Friday, February 12, 2010

Heroes Vs. Villains, Episode One - Sugar High

As the 20 all-star contestants made their way to the beaches where they will fight it out in the toughest Survivor competition ever, I felt like I was in Survivor Heaven! It was truly a "Sugar High" so to speak. There were two helicopters full of ten people each. One for the Heroes: Amanda, Candice, Cirie, Colby, James, JT, Sugar, Rupert, Stephenie, and Tom. And One for the Villains: Coach, Courtney, Danielle, Jerri, Parvati, Randy, Boston Rob, Russell, Sandra, and Tyson. The short interview clips they showed at the beginning proved one thing: everyone has a mission this time around. A reason for coming back. And everyone feels like they have something to prove.

For most people, they want to prove that they can still do this. That they truly belong on the cast of the toughest season ever. That they can play with the big dogs. Most people are determined to come out on top - but as we all know, there can only be one person who will win the title of sole survivor.

As the contestants touch down on the beach, Jeff immediately tells them they will have a reward challenge for flint. Four contestants will run down the beach and search through the sand for a bag. The first person to reach their team's mat with the bag scores a point, and the first team to three points wins. Let me tell you, it was brutal out there. It almost seemed like the Villains were trying to prove themselves as true villains! Right off the bat, Stephenie, one of the toughest women ever to play the game, gets her shoulder dislocated by villains Danielle and Parvati (I blame Danielle there). She's tough, though, and is fine once the doctor pops it back into place.

In the next women on women fight, Sandra plays dirty and unclasps Sugar's bathing suit top. In a moment of bravery, Sugar just let the top fall off as she grabbed the bag and scored for her team. Even though the competition is close, the Heroes come out on top when James dominates the final challenge to score the third point. It isn't without another injury, however, as Rupert's toe is broken. If this first reward challenge says anything about the rest of this season, it's possible that many people will be injured as past contestants struggle to prove themselves.

Having fire is an extreme advantage for the heroes who go to work setting up their camp and working together right away. They are even able to catch four wild chickens! It shows good teamwork right from the start. Rupert, however, is disillusioned as his injury prevents him from fishing. Then, when he has trouble starting a fire with the flint, he begins to doubt his worthiness. As a player who is always valued for his contributions at camp, you have to wonder how long Rupert will last if he can't start giving his all. JT has no problem starting the fire, however, and camp seems to be running smooth.

On the villains' beach, Boston Rob quickly becomes frustrated that his teammates are not giving 100%. Smartly, however, he doesn't rag on them about it. He just complains to the camera. In a rare Survivor moment, Rob works together with the men on his crew to make fire without flint! Randy was doubtful that it could be done, but was equally in awe when it happened.

Alliances and Annoyances
It's no surprise that people were scrambling to make alliances from day one. It's going to be a cutthroat season and no one wants to be left behind. Especially when so many players have played the game together in the past.

On the Heroes beach, Stephenie and Tom hugged in secret, Amanda and Cirie sought each other out right away (but not James, who I think feels jaded by his female costars from the past who blindsided him). Outsiders Colby and Candice seemed to make a connection while JT and James made an alliance to keep the strong men on the team and save them from "flower power" taking over the Heroes tribe. Meanwhile, Sugar committed the cardinal Survivor sin - she annoyed the hell out of people while they were trying to sleep. She was apparently trying to flirt and cuddle with Colby, but instead of taking a hint the first few times he ignored her or moved away, she kept following him around like a puppy dog. This put a target on her back right away whether she realized it or not.

On the Villains beach, guess who was the first to approach the women about an alliance? Russell, of course! He did exactly what he did in Season 19 - he singled out the prettiest women and offered them an alliance to the end. This actually worked for him last season - except that Natalie ended up beating him! Russell approached Danielle and Parvati. Danielle said she trusted him, but you could tell Parvati saw right through him. Parvati's smart, though, and didn't want to deny him and get on Russell's bad side. "I feel like I'm making a deal with the devil," she said, "But I want the devil on my side!" Other natural alliances also began to emerge, like Sandra and Boston Rob, as well as the "Black Widow and the Dragonslayer" (Jerri and Coach) who seem to have made a love connection.

In the first immunity challenge, we got to revisit an old Cook Islands challenge where one team had to put a boat together, paddle out to retrieve puzzle pieces, then come back and let the second team put together the puzzle, then a ladder, and everyone had to go up the ladder to light the fire. I was a little disappointed to already be seeing challenge repeats. Jeff said we can expect more difficult puzzles and challenges this season, so I hope they won't all be repeats of old challenges.

Right away, the Heroes were dominating the physical portion of the challenge. It all started to fall apart with the puzzle, though. Rupert, Amanda, Cirie and Sugar just couldn't work together to get the puzzle going. They didn't have any of it put together by the time the Villains caught up and started working on it. Boston Rob and Sandra worked together perfectly to put their puzzle together and lead their team to the first immunity of the game.

