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Test Pattern: Blogging ‘Apprentice’ finale

Minute-by-minute updates from the big show. By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

Blogging ‘Apprentice’ finale

I blogged tonight's "Apprentice" finale live while the show aired. [Obligatory spoiler warning: If you don't want to know what happens, go far, far, away from this column, and don't come back until you've seen the ending.] Want to read the Weblog from the beginning?

and scroll up.

10:56: Oh, why is Randal doing that? Why does he care if Randal hires Rebecca too? That's about the first time I think Randal's niceness went away, there. What is up with that? Trump wanted her too, and yet he let Randal persuade him? Trump so wanted to hire them both! People who went into this show rooting for Randal wholeheartedly are going out thinking "Wow, that guy's a bit of a jerk." An oddly unsatisfying end after what should have been a very satisfying result. I lost a little respect for a guy I really liked up till now. Regardless, thanks for reading along with me! And the best part of the night: Minimal Markus.

10:53: I think Trump is a bit weird about this "going home to Mom." These are adults in the workforce, I just don't think a broken ankle is going to send them home to Mom. Heh, Trump doesn't get Toral, still, and on that we agree. Heh, Randal "leads through niceness."  Woo, he hired Randal! That's awesome, as much as I saw it coming. And there's the WOOO! he promised. He's not done, though. He's going to hire her too, but Randal is his first choice.

10:47: Oh, just hire them already. Randal does not have too much education. Five degrees, five companies, it all evens out. Carolyn's doing a little mall hair there. Randal asks the candidates (the ex-candidates, really) to stand if they think he should be the "sole" Apprentice. But it's dark, so we can't see if they did! Bwah! See, he also knows that Trump can hire them both. Woo, Minnesota shout-out. I don't trust people who start non-profits at age 15, though, do you? Ooh, Randal: "I run business, Rebecca writes about business." Randal harshes on Rebecca's one loss again, and George gets cut off so we can go to the Felicia-Alla firing. Harsh, George!

10:46: The projects: Two residential towers in New Jersey. Gee, are they named after Trump? Why, yes they are!  Project two: Casino construction in Atlantic City. Randal wants the casino. Rebecca wants the towers. See, they know he's going to hire them both.

10:43: Oh, Trump's going to let the Yahoo! guy redeem himself with a big fat check. Wow, $100,000 split between the two charities. Who didn't see that coming? See, Rebecca, if only you'd shamed your partner company publicly, you could have gotten that big check yourself.

10:36: Time to hear from the others. Don't call on Markus, don't call on Markus. Oh, Toral, almost as bad. "She is a diamond in a haystack"? What? How about "She is a milkshake in a costume"? Hey, it's Jennifer "Zenthura" M.! That is some big hair on her. Alla is all about the "fats"? What? Oh, the facts. Trump calls the women "tough cookies" like it's a compliment. Has he called any of the men "cookies"? I doubt that. And a boring flashback on Jenn's firing. Show the "Zenthura" clip, that was much funnier. Heh, the looks on their faces, though, when all four got the boot ... that was a little classic, right there.

10:32: Flashback time. Who is Rebecca a financial journalist for, anyway? And why would a journalist want to work for Trump? She's got Kelly Garrett hair, from "Charlie's Angels." Oh, apparently people do call Randal "Randy," although you wouldn't know it from the show. Heh, and the one guy calls him "R.P." Aw, family time. His wife seems like a sweetie. Too bad his fans didn't work a little more on their signs, though -- they could maybe use stronger paper.

10:26: Hmm, it does look like he could hire them both.

10:25: Randal now has to go after Rebecca. It's hard for him, but he makes good points. Trump loves the project manager record thing, so he's smart to bring that up. I don't really see Randal having a problem with overthinking; his liability, if any, is that he's kind of too low-key, too unwilling to silence an Omarosa type, if he had one on his team.

10:20: I have to say, both Rebecca and Randal have impeccable manners. They're just classy, again -- a rare quality in reality show cast members. Bwah! I knew Trump wasn't going to forget that she didn't meet him at the limo. I like how Rebecca just answers the money question, even though it doesn't bode well for her. She doesn't beat around the bush or lie, or Markus her way out of it. I agree with Trump, the auction was kind of random. And I agree with George, the celebrities should have been on the stage. And I agree with Carolyn, there's no excuse for not being ready for rain.

10:08: The march of the ex-employees. They rave about Randal, natch. Mark gave a good defense of the Plan B. Wow, they raised over $11,000. And Rebecca raised ... nothing. George makes a good point: Yahoo got to decide that they didn't want their VIPs felt up for cash, and they knuckled under. Heh, now Trump is hitting up Yahoo for a big donation -- hear that, Yahoo? And Mark jumps in to blab about how Randal made the right decision, and Rebecca didn't. Aw, Chris is loyal as all get-out, that's that team player background. The teams love their leaders, no doubt about it. Now Carolyn's jumping in on Rebecca's side. Why didn't Randal's team check the weather forecast? That's a great question, and no one is answering it. And Josh comes right back with a good defense. George has another good point, I for one did not recognize the celebrities as they mingled in baseball caps. Trump asks if Randal is tough enough. Is REBECCA tough enough? He thinks she's one tough cookie, hmm. And he's basing it on her ... love of crazy Toral? It's great that she's loyal, but she was loyal to a crazy person. How smart is that? And Trump just sums up by saying "two stars." Maybe he will hire them both, as some predicted.

