Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites II, Ep. 2

This episode's immunity challenge presented an example of another advantage the Favorites have over the Fans - personnel management. 

The Favorites have seen each other play before (except for Malcolm), and know everyone's strengths and weaknesses (which might explain why Malcolm is still closing - his tribemates haven't seen his season yet, so they are just learning that he can't close).  Anyhow, it didn't matter.  In addition to the inherent disadvantage of not yet knowing their tribemates' strengths and weaknesses, the Fans do not know how to communicate, Shamar threw a tantrum during the discussion regarding assignments, so they wound up with the wrong people on the wrong tasks.  They had three men pulling the raft (
Shamar could have pulled the raft single-handedly), which was the least important leg of the challenge (something the Favorites knew, which is why they hid Cochrane there).  Instead, they should have included at least one of their top male athletes on the diving team (the Favorites wisely chose Erik).  Men have up to 50% more lung capacity than women and can hold their breath much longer, which is why men have dominated diving throughout the history of Survivor.  (Has any of these so-called Fans seen the show before?).  Of the three women they did send diving - only Sherri showed any effort.  I'm not sure the other two could swim.  It was a complete disaster.

As for the vote, the cool kids seemed overly nonchalant about the strength of their alliance outside of their core four.  They knew they were alienating themselves with their cliquish behavior, so you'd think they would try to work more angles then they did.  Eddie looked generally surprised by the vote - did he really think their strategy was a slam dunk because Shamar misbehaved in camp?  Why would someone agree to be the 5th or 6th wheel to an ultra-tight four-person alliance?

Allie might have spoken fewer words on air than anyone ever to play Survivor.  She had some spirited closing remarks after getting booted, but before that we hardly saw her say anything.  Reynold told her Matt's voting with them, and I guess she thought it was enough.  Passive.
Laura called the four-person alliance the "pretty people".  There was real contempt in her voice, as if they were making her feel like she was in the loser clique in high school.  Laura is attractive and bright, therefore, if the core four was making her feel that alienated, they must have been sending out horrible vibes.  Of course, Laura might also have a chip on her shoulder, but I'm guessing this was more of the alliance's fault seeing as Laura wasn't the only one complaining.

All tolled, outside of the core four, this tribe is not communicating well.  Shamar is not a leader and can't be lead.  They are making horrible assignments at challenges.  There is a distinct mistrust and anger within the tribe, and a lot of this can be attributed to the main alliance.  And, I'm not sure the problem can be fixed.

The bottom line is this: Survivor is a social game, and every member of that four-person alliance is guilty of atrocious game play.  They are also guilty of atrocious arithmetic.  When you have ten people in your tribe, you need SIX people in your alliance.  Four people and two afterthoughts do not equal six.  The afterthoughts (if they know they are afterthoughts, which this group made clear) will not be loyal.  A four-person alliance with two afterthoughts is still a four-person alliance.

Allie, we hardly knew you, but you deserved to go.  

Other thoughts:

-  Laura calling out Reynold's idol helps Reynold - no?  Isn't Reynold better off now that everyone knows he has it without announcing it himself, which could sound like bragging?

-  Brandon, calm down.  You're acting like a friggin' lunatic.  You're only 21.  You have your whole working life ahead of you, and you're making yourself unemployable.  Who the heck would ever hire you after the way you've been acting?  Shamar has been a loudmouth, but it's partly for show.  You're serious.  You're not acting.  That's what's scary about it.

-  Two people this episode (Brandon and Michael) made the argument that it was somehow cruel to vote Francesca out first.  I don't buy it for one second.  I'm not saying there aren't any ethics in Survivor, I just don't think they include giving Francesca a free pass the first vote.  No one owed her anything.  The people who suggest they did owe her something are asserting a false moral superiority.  I was not impressed by it.

