Survivor Philippines Episode 8

Woah, what an episode of Survivor this was. It almost unlike any other episode I’ve ever seen of the show. Let’s get right into this by describing what happened.

Recap

Episode begins, Penner is in trouble and he knows it. He’s got to win immunity to survive.

Lisa has a conversation with Skupin, planting the seed with him about the need to get rid of Malcolm.

The challenge happens and what do you know, Penner pulls off a victory.

Back at camp, the strategy talk is kept to a minimum. Since Penner won immunity, might as well go for Skupin, because he is the other returning player. Not much to it right?

Then all hell breaks loose…

Lisa decides that now is the time to get rid of Malcolm. He has the idol and she wants to join the “Evil Three” (Artis, Pete, Abi) because that is her chance of winning.

She approaches Pete, telling him that she knows Malcolm has the idol, that she wants Tandang to stick together, and now is the time to get rid of him.

Pete then goes and approaches Malcolm asking him straight up if he has the idol. Malcolm vehemently denies it. Pete tells him that Lisa accused him of having it. Pete then switches the vote from Skupin to Jeff Kent.

Malcolm begins freaking out, because Lisa has just betrayed him, while Pete spreads the message that they’re going to get Jeff Kent out.

Seemingly minutes before Tribal Council, Jeff Kent approaches Malcolm and they then discuss that they along with Denise, Carter, Skupin, and Penner should vote out Pete.

Quickly they spread out, passing this new message along that they need to get rid of Pete.

Tribal Council approaches, where Malcolm outs Lisa for outing him and then shows everyone his idol. Abi then declares that she has an idol. At this point, nobody seems sure of what is going down.

Penner declares that the 6 “of us” need to stick together, while Lisa argues the opposite way, with no names being named.

The votes come out Jeff receives 5, Pete 4, and Abi 1 with no idols being played.

Why this Ranks Among the Best

It may not sound as crazy on paper, but in reality most of this took place within a matter of minutes. At any point in the episode it seemed like Penner, Skupin, Malcolm, Pete, or Jeff could have legitimately have gone home.

The reason this episode seemed so different than all the others, was because it was so chaotic. Usually the Survivor editors paint a picture of it coming down to one person or another that is going to go home, but this episode was frantic enough that anything could have happened. Credit to the camera men for getting all these shots while seemingly on-the-move as everyone was trying to put together last minute plans.

The reason this season feels so fresh, is because everyone is legitimately playing the game. No one is content to join one group, which causes extreme alliance reshuffling on an episodic basis. Everyone is always asking, ‘why isn’t person A going over to that side?’, well in this season we get to see people constantly desiring to flip and actually doing it. Nothing is stable.

As a viewer this chaos is both exciting and unsettling. The last couple episodes have almost not been fully satisfying because there are no alliances set to do battle against each other. I can just imagine this fluidity causing so much stress actually on the island. This is why people usually stick with one group even if it costs them a good spot, it is comforting to have some sort of numbers surrounding you.

Going forward it is highly likely that we have many change-ups yet to come (unless the Tandang 5 really does stick together), which will make this season a fantastic one.

Who Can Win/Random Thoughts

I think that there are 5 options left for the winner: Lisa, Denise, Malcolm, Penner, and Skupin remain in that order. I do think that a returning player will make the finals, but I’m not sure if they’ll win.

Also, I predict Malcolm getting blindsided with the idol still in his pocket. I would guess this to happen in the next 3 episodes.

Also, could we have our 2nd over 40 winner since Tina back in season 2? Denise and Lisa both looked primed as anyone to pull that off. Maybe it’s the Skupin effect.

Not as much strategy talk this week, as I am writing this late.

Next week:

Malcolm gets blindsided with the idol in a 3-3-3 vote

Everyone joins against Penner again

Tandang 5 goes after Carter

Lisa and Skupin flip to get Pete/Abi out.

Player of the week: Lisa made a move, which failed, but in the end there don’t seem to be many repercussions from it, which put her on top.

Survivor Philippines Episode 7

Ahhh the merge is here and in one of the most unpredictable episodes in a long time, we saw RC go home after Penner saved himself with a Hidden Immunity Idol.

Just How Good Was this Episode?

Where do we even start? There are so many things that could have happened and so much I am sure that we were not shown as far as deal making goes.

People are saying that this might be the episode in the post-Heroes vs. Villains era of Survivor, but I still believe that one goes to the South Pacific merge episode. In that one, we got so much more resolution than in this one. This episode had so much uncertainty that it’s hard to tell if this decision will even affect anything at the next Tribal Council.

This serves well for the rest of the season, as South Pacific turned terribly boring for the next 4 or 5 episodes post-merge, while I think that this one will remain interesting perhaps for the rest of the season. To put it in movie terms, the payoff wasn’t as high here, because we’re not really sure what the aftermath will be.

What we saw on this week’s episode was something nearly unprecedented in Survivor history in which essentially factions of 3 different tribes combined to target 3 other people. There were 8 people that formed a majority alliance in this episode!

It helps that they were targeting returning players, but still that blows my mind!

Did Jeff Kent Strike Out?

Now would be a good point to discuss this week’s big decision. Jeff Kent was faced with 2 main options of how to vote in this week’s episode. His first option was to join Pete, Abi-Maria, Artis, Lisa, and Malcolm with his group of Denise and Carter in order to split the votes against Penner and RC.

Now at first this seems like an alright choice for him, being a strong male leader who’s alliance is down in the numbers. He gets to join a group that has some serious factions in it. Usually he would be a target in this scenario, but instead he has the possibility of getting rid of someone from the other tribe!

But, I think this ended up being the worse choice for him to make, because on the other end he was offered for his main alliance of him, Carter, Denise, and Penner to be joined by Skupin and RC in order to create a majority alliance of 6. Had he taken this, he would have been  in the majority of a majority alliance!

But, for Jeff Kent there was one problem with this. Yes, this alliance would feature 2 returning players.

Jeff Kent hates returning players.

He is scared to death of them and will do anything, yes even screw up his own game, to not lose to a returning player.

So instead of taking what looks like a pretty for sure thing by bringing in RC and Skupin, he joined Pete to split the votes and unsuccessfully got Penner out.

This leaves us at what should be a really interesting episode.

It would seem like Penner would be an obvious choice for the next boot, but in a season where there is a non-unified 8 person alliance, anything could happen.

What Should Each Player Do Going Forward?

Let’s take a look at what every person’s best move should be going forward, now that we are at the final 10.

Penner: It looks like Penner will be pulling a Troyzan, in which he isolates himself from everyone trying to win out with immunities. Let’s hope this isn’t so, while Troyzan’s choices were extremely dumb, at least he was a challenge threat, and was facing all women and Tarzan who he could legitimately have a chance at winning every immunity. Penner is probably not in the top 5 challenge competitors left. He is way to savvy to give up like this, throwing a large fit to further remove himself from everyone. Penner needs to find a couple of factions (Denise and Malcolm and Lisa perhaps?) to form something with. But I think his best move is to try and throw somebody under the bus and just get to the next week.

Pete: Well he came out on top this week and does seem to have the most people on his side. I think next week he should go after Skupin, then perhaps try to blindside Jeff Kent, in order to get a real grip on the tribe. Eventually he should get it down to him, Artis, Abi, and Lisa, making sure to get Lisa nowhere near the final 3.

Artis: See Pete.

Abi-Maria: See Pete.

Jeff Kent: Tough to say. I think he and Penner are pretty much done, so his best move would be to just get rid of him ASAP. From there, maybe try to get Malcolm and Lisa on his side to swing the numbers his way. Maybe even get Skupin, because really, he has no more experience than them this far into the game, he’s not a threat.

