Welcome to the final, the last, the endgame episode of Survivor! We’ve got a lot to cover, but first I would like to extend a round of applause to all the writers who brought us recaps for this season of Survivor. It was one of the best, IMO, and it was a hell of a lot of fun riffing on Rafe, and snarking on Stephenie.
Thankfully for me, these final episodes do a pretty good job of briefing everyone on what has happened so far over the course of the season, so if you don’t know what’s going on by the time they finish with their season summary, there’s no helping you. It’s the final four people!! I’m not going to rehash the rehash, since it’s all just leftovers now.
Xhakum! Gods Bless You!!
Waking up as a member of the final four on day 37 must be a good feeling. Lydia has a smile on her face, just as she knew she would. She is amazed that her odd man out status has lasted this long. Danni, being from Kansas, is comparing her final four as a competition that she must win because the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team has been to the final four twice recently, and has not been able to bring home the bacon. And they lost in the first round to Bucknell last year too! Ha ha! Rafe is simply proud of everything he has done in the game so far.
When Lydia picks up the treemail, she comes running back in excitement, proclaiming they are going to celebrate. The others are all thinking she’s bringing a feast back with her, but really they are going to be visited by some local Mayans who are going to perform some traditional rituals to bless the land and the remaining tribemembers. The Mayans come into the camp chanting and praying while anointing everything with incense. They all gather around as the Mayans start a fire to continue the ritual. As Steph watches in horror, the elder pours a jar of honey over the kindling, as the women pour sugar out in circles around the camp. Steph’s eyes are bugging out, dreaming about diving into the fire to lick the honey off of any burning stick that gets in her way. As they continue to chant and pray, the elder male eventually produces a chicken, and snaps its neck off like he was sharing a Slim Jim. Steph is aghast at the sacrifice, but only up until the point that she thinks about the meat cooking in the fire in front of her. Then she’s all about disrespecting the sacrifice and eating that chicken. After the ritual is over, and everyone has eaten some tamales brought by the Maya, Steph even has Lydia ask in Spanish if they can eat the chicken. The elder laughs at the request, and I don’t even have to know Spanish to know that he retorted with a “What are you? Crazy?”
Jeff Gives Them The Bird
Soon after the Mayan ritual, it’s challenge time again. The final four challenge is huge!! This giant maze is based on a famous Maya deity called the Macabre(that’s what the closed captioning said, at least!), and, from the air, this thing is enormous, with a replica Mayan pyramid smack dab in the middle. I doubt that the survivors could see it from the ground, but, this being the most complex challenge ever built, was visually stunning as integrated into the entire giant bird glyph. The builders really went to town on the design. The four castaways will race down into the maze to find pots with puzzle pieces in them. They must find the 6 different “zones” with pieces in them, and bring back their colored pieces one at a time, over a pontoon bridge, and up the side of a pyramid where they each have an area for putting their puzzle together. After they have all of their pieces, they can put the three sided puzzle together, to reveal either a jaguar, a monkey or a croc. Everyone jumps out to a quick start, but from the beginning this challenge is between Steph and Rafe. Lydia is hardly even in the race after her first lap up the pyramid stairs. Rafe maintains a lead throughout most of the challenge, but soon Steph’s pace catches up with him, and they are neck and neck. Soon they are both putting their puzzles together, and Rafe, being the puzzle genius that he is, wins immunity.
Could Someone Explain The Word ‘Sacrifice’ To Them?
Back at camp after the challenge, Steph is revealing her game to Rafe. Of course, Rafe already knows her game, because he has been planting the seeds for Steph’s actions pretty much the entire game. She thinks that the only way she has a chance in the final 2 is if she goes with Rafe. Still, Stephenie thinks that her and Rafe have played a very similar game, and have stabbed the same people in the back, therefore the jury will have a tough time deciding between them. Rafe isn’t even thinking about Steph and the final 2. He knows that if he had the choice, he would be taking Steph anyway. No, Rafe is more concerned with who the final 3 will be, since he promised Danni he would take her to that point, if she promised to take him to the final 2 if she won the final challenge. Will he stick to his guns?
