At last, we come to the end of our "Survivor" voyage. I'd be feeling all nostalgic, except that I have THREE HOURS of 'Survivor' to recap for y'all. There is no time for nostalgia. There is only time for facts.
Fact: Erik, at the beginning of Thursday's episode, is torn between many women, as Natalie and Amanda are both trying to manipulate Erik into taking them with him on the reward challenge if he wins. Natalie asks him first, but Amanda makes the more convincing argument. Or looks cuter in a tube top. Flip a coin. And both were wise to make a play for Erik, as today's reward challenge is "Survivor" Trivia -- but trivia about actual past seasons of "Survivor."
It is the first challenge to really give an edge to the fanboys, and you know who is a superfanboy? Erik! So he wins easily, and per Amanda's suggestion sends Parvati to Exile Island before the two of them take off for a day at a spa/resort.
And at the next day's immunity challenge, he kicks some further ass by running around and solving puzzles. Erik, you would think, is playing an awesome game of "Survivor." But that means overlooking that he's got the social skills of... well, a 22-year-old dork surrounded by scantily clad women who all want something from him.
Erik's strategy of just saying anything to anyone is a poor one, and all the women agree that if he weren't immune that night, he'd be going home... And that's when Amanda and Cirie begin encouraging Natalie to, um, "convince" Erik that he should give his immunity to her, as part of a fake master plan to vote Amanda out. Natalie thinks this sounds stupid, but when Amanda points out that Ozzy and Jason were previously this stupid, Natalie agrees to give it a shot.
Erik at first is skeptical. But Cirie backs Natalie up by telling Erik that if he gives up his immunity, she'll believe that he's committing to voting out Amanda, and that he needs to do something nice to win favor with the jury.
At Tribal Council, the women basically remake all these points, and Erik cows to the pressure, handing over his necklace. When he does this, the members of the jury actually start laughing at him. Laughing loudly. Oh, poor dumb Erik. Poor dumb voted-out Erik.
James holds his hands up high, declaring that he is no longer "the world's dumbest 'Survivor'." I have no time to mourn my beloved Erik, though, because it's time for the final four! Okay.
But as we start this final two hours of TV, we're going to play a challenge of our own. It's called "how many minutes do we need to fast forward to reach any new or interesting content?" The answer is twelve minutes: first, a full season's worth of clip show, then, five minutes of the four ladies gloating over kicking Erik's scrawny ass to the curb, followed by credits, commercials, and yet more gloating. At minute 13 Parvati climbs up a tree to get some coconuts. RIVETING TELEVISION.
The girls are all bonding, and we learn about how Natalie needs to learn to ask for what she wants. Of course, what Natalie should ask for is immunity, because Amanda, Cirie, and Parvati's alliance has been pretty tight from the beginning. Unfortunately, while Natalie gets a good lead on the challenge -- a combination of obstacle course and ladder assembly -- Amanda ultimately triumphs.
Natalie's not going to lie down and take it, though. You can tell, because they start showing B-roll of snakes and lizards. Natalie starts leaning hard on Parvati, which reveals that Parvati's concerned about Cirie winning jury votes, while Cirie's concerned about Parvati and Amanda liking Natalie better. At Tribal, the Favorites sisterhood prevails, and Natalie, the last remaining member of the Fans, walks off with a resigned smile.
But afterward, Amanda and Cirie get into one of those big emotional girl fights that's all about feelings and misinterpretations. Like all emo-girl fights, it ends in hugs. But all of them are optimistic that this season will end in a Final Three, rather than a Final Two, which means all three of them will be eligible for the ultimate prize... Whoops! Nope.
The girls instead receive tree mail summoning them to their next immunity challenge -- this season, it's a Final Two. Which is really sad for them, apparently.
Before they get to that last immunity challenge, we have to do the "salute to those who got voted out" montage. With commercials, this amounts to fifteen minutes of airtime. Oh, reality TV. You'll never change.
The final immunity challenge involves balancing a marble on top of an increasingly unstable wooden cylinder for five-minute increments, and Amanda takes it after Cirie chokes in the last round. But now that she has to choose between Cirie and Parvati, she's heartbroken. Amanda never wanted to be in this position, you know. I know it's a bit hard to tell, since she worked so hard to win that last immunity challenge, but really, guys, she's just devastated by having to choose who will compete with her to win the million bucks. DEVASTATED, I tells ya.
Ultimately, she chooses to stick with her BFF Parvati, Cirie walks off into the night, and Amanda and Parvati have a day to tear down camp and plot for their opening statements at the final Tribal Council.
Really, as Amanda and Parvati make their opening statements, the wisdom of Amanda's choice seems somewhat clear. The same people hate Cirie and Amanda. Different people hate Amanda and Parvati. And Amanda is much nicer than Parvati. Well, superficially nice.
But the picture that develops during this last Tribal Council is that of Amanda the faker and Parvati the flirt. Apparently, Parvati was flirting with Natalie? Natalie's feeling jilted? What?
Meanwhile, Erik and Cirie seem pretty firmly not in Amanda's camp, but Ozzy is very much Team Amanda. You can tell. Because Ozzy literally says "I started to fall in love with you"...
And Parvati wins the million by two votes! Crazytown. That's the ballgame.
What have we learned from this season of "Survivor," kids? Never give up your immunity. Try and avoid infection. And flirting trumps love, every time.
— Liz Shannon Miller