Survivor NZ: Nicaragua

Survivor New Zealand: Let’s R.I.P. into It

The man with the ever-changing bio, Logan Saunders, returns to cap off his recaps of Survivor New Zealand: Nicaragua with a bizarre Final.

Survivor New Zealand: Let’s R.I.P. into It

Episode 19

Previously on Survivor NZ:

Matt climaxed for the first time in 35 days when Barbz won immunity and stopped Tom’s attempt at creating history.

Barb sided with her new alliance, specifically Avi, to eliminate Nate from the game.

Nate buried the hatchet with Mike and Jak on RI. Jak lost the final Redemption Battle as Mike and Nate both re-entered the game.

Four days remain with two immunity challenges and two EXPLOSIVE Tribal Councils (Matt’s words, not mine).

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Day 36. All five players sprint back to camp as a huge rainstorm hits them during their trek from Redemption Island Arena.

Nate does not think the dynamic has changed much, but will, you know, try to work with Mike to come up with a new plan. Otherwise, history shall repeat itself.

We watch a turtle crawl into the water.

We fast forward to day 37. Yes, I used the words “fast forward” on Survivor NZ.

Avi and Tom are playing cards and agree Jak will vote for Tom to win. Avi thinks if Mike is with them at Final Three that the non-Avi votes will be evenly split between Tom and Mike, thus allowing Avi to win.

Barb joins Avi and Tom for a game of cards. Tom has to push Avi’s cards back.

AVI: So like me to be showing all of my cards.

And surprisingly not a single target on his back.

Nate and Mike chat. Nate admires Mike for his nickname as “Goliath”. They kiss and make up. Again, Nate’s words. Not mine.

Nate wants to see the colour purple for the rest of the game. Personally, I stopped liking Oprah Winfrey about ten years ago, but whatever.

Nate and Mike decide to work on Barb to gain the majority. Uh, I don’t know if that is the best idea, guys. Nate says Mike will have to win immunity for them to have a shot at pulling Barb in.

In other words, it is confirmed that nothing has changed. I don’t know why Nate is relying on Barb after she burned him once just two days earlier to help improve his position. Doesn’t he know how stubborn Barb can be? She’s as stubborn as a. . .as a. . .well, as one of her horses back home.

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INDIVIDUAL IMMUNITY INVITE: A bit tipsy.

Tom and Mike prepare for their showdown. Tom says he is Larry Bird and Mike is Magic Johnson. Oh, another American pop culture reference. I mean, an 80s reference, but good on them.

Matt talks to Mike. Mike hopes everyone else’s friendliness turns into an alliance. Matt doesn’t help Mike out by asking everybody else what they think about Goliath.

The immunity challenge is identical to the day 37 immunity challenge from Blood vs. Water–a challenge which has been played numerous times since then. We waste no time to rip into it.

Barb has an early lead.

MATT: Barb has found an early sweet spot!

Is that courtesy of Alison’s Pantry?

Barb and Mike are tied with five blocks apiece. Avi also at five. Nate is doing horribly. Tom is catching up to Barb and Mike. So is Avi. All four are at six blocks.

Barb has seven. Everyone else but Nate has six. Poor Nate. He is doomed to be fourth at best.

Mike has fallen to fourth place. This is where Jeff Probst would say “Redemption Island is taking its toll!”

Tom has nine blocks. Barb goes for her tenth, but she drops when she picks up her final block. One to go. Mike has eight. Avi has seven.

Tom wins individual immunity for the fifth time. He has now tied the world record.

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Tom expects an unprecedented scramble from Mike. C’mon guys. Why are we pretending that the majority of the tribe will let Mike have a chance at winning the final immunity challenge and automatically win the Final Three jury vote? Even a surge of Hermosa patriotism won’t be enough.

We see shots of grasshoppers and a not-so-stormy camp. The storm has passed now that Mike has lost immunity.

MIKE: That challenge didn’t go as planned.

Plan A: Win. Plan B: Win. Plan C: Win.

Barb is in the hammock as Mike sits beneath her.

NOTE: You can see a couple pages of Barb’s notes in her journal thanks to an intrusive camera shot. It shows her bragging about being in the middle of two alliances and going to do a confessional. I didn’t think they would tilt production notes on camera.

BARB: That challenge was mine to lose!

Trust me, Mike knows all this too well.

Mike says Barb’s family will respect her more if she goes to the end with Nate and Mike as well as earning more jury votes.

BARB: It will be far better standing beside Mike and Nate than it would be standing beside Avi and Tom, and he is totally correct. But I couldn’t look Avi in the eye and betray him.

It makes you wonder if Avi’s social game has been dictating the endgame rather than Barb’s own strategery.

Barb proceeds to brag about pulling off the Sala blindside to Mike’s face. Well, that’s one jury vote gone. This is bordering Russell Hantz territory where you piss off a juror just hours before sending them home.

BARB: My Sala move that was HUGE and that was all me. I found it really simple to direct people. I know I need people in their 40s and 50s on the jury to actually appreciate my subtle game, and why you won’t emotionally understand.

MIKE: Why is that?

BARB: I know what you are saying. If I was playing for Survivor and all about the money, you’d be totally right.

Barb is simultaneously an interesting character but also a horrible player when it comes to the social game.

The absolute last thing somebody in their teens, 20s, or even 30s wants to hear is “Oh, you can’t grasp this concept because you’re too young to understand. I know best.”