Carter: See Jeff Kent. (Speaking of which, could Carter be the Fabio to like a Jeff Kent’s Marty? Obviously Marty and Fabio weren’t as close, but kind of similar huh?)

Skupin: Lay low. Start building solid relationships with everyone not close with Pete. Eventually he could turn into an important number to flip the game around. If he sees any opportunity for an alliance, he needs to take it.

Malcolm: He is probably in the best spot, well second best anyways. He didn’t get any blood on his hands in this vote (having no relationship with Penner and didn’t really betray RC). He is right in the middle of the alliance being either #4 or 5 in Pete’s alliance and having a connection with Denise that could get him to jump. Not to mention he is probably still in good with Skupin. Malcolm’s decision should be based on which way the cards fall. At some point he will have to make a move, but it cannot be too early or too late or he will be screwed.

Denise: She is in the best position in my opinion (unless Pete can lead some sort of Tandang 5 charge) having allies on every corner, while not being the obvious threat that Malcolm is. At some point, people are going to turn against Malcolm’s likability and athleticism to try to get him out. Denise, while very athletic, will not get this strong push against her (I don’t think). My advice for Malcolm is the same for her. And my advice for both of them is to stick together. They are each other’s best bet in the game.

Lisa: She continues to rise in my mind every week and I don’t think her winning is inconceivable. In fact, I think that she will make the final 3 as Penner not-so-subtly predicted this week. To do this, Lisa must decide who she wants to play like: Lill or Sandra? If she plays like Lill, then she will constantly be convinced by others (Pete is kinda like Fairplay in this scenario) to do what they want. This will cause others to see her as a pushover and not win. Not to mention, Lill, at the last minute, chose to stand up for herself and voted out the person she had the best chance of beating!

On the other hand, Sandra is the type of player who really understands the game, remains in the middle, and jumps wherever she needs to jump. Lisa is also right in the middle and will go wherever the numbers go, but she needs to make clear that others see her as playing intentionally. If they don’t, all the niceness in the world won’t give her that million dollars. I think that Lisa knows the game. She speaks the Survivor language, and I think that that gives her a solid shot at winning this game.

Random Thoughts

Is there going to be a final 2!?!? RC became the first jury member, which would make a final 2 more practical (with 9 jury members). Otherwise, they risk the chance of a tie (with 8 jury members and a final 3). I’m excited at this possibility, because I do think final 2 is better than 3.

We still have 2 Hidden Immunity Idols left and unless Pete and Malcolm decide to team up, we will definitely see them come into play.

Was Penner tipped off to play his idol? What if someone told Penner to play his idol in order to get RC out and next week’s tirade is just an elaborate ruse, in which Penner is actually a part of a majority alliance?! Probably not.

It will be interesting to see what Skupin’s plan is, because he did ditch voting for Pete and instead voted for Penner. Too many possibilities to get into this.

Player of the week: Malcolm. He dealt with Lisa in a great way and this vote establishes him and someone who will be important in the future.

Next week: Who really knows right?

Survivor Phillipines Episode 6

In the latest episode of Survivor we saw the tribes make a deal to settle a reward challenge, the returning players suffer repercussions at their decisions, and Katie voted out of the Kalabaw tribe.

Katie was my favorite to be the one who goes this week, but I will credit the editors for making it look unclear who would go. One minute into the episode I said to myself ‘Katie is gone!’ but when the votes were being read, I expected either to go (though I think if Penner had went they would have made it a little more dramatic).

The Trade

Let’s start with the reward challenge, because really for the first time ever, a reward challenge was settled by deal making, not by a tribe being victorious.

The only things I can think of as being similar to this are when Yau Man offered Dreamz a car if he promised to give his final immunity to him or maybe people making deals in an endurance challenge. The only ones that come to mind are Vecepia and Neleh making one at the final 3 in Marquesas, Teresa and Clarence at the first individual immunity in Africa, there are a few others, but none that are really as significant.

This certainly differs though, because it was a deal struck between two whole tribes! I thought this was fantastic to watch! It was fairly obvious to me who came away with a better deal, which was the Tandang tribe. Not only did they double their rice, but they took away the consistent food supply from Kalabaw.

Mike Skupin was great to make this deal, but I really don’t know what Penner was thinking. How could this possibly work out for your tribe? Unless he figured that the reward would energize them not only physically, but emotionally as well, there is no way this was a good move.

The only reason I think Penner pushed for this to happen would be to make his mark on Survivor. Honestly I think he just wanted some unprecedented to happen.

Also, it was a good thing Jeff Kent didn’t have to participate in the reward, because this could have wrecked his knee even more!

Tandang Cries Over Spilled Milk

Tandang’s reaction to the move was absolutely ridiculous. Pete, Abi Maria, and Artis are the biggest bunch of whiners out there. This often happens to tribes that don’t get to go to Tribal and work out there issues. They clearly got the better deal.

I am okay with complaining about this, but only if it is done on a strategic level. Being a whiner is not usually helpful, as no one wants to reward a baby a million dollars. (SIDE NOTE: Have any whiners ever won the game? I guess Jenna in the Amazon, maybe Aras a bit in Panama, Todd in China but they never were at this level and all could be grateful as well). However, if you are Pete and your goal is to get Mike out of the game, complaining about the deal that was made might be a good decision, even if you think it was a good one.

This would be dependent on the rest of the tribe’s reaction, but if you saw that they didn’t like it, why not throw Mike under the bus? Make him take the downfall for his decisions. Heck, if I was Pete (knowing how he’s already playing the game), I might try to get rid of some of the rice making his decision look even worse. Unfortunately, I don’t think either of the three were doing this.

The person who might have been leaning this way was Lisa. It was hard to understand what she meant in her confessional responding to the situation, but it seemed to hint that she would react however everyone else was reacting. If you can get away with this, then I like this move.

Malcolm seemed to think it was a good decision, but played it up as if he was just trying “to be positive”. Again, go with the flow. I never thought Malcolm would be the positive, humble one. After dominating the 2nd half of the challenge, he acted very humble at what he had done and really just seems grateful to be there. His pregame interviews made him look like a snarky, cocky, villainous type player, could he be our hero? It certainly seems that way so far.

Mike Skupin is getting the weirdest edit. He hasn’t gotten a confessional in several episode, yet has been the center of attention in nearly every one. Notice how 4 or 5 others talked about him and his decision, but we never saw him actually explain what happened! This is strange for being a famous returning player who is certainly a leader type. Either he sucks in confessionals or something weird happens with him. I can’t quite get my finger on the pulse.

Jeff Kent, Future Survivor Hall of Famer? 

On the other side of things, Jeff Kent is playing a great game! Getting rid of Katie was the right move in this scenario. She would’ve been successful post-merge and wouldn’t do anything to advance his game. Keeping Penner has several positives to it: he will be a big target come the merge, he has the social skills to get in with others, but doesn’t have enough that he can turn against Jeff or Carter, and he has an idol that could be used in a team effort.

Keeping Denise helps more than it hurts, because either she flips Malcolm to their side or joins the other side, which wouldn’t matter anyway.

And obviously he wants to keep Carter who is his inferior counterpart. I think in Survivor if you can find someone like this, you are golden. You know they will never turn against you, they will always inform you of things, and you can beat them in the end! I like their relationship (though Carter might blow things if he ever repeats the “who do you want? Katie or Penner?” mistake)

Next Week

MINI SPOILER BELOW about next week from a preview that was recently released.

