Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Survivor: Philipines, Post-Mortem

It has been my observation that the more returning players there are in the game, the crankier the jury seems to be.  I think returning players carry higher expectations.  They are also more likely to feel betrayed by the actions of other returning players who they might have had a previous relationship with.

Last season was a cast of all newbies, and the jury had been lied to like no other. But, because the Deceiver (Kim) was so dosh-garn nice about it, the jury couldn't find the will to punish her by voting for a more honest player. 

Sunday's jury was not nearly as accommodating for arguably much less deceitful players.  What exactly had Lisa or Skupin done that was so horrific?  Lisa was reasonably loyal to her tribe.  Skupin - less so, but they didn't even pretend to be loyal to him.  One could argue the worst betrayal in the game was Kent's attempt to backstab Penner.  Either way, Lisa and Skupin were much more honorable than Kim was last season.  They burned Malcolm in advancing to the final 3, but Kim burned EVERYONE except the people who made it to the final 3.

The one other jury member who had a legitimate gripe this go-around was Abi.  I thought Denise had been way too tough on her a few weeks ago.  Nevertheless, Abi wound up voting for her tormentor, while Skupin was being mocked by the likes of Kent and Penner.  It was the first time in Survivor history where a player was mocked for NOT getting any votes.

 Any jury with Artis and Kent on it is going to be cranky, so maybe the returning players had nothing to do with it - but that jury seemed unduly agitated.  And, don't forget that the most unruly jury in Survivor history was the one for All-Stars (ALL returning players).  Returning players are generally more entertaining, but they often become rotten apples, spoiling the barrel.  Anyway, Denise got a lot more support than I thought she would.  I'm not saying I didn't think she could win.  I just didn't think she would win so handily (6-1-1).  She did hide behind Malcolm and his idol.  I get the feeling Kent, Penner and Malcolm lobbied hard for Denise on Ponderosa - and it worked.
Bottom Line: that final 3 was much more ethical than an average final 3, but the jury seemed a tad more disagreeable than usual.  

Other Thoughts:

1.  Denise's opening statement was a bit arrogant.  I though it noteworthy, though, that she said she would make no apologies, and then apologized to Abi in the Q&A.  It might have gotten her another vote.

2.  I thought Penner had a good season and a bad tribal council.  You can make your points without resorting to name-calling (he called Denise a b*tch) or ridicule (he mocked Skupin that he wouldn't get any votes).  None of this was on par with Susan's infamous Snakes and Rats Speech from Season One or the temper tantrums Lex and Big Tom threw in All-Stars (I thought they were going to burn the set down, they were so ticked), nevertheless, Penner's antics came across as classless.  He recovered a bit in the Reunion Show.

3.  In the Reunion Show, Kent was asked about his Penner obsession and played dumb (unlike Abi, who showed a lot of humility, and acknowledged she had room to improve).  Instead, Kent decided to weasel out of the question.  What a creep.

4.  I'm glad Probst addressed the fact that he might have picked on Katie a little too much.  That was one of my pet peeves this season.

5.  I'm also glad Dawson was able to get one last (cringe-inducing) kiss in.

6.  Next season is another Fans vs. Favorites.  For those of you who never saw the first Fans vs. Favorites five years ago, the returning players absolutely dominated.  At times it was humiliating (Globetrotters vs. Generals-type humiliation).  I think part of the problem is the returning players were particularly capable, and the fans included two of the dumbest people ever to appear on American television (Erik and Jason).

7.  I get the feeling that Malcolm will be returning to Fans vs. Favorites.  The producers really sold him this season, even though he lost.  My instincts tell me he is not nearly as nice of a guy, or as good of a player, as the cut he got.  They have really sold players twice in the past (Rupert as superhero and Russell as supervillain), and both had been invited to return the very next season.  The producers were making sure they stood out to the audience in their own ways.  Furthermore, Jeff asked Malcolm if he would play again.  Jeff does that when he knows something.  One other point: Fans vs. Favorites has already been filmed, which means no one would know who Malcolm is.  I bet he did poorly.  When he was on stage in the Reunion Show, he looked like a guy who had lost twice.