Like, that’s some major honey badger shit right there. It’s hilarious, but man, it is going to come at Barb’s expense. When Mike is voted out, he is going to have a huge influence over Lee and Jak on the jury, and I can guarantee you Mike will not have very nice things to say about Barb.

I should also point out that Barb would not get along with people in their 40s and 50s in this game. She would have been voted out much earlier.

MIKE: Barb is like your old grandma who has a one-way valve and doesn’t take anything in.

That is a burn.

Mike and Barb keep talking.

BARB: I just was myself. It was just like taking candy from a baby.

No, this isn’t a confessional. She says this to Mike’s face.

Barb ends the conversation with telling Mike that he should have aligned with her in the beginning because she is loyal (just ask Sala).

Mike has one final pitch, and it isn’t for himself–it’s for Nate.

MIKE: They’re not going to listen to you standing next to two good players. But if Nate is beside you then like you’ve clearly done a lot more than Nate.

BARB: I know I have done more than Nate. . .I hope whatever I decide you have to respect.

Well, he doesn’t have to respect her. . .He might though when he is in his 40s or 50s.

Nate and Mike talk at camp. Mike says he will take one more crack at Barb at Tribal Council to sway her, but doubts it’ll work. Nate doubts it too. They want Avi out because he is the biggest threat.

NATE: If I had to pick a pony, it’d be Barb because I spent 35 days together.

So Nate approaches Barb in the shelter who has finished journaling in the hammock.

NATE: The whole world can’t eat candy floss. I know that.

But they all can eat delicious pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut.

Nate insists to Barb that Avi’s jury speech will be brilliant and that everybody will vote for Tom or Avi to win.

Nate and Mike are talking to Tom.

MIKE: Ideal strategy would be to get me, Barb, and Nate to get along and vote out Avi then take out Tom at final immunity. Then I’m left with two old people who won’t get any votes at Final Three. The other option is to go with Tom and Avi.

Sadly, the other option might have the greater chance of working out at the moment. Mike and Avi have a chat (Australian Survivor™).

When rational thinking and strategy is not working, approach the player with the biggest heart to emotionally manipulate the outcome of Tribal Council. It’s a classic strategy in Survivor that works more than you think.

Avi relays Mike’s plan to Tom.

TOM: No bueno.

Thank god I spent over a month in Spain earlier this year. It means “no good”.

Tom is more afraid of Mike swaying Avi, but the possibility still scares him.

See, this is why Avi should be seen as a jury threat. Avi has had a very consistent game in terms of wearing his heart on his sleeve but endearing himself to everybody around him and being a good listener.

Jurors accept emotional players as winners as long as they are consistent with their behaviour and can connect with “the real you”. If you are mixing “I want the best to win but I don’t give a sh** about you” and “I am the best strategist here” like Barb is, and you won’t stand a chance at winning.

Nate says Mike should be worried because he does not think anybody will flip. Avi says the game is constantly changing. It may change occasionally, but Mike being saved tonight would be if the tide in Nicaragua changed in the opposite direction.

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It’s Tribal Council time.

MATT: So much has happened since our last Tribal which was ONLY two days ago.

And before that Tribal Council was four days earlier.

Matt compliments Mike on being a powerhouse for eliminating everybody from Redemption Island.

Mike presents the “whole spiel” on the tribe. But first, we watch dancing shoes. OK, we’re good.shoes-1

MIKE: So basically, we’ve got these two [Tom and Avi] that are tight. Then there’s me and Nate on the outside. The obvious person to ask for help was Barbara. . .She can either go with the two guys that have been carrying her the past two weeks and get to the Final Three, but if she goes with those two she’ll get zero votes which would be a pretty embarrassing way to end the game. People in the jury will vote for a strong player who wins the challenges, Tom, or a social player who makes lots of friends, which is Avi.

MIKE: If she goes with me and Nate, I’d get the challenge votes, and her social game has been a lot better than Nate’s social game, and would get quite a few votes that Avi would have gotten. So she can choose to get zero votes and have an embarrassing end or come with me and Nate and she’d actually get quite a few votes. It’s up to Barbara. She’s got the vote.

Man. Shots fired. Lee’s moustache silently gasps. He’s the new Alec Christy.

BARB: I suppose you could ask me a question now. First of all, “she’s the cat’s mother”. I don’t know if you’ve heard that phrase.

MIKE: I haven’t.

Because you aren’t in your 40s or 50s.

Barb says she can’t be carried if she is the lynchpin yet again, and that her, Avi, and Tom are a solid triangle.

Tom says he wouldn’t have approached it the way Mike did. Barb laughs at Mike’s speech and says that Mike was very disrespectful.

BARB: We’ve talked about how this was how he was in the first two weeks at Hermosa. I don’t think he’s improved much.

Matt asks Mike if he was being disrespectful.

MIKE: That wasn’t the intention. I was trying to show her–

BARB: How I was being thrown under the bus.

For the tenth time this episode, Barb has cut Mike off in a conversation. Note that Mike didn’t cut Barb off once from the footage shown.

BARB: Mike’s been out quite a while so I don’t think he’s quite up to date on everything.

Ouch.

Avi tries to say Mike is making a bunch of assumptions. Mike cuts him off saying it is not an assumption.

