FINAL BLOG FOR THE SEASON! And in place of Simon’s thoughts, I welcome my first female guest on my blog, fellow Aussie Survivor fan from Melbourne and SNZ Finale attendee, Annabel!

Well, after nine weeks of New Zealand’s first Survivor season it’s over and fair to say it beats our first one in 2002! 😉 To the critics out there, I think it was a solid first shot at it, and sure there definitely need to be tweaks made (and please get rid of Redemption Island), but overall there were twists and turns and heroes and villains, what more could you ask for? Except maybe chuck in a few hidden idols!

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The stage is set!

To the actual finale, I was fortunate enough to attend the Live Finale at the Civic Theatre, Auckland, with some fellow Aussie fans Annabel and Ryan. It was definitely an experience to remember, especially when you’ve waited YEARS to attend a US finale… I know this will happen one day! And if the Aussies won’t hold one, the next best thing is joining the Kiwis! The stage was set in a jungle type tribal council area with seating for all the cast to witness the winner announcement, where in the US version only the jury sit on stage for this. The final three also have their own bench for the duration of the announcement and reunion, which I particularly liked.

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You could see all the contestants families down in the audience… Shannon had her crew in animal onesies (zookeeper ref), Barb’s family were reppin’ flamingos and crowns and Tom pretty much had a full army right up the back chanting for him! And the Civic itself is a beautiful theatre, so for me it was the perfect setting for it. If you haven’t been to a live TV recording before it’s a pretty fun experience; try it at least once 😉 We were then treated to the final episode before it aired on TV (no ads thank God!) and the cast (minus F3) were also on stage watching on an LCD. It was great to watch it all together in one big room. Then came the live winner announcement and short reunion hosted by Matty.

Breaking It Down:

THE HOST

I’ll firstly say that I have a total crush on Matt Chisholm. Matt was absolute gold this season and being his first huge reality TV show hosting gig I think he did a fantastic job. Yes, maybe he was a bit too charismatic, and he pronounces “Nicaragua” like no other, but he also had a great presence and navigated the tribal councils brilliantly! At the reunion Matt wasn’t afraid to push buttons and open the floor to any issues during the season and I appreciate that. Although, the George-Michael thing went a little too far for my liking; not even Jeff Probst would ask that! Let’s hope there’s a S2 so we get to see Matty show off his boss skills again. Also his wife is hot to boot!

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Go Matty!! #BetterThanJLP

FINAL TRIBAL COUNCIL – F3 AND JURY

For me, the FTC was ultimately Avi’s game to lose. And I also thought the end result would be much, much closer (4-3 Avi/Tom). In hindsight, Avi did have the best speech to win the jury over, and I think they were pretty much set on who they wanted to win. It really showed off Avi’s social game; that he did so well cementing relationships, even people he blindsided gave him the $100k. It was so beautiful seeing Avi’s speechless reaction to the win and he was ever so humble. Also, his mum is soooo cute! Note: Did you see when Avi went to hug his mum she had her mobile on a call? That was his sister living in America listening in; shout out to you Sophia! 🙂

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Avi absolutely shitting his pants just before the announcement.

On to Tom, and I was surprised he didn’t fight harder and show off his physical abilities more to try and win votes. He also had relationships with some of the original Hermosa boys so could’ve pandered to them a bit more. But maybe that’s not how Tom rolls… He seems like a very chillaxed dude and was totes cool with Avi winning. Maybe Avi did want it the most!

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This Tom Cat had 9 lives. 5 immunity wins when he needed it most!

And Barb. What a doozy of a filth fest this tribal threw upon her. Barb’s opening speech, although brilliantly articulating her game, didn’t help her chances of receiving any votes from the jury whatsoever. In Barb’s defense though it seems she was absolutely right that she wouldn’t have received votes anyway, so why not blast the bitter lot.

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The jury’s inability to look past their own game’s self worth and emotions really put a damper on the season showing that yet again bitter juries will always get in the way of someone who played a strategically strong game (e.g. Michele over Aubry in Kaoh Rong). The ageist comments were abhorrent and any personal attacks should not have been aired. Survivor is a game full of manipulation and it just down right sucks when people can’t get past being blindsided. Sexism also comes into play where if Barb was a man, would he have been held in higher regard? That also depends on the jury individuals so it is tough to say in this situation. Although Avi voted out allies and still won. Anyway, it was a lose-lose battle for Barb, so why not go out with a fiery bang.

