Monday, December 19, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - FINALE in 15 seconds

Ohmigosh, what a momentous evening...!!! First of all, I had a prior engagement and couldn't watch the finale live. Then, the show started 30 minutes late, and my friend didn't set the live reunion show to TiVo, so the recording stopped literally right before the Final Three were revealed. So I took a cab home, and decided to wait for CBS to put the show up online... and in the meantime, recorded an initial 15s reaction at that point:

Then... when I finally got to watch the remaining 30 minutes... WOW! I'm so happy for Sophie! I love her, but I seriously can't believe she pulled it off. I knew she'd make it to the Final Three - or at least thought she deserved it - but I thought Coach had this one in the bag... Or Ozzy, had he made it to the end.

I can't even begin to say how disappointed I am that Ozzy didn't make it... I really think he deserved it, and he used the resources he had, came back, had so much heart and such determination. It just slipped away. But, he did tweet that he'd make his million "the old fashioned way," and I hope he does!

As for Tribal Council, I thought Cochran and Edna were both awesome and said just the right things. That's the first time I've actually liked Edna in the game, and what she said is the one thing I really reproached her: she wasn't aware enough that the whole point of the game was to be duped. As for Cochran, he said exactly what I thought, and voted for whom I would have voted had I been in the Jury. So... Shoutout to you, Cochran! :)

Here are my 15s post revelation of the winner... And I'll write a final South Pacific blog post this week! One thing I will say now: I was SO invested in this season, it was insane. It wasn't perfect, but I loved it all the same and I'm sad it's over. Looking forward to February 2012!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode 13 in 15 seconds

An exciting episode and evening tonight! First order of business/fun, I went to Mother's Ruin, the bar where Francesca and Eliza were hosting their fundraising event for Flying Kites Global, in preparation for their hike across Kilimanjaro this winter. All drinks were for the cause, and they were holding cool raffles throughout the evening.

If you couldn't make it, but want to contribute from afar, you can donate on Francesca's fundraising page and Eliza's fundraising page.

After that, Deeksha, who's still in town visiting from Oxford, and I watched the latest episode, and despite some volume issues which just caused us to sit quiet and listen more carefully, we quite enjoyed it!

Here are my 15 seconds post-episode, and I'll save the more detailed thoughts for my next post!

Note: When I say "crazy about Brandon," I mean, "it's crazy that Brandon gave up his Immunity Necklace," not "I'm crazy about Brandon." That needs to be specified. :) 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode Twelve: Is All Fair On Redemption Island?

Picture courtesy of SophieGClarke's Twitter (Thanks!)
L to R: Stephen (Tocantins), Courtney (China),
Brian (Guatemala),  Sophie (SP), Sandra (Pearl Islands),
Cochran (SP), Eliza (Vanuatu), Ozzy (SP), Sash (Nicaragua) 
This episode was not all that exciting aside from the rate my heartbeat reached when watching Ozzy almost lose to Cochran at Redemption Island...

But I'll tell you what was exciting! Watching with my old-time Survivor friend Deekhsa, who was visiting from England, and meeting up with a big chunk of the Survivor gang afterwards. (You can read all about that here.)

That said, there are always interesting conclusions to be drawn from each episode, and here are mine for this week:

1. Cochran's unexpected grappling hook tosses and boldly jerky arms risked putting a serious dint in the Ozzy armor. 

Regardless of who you were rooting for, I think it's safe to say everyone who was watching the Redemption Island Duel unfold was experiencing a higher than average heart rate - or conversely, a sporadically inexistent heart rate. I think I was somewhere in the middle. I was rooting for Ozzy, but it would have been really rad (for some reason, I can't think of any other word for this!) if Cochran had beaten the odds and dethroned the Challenge King.

In any case, despite the love/hate relationship both contestants and viewers seem to have with him, Cochran did rather well for himself, and I think there's no better way to throw in the towel - or buff rather - than with an outstanding challenge performance against who I would feel is the most intimidating opponent in any Survivor challenge, let alone an individual, game-changing Duel. Well done, Cochran!

2. Another disappointing flaw of Redemption Island: Family visits are out of your hands.

Back in the day, when the show was down to its final six players, each contestant would have the opportunity to fight for - and with - their family for an exclusive visit with their loved one. But because Redemption Island has essentially eliminated Reward Challenges, this important one also took a major hit. Indeed, the contestants no longer even get to fight for their families! Last season, Mike could either choose to see his mother, OR give it up to his fellow Redemption Islanders, OR give it up to the tribe members that had just voted him out, which is what he ended up doing.

This season, the remaining Redemption Islander - a.k.a. Ozzy - did not even get to compete for a visit from his loved one, but got to decide which remaining tribesmen should enjoy this reward, despite the fact that none of them had actually competed for it. Sure, this does put Ozzy in a strong strategic position, but I also think it's unfair for this particular challenge to be reduced to a social/strategic move without the fighting aspect on behalf of the players who are actually vying for the prize. Plus, it's always fun seeing families participate in the challenges too.

3. What was Coach thinking when he promised Ozzy a spot in the Final Three?

Coach is coasting through this game. He's got his tribe under his spell (Tyson Apostol argues on Rob Cesternino's podcast that CBS might have cast people who were more inclined to submit to Coach and follow him blindly); he seems to have a secure spot in the Final Three; and he's got the Jury - whatever it turns out to be - on his side. So WHY would he promise a spot in the Final Three to the one guy who could actually stand a chance of beating him? Because he wants to compete against a warrior? A worthy opponent?! That's the old Coach coming out... the one that didn't win - twice.

The only way this could be a positive strategic move is if Edna somehow beats Ozzy in the Duel and Ozzy ends up straight on the Jury, more likely to vote for Coach. Because if Ozzy gets back in the game and has the misfortune of losing a challenge, I don't see Coach convincing the remaining Upolu members to keep Ozzy around - which would result in a scorned Ozzy in the Jury.

I'm perplexed by this move, but will see how it plays out... keeping in mind even that if Ozzy makes it to Final Three and only gets the four Savaii votes (not counting Cochran), everyone else would have to vote for Coach in order for Ozzy to come in second. Risky move, Coach.

4. Would voting for Ozzy be unfair or considered a cop out?

Here's a question that arose from talking to the Survivors last Wednesay: as a Jury member evaluating a contestant's performance in the game and merit in winning the title of Sole Survivor and the million dollars, would it be fair to award Ozzy with this title considering that he has "evaded" a large part of the actual game and everything it entails for most of its duration?

I would argue that yes, it would be fair. You can't judge someone's performance based on previous rules of the game. In this season, Redemption Island is very much part of what should be taken into consideration when casting a vote. You could argue that with Matt last season (had he made it in the Final), he did indeed miss most of the game, causing him to forge very few connections and having almost no social impact in the game. In Ozzy's case, he was very influential in the first half of the game, making moves - good and bad, strategic and impulsive ("lone agent," anyone?), but impactful nonetheless - and using Redemption Island as it was meant to be used: to earn your way physically and mentally (challenges are about concentration not strength) back into the game. Furthermore, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, even though we do not see it as much, there is a social aspect to Redemption Island that Ozzy is handling very well - for the most part. (He really could have toned down the condescension with Cochran back there, particularly given that Cochran's Jury vote will be an important one, and potentially a million dollar one for Ozzy.)

Conversely, as a long-time, passionate fan of the show, a bill many of these contestants seem to fill (Cochran, Jim, Dawn, Rick [he applied 14 times!!!]), you could consider Redemption Island the way many fans have considered it: a cop-out, a twist that has shafted other aspects of the show people value, an unfair advantage to a physical threat like Ozzy, etc. These reasons might cause someone to NOT vote for Ozzy simply "on principle." To them, I still say: you need to evaluate the player's performance in this game, not in your "ideal" game, or what the show has been in the past.

5. Cochran's journey in the game continues on Ponderosa...

If you haven't been watching the Ponderosa videos that CBS has been putting up on their YouTube channel, you're missing out. If you don't already know, Ponderosa is the place eliminated Survivors go when they're on the Jury, watching the game unfold from Tribal Council to Tribal Council. Usually, you'd think it's a place where you can mostly detach yourself from the game and become the observer and ultimate judge you need to be in order to vote for the winner of the game. But not in this case... The former Savaii members are very bitter, and Cochran's arrival feels very much like an extension of the game... which cannot be fun for him.