So a preview has been released that the merge will indeed happen next week. Good on Survivor as there was too big of a risk to lose somebody important before the merge, which is usually the best episode of the season.

This year’s merge brings along an excitement that most don’t have! There are so many things that could happen and so many levels of alliances.

Tandang becomes the first tribe to never attend a tribal council prior to the merge and will have to sort out their tribe lines. This will be complicated by the fact that they will have to do it with 4 other people added into the mix. Not only this, but 2 out of the 11 voters are potential wild cards with few allegiances other than themselves.

Keeping Track of the Alliances

There is an alliance of 5 (Pete, Abi, Artis, Lisa, Malcolm)

One of 4 (Pete, Abi, Artis, Lisa)

One of 3 (Pete, Abi, Artis)

One of 7 (potentially all of Tandang)

One of 4 (the original: Skupin, RC, Abi, Pete)

One of 2 (RC, Skupin)

Another of 2 (Denise, Malcolm)

One of 4 (Carter, Jeff, Penner, Denise)

One of 3 (Carter, Jeff, Penner)

Another of 3 (Carter, Jeff, Denise)

And many more to come! It looks like Malcolm and Lisa are going to try to throw something together as well.

I won’t even try to predict or say what I think is best to do in this scenario because there are so many options and it is hard to know what is actually viable and what is not. Oh and did I mention that there will be 3 Hidden Immunity Idols going into this Tribal Council? For the first time ever! Crazy stuff.

Player of the week: Jeff Kent. He made a good decision, has a loyal partner in Carter, has Penner where he wants him, and Denise possibly with him. He is running things and seems like a solid player.

Winner power rankings:

11. Artis-The only things we’ve seen from you have been bad.

10. Abi-Maria-There’s no way, right?

9.Carter finally is getting some air time, but I don’t think he has what it takes strategically or socially. His physical game hasn’t seemed to been that great either, at least not great enough to win.

8. Pete-You’re just too unlikable!

7. Skupin-Don’t know what to make of him.

6. Penner-I can’t see him holding on. The idol helps, but it would take a miracle.

5. RC moves up this week, because she was edited in a more positive light. I just can’t help but think that Malcolm, Lisa, and Denise will join with RC and Skupin to make a move.

4. Lisa-If she plays her cards right she could do this.

3. Jeff-Will likely be knocked out early merge, but if any original Kalabaw was gonna win it would be him right?

2. Denise-Now that the merge has come she almost passed Malcolm, but can’t risk a Pagonging knocking her out.

1. Malcolm seems better and better every week. He’s gotta have a downfall right?

 

Survivor Philippines Episode 5

On this week’s episode the Matsing tribe was split apart, Malcolm joining Tandang and Denise joining Kalabaw. Kalabaw lost two consecutive challenges, voting out Dawson and losing Dana to sickness (quitness).

The End of Matsing

To start the episode, we see Malcolm and Denise frantically searching for the idol, knowing that this is the best way to gain leverage going forward in the game. Good on their part recognizing that this is something that they need; a less intuitive player might have ignored this completely. And good job Denise in predicting exactly what would happen, it shows that basic Survivor knowledge can be helpful.

Malcolm did great in making sure as soon as the idea of where the idol could be popped into his head, that he was the one who found it and not Denise, sure it helps both of them to an extent, but it really helps Malcolm.

Kalabaw

Kalabaw really got screwed this week in not being able to pick up Malcolm. Denise is probably one of the best female competitors out there, but now Tandang’s best 3 competitors are close to being better than any of Kalabaw’s. Not to mention that they have RC who is probably the best female athlete out there. Kalabaw’s gonna have it tough the next few weeks.

Losing Dana this week not only was crushing to Kalabaw, but it hurt the episode overall. It sucked because seeing people quit/evacuated is very anti-climactic; there is none of that tribal council drama and it threw off the numbers!

With Denise joining Kalabaw, it would have made the girls have 4 and the men have 3. Denise may have been tempted to join with the women, then the men may have had to try to persuade Denise over with the idol or actually play the idol causing all sorts of drama.

Instead we got the Katie vs. Dawson edit, with Denise being invited to join the men. It didn’t really matter who went because they were both about equal in tribe status.

Dawson’s Terrible, but Fun Gameplay

According to post game interviews, Dawson had apparently told Jeff Kent that she knew who he was and then continued to tease him about it. In this case, it was a huge move by Jeff to pull off a blindside without getting found out. He deserves a lot of credit here.

Dawson on the other hand really blew it. While teasing Jeff about it was one of the funniest moments of the year, is there any better reason for him to get rid of you than this? Especially in a more secretive way… You’ve got to gain leverage on him slowly by going to Katie or Penner or Denise and trying to throw him under the bus. Terrible move Dawson (though she was really funny and I wish we could see more of that).

Pete’s Terrible and Not Fun Gameplay

Over at Tandang, Pete was busy making terrible moves as Malcolm’s attention was being fought over. Pete approached Malcolm and not only laid out the entire tribe’s dynamics, offered a spot in his alliance, but told him that he and Abi-Maria had the idol! Like Malcolm said, “knowledge is power” in Survivor and now Pete has nothing left to offer. Malcolm on the other hand just took it all in and can use that at any point he likes.

Pete’s goal at this point should be getting rid of Malcolm. Malcolm is a more likable version of him!!! A young, smart, good looking guy who has way more charisma and charm than you do. Keeping Malcolm around is exponentially dangerous each and every time Malcolm survives another vote! Plus, Malcolm has friends on the other tribe!

Even if you decide you want to keep Malcolm, your first move should be to try to buddy up with him, then invite him into an alliance. Make sure you are hanging out with him more than RC and Skupin are. When it comes time to go to an actual vote and you are still concerned about what Malcolm will do, then show him the idol. By doing this all so early Malcolm knows everything and is the most powerful person in the game!

Thoughts on all the Rest

RC really needs to pick herself up. It’s so disappointing to see herself giving up without even having been to 1 tribal council!

Skupin has gotten a lot less airtime lately, it makes me really nervous as to how far he will go.

Could Penner and Jeff really pull this off? They are looking really solid. I don’t think it will happen, especially now that they are down in the numbers, but they are looking strong.

I hope that Malcolm and Denise both make the merge and join back together and then flip back and forth until the finals. If that were to happen, that would make this season a top 10 of all time.

When Will they Merge?

Speaking of the merge, could it happen next week? It seems way too early, but 5 of the last 6 seasons merged at 12 people. The only one that didn’t was Heroes vs. Villains which began the jury at 12 but didn’t merge until 10. That’s probably what will happen here. Crazy to think that the jury could be starting next episode. But hey, maybe they’ll do a final 2 this season! (Here’s hoping…)

Supposedly something crazy and unprecedented is supposed to happen next week. It looks like it is at a challenge. I really have no idea what it is.

Next week I think Katie is in big trouble if Kalabaw loses and I think Tandang will all come down to Malcolm’s choice, which I really don’t know where he will go. I want him to join a Skupin, RC, and Lisa alliance, but I don’t know how plausible that is.

Who Can Still Win This?

As far as who will win, I’ve brought it down to 7 people who I think can win based on editing and place in the game. From least to greatest here they are:

7. RC-I think she’s still got a shot, but it’s going down.

6. Skupin-Not lookin’ good.

5. Jeff Kent-He’s looking good, but being down in the numbers hurts.

4. Lisa-I like her more every week. She’s right in the middle of a divided tribe. Once the merge hits she will last because she’s not a physical threat. If she doesn’t break down again, she’s got it. I don’t know if she has to make a big move if she actually is capable of that.

