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!