Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites II, Ep. 5 & 6

It's been a while since I posted something.  I think it's because: (a) I though the last few episodes have been below average, and (b) I don't have too much to say about them.
Brandon is a deeply disturbed person, but his histrionics seemed a tad staged to me.  I'm not saying he isn't a tortured individual.  I'm not saying he doesn't lack self-control.  But, the whole thing seemed a little forced.  Brandon didn't lose control.  Brandon decided to act like he had lost control.
Brandon's first time on Survivor was a mess.  He played a very confused game.  Was he playing to win?  For honor?  For Jesus?  Or, as Coach's pawn?  It was hard to tell.  When he got back home, he was criticized from all angles for blowing it.  When he came out the second time, I don't think he knew what he wanted to do.  He didn't have a game plan or father-figure to lean on.  He was outside the main alliance.  He felt vulnerable.  He crumbled.  He went looking for a reason to be the center of attention for an episode and get the heck out.  Frankly, it's a pathetic way to quit.  Brandon might be the author of his own fate but only a lunatic would write such a script.
After the Brandon meltdown, Corinne made a crucial observation.  She realized that no one defended or comforted her or Phillip after they had borne the brunt of Brandon's diatribes.  I'm not saying the tribe defended Brandon, I'm just saying Corinne and Phillip didn't get much personal sympathy and that should be a major red flag that they are not particularly liked.  We'll see if Corinne will use this realization to her advantage and sniff out a blind-side in the nick of time.  My hunch is she won't and will have a meltdown.  For those looking to eliminate Corinne, my advice is to do it before she gets on the jury.
I have a gripe with how they reshuffled the tribes.  I had no problem with making sure both tribes were going to be 4-3 majority-Favorites.  I think it would be unfair to shuffle and have some Favorites in a minority.  The Favorites had rightly earned to be in a dominant position.  My problem, though, was that the rest of the allocation was random and the next challenge was incredibly physical.  Whenever you have a random allocation, you risk creating significantly mismatched tribes (which happened here).  I think it's fairer to have a more strategic or knowledge-based challenge.  Instead, they ran one of the most physical challenges in the show's history, and next week's challenge looks just as tough.  I have no idea why they are doing it like this, but I don't like it.  I want competitive challenges not blowouts.
Next week's preview showed Malcolm possibly aligning with Reynold.  Alliances like that make sense early on (strong men do better when aligned to strong men), but I think it's too late for that now.  How does Malcolm expect to win a jury vote if he betrays the Favorites?  Has he been keeping track?  The whole jury is going to be made up of Favorites - they already outnumber the Fans 8-5!  Hopefully, the preview was misleading.
One last point - since I criticized the producers I should say they were right to give both tribes a bag of rice after Brandon dumped his.  Rule #1 of Survivor is that you can't hit another contestant, so how exactly are you supposed to restrain someone from dumping your food supply?  Giving both tribes a bag seemed like a fair solution.
Here's to tomorrow's episode being more fun than the last two!  (Then again, even a bad episode of Survivor is still better than almost anything else on TV!) 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites II, Ep. 4

I'm going to squeeze in a short review of last week's debacle.

It's now clear that Sherri's plan to drag Shamar to the Final 3 was pure fantasy.  He was never going to make it.  I'm not denying he was legitimately hurt, but he's the first Survivor to hurt himself while laying in the tent.  I think this guy was going to get medically evacuated at some point no matter what.  I've seen abrasive people make it to the end, but it is very rare for people who won't get out of the tent to make it to the end.  I thought the love his alliance showed him last week would pick him up, instead he used the leverage to get Sherri to bring him his meals.  Atrocious.

Shamar single-handedly blew the reward by lying on the platform and telling people to stand on his back.  That is incredibly inefficient.  If they had won the reward, the protein from the chicken dinner might have pushed them over the top in the immunity challenge.  Instead, they lost both challenges and two people.  T
he decision to keep Shamar over Hope steamrolled into a disaster.

Seeing as Sherri engineered this debacle, it's fitting that she now appears to be on the bottom of her alliance, if not her tribe.  Her defense of Laura ("we haven't been winning any challenges anyway") was rightly rejected - even Julia wanted to side with the guys.  Sherri voted with them because she had no choice.

The Fans are down 9-6, have no idol and there's no sign of a re-mix of tribes.  They need the Favorites to implode, and luckily for them, Mount Brandon is close to erupting.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites II, Ep. 3

I've been the commissioner of a fantasy baseball league since 1999.  There is one owner who has quit the league at least four times. 

It's the same formula: he has a heated argument (often with multiple owners), he loses, and then he quits.  I wait a while, and then I get an owner who wasn't really in the argument to e-mailhim and tell him everyone in the league wants him to come back.

It has always worked.  Four times he has quit, four times he has returned.  Every couple of years, he needs the league to show him a little love.  He's our Shamar.

After the Fans lost immunity, there was no talk of giving Shamar what he wanted and voting him out.  Shamar didn't ask for it either.  All that had been said the day before had been forgotten.  Once Shamar heard from the ladies in his alliance that they wanted him to stay, the quit-talk was over.  I say "the ladies", because I don't think Shamar
cares what Matt or Mike thinks.  Matt had his run-in with Shamar on Day 1 and right before the last challenge Mike offered to slap hands with Shamar as a good luck gesture and got totally dissed.

Obviously, I think things aren't right with the alliance and Shamar has major problems in his immediate future.  He had a decent idea hinting to Hope to vote for Eddie, but the execution was awful.  It was too cryptic for Hope to figure out what he meant, and it got back to his alliance and caused a panic in Laura, who was already sick of him ("the part of Shamar that was fun is completely gone").  With Mike and Matt not having much of a relationship with Shamar, how long can Sherri protect her "Phillip"?  Boston Rob protected Phillip to the Final 3 because he reasonably controlled him.  I don't think Sherri can control Shamar.  Phillip would never go against a BR order and plant ideas in the head of the next person going home.  Phillip would never disrespect a member of the alliance.  Sherri might be forced by her alliance to let Shamar go or lose her alliance altogether.

Other Thoughts:

- Brandon has been handed a gift, and he can't see it.  Because he (deservedly) earned a reputation for loyalty in his first season, the main alliance might replace Corinne with him.  But, Brandon is suspicious of the messenger (Andrea) and the fact that they might be trying to placate him because he threatened to pee in the rice.  He has a reasonable suspicion on that last point, which is why you shouldn't go around threatening to pee in the rice.  His wild talk has created the situation that he finds himself in - one where the alliance's offers might be reasonably tainted.  Great gameplay, Brandon!  You've given everyone a reason to mislead you and a reason to distrust everything said to you!  Genius!

- Malcolm has been removed from the closer role (he did little of the tossing in the challenge) and found the idol.  He also has an alliance with an older woman who knows he has the idol.  It's identical to last season (except for the fact that his initial tribe is winning).  If there is going to be a war between Corinne and Andrea, and Corinne loses (which is probable), Malcolm can probably escape unscathed (I doubt he would give the idol to save Corinne).  I was very skeptical of his chances this time out, but he looks set to go deep into the game again.

-  I would like to know more about how close Laura was to bolting her alliance.

-  If Hope had understood Shamar's cryptic message and voted for Eddie, she'd still be in the game.

Good episode.  I'm liking this season.  I can't wait for the Andrea/Corinne collision and to see whether Brandon melts down and does something incredibly stupid.  Where's Coach when you need him?