3. Penner-He’s got an idol, he knows the game, he’s at the head of his tribe.

2. Denise-She’s got a lot of options and won’t be obvious to get rid of. The thing that scares me is if the merge is at 10 and Kalabaw loses 2 in a row.

1. Malcolm-He’s got the power, he’s got an idol, he’s got numbers all over the place, he’s charismatic. He’s hard to put number 1, because he seems like someone who is an obvious threat, but I can’t discount him now!

(Pete and Abi-Maria could do well, but I just don’t think they can win. Carter, Katie, and Artis haven’t been shown enough for me to consider them winners).

Player of the week: Malcolm.

We got what we wanted this week, but because Dana left the game, it was a kind of boring episode. I think the same will happen if Kalabaw loses again. If Tandang loses though, watch out, here come the fireworks!!!

Survivor Phillipines Episode 4

Last week I was so busy, I didn’t have time to write about Survivor. Angie got voted out.

This week, we saw Matsing continue its losing streak and Russell finally meet his end, despite, well, despite nothing, he was terrible.

Russell, the Worst Returning Player Ever

Russell is now the 2nd returning player (in non-All Stars seasons) to be eliminated before the merge. Joining another Survivor: Samoa alumni also named Russell (Hantz).

Russell was a trainwreck from the start and was lucky the tribes were so small, making physical strength such a factor in being a successful. At least Russell Hantz in Redemption Island was tying to make moves (of course that might have actually been his problem). Russell actually got blindsided and convinced that he wasn’t going home in a tribe of 3!

I think that a lot of credit has got to go to Malcolm and Denise for making Russell feel so safe. I’m not convinced that if Russell actually had the idol that he would have played it!

It was really interesting to see who Russell ended up voting for, because that meant the other person did a better job of convincing him that they were on his side. In this case Denise won, with Russell voting for Malcolm. This is particularly impressive, because Russell seems like the kind of guy that would choose strength and bros over an older female. Apparently, Denise is that good. 

Who is the Worst Tribe of All Time?

Let’s talk about Matsing real quick, before hopefully moving on from them forever. My question is, is Matsing the worst tribe of all time? Since the last 2 blogs featured Survivor history lists, why not this one too?

Maraamu: The first real bad tribe we see is in Marquesas with the Maraamu tribe going 0 for 5 in challenge wins before the swap came. They lost 3 immunities and 2 rewards. This was likely due to Boston Rob simply not caring about strength and only about how willing they were to follow him.

Morgan (Pearl Islands): The Morgan tribe lost 6 challenges in a row (3 reward, 3 immunity) and had really lost heart before they A) stole Rupert away from Drake and B)benefited from Drake throwing a challenge in order to get rid of Burton (though it was never clear what exactly their intention was). They were sparked by this and ended up winning 3 of the next 4 (2 immunities), before the Outcasts twist came and switched everything up.

Saboga (All-Stars)-Saboga came in last place in 2 out of 3 immunities they participated in, before they got dissolved into the 2 other tribes. The main reason they were so terrible, is they did not get along at all, and had the worst shelter, probably in Survivor history.

Ulong (Palau): Notorious for being the only tribe (until now?) to basically eliminate itself, Ulong went .210 winning percentage in 14 challenges. Other tribes may have been worse if production hadn’t switched things up at certain points, but what happened to Ulong was absolutely brutal.

Ravu (Fiji): Ravu is a bit of an interesting one, because the twist in Fiji was haves vs. have nots. Ravu were the have nots and thus at a tremendous disadvantage. This showed, as the original Ravu tribe that participated in 8 challenges lost every time. They switched, maintaining the twist, but had all guys on Ravu, what looked to be their turn around, but these guys (and Lisi) lost 4 out of 5, including 3 immunities. Overall, it’s not really fair to include them, but they did lose 12 out of 13 challenges.

Fang (Gabon): Had to include Fang because they lost 9 out of 13 challenges, but they existed in 3 different formats, due to 3 tribe swaps, so the name was more cursed than the people.

Foa Foa (Samoa): Foa Foa lost 8 out of 10 challenges, probably because of Russell Hantz tormenting each player, burning socks, and emptying water bottles. Like Boston Rob, he wanted people to turn to him rather than win challenges, it sure worked out well for Natalie! (This is also funny, because helped Galu win 6 out of 8 challenges before being evacuated)

Matsing (Phillipines)Ah, Matsing. Technically, you are only 0 for 4 in challenge wins, not completely terrible. But in each challenge, all you have to do is come in 2nd place in order to not go to tribal. Basically they have lost 8 times rather than 4 times, making them 0 for 8 in challenges.

Top 3 Worst Tribes of all time:

3. Ravu from Fiji (any iteration)

2. Matsing

1. Ulong from Palau

Be careful Ulong, Matsing is coming for you!

The rest of the episode did feature a little bit of plot development from the other tribes.

Kalabaw

Over at Kalabaw, Jeff Kent cemented his alliance with Penner and brought in Carter to make a 3 person all male alliance (all male alliances have never been successful). The girls figured this out and decided to make an all female alliance in retaliation.

I think Jeff’s move wasn’t bad, but he certainly should have been less obvious about it. He seemed to have the whole tribe in the palm of his hand and he let it slip this week.

Good job by Penner for getting himself back in the middle of things. At the least this week he will likely be safe with an idol in his pocket and two other guys watching out for him.

And how about Dana taking control of the women? Interested to see where she goes from here.

The Chaos at Tandang

Tandang continues to get crazier and crazier. Abi-Maria still hates RC. RC just wants to be friends with Abi and doesn’t understand why she doesn’t like her. Skupin is a walking time bomb in regards to getting injured. Pete is pulling a Russell Hantz. Lisa is sitting quietly letting it all go down. And Artis, well we’re not sure what he’s up to.

Pete, if anything is making this season entertaining. By planting the clue to cause a further divide between RC and Abi-Maria, he is throwing into a chaotic confusion she wasn’t expecting. It’s a risky move and certainly not necessary, but if RC is someone he personally sees as a threat, then getting her on the outs is not bad at all.

I get the feeling that this will all blow up in Pete’s face. I mean, his number 1 ally is Abi-Maria.

Skupin’s outlook has gone downhill, let’s hope he can fight his way wherever he needs to.

Could Lisa pull a Cirie, forming alliances and sitting back as the rest of the tribe implodes? I don’t think she has quite the strategic brain, but I really like what I am seeing at this point. Watch out for her.

RC has got to pull herself together and try to figure out a way to get out of this mess. I think Lisa could be swayed in different directions, RC needs to abandon the Pete/Abi ship immediately.

Do Malcolm and Denise Have a Chance?

Next week I think that they will split Malcolm and Denise. Each will be randomly picked to go to one of the other tribes. Let’s look how this could turn out:

Malcolm goes to Kalabaw: He likely gets offers from both sides and ends up being the swing vote. Don’t see them bonding against him at that point. Penner could show him the idol to sway him or he could go with the girls to get rid of the returning player. We do know that Malcolm loves Penner from pregame interviews.

Denise goes to Kalabaw: She might be in trouble here as the guys would be paranoid about her joining the women. I could see her joining either side, but upside doesn’t look real good.

Malcolm goes to Tandang: This would be extremely interesting. I could see Pete and RC fighting over his allegiance. Feel like he would lean toward the RC/Skupin alliance.

Denise goes to Tandang: Definitely could see her going with Skupin in this scenario. The tribe is so chaotic that this one would fit her way better than Kalabaw.

Overall, the show has been really interesting, I just can’t wait to see another tribe to go tribal council! No more Matsing please!!!

