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'Survivor: Samoa' finale: And the winner is ...

Is everyone else as excited as I am to see how this Survivor: Samoa finale plays out? I cannot wait!

Russell wakes up early and finds the treemail describing their challenge, which requires balance, speed and patience. Russell's mad that his alliance is complaining and tired instead of focused at the task at hand, which is beating Brett. 

He then tells Natalie that if Brett wins again, they are probably going to take her out. She's not amused by that idea. He's worried, too, that his alliance is starting to think Brett is some kind of superstar and that they're going to psych themselves out. "He's no Mike Tyson; he's Brett!"

The challenge in question requires them to run an obstacle course, get puzzle pieces, then climb up a wall to a place where they have to unscramble the puzzle. The first part is pretty much a nonissue, as all five pour out their puzzle pieces at about the same time. It's close, but Brett wins again. Wow. Mick, by the way, was about one piece away.

Russell interviews that he wants Natalie with him in the final two because her game has been 100 percent coattails, so there is no way she would win. He's probably right. Then he interviews that Jaison is the weakest link because he checked out out of the game. He lays it all out: Jaison can't beat Brett in the challenges, and he couldn't beat Russell in jury votes. Mick has a chance of beating Brett in challenges, but he also has a chance of beating Russell in front of the jury.

Everyone else interviews about how they have a deal with Russell to go to the finals. Nice. Now, will anyone get it together and vote Russell?

At tribal council, Jaison votes Mick and Mick votes Jaison, so it seems Russell managed to protect Natalie. When the votes come in, Jaison is out of the game. I think he's ready for a shower and a real meal over all other things.

Back at camp, Brett interviews that it's a miracle for him to still be there. He says his fate is in his own hands, that the only thing he can bank on is winning another immunity challenge.

Russell wastes no time and makes an alliance with Brett about taking each other to the final three. Bummer because the only big move left is for Brett to win and for them to decide to take out Russell. Of course, he has final two deals with everyone.

Then it's time for the "remember the tribemates and then burn something" proceedings. The "something" this time is just the nameplates -- so it's a pretty small fire. Good call. Burning down Samoa would be a bad thing.

The final immunity challenge requires balance and concentration. They have to balance a statue on a pole, and every so often, they have to add another section of pole. As my husband says, "We will not have another 16-hour final immunity challenge!" They make it a lot longer than I would have thought, with six feet of pole added before anyone is out, at which point Mick and Natalie drop their statues one after the other.

Then it gets really windy, Russell and Brett keep it together through that. When they add the seventh foot, Russell makes an interesting move and waits as long as possible before he starts trying to add the section, hoping, I guess, that Brett would drop it. He doesn't. Then Brett has a major wobble issue, but he manages to recover. Then Russell wobbles, and Brett does, too, and Brett's statue falls. Russell wins!

See ya, Brett! It's a Foa Foa shoadown!

At camp, Brett says he's pretty sure he is out. Russell asks Natalie and Mick what they think his chance of winning $1 million is. They both say he's going to win. He runs his mouth a bit about what his speech is going to be about. Mick looks kind of annoyed. Later, Russell goes to get firewood, and Mick says he has never seen Russell get firewood in 39 days. When Brett follows him, he gets even more freaked out. Natalie calls him paranoid and mocks him.

Russell tells Brett he made a deal with him, but he made a deal with everybody. He tells Brett that he wishes he had been like him when he was Brett's age and that Brett is the kind of guy that he wishes his daughters would marry. They briefly discuss that if they vote for Mick, it will be a fire-making challenge. Are they really going to push it that far? Russell can beat Mick. All he has to say is that Mick was elected leader and then they lost everything. And if Brett makes it in front of the jury against all odds, he'll have all their votes! Hello!

Tribal council time!

Mick and Natalie tell Jeff that it was an easy decision; Brett's going home. Brett looks a little upset and says that if Russell really wanted to go against the best, he might keep him around. So Natalie and Mick start to look a little nervous, but when the votes come in, Brett is out. "Nice," Mick says under his breath.

The next morning at camp, the final three get treemail and an insane amount of food! 

"Not only did I get here, I brought two people here that I wanted to be here with me," Russell says. He's going to win this, right? I mean, as long as he doesn't say anything stupid at tribal council. Then he starts questioning them about what they are going to say at the final tribal council. He needs to relax. He's getting really defensive, worried that the others will think he's mean and they are nice. Plus, he's telling them what he's going to tell the jury, so they can prepare.

"Don't make me make you look stupid in front of the jury," Russell tells Natalie, during their nice breakfast, too. "I am another millionaire," he declares.

So much for that not setting Samoa on fire thing. They burn down their shelter, and it goes up in crazy flames. Hopefully someone from production watered it down after they left for TC.

