Archive | March, 2014

The Worst Survivor Players of All Time: My Ranking

29 Mar

This ranking is not possible to do scientifically for one main reason: by definition, the first couple of players voted out each season have got to be among the worst, and these players seldom receive enough screen time to be evaluated in full. There might be some really terrible players who we just didn’t see enough badness from.

So while I think my ranking of the ten best is pretty much definitive, the most I can do is offer up some suggestions for the five worst.

But first it’s time for a number of dishonorable mentions, in alphabetical order:

Abi-Maria (Philippines and Cambodia)

Abi decided to torpedo her own alliance for no reason by picking a fight with R.C. In doing so she basically brought down the chances to win of herself, R.C. and Pete all at once. She doesn’t make the bottom five because she did actually start to play the game a bit… after it was too late. In her second chance season, Cambodia, she swore to me a different person but was exactly the same.

Billy (Cook Islands)

Unathletic guy with a “heavy metal” look. Didn’t do well in challenges, and embarrassingly thought that when Candace said “we love you” she was saying “I love you,” prompting him to declare his love for her (Note to Billy: Candace is kind of a bitch anyway, you wouldn’t have wanted to be with her).

Brandon Hantz (Caramoan)

Turned psychotic in Survivor Caramoan and started trashing the camp. Left the game early. The fact that he was a decent player in his first season keeps him out of the bottom five.

Chicken (Survivor China)

Hick who had nothing to offer but his hick-itude and was voted out on the first show.

Colton (One World and Blood vs. Water)

Faked an illness to quit the game when it wasn’t going his way. Then he was brought back for another season and … quit the game when it wasn’t going his way. However, he had some success as the bullying “puppet master” of his original tribe in One World, and even though that was the worst tribe in the history of the show, that little bit of success keeps him out of the bottom five.

Crystal (Gabon)

Was a terrible athlete despite being an Olympic gold medalist in track and field. Case in point, she tried to dunk on a 5-foot-high basket and missed! Still, she did make an alliance with Kenny the video gamer, and was too successful to be in the bottom five.

Erik Reichenbach (Micronesia and Caramoan, aka Fans vs. Favorites I and II)

Gave up an immunity necklace and got voted out of the game just because some girls asked him to. Then in his later season found an immunity idol and immediately handed it to Andrea, who didn’t even ask him to. Also in his second season, refused to strategize at all and just wanted to be told the name to vote for. Erik really wasn’t playing the game of Survivor at all. Only his considerable ability in challenges keeps him out of the bottom five.

Jonny Fairplay (Micronesia)

Announced on the first episode that he missed his girlfriend and wanted to be voted out. Very lame indeed. But I still give him credit for doing well in his first season, Pearl Islands.

Keith (San Juan del Sur and Cambodia)

Keith was darn good in challenges, especially for an older guy, but he gets mention here for being perhaps the worst strategist in the history of the game. Exclaiming “stick to the plan” when he was supposed to pretend like he had no allies was perhaps his lowest point. But declining to even try to use Kelley Wentworth’s convincing fake idol when he had absolutely no chance to stay in the game other than trying that comes very close.

Max (Worlds Apart)

In fairness, he’s nowhere near as bad as most of the players listed here. But he’s more disappointing than any of them. When it was announced that he was a Survivor expert who even teaches a class on the show, I was hoping he would use that knowledge to combine all the best traits of all the best players. Instead, all he did was make lame references to prior seasons at every opportunity.

Na’Onka (Survivor Nicaragua)

Quit very late in the game, to the chagrin of her ally Sash. Also infamous for general bad attitude, and also for pushing a crippled girl! And this woman is a teacher! Frankly it’s tough to leave Na’Onka out of my bottom five. But this is not a ranking of the most annoying contestants in Survivor history, but of the worst.

Osten (Pearl Islands)

Very athletic-looking guy who was terrible in challenges, and also quit the game. I believe he was the first person ever to quit.

Rick (South Pacific)

The cowboy hat-wearer never said or did anything the whole time he played. The fact that he low-keyed his way into fifth place keeps him out of the bottom five.

Scout (Vanuatu)

Mellow to the point of almost not playing at all, and a horrible challenge competitor. At least she rode a strong alliance with Twila into third place, and out of my bottom five.

Wanda (Palau)

Is known for only one thing, singing a Survivor song on the first episode that she had composed herself. Also on that first episode, the tribes were picked schoolyard-style and that season’s twist would be that the last two people would not be on a tribe, and be instantly eliminated. Wanda was one of them. If she’d only hung on for one episode more she might have shown enough to be in my bottom five, alas the sample size was just too small.