Matt asks everyone why they should be kept around. Barb responds that she should be kept because she is delightful. Everyone on Hermosa, Sala, and Shay may disagree with that statement at the moment.

It’s time to vote.

Mike votes for “RV”. What the hell? Who is RV? I know Mike has been out of the loop and was never on a tribe with Avi except for three days at the merge and today, but has he really been thinking Avi’s name is RV? I guess he could be traveling across New Zealand with all of his potential winnings.

FIRST VOTE: MIKE AKA El Loco Poco. (The Little Crazy?)

SECOND VOTE: RV (I can’t read Mike’s scribbles underneath.)

THIRD VOTE: Mike

FOURTH VOTE: GOLIATH

Lee’s moustache is sad as Mike hugs everyone goodbye. No more Redemption Island, but he still gets to carry his torch away.

Jak throws up a peace sign as they exit.

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We head back to camp. Tom reveals that Mike whispered to him prior to Tribal Council “Let the games begin, Tom.”

Barb thought Mike’s behaviour was dramatic.

AVI: I am going to have a long conversation with Barb tomorrow. I think I need the three to be me, Tom, and Nate. I need Barb’s vote in the jury.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? You crazy, Avi? After Barb just guaranteed herself zero jury votes? If anything Avi should be thinking about eliminating Tom and probably win unanimously.

It is now day 38. Nate says nobody knows whether the game is going to last 39 or 40 days, or if today will be immunity or reward or a no challenge day.

Can you imagine a Survivor season like this? Where the number of days the game lasts for is a complete mystery to the contestants? How would you know how much time you need to take off from work?

“Oh, sorry guys, it’s actually going to be 78 days rather than 39 days. You’ll be here when season two starts filming.”

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IMMUNITY CHALLENGE INVITE: The Last One.

Laziest Tree Mail ever.

Everyone pretends to be surprised that it is an immunity challenge.

TOM: OH! SCHNIEEEEZ!

I learned two new phrases: The Cat’s Mother and Oh Schnieeez!

AVI: After this there will be three people left, and could very well be the Final Three in this game.

-Could-, Avi? Could? What kind of twist is Avi expecting that the three players left tonight will not be the Final Three?

Is Matt going to reveal it is Opposite Day and that Dee, Hannah, and Tony are the real Final Three? And Hannah will receive no votes and blame it on being fat shamed?

We cut to the immunity challenge. This is the fastest episode in the whole season. Will Tom break the world record?

The final immunity challenge is the final Redemption Island “duel” from Survivor: Redemption Island. Using one foot, balance a vase on the end of a teeter-totter. Once the vase (or vahze, as Matt likes to say) falls, they are out of the challenge. Last person standing wins immunity.

Everyone has their arms on their hips while Nate’s arms are folded.

Nate wobbles and looks like Fred Flinstone on ice. Nate’s vase falls in under two minutes.

Wow. So we’re not going to have any suspense as to whether or not Nate can be in the Final Three, eh?

The returnees from Redemption Island could not have f**ked it up any worse in these two challenges. This is how you know Survivor NZ is not scripted. Producers must be pissed.

Twenty minutes have elapsed. Tom fixes his hair. A butterfly hangs on his vase. Nate has no choice but to sit there and watch his demise.

Barb loses her balance and the vase falls in thirty minutes. Nate probably just wants to quit right now and cut through the BS.

One hour has passed. Nate is trying to nap on his stomach over the crate.

MATT: Tom, you feel like an ice cold drink?

TOM: Yeah.

MATT: . . .Same.

Not even a temptation. Way to build them up, buttercup. Wait, that’s a foundation.

We are now two hours in. Tom almost loses his balance. Avi is making him work really hard for the record.

AVI: Tell us a story, Matt.

MATT: I think this challenge will be harder if you tell me a story.

AVI: There once was a boy named Tom and he had won FIVE immunities. His next door neighbour was a poor little boy named Avi who hadn’t won a single one. One day they went to a duel and lasted three hours staring at a vase balancing tentatively on a see-saw.

MATT: Look at how much fun we are having on a see-saw.

Well, Tom is a teacher and Avi works with children. This is up their alley.

Tom makes hilarious facial expressions as he battles to recover.

We are now at the three-hour mark. The next step is here as Matt forces the players to put their hands on the top of the head like they are a G20 protestor caught by police.

Tom’s leg is at a ridiculous angle. How is he still in this? Avi’s legs are shaking. Both legs are shaking.

TOM FAINTS! Holy sh**.

MATT: Tom is gone! Avi wins immunity!

He falls off the platform in the same way that Michelle Yi did in Survivor: Fiji. However, Michelle has no excuse as she was conscious. It was a complete collapse. He nearly fell head first if not for his hands bracing the hands as he crashes into the dirt. Luckily the platform was not high.

Remember when Avi said the Final Three may not be the Final Three? Well, I’ll be damned. Avi knows more than I do about this game.

MATT: Do you remember what happened?

TOM: No.

AVI: Well, I won.

Way to rub it in. Imagine if Mike was the one that fainted and Barb had won. He would have probably punched her in the face.

Tom and Avi have a severe bro moment as Tom sips water as he is surrounded by doctors and the other players.

MATT: You have won probably the most important individual immunity challenge.

Not really. Nate was gone in about 90 seconds and he could have just let Tom win without any consequences, but whatever. Poor Tom.

Tom said he was fixated on a black dot then everything became bright lights. Then his own lights went out.

