Survivor 43.13 — Congratulations to Mike Gabler!

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By now, I assume that everyone has watched last night’s Survivor finale and I can finally ask the question that is on almost everyone’s mind.

How did Mike Gabler win Survivor 43?

The most obvious answer is that Gabler won by building a better fire than Jesse.  If Gabler hadn’t won the firemaking challenge, Jesse would have gone to the final three and I think it was pretty clear that Jesse would have won.  The jury was fully prepared to vote for Jesse and I kind of got the feeling that they never really considered a scenario in which Jesse didn’t make it to the end.  Jesse played such a good game that he seemed inevitable, despite the fact that he never won individual immunity and apparently never really learned how to make fire either.

The final three was Gabler, Owen, and Cassidy.  Of the three, Cassidy could probably claim to be the most strategic player.  She was the one who was always plotting and getting involved in blindsides.  Owen was the player who impressed everyone just by making it to the end despite the fact that he was always being targeted.  Gabler, on the other hand, often seemed to spend the final days of the game laying low.  After he won the one immunity challenge, he kind of stayed out of the limelight.

And that turned out to be good strategy because Gabler won the jury’s vote and he won easily.  (Only one vote was cast for Cassidy.  The rest went to Gabler.)  And then he won almost everyone’s heart by announcing that he would be donating the money to charity.

How did Gabler win?

It may have been unexpected but all the signs of a Gabler victory was there.  Gabler handled himself well while asking questions from the jury.  He didn’t apologize for anything that he did but, at the same time, he didn’t gloat.  He was humble and he was honest and the jury reacted well to that.  Owen was well-liked by the jury but he couldn’t really point to any big moves that he had made, beyond winning immunity when he needed it.  Cassidy had quite a resume but, like Aubrey Bracco in Survivor 32, she didn’t really bother to build up the type of personal connections that Gabler had.  In the end, Gabler won because he was likable and he had just enough of a resume that he could claim that he had played a strategic game.  

So, Mike Gabler is our latest winner.  Congrats, Gabler!

Well, we’ve got a few months off now.  This blog will return when either Big Brother, Survivor, or the Amazing Race returns.  Until then, thanks for reading!  See you soon!

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Survivor 43.12 “Telenovela”

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Wow, that Jesse will just betray anyone!

Well, in all fairness to Jesse, betraying an ally is something that you sometimes have to do if you want to win Survivor.  I was surprised to see Jesse leading the effort to blindside Cody but I can understand his reasoning.  Cody was a challenge threat and Jesse obviously did the math and decided that it would be difficult to beat Cody in a final three situation.  Jesse may be right about that and, if Jesse does make it to the final three, he can now brag about how he managed to blindside the biggest threat in the game.  Jesse is the last strategic player left in the game and, if he can make it to the final three, he can make quite a case for himself.  Of course, I could just as easily imagine a bitter jury voting for anyone but Jesse.

With Cody gone, we are down to our final five players.

First off, there’s Jesse.  Jesse’s in a good spot but he’s going to have to hope that he can win that final immunity because I just don’t see anyone voluntarily taking Jesse to the final three.

Secondly, there’s Gabler.  Gabler talks a lot but it’s been a while since he’s really done anything big in the game.  He’s someone who I would want to take to the final three, if I was looking for someone who I could beat.

Third, there’s Owen.  Owen has survived, despite being a frequent target.  He may not be as strategic a player as Jesse but he’s also a bit more likable.  I could see Owen winning if the jury is angry at Jesse.

Fourth, there’s Karla.  Karla’s been on the outside on the majority of the votes and she’s been targeted several times but she’s always managed to survive.  Her immunity victory from two weeks ago will always be remembered, whether she wins the game or not.

Fifth, there’s Cassidy.  Cassidy’s main weakness is that she’s tight with Jesse.  If she and Jesse are in the final three, I imagine the jury will just dismiss her as just following his lead.

Who will win?  It’s hard to say because there’s really not a single one of them who isn’t capable of winning an immunity challenge and guaranteeing their spot in the final three.  This is a strong group and it should be a suspenseful finale.  I would say that Jesse’s the front runner but that’s also why I don’t think anyone’s going to voluntarily take him to the final three.