And now it’s time for the bottom five.

#5 Zane (Survivor Philippines)

Misdeeds: On the very first episode he didn’t do well on the challenge and he asked his tribe to send him home. Then later in the episode, he claimed this was strategy! By the way, he’s memorable for his many tattoos as well as his profession: tire repair specialist. He also thought it was a good idea to wait to quit smoking until his first day on Survivor.

Why he’s not ranked lower: At least he was a memorable character, unlike…

#4 “Purple Kelly” (Nicaragua)

Misdeeds: Nonentity for her season, with arguably the least camera time of any player ever. That in itself isn’t so bad, but then she quit 28 days in, when there were only eight people left in the game! And her ally Sash was pretty much screwed as a result.

Why she’s not ranked lower: Doing nothing is not as bad as doing lots of bad things, a case in point being…

#3 J’Tia (Cagayan, aka Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty)

Misdeeds: Panicked in every challenge, costing her “Brains” tribe more than one challenge. When she thought it was likely she’d be voted out, she dumped out all of her tribe’s rice. Then when she wasn’t voted out, she complained about there not being any rice!

Why she’s not ranked lower: Actually seemed like a nice enough person, unlike…

#2 Shamar ( Caramoan)

Misdeeds: Ex-Marine who was incredibly lazy and also psycho. Stuck around longer than he should have because some on his tribe thought he’d be a great choice to take to the finals because everybody hates him. At one point announced that others should get him food. Then quit the game claiming injury from “a grain of sand scratching his eye.”

Why he’s not ranked even lower: He was OK in challenges, and someone else was even more annoying, namely…

#1 Janu (Palau)

Misdeeds: Being incredibly annoying and quitting while not really wanting to admit she was quitting. Plus, since she made the jury we had to see even more of her at tribal council. Though this did lead to a semi-classic moment at the final tribal council when Katie told Janu flat-out she wasn’t going to answer her stupid questions. I can’t really say why Janu is more annoying than the odious Shamar. She just is.

“Top Five!” Survivor Cagayan March 26 2014 recap

29 Mar

Upon returning to camp from Tribal Council, Trish announces she wants to make a few things clear, And Lindsey more or less announces that she wants to make clear that she doesn’t want to hear Trish talk. Trish tells Lindsey “I don’t like you” and Lindsey answers “You disgust me,” and adds “Everything about you is annoying: your laugh, your teeth, your face.”

We see Lindsey go off by herself, and soon a guy with a baseball cap comes up and says “Hey Lindsey, I got a call you wanted to talk.” It looked like L.J. at first glance but it’s actually Jeff Probst! (Of course the quote gave it away, since L.J. is not in a position to take phone calls). Lindsey says she wants to quit the game because she’s afraid that she’ll do something bad (implying that she would get physically violent) and she doesn’t want her daughter to see that. Oddly enough, Probst, who in the past has barely concealed his disgust at someone quitting, is very low-key about it, but notes that no one has ever quit the game for that reason. Lindsey doesn’t even have the guts to tell her tribe goodbye, that job is left to Probst. And that’s the last we see of Lindsey.

It’s somewhat surprising that Probst took all of this sitting down (literally). I wonder if the incident of J’Tia dumping out the tribe’s rice earlier in the year made the producers want to avoid any more ugly scenes? And incidentally, I thought J’Tia was the runaway winner of the “worst player of the season” title, but Lindsey is providing her unexpected competition. I can’t think of anything she did this season other than a) snipe at Trish and b) form an alliance with Cliff and Woo. At the very first sign of adversity, namely Cliff being voted out, she quit. I’m sure the thousands of people who have been trying to get on the show for years are absolutely seething.

At any rate, Tony is enjoying this new development, coming as it does on the heels of Cliff’s ouster. He calls it “two for the price of one.”

The reward challenge is one that has been used before: two players face off, each balancing an idol in one hand and trying to knock the other player’s idol to the ground. Spencer obviously saw that prior season, as he uses a strategy that some used before: toss your own idol high in the air and make a dive to knock down the other person’s (so while your own idol is sure to hit the ground, it will do so second, and you win). Woo is the person he victimizes, but when those two face off again in a later round, the martial arts instructor has a trick of his own, and Woo’s tribe wins.

