Thursday, October 11, 2012

Survivor: Philippines Episode 4 Thoughts and Power Rankings

Something that it's time to start considering: Is Matsing the worst tribe ever? The competition is basically between them and Ulong from Palau.  Matsing have actually had two advantages on Ulong: Matsing hasn't had to face a dominant challenge duo like Ian and Tom, and Matsing hasn't actually had to win a competition, they just to not lose. And yet, Matsing still managed to finish last in each challenge so far. It was not the dominance of the other teams, but Matsing's own incompetence that has lead them here.  Worse yet is that it doesn't look as though Matsing will be disbanded soon. It will be a 6 on 6 on 2 battle. We might see our second ever tribe that is just absorbed into another tribe due to a lack of tribe members.

No Chance: Lisa, Jeff

It looks like the tide has turned on Jeff, and it happened right as he was making a big move. Jeff decided that maybe it would be a good idea to go to the end with Jonathan Penner, who has been known to alienate people in the past. Solid choice on his part. And bringing in Carter isn't a bad idea either; having an immunity threat on your side helps when you want to get somebody out. Unfortunately for Jeff, the girls saw the guys little pow-wow, and they are going to do what they can to stop this man alliance. And of course, Dawson knows that Jeff Kent is a famous baseball player. So when push comes to shove, I'm guessing that Dawson will use this to turn the advantage to the girl's favour.

Not Much of a Chance: Abi-Maria, RC, Katie

Another week, another Abi-Maria blow up. This time, Abi-Maria sees the immunity idol clue in RC's bag, and declares it to be another reason that RC can't be trusted. And again, Abi-Maria goes on to make a big scene of this discovery, and drives home that RC should be the next to go. It seems like this is going to go unpunished, but it could add up to a flipping of the narrative on Abi-Maria.

RC's problem is that she is a reasonable person, and assumed that she would be dealing with reasonable people, so she made an alliance with the first person who she talked to about an alliance. That's fine to assume in real life. However anybody who has watched a couple of seasons of Survivor knows that you can not assume that all of the people are actually reasonable. Making a bad alliance has been the downfall of many people; RC will just be the latest to fall prey to it.

The returning players: Penner, Skupin

Penner has made a remarkable comeback after sputtering in the early going. He now has an alliance with Jeff and Carter, and has the hidden immunity idol as back up in case something goes horribly awry. I doubt it is going to help him win the game, but it helps his position right now.

Okay Chance to Win: Dana, Artis, Carter, Malcolm, Denise

Just want to throw a shout out to Carter, who is actually playing the game now. He's made a solid alliance and has figured out that there is more than just winning tribal immunity to playing this game.

Malcolm and Denise get moved down here because, you know, they are certain to be outnumbered in any new tribe. And they might not even make it to a merge or anything.  One thing that I wanted to touch on is the notion that Malcolm and Denise are now outed as a pair. Look at the performance over the last two or three challenges and ask yourself who performed the worst from the blue tribe? The only objective answer is Russell. So it's not necessarily obvious to everybody else that Malcolm and Denise are a pair that has been established since day 1. It could be assumed that they just got rid of the biggest liability they had.

Good Chance to Win: Dawson

Downgraded because of this boy/girl split. Dawson might be able to come out okay, but it could hurt her in the long run by weakening her tribe and alliances. Since this season seems to be coming down to being Red vs. Yellow, having a bigger alliance is actually going to be more valuable in the short run.

The Favourite: Pete

Pete just might be the better version of Russell Hantz. This week he threw another bomb into the Abi-Maria/RC alliance by planting the immunity idol clue in RC's stuff. That was rather Russell-esque, as it kept the tribe somewhat destabilized. But it also furthered Pete's goal of getting RC out of the game while also strengthening his alliance with Abi-Maria. It's a somewhat brilliant strategy that could only go horribly awry if Abi-Maria goes off the rails.

