Thursday, April 26, 2012

Survivor: One World 4/25 Episode Thoughts

Initially, I was going to dismiss Kim as a threat to the Greatest of All-Time throne (currently held by Parvati.) Her reward challenge choice was terrible. It showed a lack of foresight as to the consequences of her choice, and opened her up to a mutiny of sorts. But as the episode went on, I actually came to the opposite conclusion: if Kim wins, she is the greatest player of all time.

Let's look back to the reward challenge.  It was the same format of challenge from Marquesas which caused the first switch ever, only with the added bonus of having to tell people what their faults are. Initially I was thinking that we were going to end up with the same situation as Marquesas, but after Troyzan and and Tarzan were eliminated the apparent core group made sure to not just pick people off in the pecking order.  Where the disaster happened was at the end of the challenge.

Kim and Kat had a meeting of the minds prior to the reward challenge. It had been deduced that the challenge was going to end up with the winner having to choose others to bring along and share in the reward. Kim told Kat that she would bring Kat and probably Alicia along, if only to make sure that Alicia, Christina and Tarzan weren't together back at camp. Kat agreed, and everything was good.

Fast forward to the end of the reward challenge. Kim ended up beating Alicia for the win, which made choosing Alicia a lot easier. However, when Jeff announced that another person could join them, Kim veered off course and instead chose to bring Chelsea along, instead of Kat.

This was a mistake in two significant ways.  First is the obvious: Kim broke her promise to an alliance mate. At an absolute minimum it creates hard feelings between Kim and Kat. It leaves Kim on shakier grounds with Kat, and it could come back to haunt her at Final Tribal Council.

The second is that it exposed Kim and Chelsea to be a duo that will be going to the end. This shouldn't be that big of a deal, but if people were to decide to rise up against Kim, it gives them another angle to attack from. They can get rid of Chelsea as a proxy for Kim, and essentially put Kim in the Troyzan role. If we are going to compare Kim to Boston Rob from Redemption Island, Rob made sure to never tip his hand to show who was going to be going with him to the end, even though he had hand picked Natalie. It meant that they never thought of voting out Rob's closest ally and forcing him to play a bit of catch up. Kim has opened up a bit of vulnerability; it will be up to her to sure up that flank.

Kim also won immunity, which was big only because it meant that she did not have to worrya bout figuring out if she needed to play her hidden immunity idol. It let her come up with a plan to throw a couple of votes on Christina in the event that Troyzan had a secret immunity idol of his own.  What she couldn't count on though was her own tribe being unable to keep quiet.

The first offender was Sabrina, who told Christina that there would be votes going on Christina, and explained the reason for it verbatim. While it's nice to be honest with people when it comes to how the vote is going to play out, it is disastrous to do this when the person who you are being honest to has already been confronted with the feelings of the tribe that she is undeserving of being in the game, and has also been hinted at being at the bottom of whatever alliance she feels she is in.

Given this fodder, and a bit more prodding from Troyzan, Christina broke away from the group and voted for Chelsea, making the attack on Kim that became a possibility after the reward challenge. Fortunately for Kim and Chelsea, that was the only vote to be sent Chelsea's way.

Then Christina herself got into the act by shooting herself in the foot. She told Troyzan that she would be voting for him, but also gave him a vague notion of some sort of vote splitting occurring as well. Without too much prodding from him, she revealed that she would be the one getting the votes. Troyzan realized that this was a gift from the Survivor Gods - he had a possible out. All he needed to do was to find somebody to flip the vote and cause (at worst) a tie vote and then who knows? If it went to rocks then he'd be safe, and if it didn't then it means that somebody got jittery about going to rocks and there is a chance that they would vote Christina. Either way, no harm for him.

Christina, OTOH, seemed blissfully unaware that revealing that she would be receiving votes to the person who was on the chopping block could end up backfiring and cause her to go. All it would take is one extra vote, and her Chelsea vote would have been her undoing. It's not a "give up your immunity" blunder, but it was a pretty glaring one.

The last person who couldn't keep quiet was Alicia. During tribal council, Christina started talking about having her perspective change based on what was said at the reward challenge, but wasn't being too outlandish. She tried to cover for her apparent placing at the bottom of the totem pole by saying that people didn't make the effort to get to know her in the early going. When Jeff challenged her, Alicia couldn't let Christina's response stand and instead had to explain why everybody said she did not deserve to be there. This only reinforced the doubt that Christina was having, and put her squarely on the outside of the women's alliance. When the numbers are this small, you need to have as many people on board as possible. Ostracizing somebody will have the opposite effect and probably cause you headaches later on.

These three examples are why I landed on Kim being the greatest of all time if she wins this season. Kim is following the Boston Rob game plan, but she has a disadvantage that he never had. She has an alliance of people who are aware enough to understand what the plan is going forward, but who are not aware enough to realize that telling everybody in the world what your plan is will only help those who are not a part of your plan. Rob only had to deal with Philip Sheppard's wackiness; that only affected how others perceived Phillip. Kim has had everybody in her alliance (save Tarzan) basically pull a brain fart and reveal things that they shouldn't have. This is the sort of stuff that Kim can not control - most of the strategy information is revealed during conversations that are filled with emotion of some kind. And yet, she has managed to stay in control of the game, choosing who will go and when. It's a feat is unparalleled in Survivor history, and yet Kim is pulling it off, somehow ducking the negatives that end up being collateral damage in these blowups.