You know Survivor gods truly exist when they force a player to collapse before they could claim their sixth immunity win in a single season.

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For the fifth round in a row, Nate becomes the new Shay as he cannot give up on his obsession of eliminating Tom. He proceeds to approach Barb.

Do you know the definition of insanity, Nate? I think he really needs to go after Barb instead of Tom. Appeal to their emotions. Clearly, Barb hasn’t changed her mind about anything for a very long time. Avi and Tom are very flexible.

BARB: If Avi was smart, he’d get rid of Tom tonight. It’s the only way he wins. . .He just doesn’t have the numbers whether I’m on the jury or not. He’s made no moves. If there’s a move to make, that’s what he should make. All he’s done is be a nice guy.

My god, Barb. You have a vote. How do you go from lynchpin to “Eh, Avi is a moron and it’s all on him”.

Nate finally pitches the 2-2 tie.

BARB: A 2-2 split. What does it achieve?

NATE: It forces a tiebreaker.

BARB: I don’t know how it works.

NATE: We have to build  a fire.

BARB: I can’t build a fire.

NATE: I can build a fire. Two for me, two for Tom. We build a fire.

Nate says he has made fire several times.

NATE: She’s a good thinker. She’s a good tactician.

A 38-day tactician, Nate. Barb is essentially picking who wins. If anything, Barb is acting as the jury in this game. Nate should be pleading his case for why he deserves to win to Barb because that’s apparently why she aligned with Avi and Tom.

Nate will be disappointed for Barb because he knows she will regret the ending to this game in three months, six months, or five years.

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Avi and Barb talk in the shelter. She says Avi can win 100k by eliminating Tom, but Avi would rather lose than backstab Tom.

BARB: He has four easy votes.

Avi tells Barb he doesn’t want to force her to go to Final Three. They discuss the fire-making scenario. Avi thinks it will be an a-hole move to eliminate Tom or put him in a tiebreaker. He outright tells Barb he would be happy if she was on the jury cheering him on.

Conversations like this would infuriate the jury. Nobody is going to vote for somebody to win if their biggest dilemma on day 38 is whether or not to quit this game.

Barb cries while standing on the shore. Tom comforts her. Is somebody really going to quit Survivor on day 38 after they already made the Final Three once in this game?

Nate should go home easily given how tight the Final Three is, but is the Final Three so tight that Barb would willingly quit just to boost Avi’s jury vote count because it is currently to be projected too big of a blowout in favour of Tom?

Barb is an intriguing, comedic, frustrating, and anti-social player all rolled into one. She is one of the biggest wildcards to ever play. Why, she nearly quit prior to the switch just because she didn’t want “those mean kids” to string her along in the game.

This Tribal Council Q&A is pretty boring. Barb thinks she has a story for the jury that is a good one and is inspirational and has a shot at winning.

The Tribal Council Q&A lasts 90 seconds. It is the shortest Q&A session I have seen since the early seasons of Survivor. The same amount of time that Nate lasted in the final immunity challenge. I guess it must have been a really boring discussion. They must have been really worn out by today’s events.

Tom says Nate is an absolute legend when casting his vote. Somebody call Gordon Holmes.

FIRST VOTE: NATE DOG.

SECOND VOTE: NATE Dog.

THIRD VOTE: Tom

LAST VOTE: NATE <3

The definition of insanity indeed plays out. Nate keeps his torch too.

Matt congratulates Avi, Tom, and Barb being the Final Three. Unless Tom or Barb pass out during Final Tribal Council, Avi won’t be winning by default.

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SHORT VERSION OF THIS EPISODE: Avi, Barb, and Tom started out this episode as the Final Three. At the end of a 68-minute episode, they were the Final Three again. Thank god for Mike throwing shade and Barb losing her mind over the course of this episode to keep our interest.

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Episode 20

We are backstage with Matt. The first person he references is Lou for “her shock departure from Mogoton that changed everything” (and the Redemption Island format). Mike was dethroned (twice). Such random people to reference leading into this finale as he walks onto the main stage.

Whoa. Not even Australian Survivor had a live finale. The audience is lively. As somebody who attended the Survivor: Kaoh Rong finale, this is something every superfan needs to try and experience once.

We watch a fairly in-depth look at the whole season. Lee’s pre-moustache days were happier times for him.

Mike branded as a goat by day five. Wow, everybody was onto this strategy early.

MATT: Shay returned to the game for a massive Shayke-Up!

Oh, Matt. Always there with the puns. Allan Wu would be pleased.

Matt says Barb was a Sleeping Giant who woke up after Mike’s exit. I thought Godfrey the Lady Pleaza Mangwiza was the Sleeping Giant, but whatever.

We see Jak’s torch snuffed again but this time without the blur. Unfortunately.

I just noticed the jurors are sitting on stools rather than a bench.

The montage is over. It is night 38 at the Casar camp. Are they going to do anything for day 39? It’s an Aladdin style group hug for the remaining three.

Barb admits that she didn’t decide until thirty minutes before Tribal Council that she would stay in the game. It was Nate who insisted she should make it to the end make her kids proud. They all think Nate will be viewed as the “Head Juror,” and the jury will be malleable.

AVI: This isn’t your friend wins. It’s who played the best game, and I know the guys will be looking at Tom’s immunity wins.

Tom expects the jury vote will be split between him and Avi.

