THE REAL FINALE IS TONIGHT: Sure, All-Star Survivor hasn't been as All That as it could've been -- Rob M's ruthless, brutal Pagonging of all but his core group of three has been something more to be admired than enjoyed, more like watching QB Tom Brady's brutally efficient execution of the Patriots' offense as opposed to a more entertaining Michael Vick (Rob C? Jonny Fairplay?) improvise his way out of danger.
He had a plan. It has worked. He hasn't even had a single vote cast against him, despite his not-exactly-hidden strategy. But in a way, it's hard even to admire what he's accomplished, just because those he's playing against have played the game so poorly -- whether Lex's stupidly worrying about individual immunity challenges later rather than strong allies post-merge, or Shii-Ann's inability to do anything more than complain, or Richard's/Colby's/Ethan's total failure to stop the train charging at their heads.
Heck, he and Amber went away for the car/drive-thru reward, and leaving Tom/Amber/Jenna together all night to plot still didn't put him at risk. (See, contra, Fairplay and Burton last season.)
No one -- not Shii Ann, not Kathy, not Lex, not Tom, said, at any point at a Tribal Council or another public setting: "Please raise your hand if Rob or Amber has promised you a trip to the final four," nothing that would quickly and obviously make everyone realized they might be at risk. Nope.
So who's worth admiring here? Jenna Lewis. After all, she led her tribe's decisionmaking in the first two episodes, ousting Tina and Rudy, then, once merged into Chapera, somehow worked her way into the core with Rob and Amber, making herself -- not original Chaperans Tom or Alicia -- the apparent third person in a final three, and one in which, if it's a Hands On The Idol-type endurance challenge, has always favored women on the show.
Any of these winners will have earned it. Jenna for the above; Rupert, because he'll have had to make a Kelly-level immunity run to make it at this point; and Rob and Amber, because if they've pulled off this alliance that they've had since the second day on the island, well, damn, give 'em credit for taking Richard Hatch's season one strategy and bringing it back old school for the All Stars.
Who are you rooting for? Me, I'm not rooting for any competitor as much as I'm rooting for a good episode, one with a final challenge even one-tenth as entertaining as Fairplay and Lil on the rafts from last season ("These are called squats, Jon. I do aerobics.") or, of course, a tribal council tirade that rivals with the one about the rats and the snakes.
Game on. Any favorite Survivor finale memories to share? Predictions for the night?