Rules of the Game

I can’t stand bitter juries.

Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains has just crowned a winner - Sandra, again, literally wearing a bit of a crown (love her!) - and it was yet another example of people voting against someone rather than voting for the best player. And I wanted to reach through the TV screen and throttle and number of them.

We all expect Rupert to be sanctimonious - was there ever another player who smoked his own dope to quite this extent? - but I'd expected better from the rest of them. You can sort of understand why people who haven't played the game before occasionally get lost in the emotions, but when you have some version of All-Stars, they're generally people who know and respect the game and therefore respect being outplayed. Not this time around.

It was one of the best, if not the best, season of Survivor I've seen - I have seen all of them and am not ashamed to admit it. Incredible high levels of gameplay (so many of them), incredible valleys of disappointment (Colby), incredibly stupid moves (Tyson voting himself off, JT giving the idol to Russell based on nothing but a feeling), egos being left to make strategic moves instead of brains (Russell decimating his own alliance prematurely, Villains voting off Boston Rob before the merge, Heroes voting off Stephanie) and I could go on, but more than anything, the season belonged to Parvati. If everyone plans to vote you off before the show even starts and you make it to the end, there’s some serious gameplay going on. She made a brilliant alliance with Russell and watching the two of them run the game and acting like a sort of married couple, complete with bickering, jockeying for position and total loyalty was a treat. And watching Parvati run Russell was a treat - her statement that the final Tribal Council that she "didn't slay the dragon, she kept him as a pet" had me howling. She was terrific at the social aspect, she's tied for second in overall winner of individual challenges, she strategized brilliantly and she should have won.

And yet, despite being outwitted, outlasted and outplayed, the jury gave the title and the million dollars to Sandra. Who had her own strategy, was a hoot to watch, effortlessly manipulated Russell on a couple of occasions, won no one immunity challenge - in fact, if they gave out immunity for coming in last, she'd have won all of them - but basically got to the end by doing whatever everybody else wanted. Nothing wrong with that, as such, but I think it only really qualifies as "outlast", not outwit or outplay. She was very definitely the weakest in the final three - and don't get me started on how much I hate the concept of a final three instead of two - and then, instead of asking legitimate questions to aid in making a decision, the majority of the jury took the opportunity to stand in front of the finalists and pontificate sanctimoniously at them.

Your job as a jury is to find out who played the best game, not to come into the final Tribal Council not only with your mind already made up, but also basing the decison only on having your fweeeeelings hurt. You got booted off! These players are better than you - and yes, Sandra and making it to the end despite playing in a way that was characterized by an avoidance of making moves does mean that she deserves to be there - and that means that you need to get off your high horse and actually do your job. Everyone used the rules of the game, winners and losers both, so (wo)man up and get over yourself, y;know?

It is entirely possible that I get a little too invested in reality shows (see my post on doing your best), but seriously. The fact that Coach - one of the (inadvertently) funniest and most ridiculous people ever to play the game - has a better attitude about being a jury member then most of the rest of them is insane. If you respect the game - and as All-Stars, all of these people respect and love the game - you have to respect it up until the bitter end, even if it means voting for somebody you don't like if they were the best player.