In an all-star season, no one wants to be dubbed the first to go home. When the Heroes got back to camp, everyone immediately began scrambling to make sure it wasn't them. Sugar suggested that Amanda should go first. She's a huge threat, after all. Colby wasn't hearing it, though. He wanted Sugar gone after she annoyed him and kept him up all night. (As a note, I'm not sure this was the smartest move for Colby. Sugar would have been extremely loyal to him and he could use an alliance in this game.)

Cirie and Amanda stole away to discuss the possiblity of eliminating strong players with easy alliances, like Tom or Stephenie. Tom, on the other hand, wanted everyone to look at one of the most strategic players in the game - Cirie. By the time they all headed up to the amazing 40 foot in the air tribal council area, I had no idea who was going to go home.

In the end, I think Stephenie's opinion that it was too early to worry about strategic votes and that they should vote out the weakest links to stay strong in challenges, won out. Even though Amanda received at least one vote, it was Sugar who got the majority and was sent home first.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Termites and Snakes in the Grass

Termites. Jalapao's first protein in this competition came from a giant termite mound where they found giant worms and other bugs inside. I always think it's funny when they start eating weird shit right away. How long has it been since they've eaten though? A couple of days. I would have been hungry after just a few hours probably, so I guess I can't blame them. At their camp, everything seemed to be going well. Not much drama and everyone getting along. At this point, now that Carolina is gone, looks like Sandy is still the one on the chopping block.

Timbera is another story. Drama abounds. Candace certainly has let her personality come out this week. She's rude to the women, flirtatious with the men, but she's definitely wanting it to be her way. Coach is also hard to handle. Meanwhile, Sierra went looking for the hidden immunity idol with Brant and while they were digging on the beach, and someone found them. Sierra quickly covered by saying they were building a massive fire pit. I can't believe someone actually fell for that.

Back to Jalapao, Taj let slip the truth about her husband. His name is Eddie George, former Heisman Trophy winner and very famous football player. It seemed like most of the tribe was looking at her like a celebrity, but some of them were sitting back thinking, "This chick's got money. She doesn't need the million dollars." Her simply telling the truth about that was her downfall, I guarantee it. No one will vote for her to win now. Period.

Challenge: Rainy Days

As the rain started to pour, Jeff greeted the tribes for their very first reward challenge, but when he announced that it was also immunity, I was confused. There is usually a reward first, then a second challenge in the episode for immunity. Not this time. The teams were playing for fishing gear.

Three members of each tribe run to the water, get a ball and try to score by getting it through a basketball hoop while the other team tries to block. First team to three points wins both immunity and reward.

Taj, Stephen, Sidney against TImbera tribe. Immediately things got brutal. Sierra, Tyson and Candace were for Timbera and damn, Candace is competitive. She was seriously throwing Sidney into the water. She was also the first one to score a point for her team. Timbera 1.

2nd round. JT fighting with Tyson, things are really getting brutal. Sandy was cracking me up because she was just holding onto Erin's top and wouldn't let her go. Tyson scored for Timbera. 2-0.

3rd round. All women. Taj was proving that she was tough by grabbing it from everyone, but after three tries, Taj could not get it into the basket. Sidney redeemed her, though, by scoring Jalapao's first basket. 2-1.

4th round. Let me just say that for someone named "coach" he was sucking balls in this challenge. JT on the other hand tied it up for Jalapao. 2-2.

5th and final round. You can tell everyone is getting tired. Everyone had several chances to get it into the basket, but people were missing like crazy. Stephen got the ball and pulled through, giving his team, Jalapao a comeback victory 3-2.

Exile Island: Brendan sent

"Choose one member of the winning tribe to join you at exile island."

That is the twist Jeff announced, and Brendan chose Taj to go with him. On exile is a hidden immunity idol, so this could really be Taj's chance.

It was surprising to see that once they got there, they actually were given water and rice. That's a twist. Then, once they made it to their primary location, they each had to choose an urn. Taj's had nothing inside, but Brendan had one that said, "Open in private." Obviously, his had the clue and it said it was up to him whether he wanted to share with anyone else.

Another twist for him is that at the end of exile, he has a choice to switch tribes, but he said right away that there was no way he was changing tribes.

Taj proved to be quite the pushy one. She basically talked him into showing her the clue, but there wasn't much in there except it saying that the idol is in their "tribal homelands" which means back at camp. SO, exile is pretty pointless.

Fishing: Jalapao

JT emerged as the tribe leader. The good ol' southern boy is proving his worth through his easy going attitude and his knowledge of the outdoors. There seems to be bonding going on between Stephen, the big city jew, and the southern boy, which is a bit unexpected, but refreshing at the same time.