In light of all this I personally was thrilled with this F3 and the eventual winner. Avi very well deserved the title and sometimes I DO like the nice guy winning 😉

Before:

 

 

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After:

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REUNION HIGHLIGHTS

  • I liked how the F3 sat separately from the rest of the cast for the duration of the finale.
  • Matt questioning the actions of the jury and treatment of Barb was important. Tom calling out Sala and Shannon was a real eye opener and I hope they take away from this that maybe some things just don’t need to be said. They knew Barb wasn’t going to win so why keep poking that hole. The turd comment was disgusting and I didn’t find it funny at all. But really it was the jury’s fault for allowing Barb to get so far into the game.
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Lol at Hana & Lou’s faces!
  • Matt calling out Georgia and Mike was a riot, but went a little too far. There was no evidence anything physical happened. And then Mike not using choice words that Georgia had ‘experiences’ with him. Hahahaha. Wtf bro!?
  • Mike calling Avi, RV. And getting it wrong every time.
  • The behind the scenes Jak ‘Baywatch’ montage.
  • Matt did well to speak to everyone at the reunion, except for poor Izzy. Not one word. Oops! 😦
  • And I‘ll never forget Barb’s facial reaction to Georgia saying she never treated her poorly. Talk about ultimate juicy moment!

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FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE CAST

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DEE: And we thought the jury were all Bitter Bettys… Dee’s earned this title fair and square! She didn’t show up for the finale and as a self-confessed super fan, it’s very disappointing she couldn’t suck it up and attend. I’m sure there were fans who would like to have seen her explain her side of the story. She went in too hard and got outed straight away. Note to future players, don’t paint a target on your back the moment you step on the mat. #villainess

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HANNAH: Hana looked absolutely stunning on stage and was ready to show off her curves. Just an amazing presence and personality that was sorely missed on SNZ as she wasn’t even given a chance to show her stuff. Judged straightaway based on weight and appearance, this chick deserves a second chance! And it’s sad my initial assessment of her came true…!

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TONY: I admit I wasn’t a huge fan during the season (SORRY TONY!! We’ve discussed this now), but he truly was a fantastic character and I thought his story arc was perfect for the short duration he was on. In person Tony is even more full of life and he has so many stories to keep you entertained for hours! Aussies look out for him when he moves to Perth 😉

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IZZY: One of my faves early on, another player who didn’t get to show what she’s made of. Her pirate looting was reminiscent of Rupert in Pearl Islands and straightaway you knew she was there to win. Unfortunately with the likes of Shady Shay, Izzy wasn’t able to move forward and became an easy pawn to vote off as Mogoton struggled to win challenges. She also pulled off some sneaky behind the scenes moves which never made it to camera which may surprise you! #diarythief 😉

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LOU: The youngest castaway quickly found her feet on Mogoton and seemed to make some life long friendships off the bat. It was such a shame Lou fell sick and became the first (and only) medevac of the season and we never got to see how far this youngen could go. Things could have been different if Lou was part of the tribe swap and mixed in with the likes of Barb and Nate.

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GEORGIA: One of my preseason favourites, this chick is one competitor we unfortunately didn’t have the chance to see her full potential. The tight five alliance was smooth sailing for Georgia until the dreaded tribe swap, where she pulled the wrong buff. Her social game, although apparent, didn’t extend to the likes of Nate and Barb, which ultimately caused her downfall after the swap. Loved her feistiness and passion, and I was gutted the way she left, especially just before the merge. Her role in the tight five could’ve led to a possible victory for them at the end.

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LEE: Honestly, totally wrote this guy off from the start, but after meeting him and his luscious hair, OMG he is SO nice!! Maybe not meant to be a Survivor player, but getting to the jury is no mean feat so he should be proud of where he placed.

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SALA: This guy started off with a high and finished with a low. After speaking to Sala I know he was already rethinking his actions and I agree sometimes we do say things in the heat of the moment not thinking how far we’ve gone. We’ve all been there. Sala has a big heart though and he’s so the Rupert Boneham of SNZ winning fan favourite! Sala should be proud of his integral game and being such a threat in the game is a huge compliment.

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SHANNON: Ahhh I was sooo gutted when Shannon left and it totally sucked the way she did. So much more to give in this game. And after speaking to her, and telling her off for believing Mike’s opinions (tut-tut), she’s ready to play Survivor again without letting anyone get to her. I’d love to see her on a returning season. The only thing I was disappointed in was that she couldn’t respect Barb’s game play, which in a way was similar to hers when it came to strategy. That had me baffled!

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Side note: Ryan may be Shannon’s biggest fan 😉

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SHAY: I must say, Shay is much taller than I thought, haha. Lots of tall women this season! Shady Shay never deserved any hate and who doesn’t love some Sass on Survivor?! People need to calm the fuck down. #bringbackshadyshay

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JAK: Umm, not much to say really.  Jak definitely was the comic relief of the season and I found him to be funny half the time. Namely the coconut phone and loincloth moments. Unfortunately the low points for me were the ageist comments and jokes during the season and his ‘honest’ attacks towards Barb at FTC were just disgusting and vicious. He is still young though, so there’s still time to grow up a bit… You’d hope!

