Survivor: Fiji, Finale "You've Got That Puzzled Look" and Reunion Show Recap

Originally aired on Sunday, 05/13/2007

Episode Rating: *** (3 stars out of 5)

Episode Overview: The final five are whittled down to the ultimate winner in the season finale of Survivor: Fiji.

Episode Highlights:

  • Yau-Man survived the last tribal council, but he knows he is still a target.
  • Yau's deal with Dreamz has far-reaching ramifications.
  • There is a new format for the final vote - this season, it's a final three, not final two.

The final five Survivor: Fiji players return to camp and have a lot to process. Yau-man Chan says it was all the talk of his immunity-for-truck deal with Dre “Dreamz” Herd  that caused him to feel it was necessary to play the immunity idol. He made the right choice, but now what?

Yau speaks with Earl Cole about next steps. Yau knows he is a target and mentions that he might need to use the immunity idol that Earl currently holds. Earl looks hesitant, mentioning that he might no longer be so safe either, now that the other alliance knows he doesn’t trust them.

Earl starts feeling them out. He talks with Cassandra Franklin about the switch to target Yau in the last vote. He tells her they should have talked to him about it. It’s hard to tell if he’s really that eager to throw Yau under the bus or if he is playing Cassandra as there is no interview intercut with it to give context. At the end of the conversation, though, he tries to deflect Cassandra’s suspicions that Yau had found the other immunity idol by pointing out that Yau sticks close to camp while only he and Kenward Boo Bernis wander about.

And now it is the decisive immunity challenge. The Survivors must navigate a series of five mazes to track down an individual key, then use that key to lower a beam drawbridge which they then cross to the next maze to run the same gamut, all of this while blindfolded.

Yau-Man takes an early lead, with Dreamz and Boo nipping at his heels. Earl falls behind, and Cassandra seems to wander in a circle at the start, unable, she mutters to herself, to even find the guidepost clues.

Yau never loses his lead and ends up winning immunity. He has probably just saved his own neck.

Now Boo has to worry about his own. After Yau takes him aside and congratulates him on his strong game play (saying, essentially, “See ya wouldn’t want to be ya”), Boo gets cracking trying to create another possible outcome. He talks to Earl and Yau about voting off Dreamz. Yau seems no longer 100% sold on Dreamz’s reliability and seems to entertain the idea, taking Earl aside to discuss.

But it’s all for naught, and, after Earl plays his idol just to be safe, Boo is voted off in the next tribal council.

Yau now has things just where he wanted them. Four people left, and to make it to three, he just needs either to win immunity himself or for Dreamz to win it and keep his word.

Before they can get to the immunity challenge, they have to go through the whole “Here are your fallen comrades” process. The only interesting thing is that while most of the clips of the eliminated players on Survivor: Fiji focus on their comments about the experience, two of the Horsemen mention Dreamz selling them out. Hmmmm. Interesting. Foreshadowing?

Now it’s the immunity challenge, and, as usual at this stage, it’s an endurance challenge, but a particularly nasty one. Each player must keep their grip on bar while on a platform that will increase in incline every five minutes. Oh, and they have water pouring on them and making the platform slippery.

And, Jeff has some news. The Survivors aren’t aiming for a final two this time. It will be three before the jury for this season. Wow. Yau-Man has to return his immunity necklace, and Dreamz tells him he will have it back soon.

They all take their places. It looks very painful and difficult. Cassandra and Earl initially both seem to struggle but eventually Earl finds a comfortable spot and seems to settle in. Cassandra drops during the third angle increase. Dreamz starts to struggle, but it’s Earl who loses his grip next. Then Dreamz seems to settle back while Yau starts to struggle.

Yau falls. What will this mean? Will Dreamz keep his word?

Plans are in place to vote our Dreamz, but Yau’s faith seems to falter as he says to Dreamz “If you don’t give me the idol, will you at least not vote for me?” Dreamz protests, but then later tells Cassandra and Earl that he plans to do the right thing, but if he does the wrong thing, they better vote for Yau tonight.

