"Survivor: One World" came to a close on Sunday, concluding with the rightful victory of bridal-shop owner Kim Spradlin. After running multiple alliances and winning four immunity challenges (among other accomplishments), Kim's status as one of the all-time greatest "Survivor" winners can't be denied. But even though the best player won the game, does that mean "One World" was one of the better seasons in "Survivor" history? Not necessarily — certainly not if you're asking season villain Colton Cumbie, who declared during the live "Survivor" reunion that "One World" got boring once he was medically evacuated from the game.
Did Kim deserve to win? Should she play again? Was Colton's assessment of a lackluster "Survivor" season on point? We tackled all of these questions and more in our final "One World" post-game with two-time contestant Rob Cesternino. Thanks for joining us all season long, Rob!
MTV: Kim Spradlin, your girl and mine, took home the win on Sunday night. I don't think anybody was surprised to see that happen, but I'm definitely happy with the outcome. I'm assuming you're pleased as well?
Rob Cesternino: I was very happy to see Kim win the game. I think she gave one of the most dominating performances ever by a "Survivor" player, and I think Kim is, from a historical "Survivor" perspective, the only true alpha female to have won the game. That's impressive.
MTV: You wouldn't put ['Fans vs. Favorites' winner] Parvati Shallow in that category?
Cesternino: Parvati is a bit of a different animal in that she used her sexuality to her advantage. I'm certainly not complaining about that — every "Survivor" player is different. But Kim didn't seduce Troyzan, or any of the guys, to get what she wanted and to get to the end. She used the same tactics that Boston Rob might use, or what any of the traditional male powerhouses would do to win the game. I think that was very interesting about Kim's performance.
Midway through the finale, when Kim got rid of Alicia and then decided to not bring Christina to the final three, I was yelling at the TV, "Kim, what are you doing? These people are so much easier to beat!" But then mid-sentence I realized, "You know what? It doesn't matter what she does. She's winning no matter what!" I think Kim felt like, "Why overthink this? I'm winning if I go with Chelsea and Sabrina. I'm winning if I go with Alicia and Christina. Why have a card that people can play against me — that I betrayed my true friends in the game?" Kim came to this realization about three episodes ago, I think. Her win was a fait accompli. Any other outcome would have been greatly unsatisfying.
MTV: Let's look back a bit. I don't imagine there's a lot that Colton ever said that you or I would agree with, with the possible exception of one comment he made at the finale: The season got boring once he left. Do you think that's fair? Was "One World" without Colton a bit of a bore?
Cesternino: I think it was. Colton, for all of the horrible things he was saying (which gave us plenty to talk about), was the pre-Kim mastermind of this season. He was the one sending the guys to tribal council. He was the one pulling all of the strings and going back to work with the women. So at least he was adding something to this season. When you lost him, a lot of people were just sheep to Kim for the rest of the season. That can be boring to watch.
MTV: Did you buy Colton's apology at the finale?
Cesternino: I follow Colton on Twitter, and I don't think he's changed at all from being on "Survivor." I think if he truly changed, I think you would have seen a much different person [at the finale] than the person who was on "Survivor." I mean, all Survivors say right after the show, "Oh my god, 'Survivor' changed me so much." I don't buy it. I don't think that "Survivor" really changes people. I think that true life-altering events change people, or time changes people. In the six months or whatever since they filmed this, I don't think Colton or any of the players in the game have truly changed.
MTV: Do you think we'll see him play again?
Cesternino: I thought Jeff Probst had said that Colton would never play again, but I've also read recently that he's softening that stance. I do think that Colton will play again, but probably not for a while. With these larger-than-life returning players, their best friend is time. Had Russell Hantz gone back on the show now as opposed to a season after "Heroes vs. Villains," I think he would have fared better in the game. Time is the friend of the high-profile "Survivor" player, because the more people who come onto the show, they don't really remember what [previous players] did. The best thing that happened to Russell was Colton. The best thing that will happen to Colton is Jimmy Hamburger or whoever the next "Survivor" villain is. That will make people forget about Colton.
MTV: Looking ahead to next season, Probst revealed that the twist for "Survivor Philippines" is that three formerly med-evaced players are coming back to the game. What do you think about that?
Cesternino: I think more so than those people returning to the game, I like the idea where they're going with [three] tribes of six people. When you look back at the past three or four seasons, people have made alliances of five on basically the first day of the game, and those five people have tended to be the final five, or at least five of the final six. The game is becoming a little too predictable, so it's time to shake things up a little bit so that on the first day you can't say "This is the five, we're going to be the final five." These players will have to adjust their plans and work with people on the other tribes to get to the end of the game.
MTV: I love the three-tribe format, which they've only done on "All-Stars." Then again, you might have a different opinion...
Cesternino: Well, I'm personally biased against the three-tribe system, since it didn't work out so well for me on "All-Stars." [Laughs] I do think it probably lends to a better overall game, but you can lose some good people early on if the right two or three people get together and call the shots on a six-person group.
MTV: Going back to the topic of returning players, the identities of these three former contestants are still under wraps. But I'm sure we'll see another "All-Stars" variation at some point in the future. Kim has certainly proven herself as an All-Star. When I spoke with Kim, she said she'd be up for returning. I know she told you the same thing in your interview with her. How do you think she'd do if she went back another time?
Cesternino: I think Kim would do very well on an "All-Stars" season. Here's the thing about Survivors: they don't necessarily target winners. They target who gets the most publicity and the most press. Russell isn't targeted because he's a two-time finalist; he's targeted because he gets the most air time. One of the biggest things that helped Sandra, who is a two-time winner, is that nobody thinks to get rid of her because she won; they'd get rid of Sandra if she dominated the air time, which never really happened. I bet she would do very well again. For Kim, it's the same situation. Survivors resent the people who get the most publicity and air time, and that's not necessarily Kim. I think she'd do well in an "All-Stars" season, because people wouldn't view her as that kind of a threat.
MTV: Let's wrap this up by looking at the season overall. What should the "Survivor" powers that be learn from "One World"? What lessons should they take away from this year?
Cesternino: That's a great question. [Pauses] I think what the "Survivor" powers that be need to learn the most is to really take a look at the people they're putting on the show, and making sure that everybody going out there is armed with at least the basic knowledge of how the game works. We're going into "Survivor 25." Every contestant needs at least a crash course in how alliances work, what to do if you're not in the bottom of the alliance. I wish we had more people who really knew how to play the game before going out there, and not people learning on the fly. You wouldn't throw people on "Jeopardy" or "Wheel of Fortune" if they don't know the rules of the game. Why are we putting people on "Survivor" who don't know the rules of the game thirteen years after it's been on the air?
Previously On MTV News' "Survivor" coverage:
How do you feel about the latest "Survivor" season? Let us know in the comments section or hit me up on Twitter @roundhoward!