May 17, 2010By Joe Diliberto Posted: May 17, 2010
After probably the best season ever, SURVIVOR: HEROES VS. VILLAINS came down to an exciting photo finish in the final immunity challenge, an entertaining jury session and (for my money) ended last night with the wrong person winning.
Sandra Diaz-Twine claimed the $1 million prize, triumphing over Parvati Shallow (who had previously won MICRONESIA) and Russell Hantz. This marked Sandra's second grand prize, since she also won PEARL ISLANDS, making her the first double winner. I am at a complete loss to explain what Sandra did to earn her victory, but…she did it. Apparently, the folks on the jury just liked her more than Parvati. (Russell did not get a single vote!)
Let me state upfront that I was rooting for Rupert all the way. He has long been my favorite SURVIVOR player. I interviewed him for Reality Check magazine after his PEARL ISLANDS season, and I was struck by how...well, real the guy is. The gregarious (sometimes) gentle giant you see onscreen is the way he comes across in real life. Rupert truly qualified to be a Hero.
After Rupert was booted, I threw my support behind my No. 2 choice, Parvati. When she made it to the final three, I figured she had a good chance, because of her strength in challenges and the way everyone was bad-mouthing Russell. Ah, Russell. I know this won't be a popular position, but I believe Russell played the purest game: He was evil from the word "go," continued to be evil every step of the way, and ended the game evil. And, even though I was rooting against him, based on his gameplay, I believe he should have won. But all his backstabbing and blindsiding came back to haunt him. At least he did win $100,000 in a fan call-in vote.
Many of the other players, while not my faves, were entertaining to watch. Boston Rob, Courtney, Amanda, James, Sugar and even Colby had their fun moments. But Sandra? Not so much. She was just…there. She never won even a single challenge. She never made a bold strategic move or exerted any influence on gameplay at all. She just lurked in the background. Clearly, she elevated "flying under the radar" to an art form, and cashed in for $2 million.
At least there will be a new winner in the fall, when Jeff Probst travels to Central America to guide all-new players through SURVIVOR: NICARAGUA.