The reward is a “camp raid” which allows two people from one tribe to steal from the other. Tony and Woo are the ones who make the raid. When they get to the opposing camp they unroll the instructions they were given concerning the raid, and also find an immunity idol clue. However, that clue does not refer to the camp where they currently are, but to Tony and Woo’s own camp (and an idol that L.J. already has, unbeknownst to anyone but him). To cause trouble, Tony concocts the idea that he and Woo claim they were told they can give the clue to one opposing tribe member. This might sow some dissension in the other tribe, and of course the clue will do the other tribe no good. They go over to the other tribe and announce this, and ask Jeremiah to come with them to get the clue. He’s confused when he opens it to see it’s a clue that he has already read. As Tony and Woo prepare to leave, Tony realizes that he shouldn’t leave the clue with Jeremiah, and races back to get it.

When Tony and Woo get back to their own beach, Tony can’t resist telling everyone about the trick, and everyone has a good laugh at Jeremiah’s new predicament (including L.J. and Jeffra, oddly enough). But Tony is on a roll and doesn’t know when to shut up. He also proceeds to tell everyone he’s really a cop, not a construction worker (which he had previously only shared with Sarah. His tribemates realize that Tony is somewhat more of a schemer than they originally thought. L.J. notes, “So to solidify that he is trustworthy, Tony exposed that he lied.¬†Different.”

Back at the other camp, Jeremiah suddenly has damage control to do, since he doesn’t have the clue anymore to simply show everyone. Now he tells them it was the same clue they had already seen, and Tony and Woo must just have wanted to mess with them. He appeals to logic by noting that their tribe lost the reward challenge, so why would they be given any sort of benefit? However, even though this is true, Spencer and others aren’t buying it.

The immunity challenge is so nondescript that I’ve already forgotten about it, but the key moment comes afterward. Tony’s five-person tribe wins, and as they celebrate, Tony shouts “top five!” Sarah, over on the other tribe, is apoplectic, as she takes that to mean she is no longer in Tony’s alliance. Sarah’s entire tribe was angered by “Top Five” comment. But who do they vote out? The three former Brains (Kass, Tasha, and Spencer), as a solid block of three of the seven people, seem to be in control. They distrust Jeremiah now but are also wary of Alexis potentially flipping after a marge. Sarah guarantees she will not flip, although she’s the person with the most reason to, and everyone believes her!

The tribe goes to tribal council (all have been there before other than Sarah), and there’s a debate about whether Jeremiah or Alexis is a bigger liability. Somewhat surprisingly, the vote is for Alexis, who leaves the game sobbing.

Favorites: Tasha, Spencer, L.J., Sarah, Woo, Tony

Not sure yet: Jeremiah, Trish

No chance: Kass, Morgan, Jefra

“I could be his mutha”: Survivor Cagayan March 19 2014 recap

21 Mar

The Brains tribe (Tasha, Spencer, and Kass) begins the episode by congratulating themselves for voting out J’Tia. They all agree they’d be guaranteed to be right back at Tribal the next time if they’d kept her around. Spencer tries to be optimistic: “The only thing between us and [the final three] is two entire tribes.”

Time for the reward challenge, and Jeff Probst tells Brawn and Beauty it’s their “first look at the new Brains tribe.” Uh, not really — the tribes walked in one after the other in single file, and Brains was just five yards behind the others.

Probst announces it’s time for a tribe switch, so everyone drops their buffs and two new tribes are chosen at random. They are:

Orange: Sarah, Spencer, Kass, Tasha, Morgan, Jeremiah, and Alexis

Purple: Woo, Cliff, Trish, Jeffra, L. J., Lindsey, and Tony.

So Sarah is the only Brawn member on a tribe with the three remaining Brains members, plus three from Beauty.

Meanwhile the other tribe is almost all Brawn except for L.J. and Jeffra.

The reward challenge is one we’ve seen before: one player has to cling to a pole while two from the opposing tribe try to pull him off and then drag him across an expanse of sand. This gets really physical and the first two on pole duty, Lindsey and Tasha, prove to be quite the tigresses. Finally Lindsey gets dragged over the finish line, while Tasha pretty much didn’t budge the whole time. Jeff Probst avoids making a Chris Rock “keep her off the pole” reference. In the second round, Cliff is the one on the pole for Purple, and Alexis for Orange. Yes, you read that right: a slightly built girl versus a 6’10” former star athlete. That round is just as close as you might think. So Purple wins, i.e. the Brains are on the losing side once again.

So the tribes retire to their camps and get to know each other. In particular, Trish from Boston finds out that L.J. is from … Massachusetts! They step away to talk pehking cehs in Hehvard Yehd, and Trish loves every minute of it. The fact that L. J. is a hunk probably doesn’t hurt, though the fiftyish Trish realistically notes, “I could be his mutha.” Also, everyone guesses what the others’ jobs might be. Someone says to Woo “you’ve got to be a surfing instructor.” It turns out he’s a martial arts instructor… and sometime surfing instructor!