8.  I hope the Favorites they bring back are all players who have appeared only once before.  I don't need to see multiple retreads.  I also hope they pull people from early seasons.  For example, I've always wanted to see Ian or Greg (from Palau) play again.  Heck, if you want to go old school, Greg from season 1 is one of my all-time faves.  But, they will probably rely on recent seasons (they've played 5 seasons since Heroes vs. Villains) so they should have a decent supply of one-timers from that player pool.  From last season, alone, they could take: Colton, Kim, Kat, Sabrina, Tarzan or Troyzan.  From the season before, they could take Russell's nephew (Brandon) and Woody Allen (Cochran).  From Redemption Island: Philip and Matt.  From Nicaragua: Marty, Fabio and Holly.  It looks like in the coming season it will be 10 Fans vs. 10 Favorites.  I hope they think outside the box when bringing back former players.  I don't need to see the kooks again (Phillip and Tarzan).  I'd much rather see the competent ones get another chance.

Overall, I thought it was an above-average season that ran out of steam towards the end.  Six on a scale of 1-10.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Survivor: Philipines, Going into the Finale

I don't have too much to say about the last two episodes.  Yes, they tried to create some drama about whether Lisa would break her word and blindside Malcolm.  I don't know if she would have, but it was made moot by his two immunity wins.  The bottom line is this: the final four alliance held.  It formed at seven, and methodically voted off Penner, Carter and Abi.

As for tonight, they all seem to think it will be three at the final tribal.  If so, how are they going to fill a two hour show?  Previous seasons that have had a final three, also had five survivors entering into the final episode.  It sounds like they are going to fill the hole with a reward challenge.  If so, the first hour tonight could really drag.  I'm guessing this is happening because of Dana's untimely exit.  They still had tribal council that episode (after many evacuations they don't).  Anyway, they probably didn't stretch things out, they instead decided to just have four at the end and an extra reward challenge.

If all this is true, there is only one immunity left.  If Malcolm wins that, he probably wins the game.   If he loses that, he's probably gone, and then the voting becomes more intriguing.  In that scenario, Lisa might become the favorite.  Bear in mind, though, Penner has probably told everybody at Ponderosa about her child star status, and that could effect voting.  Also, as I said a few weeks ago, I think Lisa might struggle answering the jury's questions.

Denise has to explain that she did more than hide behind Malcolm's idol.  She is articulate, so she has a shot to do that.

As for Skupin - I just don't think enough jurors respect him.  When Pete was trying to save himself, he said maybe Skupin will go for his plan because he doesn't think things through.  Pete said it matter-of-factly and rather cooly.  I got the feeling he wasn't the only one who thought that.  Roberta will probably vote for Skupin, and Lisa might, if she were on the jury.  But, I don't see where he'll get other votes from.  Abi? Penner? Artis? Kent?  I don't see it.  When he made that
pre-merge deal with Penner, his tribe went off on him (and looked like they had fun doing it).  Then, again, Skupin might have ultimately been the most likeable person out there.  And, if he's sitting next to Denise and Lisa, he might get votes.

All in all, it's a respectable final four.  Any one of them would be a legitimate winner.  Malcolm and Lisa have probably played the best games so far.  But, for some reason, I find myself rooting for Lisa and Skupin over Malcolm and Denise.  When I look at Malcolm, I see his early passivity when his tribe crashed and burned.  There is something charming about Skupin's cheerful innocence.  I look at Denise, and I see someone doing a job.  I look at Skupin and see someone on an adventure.  As for Lisa, I'm happy for her that she did so well.  

Odds of Winning:

45% Malcolm 

25% Lisa
20% Denise
10% Skupin

One last question: who will be the most excited person at tonight's reunion show?  The winner or Dawson (tonight she gets to see Probst again)?