Player of the week: Hmm, Penner, Denise, and Pete all made good/interesting moves this week, I’ll have to go with Penner for saving himself from a terrible situation.

Gotta stick with Skupin as the winner, but Lisa really rose for me this week. RC dropped big time and Penner also went up.

See ya next week.

Survivor Phillipines: Episode 1

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.

The Frontrunners

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.

 

Ranking the Survivor Winners

Another season of Survivor has come to an end. This one ended with Kim Spradlin coming out victorious, many people stating that Kim played the best game of all time, but where does she rank is my list of winners?

NOTE: I am more likely to rank people higher who take the game into their own hands rather than those who play a more subtle game. I think that every winner did what they had to in order to win, otherwise they wouldn’t have won, but there are some who just do it better than others. Those who make the decisions and control those around those rank higher than those who let others do the bidding for them.

24. Amber Brkich, All Stars: Amber didn’t deserve to be there in the first place and rode her anonymity to the finish. In Australia she paired up with Jerri, this time she picked Boston Rob. There was no difference in her strategy, this time she just was fortunate that she picked someone who would dominate so hard and would do so in such an embittering way.

23. Bob Crowley, Gabon: Bob had little idea what was happening for pretty much the whole game. He was on the very outside of the “onion alliance” only as a number. He was the least important so he stuck around, won a couple of immunities, and got lucky that Sugar just wanted to put on an interesting show. Bob did have some foresight, but as Randy said “there was nothing strategic” about his fake idols. He’s a nice guy, but didn’t actually do much to win.

22. Fabio Birza, Nicaragua: I like Fabio a lot, but there is little I can do to defend his game. This just shows that sometimes the best way to play is to not get your hands dirty at all. This is what Fabio did, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It is an interesting strategy to say ‘hey, I didn’t do anything’ but one that is very hard to replicate. He did have a solid alliance at one point (with Marty, Dan, and Benry) which is what puts him one ahead of Bob. His challenge run and final tribal speech were also impressive.

21. Natalie White, Samoa: I think Natalie may be better than people give her credit for. The Samoa jury still insists that she played Russell the entire time and there has got to be something to this. She may or may not have taken Russell knowing that she could beat him, I guess this is something we will never know. What we do know is that she certainly played a wonderful social game, making friends with them as Russell voted them out.

20. Vecepia Towery, Marquesas: At this point the winners left all really did a great job, and it is hard to rate Vecepia this low, because she was a great subtle player. She started off in the main alliance and when the tribes swapped she put her foot in both camps ready to go whichever way she had to (notice that she helped to vote Boston Rob out). When it got down to the final 4 she made deals with whomever she had to in order to ensure that she was in the finals. Her moves weren’t obvious and she never was at the top of the decision making and that is why she ranks here.

19. Danni Boatwright, Guatemala: Danni was the last person remaining in her alliance and rather than give up, she slowly formed bonds with those at the top. She helped to convince them that the others were more threatening than herself and then went on to win the final immunity taking Stephanie, who she knew she could beat. Her and Vecepia’s stories are very similar so really they could flip flop at any time.

18. Sandra, Heroes vs. Villains: Sandra started out in a majority alliance (with Rob, Tyson, Courtney, Coach, and Jerri) of which she probably would have done well if it hadn’t fallen apart. After Tyson and Rob had been voted out she manipulated Russell to get rid of Coach and then even helped vote out Courtney. When she got to the merge she remained in a place that was open to the Heroes to use her, but also loyal to the Villains which lead her to the finals with nobody hating her.

17. Sandra, Pearl Islands: Sandra essentially played the same way both times. She started in the majority, that alliance fell apart, she snuck through as the big threats got voted out and then made deals to get her to the finals. I thought her first season was a little better because she planted seeds in people’s heads to make them paranoid about everyone but her. She is an under the radar player, but one who really does understand the game and uses that to her advantage.

16. Jenna Morasca, The Amazon: I used to really dislike Jenna as a winner, but I’ve begun to come around on her. Her personality was annoying on the island, but her gameplay not too bad. She wasn’t a crazy strategist, but placed herself in great spots. She started off by forming an alliance with Deena, Shawna, and Heidi and later evolved that into adding Rob and Alex. Sure she wasn’t the one making it all happen, but she was a part of it all. Her most introspective move was giving up immunity to Heidi, knowing that Rob wanted to keep her until the final 2. She also won 4 immunities, especially when she had to.

15. Aras Baskauskas, Panama:Aras really is the perfect middle of the road winner. He became an integral part of his alliance and worked into the top of it. He made sure he did the right things, but never stood out as a master strategist. He was good at everything, but not really great. He was likable and did exactly what he had to, luckily for him there were no big obstacles for him to overcome.

14. Ethan Zohn, Africa: Ethan was the perfect nice guy winner. He was always #2 in his alliance and took the lead when Lex was gone. He made sure to be involved in all the decision making, but kept his relationships strong whilst Lex was busy telling people how to vote and squabbling over who voted for him. He is the kind of guy who anyone would never really have a good reason to vote off and he used this to his advantage.

13. Sophie Clarke, South Pacific: Sophie is an extremely intelligent player, but was forced to play under the radar due to the circumstances of her season. Her ability to adapt shows her strength as a player, but unfortunately she wasn’t able to show just how good she was (also due to the edit likely). I hope she plays again so we can see just how good of a player he actually is.

12. Parvati Shallow, Micronesia: It’s hard to rank her this low, but it is also hard to know how much of the work she actually did. She was working with 2 of the strongest female players to ever play (in Amanda and Cirie) and yes she beat the both of them, but she also worked alongside them. She certainly is a great player, but it’s hard for me to budge on anyone else.

11. Tina Wesson, Australia: I think Tina understood how to play the game just as well as anyone the first couple of seasons, but wasn’t given the edit that others were given. Perhaps they wanted to preserve her “motherly” image, but she was willing to cut people’s throats like no other. She was the one who decided who would go and if it had been Colby making the decisions I don’t even think he would have made the finals.

10. Christ Daugherty, Vanuatu: I really think that Chris played hard from the start. He lost the 1st immunity challenge for the guys, but played it off as no big deal while forming the “Fat five” alliance. The most impressive thing was the bonds he made with each player. He did so to the effect that he was able to later use these to overcome being the sole guy against 6 women to win. Some people (like Troyzan this season) see the game as a chess board with people to move around, but haven’t formed the relationships to carry out their plans. Chris understood that he needed solid relationships to make people do what he wanted. He used his social abilities to come back and win.

9. JT Thomas, Tocantins: I think that JT’s reputation has gone down since his stint on Heroes vs. Villains so I think a rewatch is in order for him. Whether it was he or Stephen making all the decisions, he still is probably the most likable Survivor of all time. His 9-0 win over a perfectly competent opponent proves this. He won challenges, played the likable Souther boy, and at least had Stephen to help him make moves.

8. Yul Kwon, Cook Islands: It feels so strange to have him this low as he really is one of the best to ever play. Really 6-12 are all interchangeable. Yul played like a diplomat. He took all the high flying personalities around him and stood in the middle of them in order to form compromises and order. He knew exactly what to do in each situation and was competent in every aspect of the game.

7. Richard Hatch, Borneo: Richard figured it all out. He decided to get a group to vote together and figured out which group would be the best to have to be successful. He worked hard to keep that group together and did other things like provide fish in order to make him a necessity around camp. His understanding of people and his willingness to throw that final challenge is what makes him an elite player 23 seasons later.