10:01: Well, they're certainly about the most competent "Apprentice" finalists of the entire show's history. And even though it feels hokey and almost too parallel, they both did go through somewhat of a bad experience, with the broken ankle and dearly departed grandmother, so good for them. I still think it's going to be Randal, though.

10:00: Which day is this supposed to be? It didn't seem that their events were held on the same day, but now they're making it seem like they just got back from their respective tasks. I understand that they have to do some creative editing, but at least "Survivor" captions the screen "DAY 39" or whatever.

9:58: Rebecca's smart to be thanking folks at the exit. George seems pretty impressed, saying they "didn't miss a trick." I guess the ribbing he took didn't bother him after all. Oh, Toral, I'm so thankful you got about one-tenth of the screen time that Chris got. I did not need more Toral in my life.

9:57: Marshawn calls Randal "Randy." He doesn't seem like a nickname type of guy, somehow, at ten feet tall and about 100 pounds. I would hire Randal in a second, I have to say. He really seems to be able to handle whatever comes up, and he's not a stammerer, words and thoughts jump fully formed from his mouth, which is rare among reality contestants. Witness: MARKUS.

9:54: Oh, Sharpie woman doesn't look so bad from a distance. Jake Glaser, son of Starsky. His talk was sweet, what little we heard of it. And ... NoName Pete zeroes in right on George. Chris is panicking, but I have to say, what little we saw of it was kind of funny. What can they do, anyway? Do comedy clubs still have giant hooks to yank losers off the stage? Wow, another comic is coming after George too. George has been married for 53 years, aw. He seems to be rolling with the punches fairly well. Good man, George.

9:49: NoName Pete does not seem too willing to help out here, does he? Chris does look good in a suit though.

9:48: "Rebecca never lets you see her sweat." Hey, if you had a deodorant ad, wouldn't that be a good slogan? Oh. Wait.

9:46: I forgot all about NoName Pete the comic, who is not "Joey Benefit." Oops, Rebecca didn't greet Trump at the limo door, like Randal did. Not sure that's a good mark on her scorecard. One thing about Trump, he's always ready to gab, he can blab at the drop of a hat. But apparently he led folks downstairs too early, heh. "Trump ended up being the biggest wildcard," she says, with no irony at all. She is shocked, shocked, that Trump bungled her event!

9:45: Oh no, more Lessons from Trump. How many times can he say the word "ME"? As I said before, you could screw up your event, but if you kiss Trump's feet, you could still win. As if it's Rebecca's fault Trump gets lost on the way to her event. As if his limo doesn't have OnStar.

9:39: On to Rebecca. Wow, who is this scary woman with the Sharpie-applied eyeliner? Rebecca seems to be handling her well, but I wonder if an envelope in a gift bag is enough to get donations. It's sitting in your bag, you see it after you get home, and there's not the impetus to donate that there might be when you're actually there and the cause is all around you. But that was what was requested, so I'm not sure how else it could have been handled.

9:36: There are...clowns at the Randal event? Clowns other than Trump. Randal is a good speaker, but did he practice? Despite what Mark said, I don't know if his words are that well-researched, but he has an awesome voice and a great presence. And now he introduces Trump, the humanitarian. (!!!!) Josh thinks there's a parallel between Trump and Randal? If I were Randal, I think I'd hope not. Ha! They got Jerry O'Connell, brother of "The Bachelor." Oh, OK, and Vern from "Stand By Me." Well, rain or no rain, the Autism Speaks rep seems happy, and Randal remains pretty much perfect.

9:30: And ... the TrumpCopter approaches. Heh, the baseball field doesn't look bad from the air. I wish Trump would just rappel down like Batman. At least Randal's smart enough to know if he doesn't greet Trump and massage the Ego, it's going to be a giant black mark on his name. Why am I not surprised that Outback has a Hummer? Eat steak! Burn gas! Blossom onions!

9:29: Meanwhile, the comedy event got perfect weather, and it's inside so it doesn't need anything. Blinking Yahoo! ice cubes? And Elizabeth Glaser's foundation gets a tiny sign and a speech from her son? Hmm.

9:27: Poor Randal. If this is "absolute chaos," we should elect him president, because he is gut-wrenchingly calm in chaos. Mark seems amazingly organized — why didn't he impress more during the show? Oh, George. That shirt is louder than Markus. Randal is one smooth dude, meeting and greeting the people, he really comes across like he is thrilled to meet them and would rather be talking to them than anything else in the world.

9:26: "A great Yahoo! experience"? Ohhh-kay. The Elizabeth Glaser sign is lovely, with the little kid watercolor, but yeah, it doesn't jump out at you like the YAHOO! giant signage.