Eliminated: Russell

Russell was a victim of his own beliefs, it would seem. Jeff Probst had him nailed when he said that Russell acted as though he was a superhero. Russell took that belief (or confidence, depending on how you want to frame it) and used it to become a leader that he was telling us that he didn't want to be. That in turn lead to him making two critical decisions which ended up leading to Matsing losing the first two immunity challenges. The superhero complex also lead Russell to try to come back in the third immunity challenge, even though he was not strong enough to climb a ladder. It's the sort of thing that I am sure helps Russell in his real life, but it will hurt him each and every time he plays Survivor.

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Thursday, October 04, 2012

Survivor: Philippines Episode 3 Thoughts and Power Rankings

An exciting episode this week, as we are officially down to one person who we really haven't heard from.

No Chance: Lisa, Jeff

I'm not moving Jeff from here even though he seems to have made a separate alliance with Penner.  It's actually a smart move and has the added benefit that Jeff knows where the idol is. I have to admit, I'm shocked at how well Jeff is playing; I thought he would just cling to athletic ability as his calling card. Instead, he's taken control of his tribe and is really in position to make a long run.  The down side to Jeff's game is that somebody is liable to out him as having made a lot of money playing baseball, and I see that as ending up costing him the win.

And hey, Lisa's in the game!  Granted it's as the bottom member of an alliance as the expendable one, but still, it's something.

Not Much of a Chance: Abi-Maria, Katie

I was really tempted to Abi-Maria up after she found the hidden immunity idol, but then she (a) shared it with Pete and pretty well told him where it was and (b) celebrated as though she was 10 years old.  It was at that point when I realized that she was Joffrey from Game of Thrones. Both are unstable and prone to irrationally lashing out at those who they don't like. Both desperately want acknowledgement for what they have done, and have taken actions to prove themselves as being smarter than others think they are. And both come off as snot nosed kids who aren't deserving of what they have. That's not something that is going to garner you much respect and support at the end of the game.

I've bumped Katie down here because other than a shot at the beginning of this episode, she has been incredibly invisible. As in "She's doing nothing in this game but following" invisible. She's going to end up being Rick from South Pacific if she's lucky.

The returning players: Russell, Penner, Skupin

Skupin gets moved back down because there's a plot afoot to blindside him. I understand why his tribe would want to get rid of him; Skupin is a likeable person who will be difficult to beat in a final tribal council. But getting rid of him only makes sense if you think you are close to a merge situation. If you think you are far away from a merge, then you want to keep your tribe strong, which would mean keeping Skupin (self-injuring and all) over Lisa.

Penner made a strong move in making an alliance with Jeff. He knew he was on the outs, and he appealed to the leader of the other side to maybe call a cease fire. Add in that he had an immunity idol to leverage, and Penner played the situation well.

Russell better hope that his tribe starts winning immunity - otherwise he's going to be the next one to go.

Okay Chance to Win: Dana, RC, Artis, Carter

Carter and Artis, welcome to the show!  While it looks like Carter is going to ease his way into the game, Artis had a few things to say.  He didn't like Skupin for some reason, and he wants to turn on him.  Lucky for him, Pete is willing to accommodate that request.

If this anger is an indication as to how Artis is going to be going forward, then I'm happy to have another strong character who is going to mix things up. And Artis might have a chance to go far in the game.

Good Chance to Win: Malcolm, Denise 

Malcolm gets bumped down wiithout really making any mistakes. Malcolm said all of the right things at tribal, not alienating anybody while also making his points and showing his anger and disappointment. He has his alliance with Denise which might be able to carry him further.  But if hsi tribe loses again, it's going to be more difficult for him to get anywhere and not get Pagonged.

Very Good Chance to Win: Dawson

I'm leaving Dawson here more as a hunch than anything else. She got virtually no air time this episode, so it is difficult to say where she stands. I will have to revisit this next week.

The Favourite: Pete

Pete had a very good week.  Abi-Maria traded RC for him, and she seemed willing to let him lead so long as he kept up the illusion that she was an equal partner. Pete also set up for a blindside of Skupin, with everybody lining up to support. This would also isolate RC, while earning Pete the trust of Artis and Lisa, giving him an even stronger alliance.  Plus there's the idol which he knows the whereabouts of.

