'Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains' Finale and Reunion Report
by Kelly Woo, posted May 17th 2010 5:00PM
The big finale of 'Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains' capped off the dramatic 20th season in style last night at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City. Survivors past and present, plus an audience filled with friends and family, gathered to see who had outwitted, outplayed and outlasted a group of all-star contestants for the title of sole survivor.
I was on hand to watch the finale and reunion shows and talk to the winner ...
As fans know by now, Sandra Diaz-Twine won the jury's vote to become the show's first double winner (she previously won season 7, 'Pearl Islands'), beating out Parvati Shallow and Russell Hantz for the $1 million prize.
The event was a who's who of 'Survivor' -- I saw 'Survivor: Africa' winner Ethan Zohn, looking healthy after his successful fight against cancer; his girlfriend, 'Amazon' winner Jenna Morasca; 'Tocantins' runner-up Stephen Fishbach; 'Vanuatu' and 'Micronesia' contestant Eliza Orlins; and the infamous Johnny "Fairplay" Dalton," wearing a hilarious multi-colored suit. And season 12's Terry Deitz was interviewing contestants on the press line next to me.
Here are some tidbits from the finale and reunion show:
• That last immunity challenge? Hands down, the best challenge in the best season of 'Survivor.' The crowd inside the Ed Sullivan theater couldn't stop gasping as Russell, Parvati and Jerri groped blindly around for the immunity necklace. When Russell finally grabbed it, the place erupted with screams.
• Best quote from final Tribal Council was from, of course, Coach: "King Arthur's journey has officially ended." Can this guy please get his own dating show?
• Women still love Colby Donaldson. And host Jeff Probst. A lot.
• Russell apparently had laminated J.T. Thomas' infamous letter (the one that accompanied the immunity idol). J.T. promptly tried to burn the evidence of his bone-headed decision (which won him the dubious honor of dumbest move ever."
• Foreign heads of state in the house! The Samoan prime minister was in attendance.
• Winner Sandra on what she's going to do with her money? "Pay my taxes because I don't want to look like Richard Hatch," she told me. "[Then] vacation with my family in Germany."
• • The 'Survivor' production staff is amazing. The set at the theater looked wonderful and matched the Tribal Council set-up in Samoa.
• Russell on getting zero votes: "I thought I was getting two -- Candice and Amanda. I thought they understood the game, and they voted for somebody that didn't' even play the game."
• Sandra on Russell getting zero votes: "Oh I knew at Tribal Council he didn't have any votes -- they were mean to him. That was like when I played with Lill [Morris, on 'Pearl Islands'], you kind of get a feeling because of what's being said, who they're going to vote for."
• During the reunion show and on the press line, Russell was adamant that he'd won and said the game should be decided by the audience. "I controlled the game. I was the king. I was in control of everything," he told me. "If you're that in control of something, you should win. And you know what? America says I should win."
• One of the turning points of the game, in my mind, was when Sandra turned Russell against Benjamin "Coach" Wade. " But the two-time winner said she couldn't "pinpoint one" as being the best. "That day, that's what I needed to do," she said. Still, a key tactic was actually not getting Russell out of the game. He did end up taking her to the final three, after all.
• Most of the other players thought Russell had an advantage because they hadn't watched his season before 'Heroes Vs. Villains' started taping. But the self-styled "king" of 'Survivor' thinks his advantage lay in the fact that he was "running full speed ahead, and you can't catch up. I was in the game already. Even Boston Rob -- he is the best player I've ever seen ... besides me. He's so good. The difference between me and him? I was running full speed."
• And according to Russell, the five best players in the game? "Me, Rob, Parvati, Cirie and Amanda. Amanda -- she was driving me crazy. If you drive Russell crazy, obviously you're pretty good."
• As for playing again, Sandra was wishy-washy. "Listening to these people talk about how three times is very tiring... I don't know I could do it." But in a year or two? "Maybe," she said with a smile.
What did you think of the finale and reunion show?
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