9:24: If you're allergic to cheese, tune out now, because the Trumpian cuts, combined with the images of rooting people at Randal and Rebecca's parties, mixed in with the fired employees, is cheesier than a big round of Brie. Trump doesn't even let the fired folks talk, he just cuts right back to the task. Hey, how about a director on the set, would that work?

9:18: Randal doesn't seem as nervous as he perhaps should be, all things considered. I'm momentarily distracted by Marshawn's chandelier earrings. The Autism Speaks spokeswoman is not too thrilled with the recast situation, apparently. She's going to let Randal know it, too. What, a commercial already? Ack! There's Markus! Imagine a finale in which he was one of the final two. None of the sponsors would have gotten out of the room after meeting him, because he would still be babbling one long run-on sentence, and making no sense.

9:16: I'm really getting bugged by these little bookends of Trumpian wisdom between the clips of the final tasks. Rebecca seems incredibly poised, still. I can't believe she's just 24. Oh, Toral, I could have gone the whole show without seeing you again. And hello, white poofy vinyl booths, I thought I left you back in 1978.

9:10: They need the guy from the Cyclones to tell them what's up with the weather? They're going to have to find an inside location and make the players just sign autographs or something, no? Randal finally clues in. Yes, a Plan B would have been nice. The locker room does look kind of nice, actually. I forgot about the charity auction, I was thinking it was just a softball game, but they do have an indoor activity. Was that just going to be held on the field?

9:09: Pete who? This guy looks like a weaselly character actor from a bad sitcom. He reminds me a little bit of a Poor Man's Jon Cryer.

9:06: Crisis deux: Rain on Randal's parade, a.k.a., softball game. Did they really have to call him and announce that the rain was falling? I guess maybe it wasn't raining in New York, but you'd think they would notice, oh, I don't know, clouds or something. If your event is a baseball game and you get rained out, what do you do?

9:04: OK, back to the Joe Piscopo crisis. Someone bigger than Joe Piscopo? I'm thinking that's not extremely hard. When was Piscopo last popular? Heh, I'd pay to see Chris as the MC.

9:01: I don't get this. Did I miss an hour? Are we skipping the tasks and starting with the hiring? And couldn't Randal's fans have made some better signs? Oh, I get it, it's like "Trump Goes to the Movies," and the whole Lincoln Center audience has to sit and watch the show unfold with him. Someone throw popcorn at the screen!

9 p.m. ET: At least this finale is starting on time, unlike Sunday's delayed "Survivor." But sheesh, is Trump's ego so huge he has to be filmed walking out into his limo to cheering throngs? Wait, don't answer that.

Readers solve ‘Reunion’ murder

Last week, I asked those of you who watched the already canceled FOX drama "Reunion" to for who committed the show's pivotal murder, and why. Since then, another episode has aired, and there are a few more tantalizing clues. (What happened to Carla's husband, the guy we saw her meet briefly in the bar, and whose tombstone we later saw her visit? Good thing Bedford is small enough that it only has one graveyard.)

Plenty of you have written in asking if the show will be released on DVD. No one's saying officially, but I doubt it. All the interviews I've read indicate that there's no way they are shooting more episodes after the three remaining shows air, and I doubt they'd give an unfinished season a DVD release. My best guess is that after the show runs its final episode Feb. 2, maybe then producer Jon Feldman will reveal the plan he had for the characters, sort of . But even that is iffy: Feldman has been quoted as saying that we won't even get to meet certain characters who would play a role in the murder, so he might have to do a lot of explaining to make his idea make sense.

Although it doesn't look like those remaining episodes will ever be shot, here's what they COULD do. If they did release a partial-season DVD, they could add on some extras, interviews with the cast and creator, talking about who the murderer was supposed to be. Play it like "Clue," where the actors stay in character and discuss their reasons for offing Sam. Oh, I know it won't happen, but that's the way it would go in my world.

For now, all we can do is offer up some of your great scenarios. Note that the only major characters no one made a major case for were Jenna and the detective himself. And after what we recently learned about Jenna and Craig's high-school kiss, Jenna's looking like a decent suspect after all.

IT WAS SUICIDE“Samantha killed herself, for reasons not yet disclosed, but having something to do with cheating on Craig with a priest and her child being kidnapped or something equally dramatic. The friends cover it up for one of the following reasons: (1)insurance money payable to 1 or all of them (2) to save her family from the stress of a suicide or (3) because it's a corny drama and people do stuff for no reason at all on corny dramas.”    --Emily

“I think Samantha killed herself because all of her friends are so stupid and self-centered.”    --Anonymous

CARLA“Carla kills Samantha. After Megan's untimely death, Amy returns and begins the search for her birth parents. Carla knows that Samantha is still abusing pills, and her repeated attempts at an intervention have caused great strain in the friendship. Feeling that Samantha has everything, but does not appreciate it, and she herself has nothing, now that her photography career has stalled, she convinces herself that it would be in both her & Amy's best interest to pretend she is the natural mother. The plan works and the bond between them becomes stronger than ever, until Samantha, home from an extended overseas stay, learns of the deception. It is when Sam threatens to tell Amy the truth, and use Carig's money to track down and hire the still-bitter and violent Paul Phillips to shut Carla up once and for all, that Carla kills her. Now I can say I've written for television!”    --Kathleen

