Survivor: One World returned to its One World premise at the end of last week, and on Wednesday, we had our first post-merge episode, which sadly was about as full of scheming as a nap time at the local Retirement Home. I thought there’d be lots of scrambling — would people align themselves with their new tribes or their old, gender-based teams? There was a minor effort by the men to reunite, but given that the men have been a strategical mess all season, this obviously went down in flames. The first problem was that spearheading this effort was Tarzan, a man not known for great social gameplay. Jonas last week announced that he would be taking the leadership role now that Colton was gone, but apparently that only consisted of him making nice food for everyone. It was therefore a bit shocking when he snapped at Tarzan for having the balls to organize the men’s alliance. Unsurprisingly, sensitive guy reacted poorly to Jonas’s behavior, and proclaimed himself a man without allegiances. Oy vey.
We have seen some awful, reprehensible behavior on Survivor — heck, reality TV in general — but the first half of Wednesday’s episode displayed some of the very worst in the history of the genre. I don’t think I’m overstating this. Watching Colton and Alicia gang up on outcast Christina was so hideous and vile that I almost couldn’t believe what I was watching.
We’ve seen bullying before, and we’ve certainly seen manipulative demoralizing, but the way these two hyenas attacked was so utterly loathsome that it seemed to stir something primal and angry inside of me. They were awful not just as people, but as examples of social psychology. Here were two idiots on a power trip, cloaking their miserable behavior as “strategy” (an attempt to beat down Christina’s morals), but really what they were doing was giving into their evil, malicious cores and feeling justified in doing so. I feel like I sound like a preacher. Hmm… Either way, the truth is that watching these assholes really made me mad. Their unchecked animosity towards Christina — who was already totally marginalized for no good reason — was reminiscent of schoolyard bullies. And what’s worse is that no one stopped them, leading them to believe that it was somehow okay to act that way, even in a game. This is how thousands of people became Nazis, people. And yes, I do believe this is my first time vaguely equating people from Survivor to Nazis. LOL, I think?
Survivor: One World changed things up on Wednesday. The tribes, finally even, were subjected to a random switcheroo, and as luck would have it, all the hot, strong people wound up on one team, and the scraps on another. Yes, while Salani became home to the likes of supermen Mike, Jay, Troyzan (as well as all those pretty, generic women), Manono took on the elderly (Tarzan), the weak (Colton), the small (Leif), the ineffective (Jonas), the useless (Christina), and the even more useless (Alicia). The only bright spot was Monica – a strong, likable lady who could possibly lead the underdog of all underdog teams to victory. Theoretically.
Soooo…. that was crazy.
After twenty four seasons, Survivor still manages to shock and surprise us, which is really a testament to the human condition more than anything else. On last night’s episode of Survivor: One World, one tribe did something so silly, so unnecessary, and so ludicrous that it can only be viewed as an exemplary instance of groupthink gone massively wrong. Then again, isn’t that what always happens with groupthink?
Stop now if you haven’t watched the episode. Otherwise, proceed!
I don’t even remember what season Survivor is in now (23?), but this veteran series still has the ability to shock. Add to that the slickest production values in the genre, and it’s easy to remember why this is still one of the best reality shows around.
If you haven’t watched this week’s episode, stop reading and fire up your DVR now (or go to CBS.com). However, if you have witnessed the lunacy, follow the jump to the rest of the photocap.
A few weeks ago, Cochran made an epic move on Survivor: South Pacific — a move that greatly imperiled his former tribe. Sure enough, we had to watch them all go home one by one, which constituted a rather boring patch in an otherwise great season. It’s a shame, really. Cochran’s big move didn’t have to be the end for those people, but no one seemed intent on using scare tactics. Maybe Jim a little, but overall, Cochran’s tribe focused more on striking deals, arguing that they could be used as numbers should anyone on Coach’s team want to change things up. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t happen.
