Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Survivor: Redemption Island Episode 2 Thoughts

The storytelling of the current season has been fascinating to see. Normally, the post immunity challenge action gives us a decoy person who isn't going anywhere, but provides tension as to who will get voted out. These two weeks, they haven't even pretended to have a backup - they have basically stated who will get voted out, leaving you to wonder if the hidden immunity idol is going to be played.

In my view, this is a welcome departure. The fake out always drove me crazy; it was an obvious, yet flawed, attempt to divert you away from what was actually happening.
Sometimes linear storytellilng is just more effective, especially when it lets you concentrate on other, more subtle aspects that presented themselves.

An underlying theme to this show was the paralleling of Russell and Rob. Last episode, we saw Russell join forces with Stephanie in a repeat of his strategy from previous years. This episode, we saw Rob annoit Natalie as his go to person and his person he'll bring to the end, repeating his strategy from All-Stars. The producers then caught a break when in the Reward/Immunity Challenge they had a brief Rob/Russell competition, with both racing to get a key. You could sense the tension when they "competed" against each other, and when they have their inevitable confrontation, it will end up being the highlight of the season.

What was more interesting was that both Natalie and Stephanie were tasked with opening the chest using the keys they were given, and Stephanie came out clearly ahead. Is this a nod to Stephanie being more of an equal partner to Russell, with Natalie being more of a follower?

Even at tribal council, they laid out a simple story - Rob told us that he would blindside Matt, while getting Kristina to ue the immunity idol she held, and sure enough that's what happened. They are trying to tell the story that Rob and Russell's experience is helping them to dominate the game, and things like this tribal council help the story.
A plea to Survivor producers - either eliminate the hidden immunity idol, or make it even more difficult to find. I was fine with Kristina finding the idol without a clue - she was actively searching for it. But when Ralph accidentally finds it while looking for rocks (why is Ralph looking for rocks in the first place?) I had enough. The idol is quickly becoming a stale part of the show, and will soon create a situation where people are going to spend the first 3 days searching for idols, instead of creating relationships.

Here's a thought - do not plant the idol until a tribe earns their first clue. Make them earn a chance at the idol - if you don't win a challenge, you don't get an idol to find.
Matt played the game foolishly. When you are confronted by an alpha dog that everyone is flocking to, you have two options: (a) Attack the alpha dog head on or (b) make yourself invisible to the alpha dog, falling in line as necessary. Matt fell in line, but failed to make himself invisible. Getting close to Ashley is going to draw attention to yourself. Congratulating the other tribe after an immunity challenge you just lost is going to upset people and lead to charges of playing both sides. No matter how much you might think that you're tight with the alpha dog, the alpha dog is going to always look for reasons to get rid of anything that threatens him. Matt was the victim of this; if he paid more attention to his game, he should have seen it coming.

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