I'm definitely going to miss Cochran in the game - particularly if Upolu keeps voting in the "boring" tribal alliance pecking order. If you feel the same way, definitely watch these Ponderosa clips. Both entertaining and insightful, they're small, undervalued gems.

I've embedded Part 1 of Cochran's arrival at Ponderosa, to illustrate a) how rough it was for Cochran and b) how awesome these clips are. Make sure you make it to Part 3 to meet the cutest piglet you've ever seen.

That's it for today! What did you think of this week's episode? Would you vote for Ozzy if he made it to the end? How did you feel about Coach's move to promise Ozzy a spot in the Final Three?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode 12 in 15 seconds

I don't even know where to begin...

The past couple of weeks have been a gift. I went from having nobody in the city to watch Survivor with to seeing the latest ep with none other than my amazing friend and co-writer for this blog, Deeksha, and ended the night having drinks and great conversation with an awesome group of Survivors, both past and present.

Who was there, you ask? The first person I recognized walking into the bar was Stephen from Tocantins. Also present were Sash (Nicaragua), Brian (Guatemala), Eliza (Vanuatu; Fans vs. Favorites), Francesca (Redemption Island), who was nice enough to include me in this gathering, and Sophie, Cochran and Ozzy. I apparently just missed Courtney and Sandra, who were also in town.

Before I go any further, let me just say how unbelievably chill and fun-to-be-around all of them were. I was worried I wouldn't be welcome in the reunion, but to the contrary, they were all really friendly, and their favorite topic of conversation was the same as mine: Survivor.

For those of you who know me or follow my blog, it's no secret that Ozzy is one of my favorite players, and that despite his flaws in playing the game, I can't help rooting for him every time. What I noticed from meeting him - and to a great extent, many of the others - is that what you see is what you get. He's a really chill guy who's easy to get along with and who has an exceptional relationship with nature. He might come across as arrogant or cocky at times on the show, but I don't think there's any harm in just saying it as it is: he's good at what he does, and he's not bashful about it. And I don't think he should be.

Cochran was an exciting discovery. He's also quite the same as he is on the show, but without the editing, so you don't get exposed to just one side of him in buckets and all at the same time. He's witty and approachable, with quirks that make him interesting and a lack of confidence that I hope will fade with time, because there's no reason for it.

And though I didn't interact much with Eliza, if she ever came across as annoying on Fans vs. Favorites (I haven't seen Vanuatu yet), she's nothing close to that in person. She's super bubbly, seems really caring (that's one thing I love about this whole group: when they like each other, they genuinely seem to care for each other) and she's clearly really smart.

15 seconds just couldn't cut it to describe this... but here they are anyway:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode Eleven: Emotions. Decisions. Consequences.

I've rarely seen Ozzy that focused. He clearly
had this one in the bag. 
As I mentioned in my last post, I got to watch this episode of Survivor with Sophie herself, and Francesca from last season. (Thanks again to my friend Maz, who made this happen!) That means that the first time I watched it, I was in a bar, trying to follow the action, keep up with delayed captioning and contain my excitement about talking to actual Survivors about their experience.

As awesome as all of this was, I definitely missed a lot of the strategic happenings of the episode, so I watched it again when I got home later that night, and this is what stood out to me:

1. Redemption Island has become Emotion-Ville. 

In the past, when players were eliminated, you'd catch a glimpse of their shock/disappointment/sadness as Jeff snuffed their torch, then you'd see their recorded post-elimination confessional. These were sometimes sad, angry, appreciative... Impactful, but still clearly from beyond the game at that point.

Ending your journey on Redemption Island however is an entirely different story. It's so emotional! Remember Russell's tears as he got eliminated for the first time ever on Survivor? It's heart-wrenching... I really liked Jim and Dawn. Seeing Jim throw his buff into the fire and hearing him express his love and respect for the game tugged at my heartstrings - Jim might have been less vocal about it, but he's clearly as much of a fan of the show as Cochran is - and I was begging Jeff to let Dawn keep her buff when she asked if she had to throw it in! As nice as it is in a way to witness these moving moments, I feel that they are better placed at the end of the episode during the credits, separate from the game. It may sound cold-hearted, but really, it's because I'm too sensitive to withstand it - and because I don't want to waste any Survivor minute on something that is no longer part of the game.

2. Players are being more vocal and strategic plays are surfacing more blatantly. 

Edna is waking up; Albert is playing to the Jury; and Sophie is speaking her mind. All of this is great to see, and refreshing, separately from how I feel about each move. I still don't like Edna, and think she's done nothing to actually deserve remaining in the game; plus, the fact that she actually believed she was equal to the others in the alliance makes me respect her even less - even if that could be attributed to Coach, Albert and Sophie's powers of conviction. Albert has been shown in a completely new light, and it's not very flattering. I'm not sure how that's being perceived by the other players, but from their comments, it seems like they are aware he is playing for Jury votes. I think his decision to give up his reward didn't help him in the slightest due to its transparency, and certainly won't get anyone else to choose him "in return" seeing as he didn't give up his reward for any of them. As for Sophie, she has mastered the art of speaking her mind while not drawing too much attention to herself. I think she's quite a serious threat, waiting to pounce, and I would love to see her in the Final Three after having made a swift and lethal move.

3. At this point, there are two possible ways the former Upolu tribe can vote off their own. 

This is it, the Upolu tribe (+ Cochran) has to start turning on itself. There's nowhere left to hide. This means a) things are going to start getting interesting for the viewer, and b) things are going to start getting ugly for the tribesmen. The easy first vote at this point is definitely Cochran. He's the last to have joined the family, and youngest doesn't mean cutest, most cherished and most secure in Survivor families. If they want to delay the slaughter, he's the obvious target. Beyond that, there are really only two ways Tribal Council voting can go: The "honorable"/solid/stubborn alliance way, or the eliminate-the-biggest-threat way.

So who is the biggest threat? Definitely Coach I would say, though it isn't obvious because he continues to lay low (even if it is easy for us viewers to see through him) and because he's just not that threatening in challenges, which mitigates his danger. Albert, Brandon and Sophie are each threatening in their own ways too: Albert's strength, Brandon's lack of self-control and of "malleability" as Jeff pointed out, and Sophie's determination and subtle but effective strategic nature. Who will come out as being most threatening is a question of circumstance and opinion... which might make it difficult for an easy consensus in voting to be found.

That leaves the "sticking to the alliance" route, which would effectively see Edna, Rick and Brandon leave before Albert, Coach and Sophie. The order of elimination would depend on who showed their irritable sides the most first. Then the Final Three would be determined by who came back from Redemption Island. If by some miracle that person is Cochran, he'll go right back where he came from. If Ozzy keeps going the way he has, he could win his spot in the Final Three, making it a very interesting finale.

4. Upolu's betrayal of Cochran might end up being a good thing for Ozzy... 

While I think Cochran deserved his humiliating exit, I also think it wasn't a smart move on Upolu's behalf in terms of Jury support. Putting aside the idea that Cochran would be an ideal candidate to sit next to in the Final Three, slighting him the way they did guarantees that Cochran not only regrets his decision to flip, but also that he might try to "redeem" his own betrayal of Savaii (this is Redemption Island!) by voting for the only remaining Savaii member, should he make it to the Final.

The next question is... Would Ozzy stand a chance in the Final Three? I thought not, but if you count Cochran, Savaii does have a 5-4 majority in the Jury now, which can only bode well for Ozzy if he can get himself there. Obviously, there's no guarantee all Savaii members would vote Ozzy's way... It might be safe to assume Jim and Keith would, and, given that Upolu spent all their energy in seducing Cochran and then betraying him rather than win over potential Savaii votes, Dawn and Whitney might as well. Furthermore, as bad as his social game has been overall, Ozzy has been quite the Redemption Island host, and though that's not a social game we have witnessed as much, it's just as important, particularly because it's the departees' last impression before leaving the game...

Two more episodes left! I am so excited I can hardly stand it.

