'Survivor: Samoa' Finale Recap: We Are The Good Guys, So Please?

Once upon a time, there were two guys. One of them was named Russell, also known (at least back then) as the evil incarnate, with a plan to control everybody's feelings so he can manipulate them and use them for his own purposes. While it meant his tribe went down the pan, it did work: he's got Jaison, Mick and Natalie under his belt, and they're holding fort over the next three days.

The other guy was named Brett, a guy who's been quiet--too quiet. His tribe's been winning a lot of challenges, but were slowly decimated after the merge, after their complacency (and stupid strategies, according to John) saw them defenseless against Russell and his relentless gang. But he's still around, and he kicked everything up a notch later in the game, putting the foursome in a slight tizzy, especially now, in the most crucial moment.

It's the Survivor: Samoa finale: two hours of challenging, questioning, sentimental goodness, powered by shill willpower and the million dollars at the end of the line. Well, three, if you count the reunion show, but by then someone's already won. Will the Foa-some keep their dominant hold on the game, at least until they have to face each other? Will Brett keep the Galu flag standing and propel himself to a come-from-behind win? Will any of this matter to the jury? Okay. Done establishing. Start telling.

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Dec 21, 2009 9:34PM EST

I strongly disagree that Russell should have won. Yes it's been said that he played "the greatest strategic game ever" but that's highly debatable.
No doubt about it, he was strategic - from Day One to Day Thirty-Nine. He thought out his every move and acted accordingly. He worked hard, no doubt about it.
Despite this, his game was seriously flawed.
When Shambo came over to visit the Foa Foa tribe, she told them about the "90210 club" on her own tribe. That should have told Russell something: These people are SOCIAL. The best way to beat them (and eventually win) is to play an extremely social game.
Russell said he played a social game because...and he lists off a few names of people that trusted him. Not ONE of those names was a former Galu member except Shambo who barely counts.
Yes, Russell's extremely aggressive strategic game was flawed simply because of the people that he encountered this season. If it had been a different set of people, the kind that didn't do yoga on the beach, Russell would've likely won. If it had been a different set of people, the jury would've likely voted out of respect of for the game and that in Survivor, you must "Outwit, outplay, and outlast."
However, just because this is the case does NOT mean that the mostly Galu tribe is wrong in allowing their feelings to control their vote. Russell should've realized this, should've realized a long time ago that the majority of Galu would do just that - and changed his strategy accordingly to incorporate more of a social game that included Galu.
THAT is why Natalie won and in some respects, deserved to win. Yes, she piggy-backed on Russell for the majority of the strategic gaming but hey - that in itself IS a strategy. It's not as worthy as being the mastermind but in this season of Survivor, with the group of people that were playing, that worked wonderfully for her.
Natalie knew that in order for Russell to take her to the top three, she would have to stroke his ego, and that's exactly what she did. She let him think he had it all in the bag - that she was just a pretty blond in for the ride to give him free votes as he desired.
Russell should have realized this as well - another reason his game was seriously flawed. He should not have been so arrogant with the very people determining his fate. If he wasn't so confident that he was "certain" to win, he would have probably realized that two weak Galu members were a more likely bet to bring to the top three. If he had turned on his own team (at least once) when Galu's numbers dwindled down, he would have probably won some respect from Galu (thus, the jury) but Russell refused to vote out anyone from Foa Foa and instead blindsided each and every Galu member - who KNEW he was the mastermind behind it, and thus were angry at him for it.
So yes, Russell played a strategic and extremely entertaining game but man-oh-man, it was flawed. While Natalie didn't deserve the win in the sense that she didn't play the game as hard as Russell, she definitely deserved simply because Russell didn't. He forgot all about the jury - the people who decided that he wouldn't win after all.

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