6. Earl Cole, Fiji: Earl ran the show from day 1 in Fiji. Bringing together the right people and making sure he was always in the know. He sent out other people to bring him back information so he was always being filled in. He teamed up with Yau Man to strategize and unlike so many others was willing to sacrifice his best friend in a way that allowed him to win at the end. Earl commanded the game without ever being obvious, he was physical enough without being a threat, and was likable without seeming like an obvious jury threat.

5. Todd Herzog, China: Todd played the game that any superfan strategist would want to play. He came in and got his pawns always thinking two steps ahead of everyone else. He was always thinking of how to get ahead maybe better than anyone else. He was known as the sneaky strategist to everyone yet still held enough clout to get to the end. He used the bitter jury effect to his advantage and then gave the best jury speech of all time. He lacked physically and kind of lucked out that he was on an extremely physical tribe in a season full of physical challenges.

4. Brian Heidik, Thailand: Brian played an emotionless game. He kept everyone where he had to and made friends with just enough people. He had a purpose with each person there and never let annoyances or conflict get in the way of playing the game. Some argue that he barely beat Clay, a scapegoat, as an argument against him, but I say that he cultivated as many relationships as he had to in order to win. When he needed Shi-Ann he buddied up with her. He was liked by everyone in his alliance (who all voted for him to win) and to seal the deal he made a friendship with Jake, one that was the determining vote for him.

3. Kim Spradlin, One World: Every move that Kim made was intentional. Every conversation she took part in was “to get her hooks” into people. She set herself up so well that no matter what happened she was in a good position. Not only was her strategic game great, but she dominated physically and formed such great bonds with people that she dominated the vote 7-2-0 against two very competitive and likable people.

2. Tom Westman, Palau: There were only 3 times this season where Tom could have been voted out. Other than this he was immune at every single tribal council. Nobody else (no not even Ozzy) has been able to match this. If you wanted to make a move against him, you couldn’t because he was immune. Plus he was at the head of the main alliance (with Ian, Katie, Gregg, and Jenn) and the sub-alliance within it (with Ian and Katie). The thing that he nailed though was his relationship with Caryn, which prevented him from going when the girls started plotting against him and Ian.

1. Boston Rob Mariano, Redemption Island: Rob played everything picture perfect. With each move he made he controlled how his group would think and react and this allowed him move around whichever way he had to. From getting rid of those who would threaten him or pair up at the start to creating a culture of fear within his group so that none would turn against him. His “buddy system” was ingenious and to top it off he won all the challenges he needed to. Perfect game.

Ranking the Survivor Seasons

The 24th season of Survivor has come to an end with Kim Spradlin taking home the win in a 7-2-0 vote. Kim absolutely dominated this game strategically, socially, and physically, something which I thought was extremely fun to watch. Going back to regular format (and not redemption island) made this season a breath of fresh air for me and each episode brought the excitement that Survivor is known to bring.

It was almost as if the editors gave us the strong woman winner we’ve been waiting for and decided to do it no holds barred. People complained that Sophie didn’t get enough air time last season, well Kim was the opposite. The final 5 were all women, so the editors were probably like ‘crap, we actually have to show at least one of them!’

I like Kim a lot and hope to hear and see a lot more from her in the future.

Instead of doing a big strategy recap (as Kim just destroyed everything) I am going to rank all 24 Survivor seasons from worst to best.

It should be known that some seasons I didn’t watch live (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 17, 18) but went back and watched them after they aired where I already knew who the winner was. This gave me a different way of viewing the season (why …. won) so I may have a different perspective than some of you on them. Some I have watched both live and again afterward (6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15) and some I have only seen live week-by-week (16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24).

SPOILERS ALL OVER THE PLACE!!!

24. Redemption Island-The worst season due to its complete lack of drama. Sure Boston Rob played a perfect game and it was fun to watch him do it, but thinking about players like Steve, Mike, Julie, Natalie, and Ashley just makes me want to fall asleep. Matt made the Redemption Island twist interesting at first and Phillip always stirred the pot, but really there is little to redeem it.

23. All Stars-Watching the greats go at it was cool when they were in it, but a final with Jenna Lewis, Rob Mariano, and Amber Brkich is not what anybody wanted to see. It started as great fun, but turned into an oppressively angry and bitter season of Survivor. Post merge was not only kind of boring, but each person was so angry to be voted out that it sucked all the fun out of it.

22. Thailand-I really liked Brian, thought he was fun to watch and an amazing player. I even liked Ted, Helen, and Clay, but the rest of the cast was boring and the season entirely too predictable.

21. Marquesas-I may be underrating this season a bit as there are some absolute game changing things that take place that changed Survivor. The final 9 vote where John gets taken down by Paschal and Neleh flipping was one of the greatest moments ever and the first time anybody had really flopped. This was Boston Rob’s debut and Sean was hilarious throughout, but the 3 weeks where Zoe, Tammy, and the General get voted out was just so boring. Vecepia is underrated as well, but just overall not that thrilling, just like this season.

20. Nicaragua-This is a season where everything that is supposed to happen happens. Anyone who complains about people at the bottom never taking out those at the top should not complain about this season, because that is exactly what happened. They got rid of big threats like Brenda and Marty early on, letting the underdogs make it to the end and eventually letting someone who did little win the million dollars. The underdogs were also not that exciting which is why this ranks so low.

19. Gabon-There are a lot of solid characters and big moments throughout this season. I loved watching Kenny sneak and maneuver and the “onion alliance” was pretty solid gameplay-wise. Despite how entertaining the beginning was, I cannot rank it higher because of how terrible the final 4 was. I don’t think that any of them would have been satisfying winners and it was such a disappointment to watch them make it that far.

18. South Pacific-Redemption Island was even more unbearable the 2nd time around, but the cast for this season was pretty solid. Coach, Sophie, and Albert all played great games, making for a very competitive final 3 and John Cochran deserves to be ranked among the great Survivor characters. His move is really what saved this season from being a complete disaster as it added excitement that we had not season since Heroes vs. Villains.

17. Palau-A lot of people really loved this season because of the awesome location, challenges, and likable winner, but looking back who can you remember in this season? Do you remember anyone besides Tom, Ian, and Stephanie? Anyone in the ill-fated Ulong tribe? Sure one tribe destroying the other is a kinda cool factoid, but leads to nothing dramatically post-merge. Overrated by the masses.

16. One World-I think I might be a bit biased on this one. For one, there was no redemption island which automatically made there be so much more drama within each episode than the past two seasons, causing much more excitement. The other reason I’m biased is that I cheered for Kim from the very first episode, hoping that she would win. When I saw that she was capable of this (which I started saying on episode 2), I jumped completely on her bandwagon, so it was very satisfying to watch her absolutely decimate the competition. Kim played the exact way I would want to play if I was out there (and certainly better). This one will probably sink a little when the Kimsanity dies due to lack of surprise, but I honestly did feel tension throughout each episode.

15. Panama-This might be the funniest season in Survivor history. The Casaya tribe is the most dysfunctional yet successful tribe in Survivor. Courtney, Shane, Bruce, Aras, and Danielle all fighting with each other with Cirie providing hilarious commentary makes for a great season. Casaya’s success has got to be one of the great storylines. Aras and Danielle were a kind of disappointing final 2 compared with all the other options, but the humor makes it great.

14. Guatemala-I really loved most of the cast on this one. Players like Brian, Gary, Amy, Judd, and Brandon were all really fun to watch. There were a couple of epic blindsides, one of which resulted in the best post-voteout reaction ever (“I hope you all get eaten by a frikkin’ crocodile”). Danni was a subtle winner, but rewatching it, you can certainly see that she is deserving.

