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survivor recap: another action freak bites the dust.

Survivor EE LogoAction freak. That’s a term I’ve explained in the past, but I’ll explain it again. When I was a casino dice dealer, we would occasionally have a player at our table who had to spread bets all over the table. He had to press bets, add bets and move bets around between every single roll of the dice. He’s an action freak. And action freaks can’t stand it if there are no payouts coming his way after a roll, so he keeps betting and betting until pretty much any number—other than seven—will result in a payout. Action freaks are too preoccupied with keeping bets in action, rather than the final goal (winning). Sure, the action freak thinks he’s charting a path to victory. In reality, he’s just looking super busy until a seven rolls and wipes him out. Action freaks control the pace of a craps game, to some extent, but in the end, they usually get hoisted on their own petard.

So it goes with Ron. He’s the second consecutive Survivor action freak to find himself on Edge of Extinction with a snuffed torch after making a series of unnecessary and colossally stupid moves.

Two weeks ago, the player who arrogantly calls himself “the Wardog” (what an asshole) shot himself in the foot by stupidly voting out his closest ally—because he thought he was a great chance to vote out what he deemed his biggest threat. What happened next? He got bounced. This clown whom I refuse to call by his self-given nickname was the greatest Survivor mastermind in his own mind. In reality, just another Chaos Clueless Kass; someone who makes a shit ton of moves and is always “strategizing.” But, like Kass, he overthought everything without actually excelling at any other part of the game and now finds himself snuggled up to the likes of Reem, David and Aubry on a desolate island.

SURVIVOR

This is the guy who’s crushing it on Survivor: America’s Ultimate Dad Bod Champion.

Unlike Dan “The Wardog” DaSilva, Ron was actually a much more strategic player. He truly was manipulating fellow Survivor players, moving them around like chess pieces on a board of his own creation. Since the merge, Ron has played a major role in voting out everyone but for Joe on Day 19. He also successfully kept his own name off the parchment until Day 31. Of course, had Anchorman Rick Devens not found the all-important hidden immunity idol during his midnight caper, Ron would’ve dodged a bullet, since final vote was four for Devens, three for Ron and one for Aurora. So, credit Devens for being something of a king slayer in this episode. He continues to find ways to stave off elimination.

 

Up until this episode, I really respected Ron’s game play. I’m not one to get too amped up when players lie to one another, or blindside a player or backstab to get ahead. It’s a game. No one died. Get over it. However, Ron was taking a bit of a victory lap and congratulating himself way too much. Was he in control? Sure he was. But he made one of the dumbest calculations I’ve ever seen on Survivor when he gave Devens his expired advantage. Ron gained nothing—absolutely NOTHING!—in making this move. He told Devens he was doing it to re-gain his trust after lying to him in the vote to knock off WarDog Puppy. Why?!?!

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 4.26.04 AM

Am I the only one reminded of da Vinci’s The Last Supper here?

Devens was already on the chopping block. Virtually all remaining players were onboard with the plan to knock off Devens first chance they got. It was out in the open. Devens himself knew this. So why the hell would you give him a worthless advantage? To gain his trust? Again, why????

 

Let’s game this out…suppose Ron never gives Devens that advantage. The worst thing that happens is Devens wins immunity or finds a hidden immunity idol. Either one happens, you coalesce around your Plan B (Aurora, likely) and move on. If neither happens, Rick goes back to Edge of Extinction and thinks nothing differently of Ron. But what did you do, Ron? You just had to play your puppet-master role even though there was absolutely no strategy behind it.

At Tribal Council, Devens plays the bogus advantage, Probst informs him it’s expired and now Devens has someone to vote against had his torch been snuffed tonight. It made you look petty and vindictive, Ron, because you stood to gain nothing other than to watch Devens embarrass himself. That is poor jury management. Just like the action freak you are, Ron, you got hoisted on your own petard.

Ron may very well find his way back in this game (I doubt it), but his chance of winning $1 million just took a nosedive. He was one of the strongest manipulators in the game this season, but he got sloppy and arrogant. I was not sad to see you go, Ron. You did it to yourself.

 

Awkward

I’m not crying! YOU’RE crying!

The Obligatory “Loved Ones” Episode aka A Very Special Episode of Blossom
Yeah, I’m sure this is a great and emotional moment for the players who’ve been locked away from society for more than a month. As a fan of the game, I get it. It’s a warm-and-fuzzy. It’s our very special episode of Blossom each season. The only time I really like this is when the loved ones get to participate in a challenge, so cheers for that. But I don’t agree with Lauren’s assertion that the reward winner is making a “million dollar decision” on whom to take to the reward.

 

It’s also worth noting that, in a week where Ron made a series of poor decisions, bringing Gavin to the reward was smart. It didn’t pay off, but it was smart.

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 3.48.02 AMImmunity Challenge: Stand in the Place Where You Live…
A simple endurance/take the pain challenge. Well, simple to understand; difficult to win. This particular challenge probably favors people who are lighter and have a stronger core. Also…small feet probably help. I would’ve expected Julie or Victoria to win, honestly. But props to Gavin for snagging his second immunity necklace.

Tribal ProbtsTribal Council: Aurora’s Understated Big Move
We already broke down Ron’s colossal stupidity and arrogance toward Devens, so no need to replay that down. Let’s talk about Aurora’s understated big move. By giving her second-vote advantage to Gavin, Aurora earned consideration for Survivor Employee of the Week™ honors. Unlike Aurora, who voted for Devens, Gavin ended up throwing both votes on Ron, thus avoiding what Aurora feared the most: a tie with her Survivor game in the balance.