To end on some exciting news, I'll share an inside scoop from the Survivor ladies I met on Wednesday: Next season, which thankfully will not include Redemption Island, promises to be one of the best yet. Just a little something to look forward to, beginning February 15th...

So, what are your predictions for the Final Three? Who would you vote for? Player of the Season: Sophie, Coach, Ozzy, Jim...? Let me know what you think!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode 11 in 15 seconds

L to R: Sophie Clarke, Francesca Hogi, Maz and I
After a small Survivor hiatus for Thanksgiving (which did include some enlightening new scenes in the retrospective episode!), I have come back full force and I'm ready to take on the rest of the season!

How so, you ask? Well, for one, I finally met Sophie Clarke! My awesome friend Maz (to whom I am eternally grateful) hit me up back on Episode Two to let me know he and Sophie were in med school together and reading my blog. I had initially mentioned that I was going to meet them the following week, but of course things didn't quite happen so fast... Regardless! I never lost hope, and my patience brought me to this day, when Sophie was throwing a Survivor viewing party in the city.

Francesca Hogi from last season's initial Survivor: Redemption Island was also there, and I felt totally Survivor spoiled. As I discovered, Francesca is absolutely stunning in person, and just lovely all around. It's a real shame she didn't get much attention last season. Next stop for her: Mount Kilimanjaro, which she is climbing next year with Eliza Orlins (Survivor: Vanuatu and Fans vs. Favorites) and Ashley Underwood (Survivor: Redemption Island) to raise money for Flying Kites Global, an organization that helps the world's poorest children. Help her meet her financial goal here.

Sophie was awesome as well. Because she got some good camera-action and had her game-face on the whole time, it was fun watching this particular episode with her. She definitely grew to be one of my top picks this season, and though I know her lips are sealed (and furthermore, I want nothing to do with spoilers!), I'm hoping she's among the top contenders for the money.

Below you will find my 15s reaction post episode, Take One. I did watch it again properly when I got home, given the crowd and noise at the bar. Survivor ain't no football game, after all!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode Ten: Stirred Not Shaken

The Men of Redemption battle it out. 
My deepest apologies for this much delayed blog post... What with all the Thanksgiving excitement and traveling, I let things slide.

But I'm back, and boy do I have some exciting posts coming up! But one thing at a time. Let's start by going over Episode Ten:

1. I would have really enjoyed seeing more of Ozzy, Jim and Keith on Redemption Island. 

Those guys looked like they were having such fun on Redemption Island! They're three smart, attractive and entertaining players, who probably said a lot of interesting things during their time together, of which we only saw a fraction. And I'm not going to lie, watching Ozzy win the challenge was a thrill, as always. I really hope he fights his way to the Final Three - though I doubt anyone would vote for him, unfortunately.

2. I wonder if people will start seeing through Coach's game of preaching and seduction... 

I am rooting for Coach all the way. I think he has done an incredible job amid many roadblocks, and I find him totally deserving of the grand prize. That said, the deeper we get into the game, the less convincing his comments on unity and family and religion become. As "honorable" as he claims to be - and as I think he is in truth - he is playing the game very consciously and very strategically, charming and seducing his way to the top, and there's something undoubtedly deceitful about that. His mini-speech to the tribe after voting Dawn and Whitney out seemed very flimsy to me, and I worry (and for entertainment purposes hope that!) his tribe will begin to see through his game. As Keith said so well on Redemption Island before hitting Ponderosa, "The longer Coach has them believing that they're all one tribe, the more likely it is that he wins the million dollars."

3. Shaking things up may be the more interesting thing to watch, but is it the wisest for the players involved? 

When Cochran, Albert, Dawn and Whitney were talking about turning on Upolu (and by extension Coach) to vote Edna out, I got excited. There was no better time to flip things around and not totally risk losing any stronghold you have in the game. But Sophie talked Albert out of it, claiming there was no reason to waver from the plan just yet, and that it wasn't in their best interest. Considering that Albert and Sophie are on the top of the food chain with Coach, I tend to agree with her... and though as a viewer I am tempted to shout "No! You must rid yourselves of the enemy now! Before it is too late!" in some kind of medieval-esque voice, I think I would also have second thoughts if I were on the show and risked a major backfire. That said, it's risks like these that brought Parvati to her victory in Micronesia...

4. Sophie may not be taking risks when it comes to voting, but she did in that Immunity Challenge... and it paid off.

Sophie is proving to be an important threat in this game! She's smart, strategic but discreet, and performs very well in challenges. She's consistently fighting for that necklace, and often close to winning it. A large bowl of rice and a whole lot of confidence got her Immunity this week, and she very much deserved it. The thing that intrigues me about Sophie is she seems to be playing it safer than I think she actually is. Maybe keeping Coach around is her intention... As deserving as he may be of the money and the title, the fact that Boston Rob - a returning All-Star - won last season might serve to his disadvantage, and as such, to Sophie's advantage if she's sitting next to him in the Final Three... I'm definitely keeping my eye on Sophie.

...and lucky for me, I got to meet her tonight for the viewing of Episode Eleven! Stay tuned for more on that soon...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode 10 in 15 seconds

What fun, what fun! My breath was held at least twice during this episode: first, when Ozzy and Keith were battling it out on Redemption Island; and second, when Whitney was this close to winning Immunity and changing the game up.

And while I wish things had been shaken up a bit this week, there's nowhere else for it to go next week... Will it be Cochran? Edna? Brandon? Or maybe Albert... who seems to be the biggest threat to Upolu unity at this point, as well as a strong physical one.

And now... my 15s reaction. I think how much I love Survivor is written all over my face. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode Nine: Excluded, Eroded, Evicted

Concern and helplessness shows on
remaining Savaii members' face. 
I can't say I have all that much to say about the latest Survivor episode... But for what it's worth, here's what I've got!

1. It's a bit heartbreaking to see the former Savaii tribe be picked off one-by-one.

I mentioned this in my 15 second Tout, and I'll say it again here. Cochran sealed their fate, and it's just a matter of time before Savaii is simply no more. The only chance of there being a Savaii member in the final is Redemption Island and he or she will need a lot of endurance, some good fortune, and a fighting will. Ozzy seems confident that he can do it, and despite his still very lacking social game (almost more lacking than in previous seasons I would say...), I root for him.

The hardest part about this really is seeing how well they have all been playing the game. Jim may be loud, but he's definitely got bone to back his bark; Dawn is a socially threatening player, and if not for Brandon's unpredictable outbursts of at-times-love at-times-aggression, she might have pulled it off; Whitney and Keith proved they could have been a couple to be reckoned with; and Ozzy is still the epitome of the perfect physical Survivor. All deserve to be in the game, and I would much rather see them go further over Edna or Brandon. But such is the game of Survivor, and you need these less preferred players to be at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to the last standing tribe turning on its own.

2. Should Jim have given Ozzy his Immunity Necklace at the first Tribal Council? 

I would talk about this in more detail, but the fact of the matter is, it wouldn't have changed anything. What he shouldn't have done is promise it to Ozzy then bail at Tribal Council. But it's not like that will bear any obvious consequences given the dire outlook for the Savaii tribe. Ultimately, Jim made his plea, realized it was going to lead nowhere, and chose to give himself an extra three days and a fighting chance. I don't blame him.

3. I really dislike when contestants opt out of a challenge for food. 

I understand that they are hungry, and I understand that they may not need to participate if it's simply of choice of who to eliminate among the remaining Savaii tribe members. But even so, participating in the challenge is a matter of honoring the physical aspect of the game and showing courage in attempting to claim more control over Tribal Council decisions.

On the other hand, not participating in the challenge also has social repercussions in some shape or form, which is what makes the game of Survivor so interesting...

4. Three contestants on Redemption Island... Three strong contestants on Redemption Island. 

I've made it clear that I am rooting for Ozzy to get back into the game and beat the odds to secure a spot in the Final. That said, it's not going to be easy... Which will make it all the more earned. Jim and Keith are going to be far more challenging opponents than a tired Christine, and all three certainly are worthy. I wish I didn't have to say goodbye to two at once...

