Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Survivor: Blood vs. Water Episode 2 Thoughts

Being true to yourself
While listening to this week's "The Right Reasons" podcast (from the Grantland network), David Jacoby made an interesting statement in reference to Brad Culpepper:

"You will always act as who you are no matter how much you want to act differently."

It's a valid thought based on what we've seen of Brad. He knows that he shouldn't take the lead of a tribe; more often than not you will be voted out, especially if you are an alpha male and challenge threat. But once he got to the island, he reverted back to his old ways. He became the alpha male, and took charge of his tribe. Heck, he even created a team of fellow alpha males. He couldn't help himself.

If you can see this happening with Culpepper, you can see it even more in the returning players. Our most obvious example is Colton.

Colton came in to the game say ing all the right things. He wanted this to be a season of redemption for himself, one that would change America's opinion of him. He was going to play the game differently, and was going to leave his jerk and bullying ways behind.

Three days later he was bored and so he decided that he needed chaos. Colton was conscious of the fact that the best thing for his game was to stay calm, move slowly in the game, and not antagonize anybody unnecesarily. But he couldn't help himself; he had to do something to break the monotony in order to feel better. So he did what he does best, and pushed people around while accusing them of trying to turn on each other. It was his dream.

Unfortunately for him, the other players haven't changed either, and they came into the game knowing who they are and what sort of Survivor player they are. Aras prefers to play a laid back game. He doesn't want chaos or any sort of conflict, knowing that a calm camp is an easily controlled camp. Monica knows first hand what Colton's chaos plan can cause; she fell victim to it in One World. And Tyson is well aware of what somebody can do to a tribe is they are allowed to bring chaos into your tribe, having played and fallen victim to Russell Hantz.

One of the reasons why the returning players are at an advantage is that the have played before, and know what sort of player they are. They also know what kind of players they are playing with, and know how to react to them. Colton is learning this lesson the hard way.

The effect of the playing against a loved one

When the main twist for the season was announced, it was dismissed as a gimmicky way to bring back previous players. It would end up being a boring season where two already established pairs would make it to the end. In the first two weeks though, we have seen that this twist is going to have a major impact on how the game is played, and for the better.

The most obvious way the twist has impacted the game is how the ability to replace your loved one at Redemption Island has already cost a player. I had already predicted doom for Rupert; his play wasn't even close to smart for allowing Laura to make it much further in the game, and it aborted his game unexpectedly. Now he has no game left, though Laura seems to have rebounded somewhat well.

We also Marissa head to Redemption Island apparently because of her loved one, but that was not by her choice. Gervasce's reaction to winning the first challenge was to gloat about it, and taunt Tadhana. Tadhana took this as a reflection on Marissa, and voted her into Redemtpion Island as revenge.

There are also subtle ways that this is affecting the game. We saw an interesting strategy used by Tadhana when they were faced with having to vote out one of their own. They chose who to vote out based on who would be most likely replaced in Redemption Island by their loved one, and who would end up weakening Galang the most. They landed on Rachel because they felt that Tyson was most likely to make the switch, and his loss would weaken Galang signficantly. It was an outside the box method to look at the twist, and it migh tbe one that works to Tadhana's advantage.

And of course, there is John. John is still distraught over not stepping up and taking his wife Candace's place. But he was also the beneficiary of Candace winning the Redemption Island challenge, and received a clue to a hidden immunity idol. You could see him trying to find a way to keep Rachel, wanting to give Candace an easier opportunity to survive so she can come back into the game.

As Jeff said at tribal council, this might be the most difficult season to decide on a vote. There are many more factors to consider when deciding who you want to vote out. It has provided many good moments already, and promises to provide more.

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