Thursday, November 15, 2012

Survivor: Philippines Episode 9 Thoughts and Power Ranking

"I think your best bet is just to sit back and wait for somebody to make a mistake. The cracks are there." - Mike Skupin, to Jonathan Penner

It's probably bad form to lead with the same quote two weeks in a row, but it really is appropriate now. The cracks were there, and this week, the structure crumbled.

What was odd about this week is that we weren't hit over the head with the crumbling tribe. We got what seemed to be the normal misdirection showing somebody else to be in trouble when the least exciting result plays out. Instead, we got another fun Tribal Council, and a crazy result where the dominant alliance and the most likely final three was destroyed. We also saw Abi-Maria continue her campaign to supplant NaOnka as the worst player ever to believe they had control of the game.

Now we have an interesting situation where there's a group of five that is aligned, but we only have an alliance of two, and three other players that we do not know where they stand. This season has done a great job of bringing back the unpredictability that makes Survivor so great at times; I hope it keeps this pace up.

No Chance: Lisa, Abi-Maria

Abi-Maria is a worse player than NaOnka. NaOnka at least knew better than to actively alienate members of her alliance; she just mocked those who were on the outside. Abi-Maria thinks that she knows how the game is supposed to be played, and she seems to think that she is a perfect individual. Unfortunately, that leads to her making incredibly insulting comments under the guise of "giving her opinion". This in turn ends up alienating her own alliance members and ends up causing your alliance to fall apart and you to be on the wrong side of the tribe.

To be fair to Abi-Maria, her actions actually held her alliance togehter for a tirbal council longer than expected. Lisa was loyal to her tribemates because she thought she could beat them in the end. And heck, Lisa remained loyal even after Abi-Maria basically called her untrustworthy. It's actually a brilliant play if Lisa knew that Skupin was going to flip - she can tell everybody that she remained loyal and stand a chance to pick up votes from Pete, Abi-Maria and Artis at a final tribal situation.

Of course, Lisa does not seem to be making that play. She's actually remaining loyal to her tribe, even after she has been clearly told that she is 4th or 5th on the totem pole. This lack of a killer instinct (and lack of basic math skills) is going to end up being the end of her. Sometimes it's okay to give up on something when you know it is going to end poorly. This is one of those times.

Okay Chance to Win: Penner, Skupin, Carter, Denise

Congratulations to Penner and Skupin, who have moved out of their own category and into one of the generic categories. They make the move on the successful flip they made. No longer are they going to be viewed as returning players (heck, Pete said as much as he was voting for Skupin.) Instead, they are just players in the game. This is a major hurdle for them to have climbed, and it represents a greater standing for them.

What will be interesting is to see where they end up falling. They have to knwo that Denise and Malcolm are a pair, so it would be very easy to bring Carter along as a final three. But I get a feeling that Skupin wants to bring Lisa into the fold, which could drive Penner away to Denise and Malcolm. Then again, it could move Penner and Carter to Lisa and Skupin, under the theory that if you get rid of Lisa, you have at least a 1 in 3 shot of winning.

Good Chance to Win: Pete

Pete is in a bad spot right now, no question.  But realistically, he can still recover if he just shifts his approach a little bit. He already has Lisa convinced that going to the final three with him and Abi-Maria would be a good thing. So why can't he convince another person of this, and orchestrate a switch of his own?

(Well, besides the fact that he is aligned with Abi-Maria?)

In short, I'm not giving up on his chances to win yet. To be honest, I don't know that anybody has really been shown in more of a winner's light than Pete. His confessionals are not as harsh as some of his actions at camp.

The Favourite: Malcolm

Honestly, this is a reach. Last week I had written off Malcolm, but this week I'm saying he's got the best chance of winning? All the reasons for him to lose continue to be there. But what has changed is that Malcolm is with the majority now.

There are now 8 players left. If Pete and Abi-Maria get Pagonged, then we're at the final 6. If things follow the pattern of previous years, Malcolm needs to win 2 of 3 immunity challenges to make final tribal. Are you willing to write him off in an individual immunity challenge? Throw in that he can still form a final three with Denise and somebody from his group of 5, and Malcolm deserves to be in the driver's seat here.

Eliminated: Artis

Honestly, I don't have much to say about Artis' game. He was in a pretty sweet position in the game, being the most likeable in a dominant 3 person alliance.That others got together and realized that their best chance of winning was breaking up the 3 person alliance was out of his control; so was the fact that he was targetted. He was targetted because Pete and Abi were so strongly aligned and a hidden immunity idol that they could share.

I am a bit upset that Artis was voted out. I was curious to find out how he was going to play being in the minority.His game play was really unexplored beyond him being with Pete and Abi-Maria. I wanted to know how he would react to being in the minority alliance. Would he try to move to the other alliance? Would he try to split up the other alliance? Or would he fold and accept his fate as he meekly leaves the game after being voted out? I'm not so upset that I'm going to demand him to be a returning player at some point, but I am legitimately curious as to how he would have reacted to this vote.