Things really get interesting on the Orange tribe, as everyone is curious to compare notes on what everyone else did the first day. Now everyone finds out that the people who made it to camp first were given the choice of getting double the rice for their tribe or the clue to an immunity idol for themselves. But if you’ll recall, Morgan took the clue and then lied to her tribe about what the choice was. So she has now been exposed big-time. Once Alexis hears this, her suspicions that she can’t trust Morgan are confirmed, so she seeks out the Brains tribe at the first opportunity and says she wants to ally with them. And shortly thereafter Jeremiah does the same thing!

And meanwhile Morgan slams Alexis, saying that she loves to “twerk” to show off her body. I had never heard the word twerk until about 2 months ago, but by golly it gets used twice in one hour of Survivor, as Trish was talking about twerking earlier as well.

The immunity challenge involves battering rams that look like enormous pencils to bash through a series of wooden walls, and then a puzzle needs to be solved at the end. You’d think the former Brawn tribe would have this in the bag, but they end up losing to the Brain-y Orange tribe, a group that certainly doesn’t take winning immunity challenges for granted!

So the Purple tribe has to go to Tribal Council. It’s filled with former “Brawn” by a 5-2 margin, so L.J. and Jeffra are clearly in trouble, especially L.J. However, Trish and Lindsey do not like each other at all, and Trish suggests to Tony that the two of them form an alliance with L.J. and Jeffra to vote Cliff out. Frankly it doesn’t seem like that plan makes a lot of sense for Tony. But you get the feeling he is somewhat intimidated by the 6’10” Cliff. Also, Cliff has gotten a lot of screen time on this episode, usually an indication that a person is going to be the one voted out.

After the vote, L.J. is confident enough not to play his immunity idol, and sure enough Cliff is voted out, 4-3. Woo looks stunned to say the least.

In my rankings, I am leaving Tony among the favorites for now, although he seems a bit too eager to make moves. I wonder if he can get to the end playing this hard.

Favorites: Tasha, Spencer, L.J., Sarah, Tony

Not sure yet: Alexis, Jeremiah, Lindsey, Trish, Woo

No chance: Kass, Morgan, Jefra

“I’m glad I didn’t pick her!” The Bachelor Season Finale Recap

18 Mar

Only Juan Pablo could make Sacramento sound exotic, and he mentions that fine city when he’s telling his family about Clare. And we also find out why Clare’s mother is fluent in Spanish … she’s Mexican! (Perhaps that had been revealed previously and I just fast-forwarded past it).

Clare and Nikki get to meet JP’s family one after the other. Suffice it to say both visits go well. However, the producers must have thought these meetings were pretty boring, as they constantly intercut them with reaction shots of random women in attendance at the live special. For his part, Chris Harrison repeats at every opportunity that this is “the most controversial Bachelor finale ever.”

We soon get to the first element of the controversy. JP and Clare go on their final date, which begins in a helicopter … nothing new there, but Clare says that when the copter landed, with no cameras running inside the copter, JP whispers an inappropriate comment (we never hear what it was, exactly) and also tells her that he doesn’t really know her well. (Well, they have only been on three dates, after all). There is much crying by Clare, and on the ensuing evening date, Clare tells JP she wonders if he cares. He says that he does. She’s satisfied with that.

As for Nikki’s date, she says “the one thing missing from my fairy tale is him telling me how he feels about me.” She doesn’t really get that, per se, and she cries after he leaves.

The less said about the commentary back at the studio the better, except that a couple of these girls (Sharleen, the girl with the dog whose name I’ve already forgotten, etc.) are the Bachelor equivalent of Sean Salisbury — i.e. the mediocre journeyman quarterback who, when he becomes a commentator, acts like he was an All-Pro.

Miraculously, we are spared a visit by the unctuous Neil Lane with his selection of engagement rings … maybe the producers raised the product placement fee this year? To the surprise of (presumably) no one, the first woman to arrive at the final altar is Clare. With minimal preamble JP says “I have to say goodbye to you.” He moves to give her a hug, but she pushes him away. “I lost respect for you,” she says as she walks away. “I would never want my children having a father like you.”

When she’s out of earshot, JP exclaims, “Hoo! I’m glad I didn’t pick her!”

When Nikki arrives she wastes no time saying “I can’t imagine spending my life without you.” JP in turn says “I’m not 100% sure that I want to propose to you, but I’m 100% sure that I don’t want to let you go.” She accepts the final rose.

