All Star Strategy Finale:  Squeal Like a Pig, Boy
Written by Mario Lanza on 05.09.04

"We don't like being blown up, Sid.   Or smashed.  Or torn apart.  So from now on, you take goooood care of your toys.  Because if you don't, we'll find out.  We toys can see... EVERYTHING.  So play nice!"
-Woody, Toy Story


The following is my running diary from the evening of Sunday, May 9th.  Per Survivor tradition, I will be watching the finale from home with my wife Diana, as we sit here and crack jokes along with the episode.  This is always my most popular column of the season and... since this is my last season writing Survivor columns... hopefully tonight's column will help me end my career with a bang.  It is always fun to go out in style.

I would also like to point that out that, per Survivor tradition, I will once again not be attending the finale live in the studio.  In the past this has been because CBS has not offered me tickets.  This year, though, I decided to be proactive so I formally requested that CBS not offer me an invitation to the show.  It all ends in the same outcome, of course, but there is a very subtle difference, at least in my mind.  That's right, this year I showed them.  This year, I stuck it to the man (tm Dewey Finn).

Anyway... the show is about ready to begin.  I am crossing my fingers that Rob doesn't win.  Mainly because if he does, then the jury needs to be smacked.  I will write more about this later.  I am also hoping that Amber DOES win.  It's not that I am particularly a big fan of hers, it is more along the lines of... well... because I have been predicting an Amber win pretty much since day one.  Amber winning would be very good for ME, so of course it is a cause I can put my full weight behind tonight.  

Oh yeah, and if Amber wins she can give the finger to all the Survivor snobs who were so upset that she had been cast on All Stars in the first place.  I would love to see that happen.  Shove it right in their faces tonight, Amber!

Anyway, here we go.  On with the show!


8:01 - We are live from Carson, California!  And joining us for the big finale are my wife (Diana) and our two very hyper children (Vanessa, 4 and Nicholas, 2).  The majority of the comments tonight will be made by Diana and me, as we sit here and riff on the show, in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  The kids have been placated for now with a combination of books and nachos (per the tradition of the Pearl Islands.)  With that being said, the finale is about to begin... the All-Star season is about to come to a close... and Amber is about to become a whole lot more important in the annals of Survivor history.  I am rooting for Amber tonight and Diana is rooting for Rupert.  And with that being said, the show is ready to begin!

Diana:  As always, 2-year old Nicholas will be waiting with baited breath for the opening credit shots of the bird and the monkey.  His week wouldn't be complete without commenting on the bird and the monkey.

8:02 - The show begins and we get the entire summary of Survivor All Stars up to this point.  Since we have seen most of this before, I will just skip ahead to the beginning of the actual episode.  Oh yes, and there is Tina again.  Hi Tina! 

8:14 - Jenna Lewis wonders how she wound up being in the final 4, in a game that once consisted of 18 of the best Survivors of all time.  Simple.  It's called "You need the money the most and half the cast didn't care."

8:15 - Rupert goes to wash out a pot and Rob immediately schemes with Jenna to take him out at the next vote.  Wow, Rupert lasted almost 2 minutes into the episode!  That must be a new record.

8:16 - Jeff brings them food and a scrapbook.  Amber says "oh my goddddd".  Then she and Rob celebrate by doing it.

8:18 - Jenna tells us she will cave in and switch her vote if there were a purple rock situation.  Gee, there's a surprise.  Though she mistakenly says the rocks are purple and white, when the last time they were purple and yellow.  By the way, why do people assume it would be a purple rock tiebreaker tonight?   How do they know this for sure?

8:19 - The Immunity Challenge!  It is an eight sided maze.  It reminds me very much of the maze that f---ing Jenna Morasca won in the Amazon to save her butt and f---ing make Matt and Rob vote Butch out instead of her.  That finale still f---ing makes me mad, even today.  As you can tell, I am still a little f---ing bitter that Rob C. didn't win.

8:22 - Amber wins immunity, in a close finish over Rupert!   It was a close challenge but Rupert is done.  Not much of a surprise. 