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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Survivor: Philippines Episode 8 Thoughts and Power Rankings

I'm back after a brief hiatus (aka vacation - and someday I will also post a couple of reviews/thoughts on that!) Thank goodness nothing happened on Survivor, huh?

"I think your best bet is just to sit back and wait for somebody to make a mistake. The cracks are there." - Mike Skupin, to Jonathan Penner

I really, really wish that there was just a feed which showed the camp life 24/7. Maybe it would make the scramble that happened this episode make sense.  Life was easy for Dangrayne - Penner was going home. No chance of him winning individual immunity, especially in a challenge that starts as a physical challenge.  Except whoops! Penner won.  No problem, the back up plan gets enacted, and it's Skupin who's going home.

But wait! Lisa isn't down with her best ally leaving so soon, so she tells Pete that Malcolm has a hidden immunity idol, and they need to blindside Malcolm.

Hold on! Pete goes to Malcolm and asks him point blank if he has the hidden immunity idol. Malcolm says he doesn't and for some reason Pete buys Malcolm's horrendous acting.

And yet! Pete would rather get rid of the Red tribe, and especially that immunity threat Jeff Kent. So the vote flips to Jeff.

Slow down though! Jeff hears this plan and somehow this gets flipped to 6 people voting Pete out.

As best as I can tell, within a 5 hour span, 4 different people were going to be voted out, and the main alliance had changed at least 2 times.

(Meanwhile, Abi-Maria is just sitting at the side thinking that she has the game in hand now, since she's going to vote out Penner.)

[What follows is essentially a live blog of the tribal council.]

Tribal council is just as crazy as the scramble. It begins with Malcolm accusing Lisa of throwing him under the bus, and LISA ADMITTING IT! Then Lisa sells out the first two plans of voting people out, just in case things weren't messed up enough.

Oh thank goodness, Abi-Maria decided to pipe up and run her mouth. And just in case things aren't already messed up, she outs the original final four that her tribe had. And just for fun, she's getting into an argument with Lisa for no good reason at all, while Jeff Kent looks on bemusedly.

And when Lisa brings up Malcolm's hidden immunity idol, HE SHOWS IT! MIND=BLOWN!

Malcolm is going to use the idol and he tells everybody? Genius if he doesn't.

OMG! Jeff makes a sarcastic joke about whether anybody else wants to reveal that they have an idol AND F'ING ABI-MARIA REVEALS HERS! I'm going to need a 10 minute break just to calm down from this!

(I'm not sure that I'm prepared to live in a world where Jeff Kent is the smartest and most subtle Survivor player in a season.)

"I was selflessly holding it for people in my alliance." Uh, might have been smart to keep it a secret you fool. Also, maybe not so smart to have created drama with RC over a clue.

(Meanwhile, Penner is laughing outwardly at being a part of the greatest Tribal Council of all time, and inwardly at how he might just be off the block for a little while.)

Even Jeff is left speechless! And Lisa is looking smug for no good reason.

Wait, Penner wants the floor now? Has the weight of the immunity necklace cut off the blood to his brain?



BTW, how exactly does this prove that you are loyal, Lisa? "Sorry for blowing up our spot in the game, but hey, stick with me and all will be good."

In a shocker, Abi-Maria is cool with this plan. So is Pete, seemingly. But why would Skupin go for it. "Hey, let's make it a 5-5 tie, and hopefully we play the idol on the right person?" He's actually in a situation where he should flip. (It's a bit different than the Cochrane flip from South Pacific. I'll elaborate at some point on this.)

And now Pete is outing himself as the target? Is that a blatant hint to Abi-Maria? She should say she's going to play the idol on Pete now, to throw off the other possible alliance.

JEFF KENT WITH THE SAVE! Pointing out that he was put out there as a possible target since the merge, along with Malcolm, Skupin, Penner, and now even Lisa and Abi-Maria are targets. Will the shell trick work for Abi-Maria?

"This is pretty fun Jeff" - Jeff Kent

Why is this hard for you Abi-Maria?

RC is loving this.



Jeff is going because somebody threw a vote on Abi-Maria?


Who messed up?

Malcolm is legitimately dismayed at Jeff being voted out, and rightfully so. Lisa made a move that quite possibly could end up in the top 5 worst moves ever. And if Skupin voted with his tribe, that is even worse.

But who threw their vote away on Abi-Maria? My guess is Penner, but it could be Carter.

Probst chastises the tribe for what might be the biggest blown opportunity ever, and he is right.


And to top it off, Jeff Kent's exit speech is about the $1 million is actually $600,000 once Obama gets done with it.

[In all seriousness, the tribal council took me an hour to watch, because I kept on having to pause it to absorb exactly what was happening.]

