wasn’t a great season overall. No option for winner would be perfect.
I have no major issue with Jud.
Really, I’m pretty much past this season already. I’m mostly interested in what Jeff Probst says at the reunion about Season 22 “Redemption Island” (the rumored title) with Russell Hantz and Boston Rob Mariano as the rumored main players. (Would they really get immunity until the merge? That’s effed up.)
*Update* Jeff didn’t say anything about Rob vs. Russell, so maybe that’s not really going to happen? Or is that being saved for later?
I’m going to do my stream of consciousness live blog recap tonight, just because I’m now obsessed with “Survivor” — even a mediocre season.
Here’s our final five going into tonight:
Judson Birza, 21; student/model/musician, Venice, Calif.
Chase Rice, 24; NASCAR jackman/singer, Fairview, N.C.
Matthew “Sash” Lenahan, 30; luxury broker, New York City
Holly Hoffman, 44; swim coach, Eureka, S.D.
Dan Lembo, 63; property management, Water Mill, N.Y.
Can’t wait to find out what happens? Check out the spoilers boot list.
Catch up on all of my “Survivor” recaps and spoilers in this nifty archive.
STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS FINALE RECAP
No offense, but WTF is up with Andy Rooney?
8:18 p.m.: Here we go! Recap of season to date. Jeff says no one could’ve predicted that Dan, Sash, Jane, Fabio and Holly would make it to the end. Talk of Dan’s expensive shoes and “ineffective” or non-participation in challenges. Jeff’s recap says he’s the only one left who hasn’t made any enemies. Is that true? I thought Fabio was in the same boat?
“Godmother” Holly ftw! Alas…
Since Day 3, every person Chase has aligned with he eventually voted out. Chase has angered so many people “it was a wonder he was still in the game.” Does Jeff not like Chase?
Sash does look like “a dead man walking.” Is it physically possible for him to get skinnier? I’m asking. “I hold more chips than anyone else still remaining.” I respect the strategists. He should win.
I forgot that Shannon was the one who called Fabio “a dumb blond” and started the “Fabio” nickname. For the record, I think Fabio is exactly as smart and stupid as he’s being portrayed. I don’t think he’s playing anyone; he’s just being himself.
8:23 p.m.: Opening theme, then commercials…
8:27 p.m.: Is Fabio just now realizing that Sash, Chase and Holly are tight and want him out next? Just NOW? Fabio wants to break up the alliance. “Do you want to go to the final 3 with me?” he asks Holly, in front of Dan. Non-entity Dan. Take her to prom, man!
Fabio wants to be “cool” and not let on that he’s playing the game. Too late, since you just played your entire hand in front of Dan and Holly. Fabio needs to win immunity, which he knows. Finally.
Sash knows there’s a good chance Fabio could make an immunity run. Sash tells Fabio what he wants to hear. Sash tells Fabio he would like to get to the end with Chase and Fabio. He wants as many avenues to the final 3 as possible. If that means making deals with everyone, so be it. Big move. Big risk.
8:29 p.m.: Immunity challenge #1
Puzzle with questions about Nicaragua. Did they study before they came?
Fabio got one wrong, had to go back. Chase and Holly coming back for 3rd bags. Fabio back with 2nd bag. He was in last. Except for Dan, who remains a non-entity.
Fabio is way back. He has to make up a lot of time. Dan finally back with 3rd bag, working on puzzle.
Sash has a huge lead right now. Fabio and Sash neck-and-neck. Fabio is good with puzzles! It’s like Parvati with the balancing challenges.
“FABIO WINS IMMUNITY!” Get used to hearing that tonight. At least he’s struggling to win. I hate an anointing.
Chase was missing a piece. Cue the jokes about Chase not playing with a full bag of puzzle pieces.
8:40 p.m.: Lots of “way to go, Fabios” from all the fakers.
Fabio is “lovin’ it, man.” He’s always known that he was going to wait until the last minute to be aggressive. That’s a great strategy provided you get to the end. But Fabio has just been lucky so far.
