Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Survivor: Blood vs. Water Episode 1 Thoughts

Generally speaking, there are two rules when it comes to seasons with both returning players and new players, there are two rules that hold true:

  1. At least one returning player will make it to final tribal council
  2. When there are equal number of returning players and new players, a returning player will win.

1) is an absolute truth thus far; in every season where there have been returning players and new players, at least one returning player has made it to final tribal. It's pretty obvious why this would be. Returning players have the experience of having played before, and thus have made the rookie mistakes that come with playing for the first time. They also know what worked for them, and what did not. They can adjust their play from the start, instead of having to try to adjust on the fly.

2) is pretty truthful as well. In a fans vs. favorites season, a favorite has won both times. Of course, that is a sample size of a whopping 2. But at the same time, when only two or three players are returning, the returning players record is mixed.

This season might cause 2) to be broken.

I think part of why the favorites have won both half and half seasons is because the returning players end up separated from the new players, and that makes the new players still have a sense of awe when around the returning players. In turn, this leads to the new players deferring to the returning players whenever possible in the game, and especially when the merge occurs. (As an added bonus, the returning players tend to have an advantage in the challenges, and then have the numbers when a merge occurs.) When there's only one returning player to a tribe, they are more likely to either be integrated into the tribe, or to be ostracized from the tribe. Either way, there is less of an awe factor for those players.

This season's main twist of loved ones being on he show should take some of the awe away. The loved ones have experienced at least some of the insanity of Survivor. They're not likely to just defer to any Survivor player. They might defer to their loved one, but that's about it. They're also likely to try to make a move on the Survivor players, having lived in the shadows of their Survivor playing loved one. And add in the ability to switch players in and out of tribes, and you get new players being very comfortable with returnees very quickly, which will lead to less following, and more independent game play.

And all of that is a good thing for this season.





Some Other First Episode Thoughts

We got the expected edit, where the returning players showed their competence at the game and being able to make fire, build a shelter, etc. What was surprising is that it actually carried on to the immunity challenge, when the returning players (sorry, Galang), came back from a huge deficit to win the challenge by solving a puzzle very quickly. It really was a demonstration of both side's strengths; Tadhana showing their physical prowess by dominating the water course, while Galang showing that they can stay calm and also think back to some tricks they would have used in other challenges. The question that remains is whether this is the going to be the dominant story a la Fans vs. Favorites 2 (complete with the subtext of a Favorite player edging closer and closer to the deep end,) or if this is just a one off and Tadhana can get their stuff together.

One thing that wasn't so surprising was the five guys of Tadhana sticking together to vote out a woman. Still, Marissa getting the boot was a bit of a surprise - she seems like she could help the tribe in challenges. With that said, I don't know how much of a mistake it was to vote her out. Ultimately, the Brigade 2.0 (over/under on when Hayden mentions the word "Brigade" on an episode? I say Episode 3) don't really care which woman they get rid of, much like the fans from last season didn't care who went from the minority 4 person cool kid alliance. In then end, it will be the core 5 person alliance left standing, and they will do whatever they need to do to survive from that point forward. So while Katie might have made more sense to get rid of, I don't think the Brigade is thinking that way. They're just saying "We're the strongest, and we'll carry everybody else."  That's a refreshing way to look at the game, but it's probably a losing strategy as well.

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