AARON“Since the producer said the basis of who the killer is on events and characters we haven't seen yet, I'm going to base mine differently -- on how much exposure a character got. I think Aaron killed Sam because he's the one among the present day friends that's the least featured. If I remember correctly, he hasn't been interviewed by the detective yet. Maybe he will be featured more on future episodes (or not, since Fox is not going to let us see 1999-2006!) so that's why he hasn't gotten enough screen time right now.”    --Katrina

CRAIG“I think Craig, the husband, killed her because he finally found out who Amy's real father was. If you noticed during the episode when Sam revealed she had a daughter she put up for adoption, she never told Craig it was Will, merely said she "had a fling" (paraphrase). Also notice the last aired episode, Craig got up and walked out of his wheelchair, after getting off of the phone with someone saying "it has to be covered up". Yes, I think it was the husband. I never liked him anyway, he was a chump and Sam was dumb to marry him.”    --Meghan

WILL“I feel that Will (or JJ, as we ‘American Dreams’ fans still call him) could have done it. He gets to the point in his life where he realizes that he wants nobody other than Sam is unable to have her, and so he joins the priesthood. After it is already too late, Sam then divulges her feelings to Will that he has always been the one for her. Then, he finds out that not only does he have a child with Sam, and that she (Amy) has been in a sense, in his life, but that Sam knew about it and never told him. Crushed by the deceit and the fact that he could never have her, he kills her, knowing that he will be forgiven by God.”    --Kelly

“Would it be too fanciful to say that Will and Craig were both in on it? I wonder because when that cop came to talk to Craig in the present time and we first see his paralysis, the way he talked about Will was very guarded and defensive. I can't help but think that these guys stuck together no matter what and this Sam chick kept screwin’ it up (or screwin’ Will). Fed up with her and the lies/secrets she kept, they bumped her.   --Jay

“I agree that Amy did it, Sam’s secret daughter. I think events unfold later in the episodes that lead to betrayal on Sam's part. And maybe Amy's adoptive mom got into another abusive relationship and that made Amy a little psycho.”    --Stacy

HENRY“Maybe it was Henry -- her son w/ Craig. The execs at FOX say they can't tell us b/c whoever did it someone we haven't met yet. Well, we haven't met Henry yet -- at least not as a teenager. Maybe it was an accident; maybe he blames his mother for working too much or b/c things don't work out between Sam and Craig (we do know that they are separated when she dies). It could lots of things that kids blame on their parents, but that he's my guess.”    --Nikki

“Sam isn't really dead. It's all a set-up concocted by the police so that the would-be killer (George Newbern), who is Amy's adoptive father, would think he really killed Sam. ... He is killed in a shootout with police after taking Carla hostage, and after his death Sam finally gets custody of her biological daughter. Will leaves the priesthood and they marry and became a happy family with their now-19-year-old daughter Amy. In an odd twist, Aaron eventually marries Amy when she is 22 (he is then 41) and they have twin sons. Craig, racked with guilt for pretending to be paralyzed, becomes a member of the board for a group called Dignity for Disabled Americans and meets a woman who lost her legs in a car accident, and they eventually marry. Carla, embittered that she has lost Aaron yet again, becomes an alcoholic and eventually dies of liver complications. Jenna has a major career resurgence when she becomes a judge on a reality show that features potential starlets, and she eventually moves in with Simon Cowell. Together, they create a reality show empire. Sadly, she dies in a small plane crash at the age of 45.”    --Mary

ALL OF THEM“I believe that they all had a hand in it and only one pulled the trigger. I think that Carla pulled the trigger so that Samantha would know that what everyone wanted her dead. They all had reasons. Will the secret daughter, Carla the plain friend syndrome, Craig the ex husband, etc. Since they are SO together on this I think it was an "all for one" thing.”    --Sylvia

SOMEONE ELSE…“How about this? Craig's father shows up with a gun and wants to kill Will, who he blames for the downfall of his company and his disappointment in Craig. Craig tries to stop him and Sam is accidentally killed when the gun goes off in the struggle. Craig's dad then freaks out and kills himself with the gun. The friends trying to protect Craig cover up the incident. Will feeling guilt over Sam's death and everything that has happened with Craig becomes a priest. Craig capitalizes on the sympathy from his dad's suicide and Sam's murder runs for Congress and wins which explains why Jenna hates him.”   --Brent

“I think that Craig’s blond secretary ( I can't come up w/her name ) is the one who decides she wants Craig again and she wants him all to herself this time. She does not want to have to share him w/Sam any longer. I think that Sam finds out that Craig’s former affair wants back in the picture and confronts her assuring her that Craig and her marriage is as strong as ever, and that over her dead body, will she allow this woman to come into their marriage again. The secretary takes this statement to heart and acts upon it.”    --Maura