At tribal council, things seem to start to go south for Yau quickly, and finally, when Jeff asks Dreamz point blank if he will give Yau the idol, Dreamz says no. He cries and tells Yau he’s sorry but he keeps it.

This doesn’t look good at all.

And it’s not. Yau is voted off – everyone, including his buddy Earl, votes for him, while his lone vote goes to Cassandra.

Back at camp, Dreamz’s self-justification begins. He does the typical thing that people do when they know they’ve done something really wrong: they start proclaiming – loudly and often to everyone within earshot – how what they did was perfectly all right. You know, if he just stated matter-of-factly that he decided that the money was more important and just left it at that, one could almost accept it. But his roundabout explanations and justifications are very distasteful.

So between him, useless Cassandra and Earl, it seems Earl is the most likable now. Earl is still standing, so maybe his kind of smug self-satisfaction earlier was warranted.

Now the three have to face the jury. And the whole experience can best be summed up by saying: by the time the jury questioning was over, the final three seemed MORE likable. But not because of anything they said; just in comparison to the ridiculous display put on by some of the most repugnant jury members.

Before we get to the questioning, the final three each get to make a statement. Earl says he played a pretty clean game and that he’s looking for the respect vote. Cassandra says she tried to stay positive and be someone everyone could talk to. Dreamz talks about his life story. Hmm. He pointedly told everyone at the final five tribal council that he wasn’t asking for the sympathy vote, and here he is: asking for the sympathy vote. Suddenly Dreamz becomes transparent: whatever he says IS he going do, he won’t; and whatever he says he’s NOT going to do, he will.

Time for jury questions and it is an ugly evening.

Things start off mellow, with sweet Michelle Yi asking a reasonable question about hardship. Dreamz says thirst, Earl says the whole Ravu plus Exile experience, and Cassandra says overcoming her fear of water. Michelle does get a little zinger in there, asking if Cassandra thinks that overcoming a fear earns her a million dollars, but all in all – she takes it easy on them.

Edgardo Rivera is up next, and just has a simple – but pointed question for Earl. Who told him about the Horseman’s immunity idol? He answers Dreamz.

Mookie Lee confronts Dreamz about the betrayal about the immunity idol. They get into a game of semantics about lying versus betrayals…let’s just say it’s not exactly a meeting of the minds.

Next up is Alex Angarita. He starts off by attacking Cassandra about betraying Stacy, and when she tries to defend herself (because didn’t she not really betray Stacy at all?) he just starts yelling – yes YELLING, a grown man yelling at another grown person – to stop talking. Disgusting display. He then turns his wrath on Dreamz, trying to call him out for being a bad role model for kids because he lies and cheats. Alex, who apparently also is interested in or works with kids, acts like he always took the high road, but didn’t he snoop in someone’s stuff and then try to blackmail Yau? Maybe he could draw us a little diagram of when it’s okay to “play the game” and when it’s not? Somehow one suspects the line is right along the parallel of Benefits Alex and Doesn’t Benefit Alex.

But if that wasn’t disgusting enough for you, we have Lisi Linares. She starts off by criticizing Cassandra’s footwear, and saying how that showed she wasn’t ready to be there. As much Cassandra hasn’t really distinguished herself in the game, it was nice to see her put Lisi in her place by saying that she is still in the game so clearly she did something right. Then Lisi asks Dreamz how many zeroes are in one million. Tacky. Then she accuses Earl of acting fake when Yau was voted off, and has some stupid retort when he says he was just surprised that Dreamz didn’t give Yau the idol. She is a thoroughly unlikable person.

Stacy Kimball says that she thinks Earl is the same as Dreamz, just more sophisticated. ( is that?) So why give Earl the money when Dreamz needs it more. Earl points out that they are all on Survivor: Fiji in the first place because they need money, and why should he be penalized for having a job and a car?