As a result, the likes of Dawn and Jim and Whitney and even Cochran failed to see the potential in such outliers as Edna, the plucky but unwelcomed member of Coach’s tribe (I’m too lazy to look up the official tribe name). Clearly she could have been brought over. Additionally, there wasn’t nearly enough preying on the quiet power struggle between Albert and Coach. A simple appeal to Albert’s ego and insecurities should have been enough to cause some damage (to be fair, Dawn did trie).
At the end of the day though, the biggest fault lies with Cochran and Edna. They were guiltiest of being the laziest strategically.
I don’t care what people say: I still like Cochran. To be fair, I haven’t gauged public opinion on the guy since last week’s epic episode that saw him jump ship to Coach’s team, but I get the sense there are probably many viewers out there who think he’s a spineless coward. I wouldn’t say that though. Was it the smartest move he could have made? Probably not. But spineless — hardly. It was an act of self-preservation, but this season has somehow turned into one of those weird situations where people seem preoccupied with the notion of honor and loyalty. Guess what, castaways: this is Survivor not a Presidential race. Ain’t no such thing as honor on the island.
The big problem for Cochran now is figuring out how he’ll weasel his way out from the bottom of the totem pole. After all, it’s only a matter of time before his old tribe mates are picked off, leaving him as Player #7 in the alliance. If Cochran’s former allies would stop fixating on his betrayal and think more about constructive steps forward, they’d realize that they could still ally with him and somehow destroy Coach’s team. Ozzy, Jim, and Whitney’s rants, however, all but destroyed whatever lingering bit of loyalty Cochran would have had to them. For now, it seems like we’ll just have to watch Ozzy’s tribe slowly get picked off.
Survivor is one hell of a wacky show. I’m not going to spoil what happened on last night’s episode in this first paragraph, but needless to say, after twenty-two and a half seasons, this ol’ reality dinosaur still can produce a watercooler moment like none other. You gotta give credit to the franchise — it’s as fresh and exciting as it’s ever been.
And I mean that in the most sincerest of ways, especially after last night’s evangelical hour that saw multiple castaways praising God, having religious visions, and more or less honing their spirituality for a greater cause (namely, $1 million). TESTIFY!
Survivor! You know, after this past season of Big Brother, the three photocaps a week kind of killed me. When it was all said and done, I was pretty much burned out, especially when it came to covering CBS shows. I don’t want to bore you with the details, but obtaining the media for these photocaps takes a lot of tedious work, especially when it involves CBS, and by the time this season of Survivor started up (ie. the same day Big Brother ended) I just needed a break. Well, I feel replenished and am back with Survivor photocaps!
I should note that my lack of coverage by no way indicates my interest in the season. So far I’ve actually kind of loved every minute of it. I had low expectations to be honest. Were we really supposed to care that Coach and Ozzy were coming back for redemption? No. But their sagas have proven to be surprisingly interesting (Coach, who started as an outcast with his group is now the leader, whereas things have moved in reverse for Ozzy).
Most importantly, however, is that the casting for this season has been spot-on. We have a great group of generally quirky individuals, most of whom I’ve been eager to see last a bit longer. We haven’t been adrift in a sea of pretty but vapid people. Everyone instead seems just a touch… off? Big Brother and Amazing Race should take notes (and yes, I’m aware that the shows overlap with casting directors).
There have been far worse seasons of Survivor, but probably few as disappointing as Redemption Island. I say this because this latest iteration of the reality stalwart started off with such a bang, it was hard to imagine it ever settling into the doldrums. However, that’s exactly what has happened. What should have been one of the greatest seasons of all time has turned into a rather rote one, with players content to merely go with the flow rather than actually step up their game. The one exception, of course, is Boston Rob, who has played a masterful and cunning social, athletic, and strategic game. It’s an amazing thing to behold, especially since this is the FOURTH time he’s been stranded on Probst Island. Obviously that gives Rob an experiential advantage, but on the other hand, it should also give him a target the size of Fenway park. Luckily for him, he’s got a bunch of idiots on his team. In fact, everyone this season has been an idiot, with the exception of Rob, and dare I say Russell.