Archive | March, 2016

“She’s not being very finesse-y.” Survivor Kaoh Rong March 30, 2016 recap

30 Mar

Scot says he wants to pick off the Brains tribe because they’re too indecisive. And Aubry’s take on her Brains group is “we’re done” as a tribe.

At the other beach, Cydney sees a bulge in Neal’s pocket and suspects that he has an idol. So does Jason, especially since he knows what the idol looks like by virtue of possessing one himself!

One tribe takes a boat to the other’s beach signalling that the merge is here, and making the merge is something Scot and Michele independently call “awesome.”

Now, who is going to ally with whom? Neal says the Brawn trio are physical threats in challenges and “just kind of bullies,” so he likes the idea of a Beauty/Brain alliance. But Nick is getting the vibe that Julia and Tai, though both fellow Beauty, are not with him.

Scott and Jason tell Nick that Neal has an idol. Nick is astonished to be taken into their confidence so quickly. He tells the camera sarcastically, “Thank you for bringing me into your alliance. You’re such sweethearts, both of you.” Then they even take him aside to tell him that Jason has an idol, making clear that Cydney is not privy to this information. Jason thinks he and Scot are unstoppable, which Nick likes because they would not see a blindside coming (though you can’t really blindside someone who can play an idol after the vote).

A different approach is taken by Debbie who plops down next to Tai (in a crowd) and says I really like you, let’s make an alliance. After he unconvincingly says OK she immediately announces to all that it’s a done deal. Aubry whispers to Neal “She’s not being very finesse-y about this whole thing.” She tells the camera “You have to show confidence, and right now we’re showing desperation.” Meanwhile Brawn is targeting Aubry as the next to go, since she is the one the Brains would least suspect to be targeted. Aubry asks Neal flat-out if he has an idol, and he says yes. Now the two of them just need to find out which of them will be targeted. I actually like the idea of playing an idol right after the merge, which I don’t think has happened that often. It’s such a pivotal moment that influences the rest of the game.

As for Michele, she has also noticed that Jason thinks he’s on top but believes “Brawn is way too controlling,” so she has not counted out allying with Brains. Usually anyone who has gotten this far into the season with such little camera time is a nonfactor, but I actually think Michele could have a chance to be quite a factor indeed.

Before the immunity challenge gets started, the fact that Peter has some infections gets mentioned, and a few other players show the various disgusting bumps on their body that they are dealing with (it has been reported in the press that both Liz and Peter had to get medical treatment for infections after being voted out).

The challenge is a standby: balance a ball on a wooden disc, then two balls, then three. Nick outlasts Tai to win the first individual immunity.

Back at camp Nick and Michele, presumably the swing votes, confer. They like the Brains better as people, but what is best for the two of them them? Jason is obnoxious and wouldn’t get votes at the Finals, they think. Neither would Scot, since he presumably has lots of money already. So doesn’t it make sense to stick with a duo that will be targeted by other players, but won’t win? Heck yes, they agree.

So it looks like it will really come down to whether Neal plays his idol, and if it’s for the right person.

Just before it’s time to go to Tribal Council, a boat arrives, and Jeff Probst is on it. That’s never good, as Terry from the prior season can attest. Probst has one Doctor Rupert with him, and they want to have a look at the various infections that are mentioned earlier. Aubry is given antibiotics, the others are confirmed to be no big deal … except for the one near Neal’s knee. Neal says he’s fine. But the doctor explains that if an infection gets into a knee, it can destroy it within hours.He decides that Neal needs to be pulled from the game.

Neal is in tears. He tells Probst that back in 2000 when the first Survivor came out, Neal was working a nothing job in a cubicle. Probst isn’t the only one who has been on quite a journey since then. Probst tells Neal he will be the first jury member, so although he can’t win, he can help decide who does.

Neal goes to say his goodbyes and everyone’s sad, but especially Aubry for obvious reasons. She is in suspense wondering if Neal will give her his idol. Instead, she notes, “the idol went home with Neal, that son of a bitch.” She closes with a really wonderful monologue to the camera about how you just have to “pave your own way” and keep fighting.

You’ll notice Neal was my #1 pick to win the game as of last week. He’s out now, and Debbie also slips way down the rankings after her ham-handed performance.

Favorites: 1. Tai, 2. Cydney, 3. Nick, 4. Michele, 5. Debbie, 6. Julia, 7. Aubry

No chance: Jason, Scot, Joe

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Neal (Aubry)


“I’m gonna broach him”: Survivor Kaoh Rong March 23 2016 recap

28 Mar

Peter had cast his vote along with fellow Brains tribe members last episode, but now he says, “I might actually disband this brain trust” and plans to target Joe.