Who are you gunning for on Redemption Island? Does Savaii stand a chance to make it to the end? Is Cochran going to be everyone's new best friend because of his being the perfect Final Three partner? What has Albert got up his sleeve... Will it mess his game up completely or uproot Coach from his leadership position? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode 9 in 15 seconds

Yes, Cochran probably made the right move for his own interest. Yes, the game has shifted because of it. And yes, Savaii is screwed. But all is not lost yet! It looks like things are going to be shaken up with Albert in coming episodes, and I am impatient to see that.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode Eight: An Out-Of-Business Double Agent

Take a wild guess as to who's got control over this situation.
My first order of business in this post is going to be a rant against spoilers. I don't like them in general, but I am especially opposed to them when it comes to Survivor. Having avoided any kind of trailers beyond the preview at the end of the previous episode, I was in blissful oblivion as to whether or not the merge was indeed going to take place. But not most other people apparently! Nope. Because the merger was all over the previews leading up to the episode. I find this to be a huge shame and would like to send my outcry of disapproval to the world.

Now, let's get to the episode!

1. Clearly, Ozzy is a terrible Thespian. But that doesn't mean he can't kick butt at a challenge.

To be honest, I thought that Ozzy's lying skills were better during the episode than they had seemed to be in the previews at the end of the last episode. But that's not saying much... He was too verbose and ultimately, too hard to buy. Pair that with Upolu being surprisingly - and awesomely - sharp, and Ozzy's master plan is half foiled. Thankfully, the rest of it played out like a smooth sail slicing the ocean air of the South Pacific: merge - check; winning the duel - check. And for just a few minutes, I reveled in seeing the Ozzy I know and love do what he does best.

2. Contrary to his belief, Cochran is the worst double agent ever. 

Having been largely under-appreciated in his tribe thus far, Cochran had the perfect opportunity to prove his worth beyond his physical inadequacies during this merge. As the token "double agent," Cochran tasted the joys of power... and I'm afraid he's lost them now forever [forever being the remainder of the 39 days on the island...].

Let's break his actions down...

Good moves: returning the Immunity Idol to Ozzy (a noble move, and the right thing to establish trust with Ozzy and with his tribe, regardless of his decision in the vote if done right); infiltrating the opposing tribe (getting allies, establishing connections which he could use to his advantage later in the game - again, regardless of his decision in the vote if done right); considering his options (flipping is not always a bad move, and in Cochran's case, could certainly bear its fruit - again, if done right).

Bad moves: letting the incredibly smart and sneaky Upolu tribe (namely Coach, Sophie and Albert) lodge its place into his heart... and mind (whatever his final decision, it should remain his and not result in manipulation - no matter how brilliant); blurt out Savaii's plan to protect Whitney at Tribal Council without any reciprocal sharing of information on Upolu's side (please, tell me how that was strategic, because I'd like to know); turn to Ozzy and Jim guilt-ridden and say "It was me; I'll explain" (if that was his idea of a disaster recovery plan, he needs to go back to watching Survivor from home).

You might notice that I do not criticize or praise his decision to flip. I certainly think it has its merits, and could very well have been the best decision for him. What I do have issues with is his lack of taking responsibility and standing up for his actions. Had he gotten Dawn to flip with him, he would have held more cards. As it stands now, he's made himself Enemy #1 in his original tribe, and the new weakling to be protected by Upolu, who already has its hands full with Edna. I don't see how this will bode well for Cochran, and I certainly don't see how this qualifies as "one of the biggest moves in Survivor history" and a bigger one than Ozzy's last week - even if that one did only partially pan out.

The silent mastermind of this South Pacific operation.
A surprise and a treat to watch. 
Again this week, two larger points, so I'll wrap it up here with one last remark about my allegiances towards the tribes and players: Oddly enough, though my favorite players this season are Coach, Sophie and Albert from Upolu, I find myself rooting for Savaii in challenges. It's rather strange and I will continue to try and put a finger on it. Don't worry, you'll be the first to know when I do.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode 8 in 15 seconds

I don't understand why Jeff Probst and so many others are saying Cochran's move was bigger than Ozzy's last week or one of the biggest in the game. Many people have flipped in Survivor, but they've done a better job at it. It would have been one thing if Cochran had played his entire tribe as well as solidify his position in Upolu, but instead he ran his mouth, divulged information to Upolu without any kind of gesture in return, voted against his tribe, then told them he would "explain"?!?! I mean, if that's not terrible game practice, I don't know what is.

I was very surprised yet unavoidably (and very vocally) excited that Ozzy beat Christine AND that they were right about the merge, AND that Ozzy won the individual Immunity Challenge. There's just something about watching Ozzy perform (lack of acting skills aside...). If he somehow makes it to the end, and Coach isn't there with him, he'll get my (totally useless yet very symbolic) vote.

See below for my 15 seconds this week!

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode Seven: Brilliance At Its Least Brilliant

Wipe that grin off your face, silly boy!
Like I mentioned in my last post, episode seven didn't really engage me all that much. Even as I read through the recaps, nothing stands out to me, aside from the big move at the end.

Nevertheless, here are my thoughts of the week, broken down into fewer points, but in more detail!

1. Ozzy's plan: Bafflingly brilliant or dangerously short-sighted?

When Ozzy and Cochran came back from the Redemption Island duel (where Christine won again!), Ozzy came up with this plan that had clearly begun forming in his head long before: intentionally sending himself to Redemption Island. Whether the seed was first planted in his head as a defense to a potentially hostile tribe or as a strategic move to gain numbers and respect later in the game is unclear. In any case, bringing it up out loud was risky, and would be difficult to back out of if he later changed his mind. Everything seemed to point to the idea that Ozzy was bailing on this potentially "heroic" move when Cochran messed up (yet again) in the challenge. Yet against all odds - and I might argue wits - Ozzy stood up and took the hit for the tribe, under the guise of securing a majority for his tribe come the merge and finally earning redemption for himself.

There are a few ways to look at this...

The first is: what the hell was he thinking?!? Sending himself to Redemption Island is putting himself one step closer to being out of the game for good. Is he right to be as confident as he is of beating Christine? Perhaps. Chances are good for him given Christine's fatigue (but not lack of determination!) and Ozzy's past record and present physical shape.

The second question is: why assume that Christine would stick to Upolu? It's obvious she has neither allies there nor any remnants of loyalty towards them. Sending Ozzy to Redemption Island just risks his early departure under the illusion that Christine would return to her original tribemates. Had he and Savaii thought this out more, they would have/should have seen that.

Next: what if the merge doesn't happen? Obviously, they were aware of this risk. Part of me wonders if the producers would change the time of the merge just to see them roll around and squeal... but I doubt they could given the time it takes to build (individual and/or group) challenges and so on. Either way, I think it's very risky to make such a big move when the merge isn't a sure thing. They only have the last Redemption Island season on which to base their prediction, and though they did merge rather early that season, it was still only after seven contestants had been eliminated, and after this next episode, only six contestants will have left. I'm very doubtful the merge will be next, and if Savaii loses because they don't have Ozzy for the next immunity challenge, all of this will have been for nought.

Or would it? The only saving grace of this plan is that if Ozzy does manage to get back in the game, be it in the next episode or the following one, and if he gets himself into the final three, this move will win him some favor in the game and some respect from both sides. It's a big move, and Survivor rewards such moves. That said, that's a lot of supposition without much security, and though risks can be worth their while, there's something to be said about securing a safety net. Ozzy has jumped untied and with no backup. It could work... but I think ultimately, this "biggest move in Survivor history" (until the next episode apparently...) is impulsive and rash, despite being of a respectable nature.

2. Everyone is entitled to their faith, but please don't impose it on others. 

I mentioned this in my last blog post as well because it really bothered me after having watched the episode. Faith has held a prominent place in Survivor for the past two seasons now, what with Matt being an agent of the Lord and all. And I'm fine with that. Matt was inspiring, and even though I couldn't relate to his religious gusto, I respected it and thought he expressed it in a reasonable and respectful way.

