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The Final Survivor Immunity Challenge: A Death Wish?by Phil Kural -- 11/30/2002
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As I am sure most Survivor fans are aware, when the game is down to three players there is one final immunity challenge. The winner of this challenge then gets to choose who they would like to face against the jury to decide who will win the game. Some may not have noticed, but the person who has won the final immunity challenge every season thus far has not failed to win the game. Our examples include Kelly, Colby, Kim J., and Neleh. What did they do wrong and how could the situation be avoided? Well, let's take a look and see if their decision was correct as to whom they took with them and if they could have won another way.
In the original Survivor, Kelly had a come-from-behind victory knowing that she had to win every immunity challenge from the final six on or she was going to be voted out. In the final immunity challenge Kelly defeated Rudy and Richard in an endurance test (with a little help from Richard, who gave up early for strategic reasons). At tribal council she chose to vote out Rudy and take Richard with her to the final vote where the jury decides who will win. First, did Kelly make the right choice? Of course she did. Had she faced Rudy in the finals there was no way she could have beaten him. Knowing that Richard had pissed off many people along the way, Kelly decided that she would have a way better chance of defeating him rather than trying her luck against Rudy. So what happened? Well, she still lost and Richard won, but by only one vote. The original alliance of four stayed true to Richard, giving him Sue and Rudy's votes. Sean never really seemed that fond of Kelly, and also gave his vote to Richard. After Sue gave her now famous (or infamous) "dying in the desert" speech, she prompted Gervase, Jenna, and Colleen all to vote for Kelly. Greg ended up being the swing vote, and for no good reason, had them guess a number between one and ten to decide who would get his vote. This person ended up being Richard (he later said he had planned to vote for Richard due to his strategy anyway), who then had enough votes to win. This is where the final immunity curse started.
Survivor 2 consisted of a final three including Colby, Keith, and Tina. The winner of the final immunity challenge was Colby and instead of taking one of the most annoying people ever, Keith, he chose to take the loveable Tina with him to face the jury. Now, was that a smart move? Not at all, as a matter of fact, it was such a mistake that it qualified as a Reality TV Hall of Shame Moment. Colby did not understand that alliances in this game change, and when the time is right, they can be broken. It would have been a smarter move to take Keith to the final tribal council because he could have easily beaten Keith. Tribal council was still close, though, and once again the winner was decided by one vote. Colby was able to snag votes from Nick, Amber, and Roger. However, because Tina was a friend to everyone, she was able to take the title with votes from Elisabeth, Keith, Jerri, and Alicia. Had Colby chosen Keith instead, he probably would have had a clean sweep at tribal council. Tina said had she won she would have taken Colby as well. Keith said he would have taken Tina. Was Tina destined to win any way we look at this, or is this another case of the final immunity curse?
Now, on to Survivor: Africa. Not my favorite cast or season to watch, but we were introduced to some memorable characters. When Tom was voted out we were left with a final three that included Ethan, Lex, and Kim J. Poor Kim had to fight to win the last several challenges because she knew if she lost one then she was going to be on her way out. After winning the final immunity challenge, Kim was faced with the decision of taking either Lex or Ethan to the final tribal council. Now, let's take a look at this. There is Ethan, who everyone loved and just thought was the best person ever, and there was Lex, who everyone thought was conniving, manipulative and mean. Who does Kim decide to take? Well, Ethan of course! The word "D'oh" was heard around the world. Admittedly, we heard after the show was over that most people did like Lex and he wasn't quite as evil in person as he was portrayed on TV. Even so, Ethan was definitely more likeable overall. Kim had a miniscule chance at beating Lex, but there was no way in the world she was going to beat Ethan and everyone knew that. Kim did however earn the votes of Kim P. and Brandon at tribal council, but the only reason Brandon voted for her was because Ethan trash talked him at the final council. Ethan strolled away with the votes of Tom, Kelly, Frank, Teresa, and Lex. Poor Kim did not even stand a chance. Although she did make a very poor choice Kim also fell victim to the final immunity curse.
Finally, we have Survivor: Marquesas. Our final three that season were Neleh, Vecepia, and Kathy. In the final immunity challenge Neleh distracted Kathy by saying her ta-tas were being exposed to America. As Kathy went to fix her blouse, she fell off the stump she was standing on. Making a smart move, Vecepia made a last minute alliance with Neleh that if she let her win Neleh had to promise to take her (Vecepia) to the jury. Neleh agreed and won the challenge (saying privately that she had planned to take Vee with her anyway). She kept good on her word and took Vecepia with her to the jury. Was that a smart choice? I sure think so. Had Neleh taken Kathy with her to the final tribal council there is no way she would have won. Kathy may have been a little grating on the nerves, but she still would have had enough votes to win. Therefore, taking Vecepia to the jury was the right move anyway. What went wrong? Well we had Zoe, Paschal, and Kathy all vote for Neleh to win. Sean, Tammy, and Robert voted for Vecepia. In my opinion, John was the swing vote. He ended up voting for Vecepia because Neleh did not apologize and come clean for her actions (even though in John's eyes her horrible actions were voting him out). So in the end Neleh was done in by a swing vote. Or was she? Was John really the reason for Neleh losing the million dollars, or was it the latest example of the final immunity curse?
There are some interesting points to look at here. Two of our season's final immunity winners chose the right person and two chose the wrong person. However, even though those two chose the right person, they lost anyway. What does this say? Is there really a curse on the person that wins the final immunity challenge? Is that person pretty much guaranteed to lose? Well, we have a few more weeks to find out. If the winner of Survivor: Thailand is the person brought along, and not the final immunity winner, then my advice to future Survivor contestants would be to throw the final immunity challenge (as Richard and Vecepia did) and hope you are the one chosen to face the jury. Your chances of winning will greatly improve!
Phil Kural is a junior at Temple University, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with any MVP suggestions.
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