On the other tribe, we get to see a little more of Nick, who is a fun character. Debbie has been talking to Nick at great length. Nick tells the camera that to win Debbie’s favor the secret is “Whatever person she admires – which is herself – just be her.” Meanwhile Debbie notes that Nick looks like a Greek god and should be a model, and she follows that with the incredible assertion “I know because I’ve modeled off and on myself for years and years.” OK Debbie, I can suspend disbelief for a lot of things but not this. You would sooner see Yoda walking the fashion runways of Milan than Debbie doing so.

The group soon finds out via tree mail that the next challenge will involve shooting baskets at a target. Nick reveals that he was a high school point guard, but he knows that his opponent will likely end up being Scot, the former NBA player!

The tribes head for the reward challenge, and as promised, Julia returns from her exile of sorts and is now a member of the yellow team.

The first part of the challenge involves diving underwater to untie some buoys, which Aubry is able to do much faster than Michele can. This gives Aubry’s team a good-sized lead, and all they need to finish off the challenge is for Scot to make some baskets. But Nick on the yellow tribe doesn’t give up and actually out-shoots Scot! But Scot had a head start and it’s good enough for the win.

Now we get to find out a bit more about Julia. She is a junior at “BU” which presumably means Boston University. If she’s already in her junior year at age 18 she must be a smart cookie! Peter sees a potential ally in the newcomer and wastes no time chatting her up, which makes Aubry suspicious. Is Aubry growing up before our eyes? She seems like she’s aged five years since the season started! Peter tells Scot he wants Aubry out. Joe the former FBI man has his doubts about Peter and announces “I’m gonna broach him.” He confronts Peter and says “If you lie right now, I’m telling you you’re done.” Then he asks if Peter has been gunning for him (Joe). Peter’s response is such an obvious lie that it doesn’t take an FBI man to figure it out.

Meanwhile, Michele is doubly disappointed: in her performance in the challenge and in seeing that Anna her best ally has been voted out. Debbie tells Michele she doesn’t care for Jason and Michele takes that to Nick, but Nick dismisses the idea and says they need to ally with Jason and Cydney (Michele is obviously sick of Nick).

The immunity challenge involves traversing a difficult obstacle course before having to make a very high stack of blocks. But the high obstacles are easier to surmount when 6’11” Scot is helping you. Jeff Probst notes, “This is like a dad with his kids!” When it’s time for the stacking, the yellow tribe tries to make a fairly big stack and then lift the middle to put in the last few. But the blue tribe attacks it in more traditional fashion, with Debbie perched on Nick’s shoulders to stack the last few. Blue barely wins, and to add insult to injury for Yellow, Joe has a block fall on his head, drawing blood.

Yellow goes back to camp, and it turns out Peter had the failed stacking strategy. But Aubry tells Joe that if they get rid of Peter then Tai, Scot, and Julia would have the numbers advantage. I begin to wonder if Peter is going to make it all the way to the finals! Aubry urges Joe to make amends with Peter, which he grudgingly does, and Peter seems to also feel that he’s better off sticking with Brains for one more vote. Peter tells Scot that Julia is the one to vote out, whereupon Scot decides that Peter is a snake. Julia tells Aubry that Peter had talked about her (Aubry) out, but Aubry doesn’t seem to be buying it. Is this going to end in a tie? Tai says to Scot that maybe they should vote Julia to avoid a tie vote (those two men are quite a tight alliance now by the way).

Finally Aubry decides she and Joe should vote Peter after all, but Joe says he’s not going to switch his vote at the last minute.

Julia must be a big fan, because she is obviously excited to walk into her first Tribal Council.

What’s said at Tribal Council is less interesting than the whispered or mouthed conversations in the background.

Tai to Scot: “Julia?”

Scot: “Original plan.”

Aubry to Scot: “Her or Peter?”

Scot: “Peter.”

Scot out loud to Julia: “Original plan.”

Aubry to Joe: “Is it her?” Joe says yes.

When Aubry goes up to vote, we see her deliberate for a long time, write down “Julia,” and deliberate some more. Probst reads the votes, and Peter is voted out. The last vote card shows “Julia” crossed out and “Peter” written below it. At the very end as we hear Peter’s last words, we see an overhead shot of Aubry crossing out her vote.