Upolu however seems to be stepping over certain boundaries. It's not religion necessarily, but faith in general. Brandon is a man of G-d, and Coach is a spiritual being who believes in many things. Both men pray. This is two people, not six. Getting the gang in a circle, praying about finding an idol that has already been found, then misleading said prayer group in having miraculously "just" found it is not only preposterous and hypocritical, but also deeply disrespectful.  (I have been speaking about respect a decent bit, haven't I?) Then repeatedly thanking G-d and faithfully rejoicing after having won the challenge was completely overdone. Furthermore, what is to say the remaining four people wish to join this prayer group? I'm highly skeptical about the whole Upolu tribe being a fundamentally zealous bunch, and it makes it very hard for me to root for a tribe that oversteps the boundaries of individual thought and choice.

And that is all for that episode, folks! I'm excited to see what the next episode brings... So many ups and downs this season! It's still not up there in my favorites, but it's certainly enjoyable to watch.

What do you think about Ozzy's big move? Will the merge happen next episode? Will Cochran return Ozzy's Idol to him? Share the thoughts and the love!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode 7 in 15 seconds

Boy oh boy! This episode was set to be a big borer, and I'm still mildly disappointed by it despite Savaii's big move.

(Also, previews really should work to divulge less. Spoilers are huge bummer on Survivor.)

First of all, all that religious zeal was far too exaggerated. I highly doubt all Upolu members are happy with this arrangement, and the fact that Brandon and Coach are essentially forcing the tribe to follow in these footsteps is a violation of people's boundaries in my opinion. But hey, they're not my boundaries, so I won't speak for them.

Ozzy's going between being a fussy brat and a bold genius. I can't decide if that makes him less of both.

Of course, I'll write more about all the events in this episode in my next post. In the meantime, here's my 15 second reaction directly post-episode...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode Six: Loyalty vs. Strength + Conviction vs. Alliance

Coach might not have been the man in H vs. V,
 but he certainly is now. 
This season of Survivor is not disappointing, that’s for sure. Well, aside from the fact that Ozzy has lost several positions at least in my Survivor ranking of favorite players. But I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen how this all plays out.

That said, Savaii has really impressed me. I particularly love to dislike Jim, and Whitney’s maturity and strength have seduced me slowly slowly. Keith seems to be in control of the tribe – in a smart way, with Whitney by his side – even if Jim thinks he’s the one in charge. Cochran’s quirkiness has always been endearing, and I love that Dawn called out Ozzy when he was picking a fit. On Upolu, Coach, Albert and Sophie maintain their positions as my favorites. More on that below.

Let’s get stared, shall we?

1. Ozzy, my Ozzy, what has become of you?

As expected, I got quite frustrated with Ozzy in the last episode. His “free agent” nonsense and divulging that he was in possession of the Immunity Idol (?!?!?!?!?) was nothing short of a temper tantrum that not only strips him of much of his all-star title (I don’t know how you can be an all-star when you make “moves” like that on Survivor) but also puts him at a serious disadvantage in the game, which he probably deserves. I’m glad he made amends; rewards certainly have great power to that effect (remember how Shane regained Danielle’s favor at a big reward after he had yelled at her and called her names even though she was in his alliance in Survivor: Panama?). And I think it’s great that he wants someone from his alliance to win the million, because at least that’ll avoid him throwing a second? third? umpteenth? temper tantrum when he doesn’t (even if he makes it to the final three).

2. And Christine takes it again! But she is seriously weakened. And bitter.

Kudos to Christine for stepping up time and time again and showing her fire. However, fires that burn from resentment and bitterness fade sooner than fires of motivation and passion. Her behavior towards Rick at the Immunity Challenge was disappointing. And beyond that, she looks terrible. Obviously, I can’t fault her for that, but the way I see it, her anger is stripping more energy from her than life on Redemption Island. My prediction is she won’t win the next Immunity Challenge.

3. Loyalty versus Strength: Why can't you have them both? 

Edna is loyal. Mikayla is strong. But these qualities are not mutually exclusive. Though it is apparent that Edna is not physically strong, and that Mikayla is, loyalty is not as easy to establish and strength is not simply measured in weight. Furthermore, I don’t believe that Mikayla was not loyal. And I don’t believe that Edna necessarily is… All this being considered, at least Edna is attempting to compensate for her lack of physical strength with mental determination by weaseling her way into the tribe strategically. Mikayla is just floundering stubbornly, so I’m glad it was her time to go this week.

4. Conviction versus Alliance: One thing is sure, Respect is not in question. 

The dynamics within Upolu were very intriguing to watch. The core alliance of Coach, Albert and Sophie was split. This means that a) we got to see a lot more of Rick! and b) Coach and Brandon inevitably got closer again – as demonstrated by Coach’s “I love you, man” at the end of Tribal Council. That said, I don’t think it’s over between Coach and Albert and Sophie. In fact, I think it’s awesome that Albert and Sophie stood by what they believed, argued their point to Coach and tried to convince Rick to vote with them as well. They showed no disloyalty to their alliance and lacked no integrity in justifying their cause. Coach must be impressed by that. 

5. While Ozzy drops in my favorite Survivor players ranking, Coach rises steadily.

Mikayla’s ultimate elimination did turn the tables in a direction that I quite appreciate: Coach has gained a tremendous amount of power in the tribe, and it’s power that his allies cannot do very much against. He made his point, honorably and with integrity, and came out victorious. Even if I am not convinced of Edna’s loyalty to Upolu, I am certain there is no way she could or should waver from Coach. And that in itself guarantees that Coach has more friends than anyone else in this game right now. And friends are power. Add the Immunity Idol and a solid, smart team if it makes the merge and Coach could smoothly secure his way to the end.

If I could add a few remaining stray thoughts right here – which I can because hey, this is my blog! – they would be:

- I like that both tribes seem evenly matched and I think we’re seeing some great strategic moves on both ends;
- Brandon’s comment at Tribal Council about eliminating him if his tribe was going play the game disloyally was thoughtless and stupid, but I suppose there’s no surprise there;
- I’m dying to see what this “big move” Jeff Probst is talking about is!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode 6 in 15 seconds

Hard to believe we're pretty much halfway through the season! That means things are going to get even more interesting soon. Plus, Jeff TOUTed tonight that one person was going to make one of the biggest moves in 23 seasons all on his/her own next episode... I am intrigued!

Here's my 15s TOUT update post-episode. I was out late tonight - in the rain (hence the fluffy hair) - but I couldn't go to sleep without watching Survivor. (So glad puts episodes up the same night! Thanks CBS!) And of course, that means I couldn't go to sleep without recording my initial 15s reaction.

There are many thoughts that I couldn't fit in, but I'll discuss those in more detail in days to come...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode Five: Playing It Smart or Playing It Safe?

We've got a cute mirroring effect happening here... 
Sorry folks, this one took me a while to get to... I guess I was just putting off having to run that disgusting pig gnawing challenge through my head again. I knew that was going to be the grossest thing ever - and it was.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'd made a few predictions for this episode that all turned out to be spot on. Unfortunately, I didn't take enough risks in my Survivor Fantasy selections, so my score still sucks (won't even dare to disclose it here - too embarrassed...). But I do take pride in being accurate anyway, even if it saddens me that this means Ozzy is now on the hot seat. [From the preview: A free agent, Ozzy?!? What game do you think you're playing?!]

1. Am I rooting for Christine on Redemption Island? Could I be...?

I didn't think that would be the case, especially given how vehemently I disliked her in the first couple of episodes, but as it turns out, I've caught myself siding with her in the duels. Now that Elyse is there though, I'm in a bind. I want Elyse to stay, if only for Ozzy's sake, as I think I'd love to see Ozzy have a great comeback - more so than just coasting through the game in fact. But the willpower and mental strength I see in Christine is subtle and seductive. In tomorrow's episode, I will most likely secretly root for Elyse while believing more in Christine.

PS. That Redemption Island challenge is one of my faves! I think it first appeared in Tocantins, in the final three Immunity Challenge. I've been wanting to try it ever since!