My prediction, for what it’s worth:

The final three will be Jesse, Cassidy, and Gabler, with Jesse winning the jury vote.

We’ll see what happens next week!

The Amazing Race 34.12 — Congratulations, Derek and Claire!

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Hi, everyone!

I assume, by now, everyone is seen last night’s finale of The Amazing Race.  The Race ended the way that I was hoping it would.  After traveling from Iceland to Nashville, Derek and Claire were the first team to cross the finish line and they officially won The Amazing Race!

I’ll admit that I cheered a little when it became obvious they were going to win it.  Derek and Claire are a likable couple.  Even if I didn’t already know them from Big Brother, I would have wanted them to win because they worked well together, they never yelled in anger, and they supported each other no matter what.  They were the type of team that you always hope will win The Amazing Race

Really, I would have been happy if any of the three teams had won.  And Emily and Molly should be really proud of themselves for finishing in second, despite Emily’s knee.  When the season began, I don’t think anyone expected much from them but Emily and Molly proved us all wrong.  Luis and Michelle, who came in third, were also a strong team and they definitely deserved to be in the final three.  I liked all of them but I was still really happy to see Derek and Claire win that million dollars.

(For the record, Derek and Claire are the second Big Brother couple to win the Amazing Race.  The first was the team of Jessica and Cody.)

As for this season as a whole, I really enjoyed it.  The previous season was a bit strange, what with the COVID delay leading to many of the stronger teams not returning to the Race.  This season, though, felt like a real season of The Amazing Race.  It was great fun to watch and I can’t wait for the next season!

The Amazing Race 34.11 “How Am I Going To Survive This?”

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Last night, the four remaining teams went from Spain to Iceland and, by the end of the episode, we had our final three!

And I’m happy to say that it’s exactly the three teams who I wanted to see in the finale.

First off, we’ve got Derek and Claire.  I used to call Derek and Claire “Team Big Brother” but now I call them “Team Adorable” because I just love them to death.  I think when the Race began, a lot of people (myself included) assumed that Derek would be the stronger member of the team but Claire, despite some initial missteps, has really proven herself.  Much like Cody and Jessica, Derek and Claire have proven themselves to be much better suited for The Amazing Race than for Big Brother.  

Secondly, we’ve got Luis and Michelle.  Luis and Michelle are another really strong team.  They don’t have any glaring weaknesses so it’s going to be interesting to see how they do against Derek and Claire.  This seems like one of those seasons where it could all come down to who lucks out by getting the better taxi driver.

Finally, coming in third last night, are Emily and Molly.  These two are definitely underdogs, not because they’re not a good team but just because Emily’s knee has been slowing them down over the past few legs.  I would not be upset if they won.  They’re likable and they’ve never given up.  But Emily’s knee put them at a disadvantage.

Speaking of giving up, Aubrey and David were eliminated last night.  At the Detour, they decided they were never going to list the volcanic eruptions in the right order so they took the 2-hour penalty.  At that point, I’m assuming they knew they were in last place and they were going to be eliminated regardless.  They decided to accept it, instead of physically and mentally exhausting themselves.  And since Phil did announce that there were no non-elimination legs this race, their decision makes sense, though I would have kept trying just on the chance that Emily and Molly might get lost on the way to the pit stop.  If there had still been the possibility of this being a non-elimination leg, I imagine Aubrey & David would have kept going.

As I said, I’m happy with our final thee.  This is a rare case where the final three are also the three best teams.  No one snuck in.  Derek & Claire and Luis & Michelle are the front runners but you never know.  Emily & Molly might surprise us.  Either way, I’m going to be happy with whoever wins.  When was the last time you could say that about a season of The Amazing Race?

The finale is next week!

Survivor 43.11 “Hiding In Plain Sight”

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Well, so much for Sami.

When this game started, I had mixed feelings about Sami.  I was creeped out by his profession as a “pet cremator” and I thought that he was too cocky for his own good.  He liked to strategize but he wasn’t particularly subtle about it and he never gave anyone much of a reason to trust him.  I was honestly expecting Sami to be one of the first people voted out.

Instead, he survived and, for a while, he thrived.  Even though I don’t think anyone ever really trusted Sami, he still always managed to paint someone else as being a bigger target.  He made it through the merge.  He nearly made it to the end and I do think that, if he had ended up in the final three, he  would have had a decent shot at winning.