Chase thinks Dan is less of a threat than Holly. Fabio tells Dan that Chase wants to get rid of him. Fabio wants to keep Dan around. He sees Dan as less of a threat to win.
Dan tells Sash and Fabio that Holly is a bigger threat. Fabio wants to make a case for Dan not being the biggest threat. Fabio wants to split up Chase and Holly. He tells Sash he’s not just trying to save Dan. Sash tells him he brings up good points.
Holly comes up to talk to Fabio and Sash. She’s surprised to hear that Fabio is talking about dumping Dan. She knows he’s full of crap and wants to get rid of her. That’s my girl!
8:44 p.m.: Tribal Council #1
Dan says he lives a nice life and has money and he thinks no one would vote for him. His whole “ploy” is, take me to the end, no one will vote for me to win.
A lot of fingers were pointed at Holly last time and she’s afraid it will be her again. Uh oh! Holly says Dan wants four guys in the final 4.
Holly vs. Dan!
“The lady from North Dakota!” Or South Dakota, as it happens to be.
Brenda whispers to the jury that Chase is “paranoid as hell.” Chase’s mind is always spinning.
Jeff says it’s potentially a million dollar mistake to vote the wrong person out.
It’s down to Dan vs. Holly. WHY? Are we assuming Dan and Holly are bigger threats to win than Sash and Chase? I would vote out Chase. He’s a flip-flopper, but he’s a nice guy and a strong presence the entire time.
I’d vote out Chase or Sash, since Sash is the mastermind. Even more than Brenda. But he’s so hated (because of Jane) so maybe the theory is that no one would vote for him. Does he know this?
3. Chase (SMART! Who did this?)
Oooh! Bitter Dan voted for Chase to show how much he hates him. And he’s still mad at Holly for stealing the expensive shoes HE NEVER SHOULD’VE BROUGHT ON SURVIVOR.
Bitter. Bitter. Bitter. But he’s not mad at Fabio. And he doesn’t mention Sash.
Why is Dan so mad at Chase, again? Dan should’ve gone last week, if not several weeks ago. Chase stuck with his alliance (for once) and Dan has no right to be mad. He was never in an alliance with Chase or Holly, as far as I can tell.
No one ever votes the way Fabio wants. If he didn’t have immunity, he’d be gone. He’s just not an influential strategist.
8:55: Final four. Rah. Rah. Rah. They all seem pretty low-key about it.
Fabio knows he needs to win again because he doesn’t know what’s going through Sash and Chase’s minds. So Sash and Chase are in charge. They are the locks to make the final 3.
Sash believes every person left will take him to the end, no matter what. Well, that’s because everyone seems to hate you. You are less of a threat than Non-Entity Dan.
Holly talks to Chase about what they would do if Fabio wins immunity again. Chase thinks Sash will get votes from Purple Kelly and … who?
I’m sick of hearing about Fabio. I know I’m alone on this, but he’s not exactly Russell Hantz. Or Parvati. Or Tom Westman.
This could be a million dollar challenge for Chase. The fact that Chase is a lock for the final 3 — no one going after him, everyone vying for his vote — is a sign that he’s played a better game than anyone is giving him credit for.
8:58 p.m.: Oh the fallen comrades again. Blah Blah Blah.
Holly is the last of the Espada tribe. She’s also the last woman standing. Love Holly. Love love love Holly. Love her transformation.
I miss Jill. I wish Jill had stepped up more.
Everyone talks about how the social game was such a big deal. Probably this season more than most. There wasn’t even a Russell Hantz in the house. Or a JT Thomas. No one standout. Anyone who got close to standing out (Jimmy Johnson, Marty, Brenda) got knocked down.
I know I’m going to have to see Brenda again on an all-stars season, but I’m not looking forward to it. So. Freaking. Smug.
Wait. NaOnka says she always had a smile and was the smartest person in the game?? Which NaOnka is this?