AVI: There is honestly nobody else I would share this Final Three with.

Are you sure? Not Shay? What about Sala? Sala’s feelings are hurt.

Also, Sala is still at the jury house wondering if he voted out the right person at the last Tribal Council while eating sand cake.

It is now day 39. Avi thinks everything is greener, bluer, and lighter. He also sees butterflies.

It’s kind of ironic because Tom was seeing many butterflies at the end of the last immunity challenge.

TOM: Tonight it’s all over.

But the game lasts for 40 days. This is day 39. He is going to be in for a BIG surprise.

Avi talks about his high school obsession with Survivor and made his friends do Survivor challenges. We get a zoom in on a black spot on Avi’s right hand, for some reason.

Avi trusts that the jury will make the best decision, whatever that decision will be. Something tells me Barb will not say the same about the jury.

It’s a day 39 feast. Donuts. Bacon. Butter. Other pastries.

TOM: Something is happening to my tummy, but I am ignoring it.

The same thing that happened to Mike, Shannon, and Shay’s tummies after the chocolate cake feast.

Barb cries again. Mainly because of her family. Good ol’ Bruno Ielo/Harrison Ford antics.

Barb has only been a girlfriend, wife, and a mother for 27 years. Now she wants to think about herself for once–

TOM: Donuts! Go nuts!

Barb is having her emotional confessionals ruined by Tom.

BARB: I was using this as my Eat, Pray, Love journey.

I can’t wait for Arrested Development actors to be on this season.

BARB: If I was watching this program, I know who I would vote for–it’d be me. I am not just saying that. I would just do it from principle of seeing this woman who is 27 years older and who is holding her own. I have had my heat exhaustion and worked through it. I am not going for $100, 000. . .I am going for my children who when they watch it will be proud with what I say.

Somebody needs to tell Barb ASAP that the second she references her age at FTC that she will lose any shot at earning jury votes. Age has never been a factor when receiving votes (unless a contestant is too young and prone to partying with their winnings), and after promoting herself as a lynchpin, Barb will only anger jurors with a sympathy angle.

Barb has to desperately present herself as an equal to the jurors and the other competitors. Talking about how every move is for her children and that makes her so much better is bound to piss people off very very fast.

Again, whether you view this as frustrating, annoying, or intriguing, you can’t deny Barb is a brilliant case study for this season.

They cook rice and beans for the last time. Tom said he watched the original Survivor as a boy and loved it to pieces. They carve Nate’s name into the tree as well as the 39th day and their initials.

Wait, why do they keep saying this is the final day? THERE IS SUPPOSED TO BE FORTY DAYS!

The Final Three decide not to disassemble their camp and leave it for others to stumble upon in the future. Meanwhile, production sighs off-screen as they realize they will be left with the work of dismantling the camp.

It would be hilarious if they dismantled the camp, go to Tribal Council, find out there is a twist, and go back to no shelter entering the fortieth and final day of the game.

Or is the game 39 days and production doesn’t know how to count? I really want one last curveball to be thrown at these Kiwis. And since they don’t play baseball, that curveball will absolutely shatter them.

It’s Final Tribal Council. Nate’s outfit ranks up there with Robert DeCanio’s jury outfit from Survivor: Marquesas. A Hawaiian shirt with a necklace fancier than the individual talisman from this season.

This Tribal Council is not using the open discussion format from Game Changers.

Tom is up first with his opening statement. Nothing too exciting from his speech.

LEE’S MOUSTACHE IS GONE! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DAMN YOU!!!!!

Avi’s speech is equally dull. He has his students write down their intentions. Avi did this exercise himself in preparation for Survivor.

AVI: You guys have the incredible, daunting task of choosing a winner tonight. In this situation, I trust you completely. I trust you.

Nobody has been this openly complimentary of the jury.

Now it’s time for Barb’s opening speech.

BARB: I have achieved my greatest challenge in Survivor and that is sitting in front of you rather than sitting beside you. I was a lone Survivor from the start. I had big egos and big personalities on the old Hermosa tribe (Lee, Shannon, Mike, and Jak watch). I had a bond with Nate because he was a like-minded person going through the same tribe as me. For 12 days I felt like dead man walking and had a noose around my neck. I wasn’t prepared to suck up to you. . .I started playng on day 12 when we blended the tribe. Suddenly I sat up thinking “Oh, I am not just a lioness not waiting up in a big herd of people all flocked together. Now the people I can start picking off because you are moving out of the tribe. I made the biggest move I feel in Survivor taking out Sala. Everyone jumped on board. I played with a velvet glove. I’ve been really subtle with my play. You underestimated me. You overlooked me and that suited my purpose actually. You were so busy targeting each other that you just let me pop up the middle then pop back down. I am here because of your inability to be perceptive enough to see I am quite strategic. I am really proud I am the last female here and the oldest one in this game and feel I will be an inspiration to a lot of people.

Well. . .That couldn’t be more of a contrast to Avi’s speech. It is like Russell Hantz was Barbz’s coach prior to Final Tribal Council.

I doubt Barb is remotely prepared for the shellacking she is about to get from all the jurors sans Nate.

Matt’s reaction once Barbz’s speech is over is priceless, by the way. There is this awkward pause before he summons Shay.

Shay wants to know if Barb feels she has been a kind person in this game.

