TV Recap

A Truck Question

Even though Earl is the winner of ''Survivor: Fiji,'' it all came down to whether Dreamz would honor his agreement with Yau-Man

THE EARL SHOW Once Yau was out, it was all about him
Image credit: Earl from Survivor Finale
THE EARL SHOW Once Yau was out, it was all about him

The ''Survivor'' season finale: A matter of trust

First off, congratulations are in order...to me! Earl's victory means this is the second straight season I have picked a winner from the very first episode. That may not sound like such a big deal, but when you have as pathetic a track record of Survivor predictions as I do, it becomes a feat of epic proportions. Like Earl, I need to soak it all in. Of course, once Yau-Man was gone, it was obvious Earl had the thing won. It made for one of the least climactic (and most childish) tribal councils ever. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's take it from the top.

We began with five contestants, who were almost immediately introduced to a huge maze that they had to navigate while blindfolded and collecting a set of keys. Most of them complied. Cassandra? I don't know what the hell she was doing. At one point she was running around lost outside the course while mumbling to herself, looking like a large, black, female version of Mr. Magoo. Yau-Man won, because Yau-Man is the freakin' man. Boo tried to persuade Earl and Yau to boot Dreamz instead of him (and if they had, Yau would probably be a million dollars richer right now), but they didn't go for it. So they went to Tribal Council, Earl used the 3,267th hidden immunity idol, and it was Floz's time to go. From the looks of things, he couldn't wait to get the hell out of there — sprinting under Probst's arm and into Mark Burnett's cold blue light of death.

It was around this time that Dreamz started talking about how he wanted ''my son to see I'm a man of my word.'' Since CBS had been pimping the possibility of Dreamz's having to confront the dilemma of his free truck deal for days, it was obvious it was going to come down to that. But we had a few things to get through before we could see the cheerleading coach sport that ugly-ass immunity necklace. First, the always painful ''fallen comrades'' montage, in which the final contestants wax nostalgic about the tribemates they voted off. This time we were treated to such inspirational nuggets as ''Jessica, we hardly knew you,'' and ''Well, Erica....'' (Dreamz did manage to describe Alex as ''my brother for life,'' although I wonder if that expiration date has come and gone after the tribal council beat-down Alex provided.)

After about the ten zillionth Pirate Master promo came our final immunity challenge, as the contestants approached what appeared to be some sort of medieval torture device, with Probst playing the part of The Princess Bride's Six-Fingered Man. After sounding like she was either having an orgasm or giving birth, or perhaps both, Cassandra fell in, and then Earl. It came down to Yau and Dreamz. As expected, Dreamz won and kept telling everyone how he was ''honorable, noble, a truth teller.'' As I was watching all this, and knowing that Dreamz was likely going to renege on his deal, I kept yelling something to myself: Crap, I'm out of Milwaukee's Best! And then I yelled something else: Why doesn't Yau just promise Dreamz that he would vote Cassandra out and not him? He couldn't honestly have been that worried about the homeless sympathy vote, could he? A strategy slipup for Yau? Is that possible?

So Dreamz hemmed, and Dreamz hawed, and eventually kept the idol. Look, call him duplicitous, call him a liar, but we'd all be calling him stupid as hell if he had given up that necklace knowing he'd be voted out for doing so. He's not the first Survivor contestant to lie, and he certainly won't be the last. Once Yau was gone, the game was essentially over, but we still had to endure a way too long segment of the three finalists talking about how proud they were of themselves. (We also learned that — in perhaps her biggest strategy decision of the game — Cassandra had discarded her underwear.)

The final tribal council proved to be one of the weirdest affairs in Survivor history. Basically, it was an afterthought because we all knew Earl had it in the bag, but that didn't keep everyone from acting very, very odd. I'm honestly not sure who to give the highly coveted Survivor: Fiji Freak-Out Award to. The candidates:

· Alex: For repeatedly yelling, ''Stop talking!'' to Cassandra when she was simply trying to answer his question, for actually using the phrase ''riddle me this,'' and for then unironically employing air quotes when describing Dreamz as ''my friend.'' And this guy is actually an attorney? Judging from this display, he must be the worst lawyer ever.

· Lisi: What the hell was she so pissed about? None of these people had anything to do with her ouster. Still she insisted on calling everyone liars, dissed Cassandra's choice of footwear, and challenged Dreamz to count the number of zeros in a million, and then seemed flustered when he correctly answered the question.

· Rocky: For making the contestants play fill in the blanks and being obsessed with something called a ''kicker.''

· Boo: Whoa! What in God's name happened to this guy? He seemed pretty mellow and clumsy throughout his Survivor stay, but he turned all fire and brimstone here. He started yelling at Dreamz to be a ''strong Christian'' while pointing like a madman and looking like he was about to blow a gasket while rapping about Satan. Heal thyself, Boo!

· Dreamz: Basically for making no sense whatsoever. He tried throughout the tribal council and the reunion show to insist he was playing Yau the whole time, but that doesn't jibe with his confessionals in the least.

I think I'm going to have to go with Alex on this. Maybe he's the one Boo should have been warning about the devil, because homeboy looked truly possessed. Usually it's fun as hell to watch jury members yell at the finalists, but this just seemed kind of sad, especially since most of it was coming from really bitter, unlikable people — a problem that plagued Survivor: Fiji from the get-go.

For all intents and purposes, the show ended here. We all knew Earl would smoke Dreamz and Cassandra (he scored a 9-0 shutout), and the reunion show basically just consisted of Probst not being able to get a straight answer out of Dreamz, Cassandra continuing to flash her dazed what the hell am I doing here? smile, and Gary showing off a really, really ugly tattoo. It's been no secret that I didn't like this season of Survivor. Even with the late-game fireworks sparked by the Yau–Dreamz truck deal, I'd still place this edition down at the very bottom, along with Thailand. Which makes me all the more psyched for the franchise to (hopefully) get back on track in China. All the bad seasons (Africa, Thailand, Vanuatu, and Guatemala) have been followed by good ones, so if form holds, things should perk up.

But I still wonder how the hell they are going to find enough good female contestants to stage another all-star round for season 16, which I have to assume would be the time to do it. Seriously, think about how many great women they've had since the last all-star edition. It's a very short list (made even shorter when you consider that Stephenie has already been on twice and I can't imagine they'd give her a third shot). I can't think of any females from Fiji who deserve to make the cut — except for maybe Michelle, and that's only because she made fire.

In any event, congrats to Earl, and thanks to all of you for enduring my ramblings for yet another season. Have a swell summer, enjoy watching people dressed up like pirates, and I'll see ya in September.

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Originally posted May 14, 2007
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