Benry says they were smart to vote him out because he would’ve kept winning challenges. Except for puzzles. So, of course, the last challenges have been puzzles.
Are they gearing these challenges toward specific players? Like all the balancing and Zen challenges for Parvati on “Heroes vs. Villains” and puzzles for Fabio?
Maybe I’m just cranky about what happens, but Fabio’s “mans” are getting on my nerves. Am I turning into NaOnka?
9:11 p.m.: Final Immunity Challenge!
Balancing coins. No one had to physically balance or do a tough physical challenge. The challenges have been lame this season. I miss Palau. But I always miss Palau.
Fabio looks good with his hair pulled back. He almost drops out but makes a nice recovery.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1 …
Coins are boring.
Holly is out! Dang it!
Chase is out.
Down to Sash vs. Fabio. Again.
This would be more impressive if the challenge were better. What about the blindfold maze that ended HvV? Come on!
That’s it. Fabio wins. Which means Fabio wins.
9:22 p.m.: Fabio: “I’m lovin’ this, man!”
He knows everyone is going to make their cases for why he should keep them. I’m tired of Fabio. He’s just going to let it play out he says.
He tells Sash he hasn’t made up his mind. He says he’s got to think about things. Since he was the one who wanted to get rid of Holly, it makes sense for him to continue to want to get rid of Holly.
So Sash is scrambling. Fabio just ruined his plans. Fabio is looking smug.
Sash thinks Brenda will vote for Chase. He thinks Purple Kelly for Chase.
I think Brenda is for Fabio.
Sash! He tells Fabio, you’re “my best friend in the game.” He says he never would’ve voted out Fabio. Fabio smiles. He knows it’s bull.
It’s not rocket science that Holly/Sash/Chase are an alliance, although this ep is trying to make Fabio seem like Sherlock Holmes for cracking the code.
Fabio tells Chase. Chase is upset with Sash for going against him. Sash will say whatever it takes to get through the game. THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO.
Fabio thinks the cockroaches are scrambling. This edit is trying to make Fabio seem bright when it’s been obvious for a while that Sash, Holly and Chase have been a unit.
Fabio says Sash and Chase have lied to him the whole time. Holly is the only one who hasn’t lied or done anything to him. So is that why she has to go?
I’m so done with this season. This ep is trying to make Fabio seem like a strategist when he should’ve known the lay of the land before this moment. It’s not a bad thing to scramble or say anything to win. That’s what a survivor does.
I’d vote for Holly to win. So I’d have to vote Holly out at this point.
9:33 p.m.: Tribal Council #2
Fabio keeps smiling. He can’t hold it in. The jury adores him. I think that’s what bugs me. The Fabio WORSHIP out there.
Why is Fabio so proud of realizing Sash and Chase never would’ve taken him to the end?
Sash has had alliances with everyone. He finally admits he’s made deals with two groups to take them to the end.
There’s nothing wrong with that, in my eyes. But this jury seems to think actually playing “Survivor” is a HORRIBLE thing to do. Unheard of!
I bet Russell Hantz is rooting for Sash.
Jeff gives Holly, Chase and Sash an opportunity to make a last pitch to Fabio. Don’t bother. Sash says he’s been honest with Fabio.
So they are making Fabio seem like he’s totally in control. He’s the only one who gets to vote? No. So why don’t they get to make pitches to each other?
Holly was honest with him. … And he burns her for it. Nice.
So why did everyone act like it was all up to Fabio? He was only one vote. Stop selling me Fabio, CBS!
9:45 p.m.: Fabio says it took him 38 says to get into a power position. But there were four votes cast. It took more than Fabio’s vote to get out Holly. So why are they kissing his ass?
Fabio knows the jury will be receptive to what he has to say. WHY? Sash shouldn’t have to feel bad for wheeling and dealing. He did play the best strategic game.
So this final 3 doesn’t really like each other.
Sash calls Fabio and Chase his “wing men.” Fabio says Sash can take a back seat and take notes on how this is going to go.