Timbira: Who do we send home?

Right away, Candace calls Coach out to the others, saying that he didn't work hard at the challenge. Behind her back, some of the others went straight to Coach to tell him. Coach's response? Candace is a cancer that will ruin the tribe.

When Brendan made it back to camp, he lied and told everyone that Taj got the clue, not him, but meanwhile, he's looking around for the clue right under their noses.

Candace and Erin plotting, but so is everyone back at camp. Giving them almost 2 days to decide who is going home is a bit unnerving. Coach said that they should follow their "original" plan and vote for Sierra, but to the camera he was saying Candace. He seems pretty confident that he's in control of his tribe. At this point, it'll either be Sierra or Candace going home. Everyone was forming little groups behind everyone else's backs, proving that this season of Survivor is bound to be riddled with blindsides and surprise votes.

Tribal Council

At tribal, trust already has come to the forefront of the game. Candace seems to trust that the tribe likes her. Coach seems to think he can trust that Brendan was telling the truth about not getting the clue. Erin's advice? You have to be careful, we don't know these people. I agree with her for sure.

Time to vote. As everyone was voting, you could tell Sierra was nervous, but Candace seemed to be happy and smiling. THe votes surprised her a bit. Her eyes got so wide and she was just shaking her head, but most of the votes were for Candace, proving that attitude and talking crap right off the bat are the worst things you can do at the beginning of this game. SHe doesn't have any friends or people she can trust, yet she was willing to talk plenty of trash. In my opinion, she deserved to go home simply for not having a clue how to play the social game of survivor. As Sierra said when she cast her vote, "You played a good physical game, but no one likes a snake in the grass."

Two down. Who will be the next to go?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Survivor: Tocantins Begins!

Wow, what number season of Survivor is this? 21? 22? And yet I still love watching it, and won't miss a single episode. This season of Survivor features 16 players in Tocantins Brazil. There is water, but other than that, it is basically a desert. Temperatures can top 115 degrees! I have a feeling these people are going to be pretty miserable. I am personally glad to see a slightly different setting this time. Tropical islands are beautiful, but they get old after a while. Africa was super, and I think they should continue to find interesting locations like Africa and Brazil. With that said, I am typing as I write and will just keep up with a basic recap of the first episode of the season.

The 16 survivors arrived in the desert in a truck loaded with supplies. Teams of 8, red and black, had to take whatever they could off the truck for their team and start the adventure. First impressions mean everything this season. Black team ended up with all of the water and bags of food. The red team.. ouch. Looks like they have bananas and some wood. Each team was given a map to their camp, a four hour hike.

But wait, there's a vote! Jeff says a vote will occur and one person "will not be making this journey." Right away, the red team voted off the older lady. Everyone on the black team voted for Sierra because she looked sick on the ride over. She has a fever and strep throat, and was so upset about her bad first impression. Jeff announced however, that those two would be helicoptered out to their camp, and immediately Sandy started celebrating. DOes she not realize that she was just the first person who would have been voted off? And now everyone that wanted her gone has to walk four hours bonding in the heat. She's toast.

As the two camps make their way, Sandy and Sierra were the first ones to arrive at their respective camps. At camp, they were left a note that told them they could either start setting up or they can search for an immunity idol. That's a really tough decision. Sandy didn't think twice about searching for the idol. Sierra saw it differently, and decided to spend her time setting up the camp.

When Jalapao arrived at their camp, Sandy quickly put her note in her bra and said "This might come in handy later, cause I haven't found the idol." Then what was the first thing her tribe said to her? They said, "Sandy! WHy isn't our house built? You didn't do anything?" I think she really made the wrong decision.

At Timbira, Sierra did a ton. She built the entire shelter for eight people, and everyone was grateful. Coach is pushing for the strong survivors to make it to the end, and he thinks Sierra should go soon anyway, but only time will tell. It's definitely honorable to want to compete against strong and worthy opponents, but Coach has to understand that just because you aren't strong physically does not mean you aren't a worthy opponent. If the only people who made it to the end were ever the strong, burly guys, this show wouldn't have made it to season 4.

Jalapao, Day 2. Everyone is working together to put their shelter together. J.T. seems to have taken a leadership role. Carolina, on the other hand, seems to already be annoying everyone. Sandy slyly announced that she was going to the bathroom and would be back later, then headed straight out to search for the idol. What I'm wondering is what the hell did she do for the four hours when her tribe was making their way there?? She is just now uncovering the first clue while everyone is sitting back at camp going, "where's Sandy?" Basically, she did nothing I guess.

Timbira, Day 2. The water they got yesterday is already gone, so several of them went out to get more water. Tyson got naked right away. He's definitely not shy! He has a great sense of humor, which could really carry him a long way. I loved it when he said that he'll wear a "Man Tiara" if he wins a million dollars.