The entire time since the Mayans left the camp, Stephenie has been thinking about that chicken that was burned in the fire. It’s gotta be cooked by now, don’t you think? After blatantly making it known that she wants the chicken, yet asking everyone if it’s alright if she goes and checks out the chicken, Steph heads over to the sacrificial fire and starts picking at that chicken with Lydia. They cut the chicken open over conversations of keeping Lydia there, since she is not a physical threat. Steph makes no promises, but boosts Lydia’s hopes by not laughing in her face. The girls bring the chicken back to the others, and start picking at it and stuffing their faces. Rafe, being the only survivor that understands that the word ‘sacrifice’ not only means to kill something for the gods, but to kill something that is of value, therefore forcing you to go without in their honor, decides to forgo the chicken for the religious experience. Well, lo and behold, soon after the girls ate all the chicken, there’s thunder and lightning and rain as if a god was angry. One of the worst daytime storms I can remember on Survivor. Geez, the only other one I do remember is from the Australian Outback, and I only remember that because it was re-run recently. Anyway, everyone’s talking about having angered the gods, and I imagine Rafe is wishing he would have at least had some chicken since he is suffering the consequences.
Vote For Me! I’m The Weakest Candidate!
At tribal council, the talk of the town is the days events—from the Mayan ritual in the morning, to the huge thunder and lightning storm that afternoon. Jeff pries for info on the tribemembers’ feelings about the ritual. Rafe was really the only one to appreciate the importance of the ceremony, so he expounds on the whole “This place is a bigger part of me now” idea. Then Jeff asks about the storm, and how they weathered it. Lydia talks about big the storm was, and how, possibly, maybe, perhaps they all caused it. Steph and Danni pass the explaining back to the only survivor left with any Latin heritage, so she can tell Jeff about them thumbing their noses at deities. She tells Jeff that, since they have hardly had any food, and the corn was rotting, they decided to eat the chicken. Jeff is flabbergasted, and starts to lash out at Rafe about not respecting the ceremony. Rafe washes his hands of the whole bad karma by meekly admitting that he didn’t actually eat any chicken.
As far as who’s going home, Jeff starts in with the questions about how surprised would you be to go home. Lydia sees the whole field open up in front of her, so she side steps for the hole, and starts campaigning for “weakest member” status right away. She should be kept because she won’t win the final challenge. Danni obviously disagrees, since if Lydia doesn’t go, it’s Danni. She thinks that if Lydia does make it to the final 2, everyone loves her, and will vote for her. But everyone’s already got their minds made up, and after a vote, Lydia is sent packing. Rafe is thinking something about the three strongest going to the final 3, so victory is truly earned.
The Walk Of Shame And One Step Closer To (Semi)Fame
The next day after Lydia was gone, Rafe, Danni, and Steph receive tree mail instructing them to hike to one of the nearby temples to take part in a Survivor tradition…the remembrance of the snuffed torches. They all head to the pyramid and up to the top, where they get to burn small pencil drawings of each of the former castaways in the order they were voted off. This is just some typical Survivor tugging of the heartstrings and a second chance for the several fame seekers to see and hear themselves on the telly. I’m not a big fan, if you can’t tell.
Hanging By A Thread…Or Two
Finally it’s time to find out who is going to the final 2! Yep, it’s immunity challenge time. This challenge is typically some sort of endurance event, whereby one must hold some uncomfy position the longest, or hold onto something the longest—usually in an uncomfortable position. Guatemala’s final challenge is no different. Today, each person has a platform that is mounted on a pole that is attached to a ball and socket joint. Yeah, it’s precarious at best. At the beginning of the challenge, everyone can hold onto ropes on either side of them, and use the ropes to keep their balance on the platform. After an hour, they will have to release one of the ropes. Finally, after 30 minutes of that, you must let go of the ropes and not use your hands to touch anything. Whoever touches the ground or the concrete pedestal that the platform is attached to with their feet is out.
