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!