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! 

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