But, last night, his luck ran out.  First, he made the mistake of admitting that he voted for Karla and then he tried to make Karla believe that Cassidy was the one who targeted her.  What’s interesting is that Karla kind of believed him but his actions reminded everyone else in the tribe of just how untrustworthy and sneaky he could be.  In the end, Sami knew he was going to be targeted and he played his shot in the dark.  (Remember those?)  The shot in the dark failed, Sami lost his vote, and he was exiled to jury by a vote 6 to 0.

(After three seasons, no one has successfully played their shot in the dark.)

Along with Sami’s downfall, this episode will be remembered for the large number of people who were safe from the vote.  Cody found an advantage that allowed him to “bet” on who would win the immunity challenge.  If Cody bet on the right person, Cody would also be safe.  Cody decided to bet on Owen and that was a smart decision as Owen did win.

Of course, so did Karla.

The competition was a brutal one.  The castaways hung underneath a grated steel barricade in the ocean as the tide rose.  The longer they held, the more time they would spend underwater and the more difficult it would be to breathe!  This would be a challenge that I would immediately fail at, as I’m claustrophobic and I have a fear of drowning.  However, both Owen and Karla hung onto the grate for so long that they actually outlasted the tide and, as a result, they were both given immunity.  Cody won his bet. 

That meant that three of the seven castaways were safe at Tribal.  Personally, I think that was a bit too many but still, Owen and Karla definitely earned their safety.

With Sami gone, we are down to six castaways and two episodes!  Karla no longer trusts Cassidy so we’ll see if the two remaining women are going to waste their time targeting each other or if they’re eventually going to realize that Jesse and Cody have the strongest alliance on the beach.

We’ll see what happens!

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Sami, the newest member of the jury

The Amazing Race 34.10 “Don’t Look Down”

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On Wednesday night, the second megaleg came to a close as the teams finally reached the pit stop.  To be honest, it wasn’t a huge surprise that Marcus and Michael were the last team to arrive.  They struggled during this entire megaleg and, once they fell behind, they were never able to catch up.  Marcus and Michael were a strong team and they finished in first place on quite a few of the legs.  But, in Spain, their luck just ran out.  That said, I have a feeling that they’ll probably return for a future season.

So, we are now down to four teams and we’ve got two episodes left.  The end is approaching.  Who will make it to the finale?

Luis and Michelle, who finished the megaleg in first, seem to be guaranteed a spot in the final three.  They have run a strong race.  They work well together as a team.  They’re determined to win but they don’t allow mistakes to distract them.  It would shock me if they somehow didn’t make it to the finale.

Derek and Claire also seem like a good bet to make it to the finale.  They finished the megaleg in third place.  Claire conquered her crippling fear of heights at the roadblock.  My heart went out to her because I’m not a fan of heights myself.  But the important thing is that she did it and she and Derek never gave up.  Derek and Claire have made their mistakes but they’ve always recovered.  They work well together.  They support each other.  I’m sure they’ll make it to the finale.

But who will be joining them?

Aubrey and David finished the megaleg in 2nd place but they haven’t been a consistently strong team and David still seems to be so intense that it’s easy to imagine one small mistake causing the team to meltdown.

Meanwhile, Molly and Emily finished the megaleg in fourth.  They’ve been a strong team but Emily’s knee slowed them down this leg and it’s hard to imagine that it will be any better during the next leg.  Molly and Emily may be more likable and emotionally stable than Aubrey and David but they’re having to deal with a serious injury.

So, if I had to guess, I think our top three will be Luis and Michelle, Aubrey and David, and Derek and Claire.  And I will be rooting for Derek and Claire until the end!

We’ll see what happens next week as the Race travels from Spain to Iceland!

Survivor 43.10 “Get That Money, Baby”

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Hi, everyone!

I apologize for being late in posting this week’s recap.  Thursday was not only Thanksgiving but it was also my sister’s birthday!  I’m only now getting a chance to sit down and write out a few words about this week’s episode of Survivor.