Why was this a smart move by Aurora? Had Gavin voted for Devens, his votes wouldn’t have counted and there would’ve been a tie between Aurora and Ron, forcing a second vote; a vote in which neither Ron nor Aurora could participate. She would’ve been a spectator, which is not a place you want to be when the stakes are this high. Since four people voted for Rick and only two voted for Ron, there’s no telling how this vote would’ve gone for Aurora. That move of giving votes to a guy who’d be guaranteed to vote in a tiebreaker vote was very shrewd.

Sure, you can argue it’s moot since it never got to a tie. But Aurora played her advantage smartly to decrease the odds of it happening. Smart move, Aurora. Very smart move.

The Haves vs. The Have Nots
So, who’s got a chance to win this season? Well, we’re down to six remaining players—plus a returnee from Edge of Extinction, at some point. But some seem to have the inside track. Who are the Haves and who are the Have Nots? Here’s what I think.

The Haves
AuroraAurora McCreary. I have no problem with Aurora rifling through Devens’ bag while he was idol hunting. Sure, she got caught and it’s a bad look, but it’s part of the game. No, I wouldn’t like it if it happened to me, but it’s allowed. Truth be told, Aurora’s one of my favorite players this season. Like Devens, her name seems to come up a lot for elimination. She’s received votes in three consecutive Tribal Councils. But she’s a threat and her tribemates know it. If she can work a new alliance—possibly with whomever comes back into the game + Victoria and/or Lauren—she could get herself to the Final Tribal Council

GavinGavin Whitson. He’s a sharp player, a threat in challenges and has built some decent relationships along the way. But I feel he’s a man without a home, at this point and his game has been too quiet. I could be wrong about that and reserve the right to change my mind. With Ron and “WarPinhead” out of the game—he did player a major part in those votes—this could be his chance to step up and take control.

The Have Nots
DevensRick Devens. Clearly, Devens is the anointed “good guy” and fan favorite this season. I admit I underestimated him early in the game; called him doughy and non-threatening. I was wrong. He’s become a bit of a challenge beast and has a nose for hidden idols. Even though he has very few allies back at camp, I’m betting the jury likes him more and more because he’s one of them and refuses to lose. HIs competition knows it too, which is why the target on his back gets larger with every day he’s still in the game. Devens needs to win out or he’s done. Will he do it? Story at 11.

JulieJulie Rosenberg. Her stock plummeted when her ride-or-die (Ron) got snuffed. Then again, this might be the best thing that happened to her. Julie’s more conniving than she’s given credit for in this game, if you ask me. She’s also won an immunity challenge.

She needs one good win or one good vote to distinguish herself has a threat.

 

Stuck in the Middle.
LaurenLauren O’Connell. A tough competitor who seems to have been on the wrong side of reward challenges way more than she deserved. Her strength is she’s mostly been on the right side of elimination votes. Her weakness is probably one of perception and that’s not necessarily fair.

Juries like players who make big moves. Lauren needs a big move to jump to the other side of the ledger. But let’s not forget: she has a couple old allies over in the jury. Lauren may have more votes than we realize.

VictoriaVictoria Baamonde. This is your time to shine, Victoria. Early in the game, she showed a lot of promise. She knew how to stay off the chopping block and worked with the right alliances. She was much more in control during the team portion of the game. Since the merge, she’s been more patient. That’s smart.

But now that we’re getting down to crunch time, Victoria needs either a run of immunity wins or she needs to orchestrate some big moves. Perhaps it’s an issue of perception vs. reality. I think she’s a sharp player who understands the game better than most. But right now, her résumé is incomplete.

Survivor Employee of the Week™
SURVIVORIsn’t it obvious? Rick Devens was going home. He was dead before the Immunity Challenge had begun. He was going back to Edge of Extinction.

Were it not for his Paul Revere-like midnight climb up a tree at camp while his entire tribe slept, we wouldn’t even be talking about Rick anymore. Devens’ never-say-die spirit saved him from imminent elimination.

You cheated death again, Rick! Well done.

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 3.50.40 AMNext Time on Survivor…
Next Wednesday is the last episode before the finale, so this must be the week we finally get another Edge player back in the game. Whom will it be? Honestly, I’d love it if Reem got it. She’s been stuck on that Extinction island all this time and is pissed! She’d never win the million dollars, but I think she’d wreak havoc on the place if she got back in.

Upset

 

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survivor recap: burning bridges.

Survivor EE_David.jpgAll right. I’m back to writing about Survivor because last night’s episode pissed me off. No, I’m not questioning the vote at Tribal Council. I’m not questioning the not-so-subtle movement in Manu to get rid of Wentworth (because it’s a smart strategy). I’m not questioning the Kama Tribe ganging up on two strong, returning players in an attempt to eliminate threats. Thus far, the players have shown their ability to be strategic early and I’m fine with that; even if it comes at the expense of a favorite player or two (Aubry will always be my favorite player. Always).

What’s got me amped up over last night’s episode as that clowntard idiot, Wendy. Initially, I thought she was your typical, flaky player who would eventually show some strategic thinking.

I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong.

Survivor EE_Wendy

Dimwit.

Her hypocrisy and stupidity—topped off by her utter smugness—about the chickens has reduced her to my least favorite player ever. Yes, ever. It would be one thing if you were an actual vegan or something, Wendy, when you got on your high horse about killing at eating the chickens. But you’re not. And your selfish behavior shows your complete lack of understanding of how to actually play this game. Seriously, Wendy. Have you ever watched Survivor?

And how about the dimwits in the Manu Tribe not figuring out that she stole the damn flint. I’m looking at you, Rick. You know Wendy’s plan. Why are you sitting on it like it’s the secret code to finding a hidden immunity idol? You have nothing to gain by protecting this donut.