Favorites: 1. Neal, 2. Debbie, 3. Tai, 4. Cydney, 5. Michele, 6. Nick, 7. Aubry, 8. Julia

No chance: Jason, Scot, Joe

“Start fresh and come up with new lies.” Survivor Kaoh Rong March16 2016 recap

19 Mar

“It’s strategically crucial that I start pandering to these people,” says Peter at the beginning of the episode. It seems that his definition of pandering is pretty broad, encompassing every sort of normal, non-arrogant human behavior!

Neal thinks “we have one cancer named Peter,” and Neal goes looking for the idol to make sure it doesn’t fall into Peter’s hands (that’s what he tells the camera anyway). He finds the same clue that the other tribes found on their respective beaches, but unlike both of them, he finds — and doesn’t lose — the tool to get the idol from its high hiding spot, so he’s able to secure it without too much trouble and without anyone else noticing.

When the tribes convene, Jeff Probst says they must drop their buffs, as it’s time for a tribe swap. But he immediately announces a twist: Caleb’s medical evacuation means there is an uneven count of 13 players left. So rather than make uneven tribes, there will be one single red buff in the random draw. Whoever draws it will have to go spend the night by himself at the former Brawn camp and will then join whichever tribe votes someone out at the next Tribal Council. The one positive for that person is that he cannot be voted out in that round. That red buff is drawn by Julia, about whom we have learned nothing this season other than that she is in a sorority and is part of the women’s alliance on the Beauty tribe.

The new tribes are as follows:

BLUE: Debbie, Jason, Michelle, Nick, Neal, Cydney

YELLOW: Aubry, Tai, Scot, Joe, Anna, Peter

On first glance, the ones that have been hurt the most are the Beauty alliance of Anna, Michelle, and Julia, all three of which are suddenly by themselves! The ones that were helped the most were Peter, Nick, and Cydney, who all would have been the next to go in their respective groups.

Peter wastes no time telling the camera that he’s now set up to easily make it to the merge without any concern whatsoever. What the heck??? To us viewers it seems nothing could be further from the truth. His reasoning is that he has two other Brains in his group in Aubry and Joe, the problem is that both of them hate Peter!

However, what Peter does have in his favor is that everyone now knows that whoever is voted out will be replaced by a Beauty member in Julia. So to keep those numbers down, the Brains on the new Yellow tribe want to vote one Beauty out (Anna or Tai). Scot, the only Brawn on the yellow tribe, agrees with this line of thinking. Since Anna the poker player can figure out the way things are trending, she makes a point of telling everyone in the tribe (in separate conversations) about Tai’s sneaky behavior in looking for an idol previously.

Over on the Blue tribe, Debbie decides she wants to ally with Brawn, and Cydney seems warm to the ides of an alliance. Cydney tells the camera that while she has been “playing the dumb jock role” so far, she actually went to college at Penn! Meanwhile, Nick has the same idea of allying with Brawn, so it already looks like Jason and Cydney will have to decide whether to cast their lot with Brains or Beauty. Nick likes the tribe swap: “I get to start fresh and come up with new lies.”

As for Julia, she has no one to keep her company except for tons of ants! We don’t learn much more about her except that she is only 18 years old. And guess what, she doesn’t even get to go to watch the immunity challenge!

That challenge ends with a puzzle at which Debbie and Neal are quicker than Anna and Peter.

So the yellow tribe has to go to Tribal Council, and Tai and Anna both know it will be one of them. As we’re shown a view of a huge snake slithering around, Tai ponders whether to use his idol.

Peter says Anna should be the one voted out over Tai — her combination of looks and brains could prove dangerous down the road. Aubry says she and Joe will stick together when it comes to the vote.

Then Tai tells Anna and Scot that he has the idol. He can play it and they can all vote against the arrogant Peter. They both love the idea!

But then Aubry tells Scot that Anna will be the one getting the votes from the Brains, not Scot’s newfound buddy Tai whom the big guy says he has a “man crush” on. Scot now hopes Tai will just save his idol for later, and tells him so. And Scot already begins scheming on possibly combining that idol with Jason’s down the road to make the new super-idol, Scot being the only one in the game right now who knows where two idols are.

We go to Tribal Council, and Anna and Tai have to light their torches, as it’s their first trip. The camera is on Anna most of the time — surprisingly for a professional poker player, she has a wonderfully expressive face. Or am I just enjoying this because she’s really, really good-looking? Whatever the case, Peter takes the opportunity to reiterate that he’s in a position of power. This guy is really too much.