James “Rocky” Reid wants each of them to talk about their best manipulation. Cassandra, he stops cold, as she continues to focus on her positive nurturing. Dreamz points out that he manipulated his way off the chopping block every time he was on it, and Rocky seems to respect that. Earl says he thinks he manipulated everyone because no one thought he was playing at all. Good point.

Boo tries to confront Dreamz about going back on his Christian values. Dreamz is a slippery fish, though, and no one can seem to get him to admit to any wrong-doing.

Not even Yau-Man. Yau takes his spot and says that because he is an older man, he has the benefit of not having “testosterone overload” and can admit a mistake. He tells Dreamz that everything that happened with regard to the truck was his mistake, and Dreamz should take the truck and enjoy without guilt. But, Yau-Man wants him to “have the gonads” to admit why he changed his mind. But again, Dreamz won’t really admit to changing his mind and seems to want to build a story that he never planned to give Yau immunity in the first place. Yau then asks Earl why he voted for him, and Earl says point blank that it was because he was the best player.

Time to vote! And time for the transition to the reunion show, which, sadly, has become quite tame nowadays. What, is Jeff too dignified now to show up on a jet ski? Okay, one can’t really blame him for that.

Everyone is sitting around, plump after their time back in civilization. Plumper doesn’t work as well for everyone – both Dreamz and Earl should definitely consider going back on the Survivor: Fiji diet – but Yau, at least, seems to really need the extra pounds.

Time to find out the results. Is there any need to build suspense? We all know what is coming right? Plump Earl is the sole Survivor, with an unprecedented clean sweep of all the votes.

After some celebration, it’s time to get to the reunion part of the reunion show. First off, Earl and Yau talk about their friendship and partnership. Yau says they connected out of a shared work ethic. Earl liked Yau’s smarts, and Yau, who as an older dude felt like an outsider, appreciated that Earl sought him out. The two remain friends, and Earl admits that voting for Yau was really a difficult moment for him, but when Dreamz reneged on his deal, he knew he (Dreamz) had just opened the door for Earl to win the million. It’s true – Yau would have gotten at least six votes had he been in the final three. There seem to be few hard feelings between Yau and Earl, though, and so that’s nice.

Jeff tries to pin Dreamz down on this one burning topic: was Dreamz lying when he took the deal with Yau in the first place or did he change his mind later? He has to ask the question about four different ways and Dreamz will not give a yes or no answer. Jeff makes a funny aside to the audience that this kind of thing is why tribal council can take two and a half hours. (It’s funny to see how invested Jeff is in the answer, and how much he seems to get to really get to know and understand the players as individuals. It seems that part of why the show does still work to this day is because Jeff isn’t just a host who shows up to read his part, he’s really learning about the players as human beings and trying to figure out himself what makes them tick.) Eventually, Dreamz seems to answer the question by saying he always planned to go back on the deal.

Jeff then talks to Yau about his feelings. Yau says that he is impressed with Dreamz for fooling him, as he really believed Dreamz would keep his word. He thinks that Dreamz is very smart, just “undisciplined” in his thinking, and that with some education and training to sort of corral and harness those inherent smarts, Dreamz could really go far. Jeff asks Yau why he didn’t campaign harder for Dreamz to stick to his word, and Yau admits his stubborn pride wouldn’t allow him to admit he could be wrong about Dreamz.

Next, Jeff makes a run through touching base with all of the other players. Rocky talks about his hotheadedness, and Anthony, about being the brunt of it. Both seem to chalk it all up to Rocky needing a sandwich. We learn that Boo’s knee injury was not a sound effect – what was heard on the show was the actual sound. He does have a torn ACL from the whole thing. Gary Papa Smurf might have had to leave the game early, but he is forever changed by the event – he got a Survivor tattoo.

We run out of time, and now Jeff lets us know about the next Survivor, which will happen in China. Four words: TIGERS, PANDAS and SNOW LEOPARDS. This could be awesome. How about making it an All-Stars Game? Or at least ONE All-Star – let’s give Yau-Man another shot at a million!

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

(Images courtesy of CBS)