Archive | February, 2016

“He is not the average country guy.” Survivor Kaoh Rong February 24 2016 recap

26 Feb

At the end of my previous post I felt the need to pick someone as an early favorite to win the game. While nobody stood out, I thought that Jennifer seemed to have the right qualities. Well, not only did she not win the season, she didn’t even survive the very next episode!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. At the beginning of the episode, Tai is itching to look for a hidden immunity idol, but is hesitant since the last time he tried it he got caught. Finally he says, “I’ll go really fast.”

He does indeed find a note that says “Look at the bottom of this tree.” At the bottom there is a box with the hidden immunity idol, but the note says that the key to open it is hanging high up on a tree. And indeed it is, higher than a human could reasonably be expected to climb (20 feet, or more?), since this tree trunk doesn’t have branches that can serve as footholds. Tai, as we saw last week already, is actually an excellent climber, and he gets really far up the tree but finally can do no more. The trunk is “like sandpaper sanding both my thighs.” I actually really like this development since the idols on the prior season were — for the most part — too easy to find.

Anyway, Tai has to give up for now, especially since he can’t afford to be gone too long. Later, we see him and Caleb palling around, and as Caleb tells the camera about Tai the gay Vietnamese gardener, “He is not the average country guy.”

On the Brains tribe, Liz boils some water, while Debbie takes the surprising position that boiling the water isn’t even necessary, and that she can judge water just by looking at it! Debbie hasn’t stopped bragging yet. She says that she tells people she “personal-trains” that “Just ’cause I can run 10 miles doesn’t mean you can or you should.” On that same tribe, much of their bottle of kerosene has been lost and their matches are wet, both of which are Joe’s fault or at least are getting blamed on him.

On the brawn tribe, Alecia, who was almost voted out last episode, spends five hours trying to make fire while everyone else lounges around. Finally, she succeeds!

The immunity challenge involves transporting a 300-pound log through an obstacle course. One thing about the Beauty tribe: they have quite a bit of brawn in their own right, and it shows as they win. Brains come in second, which means Brawn is going back to Tribal Council.

Scot says he’ll be shocked if anyone but Alecia goes home. Alecia goes to look for an idol. She points out to the camera the fact that nobody has asked her to be in an alliance yet, which is a bad sign. Jason trashes Alecia when she’s out of sight, and Jennifer is getting quite annoyed that Jason does nothing but lie around and slam Alecia.

This leads Jennifer to take the other two women aside and suggest an all-girl alliance to vote out Jason, which they enthusiastically agree to. But then Jennifer worries that a blindside of Jason will also offend Scot, whom she trusts.

Then comes one of the biggest Tribal Council blunders I can remember. Jeff Probst asks if there was any talk of an all-female alliance and Jennifer says that things are “up in the air!” That comes as a major shock to Scot and Jason, who thought everything was all set, and they tell her so. Backtracking quickly, Jennifer says Alecia came to her to suggest an all-girl alliance, whereupon Alecia points out that it was Jennifer’s idea (which is true). Jennifer calls Alecia a liar.

Finally Jennifer gets up from her stool (has that happened during a tribal council ever?) and stands on it, proclaiming “Please trust the original alliance we had!” Probst says “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a Tribal Council like this.”

Probst read the votes and there are three votes for … Jennifer! Those being Jason, Alecia, and Cydney. Of course, none of those three came into tribal council with any intention of voting for Jennifer. It’s quite simply one of the biggest out-of-nowhere blunders of all time.

Early favorites: Uhhh, for right now, none!



“Freaking out about freaking out”: Survivor Kaoh Rong Season Premiere Recap

22 Feb

The scene is Cambodia (presumably the same beaches as the last season we saw), and the season’s title is Survivor: Kaoh Rong, which apparently is pronounced “go wrong.” We’re told that this is going to be the most grueling season in Survivor history.

The contestants are divided into three tribes, and once again the theme is “Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty.” The last time this was tried (Survivor: Cagayan), the result was a pretty good season, so let’s hope for the best this time!

We don’t see any initial briefing of the tribes by Jeff Probst; rather, when he addresses the camera all of the players are hustling around him on the deck of the ship gathering supplies.

The tribes are as follows:


Peter, who bears a superficial resemblance to Barack Obama. He seems pretty full of himself (Peter, not the President).

Neal, an ice cream entrepreneur.

Debbie, who can’t stop talking about how much she has accomplished and how skilled she is at everything. In between all of that, we find out, she somehow has time to wait tables at Red Lobster.

Aubry, a young social media worker.

Joe, who is in his 70s but is as ripped as Jack LaLanne. Turns out he is a former FBI hostage negotiator.

Liz, a statistics expert.


Tai, an older Asian man. He is a gardener who was born in Vietnam and was a refugee. Both he and everyone else seem to wonder why he’s on the beauty tribe.