“The killer is Alger. Alger was the photographer in the first episode at their high school graduation, as well as the same man who read the eulogy at Sam's funeral (also the premiere episode). Why I believe it's Alger is based on small, yet interesting points. Alger had said in the eulogy that he didnt know the six friends that well; it wasn't until later that he got to know them better... that's pretty shady to me. His character has no made an appearance on the show since then so why was he even worth mentioning to begin with. My guess is his character would have returned in an upcoming episode, after all the other suspects have been narrowed down.”     --Tuan

GENERAL THOUGHTS“Reunion should end with a public message about the importance of birth control. 'Make your life and those of your friends MUCH less complicated and melodramatic...'”     --Terry

“They cancelled "Reunion?" This is going to drive me crazy now not knowing what happens to the six of them! TV execs claim that they can't get viewers, well this is why. They keep throwing out too many pilots and just when you get attached to a show, they take them away for another pilot. How can we get attached to a show when they barely give you enough time to learn all the characters names? Fox axes "Reunion" and "Arrested Development" yet continues to greenlight "King of the Hill"? Maybe Sam was shot because she became a FOX TV executive!”    --Lindsay

“I had to laugh at this whole article. I couldn't agree more with all of it. Each actor was a poor man's "whoever", the story was over the top . . yet I tuned in for most of the season. There should be a tv rule that they have to share how a show should have ended if it gets canceled. I'm still wondering who got shot at the wedding on the last episode of ‘Models Inc.’!”    --Anna

“I really did like "Reunion", and the history of this show from the beginning was that after filming a small handful of episodes, it was given the green light for more. But they took it off the air for several weeks because of specials, and since the story line continued, I could see where someone would give up watching it. It was like FOX ripped out the last several chapters of a nice book.”    --Steve

“Why are you asking people to write in about a show obviously NO ONE cares about. Sometimes I think your common sense regarding your column has taken a vacation. Write about something I care about wouldja?”    --Anonymous

Blogging the ‘Survivor’ finale

I blogged the "Survivor" finale right here. [Spoiler warning: Don't read any further if you don't want to know what happens and who wins.]  Want to start at the beginning and read up?

10:25: Danni and Steph look awesome, both with long curls and high, high boots. I've never liked the live audience situation, but what can ya do? Wow, do Steph and Danni have a lot of makeup on. Votes!  Danni, who looks like a country singer. Steph, who looks a little like Jerri from Survivor Outback. Danni again. Danni again. She swallows, Steph laughs. Danni is one vote away from the million. And she did it! Beating the odds, beating the numbers, beating the two-season veteran, Steph! Apparently despite Richard Hatch's first-season example, you don't always need an alliance, as Jeff acknowledges, to win the big bucks! While I didn't blog the reunion, I did share some of my thoughts about it . Thanks for reading along with me tonight!

10:23: Jeff takes the urn and heads out. Come on, space ship! Unicycle! Aw, just a helicopter. Bor-ing. Heh, and then they send it into fast-forward mode, and it's flying into the CBS soundstage in LA. Jeff looks kinda mussed!

10:22: I think it's clear Judd voted for Danni, since he referred back to his "promise" statement. Rafe vote for Steph! with a big exclamation point and a gooshy wet kiss of a speech about how great she is. We won't see anyone else's votes.

10:20: Closing statements, just like in court. Steph says she's sorry she hurt people, but her plan was to align with great people and have the numbers on her side. She says she had to take a leadership role, and that's why she's there. Danni talks about coming into the merge and being targeted by the alliance of six, and how she couldn't do much but sit back and see which way Steph and Rafe drove things. The jury nod like they're with her. Now Judd's nodding too. Time to vote. I always wonder here if anyone has ever messed up their vote, after weeks of voting for someone to leave, if they ever forgot and put down the name of the person they want to see booted, when you're supposed to now vote for the winner.

10:15: I was going to try and guess the votes, but I just don't know that I can at this point. Steph has Rafe. She quite possibly has Lydia. I think Danni has Gary's vote. And because Judd is still so bitter, she may have his, too. But really, I am at a loss to call this one. I give Danni a tiny edge.

10:02: Jury fun! Bobby Jon first. I don't get him. He appreciates that he's there because of her. I don't know how he means that. He wants to know if they're proud of themselves. Steph immediately confesses to her backstabbing of Judd and Jamie, but says she wouldn't take anything back. Danni is proud too, but she wanted more immunity challenges for her tribe. Fairly lame question, Bobby Jon.

Gary thinks the game is afoot until the answers are all in. He wants no garbage. He asks why he should not vote for Steph. She says they made an alliance, but then she formed another one, and voted him out. That's true, no garbage there. Danni confesses that she allied with Rafe and calls it a "selfish move." She apologizes. Decent answers, though Steph sounds more true to him, Danni was more of a friend at the time.

Jamie wants to know who Danni's top five would have been. Danni likes Bobby Jon, Gary, Brandon. (Did she list two others? I forget.) Steph gets a different question, and she has to try and address Jamie's vote-out. She tries to fall back on "really good reasons" and playing a good game. It didn't do much for me, but Jamie seems happy.