So … Fabio gets a little power and it goes straight to his head. The smugness. Just because his journey ends well doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten how it began.
This is probably the most important day of Fabio’s life, he says. The edit is handing this to him, in total.
They get food and champagne and pancakes and stuff.
Chase keeps telling Fabio he thinks he’s going to win. This is so frustrating. Everyone in this game has short, bitter memories. Fabio is confident and proud, as if he hasn’t been clueless for 90 percent of this game. I’m sickened.
9:51 p.m.: Chase says he’s had more of a relationship with the people on the island than Fabio. And he thinks he played a better game than Sash. He was targeted as a physical threat from the beginning but still made it to the end. That’s exactly why I picked him as my second to win, after Sash. Big, strong, game. Complicated, sure, but all good games are. I hate when they coast, ala Fabio, who is so proud to have finally woken up.
9:53 p.m.: FINAL TRIBAL COUNCIL!
Chase gets to speak first. It’s been an honor to play and he invites the questions. He knows he’s pissed off some people.
Fabio says they’ve had some good times. His strategy was to be himself and stay in the clear. In the end he knew he had to step up and win. He played a stand-up game. He thinks he deserves a million dollars and he would have a lot of fun with it. He laughs and the jury laughs LIKE THERE’S A LAUGH TRACK. Dammit. I hate this kid and the jury that loves him.
Sash seems too smart in his jury speech. Juries hate that, ala Stephen Fishbach over JT Thomas. Sash says the friendships he formed he takes more seriously than the alliances. The alliances were part of the game. He makes a respectful argument. Not arrogant or self-absorbed, ala Russell Hantz … or Fabio, for that matter.
9:58 p.m.: JURY QUESTIONS
Brenda is up first. She’s really proud of them. She enjoyed playing with Sash. Making alliances and breaking them and asking for votes … she doesn’t think that’s smart. But didn’t she turn on people a lot, too? It’s part of the game. She calls Chase “my snuggle buddy.” She had an emotional attachment to him. It was “shocking” how easy it was for him to vote her out, she says. He says first thing he heard of her vote, he came to her. Which is true. He tried to save her. She didn’t scramble. Sash says he thinks Chase could’ve stepped up more. Sash could’ve handed out the idol. She doesn’t even talk to Fabio?
Marty is next. There’s good reasons why they are there and he isn’t. He wants to play something out with Chase. There’s going to be a “dumber than a bag of hammers” award. Who would it go to? Marty is not eligible but it can go to anyone on the jury or the final 3. Chase calls it a BS question. He wouldn’t pick anyone but Marty. Marty says Sash is a cerebral player. Marty calls Fabio “dude” and he thinks Fabio has changed the most as a person and a player. OK.
Holly asks Chase what he considers his best strategical move that he made on his own. He said his initial move to vote Shannon out. It allowed him to vote with people he could trust. Does Fabio think winning the last immunity challenge was too little too late. Fabio laughs and says it was the best timing possible. Did Sash ever lie to Holly. Sash says yes he did. They both made a commitment that they would never write each other’s names down. At the end they both had to write each other’s names down. Holly says she truly respects them and she had a great time.
Jane! Jane says someone must’ve raised Sash good to be a “New York City river rat.” He can go back to the gutter. Fabio laughs like this wasn’t incredibly rude and out of nowhere. Hunt the Cure was started by Chase’s brother. If he wins, $100,000 is going to that charity to help cure cancer. He’ll also take care of his mom. Fabio puts his hand up, that he wants to take care of his mom and dad as well. Jane doesn’t even ask Fabio anything.
Benry says he’s heard everything he needs from Chase. He congratulates Fabio on back-to-back-to-back immunity wins. Benry says he was able to see through Sash’s fake smile. What did Benry do wrong that Sash could see? He asks for Sash’s assessment. That tells me that Sash is seen as the best.
