Thursday, March 07, 2013

Survivor: Caramoan Episode 4 Thoughts and Best/Worst Plays of the Show

The irony in Shamar's exit

It's always sad when a player has to leave the game due to a medical emergency, regardless of how you view the player prior to the situation. But Shamar's exit had an added bonus to it: an ironic twist.

Shamar had been bitching and complaining the entire time. He had been a distraction for the fans, and had been a nuisance at camp. He did not contribute anything to keeping up the camp, and at the challenges he could be ornery. In short he was destroying any morale the fans had built up, and had set himself up to be a target to be voted out. Ultimately though, he caused his own demise in the game by rubbing his eye which had some sand in it. Not only was the irony sweet, so was the visual. Shamar, who chose to not help around camp and to do virtually nothing, was left lying, unable to help himself.

We've probably seen the last of Shamar, save for the reunion. In a sense it is a shame, as Shamar had the potential to be an interesting character. Instead, he ended up being a stereotype; a lazy, angry person who might be suffering from PTSD, and definitely was not suited to be on the show. It was a big miss by the producers, but they couldn't have known how his game would play out.

So we can't win a challenge, and we just lost one of our strongest players. What's our best move?

With Shamar gone, the fans turned back to the same dilemma that they had prior: to keep Eddie/Reynold to have the strongest tribe possible, or to vote them out in order to have the most tight-knit tribe possible. This being the fans, they made the wrong choice.

Laura smartly picked up on this at Tribal Council, pointing out that there is a likelihood that there is going to be some sort of swap or switch soon. If that were to come soon, you want the closest knit tribe you can have, so that none of the fans split off and teamed with the favourites. That was going to be the only way that they survived the favourite's onslaught. Reynold and Eddie had other ideas, dismissing the possibility of a tribal switch and instead pointing out that they wouldn't have to worry about going to tribal council if they could just win a challenge. In the end, this argument won out and Laura was voted out.

The problem with this is that it came a week too late. If they were going to act concilatory towards Reynold and Eddie, last tribal was the time to do it, when they had only been burned once. It would not have been difficult to bring them back into the tribe at that point, without very many hard feelings. But after they were burnt a second time, Reynold and Eddie were willing to listen and vote Laura out to save themselves, but were not jumping to join into an alliance with anybody else.  So instead of facing a possible tribal swap (which if you follow the pattern of the last Fans vs. Favorites, should be coming soon) with a strong alliance of 5 + Reynold on the outside, they have a group of 4 which is really one pair and 2 individual players, plus another pair who they can't trust to stay loyal.

The only way that this could work out for them is if there was no swap, and they started to win challenges. Neither of those seem likely, so the focus had to be the medium term, which would lead you to vote out Eddie or Reynold. What is the point of keeping them around if they aren't going to lead to any challenge success?

The fans' inexperience is showing a lot, and it is coming back to haunt them.

Best play of the week

Reynold playing the immunity idol. If you are going to look at it from a results perspective, Reynold made a mistake playing the idol. He was told Laura would be going home, and she did. He could have just gone along with the plan and still be in the game with an immunity idol - what a position to be in!

But the reality is that Reynold had to play the idol, and he did. He could not be certain that the vote was going to end up how it did, so he had to protect himself by playing the idol. An ancillary benefit is that it gives Reynold a clean slate with the rest of the tribe. The elephant in the room has been removed, and the tribe can now start the healing process necessary for the fans to stand any chance of winning the game.

One of the guiding principles for anybody playing Survivor has to be the "KISS" philosophy: Keep It Simple, Stupid. The more comlex of a play you make, the more likely it is to backfire. Reynold kept it simple and played his idol when he felt threatened, and is still in the game. That's all he could ask for.

Worst play of the week

Sherri for her backing of the wrong horse again. Sherri identifying Shamar as a goat to be dragged too the end is a great plan. However, her lack of flexibility caused her to keep Shamar when it was much more beneficial for the tribe to get rid of him. While she couldn't forsee what caused Shamar to leave the game, she could easily take the information that she had at hand and realize that Shamar was likely to become a liability at some point, and she was going to have to cut him loose. A more prudent play would be to get rid of him now, and hopefully help to heal the fissure in the fans' tribe.

This week, we saw Sherri flip flop on her motivations. She chose to vote out Laura for the sake of the better of the tribe. The issue with this is what I pointed out earlier - now that you have made your bed, you have to lie in it. Sherri should have fought tooth and nail to keep Laura around, much like she did with Shamar earlier. Tribal physical strength no longer mattered; the bond of the tribe mattered much more. Getting rid of a player on the outside of your alliance is much more important at this point because it is the path that you have already chose to go down.

Final thoughts on the booted player

Laura brought this upon herself, in a sense. She could have teamed with Julia and gone to the cool kids group in order to vote out Shamar. But she stayed loyal, and her loyalty was rewarded with getting the boot next. The danger for a weak player in challenges is always the early part of the game; as Laura said herself it's weakness in challenges that people look to before any bonds are truly made. However there is another danger for a weak player, and that is when your tribe loses challenge after challenge. The fans had lost 5 of 6 challenges thus far, and the one that they won was a come from behind victory. In short, they were getting dominated by the Favorites, and Laura in particular looked especially weak. So when the frustration set in with the tribe over losign so often, she had to know that it would be her that would be targetted. Sadly, she wasn't able to get her alliance to stay unified and not submit to the desire to win a challenge.

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