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Survivor: China – Finale and Reunion: A Gold Medal Performanceby Ken Kellam III -- 12/24/2007
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It’s been said that the length of a show business career can be measured by the amount of time spent preparing for it, and in this case, you could say the same about Todd’s time in Survivor. The guy had been watching the show since he was too young to drive, and all of that culminated into a period of a little over a month where he put everything he’d learned to good use, and walked away a million dollars richer.
Just as a figure skater or a gymnast spends four years and countless hours practicing for something that will only last minutes, Todd invested countless hours not only watching the show, but studying it as well, and then saw it pay off handsomely.
To be honest, I thought there was no way he was going to win. I figured he’d deceived too many people and made too many enemies and thought Amanda would win in a rout, because she was smart enough to let Todd be the fall guy for decisions she was in on. But as he noted in the “Insider” clips, the only way he wasn’t going to win was going to be if the others voted with their emotions.
I thought that was exactly what would happen. But not only did Todd know how to stick around long enough to be in the final three, he saved the best for final Tribal Council, when he made jury arguments Johnny Cochran would’ve been proud of: “If good game play’s not a sin, you must give me the win.”
But let’s ask this question: Did luck play a part in Todd’s win? Of course it did. No one ever wins a game like Survivor without a little luck. For example, he was lucky his tribe got the upper hand and had the numbers, and it certainly wasn’t because he had any great ability in challenges.
He was also lucky James didn’t put two and two together and play one of the idols when he had the chance. And of course, he was lucky Denise and Amanda didn’t turn on him when they had the chance. Furthermore, he was lucky that not only was there someone in the game smaller than he was, but that he was in a tribe with that person, and they got along well enough to form an alliance.
But notice I said luck was a part of why Todd won. It certainly wasn’t the only reason, or even the prevailing one. By contrast, Denise and Courtney were lucky to get as far as they did, and it showed in the end.
Before we go any further, here’s a question to ponder regarding CBS: Do you feel as if their promotion of the finale was deceptive for claiming there were three Tribal Councils left? As the recap noted, it is their show, but they should’ve known their phrasing would throw longtime viewers for a loop. Then again, maybe that was the point. And maybe I’m just a little bit miffed because I assumed there would be just two in the final and wrote accordingly. You could almost hear them saying, to paraphrase a former president, “Define Tribal Council.” In any event, it is this writer’s wish that in the future the network will leave the deception and ambiguity to the players.
Okay, back to the finale. Did Amanda make the right decision by taking Todd along on the reward instead of Courtney and Amanda? From a strategic standpoint, I’d say yes, just so he wouldn’t try to turn the tables on her otherwise. But should she have taken Denise along as well, given that Denise chose her for a previous reward? To be honest, she didn’t owe Denise anything, and Denise of all people should’ve understood the decision after leaving Peih-Gee out twice. Even from a strategy standpoint, since the lunch lady, oops, janitor was next on the chopping block, there wasn’t much point in taking her along.
Now, let’s ask this question about the immunity challenge: Was it smart of Denise to seek a deal with Amanda when it came down to the two of them? The word here is that since she was going to go next if she didn’t win, she had nothing to lose. However, it was also smart of Amanda not to agree to a deal, because even if Denise had won, there’s no guarantee Amanda would’ve been next to go.
Eventually it was time for Tribal Council, and controversy came when Amanda clarified her “I’ve got your back” statement to Denise in front of the jury. This might be pinpointed as the moment where Amanda’s game started unraveling. She might have done better to just keep her mouth shut. As it was, it gave Todd a chance to take a bit of a dig at her, saying if it had been him instead of Denise he wouldn’t be feeling too well right now.
But did Todd do this on purpose to make her look bad in front of the jury, or was it an accident, as he claimed? I think it was the latter for a couple of reasons. First, he told the camera the same thing. Second, when it happened it looked as if he were just reacting naturally and didn’t expect Jeff Probst to call him on it.
Finally, it was time for final Tribal Council. CBS may define it as two Tribal Councils, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s one Tribal Council, two parts. After further review, it was obvious that Amanda’s facial expression screamed, “Don’t vote me!” But did Amanda lose it or did Todd win it? While Todd may have beaten anyone with his arguments, Amanda definitely lost second place more than Courtney won it.
While many out there might not have been surprised to see Todd win, I can’t help but wonder how many would’ve bet on Courtney getting two votes to Amanda’s one. Maybe Amanda put so much energy into winning the immunity challenge battles that she had nothing left when it came time for the final Tribal Council war.1 2 Next-->
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