8:23 -  Stop the presses!  The results are in!  The ballots have been tabulated...  and TOM BUCHANAN PUSHED THROUGH THE PAIN BEST last week!   That's right, mark Tom down on your scoresheets, for those of you who are scoring along at home.  Once again, this week's pushing through the pain award was "Tom." 
Diana:  "Yeah, that's a stretch.  Since when did mental pain start counting?"
Mario:  "Well, since he got voted out he doesn't get that free bottle of pirate wine anymore.  Maybe he got cramps from going sober too fast, like a scuba diver coming up too fast and getting the bends."
8:27-  We're back, and we can officially start the Rupert Boneham death watch at this point.  The clock is ticking and only a last minute call from the governor will be able to save him at this point.  And even though Jenna CLAIMS she will force a tie, you know damn well she won't do it in the end.  She won't do it because...
8:28 - ... Ah, because Rupert just summed up my thoughts perfectly.  Because Jenna is a single mom who REALLY wants this money and who probably needs it the most anyway.  Plus she is a member of the first season cast, and all those guys are pissed off that Survivor fans think they were pushovers.  So no WAY will she take a dive for Rupert.  I have been saying that since day one.  Jenna Lewis wants that money and she wants to prove herself the most out of anyone out there.  That is why she was my preseason pick to win All Stars (yes, soon replaced by Amber).
8:30 - Rupert and Jenna are talking about the purple rock as if it were gospel.  Since when do they know that is the tiebreaker??  It seems awfully closed minded to not at least consider the possibility that the tiebreaker might be something else.  Remember... ass... u... me.
8:31 - We go to the final four Tribal Council.  Rupert is dead meat, you can bet money on it.  The jurors file in and... man... Tom sure looks skinny without a beard.  He looks a heck of a lot different.  Not quite Skinny Ryan different but at this point he is getting in the neighborhood of Clay Jordan different.
8:32 - Amber says that she knows how the jury feels, because she was also once betrayed by an alliance member, way back in Australia.  But she reminds us that even though she had been betrayed, she wound up voting for that person to win.  So she isn't terribly worried that this jury will hold too much of a grudge against her.   Now... I know she is talking about Colby... but technically she had an alliance with Tina too (albeit a secondhand alliance).  So technically she really had no choice but to vote for a person who had betrayed her in Australia.  She had an alliance with both of them!
8:33 - Shii Ann just rolled her eyes in the jury.  So did Alicia.
Diana:  "This jury couldn't like mugging for the camera more.  I don't think they actually realize that they are no longer in the game."
8:34 - The vote starts.  It is going to be 3-1 Rupert.  Jenna aint taking a dive for nobody.
8:35 - We don't get to see who Amber voted for.  Now come on.  If I could make a list of my Survivor pet peeves, this one would be #1 on my list.  WE KNOW THAT AMBER VOTED FOR RUPERT!   There is not a chance in hell she ever would have voted for anyone else, so why not at least show us her comments?  Let us know what she is saying.  Are we saving those extra 5 seconds of episode so we can show Amber and Rob kissing one more time down the road??  What's the big deal?  Show us the damn voting comments!!  There is no need to falsify suspense just for the sake of having suspense.  What a crock.
8:36 - Jenna gets up to the podium and she pauses.  She just stands there... pen in hand... deciding what to do.  It is a very tense moment.  In related news, our 2-year old son Nicholas is currently running back and forth in front of the TV, pretending to talk into a plastic phone.  It sort of ruins the mood of the moment.

Diana:  I have to crane around my daughter who is dressed up in a princess costume and is offering me a pretend cup of tea. It's a tad distracting.
8:37 - That noise you heard was the sound of a thousand voices crying out at once.  It was the sound of worldwide anguish, the pain of a thousand deaths.  Actually, it was Diana crying because her buddy Rupert has just been voted off.  3-1, just as I predicted.  It was a sad moment.  But I still think that Jenna made the right move for herself.  Unless you read All-Star Survivor: Hawaii, in which we took crap for having Tina make the exact same choice in the exact same situation.  Whatever.
8:37 - Rupert's final words.  He says he is mad at Jenna but I can't believe he is really all that surprised.  He also says he is "very, very, very, very happy" at the way that his game turned out.  But he says it in a flat, monotone voice and it sounds like he is just trying to control his rage underneath a smile.  This reminds me of a stunt that comedian Andy Kaufman used to pull whenever he got in trouble for something he did on TV.  Whenever he got busted for crossing the line of good taste, he would always have to go on the air and issue an apology.  But he liked to do what he called a "Vietcong Prisoner of War Confessional."  This consisted on him staring blankly into the camera and reading his apology off a cue card without a shred of sincerity, as if someone was pointing a gun at him from somewhere off camera.  He did that whenever he had to issue an apology on TV, and that is exactly what Rupert's final words reminded me of.  *numb look*   "Yes, I'm so very very very very very very happy."  *blank stare*  "I had a good time."  *totally emotionless*  "Yes this was fun."
8:42 - We are back from commercial, and it's time for the Survivors to take part in their final rite of passage.  Jeff hands them a canister and he tells them to lube themselves up... er, I mean paint themselves up.   I think it would be funny if Rob wrote GARCIAPARRA across his back with a large number 5 underneath.  I wonder if he would be able to spell it.
8:44 - It's time for the torch walk!   This brings forth flashbacks from last season.  Where, in one of the proudest moments in Survivor history, Jon honored Nicole Delma by saying "she had a smokin' body."  Ahh, true poetry always has a way of bringing a tear to your eye.
8:44 - The torch walk begins.  And immediately I see that they aren't going to let the players comment on the torches this season.  Again, thank you Mister Dalton for THAT.  We get to Tina's torch, and we hear an actual voiceover from Tina.  In her sweet southern accent, she says to Jenna: "You voted me off, you bitch!  I hope you burn in hell!  Dureetos!!"  Just kidding.  Tina actually says something about being proud to have come back or about having lots of life experiences.  I don't know, it was pretty much the same as every other Tina quote this season.  They were all pretty much interchangeable.
8:45 - In a voiceover, Richard claims that he's either a lot older, or that the game has gotten a lot harder than it used to be.  Actually Rich, the problem is that the players are just smarter than they used to be.  They get smarter and smarter every season.  And that trend will continue.
8:46 - Ha ha.  We get a flashback of a chafed Colby, walking around with diaper rash.  I will never get tired of seeing Colby walk around in a saggy diaper that leaks.
8:47 - We see a flashback of Ethan falling off a beam and hitting his head on the barrier.  Once again proving that nobody pushes through the pain quite like Ethan Zohn. 

