Monday, December 16, 2013

YOU'RE NOTHING UNTIL THE THRILL OF THE KILL BECOMES YOUR ONLY LAW: There may not be a lot to say about this season of Survivor, but now that it's over, let's say it:
  • Tyson Apostol was an eminently deserving winner. Despite being a target the whole time, he kept his alliance close, kept finding HIIs when available (though they weren't a huge factor), and eliminated his leading strategic rivals just as they were moving on him.
  • Which, of course, makes for a boring finale, but this season was plenty of fun along the way. I liked how the Blood v Water concept played out in terms of some of  the strategy, and even though I normally hate Redemption Island it worked because of the family interests. And thank goodness Rupert went home early.
  • Can we bank on Ciera and Vytas returning for some future season?
  • Next season: Brains v Brawn v Beauty, including NBA veteran Cliff Robinson, with no Redemption, no returning players. Phew.


  1. Joseph Finn10:53 AM

    It was interesting in Ciera still having a slim chance if things fall a different way in the final challenges, but obviously she was dead in the water as soon as Laura's pot hit the rocks. Nice try making a final play for Monica though.

  2. Adam C.11:32 AM

    Intrigued by the teaser for next season; I share most of the thoughts above about this one. Please, CBS, Mark Burnett and Jeff Probst: stop putting Rupert on our teevees.
    I still don't know just what to make of Monica's Final TC performance. Was she truly breaking down? Was it a pure, calculated sympathy play? My wife and I were uncomfortable with several of Monica's statements as we watched, but we could have been misreading things.

  3. Adam C.12:23 PM

    Also, can we finally explore expanding the Reunion show beyond an hour? I know it means pushing back local news, but (a) the Reunion show always feels too rushed and shortchanges interesting people and events (too often because of not so interesting people who should also be stopped from being on our teevees ahem Colton and probably Kat ahem), and (b) c'mon, it's the Sunday local news (caution, may contain information-like substances).

  4. Adam B.12:37 PM

    Or have it extend online for another half-hour?

  5. The Pathetic Earthling1:29 PM

    Has there ever been a "making of survivor" sort of thing with a focus on the guys who actually invent and build the challenges? The little Earthlings (as do I) have no interest in the show save the challenges, but we sure admire the craftsmanship that goes into them all.

  6. Joseph Finn1:44 PM

    This came up between me and my wife this year on a couple of challenges, where we guessed that they ran through them a few times and then put a 30 minute time limit because it turned out to be something that might last a lot longer otherwise. I wouldn't mind a feature on testing the challenges to make sure they're doable and work on TV.

  7. Mel Umbarger1:48 PM

    I'd argue that Tyson finding the HIIs kept them from being a huge factor. If that last one had still been available for Ciera et al to find, the game could have gone down very differently in the end.

  8. Adam C.2:22 PM

    It wouldn't surprise me if there were short clips originally on TVGN or, or maybe as extras on earlier season DVD releases (do they even do those anymore?). We were pretty impressed by the construction of last night's final immunity challenge. That said, it does seem that these days they cannibalize to a sizable degree challenges from past seasons.

  9. The Pathetic Earthling3:08 PM

    There's probably not much more innovation after nearly 30 seasons, but the logistics of the whole thing is interesting.

  10. bellawilfer4:22 PM

    Re: the challenges - there are always short clips on where you see how they construct them. Definitely would love a longer feature on them - maybe the DVD has something, as Adam C said?

    As for challenge time length, some of the challenges actually take WAY longer than you see on TV. A friend who was on the Gabon season said they had one challenge that was so hard it took about four hours to complete. They just edit stuff out (obviously).

    Also, I love when contestants come up with a different way to complete the challenge than the constructors thought. I remember one challenge a few seasons ago where the people who constructed it clearly thought that people would arrange tubes in a zig-zag manner (making it take longer to go through) - one tribe realized you could arrange them in a straight line and whiz through the challenge (and the other tribe quickly followed). It was a super boring, two-second challenge, and all because the challenge-makers hadn't thought of that potential.

  11. bellawilfer4:26 PM

    This was a fantastic season, IMO, and I was very skittish about how the whole loved ones angle would play. I think it partially worked because a lot of the boring and/or blowhard contestants went out early (RUPERT UGGGGH). I was impressed by Ciera slowly figuring out how to play the game and by Hayden's total badassery at his last two tribals. Gotta love a guy who just calls everyone out.