2. Information is key. But is it as deadly as Coach and Albert fear? 

Sure, Stacey's outbreak on Redemption Island was an immature - yet very entertaining - manifestation of rage and resentment, and of course it was meant to sabotage her previous Upolu tribe mates. But will it have as dire an impact as Coach and Albert keep whining about? I'm not sure. The merge is still far in the game and everyone knows a lot can change until then. I actually think the fact that Albert came back to Upolu and so clearly voiced his concern about the revelation of his alliance with Coach and Sophie is what may undermine my favorite trio - but in their own tribe, before the merge. They're the ones who have most to fear, not Savaii just yet.

3. Jim is smart; but is his poker mind making him paranoid? 

It looks to me like Jim is seeing things that just might not be there. I like his thinking, and mostly, I like that he IS thinking (as opposed to almost everyone on Boston Rob's tribe last season - Andrea being the only exception). But I wonder (in a very Carrie Bradshaw-like way), is he creating scenarios that are too far-fetched? His conclusions from Ozzy's comment that Coach should take out Albert are a clear case of "thinking a few steps ahead," which is of course always a good thing. That said, Ozzy really didn't seem to be thinking along those lines so unless Jim's intuition and flair sniffed something out before Ozzy even realized his own strategy, Jim's sharp mind is soon going to start playing tricks on him. However, if he is right, and he very well could be, Ozzy should take a step back and seriously reevaluate his position. Actually, Ozzy should be doing that anyway.

4. I never thought I would say this, but COACH IS SO CUTE WHEN HE GETS EXCITED!! 

Man, I am totally in love with this Coach/Albert/Sophie trio. I hope they make it far. I love that Albert found the Immunity Idol clue, and though I think he could have tried harder to find it himself, I love that he shared it with his close allies. I was impressed at Coach's nimbleness when searching for Idol, and even more impressed (and surprised!) that he elected to share his discovery with Albert and Sophie.

I just finished watching Survivor Panama: Exile Island (in my goal to catch up on all the best previous seasons) and seeing how stingy Terry was with his Immunity Idol not only rubbed me the wrong way, but was extremely poor strategy in terms of social game. The Idol is so much more than a protective object, it's power in its purest form in the game of Survivor, and if used wisely (for instance Yul's strategy in Cook Islands), can help totally change the course of the game. So I have high hopes for Coach this season, and they keep getting higher.

5. I am not even going to discuss [disgust?] that Immunity Challenge.

6. Cochran's herpes talk was an I-D-I-O-T-I-C move. 

First of all, when you're on Survivor sharing coconuts, eating utensils, water, sweat, tears and everything in between, you better be prepared for the fact that you're going to be sharing germs too. A pig 'feasting' (ha!) challenge is not going to make a bit of difference with that. So why on Earth did Cochran think it would be a good idea to mention herpes and communicable diseases to everyone and totally freak them out? For a smart and witty Harvard grad, I'm disappointed. That's not just socially awkward, it's dumb.

7. Did Whitney and Keith make the right move - or the cowardly one? 

Seeing the scrambling going on at camp was a joy! I do enjoy a good Survivor move in the making. However, I'm dubious as to whether or not Keith and Whitney played it safe or smart. Clearly, they have the potential to be in control of the tribe. Their decision is what eliminated Elyse. However, their intention, as I understand it, was to not cross anybody. But we all know what happens to contestants that play both sides and get caught... I'll reserve judgment until I see how they attempt to pick up the pieces with Ozzy and Jim respectively.

An exciting episode, no doubt. What really transpired for me was how much I enjoyed watching these folks, and how reluctant I was to see anyone leave. At this point, aside from Rick (is that his name?) and Brandon (dammit! I was trying to avoid giving him the light of day in this post...), I'm excited to see all these contestants develop and make their moves!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode 5 in 15 seconds

15 seconds is just not enough to share all of my thoughts, but it'll have to do for now!

I thought this episode was very exciting. Turns out all my predictions came true: that Christine would beat Stacey (whew-ee!) in one of my favorite challenges, originally from Tocantins; that Upolu would win the challenge and that Ozzy would be in trouble.

More thoughts and reactions will be coming your way soon. Until then... here is my quarter-minute Tout update:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode Four: Scary Tactics

Coach is trying to be a Monkey Man, too! Not sure that's up
for grabs, but he sure is playing a better game than Ozzy... 
Here's what stood out to me in the last episode... Nothing too huge at this point, though I am prepping myself to write about Ozzy's unforgivable mistakes as he puts himself in more and more danger each week. I didn't say I was looking forward to it -- just prepping.

1. The Jim/Cochran alliance feels more like a joke right now than a real plot, but I’m ready to be surprised.

Both Cochran and Jim give me the impression that they want to play the game of Survivor more than they are actually playing the game of Survivor. The whole “let’s make a Survivor move” attitude irks me. I like Cochran, and I think Jim has the potential of making this game interesting (he’s already provided us with some high-quality quotes), but they need to play their cards right and not be too arrogant in order to make this work. I’m prepared to see Elyse/Ozzy booted if these Survivors-in-the-making do it right. Now let’s see if they can actually pull through.

2. So. Tired. Of. Brandon.

I’m so done with Brandon Hantz that I don’t even want to talk about Brandon Hantz. That said, if by some miraculous stretch, his moves are actually strategic, hat’s off. However, I highly doubt it so I’ll be holding onto that, thank you very much.

3. Dawn was my Player of the Week.

I like that although she confided in Ozzy at the start, and Ozzy was there for her, she’s not proclaiming her undying loyalty to him either. She’s vigilant, she’s clever and she’s a mental powerhouse, initial breakdown aside. When it came down to it, that challenge was all about willpower and mental stamina and she pulled through despite the odds. I mean come on, Stacey definitely looked like the stronger one and she certainly has the bigger butt to boot. I was very happy for Dawn’s victory and love how purely genuine her excitement was. She gets my POTW vote.

4. Coach is running the show and I like it.

Who would have thought that after all this, Ozzy would be the one treading (and unknowingly so) on thin ice and Coach would be the one at the helm of his tribe? Certainly not me. Coach is playing a solid game and I loved when he (unsuccessfully) attempted to snap Brandon out of his hysteria and told him to freakin’ “Stop It!” His sub-alliance with Sophie makes me hopeful that Brandon will soon be ousted and ejected.

5. Stacey is one scary lady—if I can even call her that.

I know Jeff said she could be a powerful tribe mate if she could break into the younger tribe when he introduced the cast before the premiere, but it looks to me like Stacey didn’t even try. However annoying Edna may be, she’s right in saying that Stacey is inaccessible. She claims no one came to speak to her, but she didn’t exactly make the first step either as far as I can tell, and she definitely didn’t exude any welcoming vibes. I wouldn’t want to go near that if I were on the show. She’s aggressive, confrontational, overconfident (Yeah, she did well in the challenge, but she didn’t win, and Dawn, who was clearly weaker physically, did. End of story.) – and freakin’ scary. Doesn’t she know Survivor is a social game? You simply can’t play it alone; her only ally is either going to beat her ass on Redemption Island or she’ll run her off; and if she somehow makes it back into the game, she’ll have zero allies and will be sent right back packing. If you’re looking for ways to mess up your game the best, just follow this crazy lady’s cues.

Not much more to say for now. At this point, I’m waiting to get into the thick of things. It looks like some moves might shake the game up and I’m still very much intrigued by a good number of players, so I’m excited for what’s to come!

What did you think of the last episode? Who’s shaping up to be your favorite or most exciting players this season? Let us know in the comments! 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode 4 in 15 seconds

Good episode, though I'm still waiting for things to get more interesting... It definitely looks promising! That said, I am NOT looking forward to that pig challenge... Ew.

Full breakdown will be up this weekend! Until then, enjoy my 15 minute Tout reaction post-episode.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode Three: Strategy Snafus

Is the Upolu tribe the one to beat? 
Like I said in my 15 second update, this episode left me with a lot to be desired. I know it's still the beginning of the season and we have yet to learn many things about our castaways, but the beginning of the season also means that whoever is the most dramatic gets the most camera action, and honestly I'm a little tired of it.

