Season Finale: The Mole – “The Mole is Revealed”

“The Mole is Revealed”

August 11th, 2008

While I was without internet for most of yesterday, a frustrating scenario that messed up a lot of things, I was perhaps most upset that I had to miss out on blogging my initial reaction to last night’s Mole finale. I’d call it a cross between entertained and saddened, enjoying the reveal while remaining quite sad that there will likely never be another one like it.

The Mole hit this summer with very little buzz and, for the most part, ratings failure. And yet, for fans of the series, it was right in line: no, Jon Kelley was no Anderson Cooper, and I do kind of miss the old music, but for the most part as a “game” The Mole was right where we wanted it to be. The personalities may have gotten a bit out of hand, but chalk that up to the newfound prevalence of the “Be a Jerk” strategy in reality television as a whole, something that didn’t exist to the same degree in earlier seasons.

And, right in line with those expectations, we have a finale that fits: we have the Mole we suspected, the winner we wanted, and the reunion that feels like these people loved playing the game and loved even more to watch it back on a television and see all of the ridiculous things they said about people. There’s plenty of close calls, plenty of foot-in-mouth behaviour, and little enough drama for this to feel like the celebration it should be.

What I love about The Mole finales is not finding out who the Mole is, or even who the winner is: Craig being the Mole wasn’t a surprised after the clear signs over the past number of weeks, and Mark winning is a good story that becomes anti-climactic very quickly (Woo, Money, now what?) The real story, inevitably, is how the rest of the players were either duped into following a wrong path, or in Mark’s case how often he nearly lost the game because, really, he wasn’t as smart as his journal made him out to be.

As far as Craig as The Mole goes, I don’t know if ABC got their money’s worth – he didn’t seem to do much work sabotaging tasks, only affecting things on a very minor level, and it seemed like most of his work was blatantly choreographed by the producers. However, it is clear that Craig was hired less for direct sabotage (You’d need someone who is not quite as noticeable, no offense intended) and more for a subtle misdirection that worked to perfection. As Paul first predicted, no one would suspect big ol’ lumbering Craig of the fun demeanor and the positive attitude.

His game was all a social one: create a person who no one would ever suspect as The Mole, and chances are they’ll look to shadier players. As it was, both Nicole and Victoria seemed to do fine jobs taking much of the heat off with their own strategies, but Craig just got to be himself and watch as people (other than Paul) overlooked him. So while it didn’t keep the group from winning much money, Craig’s deep cover was a very strong acting job (if we are calling it acting) that caused a lot of great behaviour and one-liners from the rest of the players as they squandered their way through the game.

So, Craig was responsible for many player exits, and a lot of ties as people focused on the same people: Paul was the only one who had Craig from the beginning, so there were a lot of horribly misguided people who would eventually fall by the wayside. The funny thing is that, constantly, Mark was amongst them all the way: he and Clay were struggling horribly, focusing on Nicole and then almost finding themselves eliminated every time. That Mark tied for the worst score three times without being eliminated was one of those neat little tidbits that these finales offers, little things that we missed due to the editing process.

The rest of it was all about right: awkward attacks on Nicole in video form, embarrassing Bobby as much as possible for his health condition (Which was apparently “screwed up muscles” that required “medication”), and mostly just letting everyone come to scary realizations about how close they could have been to winning had they been 10 seconds faster, or laughing at their various comments that (considering the look on Nicole’s face) they’d probably like to take back.

And that works: the clues were plentiful and varied, Mark’s victory felt justified and emotionally satisfying, and this season wrapped itself up in a way that reminds us why the game was so strong to begin with. This is a game that isn’t easy to play, where people get eliminated for mistakes of observation or mistrust, and this was a season that was defined by those types of mistakes. The Mole wasn’t active in the ways we usually think they are, but the game continues to represent a really smart example of how reality television can mess with the mind in ways people never quite grasp.

Which makes me all the more sad that we likely will never get another season. But, for now, I’m going to hold onto what little hope we’ve got.

Cultural Observations

  • Who was Ali targeting when she took the Bribe? We presume not Craig, but if it had been Bobby she could have maybe course corrected and stayed in the game. That’s probably the one question we didn’t get answered that I was looking for.
  • I’m actually kind of disappointed that Craig’s medical evacuation wasn’t part of his Mole behaviour – it was the moment my brother pegged as suspicious to begin with, and that it was actually just the nature of medicine and biology. Pity.
  • There was a lot of sketchy Jon Kelley ADR work this week, but let’s chalk it up to rushed production schedules – for the most part, he has done a great job filling in some very big shoes. My opinion of him has improved greatly, and he should be commended.

2 Comments

Filed under The Mole

2 responses to “Season Finale: The Mole – “The Mole is Revealed”

  1. I’ve been following this season’s The Mole too. And, yes I’ve suspected Craig too, but I wasn’t 100% sure until it was announced. Anyway, I’m happy that Mark won because he needed the money more than Nicole.

    As for Jon Kelley, I’ve been enjoying his hosting. Sure, he’s not Anderson Cooper, but he did a great job. Oh, and I like reading this blog on abc.com.

  2. A couple of observations, having now watched the episode:

    1. It’s clear that Craig’s mole-ing was heavily limited by the producers, who clearly wanted the winner to take home a decent pot of money. Having said that…his sabotages were quite clever. Many of them involved getting other players to join in the sabotage with him, thereby spreading around suspicion.

    2. Does Mark’s win kind of undermine the point of the game? Don’t get me wrong: he was a fun player to watch and his love of meticulous details was certainly an asset. But the goal of the game is to use your observations to figure out who the Mole is. And the shocking revelation from the finale isn’t just that Mark was tied for elimination three times – it’s that even up until the end he didn’t truly know who the Mole was. His decision to vote Craig was purely based on trusting Clay’s word that he went all-Nicole on the night he was eliminated. There’s something a bit off when players like Nicole and Paul – who figured out Craig much earlier – lose to someone who was unsure even as he punched in his final answers.

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