8:47 - We get a flashback of Tom being smacked in the face by one of those giant Mega Blocks.  I forgot how funny that scene was.  Forget what I said about Ethan pushing through the pain the best.  TOM pushed through the pain the best this season.  That is my final answer.  Unless you count Jenna M. or Sue or Rudy...  Hmmm...
8:48 - The players finish the torch walk and they arrive at the final immunity challenge.  And here we are... Jenna, Rob and Amber... battling it out for immunity.   It is "Hands on the Idol", and it should be great.  This should be thrilling.  This should be tense.  This should be...
Oh you did NOT just break for commercial right there.
Ugh.  Dicks.
While I sit here and grumble, I will just flip through the channels for a while.  And hey!  Look, Harry Potter is on ABC!   Wow, I forgot this movie is actually pretty good.   And hey look, there are the three Harry Potter kids, all grown up now, sitting and commenting on the movie.  How old is that Weasley kid, anyway?  He looks like he's about 30.   And my, that is an unfortunate mop of red hair he's got now.  He looks eerily like Malachi, the homicidal teenage cult leader in "Children of the Corn."   Yet despite my best efforts to turn away... I am transfixed by him.  He is almost hypnotic.  Can't.... look.... away.... from.... the Weasley kid...
Must... turn... back... to... CBS.  
Must... not... look... directly... at... the ginger kid....
Must... push... through.... pain.
8:51 - And we're back to the show.  Since our children are running rampant across our living room (it sounds like a free juice giveaway at Chuck E. Cheese right about now) Diana has decided to placate the kids and calm them down for a while.   That's right, mommy just brought out the milkshakes.  And that means we should be able to enjoy the next 10-15 minutes of the show in actual silence.  That very rarely happens around here.
8:52 - Hands on the Idol is about to begin.  Here we go.  And since females always win this challenge (unless it is Brian against the AARP), it should be a good, long matchup.  Jenna and Amber should be a great battle.  And I predict that Jenna is going to win.  Go Jenna!
8:52 - Ha ha.  Jeff just told them that they should "take off any clothing" that might get in their way.  Translation:  Amber and Jenna, please get topless.  I think Jeff had a flashback to Amazon for a minute there.  Sorry Jeff, this is the wrong Jenna.  This Jenna will keep her clothing on.  But you can't blame a guy for trying.  Don't hate the player, hate the game.
8:54 - The immunity challenge begins.  I comment that this is the best combination of three people they have ever had for this particular challenge.  All three of them should be pretty good at it.
Diana:  "Okay, before we begin... does anyone have to adjust their top?  Does anyone have diarrhea?  Anyone need to cut a deal with Vecepia?  Anyone need to remind Rudy of the rules...?"
8:55 - One hour has elapsed.  Jenna tells Jeff that she can last exactly one minute longer than the other two.  Jeff says "Game on."  It reminds me of one of my favorite Survivor quotes ever, from the final immunity challenge last season in Pearl Islands:
Jeff:  Did you hear what Lill just said?  I think she just said "Game on."
Jon:  I think she just said "Game over."
8:56 - Jenna lifted her foot!  Jenna is out!  Amber has just won a million dollars!  Jenna disgustedly sits down and she takes a seat.  She also whines that she didn't really break the rules, just like her brother claimed that he didn't really break the rules about three episodes ago. The parallels are almost eerie.  We now realize that "Lewis" is a Dutch name that loosely translates to "Nuh uh, no I didn't!"
8:56 - Uh oh.  Jenna is out of the challenge, but neither Rob nor Amber trusts the other one enough to step down from the pole.  This is going to be funny.  And now they get into their first fight!   Rob and Amber, bickering with one another over who gets immunity.  This should be classic.

8:57 - Due to the strain from their argument, Rob and Amber break up. 

8:57 - Amber loudly announces that she and Rob are no longer on speaking terms.

8:57 - Rob loudly announces that he is now in love with Jenna, and that he always has been.  Amber turns her back on him in defiance (while still holding on to the idol, of course.)

8:58 - Amber gets jealous of Rob and Jenna's new bond, and she announces she is now dating Ethan.  Rob grows furious over this and he starts cursing at her in comical Bostonese.   The angrier he gets, the more Boston he gets.  He is stahtin' to cuhse pretty hahd ovah heah.

8:58 - Amber tells Rob that last year, she had an affair with Hunter.  She calls Rob a knucklehead.  She claims that Hunter had a bigger penis.  Rob cries.