The votes are cast, and Probst announces that if anyone wants to play an idol, this is the time. Anna looks over at Tai expectantly, but alas, Tai makes no move, and Anna is voted out. It’s a shame to see her go, as she had the makings of a great player, and this is the juncture (the first vote after a tribe swap) where many a strong player has been the victim of bad luck with not much opportunity to turn the tide.

Now then, did Scot help himself or make a huge mistake with this move he advised Tai to make? Next episode he will have two Beauty (one being an ally) and three Brains to face, instead of three Beauty (two of whom would be his allies) and two Brains. His super-idol strategy is all well and good in the long term, but first he needs to make it to the merge to begin thinking about implementing it. Scot is certainly playing to win, which makes for good entertainment.

Favorites: Neal, Debbie, Tai, Cydney

Not sure: Aubry, Joe, Michele, Nick, Julia

No chance: Peter, Jason, Scot

“Buddy you don’t have a choice.” Survivor Kaoh Rong March 9 2016 recap

10 Mar

You know it must be a busy episode when the reward challenge already starts just three minutes into the show!

The challenge involves crawling under a log, then digging for some bags of balls in the sand, and finally rolling the balls into holes.

Everyone gets to the part where they have to dig for the bags, and they start slowing down as it’s extremely hot outside. A full 45 minutes pass without any progress. On Brawn, Alecia decides to try to start kicking the sand instead of digging, which annoys the other three. Soon the Brains tribe finds its third bag, and they make quick work of rolling the balls to win the reward.

Debbie looks like she’s not feeling well and Joe says he should get the medic, but she refuses. Finally he overrides that and gets the medic. Oh no, please don’t tell me the best character of the season might have to leave the game! Curiously, the docs get some bottled water and just pour it on her to cool her down. But it does seem to help.

Meanwhile Beauty has dug up their third bag, and they’re able to take their time rolling the balls with Brawn nowhere close. But much later, Brawn finds their third bag and it’s a competition again. Caleb hadn’t been able to get the last ball in the hole, but now he does, to get his tribe the secondary reward. And then Caleb collapses! And furthermore, Cydney is on her knees and not getting up. Jason helps her up but she goes to the ground, and medics look at her too.

We have seen a few of the show’s crew members come into the shot already, but now with two people down, Probst shouts at all “nonessential” crew to come over and help the medics get whatever they need. And now Caleb is not even responding when Probst and the doctor speak to him!

By now Debbie is sitting up and among those watching (though all players have obviously been shooed away a bit so the medics can work). The doctor now tells Probst they need a helicopter so Caleb can be evacuated from the game. Jeff tells Caleb, “You don’t want to be pulled. Buddy you don’t have a choice.” There’s not much reaction from Caleb either way, so we can tell he’s in bad shape. A bit earlier Cydney was told she would not need to be taken out of the game.

The tribes go back to their camps and the game goes on. Tai, who had cried when he saw his new friend Caleb being tended to, is also cognizant of the effect of Caleb’s departure on him. Since the only men left on his tribe are himself and Nick, “Now the girls have their choice of who to kick out.” As we go to commercial, a note on the screen says that Caleb recovered fully.

There’s not much camp time in this episode. We see Alecia confronting Scot for saying mean things to her during the challenge, and that is about it.

The immunity challenge ends with an interesting puzzle I don’t recall seeing before: it’s pieces of rope that have to be fit into the right spots, a welcome break from the usual puzzle pieces. Brains win (thanks in part to Peter who did well in both challenges this episode) and Beauty comes in second.

So that means Brawn has to go back to Tribal Council, and this is one of the least suspenseful ones I can remember. Even Probst can’t think of any drama to stir up before Alecia is voted out. Alecia was not much of a player but I do admire her moxie for standing up to the others who were just mean to her most of the time.

Since the drama of three people collapsing in one challenge took up most of the show, we hardly see anything of Brains and especially not of Beauty.

The previews show that next week there will be a tribal shakeup. The ones who that will benefit the most would seem to be Nick and Peter who seem to be on the outs on their current tribes.

Favorites: Neal, Debbie

Not sure: Aubry, Joe, Michele, Cydney, Anna, Nick, Julia, Tai

No chance: Peter, Jason, Scot

“Sit back, observe, shut up, and gather intel.” Survivor Kaoh Rong March 2 2016 recap

2 Mar

As Brawn returns from Tribal Council, Scot tells Alecia he only wrote Alecia’s name down because he knew Jenny was going home. This doesn’t make any sense, a fact that is not lost on Alecia. Meanwhile Cydney tells the camera that Alecia thinks she’s her ally but she’s not.

