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.


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.