8:59 - In the heat of the argument, Rob accidentally calls Amber "Sarah."  Amber says "Oh my godddddddd" and she gets angry.  She announces that Cesternino is now her favorite Rob of all time.  Rob angrily retorts that Amber "is not, nor has she ever been," as hot as that Filarski chick on The View.  Jeff winces.

9:00 - After three tense minutes of fighting and bickering, Rob and Amber make up.  They once again proclaim their true love for one another.  And after a quick bout of makeup sex (while somehow still holding onto the idol), they are once again back together as a couple.  The competition is back on.

9:01 - Amber accidentally reaches out and touches the idol.  Amber is eliminated, and Rob Mariano just earned himself a spot in the final two.  Lex and Tom and Kathy laugh evilly back in their hotel room.  They have been waiting for this.   Rob might as well just quit now, I don't think he will want to hear this barrage.

9:03 - We know that Amber is going to beat Rob in the final two.  Amber knows that she will beat Rob in the final two.  And of course Jenna knows that Amber will beat Rob in the final two.  Jenna comments that Rob is "about to give his girlfriend a million dollars."  And it is true. 

9:04 - The editors are drawing this vote out as if there is any doubt that Rob will boot Jenna.  They actually try to make us believe he is debating both choices.  "Hmmm, should I bring the hot girl to the final two in the chance that we might hook up for real after the show?  Or should I dump the hot girl and never have a chance to score with her ever again?  Hmmmmm...  Which girl do I want to give the million dollars to?  My girlfriend, or the other one?  Gee, let me think about this..."

9:06 - Rob asks us at home, "What would you do for a million dollars?"  The answer, of course, is moot, since Rob won't be coming anywhere near a million dollars.  So why don't you tell us what you would do, Rob?  Perhaps you would play differently next time?

9:07 - We're at Tribal Council now.   Jenna seems quite upset any time Jeff brings up the fact that she lifted her foot during the immunity challenge.  She doesn't seem to believe that it actually happened.  It is at this point that I remember we saw a very detailed closeup of Jenna lifting her foot off the stump, right at the moment it happened.  Hmmm... how much do you want to bet that CBS "re-shot" that particularly moment, just to cover their butts in the case of a lawsuit?  Because there is no way the camera was focusing on her foot right at that exact moment.  There is no way.

9:08 - Lex just mugged for the camera in the jury box.  That's the 24th juror mugging in the past hour!  It's a new record!

9:08 - Rob is about to cast the fatal vote (FOR JENNA) even though the editors are trying to make it suspenseful as to who (JENNA) he might pick.  I ask Diana if this is the only final three in the history of Survivor where all the players have at least one prior vote.  I think it is, but I don't have the time to do the research.  Can anyone confirm this for me? 

Pulau Tiga:  Kelly had no prior votes.
Australia:  Tina had no prior votes.
Africa:  Ethan had no prior votes.
Marquesas:  Did Neleh have any prior votes?  I vaguely think that she did.
Thailand:  Brian had no prior votes.
Amazon:  Rob had a prior vote, I think.
Pearl Islands:  Sandra had no prior votes.

9:09 - I tell Diana that if Rob votes Jenna out... that means he doesn't think he can win.  If he votes Amber out... then he thinks he still has a chance to win.  Here we go...

9:10 - *BUZZ*  Good bye Jenna.  And congratulations Amber Brkich, on being the winner of Survivor: All Stars.

9:11 - As we go to commercial I am reminded that this season wouldn't have felt complete without the jury getting a chance to tear Rob a new one in the final two.  It would have felt incredibly anticlimactic if we never got that "Rob gets raped for being an asshole" closure that we needed.  So the last hour of the finale should be a lot of fun.  Well, unless you are a Rob fan.

9:12 - My final words to Jenna (you knew they were coming):   This is what happens when you vote out Tina on day three.  I hope you learned your lesson.

9:16 - We are in a commercial break and our kids have systematically destroyed one third of our living room in the past hour.  And I'm not kidding, one third of our family room is simply gone, it has vanished into the ether.  To buy us another hour of silence, we bribe the kids with some microwave popcorn.  Four-year-olds and popcorn rarely go wrong.

Diana:  "We had to switch from milkshakes and move on to popcorn.  Nicholas was getting WAAAAY too territorial over the rights to the milkshake.  He almost had his entire head in the cup by the end."

9:17 - We're back.  And it is now time to start the "Destroy Rob at the final TC" countdown.  How bad do you think it will be?

9:18 - Rob answers us.  He thinks that "They're all gonna hate us."  I think he's wrong.  I actually think that Rupert might not hate them.  But the others... well... yeah, kinda... but then again you asked for it.

9:19 - Rob and Amber celebrate by once again doing it, right there on the beach.

9:21 - Rob claims that "it's their problem if they took it personal."  Diana beats me to the response.

Diana:  "No, it's about to be YOUR problem."

9:22 - Rob and Amber do it again.  Just one last time for good luck.