Not a bad week.

Eliminated: Angie

"For the record, I never said I couldn't do this"
"I would have went again. I really would have."
"One thing about me is I never give up."
- Angie, after the immunity challenge where she struggled in the early going

"I can't do it"
- Angie, after her first attempt to get a puzzle piece at the immunity challenge

I have to admit, I was screaming at my television set when Angie kept on saying that she would have went back out, or that she didn't quit. I even went back in the show to make sure that I saw/heard right and that Angie did in fact say that she was quitting from the piece gathering part of the immunity challenge. So I was very confused that this never came up at Tribal Council, or at the beach after the challenge. Why didn't Russell bring it up when he was burying her at Tribal Council? Did he think it was overkill? Was it addressed at some other point and the producers decided not to show it?  It's driving me crazy as to why they would show something that contradicted a player, but have there be no follow up to it.

One thing that was clear throughout all of Angie's denials and was hammered home at Tribal Council, was that Angie was repeating that she didn't quit to reinforce it to herself, and not for the benefit of everybody else. But what can you expect? She is very young, and likely hasn't faced much adversity in her life. If anything, this happening on Survivor is a good thing; saying the biggest challenge that happened to you was failing at Survivor is something that most people would only wish to be able to say. I fully expect this to be a learning experience for Angie, and that she will come out of it a stronger person. And that is a win for her.

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Monday, October 01, 2012

Survivor: Philippines Episode 2 Power Rankings

Not much of a change this week...

No Chance: Lisa, Jeff

No change from last week in this group.

Lisa continued to be alienated from the rest of her tribe, and somehow managed to make her situation worse this week.

It's personal confession time: like Lisa, I am an introvert. I like and value my alone time, and to be honest, kinda need it. However, I think I grasp something that she doesn't - if you take that time to yourself while everybody else is spending time together, you are basically giving them an excuse to talk about how untrustworthy you are and how you need to be voted out. Lisa needs a big rally just to stay in the game, let alone win it. We've seen it happen a few times in recent seasons (Holly from Nicaragua and Dawn from South Pacific spring to mind immediately,) but until we see some sort of fight being shown by Lisa, she is as good as gone.

Jeff has a different issue - his knee is horrendously hurt, but he has to keep up all appearances that he isn't as hurt as he seems.  They have given him a brace, which has to help, but at the same time just brings continual attention to his injury.  If the Red tribe is smarter than the Heroes from Heroes vs. Villains, Jeff has a lot of trouble ahead of him. With Penner finding a hidden immunity idol, Jeff might have a bigger hurdle ahead of him.

Not Much of a Chance: Aba-Maria, Angie

No change from last week in this group as well. But both were significant players in this week's stories.

Angie factored into this week's boot, by being the other possible person to be voted out, and by creating some sort of romance/alliance/snuggle grouping with Malcolm.  I get why she would want to do it; heck I would consider doing it if I was as cold as she claimed. But everything else was a just a demonstration of how young and lacking of Survivor awareness Angie is. She did not seem to understand why people would view her benign snuggling with Malcolm as anything bad. She was honest about not being able to do the sled portion of the immunity challenge, but even that did not seem to be something that she saw as that big of a deal. And her performance in that Tribal Council...just wow. I wouldn't have blamed Denise and Russell if they decided to change their votes right then and there. I mean, there are many answers that you could give to the question of "What one thing would help the most right now?" And in all honesty, cookies isn't the worst answer in the world. I'm sure that cookies would help boost morale in the short term. But that isn't the answer that Probst is looking for, and is likely to piss off the rest of your tribemates. In general, when Jeff Probst is speechless after your answer, and then starts to berate you at Tribal Council, you know you have messed up.

All of this just points to how she is playing the game. She makes decisions based on the best outcomes in the short term, with no real consideration on how it would affect her long term plans, goals and consequences. While Sandra Diaz-Twine ran that strategy twice and won two seasons of Survivor, Sandra was also smart enough to know when she might need to make a move to help herself in the medium and long terms. I'm not sure that Angie has the same sort of smartness; instead I think her game play just comes from her youth. She's 20 after all. Most significant decisions that she will have faced will have very little long term consequences for her, so it's not something that would naturally be a part of her decision making process.