This was a pretty good episode when you consider there was only one challenge.  I'm enjoying the season thus far.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites II, Ep. 1

In the original Fans vs. Favorites, the returning players completely dominated.  There were three key elements: the returnees were a strong group; they had existing relationships; and the quality of the Fans was atrocious (so atrocious that this season marks the first time any of that group of ten Fans has returned, and Erik's claim to fame is pulling one of the dumbest moves in the history of the game).  So, the first Fans vs. Favorites turned into the Globetrotters vs. the Generals.

This incarnation feels more like Fans vs. Misfits.  There are a lot of low quality players returning.  When Probst was introducing them as they came off the chopper, I got the feeling the Fans didn't know who some of them were (I heard crickets when Corinne was introduced).  Therefore, having won the first immunity challenge, should we give the Fans more of a chance?

I'm reminded of a scene from the classic sitcom, Taxi.  Tony's brakes fail and he almost gets into an accident.  He storms into the garage furious with management over their cavalier regard to driver safety.  The other drivers vote Tony shop steward - he meets with Louie, and totally blows it (Louie manipulates him into doing nothing).  The drivers recall him as shop steward and open the floor to new nominees. 

Jim:  I nominate Tony!
Alex: Jim?!?!? Why would you nominate Tony?
Jim:  Alex, there is no substitute for experience!

And, that kind of sums up how I feel about the returning players.  Yes, some of them were terrible, but I've seen many people improve significantly in their second appearance.  Yes, they lost immunity, but they dominated both challenges (it's just that Malcolm couldn't close the immunity challenge - something he was prone to doing last season).  I still believe the Favorites/Misfits will be stronger long-term.

But, there are warning signs.  I thought Brandon could improve his second time out, but he looks shaky.  He's repeating his same antics from his first season, i.e., targeting strong women he is attracted to (Mikayla last time, Andrea last week).  He has no father figure to lead him this time the way Coach did last (unless you count Phillip, who needed his own shepard in Boston Rob when he played).  Brandon is talking about pulling a "Hantz" and seeding chaos.  I'm not sure what that gets him.  Why doesn't he emulate his uncle and find a hidden immunity?  Just a thought.

Francesca deserved to go.  If you're aim is to get revenge in your first vote, it will blow up in your face (see the Chinese proverb: before seeking revenge, dig two graves).  There was no subtlety to what she was doing.  They came back from the challenge and she immediately told 5 people to vote Philip.  Awkward.

I'd still bet on the Favorites in the long-term, but it was a bad start for them:

Other thoughts:

-  Was it in Philip's contract that he can only return if he wears the pink/purple undies?  The producers must have insisted on that?

-  Why is Chochran sunburned?  I'm pretty sure they get lotion.

-  Erik, I'm sorry Phillip intimidated you about having the numbers.  Get over it.  It's part of the game.  He made you an offer you couldn't refuse, and you refused it.  Fine.  You're allowed to.  Stop whining about it ("he didn't eve give me a choice...").  Did you want his offer to include an option where you could vote him out?  Exactly what choices did you want Phillip to offer? 

-  I think Cochran might be a lot stronger this time around.  He's still doing the Woody Allen schtick, but he doesn't seem as scared as he was before.

-  When I close my eyes while Eddie is speaking, I hear the voice of Dan Ennis' old roommate, Jeff (if you don't know who Jeff is, kindly disregard).

-  Shamar is a showboat.  He manipulated that whole water/shelter thing to look like the hero.  It won't work.  I don't have confidence in him to go deep.

-  The 4-person alliance of the cool kids among the Fans is likely doomed.  That strategy has rarely worked.  These people want to play some deserted island dating game - have it on TV - and then go home and enjoy the 15 minutes.  This is one of the reasons I'm skeptical about the Fans - between those 4 and Shamar, they have a lot of questionable players.

Overall it was a good episode.  They jumped right into a challenge and it never dragged from there.  Malcolm's failures in clutch spots is something to watch.  We'll see what happens in week 2.