Look, I admire Wendy’s performance in the challenge, bum wheel and all, but her behavior shows a tremendous lack of foresight and pragmatism. No one’s asking you to kill a chicken if you don’t want to. No one’s even forcing you to eat one if you don’t want to. But when you put your head up your own ass and like the smell too much and decide no one else can eat the chickens…well, that smells of arrogance and ignorance. Calvin Klein ain’t gonna bottle that shit.

Loose Lips Sink Ships
I was not disappointed in the Tribal Council vote. Wendy looked like the easy vote from the beginning of the episode, but things are never so simple on Survivor. How did Manu end up at Tribal Council—again?!?! Because puzzles are hard; harder than DIY slingshots, apparently. Manu was setting the pace in the immunity challenge…right up until the all-important final element: putting together a puzzle. “Puzzles are hard,” David muttered over and over, in defeat. Yes, David. Yes, they are.

Survivor EE_Chris

Chris Underwood. Great with a slingshot. Lousy with bridge building.

Despite manning a slingshot like he does it every weekend at home, Chris found himself on the wrong end of a torch snuffer because he didn’t listen to David and blabbed to Wardog Dan about the plan to blindside Wentworth. Chris trusted the wrong player. He said he didn’t want to burn a bridge in this game and he didn’t. The person he trusted torched it first.

He should’ve listened to David. Once Chris told the wrong person about the plan, he put himself in the cross hairs. David, recognizing Wentworth sniffed out his plan, pivoted and made the shrewd play: cut your losses.

In Chris’s defense, he was trying to pull in an ally he’d developed, but his alliance wasn’t as tight as he thought. In Wardog’s head, Wentworth > Chris. Now, he’s off to spend a few days at the worst cookout ever, but I like his chances of getting back in the game.

Survivor EE_Reem Keith

Worst Cookout Ever. Reem & Keith are setting up camp with rice and…a torch.

Old Business
Let’s get the previous two votes out of the way. Reem was her own worst enemy at camp. She all but begged everyone to vote for her by assuming she could do whatever she wanted. Her attitude of “if they don’t like it, they could change it” doesn’t fly. It wouldn’t fly with me either. Here’s a tip, Reem: if you’re going to take it upon yourself to put everyone’s shit on the beach, why don’t you ask them first? It’s not incumbent upon them to clean up your mess.

And Keith…dude, you are not long for this game. If you had to hesitate and say “please, God” 88 fucking times before figuring out what you wanted to do, you should’ve just gone home. You’ve been in this game for five minutes. You’re still fresh. Grab a torch and get back in. Although I truly think you’ll get bounced out again and probably quickly. Perhaps not learning how to swim better was a poor Survivor strategy.

Meanwhile, Over at Kama
This tribe is itching to get to Tribal Council because the new players can’t seem to throw Joe and Aubry off the island fast enough. It’s slightly disappointing if you’re a fan of either of them, but it’s a strategy that makes sense. The newbies are afraid Joe and Aubry’s experience and guile make them strong players. This is true, but I can’t help but wonder if players these days are too busy trying to seat a jury in the single-digit days instead of focusing on winning challenges and studying one another. After all, how long does a tribe remain together on Survivor before Probst says, “drop your buffs?”

Survivor EE_Kama Tribe

Kama Chameleon. Seriously, who the hell are half these people?

I still don’t know who half of you are just now because you haven’t had to dip your torches in the flame. Seriously, I heard Probst say Ron’s name and I said, “…who???” The only newbie on Kama I recognize straight away is Victoria, thanks to her red hair. After her…yeah, I got nothin’.

But I will give it up to Aubry for snagging a hidden immunity idol. Even though I think the hidden idols are a little cheap and ruin good strategy, props to her for achieving that personal goal. People forget Aubry is a beast in Survivor. She’s play 74 out of 78 possible days during her previous two seasons. She may very well be the best player who’s never won.

Survivor EE_Rick

Anchorman Rick.

Back to Manu…
If your real name is Dan and you call yourself “The Wardog,” you’re probably an asshole. David is distinguishing himself as the sneakiest player on that tribe, thus far, but Anchorman Rick—who just made First Team All Dad Bod—wins the Sneaky Latenight Uncle award. Seriously, dude. I hope you don’t drive a van back home. He’s probably a nice enough guy, but he seems to have creeper tendencies. He’s one mustache and a basement X-Box away from being on the local police radar.

No Shot of Winning
If I were a betting man, I’d lay odds that Wendy, Reem and Keith have no shot at the million dollars. Reem and Keith are easy to mark for termination, what with already being voted out. But at least one of them may get back in the game. I still don’t think they’ll get enough votes ever to win. Wendy is a clueless dimwit. She will be the useful idiot to someone with an actual game plan. Once her usefulness runs out, she gone.

Gang of Four
These are the four most dangerous players (so far):

  • Dan. I refuse to call him “Wardog.” Yes, he’s an asshole, but he’s lining himself up to be a major player to go along with being a major asshole.
  • David. Some people seem to truly understand the social game that is Survivor. David is one of those players who bends the game to his will. That’s impressive. And dangerous. I wonder how long it’ll take for people to recognize he’s a threat.
  • Wentworth. She’s got the biggest target on her back, but has already built an alliance that has bailed her out. She may get her torch snuffed out sooner rather than later, but her ability to fend off elimination in the first two tribal councils of the season is impressive.
  • Aubry. Finding an idol may be the advantage she needs to stave off elimination before the merge. We shall see.
Survivor EE_Aubry cropped

Aubry is a Survivor Beast and you don’t even know it.