When they mount up initially, it’s easy to tell this will be a tough challenge. That platform amplifies every move you make to correct it, and poise and balance will be key. Poise? Wasn’t Danni in some pageants before coming on here? She should know all about poise, if I know my Kramer-isms. The second they are all hanging from their ropes with feet on their platforms, the competition begins. At first they are all wobbly, but they calm down, and after an hour, everyone is standing solid. Now they all must let go of one of the ropes. After tentatively dropping their ropes, they are still standing solid. Soon enough, though, Stephenie wobbles uncontrollably and is suddenly just hanging from her rope. Her feet haven’t touched the ground or the pedestal, though, so she keeps trying to get her feet on the platform again. Now Steph gets her feet on the pedestal, and leans her back against the frame for the ropes. Apparently there is a rule that wasn’t mentioned…that you can lean against the frame as long as your feet are on the platform. Steph leans back against the pole, as Danni and soon Rafe is fighting themselves to regain footing and a comfortable position. Everyone is now leaning back against their pole with their feet on the platform, and their hands on their one rope. After what seems like 20 minutes of this, it is now time to drop the ropes completely, and remove hands as legal forms of support. They all drop their ropes, and lean back for the long haul. Soon each player is making tiny adjustments to their stances. Rafe is especially antsy, as he removes shoes and fans himself. Ooops!!! Rafe makes a huge mistake and uses his hand on the frame to adjust his back. Jeff calls him out, and Rafe sits down in utter disbelief and disgust with himself for losing focus. It’s down to Danni and Steph, and it’s plain to see that it’s only a matter of time before Steph is out of this challenge. Danni just has too much Olive Oyl in her, and has such a huge height advantage in this challenge, that I’m almost wondering if this was rigged. No accusations yet…my research is pending. Steph finally gives in after probably 3 hours of torture to her back. She is spent, and weeps at the thought of not being in control of her destiny. Rafe, sensing the emotion of the challenge, immediately steps in to tell Danni that she can disregard any promises she made to him, and make her own decision about who to bring to the final two.
A Tough, Yet Easy Decision
It’s Danni’s choice tonight. Who should she bring with her to the final tribal council? Rafe is one of the main reasons she is in a position to make this decision, but Steph has obviously alienated so many people on the jury, plus she has to overcome the stigma of having a second chance at the Survivor booty. At tribal, Jeff still has to do his customary pry into the mind of the voter. He asks Danni what she’s basing her decision on. Danni offers that she could vote with her heart and take Rafe, since he has helped her out and he is the reason she is even here, or use her brain and take Steph, who has had the second chance, and who has obviously alienated several of the jury members. Danni goes off to vote, and not surprisingly uses her head and votes Rafe out of the tribe. Rafe really seems unsurprised, even though his every hope and dream is crushed. He honestly believed Danni might pick him for the final two. Unbelievable. Oh yeah, one more thing….am I the only one that was a little creeped out by the fact that Rafe apparently shares a room with two of his sisters? His family moment included a clip of two of his sisters saying “We miss our roomie!”, in what seems to be a Three’s Company where Jack is actually gay type scenario. Weird!
At Least Susan Hawk Didn’t Say “Damn” So Much
The next morning, their last morning on the island before final TC, the ladies wake up and start patting themselves on the back about making it so far in the game. She’s tough, you’re tough, we’re tough…yadda yadda yadda. Soon enough, they take part in another Survivor tradition.—The burning of the camp. This time though, they are apparently going to honor this final sacrifice. Steph won’t be jumping back into the ashes to scavenge any leftovers. Soon after, they head into the jungle for the final tribal council.
Now it’s time for the jury to address the final two contestants, of course not without hearing from the players that beat them first. Danni is simply honored to be where she is. She didn’t think she had a chance when she came into the merge without numbers, so she is just happy to be there. Steph nervously apologizes for playing the game and doing what she needed to do to get to the finals. She knows she pissed some people off, but she wants them to forgive her and realize that this is not who she really is. Just like everyone that has ever played in a reality TV contest. Ever.