BITTER ASS JURY
Dan says Sash is a liar and a phony. He calls him “spineless” and he hates that smile. He wants him to fix his eye wink. Dan is an ass. Dan calls Chase the most paranoid player in the game. As if Dan has a right to say a goddamn thing. Chase let Dan down. Chase: “This is Survivor, Dan.” Dan: “Beauty fades. Dumb is forever.”
AND YOU JUST PROVED IT, YOU ASS!
Purple Kelly. Sash gets 60 seconds to explain how he outwitted everyone. Sash thinks he should’ve been voted out at the merge. He’s getting feedback that he hurt too many people. Kelly likes his honesty. That was it? She didn’t talk to anyone else?
No one is even asking Fabio anything.
NaOnka says Chase was her boy. Fabio was her friend. Sash was the strategic player. NaOnka asks Fabio if seeing his mom was gasoline to fuel him to go on. Fabio chokes up. “Yeah, man. It got me to the end.” Oh Lord.
Why is everyone crying over that?
Alina says Fabio is the ultimate surfer boy and she loves that, but she doesn’t want to give a million dollars to a boy. She wants to give it to a man. Nice! She wants Sash to convince her that he deserves to win over the other guys. Sash says Fabio didn’t know what was going on most of the time. (True! Like the Benry vote where he voted for Holly.) Alina is pleasantly surprised by Chase tonight. Chase says everyone called him wishy-washy but it was him finding himself a way out.
This is all just reinforcing my personal ranking:
Fabio tells Alina he got through the game without backstabbing anyone and that’s hard. Chase says he got there because he didn’t know what the hell was going on. He won three immunities in a row, but “This isn’t the NBA finals.” NICE ONE, CHASE! It’s outwit, outplay, outlast.
Why does everyone credit Fabio with getting them to the final 3? It was not his decision alone.
10:18 p.m.: THE JURY VOTES FOR A WINNER!
Purple Kelly is first. She is a quitter and her vote should note count.
Marty calls Chase the dumbest player to ever play this game and Sash is a weasel. Marty gushes over Fabio, saying he loves his game and believes everything he said. Vomit. Vote for Fabio.
Alina says Chase impressed her tonight. He came in there like no one she had seen before. He had his game face on. True.Vote for Chase.
Dan votes for Fabio, which proves my point about the entire season.
Brenda makes a meal out of her vote. She finally reveals it to be Chase! Yay!”I hope that you win and I am really proud of you. Congratulations.” Nice! Chase did make a very good argument for himself.
10:21 p.m.: LIVE FINALE
Fabio cut his hair. Chase and Sash look handsome.
Was 8 for Chase? Anyway, they are tied now! Four votes Chase, four votes Fabio, none for Sash.
The winner of Survivor: Nicaragua: Fabio.
That was closer than the spoilers led us to believe. But Sash was still ROBBED.
10:28 p.m.: What are the odds. Everyone loves Fabio. Blah.
Fabio says his mom gets asked why did she name her son Fabio. Ha.
Now Fabio is pretending he played the goofball. He played himself, which means he is a goofball. Remember buying how Marty is a chess master?
So sick of The Fabio Show.
Shut this kid up. He’s not a mastermind. The audience adores him, though.
He’s the youngest winner ever, though. That’s cool He’s 21. He wants to start a production company, connect our dots around the world and undermind the government via communications and art.
Natalie White and Sandra Diaz-Twine never got to babble this much. God. I want to know who voted for whom.
Jeff asks Chase about the Brenda thing. It was a showmance. They were just friends. Brenda looks beautiful. All the girls are dressed up.
Brenda admits that she had planned to get rid of Sash. She told NaOnka and NaOnka told Sash. But she was still hoping to get the idol from Sash? Duh.
Jeff kept telling Sash he would be the first voted out. But he made the finals. And he SHOULD’VE WON!
Chase cares about music. “Survivor” hasn’t really helped him. He lives in Nashville now.
Chase gets to play guitar in front of everyone. Fabio is in a band too, you know. But he plays drums.