Now, I ask you, isn’t this the maximum level of commitment that’s appropriate after going on about four dates? Most would agree with that statement concerning real life, but the fact that JP didn’t propose here and now is a scandal to some, notably Chris Harrison.

On “After the Final Rose,” we find out that JP and Nikki have not seen each other since that day in St. Lucia (I think that might be a contractual thing). Nikki says she’s very happy but that JP hasn’t said he loves her yet. When the couple is on stage together, Harrison tries every possible way he can think of to get JP to say he loves Nikki — there is an hour to kill after all — but they don’t bite. They say several times that they are “done with the show,” they’re real people having a real relationship and don’t feel the need to tell the world much more right now. And they certainly look very happy with one another. I am loving every minute of this but Harrison is squirming as never before. Meanwhile Sean and Catherine look either embarrassed or angry, I can’t tell which. As well they should — they are the ones who played along and sold out in every possible¬† way. They let their wedding be televised and are still regulars on “The Bachelor” just to make sure they cling to their little bit of celebrity.

This last part was fantastic television. Sorry that you were made to look silly, “Bachelor” producers and hosts. But the premise for your show is pretty silly, after all.

 

“Massive blown opportunity.” Survivor Cagayan March 12 2014 recap

13 Mar

The Beauty tribe arrives back at camp after Tribal Council, and Morgan starts floating the idea to Alexis that Jeremiah is gunning for Alexis. One slight problem: this makes no sense whatsoever. If Jeremiah were really “gunning” for her, he could have simply voted for her a few hours earlier. Since Morgan and Brice both voted for her, Alexis would have been out by a vote of 3-2-1! Even Alexis, no Phi Beta Kappa, doesn’t seem to be buying it.

The Brains tribe finds out from tree mail that the reward challenge will involve being blindfolded, so for the second episode in a row they get out and practice beforehand. Given the success this ends up bringing them, it could well be that no future tribe will ever practice again.

This challenge (with one person directing his blindfolded teammates) takes place almost every season, if not every one, and it’s always a source of lots of comedy. This year they seem to have very carefully placed every obstacle exactly at nut level … you male readers will know what I’m talking about. The Brains tribe seems to be a lock to at least finish second, but yet again, J’Tia panics … this time when asked to move a flag a few inches in a given direction. They lose, and Probst can only say “massive blown opportunity.”

Another blown opportunity comes when the Beauty tribe unloads their reward for finishing first: some chickens and chicken feed. Jeremiah reaches into the feed bag and finds the idol clue, but not realizing what it is, he just reads it out. And it’s less a “clue” than precise information as to where the idol is. This is much to the chagrin of L.J., who realizes everyone will see the idol is not there and realize that someone has already found it (but I guess we’ll have to wait until next episode for that). Obviously the tribe wants to kill one of the roosters to eat, and Jeremiah impresses the ladies by breaking the head off of the chicken. However he tells the camera “I might have been raised in the country but I don’t know anything about dang chickens, I’m a model!”

At the Brawn tribe, Sarah, still influenced by the lies Tony told her about Lindsey and Cliff Robinson, approaches Woo about possibly voting Cliff out. Wow, Woo has lost a ton of weight already! Anyway, Brawn has had the least camera time of the three tribes thus far, so it’s good to see more of them. I knew Cliff had played in the NBA a long time, but he mentions that he is actually in the all time Top 10 in games played. Sure enough, he played in more than 1,300 games! Sarah says they can’t afford to merge to two tribes with Cliff still around (though that really doesn’t make sense) and tries to sell Woo on the idea of even throwing the upcoming immunity challenge.

The challenge involves diving underwater to release buoys and then shooting rubber balls into a faraway basket. J’Tia is given the easiest job (diving only 3 feet deep) but can’t do even that, and thus her tribe is behind from the very start. Swimming a few feet is also beyond her. Beauty wins easily, but Brains catch up to Brawn at the end… however the final phase is basically a basketball-shooting contest between Spencer and, er … one of the all time NBA leaders in games played. Sorry Spencer. We find out later that Sarah really was going ahead with the “throw the challenge” plan, but the Brains tribe was so awful that they still lost!

Back at the Brains camp, Kass and Tasha agree that after yet another pitiful challenge performance by J’Tia, she should be the one to go. That’s no surprise to J’Tia: “I’m like the cat on the poster … ‘hang in there.'” She tells Kass and Tasha she will stick with them through thick and thin till the end of time, and the other two women start wavering in their decision and contemplating voting Spencer out instead!