It’s about time. Let the jury be heard! Here are some brief snippets of what each jury member had to say, and Steph and Danni’s responses:
Bobby Jon-Up until now, are you happy with how you’ve played the game? Steph:Very proud, but knows she upset some people, still she has no regrets
Danni: She’s just grateful to be here, and she really wishes she had a few more allies.
Gary-He is voting based on who gives the most honest answers tonight. Now, why should he not vote for you? Steph: Because they made an alliance the first day, and Steph ended up going against the alliance once they were split up. Danni: Because she made a selfish move by aligning with Rafe while Gary still thought she was in his camp with him.
JamieDanni, if you had had the numbers, who would have been your final five? Bobby Jon, Gary, and Brandon, since they had such a good bond. She doesn’t offer a fifth, but Jamie doesn’t care. Steph, you went behind peoples backs repeatedly, how do you think the jury feels about that? She basically tells him that she blindsided people because it’s easier that way. He said it himself…Blindsided is the best way to go.
Lydia Steph, I’ve been loyal to you the entire game, why should I vote for you now that you kicked me out? Steph thanks her for being loyal, and then feeds her the line about wanting to beat the best, and Lydia was clearly not that. Danni, you told me to trust you and you would take care of me, what the hell happened? Danni tells her that she was as honest as she could be with her. It’s all a game, man.
CindyIf you could eliminate one jury member from voting, who would it be?(good question!) Danni would take Rafe off, since she knows he is voting for Steph since they are so close. Steph says Bobby Jon because he was the first one to make the jury(bad answer.)
RafeDanni, (paraphrasing here)Why didn’t you take meeeee?!? Danni-Yeah, I said I would take the most deserving, but when I saw Steph not giving up and being so upset at not winning immunity after giving her all, I figured she was the most deserving. Steph, what was the best strategic decision you made that you didn’t tell me about? There wasn’t one, because Rafe was the only person she was completely honest with in the game.
JuddDanni, have you ever ice skated or roller bladed before? No? Interesting, because you are the best skater Judd has ever seen. You skated through the game. Steph, I’m not giving you my vote. I’m angry Judd, and I want to be angry and eloquent like Sue Hawk, but I don’t have it in me. You backstabbed, you lied to my wife. You won’t get my vote.
There you go, my condensed, sometimes extemporized version of the jury questions/comments!
Going To California With An Aching In My Wallet
The time has come for the jury to place their votes. Jiffy explains, as always, that this time you want to see your name on the parchment. Jurors should vote for the person they want to have $1 million dollars. One by one, they approach the voting vestibule and place their vote. Rafe votes for Steph, and tells her in his giddy schoolgirl voice about how strong she is and that she is the strongest girl he’ll ever know. Judd tells us he’s keeping his promise, and he’s not voting for Steph, so he obviously casts his vote for Danni. After everyone is done voting, Jeff goes to collect the votes, and brings the urn back to the stage. He will not read the votes immediately, but back in the US. He heads off to the waiting helicopter and….suddenly we’re live from CBS Television City in California. Jiffy runs from the helicopter and into the studio with his usual Probst saunter.
The one thing I absolutely love about Survivor is that they read the votes immediately at the beginning of the live reunion show. He reminds everyone that the winner will win a Pontiac Torrent(one of the ones Cindy chose not to give away!), and $1 million. First vote Danni; Second Vote Steph; Third vote Danni; Fourth vote Danni; Fifth vote….Winner Survivor Guatemala….Danni Boatwright!!!!!
Danni is quickly surrounded by her huge family. Huge girth-wise, I mean. It’s hard to believe she’s from the same stock. It looks like she has a bunch of brothers, who hug her and kiss her and cheer her on.
And there it is…another season of Survivor under the rug. All in all, a great and successful season. We had some great characters, some who played through injury and utter exhaustion, great storylines and a very successful tribe shake up, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Congrats to Danni and Steph for making the right moves late in the game to make it to the end.
Danni, do you need any financial advice? It’s not free… firstname.lastname@example.org