BARB: I don’t think I have treated anyone disrespectfully. . .If I don’t have something nice to say, I didn’t say anything. Yeah, I’ve been kind.

Shay fangirls over Avi. She asks what the youth of New Zealand can learn from how Avi plays. Avi answers that being respectful can go a long way.

Shay starts crying when addressing Tom. She thinks Tom dragged her name through the mud and took it to a personal level according to other members of the jury. Tom said he heard the same thing about her. They make up in a fairly straightforward way.

That’s it.

Jak is up next and says his mind was made up at the end of the previous Tribal Council.

Jak admits that he thought Avi was a fraud with how nice he was appearing to be but realized Avi is genuinely that nice. He praises Tom for being an awesome friend.

Then he addresses Barb.

JAK: I respect you came out here and gave it a good crack. You did really well at challenges. You exceeded my expectations of you, Barb. . .but that’s as far as it goes for me. We talk a lot about respect and maturity, and I don’t know if what you did for me could earn my respect. I feel like some things were really really selfish and felt a little bit entitled and felt like you deserved our respect. There were times when it was raining and we needed the mats to sleep on the ground. It’s a small thing, but it felt like we would rather us sleep on the dirt. It felt like just because you were older than us that you had a better or a sadder story.

(BARB laughs.)

JAK: It felt like you were condescending, and that was sort of an age thing and spoke to us like we were children. I should’ve told you this at the time, and feel like a coward for not doing that, but I am speaking from my heart. I have learned that from Avi, from Sala, from Shay, and from Nate. If we can all take something from this game and become better people, for me that is a bit more than 100, 000 dollars. If you can’t take any of that on board, then I don’t know how I can feel about you as a person.

Yikes.

Mike is up next.

MIKE: Barbara, I agree with pretty much everything Jak said. I’m not going to bring up any of those points again. Avi. . .

Mike wants Avi to convince him that he wants to win this game as much as Tom wants to win this game. Avi’s answer talks about writing ‘You can do this’ in his journal and on the rocks constantly. He proceeds to ask Tom that he has as much moral integrity as Avi. Tom wants to make an impact on the community around him and had struggles in his life. He goes on for a bit longer. You can likely fill in the blanks here.

Nate is the fourth juror up.He has only one question and it’s for Avi. He wants to know why the plan changed on day 35 for Nate to go home. Avi’s response is he felt he did not get the same commitment from Nate in return when it came to Final Three deals.

Shannon is the fifth juror.

SHANNON: Barb, I don’t have a question for you tonight because there is actually nothing you could say at this point which could make me vote for you.

Barb is getting roasted.

SHANNON: Avi, do you think just being a nice person is enough to win this game?

Ask Ethan Zohn.

Avi points out he fought when Mogoton dwindled and getting back in the majority was when Sala was voted out.

Shannon follows this up with asking Tom if it is true that the only reason he made it to the end is because Avi needed him.

TOM: It’s a two-way combo. . .You’ve also got to think about how Avi needed me?

And. . .could you please elaborate this for Shannon, Tom? This is critical.

Sala is the sixth juror.

SALA: Mad props and respect from me to you.

Sala says Tom’s friends, family, and students will be “bloody proud”. He is “bloody glad” to see nice guys can make it to Final Three.

SALA: Barbara. Mama Ba. Respect is reciprocated when it is given. Barb, what I saw from you was the opposite of respectful. What I saw was disrespect.

Mike has an over-the-top OH SNAP face.

SALA: We had a shelter and half of it was occupied by you. You did very little in camp life, camp culture, camp environment. You complained a lot about everything and everyone. What hurt me Mama B is you sh** on the respect of those who naturally respected you. My last quote to you Mama B is “all the best.”

I should note there was an unaired clip of saying Barb was a “sh** in the toilet that couldn’t be flushed away”. Producers probably didn’t want to risk tarnishing Sala’s image.

AVI: One more. One more.

BARB: One more roasting.

Lee is closing it out. He wants them to acknowledge luck.

LEE: If you had no good luck played upon you, would you still be sitting there?

TOM: Yes.

AVI: Yes.

BARB: No.

Barb’s best answer for the entire Tribal Council.

Mike’s face is buried in his hands as Matt stands up to tell the jurors they are voting FOR a winner, Topaz.

They go to vote.

MIKE: I am so confused, but you are just too good of a guy.

We see Jak’s vote for Tom and Sala’s vote for Avi. Lee is seen stumped with who to vote for to win. You can tell everyone is heartbroken to decide between Tom or Avi.

Matt collects the votes. Something tells me day 40 was all an illusion. Matt walks away with the urn. Aaron & Deb will be collecting that urn, I presume.

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Matt brings out the urn on-stage and is very careful it does not tip over. He acknowledges Lou’s presence.

MATT: You look stunning.

LOU: So do you.

MATT: Stop it.

Ooooooo, forbidden love.

Matt praises Jak for choosing to wear clothes for once and asks if he is modeling. Apparently, Jak has to wax.

Matt repeatedly refers to this as New Zealand’s FIRST season of Survivor. A sequel is in the works.

Tom’s hair is much longer. He is copying Elias Theodrou’s style.

Barb looks COMPLETELY different. Avi’s beard is still there, though. Matt keeps asking all three of them questions.

Matt rips into it.

FIRST VOTE: Avi.

SECOND VOTE: Tom.

THIRD VOTE: AVI.

