“I hate to go down this paranoid road”: Survivor Caramoan Fans vs. Favorites II February 13 2013 recap

14 Feb

When the list of returnees for this season was announced, I did give Andrea an approving nod, noting she was “a good character with an expressive face.” But forgive me for being so nonchalant: Andrea is gold. Thinking back to her season, she really played a fantastic game, getting pretty close to the end. The fact that she was overshadowed by Boston Rob and that I wanted Rob to win led me to dismiss her somewhat. Producers: I salute you for bringing her back.

Anyway, Andrea and her 9 fellow returnees are facing 10 newcomers this season (and I love the fact that the tribes are not mixed together). The newbies stand on the beach while two helicopters fly menacingly close to drop off the Favorites.

Jeff Probst wastes no time in calling for the first challenge which involves facing off two at a time to move an inner tube close enough to one’s goal that a player is touching tube and goal at the same time. We see that Phillip Sheppard has the same droopy red briefs as last time (or similar anyway… I refuse to scrutinize before-and-after photos to compare). We also see that Francesca is one big, and pretty athletic, lady. The best part is an epic struggle between Malcolm and newcomer Reynold, a male model type. Both guys get their pants pulled down in the course of the battle, keeping the Survivor effects software busy pixeling out all the genitalia. When the smoke clears and the junk’s put away, the Favorites have won the reward: flint and some beans.

In addition to Andrea, Phillip, Francesca and Malcolm, let me introduce the other Favorites. There’s Brandon Hantz, who stunningly is not wracked with guilt at any time during the episode (this guy can get wracked by guilt brushing his teeth in the morning), and reminds us that he is a pretty good challenge player. Please let him make it to the loved ones episode so one of the other Hantzes can come out! Then we have Brenda and Corinne, two villainesses of the past who wisely opt to keep a very low profile in the early going. Overanalyzing nerd Cochran is back, looking like he hasn’t been out of doors once since he was on Survivor South Pacific a year and a half ago, as is his former castmate Dawn, who shockingly holds no grudge against Cochran for costing her any chance to win the last time around. Erik, who prompted a yell of “[ice] cream scooper guy!” from one of the Fans, rounds out the group.

The Fans haven’t gotten as much camera time, but some that have are Matt the bearded BMX salesman, his early ally Michael the (presumably) gay event planner who the camera focuses on almost constantly, Eddie who can’t stop talking about how good-looking, athletic and cool he is, and Shamar, a former Marine who, while fat, can do yoga stretches. The fact that Michael is shown so much despite not doing much leads me to believe he will be a major character in the game.

Speaking of foreshadowing, you may recall that Francesca was the first person voted off in her Redemption Island season. She is shown early on saying “If I’m the first person voted off again, I’ll eat this rock,” holding up a rock that looks too big to swallow. Hmmm, when on Survivor someone says that something is a lock to happen or is guaranteed not to happen, that usually means one thing, hmmm…

Back to Eddie for a second: this guy’s braggadocio made me think of an old Dennis Miller Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live, circa 1991. They showed the poster of the Richard Grieco vehicle “If Looks Could Kill,” and Miller quipped, “Hey, if looks could kill, somebody get Grieco a mirror.”

In the Favorites’ camp, there’s talk of alliances very early on. Phillip makes clear that his apprenticeship with Boston Rob Mariano was not wasted, and essentially says he asks “what would Rob do?” in most any situation. He quickly gets the idea for a majority alliance and goes on the recruiting trail, but curiously he identifies Cochrane and Erik as potential go-to-guys. Uh, Phillip, don’t forget those two have made two of the most famously idiotic moves in Survivor history. Also, when he goes to put his sales pitch on Erik, he decides to go straight to hardball… it’s more “what would Russell do” than “what would Rob do.”

The immunity challenge, alas, is won by the Fans, and Francesca, taking the lead, quickly identifies Phillip as the one to be voted out. Andrea and Francesca had made somewhat of a pact in the early minutes of the show, and they know each other from Redemption Island, but Phillip was on that season too, and by this time Andrea would rather ally with Phillip than Francesca and tells him so. The fact that Francesca was only ever on one episode of one season works against her, as she has no track record. Neither does Malcolm (his season having not yet aired when they filmed this one), but he’s keeping a very low profile whereas Francesca is strategizing hard, even proposing to split a vote with some voting for Corinne, in case Phillip has an immunity idol (though there has been no mention of an idol yet this season). Then Erik and Brandon get “a bad vibe” from Andrea and at the very last second put her name in the mix.

At tribal council Francesca is voted out by a vote of 6-4, with Brandon, Erik, and Brenda joining Francesca in voting for Andrea. It didn’t look like Andrea and Phillip had the votes to make this happen, but Cochran and Dawn, who appeared to be tight with Francesca, actually went with Phillip and Andrea. In retrospect it makes sense: they’ve seen Andrea and Phillip play an entire season, with Andrea playing well and Phillip at least being loyal. Francesca has no track record as noted and seems like a threat, Erik and Brandon are not impressive guys, and Brenda is known to be dangerous.

Time to eat that rock, Francesca. Phillip hit the nail on the head when he said a couple of times that she did too much strategizing too early. It hurts to get outsmarted by Phillip.

Early Favorites To Win: I’d have to mention Michael because they show him so much, and also Reynold, Andrea and Malcolm.

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