Nick, a strapping personal trainer who is pretty enamored of his own looks.

Anna, a professional poker player who says she gains an advantage when her breasts distract other players. Er, I can certainly believe that’s true.

Michele, a bartender. We don’t see much of her.

Julia, a college sorority girl who we also don’t hear much from.

Caleb, a veteran who we find out was previously on Big Brother. He calls himself Beast Mode Cowboy.


Jason, a tattooed bounty hunter. He quickly makes alliances with just about everyone out there, opting to worry about possible consequences later.

Darnell, a tall young black man from Chicago.

Jennifer, a construction worker.

Alecia, a leasing agent from Dallas. She doesn’t have much “brawn” but assures the camera that she does extreme sports and such.

Scot Pollard, former NBA benchwarmer. He doesn’t do any kind of fake cover story and is frank about his background from the start (he doesn’t use the word benchwarmer however).

Cydney, a female bodybuilder. She and Darnell make an alliance fairly quickly.

On the Brains tribe, the storyline is that the younger four decide to form an alliance and put “older folks” Joe and Debbie on the outs (Debbie is only in her forties according to the show, but looks much older). Also, Aubry has a breakdown and thinks she’s succumbing to the elements, but the others decide it’s really more a case of “freaking out about freaking out.”

On the Beauty tribe, Tai leaves a group to go looking for a hidden immunity idol, but they quickly notice he’s gone and track him down. Having no excuse to be in the middle of nowhere with muddy hands, he admits he was looking for an idol … and then says he’ll see them later as he needs to look some more!

And on the Brawn tribe, Jennifer reveals that a bug has crawled into her ear and won’t leave. Yuck! Worse, her ear is bleeding. It hurts and is driving her crazy … understandably! She can’t sleep a wink all night. Then we see a shocking shot of the tiny larva (?) crawling around outside the entrance to her ear canal. Which begs the question: why in God’s name is the cameraman filming this rather than grabbing the darn thing and helping her? Fortunately it comes out again and Scot is able to grab it and dispose of it. Immediately Jennifer is her old self again.

Boy, if I ever had thoughts of trying to be on Survivor, or going to Cambodia at all, I think I’ve been cured of both!

Also, that dramatic sequence was sorely needed in an episode that otherwise has been quite boring. The most boring Survivor season premiere I can remember, in fact. Maybe it was 90 minutes instead of 2 hours because they just didn’t have the footage to warrant 2 hours?

Fifty-one minutes into the show, we finally get to the first challenge. The first part involves deep diving. Darnell (who has been a lifeguard) loses the diving mask on his very first dive and it sinks to the bottom, putting his team behind. But everyone is pretty much even when we get to the final puzzle. Jennifer and Alecia are the designated puzzle-solvers for Brawn, but Alecia just stands there doing nothing and tags out. The Brains tribe is the first to win immunity, and Beauty barely beats Brawn for second place.

It quickly becomes apparent that Darnell and Alecia are the two on the chopping block. Scot thinks it should be Darnell who lost the goggles in the challenge. Alecia decides to campaign against Darnell, and finally Scot tells her “The only thing I have against you right now is the constant scheming.”

Again, there is no reason for this to be a 90 minute show. Tribal council provides no additional fireworks either. It appears the consensus is that Darnell has to go, but the more Alecia talks it seems some might change their minds. We get to the vote, and surprisingly for the first episode, it’s a 3-3 tie (the 3 votes for Alecia, we see later, being Darnell, Cydney, and Jason)! There is a re-vote and Darnell is voted out.

This is the point where I always name an early favorite based on one episode. I can’t remember it ever being so tough. Jennifer showed a lot of gumption and seems like a strong challenge competitor, so I guess I will choose her.









Final thoughts about Survivor: Second Chance

3 Feb

Good things about this season:

  • Complicated strategy as everyone had so many different loyalties from prior seasons and the tribe reshufflings. Also, the show did a masterful job of letting the viewer track every player’s reaction to everything.
  • A deserving winner in Jeremy.
  • Exciting idol plays, and the very exciting twist of having idols at challenges.
  • Kelley Wentworth, who both found and played her idols in entertaining fashion. Looking back on the season, she was involved in almost all of the most exciting moments.

Bad things about this season:

  • Oddly for an all-star season, there was no one great character. Even Joe was a bit too low-key to make for great TV. And there was no dominant player, though Joe was very good.
  • Having no lasting alliances was a positive as noted above, but also a negative as you didn’t see friendships of the kind earlier seasons had.
  • The odd sequence events that had Kelly Wigglesworth going home despite not getting any votes at tribal council was spun as an exciting moment, but to be it was more an unfair and unforgivable loophole in the rules.

Sorry, nobody cracked my best players of all time list, and as an all-star season it wasn’t eligible for my best alliances of all time list. However, I did add one player to my honorable mentions for the worst of all time.

You can check out my full rankings of the seasons here.