Tribal council time, opening statements:

Mick starts. He says that there was a lot of pressure to "give yourself moral leeway," and he thinks he managed to not cross to many of those boundaries. Jaison and Shambo are shaking their heads. Natalie says she came into the game with people telling her she couldn't do it, but she decided she would regret not going to the game. She says it is the toughest thing she's ever done and she couldn't have gotten as far as she did without the help of everyone there. Russell: "Mine's going to be a little different than these two. I came here to do what I said I was going to, to make it all the way to the top and win the game. I made huge strategic moves throughout the game." He points out the early cuts of Marisa and Betsy, who were targeting them. He thinks going after Laura was his biggest move of the game, then John after that, because he wanted to get rid of a Foa Foa, and that wasn't going to happen. "If either of these outwitted me, give them the money. If either of these outplayed me, give me the money. But I don't think they did." He does say if they disagree, "Let the best man win." Nice, another dig against Natalie and women in general.

Jury questions are next. Jaison is first. He tells them to look at the jury and give them information about who they really will, and if they won't, he will. Natalie says she will start, and she says she is unemployed because she left her job in pharmaceutical sales to come to the game, and she hopes to get back into it when she gets back home because it is her dream job. Russell says he is a businessman and in the past couple of years, he has had the most successful years ever. Mick says he just graduated from medical school recently and he has $320,000 in debt. Jaison says Natalie has made a lot of money, Russell is the wealthiest on the panel, and Mick is going to be fine, so he thinks the rest of the jury should make their decision based on other reasons, not money.

Shambo says she wants to apologizing to America for dismantling Galu because she's really questioning that decision right now. She asks Mick if he would agree that his gameplay is totally feckless. He says he'd have to look it up. She asks Natalie if she can finish the word that starts with "c" and everyone looks perplexed. She says "coattails." Natalie says she came into the game the most ill-equipped, "in a sundress and gold wedges," and she made decisions to keep herself in the game, including noticing that the women who came out strong, like Marisa and Betsy, got targeted immediately. Shambo says she is laughing inside her head at Natalie's answer like you can't believe and finally closes that there is no way on God's green Earth that either Mick or Natalie is getting her vote. They just smile and say OK. What else can you do?

Brett says he and Mick are on a "bro date" and describe what they would do. He says he'd wake him up with sweet nothings in his ear, just kidding around. Then he says they would "wake up" (interesting start to a date), check out the news, get some eats, "be guys and talk about girls and sports." Brett says he just wanted to see what level he was invested in Brett "as a human being."

Kelly says she and Natalie were thought of similar because they were both underestimated. "I had to rely on myself. I was hoping for the same thing in you. I don't think you were even on the field." She says Natalie always called for help in every challenge. Natalie says she got better throughout the game and believed in herself. She asks Russell if lying, cheating and stealing applies to his real life, too. He says no, he is a totally different person outside this game. He says outside the game, it would be honor, integrity and loyalty.  She says she can't believe those are the most important things to him, but he says they are.

Monica tells them congratulations. She says Mick and Natalie played honest games, but she didn't see passion, so she wants to see fight in their answer. She asks them to say why they deserve the money over the others. Mick plays the coattails and liar cards for the other two. Russell says he didn't mind every time he had to be a snake, and that the "two honest people" were congratulating him for his moves. Natalie doesn't get to say anything.

Dave asks everyone what their chances are. Mick says, "after this, maybe 20 percent, 25 percent." Natalie says, "30 to 40 percent." Russell says he came in with a larger percent, now he thinks "55 percent."

Laura asks Russell what he learned about her to beat her. He says immediately, he knew she was the biggest threat on her tribe. "If it wouldn't've taken place the way that it did," she would be in the finals, he says.

John ask Mick for the "hard sell" on why he should win. Mick says he doesn't think people are pawns and he thinks he is a stand-up dude. He says Natalie got here "tucked under Russell wing." She says she saw the aggressive women being targeted and so she stayed more under the radar. John interrupts her to say the she is "illuminating some of your strategic thinking that some of us were hoping to see tonight." But she doesn't get to say anything else. 

Jeff calls up Crazy Erik to "close it out." He says he doesn't need anything from any of you. Erik tells Mick that day 1, he had the leadership necklace around his neck and he saw nothing from him to deserve that. Erik says they have nothing in common, but ... I don't know. He's kind of nutty, and this part is going so fast, I can barely keep up with the typing. He tells Natalie that people will call her weak and undeserving, but why is that any worse than lying, cheating or stealing? He says perception is not reality and that Natalie has his vote. 

Time for the votes. Laura's vote isn't shown, neither is John's, neither is Dave's, Erik votes for "Ratalie," Monica and Jaison's votes are not shown. Shambo votes Russell. Brett's vote isn't shown. Kelly's isn't either.

"I'll go get the votes," Jeff says. No tallying yet, y'all!

Jeff appears to walk around a corner and ends up in L.A. He hit a wormhole!

So now we're live for the reading of the votes. First, he tells them that this was a tough, tough season, in terms of the conditions.

Tally time: "Ratalie," Russell, Natalie, Russell, Natalie, Natalie, and Natalie ... so she has enough to win it.

Wow, really? OK, I'm going to start the reunion post, but talk to me in the comments. Can you believe Russell didn't win it?? I'm in shock!




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