Well I can’t get myself to write about much else other than Survivor, so here goes, my thoughts on Episode 1 of Survivor: Phillipines
My friend and I did a podcast previewing the season as well as ranking our top 5 Survivors of all time, check it out here.
I really liked the premiere episode, it showed us a majority of the players, some important storylines that will hopefully develop and wasn’t too returning player heavy.
Are the Returnees in Trouble?
In fact, the returnees faced a lot of danger in this episode. Russell Swan nearly screwed himself over after trying to lead his tribe (while claiming to not want to lead him). He got lucky that Zane a) had no idea what he was doing and b) was terrible in the challenges.
Even Jonathan Penner faced a lot of heat early on, with Jeff Kent leading a charge against him. Penner also was caught searching for the idol which put a huge target on his back. I feel like there is actual little good that can come from attempting to find an idol this early in the game. Although everyone wants to find it, it is perceived negatively by the whole tribe, so that if you actually do find it, you may have to use it within 1 episode (like Kristina nearly had to do in Redemption Island).
Is searching for the Hidden Immunity Idol worth it?
The best thing that can come out of finding an idol is possibly uniting a group of people around it, which again is hard once you have already isolated yourself from them. The idol really hasn’t done much good since Heroes vs. Villains, let’s look at some idol history in the post-(Russell) Hantz era:
Nicaragua: Marty finds it, uses it to assert dominance. Eventually gives it to Sash to form a trust bond, ends up going a week after Sash promised him safety. Sash keeps the idol until the last day and plays it to no danger of himself.
NaOnka finds the other idol. Bonds with Brenda over it, ends up getting rid of Brenda, ends up quitting and giving it to Chase. Chase isn’t threatened and uses it the same day as Sash for safety purposes.
Redemption Island: Kristina finds the idol tries to form a plan with Francesca and Phillip, it gets blown apart. She uses it the next week to save herself (but she doesn’t need to) and ends up going the next available vote.
Ralph finds an idol, doesn’t tell anyone for a while, ends up using it to try to save Mike, but the vote was for Matt, so it was wasted.
Rob finds an idol (in what might be one of the best ruses against his tribe ever) doesn’t tell anyone (that we see) uses it the last day possible just for fun.
South Pacific: Ozzy finds an idol, uses it as leverage with Cochran when he goes to Redemption Island intentionally. Gets it back and uses it to save Whitney, but it doesn’t work.
Coach finds other idol with help from Albert and Sophie. He later goes on an idol hunt with the rest of the tribe (praying to find an idol he already has) and uses it to unite the tribe. This I suppose is the most productive use of the idol over the last few seasons, but it could have hurt him when Sophie threw him under the bus about it at final 3.
One World: Sabrina finds the idol, is forced to give it to a guy, gives it to Colton who may or may not have used it for good (it wasn’t really clear). Colton gets hurt and is forced to leave, but keeps the idol for himself.
Troyzan finds one, uses it, but the votes had already been split by Kim, so it only saved Troyzan for one week.
Kim finds the other idol, tells Chelsea about it. Is never forced to use it and keeps it until the very end.
The return rate on finding an idol over the last few seasons has not blindsided anyone (as was so common in the early days) and often has not done much to help the owner of it. I know that it a security blanket, leverage, and a unifier at times, but at this point in Survivor, I don’t know if it is worth the risk.
The best thing the idol has done over the last few years (for players not viewers) has made the “pretend-like-I-have-an-idol” strategy a viable one.
In One World, Kim was forced to split votes all over the place in fear of idols. If someone is about to go, I honestly think a good strategy would be pretending like you have an idol, force them to consider splitting votes so that you have far fewer people to force to flip alliances in order to not be eliminated.
Anyways, Penner is not looking good after one week.
Week 1 Surprises
You know who is looking good is Jeff Kent. I thought he would not do well at all, but his tribe seems to like him thus far and has really rallied around him. I wouldn’t throw all my chips in on him yet though, because Dawson already recognized him, he has an injured knee, and a bad track record for his interpersonal skills. Good showing for him on episode 1 though.
Angie was also really surprising to me. I thought she would be a typical forgettable model type (Purple Kelly, Ashley Underwood, Whitney Duncan). Thus far though, she seems like a solid person, capable of getting along with most of her tribe, pretty Survivor fluent, and someone who looks like she can compete. For her name not to even be considered at the vote was pretty remarkable.
Before the season I predicted (in my head unfortunately) that RC would be this year’s strategist who goes at it too hard at the start. It looks like I was right (so far at least). She seemed to be on top of things, forming alliances and plotting with several people, but seemed very abrasive while doing it (“Hey you! You’re in an alliance with me!”). I like the ones who play hard but can’t help think that this will work against her in the future. She is this season’s Marty/Jim/Matt Q. who plays really hard to start, but doesn’t end up going hard. She is the first female iteration of this character, so that ought to be interesting.
A couple of people who I think are playing hard without being obvious are Malcolm, Denise, and Mike Skupin.
Malcolm did a good job of not wanting to be the center of attention, but still being at the core that makes all the decisions. He is easily my favorite of the season so far.
Denise seems to be really solid too. She is the older woman, but again seemed to be in no danger of going. She is a therapist and thus an expert at getting people to tell her information. Her alliance with Malcolm looks to be one of the most solid strategy pairings in Survivor history. It reminds me a lot of Rob Cesternino and Deena getting together in the Amazon as a young guy and older woman who were both extremely smart (though it was short lived). I am very interested to see how they interact.
Mike Skupin got a little lucky that he was nearly forced to be in the main alliance, but also had the foresight to lay back and go with the flow. I think he will truly be a leader to the young people and will be able to connect with Lisa and Artis giving him quite a few options. On the podcast I predicted him to be the winner and I will stick by that for now.
Lot’s of good stuff this week and I look forward to going into more of each character as the season progresses. I think 3 tribes will make it very interesting for a while, so I expect good things ahead.
Player of the week: I’ll give it to Malcolm, I really like everything he was doing. He just seems like an all around solid player.
Next week: I predict bad things for Penner or Jeff Kent. Lisa is in a bad spot. Russell Swan could be too. Look for one of them to go.
Mike Skupin is my winner pick still, but if I had to pick a 2nd favorite after episode 1 it would go to Denise.