It takes a truly skilled player to control other players who seemingly have a bit of a clue. Thus far Kim has stood up to the task in a manner that no other player has ever been about to do. If she continues to the very end while still having her core three together, she will truly have made a case for being the best of all time.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Survivor: One World Power Rankings (4/11)

(Note: I'm using a new method to title my posts, mostly because I can't remember what episode number this is. I guess that is what happens when you haven't blogged in over a month.)
These power rankings are based on my opinion of who has the best chance of winning the game.  

No hope

9. Tarzan 

Tarzan is the evolution of the Phillip Sheppard character. He is the "crazy man" who isn't so crazy and is perfectly set up to come to the end to lose at the jury. But as the game has evolved around Tarzan, he has to be considered a threat to win if he makes it to the final tribal council against two women (specifically Kim and Chelsea.) This wouldn't be because of his own play, but because the jury (or specifically the men) feel angry at how they were voted out.

Remarkably, the jurors that we have seen thus far (Jonas, Michael and Jay) have all seemed even-handed in their exit confessional. They do not complain about being blindsided, nor do they complain about those who arranged their exit. Instead, they congratulate the other players for getting them, and then they move on. Hopefully this kills the "Ponderosa causes group voting" theory that is being floated by some fans and former players.

8. Leif

Leif had a good showing this week at the immunity challenge. I'm not sure it will continue, but if it does then he is caught in a catch-22 situation. He helps to build his resume for final tribal council, but he also reveals himself to be a threat and then ruins his under the radar plan. He's likely drawing dead anyway, but making himself look like more of a competitor is not going to help him later on in the game.  

Vegas still has the odds listed as 999-1

7. Troy-zan

His best hope is to run the table of immunity challenges, and let Kim make the difficult decisions on who to vote out next. Kinda a Fabio situation, only with a longer run of immunity. If that doesn't work, Troy-zan still has a hail mary he can run: He can attempt to break the New Misfits (Leif, Tarzan, Christina and Alicia) away from Kim and friends, then start to vote out the remaining players in Kim's alliance.

More than likely, he wouldn't be able to pull these players away. Alicia would need a demonstration of some sorts that showed her to be at the bottom of the women's alliance, while Leif is unreliable and Tarzan seems to have some sense of dedication to his original alliances. Troy-zan is being set up to fail at some point. It's just a question of when.

6. Christina 

In the what if world of Survivor, what would have happened if Colton had stayed in the game is one of the big ones. It also affects Christina, who was looking for some sort of support to stay in the game, but wasn't having much of it. If she goes the men have a 7-5 advantage and we might have to deal with the discussion of whether Colton is a very good player or just lucky. It would definitely be interesting to see if Kim would be able to maneuver herself to the top of the game.

5. Alicia

I actually think that Alicia has less of a chance to win than Christina at a final tribal council. However, Alicia has a much better chance of making the final tribal because of her unlikableness. To be honest, if the women stick together, she is most likely to be sitting at final tribal council with Kim and Chelsea, with Kim trying to find a way to bring out Alicia's ugliness.

4. Kat

Kim knows that she can not bring Kat to final tribal. Kat has made bonds with many of the men who are going to be on the jury; if the men choose to hold Kim responsible for their being voted out of the game, Kat would make the perfect person to ship their votes to.  

Solid backup plans

3. Sabrina

I have Sabrina ranked below Chelsea because I think that Kim will vote Sabrina out near the end of the game. Kim will recognize that Sabrina is a big threat to win the entire game, especially with Sabrina being the figurehead leader of the women's alliance. To be sure, a final three of Kim, Sabrina and Chelsea will have Kim and Sabrina battling for votes, while Chelsea ends up being an afterthought. It will be interesting to see how Sabrina reacts at final 5. Will she realize that she needs to get rid of Kim to have a better chance of winning, or will she stick with her main girls in Kim and Chelsea.

2. Chelsea 

Chelsea's best chance to win is how she is currently playing - doing her best to keep her word, winning immunity challenges and letting Kim do most of the manipulation. It's more of a Sophie Clark game than an Amber or Natalie White game but it isn't a bad game to play: Chelsea has the "I'm not Kim" factor she can play, but she can also point to the immunity wins as a positive point in her favour. What remains to be seen is whether the jury will be looking for reasons to vote against Kim, or if they are going to consider the full game before making their votes.  

The clubhouse leader

1. Kim 

I think it is tough to overstate how great of a game Kim is playing - I think we haven't seen a non-returning player dominate this game since Brian Heidik. He has played most everything with the right amount of subtlety, and the one time that she might have been in a bind, she thought on her feet and nipped the problem in the bud. There is a lot of game left, and Kim has been more aggressive in her game play now. She has also made her choice as to who she will play the rest of the game with; how everybody else will react to that is going to be an interesting plot for the rest of the game.

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