Lydia says she was loyal to Steph since day 6, why should she vote for her? Steph thanks her and says if she took her to the final, it would be an easy win, and "that's not what really competitive people do." Then she says she wanted to go up against the best, saying in essence that Lydia was not the best. Danni gets a question about trust. Danni babbles about how you have to lie in this game. Neither of them gave good answers.

Cindy drives up in her car. Ha, just kidding. She asks Danni who she would remove from the jury. She says Rafe, she knows for sure he's voting for Steph. Good answer, and a true one. Steph says she'd take off Bobby Jon because he was "the first one who made the jury" which is a weird way of saying she has no answer, she doesn't want to admit that anyone is voting her off.

Rafe is pretty sweet, calling them "like sisters." Danni gets asked why she didn't take the person who deserves to win, a.k.a., him. Danni tries to say she was so moved by Steph's crying at the final challenge, and it told her Steph was the best player. Rafe says he respects Steph masterminding everyone, he wants to know her best decision that she didn't tell him about. She claims there isn't one, she was completely honest. Then he asks again why she should win and wants her to address it in her closing comments. Weird.

Judd asks if Danni has ever roller-skated or ice-skated before. He says her strategy was to skate right through the game. Now he wants to know if she was deceitful or a liar. Hey, how many questions does Judd get? She says she lied to Jamie and to Brian about who she was voting off. Judd says Danni lied a lot and that she should go to confession. Sheesh, LOOK WHO'S TALKING! Pot? Kettle! For Steph, Judd wants to know if she's starving. Now he's harshing on all the food she's had, saying she should be starving "for my damn vote." And now he rages a little, about her backstabbing and that she "crossed the line when you lied to my wife." He also says he's promising her something but I'm not following. She tries to say she didn't lie to his wife, because the backstabbing all happened after his wife left. This is the most interesting jury question so far, and who wouldn't expect that from the guy whose response to gettting the boot was to call the remaining players all "scumbags"?

9:59: Oh, like the jury needs a minute to think of what they're going to say. They have to have planned this out for hours now.

9:58: Steph isn't quite as eloquent but says she was honored to be there, and Judd and Jamie glare at her.

9:57: Danni speaks, she's surprised no one thought she was a threat. So true. She was a sports-radio host, and those people are almost always former jocks. Gary's down with going to a ball game, especially if his old teammates are on the field.

9:56: The jury files in. Rafe must have his contacts in now. I'm kind of shocked that no one has managed to cut a deal with their alliance "OK, if I don't vote you out, and I make it to final two, you need to support me."

9:55: I really think Steph will have a reason for all her decisions, it's pretty black-and-white to her. Yet not everyone on the jury is going to see it that way, so she better be ready to react to that.

9:54: I hope they don't let that fire get out of control. I don't think FD Guatemala is on speed-dial.

9:51: OK, Danni-Steph final two. One of them gets a million, one gets $100,000. (The others get smaller amounts, depending on how long they hung around.) Quite a season shift for Steph, after her disappointing Palau showing. But now you gotta wonder if other "Survivor" alums are thinking it wasn't ever fair for them to bring back Steph and Bobby Jon in the first place. The "Survivor" producers know who keeps their audience interested though, and people were intrigued by Steph and Bobby Jon's two- and then one-person tribe, just as they were fascinated by Rupert, who was awarded a "People's Choice" million bucks just because he was so darn popular.

9:43: Heh, Jeff says "I'll go get the vote," because he can't "tally" a single vote. And voted out is...Rafe. It's a Steph-Danni final two! I have to say, I think that was the smart way to go, though if you're a Colby type, who wants to sit down next to the "nicer" person, she'd have made the reverse decision. Rafe will be interesting on the jury, because he admits that Steph's his girl. Wow, Rafe's dad looks just like him! Who were the twins who called him their "roomate"? His sisters? There certainly were enough twins on this season of "Survivor," with Cindy and Mindy, Judd and his identical twin (who showed up in his family video and scared many of us into thinking he was Judd), and Jamie, who apparently also has a twin. I've heard that Mark Burnett considered some kind of twin twist, a la "Big Brother," which pulled a twin switch once, but thought better of it.

9:38: Well, if the jury has a stylist, he or she didn't quite get to Lydia, who looks almost exactly the same, save a little glitter on her shirt. And Jeff takes them to task for voting out Lydia. Jeff's not letting Steph claim she didn't know the challenge was going to be physical. Steph retreats to the "go against the best" strategy. It really is amazing that Danni, outnumbered fairly early on, hung on and is now headed to final two. Jeff quizzes Rafe on "releasing" Danni, and a great shot of the jury shows a very puzzled Gary and Judd, who would never, ever have released anyone from any promise. Danni is about the sanest person this group could have put in the final two. What is with the hand-touching thing between Bobby Jon and Jamie? They're pals again, I guess. Rafe points out the obvious: He and Steph "screwed over the same people." Danni looks so calm, considering she's probably listed the jury in her head a hundred times in the last hour or so, figuring why they might cast a vote either way.