This is certainly something that others could exploit to their advantage in an alliance. And it is something that could carry Angie far into the game (maybe even to final tribal). But it is not a winning strategy.

Aba-Maria is also playing a losing game, but for a much different reason. Abi-Maria is incredibly unstable, and is already looking for reasons to betray people. She is the Alicia (One World) of this season - looking to pick fights with people, and has an incredible temper that makes her unpredictable. If she doesn't get voted out shortly, she is going to leave a wake of destoyed alliances behind her and make herself an ideal person to take to the final three if only to lose.

The returning players: Russell, Penner

It was interesting to see how both handled being the target of everybody.  Penner went for the easy way out; he searched for the hidden immunity idol, even at the risk of alienating his own tribe. Russell was much more conciliatory, choosing not to look for the idol but instead trying to re-build the relationships that he destroyed. And yet both are in the same position - on the outside of their tribe, and still at risk of getting voted out.

At least Penner has the idol.

Okay Chance to Win: Skupin, Dana, RC, Katie, Artis, Carter

Carter gets moved to this group because he literally hasn't had any sort of lines or camera time beyond the immunity challenges. It's going to be tough to be considered a winner when the producers haven't even set you up with any sort of face time.

RC has started to reap the rewards of playing the game too quickly. She immediately grabbed Abi-Maria and created an alliance, but as we've seen, that probably wasn't the best of ideas. Now it's not that bad for her; the first vote is probably going to be Lisa, which will save RC. But RC is going to have to seriously consider getting rid of Aba-Maria before Aba-Maria gets rid of RC. In doing that, RC could get herself labelled as untrustworthy.  Plus, if word gets back to Aba-Maria, she will reign her wrath down on RC.

(Please let this happen.)

Good Chance to Win: Pete, Denise

Denise gets moved up because of her alliance with Malcolm, along with her decision this week to vote out Roxanne.

Realistically, Denise's move isn't a giant one. She had to choose between two players who weren't that strong in challenges. But the real choice Denise made was to help solidfy her alliance with Malcolm by essentially backing him up over Russell/Roxanne, and put Russell into a corner as the next person to go. If she went the other way, she would be #3 in a 3 person alliance, and will have betrayed the first person she aligned with.  Why mess with a good thing?

Very Good Chance to Win: Dawson

We didn't see too much of Dawson this week, but we did see her come back in time to catch Penner searching for the hidden immunity idol. If I had to guess, I would say that she will be the one to notice the symbol thingy off of the rice container and figure out that Penner has the idol.

The Favourite: Malcolm

Malcolm found himself in another awkward situation, and handled it to the best of his ability. I think it was folly to cuddle with Angie and not try to distance himself from her otherwise. But with that said, he handled the rest of the situation rather well. He saw that others were together and talking, and recognized that they could be plotting to get rid of Angie. He made his move and pushed to get rid of the ringleader of that plan, and was successful. His biggest problem now? Being in the small tribe, he risks getting absorbed into another tribe and just getting Pagong-ed. He has to hope that he does as well (if not better) than Jenna Lewis and Rupert from All-Stars.

Eliminated: Roxanne

Roxanne was right to identify the Angie/Malcolm grouping as a problem. And she was right to target Angie for getting the boot; Angie isn't exactly a benefit on challenges, so it is easy to lose her.  But Roxanne's downfall was that she herself was also expendable. If Roxanne showed anything in the challenges, she could have saved herself. But instead she was just as unhelpful as Angie, and Roxanne managed to alienate herself from the rest of the tribe, where Russell only wanted her around to feed him information while the rest wanted her gone. maybe if Roxanne had helped around camp, things would have been different; Malcolm might have been willing to dump the liability that is Angie, or Denise might have been willing to send Angie away and deal with the fall out with Malcolm.  The lesson here is if you are going to make a move to get rid of another player, make sure that there is no chance you can get outflanked by your target.

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