I’m not really surprised that Noelle ended up getting blindsided.  I am a little bit surprised that it took as long as it did.  Noelle is not only a Paralympian and a challenge threat but she also has an inspiring backstory so, to me, she would definitely not be someone who I would want to be sitting next to in a final three situation.  I figured that Noelle would automatically become a target post-merge but, instead, Gabler had to get his revenge on the girls who searched his bag and James was so obnoxious that Noelle was able to fly under the radar until last night.

Noelle won the reward challenge last night, which was both good and bad.  On the one hand, winning the reward challenge meant that she got to read letters from her family.  On the other hand, it also meant that she had to decide who else would get to read letters and who would go back to camp empty-handed.  While Noelle, Sami, Jesse, and Owen were reading their letters, Cassidy was back at camp and trying to convince Gabler and Cody to vote out Noelle.

Noelle’s fate was pretty much sealed as soon as she didn’t win immunity.  The show didn’t even pretend that there was a possibility that Noelle wouldn’t be blindsided.  Instead, most of the second half of the episode was taken up with scenes of Jesse orchestrating Noelle’s blindside.  Jesse convinced Noelle and her strongest allies (Owen, Sami, and Karla) to split their votes while he got the rest of the tribe on board with all voting for Noelle.  Even Jesse was shocked at both how easy it was and also at how no one appeared to be targeting him and Cody.

Of course, Jesse may be getting too cocky.  Before tribal council, Gabler approached Karla and told her about the upcoming blindside, and he also told her that Cody and Jesse were becoming a dangerous duo.  So, Jesse and Cody might not be as safe as they think they are.  We’ll find out next week!

For now, Noelle is the newest member of the jury.  The final vote was 5-2-1.  Sami received one vote (for Noelle) and Karla received two (from Owen and Sami).

I hope everyone’s had a good Thanksgiving!  Again, sorry for the late post!

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Noelle, the fourth member of the jury

The Amazing Race 34.9 “Vamos a la Playa”

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Last night saw the beginning of the second megaleg of the season!  That means that, once the teams landed in Spain, they had to do two roadblocks and two detours on their way to the next pit stop.  That also means that we only got to see the first half of the megaleg last night and, as a result, no one was eliminated.

I enjoyed the first half of the megaleg, mostly because I liked the roadblock where they had to arrange six glass panels in order to recreate Pablo Picasso’s Three Musicians.  Watching that roadblock, I realized that my art history degree would make me invincible in The Amazing Race!  But, at the same time, I have to admit to being disappointed that this episode ended with the teams still racing and no one being eliminated.  I would actually prefer that they brought back the non-elimination leg than continue to split the megalegs into two separate episodes.

Here’s where everyone was when last night’s episode ended:

In 1st place, Derek and Claire were running a strong race and they definitely seemed like the team to beat.  They’re a cute couple, too.  At first, I thought it was foolish of Derek to help out Aubrey and David but, in retrospect, it could be that he wants them to stick around because he knows they’ll be easy to beat.

In 2nd place, we have got Aubrey and David.  After struggling over the past two legs, Aubrey and David are once again running strong.  That said, David tends to get so worked up over things that I still think they’re one meltdown away from getting eliminated.

In third place, Luis and Michelle.  They’re still strong and they’re still consistent.  There’s no way they don’t make it to the finale.

In 4th place, Emily and Molly.  Emily’s knee is slowing them down, at the worst possible moment.

In 5th place, Marcus and Michael.  They’re struggling in Spain and I have a feeling this leg might be their last one.  Usually, when Marcus and Michael win, it’s because they got through the leg without making any mistakes.  When they do make a mistake or have problems with a roadblock or detour, they always struggle to recover and make up the time.  They have the potential to be the strongest team in the race but they were definitely struggling last night.

Next week, the megaleg ends and, as Phil would say, the last time to arrive will be eliminated.

Survivor 43.9 — Two Tribal Councils For The Price Of One

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Last night’s episode of Survivor gave us two tribal councils for the price of one.  

At the immunity challenge, Jeff announced that the tribe was going to be split into two groups, determined by random draw.  The castaways would then compete in an endurance comp, seeing who could keep a ball in place for the longest amount of time.  The longest-lasting castaway from each group would win immunity.  Since both groups would be going to tribal council, that meant that, along with two people having immunity, two people would also be sent to the jury.  Also, whichever castaway held out for the longest would not only win immunity but they would also win their group a reward of peanut butter sandwiches.  The sandwiches looked fairly nasty to me but whatever.  I guess you’ll eat anything after you’ve been stuck on a beach for several days.