When they sit down for Tribal Council , Jeff Probst just shrugs his shoulders and there’s a long silence. Funny! It’s evident Tasha and Kass still have not made up their minds, as they keep exchanging glances throughout and mouthing words to each other. Probst loves this. At one point he asks Spencer a question, and in the middle of Spencer’s well-reasoned answer Jeff shouts, “Tash’ is not even listening to you!”

Still, J’Tia is voted out. I think this was a good move by Kass and Tasha. If she had stayed in the game, any player in his right mind would want to get rid of Tasha and Kass, and take J’Tia all the way to the finals!

Now then: is J’Tia the worst player of all time? Well, even though I have ranked the ten best, I don’t think it’s possible to rank the worst. By definition, the first couple of players voted out each season have got to be among the worst, and these players seldom receive enough screen time to be evaluated in full. That said, I would say any list of the worst Survivor players ever would have to include Janu (Palau quitter), Wanda (the lady in Palau who made up songs), Billy (the heavy metal guy from Cook Islands), Chicken (the hick on Survivor: China), Shamar (the psycho ex-Marine on Survivor Caramoan), Abi-Maria (ultra-blunt Philippines player who alienated her own alliance), Osten (very athletic looking Pearl Islands guy who was terrible in challenges and quit the game), Scout (Vanuatu, mellow to the point of almost not playing at all), and “Purple Kelly” (Nicaragua nonentity who quit the game). I’m sure I’m forgetting some. But anyone who is not only terrible and annoying but also ruins things for others and/or quits deserves special mention. So I would have to say Shamar, Abi-Maria, Purple Kelly, and Osten are worthy of especially dishonorable mention. I will put J’Tia with them to form an unscientific “bottom five.”

Favorites: Tasha, L.J., Spencer, Sarah, Tony

Not sure yet: Cliff, Alexis, Jeremiah, Lindsey, Trish, Woo

No chance: Kass, Morgan, Jefra

“You can replace rice”: Survivor Cagayan March 5 2014 recap

9 Mar

At the risk of stating the obvious, I don’t see the Brains tribe as having much of a chance in this game. Not only have they voted out a couple of their strongest competitors, but one of their remaining players is the person who dumped out all of the rice! “You can replace rice,” Kass rationalizes.

Over at the Brawn tribe, Tony, who had denied to Sarah that he was a cop like her, decides to admit it to her and immediately propose a “Cops-R-Us” alliance (and immediately is the word for how quickly the producers post “#copsrus” on screen). Sarah eats it up, and also buys a story Tony makes up out of whole cloth, namely that Lindsey and Cliff Robinson are scheming against Sarah.

All of the tribes are enduring an awful day of rain. So L.J. from the Beauty tribe decides to make the best of it by … venturing out to look for the immunity idol! He doesn’t have any clues other than the direction he saw Morgan coming from on the first day, but in the middle of the storm he finds it, and resolves to keep it secret.

Back at the Brains tribe, J’Tia is complaining that there’s not enough rice. Yes, you read that correctly. Hmm, why could that be, lady? Perhaps because …. YOU DUMPED ALL OF IT OUT? Her tribemates are incredulous. Soon they get “tree mail” that reveals the next challenge will involve tossing water from person to person. Tasha suggests that they should all practice, and lets Spencer know that he should have the most motivation to win since he’s the one who would be on the chopping block. The whole tribe does practice tossing water back and forth (to the sounds of the Blue Danube Waltz, added by producers). Alas, the real challenge will end up being with buckets rather than cups, so the techniques they develop are all for naught.

When the Brains tribe gets to the challenge, the other tribes are stunned that Garrett, the one athletic guy, was the one voted out. As it turns out, tossing water from bucket to bucket is the first phase of the challenge, and the second is to guide a ball through a circular maze. Brawn wins, and Brain finishes second, leading to one of the most intense group celebrations I’ve ever seen on the show. And that’s for being second!

So the Beauty tribe will have to vote someone out. L. J. wants it to be Brice, he’s more worried about him than Morgan (probably because Brice is clearly more intelligent). The swing vote is Jeremiah: both Brice-Morgan and L.J.-Jefra (a blonde pageant queen)- Alexis (a brunette) think he is with them. And Jeremiah, who is sort of like Bobby Jon from previous seasons, notes “I’m just this country guy.”

The vote shows that Jeremiah is indeed with L.J.’s group. The four of them cast two votes for Brice and two for Morgan, and those two in turn both vote Alexis. So there’s a re-vote, but of course Brice, Morgan, and Alexis can’t participate, so all three votes go to Brice.

One thing strikes me as pretty funny. In the last episode Morgan said more than once that being so sexy she could make any man do what she wants. As it turned out, the only man in her tribe who remotely did what she wanted was … the only gay guy. I guess all of them were “immune” to her charms, just in different ways.

