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!

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