Survivor Employee of the Week
Aubry. She was a challenge beast when it counts the most. Her work in solving the puzzle that won immunity for her tribe should earn her some cred with her people…if only they weren’t so focused on Day 39 just now.

And whether it’s paranoia or game sensibilities, Aubry’s self awareness as being on the chopping block led her into the woods to hunt down an immunity idol.

Next Week’s Prediction
Hopefully, that clod Wendy goes home. I already can’t stand her stupid ass.

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the best of (and worst of) survivor.

the-best-moments-fro

Survivor’s been on American television since the summer of 2000. Tomorrow night, Jeff Probst will bestow the title of Sole Survivor on the 37th recipient…and a check for $1 million. You’d think winning the game is enough to cement your name into immortality with the fans, but does it really? Who won Ghost Island (the season prior to David vs. Goliath)? Do you even remember? I don’t. Winning does no guarantee Survivor immortality.

In preparation for tomorrow’s season finale, I thought it would be fun to take a trip down Memory Lane through a few lists. Who’s been the best Sole Survivor? Who’s been the least deserving? Who were the best players to never win the title?

Let’s take a look…

Top Five Sole Survivors
In 36 seasons (and counting), some champions played the game better than anyone else. Here are the five best Sole Survivors (in no particular order):

Survivor_Yul KwonYul Kwon: Cook Islands
To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. And that’s exactly what Yul did in the Cook Islands. In a three-person final Tribal Council, Yul defeated Ozzy Lusth by a 5 – 4 vote. In a season with a deep bench (including future winner Parvati Shallow), Ozzy was the original challenge beast. Yul’s strength was in strategy, alliances and most of all, jury management. It’s one thing to vote out a player. It’s another thing entirely to know when to vote them out. Yul’s only played this game once, but he was arguably one of the smartest Survivor players ever.

Survivor_Sandra Diaz-TwineSandra Diaz-Twine: Pearl Islands, Heroes vs. Villains
The only two-time Sole Survivor. Sandra’s strength was her craftiness. She was not gifted with athleticism, but made up for it in her strategic alliances and a whole lotta luck. Yes, luck goes a long way in Survivor, but what is luck? It’s opportunity meets preparation. In the Pearl Islands, she won because her runner-up, Lillian Morris, allowed her heart to speak louder than her head. Lillian refused to take Jon “Johnny Fairplay” Dalton to the final Tribal Council, opting for Sandra instead. Fast forward to Heroes vs. Villains and Sandra defeated Parvati Shallow and the evil Russell Hantz for her second title. Winning once can be chalked up to chance. But twice? Nope.

Survivor_Natalie AndersonNatalie Anderson: Blood vs. Water
Full disclosure: I hated Natalie when she and her sister Nadiya were on The Amazing Race. Hated! She was obnoxious. On Survivor, though, she channeled her weapons into a crafty win in a season where everyone started as part of a pair. That she made it to the end was slightly surprising to me, honestly. Though only winning individual immunity once, Natalie played an aggressive game and pulled some epic blindsides on her way to victory.

Survivor_Brian HeidikBrian Heidik: Thailand
You probably don’t even remember Brian. He was the Sole Survivor all the way back in Season 5. It was his first and last time playing Survivor. Brian is roundly considered one of the least likable players in Survivor history because of his serial killer-like approach to the game. Like him or hate him, Brian executed one of the most masterful magic tricks over the game that we’ve ever seen: he won without ever shining a light upon himself. Did he crack the code? Sort of, but it’s because he was emotionally detached. Sure, he won challenges, but he read his competition perfectly and played them against one another. He closed his magic trick by dragging a stooge to the end who was less likable than he was.

Survivor_Sarah LacinaSarah Lacina: Game Changers
This was one of the deepest competitions in a long time. Sarah had to beat some fierce competition to claim the title. In fact, one might argue her runner-up, Brad Culpepper was more deserving. I’m not sure about that, but I do think he played a championship-caliber game (he certainly didn’t deserve to lose 7 – 3 in the final Tribal Council). The fact that Sarah built alliances across the entire game is testimony to her victory. On paper, Culpepper should win, but he was too aggressive and, at times, a bully. Sarah was sharper at reading the room, which went a long way to jury management. She also positioned herself as a crucial swing vote and could pick off players like a sniper. That’s a powerful place to be.

Honorable Mention
Survivor_RIchard HatchRichard Hatch: Season 1, Borneo
The first champion and arguably the inventor of much of the strategy that still carries over today. No, Richard never had to deal with Exile Island, hidden immunity idols and other wrenches thrown into the game today, but he’s the one who understand jury management and used it to his advantage to beat his competition. Yeah, he’s a bit of a knucklehead, but so what? He still deserves respect for his game play.

Five Least Deserving Sole Survivors
One thing I hate about Survivor is the best player rarely wins. Petulant, red-assed jurors would sooner reward a bad player than a good one because the good player outwitted them. Talk about cheap. Yeah, yeah. If you win, you must be good blah-blah-blah. Screw that. So, here are the five doorknobs who backed their way into winning this game.

Survivor_Aras Asshole_CROPPEDAras Baskauskas: Panama (Exile Island)
Talk about your garden-variety load. Aras had no business making it past the merge, much less winning the game. I maintain this was the season that pushed producers to opt for three-finalist final Tribal Councils, since the best player that season (Terry Deitz) didn’t win. Aras was an obnoxious, immature, punk-ass little bitch the entire game. A loudmouth who was dragged to the final Tribal Council by Danielle DiLorenzo because she knew Terry would be the runaway champion if she didn’t eliminate him.