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MIKE: I know it’s hard to believe, but I actually enjoyed watching Mike this season. Losing Georgia opened up his eyes and he was able to fight through all those days on RI. One by one he’d see his mates get voted off which probably fuelled him more. As much as I liked Mike, I did not agree with a lot of his opinions, especially of others. His comments about Shannon came off quite sexist. And then his very low opinion of Barb at THAT tribal council was just absurd! He was fighting for his life though so I give him that… gotta throw someone under the bus. Barb did put him in his place though and he did not take that well. Haha! It’s ok, you’re still dateable Captain Sparrow!

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NATE: ol’ Nate. I made him wear his purple hat that everyone hats. Hehe. Kinda under the radar, but knew what he was doing. His alliance with Barb was polarising to watch and I loved watching their little scenes together trying to unhinge the Tight Five. Nate managed to keep relationships intact much better than Barb did and I feel if he made it to the end with the right people (namely Shay), he could have received some votes!

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BARB: Lady, you got major balls. Not afraid to speak her mind, Barb definitely made this season interesting and if she was voted out early it would’ve been a much more dreary. Barb gave us some classic quotes, half of them I didn’t even understand, hello Tarzan, and made some compelling TV with her ‘no fucks given’ mentality. Although this did contribute to her down fall, other aspects of the game and tribe dynamics failed to let her see any winning path, and it showed in the final episode. Sometimes you can be TOO much of a strategic threat to win. The jury didn’t even allow her to explain her side of the story as they all had no care for the ‘old woman’ of the season. I’m so proud of Barb rising against the majority against her and she said it herself, Survivor was not life-changing, but life-affirming. She did it without the usual support she receives at home from her family. P.S. She even manipulated me to wearing a tiara!! LOVE YA BARBS!!

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TOM: What were you doing man?! So gutted Tom didn’t sell himself more in that FTC. He won five immunity challenges when he desperately needed to and played a pretty decent social game to boot! He had friends on that jury he could have capitalised on. I was happy he was able to sit with his main bro Avi at the end though. It was touch and go there with these bros, but they made it work in the end. Tom is an all around good guy and I wish him all the best with his new fiance!

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AVI: My pre-season winners pick and pegged the NICE GUY. I don’t always go for these ‘nice guy’ types on Survivor, but I felt good vibes from Avi early on. I wasn’t too sure if he’d make it that far as who wants to sit next to such a cool dude at the end? Tom and Barb apparently!! Having the most social game down pat and half of the jury being his mates there was not really any doubt he wouldn’t win this game. In person Avi is as nice as he is on TV and I couldn’t be happier with his win!

CONGRATULATIONS, AVI!!!

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BOW DOWN PEASANTS, THE QUEEN IS IN THE HOUSE!

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Follow Annabel on Twitter

Wow, what a finale! I don’t know if it was the head rush from all my screaming (sorry Lyndz) or a pure reaction to the drama Matt teased out from the cast, but I was peak giddy by the end of the live show. I don’t think I can write a word more without acknowledging the TV gold which was Queen Barb. If you thought her jury speech would be the end of the cast roast, you were wrong – those pawns got a dress down at the reunion as well, and the #TeamBarb crowd was losing it. In a season which was undoubtedly a young man’s game, Barb did a great job driving the strategy and making it to the end, even if the animosity between her and the jury was tangible. She may not have come close to winning the title, but she brought the spice to the post merge.

Best hair prize goes to my bae, Tom. So luscious! Step aside, Lee. While his jury speech was a little lacking in lustre, the same cannot be said for his aesthetic appeal. Pretty gutted he won’t have those sweet dollars to fund his top notch Instagram game, but honestly with curls like that, who needs money?

Huge congratulations to Avi who proved yet again that strategy and challenge strength might get you to the end, but it’s the social game that brings home the win. Such a lovely dude, and a fitting winner for a season that valued friendship over sneaky maneuvering. A mean girl myself, I thought I would resent a Nice Guy win, but he totally won me over, and the shocking 6-1 win seemed a lot less surprising after meeting him.

Huge thanks to Matty and the cast for being so friendly, open and thoroughly engaging on a night I will always remember!


And I’ll end my SNZ blog with this little ditty. To Queen B who brought the spice…

Blog by Lynda Olson

ALL IMAGES USED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE COPYRIGHT TVNZ, PHOTOGRAPHER SCOTT MCAULAY AND PHIL WALTER, GETTY IMAGES. THIS IS A PERSONAL BLOG AND ALL VIEWS ARE MY OWN.