Survivor
Reunion

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Reunion

This is the way Survivor ends,
This is the way Survivor ends,
This is the way Survivor ends,
Not with a Probst,
But with a Gumbel.

From the last seconds of the last episode of the first season of Survivor when we watched Rich drive off into the proverbial sunset in an abomination of mated car designs called the Pontiac Aztek, we lead right into the Survivor reunion special with a close-up of Rich. He is clean-shaven, with a little devilish gleam in his eye, wearing a suit and looking as if he just smited God Himself. We are reminded at the bottom left-hand side of the screen that this is "LIVE," but even at this late hour, we still hear the lilting torture that is Bryant Gumbel's voice as he begins the show: "Richard Hatch, congratulations!" to thunderous applause. Rich nods, says "thank you," and we cut to a wide shot showing a stage full of former castaways. The set-up is similar to that of Real World reunions, only less funky. Think of it as the strip-mall version of a Real World reunion. The Cracker Barrel of Real World reunions. The Wal-Mart to The Real World's IKEA. The Stuckey's to The Real World's Boston Market.

Bryant begins the questioning by commenting on Rich's appearance, which is noticeably improved from when he went a month and a half on a remote island. (Tom Hanks bitterly wishes he had seen this a year ago and been able to take notes for Cast Away.) Bryant then asks if Rich feels different from the guy we all saw on TV. Rich answers smartly, suggesting that he's not sure who people think he is. Reality-show editing can be a bitch. Bryant whips out the unscientific poll, mentioning that people polled thought Rich should win least. Or that he was the least of their chosen winners. Or rather...You know what? For once, I will defer to Bryant Gumbel: "Of the final four, who would you least like to see win?" Rich's total was more than the other three combined. Rich takes it in stride and shares his theory that the press made more of it than audiences, who have been supportive in the mail they've sent. Nice.

Bryant switches gear immediately by going after Kelly. "Kelly," he says by way of introducing her. "Close, but no cigar." It is at this point that any sane person with a modicum of self-control would leap from their chair, jump onto the closest Bryant Gumbel and beat him with an immunity idol for such a flippant, insensitive, and offhand comment. As Rich pats Kelly on the leg (perhaps he's trying to rub her strange brown leather tube top to check for a rift in time that teleports you a new wardrobe from the future), she says that she thinks about having lost every day. Especially every day when she's regarded so coldly on national television by Bryant Gumbel. Bryant says it was hard not to notice that at the end of the show, Kelly had no hug for that dirty, good-fer-nuthin'-heart-of-stone Sue (I'm paraphrasing). Kelly agrees as Sue makes some strange, blessedly silent, wide-mouthed exclamation with her face pulled to the side. I say a small prayer for humanity. Kelly says she's over it; it was a mean game, but now it's over. She even grimly extends her hand to shake Sue's. The audience loves it. Sue, still grinning like a psychotic and mean-tempered loon, says Kelly should have gotten up and hit her once the game was over. Oh please, please, please, please somebody invent time travel. Soon.

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Survivor

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