Challenge #1 - Immunity and Flint
Six members race across sand hills, then out to a raft where they get puzzle planks and race them back to the starting line. The other two tribe members make a staircase out of the planks, then two members go up and solve a puzzle that will raise a flag.

Jalapao sat out Sandy and Taj. Erin and Sierra sat out for Timbira. Everyone else was in the race. JT was the first one out there by a LONG SHOT. This guy is tough, but he's also putting a huge target on his back. Carolina was holding her tribe back, having a very hard time getting to the beach. Tyson on Timbira gave Black a big advantage, putting black in the lead. Both tribes starting working on their staircases and Sandy definitely proved her worth by fixing the stairs quickly, but Sierra wasn't giving up. She never gave up and finally got their staircase finished.

At this point, it all came down to the puzzle maze. Timbira was making easy work of it, erasing the lead Jalapao had at the beginning. Timbira wins immunity! So, now we know that the first person to go will come from the Jalapao tribe.

Tribal Council

Everyone seemed to assume Sandy would be the one to go, but as is the case in Survivor, someone dug their own grave. Right when they got back from their hard loss, Carolina started bitching about their shelter and camp not being finished. Sandy's selling point was that she really did a great job at the challenge. Long time fan Spencer just didn't want to get rid of Sandy. SO who went on the chopping block? Joe was quick to bring up the fact that Carolina's bossy attitude is back for the tribe's morale.

I think Carolina is a sweet girl, but that just goes to show how one choice makes a huge difference in the way people see you. Believing she was gone, Sandy went looking for the idol, but we didn't get to see whether she found it or not.

At tribal, Jeff brought up the issue that everyone was expecting Sandy to have the camp set up. When she started making her case, Jeff asked her point blank... "Sandy, are you a little crazy?" Her response was "A LOT crazy. And I like that." Who knows? Her craziness might keep her around for a little while. In the end, it was almost a unanimous tribe decision to get rid of the bossy Carolina. It was obvious she had no clue she was going to be the first one to go. I would say that this first episode proves that the first rule of survivor is not to stand out for any reason right off the bat. Blend in. Help out but don't help too much. Talk nicely but don't give orders. BLEND in. Carolina broke that first rule and she was out first. Truthfully, she was also one of the weakest at the tribal challenge.

Two things are clear from the first tribal council. "1. You're willing to change your first impressions and 2. You are willing to blindside." Ah, the blindside. Hopefully there will be many more to come!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Survivor Gabon: Randy is the Cookie Monster

I haven't kept up with the recaps this season like I had planned, but tonight's episode has inspired me to write up a short commentary. Honestly, I have never laughed harder at an episode of Survivor than I just did at this one!!

If you have been following this season, you know that Randy is one of the most annoying and poor spirited contestants ever to appear on the show. From the beginning he has made racially motivated comments about his teammates G.C. and Crystal, calling them a "gang" and a "posse". He has rubbed every victory in the faces of each of his opponents at every turn, and he has even argued with his own teammates on the verge of success, just for the sake of arguing. The only reason I have enjoyed seeing him on the show this season is because it has been fun to watch him self-destruct. The whole time that he has been alienating and offending everyone on both tribes (other than Corinne, who seems to be just like him in many ways), I have been wondering if the poor fool realizes that the jury will be made up of these same people in the end? Even if he were lucky enough to make it to the final tribal council, who in the world would vote for him?

Well, tonight was the sweetest revenge. As usual, there was a Survivor "auction" where each member was given $500 to spend on items at the auction. Randy put his money on the table right away, winning first a bucket of beer and some peanuts, and then winning a bowl of spaghetti with french bread and a glass of wine. Maybe his excuse for his terrible behavior later in the auction could be that he was totally and completely drunk, but I honestly don't think he was. I just think he's an asshole. At the end of the auction, he3 bid quickly and won a plate of cookies for his tribemates. Somehow, Randy interpreted that as "I am God, therefore, I can give cookies to whomever I please." In order to relish in his power, he offered Sugar a cookie, and when she declined and said to give hers to Matty, Randy threw a fit and said that it wasn't her cookie to give away, because HE was the one holding the power. Instead, he offered Corinne the plate and told her that she could have two cookies if she wanted them.

In a final moment of, well, who knows... Randy once again offered a cookie to Sugar. It was his last cookie, and I guess for some reason he was expecting Sugar to decline so that he could eat it. I have no idea what he was thinking, but Sugar took the last cookie and then turned around and handed it to Matty. Randy was completely pissed, and carried his anger on to camp for the next two days, mentioning the cookie about twenty times. It was hilarious to watch an almost 60 year old man throw fit after fit about a damn chocolate chip cookie! If only he had known that the group was about to vote Bob next, maybe he would have calmed down a bit, but his insane behavior (which included accusing Matty of becoming a "whore" to the women in his alliance) sealed his fate at tribal council.