Survivor: Philipines, Ep. 11

Well, I guess Kent is finally happy?
Penner really blew it.  Skupin and Lisa offerred him an alliance to the end and Penner inexplicably turned it down.  It was too soon, he said?  This is a three-time veteran making a rookie mistake.  Hasn't he been watching Lisa's game?  Once the Church Lady gives her word, there is no going back: she's voting the way Malcolm and Denise tell her to vote - er, she's voting with her alliance.  Period.
If Lisa liked Penner so much, couldn't she have done more than tell him to "work his magic."  Couldn't she have tried to persuade her alliance to vote Carter instead?  Just asking because it seems to me Lisa has a better shot to win without Penner in the game.  She said this is not about the money.  Whenever someone says that, it usually is about the money.  I'm not criticizing her, mind you.  But, she ain't Seinfeld.  I'm sure the Facts of Life money dried up a long time ago.  But, even if she doesn't need the check, winning would still be fun.  She's got to be thinking about that just a little - no?  Leaving the decision of who to vote next to her alliance absolves her of the guilt of voting Penner while advancing her in the game.  That is what we call a win-win.   
I thought Skupin might flip, but it would be almost impossible for him to win if he had (he would have betrayed most of the jury).  By staying loyal he still has a decent path to a victory.  He needs to win the immunity when they get to 4 and vote Malcolm out (Malcolm can't play the idol once you get to 4).  It would be him, Denise and Lisa in the final 3.  Skupin might be able to win that vote.      
Other Stuff:
- Congrats to Abi on showing some backbone.  She could have pigged out at the reward and gone home.  At least she fought.  She went in there determined to get the immunity advantage, and she won.  Of course, she was unable to build any goodwill after her agonizing confrontation with Penner about what went on at the previous tribal council.  I wonder why Abi chose to confront Penner instead of Denise, when it was Denise who had more harsh things to say the night before?  Is it because Abi realized Denise would destroy her a second time, whereas Penner might actually show some compassion? 
- Carter is showing some athletic prowess.  He has been very competitive in the challenges.  So, has Skupin.  Malcolm, not so much so.  I wonder if Malcolm is holding back a little because the idol is protecting him and he doesn't want to be seen as a physical threat? 
-  Carter can win.  It's feasible for him to win 2 of the last 3 immunities and find himself in the final 3.  He won't be much of a talker at final tribal - he'll need Kent and Penner to be his advocates.  But, it might work. 
- Lisa's window might be closing.  Many jury members don't like people who are complete slaves to their alliance.  They don't like being told 'I only voted you out because I gave my word to the alliance.'  They usually wind up voting for the decision makers.  I think Lisa is losing votes.  
Odds of winning:

32% Malcolm    (I think you leap-frogged Denise this week and are now the favorite)
28% Denise    (You need to explain to the jury you did more than hide behind Malcolm's idol)
16% Skupin    (I had my doubts, but I'm starting to think you might be able to win)
14% Lisa    (I think you would struggle in the final tribal)
08% Carter    (Win challenges)
02% Abi    (Everytime I start to feel sorry for you, you say something atrocious)  

Survivor: Philipines, Ep. 10: Schadenfreude

It looks like I'm going to sneak this review in just in the nick of time.
Last week, Pete made the only argument he could make (you need me to flush Malcolm's idol).  Nobody bought it, and he went home.  Though, I have to admit, it took a lot of guts for Malcolm not to play his hidden idol.  He was told explicitly that his name was being discussed, and he knew it would take only one to flip.  I think I might have played it.
The immunity challenge was fun, and I think Carter got a huge advantage from winning the reward (and calories) the day before.  Otherwise, I think Skupin would have pulled it out.
As for Abi's tribal council tearfest, there are a couple of lessons to be learned.  First, never get into a debate with a therapist/psychiatrist about your personal shortcomings when they are ticked with you.  You will never win that exchange.  These people referee those type of arguments all day long.  They know every trick of the trade.  They will go for the jugular.  They know how.  And, they'll do it while seeming to be the only reasonable person in the room.  You can't win.
Denise really laid into Abi.  In some ways I thought it was gratuitous.  I'm no Abi fan, and I don't know what it would be like to be out there with her for weeks on end.  But, did she really need to methodically dissect her like Hannibal Lecter?
Probst threw Abi a couple of life preservers ("maybe it is because English is your second language," "maybe it's cultural"), but Denise swatted those away like Kent playing slow-pitch softball.  Denise is a therapist, she has heard every smear ever levied by one spouse on another.  She could knock down Probst's defenses after only two days on the job.  Meanwhile, the Director of Economic Development in Brasilia must have been pulling his hair out after Probst had so casually smeared the culture and reputation of his homeland.  Who would want to invest in a country full of 200 million Abis? 
I'm not saying Abi is a sympathetic figure.  But, once you get someone crying like that, you can call off the dogs.  Denise eventually did, but only after she had pushed it a little further than was necessary.  Denise wanted to do it - not because it would help her in the game.  It was revenge.
Other stuff:
-  Why did Penner tell Lisa it was too early to make a four-person alliance?  What is he waiting for?  He's still a major target, why would he turn down that offer?
-  Skupin is worried about Malcolm at the end.  He should be.  Frankly, Skupin has really limited options.  I don't think much of his former tribe will vote for him (except for Roberta, and maybe Lisa).  Artis, Abi, Pete - I think those votes are lost to Skupin.  He'd beat Abi, and maybe, Carter in a jury vote.  He's in the wrong final four alliance.
Odds of winning:

25% Denise 
22% Malcolm
16% Lisa
13% Skupin
12% Penner
09% Carter 
03% Abi  

Enjoy tonight's episode!