By CLIFF WEE
This is probably the most exciting Survivor Finale I have ever watched. As Jeff Probst had mentioned at the beginning of the final episode, “It’s going to be epic!” Indeed, it is.
It has the ingredients of a grand finale: an edge of the seat immunity challenge, and more nail-biting events that follow. And when the Sole Survivor was announced, my heart sank.
SPOILER MARK: Spoilers and winner revealed beyond this mark
But two things are for certain; Tony deserved to win, and Woo made the right decision by bringing Tony to the finals.
The final four survivors deserved to be there: Tony Vlachos, the police officer from New Jersey; Woo Hwang, the martial arts instructor; Kass McQuillen, the attorney; and Spencer Bledsoe, the economics student.
Tony had been instrumental in orchestrating the entire game through symphonies of lies. Somewhere in the mid-season, I told myself that if Tony won Survivor, he would be one of the best players in the history of the game. Unlike the notorious Russell Hantz, who practically pissed off almost everyone in the jury, Tony’s approach was not so damaging. However, he was certainly not my favourite contestant this season; he is someone you love to hate, or hate to love.
Woo was one of my favourites although, in the eyes of many, his strategic contributions were close to null. But this is Survivor. Play whatever role you can to get yourself to win. He follows the five codes of Taekwondo: discipline, integrity, loyalty, respect and harmony.
Spencer was another of my favourites. He had deep insight of the game but lacked the physique or experience to go all the way. Resultantly, he came up just short of winning, and that was visibly painful for him.
Kass was not in my favourite list. She had this plaster of a grin no matter what her expression was. She is the Kristen Stewart of Survivor, if you will. But she played hard, and, although unlikeable, deserved to be in the final four.
The immunity challenge had me at the edge of the seat. When Kass was trailing so far behind in the beginning, I was shaking my head and muttering that I would have given up if I were her. But she did not. She came from behind and won. I did cheer for her victory because I have always had a soft spot for the underdogs.
I agreed with what Spencer was scrambling to do, trying to persuade Tony not to vote him out so that Tony would stand a better chance in the final three. I was rooting for Spencer and Tony was the person I did not want to win. It seemed to me that Tony would not have a shot at winning if he were in the final three.
Tony, Woo and Kass made it to the coveted final three, but it did not stop there. Not this time. The twist was that for this season, there would be a final two. Another immunity challenge was waiting, and it was another nail-biting fight. This time, Kass lost. To Woo. By half a second. Wow! I was literally sitting on the floor and chewing on my nails.
Woo was my favourite to win, owing to his sweet disposition and the fact that he had not offended anyone. I felt that his odds would have been better if he took Tony to the final two instead of Kass, because Kass, being a lawyer, would know how to sway the jury fairly easily. That was my opinion, despite the jury who later unanimously agreed that they would not vote for Kass. They had not heard Kass’s defence or arguments. If Woo had taken Kass to be the final two, I felt that Kass would have won. Woo was too nice a guy to know how to sway the jury’s decision.
So yes, Woo did make the right decision to take Tony to the final two. It seemed to me that Woo would have won easily. I counted at least 6 votes Woo and 3 votes Tony. Most of the jury were so infuriated because they had been cheated by Tony, who had sworn on his wife, baby and even his dead father. They would not vote for someone who they considered so immoral.
But when the last jury spoke, I knew it was the end of Woo. Spencer did a great job in swaying the jury’s decision. I, myself, would have been swayed by Spencer’s speech as well. He reminded us about how hard and well Tony had played the game. And Tony should be the true undisputed Sole Survivor.
Spencer’s speech proved very successful with the final result. I, however, was far from happy. No! No way! Tony should not have won. How could someone, especially a police officer, who had lied so easily, win?
The Survivor Reunion Show did clear my doubts. Tony’s fellow colleagues revealed that they did not disapprove the way Tony had played. Tony had one mission in Survivor, and that mission was to win. And in order to win, Tony could use whatever methods he deemed necessary.
Tony concurred. He said that Survivor and real life were two different things. Survivor was a game to him and he was playing to win. Resorting to scheming was acceptable.
Okay, well said, Tony. You are forgiven. You are indeed the greatest Survivor Winner. You did play hard. You did search for the hidden immunity idols without waiting for the clues. You did know when to break alliances when you could get your flame snuffed out.
Congratulations, Tony Vlachos, on winning Survivor: Cagayan. And congratulations on your second baby.
Now, I cannot wait until September for the next season of Survivor: Blood vs Water 2.