Jeff Probst said it best: “I’ve gotten in trouble in the past for having an opinion. But I’m gonna have one now: that was as close to a perfect game as I’ve ever seen played”.
Now, as any Survivor fan knows, Jeff is smarter than you; Jeff is always right. And he has never been righter.
This was the season of Rob Mariano. He played a perfect game: controlling his tribe from start to finish, staying loyal as much as he could without sacrificing his end game, winning the important challenges, staying in the good books of the future jurors and never losing sight of the prize (or his reasons for playing- Amber and the kids). Rob also adapted his strategy to fit the two major twists added to the game since his last successful run in the first All-Star season (hidden immunity idols and redemption island). He also played for the viewers, dropping quotable line after quotable line, narrating his strategy and bringing us in as his only true confidants.
And at tonight’s finale he was rewarded for his brilliance, finally winning the million dollars after 10 years of Survivor gameplay. The vote was 8-1 (Ralph’s vote went to Phillip, out of sheer “I like this guy”-ness) and Rob took home the $100,000 for Fan Favourite as well. That vote came down to a 40%-36% split between him and Matt, the beatified hero of redemption island. Their metaphorical faceoff became a central narrative to what could have been a boring season, consisting of one man’s total domination, but instead was a two-man battle between conventional ideals of good and conventional traits of evil. Rob and Matt made this season what it was, which was awesome. Boston Rob Mariano finally got what he’s long deserved: the title of “sole Survivor” and the Probst seal of approval as the best of the best. Now if only Grant would forgive him and the bromance could live on.
As for next season, Survivor: South Pacific, the redemption island twist will be back. Also returning is the concept of redemption for two former survivors with unfinished business. Let the speculation on whom that will be begin as we wait patiently (and for a very long time) for the new season.