Survivor_Natalie WhiteNatalie White: Samoa
It may not even be her own fault, but Natalie did NOT deserve to win this season. She was up against the most feared, the most hated and the most strategic overall player in Survivor history: Russell Hantz. Natalie was a stooge and a puppet to Russell. The jury knew that, too. But they hated him so much that they refused to give him the money and the title. Credit where credit is due: Natalie won. But she sure as shit didn’t deserve it.

Survivor_Tina WessonTina Wesson: Africa
She is and always will be the blueprint for a coattail-riding, ingratiating, do-nothing who wins by duping the best player into trusting her. Yeah, she won, but she wasn’t a good player at all except for reading Colby Donaldson as a stooge. Donaldson was, hands down, a better player. Come to think of it, the jury was a bunch of morons, too.

Survivor_Vecepia ToweryVecepia Towery: Marquesas
For the most part, I never minded her game. She was an under-the-radar competitor who seized a target of opportunity at the end to avoid facing a player she probably couldn’t have defeated (Kathy Vavrick-O’Brien). Indeed, Faustian bargains are a part of Survivor. I can dig that. What I found most galling about Vecepia is she didn’t own it. She instead “give it to God.” WTF? Screw you, you condescending jerk! Just own your strategy instead of feigning some bullshit religious piety, eh?

Survivor_Tom WestmanTom Westman: Palau
I may get some heat for this one. In fairness, Tom was one of the best players of this game. The reason he makes this list is because of the cheap way he and that load Katie Gallagher ganged up on Ian Rosberger. They henpecked Ian to death up to and during the final immunity challenge over “broken promises” toward that load Katie. Those two ganged up on Ian and played the lowest card of all in Survivor: the “integrity” card. I liked Tom as a player right up to that point. Ian was a fierce competitor all season long. He was the only player left who had a chance to beat Tom in the end. But Ian was young and allowed them to play on his emotions to the point where he conceded in the final immunity challenge and asked Tom to vote him out. It’s not dirty to win, but it’s cheap as hell to manipulate a player like that. Ian was a fool, no doubt, but to endure that shit for 12 hours? You won, Tom, but it was tainted. Tainted as hell.

Best Players Who Never Won
This is an easy one.

Survivor_Ozzy LusthOzzy Lusth
The guy who’s spent more time in the game than any other player ever. And only made it to one final Tribal Council. That just doesn’t seem right.

 

Survivor_Colby DonaldsonColby Donaldson
If you don’t take Tina to the end, Colby, you win. No doubt.

 

 

Survivor_Aubry BraccoAubry Bracco
I loved everything about her. Everything. She was one of the smartest players in this game but just found herself on the wrong side of an alliance.

 

SURVIVOR: REDEMPTION ISLANDRussell Hantz
A wretched human being, no question. But Russell went to back-to-back final tribal councils. That’s not an easy feat. I can understand losing Heroes vs. Villains, but he deserved Samoa. Still, he’s a soulless husk of a human.

Survivor_Stephenie LaGrossaStephenie LaGrossa
Remember her? Her entire tribe got eliminated during her first game (Palau), then she made it all the way to the end of Guatemala as a runner-up. She wasn’t really there in her third game (Heroes vs. Villains), but Stephenie was an impressive player.

 

Survivor 37

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survivor recap: the war on christian.

Survivor_David_vs_Goliath

And then there were six. Seems like yesterday we were trying to learn the names of 20 new Survivor entrants, competing on the deck of a boat in Fiji. Now, 12 days before Christmas, we’re counting down to the season finale, where one of the six remaining players will be crowned Ultimate Survivor.

The vote on Night 35 truly made the most sense, even though it likely disappointed many fans of the game. Christian became that player everyone loves to watch. He’s quirky, unassuming, doesn’t always fit in, but altogether likable. In that way, he reminds us of ourselves. Christian also became the unlikeliest of dominant threats in this game, although, that’s probably because the typical Survivor competitor has evolved.

So Smart They're DumbGone are the days when big, burly, muscular players are seen as the greatest threats. That it took so long to realize muscle is only one, small part of this game is a bit shocking to me. Even calling this season David vs. Goliath was kinda dumb and forced, if you ask me. Filmmaker Mike himself would probably tell you he’s not truly a Goliath in his real life. A successful filmmaker? Yes, absolutely. But Spielberg level? C’mon. THAT’S a Goliath!

I digress…

But I will say Mike’s game play has been rock solid all along. He’s made very few missteps and has recognized where the true threats lie. Earning immunity last night emboldened his plan to take out a big threat. By turning his attentions to Christian and away from Nick, Mike also flushed an immunity idol. That could burn Nick in the next Tribal Council.

Before we rank the final six players, I did want to bring something up that you probably hadn’t heard about. Did you know Angelina gave up a chance at immunity to get a bag of rice for the tribe? I mean, she doesn’t want to brag about it and she DEFINITELY doesn’t want any reciprocity from it, but you know, she wants you know what she did for you and that you TOTALLY don’t owe her anything for it. #puke

survivor-probst-rice

Here, Angelina. Here’s your bag of rice. Now maybe that will shut you up for once.

What an asshole. What an absolute asshole that woman is. Who do you think you’re fooling, Angelina? Seriously! You’ve been trading on that one moment for how many days now? And as much as you’d like people to believe this was part of some big strategy of yours, it wasn’t. Not even a little. It was a boastful move that did absolutely nothing—NOTHING!—to advance your position in the game. Really, it was self serving as much as anything else. And you proved how petty you are about it by cooking “revenge rice.” So, really, Angelina, cut the shit already. That move was all about you and everyone knows it. Quit being such an asshole about it.