9:23 - I comment that Rob can't win because nobody from Boston should ever be allowed to win anything.  I half expect Amber to reveal that she is actually from New York and that her last name is Steinbrenner.  As usual, Boston is going to finish in second place tonight.  Just like every year since 1918.  And then of course, per tradition, the rest of us will have to keep hearing about it.

9:24 - Rob and Amber fight, break up, get back together, and then do it.

9:25 - It is time for the final Tribal Council to begin.  Rob and Amber file in to take their seats.  Both Diana and I think that this will be a blowout in favor of Amber.  Diana says it could be unanimous.  I figure that the only way Rob wins is if the jurors suddenly realize that they don't want to lose to Lamber Brkich.  But that seems like a pretty slim chance to me.

Diana:  "Yeah, great, Amber made the final two.  It doesn't mean she's a mastermind though.  Remember, Lill made the final two as well."

9:26 - Rob is giving his opening speech.  Wow, it looks like Jenna found her makeup drawer!  Is that even still her??  And I already miss Jon Dalton's giant porn mustache.

9:28 - Diana and I take a poll:  Who will be the angriest juror?  I say Lex, without a doubt.  Diana says Tom.  And we both agree that Kathy could be a dark horse.  And we both agree that the jury will take ALL of their aggression out on Rob.  And that Amber will walk away scot free.  Which, you know, is probably what she was planning to do all along.

9:30 - Rob and Amber have spoken and we now cut away to commercial.  Cool, they are making a movie about Charles Manson.  They should get Brian Heidik to play the lead role.  C.C. could play Squeaky Fromme. 

9:32 - Back from commercial.  And the fireworks are about to begin.  Here comes Lex, and Lex looks PISSED!  His speech ends up pretty much being exactly what we expected.  Lex calls the game "truth serum", he blames Rob for selling out all of his values, and he tells Rob that the money will NEVER be enough to buy it all back.  He then punches Rob in the face, he keys his new car, and takes a dump in Boston Rob's Red Sox cap.  Yeah this vote is probably going to go to Amber.  Just a hunch.

9:34 - Kathy comes up and Kathy is REALLY emotional.  She guilts Rob hard and she asks what he thinks that people think of him now.  And Rob ALMOST starts to cry.  You can see that he didn't really realize how bad this was going to be.  I almost feel sorry for the guy.  Because to be fair, I don't think that Rob intended this game to be as dirty or as personal as it turned out to be in the end.  I think Rob just got caught up in the moment and he got caught up in the spirit of controlling the game.  And I don't think he ever saw how it looked from the jury's eyes until this very moment. 

9:35 - Kathy ends with "I was crushed, Rob.  You were like a son."  Wow. 

9:38 - Rupert giggles during his jury question.  You can never really get enough of Rupert giggling.

9:39 - Alicia comes up and she gets off a good line about both Rob and Amber butt-kissing their way to the top.  "I can't decide which one of you has more crap on their lips."   By the way, did you know that the term "brown-nosing" literally refers to fecal matter?  I only found that out recently.  Having someone's shit on your nose is the actual definition.  Anyway, Alicia asks them to describe the way they played the game.  In one word.  And I can't believe that Rob passes up the chance to say "Hahd."  That would have been perfect!

9:40 - Shii Ann comes up and she trashes Lex and Kathy for being upset.  Gee, and you wonder why Shii Ann never gets along with anybody.

Diana:  "Shii Ann seems to have a reserve of proverbs at her disposal to use when the spotlight is on her:  People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones... wise people know enough to keep their mouth shut (Zbacnik)... she is almost a human fortune cookie!" 

9:42 - Jenna Lewis comes up and she asks them what they will do with the money.  Yawn.  Why does this question get asked every season?  You know the final two players will just throw out some B.S. charity as their answer.  Although I always wanted to know how Brian Heidik would have answered this question.  That would have been the best Tribal Council answer of them all.  "C.C. needs a bigger boob job, plus I was thinking of hiring somebody to chew my food.  Oh and I was planning on having all of you killed.  Also I always wanted to sponsor a bikini team."   

9:44 - Tom comes up to speak.  And here we go!   Tom asks Rob and Amber why THEY should win over the other person.  Rob totally blows it here.  He should have said "Amber rode my coattails the entire way.  She didn't do a thing!"  But his newfound nobility towards his girlfriend won't let him do that.  But to be fair, Amber doesn't really go for the kill either.  She could have said "Rob was a dick to his friends and then he made fun of you guys and your loved ones after you were voted out."  It is almost as if she wants to make this vote closer than it has to be.  She totally could have buried Rob right there.

Diana:  "I wonder if Tom's closet looks like Smurfette's.  Does he just have a row of 20 identical pairs of overalls hanging in there, and nothing else?"

9:47 - HILARIOUS!  Tom offers to shake Rob's hand, and then he pulls it away before Rob can reciprocate.  Too funny.  "Don't be stupid, stupid."  One of the funniest final TC moments ever.  Rob and Tom end the showdown with a glare.

