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Survivor: “Perception Is Not Always Reality”

Illustration for article titled iSurvivor/i: “Perception Is Not Always Reality”
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At first, Survivor’s choice to title the final episode “Perception Is Not Always Reality” seemed like an odd one. If the editing was to be believed, perception was exactly equal to reality, with Kim totally dominating the entire run of the game, especially once the two tribes merged. Was the show subtly setting up one of the most shocking results in the history of the game? Could Sabrina, Chelsea, Alicia, or Christina take out Kim, the season’s most dominant player and one of the most dominant females to ever play the game?

Well… no. No, they couldn’t. When it came down to it, Kim’s dominance was rewarded and she was easily awarded the million dollars (along with fan favorite) in one of the more boring finales in recent history. Dominance in this game is respected because it is so difficult. The unfortunate side effect of this dominance is banality, though, as in watching someone steamroll their way through an entire cast of patsies isn’t the most exciting television. So while Kim was a great player and deserving winner, it doesn’t mean the season itself was a winner right along with her.


This season was strange in that it felt like its own organism, constantly adapting and morphing to the pressures of outside forces. It started out on an extremely high note, separating the contestants by gender and putting them on the beach, which allowed for interesting and unique conflicts. Quickly, though, the story of Colton’s horrible hatred and inexplicable control over the game took up most of the narrative, until an illness took him out, forcing the game to change completely again. Only after that did it really feel like the season began. And since the beginning of that season, Kim has been in control.

Her control continued in the finale, winning both immunity challenges and directly controlling who she sat next to in the final three. Perhaps the most interesting choice Kim made—and one that belied her close personal ties to everyone on the beach, ties that were glossed over a little bit in the editing of the season—was to stick with her original alliance of Sabrina and Chelsea all the way to the end, instead of taking the much lesser (and therefore easier to beat) Christina. Although it was brought up as a bad decision by Jonas in jury questioning, this might have been the move that sealed her fate with the jury, as she showed loyalty at the same time as reaffirming her strength and her belief she could basically beat anyone she sat next to in the final three.


If there was one thing surprising about this finale, it was the lack of bitterness from the jury. The way they’ve been edited in the jury box the last few weeks, I was expecting anger of epic proportions. But instead, all we got were hearty congratulations and fairly innocuous questions to which, once again, Kim handled like the pro she is. Tears were actually the dominant motif, with both Tarzan and Kat showing real emotion when talking about the things in their lives that are more important than the game. The only little bit of insanity of the night came from Alicia, who had obviously built herself into a legend in her own mind, when she spent her entire speech declaring she was the true threat of the game and would have given Kim a run for her money if she was up there next to her. Alicia likely would have gotten a few more votes than Chelsea, but her confidence in what were really meager abilities—seeing as she spent most of the game aligned with weaker players and never made a move to take Kim, the power player, out—was almost laughable.

In the end, Kim’s ability to both make friends with everyone in the game and then strategically vote them out without engendering their hatred is what handed her the easy win. As much as I loved the way she played (and would love to see her in an All-Stars season), I was ready for this increasingly boring season to end.


Stray observations:

  • Jeff was uncharacteristically not with it in the live finale. Did he hit the open bar beforehand? At least he was coherent enough to get a plug in for his upcoming talk show.
  • That is a good-looking final three. Usually everyone looks like a hot mess, but this year they cleaned up quite well. Except Bill. His suit and hair — now that’s comedy!
  • Rehashing The Colton Show and his horrible actions during the game was necessary, but not very pleasant. He admits he was awful and says he is not like that in real life, then immediately undercuts it by saying once he left “people said it got boring.” Colton, you are an idiot and Bill being kind enough to sit next to you and not punch you in the face shows how much of a better person he is than you. Good thing Colton’s mom was there to apologize for him.
  • Blossom! Blossom likes Colton, so we should too. I guess? Go put on a sunflower hat, Blossom.
  • This entire section was the show justifying having Colton on a future season, by the way. Go to hell, show.
  • Alicia apologizes for denigrating her special needs students and, unlike Colton, seems genuinely sorry. This is the season of actualization!
  • Next season: You were too weak to make it last time, so how about another chance to suck less! This time in the Philippines! (Working title: “We want to bring Colton back.”) The idea of three separate tribes is intriguing, though.
  • Kim: “This is all I’m going to say tonight: I know I lied to you and voted you out, but I have no boobs left so have a little mercy.”

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