This season the show has done a fantastic job of showing us all 18 players rather than dwelling on just a couple, so I feel comfortable doing the first installment of my rankings!

Favorites: Tasha, L.J., Spencer, Sarah

Not sure yet: Cliff, Alexis, Jefra, Jeremiah, Lindsey, Tony, Trish, Woo

No chance: J’Tia, Kass, Morgan

 

“I trust cute more than I trust hot”: Survivor Cagayan Season Premiere Recap

7 Mar

“Brawn versus Brains versus Beauty” was the announced theme and gimmick of this season, and we begin by seeing the three tribes arrive by three different forms of transportation: helicopter, car, and boat. A neat touch. A few are introduced briefly, and lo and behold one of them is the old Portland Trail Blazer, Cliff Robinson! I don’t think I had ever seen him without a headband before. Other than Cliff, everyone pretty much just tells the camera how awesome they are.

The tribes are told why they’re grouped the way they are, and each tribe is made to instantly choose a leader (of course the smart thing to do is to speak up quickly to nominate someone else for the job). Then it gets worse: each leader is made to choose someone in their own group as being the weakest player of the group.

The “Beauty” leader, an affable fellow named L.J., chooses Morgan the former NFL cheerleader. We have already heard a lot from Morgan at this point of the show, and almost every sentence begins with “I don’t want to sound conceited, but … [and then a comment about her own beauty].”¬† L.J. tells the camera he made this choice because most of the people on the tribe are merely cute, but Morgan is hot, and he trusts cute more than he trusts hot. Morgan is very sexy indeed, but I couldn’t help but think she’s one of those 20-year-olds who will have lost her looks by 25. Just sayin’.

As for the “Brains” tribe, we have learned that their leader, David, is the president of the Florida Marlins. He shows his capability for decision-making by whirling around and choosing … the only athletic-looking person in the group, Garrett. Why in God’s name would he choose him? David explains to everyone that he is already thinking ahead to day 39. Of course, everyone else knows that if you don’t win challenges early to keep your tribe strong, you might not see day 9, never mind day 39.

The “Brawn” leader Sarah picks a Pilates teacher named Trish, certainly a sensible choice as she’s the least brawny of the bunch. Trish sees it more as ageism.

By the way, thus far in the show there has been not one mention of the Philippines, never mind where in the Philippines Cagayan might be, but take my word for it, they are indeed in that country. However, the settings do look a bit different from the last two seasons, so I suspect they might be in a different part of the country this time.

The “weakest” members of each tribe are flown to their camps ahead of everyone else, and each sees a message that “you can help yourself or help your tribe.” Either the player can take an immunity idol clue or get an extra barrel of rice for the tribe to share. Garrett doesn’t consider the rice option, seeing as how he’s already somewhat of an outcast. We also find out he is a professional poker player. And that he’s ripped. He finds the clue in fairly short order, as a number of different lizards and snakes look on.

Trish the Pilates teacher (“Brawn” tribe) is the only one to choose the rice. Morgan the ex-cheerleader also chooses the clue. However, she still hasn’t found it when she sees the rest of the Beauty tribe arriving at the beach. She figures she’s a dead duck if everyone hears that she has an idol clue, so she quickly concocts the cover story that none of the equipment at camp would have been there if she hadn’t altruistically chosen to do without an advantage for herself. Why is she all wet? Just going for a swim. The other beautiful people seem to buy it. By the way, there is a fellow named Brice in the group who doesn’t have much beauty that I can see. He seems to be the comic relief.

Over on the Brawn tribe, we find out that Cliff Robinson is not trying to pull a Gary Hogeboom/Jeff Kent and hide his identity. Good thing too, as an Asian fellow named Woo has already recognized him. Meanwhile, Sarah, the “leader,” has had her eye on Tony: “There’s a look that cops have and Tony’s got it.”She asks him if he’s a cop and he denies it, saying he works in construction. We the viewers know that he is in fact a cop. He explains to the camera that he didn’t want the other players to think of him as a tactical mastermind type. Tony is a really good character.

And on the Brains tribe, it’s time to build a shelter. A girl named J’Tia proudly announces that she’s got this covered, as she’s a nuclear engineer. Nuclear engineering and structural engineering are much different, right? Well, I know I’m right, because her shelter plan does not go well, plus she bosses everyone around. Congratulations to Survivor: though the whole world knows that the surest way to exit the game quickly is to be bossy while building a shelter on the first day, season after season they always turn up one contestant who does just that.