9:35: So I can't figure it out: Who should Danni take? Will people like Judd and Jamie vote against Steph for turning on them, or vote for her to show grudging respect for her previous gameplay and friendship? And Rafe's "release" of Danni is still puzzling me. I guess it's like when Ian tried to save — what's her name, Katie? — last season. It was just something he felt he had to do. Finally, Steph is realizing that by taking Lydia, she would have sent herself to final two. Yet she doesn't seem to regret it or to be rethinking it. I must say, Steph isn't one to look back in anger, she makes her decisions and moves on. That's part of why she was so actually happy for Cindy winning the car.

9:25: Moving to one hand. Steph immediately almost bites it. So does Danni, and now Rafe. Now they're all leaning against the uprights at a slant. This actually looks more comfortable than the old position.Danni and Steph use their hats to try and rest their backs. Now they go to no hands on the ropes. They seem about as comfortable with this as with the other position. Rafe reached behind him and was knocked out. Wait, they couldn't touch the pole behind them? I missed that part. Steph and Danni were lucky to get that little lesson, now neither of them will do the same. Or if they do, they'll be pretty dim. Danni really looks quite comfortable. Steph seems to have slid down quite a bit. I wonder if she even considered that Lydia would have been knocked out of this nearly instantly. I'm kind of shocked Jeff hasn't reminded them of that fact. Steph looks to be in quite a bit of pain, Danni looks like she could do this all day. Yet no one is making a deal  — no offers of "drop out, and I'll vote out Rafe." Steph falls. Danni takes final immunity. Steph is devastated, and Rafe immediately releases Danni from any promises she made him. Wow, he really does come off as a nice guy, but was that smart, or dumb? And now Danni has to figure out: Who is the jury more angry at, Steph, for running the show and backstabbing them all, or Rafe, for going along with her and also backstabbing them all?

9:22: Final immunity challenge. Duh, balance and concentration. Heh, it's one of those skateboard-practice platforms! I guess they didn't want them balancing over the crocodile-infested waters, so they had to come up with something else. This looks like a tough one. Somehow I think Danni might have some great balance. They may be regretting letting Lydia go. It's kind of creepy how the platforms resemble gallows, and the hand positions they have to take make them look a little like they're being crucified. Wow, Rafe tosses his glasses aside. I always wonder about folks who wear glasses on this show. I guess it'd be nigh-impossible to keep your contacts clean, even if they do provide you with contact-lens solution. I think I'd get Lasix before I came on the show, if at all possible. You want to be able to see.

9:11: Jim, one tough guy? Uh, OK. At 63, he was no Rudy. Morgan. One of the blondes I don't really remember. "It was hard socially." Heh, never heard that before. Brianna, she went in the Killing Off of the Pretty. Brooke continued that trend.  As did "Golden Boy" Blake. "I'll make that money eventually." Maybe, if you learn to shut your trap. Margaret. They don't have a lot to say about her, since none of them were nursed back to life by her. Brian, he was kind of fun. Lots of blindsidings this season. Amy, I liked her too. One tough cop, and that accent was hilarious. She really did fight through injury after injury. Brandon, famed for rock rope chopping and wry comments. Bobby Jon, the South will not rise again. He looked like the crazy one at times, until Jamie opened his mouth. Speaking of...Jamie. Paranoia will destroy ya! Gary! And yet his football lie turned out to be no big deal, despite it occasionally rearing its head. I bet at the reunion Danni confesses she knew all along. Judd pounding his chest like Tarzan. Or a monkey, take your pick. I don't for a minute believe he's "not going to be a hothead" any more. Cindy, I liked you until the whole car craziness.  Lydia, oh Lydia, oh have you met Lydia? Lydia the fiiiiiishmonger! (To the tune of "Lydia the Tattooed Lady.") Yeah, I bet all of them will think twice before eating corn again, in any of its corny forms.

9:09: Wow, that's the first time this season that the monkey has really kind of bugged me. Maggots in the corn, yikes. Oh, the "fallen comrades" farewell. Brianna? Like we even remember you. How fun will it be to toss Jamie and Judd's pictures in the fire?

9:03: First vote: Danni. Second: Lydia. Third: Lydia. Fourth: Lydia. No shock there, despite how they tried to twist things and make you think she was staying. I actually think keeping her because of her lack of strength wasn't a bad idea, and if Danni wins immunity next, there'll be some serious second-guessing on Rafe and Steph's parts. Oh sheesh, "hope the gods have forgiven you," says Jeff without cracking up. "Hope the CHICKEN has forgiven you," you mean. Aw, there's Lydia's teenage son who didn't get a car because Cindy kept hers. Seems like a nice young man.

9:01: Danni tries to say everyone loves Lydia, and she'd beat them all in the final two. I don't think so. The macho jocks on the jury are way too into "who deserves it" and "who played the game" to vote for someone who was never a physical threat. Oh, and get rid of the dumb "do you want to give up your immunity?" question, because no one is as stupid as Marcellas on "Big Brother," and no one will do that.

