Tue, Dec 12, 2017 12:50 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-12-17 life & times
Pearl Island survivors gave show new life
Cletus Turner

The last three remaining Balboa tribe members were Lill, Sandra and Jon. (click for larger version)
Survivor has become one of those rites of passage. Each television season, a new sole survivor is crowned and we can rest easy until the next sweeps month. In February, we get to see an "all-star" Survivor which will bring back people from the previous series. We already know that Rupert Boneham, who was voted out by someone he considered to be a friend and "ally," will be a part of that show. Rupert was the breakout personality for the current episodes and I'm sure the producers were upset that he was voted out so early.

As it stood on Sunday night, we were down to four survivors. Jon Dalton, the lying manipulator from Danville, Va.; Darrah Johnson, the six pounds soaking wet immunity monster from Liberty, Miss.; Lillian Morris, the boy scout leader from Loveland, Ohio; and Sandra Diaz-Twine, the silent type from Ft. Lewis, Wash. were all vying for the two spots in the final.

Jon, the snake, went right to work. First, he began to drive a wedge between Lillian and Darrah. Jon told Darrah that Lillian would be more popular with the jury, which is made up of the survivors who have been voted off previously, and that they should band together to get rid of her. Lillian went to Sandra and told her that they should vote off Darrah because of her ability to win immunity challenges. Darrah had won the previous three immunities.

It was very unusual for the immunity challenge to be held at tribal council, where people are normally voted off, but host Jeff Probst told the castaways that they would be up against not only each other, but the jury as well. This did not bode well for the survivors because Rupert, who seemingly knows everything, was on the jury.

Questions like "which side of the ship is the 'starboard' side?" were asked of the survivors. The first person/group to get five questions right would win the challenge. Jon, naturally, jumped out to an early lead, but the jury was able to come from behind to take the immunity challenge. This, for the first time, made everyone eligible to be voted off the island. My hope was for Jon to be voted off. After all, the snake told everyone that his grandmother died just to get sympathy.

Unfortunately, Jon had done his work too well and Darrah was voted out by a three-to-one vote. Darrah had voted for Lillian. Darrah was amazed and, in her final speech, said she couldn't believe how a "60 pounds soaking wet" person could be such a threat.

Now, work began in earnest to try to figure out who would go to the final two. The final immunity challenge had the survivors balancing themselves on a floating wicker raft. They were not allowed to sit down, instead, they had be on their hands and/or feet at all times. Sandra was the first to go as a wave knocked her off. Jon tried to make several deals with Lillian, but the boy scout leader wouldn't listen. Finally, Jon fell off his raft and Lillian, who had been voted off before only to be brought back later, was the the first person through to the finals. The question remained, who would she bring through with her? Jon actually made sense when he said he was hated and that Lillian would win the million dollars if she brought him through to the finals. Sandra told Lillian that she had a family she would like to provide for if she won. Lillian's heartstrings were certainly played and Jon was voted off. The jury was complete. Now, Sandra and Lillian would face the jury and explain why each of them should win the money.

Lillian said she had made a mistake bringing in the fact she was a boy scout leader because now there were questions about her honesty. Sandra had to defend her work ethic from early in the game. Finally, the jury voted six-to-one to have Sandra become the newest "sole survivor" and win the $1 million.

In many ways, this set of survivors was excellent. First, you had Jon, the snake you love to hate. He made no apologies about how he played the game. It was too bad for him that his machinations came back to bite him in the end. Rupert was the most popular of the castaways and I have to admit that I was sad to see him voted off. It was nice to see those who stabbed him in the back get their just reward.

The new curves or wrinkles thrown into the mix helped to keep interest up. Who can believe that a new tribe, made up of those voted off, would come from nowhere? Or how about someone who had been voted off getting to the final two? If Lillian had won, that would have been a real shocker.

Overall, Survivor has done the impossible. It breathed life into what looked old and stale. Now, we can look forward to the "all-star" version with anticipation. Hopefully, this time Rupert will win.

four suns

Notes from the couch:

Over 25 million people watched the finale of Survivor, which was the most watched show for the week. Everyone hoped that Jon would not win, and he didn't.

The stars of Friends are nearing the end of their run on NBC. After ten seasons, the show looks to end as the number one comedy for a second straight season. With Matt LeBlanc moving on to his own series, there is no talk of adding one more season as there was last year. Writers were smart to nix the Joey/Rachel relationship, but where will that leave Ross and Rachel? For now, that secret hasn't been exposed.

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