10:43 p.m.: Jimmy Johnson’s turn to babble. Other than football, “Survivor” is his favorite show. He tried to get on this show 6 or 7 years ago. Do you think they cast Fabio? A model living in the L.A. area? Seems like it to me. I hate when they cast for people instead of letting regular folks audition.
Survivor saved Jimmy’s life? It got him healthy. He applied again so he could be on the show and be eliminated pretty fast.
Did you see Coach Ben Wade in the audience? I love Coach. I do.
Enough about Jimmy Johnson and football. I want to know who voted for whom. I want to know about Season 22. I want to hear more from my girl Holly. I want Jane to talk about the Sash incident. Did he bribe her? Air it out!
According to Wikipedia, Holly, Jane, Brenda and Alina voted for Chase. Dan, Benry, Purple Kelly, NaOnka and Marty voted for Fabio. I wish they had just asked for a show of hands at the reunion, ’cause I don’t know if I trust this intel. If true, it’s all the more reason why quitters should not have votes on the jury.
Jesus, Dan is tan.
Holly looks gorgeous.
Holly bought Dan ostrich boots.
Jeff: “How rich are you?” (Not half as rich as you, Probst!)
Dan doesn’t want to say anything in case the IRS is watching!
10:54 p.m.: Time to talk to Jane.
Jeff is pushing her likability. Is she really that well liked? I liked her best at first, then switched my love to Holly.
Jane is bitter and was unnecessarily mean to both Marty and Sash. She was waaayyyy too personal in her attacks on both men.
10:56 p.m.: NaOnka. Jeff says it wouldn’t be a great season of “Survivor” without a great villain. It wasn’t a great season.
The quitters should not get much airtime.
NaOnka pretends she only knocked Kelly Bruno down as another competitor. But she focused on her artificial leg THE WHOLE TIME. She talked about it as if she hated Kelly for having a faux leg.
NaOnka has been getting heat from parents at the schools she works at. She thinks that’s ridiculous because people shouldn’t be judged in their personal lives based on how they play a game on a TV show. I think she should be judged on how delusional she is, and how she quit the second things went wrong.
Jeff talks to NaOnka’s mom. Mom says she is a little bit like NaOnka. She’s the good girl, though.
YAY! New rule will help keep quitters off the jury!
Did you see Boston Rob sitting behind Jeff as Jeff talked about the Sprint Player of the Season being named next? Not a coincidence…
11:07 p.m.: SPRINT PLAYER OF THE SEASON
Jeff says this person won the most votes ever. It wasn’t even close.
“It was a blowout” for … Jane? $100,000. So she threw Sash under the bus for nothing. She makes $50,000 a year??? That’s a lot!!!
Shannon was calling a duck a duck. Ugh. Jeff stops Shannon. Shannon met Sash’s girlfriend? What? This isn’t making sense and Jeff cuts it off.
Wendy does have an annoying voice. Her husband was right about her.
Jimmy T.! He won’t not be heard. He tried too hard and played with this heart.
Alina was always laughing and smiling? She was a good jury member, I have to say.
Segue into how they are all part of the “Survivor” family. Boston Rob in the audience. Rob and Amber just had their second baby, Carina Rose Mariano, born Dec. 10.
Ambah! She’s a “Survivor.” “She just got it done.”
Amber is the one who actually won — deserved or not. (And we all know it’s “not.”) She needs to stop having babies so she can come back and try to earn her legacy.
11:15 p.m.: SEASON 22 TEASER
They have a twist that will change the game.
This time when someone is voted out, they will not go home. They will be forced to live on “Redemption Island.” Next voted out will go there too. Then there’s a head-to-head duel. The only way to stay alive is to win. One person will survive long enough to re-enter the game.
It’s like the Outcasts twist meets Exile Island meets “Hunger Games.”
“Survivor: Redemption Island” starts in February.
Jeff calls on Cirie and Rupert in the audience. Are they going to be on the show? Will Rob and Russell be on the show or was that rumor just a rumor?
Catch up on my “Survivor” stories and spoilers here in this nifty archive. See you in February!
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