(Special note:  I can't forget Tom's first jury speech, back in Africa.  He made everybody laugh when he asked why the lions in Africa licked their hind ends.  Because they needed cleaning?  Or because they had just eaten the mush that Mama Kim had prepared and they needed to taste something better?  Tom Buchanan should be elected to the Reality TV Hall of Fame just for his final TC speeches alone.)

9:48 - Diana comments that Tom is great because you can never tell when he is angry.  He has a very controlled type of anger, so his tirades just seem to come out of nowhere.

9:49 - As we go to commercial, I tentatively predict we will have our first ever unanimous vote tonight.  Diana thinks there is a good chance of that too.

9:52 - We're back from commercial.  And it is time for Rob and Amber's final jury speeches.  Both of them look incredibly depressed.  Rob actually has two black eyes.  I'm not sure how that happened.

9:54 - I called it!  Now Rob starts crying.  It is around this time he is starting to realize that he might be blacklisted from attending Survivor events in the future.  It is going to be like "Well is Mariano going to be there?  Then screw it, I don't want to go."  Rob starts tearing up and it totally ruins any chance he might have had with this jury.  You can't play mister badass and then start apologizing for it at the end.  You can't have it both ways.  Now he is going to come off looking like a big wuss.

9:55 - Amber's final speech is over and it is now time to vote.  And Jeff now reiterates the "Christy Smith Rule," which means you have to remind the jury that they are voting for the WINNER this time around, not the loser.  Per CBS' new contractual clause, he must repeat this instruction at least a half dozen times, each time accompanied by a picture of Christy Smith looking hangdog and guilty.

9:56 - First vote.  Jenna Lewis tells both of them that they should step up and take credit for the way that they played.  And she's right, Amber and Rob both acted like a couple of sad sacks in their jury speeches.  They both should have shown more pride.  I have said it before, and I will say it again.  You CAN'T play cocky all along and then try to switch and be humble at the end.  No one will respect you at all if you do that.  Just ask Neleh.

9:57 - Kathy votes for Rob.  I actually thought that she might.  I still don't think that Rob will win, but it might actually be 5-2 now instead of 6-1 or 7-0.

9:58 - All the votes have been cast.  I comment that win or lose, Rob really loses.  Because he has lost a ton of fans and prestige tonight and I think that he knows it.  Diana comments that it must suck for Amber knowing that when she wins All Stars, she only won because people hated Rob.  It must kind of suck when you only win by default. 

9:59 - Jeff takes the votes, and the urn, and he boards a helicopter.  And in a surprising cross-show promotion it is actually Donald Trump's helicopter from the Apprentice.  Jeff is shuttled all the way to New York City.  Although sadly, in a tragic accident, a chip from the ballot box falls from the sky and it lands on Omarosa's head, killing her instantly.

10:00 - One look at the New York skyline reminds me again that Rob can't win.  In yet another cheap shot, I once again comment that Boston can't win anything in New York.  Ever.  They might as well show Babe Ruth cast the deciding vote for Amber.  After all, the Babe was known for having an affinity for tasty young females, so he probably would have done it.

10:01 - Probst lands in New York and he walks to Madison Square Garden.  But first he has to Frogger his way across a busy street filled with cars.

10:01 - Probst is in the studio and he is greeted by a raucous crowd of Survivor fans (of which I am of course not a part of.)  By the way, if you look very closely, you can see S-C's own Murtz Jaffer in the seventh row of the audience.  Murtz is holding up a sign which reads "Murtz" on one side and "Hogan Rules" on the other.  It seems like Murtz thought he was going to Wrestlemania tonight.

10:02 - We get our first glimpse of a cleaned-up Rob and Amber.  Rob looks a lot like Colby (or as Diana says, he looks a lot like Sean from Real World: Boston.)  And Amber apparently came straight out of a Whitesnake music video from the 80's.  She is wearing an "I Heart Rob" T-Shirt.  Rob Cesternino sees this and he excitedly jizzes in his pants.

10:04 - Ahhh, the big moment.  Rob gets down on one knee and he proposes.  Amber of course refuses his deal, just like she did up on the pole.  Just kidding.  Amber says yes.  Then Rob backstabs her and says he was lying.   Again, just kidding.  Rob and Amber are now officially engaged.  It is so wonderful that we are now watching a chick show.

Diana:  "At least Rob was smart enough to propose BEFORE she became a millionaire.  That should help with the pre nup."

10:05 - Rob and Amber celebrate by doing it, right there on the bench, in full view of the crowd.  It is a shocking display of passion and hormones, but I am reminded that this is not the first time this has actually happened.  Remember that Jenna Morasca and Matthew von Ertfelda did it at least twice back during the Amazon finale. 

10:06 - Diana comments that Rob and Amber remind her of Sean and Rachel from the Real World (another reality show couple-turned-marriage).  I refuse to admit I have any idea who she is talking about.  Or that I ever watched the Real World at any point in my life in the first place.  Although PS Real World Seattle was the best.

