"Her days are numbered. We have bigger threats to get rid of first, but she's not one of the final four. And I've got a mil that says she won't be the final one." - Jon Dalton, speaking about Sandra on Day 7

Worst final four ever. Worst final two ever. And the WORST winner EVER!!!

I know I'm in the minority opinion here, but that in a nutshell was the dreary, depressing finale of Survivor: Pearl Islands to me. The only player I would have been truly happy to see win was sitting over on the jury - and that would be Burton (well, Rupert too, but he didn't get as close as Burton)

Everyone is so down on Jon for the grandma lie, and yet seem to merrily gloss over Sandra's sabotage around camp. Sure, Jon's lie was evil and bad karma and a pathetic grab for attention...but it didn't HURT anybody!! If they were dumb enough to believe it...that's the player's stupid fault, not his.

So why - for the love of GOD why!!! - do people apply a complete double standard to Sandra dumping out the fish? It's like it doesn't even register in anyone's brain how immature, immoral, and awful that little maneuver was. There have now been 112 players who have participated in Survivor, and only ONE other player sunk this low...and that was Jeff Varner, who released a single fish that was caught right before he got the boot. So other than that, Sandra committed the only act of sabotage ever committed in the show's history - Rich, Jerri, Lindsay, Rob Mariano, Brian, Rob Cesternino, even Jon - NEVER sunk to this level, and would probably have never considered it. And dumping the fish wasn't even an isolated incident - she stole fruit from the group, and had big plans to hide critical tools from the tribe - even considered BURNING IT DOWN! It's one thing to scheme, plot, or otherwise psyche out your competition, but it's quite another to set out to affect the PHYSICAL WELL BEING of other people out there.

I'm sorry, but Jon's lie compared to that is like a gnat on the shoulder of an elephant. And it is absolutely unfathomable to me why people don't see this. I mean, if not for the rule prohibiting physically assaulting contestants, would she have gone Jeff Gilooly on Burton's ass to harm his chances? I wouldn't put it past her.

So everyone likes Sandra as a winner. Hmmm...I wonder why? Ok, let's go through this...

Let's see...I guess Sandra is liked because she contributed to camp. Well...not really. She cooked, but then anyone could do that. And a couple of castaways have pointed out since the finale that she was one of the lazier ones in the camp, not initiating work when it needed to be done. Lil is universally acknowledged as a much harder worker.

Ok then - maybe it's because she was such a good competitor in challenges. Well...no, she was easily the weakest player in this area, in fact the only winner in seven seasons to not capture one single individual competition, Reward or Immunity. So no dice there.

Well then, she must have had a good grasp of the dynamics of her tribe, and where the vote was going. Well...no, actually she was blindsided in the cases of Rupert, Christa, and then Jon going - total shock each time. Plus she passed up an opportunity to vote out Burton and keep Tijuana, which put her in a much worse position in the tribe.

Oh, then she was personable with people, and got along with them at camp, treating them with respect. Ummm...well no, she didn't do that either, having verbally torn down every single person on the jury it would seem. Calling Lil a motherfucker...yeah, that's classy.

So...what is there to say??? Essentially Sandra won because she was a warm body at the end...that's it. And she was the least threatening warm body, so people kept her because she didn't come within a mile of winning a single competition. Oh, and she was against an Outcast...Jon might have even beat her if it got down to those two at the end.

So whoop-de-doo - big freaking winner! Compare her to what many would call the most reviled winner of the show, Jenna Morasca. She formed a strong unshakable alliance with Heidi, helped bring together Jaburu after they voted out Shawna, was in the middle of several alliances and suballiances, was out of the loop on only one vote (and even then it was all on Rob) and won two critical Immunities when it was do or die, and in fact won four in total, a feat only surpassed by the challenge machine Colby.

I even thought that with a couple weeks consideration I might come to a different conclusion, especially after reading interviews with contestants. Well...I haven't. Sandra Diaz-Twine is far and away the least worthy winner of the show, by every measure I can think of. Of course, could I have handled a Lil win? Or Dull Darrah? Or the slime ball Jon?!?!? Ugh...again, Burton should have won. He was the only one left I could stomach!

