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Outplay, Outwit, Outlast, and Lose Anyway

So another series of Survivor draws to a close, and another pointless reunion show totally fails to satisfy my curiosity. This season, three questions in particular are begging to be asked:

1. What's with winner Jenna and runner-up Matthew holding hands through nearly the whole hour of the reunion show?

2. After seeing what happened to Tina in season two, why in God's name would anyone with breast implants go on Survivor? It should be obvious that, after forty days of starvation, you're going to end up looking like a couple of mating jellyfish; a pair of half-deflated balloons drifting along on an air current, dragging behind a jumbled assemblage of spindly limbs and ribs.


3. What the fuck?

By which I mean, how the hell did lazy, self-centered Jenna end up getting six out of seven of the jury's votes, when her competitor, Matthew, appeared to be her superior both in contributions to the camp and in not pissing off his fellow tribesmen? And why the hell didn't Jeff Probst, who promised to ask this question at the beginning of the reunion show, ever get around to doing so?

Based on the episodes that I watched, I thought Matthew was a lock to win the million. Sure, he was a tad creepy; how could you not be a little suspicious of a guy who describes a Saturn Ion as "so cool?" But creepy or not, Matthew spent the majority of his time in camp working for the good of the tribe instead of flashing his boobies. Never once did he cluelessly insult the deaf chick or the old chicks. Nor did he whine about his debilitating beauty, or his raging case of "phlaryngitis," or the tragic destruction of his heirloom sorority sweater.

And yet, in the end the score stood at 6-1 Jenna. And Jeff Probst didn't bother to find out why that happened. Instead, he spent five minutes chatting with a family of inbred Okies who, unless I missed the episode with the Dueling Banjos scene, were not actually on the show. In fact, I believe the patriarch of said family uttered more words, monosyllabic though they were, than Matthew was allowed to speak throughout the whole reunion episode.

As I see it, there are two possibilities for why the vote went the way it did. The first is that all of jury members are completely retarded. Having watched these guys in action for thirteen weeks, I'm almost inclined to believe that. If it were true, though, I would have expected at least some of the voting slips to read, MONKEY or TREE or MLEHGPHLBT.

The other, more likely explanation is that we simps in the audience weren't shown the whole story of those thirty-nine days in the Amazon. Maybe Matthew was secretly cutting off other tribe members' assorted bits at night in order to fashion his own immunity necklace. Perhaps Jenna, in true sorority-girl fashion, was giving lip service to the members of her alliance in more ways than one. (And perhaps the "accidental" fire that burnt her beloved Zeta sweatshirt was actually an attempt to destroy DNA evidence.) But whatever it was, something happened that made everyone either really hate Matthew, or really love Jenna. And I, and I assume the rest of America, somehow missed it completely.

So after enjoying a season of Survivor more than any since the first, I now feel a little ripped off. I understand that the editors have to piece together something approximating entertainment from hours of raw footage that mostly consists of vapid people sitting around scratching themselves. I also realize that some liberties are taken with the footage during the editing process in order to add suspense. But when the final vote seemingly comes from completely out of the blue, I'm left wondering why I bothered watching at all. For all their relevance to the final vote, the first thirteen hours of the season may as well have been a Sanford and Son marathon, except that the junkyard is crammed full of monkeys and Grady spends most of his time chopping firewood.

Oh, and as for Jenna and Matthew's handholding, during my local evening news, a reporter claimed that she asked them about it and they responded that the two are just great friends. But as far as we know, they actually got married out there in the jungle, and the producers decided it wasn't relevant to the outcome of the game.


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