Now then…

The Final Six.
Anything can happen and I have no earthly idea who’s going to win. I’d say there are three players with a legitimate shot at it, one is a maybe and one is definitely a ‘no’. Before we get to that, I want to underscore how impressive this entire season has been for game play. With the exception of a handful of players, the contestants have been smart, strategic and competitive.

Most of all, I appreciate that they moved beyond the emotional aspect too many players bring into the game. Most of the players understand it’s a game and it’s not really personal. Here’s to hoping that lasts to the end and we don’t get some whiny nonsense about someone’s hurt fee-fees over getting voted out. Grow up, you big baby!

There’s also been tremendous balance after the merge. Thus far, no one has won individual immunity more than once. That’s likely to change now that we’re down to six, but it’s an impressive stat in David vs. Goliath.

The Three to Beat
Survivor MikeSchool of Rock Mike
He’s been a quietly fierce player of this game. He’s controlled several votes at Tribal Council and has successfully kept his name off the parchment. And he just won immunity, too.

That’s a fairly impressive résumé right there. On top of that, he’s built alliances across tribes and played them to his advantage. He has a compelling shot with this jury.

Survivor DavieDavie
A behind-the-scenes beast in this game. Davie’s the quiet, smiling assassin this season. Along with Nick and Carl, Davie helped orchestrate one of the most elaborate blindsides in Survivor history when they knocked out SWAT Dan.

His alliance with Nick has been critical to his success, but that’s part of navigating a strong social game. And let’s not forget his nose for finding hidden idols.

Survivor KaraKara
From the beginning, I found Kara to be a sharp, focused player. She absolutely used Dan and who can blame her? He basically threw himself at her like a loyal puppy dog. Kara was the brains of that operation; so brainy that she never looked back once he got booted out.

If anything, Dan on the jury works for her. I’m sure he’ll vote for her if she makes it to the Final Tribal. Along with jury management, Kara’s been tough in challenges and smart with her votes. Also, she’s avoided being on the tip of the spear.

A Puncher’s Chance
Survivor NickNick
He’s been the OG conniver from Day One, setting an early alliance with Christian and later bonding with Mike. Both pairings worked to his advantage. But I’m not sure he’s done enough yet to win this game. Compared to Mike, Davie and Kara, Nick is a distant fourth. Again, another smart player who’s received no votes.

I’m not sure that’s to be lauded, though. After all, everyone ganged up on Christian over three separate tribal councils. It’s no wonder Nick hasn’t received any votes yet. Now, though, he’s exposed. Sink or swim time, Nick.

Survivor AlisonAlison
She’s had more lives than a cat in this game. Always perceived as a threat over others, Alison has seen her name written down at the past three tribal councils. I suppose there’s credit to be given when you continue to cheat death, but is that really about strategic game play? Not so much.

She did win the first immunity challenge this season, but hasn’t done much to personally influence the outcome of a vote. Like Nick, she needs some big, bold moves at the end to have a shot at the million.

The Survivor Stooge
Survivor AngelinaAngelina and her Goddamn Bag of Rice
I’d be shocked if Angelina didn’t make it all the way to the final tribal council. Whether there are two or three finalist, having Angelina sit next to you only increases your odds of winning since I doubt anyone will give her a vote. Maybe SWAT Dan, if Kara’s not in the final tribal council. But after that, who? And more importantly, WHY?!?!?! Don’t get me wrong, Angelina is a smart player…at least she was until the merge, then better strategists took over. I seriously doubt she wins the million dollars. However, if the same rules apply this season as last, Angelina could be casting the deciding vote.

I guess we’ll find out next week. See you next Wednesday! And by the way…did you hear? Angelina gave up a shot at immunity to get a bag of rice! #PUKE #PUKE #PUKE

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survivor recap: hoisted on her own petard.

Survivor_David_vs_Goliath

Okay, it’s been awhile since I’ve written about Survivor. I took an unintended hiatus for a few weeks and let you all down. I know. I suck. We’ll work through it.

That being said, let’s get caught up by talking about last week’s episode.

Gabby 02Gabby Makes a Bold Move
After promptly orchestrating the ouster of Trucker Carl, it was Gabby’s time to shine. She’s been a smart player all along, but her greatest strength is self-awareness. She recognized her tribemates would always regard her as an also-ran, so long as Christian is still in the game. That’s why she rightfully realized after Carl’s vote that her only path forward was to frag her closest ally: Christian.

To be fair, it’s not a genius plan and even Gabby would likely admit that, given Christian’s been cheating death so many times at Tribal Council (including one of the most insane combination of vote stealing, idol-playing and idol-nullifying combos we’ve ever seen). Everyone knows Christian is the man to beat. This diminutive brainiac from the original David Tribe is the true Goliath on the island and everyone knows it.

The fact that Christian has survived this long is testament to his game play, his social skills and his ability to sniff out a blindside. That’s why Gabby’s sudden turn this week appeared to be the final nail in Christian’s coffin.

Not so fast.

Gabby TorchNothing is ever so clean on Survivor, is it? The one, undeniable truth in Survivor is also true in the mafia: if everyone keeps their mouths shut and no one rats, you can get away with anything. The other undeniable truth: no one can keep their damn mouths shut. Davie’s whispering campaign was all Christian needed to get his guard up. And, at Tribal Council, Christian read the room perfectly and, in the end, Gabby was hoisted on her own petard.

Even though it may have felt like a dirty double-cross to some, I admired Gabby’s move. It was bold and it was necessary if she wanted to make a big, meaningful play that she could put on her Survivor resume. Unfortunately for her, she was too close to her target and became fodder herself.

Survivor Angelina 02Shut up, Angelina. Just. Shut. UP!
The reward challenge provided the obligatory “visit from home” moments that make people weep like little babies. I’m certain the emotion is real, so I shouldn’t make fun of it too much. The food aspect of this reward is probably more meaningful in the long run, but I imagine a visit from loved ones after being cut off for more than a month provides a welcome respite from the game.

