Have you ever meant to do something, only to put it off over and over until it was too late? I kept meaning to write an essay on the carwreck that is Survivor: Redemption Island, firing salvo after salvo at perhaps the worst idea the show has ever had. But as I start to write this, it's less than 90 minutes until the finale starts up, so I'll just cover the bare bones.
If Rob Wins, The Show Is Broken
This is his fourth time on the show. Now, you're probably thinking, "Dude, you're the one that watches Real World/Road Rules Challenge. What's the difference between Rob and another Boston-born troglodyte like CT?" The difference is that with each season, Bunim-Murray Productions switches up the format . . . Gauntlets, Infernos, Duels, Battles of the Sexes, etc. Survivor is still the same game, even as its DNA continues to mutate. If you take Richard Hatch from 2000 and plop him in the current season, there's no guarantee that he would win. But I feel that Rob has been on the show long enough to know what to do, and the people around him are too stupid to make a move against him. Of course, there's probably a thought balloon above each player's head with he/she in a final three alongside Rob and Phillip, but I don't think it's a guaranteed win like it would have been if Russell was crammed into Rob's place. Basically, Rob playing the game is like watching a .290 hitter in his mid-30s destroy a Little League team. It's just not fun to watch. And since he's still considered popular, not only would I not rule out him returning to this show, I fully expect CBS to send large men named "Rocky," "Knuckles" and "Tiny" to the producers of The Amazing Race, in order to "convince" them to have them on the next all-star season, which I expect to happen in its twentifh
(Tangent: Turns out Rob will be starring in Around The World In 80 Ways on History Channel, where he and Dennis Anderson (creator of the monster truck Gravedigger) will be taking eighty modes of transportation without repeating a vehicle. Here's my question: What about Amber? She was roughly seven months pregnant when Redemption Island was filming, and now she'll be alone with her two daughters for a few more months. Can't Rob get any kind of job that's close to home? I'm not asking him to work construction again, but it just seems like grounds for divorce, even if Amber still loves the big dope.)
If Somebody From Redemption Island Wins, The Show Is Broken
We went through this years ago with Pearl Islands, when Burton and Lillian got back into the game and got far, with Lil finishing runner-up to winner Sandra. I just don't care about Redemption Island, in the sense that we don't spend enough time seeing how they cope with minimal rations. A win from Andrea, Grant or Mike might not get as many asterisks as Rob, but there's the stigma of being voted out that would still remain. It would've been on Lil even if she had taken Jon into Day 39 with her and won (since that guy was basically pralines 'n' dick), though that would've been a happy ending. Instead, she took Sandra, and most of the jury members took turns whacking her fragile ego like a pinata . . . including Rupert, who's supposed to be a loveable lug.
If Matt Wins, The Show Is Really Broken
He got voted out of Ometepe on Day 5, got sent to Redemption Island, wound up beating six people to stay in the game, got sent back into the game on Day 19 . . . and wound up getting voted off on Day 21. But since "Redemption Island" is in the show's title, he got sent back there, where he slowly began to lose his sanity, relying on God more and more. How back was it? Put it this way: when the RI inhabitants got the sponsor phone with pictures of their loved ones, I wouldn't have been shocked to see Jesus popping up for Matt. But seriously . . . he got voted off. TWICE. Not only should he have gone straight to the jury after the second vote, he should have been forced to wear a dunce hat until Day 39. Even though Burton and Lillian were granted one-time immunity when they got back in the game in time for the first individual immunity challenge, they had to wheel and deal to stay in favor with the others. Matt went up to Rob and told him that he was getting his vote. As Shii Ann Huang (or cartoonist Jeff Smith) might put it: "Stupid Matt! Stupid, stupid Matt!"