Here are the key themes/points that stood out to me this week: 

1. Brandon's potential for playing a good Survivor game has fizzled and died. 

Brandon Brandon Brandon. Baah Baah Baah. So yes, he has the biggest tantrums, and yes his life struggles between good and evil, his present and his past, his identity and his uncle's identity are all very troubling, but they're not supposed to be dealt with on Survivor. Wild cards can be entertaining in how other players deal with them strategically, but after two episodes of this, I can safely say I'm done. I was rooting for him, I was! I love Russell - mainly because he is who is he unapologetically - and I was open to liking Brandon even if his approach to the game was different, provided he was unapologetic about it too. But nope! All I see is a whiny, conflicted, unnecessarily devout kid who's stealing camera time and NOT even doing it strategically. Coach and Sophie: I don't think losing him will screw you up. Get. Him. Out. 

2. Ozzy revealing that he has the Immunity Idol to Keith was a mistake, in my opinion. 

That Ozzy needs to improve his social game in order to succeed is a fact. But that doesn't mean abiding by a list of things you should or shouldn't do on Survivor. As Ozzy put it, having a partner in crime is essential in the game. That's often true. But he can't lose sight of the situation he's in and that he's not just a regular contestant vying for the million dollars for the first time. He should know that people are eyeing him closely and that keeping the Immunity Idol to himself would have been the best decision at this time and in this situation. As Boston Rob said in his podcast with EW last week (14:56), having the idol at this stage of the game and keeping it secret serves to a) neutralize it and b) prevent people from putting a target on your back. Now Ozzy risks to gets himself booted out far earlier than necessary because people will want to flush the Idol out, and he's just given them a great excuse to get rid of one of their biggest threats in the game. Time will tell how things pan out, but I think he's just cut his lifeline rather short and he better hope Redemption Island treats him well. 

3. Savaii vs. Upolu: Is there a clear stronger tribe? 

I think Savaii did a great job at the Immunity Challenge, particularly Dawn, Elyse and Whitney. Throwing that grappling hook does not look easy and they did a great job. And Dawn was flying on that body board! Regardless, Upolu was just stronger in the challenge, and they might very well be a stronger tribe overall. Time will tell what momentum and internal friction will do... I certainly hope Savaii will even things out next episode, but whether I like to admit it or not, I think Coach actually might have struck gold and ensured his way deeper into the game. Of course, time will tell and I'm eager to find out. 

4. Papa Bear's fake Immunity Idol was a valiant but useless effort. 

Fake Immunity Idols are awesome when they work, no doubt about it. We all remember the impact of Ozzy's masterful creation once left in Jason's hands in Fans vs. Favorites. And though I appreciate the fact that Papa Bear refused to go down without a fight, I'm glad it bore no fruit as Cochran's strategy and reasoning was better: Looking for the Immunity Idol alienates the rest of your tribe - unless you can do it without being caught. Clearly Papa Bear's intention was to be caught, seeing as he wanted his tribe to think he had it and therefore play it safer by voting for Cochran. Even if that had worked, it would have been a short-term solution. As for Cochran, I think it was difficult for him to reel in his anxiety and scrambling tendency, and I think he did a great job and made some good points. I'm excited to see how he tried to shake things up this week! 

That's it for this week! My hope for the next episode(s) is that we'll get to see more of the other players that are silently strategizing and playing smart rather than the dramatic, dysfunctional ones that might make for good TV. Namely, show me more Sophie, Albert, Keith (and Whitney?) and Cochran! 

What did you all think? Did something stand out to you that I missed? How do you feel about Brandon? Should Ozzy have shared with Keith that he had the Immunity Idol? Share your comments below! 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode 3 in 15 seconds

It's not that I'm underwhelmed by this episode, I'm just not overwhelmed with excitement either.

That said, I do have some thoughts mulling over in my mind, so definitely stay tuned for those!

In the meantime, here's my 15 second initial reaction to this week's ep:

...and: well you'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode Two: Immunity Idols and Idiotic Insights

Cocky or just excited? Good move or cursed find? 

Yesterday was an incredible day. Not only was I in Washington D.C. visiting two of my favorite people, but I also a) bumped into Adechike from So You Think You Can Dance in a Chinatown Starbucks [figures I’d have to leave NY to bump into someone (semi-) famous!] and b) an old friend from college texted me saying that he was hanging out with Survivor: South Pacific’s very own Sophie, and they were READING THIS BLOG!!!!! To make things even more awesome, I’m going to watch Survivor with them a week from this Wednesday. Needless to say, I’m super pumped.

So pumped even that I rewatched the second episode of the season last night with my boyfriend, his Dad, whose interest I had piqued with my unfaltering ebullience, and a good friend of ours.

So without further ado, here are my thoughts from the episode:

1. Ozzy finding the immunity idol is both really exciting and dangerous.

Impressive monkey-skills and initial excitement due to favorite contestants finding Immunity Idols aside, Ozzy getting his hands on this Immunity leaves me with mixed feelings. Not only do I find it kind of strange that the idol was placed in almost the exact same way as it was in Fans vs. Favorites when he found it on Exile Island, but I also think it wasn’t his best move overall. Ozzy’s main issue is his social game and he needs to work extra hard to make sure his fellow tribe mates want to keep him around, without him having to use the idol to stay in the game. In Cook Islands, Yul demonstrated very effectively how the Immunity Idol was most useful: to get power in the game. Keeping it for the purpose of saving yourself on one occasion, provided you play it correctly, is not very helpful on the long run. And my main concern with Ozzy is that his natural confidence – which sometimes borders on cockiness and over-confidence – will return and he’ll pay less attention to his social game, thus shooting himself in the foot once again, and failing at the whole redemption thing.

2. The whole Keith/Jim/Ozzy alliance leaves me largely underwhelmed.

Ok, so if Ozzy might border on cocky in some instances, Jim is full on obnoxious. “I’m the mastermind and the architect of this plan”? Yeah, think again. That said, Keith handled the situation very smoothly and is turning out to be a physically strong but also socially apt player – always exciting qualities to see develop – easing my initial skepticism around this season’s mighty male players along the way. I will say Jim is entertaining to watch and is coming up with some memorable quotes along the way. But his “cool kid” attitude is going to get him into trouble – and I won’t mind one bit. (I mean really Jim: “I don’t see any of us 5 flipping.” Do you even know how this game works? And do you really expect to be certain of that 4-5 days in?)

3. I miss separate reward and immunity challenges.

This week’s challenge was exciting to watch, not least because I love a good comeback (especially when Ozzy’s at the helm!) but I can’t help but be disappointed it was a join reward/immunity challenge once again. If they can’t even give us two separate challenges before the Redemption Island duels begin, then it’s not looking good for later in the season. And that makes me sad… Come on! Survivor is also about the physical aspect of the challenges, ­­and beyond that, the way people react to reward challenges and the decisions they make around them can have a large impact on the game. It’s a shame to reduce that component. I’d much rather see more of those strategic moves than searching for hidden Immunity Idols.

4. Christine dug her grave, and deserves to lie in it.

Speaking of hidden Immunity Idols, Christine made a big mistake searching for it as openly as she did. It was obvious she was going to follow in Kristina’s – her namesake from last season – footsteps. She made a handful of other important mistakes too, like shunning Coach right off the bat and making no effort to mend that relationship, and being so aggressive both at camp (though her confrontation with Edna was really entertaining and I will look forward to seeing how Edna attempts to compensate for and/or improve her social awkwardness) and at Tribal Council.

5. Brandon is train wreck waiting to happen, and I’m eating it all up.

It looks like we’ll be seeing a lot more of his downward spiral into good vs. evil in the next episode, but we got a good look at how shortsighted, na├»ve and impulsive Brandon is this week, unflattering editing aside. While I think that divulging his identity to Coach turned out well for him because of Coach’s honorable game playing philosophy, I also suspect it had absolutely nothing to do with strategy. He just couldn’t keep his mouth shut. His performance at Tribal Council confirms this suspicion… You can’t just declare that you were behind sabotaging someone at camp – and a completely faultless and honorable someone at that – and not explain why or at least extend an apology. I’m sure if Brandon told Mikayla he’d feel more comfortable if she wore shorts around camp, she’s be happy to oblige (which would be a good strategic move for her too). Trying to get her kicked off for entirely selfish reasons is not the right way to go about it. Everyone likes a good train wreck, but this is taking it a bit far.