Anyway, I think the overall statement to be made about Survivor: Pearl Islands is that what we witnessed was a new game, different than any of the other Survivor series before it. And I feel there is one person to blame for this state of affairs - the Amazon's Rob Cesternino.

The pattern for the first six Survivors centered on Rich's strategy - make an alliance, build trust with people, and stick with it. Mr. Hatch first proved this was a winning strategy, and every other Survivor has followed that basic paradigm.

Rob was the first player to build onto that paradigm in any significant way. One where the object is to constantly reassess where you stand in the pecking order of the game, and flip things up when you are not in a line to move you to the top.

Remember when tribal loyalty actually meant something post merge? How if you voted outside your team, the thinking was that you'd never get the jury votes in the end? Why else did the first five Survivors have a Pagonging in one form or another? For instance, when Brandon voted with the Borans in Episode Eight of Africa, Ethan and Tom didn't trust him for the simple fact that, as Ethan put it "If he can betray them, who's to say he won't betray us?" On the same show Kim Johnson wouldn't betray the Borans, even though she was clearly on the outside looking in with Lex Tom and Ethan. Kathy in the Marquesas was constantly debating about how to jockey around Paschal and Neleh's pact, but knew she would look like "a total bitch" if she actually allied with The General. There's many other examples, but basically before Rob C. you stuck to your original tribe, just as Rich did.

So for the first time, you didn't have the cliché of "Sixteen people trying to be Richard Hatch" but instead "Sixteen people trying to be Rob Cesternino." Certainly according to Christa, Jon was constantly saying to himself "gotta be more like Rob, gotta be more like Rob" the whole time out there. Christa has also cited Rob as a big inspiration going in, and Lil was majorly coached by Ryan Shoulders at the Outcast camp, and he's a true acolyte of the Robasu if there ever was one.

This development has had a negative effect on Survivor for two reasons:

1. What Rob did took an incredible amount of skill and knowledge of the game to pull off. And with the exception of Jon and Burton, none of these players had the same skill, so there was sheer chaos, with stupid moves were being made left and right. Rob's strategy worked because he was the only one looking to flip alliances wherever he needed to...but with everybody doing it, the whole thing was just a comedy of errors.

2. There was absolutely no ethos in this game. No friendship was too tight that it wouldn't be betrayed, no alliance wasn't open to renegotiation. And there was a ton of antagonism going on. Sandra vs. Jon, Christa and Sandra vs. Tijuana and Darrah, Christa and Sandra vs. Burton, and Lil being annoying vs. everyone. Aside from Jon and Burton, there seemed to be no real sense of camaraderie out there, as there was on every other season, including the Amazon. Rob may have lied and betrayed trust, but he always got along with people, and didn't antagonize them. The absence of that comradeship made the whole show just...dark and depressing to me.

I should finish by addressing my penultimate article where I guessed Darrah would win. D'OH!!! I had egg on my face with that one!!! The one niggling doubt to me was the fact that Sandra gave the first confessional in the series, right after they were told they would get no clothes other than those they were wearing. But...the edit just seemed to point to Darrah, through and through! Perhaps that was Burnett's intent...he knows hardcore fans like myself study this stuff, so why not throw us all off, and then just sit back and laugh? Oh well...my reasoning for Lil not winning still held true, I just had the wrong woman opposing her! *LOL*

One thing to sign off with for now...

I have been constructing a website on my personal homepage (www.fuggybootnling.com) for All Star Survivor. It's still an ongoing piece of work, but inside you will find detailed essays on each of the eighteen participants, breaking down what they did in their respective games, their success in the post-Survivor world, and a look at how they might do in the All Star game.

There is a LOT of material there folks...it's a project I've been working on for weeks. I intend to update it as frequently as I can, so please do check back and see what I've added.

A sincere thank you to anyone who has read my column this season, and a further thank you in advance for anyone checking out my All Star site. The ultimate goal of any writer is to be read, so having people peruse my material has made it all worthwhile. You guys are great!

So NOW...let the countdown to A.S.S. begin!!!!!!!