No Chance: Lisa, Malcolm, Abi-Maria

I don't know if I can intelligently talk about what Lisa did this episode. It was smart for her to try to keep Skupin by outing Malcolm and his idol. I doubt she could have even begun to estimate the Hantz level of chaos that she was going to unleash on the game though. And then she compounds it by staying with a group that she has sold down the river. I realize her plan is to try to make the final three with two of Abi-Maria, Pete and Artis, but in order to accomplis that, Lisa is going to have to win the final immunity competition. If she doesn't, Pete, Artis and Abi-Maria are going to look around and realize that Lisa is most likely to to win in the final tribal, so she has to go.

Malcolm is here because once he burns his immunity idol, he's gone. So he basically has to win out in immunity challenges and while he seems to be very proficient, he hasn't actually won one yet. I'm betting that he's not the second coming of Terry Dietz.

And Abi-Maria is here because I can not fathom her argument for winning. She is following Pete's lead in the game, not offering any useful strategy herself. In fact, her suggestions are terrible. She has treated at least one member of the jury terribly, and likely has treated everybody terribly. What is her argument? I'm not as bad as Pete?

The returning players: Penner, Skupin

Okay, why did Penner throw his vote away?  My theory is that he thinks that what happened at the tribal council is going to cause major issues going forward, so he is going to be safe for the next little while. Also, he knows that he is at the bottom of a six person alliance, especially since 2 of those people have already stated that they want him gone sooner rather than later. He knows that Jeff is going to get 5 votes, so if it goes to purple rocks, Jeff will have immunity. None of this really helps Penner, so he's choosing to go with the hope that chaos will reign.

Skupin's play was more straight forward. Being at the bottom of a 5 person alliance is not terrible when there are 10 people left. You can flip at 9, with a chance of doing it at 7 or 5 as well. I don't know that the opportunity will arise, but at least Skupin is positioned for it.

Okay Chance to Win: Artis, Carter, Denise

Artis only exists here because I can see his path to victory: take his original alliance of Abi-Maria, Pete and himself to final tribal, and then play the "I'm not Pete or Abi-Maria" card. It's a strong card to play, but I don't know that it's going to be enough.

Carter is kinda in the same position as Malcolm, but he has the advantage of not being the obvious target that Malcolm is. Carter could slide along further in the game just by virtue of not being Malcolm. Well, that and being a natural follower.

Denise is probably going to be cut off before she can get anything going, but she is probably slated to go after Malcolm, Carter and Skupin. That gives her a chance to put something together with whoever is left from the outsiders.

The Favourite: Pete

Pete dodged a bullet this week. There was a good chance he could have gone, but somehow he kept his tribe together. It's also interesting that his read on Malcolm having the immunity idol was so off. If Pete is going to rely on his judgement of how others react to decide what path to go on instead of someone who is in an alliance with him and has no real reason to lie to Pete, that could end up coming back to bite him.

It's funny that we were comparing him to Russell Hantz after the clue incident when in reality he's now in a Brian Heidik situation. He has to bring the most unlikeable people with him to the end, because there is a good chance he will lose on his own unlikeability, regardless of game play.

Eliminated: Dana, Dawson, Katie, RC

Quick thoughts:

  • Dana isn't a quitter. She was only going to be allowed to stay for an extra 12 hours and then be removed if she didn't improve. I have to believe she was going to be removed at that point, and if she was in that much pain to begin with, she was better off in removing herself.

  • Dawson and Katie were screwed once Dana was removed, but I am surprised that both didn't really take a run at their best options for survival. Dawson really didn't do anything with the Jeff Kent is a baseball player factoid, which was baffling. There was no reason for her not to tell others about it and try to overthrow Jeff. And both her and Katie didn't try to argue that Denise might be a problem once the merge happens and Denise and Malcolm join back together.

  • RC was screwed, really. It's not like she can go back in time and not share her clue with Abi-Maria. But it is a cautionary tale for everybody. Don't go around making alliances immediately when you arrive at the beach. Maybe try to find out if somebody is bat-shit crazy before aligning with them.

  • Eliminated: Jeff

    Going into last episode, I was willing to move Jeff out of this No Chance area. But then this episode happened and Jeff blew his spot to smithereens.  He let his inexplicable hatred of Penner cloud his sight of the finish line, and had him essentially hand his game over to Pete and Abi-Maria

    Here is a hint for all future Survivor players: If you have an option to be at the front of a six person alliance, or to be at the back of a 7 person alliance, always choose the front. There is no reason to put yourself at the whims of another alliance, regardless of any natural four person alliance that might be available.  When trying to play the long game of Survivor, you need to eliminate as many variables as you can. The easiest way to do that is to be leading an alliance, instead of being lead. As easy as it might be to assume that people will react to your pitch of the obviously best strategic move, it is not a safe assumption because this game is played by HUMANS! Emotion plays a factor as well, and it isn't as easy as saying "It's in your best interest to do this, so you should do it."

    So, while I feel bad for Jeff Kent getting taken out in this way, he really has nobody to blame but himself. He could have jumped to the top if he had just worked with Penner earlier, but instead he came to that realization one tribal council too late, and essentially got what he deserved - to be voted out before Jonathan Penner, the one thing he didn't want to happen.

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