6. A Tribal Council like I like them! But why must the women always be first to suffer the initial elimination?

Tribal Council was a treat this episode! At first, I thought Coach was being reckless and stupid, but somehow he managed to come out on top of his “gloves off” policy. Albert impressed me in his eloquence and strong argumentation skills. (I love smart players on Survivor!) Mikayla needs to work on more than just her physical skills if she wants a chance to get deeper into the game. And why the hell did Stacey and Christine not vote together? Throwing away a vote is no way to either protect yourself or get yourself in any solid alliance. Neither one of them is going to last long. And though I know that weakness is the main criteria of elimination in the first Tribal Councils, I find it offensive and honestly narrow-minded to so obviously target the old and the female in the tribe. Look at Palau’s season: the ‘older’ and arguably less fit tribe of Koror killed the younger and stronger Ulong tribe with their strategy and brains. It’s time to open your minds a little more kiddos!

I’m looking forward to the Redemption Island duel! Who’s your money on for the win? (I’m going to bet on Christine, though I wouldn’t be opposed to Semhar getting herself some appropriate redemption by kicking butt.) What do you think of the Immunity Idol situation? Who’s shaping up to be your favorite player this season? Leave comments below! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode 2 in 15 seconds

What an fantastic episode! I'm so glad the momentum hasn't been lost in the second episode, and I'm really enjoying every moment of this season so far.

Ozzy, use it right this time!!!

Brandon, get OVER yourself.

Mikayla, keep kicking butt! But ok, cover yourself up a little bit while doing it...

Jim: overconfidence never got anyone anywhere on Survivor!

Here are my 15 seconds...:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode One: Love, Loss and How To Call It

Ozzy the Survivor-ator solving the awesome puzzle
It’s Friday night, 10:48PM, and I’m on my way to Boston for the weekend. At the moment, I’m theoretically an hour away, but effectively stuck in a traffic jam that refuses to appear on my iPhone. So I’m completely in the dark as to how long this traffic jam actually is. It is ironic how annoyed I am by this considering I keep affirming that I am not at the mercy of my currently not-so-smart phone.

BUT! Never fear. Now that I have slept and listened to music for the past almost-four hours from New York, I am fully prepared to launch into my Survivor: South Pacific – Episode 1 run-through.

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to try a new experiment this time and really connect with fellow fans on Twitter. The fact that Jeff Probst was tweeting and posting videos FROM HIS LIVING ROOM definitely helped. Russell was also there (obvi making comments on how Brandon – and well, everyone else – should play the game); I particularly enjoyed his Tweet on how Ozzy got powned by Parvati when Russell controlled Parvati: “Ozzy does not know how to play this game. He got punked by Parvati, I controlled Parvati.” Now now Russell… I would disagree on both accounts. But let’s not get into that today.

Now onto my episode highlights!

1. These contestants actually look ready to play.

We begin with a shot of Jeff and a helicopter. Very quickly, we zoom into Coach and Ozzy as they loom over the South Pacific island of Samoa, about to field various reactions from the tribes they are about to join. One thing is certain; the contestants are skeptical and make it very clear that the All-Stars’ fate will depend on whether they can be used… or shoo’ed. One Upolu tribe member, Christine, stands out as being a plain ol’ bitter pants when she states very assertively that these guys will not stay for long. That’s not just up to you, lady… And who ends up on her tribe? Poor Coach. Ozzy got a warmer welcome as he smacked his tribe’s red paint-filled egg against his heart. Now that t-shirt will be a winner for the eBay auction.

2. The first challenge is the coolest, most challenging puzzle ever.

A face-off between Coach and Ozzy turns into a united tribe effort when Ozzy has finished showing off his climbing, digging and being sexy skills and Coach has kind of kept up. This is actually the first time I’ve seen contestants being called out on not following the rules and taking a while to figure it out. Basically, the puzzle is a pyramid sliced into horizontal pieces from the base to the tip. The pyramid is complete on one table and the goal is to move the pyramid to a third table by only moving one piece at a time and only putting smaller pieces on top of larger ones. Ozzy showed his humbler side when he gestured to his tribe to help him out and the challenge became a screaming fest of “No! Not that one! To the left! Over here!” But it worked for Savaii, and Ozzy took home the “fire in the form of flint.”

3. Coach has some work cut out for him… And does a great job.

Without a doubt, Coach got the short end of the stick on this one. Not only did he end up on bitter Christine’s tribe, he was also clearly the less welcome of the two redemption-seeking All-Stars. Somehow, he still managed to get himself an alliance of 5, including a very intriguing, smart and highly intuitive recent grad, Sophie. The only girl of the alliance, she could go far. She definitely gets a “to-be-followed” card from me. But Coach’s biggest break was clearly this: Upolu won Immunity at the first challenge. Despite not being Coach’s biggest fan, I’m impressed at how he handled himself and look forward to seeing his next moves.

4. Ozzy falls for an over-confident, too-much-boob-showing show-off. A huge downgrade from Amanda.

Ozzy's love interest?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I was never Amanda’s greatest fan… But at least the girl was super hot, smart and could stand her own at a challenge (even if she couldn’t stand up for herself at Tribal Council). Enter Semhar, an outspoken young lady with awesome afro hair and a knack for showing too much cleavage. A few words of spoken-word poetry and Ozzy’s taking the bait. Ugh… Now, I realize that my TOUT comment on this came across more angry than anything else, but really I was just frustrated that Ozzy would be so keen to start another island romance when his last once so obviously took his attention away from the game. He even stood up for Semhar when she stepped forward claiming to have great aim and a good arm and then failed miserably at the challenge, ultimately losing Immunity for Savaii. Tssk Tssk Ozzy, tssk tssk.

5. Brandon: a doomed creepster that I hope will manage to step up and surprise me.

When I learned Russell’s nephew was going to be on the show, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I suspected he wouldn’t follow his uncle’s wicked ways, but I was hoping he’d actually have some game under there too. Turns out he’s a married father – even though he looks no older than 19-20 – and he’s a G-d fearing conservative prude. I will blame much of his creepster moments on biased editing, but that doesn’t mean I was not extremely disturbed – and somewhat entertained – by his sneaking up on and trash-talking Mikayla, who seems like a strong and promising contestant that just happens to also be pretty darn fine. Apparently that’s too much for Brandon to handle.

But keeping his t-shirt on in various ridiculous ways to hide his Hantz tattoos is totally up his alley. I mean come on, how common of a last name is Hantz? And wouldn’t lying and saying he wasn’t related right off the bat be better than dooming himself to having to explain why he won’t ever take his shirt off? Personally, I don’t think he’ll be able to keep the secret, even if that is in his best interest. Having a killer player like Sophie on the tribe will make this concoction for disaster a lot of fun to watch—I hope.

6. Why the hell are people all up in Jeff’s face about how to call them all of a sudden?

It’s one thing when quirky Cochran asks Jeff to call him by his last name because previous players that have had that honor have always been more awesome for the title (Mariano, Penner, Savage…) and it’s quite another when a dubious but admittedly cuddly-looking retired police officer by the name of Mark Anthony (also dubious…) asks Jeff to call him Poppa Bear. What’s next, Ozzy asking Jeff to call him Monkey Man? Or Dolphin Boy? Or simply Survivor-ator? Surviv-inator? (Well, something like that.) It’s ludicrous, and unless it’s a pronunciation thing, Probst (cuz he’s that cool) should have the last say on how he chooses players should be called. He gives the cool factor; it’s not imposed on him.

Ultimately, this first episode was very entertaining to watch and the 90-minutes just flew by! I’m more than pumped for this season and excited about some of these players. The girls seem to be promising as well as pretty (Mikayla, Elyse, Whitney), the nerds could have a lot to offer given the chance (Cochran and one of my front-runners right now, Sophie), we‘ve got some loud but entertaining folk (Jim, Christine, who I really don’t like and hope will leave the game soon) and of course we have Ozzy, who just keeps reminding me how much I love him and why I believe in him as much as I do. The one thing I’m not seeing right now is how the muscular men will prove to be more than just that.

What did you think about the episode? Who were your favorite contestants? Are you rooting for Ozzy and/or Coach? Were you happy with the first elimination?