This is where the fun part comes in. Randy and Corinne become convinced that Bob has found the hidden immunity idol. Have they even talked to Bob at this point? No. WHy are they so sure he has the idol? I have no idea. It seems that they honestly believe that Sugar is too stupid to have found the idol, so surely Bob must have it. Randy's genius plan is to make sure he annoys everyone to the point of writing his name down, while simultaneously convincing Bob to give him the immunity idol. Then, according to his plan, all of the votes for Randy would not count, but the three votes cast by Randy, Corinne and Bob would rule, voting Susie out of the game for backstabbing them when she voted for Marcus.

Unbeknownst to Randy, Bob had cleverly created a convincing fake idol (much better than the one Ozzy made last season for sure). Bob only told Sugar about the fake idol, for some unknown reason, and Sugar came up with a plan to rule all plans. Give Randy the fake idol but convince him it's real, then laugh as he plays it and thinks he's safe. Her plan worked like a charm! Last season on fans vs. favorites, Ozzy found the real idol and then made a very primative looking fake one to put in its place. Eric later found it and believed it was real, but when he showed it to Eliza, she called him out on it and said, "That's not the fucking immunity idol". At that point, I thought it was possibly the funniest moment in Survivor history.

Tonight's tribal council topped even that memorable moment. Randy and Corinne looked so smug, as if they had just fooled everyone and were about to change to game. They kept winking at Marcus and Charlie over on the jury bench, like "watch this." Apparently they didn't notice that Sugar had her head in hands from laughing so hard and that Crystal was barely able to contain herself. When Randy stood up and presented the fake idol, Jeff gave his usual speech about the rules of play when an immunity idol is presented. Then, he said with a surprisingly straight face... "This is NOT a hidden immunity idol." Then he threw it into the fire and you could see Randy's dreams go up in flames. Meanwhile, everyone else, including Marcus and Charlie (but exempting Corinne and Bob), laughed their asses off as they watched the biggest asshole in Survivor history get outplayed and outwitted. It was genius! Good riddance Randy!

At first, this season seemed to be a bit dull, but ever since Marcus got blindsided, it's been a whole new game. I can't wait to see what happens next week. Right now, I'm cheering on Sugar and Matty pretty evenly. As long as anyone but Corinne wins this game, I'll be a happy fan! Thank you Survivor Gabon for putting a huge smile on my face tonight!~

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Survivor Gabon: Paloma Voted Off

We finally got to see FANG win tonight! Yay for the underdogs! Voting Gillian out at last week's tribal council proved the be the right decision for FANG. Now, if only they had voted out Suzie instead of Michele... ah well, live and learn. Maybe Suzie will prove useful somewhere along the line.

With Gillian gone, FANG's spirits rose at camp. Randy was the only one not convinced that they were getting better as he called his tribemates "complete idiots" behind their backs. He was quick to point out the next day that even though they are only on day 7, they are already half out of rice. Some of his tribe has seen fit to cook and eat three meals a day. When Randy suggested that they should conserve rice and go down to just two meals a day, GC was the only one who refused. "I don't have to do nothin' " was his response to just about everything anyone suggested to him. GC is stubborn to say the least, and seems to have a problem doing anything anyone asks him to do, just because he doesn't want to be told anything. Randy called him the tribe's "cancer" and I am beginning to agree with him after seeing GC's performance at the challenge this week.

Over at KOTA, the alliance between Marcus, Corinne, Charlie, and Jacque was still going strong, as was their plan to bring Bob into their group. "None of us want to take Bob to the end, but right now we need the numbers." Ouch, Corinne. That was harsh. In other relationship news, it became obvious that Paloma was hating Ace more and more, while Sugar and Ace were getting closer and closer.


Playing for mats, blankets, and other camp comforts, FANG turned it on for the first time this season. The challenge was one of pure strength this week. One member of each tribe had to wrap themselves around a post while two members of the opposing tribe had to get them off the post and drag them through the sand to a line. Once over the line, the team doing the pulling would get a point. First team to 2 points wins.

The first round was rough, and it looked like KOTA would dominate again. Ace was hanging onto the pole for dear life, and even though Matty was trying his hardest, GC quickly gave up and just stood there. (Cancer) Dan was pulled over the line by KOTA very quickly. But on the second matchup, Ace told Paloma, the smallest and weakest player, to go to the pole against FANG's Crystal and Randy. His strategy was that it would be better to sit out their strong women on a reward challenge so that they could keep them for the immunity challenge. Good strategy, but Paloma didn't have a chance. She was pretty easily ripped off the pole and dragged over the line.

