December 15, 2013

"Blood vs. Water", Sweat, and Tears: Tyson Apostol, Sole Survivor

Another Survivor finale has come and gone, and with it, a season with far less familial drama than promised, yet far more fascinating than I expected.

I wasn't looking forward to this season. But that's because I expected it to be a month-long "loved-one visit" episode. It wasn't that at all. By my tally, "blood" only really came up against "water" twice this season: when Rupert took Laura's place on Redemption, and when Ciera voted out her mother. There weren't any other points of choice in the game where it was either family or tribe. It was primarily every man for himself. And really, when the points of choice did arise, it was really more Blood vs. $1 million, wasn't it? Now, I don't know if it was odd or inevitable that no pair of "loved ones" were found among the final three - or even the final four or five - but fewer chances for those tough decisions made this season a lot more like seasons past than I expected.

Though it wasn't hard to be less emotion-laden than last season's final tribal, I still was surprised poor Monica faced so much criticism. Cut the nice lady a break! (She does win my worst-secret keeper award, though. Honestly, does she have to answer every single question Jeff asks at tribal council?) And don't forget that everything you say at tribal is a double-edged sword. For example, you want to tell them you made a big move worth a million dollars, but you don't want telling them that you were the mastermind behind their demise to ultimately hurt you.

Aras asked the best jury question I've ever heard. Although, I suspect Tyson's win was sealed before Gervase and Monica admitted to Aras that he was the one who should win. And he was. There was no question that he played a better game than the two he sat beside. With the exception of Ciera, he probably played a better game than anyone sitting on the jury either. Tyson was right to credit Monica's hand in his win. Monica's continuous (though uninventive) loyalty to her alliance with the coconut bandits kept Tyson in the game far longer than he may have deserved, particularly since it was Monica who possessed the challenge prowess. Then again, Tyson knew how to win the necklace when he had to. I believe that his tearful breakdown over his lovely girlfriend Rachel was authentic, and it balanced out his confidence in his own gameplay quite nicely. His final remarks were well-constructed. He would have convinced me to vote for him.

While this season was no Caramoan, it did prove that the creators of Survivor know how to put together a show that's still interesting after 27 seasons. Even with the same players, it's a new game every time.

Coming this February - Survivor: Braun vs. Brains vs. Beauty. Here's hoping that's 1 part NFL, 1 part Jeopardy and 1 part America's Next Top Model. Seriously. I'd like to see Brad Culpepper play against Ken Jennings and Tyra Banks. ;)

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