13. Cook Islands-Yul the diplomat defeated Ozzy the challenge beast in one of the most deserving finals ever. Yul’s overpowered idol lead to a lack of drama late in the season, but it certainly caused some great moments with Jonathan’s flip at the merge. Cheering on the Aitutaki 4 after Candice and Jonathan’s mutiny was extremely fun and satisfying when they remained as the final 4.

12. Africa-Extremely likable cast, I think I would have been satisfied if any of the final 9 had won. Big Tom gave us some of the funniest moments ever, Lex was a control freak who was extremely successful, and Ethan was the laid back dude who made sure things went his way when they had to, leading him to victory. I would have to say this was the harshest location Survivor has ever had, probably leading to a more boring camp life than usual. The season is also pretty straight forward, which is why it isn’t higher.

11. Samoa-Russell Hantz helped bring me into Survivor superfandom. At this point I am tired of all the hoopla surrounding him, but his first season he was extremely fun to watch. He approached the game in an all-in fashion and in a way I had rarely seen before (sabotaging your tribe!? Brilliant!). 3 seasons and a nephew later it feels really old, but at the time it certainly felt like a new, unique, and viable way of playing. Those first few post-merge weeks were as exciting as they come as the Foa Foa magically worked their way from 4 down to taking 4 of the final 5 spots. I think that Natalie worked as a winner, though it definitely was a little disappointing.

10. Australia-The first half of this season is really fun and exciting. Mike is goin’ all crazy, Alicia is waving her finger around, and Jeff Varner is providing the best commentary we’d seen in Survivor. After the merge it gets pretty boring (I blame Jeff’s being voted out as part of this) and the editors chose to show the absolute minimum strategy talk possible. I understand that the show has shifted nowadays and that back then they wanted to show more of their life on the island than the game aspect, but they could show us a little as to why they’re voting the way they are! At the final 6 Amber looks to be somewhat in the majority alliance, only to be voted out with little mention as to why! Even Colby didn’t vote for her! What conversations took place to make this happen? It’s frustrating. I think Tina would be considered a far better winner if there was more strategy shown. She totally controlled and outplayed Colby, but it just wasn’t shown.

9. Heroes vs. Villains-This was a great season, with the most epic of returnees being brought back to compete against each other. The theme was perfect and added interesting dynamics to how the season played out. There were some moments that will go to live on forever in Survivor lore (Tyson flopping to vote himself out, JT giving up the idol, Parvati playing 2 idols) and that’s what makes it great. What doesn’t make it great is the huge number of Hidden Immunity Idols. Now I am a proponent of the hidden idol; I think that it adds tons of excitement and gives those at the bottom a chance to keep playing. But when they put 5 idols into one season, it is a little over the top.

8. Fiji-Oh the most hated of seasons is one that I really enjoy watching. I find the characters so entertaining and it endlessly dramatic. There were quite a few people out there truly playing the game, leading to moves and countermoves in each episode. Earl played such a wonderful game leading his group of people without any of them knowing it. Yau Man was one of the best characters the show has ever had, making fake idols before it was cool to do it. The Four Horsemen actually were all pretty competent if you go back and watch, but it is oh so fun to watch their downfall. Sure there are a couple of dumb twists (like Michelle’s boot), but I find it hugely entertaining in so many aspects.

7. Borneo-The very first one will always be a top 10 season. I think most of its merits are nostalgia-based and a lot of what happens is really not all that exciting or well edited, other than because it’s the first time its ever happened. All that said, it probably is the best cast they’ve ever had and that is not coming from rose-colored glasses. Each player out there is so unique and so special and there is not one that is boring. There are people from opposite walks of life forced to work together and figure it all out and that is what makes it a top 10 season. Plus Richard is wonderful to watch figuring it all out and move each piece that he needs to in order to win.

6. Vanuatu-I love Chris Daugherty and don’t really understand why he never became a popular Survivor player. I feel the same way about this entire season. From the start the votes are unpredictable (what you need from a good season) and it all pays off with the best (yes, the best) blindside in Survivor history at the final 7. Chris lied his way through the whole season and ended up winning it all despite this. He fought back as the only man, one who nobody considered a threat and took down the girl power alliance fronted by Ami and Leann. Players like Rory, Chad, and Sarge are all underrated and I also think that Twila is a great character, one I wish that they would’ve brought back (I’m looking at you Danielle Dilorenzo).

5. Pearl Islands-This season features the ultimate hero (Rupert) vs. the ultimate villain (Fairplay) in an epic battle, which at first makes it look like the hero has got it, but the villain emerges as victor (at least of the 2) in a way that I absolutely loved! When watching this season, my whole family cheered on lovable Rupert, but hated on sneaky Johnny Fairplay. But not I. No, I cheered for Fairplay as he made deals and broke them and jumped alliances and backstabbed people. I thought he was brilliant and to watch him blindside the season’s hero was the ultimate story for me. Not to mention, his lie about his grandma’s death is probably the most famous moment to ever happen in Survivor. We haven’t even talked about Sandra, who is the loudmouthed under the radar winner who perfected the “anyone but me” strategy in a great way.

4. Tocantins-This season has everything you could want from Survivor. It has crazy characters (Coach, Sierra), funny people (Tyson), likable players (JT, Brendan, Taj), strategy (Stephen), blindsides (Brendan followed by Tyson followed by Sierra followed by Debbie followed by Coach followed by Taj), drama, and in the end a great winner who made good alliances and dominated in challenges. If I were to create a season, this would be it.

3. China-If Borneo has the best cast, China has got to have the 2nd best one. Courtney, Denise, Todd, Amanda, Jean Robert, and James all were on the same tribe together, creating probably the best tribe in Survivor history (character wise). It was great watching Todd piece together his victory little by little making moves and manipulating whenever he had to, but it was also never obvious that he would win. Amanda was right there providing strategy along with him until she blew it on day 37 and screwed herself out of a million bucks. There are plenty of epic moments and great challenges and it really is so much fun to watch.

2. Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites-While both of the other all star seasons seemed to slow down after the first few episodes, this one only gained speed leading us to the most epic string of tribal councils to ever take place. From Eliza having a “f***ing stick”, to Ozzy getting blindsided with an idol to Jason being backstabbed to Amanda playing an idol to save herself, to Erik giving up immunity only to be got by the Black Widow Alliance there was no way you could watch and not love what was happening. Sure the fans were all kind of lame and some great favorites went early (Fairplay, Yau Man), but I wouldn’t change anything about what happens come merge time. Parvati proved herself as one of the best with her flirt to the top strategy and in doing so created the 2nd best Survivor season ever.

1. The Amazon-When I was a young boy, I had had a few experiences with Survivor but had never seen a full season. Come 7th grade my family decided to jump onto the bandwagon to watch Survivor: The Amazon. This is likely because it was men vs. women and I wanted to root for the guys to beat the girls (hey, I was a jr. higher). After watching the Amazon I was blown away! This season is for me what Borneo or Australia is to a lot of others. It was my first one and I am a nostalgic mess about it. I also think objectively, it still ranks as or among the best (check out other lists, it will almost always rank in the top 10). While Micronesia had the greatest string of episodes, I think Amazon had the 2nd best post merge episodes. It started with Rodger getting ousted in what is probably the funniest episode ever, then Deena got blindsided, then Alex got blindsided by his best pal, then Christy trying to make a power move also gets blindsided. The person behind all those blindsides? Rob Cesternino. Rob C. is my favorite Survivor player ever (and now he leads the reality tv related podcast Rob Has a Podcast which is great) and he changed the way that Survivor was played. Rather than sticking with his original alliance, he chose to flip and flop individually between several blocks of people in order to advance himself further. On top of his strategy prowess, he is also one of the funniest Survivors ever, feeding lines to the cameras whenever possible, but never in an insulting manner. The end result was disappointing (with Jenna defeating Matt), but as time goes on I am seeing Jenna as a better and better player (the only thing that holds her back was her desire to quit). The Amazon is and will probably always remain my favorite season.