The third round had Ace and Dan on the pole again, but this time, Matty and Crystal went in, letting GC get his rest. It was definitely one of the most physical challenges I have ever seen on Survivor and I am surprised no one got seriously hurt. Crystal truly dominated, and it was good to see her showing her strengths after a disappointing first few challenges. FANG won the challenge and sent Sugar to Exile Island. Her response? "I knew they would pick me, because they think I'm dumb, but they haven't talked to me yet."

EXILE: Sugar is Smart!

Unlike Dan, who gave up so easily and could never even figure out the first clue, Sugar worked her way through each clue with relative ease. She trekked through the woods, fending off giant ants and elephants, got dirty, and finally braved a creek with crocodiles in it to grab her treasure: the hidden immunity idol! It wasn't all fun for her though. Left alone for so long, her mind was filled with thoughts of her father who passed away 7 months ago. One of the reasons she auditioned for Survivor was to become a stronger person, and I think so far it has been good for her. Of course, then again, she was actually carrying on a one-sided conversation with a big idol.

IMMUNITY CHALLENGE: It's a slippery slope!

With giant slip 'n slides, each team had to choose six people to slide down into the lake and grab six numbered tiles. Once all six tiles were retrieved, one member on each tribe would have to solve a math puzzle, revealing a combination to the locked chest in front of them. Once the chest was opened, a flag would raise and that team would be the winners. Ken and Bob were chosen as the puzzle solvers, which I thought was a really good matchup. The professional gamer against the physics professor. The teams had the get the tiles to them first, though.

Crystal started out with power for FANG, building up a nice lead, but they quickly lost it when it was Suzie's turn. From that point on, KOTA dominated the slide, pretty much lapping FANG. It looked like FANG would be going to yet another tribal council this week, and you could see it all over Matty's face as he waited for his turn on the slide. Bob had a huge head start on the math puzzle, but Ken got to work not too long afterwards thanks to a fast Matty.

It looked llike Bob was going to win. "I think I got it Jeff." he said. Jeff responded, "So open the chest!" I dont' think the players realized that they didn't have to get Jeff to check it. The combination was the checker. Anyway, he was wrong, giving Ken a chance to try his combination... which was also wrong. Neither one of them gave up, however. Bob tried again, and I thought it was over for sure, but he was wrong again! Ken's second try was a success, leading FANG to their first tribal immunity!!!

TRIBAL COUNCIL: Bye bye Paloma

There was a bit of talk around camp that maybe they should get rid of Ace instead of Paloma. Corinne and Charlie had a bitch fest, declaring, "Getting rid of Paloma... that can be done later." That's what they all say! It's the ones you don't see as a threat that come back to bite you in the ass. Paloma also made a feeble attempt to stay in the game. "Strategically I'm a predator. I watch, then I pounce." Well, her idea of pouncing was to pull Corinne to the side and lie to her. It wasn't much of a strategy if you ask me.

At tribal council, Corinne showed her feelings for Sugar, and I wonder who else noticed. As Sugar broke into tears again over her father's death, Corinne actually rolled her eyes. Brutal. And... Kelly actually spoke! I don't think we've heard her say anything yet, other than her name at the very beginning. My opinion is that she probably should have kept her mouth shut. When Jeff asked her if Ace was a strength to the tribe, she looked spaced out as she said, "In some cases. He's condescending." Jeff looked confused and asked, "And is his condescending attitude a strength?" She responded, "In some cases. He's always telling us what to do." I don't even know what else she said. I think I spaced out for a second. She definitely made herself seem dumb, which puts an even bigger target on her back for next week.

When Jeff read the votes, Paloma had a moment of victory when he read Ace's name twice... but that was quickly shattered as she heard her own name called every other time. It turned out that only Paloma and Kelly voted for Ace, while everyone else voted for Paloma. Her parting words were simply, "If Ace wins a million dollars, I'll probably never watch Survivor again." I'm sure the CBS execs shed a tiny tear over that one.

Next week, the tribes will have to rank their members, which should prove both interesting and offensive. I can't wait.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Two Hour Season Premiere Recap: Michelle and Gillian Both Eliminated

I love the excitement of the first episode of Survivor. Before it begins each time, there's just no way of knowing if this season will be full of drama or if it will fall flat. Considering that Micronesia last season was one of the best, most shocking season of backstabs and cunning alliances, I am trying not to expect miracles from Gabon.

The first two episodes, however, played back to back last Thursday night, were full of drama. Right away, Probst picked the eldest male and female players... Bob and Gillian, and charged them with picking their tribes. Now, this may sound like an easy, early in the game decision, but I don't think people had their heads in the game just yet, looking at their choices. The way it worked was that the last person picked for the tribe got to choose the next person, until everyone was on a tribe. Here is the order in which both tribes were picked, as well as some of my personal notes and opinions about the picks:

Bob (old guy)
Ace (big, strong guy)
Sugar (Cute, young girl)
Marcus (big, strong young guy)
Charlie (young, scrappy lawyer)
Paloma (cute, young girl)
Kelly (cute, young girl)
Jacquie (cute, young girl)
Corinne (cute, young girl)

*A solid tribe of strong, energetic young people and one boyscout physics professor.

