Once again, I had the privilege of being able to attend the Survivor finale… as a seat filler… because someone took me as a plus one. Although it looks like the cat’s out of the bag on the seat filler trick, since there were a ton of people there. But luckily, I got there early and my friend and I were not only able to attend, but we got to have our own seats for the whole night. A bunch of people were turned away, which would have been a huge bummer. I had taken the day off work! I mean, I was sick. Cough.
After waiting in line and stuffing my face with as many free snacks as I could (two snack bars, two bags of chips, fruit snacks, candy) we got to go inside the studio. The very cold studio. I am cold all the time anyway, but my teeth were literally chattering through just about the whole finale. Even though it was a different studio than last season, everything looked pretty much the same. Coincidentally, I was even seated in the same row as before! There was a little time to mingle and look around before the show started, and I ran into my friend Myles Nye, who as you may know is a challenge consultant. He was fancy and an invited guest with a real ticket, although apparently for the first time.
I avoided looking at the reserved names in the front section, because Val was in the front row last time and I didn’t want to be spoiled in case they always have the winner’s family in the same spot. The show started and well, you all know how that went. The audience was definitely heavily cheering for Aubry, and the fire-making challenge was intense. After that, I was so sure…
When it’s time to announce the winner, they talk to the audience to make it clear you’re supposed to cheer. I had been rapidly counting potential Aubry votes in my head and listening to what the annoying young people around me were theorizing when Jeff began to read the votes. Once it was 3-2, I was pretty worried, and when Jeff pulled out the final vote, I could see a bit of the name on the screen before he read it. My heart sank. I didn’t even stand and clap when they said Michele won because I was so in shock. Sadly enough, my thoughts immediately went to Matt’s reaction on the liveblog and how the Truthers would be on Twitter. I didn’t fully read my feed until the next day.
I attempted to enjoy the reunion as best I could, but as we all know, that was a disaster. Sia was as weird as you thought watching on TV. I heard her voice and thought it was some sort of child shouting for Tai, but no. Just a professional performer disrespecting someone else’s live taping. I know there’s been debate on this, but I truly believe it wasn’t planned, at least not that way. They didn’t go to commercial for a half hour! That’s not normal. After they wrapped up the reunion, Anna stood on stage to talk about this engraved glass plaque the Beauties chipped in to buy Caleb. That’s a real useful gift, Anna. Sorry it didn’t buy you some air time.
After grabbing some dinner, we went to the after party. Unlike last season, it wasn’t walking distance, which was a mild bummer, but it was pretty close to my friend’s apartment, so all’s well that ends well. I think I peaked with my first live finale being an all-star season, because I didn’t care that much about meeting anyone besides Aubry and Tai. I chatted a bit with Neal since we had met at the Cambodia after party. It took a lot of waiting around because the boy is still popular, but I also helped my friend meet Joey Amazing. After some more waiting I was able to break through the crowds and take an unflattering picture with Aubry.
I briefly explained the Purple Rock Podcast and said we were pretty much all rooting for her, and that she was probably sick of hearing this, but this was the only time where I straight-up did not understand why the runner-up lost. (I’ve since come to terms with it, but the wound was still fresh). She very genuinely responded that it meant a lot, so it was good to hear on interviews later that she knew from leaving tribal that she had probably lost. Learning in the moment would be terrible.
I also chatted with Rob Cesternino and Josh Wigler for a bit, but I have no pictures because I was trying to be cool. Although I probably killed the cool factor when I started talking about how cute Rob’s son is on Snapchat. Thank goodness it’s not a child-friendly sort of party or I would have been a disaster. Besides that, we all were largely discussing our feelings about the Michele truthers and our thoughts on the next season. Millennial and Generation X jokes abounded, naturally. Pretty much everyone I talked to was not happy with that theme. Here’s hoping they only milk it for the first couple of episodes.
A good chunk of the night was spent trying to meet Tai, before giving up because there were too many people around him. At one point, he and Mark the human were talking to Lynne Spillman for quite a while, but I was too intimidated to talk to him in the presence of the casting director. Another time it looked like he was free, but then Anna showed up so I walked away. Then finally people I knew were meeting him and I had my chance.
He is as sweet as you want him to be, and seemed a little overwhelmed and baffled by all the love he had been getting. I very cleverly managed to work in the fact that I am a vegetarian, so we had a brief moment about that.
I will admit that it didn’t live up to the expectations of the Cambodia finale, but again I think starting with a returnee cast sets the bar a little high. Perhaps I’ll wait to try again until season 34.
Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Micronesia, Cambodia, Cook Islands, China, Philippines
Favorite players: Courtney Yates, Parvati Shallow, John Cochran, Cirie Fields, Yul Kwon, Kim Spradlin