    Tyson definitely deserved to win, and I was moved by how much it clearly meant to him when he did. He came off like a jerk on screen more often than not, but friends who know him say he's actually a really kind, genuine person.

    As for Monica…it's so weird - at least from the edit she got - that they all felt like they didn't know her and weirder still that they felt like they didn't know her because she didn't share some horrible personal tragedy. As she said at tribal, "haven't you guys ever met a nice person before?" That said, we only see such a tiny sliver of what goes on in the interpersonal relationships around camp, that if everyone on the jury felt like she was being false and inauthentic, I kind of have to believe it.

  12. Adam C.4:39 PM

    That was odd, yes - the Laura M. "reveal to us your hidden ugliness" question. I'm not really sure why someone should have to be so open and revelatory to seem "authentic" but there you go. Separately -- and obviously I can't profess to stand in Monica's shoes or know what she has experienced, and it may be and probably is incredibly unfair of us to make this kind of presumption -- we had her pegged as someone who has enjoyed ample opportunities in life, and for her to say to the jury, essentially, that but for Survivor she had no identity other than wife and mother just kind of rang weird.

  13. bellawilfer4:45 PM

    The way I understood her comment was that she's been in Brad's shadow for her entire adult life…she's been Brad's wife, not Monica, or the mom of the kids, not Monica (which I think many moms can relate to). Survivor was the first time she got to take the lead and be her own person. I think she personally didn't LET herself have any other identity before. Does that make sense? She didn't present it in the most cohesive way, but that was what I took away from all the "this is my time" stuff.

  14. Adam C.5:21 PM

    Your take makes sense to me, and it was the not letting herself piece that we found it hard, I guess, to connect with given our (again, quite possibly totally unfair) assumptions about her circumstances. Her statement (proud? bitter? Here too, the tone was weird) about having made Brad a success just further confused us.

  15. bellawilfer5:29 PM

    I think she likes to play the martyr - "I gave up my dreams so Brad could be a football star" etc (though I have no idea what her dreams were otherwise). The "I made him" comment pointed toward that - I sacrificed whatever it was I wanted to be doing so he could be a pro athlete (leaving out, of course, the lifestyle that the family of a pro athlete receives in return due to salary and perks and such). It's a strange argument but not the first time in my life I've heard the spouse of someone incredibly successful say that. I think she just feels unappreciated in a total "first world problem" kind of way.

  16. bellawilfer5:30 PM

    All that said, I thought she made a really good point with the "haven't you met a nice person before" comment and I wish someone would have given her props for that at some point.

  17. Adam B.6:33 PM

    One structural change: if there's ever a "give a HII clue to someone else" component again, make them take it. Outlaw burning it in the fire.

  18. Adam C.6:47 PM

    Yes - this.

  19. Adam C.6:51 PM

    I was fascinated by the burn it up trend -- such an abrupt 180 from prior seasons' emphasis on finding the idol for self- or alliance-preservation. Not sure whether the same dynamic comes into play without the blood v water conceit, though.

  20. Adam B.6:57 PM

    Well, it was the whole "I don't want to be a target/have to make strategic decisions" claim ... which I don't like. Survivor thrives on forcing tough decisions.

  21. Joseph Finn7:16 PM

    Yeah, there's a moment about 6 episodes in where I could see Probst thinking, "We need to jigger this option in the offseason."

  22. The Pathetic Earthling9:49 PM

    I think it should be "if you don't take it, we will give it to a player who has previously voted against you at tribal council (and, if none, then randomly)."

  23. bellawilfer10:20 PM

    That's a great idea.

    BTW, someone reminded me that in early seasons (maybe just the first one or two?), a tie was broken by booting the person who had more previous votes against him/her. That gets rid of the scariness of drawing rocks, but it is somewhat more interesting strategically…Thoughts?

  24. Adam B.10:22 PM

    Just in season two. I like the rock draw because it means "if you can't sort it out, you're at risk yourself." Either that or the fire-burning.

  25. Adam B.10:23 PM

    Just make it "you cannot discard it here, publicly, in front of everyone." If they want to do so later, that's on them ... but no one has to believe them that they did it.

  26. bellawilfer10:23 PM

    I agree with you - and it's a great moment when people either decide to draw rocks (Marquesas, here) or decide not to (Cochran being a coward in his first season).