And, of course, Angelina—obnoxious, self-absorbed Angelina—found a way to make this challenge about herself, yammering to her mother about how she saved her tribe from starvation with her big move of sacrificing immunity for rice. Shut up, Angelina, would you, please? Just SHUT. UP!

For one, your “big move” falls into the same bucket as all the big moves of preening jackasses like Clueless Kass from the Cagayan and Cambodia seasons. What you did was a grand gesture. And totally meaningless. It did not advance you in the game. It did not endear you to your tribemates. It did absolutely nothing. It was a true, Clueless Kass sort of move. For those who don’t remember, Kass, fancied herself a brilliant Survivor player and threw her alliances under the bus multiple times, claiming she was “shaking things up,” or some bullshit like that. She made big, gaudy moves that ultimately did absolutely nothing to improve her lot in the game.

Yes, big moves make a world of difference. But those big moves have to advance your position. If they don’t, it’s nothing but noise. All hat, no cattle. And that’s precisely what Angelina’s immunity-for-rice exchange amounts to. Yet, she can’t stop running her mouth about how awesome a move it was to whomever will freakin’ listen.

Well, listen to this, Angelina: you’re the stooge they’re going to drag to the end of the game. You know why? Because no one will give you a vote. Your only value, moving forward, is you will award someone $1 million; either on the jury or as a tiebreaker. You are an asterisk in this game.

Handicapping the Players
We’re down to crunch time. Right now, here’s how I would rate the remaining players’ chances of winning:

Odds-on Favorite
Kara. She has jury votes. She’s been a crafty player. She’s won immunity. Kara’s playing a complete game and no one even perceives her as the obvious threat she is. I like her chances.

Hope is Waning
Christian. Unless he wins immunity the rest of the way, he’s toast. Nobody wants to face him in the end. They’ll vote him out the first chance they get.

Angelina. Say hello to this season’s drag-along stooge. She’s a smart player, but not as smart as she thinks she is.

Dark Horse
Alison. She’s been an against-all-odds player for quite a bit of this season. Seems she’s always in the mix to receive votes, but always eeks it out.

The Sneaky-Sneaks
Nick. With the exception of winning immunity, Nick is a smart, sneaky player. I don’t think he’s done enough to win over jury votes yet, though.

Davie. Davie’s played a relatively quiet game to this point. If he can orchestrate one or two big moves moving forward, he could distinguish himself as a legitimate threat.

Mike. Mike seems the least threatening of all remaining players, but he may be the most conniving and least trustworthy. He’ll turn on you in a heartbeat if you’re not careful. I mean that as a compliment. Don’t get caught watching the paint dry on this dude.

Survivor Mike.jpg

 

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survivor–david vs. goliath recap: jeremy spoke in class today.

jeremy-crawford-natalie-cole-survivor-david-vs-goliathPlaying Survivor must be exhausting. Because sometimes, these early episodes are equally exhausting for the viewers. It’s only Day 9 by the time Tribal Council No. 2 rolls around and already, players have end-game strategy on their minds. Last night, that meant the enjoyable and loquacious Jeremy was sent packing over Natalie before he had a chance to become a real threat. Seems the Goliath Tribe is willing to put up with an annoyance more than take the chance on letting Jeremy stick around. I suppose that’s a fair consideration, but give credit to Natalia for calling that shot and putting Jeremy in play. After all, Natalie was the obvious choice to go home.

How Did We Get Here?
The David Tribe finally notch a victory over Goliath with a nerd challenge simple puzzle. Naturally, Christian and Gabby—the most adorable couple in Survivor history ever—were at the ready to solve it. Over on the Goliath side, it was over before it even started. Natalie and whomever did the puzzle with her were doomed. Doomed!

I can’t decide if thinking about end-game strategy on Day 8 or 9 is smart or stupid. We already know Survivor is made up of both long-game and short-game maneuvers to get to the end. But how do you decide who should stay and who should go? Do you remove “weak” people or the ones who don’t play nice first? Not really, no. Alliances form quickly and one or two self-anointed masterminds begin labeling the sneaks vs. the layabouts (or some such nomenclature).

A Line in the Sand
Over on the David Tribe, Nick and Mason have quickly aligned in their Mason-Dixon Alliance, which proves one thing about today’s Survivor players: they are savvy enough to know hashtagable nicknames are a readymade way to become popular among fans and a great way to generate buzz. I give credit to Nick for that one. He knows how to play to the camera without being too obvious about it.

0bdc2f727c6f99ee_svr37_800x1000_jeremycrawfordJeremy Spoke in Class Today
Over on Goliath, Jeremy worked hard—too hard, apparently—to stand out as an influential player. His sneaking around and gathering of information was smart. His mistake was making it too obvious. Jeremy had a lot to say to everyone about his own game play. Sure, it makes sense to try and form an alliance by sharing information about Dan’s hidden immunity idol. What Jeremy didn’t realize is telling people he found it while rummaging through Dan’s belongings exposed himself as a threat. Perhaps a better play would’ve been waiting to share that information when it mattered more.

If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that a good player needs to exercise restraint as much as anything else. After losing to David, the Goliath Tribe made a unanimous decision that dragging Natalie along is better than running through the game with a gamer like Jeremy.

Personally speaking, I think they made a very bad move booting Jeremy. For one, Natalie Napalm? Yeah, no. You’re not dropping napalm, Natalie. You’re just not fitting in. You were spared because Jeremy is the stronger player. The mistake for Goliath is not recognizing they could be creating a monster. Then again, perhaps it doesn’t matter as much as they think.

