Natalie White wins Survivor: Samoa
“The Game Ain’t Over” With a plan of action in place, the last remnants of Foa Foa do everything in their power to get rid of Brett in order to have a shot at the final vote – and fail, causing the need to vote off one of their own. When Brett finally falls, Russell basks in assured victory – but finds himself before a jury that prefers the charmer to the snake.
What Russell did wrong
It was Russell’s game. He dominated so thoroughly that is seems crazy that he didn’t win. And yet there he was, in the runner-up seat, pathetically begging for the title and offering to pay $10,000 for it. So what did he do wrong? The obvious answer is the one revealed on the reunion show – he should’ve stuck with Shambo, the only person more hated than Russell himself.
But that was over and done with. Was there anything he could’ve done in the days covered over the course of this episode that would’ve won him the game? It’s doubtful. He didn’t mishandle himself during the final Tribal Council, and he seemed to actually do a pretty good job of humbling himself, especially considering all of the talk he dished out back at camp.
It really seemed that Russell was at the mercy of a petty, immature, vindictive jury who was so bitter that they were beat down mercilessly in such a brash and brazen way that there was no way they could be objective and vote for him out of respect. It didn’t hurt that Natalie was extremely likable and Mick had been a dud since day 1. Don’t believe for one second that anyone on that jury respected Natalie’s gameplay or that her game plan was anywhere close to being as strategic as Russell’s. They’re all sour, and their sourness is epitomized by Laura, who still can’t seem to wipe that pucker off her face.
No better, no worse
One reason Mick didn’t get any votes was, like Erik said (in what was easily and surprisingly the most lurid and well-thought-out speech of the entire meeting) that he hadn’t done anything all game. His tribe was a remarkable failure on almost every level and he couldn’t and didn’t do anything about it. It was only once Russell took the reigns that Foa Foa was able to make something of themselves.
It’s also impossible to respect someone like Mick who so disingenuously puts down Russell for playing a cutthroat game when his votes matched Russell’s during the entire game. Mick was a total sheep who was too scared to make a play against Russell which might have won him the game…even in the final episode, Natalie had to calm him down because Mick looked like a paranoid junkie on the lookout for the cops.
Natalie – the next best thing
As we said, the season belonged to Russell and it was a shame to not have him win, but if he couldn’t win, Natalie was the next best thing. Her game was nearly identical, and even if the only real noteworthy move she made was the play against Erik, it was still a move and more than anyone else but Russell did in the game. She was completely likable, sweet, and did a good job of making friends on both tribes. Lots of people say they learn things about themselves during the game but it’s not often we get to see that first hand — Natalie killing the rat was of of those times.
Survivor: Samoa – overall
Samoa was a hard season to stomach until about halfway through. Watching Galu beating up on Foa Foa every week was no fun and it wasn’t until Russell, Natalie, Mick, and Jaison stepped it up after the merge and Russell started finding Hidden Immunity Idols with no clues that things really got interesting. Survivor: Samoa gave us a few of the best individual episodes of Survivor that have ever aired during that stretch, and gave us one of the best villains ever to play the game…Johnny Fairplay looks like Mother Teresa compared to Russell.
It’s because of this that it feels like we got one of the worst winners ever in the history of the game. Natalie was likable and did contribute, but this was the Russell Show from day one and to see him come in second is kind of a kick in the teeth after we’ve been told and shown what a great player he was all season.
Final grade: B+