Check back soon for my ranking of every Survivor winner.

Survivor: One World Episode 13

This week the editors let us on to a lot more than we had learned the previous few episodes.  While this ended up doing nothing to what we’ve been shown to be the power trio (Kim, Chelsea, Sabrina), it was still eye opening to the kind of game that both Kim and Alicia are playing. Tarzan tried his best to solidify himself as a final 3 contender, but in the end Kim had her way.

Alicia Does Have Some Skills

The girl’s alliance had been shown to be a solid group of 5 with Kim and Chelsea at the top and Christina at the bottom. This week Alicia was shown to be at the head of a different alliance, one featuring Christina, Tarzan, and the biggest surprise of all Kim. Strategically speaking Kim was not only at the head of 2 alliances, but 3. She truly has had her “hooks in everyone” (as she said during the tribe swap) and left her options open as much as possible.

While giving yourself several options to take is a great strategy, eventually it leads to a decision that will her whichever side you don’t pick. This week Kim was forced to pick between Chelsea/Sabrina and Alicia/Tarzan/Christina. On one side she chooses 2 girls who have been with her since day 1, knowing that if she breaks their trust it could lead to a bitter seed being spread throughout the jury. On the other, she goes along with 3 people who she will annihilate in the final jury vote. It’s kind of a lose-lose (or maybe win-win) for her.

Little does Kim know that both Tarzan and Alicia are starting to think of getting rid of her once they get rid of Chelsea. They will have 3 people in their alliance and either of them would have a good shot of beating the other and Christina in the final vote. With this prospect, the 3 do not look as dumb for not choosing to flop over with Troyzan who they would have no shot of beating at all if he were to make it to the finals. Alicia does have some savvy gameplay within her even if she is a bit delusional and overbearing at times.

Kim Always Gets Her Way

None of this is really too big of a problem for Kim however, as she devises a plan wherein everyone gets their way. She plays this absolutely brilliant and is not forced to make her toughest choice in the game (she said she would have voted Chelsea out if she had to). Instead, she convinces Alicia that Tarzan is playing the both of them and is actually trying to make it to the finals with Christina and Sabrina! She does this in a moment where she seems so full of genuine discovery, that she nearly convinced me she was telling the truth.

The edit made it seem like they might end up voting out Chelsea, but in the end, Kim was victorious and it was a 5-1 vote for Tarzan.

By revealing all this new information to us this week, the producers really did do a good job of keeping us on our toes. If we hadn’t seen such a strong edit all season for the Kim/Chelsea/Sabrina I might’ve 100% believed she was going to flop to the other side. I am sure that we will see this temptation appear again Sunday at the final 5, with Kim again being the swing vote (while simultaneously being at the head of each alliance. Amazing.).

Who’s Gonna Win?

I really believe it will come down to a Chelsea vs. Kim final in which the jury must decide between the girl who played with her heart (but at least showed her heart) against the girl who played all of them (but they might not really know).

My prediction for the finale is: Christina gets out 1st. Chelsea wins the final immunity and they choose to vote out Sabrina at 4. The final 3 is Kim, Chelsea, and Alicia. Kim wins in a 5-3-1 vote. The votes go this way: Jonas, Michael, Jay, Leif, Sabrina vote for Kim. Troyzan, Kat, Christina vote Chelsea. Tarzan votes for Alicia. I will be way off, but its worth a try.

If Kim wins, I think I would put her as the best female player in a season and maybe all time. If its Chelsea, she’s more middle of the pack. I don’t think it will be Sabrina or Alicia and it certainly won’t be Christina.

After the finale, I plan on doing a recap, as well as making lists ranking both the seasons of Survivor and the winners from worst to best.

Survivor: One World Episode 12

While watching Survivor this week, I didn’t feel very into it. To me, it didn’t matter who won the reward challenge or the immunity challenge or whether it would be Kat or Sabrina going home. For whatever reason, I didn’t feel connected to what was happening on screen. This is likely due to the lack of stakes for the one I’ve been cheering on all season: Kim. I felt no risk of her being voted out, thus I felt minimally involved with the action this week. (I try to watch it without too much of a bias, but at times it’s hard especially when one player is as strategy savvy as Kim)

This week strategically was out of the hands of our main strategy storyteller Kim, as for the first time she didn’t get exactly what she wanted. This also shows what a brilliant game Kim has been playing so that even when she doesn’t get what she wants, it still leaves her in a wonderful position. There is no way she goes, except for the off-chance she goes at the final 4. However even that is unlikely, as she is a huge threat to win immunity and no one seems wise enough to get rid of her then. Survivor is a numbers game and Kim couldn’t quite gain the numbers to get rid of who she wanted (Sabrina), but wisely adapted to the majority, rather than cause ruffles. Sure things would probably be better for her with Kat in the picture, they are not much worse for her now.

Christina and Tarzan are essentially playing the same game right now. One in which they try to survive anyway they can, vote by vote. They need to continue to paint others as more threatening than they, win a couple of challenges, and sneak their way into the finals. As we saw with Alicia tonight, people’s mindset can shift in an hour, causing them to make irrational decisions. Alicia started the episode paranoid about how good of a speaker Sabrina is and wanted to get her out. Later, after Kat placed 2nd in the challenge, she became paranoid about her and chose to get rid of her instead. If Christina or Tarzan goes on a 2 or 3 challenge run ( a la Fabio) this could stick in the jury’s mind and give them more credit (or votes) than they deserve.

Speaking of Alicia, she by far had the worst episode (except for Kat of course). Instead of voting out Sabrina, she chose to get rid of (what seemed like) one of her closest allies, someone who had just chosen to take her on the biggest reward of the season! Not only does she get rid of a close alliance mate whom she might have a chance of beating in the finals, but she almost guarantees that Kat won’t vote for her in a finals situation. Terrible gameplay on her behalf.

On the opposite end, Chelsea played the best of everyone this episode. Instead of Kim swaying her, she swayed Kim the way she wanted. She kept Sabrina around, someone who Kim doesn’t necessarily want around and will likely get rid of soon, instead of Kat, someone who had just taken Kim on a reward and who Kim was thinking of taking to the finals. In getting rid of Kat, Chelsea ensures that she remains Kim’s #1, and there is less temptation for Kim to not take her to the finals. Kat also seemed to be a better athlete than Sabrina, so really this is a bonus for Chelsea on any level. If anyone can beat Kim, I think Chelsea is the one to do it.

Also is it ever good to win an individual reward anymore? Especially the family visit? I don’t think that there is any good that can ever come from this and I would much rather roll the dice on if I get to go than be the one in charge.

There was very little made on the fact that the girls finally got rid of 1 of their original 5. Everyone just seemed to be okay with the fact that either Sabrina or Kat would go, something that is very surprising considering how much talk there has been about not flipping on the original 5. I guess they all figure it would happen eventually and why not at the final 7?

I still have this eery feeling that Kim will not be able to pull this off when it comes to the jury. If she doesn’t do it and for whatever reason loses to Chelsea or Sabrina, I really don’t know how I’ll take it. If she doesn’t win, then playing strategically and controlling the game in this manner becomes an inviable way to play. We will have to see how it plays out…

Next week’s episode I imagine will be pretty boring, but the finals should be exciting with everyone battling to see who will join Kim and Chelsea in the finals.