If Phillip Wins, The End Of The World Might Be Nigh
Here's what passes for logic in Phillip's head: He plays up acting like an asshole to the point where Rob decides to use him as a surfboard to coast towards a win. And apparently, on Day 39, he will convince the jury to give him the million bucks. Short of dousing the jury with a gas that makes people lose an entire month's worth of memories, how the hell can he pull it off? He has pissed off everybody at one point or another. He turned an argument about rice with Steve into a race issue, dropping The Word White People Should Never Ever Use over and over again. Phillip is even more delusional that Benjamin "Coach" Wade, and I didn't even think that was possible. And it has nothing to do with race. If the NAACP or another like-minded organization urged people to boycott Survivor because of the casting of Phillip and Naonka, could you blame them?
(Tangent: I can't believe that Phillip's sister was normal. Given his penchant of wearing a feather on his head, I expected her to come out with a headdress made up of pigeon feathers. In retrospect, another possible look would have been her wearing a stained straitjacket, with an oversized Napoleon-style hat that had a giant "N" emblazoned on the front.)
If Anybody Else Wins, The Show Is Broken
I can't see anybody but Rob winning, because that's how the editing has gone. I will say that I thought Kisha & Jen would be the last team eliminated from The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business because they didn't get enough airtime, so I could be wrong on this. I also figured Zev & Justin would win, and that the editors would cram in a Katy Perry song into the final episode for the third season in a row. My reasoning about things sucking should Natalie (who was ten years old when Rob first played) or Ashley winning is that the game has been less about being the best, and more about sucking the least. Remember Natalie from Samoa? Even with Russell being the big kahuna, his lack of social graces (he's probably allergic to grace) turned the show into one long game of Hot Potato. Last season yielded the same result, with a goober nicknamed "Fabio" winning the $1 million. Whatever happened to the epic Ozzy vs. Yul finale, or Tom and Ian staying on posts for twelve hours? People complain about TAR going downhill in quality, but I feel it's a genre-wide problem, and Survivor is far from immune. No matter what happens, Mark Burnett and his crew should go back to the drawing board.
Before I go, I posted on Television Without Pity on what I expect from tonight's reunion special. Last season, we bottomed out with Jeff Probst giving lap dances to Jimmy Johnson and Terry Bradshaw. What will we see tonight?
1. Probst gives love to Rob for his win, giving scant attention to the other two finalists. The name "Susan Lucci" will be brought up, even though she did win a Daytime Emmy years ago.
2. After commercials, Probst gives love to Rob again, as he finally wins a million bucks. Amber gets camera time and a few lines. One or both daughters will be shoved in front of the camera.
3. Probst gives love to Russell. Members of the Zapatera tribe are given a token chance to explain why they voted him out, but Probst will favor Russell no matter what, and it will be embarrassing. Russell will embarrass himself a lot, since this will be the only camera time he will get this evening.
4. Probst gives love to Phillip, calling him "one of the most controversial players we've ever had" or "one of the most colorful players we've ever had." Phillip doesn't get booed that much (maybe by three percent of the crowd), and he fails to explain the crazy. Steve is brought into the conversation to "defend" himself in RiceRaceWarGate, but Phillip will not back down. His sister will defend him, but it will be for naught.
5. Probst reluctantly starts pointing out the other players, spotlighting those stuck on Redemption Island. Matt gets the most time, since he's spent forever in limbo. Over/Under of mentions of God: 4.
6. Probst reveals the winner of the $100,000 fan vote. Rob wins in a landslide, because hey, why not? Rob fails to thank the casting people for stacking the deck so heavily in his favor, or Mark Burnett for the sweet appearance fee, which Russell also got.
7. Getting the "Wrap it up quick, we gotta get plowed at the nearby bar and get the taste of this shitty, shitty season out of our mouths" signal, Probst halfheartedly goes over some of the players. Over/Under of how many people get ignored: 6. Over/Under of how many jury members get ignored: 3.5.
8. Probst "previews" the next season. It will be big. It will have surprises. It will turn out to be slightly better than this season. Barely.
9. Probst wraps it up with the "we're auctioning off stuff for charity" spiel, and bids us goodnight.
Will things play out the way I've said? I'd say no, but in this predictable season, I wouldn't rule it out. Also, I feel that it might be a matter of time before an EMS crew is called in to pry Probst's lips from Rob's buttocks. His buttocks if we're lucky.