10:07 - Here comes the big reveal...  who is the winner?  And how much will Amber win by?  I say she wins 5-2.  So does Diana.

10:08 - Wow!  It was close, and Rob ALMOST won.  How did that happen?  But Amber pulls it out (duh) in a tight 4-3 vote.  Why on earth was it even that close?  Did Christy get to cast a vote?  What went wrong?  The gamblers in Vegas must be going nuts.  I don't think Amber actually beat the point spread.

10:09 - Amber wins!  Amber wins All Stars!  Amber doesn't even seem to be all that excited about this, this win clearly wasn't a shock to her at all.  She clearly knew it was coming.  Although maybe she is just numb that she is suddenly also engaged as well.  The girl just might be in shock at the moment.

10:10 - Amber finishes by flipping the bird to every website and every Survivor fan who trashed her before the season started.  She then makes a Jonny Fairplay "F" and "Y" gesture with her hands and she struts off the stage.  Then Lex and Tom descend on Rob and they beat him to death with an uberspoon.  It is a satisfying ending.


So that's it.  Another season of Survivor comes to a close, and the most improbable winner in Survivor history has been crowned and presented with a million dollar check.   Well, by improbable of course I mean "pre-season" improbable.  Most people didn't give Amber even a 1% chance to win when the cast was announced.  Heck, most people didn't even want her to be there in the game in the first place.  But once the season started, you would have to have been nuts not to see that she was final four material, easy.  Because I said it before and of course I will say it again, quiet unthreatening under the radar females always do well on Survivor.  And of course All-Star Survivor was DESIGNED for a player like Amber.   In my mind, she was the most easily predicted winner the show has ever had.  And it's fun to say that about a girl who Bryant Gumbel once referred to as "the dumb one" in Australia.

The good thing about Amber winning is that it makes me look like a genius.  That's right, almost EVERY single one of my predictions came true in All Stars.  Take away my pre season love for Tina (whatever, bite me Saboga), and I almost predicted the entire storyline of the season.  And that was without spoilers, too.  I have to say this was easily my most successful season ever as a prognosticator.  And it will be good to retire on a high note.

I am pretty happy that Amber won, but I am even more happy that Rob lost.  Because while I was a big fan of Rob in Marquesas, I just couldn't get behind him at all this season.  I didn't like the way he treated and embarrassed people. I didn't like how he tried so hard to make everything personal (witness his repeated smear campaigns against Ethan, just so he could make Ethan look bad in front of the girls.)  And I just could NOT condone the way that he handled Lex.  All he had to do was keep Lex around for one vote... just humor the guy for one little vote... and he could have salvaged that relationship.  And sure, Richard (and others) will say that Survivor is just a game.  But if you know how close Rob and Lex (and a lot of the players) were before All Stars, you would understand that this was a lot bigger deal than just a game.  Rob and Lex were part of a very tight inner circle of alums, in fact they might have been the closest two Survivors out there outside of Rodger and Elisabeth.  These guys were all friends and they all hung out together quite a bit.  People like Richard and Colby (and probably Shii Ann) are not a part of the tight alumni community, and they don't hang around outside the game with anyone like Lex and Rob do.  So Richard doesn't really get it when he says that it was just a game.  It was only a game to -him- because he doesn't give a crap about these people in the first place!  So for Rob to treat Lex like that... well... I can understand why Lex would be so pissed.  I don't blame him at all.  And that's why the ending of All Stars wouldn't have worked for me unless the jury got a chance to take Rob out behind the woodshed and give him the Deliverance treatment.  I wanted to see Boston Rob bent over a log, squirming and crying, during the final vote.  That was the only ending for this ridiculous season that would have satisfied me.  And it looks like I got my wish.  The ending took a lame season that was probably a giant mistake in the first place, and it turned it into a lame season that was at least a little more satisfying.

You know, after eight seasons of Survivor, there is only ONE thing I never got a chance to see that I always wished that I had.  There is one thing I always thought would be funny to see on Survivor.  And as the season wound to a close, I thought there might be a chance that it might actually happen during All Stars.  Because you need a really pissed off jury member for this to go down.

The thing that I always wanted to see on Survivor was the "retribution blindside jury vote."  What that means is that somebody who was blindsided during the game takes the chance to blindside a player in the final two as revenge.  For example, someone like Tom goes up to Rob at the final Tribal Council and he lobs him the easiest softball question that he possibly can.  Tom asks him a jury question like "Rob, tell us why you deserve to win."  And then after Rob's answer, Tom just nods his head and says "You voted me out, but I respect you for it.  You beat me at my own game, and I think you deserve to win.  So congratulations Rob, because you got my jury vote."  So then Rob is all disarmed and he is feeling like he actually has a chance to win.  But when Tom goes up to cast his jury vote, he winds up voting for Amber instead.  And his voting comment would be something awesome like "You blindsided me, boy, and now I'm gonna blindside you.  Hope you like how it feels, asshole."

