After a brutal post-merge, these castaways are ready to rumble. The votes are in the urn, and the Ultimate Survivor Bracket is down to the final eight. In order to win, the best of the best are going to have to battle it out on a thirteen-foot pole—or was it a five-day poll?—to see who truly deserves it. With that, it is…time to go to Tribal and see how the match-ups fare.
OLD SCHOOL SHOWDOWN
Richard Hatch vs. Rob Cesternino
Last round: Rich (68%) over Tina Wesson (32%); Rob C (74%) over Brian Heidik (26%)
At long last, it’s time to figure out what is in the Hatch. (Wait, sorry, wrong island.) Richard Hatch dispatched his fellow winner with the dominance he displayed in Borneo. But will his mind games be enough to triumph over his next opponent, media master and ubergamer Rob Cesternino? If we can’t have Rob back for (Editor’s note: Shhhhhh! We’re not talking about that casting spoiler thing), he can at least make an effort here. Let it also be known that, like a certain host, I’m finally glad we don’t have to talk about Heidik again.
SECOND GENERATION SHOWDOWN
“Boston” Rob Mariano vs. Sandra Diaz-Twine
Last round: BRob (53%) over Tom Westman (47%); Sandra (71%) over Cirie Fields (29%)
You guys! Tom Westman’s dominance has finally come to an end! And it didn’t even take buoys. In one of the closest results so far, the Palau patriarch was out-muscled by Boston’s Finest, Rob Mariano, who has now won as many rounds as it took him to win the real game. Rob, any words?
Sadly for Rob, he will be going up against his toughest opponent yet. The two-timing two-time-winner Sandra. She owned Cirie last round (as she should), digging out all those machetes she hid a decade ago to chop up another unsuspecting challenger. When voting, remember that it took her two tries to win twice, but it took Boston Rob four tries to win once.
AGE OF RETURNEES SHOWDOWN
Parvati Shallow vs. Yul Kwon
Last round: Parv (61%) over Todd Herzog (39%); Yul (64%) over Earl Cole (36%)
And so the Cook Island castaways meet once again. Spinning her deadly web once more, Parvati charmed the voters into sending Todd on a flight to Ponderosa last round, while Yul bested Earl for the title of “best winner out of a questionable gimmick”. (Sorry, mystery winner of season 30.)
As with the other matches, this one will be a battle of heavy hitters, a mental mano-a-mano for the history books…or at least the AP Psych books. Will the clever underdog from an under-appreciated season prevail? Or will gold and silver medals from two of the best seasons of the game be enough to tempt your clicking fingers into voting for CBS’ favorite flirt?
NEW SCHOOL SHOWDOWN
Kim Spradlin vs. Tony Vlachos
Last round: Kim (54%) over Denise Stapley (46%); Tony (75%) over Malcolm Freberg (25%)
And now we come to the round that will cause listeners (and members of) this podcast to start rioting in the streets. In one corner, the most dominant player in the tropical season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. In the other, the commanding officer in a season of several hardcore Survivor players. One person herded sheep, the other took down llamas. Kim Spradlin may be one of the biggest steamrollers in Survivor history, but so was Tom Westman, and Boston Rob currently has him melting at the bottom of some Nicaraguan jungle. Can Tony pull off a win with his bag of tricks? I sure hope so.
All four of these matches are sure to be tough decisions, with eight of the most iconic players of the last decade-and-a-half. Polling opens tomorrow, but let’s go to one of our new jury members for comment…Malcolm?
Mark has been watching Survivor since Richard Hatch won and Greg Buis went coconuts…except for that time he bailed on the show after the first episode of Micronesia during college. (Sorry, Parv.) Once he realized his error during season 25, he became obsessed all over again and got back up to speed, though he still hasn’t gotten through more than a couple episodes of One World and is highly skeptical of the Kim Fan Club. He hopes you will forgive him and follow him on Twitter at @sylvisual.
Top 5, Baby: Cambodia, Cagayan, Heroes vs. Villains, Pearl Islands, and Palau.