FOURTH VOTE: AVI!!!!! =)

FIFTH VOTE: Avi.

Avi is the winner. It is the biggest reaction I have seen from a winner in years. Avi is crying. Nate tells Avi how proud he is of him like he is his own son.

Matt tries to restore order and orders everyone to take their seats.

MATT: I’ve got to chat to this man! I’ve got to chat to this man! Alright, guys! Let’s go! How good are you feeling, brother?!

Matt is more excited than anybody else in the room.

Avi is like a pro wrestler as he claps the hands of everyone in the first row before hugging and crying with his family. The microphones are not very high quality. Matt’s mom has somebody on Skype as she makes Avi shout into it that he won Survivor.

Matt wants an interview with Avi’s mum/mom.

This reunion show is as quiet as the early Survivor reunion specials. It feels really casual.

I should note the Final Three is still sitting alone together while the other thirteen are in another spot on-stage.

We are treated to a montage of the Final Three with OUTWIT-OUTPLAY-OUTLAST-3 GAME PLAYS-ONE SURVIVOR.

Avi was nervous was being labelled as being the nice guy rather than being an all-around strong player.

The hardest of the strategic, social, and challenge components for Kiwis to stomach was the strategic component, apparently. Cue Barb montage. We get Motown music for all of Barb’s footage.

Matt describes Barb as brutal but beautiful.

Barb refused to watch the Final Tribal Council again.

BARB: I would say there were really lucky it was edited and condensed down because it was far more brutal than that and what was said.

Random grumblings can be heard from the crowd. I can’t hear exactly what they said.

Barb said she didn’t care about the jury votes. No kidding.

If she refused to watch it again, then how did she know it was edited to be less brutal than it actually was?

Matt asks if Avi and Tom should have jumped in to defend Barb against the beating at FTC. They say self-preservation kicked in and it was impossible to stand up for Barb at the time.

TOM: The unfair comments didn’t come to light at all.

I am surprised producers backstage are letting them openly discuss the unaired footage. Perhaps to protect Barb’s family?

Tom says the comments from Jak were fair and relevant. Matt asks if Tom wants to shed light on the unfair comments.

Tom said Sala referred to Barb as a “turd in a toilet that wouldn’t flush” or something Shannon had said. Jak is laughing at the audience reaction.

AUDIENCE: SHAME ON YOU!

Sala says he still respects Barb, but needed to share what was going on for him at FTC and how to interpret what he said. Sala owns what he said at FTC.

SALA: We were all flushed and she was still there. . .and being flushed. . .or down the drain. . .or whatever.

This reunion has become ridiculous. This is shit-talking taken to a whole new level.

SALA: Barb played an amazing game.

(BARB rolls eyes.)

SALA: I am pretty gutted for Barb calling Mike arrogant.

Take a drink.

Sala said the remarks at the time were deserved. Shannon echoes what Sala said.

The next montage is far less entertaining as it is all about Tom’s challenge prowess.

It is revealed Matt and Tom attended the same high school but over ten years apart.

Tom says he was weak at the Final Tribal Council. Matt agrees Tom was not selling his social and strategic game enough despite how many times he escaped being in the minority.

MATT: Why didn’t the boy band all vote for you?

Tom makes fun of Mike’s spelling of RV. Matt jumps in and grills Mike.

Jak says he and Tom are dating.

MIKE: I thought that was how his name was spelled all game. R-V. Entire game. I thought he was a mode of transport.

MATT: WOW, Mike!

MIKE: Avi. . .

MATT: A-V-I.

Mike says Avi and Sala are the two most amazing people. Poor Tom.

Lee confirms he was undecided even when he had the pen in his hand. The final immunity challenge win by Avi may have been the reason why he switched his vote.

Matt asks if anybody would vote differently based on the footage. Nate says he would have switched his vote to Tom because he didn’t realize how much Tom improved his position when on Mogoton and at the merge.

Now it is Goliath’s montage. Matt loves how much he trolled Mike at the end of the penultimate duel. Mike’s answers are really short.

MATT: Sweet.

Georgia is asked a question. She immediately challenges the notion of them being labelled as arrogant. Georgia’s outfit is as awesome as Nate’s was at FTC. She is wearing a metal dog collar. This is great.

MATT: You know this is coming, Mike. What went down between you and Georgia?

JAK: It’s funny because I have the perspective on everything. I was on the bottom of the bed when they were spooning every night.

He said they spooned, cuddled, and shimmied off to the beach to go to sleep.

MATT: Was your relationship physical?

Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeez.

MIKE: I’ve got some damage control here. So. Survivor. Awesome relationship. Totally trusted each other. She had lots of experiences. Great friendship. It’s going to last for a long time. It’s yeah. It’s great. Purely friendship.

JAK: Bro, just leave it.

The funny thing is both of them have a boyfriend or girlfriend.

It’s yet another Avi montage. They talk about how Avi recovered from Sala’s blindside. They keep cutting back to shots of Shay. Matt says Tom is beautiful. Avi compliments Tom’s tan. Avi refused to take out Tom because he was an incredible player and wanted to battle against the person he thinks should win.

MATT: Shay, Tom ended up with Avi’s loyalty and not you. Are you gutted?

Take another drink, ladies and gents.

SHAY: I lost to the tan and the abs and decided to take a seat in the jury.

