I should have seen it coming. With all the attention Shambo received in the first 20 minutes of Episode XIV it was very likely that she would be the focus of the final five minutes of the show – and she was.
In the final episode before today’s 3-hour finale and reunion show we are treated to a day at the spa with Shambo – Survivor Samoa style. First she is seen receiving a scalp massage from Brett (side note: this alone should be enough for Brett to win the million. Anyone willing to stick their fingers in that mess of hair should be declared the instant winner). Later we see Sham washing/wetting/taming her achy-breaky-hair-mistakey down by the water.
At different points in Episdoe XIV both Russell and Jeff Probst himself take shots at Shambo’s choice in hairstyles. After Sham declares that she needs a trim, Russell unloads with a few choice comments about her funky do and the fact that she’s been hiding food in there – “bananas, pieces of coconut…”
While all that is going on, Brett does his best to move in on Nathalie by playing the God card. Knowing that she’s a devoted Christian, Brett starts reciting Bible passages that leave Nathalie with the feeling that her and Brett have more in common than she once thought.
Next up the final-six take part in a reward challenge where two teams of three go head-to-head in a game of Survivor Kerplunk. Basically a bunch of coconuts are suspended above ground by a series of intertwining ropes. One player at a time removes a rope causing the coconuts to shift and fall below. The first team with 100 coconuts loses. Russell, Shambo and Jaison take on Nathalie, Mick and Brett but in Russell’s mind the game is not his main concern. Russell is surprised when he sees Nathalie select Brett first overall to be on her team (leaving her Foa mates Jaison and Mick behind) and he grows increasingly concerned when he sees Nathalie and Brett holding hands and praying throughout the game. “Something might be going on,” Russell warns Shambo.
In the end, Russell’s team wins reward and the threesome are taken away to enjoy a local village feast at which time Russell confirms with Jaison and Shambo that it’s Brett’s time to go home, unless he wins immunity and then it will be Mick. The three agree and enjoy the rest of their reward.
Meanwhile, back at camp Brett suggests that the losing three have a little reward of their own by taking it easy, finding some food and just hanging out. This is a great move by Brett to build relationships with the Foa players that might be on the jury down the road and may just be a little ticked-off with Russell (when he eventually lets them go).
When Russell returns to camp he immediately confronts Nathalie about her recent actions and she assures him that it’s all part of the plan. Russell does a great job at selling that it’s not him who’s upset, but the others. Once he’s satisfied with Nathalie’s level of loyalty he assures her that he’s in control and it’s the two of them to the end.
The immunity challenge is more of a mental game this week as each player must count and remember a series of items (fish, rocks, octopi and pigs) and then use the numbers to open a combination lock. The speedier players like Mick and Jaison have a slight advantage because they can run between stations more quickly, but in the end both Jaison and Mick get the numbers wrong which allows Brett to calmly claim his second game-saving immunity in a row.
Back at camp Jaison tells Russell that Shambo needs to go because they need Mick to help get rid of Brett. As they discuss strategy, Shambo approaches and the conversation ends. This makes her nervous; however, she doesn’t do anything about it. Throughout the day she claims to be worried about things but she doesn’t appear to try and make a move or build a movement to target Russell.
At Tirbal Council, Russell once again steals the show when Jeff informs him that it’s his last chance to play the idol. Feeling more confident than ever, Russell declares that he’s keeping it as a souvenir – he doesn’t even receive one vote against him and Shambo becomes the latest Galu on the jury.
Here are my thoughts going in to the final. Russell is going to win. The others have had their chances to blindside him for weeks and they never even took a shot. Even Shambo, having been lied to by Russell last night, had to congratulate him for sticking with his original tribe. He has played the game intelligently and made it look like others were to blame for any hard feelings along the way (see John, Dave, Laura, Shambo etc.). He had a plan going in and he has executed it perfectly. He has also changed the way the immunity idol will be used in the game forever by finding them and using them as leverage.
If it comes down to it, the only person that could beat him in front of the jury is Brett because Brett’s entire team is the jury and they could reward him for making it to the end. If the Foa Four can get rid of Brett next it’s a done deal. The Galu jury will not give the money to Jaison, Mick or Nathalie over Russell as they have simply followed his lead. If by some miracle Russell and Brett are left out of the final three, look for Nathalie to take the million.
Once again my pre-season pick is still in the mix going to the finale, but I just don’t think Mick has done enough to get jury votes. He may be a nice guy and filled with integrity, but he won’t be the winner of Survivor Samoa.
The Scribe has spoken…Until Survivor 20!