Survivor season finale recap: How to Survive a Bitter Jury

Jonathan Penner attempted to steal the show, but did his last second revelation about Lisa hand the game to Denise?
Ep. 14 | Aired Dec 16, 2012

FEARSOME FOURSOME Four walked into the final episode, but only Denise walked out a winner.

Image credit: CBS

The Survivor Twist I Hate Above All Others
There was so much I loved about this season and this finale, but there was also one thing I really, really hated. And, as usual, I shant be shy about sharing why. The contestants went to a final Reward Challenge and saw an elaborate obstacle course set up which they had to traverse while collecting three bags of — what else? —puzzle pieces along the way which then needed to be used to solve a dragon puzzle. It looked pretty cool. But then we found out what the reward actually was: an advantage in the final immunity challenge the following day.

Now that I’ve set the table, allow me to explain why said table should be blown to smithereens and never reconstructed ever again. The final immunity challenge is a truly epic event — win and you are not only in the finals, but you pretty much determine who sits next to you in the end. It is obviously the most important challenge all season long. And for that reason THERE SHOULD BE NO ADVANTAGES! What we as viewers want to see is a level playing field. No, I understand that you may say, “Hey, Malcolm won that advantage by winning the reward challenge.” I don’t care. What I want to know is who is best at the challenge that is presented before them. Not who is best because he was allowed to start over again because he happened to win a previous challenge that had nothing to do with the one that is being performed now. To Survivor producers, I say this: Stop getting fancy! Sometimes simplicity is more epic and dramatic — and, yes, fair —then allowing one of the players to have a “do over.” It’s like the “judges save” on American Idol. Are you kidding me? What, did the NFL replacement referees come in and map out this Survivor season? I want to see an even playing field, and that’s it.

If Malcolm had won that Immunity Challenge — which we’ll get into more later — after having his ball drop before everyone else’s, it would have totally tainted that victory. Thankfully, that did not happen. And I say this as someone who digs Malcolm and would have been totally happy with him as a winner. But you know what? If he had ultimately gone on to win because of that, it would have changed how a lot of people felt about his victory. Is that really worth it, Survivor? Keep it simple. YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE FINAL IMMUNITY CHALLENGE!

Still Not Sure Whether We're Supposed to Laugh or Cry at the Fallen Comrades Tribute
There is no one on God’s green earth who has made more fun of the Fallen Comrades tribute than yours truly. There’s just something ridiculous about people waxing poetic about other people they often didn’t like or spend any time with. Granted, watching folks struggle to come up with something to say about someone who was sent packing on day 3 — “Ah, Sonja. She uh, sure did love that ukulele” — was always kinda comical. But for the most part I always found the thing to be an enormous waste of time. Then the show got rid of the Fallen Comrades montage for a few seasons, and I have to say, I kinda missed the damn thing. Those finales just didn’t feel the same without it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the Fallen Comrades tribute is a cesspool of phony baloney staged sentimentality. But you know what? It’s OUR cesspool of phony baloney staged sentimentality dammit!

So bring on Lisa saying Zane — a person she never even spoke once to — “appeared to be a little insane,” bring on Roxy telling us that “keepin’ it real” was her downfall (even though I have no idea what that means), bring on Angie actually describing herself as “well rounded,” and definitely bring on one more shot of RC bouncing around in her leopard print bikini. Sure, and go ahead and burn all the departed players’ name tags like they are Darth Vader on Endor, because while they may not have thrown the Emperor into oblivion and saved the entire Rebel Alliance in the process, they did agree to show off their breast implants and Invisalign on a reality TV show. Such nobility should not go unrewarded.

NEXT: Malcolm & Skupin try to stay calm while holding their wood

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