Anyway, that is just something I always wanted to see on Survivor.  And I thought Tom was going to do it during All Stars.  He actually had that look in his eye for a minute.  So for any future player who reads this column, please make my dreams come true and do this sort of thing on the actual show one day.  I know you guys read my column, so make me proud.  Somebody please do a retribution blindside jury vote in the final jury.  I mean, come on, if you are going to use your vote for revenge, you gotta do it right!

It has been a lot of fun writing this column for the past three years.  And it has been a blast having actual Survivors write to me because of my column or because of my stories.  Thank you especially to:

Gabriel Cade - Who is always classy and who always gets a bum rap from the online Survivor community.  Plus Gabe is still annoyed that I had him lose All-Star Greece on a balance challenge, so I kind of owe him for that.  Sorry!
Teresa Cooper - Who pulled some strings to get free tickets for Diana and me to attend the Survivor: Thailand benefit brunch.  And who actually called me and left me a voice mail because she liked All-Star Alaska so much.
Tanya Vance - Who essentially wrote the ending to All-Star Survivor: Greece for me, and who is super nice.
Diane Ogden - Who helped me with my All-Star Greece story more than anyone.
Peter Harkey - Who I am still supposed to meet the next time I go to a Survivor event.
Kathy Vavrick-O'Brien - Who helped me with All-Star Hawaii when she didn't even know who I was.
Helen Glover - Who sent my wife a butterscotch cookie bar recipe in exchange for a copy of All-Star Alaska.
Nick Brown - The first Survivor contact I ever had.   Nick is a good guy who has moved on to bigger and better things in his life.
Lex van den Berghe - Who is a great guy and a great ambassador for the show.

And of course Rob Cesternino, who is my Survivor protege.  Just kidding.  Rob and I are mutual fans of one another for a reason.  And I have to say that if you don't vote for Rob C. to win the million dollars for fan favorite, you are going to make me sad.  Vote for Rob!  He is the best player never to win!  Reward the guy for his contributions to the franchise!  He is still living at home in his basement, yet he is the single most influential player the game has ever seen.  Come on and help a brother out!

Yeah, okay, I know.  I know that Rupert is going to win.  So do you.  But at least help Rob make it close.  I mean, the guy didn't even get to talk at the reunion show.  Help him win back his pride.  Besides, CBS already helped Boston Rob out by handing him a construction challenge during the game.  And now they are making it up to the other Rob by handing him an internet challenge.  He is just supposed to win this.  It is not even supposed to be close, you guys are his people!

Yes, Rupert will probably win.  But let's see how computer savvy Rupert nation really is.  Because one thing you can say about your average Rob C. fan is that they probably know their way around the internet.  


That's just about it for me.  In retrospect, it has been a lot of fun.  I have been with Survivor-Central since its very first day on the internet, back when Murtz was putting together a new website and he was trolling for recap writers over at Survivor Sucks (right after Australia ended).  You see, S-C was originally supposed to be a spoiler site, we didn't even have any columnists.  But Murtz found me, I said that I wanted to write recaps, and that is where it started.  My first recap was for Africa, episode 1.  I titled it "Frank and Beans."  After Africa ended, I talked Murtz into giving me a weekly column during Marquesas and that is where my readership really started to take off.  And I am proud to say that I eventually helped turn Survivor-Central into a columnist's utopia.  I am glad I got a chance to help convert S-C from a dreaded and evil spoiler site (boo!) into a more noble and enlightened fan site (yay!).  But seriously, Murtz has created a great site here and I am glad I was a part of it.  Thank you to Murtz Jaffer for giving me a chance.

And okay, I might as well come right out and say it.  Even if the ONLY reason I ever wanted to became a columnist in the first place was so I could stick it to Mighty Big TV for not hiring me a couple of years ago.  Most people have never heard that side of the backstory.  

Anyway, it has been fun.  Drop me an email sometime.  Now it's off to Valhalla, now I get to go back to watching the show as just some regular random fan.  There will be no more spoilers for me, no more stressing over what to write each week, and no more hearing about how some douchebag wrote a book that celebrates how he spoiled Amazon and how he ruined it for everyone.  Now it is back to just watching the show and enjoying it as a fan.  

Keep on pushing through the pain.

Your friend,

The S-C Apprentice:

This was my last column ever.  *cue sad music*  But as I have mentioned before... I will be running a contest in the offseason called "The S-C Apprentice." Basically I will be choosing between 10 potential writers to see who gets to take over this column (and the Power Rankings) next season.  I will be running the game just like the real Apprentice show, only it will all be writing challenges. The results will be posted on the message board all throughout the offseason (as well as a writeup of who gets fired each week).  If you are interested in playing, and possibly taking over as the writer of Survivor Strategy next season, drop me an email. I hope to hear from a lot of talented writers and Survivor fans. This could be your big shot to become a columnist!  We already have 30+ really good applicants!


Mario Lanza is a 30-year old writer and programmer from Los Angeles.  He is the lead author of the S-C All-Star Stories as well as the smash hit Survivor: Okinawa (currently on the finale.)  He also wants to become a big shot TV writer someday.  If you happen to work for a TV show, please drop him a line!