Sunday, December 19, 2010

Survivor: Winners Round Up

(Class photo. The dude on the left won this time. Spoiler Alert!)

In honor of Survivor's 21st season finale, Dalton Ross at EW ranked the 19 previous winners of the 20 previous seasons based on how well they performed in their respective seasons, to reveal the most triumphant winner. I didn't agree with the rankings, partly because I thought it was a flawed system. I'll explain why in my own rankings below, now including tonight's winner, ranked 20-1.

20. Vecepia Towery - Marquesas. A season so boring I gave up on it way early. No rooting interest in her. I'm sure she's a lovely person, but this is considered (by those who actually watched it) to be one of the worst Survivor season's the show has to offer.

19. Earle Cole - Fiji. Again, I never got into the season. Didn't care who won. Although I did like that someone was named Dreamz. But I lost interest after only a few episodes.

18. Natalie White - Samoa. She basically just stayed out of Russell's super aggressive way on her way to picking up the million dollar check. Worked for me, 'cause Russell played too hard and annoyed me. But it didn't take much effort to look like a better option than Russell, so she doesn't stick out to me as a great winner.

17. Amber Brkich - All-Stars. Rob did all the dirty work. The jury just couldn't deal with handing him the title. Rob's loss was more of an injustice than Natalie's, but at least Amber was a partner in crime.

16. Chris Daughetry - Vanuatu. I really didn't like this season and also didn't watch the whole thing. Chris's win had more to do with the women turning on each other and the jury not being able to support the last person standing on their own alliance, than anything Chris really did. Maybe I don't give him enough credit though. Eh.

15. Brian Heidik - Thailand. Another season I didn't really like. Brian's win was fine, but was nothing compared to his soft core work in Virgins of Sherwood Forest. Mad skills, yo!

14. Bob Crowley - Gabon. Nothing wrong with Bob. He just never made a really strong impression on me. I don't think people considered him a threat to win at their own expense.

13. Jenna Morasca - Amazon. She too just never made a strong impression on me as a competitor on the show. She's got a cool attitude though. Nothing personal against her.

12. Aras Baskauskas - Panama: Exile Island. I actually liked his season. Cirie was the best contestant in terms of character, but at least Aras won over Danielle. That would've been crazy if he lost to her.

11. Tina Wesson - Australian Outback. An awesome lady, but she had a bit of luck in Colby being a gentleman and taking her to the final with him where she beat him. He shouldn't have done that.

10. Judson "Fabio" Birza - Nicaragua. I actually thought this last season was uneven, especially toward the middle, but ultimately it was satisfying. It was like watching a game of poker where most of the players are beginners. There isn't a lot of strategy at first or a real understanding of the game, but it makes the outcome less predictable because people make unconventional choices that sometimes pay off. I really didn't know how the last couple votes would go. But Fabio won immunity when he needed it at the end, and he had one of the best personalities this season, so good on him for taking it.

9. Ethan Zohn - Africa. I don't really remember the season in Africa, but I generally like when nice guy's finish first. And it's obvious that Ethan's a nice guy. So I'm putting him here at #9.

8. Todd Herzog - China. Todd was super smart, but he benefited right at the end when partner-in-crime Amanda totally unraveled in front of the jury at the end. She made it easy for him.

7. J.T. Thomas - Tocantins. All the contestants loved J.T. on his season. People were okay with losing to him even as they were still competing against him! He was strong and had a good read on everyone and walked away with the unanimous vote in his favor. They were buying what he was selling.

6. Danni Boatwright - A total scrapper. Was on the outside of a huge alliance and fought her way through to the final winning the last immunity challenge and then a 6-1 jury decision.

5. Tom Westman - Palau. This was an amazing season for the complete decimation of one tribe that meant there was no real merge. Tom was the dominant player on the dominant tribe throughout the season and though it wasn't a surprise that he won, it was certainly well-earned.

4. Yul Kwon - Cook Islands. Yul rocked. He was incredibly smart and strong and I think the best credit to his win was that he beat out the incredibly strong and well-liked Ozzy who came in second. This was one decision that actually could've gone either way and it would've been a fair outcome. But my vote would've gone to Yul and I'm glad he came out on top.

3. Parvati Shallow - Fans vs. Favorites. Parvati is an amazing player who obviously loves the game, knows how to play well and has made better every season she's participated in for her involvement. She came out on top in her second of three appearances, again helped by partner-in-crime Amanda who again unraveled in front of the Jury at the last tribal council. Still it wasn't just luck that got Parvati to the final twice. It was joyous game play that's just a cut above what almost anyone else can do.

2. Richard Hatch - Borneo. Richard is the original winner who showed everybody how it was done. He was the villain, but convinced the jury he deserved their respect and their votes for the way he outplayed them. And they agreed with him! Several contestants have tried that same approach with the jury since then and it has not gone as well. Still, that first win is a classic and Richard had to do it with no one else's play book to go on. Gotta tip your hat to him.

1. Sandra Diaz-Twine. Pearl Islands & Heroes vs. Villains. Listen, this bitch won twice. She's the reason there are only 20 people on this list instead of 21. That's why I think Dalton's system is flawed. It diminishes Sandra's two wins in two separate seasons. Hatch played twice, but he didn't win twice. Parvati played three times but only one once. Plus one of her losses was to Sandra. So I'm not really open to debating the merits of her putting her at the top of my list. Both her seasons were memorable. She wasn't good at individual immunity challenges, but she didn't let people push her around. She managed to argue her way around people voting her ass out, and when she got to face the jury, she convinced them she was the most worthy contestant left in the game. TWICE! Outwit, Outplay and Outlast. She's 2-0. When someone else goes undefeated in multiple seasons, you can come talk to me about how they're better winners than Sandra. Until then, Sandra is the Queen of Survivor.

Next season we get treated to Redemption Island. It seems like a better twist on the Outcast tribe from Cook Islands. At least everyone playing KNOWS about the twist from the beginning so they have to factor it in to their voting. We'll see how it works in practice, but it could be fun. It will give us a new element to watch and should increase the amount of challenges we see per episode.

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