At the Beauty tribe, Tai goes back to make another try at the immunity idol. He ties two long sticks together, then realizes he has lost the tool to open the container. So he tries to make a new tool from scratch, and lifts it up with his sticks. We see that the idol is a good 30 feet off the ground. But he is able to get it, and Tai passionately kisses … the tree trunk.

But what he gets is still only a map to the idol, however he does find the real thing shortly. The instructions note a twist: if you pair one idol with another idol, it becomes a “super idol” that can be played after the votes are read at Tribal Council.

Over to the Brains. As 72-year-old Joe does ab exercises, we find out that Peter (Obama lookalike, sort of) and Liz (statistical whiz) are an alliance, and not only that, they think of themselves as quite the masterminds. Peter says they are “managing two separate groups,” namely Debbie and Joe and Aubry and Neal.

Debbie notes, “My position on this tribe is to sit back, observe, shut up, and gather intel.” Whoa … in the two episodes we’ve seen so far, her role has been anything but that, especially the shutting up part. But I guess she has been doing well at observing. She notes, “Peter really feels superior and Liz is our prima donna princess. Their goal is to take the rest of us out.” Well said. But Debbie notes than Peter is an asset at challenges so Liz is the one who needs to go.

Back to Beauty. Tai cries when the hungry tribe kills a chicken. Caleb is sympathetic. Anna trusts Caleb and Tai, but not Nick. She hopes that she and two other girls can pull in one guy to make a foursome, and she pitches Caleb on the idea.

At Brawn, Alecia and Cydney find an idol clue (the whole idol setup is the same as what Tai found over at Beauty). Jason sees them digging, and they see him spying on them. They can’t find it, and Alecia goes to look for a hoe so they can dig deeper. But then we see that Cydney did spot the location and just didn’t let on to Alecia. She covers it up as Alecia comes back.

When the women go back to camp, Cydney (unbeknownst to Alecia) promptly tells Scot and Jason that Alecia found a clue … she feels she has no choice since Jason had seen them digging. Jason goes back to the spot, finds the clue, and races off without asking anyone. As happened with Tai, he and Scot don’t have the tool to open the box. But they solve the problem the same way Tai did. Jason ends up grabbing the idol before Alecia can get to it, and this has the same note about combining two idols to make a super-idol.

Time for the immunity challenge, which also comes with rewards. The winners will get comfort items (pillows and such), while the second-place finishers will get “emotional items” that they were allowed to bring with them from home (teddy bears, etc.), a nod to the long-gone Survivor “luxury item” tradition used in the first five or six seasons.

Beauty wins the challenge, the last phase of which is similar to the old arcade game “Ice Cold Beer” and has been done before back in Survivor: Worlds Apart. It comes down to Cydney versus Debbie, and Cydney barely wins. So Brains will be making their first trip to Tribal Council.

Peter and Liz want to take out Neal. They figure Joe, Debbie, and Aubry are no threats, but Neal is capable enough to turn on them later in the game. They are going to tell Joe and Debbie to vote Aubry (keeping it simple so they can grasp it, according to Liz), and tell Aubry and Neal that they’re voting Joe. Only one problem: all four other players are onto Peter and Liz! As mentioned, Debbie wants to target Liz, while Aubry favors the ultra-arrogant Peter.

I have to say Debbie is a casting A-plus, she is a great character and unlike anyone I can remember being on the show before. I had her pegged as just a nonstop talker, but at her first Tribal Council she shows she might be talented at the art of the non-answer which is such an essential skill.

And Neal has been low-key up to now, but at Tribal Council he has a couple of wonderful zingers. For starters, he muses of his tribe, “Maybe we each think we’re the smartest person in the game and we’ll be fine.”

Peter says something about a plan being in place, causing Neal to note, “I guess the question is, which plan is he talking about.” To which Peter replies, “Well, it’s not your plan.” Why Peter is so incredibly cocky despite only having an alliance of two I’m not sure. The vote is two votes each for Aubry, Peter, and Liz, meaning those three can’t vote again and there’s a re-vote. This being the case, Peter and Liz know it has to be one of them. And surprisingly, it’s Liz being sent home.

Favorites: Caleb, Neal

Not sure: Aubry, Joe, Michele, Cydney, Alecia, Anna, Nick, Julia, Tai, Debbie

No chance: Peter, Jason, Scot