Gillian (an older woman)
Crystal (Strong woman, supposedly)
Susie (another older woman)
Matty (finally a young guy)
Randy (older guy)
Dan (Young lawyer)
GC (fast young guy with an attitude)
Ken (scrawny professional gamer not used to outdoors or physical activity)
Michelle (last picked... only young cute girl on tribe)

*A very strange tribe of mostly weaker people who have no idea what they are doing out in the middle of Africa.

Looking over the initial tribes, it was obvious right away which tribe had the advantage right from the start. While Kota had the young, cute, energetic and strong people, Fang ended up with the older, overweight people mixed in with several guys and only one cute girl. Their first challenge was to run some distance and then climb a steep hill to get to the mat. The first person up from each tribe would get an individual immunity idol. The first tribe to get everyone to the mat would get extra rice and supplies. It wasn't even a competition really. Marcus got to the idol first for Kota and the rest of his team quickly followed. GC made it to the top for Fang to win the idol, but the rest of the guys went down the hill to help Gillian and Crystal and Susie get up the stupid hill. Michelle was the only girl on their team who made it up on her own.

As the new tribes made it to their new camps, they found that they each had some broken down huts and a big lake nearby. It was good to see that they at least had some shelter to start out. Over at KOTA, Bob proved himself to be a handy guy around camp. He is a physics professor and that knowledge is going to be valuable for him as an older man on a young tribe. Ace sort of took the lead on that tribe, but he was also starting to annoy people. I don't think he cares, though, to tell the truth. He seems super confident. What annoyed me more than anything was Sugar's laugh. To me, it was like nails on a chalkboard.

While KOTA was getting their camp together and having fun as a group, FANG was getting a lesson about elephant dung from the most irritating person in the game, Gillian. She kept saying "Awesome" and talking about how there might be things they can eat inside the elephant's poop. Um... no thank you. Maybe on day 39 if I'm starving to death, but on day 1, I'll try the rice. Ken did talk Michelle into eating some termites, though, which was pretty gross. All he had to do was tell her that it would be "hot" and she did it right away. Can you imagine what she might have been doing on the other tribe with all the young hot guys? Hmmm...

That night as they settled down for their first sleep in the wilds of Africa, Randy hit a branch heading towards the hut and could feel the blood pouring down his face. When he asked nurse Gillian to take a look at it, she was kind of a bitch, saying that she had no idea what it was like and that it was dark. Wow, what an amazing nurse! The medics had to be called in right away and he got some stitches and a very large head wrap. He seemed to handle it without too much complaining though. Michelle, however, was complaining enough for both of them. She was freezing, and everyone knew she was completely miserable.

In the light of morning, Ace arranged a Yoga group over at KOTA, which made Corinne and some others laugh at how silly the others looked doing Yoga in the middle of the plains in Africa. I thought it was a good idea to get focused before the challenge though, honestly. And how was the challenge, you might ask? Let's just say that FANG got their butts kicked. It wasn't even close really, and neither was the vote that night at Tribal council. Michelle's crap attitude and ceaseless complaining left her labeled as a "Negative Nancy" and she was the first person voted off of Survivor: Gabon. I think that was a huge mistake for her tribe to vote out one of the only strong and fast people on their team, but apparently they thought a good attitude was more important.

At tribal, Jeff pointed out that there really wasn't a clear leader in the tribe, which led GC to sort of half-ass volunteer for the job. I thought this was hilarious since the earlier challenge had shown lazy GC sitting back and giving up halfway through the digging. This tribe is already making some really bad decisions! Back at camp, GC used the flint they were given at tribal to get a fire going very quickly. I was impressed with his skills because KOTA had gotten flint the day before at the challenge and were still working on getting their fire started the next day. I think they decided to give both teams huts and fire pretty quickly because of the dangerous nightlife in Africa. There were elephants and crocs and rhinos right by their camp!

Throughout the episode, I started to like Randy more and more, and I started to feel like I had originally underestimated him. He told the viewers that his new operation is "Operation let other people crash and burn." He was really good at keeping his mouth shut when it was obvious he wanted to say something. I think that is an excellent strategy at this phase in the game.