Immunity was won by Karla and Cody.  Cody lasted the longest so his group won the rather boring reward.  They also won the right to be the second group to go to tribal so they would be able to see who the first group had voted out.  Jeff made this sound like a great advantage but I’ve noticed that Jeff tends to get excited easily nowadays.

Anyway, the first tribe to attend tribal consisted of Karla, James, Sami, Owen, and Noelle.  James and Owen had an argument after the immunity challenge, due to Owen being upset that James didn’t tell him that the tribe was targeting Jeanine and James just being a jerk in general.

James went into tribal confident that he had masterminded Owen’s downfall.  What James didn’t know was that Noelle and Sami had decided to blindside James.  Noelle used her steal-the-vote advantage to steal Owen’s vote.  James smirked when this happened.  However, when it came to vote, Noelle cast her two votes for James.  Even more surprisingly, so did Karla.  Karla was James’s biggest ally in the game but somehow, Sami convinced Karla to turn on him.  I’m not sure what Sami promised Karla or how he convinced her but Sami pulled it off.  Sami might be the most dangerous player in this game.

Anyway, the final vote was 4 votes for James and one vote for Owen.  (That vote came from James.)  James was stunned by the vote and loudly complained as Jeff snuffed his torch.  James added that everyone voted for him as a sign of how much they feared and respected him.  Noelle stifled a laugh.

As for the second tribal council, the group was made up of Cassidy, Ryan, Gabler, Jesse, and Cody.  Cassidy wanted to vote out Ryan.  Ryan wanted to vote out Cassidy.  In the end, the tribe decided to go with Cassidy and Ryan was voted out by a 4-1 margin.  Compared to the previous tribal council, it was a bit boring.  I guess Gabler has fallen off of everyone’s radar, especially now that Jeanine and Elie are no longer in the game.  And I also guess no one has noticed that Cody and Jesse have got the strongest bond of any of the players in the game.  There were definitely bigger targets in the group.

At this point, I’m going to predict that we’re going to get a final three of Sami, Cody, and Gabler and that Sami will win fairly easily.  We’ll see what happens!

The Amazing Race 34.8 “La Ville Rose”

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Alas, poor Quinton and Mattie.

Last night, Quinton and Mattie were the last to arrive at the Pit Stop in Toulouse and they were eliminated from the race.  They finished in 6th place, which is really not a bad finish for a team that never really had a strong leg over the course of the race.  They were the ultimate middle-of-the-road team.  They managed to finish 3rd twice and that was as good as it got for them.  They seem like nice people but they were also the team that I always had to remind myself about whenever I was trying to write up one of these recaps.

We have five teams left.  Derek and Claire and Luis and Michelle are consistently strong and, at this point, I would be shocked if they didn’t make it to the final leg.  Emily and Molly are a strong team but Emily’s knee injury could slow them down.  Marcus and Michael are strong, except for when they’re having to drive.  There’s always a team that struggles with finding the next roadblock or detour and this season, it’s Marcus and Michael.  Aubrey and David have struggled a lot over the past two episodes but they could potentially sneak into the top three.

As for how everyone finished last night, it was:

  1. Derek and Claire, claiming their second first place finish of the season.  When this season began, Claire seemed like she would be the weak link for this team but, last night, she easily handled the roadblock.  These two are in a good position.
  2. Louis and Michelle, who are both coming on strong.  Luis’s “bromance” with Derek was cute.
  3. Emily and Molly, who are a strong team but I cringe every time I see Emily starting to limp.  I’ve dealt with knee injuries.  They are the worst and they always flare up at the worst possible time.
  4. Marcus and Michael, who have 3 first place finishes this season.  They’re strong but, last night, they wasted a lot of time driving.
  5. Aubrey and David, who are holding on.  At this point, whether they make it to the end seems to depend more on whether or not the other teams screw up than on anything else.
  6. Quinton and Mattie, who were eliminated.

Next week, the Race goes to Spain!