The “Showmance”
But I do think the Goliath Tribe is making a MASSIVE error by keeping the “showmance” of Dan and Kara intact. Couples in Survivor are a dangerous thing. They are an inseparable, two-vote bloc that cannot be taken down. Once it takes root, the showmance grows like a weed. The best thing for Goliath—and every other player—is to break that shit up pronto!

Even Nick over at the David Tribe recognizes Christian and Gabby are getting too chummy. They truly are two peas in a pod and are totally adorable. But in the context of Survivor, I’d be working to remove one of them. Nick already sees that and will allow his David tribemates to continue believing Gabby is a threat.

On the Chopping Block
Because of what we saw tonight, I’d be shocked to see Gabby, Natalie or Bi make it to the merge. We’ve already discussed the issues with Gabby and Natalie, but what about Bi? I think that knee injury is going to prove to be a liability for her. It’s still too early to tell who’s a legitimate threat to win the game, though. Nick might be a finalist, simply because he seems to have a stronger knack for the underlying strategery of Survivor that others may not. Meaning: he’s a sly, subtle conniver. Christian can solve puzzles like nobody’s business, but he’s yet to display the street smarts he needs to advance. i still enjoy watching him play the game, though.

pro69high.viwindow0Goliath’s Quiet Mastermind: Natalia
Natalia (not Natalie) over on the Goliath side of things has also shown her ability to move the chess pieces around the board. Wasn’t she the one who pushed the hardest to oust Jeremy tonight? It was a bold move and a good move. Does it make the tribe stronger? She convinced everyone that matters less than people think and she was right.

Given how often Survivor shuffles the deck and moves players around, the idea of remaining a single, cohesive tribe doesn’t seem to matter much anymore. And that’s a good thing, by the way. As a fan, I always hated how tribal alliances played too much of a premium after a merge. It’s better to see players in an individual game early; makes things more interesting for the viewers.

What’s Next?
The tease for next week’s episode appears to shuffle tribes. This could be interesting since there’s an odd number of players. How will the alliances hold up? Will this split expose previously invulnerable players? Can this new development provide a much-needed reset for Natalie? Also, Bi’s knee (bee’s knees?) is likely to be a factor. Her game may end much sooner than she’d like.

Stay tuned.

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survivor: ghost island prediction.

Ghost IslandTonight’s season finale of Survivor will bring to a close one of the least interesting seasons of the reality show we’ve had in awhile. Survivor: Ghost Island started off promising enough: 20 castaways, no returning players and a slew of second-chance immunity idols, game advantages and tribal council extra votes. It was billed as a season to wash away past sins. It amounted to a season of predictability, passive game play and an overall convoluted mess of middle-ground personalities seemingly locked into a battle for third place.

Throughout the entire season, players Dominick and Wendell have called virtually all the shots without the slightest challenge and it makes no sense; none at all. It hasn’t been this predictable and this boring since Survivor: Worlds Apart, where selfish weirdo Mike Holloway walked away the winner.

What Went Wrong?
Too many gimmicks, that’s what. Too many diversions and distractions have made the game nearly impossible to play. Sure, one or two immunity idols makes sense. But the inclusion of Ghost Island threw the entire game out of balance. I’m all for the occasional tribe swaps and whatnot, but every week a new twist?

That took away from the game play, if you ask me. I mean, where are the blindsides? Where’s the cutthroat game play? Where are the vicious personal battles? In other words, where’s the game of Survivor? Instead of all the ups, downs, ins and outs that make Survivor fun and interesting, we’re left with six pairs of khaki pants, all vying for your vote as Best Pair of Khakis. I want a do-over, but I won’t get one. So, let’s just get on with it and decide who’s going to take home the million dollars tonight.

The Likely Winner is…
Domenick. He’s been in control since Day One (well, sort of). He’s been conniving, scheming, plotting and planning. He’s been moving all the pieces around the board on his own. And he’s also got himself an immunity idol or two. The fact that he engineered a finale with a bunch of also-rans means he should win. Unless, of course, the also-rans pull off a legitimate blindside.

Finalist with a Chance.
Wendell. He’s smart. He’s likable. He’s athletic. But he’s attached himself to Dominick from the beginning. If he’s in the Final Tribal Council with Domenick, Wendell comes in second. It’s as simple as that.

How the Hell Did You Get Here????
Laurel. She is a promising player who hitched her wagon to Dom and Wendell. At multiple points throughout the season, Laurel had chances to assert herself, take control of the game and eliminate some of her biggest threats. She balked. Every single time, she balked. To make such a move right now would be expected and very nearly pointless.

Could’ve Been
Angela. She was a tough competitor whose back was to the wall from the very start. Seems she could never get a true alliance working. But she’s hung in there…and she ate a shit ton of really gross stuff to win immunity. That, alone, should earn her high marks. But not enough to win.

The Trouble with Donathan
Easily my favorite player in the game from the start because he was the little engine that could. Donathan’s trajectory in Survivor emulates with many viewers who like to root for the misfits and the underdogs. Underneath his wide-eyed, homespun demeanor, though, is a fierce, vicious Survivor contestant. Unfortunately, his strategy is to throw gasoline on the campfire and watch it burn. Still, I like the kid. But he seems to have no winning strategy.

Sebastian: Half Man, Half Alien
Seriously, that dude looks like an alien to me. And how the hell did he last this long. Of all the Top Six, Sebastian seems to be riding coattails. He hasn’t done much to distinguish himself in the game. I guess that’s why he’s still there, right? Nice guy, but not a Survivor champion.

We shall see if I’m correct.

And yes, I still believe i could win this game.

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