8:59: Tribal council. Wow, Cindy looks lovely. Do they have a stylist, because almost all the jury members have looked great? Heh, Jeff's like "move it along, Lydia, get to the point of the chicken story." Oh, enough with the "don't respect the ceremony" thing. Now if Rafe wins, they're going to try and say it's because he didn't eat the dang chicken. Please.

8:57: Lydia is totally on to them — she knows she's no challenge threat in the final three. Heh, Steph wants to "say a little prayer or something" for the charred Clucky. Rafe looks kind of creeped out at the thought of eating a chicken he actually saw die. I can relate to that, but I can't really relate to the idea that he doesn't want to eat it because it was part of a sacrifice and would detract from what he learned in the sacrifice. I'm there, I'm eating the chicken, rainstorm or no rainstorm.

8:56: Heh, one of them is hours away from being a millionaire and they're digging an ant-covered chicken carcass out of the fire.

8:53: I've liked Rafe all along, with only one waver last week when he was all outraged that Cindy didn't give away her car. Heh, Steph thinks she has a better shot against Rafe in the final 2 because they've each double-crossed everyone. She thinks they should take Lydia for her lack of challenge skills an interesting theory. The ending challenge is almost always endurance and balance, isn't it? Lydia could maybe handle the balance, but she'd probably jump in to the water before too long. And now Rafe has to puzzle over his promise to Danni. Interesting. Heh, one of them is hours away from being a millionaire and they're digging a chicken carcass out of the fire.

8:45: Kind of a cool challenge, actually. Those propmasters should get double pay for constructing this one. Rafe looks pretty tough to beat, though it's really close. And of course, Jeff has to keep taunting them about being "worn out." Heh, Lydia does have "short little legs," especially compared to monstrously tall Danni. We're down to the puzzle now, and my money's on Rafe -- Steph has never been a great puzzle-solver. And Rafe takes the first immunity! (Which , based on a quick glimpse in last week's preview that appeared to show him at tribal council wearing the immunity necklace.) It's got to be Lydia going home first, no?

8:42: Getting right to the immunity challenge. It does look pretty complex, although "Survivor" tosses around words like "most complex" and "most challenging" in the same way "The Bachelor" is always promising the "most dramatic rose ceremony ever."

8:41: Euw, the chicken lost his head. Heh, and Steph thought it could somehow survive that. Poor Clucky.  Steph also has to ask if "thank you" is "gracias." Lydia can speak Spanish, which comes in kind of handy here, since the Mayans do not speak English. Aw, that was kind of a sweet little interlude.

8:38: I think Lydia is a little too excited about this generic old clue. Is she pulling a Jamie and losing it? "You guys don't understand my language!" Me neither, Lyd. Whoa, it looks like she might be right...a group of Mayans arrive as if on cue. Heh, Steph wants to eat the honey they poured out. I bet she wanted the sugar, too.

8:36: Oh, Lydia, don't get too caught up in the excitement yet, you're doomed. And Danni's Jayhawk analogy....OK... I know I said I liked the final four, but they better not get all smug on me. There's no one I really want to see win the million as there was last time, when I was thrilled to see Tom take it all home.

8:31: Cindy, you played the car thing stupidly, but honestly I don't know if I would have given up a new car either. You just needed to be smarter and not brag about everything from the headlights to the sun roof. At least Steph is playing it smart by counting her jury votes, trying to figure out who is angry with her over there.

8:29: Oh, don't get me started on how stupidly everyone except Danni managed their money at that "Survivor" auction. A night with your family member whom you will be seeing in a few weeks vs. something that will help you earn immunity, even if they didn't know what it was? Judd played that all wrong, and Danni played it all right. And even though Danni snatched Steph's good position in the maze game, she managed to be nice enough about it that Steph kept her and voted out Judd instead. Danni has some kind of mind control over them, I think.

8:28: Yeah, if Gary had beaten Rafe in that one immunity, it's possible he could be sitting in Danni's place instead. His exposure of Judd's lie shot right onto my list of "favorite 'Survivor' moments ever."

8:27: Gary, I liked him. Jamie was one loose cannon, wasn't he? And Judd's lie about the immunity idol was pretty stupid. He could have just kept the clue to himself, no one would have begrudged him keeping silent, but Judd and silence never go together. And how stupid is Judd that he even had the clue and yet he couldn't find it, and Gary could?

8:24: Aw, Margaret the nurse. I liked her, and after she ministered to all those big strong guys, I kind of thought she might have some good will built up to keep her in the show. Boy, was I wrong. Judd turned on her like she was an abandoned sixpack. With Judd gone, I really have no one I'm rooting against this finale. Usually there's at least one person I'm really hating, but although Steph has been more obnoxious this season than before, I liked her attitude towards Cindy's car win (much more than I liked , actually.)

The show got a late start here thanks to "60 Minutes," but we're finally ready to go. First, Probst's endless rehash of the season, just in case you've never seen an episode but felt like tuning in for the finale. I'm letting this just wash over me while wondering what funky conveyance Probst is going to use to get the votes to the live audience this time. Pogo stick? Scuba suit? Hovercraft?