Well, not only does shelter-building go poorly for the Brains, so does the first challenge. One of them sighs, “We’re book-smart, but when it comes to playing this game we’re dumb.” So that tribe will have to go to the first Tribal Council. David (Marlins president) and Kass (a pull-no-punches lawyer) take a walk to strategize, and David portrays it as being a choice between J’Tia and Garrett (remember, he is still clinging to his “Day 39 strategy.”). Kass responds to that choice as follows: “No. J’Tia. All the way.” Soon thereafter J’Tia asks Kass who she’s thinking of voting out and Kass says “Honestly, I’m leaning towards you.” And proceeds to tell her exactly why!

As it turns out, the only votes J’Tia gets are from Kass and David, and David becomes the first person voted out. This is the guy who was playing for Day 39, mind you. By the way, did I miss the Florida Marlins being some great sports dynasty?

This is a two-hour premiere, so the fun continues. We begin with Garrett and a tall young guy named Spencer doing some strategizing. These two look like they’re going to be quite the power alliance. They realize that the two black girls, J’Tia and Tasha, are sticking together, which makes the fifth tribe member, Kass, the swing vote.

Speaking of pairing up, on the Brawn tribe, Cliff Robinson and Woo seem to have hit it off. Meanwhile Trish (Pilates) is clashing with a scary tattooed brunette named Lindsey. Tony the secret cop tells her not to worry, and then he shows the viewers a “spy shack” he is building. It’s not really clear how this will work, but apparently it will let him eavesdrop on other players. By the way, so far I really like the cast of this season.

It’s time for another challenge, and in this one the Brains jump out to a sizeable lead on the other two tribes. To win, the only thing they need is for J’Tia to solve a puzzle. Oops. She starts slow and panics very early, the lead disappears, and the Brains come in third. They go home empty-handed again, while the Brawn tribe who came in first gets a huge care package of fire-making tools.

While some players on this season appear never to have seen Survivor before, that’s not true for Tony. He knows that boxes of rewards often have immunity idol clues hidden in them, and sure enough he looks for one and finds one. Soon thereafter he has an idol, and vows not to tell anyone that he has it.

OK, the rest of the episode is devoted to the Brains tribe. When they get back to camp, Garrett suggests that instead of having individual side conversations, everyone ought to decide as a group who should get voted out. He tells the camera that his goal was to get Kass to declare which way she was leaning so Garrett could decide if he himself was in any danger and might need his idol. Kass says she’s leaning toward J’Tia, and Spencer and Garrett say they are too. Then Garrett says he’s really serious and everyone should just stay together all the way until tribal council! And he’s stubborn about it! All of this is much to Spencer’s chagrin — he tells the camera “Garrett! You’re an idiot!” Meanwhile Tasha (who is showing signs that she could be a really interesting player) tells the others she wants to play the game and can’t believe they don’t want to. Her frustration is obvious: if J’Tia is a shoo-in to be voted out, then Tasha would be the next logical person to be voted out. Somehow Tasha gets some brief alone time with Kass and tells her this is her only chance to vote one of the guys out by 3-2. But after they’ve spoken just a moment, they look up, and the guys are right there breathing down their necks.

J’Tia didn’t say much the whole time everyone was talking about voting her out, and she just chills out after the guys go chase after Tasha and Kass. That is, she chills out until the moment she decides to dump all the tribe’s rice in the fire. Whaaat the HECK?

Where this crazy impulse came from I have no idea. Not the move you want to make if you’re trying to convince everyone to keep you around. And it was so sudden. I mean jeez, even Brandon Hantz spent a few weeks gradually building up to being psycho enough to dump out his tribe’s rice. This is the second hour of the season! At Tribal Council J’Tia gives us the understatement of the year: “Not my best moment.”

Both this and Garrett’s odd insistence on everyone staying together are discussed at length at Tribal. I thought that they might even forgo the vote and simply have a show of hands to confirm everyone voting J’Tia out. But they vote, as normal. And the second person voted out for the season is … Garrett? Now that made me rewind the TiVo to make sure I had heard it right. I did not for one second consider that anyone on a starving tribe would keep the person around who had dumped their food in the fire.

But it happened, and I have to say this underlines why I think the Redemption Island gimmick (which is not being used this season) should never be brought back. This was really dramatic: one thing is certain to happen, and yet the player who dominated the early going is suddenly out of the game for good. The finality of it is what makes Survivor awesome.

By the way, don’t forget Garrett had a hidden immunity idol that he didn’t even bring in his bag, never mind use!

A great start to the season.

Early favorites: Sarah, Tasha, Spencer, Tony, and L.J.