Tony receives a question. His face is really red and sweaty. Did he compete in the vase challenge? Shay is still using his fan. It must be hot on stage. Tony looks like he is about to die.

Dee is not on stage. Wasn’t she the biggest superfan of them all? Why isn’t she with the other fifteen players there? Even Hannah is present.

We are treated to some unaired footage.

JAK: Hey Barb, how does it feel to be the Survivor MILF?

There is naked Lee and then naked Jak. Then Jak, Tom, and Lee running in the water. Jak does a belly flop. What is this reunion show? My god.

MATT: Classic Jak. I know you are a banking officer. Do you think you are in the right job?

JAK: The fact I lost a challenge at stacking coins means I shouldn’t be a banker.

Apparently, Jak is no longer a banker and wants to put effort into stuff worth his energy.

Hannah created a rice and bean rap at Redemption Island. Matt asks her to rap it, but Hannah rejects the invite to more airtime.

MATT: I am forty years old and still don’t know what to do with my life.

I have never heard a Survivor host openly ask for counseling like this before.

There is a fan favourite award. Winner gets $1, 000 in cash and a trip to Tahiti valued at $8, 000. Sala earned an overwhelming number of votes.

MATT: I know you were gutted by your blindside, but New Zealand has spoken.

Take one last big swig, ladies and gents.

Sala is humbled and wants to articulate the move by Barb to blindside him and needs to be respected.

SALA: She loves flamingoes.

MATT: The flamingo thing has gone over my head?

Matt pulls the pin on the first season. As for season two? We shall wait.

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AND WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO DAY 40?! What a cliffhanger.

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So, Survivor NZ is in the books after twenty episodes. It was better than most of us would have expected given what we saw from the first three episodes.

NEGATIVES:

– Longest Final Four round ever. It was way too drawn out.

– The challenges are largely forgettable and small builds taken from the American version.

– The players were too serious or too “nice” towards the end of the game with one major exception.

– Even though this was the best season with a Redemption Island, we could have done without it.

– We saw the same Final Three twice.

– Some of the conversations became extremely repetitive leading up to a Tribal Council. Anyone who has a short attention span or is impatient would not have finished out this season or read online recaps.

POSITIVES:

– For a country that has less than five million people, the fact they could have a “40” day game on the other side of the world is really impressive. Especially when Canada has nothing when it comes to competitive reality TV anymore except GIVE’R! GIVE’R! GIVE’R! GIVE’R! GIVE’R!

– No idols.

– Variations of common Survivor twists that have never been attempted before (Two returnees from Redemption Island and a swap with 11 players).

– The people were real people. No mactors. No playing it up for the cameras (for the most part). Nobody angling for a second, third, or fourth season to play.

– Jak. He is one of a kind. One of the funniest players ever?

– Shay and Tom was a fun rivalry.

– Barb simultaneously being an assassin and a self-destructive force in Nicaragua.

– Matt Chisholm is my favourite Survivor host on the planet. His quirkiness is unmatched. His antics remind me of what Survivor would be like if I was the host. Just the fact he dropped a “Was the relationship physical?” on the reunion show was the perfect conclusion to his 20-episode reign.

– There has never been a season where we understand every player’s motivations to such an intensive extent. It is the reason why fans in the audience had a strong response to everything Sala or Barb said in the reunion show.

– Watching how the Kiwi cast tried to distinguish their franchise from the American and Australian versions. This metagame is always fun to watch whenever a new international version arises. Who will the Kiwis reward with the win and essentially appoint to be their representative of the franchise?

– As I always say at the end of a first season of a new franchise, the first season is an experiment. The sequels? Producers attempt to refine their product and evaluate the changes that they need to make. . .Unless you’re TAR Canada producers. Then you just kinda give up slowly :(

– It is the most in-depth examination of what to do and what not to do at Final Tribal Council. Barb taught us you don’t spend your final days dissing the jury. Tom taught us you need to find any opportunity you can to promote your own game and separate yourself from your only opponent left at the end. Avi taught us that it is all about making the jury feel like they can connect with you and you empathize with their journeys in the game. Avi and Kristie should tour the world to give lessons on how to win over a jury.

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So there you have it. I enjoyed recapping Survivor NZ for y’all.

To any Kiwis who were offended: I apologize.

To any Aussies who were offended: I apologize.

To the production and cast of Survivor NZ: Thanks for a season that was worthy of my valuable time and commentary. I cannot wait to see how this all improves for season two, and which direction you go in terms of casting for season two. More extreme personalities? Goofier characters? More unique archetypes? Will you ditch Redemption Island explore other ways to introduce minor twists never seen before? I hope so.

Anyways, my final recap has gone on for long enough. Now I shall wait patiently for Australian Survivor to return. Nobody will be a godlike winner like Kristie who is one of my favourite reality TV winners, but that guy with a beard who looks like one of my uncles should make up for it. I just hope the network airing Australian Survivor doesn’t go bankrupt before the season premiere. :/

Peace out, everyone! Remember, life is too short to be negative and to do anything except chase your biggest dreams. Much love, y’all.

P.S. Sala still doesn’t know whether or not it was the right thing to vote out Hannah and Tony. Leave him alone deep in thought.

P.P.S. If you told me only fifteen people would make it to the reunion show, I thought it would be because Lou died in the hospital instead of Dee feeling like she was too irrelevant to attend and answer one of Matt’s questions. Stay strong, Dee!

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