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!