Over at KOTA, Corinne, Marcus, Jacquie and Charlie were already talking alliance strategy. I guess it's never too early to start, but then again, which alliance you put yourself in makes all the difference in getting past the merge, so we'll see if they did the right thing or not. Marcus and Charlie have certainly become tight friends, but I think Charlie has a little schoolgirl crush on Marcus that is simply not returned. Marcus is playing it up, though. I wonder if it will backfire on him later though if he starts paying attention to the girls too much. Only time will tell. For now, KOTA doesn't have too much to worry about since FANG is just not up to par on the challenges.
Speaking of FANG, GC's leadership status only lasted one pathetic night. Due to some seriously annoying snoring, he couldn't sleep and got up to do some work around camp instead. Apparently he woke up the snoring Gillian who just laid there and let herself get angrier as other people started to wake up and make noise outside the shelter. When it got to be more than she could take, she got up and told them to be quiet, which only made GC mad, causing him to resign his leadership role. It's so obvious that FANG is in deep trouble.
Later that day, the second immunity challenge was just more of the same. Granted, FANG was actually ahead for a little while... but they started slowing down towards the end and just could not pull through. The challenge was like a giant croquet game where they had to push a giant ball through some flags and finally up a hill to the finish line. Not a very original challenge, and honestly not that exciting since it was obvious who was going to lose... again.
Here is where Exile Island comes into play as well. The winning tribe got to pick someone from the losing tribe to go to Exile. The first one picked was lawyer Dan, who was met with a choice once he got there: Comfort or Clue. He could either choose a gated hut that had a fresh apple, lights and blankets for the night... or he could choose a clue to finding the individual immunity idol. The clue seemed to be pretty clearcut since it told you which way to look and that you were looking for a sandy "Crater". Dan just couldn't not figure it out, however. He was looking in the water, digging up the dirt, and he was getting very tired and frustrated. The crater seemed to be quite a trek away, but still, he should have just walked until he saw sand in a crater! I guess it's always easier to judge from your living room, but I thought the clue was pretty easy.
When FANG got back to camp, they tried to keep a positive attitude and kept saying "We did pretty good." WTF?? You guys sucked!!! If they keep trying to convince themselves that they did a good job, they are never going to improve. Their only real accomplishment was that even though KOTA won the fishing gear in the last challenge, Randy somehow managed to create a fishing hook out of his glasses. Everyone pitched in, gathering worms and making line.. and they actually caught five fish! To me, this was the most exciting part of the whole two hours, because it literally shocked the hell out of me that they did that! Randy might be a tough competitor just hanging back till it's time to make his move!
When talk turned to elimination, however, they were back to fail status. I was cheering them on when they first decided as a group to vote Gillian out. She is, after all, the one holding the tribe back the most physically, and face it, she was annoying the hell out of everyone. It seemed to be a done deal. Until Dan got back from Exile Island, that is. When they asked him how it went, he told them that it was torture and extremely difficult. He also told them outright that he did not find the idol and he wished he had chosen the comfort option. Crystal didn't buy it, though, and tried to convince everyone to vote Dan out, forcing him to use the idol.
I was literally yelling at the screen at this point!! It was obvious that Dan did not have the idol... and anyway, who cares at this point??? You can't vote out one of your only strong guys just because he might have the idol! This is the second vote for god's sake! Luckily, Dan told them all at tribal council that he did not have the idol, even dumping out his bag to prove it. They decided to vote out Gillian instead, which was the only really smart move they could make at that point.
My sister and I watch Survivor together every season, and this time we decided to make a bet about who would win. We each put $5 on our favorite player at the very beginning before the episode started. Her choice was Crystal, the former gold medalist who, so far, has not really impressed me that much. My choice was Matty, the personal trainer who also ended up on FANG. If neither of them win, our money will roll over to the next season. I am cheering Matty on and I hope he does well, but there doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel for FANG just yet... and I'm wondering if this will be another Stephanie / Bobby Jon type tribe that they will let fade away to one person. I hope not, but we'll just have to wait and see! Who is your favorite so far?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Survivor: Gabon Begins September 25th!!

I don't know about you, but even after 16 seasons of Survivor, I still can't wait for a new season to begin. The 17th season, which will take place in Gabon, begins on Thursday, September 25th. Gabon, touted as "Earth's Last Eden" is a country in west central Africa, near Cameroon, and is home to less than 2 million people. This season marks the first time Survivor has returned to Africa since season 3. If you were a fan way back then, you probably remember how horrible that season was for the contestants! They basically had no fresh water, and it was super hot all of the time. I just felt so sorry for them the whole time! Gabon, however, is on the Atlantic Coast of Africa, and I imagine they will put the camps somewhere near the ocean and somewhere near a fresh and plentiful water supply.

A few weeks ago, CBS announced the 18 castaways taking part in Survivor: Gabon. In the interest of counting down the days until the premiere, I am going to read about each candidate and write about what I find online. I will write about at least one new candidate each day until the premiere on the 25th. There are already polls out there where people are guessing who will go first and who might win it all. As you know, Survivor is rarely that predictable! Sometimes the most fun is when you think you have someone completely figured out, and then they surprise you all over again! Join me as we look at the 20 people who are going to try to Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast everyone else to win the million dollars in Gabon.